Pinterest A Grateful Life Lived: May 2014

Friday, May 30, 2014

Devotional: The Inner Battle

Lately, I’ve been really struggling with the aspect of self.  Namely, I’ve been struggling with the concept of giving up that  “self” for all that Christ has for me.  Sound familiar? 
            We all have that inner battle: “My Way or God’s Way?”  I could tell you that God’s Way is always better, but I have a feeling you already know that.  If your anything like me, you’re somewhere between the knowing and consistently doing stage.
            It could be something as small as the choice to put down the phone at the mall and focus on smiling and greeting those you walk past.  Oftentimes, the greatest struggle of our will is on the internal level.  Here, we’re talking about the essence of our character.  Do we choose to honor God in business or academics?  Or do we take the shortcuts that we can rationalize as “ok” because everyone else is doing it?
            As I mentioned, I’ve been struggling with choosing God’s will over my own as well.  I so often want to control things, barricade myself behind a wall of resolute perfection, but that only draws me further from the love and joy of the father.  That’s why I have truly taken Galatians 2:20 to heart, which says: “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  And the life which I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God.”
            Wow!  Powerful stuff, right?  I mean, “crucified” is a pretty strong word.  And it’s there for a reason.  I’ve been learning through application that there is no partial surrender to Christ.  I either go for the full-on bloody crucifixion or I choose myself over God, my will over his.  We need to take a hatchet to these sinful desires! 
            The best place to start is on your knees though—not on the battlefield.  We cannot win this war alone.  We are not able to simply will ourselves to wholeness in Christ.  While much effort is required, our effort is in vain if we are focusing on our problem of selfishness rather than Christ.  Focus on the Father; confess to Him that you can’t do it on your own and need His help. 
            I can tell you from experience that there’s no quick solution to the battle of the fleshly will, but every time we choose God over us, we are drawing further from that sin and closer to Him.  It isn’t easy, but it’s a whole lot easier than attempting to break free on our own, only to collapse in a heap of self-condemnation and failure. 
            I once heard it said that God knows the moment that we will commit “that sin” for the last time.  He knows the last time you will give in to addiction, cheat on a spouse, starve your body, cheat on a test—He knows the last time you will give in to that habitual sin of the flesh.  So the next time you are faced with the battled: My Way or God’s Way—whether it’s a habitual sin or not—picture the creator of the universe smiling over you, because He knows you are one step closer to being free.  Chances are, this focus on Him and not you, will fuel your desire to fight against the devil and win one more moment for Christ.
In Him,

A Grateful Life Lived

Off to Eugene!

     Yesterday was a grand day of travel as I set off for Eugene, Oregon.  Check out my musings as I crossed over the Rocky Mountains on the last leg of my journey:

Right now, I’m somewhere between Minneapolis, Minnesota and Portland, Oregon.  I’m on leg two of my great voyage to Eugene and can’t believe that this much anticipated adventure is finally here!
            I was up at 7:10 this morning and dad and I left for the airport at 7:30 so I could have ample time to get through security and find my gate before my 8:50 flight to Minneapolis/St. Paul.  We had gone over all my travel arrangements and my schedule last night, so I felt confident that I could get myself from point A to point B.  I’ve also traveled frequently, so I feel like I know the ins and outs of it.  Still, there was a certain apprehension that gripped me as I hugged my dad goodbye and walked up to security.  My dad said something as I looked to him from the TSA scanning belt for the umpteenth time.  “Huh,” I asked, perplexed.  “Your liquids,” he said and pointed to my backpack.  Oh ya, I’d forgotten I had to take those out.  I gave him a look of relief, knowing he’d just saved me from the embarrassing and nerve-wracking TSA question: “Is this your bag?”
            I safely got through security and sniffled a little as I waved goodbye.  I persuaded myself to pull it together. After all, I rationalized: I had just completed my first year at college.  A long weekend in Oregon was nothing to shake my head at, but I was more than prepared to do it on my own.
            After that, things went fairly smooth.  I got a little nervous in Minneapolis when I realized that the G Concourse I needed to find didn’t seem to exist.  No worries: I discovered there is indeed a G Concourse at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport.  It is stealthily hidden but there nonetheless.
            The flight I’m on now will take me to Portland where I’ll catch my last flight—which is a quick 60-minute connection—to my final destination! 
We saw this peak about 45 minutes before
landing in Portland
The three-hour time change is certainly messing with my system, but I’ve been napping all day so far.  I figure I’ll get to my hotel around four o’clock PST.  I plan to get out for a run and workout first thing, because I know my body will soon crash—four o’clock is really seven for my body. 
Right now, we are flying over the Rocky Mountains and I’m amazed at how vast the ranges go—as far as the eye can see.  I’m also reminded that the God who etched every peak and cliff before me, is the One who has blessed me with this great adventure and time with Him.  
A lot of people were incredulous at the idea of me, a nineteen-year-old girl, flying across the country all by herself to watch a track meet.  I’ll admit: I was as well.  But will I really be alone?  Heck no!  I’ll be exploring around Track Town USA with God at my side and hoards of other running fanatics that God has already placed in my path.  This is going to be a time of retreat with God, a time of utter enjoyment and discovery of myself.

