Thursday, August 27, 2009

Let the Craziness Begin...

I have been watching these days creep up on me for several weeks now. Part of me is excited for things to get started; part of me is dreading the hectic schedule. I have felt so relaxed this summer. I have been stress-free, peaceful, catching up on rest. And that is all quickly coming to an end, and I am not ready! Haha. Honestly, the craziness started last week, but I think I have been in denial. Oh well.

I got back yesterday from visiting my company's headquarters in Houston. It was an exhausting 2 days of meeting anyone and everyone, but it was such a great trip. I work for such an amazing company, and I feel so blessed that this is the place God put me for this part of my life. I can't help but feel overwhelmed still with how much He provided and orchestrated for me. Work is going to be crazy for a little while, but I am so grateful for my job!

So why so busy? Here's a brief look at the fall:
  • 4 week self-study for Hartford Producer School so I can get my CLCS (which requires 4-6 hours daily...on top of my normal every-day work)
  • 3 week classroom time for Hartford Producer School (which just happens to fall right in the middle of renewal for my largest client; basically that means I will work a couple of 80-hour weeks...sigh)
  • I still have 2 more exams for my CISR, and the week after I get back from the Hartford School, I will be gone for 4 days for my first CIC course...LOTS of studying in my future.
  • BSF starts!!! I am super excited for this to start. I have actually been waiting for most of the summer for this to start again....but I will soon go back to a 2-night a week commitment, lessons, phone calls, fellowships, homiletics, etc.
  • I am continuing my involvement with my 20s group at church- girls' bible study and singles group- but will also begin Disciples at Heart, which means I will start meeting with an older woman in the church so she can mentor me. I am really excited about this, and it's only a once a month commitment. I have wanted a mentor for a long time, and I have finally decided that now is the time.
It's going to be a busy fall, but it will be a good fall. The fun stuff starts this weekend when my mom comes to town for a girls' weekend! And in November, Laura and I are taking a road trip to see Nicki in Virginia!!! I am excited about what the fall holds; I am just praying that God continues to provide strength and peace. I really need Him to help me trust Him and not stress during the stressful times. I am choosing to walk into the next few weeks with let the craziness begin!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Waking Up to Whispers from God...

I love it when God wakes me up early. It's different from not being able to sleep or from being awakened by Sasha- haha. When God wakes you up, it is somehow so much more peaceful and refreshing. I love it when He wakes me up just to whisper to my heart. In the stillness around me, while the rest of the world slumbers, the God of the universe decides to wake me up...just to tell me that He loves me. And I love it when He wakes me up with a song in my heart. This morning He woke me up to whisper His love with this song: How Deep the Father's Love For Us. It's not a new one, but the words are so beautiful and humbling.

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
And make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

I hope God wakes you up early too...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Brushing Up On My Game

This weekend I got to hang out with some of the sweet girls in my BSF group. I have been so busy this summer that I have not been able to see them as much as I had hoped. So I was really excited when they decided to get together to celebrate sweet Katherine's birthday! We met for dinner and then headed over to hit a few balls at the driving range. It was such a great night- they are such sweet girls. God blessed me by allowing me to be their discussion group leader, but more than that, He blessed me with sweet friends. They are just about the greatest girls you will meet!

Birthday Girl!
Dinner at California Pizza Kitchen!
Golfer Girls!
I am so thankful for this beautiful group of women. Through our study together, they taught me so much...I was constantly encouraged, challenged, and loved by this amazing group of women. I am sad our same group will not be together next year; but I walked away with a sweet group of friends. And I look forward to the new group that God already has prepared for me!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Kebabs and Pirates

Tonight I made chicken kebabs, grilled corn, and a vegetable salad. My brother is doing so well in trying to be more healthy, so I figured a healthy meal was in order. We hung out and watched Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. It was definitely a quiet, relaxing evening!

Chicken Kebabs with Grilled Corn:
1.5 lbs. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 2-inch pieces
2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp. Fresh thyme
2 tbsp. Olive oil
~ Salt and black pepper
4 Ears corn, husks removed
8- 6 inch Skewers, soaked in water

Heat grill to medium-high. In a bowl, toss the chicken, garlic, thyme, 1 tbsp. of the oil, and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Thread the chicken on the skewers. Grill the chicken and corn, turning occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and the corn is charred, 7 to 10 minutes for both. This is ideal for a gas or charcoal grill, but I was able to make my George Foreman suffice. The corn was a little difficult in my little GFG, but it wasn't too bad.

Vegetable Salad:
~ Cherry or grape tomatoes
~ Cucumber
~ Onion
~ Italian or Balsamic dressing (your choice)

Slice tomatoes in half, cut cucumbers in chunks, chop onions. Mix together with dressing and refrigerate.

I know I have said this before, but I really LOVE my church. I feel so blessed by the church family that God has provided. I am constantly challenged in my walk with Christ, and I have had the opportunity to see what it really truly means to be a fully devoted follower of Christ. God's love is so evident in those that I get to live life with, and I am so thankful for the relationships that God has provided.

