Monday, December 28, 2009

a dilemma, a choice, and two challenges

I was torn about what to blog about tonight, not because I feel obligated to blog, but because I have so many thoughts swirling in my head. There's my glorious Christmas weekend to record, and my 2009 Review is still stewing (If you did one, please link me so I can see!), among other things.

Then a series of events happened and my choice was clear. I am going to blog about two challenges I'm making to myself, as if I didn't have enough resolutions on my plate.

First, let me start with a story. One of my family's longtime friends came over Thanksgiving weekend to watch a big football game. Since my mom was busy in the kitchen, I talked a lot with her friend. This friend told me a story about how she'd discovered that her college roommate's daughter went to college with me. When she made the connection, my college friend and classmate revealed that I had played an integral role in rededicating her life to Christ.

I couldn't remember this encounter for the life of me. We'd never prayed together, that I could remember. And I'm not a particularly proselytizing kind of girl -- nothing against it, just not my cup of tea, unless God makes it abundantly clear that I'm supposed to talk to someone. It's happened before, but as far as I could recall, He didn't strike a lightning bolt out of the sky to prompt me to set this girl straight. All I could remember is us cutting up in class, talking about her shoe obsession, favorite books, boys, her horse, etc.

As it turns out, it was an offhand comment I made in class, maybe even (dare I say?) a sarcastic quip, that challenged her and sparked a tiny flame inside of her heart. I had no idea. And it wasn't even my intention, as bad as that sounds. But hearing about it, learning that I had impacted someone's life in such a way, in turn, inspired me. Yet another aspect of God's power has been revealed to me, that he can take words and shape them in a way that fits what some needs to hear perfectly -- in a way that we could never fathom doing.

My first challenge is to be more vocal about telling people when they have influenced me: spiritually, physically, emotionally -- in whatever way.

I have received lots of encouragement this week (Like you, Michelle Meisner!), some from good friends, some from people I've never met in person. I'm greatly appreciative and know for certain that those words are God becoming tangible on this earth.

What would happen if for every person who made my day, I continued that act of kindness and didn't let it only live in my admiration and gratefulness and benefit, but carried it on to give another that incomparable sense of loveliness, worthiness, talent, or value?

My second challenge is to pay tokens of love and kindness forward and to continue to pray that God will use my words and actions to uplift and accomplish. I Corinthian 13 says that love keeps no record of wrongs. But what if it kept a record of rights, not with the motivation that every act of kindness has to be repaid OR ELSE...