After I get in a quick workout tonight, I plan to grab dinner and head to bed early.  I know I’ll be pretty exhausted and I want to be ready to go tomorrow morning for the meet.  Other than the Prefontaine Classic—which will be the main event— I’m prepped for adventure with my camera and a Pinterest board full of “Must Dos while in Eugene.”  

So get ready Track Town USA: I’m coming!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

My Best College of Advice

     It's strange to think I hadn't even experienced college this time last year, but I'm no longer the graduating senior.  I do have many friends who are though, and they will be taking the step I just completed in a short while.  For their sake, and to memorialize my supposed wisdom, I'll take a blog post to share the college advice I have so far:

Things you will need but might not think of
1. Paper towels or napkins
2. Earplugs
3. Letters and stamps
4. A knife (No! Not for THAT reason!  For cutting my apples silly!)
5. A fan, two fans, three fans: however many it takes if they say there is not air conditioning.  Believe me: if that's the case, you can't have too many fans!
6. Sunscreen!  You don't want to be the wrinkly prune at your class reunions in 20 years.
7. Air freshener!  You're not really going to do laundry every week, are you?  :)
8. Stain remover- this is super helpful when its not plausible to throw in a load of laundry just because you got ketchup on your shirt.  You can still get the stain out if you've got some OxyClean or Tide-To-Go

Tips for College Preparation:
1. Buying books as early as you can means lower prices.  Just don't take the wrappings off until you are in class the first day.  Check out the website I used to purchase books, and highly recommend: Slugbooks.  It makes the process brilliantly easy!
2. Starting your packing list in June doesn't mean college will be there any sooner, it just means you will be prepared when it is.  Just keep adding stuff
3. Figure out when your roommates are moving it so you aren't all there at once.  I brought a crew of four with me, and thankfully, my other two roommates weren't moving at the same time.  Four in the room is plenty good when its 95 degrees in the dorms!
4. Set up times to talk to people you don't want to get out of touch with, but might not remember to chat with when things get stressful.  You'll look forward to those times, and not feel like you "have to" text your friend whenever you find the time.  Yes, text your friends, but plan ahead so you can have quality conversations too!
5. Look at what supplies you already have!  I'll admit, I'm super jealous of the "cutesy" rooms I see when walking down the hallway, but I speculate that all the extras cost a bit more than I spent.  My family is already spending a bit for my college education, I think I can sacrifice and reuse a desk lamp and some school supplies!

     I hope this was worth a quick read-- I promise, all these things will help you in your preparation and transition to college life.  While you can't control most of the new world you will enter, you can do a few things to make it a more enjoyable experience!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Kitchen Concoctions: Super Simple Sushi

     What is the picture above, you may ask?  Well, it's the result of my recent sushi addiction-- which is the result of an overabundance of money I had to spend at Butler's eating establishments before the end of the semester.  The past month, I'd gotten in the habit of having delicious sushi just about every night.  I always got the spicy shrimp sushi that included shrimp, cucumber, avocado, brown rice and nori.       
     Well, I came home last week for the summer and have been missing my sushi terribly.  Granted, I've had it about 3 times since coming home, but I'm still craving it daily!  It's such a delicious, healthy treat.  But it's definitely a treat- each AFC Sushi Roll is around $5. 
     This post is another example of just how far I can stretch a recipe.  Need more proof?  Check out my healthy pancakesomelets or college dorm spaghetti squash pasta!  I sadly assumed I could not make my own sushi because I didn't have: 

1. A bamboo mat for rolling the sushi
2. Sushi rice
3. Sushi vinegar (to make sushi rice)
4. White or brown rice (to make into sushi rice)
    In fact, all I truly had was a bulk pack of mini, dried seaweed packs-- called Nori-- that make up part of the outside of sushi rolls.  It was enough to inspire me though, and yesterday, I convinced myself I could make sushi at home.  No problem.  
     Turns out, it's a little tricky but not impossible!  I found an interesting recipe for Stacked Sushi while scouring YouTube and decided it looked doable.  As you can see it was a bit of a journey- it took about an hour to make- but a delicious one, at that!

1. Nori sheets or paper
2. A type of short grained rice
3. Red Wine Vinegar
4. Sea Salt
5. Sugar (I used Truvia)
6. Veggies or seafood to put inside!

- Large pot with lid
- Small pot with lid
- Tablespoon measure
- Measuring cups
- Wooden cutting board
- Something to stir rice with

 I took the Nori sheets I had gotten from Costco and counted out 16.  They are super healthy and so I figured I'd use as many as needed.  In the end, I only used about 10- and that was generous as I layered many on top of each other.
I didn't have White or Brown rice, only a combination of brown, wild and red rice.  So I figured I'd just use that.  I measured out the serving size of 1/3 cup and matched it with a cup of water.  Per instructions I found online, I let the water boil before putting the lid on.  Then, I cooked the rice at low heat for about 15-20 minutes.  It's important to stir it frequently though, so the rice doesn't stick to the pot.  It's done cooking when the water is mostly absorbed.

 While the rice was cooking, I rushed around the kitchen making the "dressing" that helps make the rice sticky, like sushi rice.  In place of Cider Vinegar or special Sushi Vinegar, I used Red Wine Vinegar.  I measured out 1 and 3/4 tbsp. and mixed it with 1 tsp. of sea salt and 1/2 a packet of Truvia sweetener.

 Lastly, I let the mixture simmer on low until the Truvia grains appeared dissolved.

 Finally, I cut up some cucumber in little strips and prepared some imitation crab meet.  Once my rice was done and the Sushi "dressing" was cooled, I put the rice in a nonmetallic (so it won't stick) bowl and slowly poured my mixture over the rice, carefully folding the rice over itself and making sure it was evenly coated.  I put down 3 mini Nori Sheets and used my big wooden spoon to smooth rice over the sheet and plop down some cucumber and crab meat.  I found that the sheets were a little thin though, so I doubled them up on the top and flipped the "sandwich" over.
     Although I made three sushi sandwiches, I still only used about 2/3 of the rice I'd prepared and had leftover Nori sheets to munch on while my sandwiches cooled in the fridge.

     Here's my finished product.  It looks a little funky, I'll admit, but the rice actually stuck and it tasted semi-sushi like!  The Nori was a little moister than in "real sushi" and my rice clumped together a little, but I would say it was a success overall!  It was a really healthy snack and I had fun making my own sushi concoction, just the way I like.  Unfortunately, I've only furthered my sushi addiction at this point... 
     I confess, however, that I won't eat the raw stuff.  So my hope is that I'll eat enough of the same sushi that I'll get sick of it soon.  Then, I'll just move on to something else I guess.  Oh well!  Next year, I'll be living in an apartment so all my cooking experiments of late will serve me well in the kitchen a few months from now!
     If you are feeling daring, try this recipe out.  As I said, it's pretty loosely based, so there's plenty of room for you to improve and alter as you try your own hand at Sushi making. I'm living proof that you don't have to be good at cooking to make some pretty delish, healthy snacks!  ENJOY :)

(Nutritional Lowdown: 210 Calories, ≈ 8 g. protein, 4 g. fat)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A-Z of Me: Letter "G"

What are my favorite games?

     As promised, I'm going to be more regular with my Saturday blog series (A-Z of Me).  This week, is letter G!  I love family games, board games, outside games-- you name it.  Here a just a few of the fun ones I've discovered:


Board Games
     1. Life- A classic favorite involving the ultimate plan for your dream life. I always opted for the "split level" trailer and as many kids as I could possibly have.  And of course: the $100,000 salary if I was lucky!  If only job salary was like that in real life... *sigh*
     2. Awkward Family Photos- I've raved about this game before (RELATED: Favorite Games), but it's just as much a favorite as ever.  You will laugh your head off seeing the Kodak-moments-gone-wrong of these unfortunate families.

Word Games
     1. Bananagrams- This is another game I've already reviewed.  This fast paced sibling of Scrabble has been a hit at college.  I enjoy it because I get so bored with slow-paced Scrabble games.  Bananagrams is lightning fast!

Outside Games
     1. Shark Tag- This was a game we always played with my dad as kids.  Now, it's a hit with the kids I babysit when we're at the playground (RELATED: Babysitting Fun). The person who is "it"  (usually the sitter or adult) can't go onto the playground but must tag the kids by reaching up and trying to tag them from below.  If a kid is tagged, they help the shark and can go up on the extensions (ladders, slides, ect.) to tag others, but still can't go on the main platforms.  It keeps kids entertained for quite a while!
     2. Kickball- The game of my childhood.  Need I say more?

Other Games
     1. Snorta- If making obnoxious animal noises sounds fun, this one is likely to be a hit with your friends and family.
     2. Rummikub- I enjoy putting tiles together based on either their coinciding color or their number sequence.  It sounds a little confusing, but is easy to learn.  Plus, it's like a fun puzzle and is great for a large group of people!
     3. Scattergories- I became obsessed with this fun game a few years ago because it involves fast, creative thinking.  With a given list of items-- a book, a world city, a fruit, ect.-- and a set letter, players must come up with answers that start wtih the designated letter.  More about Scattergories can be found HERE.


     Whether it's an evening with friends or a rainy day babysitting, I hope you'll check out some of these games as great options for entertainment and great memories.  Many, like Scattergories, Bananagrams and the outside games, can be played without the official game as well.  Get thrifty and look up the instructions online and makeshift your own game!  As you kick off your summer, be it with young kids or friends, keep these games in mind for the ever lurking: "What do ya' wanna do?"

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Am I a Sophomore Already?!


  I am amazed at how quickly this school year has flown by.  I'm aware how cliché that is, but I can't describe it otherwise.  I just arrived home and am so excited for this much needed break after all my hard work and finals!  I have experienced a lot of new things, like:

-Living in a college dorm
-Running (and not running) collegiately
-Rehabbing from a stress fracture
-Breaking out of homesickness and finding new friends
-Exploring Indianapolis in every way possible!
I've really enjoyed my trips to the
Indianapolis Museum of Art
-Learning a ton: In and out of class
-Growing more dependent on Christ

...And that is just the start of it!  I'll be updating the blog more with my new free time.  Expect more advice for incoming college freshman, book reviews, devotionals, nutrition finds and travel adventures!  Get ready for an awesome summer of blogging!!!
Just another IMA adventure!

And now I'm done!
This is going to be summer of refreshment and newness.  I am so excited as I'll be nannying, interning with a Christian magazine, "Just Between Us".  As my health improves, I'll also be training in a healthy and joyful way!  As I've discovered this year, the exciting aspects of my life are only increasing as I discover more of who I am and explore more of this amazing world around me.

I can't wait for next year either!  I am confident that I am right where God wants me and that's exciting stuff!  Sophomore year is going to be even better than this year; I am confident of that as well!