Wednesday, September 30, 2015

This Woman's Walk With God


September 30th. Where did this month go? Where has this year gone? I can't believe that we are already closing in on the end of the year holidays. 

So far this semester has been flying by. As I shared in this post my classes took me for a bit of a surprise when it came to the work load. However, I am happy to report that I think I have gotten over the shock of it all and might have a system set up to get things done. 

So far in the clothing construction class we have been working on what will eventually become a sample book. (I will be posting about that later on when it is finished. Right now its still looking really rough.) Once we have that completed we will be actually constructing our own garment. I am really looking forward to that. I didn't realize how much I would enjoy sewing but I REALLY REALLY like it.

When it comes to the written work that is a bit of another story. However, one aspect of it I am really loving. 

That is our weekly reading and devotional topics.


First of all, the book we are reading is titled "A Woman's Walk With God" written by Elizabeth George. I have read a few of her other books and I just love how real and raw she gets. You can really tell that she is writing with experience. She peppers the biblical wisdom with personal stories allowing her readers to really grasp how these principles really do fit into everyday, messy life. 

I also love it because I had the opportunity a few years ago to meet her in person and hear her speak at a conference and I just loved it. 

ANYWAY...

This particular book is focused on the book of Galatians and the fruits of the Spirit. 
Each week we have been assigned to read a chapter and in the back of the book there are some discussion questions. This would be a great book to go through with a group of ladies as a book study. For the purpose of our class, however, we are assigned specific questions to reflect on, type up answers to, and turn in each week. So far we have covered the first 3 chapters. We each have also been assigned a specific chapter and fruit of the Spirit to present a devotional for the class. (More on that assignment later on)

In the first chapter Mrs. George sets the stage for the reader. She prepares you for what to expect by laying out what it is to walk in the fruit of the Spirit and also that there are stumbling stones we will all encounter along the way if we are truly got commit to abiding in Christ and to walk in the Spirit. She reminds us that it isn't going to be easy, but it will be so rewarding in the end.

The first fruit that we dive into in the book is Love. On the surface this seems like it would be an easy chapter to read through. I mean I love my husband, I love my children, I love my family. In general I am pretty good a the whole "loving" thing. But as I read I realized that there is so much more to it. 

Its true that God puts a high priority on love. I mean, 1 John 4:8 even tells us that God is love. We also learn that God LOVES us so much that he gave us His son as a sacrifice. And we are told the greatest command is to love. Not just love, but to do so sacrificially. To be willing to lay down everything for the sake of Christ.

Intense.

Elizabeth George shares 5 principles that help us to understand love. 

Principle #1: Love is an act of the will. 
Love requires a daily decision. Every day I have to make the choice to love, no matter what life might throw at me. Most days it will be an easy decision. But on those days when my husband is driving me up the wall, and when the kids have done everything BUT what I have asked them to do, it is in those moments that loving them in the way that God has commanded becomes an act of the will. My flesh cries out to just forget it. To let it all go. But through the grace of God I am able to make the decision to continue to love even in the hard times. Just as God continues to love us through our rebellion and these hard times.

Principle #2: Love is Action-not just words
Love is something we do. Often times we see in media love being portrayed as a simple feeling. However, love is most often truly understood not in the words that are said but in the things that are done to show that love. I was often told as I was growing up that actions speak louder than words and that is all the more true when it comes to how we display our acts of love toward one another. God not only TOLD us how much he loves us. He showed us in biggest of ways. From Genesis to Revelation God shows His love for His people through his protection, provision, and His ultimate sacrifice.

Principle #3: Love reaches out to the unlovely.

This is a principle that I find the hardest to live out. I don't handle unlovely people well. When I come across people who are rude or just flat out ugly in their actions loving them is the last thing that I want to do. However, that is exactly what God expects me to be doing. Doesn't He continue to love me even when I am unlovely? It's hard to believe, after some of the rotten things that I have done in my life, that a prefect God would continue to love me. What makes me think I should be any different? We are to love no matter what the situation presents us.

Principle #4: We need God to help us love.

