Friday, December 30, 2011

Set-Apart Girl

This is for all my sisters out there!

Eric and Leslie Ludy wrote the books that completely changed my life, and now Leslie has produced an online magazine specially geared toward girls who need some soul food. The New Years issue just debuted about an hour ago, so go check it out! :)



"If we want to shine with the stunning beauty of our heroic Lord, we must allow Him to shape every dimension of how we live into His glorious likeness." - Leslie Ludy

Hallelujah!

Bethany Dillon has to be my favorite musical artist of all time. She's so pure and talented and her music always has a way of going straight through to my soul. One of her songs, "Hallelujah," is a song that I always end up referring to whenever I'm going through a difficult time. I guess you could say it's my "comfort song." 

It talks about giving glory to God even when we fail, even when things are difficult, because He sees the bigger picture. He makes the impossible possible. He mends broken hearts and makes masterpieces out of nothing. This song helped me remember to praise God when my father died and when I couldn't find my way. It also helped me to trust God no matter what, even when things seemed absolutely hopeless.

I am first going to post the acoustic version, because who doesn't love the raw pureness of an acoustic song? ;) Enjoy!



The original:


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Happy Birthday, Jesus. Thank you for humbling yourself so that we could have a chance at eternity. 
I pray that comfort will be given to those who have an empty seat at their table, broken hearts will be mended, love will overflow, and aletheia (TRUTH) will find its way.

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

Wonderful Counselor - Jesus came to earth and experienced life as a human being. He was tempted as we are, he faced trials and persecution as we do. And yet, he was without sin. He has incredible wisdom and competency. Jesus understands us even more than we understand ourselves. When we pray, we may ask for help. If we open our ears to listen, we will receive heavenly counsel and be led away from sin so that we may live our lives in a way that is pleasing to God. This means going to God for counsel, not running to everyone we know and spreading empty words like wildfire. 

Mighty God - If you think of water, it has different forms, yet it is the same substance. It can be ice, liquid, or gas. This is similar to God. He is three-in-one. Jesus is the son of God, but he is still a part of God. He is still mighty. He has GREAT power and GREAT authority. While we're down here trying to take care of everything ourselves, he's up there wondering why we don't ask for help! Jesus performed MIRACLES. Miracles still happen today! Did you know that? With God, ALL things are possible. Because He is mighty!

Everlasting Father - "No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) Jesus is the way in which we find new life. Where we can turn from our old, sinful ways and start a brand new life of purity, love, joy. This means truly turning 180 degrees and walking in the other direction. It means meeting our loved ones again who have passed away into the home of the Lord. It means finding a whole new meaning to the way we live our lives.

Prince of Peace - Prince of Peace. Doesn't that sound nice? A peace that surpasses all understanding. I love this version of Philippians 4:7 taken from The Message:

"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."

This world can be a pretty crazy place. There can be a lot of confusion, a lot of hurt, and a lot of evil. We make it so much harder on ourselves than is even necessary. Like I wrote before, we don't know everything! We don't. So let's stop acting like we do. Our trust and our worries need to be given to God, and HE will take care of the rest.

Because someone as big as God, as perfect as God, as Holy as God...HUMBLED himself...think about that for a second. God is God. He can do anything, he can see everything. Why would he feel the need to become a measly little human? Just for kicks? No. He brought himself THIS low, so that we could understand who HE is...and so we don't have to do this alone. And it gets better...He did it so we could have eternal life in a place far better than here. A former director of mine used to say, "You know...once we get to where we're going, we're going to wonder why we fought so hard to stay here!"

So let's recap:

If we give our worries and cares to God through Christ Jesus (counselor), He will use his authority and power (mighty God) to give us new everlasting life (everlasting Father) in which we will receive peace in our hearts that will transcend our understanding (prince of peace) so that we may live according to God's purpose and at peace with those around us.


Thank you, God, for humbling yourself and sending your son to die for our sins. I pray that you may give us wisdom and discernment to discover your truth, that we may not act on sin, so that your son did not die in vain. We understand that we are human, and we need you to receive peace in our hearts and turn away from foolish, sinful ways. Help us to understand the sacrifice you made for us. Help us to see the world through your eyes. Help us to love the way that you love. Amen.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Failure Isn't Fatal

Sometimes when we're trying to achieve our goals, road blocks get in the way. It can get extremely discouraging when you feel you're constantly trying your best, but not much is coming out of it. The truth is, we have to keep our eyes focused on the goal and not be distracted by the negative forces that may try to hold us back. There is always a bigger picture, although we can't always see it at the time.

I just stumbled upon some stories of people who were discouraged and failed, but eventually after they overcame their setbacks, they touched the stars:


* In 1927 Lucille Ball was told by an instructor at her drama school to "find another profession...acting will not work for you."

