Monday, October 31, 2011

Fall Is Here

Halloween has never been a big rave in the Cooney Family. We never watched scary movies for weeks leading up to Halloween or decorated the house with witches, zombies, mummies, tombstones, and ghosts. We never waited all year long for Halloween (maybe for candy that lasted you for weeks, but that's it). My mom never wanted to eccentrate the scary and mystical aspects of the "holiday," so we always just had an ordinary day, with the highlight bein trick-or-treating, and I appreciate that now that I'm older. With all that said and done, I do want to say

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

Today I offcially washed and put away my Halloween hand towels and brought out my Fall ones. So the AJ Zickefoose household is officially all ready for Fall. One thing that I really am appreciating about Washington, is that it accentuates all the seasons. I mean, the leaves change colors, it rains, and the weather is cold. This all really means: you can snuggle up in sweats and blankets on the couch, while sippin' on a hot drink and listenin' to it rain outside, and eat a warmer meal for dinner to warm yourself up. I just love that! However, it has been pretty cold here, that I have been finding myself California Dreamin, of that lovely California sun. I'll always be a California girl at heart! ♥





*Gone*





*Brought Out*

Baxter is also enjoying the season of Fall, because there are SO many leaves that he can play with/consume. I mean, when we first got him, the weather was so nice, but there would only be an occasional leaf in our backyard that he would chase around and have the time of his life doing so. Now that the leaves are off the trees, and all flew into our backyard, Baxter doesn't have to fight for that one leaf, because they are ALL IN OUR BACKYARD!! He even brings them inside without me knowing/realizing/paying attention. I looked at the living room carpet today and was like "How in the world did all these leaves get in here, and how did I not realize it before!?!" And then I ran off to tell this sentence to Baxter, who just looked at me and confirmed my sanity issues. Just to prove to you that he does love leaves, check out these Fall Baxter photos (I'm going to try and get better photos soon, it is SO hard to take pictures of a puppy. Yeesh).






Sunday, October 30, 2011

Remember When

The church I have chosen to call home, has been going through some great series since I began my journey with them almost two months ago. The pastor is the main reason why I chose to call it "home." He's a really good pastor, and knows how to connect his messages back to the Bible very well, and also empower you to act upon what he is saying. I've really enjoyed him as a pastor so far, and am looking forward to how I learn and grow from his messages in the future.

The series he is on now is called "Remember When." The background he made for the series is that overtime, significant events lose their significance, because there is tension when you remember past events and remain in it. His two main points have been, 1) significant events need to be told and retold. This will be a benefit and blessing to multiple generations, so that they will know how God has been faithful to the family line. His main point this week, was "Remember when sin held you in bondage. Live as somone set free. Don't reclaim your chains, but live to please the Lord."

I really appreciated his message today, because you always tend to think that the past is the past. If you had a dark past, then leave that behind you and start new and afresh; never turning behind you to remember where you came from. Focusing on the present is much better and healthier. However, remembering the times we were in bondage (sin), allows for us to live in freedom today; choosing to remember that we've been redeemed. He gave many examples from the Bible. Multiple times in Deuteronomy, four times to be specific, God reminds Israel to remember that He, the Lord, brought them out of slavery in Egypt (5:15, 6:12, 24:18,22). In Leviticus, God says it a little differently, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high" (26:13; you can also substitute Egypt for sin, and it reads the same for today). Lastly, in Colossians 1:10-14, there's another beautiful reminder that I would encourage you to read on your own.

His message has really motivated me to remember all the times in my life where God has been faithful to me, bringing me from a cold place, to his warm, loving embrace. It also has encouraged me to remember that God is my savior, among many other things. I chose to call Him my Savior, and therefore, he has saved me, cleansing me from all my sin, with his sacrifice on the cross. How more grateful can a person be?!? My responsibility, for making that choice years ago, is to live a life that is pleasing and honoring to His name.

GREAT stuff!! I hope you can be encouraged throughout your week to remember when God saved you from bondage and set you free to live a life that is pleasing to Him. And if you haven't made that choice, maybe now is time to think about the reasons God would be needed in your life. I would encourage you to keep a journal so that you and future generations can be reminded of how God has been faithful to you.

*Courtesy of Pastor Barry Bandara, Silverdale Baptist Church*

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Egg-cellent

I've never been a HUGE fan of eggs. I mean, I always happily ate anything on my plate, but I never begged for eggs for breakfast. Lately, I'm the polar opposite. When I think about what I want for breakfast, eggs always pop in my head first thing. Maybe because I'm doing some fun creative things with them, like this, this, and just the good ol fashioned way like this.