but with the
simple motivation
of spreading 

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Highlights of 2009:
  1. Seeing my enthusiastic husband on The Today Show in February. Click here. You gotta see it! Pay attention to the woman next to him when she pushes him.
  2. Giving up sugar and white flour for Lent
  3. Our one year anniversary and this awesome cake I made to celebrate it and the end of Lent.
  4. Solo trips to NWA/Southlake/Dallas and Kansas City to see my dear friends I love so much.
  5. Midnight premiere of Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince with great friends.
  6. South Padre with JT and my family in late July
  7. Joining my pilates studio in August. It's been great!
  8. Hillsong United concert in August
  9. The fall leaves, maybe the prettiest they've ever been.
  10. Longhorns football! My Texas team went undefeated in the regular season and will play Alabama in the national championship in less than two weeks!
  11. Our awesome ten-day cruise in November
  12. Not Me Mondays! on the blog
  13. Going to see Wicked!! (September, I think!)
  14. Taking evening walks in the neighborhood with JT when the weather is right
  15. My brother's miracle on December 8.
Music that will forever remind me of this year:
  1. With Everything - Hillsong United (My song of year 24 and 2009!)
  2. My Running Mix
  3. I Am Yours - Enter the Worship Circle
  4. Doubting Thomas - Stephen Speaks
  5. Only You - Joshua Radin
  6. One Time - Justin Bieber
  7. Broken - Lifehouse
  8. If I Can't Love Her - Beauty and the Beast soundtrack
  9. Should You Return - Copeland
  10. Revelation Song - Kari Jobe
  11. Tear Down the Walls - Hillsong United
  12. The Fox - Nickel Creek
  13. Fireflies - Owl City
  14. Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun - Debussy
  15. Flightless Bird, American Mouth - Iron & Wine
Favorite Movies of 2009:
  1. Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince 
  2. Julie & Julia
  3. The Blind Side
  4. The Time Traveler's Wife
  5. Avatar
  6. The Proposal
  7. Sherlock Holmes
  8. Star Trek
  9. Wolverine
  10. UP!!!!!!!!
Favorite Books I Read in 2009:
  1. The Soul-Mate Marriage - Dr. David and Lisa Frisbie
  2. Sacred Influence - Foster
  3. Wicked - Maguire
  4. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Shaffer/Barrows
  5. The Time Traveler's Wife - Niffenegger
  6. My Sister's Keeper - Picoult
  7. A Little Help from My Friends - Dayton/Vanderbilt (LOVE YOU, ANNE AND MAY!)
  8. The Whitney Chronicles - Baer
  9. Twilight Series - Meyer
  10. The Four Loves - C.S. Lewis (still in progress, but I do love it!)
  11. The Importance of Being Foolish - Manning
  12. Miss Invisible - Walker
  13. Reconstructing Natalie - Walker
  14. Perfecting Kate - Leigh
Favorite Eats:
  1. Breakfast Croissant - The Crusty Croissant - Tulsa, OK
  2. Salsa - Christina's - Southlake, TX
  3. Sushi Nirvana - In the Raw - Tulsa, OK
  4. Berry Limeade - The Crusty Croissant - Tulsa, OK
  5. Chicken Soup - Carabba's - Tulsa, OK
  6. White chocolate raspberry cheesecake - Olive Garden
  7. Firecracker Shrimp - Fish Daddy's - Tulsa, OK
  8. Chicken Soup and Spring Rolls - Ri Le's - Tulsa, OK
  9. Soy with Strawberry - Ri Le's
  10. French onion soup - Stonehorse Cafe - Utica Square
  11. Everything on our cruise - Celebrity Millennium - South Caribbean
  12. Rachael Ray's Lemon Chicken
  13. Chocolate shake - Chic-fil-A - It's that good!
Favorite Websites of 2009:

10 Resolutions to make 2010 the best year yet...

  1. Write a letter everyday. Send a letter (in the mail) every week.
  2. Be more intentional about how I spend my time
  3. Start each morning off with the Word.
  4. Keep my house clean
  5. Get back into running. 2009 was a weird year for it, but I'm ready to be back!
  6. Drink more water
  7. Have people over more
  8. One of my resolutions last year was to keep a writing journal, and I want to do that more this year!
  9. Exercise my creative bug, especially to benefit other people
  10. Plan and keep a budget
Here's to 2010!!
(and the last couple days to celebrate 2009!)

White Chocolate Cherry Granola

(Inspired by this Barefoot Contessa recipe)


4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
2 cups sliced almonds
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup good honey
1 t vanilla
2 t ground cinnamon
a dash nutmeg
1&1/2 cups dried cherries, chopped
1/2 cup cherry flavored craisins
11 oz white chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Toss the oats, coconut and almonds together in a large bowl.

Add in cinnamon and a dash nutmeg. Stir to combine.

Combine the vegetable oil , honey and vanilla in a separate bowl. Pour over oat mixture. Stir until the oats and nuts are coated with the honey mixture.

Pour onto a large sheetpan (*or 2 smaller sheet pans) and bake in a 300 degree oven for 25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Coconut should be toasted and almonds lightly caramelized on the outside.

Remove from oven and allow granola to cool. When cool, add in chopped cherries, craisins and white chips. Mix to combine.