Once we come to the understanding that we are to love no matter what life has thrown at us, whether it is lovely or unlovely we then come to the stark reality that we NEED God to help us love. When we are in those times that things are just not working out and life is hard it is only through God that we are able to continue to demonstrate the sacrificial love that we are commanded to show to the world we live in. The truth is, that once we have given our lives to Christ the love we are sharing is not even ours to be giving. It is God's love being shown through us. An even bigger reason to rely on God to help us love.

Principle #5:Love expects nothing in return

The last principle that Elizabeth George shares is that as we love, both the lovely and the unlovely, through the help and guidance of God we are to do all of this expecting nothing in return. This, yet again, is a hard pill to swallow. How often do we just long for something as simple as a thank you, especially as a wife and mother? I know that I do. In fact, my husband and I got into an argument on Monday for that very reason. (It wasn't my finest hour that's for sure) However, ultimately, I am not doing the things I do for my family with the hopes of getting something in return from them. I know my family cares for me and I know my husband appreciates me. My rewards are being stored in heaven every time I serve my family I am serving the Lord. And I am striving to love and expect nothing earthly in return. 

Love can be a  tough subject. Especially if we set out to live out love in the way that God has laid it out in the Bible.  Luckily, we aren't called to do this all on our own. As long as we continue to allow God to pour His love into us we will be able to pour it out onto the world that needs Him ever so much.


Have you read any Elizabeth George books? If so, what did you think?

Do you find it hard to love the way God has called us to love? What do you do to live out love everyday?

Get you own copy of this great book here!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Lessons Learned When We Unplugged The TV


2 weeks ago the kids had a somewhat rough time when it came to behaving during church. One was blatantly defiant to his teacher during the entire class causing a need for Dad to come in and intervene and the other had a few moments of rude interruptions while her teacher was trying to talk which lead to the need to go get Dad (who was preoccupied with brother) to intervene. Luckily, just the act of the teacher walking out of the class was enough to scare her into submission for the rest of the class time. Mom was busy teaching her own class and was of NO help what-so-ever during this particular hour.

During that time Dad was in charge of making the discipline decisions. One of the decisions that was made was that both kids would be grounded from watching any form of Television for the week. This included Netflix and Hulu (the only "cable" type watching we have access too), movies, and videos on YouTube. (Yes, folks. YouTube has been discovered by the littles in the house. The current favorite is toy reviews and stop motion animation using the very same toys played with at home.) However, Mom and Dad had a show we were both looking forward to watching that very evening. The solution was to unplug the TV and bring it upstairs to our bedroom where we connected it to the computer to watch said program.

This little plan of ours worked just fine for the moment but it quickly became in the way in our bedroom and needed to go back downstairs to its home. We left it unplugged because with the kids being grounded from watching there was little need for it. Neither of the grown ups in the house really have time for much watching and what I do watch is usually done on the laptop while I am cleaning or folding laundry.

We are now 1.5 weeks into the television set being unplugged and I have to say that there are a few things that I have learned while having it out of commission.

Morning routines are so much easier when the TV is off!
I am really bad about sticking to a routine in the mornings. There was a time when I was a super morning person. I have a former teacher that can vouch for my unnecessary early morning peppiness. However, I have now become a full time mom and a full time student. Me and sleep are good friends. We need to spend LOTS of time together to keep our relationship alive. Therefore, when I have to leave sleep behind in the mornings it makes things tough to say the least. I am finding that when I don't automatically move toward the TV first thing in the morning both the kids get dressed, have breakfast, brush hair and teeth, etc. all in a semi decent time frame with little to no fighting or fussing.

The kids play outside more.
The fact that the kids are dressed and fed in a decent time frame means that they have the opportunity to go outside and play before it gets to hot to be out in the Texas summer heat. (I know its September but its still topping out in the upper 90;s Thats HOT!) They get to run and burn that energy early on and I get a chance to straighten up the downstairs with out having little ones yelling at me that they can't see every 5 minutes. That annoyed me when I was 15 and it annoys me now.

