Friday, February 22, 2013

Quick Takes Friday [vol. 8]


We are over a week into the season of Lent and it seems to be flying by already! (I think that's just because life in general seems to be flying by lately.) For those of you who don't do Lent, I promise it's not just an excuse to have delcious local fish fry's (fries? frys? Seriously, how do you spell that plural?) Rather, it's a beautiful way to enter into the story of Christ's passion and death for us. To be reminded of the redemptive beauty of suffering and sacrifice only because He made it so. We choose to unite our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving (the 3 pillars of Lent) with His so that we may draw closer to Him and grow in faith and grace. I love it. Can you tell?


On that note...what am I doing for Lent? You know, I prayed about it and really didn't want to come up with a whole list of stuff that would make me lose my focus or get lost in I chose to give up listening to music in the car. I drive out of town quite a bit, so I'm really excited about this one. The goal is to use this time instead in silence and prayer as well as listening to and learning from the Catholic talk radio channel.

I've also decided to re-read the Passion accounts in each of the four Gospels. I know we read them during Holy Week at Mass, but I'm wanting to read them in more bite-size pieces each night and reflect throughout this season and His sacrifice and incredible love.


We officially opened at the pregnancy center this week. And I have to tell you...I was almost praying for people NOT to walk through our doors because we still had so much to do to get organized! There were pamphlets and forms and papers and just stuff EVERYWHERE! But with time, grace, and sweet volunteers we are now much more prepared. (I know the Holy Spirit would have filled in the gaps even before that, though--see, I always can grow in that area of trust and surrender!) So-- now I pray the Lord sends us many clients in need that we might be His hands, voice, and heart to them.


Thanks for your kind comments on my Valentine's Day story! I'm very much in a pocket of grace and gratitude right now with the situation. I'm not going to say I haven't struggled with doubts and fear and such, but what an incredible joy to have P. back in my life. And he went all out with thoughtfulness and generosity for V-day and my birthday. Sigh. I admit it. I'm still smitten. (But there's always been a deeper connection with us, and I think that's one of the reasons the break-up felt so painful and not quite right.)


In addition to weekly zumba (even though I haven't been there for several weeks! Having some withdrawal), I have decided to work out once or twice a week after work (or before if I can drag myself in that early). We are allowed to use the physical therapy equipment here at the clinic for working out before or after hours, and at no cost. It's like a free gym membership--uh-huh, I know. Why have I not been all over this before? Yesterday I walked and ran on the treadmill and then attempted (key word there) the elliptical machine. Do you guys like ellipticals? Maybe it's the level setting, but I'm no match for them!


This weekend I'm going shopping with my mom, my sister, and my precious baby godson (we're letting him in on the girls' day). I'm so excited to spend a day with them! (And I'm excited to shop! I feel like a tiger being let out of her cage after a busy out stores, I'm on the hunt for the cute, the practical, and the clearance!)


We had icy roads and snow this morning. I'm all about the coziness of wintertime...but is anyone else ready for some springtime?

Happy Friday, friends!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Stress Point: A Book Review

I just entered the second half of my twenties on Sunday.

Deep breath. I need a moment. Or maybe I need another cookie. Yeah. That usually helps.

Okay, so I'm not actually having a quarterlife crisis. To be honest, I'm enjoying my mid-twenties even more than my early twenties. Somehow I've gotten past the stress of those early years-- the pressures of college, expectations, perfectionism, relationships. The years have shaped and softened me like waves on a rock. I've gained a confidence in Christ more than my own abilities. I've learned to care less what others think. And I've begun to let go more. I've traveled to some cool places, met tons of neat people, and grown closer to the Lord (at least I hope so!).

The twenties are a great decade.

But author Sarah Francis Martin knows what she's talking about when she calls them a "decade of drama."