* Universal studios dismissed Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds in 1959 claiming neither one had talent and both talked too slow for the motion picture industry.

* Decca Recording Company executives told the BEATLES their way, their style, their look, their sound was out and would not catch on and to look elsewhere...and they did!

* For seven years a young inventor named Chester Carlson took his idea to 20 different corporations where all turned him down. The Haloid Company finally took a chance and Chester's new idea and product caught on...the Haloid company then changed its name to XEROX.

* For several years a well-known magazine lost money but stayed the course until its concept caught on....that magazine became known as Sports Illustrated.

* For several years a man cooked chicken in a road side cafe believing his chicken was the best there was...he stayed with it until he was in his 50's and finally the man and his chicken became known as Colonel Sanders and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

* Two of the most well-known NFL coaches, Chuck Noll and Tom Landry, had several losing seasons before finding success and eventually won Super Bowl Titles...Noll won 4 with the Steelers and Landry won 2 with the Cowboys.


*And my favorite...Abraham Lincoln:

In 1831, Abraham Lincoln failed in business.
In 1832, Abraham Lincoln was defeated for state legislator.
In 1833, Abraham Lincoln tried a new business, and failed.
In 1835, Abraham Lincoln’s fiancĂ©e died.
In 1836, Abraham Lincoln had a nervous breakdown.
In 1843, Abraham Lincoln ran for congress and was defeated.
In 1848, Lincoln ran again, and was defeated. Again.
In 1855, Lincoln ran for the Senate, and lost.
In 1856, Lincoln ran for Vice President, and lost.
In 1859, Lincoln ran again for the Senate. He was defeated.
Then, in 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States.

Success isn't measured by the position you reach in life; it's measured by the obstacles you overcome.

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." (James 1:12)

Free Recipe Cards Made By Yours Truly

Earlier this year I found a photo album in the clearance bin at a Scrapbooking store. Just recently I thought of using it as my own girly cookbook and started making recipe cards in photoshop. The second design is the one for my cookbook since it's hot pink and black, but I loved the old-fashioned storybook idea so much that I decided to design that one as well.

These are made to fit 4x6 space. Click on the image for the actual size. You can print them off on thick paper, or you can cut them out and attach them to 4x6 notecards. I hope you enjoy! And if you decide to use them, I'd love to hear about it! :)










Wednesday, December 14, 2011

8 Habits of Effective Critical Thinkers

Guess who's moving to Masters 9 weeks early. That's right, this girl! Almost done! Now I can wear THESE:


Also...an interesting tidbit my pastor posted on facebook yesterday. I think we can all apply these habits to both our personal and professional lives: 

Eight Habits of Effective Critical Thinkers

Posting Date: December 01, 2011
Successful executives use critical thinking skills every day, to sift through incomplete and complex information, ask the right questions, recognize strong versus weak arguments, and to assimilate the information they need to make logical business decisions. Today’s rapidly changing business environment allows no time for poor decision making. If not quickly recognized before too much investment is made, a poor decision can hinder a corporation’s chances for success in quarterly results and throw a monkey wrench in the opportunity for timely intervention in fast-moving markets.
Although the consequences of poor critical thinking increase exponentially for higher-level positions in a company, critical thinking is not just the province of executives. Employees at all levels make decisions that affect their level of productivity and the efficient use of resources. When the maintenance mechanic has the critical thinking skills to problem solve effectively, he can get a piece of equipment back in working order more quickly, thereby enhancing productivity. A sales representative with good critical thinking skills will ask the right questions of her customers so she can best meet their specific needs and create successful, long-term relationships.

