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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hold Me Now and Jalapeno Chicken Poppers with Fiesta Lime Rice (Healthy)

I can totally relate to the song, "Jesus Hold Me Now" by Casting Crowns.  I love this song because it is so raw and real.  There have been so many times in my life where I just crave Jesus.  I need Him near.  I need to feel that He is there with me. 

I heard this song the other day and I felt that push that I needed to share it with y'all.  I know that someone needs to hear this song today and find comfort in the only one who will always be there to give you comfort.  Trust Him and lean on Him.  He will never fail you!

"His love endures forever." ~Psalm 118:4
"The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid." ~Psalm 118:6




As I mentioned yesterday I am trying really hard to start cooking healthy.  So far, so good!  Last night I made a scrumdittlyupmptious (yes, it's a word) recipe(s) from skinnytaste.com.  I'm telling you this is a MUST try!

By the way I will try and include Weight Watchers points with all my recipes.  There is an old point system and a new one.  I am not a fan of the new one but I will try and post points for both where I can find them.

 
Jalapeno Chicken Poppers

9 points (old points and new points) (one serving = 2 stuffed breasts, chicken that is)

Ingredients:
  • 2 slices center cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 3 jalapeƱos, chopped (remove seeds for milder)
  • 3 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz reduced fat shredded cheddar jack (Sargento)
  • 2 tbsp chopped scallions
  • 8 thin sliced skinless chicken breast cutlets, 3 oz each
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 juicy limes, juice of
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • olive oil non-stick spray
Wash and dry chicken cutlets, season with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 450°. Lightly spray a baking dish with non-stick spray.

Combine cream cheese, cheddar, scallions, jalapeƱo and bacon crumbles in a medium bowl.

Lay chicken cutlets on a working surface and spread 2 tbsp of cream cheese mixture on each cutlet. Loosely roll each one, secure the ends with toothpicks to prevent the cheese from oozing out. (I'll be honest and say I totally failed at this but who cares what it looks like when it tastes so good, right?!)

Place breadcrumbs in a bowl; in a second bowl combine olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper.

Dip chicken in lime-oil mixture, then in breadcrumbs and place seam side down on a baking dish.
Repeat with the remaining chicken. When finished, lightly spray the top of the chicken with oil spray.

Bake 25 minutes, serve immediately.


Fiesta Lime Rice

Old Points: 2 pt • Points+: 4 pt (Serving size = 1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked long grain rice
  • 3/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and heated
  • 3/4 cup cooked corn (I didn't incllude corn because the hubbs doesn't like it, boo!), heated
  • 1 large tomato, diced (didn't do this, don't like tomatoes)
  • 1 large scallion, diced fine
  • 2-4 tbsp chopped cilantro (to your liking)
  • 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • salt to taste

In a large bowl, combine hot rice, heated corn, heated beans, tomato, scallion, cilantro, lime juice and salt if needed. Toss and serve.


Jewels*


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chicken a la Gloria

I like to think I've really got my crap together as a mom but sometimes (however rare it may be, haha) dads really do know best.  Ethan had been coughing continuously for about a day and Garrett told me I should take him to the doctor yesterday morning.  He didn't have a fever and was still eating/sleeping pretty well.  I, of course, argued with him and told him we should wait it out and see how it went.  He insisted so I took Ethan to the doctor yesterday afternoon.  Sure enough he had an ear infection.  I called Garrett and told him he was right.  Let me just take a moment and say this is one of the few times I have had to do this. :)

On a serious note, I am super thankful this is only the second ear infection for my baby boy.  Garrison had about ten ear infections by the time he was 6 months and had to get tubes.  Anyone else think it was a coincidence that Ethan had to go to public daycare for 4 days last week due to his sitter having the flu?  Once again, my decision to go with an in home sitter this time around has been confirmed. 

By the way, does this look like a sick boy to you?  I turned around at a red light yesterday and this is what I saw.  It's times like this where any worry I have had just melts away and I feel truly blessed that God trusted me to be this boy's mama.




I am working extra hard to eat better so going forward you will likely see healthy recipes on my blog for the most part.  You can bet I will still be trying out some of those Paula Deen recipes for my once a week cheat meal and I will be certain to share those as well.