School time goes MUCH smoother.
We are full swing into our first official year of homeschooling (one in Kinder and one in Pre-K). The lessons are relatively short and simple to get through so we are done quickly but when the TV was on I heard A LOT of 'just one more show mom! Please!!!" And more often than not I would give in so I could get one more thing ready or clean one more room in the house. Before I knew it the clock was telling me it was time to start getting ready for lunch and I would have to rush to get school and lunch done at the same time.
That meant the learning was subpar and the lunch was worse.

Books are being read more!
Today we spent nearly 4 hours at one of the public library locations in town. I made the decision to go to the central location because I just love it. The children's section is wonderful and the kiddos love going there. I took some time to get the reading books needed for the next 2 weeks worth of school and each kid got to pick out a few books just for fun. Now with the TV off they are actually reading their books more. AND sometimes they even read them together without all the fighting. Its like a Christmas miracle I tell ya!

Meals happen at the table as a family.
This is one that I have tried for a long time to make sure happens. I enjoy spending time sitting around the table and talking with each other as a family. I like having that time to really get a chance to know what is going on in my kid's little 3 and 5 yr old brains. I often find some of the most unique things come out of their mouths during meals. However, we had gotten into a BAD habit of watching TV while eating dinner. Each of us in our own corner. I wasn't happy with it but I also didn't want to deal with the fighting and whining that would come with the change. Now that we are on the road both kids come straight to the kitchen when I tell them it is time to eat. That goes for all 3 meals of the day now. We are eating together and talking to one another. It's truly one of my favorite times of the day.

And lastly, bedtime routines are SO much easier.
Now that we aren't staring at the TV during our meal times until it's finally time to go to bed the process of getting the kids to bed has been so smooth. We tell them it's time for bed and they just go. No more begging for another show or more video game time. Now they ask which one of us will be reading them a bed time story. Getting in their PJ's and tucked in is a joy and a piece of cake. We are all able to end our day and pleasant as it began.

I will be the first one to tell you I didin't like the idea of the TV being out of commission. I am counting down the days until some of my favorite shows come back from summer break And I am not saying that by us unplugging the television that all of our troubles have gone away. We still have bickering and arguing but now there is a lot less noise behind it. I am not saying that the TV will stay unplugged forever either, But then again, you might just see a "For Sale" sign taped to the screen and posted on Facebook some time soon as well.


Does your family watch TV? How much or how little? How do you regulate the amount of TV time gets used on a regular basis? Let me know in the comments!


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Making The Most of My Busy Schedule: Meal Prep



Thursday August 27, 2015

That is the date that the fall semester begins here at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

2:30 PM

That is the time that my first class of the semester begins on the date listed above.

This semester I will be taking 7 credit hours. That is 2 3 credit hour classes and a lab.

This semester I will be taking the Ministry of Education and Special Topics in Homemaking:Clothing Construction.

I am really excited about both of these classes this semester. I have the syllabus for both classes in my possession and I have to say that I was taken a bit off guard. I know that I shouldn't be surprised by the amount of work that I will be doing (I am in grad school after all) but I get taken off guard EVERY SINGLE TIME. So when I got my book list and I say that I have 5 required readings for my Ministry of Education class I was taken a back. And then to see that I had a required text book for the Clothing construction course again caught me off guard a bit.
My six text books for the semester.
Tack on writing assignments to go with all this reading, not to mention the hands on element of the clothing construction lab and I will be a busy lady when it comes to school this semester.

Add to all of that homeschooling my 2 kiddos, homemaking responsibilities, church responsibilities, and anything else that comes my way and I will really need to be doing something to keep myself organized and on top of things. 

One of the things I have decided to do to keep things running a bit more smoothly during the coming weeks is freezer cooking.

I have done this in the past using a few different recipes and plans so it wasn't a new concept to me. Mostly I haven't had the capability to get the groceries all at one time. (It isn't cheap up front but saves SO much money in the long run)

However, when I was trolling Pinterest I found a pin for a slow cooker meal plan that should only cost roughly $150 when shopping at Costco. Since we made the decision to get the Costco membership last year I have been looking for ways to make the investment worth it. (Although the foot long hot dog and 20 oz. drink meal deal for $1.50 in the little snack bar area is almost worth it.)