To share a dream of mine with you, I've always wanted to have my own chickens to produce our own eggs. I not only think it would be fun, but it's so cheap, too. I have shared this with Adam, who happily has accepted this dream of mine to become reality someday. Well, on Thursday night I took Baxter along with me to my new bible-study, and he got introduced to their chickens right away. He did a small growl at them, and was so curious as to why they didn't want to play with him. It was really cute. I told this to Adam in an email, also reminding him that I want Chickens one day, and his response was, "I can just picture it right now, little Baxter hearding our chickens." I laughed all day long to the imagery this response provoked. I hope you get a kick out of it, too. Maybe this will help,

These


+

Him




= a funny reason to laugh!!!

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Excited Happenings

There's a lot of excited things going one in the next couple of months that I very much looking forward to. Here's the excited line-up of fun events going on in my life:

1)This last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting up with one of my college room-mates Joanna, in Seattle while she was in town visiting her brother. We had a pleasant visit catching up on our lives.

2) This weekend I am going to visit one of my mom's closest friends from high school, who lives 45 minutes away, who I have been promising to get together with since I've gotten settled in. I'm excited to meet up with them and see their beautiful home, from what I hear.

3) Then on November 4th (cannot believe it's going to be November already! Yeah for time flying by!!) my good friend Christine is coming up here to visit some family and is gracing me with her presence! Can't wait to see her, and of course Josiah, who's she's bringing along.

4) The next weekend I have a half way party to attend with fellow Stennis wives. Will be exciting to see Adam's shoutout video. He did one before the FB one, that will be on display at this event (which is the only reason why I'm going). :)

5) The following week is the Twilight premiere!!!! Yeah for rational reasons (in my opinion, maybe not yours) to actually stay up late!! Cannot wait!

6) Then the day after the premiere my family will be here for a week and a half!! WOO-HOO for company!!!

7) Three weeks later I leave for Cali for three whole weeks.

Isn't time just flying by. I'm glad I have these events to look forward to and keep my mind distracted.

PS: If you want to make it on the list, just let me know :)

Here's the view I had from the ferry ride home from Seattle.






Isn't Seattle so beautiful at night?!?

Monday, October 24, 2011

With You

These days I'm learning and growing. I know that right now God is teaching me how to be with Him, make time for Him, love Him, yearn for Him, and how to be a devout follower. I am thankful that He is teaching me these things now, because I believe that it is important for me to learn how to do this now more than ever. With Adam gone, it's easy to just crawl up in a corner, lock myself in bed, underneath all the nice warm covers, or throw myself in the closet and never come out. It would be so much easier to scream "Why me God?" Yes, that would be easy to do, but that won't get me anywhere.

Yes, there are days when I so wish that I had the personality to take the easy way out, but that's just not my style, or at least I am convincing myself it's not. Some days are extremely hard and I have to work hard to pull myself out of what seems like a never-ending hole. Other days, I feel like I'm on top of the world and I can take on anything that comes my way. Some days go by so slow I want to scream. And then there are days that go by so fast, I'm literally shocked the weekend came by so fast. There's never usually two days that are the same, but what I do know that is when I find myself making time in my day for God, my day is easier to get through. I'm not saying that just because someone spends time with God their day is automatically set to awesome-blossom. That's not it at all. It's just easier to get through a day when you know that there is someone who is carrying you through, who is on your side. Doesn't everybody need that?!?

I met up with one of my college room mates yesterday in Seattle and decided for the first time to take the ferry without my car. I really liked doing that. Bringing your car and driving it around in Seattle is a heartache waiting to happen. Never again!! Anyways, I decided to bring a book with me to read, to get me through the hour long ferry ride from Bremerton to Seattle. Lately, I haven't been feeling like reading, crafting, scrapbooking, or any of my hobbies for that matter, so when I feel like doing one of them, I jump on the opportunity. I brought the book, The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer To The Heart of God. I'm really glad that I started this book, because I can definitely hear God speaking to me through the pages of this book. I highly suggest that every one read this book, and I'm just half way through! There is a passage in the book that I want to share with you.

"The truth of the gospel is intended to free us to love God and others with our whole heart. When we ignore this heart aspect of our faith and try to live out our religion solely as correct doctrine or ethics, our passion is crippled, or perverted, and the divorce of our soul from the heart purposes of God toward us is deepened...Our heart is the key to the Christian life...Oswald Chambers writes, "It is by the heart that God is perceived [known] and not by reason...so that is what faith is: God perceived by the heart." This is why God tells us in Proverbs 4:23, 'Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.'"

I find this to be unseemingly true. Our faith is supposed to be more than just making sure we don't sin, following the commandments to a T, and going to church every Sunday. Yes, these things are important, but our faith is supposed to be a relationship with God, and we aren't going to develop that relationship if our heart is not in the right spot. If our heart is not in it, then does our whole life count? You can live the perfect Christian life, doing all the right things, but if you have a bitter heart, than what is the physiad for?