I intended on making this Chicken a la Gloria last week but didn't get around to it so I made it last night.  I would say this is somewhat healthy.  It's a creamy dish but made with cream of mushroom soup, unlike my normal heavy whipping cream.  ;)  So don't feel too guilty about trying this one.  I also think it's a really easy dish to make.  I recommend serving this one with caesar salad.



Chicken a la Gloria




Ingredients:
  • 3 skinless boneless chicken breasts, trimmed and filleted in half lengthwise
  • 1/3 cup of flour
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 (8 oz) container of sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup of sherry wine (I used white wine because I already had some... shocker, I know.)
  • 1 small can of condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 6 slices of Muenster cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F
Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper, dredge lightly in flour to coat both sides. Shake off excess.

Add oil to frying pan and brown chicken in batches on both sides. You don’t need to cook the chicken completely. It will finish cooking in the oven. Transfer the chicken to a 9×13-inch baking dish.


Pour sauce over the chicken breasts, cover with foil and bake in oven for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top each piece of chicken with one slice of Muenster cheese. You can fold the cheese in half if it is too wide for the breast.

Place chicken back in oven uncovered and broil for 1-2 minutes to brown the cheese. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Top with chopped fresh parsley and serve.


Jewels*

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pinterest Picks

I am officially hooked on Pinterest.  When my sister told me about it a while back I thought it was one of those sites for creative people, most definitely not myself.  When I signed up though I quickly realized it was so much more than that!

I have gotten in the habit of posting all of the awesome recipes I have taken from Pinterest.  Too bad lots of those were deleted by accident (sent into cyberspace neverland) when I was trying to label them as "recipes".  So, this post is about all of my other Pinterest successes and favorite picks.  And I will continue posting yummy recipes as I try them out.

*You can click on anything in yellow to take you to that website.*


For the Kids
 
Tooth Fairy Letter
 
I am anxiously waiting for Garrison to lose his first tooth that has been loose FOREVER!  I can't wait to try this one out.  You, I mean the tooth fairy, just write a letter to them in very small handwriting on very small paper.  I don't think I will make it as far as the small envelope.
 


I See Me

I actually heard about them through Groupon.  This is an amazing website where you can personalize lots of stuff for kiddos.  I got the boys both placemats with their names and we also got Ethan a great book called, "God Loves Me".  Check them out here!



Prayer Pot

I haven't done this yet but this is a good reminder that I want to start it.  Have your kids write their prayers on popsicle sticks and put them in a prayer pot.  A great way to get your kids involved in prayer - love this idea!






Mom Tips

Phone Number Bracelet

I saw this one today and I couldn't think of a better idea.  It's a DIY (do it yourself)  phone number bracelet to put on your kids when you travel or go to a crowded place like the fair or a sports event.  Great idea!


Great Reads

I have posted about past articles but these two are some newer ones I have come across.

Seven Motherhood Ideas I Love
This is an article full of great ideas of things to do with your kids when they are young.  There are only seven of them so it isn't overwhelming.

7 Quirky Discipline Rules that Work
I got some great new tips from this article.  A must read!


Positive Body Image

I don't even have a girl and I absolutely love this.  Boys need good body image too but let's be honest - too many girls these days struggle with this.  Let's end the cycle for our daughters.




Fashion and Beauty
 
 
 
 



Hair Tricks - the twisted bangs was definitely my fav but she has other tips on her blog.
 



Valentine's Day
 
I am not big on Valentine's Day but I think this is a great idea to do for your kids.  I will definitely be doing this for Garrison this year.  Starting February 1st you put a heart on their door with something you love about them. 
 

 
I might do these for Garrett and give him one each day with his lunch the week of Valentine's Day.  I might switch it up and put reasons why I love him though.  Of course mine probably won't turn out this pretty. 
 

 
 
 
 
Tips and Tricks
 
This is by far the one I am most excited about.  Have you ever left the towels in the washer too long and they have a mildew smell?  All you have to do is rewash them in hot water with 1 cup of vinegar.  Some pins out there also tell you to add baking soda and other stuff but all you need is the vinegar. 
 


Organizing scarves - all you need is a hanger and shower rings!



 
 
24 ways to reuse baby containers - I really need to put some of these ideas to use!
 