In her book, Stress Point: Thriving Through Your 20s in a Decade of Drama, Sarah covers many of the topics that can create stress (good or bad) as we adventure through this season-- money, friends, dating, family, independence, self-image. When I first saw this book, I was thrilled. I'm a closet fan of the so-called genre of self-help books and this one seemed perfect! Written for Christian twentysomething women...why, that would be me! But because I'm giving my honest thoughts here, I do have to say the book didn't quite meet my expectations.

What I did like: Great topics. Beautiful messages. Lots of journaling/digging deeper room to write.

What I didn't like as much: I felt that somehow the way it was written was at times generic, abstract or typical, rather than fresh and unique. It was encouraging and beautiful, but I can't say it really pushed me to think in a new way or grow in the areas above.

Perhaps it just wasn't the right book at the right time.

Final thought: I did really appreciate the perspective of the author and the way she continually pointed twentysomething women to Christ-- to keep Him first despite the sometimes turbulent drama of the 20s.

[Thank you to Booksneeze for providing this book for me at no cost. My review contains my honest and original thoughts.]

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Valentine's Day Story

A lot can happen from one Valentine's Day to the next.

Trust me. I know.

One year ago today I was single on Valentine's Day. And because I love the holiday, it wasn't horrible. But it wasn't great, either.

I was a few months fresh out of a breakup. The years before had been ones of confusion and pain and lots and lots of growth. Peace, joy, and hope had sprouted from the ashes and were growing stronger each day.

Valentine's Day found me driving home alone in the evening from an hour of Adoration at church with my Jesus. I was in a season of surrender. I had tried to control and plan and make things happen long enough. It was all His now. I had seen Him time and time again pick me up from the shattered pieces so gently, so lovingly. I wanted Him first in my life and I trusted Him with my future.

But my heart still ached with its broken dreams.

A Kutless song came on the radio as I drove through the quiet black night with my passenger seat empty but my heart full.

My favorite band was singing:

When the path is daunting
And every step exhausting
I'm not alone.

And I knew it was true. Every fiber of my being felt this truth and rested in it. Though I was tired and struggled on this path, I was not alone.

I feel you draw me closer
All these burdens on my shoulder
I'm not alone, I'm not alone
You pull me me from this place.

Yes. Yes. He knew the burdens of my past, my heart, my life in this season. But still He pulled me close to Him, to His heart beating with an overwhelming, inexhaustible love for me.

The music swelled and the lead vocalist burst out in praise at this God who draws us to Him,


He sang. And my heart was swelling with the music and tears coursed down my cheeks as I praised God with him.

You carry me every day
You carry me all all the way
Hallelujah...You carry me to the cross

Ah, this song was the song of my heart. This was beauty and grace. How could I feel such joy and reassurance and love in the midst of brokenness? Only God can do that. We may carry broken dreams or unfulfilled desires or mental, physical, emotional, even spiritual burdens...but He carries us. And He walks beside us so we are never, ever alone. He carries us to His cross and shows us real love that gave everything for us. For me. For you.

One week after that night I would go on a retreat with the man I would fall deeply in love with.

Nine months later he would break up with me as tears rolled down his face.

Eleven months later he would call me, and we would talk, and we would step cautiously back into this relationship after a few weeks. He would continue to treat me with such kindness and love and respect, that I would fall deeply in love with him once again.

And one year later, he would take me out to dinner on Valentine's Day.

A lot can happen from one Valentine's Day to the next. Trust me. Better yet, trust Him.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Let us strive to face suffering with Christian courage. Then all difficulties will vanish and pain itself will become transformed into joy."

-St. Teresa of Avila
(It's Ash Wednesday, friends! Let's take up our crosses and follow Him.)