There is a female Christian singer, Jamie Grace, that has me captivated by the sound of her voice and the lyrics of her songs; love her music! I love a lot of her songs right now, and really want to share them all, look out for more posts with her songs, but there is one in particular that illuminates what I am trying to communicate (haha that rhymes!). It's entitled, With You. You can listen to the whole song here, please do, she has such a pretty voice, but some of the song is below.

Chorus:
When I'm with You
When I'm with You
It's like anything, everything
That's been weighing on me
Falls by the wayside
When I'm with You
I love being with You

I smile when You say my name
Cause no one's ever said it quite the same
I listen for it everyday (You know, You know)
On cue, it's You perfect timing
Dusting off that silver lining for me
So I can finally see
*Courtesy of noa-christianlyrics.blogspot.com*

I think that God is trying to communicate to me how important it is for me to love Him. To wake up in the morning and yearn to grow closer to Him in the day that He has given to me. That there is more to life than just spending days with your husband (bummer). I am called to place God before my husband, to put Him first, not the other way around. It might be a wake up call, but I already knew this, it's nothing new. God is using this time of my life to show me how to prioritize the things of my life. I know I could ignore this message all-in-all and pretend like I don't hear it, but I do hear it. I want to listen to God's voice every day, like Jamie's song suggests. When we're with God, he'll carry all of our burdens and help us with the pain. We won't get that, however, if we aren't with Him. I want to respond to the beauty of his soul and find comfort and rest in knowing that everything will be ok, there is a reason behind the things he is doing, and joy in knowing that where He is leading me is where He wants me to be. When I find that, if ever I do, I think I will be content in finding peace despite my circumstances.

Hope these thoughts enlighten you, knowing that there is someone bigger and greater than you, that can help carry you throughout the rest of the week. Love you all.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Prayer Requests

When I started the theme "Saturday Laughs" I should have found a better name. I mean, the last two weeks I haven't had something, anything, funny to share since week 1. Oh well. Today I have nothing that is worth a laugh, again, but I do have some prayer requests.

1) I filled out three applications yesterday and will be turning in another one on Monday, and would appreciate some prayer on if it's God's will for me to get one of these jobs.

2) I have caught a little cold of nasal congestion, sinus headache, body aches, and sore throat, that has left me feeling very weak. I would appreciate prayers on healing and feeling better.

3) That Adam would be focusing most of him time studying for his test at the beginning of next month.

Other than these things, all is well here in WA. I hope you all have a good weekend. :D

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Psalm 13

Six verses is all that consists of Psalm 13, yet it's good! I've been reading a Psalm a day until I get through the whole book of Psalms. I've missed the last 2 days, and today's chapter was lucky 13. The whole chapter is about how David doesn't feel the Lord, because he doesn't feel as if He's listening or answering to his cries of prayers. Then in verses 5-6 is what I needed to hear, I mean read.

"But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me." (NIV)

David made this statement, even despite him not "feeling" God. He said this with faith, knowing that God watches over those who call Him Father, even when we don't "feel" him at times. I'm not saying I needed to read this because I don't feel God right now, but because I need to sing praises to God because he has been good to me, whether I want to be honest and admit it, or naive and discouraged.

I don't want to be the latter.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Everytime

I'm really counting my blessings right now. Sometimes, we get caught in a rut, not realizing all that we have and begin to take advantage of it. With this kind of view, one begins to see a privilege as a right, thus causing expectations. This has been my case the last couple of days, however, I got a reality and humility check. I have so much to be thankful for. There are always going to be days where the devil will try to use things, people, events, to try and bring you down and make you believe that God is not on your side, but you've just got to learn to not give in and not believe his lies.

This reminds me of one of my favorite Jeremy Camp songs. I mean, I have a whole list of my favorite Jeremy Camp songs, but this one is close to the top. I know I have already talked about him before, but his songs are so uplifting, motivational, and inspiring, plus the song fits with how I've been feeling lately. It's called Everytime. The chorus and bridge of the song are my favorites. Here, they are (or you can listen to the song here).

Everytime I'm on my knees
Pleading for Your strength
I will find You there
Find You there
Everytime I'm on my knees
Reaching for Your strength
I will find You there
Find You there

I'm holding on to this hope I've been given
To be always with You
I'm seeing now that this fullness of faith is always seeking You

*Courtesy of www.sing365.com*

The song is a great reminder that eveytime we find ourselves in a circumstance where we feel lost, God will find us there, meet us, and satisfy our needs. How awesome is that reminder?!? That's why I just love listening to this very good song!