 
 
 
 
That is a very small sample of some of the great ideas you can find on Pinterest.  This was a good reminder for me that I need to spend more time implementing these ideas than pinning them.
 
 
Jewels*




Monday, January 28, 2013

Cousin Time

The boys and I went to Houston this weekend to see my sister and fam.  We always have such a great time there and I absolutely love it when our kids get to spend time together.  We were lucky enough to be around TONS of cousins growing up and there is nothing like it!

My sister and I had some much needed sister time.  Funny how we didn't enjoy our time together this much 20 years ago! :)  My brother-in-law made me venison Saturday night and I must say I.Am.Hooked!  I have had deer once before and it was really tough and not that great.  This was absolutely delicious and you can bet I will be pushing Garrett out the door this fall to bring us home some deer! :)

I am kicking myself for not getting pictures of my cousin's brand new beautiful baby girl and NO pictures of me and my sister but I will remember next time.  Our weekend in picture recap form...


I took off work Friday to go to Garrison's six week assembly at school because were were told he was getting an award.  My little man has worked SO hard, this six weeks especially, and I am so thankful his teacher recognized that.  He was very proud of himself and so happy we came to celebrate with him.  We didn't tell him he was getting an award or that we were coming and at the beginning of the assembly he saw us and said to his friend, "My daddy's here!!!".  That makes my heart smile! 



This was about 30 minutes into the trip down there.  Garrison earned these rock star glasses by getting three rock stars at school in the last 6 weeks.  I'm so proud of my big boy!  He melts my heart!

 
Speaking of big boys... look at this one!  E is officially crawling (ALL over the place) and pulling up on everything.  He may be behind by mosts' standards but he wasted no time catching up!

This one just lights up a room!  I LOVE Miss Ellie Day!
 


 
I found a bow on the table and couldn't help myself.  I don't think he liked it very much.
 

 
But it didn't take much time for him to return to his happy self!
 


 I love this one my sister got of them.  Curious kiddos!
 

 
Ethan watching the big boys play outside... it won't be long E - I promise!
 


 
Happy E's! :)
 


Me and my awesome nephew, Will.  I love this kid so much! 
 



"You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them."
~Desmond Tutu

"Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family." 
~Anthony Brandt


Jewels*

Thursday, January 24, 2013

New Mommyhood 101

I was only 22 when I had Garrison and I remember wishing I had friends with kids so I could ask them questions about what to expect or how to handle certain situations.  My mom was awesome but it's a little hard to remember taking care of a baby when it happened 22 years prior.  I did read a few parenting books but either they seemed overwhelming or I wasn't fully on board with what some of them said.

I have quite a few friends who have newborns or are getting ready to pop out their first kiddo so I thought I would share some tips I have learned along the way.  I have blogged a lot about parenting older kids so this is geared more toward the youngins.

By the way, I was going through some old pictures and I can't believe my oldest is now 7.  All of this seems like just yesterday!






That being said, my first tip is - it goes by WAY too fast so enjoy every single second.  Yes, even the times when they are crying or keeping you up at night.

Here are some others for you and I truly hope they help:

  • Don't be afraid to ask for help - from anyone who offers.
  • Don't expect  your husband to have the same maternal instincts or bond with the baby that you have.  They will form their own bond with your child and it does not have to come from feeding, changing diapers or rocking them to sleep.
  • It's okay to take naps.  I encourage napping when your baby naps.
  • Don't make weight loss your priority.  Focus on your baby because you will never get those first months back.
  • Take as much time off from work as you can afford.
  • Do tons of research when looking for childcare and ask for recommendations.  Consider all options including nannies, in home daycares and public daycares.  I can personally say I have had a MUCH better experience this time around using an in home daycare as opposed to public daycare.
  • As long as they are not hungry, wet or poopy it's okay to let them cry it out, I promise.  Teaching your baby to self soothe at a young age will be a good thing for them in the future.
  • Unless you never want to have sex again or never want to share a bed with just your husband again (not to mention safety issues) don't ever let your baby sleep in bed with you.  If you feel like they have to be closer they make the bedside cribs that attach onto your bed.  I personally liked using a bassinet until they were about 2 months old and then I put them in their own room.
  • "Purple crying" is very common around 4 months of age.  Both of my boys were very happy babies but did go through this.  It's basically where they cry uncontrollably and you have checked everything (not hungry, not wet, not tired, etc.) and can't seem to calm them down.  To avoid making the situation worse (you getting frustrated or overwhelmed) my advice is to put them in their crib or another safe place (swing, bouncer) and step outside for a few minutes to take a break.  I think this is healthy for both of you when you are feeling overwhelmed.
  • Don't feel pressured to have your baby achieve milestones right "on time" and don't feel defeated if they are a little behind.  All babies develop at different rates.  I would say to trust your pediatrician on this.  I promise you they will develop eventually - it just takes longer for some of them.  Enjoy them at every stage!
  • Don't feel pressured to breastfeed.  You will likely have family memebers pressuring you and definitely nurses at the hospital pressuring you.  Breastfeeding is not for everyone - TRUST ME! :)  If you aren't comfortable or are stressed out (not producing, etc.) your baby will not benefit.  Formulas have come a long way and are great for babies too!
  • Trust your instincts and be confident in your abilities as a mom.  You already have a bond with that baby and in their eyes  you can do no wrong. 
  • Take every single opportunity to hug, snuggle, kiss and love on your baby.  They may not reciprocate right away but you are forming an unbreakable bond by doing this.  Tell your baby every day how much you love them.  Sing to, and most importantly, pray with and over your baby.


Some of my favorite quotes on parenting/mommyhood:

"The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice."  ~Peggy O'Mara

"I don't want my children to be what I want them to be.  I want them to be everything God created them to be."  ~Jon Gordon

"Every good and perfect gift is from above."  ~James 1:17


Jewels*

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Say Hey (I Love You), Enough and Good Food!

Say Hey (I Love You)
This is one of those songs that gets me (and Garrison) in a good mood no matter what!  Garrison and I like to crank it up in the car and dance to it and we did just that this morning on the way to daycare.
Enjoy it on this Wednesday morning!  You WILL be dancing by the end of it... or at least tapping your foot, I promise. :)



Enough
I'm so sick of hearing about all these sad stories on the news lately. 

Sunday night we were watching the news and they were talking about the woman whose step son died from food and water deprivation.  I watched a clip of the trial and the boy's twin brother testified (awful) and then it had a clip of the stepmom talking.  First of all I wanted to reach through the tv and just slapahoe (sorry, but it's true).  She was saying that he was in timeout (standing on an X looking out the window for hours at a time) like he "always is" and he just collapsed.  Apparently this woman became friends with a fellow child abuser in jail - you know, the woman who superglued her toddler's hands to the wall as a punishment?  Yeah, that one.  WHAT is wrong with these people??? 

Then earlier this week there was a story about how a husband killed his wife and then himself at their kid's 16th birthday party. 

Last night I hear about the 15 year old boy who killed his parents, his brother and his two younger sisters.  He proceeded to text a picture of his mother's dead body to his girlfriend.  Again, I say really?!  I am just so sick of it all.  After hearing the story last night I said to Garrett, "What kind of parents keep guns out of a safe with hormonal teenagers (or any kids for that matter) in the house?  You know what they need to do?  They need to try that kid as an adult and give him the death penalty just like they would an 18 year old.  This has to stop."  But shortly after I said that I realized that no law or court system can change how evil and broken our world has become.  This world needs Jesus!

I implore you to try and make a difference in this world today, every day.  Every single one of us can make a difference in someone's life every single day.  You don't have to spend hours upon hours with someone, adopt a kid - although I highly recommend it :), mentor a kid or spend a bunch of money.  Pay someone a compliment, smile at a stranger, tell someone how proud you are of them, tell someone how much you appreciate them and for goodness sakes, tell your kids every single day how much you love them.


Good Food
My friend Kelli came over for dinner last night and as always it turned into a 5 hour evening.  I just love catching up with friends and making up for all the time we have missed.  We enjoyed some yummy food too! 


Cajun Shrimp Casserole



Kahlua Cake
 



Jewels*

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Let Him In and Ranch Pork Chops with Butternut Squash

This morning I was thinking about why so many people are "on the fence" with God and it hit me... it's because they don't let Him in.