Upon clicking on the link I found out this was a website that provides complete meal plans. This site has everything you need to get your freezer cooking going. I purchased the "Costco Meal Plan # 4"

This meal plan came with a complete shopping list, an assembly line list, recipe cards, and labels to put on the ziplock bags.

Once we got home with all the groceries I took some time to organize everything and begin defrosting the meat.
Lots of slicing, chopping, and dicing.

I then moved on to the produce preparation. By following the assembly line instructions I sliced, diced, and chopped onions, peppers, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and apples.







Once that was done I opened several cans of black beans, chicken broth, and diced tomatoes.
It was then time to assemble.

After stuffing ziplock baggies this is what I ended up with:
This is 16 of the 20 meals I put together.


And after 6 or so hours I now have meals dinner all ready for the rest of the weeknights this month and into the middle of next month. Now all I have to do is defrost, dump in the crock pot, and let it cook. 
Today's dinner: Pork Chops with Apples and Sweet Potatoes.
Family dinner tonight!




The plan is that I use this as a tool to keep my family fed home cooked nutritional meals. I am really bad about wanting to just jump in the car and head to the Chinese Buffet down the road or the nearest Chick-Fil-A for a quick and easy dinner when my days have been long. I am looking forward to this being the norm in our family from now on:













And when I remember to buy and use the Slow Cooker liners clean up is a snap!

Do you like to meal prep ahead? What types of things do you like to get ready? Am I crazy for jumping into another semester of grad school? (HAHA of course I am!)

Friday, August 14, 2015

Meant for More





Over and over again I have heard people say "We are meant for more."


I hear it at school as I sit in classes attempting to understand what is being said to me.
I hear it at church or when listening to preachers talk trying to encourage their congregations.
I even heard it over and over again at the Thirty One National Conference I attended in Denver.

You are meant for more.

The problem with that is that no one really ever explains what that means.

More of what?

More money? More recognition? More time?

Over the last several months I have really struggled with this idea. I have always felt like I should be doing more with my life but I have never really been able to put into words what that "more" should be.

Don't get me wrong. I am a wife, mother, business person, student, church member, volunteer, and homemaker. I know what I do is valuable. I am also in the process of stepping back into the role of teacher as my kids begin school. (One starting Kinder and one continuing with PreK). However, I still have this feeling deep in the pit of my stomach that I am supposed to be doing something else with my life.

When I started taking the wives classes that are offered here at the seminary 3 years ago I started out with the intent to just learn. I have always loved learning and I get excited about being in a classroom. I love the sight of new school supplies on store shelves and my favorite places to shop are office supply stores and craft stores.

However, as I finished my certificate program and made the decision to move on to the master's program that feeling of doing more began to grow. I am constantly asked why I am going to school now. What is the reason behind getting my degree. And more often than not I simply answer that the tuition break was offered and we figured why not?

The First Lady of the seminary, Mrs. Dorothy Patterson, who holds several higher education degrees, has often said that all women should have access to a theological education. That women should know what is in the Bible and how to read and teach it just as much as the men. And I have used that as my back bone of why I am pursuing my master's degree.

And yet, that feeling of needing to do more continues to grow. I have this feeling of emptiness in my brain. I keep trying to ask "What is the point?" "What is the end goal?" And I keep coming up empty. I am hoping that the more I continue on with my education the clearer my "something more" will become.

At this point all I know is that I AM meant for something more. I just don't really know what that means. Yet.

Have you ever felt this way? Am I the only one out there still searching?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Friendships


In my house we watch a lot of little girl TV. One of my daughter's favorite shows to watch is "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic".  The other day I was watching one of the episodes with her and the conversations between the characters was about how things come and go in life but friendship never changes. I started thinking about that conversation and how, while it is just a cartoon, there was a flaw in the point.

I believe that God puts people in our lives for a reason. I know there is a saying that has something to do with people being permanent or being there just for a season. But nevertheless, people are in our lives for some type of purpose.

Last week someone who had been in my life for a very long time passed away. He was one of my very best friends throughout much of my school age years. He knew things about me that very few people knew. We told each other secrets, we leaned on each other during hard times. laughed and loved together for many years.