The communication I've had with Adam has been so great. We email every day, he calls me every two weeks (give or take) and we get to skype whenever they are in port. How amazing is that?!? This has become the usual, and I'm very ok with that, but it's easy to forget that it's a blessing. There are some days when Adam's not allowed to communicate, the phone connection is static-y, or the call is lost. It's so easy to let that one day of no communication or lack of good phone connection bring you down and forget that it's amazing that we get this much communication. I feel as though I have been pretty darn patient with everything so far, and I'm pretty understanding about things like this, I mean, who can really rely on technology? However, no matter who you are, the situation is frustrating. Adam reminded me that it's a blessing that we even get to communicate at all, and he's absolutely right! It's not a guaranteed right that I get to communicate with my Sailor, I sure do wish!, it's absolutely, 100%, a privilege, and I'll take whatever I can get! I really don't know how World War II Sailor's wives handled the lack of or NO communication. I mean, that would make it a lot harder!!

Current Blessings:
1) I have a husband who is loving, caring, motivating, and encouraging even while he is thousands of miles away. ♥ him!
2) I have had good communication with Adam the last two weeks. Regular emails, three calls this week, and received a package from him last week. :)
3) I have joined a bible study at the church I am now attending, and all the girls are so sweet and welcoming.
4) I have more than just one friend here now!! Yeah!
5) This girl has a new, single digit mile time of 9:56!! :)
6) I have a loving family (on both sides), who are supporting Adam and I all throughout this new journey. I found out this week that my parents, brother, and Cooney grandparents are flying up here for 10 days during Thanksgiving! WOO-HOO! This excites me!
7) Baxter. He's a blessing to have around and keep me company. He makes me laugh, with his goofy and playful personality. And from my last post you all know that he's now walking pretty well on the leash, which means that there are long walks waiting for us in our near future.
8) I'm feeling very healthy, by being active and eating well.
9) I've been expanding my recipe books and making some pretty yummy meals. The goal is to learn a lot of really healthy, but yummy meals before Adam gets home, so I can spoil him with some great home-cookin'!!! :D
10)Adam did a shoutout video for me!!!! :D You can view it here on youtube. It's short and sweet, but straight to the point. Aww this made my week, probably the rest of my month, too!!! Ps. Isn't he lookin' so good!! :D

Happy week to you all! Remember that God will find you, when you find yourself on your knees.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

We're Walking Along

We're strumming along on this deployment people!! YEAH!! On another note, in a desperate search to keep up with my Saturday themed posts, I finally thought of something worthy of a Satuday Laugh. My Baxter boy is finally stepping into that big boy criteria, as he can now walk on the leash pretty well during a walk. The weather has been really nice this past week, therefore, we've gone on more walks. Although he still doesn't like for me to put the leash on him (he acts like I'm sending him to a doggy Dachau), he's doing really well during our walks! When we first got him, he would have about 2-3 panic attacks where he would randomly start jumping around every which way, therefore getting slammed into the curb and sidewalk on his own doing. But all that aside, he's now a champ!! Yeah for more walks coming our way! Thanks for letting me share his sill update with you. But wait, you need a picture for proof!




Happy Weekend to you all :D

It's Been Chili Here

Last week the weather was cold, rainy, and overcast; just the way people described it would be when we said we were moving to WA. Since the weather is actually turning into "real" Fall weather opposed to "fake" Fall weather that I am used to in California, I decided it was time to put my crockpot into full use. I've been researching in my good ol' Fix-It and Forget-It Recipes for Entertaining: Slow Cooker Favorites for All the Year Round cookbook, aiming at what recipes would be good for Fall weather and also good for freezing. Two ideas jumped out at me right away: Chili and Veggie Soup. I looked through all the dozens of Chili recipes (who knew there were 24+ ways to make the stinkin' thing) and through the same amount of veggie soup recipes (still a shocker at all the ways)! I finally settled on a recipe for each. Last Friday I gave the Chili recipe a go and last Saturday I made the veggie soup. I really, really, really loved the Chili recipe, it was so delicious! The vegetable soup was good, too, with a little twirks.

Slowly Cooked Chili
1-2 lbs. ground beef or turkey, browned in skillet (I used ground turkey)
15 1/2 oz. can kidney beans, undrained (I also added in a can of black beans, a can of pinto beans and a can of white beans, all drained)
3 cups tomato juice
3 Tb. chili powder (won't hurt flavor if you lower this amount)
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
1/2-1 tsp. salt, according to taste
1/4 tsp. pepper

Combine all ingredients in slow-cooker and cook for 10-12 hours on low or 5-6 hours on high. Serve with corn bread. YUMMY!!!

