Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Snack Girl to the Rescue: A Book Review

Snack Girl to the Rescue! was a fun, informative cookbook. Although I'm not trying to loose weight, I'm always looking for health-conscious recipes and ideas for healthier living. I love fresh, local food and I do get on the organic bandwagon occasionally, but at this time in my life I'm not a Paleo diet enthusiast or boycotting any processed food or stuff like that. I just want to be aware of what I'm eating, why I'm eating it, and where my food comes from. From there, I hope to make wise and balanced choices.

And there's the word that describes this cookbook: balanced. Author Lisa Cain realizes we don't always have the time, money, or energy to follow a strict diet or exercise plan, but that should not stop us from taking the steps (literally and figuratively!) that we can when it comes to healthy living.

The beginning chapters of the cookbook describe her story to weight loss and health, resources for more learning, basic principles and steps to guide you, as well as encouragement and inspiration. I loved her down-to-earth simplicity. The rest of the book has fun, fairly easy recipes for meals and snacks, my favorites being Pumpkin Overnight Pancakes, Baked Eggs and Cheese in Toast Cups, Stovetop Tuna Casserole, and Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (can you tell I'm excited about Autumn recipes??).

The only cons to the cookbook were that I didn't agree with all her principles (she was less concerned about organic, non-GMO, pesticide-free produce than I am) and there were NO pictures in the cookbook (it's just more fun to see the picture of the recipe before you make it, you know?).

Overall, I give it a thumbs-up. It's a family-friend, health-friendly, budget-friendly cookbook by a friendly, relatable author.

Check out the press release for the book for more information!

Or visit the author's website!

[Thanks so much to Blogging for Books for a copy of the cookbook at no cost in exchange for my original and honest review.]

Happy reading and happy cooking!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wisdom for Wednesdays

“The present state of the world, the whole of life, is diseased. If I were a doctor and were asked for my advice, I would reply, “Create silence! Bring men to silence. The Word of God cannot be heard in the noisy world of today. Create silence.

~Soren Kierkegaard


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"I am what I am in God's eyes: a poor child who possesses absolutely nothing, who receives everything, infinitely loved and totally free."

-Interior Freedom, by Jacques Philippe

Monday, September 8, 2014

Hidden Kindness

Hardly anyone knew I was nursing a broken heart that day. And every day for the past several weeks. It's just easier sometimes to hide a broken heart and shattered dreams and shameful disappointment.

But whenever I hide from the world during suffering, I find a gift and grace hiding there as well-- the ability to see people more clearly, more slowly, more beautifully. 

And so it was that day.

I was her cardiac stress test nurse. She was my patient for four hours, a quiet little woman who seemed to be hiding from the world, too. In a fast-paced day, she was slow and calm and silent, a nursing home resident confined to a wheelchair and needing help even to stand up. Her mind was slow and her body slower. Neither of us spoke much during the test though I tried to be gentle with her, to take extra time explaining things, touch her hand reassuringly, cover her with an extra blanket.

I was transferring her to radiology for the next portion of her test. We were on a tight schedule, keeping rhythm with the clock, a small margin for delays. But she needed to use the restroom. So we stopped and I donned my gloves and ditched my pride and helped her...because we're all going to need help someday. Maybe it's the slow beating of a broken heart that gives us time to see but all of a sudden it felt like the most dignified job in the world. Assisting this needy woman in her vulnerability was a gift, a mission, an honor.

She slowly, meticulously washed her hands afterwards while I held her by the sink. She took the paper towel and slowly, meticulously dried around the sink, wiping the porcelain basin and the faucet. In a public medical restroom. I never do that and it struck me. Such a little thing but such a thoughtful thing. Why do I think I'm above that? That the hired cleaning help can do that? That I'm in too much of a hurry to make it a little cleaner for the next person? It wasn't even necessarily the action but rather the gentle and humble spirit that accompanied it. The hidden care and kindness.

I was realizing this slow, quiet little woman was teaching me.

But there was more to come.

As I lowered her back into the wheelchair and squeezed her hand gently, she looked up at me with the purest blue eyes meeting my own and said "Thank you." One of the few things she said all day but with incredible sincerity and meaning.