However, life does what life does and we both took different paths once we were out of school. Due to that we drifted apart. That doesn't mean that we were never in each others lives again. It just meant that our friendship changed. I met Dusty and he met his amazing wife. We began to depend on each other for different things. He wasn't the person who I told my secrets to anymore. And I wasn't the one he leaned on when things got hard. 

For the past few days I have really been struggling with how to process his passing. I have struggled with a level of guilt for not being around for him when things started getting worse. But then, as I really processed how life has changed for me over the past 10-12 years I realized that I was holding on to  guilt that isn't mine to hold onto. There is no real reason for it. I was there for him when he needed me but he didn't need me anymore. At least not in the same way. And that is something that I am glad for.

So I will remember him and the friendship I had. I will remember the person I knew, loved, and laughed with. And I will remember that friendships change and evolve, but that doesn't mean that they are no longer valid friendships or that they don't mean as much anymore. It just means that they are different. And that is the way it is meant to be.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Life Happens

One of the things that I have had to force myself to realize over the last few weeks is that life happens. And there is not much that anyone can really do about that fact.

They say that life is what happens when you are busy making plans. So let me share a bit of how life has happened for us this week.

I had every intention of writing my post about a fabulous brand new crock pot meal that I had found on Monday evening. However, when I walked out of the house at 11:15 to get the kids their lunch and take them to the sitter I realized I had: 1) forgotten to brush my teeth, 2) forgotten to put on deodorant, and 3) forgotten to start dinner in said crock pot. This meant that I would have to scramble to figure out something for dinner when I got home from my meeting at about 6:45. Luckily, by the time I got home Dusty had already come up with a plan and I was just left to implement it while he took some time to focus on his homework.

Tuesday met me with a baby girl that was snot nosed, coughing, and only had the tiniest squeak of a voice. That meant no trips to campus for the weekly food ministry, and very little time off the couch since she wanted me to be right next to her at all times. I did manage to get the majority of a book read that I had to write a book review on (more on that subject to come later.)

Wednesday looked much like Tuesday except by the time Dusty got home I was drained. Between dealing with my homework and a sick child food was the last thing on my mind. This lead to us going to Wendy's for dinner. That in turn lead to me feeling guilty for eating junk food and for spending money we shouldn't have been spending. Oh well, such is life right. Things will work out one way or the other...

Thursday baby girl was feeling a bit better but her voice was still coming and going. I had a paper due that I scrambled to get finished. I am not thrilled with how it turned out but, frankly, I don't think I was going to like it no matter how much time I had to get it done. It was one of those assignments that was just hard to complete. Its amazing how when I write here or in a journal the words seem to come flowing out, but when I have to write a research paper or a book review (anything that counts as homework really) I just can't seem to get anything down on paper.

That leads us to today. So far today has been great. I ran a few errands, spent some great time with a friend while our kids were able to play together and I have my second load of laundry going in the washing machine.

This is what life had in store for me this week. If you look in my well thought out and beautifully decorated planner, none of what I described above was penciled in there (except maybe the assignments and the playdate).

Life was happening while I was trying to make other plans. I am constantly being told to enjoy these days while my kids are young. They will only be little for such a short time. And I know that. And I do love and enjoy these days. I am looking forward to the fuure as well. I look forward to knowing who my kids will become and having the opportunity to be not just their mom, but their friend.

But for now, I will continue to keep things as scheduled and organized as I can (since that is just who I am), but I will also try to remember that sometimes life happens in spite of my planning. And sometimes it is in that chaos that the best moments will happen.

What do you do when "life happens"? Are you a planner and a schedule type person? Or do you like to just let things fall where they may?



Friday, February 6, 2015

Fitness Friday:Housewalking and Fitness Trackers


There has been a post floating around Facebook lately that talks about a woman's plan to get in her daily recommended number of steps by simply walking around her house. While she is folding the laundry, chatting on the phone, or simply watching T.V. she is walking (even if it is just in place).