Easy Vegetable Soup:
4 cups vegetable, beef, or chicken stock
4 cups vegetables (any you prefer. I used, corn, celery, broccoli, carrots, and mushrooms)
leftover meat, cut into small pieces or 1lb. cubed beef browned in a skillet (I did not use any meat and it was just fine)
15 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup uncooked rice, barley, or pasta (I used Quinoa and it was great)
(I would also add in some garlic powder, salt and pepper, and italian seasoning for more flavor)

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker except rice or pasta. Cook on low for 6 hours, adding in rice or pasta 1/2 hour before serving. Serve with crackers or corn bread.

The veggie soup was good, but needed more flavor (even though I added additional seasonings than what the recipe called for). Yummy!!

My friend and I also made a REALLY good meal this last week, too. It's from eatingwell.com and it's called Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Portobellos, and you can find the recipe here. I definitely would recommend making this on your own!! Maybe make it for a nice date night or anniversary, to really please your spouse :) If you serve it with this Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Pasta, and you've got yourself a satisfied man (and you!!). I really cannot wait to make this for Adam; he's gonna LOVE it! :D





How Eatingwell.com looked like



*How mine came out (I didn't put in the picture that I served the portobello with more marinara sauce; fabulous!!)*


Happy Eating!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sneak Peak

So I've decided to take that good ol' sewing machine out of the box, and give it some good ol' usage. Well, it's been out of the box for awhile, so I guess I should rephrase: I've decided that it's time to use some of the left-over fabrics I've had from prior projects and put them to good use. Here is a sneak peak of some of the fabrics I will be using for some projects that have been flourishing in my mind.



I'm almost done with one of them, and I'm really excited about it :D

Monday, October 10, 2011

It Pleases You

Every winter, when I was in junior high and high school, my church youth group would go up to Big Bear for winter camp. It was tradition and something that you looked forward to every winter. At the "camp" there would always be a band that would lead worship for the whole weekend, and every year it would be a different band. One winter we were blessed to have a small band from Riverside lead us in worship for the weekend, and their name was Moi. After the camp, I couldn't depart from their music, so I bought their cd. One of their songs has remained close to my heart after all these years, because it touched me so dearly and taught me something new about my faith. The song is called "It Pleases You." It's a very simple song, with just one verse and a chorus that is repeated, but don't be fooled, there is a lot jammed-packed in this song. I highly recommend you listen to it here, but I also wrote down their lyrics from their song below.

It Pleases You

I come tonight,
To yield my right.
I give you my life
As a gift of offering,
Like the one that you gave me.

It may not make a difference.
It may not change a single life.
It may not move a single stone.


But it pleases you.
It pleases you. X 3
Woah cause it pleases you I come X 2


-Repeated-

Is is not simplistically beautiful?!? This song teaches me everything I need to know about having "faith." We're not called to do things without a purpose. Everything we do, there is a reason behind it. We don't tell others about God's kingdom because we have to. NO. Because it pleases Him. God may not have chosen for me to live such a powerful and convicting life like he has others. For example, Abraham, Moses, Paul, David, Job, Samuel, any of the disciples, Martin Luther King, Jr, Mother Theresa, or anybody else you want to add to this list. Although I may live my whole life just being "Jasmine;" going to church, tithing, caring for people in need, being hospitable, telling people about Jesus and the glory of His kingdom, believing that God died for our sins, and trusting and relying on Him 100%, that's fine by me, because it's pleasing to Him. It's not about me or us in any way, shape, or form. We are called to "Take up our cross daily and follow Him," Luke 9:23. Our life on Earth is not about how much we can end up with before we die. None of that is going to matter, so why bother? No. We are called to be better than that, to offer our lives as a sacrifice to Him. And why? Because it's pleasing to Him. Period. Bottom line. God cared enough about me, to create me and He has called me to share with others about the goodness of His kingdom, and I'm called to do this because it's pleasing to Him. Even if I just change one person's life, that will be enough. It's not about the numbers. It's about the act of giving our life to God, so He can use it how He has planned.

Some of us are called to be Moses' and Abrahams, the world needs those kind of people with those kind of characteristics and traits. But for all the rest of us, we are called to do different things. Some are called to be doctors, missionaries, teachers, lawyers, or yoga instructors. It does not matter what your title or position is, what matters is that you know that you can make a difference no matter what you are called to be. Don't try to be a David, if you are called to be "____________" (fill in your name there). None of us should feel bad if we feel like we aren't making a humongeous impact. You may live your whole life never "feeling" as if you ever made an impact, but that's not the point. Be who God made you to be, nothing less, and that will be pleasing to Him. God can use anyone. All He wants from you is your heart. You just have to be willing to give it to Him to use. Are you willing?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Stepping Out

This week I didn't encounter anything that would similate a laugh or anything close to it. I surprisingly had a "normal" week. Although you may still be surprised that the post is still labeled under "Saturday Laughs," when I first started this post, I did say that I would document all the funny moments and struggles, as well as the good times that I experience while Adam is gone on deployment, through these posts. So today I have one of those moments to share that I am happy to share didn't cause frustration or anything close to it.