I saw Jesus. 

Unmistakably. Undeniably. In those beautiful blue eyes that reflected a precious soul unseen by many.

We don't always see Him where we want or where we expect...or even where we look for Him. In the wake of my grieving, I realized by now in life I wanted to see Him reflected in the eyes of a baby of my own held in my embrace. But instead He was showing up in the eyes of this woman as I connected with her. As we both hid from a world too loud and fast and uncaring. 

That was months ago. But I now gently and purposefully wipe my sink after washing the dishes or washing my hands and I remember her. The quiet little woman tucked away who showed me the eyes of Jesus...and His heart.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

NAS: Back in the Swing!

Linking up with the NAS girls this week! They are growing like crazy-- in grace, vibrancy, and numbers! I'm not the most loyal participant, but I'm a loyal stalker! These young women are absolutely beautiful and I love learning about them and their lives as we all live this season of unique joys and challenges together.

And now. Onto this week's topic...

We are back! As we get into the swing of things with NAS, what other ways can we be more involved at church or in our communities? Is there a parish ministry you have been wanting to help with or start up? What about that after school program for homeless kids? Has something been preventing you from getting involved? How do you think this will help you personally, spiritually and emotionally?

This is such a great topic. One that makes my fingers pause on the keyboard as my mind runs ahead with thoughts...maybe a sip of the tasty lemonade next to me will help sort my thoughts into sentences...

One of the perks of being a single young woman is the ability to be in charge of your schedule (including any and all free time!). For me, sometimes it's easy to want to use that free time for myself. You know, bake cookies, paint my nails, go out with girlfriends, work on a DIY project...I'm pretty much never bored, guys. Yet even though all of that is great and I'm thankful for the little joys, I also want to live this season in a way that glorifies God and brings not only me closer to Him, but also all those I encounter. I don't want my purpose to be simply enjoying these years while I wait for the vocation of marriage. Rather I want to be an encourager, teacher, nurturer, and evangelist--actively waiting for the vocation of marriage while I live out now this beautiful lifelong vocation of being a woman!

The next question is how do we do that?? Honestly, I don't think there's a specific right answer for everyone. Even though we may all fall into the category of "single young women," we also come with unique gifts and talents, personalities, emotional states, and so on. In my post-college years of being single, I've had years of being involved in multiple (probably too many) service/volunteer commitments and I've also had years of quitting every single one of them to pause and allow much-need spiritual renewal after experiencing burnout (or a breakup!). These days, I'm volunteering as an ultrasound nurse at the crisis pregnancy center, a member on our pastoral council, and part of a women's monthly share group. I love that one is counseling and mentoring those in need outside the church, one is a vision team for building up the church, and one is for my own personal support and encouragement. Each one is such a blessing and the time commitment feels just right...but who knows what opportunities God might be getting ready to present!

Here are a few last thoughts on single young women and our involvement in church and community:

-Don't over-commit! I'm pretty sure some people think that since singles have no family, they have no need for free time. Some parishioners will want you to be part of every committee or class or group possible. It's okay to say no.

-Don't sacrifice your own time with the Lord. There's a subtle danger of serving God and His people yet finding no time to actually pray, read spiritual books, and tend to your own soul. If you feel like you're talking about God (in CCD class, small group, whatever) more than you're talking TO God, find some time for some soul-searching and ask God to help you prioritize and to show you how to be both Martha and Mary!

-Do follow your heart. Do you find joy working with youth? Have a passion for women's ministry? Want to start a small group? Like being behind the scenes serving? Sometimes God does ask us to step out of our comfort zones and fill a need, yet most often I think He wants us to use the gifts He's given us. Pray and reflect on what brings you joy and fulfillment and then try to find a service area that calls out your particular gifts and passions.

Looking forward to reading more of how the other ladies use their time, treasure, and talents! You can read their stories here!

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Joy unspeakable, faith unsinkable, love unstoppable."

-lyrics from Thrive, by Casting Crowns

(So thankful we have such joy, faith, and love because of Jesus Christ.)