While "walking at home" isn't a new concept it is one that I had never really considered too seriously. That was until I read her post. Then I got to thinking. I have a lot of reading that I have to get done each day for school. And most of the time I get it done while sitting in very comfy chair in the livingroom. This way I can get my reading done and I can still keep an eye on my crazy kids. 

However, I think I have decided to make a new plan to walk the kitchen and maybe even up and down the stairs as I try to get my reading done. That way I can try to get some exercise in during the day and still get my work done. If I manage to have time for a full intense workout I will. 


One of the ways people choose to keep track of these types of things is through the use of fitness trackers. Recently the most popular device for tracking their fitness goals is the Fitbit. This handy little watch tracks calorie out put, steps taken, and you can even track sleeping patterns. It connects to your computer as well.
At some point I would like to get myself one of these types of trackers, however, for the moment I am using a Sportline Heart Rate Monitor watch. It keeps track of my steps and I can also keep track of my heart rate when I am really working out.

What do you think about the housewalking craze? How do you track your steps?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Meal Monday post (on a Wednesday) and my newest obsession

One of the things that the Seminary does during the spring semester is a program called Revive the Nation. This is  a program that allows churches all over the country to invite SWBTS students to come and preach a 4 day revival.

This year Dusty finally has the ability to go participate in this event. He will be visiting Hartwell, Georgia. We are both pretty excited about this opportunity.

However, it also means that he has to dust off all his old suits. And that also means that he is wanting to lose a few pounds to make those suits feel a bit more comfortable.

I bought "The Daniel Plan" book on sale a while back and we decided to try out the meal plan, with a  few modifications due to our schedule and budget restrictions.

I tried the first recipe out of the book last night and it was really good. Even the kids like it.

The recipe was Ground Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers


Ground Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers
3 large red bell peppers
3/4 lb. lean ground turkey
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375*.
 Cut bell peppers in half length-wise. Chop onion, tomatoes, and parsley. Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add turkey and cook until golden brown.
 Add onions, salt, and pepper to turkey. Cook until onion is translucent. Add diced tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes are soft and incorporated into dish. Add parsley. Stuff bell pepper halves with turkey mixture. Place stuffed peppers in a shallow nonstick pan lined with foil. Cook for 30 minutes until pepper is tender.

This recipe can be found on page 232 in the Daniel Plan book.

Now on to my "newest" obsession.

I have always loved planners and calendars and schedules. I am a very schedule oriented person. I don't handle being spontaneous very well at all.

In May of 2014 I joined Thirty One gifts and I realized I needed a planner even more. I had a small one that I was using for school and family related things but I needed something that I could incorporate everything that goes on my life into.

In July I discovered Erin Condren Life Planners. I am not entirely sure how I came across them but I did and I fell in LOVE. It has a monthly spread and a weekly spread, lots of notes pages in the back and room to write. The covers are customizable and interchangeable.

I ordered my planner in July and it was in my hands early August. I quickly discovered that the Morning/Day/Night set up was not working out for me. And then I discovered several groups on Facebook that are dedicated to the love of Erin Condren. I noticed that almost everyone changes up those boxes to fit their own needs. I also discovered the joy of decorating my planner.

AND then I discovered WASHI TAPE!! Heaven...crafting heaven.

I love all things crafty and I really love scrap-booking and journaling. This planner allows me to keep a schedule and plan for my family while also being crafty. Its also a great way to keep track of major events in our lives.

Here is my current cover of my Planner

I carry my planner in a Thirty One Zipper Pouch


This it the how I like to decorate the inside!



Think this is something you might want to look into? Follow this link for $10 off your first order!.


What do you like to do to stay organized?

Friday, January 30, 2015

The First Fitness Friday




Ever since I was 16 and placed on a specific type of medication I have struggled with my weight. The medication caused me to gain a large amount of weight in a very short amount of time. During my senior year of high-school I had the medication changed and I was able to become a bit more active, with dancing, cheer-leading. and playing softball. However, shortly after that I graduated and went to college. It was during this time that I saw what is commonly known as "The Freshman 15" except for me it was more like "The Freshman 25-30"

I became less active and I had a lot on my plate. I am also a huge stress eater. Oh, did I mention I worked in the cafeteria on campus...Yeah, that did not help matters one bit.