8 Habits of Stellar Critical Thinkers
The best critical thinkers practice eight particular habits when processing information, solving problems, and reaching decisions:
Habit #1: They are more concerned about getting it right than about being right. They can put aside their egos to recognize that they do not need to have all the answers. They are willing to admit to not knowing something or to making mistakes. They know the importance of asking questions and seeking out the best available information.
Habit #2: They avoid jumping to conclusions and rushing to judgment. They take time to gather as much information as possible to better understand a complex situation before taking action.  They recognize that the consequences of some decisions are more important than others and these decisions require more scrutiny.
Habit #3: They do not accept information at face value. They ask questions to discover what is behind the data. They recognize that it is important not only to confirm that the facts are correct but also to understand that information can be presented in a way designed to support a particular agenda. Similarly, they know to inquire about information that may have been left out because it does not lend support to a particular position.
Habit #4: They avoid over-analysis that leads to paralysis in decision-making. They seek clarity by looking for order or patterns in the data while avoiding the trap of forcing information to fit a particular need. By looking at both the forest (the big picture) and the trees (the details) they have a sense of when they have enough information to make a decision. They know that they will never have all the information they might like but are confident that once they have explored the available information fully and objectively, they will likely make sound decisions.
Habit #5: They are continuous learners and work to stay well-informed. They are inquisitive about a wide range of topics and issues, making a regular effort to read and to educate themselves, gathering information that may be important for making decisions now and in the future.
Habit #6: They show flexibility in their willingness to consider alternative ideas and opinions. They seek to understand the perspective of a potential customer or even a competitor.  This ability to see more than one side of an issue allows them to position their approach more effectively and reflects their confidence in their ability to reason. 
Habit #7: They use critical thinking on themselves. They can explain how they arrived at a conclusion, allowing others to follow their reasoning and understand their thinking. Through self-examination and sensitivity to their own biases, they ask themselves questions such as:  “Do I have all the necessary information? If my conclusions are true, what are the likely implications?” They are willing to change their views when they are provided with more information that allows greater understanding.
Habit #8: They have a distinctive behavioral style. They are confident but not cocky, reflective yet able to take action, and decisive while showing reasonable analysis. They can demonstrate patience when the stakes are high and the issues are not black-and-white. They read more than the average person and communicate their ideas clearly. They can think independently but place value on different perspectives. They accept responsibility when things go wrong and seek to understand what happened so they can learn from their mistakes. 
Critical thinking skills cannot be developed overnight. Nonetheless, practicing these eight habits described here will improve one’s critical thinking ability. As individuals become more successful in using good critical thinking in their everyday decision making, their companies will be more successful in meeting the challenges of continuously changing expectations of customers and markets.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Vote for my fellow Evangel Alumni!

One of my fellow alumni from Evangel University has conquered Miss Missouri and is now headed to conquer Miss America! Someone who is dedicated to winning this contest not for her own glory, but for God's...and to simply help people

So please take a moment to watch her video and cast your vote!

Some other people you may know from Evangel:

Sara Groves - Dove Award-nominated Singer/Songwriter, WORD/SONY Records
(Her dad was one of my professors)


Beverly Lewis - Best-selling Author of Christian Books, Colorado Springs, Colorado


Marty Magehee - Contemporary Christian Musician and Producer (Founding Member/Vocalist, 4HIM)

Nate Sallie - Contemporary Christian Singer/Songwriter, Curb Records, Nashville, Tennessee

Phil Stanton - Founding Member, "Blue Man Group," New York City

Todd Tiahrt - U.S. Representative, R-Kansas

Dan Wheeler - Host, QVC Home Shopping Network, West Chester, Pennsylvania

Kay Logsdon - Director, The Food Channel, www.thefoodchannel.com


Jerry Mosemak - Art Director,  USA Today, USAToday.com

This is amazing!!


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Easy Breezy Black Eye Lime Dip

Brought to you by....my husband! For those of you who don't know, my husband is a chef. People often ask me what his favorite thing to make is and I can never give a straight answer except, "His favorite thing to make is something he's never made before." He rarely makes the exact same thing twice, and everything he makes is great. I've never been so interested in food before!

Sorry for the poor quality, I had to record it with my iPhone cause the Flip is dead. This is really easy to make, and delicious!




For 2 servings you will need:

1 Can Black Eye Peas
2 Tsp Onion Powder
1 Tsp Hot Sauce
1 tbs Garlic Salt
1 Tsp Olive Oil
2 Tbs Thyme
2 Tbs Lime Juice


Friday, December 9, 2011

Delicious Treats for your Holiday Shindig!

I've been finding a lot of yummy ideas for holiday treats (don't you love Pinterest??). See, my husband is definitely the chef, but I like to take care of the sweet sugary stuff. We like to gather recipes and ideas for the Bed & Breakfast we hope to have some day. Here are some delicious ideas I've gathered for your holiday shindigs (and if you're lactose intolerant like me, you can substitute with rice milk and still maintain consistency):

Click on the pictures for recipes.


Christmas Tree Veggie & Cheese Tray
...Cause you need at least one healthy snack!


Gingerbread Cheesecake Bites


Cinnamon Sugar Pecans


Hot Chocolate Bar


Homemade Apple Cider

1 gallon of apple juice (100% apple juice) 
½ gallon of pineapple juice 
1 cinnamon stick 
5 clove pieces 
½ t. nutmeg 
1 orange, sliced 
juice of 1 lemon
½ c. sugar 

Combine all ingredients in a big pot on the stove and simmer for 2-3 hours. Or in a large crock pot for 2 hours on high, then turn to low or ‘keep warm’ and can be left on all day. (Favorite method is in the crock pot.)

Enjoy!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Viewer Discretion Advised

If you or someone near you is still battling with the theology of Santa Claus, you may want to stop reading now.