Texas Caviar

This is an easy peasy salsa/dip to serve with some blue corn tortilla chips or alongside some chicken or fish. I adapted this recipe from Mckmama, originally found here. The sweetness complements the salty chips so well, though. In as much time as it takes to open a few cans and rinse, you can get this ready in the morning, refrigerate overnight or during the day, drain the salsa and serve.


1 can black beans (drained/rinsed)
1 can garbanzo beans (drained/rinsed)
2 cans corn (drained/rinsed)
1 small carton of cherry or grape tomatoes (halved)
1 small white or yellow onion (diced)
1 bunch cilantro (shredded or finely chopped)
1/3 bottle of Italian dressing
lime juice (1-2 limes' worth)
sugar to taste (I start with 2 T and add more if needed)
salt to taste (I start with 2 T, but remember the salt from the chips)


Drain canned ingredients and rinse well (especially the beans). Combine all ingredients, unless you're worried about the tomatoes or cilantro going bad, in which case you can add those right before serving, but I love the cilantro infusion as it marinates and have never gotten sick since it's refrigerated. Mix well and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 6-8 hours, though I'm sure it would still taste great if you did at least one hour. Excess liquids will accumulate during the marinating process, so drain before serving.

I would recommend serving with Tostidos corn chips or blue corn chips. Mckmama also adds kidney beans and avocado to her recipe, but I don't like either. If you do work with avocado, add it at the end or squirt it with a little lime juice to keep it from browning. Enjoy this easy hit!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

post-Christmas pesto pasta

I threw this recipe together for lunch while JT was shoveling our White Christmas out of our driveway. He asked for a warm meal and I couldn't think of anything to put together since Christmas cooking has preoccupied me and all of our leftovers were at my parents' house. Luckily, I had leftover pasta from a soup I'd made (check out that AWESOME Cavatappi -- corkscrew-shaped macaroni), and some homemade pesto, which was a little harsh and garlicky by itself, but calmed down considerably with some creamy Laughing Cow cheese wedges.


Pesto sauce (practice with ingredients and portions YOU like!)
--> Your favorite greens and herbs (about a cup to a cup and a half)
--> 1-2 garlic cloves
--> eyeball about 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
--> the juice of half a lemon
--> drizzle in EVOO while blending/food processing until it forms a sauce
2-3 Laughing Cow cheese wedges, depending on how much pesto you have, how strong it is, and how creamy you want your pasta to be.


Cook pasta according to package directions. In the meantime, prepare your pesto sauce and dice Laughing Cow cheese wedges. Drain pasta and return to pan, removing from the heat. Add pesto and diced cheese while the pasta is still hot, stirring consistently until the noodles are coated and the cheese is completely melted and incorporated into the pasta.

If I'd had parmesan pita chips, I'd have served with that for some crunch, and JT recommended some diced, cooked chicken for protein.

mom and me

mom & me
making a hearty pot of turkey soup
Christmas Evening 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

for dad

A Christmas Poem

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

it's beginning to look a lot like...

Coming to a (my) blog near ME!!

I am coming out of my blogger hiatus and promise more posts in the near future.

Just wanted to give you a heads-up!

 I have pictures, updates, and random thoughts galore
Inside my head, waiting to be explored!

Oh, and just in case I don't make it back before....

 Here's a little something to tide you over in the meantime (heh heh). I have found the exact replica of our future daughter. Her name is Ella, and anyone who knows me will know why. Here she is!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

a story of five miracles (and counting)

Late Monday night, or early Tuesday morning, my little brother finished his final project late and traveled back to Tulsa from his college to get a jump start on sleeping in his own, warm bed. About 20 minutes outside of Tulsa, he hit black ice on the Lake Keystone bridge. He spun around, missed hitting the wall that would have taken him into the water (Miracle #1), and totaled his car on the construction median.