Yesterday there was a women's event at the church that I have been attending. It was a Women's Fall Tea, where an international author came to share of her exciting stories of how God is using women all around the world to impact and change the world. I knew I wanted to go to the event when I first saw it in the bulletin, but the thing that was keeping me from going was the fact that I only know one person at the church, Demi, and she doesn't even count (that sounds wrong, but you know what I mean). Although I was hesitant to sign up since I knew she wouldn't be able to go because she works nights, I signed up anyway. The church has a cool system where you can register and pay for events online through their website. So early in the week I registered and paid online for the event, knowing that I wouldn't want to back out since I already had paid the fee. Although it was really intimidating to go by myself, I was really glad I went. All the ladies that sat with me at my table were so nice, and really made it a point to talk to me and get to know me, and most importantly, to make me feel comfortable. All the ladies who sat at my table belonged to the same bible study and they invited me to join their bible study this next week. Low and behold, it meets right down the street from me; imagine that. Coincidence or not, I say so!

All-in-all I am happy that I went to the tea. It's not that I am happy that I went, it's that I'm happy that I fought the urge to go. I could have just not gone and said "It was only $10, no biggie." However, I'm glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and made it appoint to try something that I wouldn't normally do by myself. Slowly, but ever so surely, I am starting to come to turns with my decision to move up here and get settled in without Adam. I've come to think that when you're vulnerable, God can easily direct you to places He wants you to be. I hope I continue to rely on God's strength to step out and see what's out here for me in Bremerton.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Healthy Lifestyle

Everyone needs a reason to live a healthy lifestyle. Someone's reason may be for a health reason or disease that requires a certain diet. Another person's reason may be for their weight. While someone else may choose a healthy lifestyle by choice. I want to be the latter. I don't want there to be "something" that forces me to be healthy, but rather it to be my choice to live healthy. I don't want to wait for something to be wrong with me and it be almost too late for me to change my ways. That's why I am choosing to make my health a priority while I am young. They say that after you do something consistently for thirty days that it becomes a habit. Well, I want to live by this saying, but change it up a bit. I want to eventually say, "After you have been doing something for over ten years, it becomes a lifestyle" (the years can change, that's just an example). My point is, I want good eating habits and regular exercise to become such apart of my daily life, that I don't have to think twice about whether or not I exercised for at least 30 minutes every day or if my lunch was healthy enough. I want to just know that I don't have to worry about it, because it is apart of my life. This is my motivation for my healthy lifestyle.

Since Adam has been gone, I have been getting back into going to the gym regularly. Slowly but every so surely it has become my new BFF. You can find me on the base gym(s) usually five days a week, Monday-Friday. I start off with cardio using machines that I never used to touch: the elypticals. They are killer, yet fun, and are really effective at burning calories! Then I usually pick another cardio machine, either the stair climber, a cycle, or the treadmill and burn some more calories to mix it up. After cardio, I usually switch every other day working out legs/abs and arms. I've been trying to end with another ten minutes on the elyptical after strength, to push myself and get the most out of my workout. On a usual day I'll burn 350-500 calories, depending on my fatigue.

One of the things I am working on is lowering my mile time. My goal is to get it into single digits. Last week I clocked my mile time at 12 minutes. I ran the mile again the beginning of this week and got it down to 10:40. I'm so close to single digits I can taste it. Maybe next week!?!

As far as eating healthy goes, I am trying to eat the right proportions of fruits, vegetables, grains, and meat. On top of this, I am working on portion control. It helps that I only have to cook for one, so you can tell how much of things you need to cut up or prepare, but that's my weak spot. Another new thing for me in this area is eating the right proportions of calories. I have never been one to care for couting calories because I strongly feel that people take it way too far. To my surprise it has helped me in my eating habits. I downloaded this free app onto my iphone that helps you track your calories and your workouts. It has been an eye-opener for me. I will put in what I eat for each meal and it will calculate how many calories I ate. Usually when I am eating healthy I eat a lot of fruits and veggies, but forget that they are low in calories and I still need to eat more to get to my target amount of calories. This has been a good tool for me.

My favorite Breakfast is this recipe for a bell pepper egg in a whole. I follow the recipe but do my own thing. I grill red and green onions, mushrooms, broccoli, garlic, sesame seeds, and in addition to the salt & pepper I add garlic powder to the top of it. For a complete breakfast I eat it with whole wheat toast with light cream cheese or grape jelly. GREAT additions let me tell you!!! It is SO YUMMY!!!!