This morning at church, the pastor preached on what it looks like to "work out our salvation" (Philippians 2:12). He challenged us to develop a habit based on a spiritual discipline. They set up a website and everything to help us succeed and encourage one another in this challenge. It has been on my heart to deepen my prayer life, so I have chosen to take on the Prayer Challenge. I am committing to 30 days of prayer; to help me with that, I have signed up with Echo Prayer. Has anyone ever heard of this site?!? It's so awesome! It's free, and it's a great way to help you pray more diligently. You create your prayer list online and then set times throughout the week for reminders. Echo Prayer will email or text you one prayer at a time from your list, based on your settings. There's also a built-in prayer journal so you can keep track of answered prayers. How cool and helpful is that? Having the constant reminders throughout the week will be so great. Half my battle (sadly) is just remembering to pray. Getting texts throughout the day solves that problem! I have already created my list and am excited about this prayer tool.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sweet (Secret) Surprises

Ok. I have a confession. For the past few weeks, I have been a liar and a conspirator. And now I am finally able to shout it to the world: my brother and I have been planning a surprise anniversary party for my parents! I cannot tell you how hard it has been to keep that a secret. At first I worried that someone else would spill the beans...and then I was more worried that I would spill the beans. I talk to my mom every day (sometimes twice a day), so keeping that information secret was a little tricky. Oh, and the lies...or as my aunt put it, "it's not a lie, it's a surprise." LOL. Thankfully, we made it to this weekend, and they were completely surprised; they never suspected a thing. My dad said he didn't know anything was up until he walked in the door and the house alarm wasn't on- haha. Sweet success!

It actually all started with our planning meetings at Sunday Night Dinners. The idea was born and all of the pieces started falling into place. I had a lot of help from people down in San Antonio; which I am so grateful for, because it's hard to plan a secret party from 5 hours away! We couldn't have pulled it off without our sweet helpers. This past week has been crazy trying to pull together last minute details. My mom thought I had zero plans all week and that I was getting lots of rest...not so much- lol. I was running around, staying up late, preparing for the big event. I baked all night Wednesday, Laura helped be bake all night Thursday, and I spent all day Friday putting together last minute touches on everything before heading down to San Antonio.

Check out the mess!

God orchestrated the perfect evening. We told my parents that we were coming into town to take them out to dinner for their 30th anniversary. It was a big year, so we wanted to do something special. Little did they know how special. We took them to one of their favorite restaurants in San Antonio while we had our crew of secret workers back at the house setting up for the party. We got done with dinner way too early, but my dad (conveniently) wanted to stop and get my mom a new camera. It was the perfect time filler, and they were actually going to need a camera!
When we got back the house, I had to fight back my excitement and keep myself from running to the door and/or grinning from ear to ear. They walked into the house to see the dining room set up with all of the desserts and their wedding song playing in the background. My dad said "oh my" and my mom started crying. We had to push them further into the house so they could see the mass of people waiting for them in the living room. After the initial shock, my parens were able to enjoy the evning with a number of their family and friends. They reminisced about when they met, what their wedding day was like, etc. It was fun to see them so excited and so overwhelmed by the love that was poured out in their honor. I couldn't have been more pleased with how the party turned out- my crazy event planning skills paid off! And I praise God for blessing my parents with a wonderful anniversary surprise.


Sweet couple

The co-conspirators
We pulled it off!

Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad! We love you!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Love That Will Last

Today my parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary! It's so amazing to think of 30 years: 3 decades together! And they have actually been together longer than that. They met in middle school, dated in high school, and have been together ever since. And I am sure my parents love each other more now than they did on the day they got married. It is such a testimony of God's work in their lives- my parents met and were married before they knew Him. How cool is it that God orchestrated their lives to a saving knowledge of Him- and they got to grow in their faith together! They are truly an example of unselfish love and sacrifice. Congratulations Mom and Dad! Praying for another 30 years!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Fettuccine, Anyone?

This week for Sunday Night Dinner, the boys asked for Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo (Of course, they can't ask for normal, easy meals- haha). I found a couple of recipes that looked good and then decided to combine them to create my own. It turned out pretty good! I still need to work on my timing, as I always tend to have it ready too soon, and then my meals end up dried out or too sticky (in the case of pasta). But the boys were happy, so it was ok.

1/2 cup Butter
1-2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 pint Heavy Cream
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 lb. Chicken, cooked, chunked
~Black Pepper
~Fettuccine pasta
~Olive oil
~Garlic Salt

In a large pan/skillet, heat olive oil and butter; cook chicken on medium heat, adding garlic salt, black pepper, and parsley to taste. In another large pan/skillet, melt 1/2 cup butter over medium-low heat. Add garlic, cream, and pepper and bring mixture to a simmer. Turn heat down if it reaches a rapid boil. Add cheese and continue to simmer for 8 minutes or until thick and cheese melts, stirring constantly. While sauce cooks, prepare fettucine. Pour alfredo sauce onto noodles to absorb sauce. Add chicken and fresh grated parmesan cheese.

I cut the chicken into chunks and mixed them with the pasta and sauce; you can also cook chicken breast pieces to serve on top of noodles and sauce. This recipe was really easy...of course, it's not the most healthy meal, but it sure tasted good! I wonder what the boys will request next time...