He got out of his totaled car through the window without a scratch (Miracle #2), and called my dad, a little disoriented. As soon as he figured out where he was, my dad urged him to get off the road because it wasn't safe. Pretty much simultaneously, a semi comes barreling toward him, hits the same patch of black ice, and jackknifes.

All my dad hears is my brother yelling and then the phone goes dead as it smashes. The semi did not hit my brother (Miracle #3), but he had nowhere to go but over the bridge and onto the steep boulders that line the lake and keep it in its spot. He lands on his knee and not his head (Miracle #4) and shatters it.

The pictures are so disgusting I don't dare to post them, yet adrenaline somehow carries my brother to sprint up the hill to the semi driver where he asks if he's okay and then begs to use his cell phone. Remember, where we last left my dad, all he heard was that there was a semi, and then a scream, and the phone went dead. My brother assures him he's alive, and by that time, the fire truck had arrived.

It's only then that he realizes he is bleeding, and my dad takes him to the ER where my brother is diagnosed with a torn tendon and a shattered kneecap -- no ligament damage (Miracle #5) -- and has surgery that morning to fix it. He also gets stitches in his side where he has some deep lacerations and road rash.

I took off work that day to stay with him and keep my mom calm, and he had so many friends come to see him! Someone even brought him a Snuggie (see picture), and we joked and laughed a lot. He was completely himself, not super groggy or anything. He even got up and took a few steps even though he'd just had major surgery in his knee and got a screw put in.

I am so grateful for these Five Miracles (and counting) because it means my brother is here with us to stay. So many things could have gone wrong, but we believe that God had His hands in the entire situation. Mike would appreciate your prayers for his continued healing. He should be getting out of the hospital today!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

to iPhone?

My beautiful phone Angus** has served me well since I got married. But an upgrade is mighty enticing right now. I am being courted by this smarter, wiser, technologically-savvy gentleman called the iPhone. iPhone can take really attractive pictures and post them to the internet in seconds. My blogs can be prettier, I can capture more of life, and when babies come along, I'd only have to drag along ONE device to capture their every spitup, giggle, and gurgle. Plus, and this drives JT crazy, when I can't figure out what movie someone has been in, I will have instant access to IMDB.

I've been asking around, reading reviews, and the scoop is unanimous: for now, the iPhone is the best phone out there. It's changing communication, convenience, and life. So I have my answer, but I have a new question: do I want my life to be changed? Do I want technology, communication, and people to be at my disposal every waking minute? I don't trust myself with that power, because I feel I'm already too dependent on the internet as it is. I'm not as strong as you. I don't have enough willpower. I can picture myself dropping my iPhone into a pot of stew because I want to find out who married whom on Facebook or missing the birth of my child because I wanted to find out the Texas Longhorns' score.

Yesterday, I got in my first car crash ever. I'll have to admit, I was distracted by my phone (not texting), but it probably would have happened anyway because I thought the guy in front of me had gone. Either way, I have resolved to limit my cell phone use to very important phone calls in the car, and only on speaker phone. We'll see how long that will last. I went almost 9 years using my phone and driving safely, but it's kind of like my invincibility is gone now, a little.

So the decision is made for me: my iPhone fund will be going towards the $1200 bumper cover the guy in front of me needs (and his OSU trailer hitch that got destroyed). One tiny crack and the entire thing is ruined, apparently. For now, my iPhone decision is put off, but I might rethink my plan after Christmas if I can prove it wouldn't become a hindrance.

**Angus my phone got his name because of his color and because of my favorite movie by the same name. In the movie, the title character, a disgruntled big kid, needs a tux for his winter formal, but they don't carry a black one in his size. All they have left is a purple suit. "It's plum," the salesman corrects him. 

"Angus" wasn't my first thought for a name: in the movie, when Angus tries on the suit, he looks in the mirror, and says, "I look like Moby Grape." However, since my phone is rather slender, Moby Grape just wouldn't do. So there you have it!
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