Here is what mine looks like :D



Some of my favorite snacks:

Swiss Cheese with: grapes, apples, or Tomato & Basil Wheat Thins
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with: carrot sticks or whole-wheat pita bread
Apples with Peanut Butter
Fat Free Ranch with carrots or cuccumber
String cheese
Almonds or Walnuts
Or this: An Apple Sanwich

This is also a great fun snack I've been enjoying, too. An apple sandwich, although it is hard to eat as a sandwich. It has peanut butter, chocolate chips and granola inside.

I am also trying to buy healthy ingredients that pose as good substitutes for recipes. For example, I've been buying whole wheat pasta noodles, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pita bread, olive oil, and whole wheat bread for cooking. It's such an easy way to eat healthy, if it's already in your cupboards. For salads I have been using different kinds of vinegars instead of buying dressings, and it's my favorite thing to do now! I really want to make my own dressings, too, but just haven't yet for some unknown reason to me. I've also been making my own marinades for meats and it is so fun and yummy!! For baking recipes I've been buying wheat flour, almond milk, and unsalted butter to use for substitutions, and you really can't tell the difference at all!

Balsamic Marinade:
Whisk 1/4 cup each olive oil and balsamic vinegar,

2 minced garlic cloves,

1 tablesppon Italian seasoning,

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Makes about 1/2 cup


Per serving: 169 calories
*From Eating Well Magazine*




Here are some of the meals that I have made for lunches/dinner:


Lemon Pepper Chicken Salad. I've also done this salad with Lemon Pepper Cod and it was soooo good too!



This is my absolutely favorite lunch nowadays. It's a fajita pita. It's made with lemon pepper chicken (or use the balsamic marinade chicken); grilled onions, mushrooms, peppers, sesame seeds, and garlic; lettuce; tomato; 1 tablespoon of roasted red pepper hummus, all in a grilled whole-wheat pita bread. YUMMY!!! Can't wait to make this for Adam, who I know will love this!


This is how my grilled chicken turned out with the balsamic marinade; SO good! I also marinated some pork in the same marinade and it was so good on it, too!!


Eating right doesn't have to mean eating veggies straight from the grocery aisle or grains straight from the bins at places like Henrys or Sprouts. You've got to be creative and use your head to make combinations that you wouldn't think of otherwise. It's been fun experimenting with different things. My next experimentation is going to be making pesto. I think it will be interesting.

Do you have a reason for being healthy?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Snoqualmie Falls

There's nothing like being outdoors in nature, witnessing God's beauty firsthand. However, there is something else that is better: enjoying it with other people, especially family; now that's fun. I was excited when Adam's Aunt and Uncle invited me to go with them to the Snoqualmie Falls up here in Washington. I had heard of them before, but never have been. I was looking forward to our day trip, and was excited to leave my house early Sunday morning. The view was breath-taking, let alone the atmosphere. Feeling the mist from the waterfall on your face, to hearing the sound of rushing water, to seeing the little bit of sun that was out in the sky reflecting off of the water; all added to its beauty. After we explored the waterfall from different angles, we headed to the town of Snoqualmie and took a little train ride that goes past the waterfalls and past the town in the other direction, too. You forget how the small things in life can really bring pleasure to small children. It was a delight to witness their excitement. It all made for a lovely day. I sure do hope I am invited on more adventures with them, too (hint, hint). This place is something that Adam would enjoy when he comes back home, so I know I'll be seeing this again. Please enjoy the beauty we got to witness this day.
















*In the town of Snoqualmie*



*The kids second favorite part of the day: digging with sticks*



*A view of the river from the train ride*

Monday, October 3, 2011

Different Now


Everyone goes through phases. Phases are just a part life. I look back on my teenage years and just wonder what happened? I went from being strong in my faith and relationship with God, to rebellious; a completely 360 degree turn. It's almost as if everything I believed was taking the trunk of the car, and everything else got the pleasure of bring inside the car with me. I know that everyone goes through this weird phase of adolescence, but for me it was different. When I entered high school I knew I didn't want to be like all the "cool" people, that wasn't my issue. Yes, things started to change for me in high school, but it wasn't until college that my rebellion hit full circle.

Things started to become more appealing to me that weren't before. I never knew that I would find myself doing some of the things that I wound up doing. I know I gave my poor mother some scares. For example, not calling her to tell her where I was and then not coming home until 5-7am. Completely lying to my mom, even though I never had lied to her before, taking advantage of the fact that I was trustworthy in her eyes. I'm not proud of any of these things. I look back and tell myself, "why didn't I just call?" During this time, church became less and less a priority and more and more unnecessary.

Living the party lifestyle is fun. It's fun to have no cares and to put all your troubles on the side burner, and to do whatever pleases you with no limits or boundaries. But really, it's only fun for awhile. It gets old waking up in the middle of the night so dizzy that all you can do is sleep. Or throwing up in random peoples bathrooms. Or barely getting home safe. What people who are in it don't realize is that there is happiness outside of partying. There are other ways to having fun that you actually can remember when you wake up!