As time went on I tried various exercising programs, fad diets, the works. Then I got married and had 2 beautiful children. Taking off the extra weight I already had plus the baby weight has not been an easy process at all.

As I have been spending time here at seminary I have been studying a lot about biblical womanhood and what that really means. I am learning A LOT about what it means to truly serve God through my place in my home and within my community.

One thing that I have come to realize is that one of the main reasons that I am not able to effectively serve God and my family is because I am not living at my best. I know that I am overweight, and have been for some time. But I never really too into account what that meant when it came to my family. I realized that I am not giving them my very best because I am not at my very best. I know that weight is really just a number and the important thing is to be strong and healthy but I can't help but feel that the two truly have to go hand in hand.

Romans 12:1 says to "present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God"  If I am continuing to allow myself to not be at my very best an I really presenting my body as a holy and pleasing living sacrifice to God?  I don't think so.

So that leads me to the real point of this particular post.

I HAVE to do something to get myself to a point where I really am a "holy and pleasing, living sacrifice.'

The plan is this:

For the next 20 days I will be following the "21 Day Fix" work out program (I started yesterday so that is why I have 20 days left)

This work out comes from the Beachbody company. I bought it in November and I have started it a few times to only get a week and a half or so in and then just quit. I am counting on anyone that reads this to help keep me accountable to this program. 

The program comes with a complete set up of workouts, each only about 30 minutes long. Food containers to help with portion control, a drink cup, and a guide book. The program suggests you also add in a daily dose of their super food protein dring, Shakeology

Now the food containers don't really work with our particular life style and I am much better with counting calories and such so I will do that part for the food aspect. And the shake drink is really just to expensive for us to continue to buy so I will have to back out on that. 

And lastly, for the hard truth:

Here are my starting stats for this program:
Weight 240 LBS
Chest: 41.5 inches
Waist: 34.5 inches
Hips: 50.5 inches
Thighs: 25.5 inches
Arms: 13.5 inches

I will be updating my progress each Friday but I won't officially weigh and measure until the last day of the program.

Wish me luck!


What are your go-to exercise plans? How do you keep yourself on track? Do you have a cheap and easy healthy snack that you like to share? Post it in the comments! 



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Presuppositions


The Spring 2015 semester began on Thursday fast and furious. The first class I had for the semester was Biblical Theology of Womanhood II. Last semester I took the first section which focused on womanhood in the Old Testament. This semester the focus will be on womanhood in the New Testament.

One of the things that was discussed during this first lecture was the presuppositions that we all bring with us. We all have presuppositions about pretty much everything. The beliefs we hold about a specific topic before any information is shared. This is the case of politics, perceptions of people, and of religion.

When it comes to the content of the Bible we all have our own presuppositions, the things we believe about the Bible before we ever crack open the spine. 

As my professor began to walk us through the list of things she personally, as well as the administration at the school I attend bring to the table I was able to check off each one as she when through them. Here is the basic presupposition list she went through, with a bit of my own commentary added in.

For me I believe the Bible it 100%  true  It is the absolute, complete standard of truth.

I also believe that the Bible is completely inerrant and infallible. Yes, there are some places that make me say, "Hey, that can't be right" but mostly that is just me wanting things to be a bit easier and go my way more.

I believe the Bible is understandable. Again, there are some areas that leave me scratching my head for a time, but I believe that you do not have to have any level of seminary education to be able to understand what God is telling us in His word. 

And lastly, I believe the Bible is sufficient and authoritative. The Bible holds everything I need to know about this life I have been given and gives me that information with full authority. There have been some that have said that BIBLE could stand for Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth and I think that is a great way to describe it. 

Those are the core beliefs that I hold when it comes to the Bible. Luckily I am able to study under professors not only hold the same principle beliefs but strive to live them out on a daily basis. 

There are many other things that I "believe" about the Bible. Things that I believe the Bible is teaching me personally, things that I believe apply to marriage and family, things that I believe apply to social relationships and how to conduct ourselves, and even things that I believe apply to government and politics. But ultimately the number one question that has to be asked is this; "Can I support this position from Scripture?"