I remember in third grade I still believed in Santa. Kind of. At this point, I wasn't sure. I remember my classmates were debating whether Santa was real or not. You had one group that would say for sure that Santa wasn't real. Another group fully believed he was. I believe I was on the fence.

You see, up until I was questioned about it, I never questioned it myself. I just believed. It was simple as that. So how did it come to me asking, "Why do I believe in Santa? Why don't these people believe in him?  Why don't I have a more solid foundation to support my thesis???" (Okay so, I probably didn't even know what a thesis was at the time...) Point is, I was very confused and was looking for answers.

Don't we do the same with God? I know not everyone grows up in the church, but so many times the bible talks about having "faith like a child." We're human and we can't comprehend certain things. My husband and I were just watching a video by Francis Chan where he talks about how it can be difficult to believe in God simply because we can't comprehend the fact that we aren't capable of comprehending everything. He put it this way: "My mind goes to Romans 9 where God compares me to a piece of clay...Wow, that means i'm like a piece of clay trying to explain to other pieces of clay what the potter is like. Think about that for a second." It's humbling, because you can't be an expert on the creator unless he reveals who he is to you. As scripture states in Isaiah 55, His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Our ways are not as His ways. His thoughts and His ways are in the Heavens. They are that much higher than ours. Our thoughts and ways are waaay down here on earth trying to make their way higher than they're actually capable of going. So the first step is accepting that we aren't experts, we don't know everything, we need to swallow our pride and acknowledge that the Creator knows what he's doing. He sees everything. All we see is what's in front of us at the time.

"What about all the horrible things that happen? All the evil and illnesses and death?" Again, those things go way deeper than we realize. Just as darkness is the absence of light, and cold is the absence of heat, so is evil the absence of God. But that's a whole other discussion. :)

To have faith like a child doesn't mean you have to be ignorant or delusional, it simply means to accept that you don't, and won't, know everything. Be humble, and trust.

A funny little tidbit that I posted in 2006 about Santa Claus:

"So I was sitting in my composition class when a thought had crossed my mind. What am I going to tell my kid(s) about Santa some day? I mean, I want them to know about Jesus's birth above all. However, I don't want them to go to school telling all their friends that Santa isn't real or be upset because we spoiled it for them. And I certainly don't want them to feel left out being all not believin in Santa. But how do you let them be all Santa-crazy but still understand and celebrate the Christian meaning of Christmas? Because we especially don't want our kids getting selfish at Christmas time, only doing nice things to receive things.

So then I thought of something...use Santa Claus to teach your kids about BLESSINGS! We can teach them that not only if they act good, but if they TRULY have good intentions and BLESS other people with kindness and The Good News they TOO will be blessed :D BUT instead of just counting up who's naughty or nice he's really counting how much they blessed other people without expecting anything in return. :D AND We won't tell them if Santa is real if they ask us, because then they will be compelled to search for the real truth. Therefore, we will also make theologians out of them :D

And when they find out that Santa isn't real and they're all sad, you can be all like "It's okay Jesus lives forever and ever amen!!" "

Who's Doing The Judging Here?


I've seen this video floating around Facebook for a few days with people flaring up in anger claiming that Rick Perry is a homophobe.

However...I don't necessarily see where he was speaking AGAINST homosexuality. I think the point is that we're expected to support an openly homosexual lifestyle, but the Christian lifestyle is being criticized and expected to be kept low-key. People posting this video and bashing him for supporting an open Christian faith and saying he's speaking against homosexuality (which really he wasn't) is just proving his point further. 

I just say this because every day I see Christians are constantly being judged and ridiculed by people claiming that the opposite is happening. In my business I'm surrounded by people who live a homosexual lifestyle and I nor anyone else looks down on them or judges them. Some of these people are my favorite to be around. But word gets out that I'm a Christian and people don't even try to be subtle in their judgement (I'm not referring to everyone, a lot of people have been accepting). There are and have been Christians out there that have given us a bad name, but there are also wicked people who do bad things in general, but does that mean I need to judge the entire human race? Every day it gets easier for people to be homosexual, and harder for people to be Christian. I believe this is the point he was attempting to make.

Just look at Tim Tebow. I don't care what you say, he's pretty darn good at what he does. But just because he's open about his faith, people have ridiculed him publicly over and over again. Yet, look at all the famous people "coming out of the closet" and people are cheering them on. Who's doing the judging here?

We are all human and we all deserve to be loved and respected. Whether we agree with each other's personal choices or not, this is one thing I think we can all agree on. Stop judging each other. Whether I believe that man and woman were specifically designed for each other doesn't mean that the person who chooses otherwise deserves to be tormented. But it would be nice if we as Christians could receive the same courtesy in return. Because whether you realize it or not, the tables have turned significantly in the last few years, and Christians are no longer doing the majority of the judging. Not at all. And I say this even from personal experience.