I don't have any regrets in my life so far, because I have realized something really important: it was a learning experience. I have learned so much through this phase of my life.

1) I have learned who my true friends are.
2) Alcohol doesn't solve problems.
3) There is happiness in the world
4) Going to church is important
5) *God forgives and offers second chances.*

Four years ago i was finally coming to this realization. I was at the point in my life where I wanted better. I wanted to be the person I used to be. However, it was really hard to come back to being a believer, rather than simply believing. It's almost as if you feel, "where do I truly start?" I know the Bible, I didn't forget the years of Awana or Sunday School. The Nike motto was hard; how do you "Just Do It?"

Well, you take it one step at a time. You pray. And you have to truly feel forgiven and know that God really did forgive you of all your sins. I mean, most of the people that God used in the Bible were given second chances: David, Paul, Peter, Adam, Eve, the woman at the well, the woman who anointed Jesus with oil; they all were people who came with a past, yet God chose to use them. Do you ever think about that? God came down to earth to reach people who were broken, wounded, sick, rejected, poor, etc. He did not come for the already believers, for they already had the great news, but he came to reach those who didn't have the news of him. This gives me hope. Hope to know that God can use anyone, even a wretch like me. And hope that I have the power to make my future brighter than my past.

About the time I was starting to realize I wanted to change my life, I started to get messages from this guy on myspace. We started talking, realized we wanted the same things in life, had the same views, morals, and beliefs and realized that we could do better together. There's not a day that goes by that I don't thank God for bringing Adam into my life. Adam was one of the main reasons why I wanted to keep my life changed and have a brighter future. I am glad that God agreed with me!!

Out Of Eden has been a Christian group that I have listened to for awhile. They are a group of three sisters, who sing uplifting songs, with a modern Christian message and sound. One of their songs, Different Now, speaks to the message I am conveying to you in this post. Here are the lyrics:

CHORUS:
Everything is different now,
look at me and you can see i've changed somehow
you might think it's strange the way I hold it down
but I know (I know you want it),
and you know (I know you know) i got what you need
my life is different now,
look at you and i can see you're wonderin how
though you think it's strange the way i hold it down
know i know, (i know you want it) And i know (i know you know)
i got what you need

saw you drivin by just the other day,
i was riding in my car and my hands were raised
by the way that i was rockin
you thought i was bumpin biggie or jay
but i was steady spinnin fred cause i could praise for days
you hollared at me i was at the light,
said i was looking fly And asked what's up tonite
i said i know you used to see me at the clubs til three
but i don't kick it like i did cause there's a change in me

CHORUS

some of my girls i hadn't seen in a while
saw them at the mall and we traded hugs and a smile
they said we hear you're doing well you seem so confident
i told them that it wasn't me but it is heaven sent
i saw confusion in there eyes,
said i'm living right no compromise
i don't talk i don't dress like i did before
and if you give me just a minute i will tell you more

i am not the same, god has changed the game
found that it's okay, i don't have to live that way
i am not the same, god has changed the game
you know it's okay, you don't have to live that way
*Courtesy of Christianlyrics.com*

Everyone has a past, but you have the power to not let your past define who you become in your future. I am happy to say that I am different now, and this is why: I am embracing the life that God has given me and using it to bless His kingdom, all for His glory.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sweaters And Second Chances

I know I did the unthinkable this week. I mean, I never thought I would be one of those people, you know, who dress up their dogs and actually treat them like human beings with fur. A lot of fur. But I have a reason to justify my action: the weather. It's starting get pretty chilly up here. I was taking Baxter outside one morning early this week and I noticed that he was shivering when he came back inside. That's when I thought, ok this skinny dog needs a sweater. I know that you probably are judging me right now, you're whole view of me has changed. But really, it's only a sweater people, not bows or accessories, just a sweater to keep him warm for the winter up here. And at least it's a simple and cute sweater.



See, doesn't he look so darling, I mean masculine in it?!? I think so. So I decided that this post would mark the day that I gave in to doggy clothes (but seriously it ends with his sweater). Even if you don't think this is the cites picture you've seen in awhile, I guess you can get a good laugh out of the fact that I dressed up my puppy, I allow you to.

On other notes besides clothes for dogs, I mastered that stupid coffee cake!! I received an amazingly, delicious second chance at making it this morning. My mom gave me the recipe last night and it came out so good this morning! I knew I could do it!! See, doesn't it look as delicious as I'm describing it to be??!!??



Glad that I tried it out again and didn't give up. Its just a recipe and I shouldn't let one recipe get me down and think I'm a failure. There's always room for a second try. Always try again at a baking fail, sometimes using a different recipe really makes all the difference. Plus, there's always room to laugh at yourself during the process! :)