As I make my way through this semester I hope to unravel some more of what I believe and how it pertains to home, family, and life in general. I hope to challenge others as I have been challenged, to make decisions and know why you believe what you do. With conviction and passion be able to defend those beliefs with solid evidence and a firm foundation.

Chicken and Bean Cassoulet

One of the things I like to do is try at least one new recipe each week.

We like to try new foods and we like to introduce the kids to new things as well.

 Recently, while we were out I found a cookbook titled : The $7 A Meal Slow Cooker Cookbook

 The cover claims there are 301 inexpensive meals the whole family will love. Each recipe consists of several items that would normally be found in the average pantry. The rest of the ingredients are fairly inexpensive. Each recipe page consists of the ingredients and directions for preparing the meals. However, they also consist of a nutrition break down and a general estimate of how much each meal should cost. No meal carries a price point higher than $7.00

 Monday's are really busy days for us here at the Marshall household. Dusty and I are both in class from 12-6 PM and the kids are at a sitters house. One 2 Monday nights a month I have meetings at 6:30 and 7:00 and Dusty needs all the extra time to study that he can get.

 This means that Monday nights are cock pot nights. This week I decided to try a new meal and it actually turned out really good.

 Here is the recipe:

  Chicken and Bean Cassoulet
 1 Tablespoon butter
1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken things, cubed
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 carrots, sliced
1 (15 ounce) can navy beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup Chicken Stock
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf

 1.) Heat butter in large sauce pan over medium heat. Add chicken; cook and stir until browned, but not cooked through. Remove chicken to plate.
 2.) Add onions and garlic to sauce pan; cook and stir to loosen drippings. Place onions and garlic in 3 1/2 quart slow cooker along with chicken and remaining ingredients. Stir well to combine.
 3.) Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or until chicken is cooked and vegetables are tender.
Remove bay leave and serve.

 I had basically everything on the ingredient list in my pantry. We didn't have any navy beans but I did have a can of Great Northern White beans, so I just substituted that in. I also didn't have any tomato sauce so I substituted spaghetti sauce and it worked perfectly. The only ingredients I had to shop for this week was the chicken and onion! This meal is a definite keeper in the Marshall household! I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did.
http://www.vintageamanda.com/2010/11/cassoulet/

Friday, January 16, 2015

Spring 2015




It's that time again. School will be starting up in just one week. This semester I will be taking New Testament II, Biblical Theology of Womanhood II and The Christian Home. I am really excited about the courses I am signed up for this semester because they will all be focusing on my favorite parts of the Bible.

I am also really excited because this semester Dusty and I will be taking a class together. When we were in undergrad we were in the same major and that meant that our degree plans were almost identical. That also meant that we took almost all of our classes together. Basically the only classes we didn't take together were our electives and the ones required for our minors. I loved being in class right along with him learning the same things and being able to have someone to talk to about lectures and assignments. (Granted it did get frustrating when he didn't do his homework like I "thought" he should be.)

I managed to finish last semester with an A-, B+, and B+. That means I ended the semester for a 3.4 GPA. My goal is to try and push that up to at least a 3.5 GPA. One of the main things that I did was get a head start on my assignments this semester.

Like last semester I am required to read 2 different types of books for my Biblical Theology of Womanhood course and write book reviews on them. While I like being stretched and learning new things, I am learning more about myself and my personal beliefs more than I realized I would during this process. While working on my undergrad degree I only remember reading one book that just made me 100% angry. And that book was a fiction book that was required for one of my literature classes.

The books that I am reading now are non-fiction, informational books. And while I accept and appreciate the fact that everyone is entitled to their own opinions on various subject matters, I get angry when I feel things are being taken out of context to outrageously.

I know that the purpose of this type of assignment it to help us to know what view points are out there and for us to be able to make decisions on out own. However, I am going to say, I just don't like it.

I have a major goal of not complaining about my work load on Facebook this semester as well. I realize just how whiny I sound and I am going to do my very best to not be that person anymore. Along those same lines I am going to do my best to actually stay ahead of my assignments so I won't have any reason to become that person.

Here's to a great new semester!