I am no expert but I know this about God.  He is not a forceful God.  He will not force Himself into your life to prove He is real.  He will, however, meet you WHEREVER you are at WHATEVER place you are in your life and is always ready for you.  The only thing is you have to ask Him.  This is what people mean when they say "accepting" or "receiving" Jesus into their lives.  It sounds so simple because it is. 

I have heard people say things like:
"What has God done for me?"
"Why doesn't God heal my marriage?"
"Why doesn't God heal my pain?"

And my response is:
"Have you asked Him?" 
Have you asked Him to come into your life?  Have you asked Him to heal your marriage?  Have you asked Him to heal your pain?  God doesn't just float around earth with a magic wand making everyone happy.  He is there for you when you ask Him and receive Him.

Maybe you think you can get through life just fine without Him... and maybe you can.  But how about the after life?  Do you really want to wait until you die to accept Him?  I promise you this life on earth is SO much better with Him in it, so let Him in!

I got on Facebook this morning and saw this post from a pastor I know... talk about confirmation that God wanted me to share this today ~ what a perfect verse!

"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8)
PUSH ~ Pray Until Something Happens!




I made crispy ranch pork chops with butternut squash last night.  Garrett wasn't a big fan of the pork chops because he likes them better just grilled, but he loved the squash.  I personally loved the pork chops!  Here you go...

Crispy Ranch Pork Chops


Ingredients
1. Ranch Dressing In A Bottle.

2. 3 Cups Fine Dry Italian Bread Crumbs. (I used a bag of Italian seasoned croutons and chopped them very fine with my chopper.)

3. 1 Small Package Dry Italian Dressing Mix.

4. 2 Tablespoons Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese.

5. 1 Tablespoon Dry Powdered Garlic.

6. 6 Large Loin Pork Chops.

**It is best to use a pan with a rack on it aka broiler pan, so the pork chops are sitting on the rack and not the pan.  This makes the pork chops crispy instead of soggy.

Directions
Preheat oven to 400.

You will want to mix ingredients 2 - 5 in a large bowl and mix together very well. Now pour a layer of ranch dressing out into a plate. Take one pork chop at a time and coat it on the plate with ranch dressing and then put the pork chop with the ranch dressing on it into the large bowl with the bread crumbs and coat it well on all sides. Add more ranch dressing to the plate if you need to.

Spray the rack on the pan with vegetable cooking spray. Place your breaded pork chops onto the rack and once you have all your pork chops on the pan place it into the oven and bake for about 30 - 40 minutes or until the thick part of your pork chops reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees. As soon as your pork chops are done remove from the pan and serve as soon as possible.


Here is I guarantee you the best pork chop you will ever taste.



Butternut Squash with Brown Butter (Martha Stewart)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 butternut squash (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup canned chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon dark-brown sugar

Directions

  1. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown. Add squash; saute, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender when pierced with a fork, about 16 (took me more like 20) minutes.
  2. Add chicken broth, the water, and brown sugar; cook until liquid has evaporated and squash is nicely caramelized, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper. Serve.
 
 
I have never made butternut squash so I was a bit perplexed as you can see.  I even had to call my mom to ask if I was supposed to use the whole thing or just the bottom.  The whole thing is the answer for those of you who are equally confused.
 

 
 
Jewels*

Monday, January 21, 2013

Weekend Recap and It's Good to be Alive!

What a weekend!

Friday my mom met me at Firewheel to get Ethan's first haircut!  Garrett was working so I made sure to get lots of pictures.  Ethan did great and looks like such a big boy now which all you parents know is kind of bittersweet.  Much thanks to Miss Linda for doing a great job on both of my boys' hair!  My hairdresser, Linda Evans, has moved to The Salons at Bella Suites at Firewheel in Garland so be sure and check her out here and give her a call.  She is giving all new clients 20% off! 

Tell me he ain't cute... I dare ya'! ;)





Friday night my parents were nice enough to keep the boys so we could go out and celebrate two friends' birthdays.  My mom, the boys and I met my dad at Gloria's (shocker, I know) and they had an early dinner while I had an early evening cocktail! :)  We went to Geisha in Plano for the first birthday dinner celebration and I was pleasantly surprised at how good the food was.  I pass this place every day on my way to work and it was the first time we had been.  While the guys went to smoke some post dinner cigars I met up with a couple of friends for my friend Kelli's 30th birthday!  I can't believe I have been friends with these girls for 18 years!  Time FLIES!  We had such a great night but this almost 30 year old just can't hang anymore.  I was literally falling asleep during our conversations around 1 am but I somehow hung on until 2 am.
 
Photo: Two of my favorite people in the world celebrating birthday night with me! Love you girls!


Saturday I woke up at 7:30 (just can't sleep in anymore) to pick up my boys.  After grocery shopping and park time I was off to meet two great friends for lunch.  It was SO great to have a little kid free catch up time with these girls.  I have been friends with Natalie for 20 years and Anne for 15 years.  Damn, I feel old!  I wish I would have gotten a picture of the three of us... next time!

Garrett went out with some friends Saturday afternoon and I had some nice down time with my boys at home.  Ethan is a little obsessed with my face lately and not in a good way.  Pretty sure I have a new scratch mark on my face or neck every day.  This is pretty much what my Saturday afternoon on the couch looked like...

Photo: ...Real life mommy hood

You can bet this tired mama was in bed by 8:30 on Saturday night.  Garrison even stayed up later than me!  Pathetic I know.

Church on Sunday was amazing as always!  If you're in the Wylie area you should definitely check out our church, New Hope.  There are tons of young families, the music is awesome and the preaching is incredible every week!  The new superintendent of Wylie schools was there and he just seems incredible.  I am so excited that we chose Wylie as the city to raise our kids.  We have had nothing but positive experiences with their schools thus far.  He spoke about an awesome program Wylie ISD has called Paving the Wylie Way.  It is basically a program where you can volunteer to mentor the youth in Wylie schools.  You can learn more about it here

Last night we went to my in-laws' to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday (belated).  I am so lucky to have such great in-laws and Garrison and Ethan are especially lucky to have such loving grandparents.

Like I said, what a weekend!  And then Garrett called this morning to tell me he would be working pretty much every night/day from this Thursday through the end of the weekend.  I see more friend catch up time in my near future and you won't hear me complain about OT pay!  Seriously though, I am so grateful I have such a hard working husband!

I am loving this song by Jason Gray!  The video is hilarious - I'm hoping that was their intent.  Haha!  I hope I can remember to not take life for granted and to wake up every day remembering how good it is to be alive!



Make it a great week y'all!

Jewels*

Friday, January 18, 2013

My Own Little World

What a morning!  I got a call from Ethan's sitter at 6 am saying she has a fever, chills and body aches.  It was the first time I had to drop him off at a regular daycare.  As comfortable as I am with this daycare (Garrison goes there for before school drop off and in the summer) it still sucks.  It made me realize how lucky I am to have such an awesome in home sitter for him who I am comfortable with and who, most importantly, he loves.  Good thing I only work part time and I can pick him up at 2 today. 

I posted this on FB today but my cousin recently insisted (okay, she has been insisting for months) that I listen to Randy Rogers Band.  I heard one of their songs this morning on the way to work and I love, love, love them... his voice especially!  I am dead set on downloading some of their music now and seeing them live at some point.

I love the song, "My Own Little World" by Matthew West.  You can watch the video below.


I often find myself living in my own little world.  And as much as I feel like I have a purpose in that world (among family and close friends) I can't help but wonder what else God wants from me outside of that world and, more importantly, outside of that comfort zone.  I tend to "shine" around those I am close to or comfortable with.  I have a really hard time showing God's love to others though.  I constantly feel Him pushing me to get out of my comfort zone but I constantly push back.  "Thanks but no thanks God... maybe next time!"

Many events in my life recently have shown me that I need to start focusing my prayers on what His plans are for me outside of my own little world.  It has been evident since elementary school that God gave me the gift of talking.  I think my mom would agree that the constant marks on my report cards of "excessive talking" would back that statement up.  Haha. 

I feel like God is constantly telling me to talk to people I don't know.  Maybe just to show them that someone cares and someone is interested in their life.  I wanted to share a story with y'all and feel free to think I'm crazy because I know I'm not. ;)  The other day I passed by a girl who was walking with her little brother.  Just as if someone came over a loud speaker I heard this, "Tell her that she is special and she is going to do great things in life."  I KNEW, without a doubt, it was God.  We were walking out of a store and she was in front of me.  She held open the door for me, turned around, looked right into my eyes and smiled.  HELLO!  Perfect opportunity to tell her what He wanted me to.  And what did I do?  I smiled back and walked to my car.  Why?  Because I wasn't comfortable telling a complete stranger that.  What if she thought I was a freak?  What if she laughed at me? 
OR
What if that would have made her day?  What if that would have given her the courage to make a decision she has been struggling to find the answer to?  What if that would have been life changing for her to hear?

I need to really start trusting God and stop being scared.  I'm sure Jesus faced many uncomfortable moments in His life here on earth and he didn't back down or tell God no. 

Sometimes I have stuff figured out and can share it with you.  And sometimes I just need to work through some issues and I must say this is a very therapeutic way to do that.  So thanks to those of you who are still reading this rambling post!  I will be sure and share the next story of when God asks me to tell someone something and hopefully it will have a different ending.  It doesn't happen often but I will be ready for it this time around!

Jewels*

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Faith is Knowing He WILL

After taking down all of my Christmas decorations I started putting back out some of my year round house decor.  I came across this sign that my Grandmama painted.  I pass by this sign every day when I leave my house but I realized I have not read it in a while.  This is what it says:

"Faith is not believing that God can.  It is knowing that He will."

My Grandmama is a very wise lady and I remember her telling me one time that when she prays she actually thanks God for what she is requesting.  For example, instead of saying, "Lord, please heal me" she says, "Thank you Jesus for healing me".  Now THAT is faith!  She doesn't hope God will heal her.  She knows, without a doubt, He will heal her. 

I aspire to have that kind of faith one day.  I feel like God has proven Himself to me over and over and over again but sometimes I let that doubt creep in and keep me from trusting Him completely.  I am a planner, and therefore a worrier, by nature.  I become fearful when I am not in control.  I sometimes let doubt and fear become bigger than God in my life.  What an awful way to live. 

This saying my Grandmama painted reminds me to trust in God in every circumstance, not just the ones where I am willing to give up control.  I can just see Him looking down at me and lovingly saying, "My dear child, have I not shown you time and time again that I know what is best for you?  Let go.  Know that I have this and trust in me."  I get it God.  I think I finally get it.  And I know that you WILL!





Jewels*

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Focusing On Your Gifts

I have blogged before about how as women we tend to compare ourselves to other women and end up finding even more flaws in ourselves.  I hope that by the time you reach your 20's you realize that a lot of women out there are putting on a facade and what you see is not necessarily who they are.  Looking at someone's life from the outside, what they portray, is very likely not entirely accurate.  I was recently reading a devotional and I felt the need to blog about this again because I think it's so important for us, as women, to be secure in who we are. 

It is so important for our children (daughters AND sons) to see us as confident women who are satisfied with how God made us.  We need to use what God gave us (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual) to His glory and we can't do that until we fully appreciate what He has given us.  Garrison and I were reading his childrens' devotional the other night and it said God formed us.  It specifically said that the bible uses the word "formed" instead of created for a reason.  God spent time thinking about how He wanted us to be - he formed us like you would form clay, not just created us like He did the sky, ocean or animals.  This is what makes us all unique with our own individual gifts.  That is some powerful stuff right there!

When you allow yourself to focus on your positive qualities it is SO much easier to understand who God wants you to be.  Trust me when I say I can find a hundred things wrong with myself.  But I have learned that God has given me many gifts and once I started focusing on those instead of my flaws I started to understand His purpose for my life.  I'm not saying I have it all figured out.  And I am a firm believer that my purpose could change from day to day.  But when I am in tune with what He wants from me and when I have confidence in who I am and who he "formed" me to be I find a sense of contentment and fulfillment that I cannot get from anyone or anywhere else.

Here are some great verses that were in the devotional I read:

I am accepted...

Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.
Colossians 1:13-14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete in Christ.


I am secure...

Romans 8:28 I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances.
Romans 8:31-39 I am free from condemnation. I can't be separated from God's love.
Philippians1:6 I am confident God will complete the good work He started in me.


I am significant...

Ephesians 2:10 I am God's workmanship.
Ephesians 3:12 I may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.


Trust in Him.  Trust that He has a purpose for you.  Stop focusing on your flaws and start focusing on your gifts.  Stop comparing yourself to others because you will never measure up.  We need to focus on measuring up to what He wants from us and not what we think we want for ourselves.




Jewels*

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Isla Mujeres Recap

I am finally getting a chance to sit down and post about vacation.  By the way, am I the only one who feels like I need a pre and post vacation from the actual vacation?  I was a planning machine the entire week before to the point where I printed out instructions/information for my mother-in-law and mom ... okay, in colored file folders with labels displaying their last name.  Yes, I'm a freak. 

The day before vacation I just knew I was coming down with bronchitis so I went to the doctor to get a steroid shot.  I think it helped some but I still coughed through most of the vacation and on the plane.  Ever wonder how to keep people from sitting by you on a crowded airplane?  Just cough excessively during the peak of flu season, haha!

Back to the recap... after dropping Garrison and Ethan off at the sitter's house my dad took us to the airport.  We decided to eat breakfast at this little Irish pub and while it was overpriced (like everything at the airport) it was delicious!  We cheered with some mimosas and were on our way!

To get to Isla Mujeres you fly into Cancun and take a 20 minute cab ride to the ferry.  You then take a 20 minute ferry ride to the island.  I love this island because it's only 5 miles long and one of the most authentic and relaxing places I have ever been on vacation.  Too bad I was still in "mom mode" and it literally took me a full three days to convince myself that no one needed me and I was allowed to relax.  So really our 7 day vacation was more like a 4 day vacation for me... but that's okay.... this mama will take what I can get!


We originally booked the Deluxe Suite Ocean View room.  We were happy with the room but the ocean view was more of a pool view, the balcony wasn't as big as it looked in the pictures and our bedroom overlooked the cemetery.  We decided to upgrade for the last three nights to the top room which was the Grand Platinum Suite and we were ecstatic to be able to enjoy this room... talk about nice!  Definitely more than we are used to on vacation and well worth the $50/day upgrade.  

I wish I would have kept a vacation journal but I didn't so I will just post some pictures (the rest will be on Facebook) and describe as much as I can. 


We went to listen to some awesome live music in town our first night.  See the guy just above Garrett's shoulder?  He was wearing a white tank top and some shorts straight out of 1972 and he dragged me onto the dance floor about 10 minutes after we took this picture.  Hilarious!


This was pretty much my view for 7 days!


Dogs ran wild over there and they loved Garrett - he fed them pretty good!
 

My handsome hubby in his new hat
 

Our view while we were waiting on the boat to take us snorkeling
 

I still can't believe we snorkeled in this beautiful water!
 

Incredible sunset
 

Dessert on fire at the Japanese restaurant onsite at the resort
 

 

Me and the hubbs, both in our new hats!
 

They brought us chocolate covered fruit and champagne one night - of course we had to take goofy pictures with it!
 


Our upgraded room!  It was two floors with a downstairs balcony, two bathrooms and a huge upstairs balcony complete with lawn chairs, a loveseat and the best part - a private infinity pool that overlooked the oceanl!  Amazing!
 


We rented a golf cart and went all over the island (took a whole three hours, haha)!  This was one of the awesome beaches we came across where we picked out seashells for the boys.



Private beach at our resort with lots of lawn chairs and huts for shade.  So relaxing!
 

We finally scored a cabana one day - had to go down to the beach at 6:30 am just to reserve it.
 

It was so worth it!
 

A shop in town with my name on it! :)


The day we left - I was a little excited to see my boys!
 

Us on the ferry ride back to Cancun

Loved coming home to my little super hero, Garrison.
 

And my little monkey, Ethan!
 

And this, folks, is the most beautiful sunrise I have EVER seen... any guesses where?  Texas of course!!!  I had to snap this picture after dropping Garrison off at school Friday morning to remind me that no sunrise or sunset will ever beat those in Texas! :)
 

We had an amazing and unforgettable time but nothing beats coming home to Texas and our boys!


Jewels*