Friday, February 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes [vol. 7]

So this Ohio girl is changing it up a bit this week and writing you from--are you ready for this--Fredericksburg, VA. I'm kicking back on the couch with my laptop and scarfing down politely consuming a bowl of southerwestern tortilla soup and a reuben sandwich from the hotel bistro. (Is that an odd combination?) I'm here for a conference on learning to perform ultrasounds for my crisis pregnancy center. I forgot how fun--and exhausting--it is to travel.
I love hotels
The conference has been incredible. I love meeting these people from all over the country and hearing their stories as well as the similarities and differences in our pregnancy centers. I've been really blessed by several conversations with beautiful souls (including some fellow homeschoolers! Way to represent!). But you know, I've also struggled a lot with feeling intimated by the whole thing and rather inadequate. Sometimes I just don't feel like I have what it takes...especially after experiencing the heartwrenching pain from my first abortion-seeking client a few weeks ago.
Taking advantage of one of my few free moments
However, those feelings of insecurity are reminding me that it's not about me anyway (humility is a good thing), and that it's more about surrendering to a powerful, loving God who is always wanting to pour His Spirit into us and into others through us. So I think I'll be okay after all. :)

After class this evening, the president of the organization took us on a walking tour of Fredericksburg. This little history buff LOVED it! I stood on some steps where Abraham Lincoln stood...saw a church used as a hospital by Clara Barton...and was sobered by the sight of the market square where slaves were sold--such evils committed against precious human life back then.
And such evil committed today against the precious life of the well as their scarred mamas and dads after abortion.
My house is decorated for Valentine's Day. I've always loved that holiday, with or without a special someone. I think it's the theme of love--love of our Heavenly Father, of our families, our friends. Love is such a gift.
And the cute-sy pinks and hearts and lace are just fun to decorate with. :) I have a nifty centerpiece, thanks to Pinterest, with a candle inside a glass vase filled with conversation hearts. If I were home, I'd take a picture and post it. It makes me happy.
And speaking of the area of love and relationships, I do have an update in that area that I'll share soon...sometimes God just overwhelms me...
My birthday is this month.  As mentioned above, I really just love not only Valentine's Day but the whole month of February. In the long weeks of winter, February brings a festive touch (or maybe I just choose to make it that way when I'm tired of winter...) I like to pretend that my birthday is for the whole month just to give me a reason to celebrate and make the ordinary special. :) Although I'm not sure what to think about this getting older stuff. ;)


I flew into Richmond on Wednesday and got to eat dinner with a friend I haven't seen in a couple years! She drove out of her way just to pick me up at the airport, such a giving heart. We enjoyed the next several hours catching up. She's such a neat person--a Christian in the Army who enjoys softball and sewing. How diverse is that? Love her. :)

I am so exhausted. I can't think of anything else interesting to share. I really just can't think period right now. My brain is full. Someday life will return to normal again.
But for now, maybe the hot tub will help. ;)



Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

“We hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.”
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

(LOVE this quote. Gratitude is so beautiful and so healing.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Crazy Crust Pizza...mmm!

I love pizza. I could definitely eat it once a week. Possibly once a day.

Most of the time I enjoy making it from scratch. I use the dough setting on my bread machine and it turns out quite tasty. However, I do have to admit I act like a little kid when I get to order pizza at my apartment. When I was growing up we lived out in the country--too far away for pizza delivery--so I really get a kick out of having hot pizza delivered to my door.

Homemade pizza is yummy and healthy. Delivered pizza is convenient and simple.

If they got married, their child would be Crazy Crust Pizza. Easy, delicious, and healthy. No kneading, no rising, no waiting.

I know. You're curious. Ready for the recipe?

Crazy Crust Pizza

½ cup flourDash of salt and pepper¼ tsp Italian herb seasoning1 egg1/3 c milkPizza toppings (I used onion and mushroom)1 cup pizza sauce (I used can of tomato sauce and mixed Penzey seasoning)1 cup shredded mozza
Mix flour, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, egg, and milk. Pour into a 9-inch greased pie pan. Spread with toppings (but not sauce or cheese yet!). Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and top with sauce and cheese. Return to oven. Bake another 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees.