March 1- 10, 2013

March 2nd

Yesterday I booked my flight!!! I depart at approximately 5:30 p.m. on April 4th and arrive around 9:30 a.m. in Santiago. 35 days to departure.

I had a slight freak out moment right after buying the ticket, but I know it’s going to be an amazing experience, one I have worked toward for many years. Came across this quote shortly after clicking the purchase button.

“Don’t let yourself off the hook. It’s entirely your responsibility to make your dreams come true. Besides the perfect time never arrives. You’re always too young, or old or busy or broke or something else. If you constantly fret about timing things perfectly, they’ll never happen.” 

Today, Abby, Ally, and I went to Grand Island to hang out. Ate at Panera, shopped at VS, and went to Starbucks. Pretty much the perfect girls’ day. Lots of laughter and fun. On my drive home, I saw the most beautiful sunset behind the snow covered open spaces.

March 3rd

It smells like spring outside. Birds chirping and the sun is shining. Temperatures predicted in the upper 40s and lower 50s this week. I am ready for a few weeks of Spring before I head to the Southern Hemisphere and skip to Fall and the Winter, completely bypassing summer for me in 2013. Think I’ll go for a run and work on a couple projects for Mom this afternoon.

March 4th

19 days til my lovely friend’s wedding!

March 5th

On this day next month, I will be landing in Santiago at approximately 9:30 a.m.

My cousin and I were discussing Spanish phrases that we had remembered from High School. Her’s:  “Donde esta la biblioteca? and Mine: Puedo tener una galleta, por favor? So I WILL be able to A. Ask where the library is and B. Ask for a cookie…

Today is so windy and cold…Brrr…T-24 hours til my lovely friend arrives from NY! 🙂

March 6th

I love having friends all over the world…and all over the U.S. They are so dear to my heart.

Quote:
“Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.” ― Henry David Thoreau


I decided to make a yummy breakfast treat for tomorrow morning to share with my friend Sarah; Mom also bought some delicious Jamaican coffee…caramel flavors and these muffins with a lovely friend…this morning could be pretty close to perfect! 🙂

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins (Grain-free)
Detoxinista.com

Grain-free and naturally sweetened, these muffins are packed with sweet & tart flavors! A perfect breakfast or afternoon treat.
Ingredients:2 cups almond flour (store-bought or homemade)
2 whole eggs
¼ cup coconut oil, softened (butter works, too)
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup fresh raspberries (or thawed from frozen)
½ cup chocolate chips
12 muffin liners
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350F and line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners.
Combine all the ingredients– except for the raspberries and chocolate chips– and mix well, until the batter is a uniform consistency.
Gently fold in the raspberries and chocolate chips, until they are spread throughout the batter.
Using a ¼ cup to measure, drop batter into muffin liners and bake for 15 minutes at 350F, turning the pan halfway through for even baking. The final muffins should be golden brown around the edges and firm in the center.
Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove to cool completely.

March 7th

Sarah arrived this morning at 3:00 a.m.!

Spent the morning catching up and reminiscing Korea moments.

March 8th

Today we visited Fort Kearny and walked to the river on the old railroad bed. I used to camp there as a kid and it was fun to show a friend! It was a gray day, but hints of warm spring air.

Had a couple Blue Moons at Cunningham’s Journal before meeting to have pizza at Flippin’ Sweet with Abby and her roommate.

Dropped Sarah off at the train station so she could continue her adventure to California; so happy to able to spend time with my lovely friend!

March 9th

Excellent 6 mile run in about 55 degrees. Hung out with the family all day! Ate dinner, drank margaritas, and watched a movie (Hit and Run) that night. Good times. 🙂

March 10th 

Snowy and blustery Sunday. Hard to believe it was 50 degrees yesterday. 13 days til my dear friend Liz’s wedding. One more week at home then Omaha bound for wedding festivities. Still waiting for the Chilean Consulate to contact me about my Visa. Agenda for this week: finishing up projects for mom, staying positive about upcoming travel plans and decisions, cleaning, working out, and getting packed!

Photos of Sarah and I at Fort Kearny, bridge over the Platte River:





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30 days to Departure…

Sunday February 24th

As the last month of my “life hiatus” winds down, I begin to prep for my upcoming teaching adventure in Chile. Being home has been a blessing. I’ve been able to see people, reflect on what direction God wants me to go in, attend my brother’s wrestling match, and have quality family time. Even though at times I am antsy or anxious, and the house was tense I know this is a rare 5 months that I won’t ever get again. I am so excited for the next month; one of my best friends is getting married and I’ll be making a visa run to Chicago!

Today I really miss Redemption Church in Tempe. I miss driving there with my windows down, listening to klove and thanking God for the beautiful Sunday morning. I miss the praise and worship. I miss having Starbucks with my friend on occasion before church. I miss having a place to go and be with other believers. For the past year or so I’ve been listening online, but today I just missed being there. I love my mornings with my coffee and pj’s listening to sermons, however sometimes I miss being with other people. Today, instead, of listening to the regular sermon, I listened to the “First Wednesdays” brief talk. This particular talk was on dating. Ever since high school, I’ve been rather bitter on the subject. The media, relationships around me, and personal experiences have detoured me from even giving it a chance. I just don’t date, it’s uncomfortable and often times awkward. And I’m usually turned off by the guy in the first place and go just for something to do. Then I meet someone who I actually want to spend time with and he doesn’t ever want to do anything other than sit at home on the couch. Or the one who takes me on great dates, but doesn’t ask any questions and still lives at home and takes phone calls from his mother at 1 a.m. asking where is he and what time he’ll be home; at this point he proceeds to lie to her right in front of me. Awesome. Just awesome. Another scenario is I’m the friend of both the guy and girl and they both come to me and for lack of better terms “bitch” about each other…another great moment being the third wheel. Listening to this Dating Talk and a few others by various speakers from Redemption have started opening my eyes, that perhaps dating isn’t sooo bad and that being patient is best rather than pursuing any sort of unstable relationship. Ultimately God is in control and I’m here to do His will. In His perfect timing, I will be with someone absolutely amazing, and after listening to these talks I am ever so comforted that I can date and it won’t be terrible. I have been on a couple dates that have changed my life and I know the possibility of having more great dates is always out there, I just need to learn not to dwell on the terrible ones or the other ridiculous things the guys in the past have said or done to me. I will meet a guy who is more than willing to buy me a smoothie and not yell at me for wanting one. I will meet a guy who will play 20 Questions with me and not say we can’t because he already knows everything about me. Each day I become more confident in Who I Am in Christ and inching away from the fairy tales and lies the world feeds me about finding “the perfect one.” Because guess what? He isn’t perfect and neither am I. We will just be on the same page of loving and living for Jesus. Because that’s what it’s all about.

“Keeping Me Guessing”
by Francesca Battistelli

Coffee cup waking me up
I’ve got to board a plane
And fly away sometimes
I feel like I’m going the speed of light
Can’t relax I’m moving too fast
I want to find the gold but I don’t have a map
I wish that I could know what you’ve got in store for me

(Pre-Chorus)
I try and try
To read your mind
‘Cause I forget that patience is a virtue
You’re teaching me to hold on tight

(Chorus)
‘Cause I don’t know how the story ends
But I’ll be alright ‘cause You wrote it
I don’t know where the highway bends
But I’m doing just fine
‘Cause You’re in control
Even when I don’t know
Where my life’s gonna go
You’re keeping me guessing

So slow me down
Show me around
I want to see the world
That I’ve been without
I am here and now
The future is out of my hands

(Pre Chorus)
I’m trusting you
And how you move
I won’t forget that patience is a virtue
You’re teaching me to hold on tight

(Repeat Chorus)

(Bridge)
Seasons come
And seasons go
But you decide

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ampVOoicQ0&NR=1&feature=endscreen

March 1st.

This begins my ~30 day countdown of being in the states. There’s so much to do! I’ve started my packing list, but am still waiting for a visa call. Sometimes I don’t understand last minute things like this, so it’s hard to answer the questions. Here’s what I’m going to do to keep busy, each day I will post something that I’ve done, to be productive and stick to my lists! 🙂 I am also very excited as I just found out my BFF from Korea is traveling by train from NY to San Fran and is making a stop through Holdrege for a couple days!

Day 1:
Raspberry Almond Bars (Grain-free, Dairy-free)Author: Detoxinista.com
Featuring protein-rich almond flour and metabolism-boosting coconut oil, these treats are something you can feel good about serving to your loved ones. Sweet and tart homemade raspberry sauce pairs perfectly with this buttery crumb topping, creating a moist and crumbly bar that’s truly hard to resist.
Ingredients
Crust:
2 cups almond flour or almond meal
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Filling:
10 oz. bag of frozen raspberries
½ cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Crumb Topping:
1 cup walnuts
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon coconut oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon almond extract

Instructions
Prepare the raspberry filling by heating the ½ cup maple syrup in a 1½-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring the maple syrup to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the frozen raspberries and vanilla extract, and bring to a simmer again, allowing the mixture to cook for 15 minutes, until thick. (Do not cook for longer than 15 minutes, or the pectin will break down and the sauce will not thicken properly.) Remove from the heat, and transfer to a glass jar to chill in the fridge while you prepare the crust.
For the crust, preheat the oven to 350F and line an 8″ x 8″ baking dish with parchment paper, to prevent sticking. Combine all of the crust ingredients in a food processor, and process until the dough sticks together. Press the dough into the bottom of the baking sheet, and bake for 12 minutes at 350F. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
Prepare the crumbly topping by combining the walnuts, coconut, maple syrup, coconut oil, sea salt and almond extract in a food processor, and process until sticky and crumbly, but still coarse in texture.
Arrange the bars by spreading the raspberry filling over the crust, then spreading the crumbly topping over the raspberry layer. Return to the oven for 15 minutes at 350F, or until the topping is lightly golden.
Allow to cool completely before cutting and serving. For best shelf life, store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to a week.

Notes
For best results, allow the raspberry filling to cool completely, at least 2 hours, before topping the crust. If you can prepare the filling the night before to let it set in the fridge, it’s even better!

Fabulous recipe if I do say so myself!

 

Cheers to 2013!

Oh my goodness where does the time go?! It’s already January 11th, 2013. (And posting on February 6th! Ack!) I started off the New Year with a couple great friends playing Scattergories, drinking wine, and eating yummy food and Rumchata cupcakes. I am so excited for this New Year! THESE are the best years…not high school, not college…but the Real World. Call me crazy, but it’s true. I am traveling, making memories with friends and family, in the best shape of my life, setting higher goals, challenging myself with new opportunities teaching abroad, and having fun!

For the first week of the new year I spent in Omaha catching up with friends, and grandparents. On Thursday of the month I flew up to Chicago to visit a dear friend of mine whom I haven’t seen in two years. It was wonderful to visit with her and play with her new baby- who is almost 1 now! I truly cherish our friendship and am so wow’d how we have stayed such good friends despite the distance! Amazing.

My state travels continue next week as I head to Phoenix to run my first full marathon. Yes, that’s 26.2 miles. And I’ll be 26 years and 2 months. Figured it was rather appropriate timing for this bucket list activity.

Now on to Resolutions… as I eat two chocolate chip cookies and drink coffee…AFTER my 5:30 spin class that I woke up for at 4:43 just to get a new spin bike. Worth it? Duh!

1. health. I’m really considering attempting to go gluten-free or at least really trying to cut back. Just because I’m a crazy runner does not mean I’m the healthiest eater, because I’m actually really bad…let’s just say dessert is a food group in my world…not salads. (Hence the cookies for breakfast! I swear I will do better the rest of the day!)

2. writing. I want to write on a more professional level and really research topics that I want to talk about rather than writing about how I’m feeling. Developing my writing on this level is something I want to work on for lesson plans, letters, emails, blogging…etc.

3. my attitude going into Chile or other country experiences. I want to totally immerse myself in this experience. I’m going to learn Spanish, get to know and spend quality time with my host family, salsa dance, have fun, try new food, and challenge myself to become a better teacher and to utilize resources- not take the easy way out when it comes to lesson planning or developing a spelling bee or debate club (I actually have the opportunity to do these things when I’m there as a part of my contracted teaching hours…it’s divided up between class time and extracurricular activities.) BECAUSE… when I was in Korea…looking back I did a lot of comparing and complaining and criticizing…sometimes it’s hard to see how my attitude was while I was there or I didn’t catch myself falling into this category of being negative, but I know I did. And moving forward I want to be able to grow as a person and appreciate the culture I am in rather than doing the 3 Cs. I don’t think I was aware of the conveniences and amenities of America until I didn’t have them, and I had a lack of appreciation…now that I’ve lived abroad for a significant amount of time I have things I really miss about Korea and wish I had them again, but I also have a greater appreciation for things back home too. Knowing that I can live without certain things and that there’s things I will grow to love somewhere else and will miss those when I leave too. Just being aware and truly “live” in the country I’m in rather than displacing myself and not giving all I should in the opportunity.

Later in the month….

As you may have noticed I haven’t blogged at all in 2013…so! here are the top 10 highlights of what’s been going on…in no particular order….

1. On the 12th I was dropped off in Lincoln at my college roomie’s…hung out with her and did arts and crafts, made dinner, and ate at our usual bar and had our routine of chips and cheese and a beer at noon.
2. Spent the week with another friend, prepped for marathon- did lots of yoga and spin; had a lovely dinner at Bread and Cup.
3. Found out I have to renew my passport- eek!
4. Left for Phoenix on the 17th. Flight was cancelled. Rebooked through SW to get to PHX that night. Arrived at midnight. Rental car was a Crown Victoria (Vicki).
5. Went to my old Starbucks and the lady remembered me!!! and asked a bunch of questions. 🙂
6. Ran my first marathon at 26 years and 2 months— a mile for every year. 🙂 Final time: 5:23:46. My split for the half was 2:11. Averaging 10 minute miles until mile 20 then got the worst side ache imaginable. BUT—I finished! SO THRILLED!!!!
7. Spent time with friends and co-workers…lovely lunches, dinners, and conversation! So blessed with such amazing people in Phoenix…a huge thank you to everyone for making my visit so incredibly special!!!
8. Ate at my fave restaurants: Yogurtland, Yogurtology, True Foods, Oregano’s, and Tommy Bahama’s (for their Pina Colada cake!) and also had yummy homemade food too. Walked around Tempe Town Lake. Got a massage, hair done, nails done, waxed…oh the days of being pampered in Arizona! Shout out to my amazing massage lady and hair stylist! They are the best!
9. 70 degrees and a sunburn on race day. 75 the day after…and one day of desert rain. Amazing!!!
10. Desert Sunrise as I freeway drove with the window down and a bit of heat on the way to the airport on my last day. Strikingly beautiful- just like I remembered! 🙂

What a crazy first month of 2013!

New Year’s Wine

Rum Chata Cupcakes
Chicago

Love this View!

sweet baby!

View from Happy Hour- in an old law firm’s library

Love my friend!

Snowy view from the plane

Pinterest Craft

January in Arizona is perfect!

Yep, it was my idea…but I KNEW you could do it!
So proud of you my friend!

Ladies Lunchie! 

Sooo ready to rock!

Runners and our Amazing Cheerleaders!!!!!

oh how lovely Tempe Town Lake is!

afternoon delight of wine, hummus, veggies, crackers, and cheeses
what a gorgeous day!
Scottsdale Quarter

True Foods

yep We ordered take-out pina colada cake from
Tommy Bahamas
The bartender definitely gave me a look like
“you eat cake?”

beautiful sunrise

best morning coffee- thanks Brittany!!!

January 29th
In my attempt to be healthy….here’s a new twist on my fave:
http://detoxinista.com/2012/05/chocolate-peanut-butter-banana-milkshake/

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Milkshake (vegan)
makes 24 oz (about 2 servings)

Ingredients:
2 frozen bananas
3/4 cup almond milk (homemade or store-bought)
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup (optional)
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
7 ice cubes (about 2 handfuls)

Directions:
Throw all the ingredients into a high-powered blender, and blend until smooth and creamy.

Not too bad…but I left out the maple syrup…and I’m thinking I may have to have a little sweetness added.
I have also started *gasp* lifting weights. Something I haven’t done since college. Well after researching different routines I devised a plan! Incorporating legs, back, shoulders, arms, and abs I think I’m on the right track! (Ready go 200lb leg press!) And the next day I was so sore…
And one more recipe before I post!

Peanut Butter Banana Mug Cake (another Detoxinista recipe!)serves 1
Ingredients:
1 very ripe banana (with brown spots!)
2 Tablespoons natural peanut butter, or nut butter of choice
1 whole egg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
dash of cinnamon (optional)

Directions:If using an oven, preheat to 350F.
Combine all of the ingredients into a mug, and mix until relatively smooth.
Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the center is firm.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then dig in!
Note: Because I don’t own a microwave, the oven is my preferred method for baking. I think it’s worth the wait, but of course, if you prefer the microwave, please feel free to use it–> I’d guess about 60 seconds would do the trick, but use your best intuition, as microwaves vary. (And please let me know how it works for you!)

And yet another delicious recipe!

Cheesy Spaghetti Squash CasseroleAuthor: Detoxinista.com
Prep time: 1 hour 15 mins
Total time: 1 hour 15 mins

Serves: 4-6
Cooked spaghetti squash has a surprisingly similar texture to hash browns, and blends seamlessly into this simple hash-brown-like casserole. Combined with sauteed onions, creamy yogurt, and a bit of raw goat cheddar, this creamy dish is classic comfort food, without leaving you uncomfortable later.
Ingredients:
1 medium spaghetti squash
1 tablespoon butter
½ yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup plain goat’s milk yogurt, or greek yogurt
3 oz. raw goat cheese, shredded and divided
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
black pepper, to taste
Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper. Cut the spaghetti squash in half, and remove the seeds. Place the squash halves cut-side-down on the baking sheet, and cook for 35-45 minutes, or until a fork can easily pierce the outer shell.
Once you have removed the cooked squash from the oven, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat and saute the chopped onion and garlic until tender and slightly golden, about 5 minutes.
Transfer the cooked onion and garlic to a large mixing bowl, and combine with the yogurt and 2 oz. of shredded goat cheddar, and season with salt and pepper. When the spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the noodle-like strands into the bowl, and mix well.
Transfer the mixture to a 2.5-quart casserole dish, and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining ounce of goat cheddar over the top, and return to the oven to bake for 30 minutes at 400F.
The casserole is ready when the top is a light golden brown, which makes for a crunchy crust! Serve immediately.
Delicious! 🙂

 

"On This Cold December Night…"

December 17th
Sitting at Six North Cafe in Chesterfield, Missouri while Timmie studies and take tests; I attempt to study Spanish…

It was the second time I had been in a church over the past year. Candlelight flickered in and out of holly boughs at the alter. And the screen above read: Jesus As Interruption. A big interruption. To my plans. To your dreams. To the world’s goals. To the life we live each day how we want to. Without looking to guidance. Without looking to praise. Without the love that is freely offered. He interrupts it. Transforms it. For Christianity is…”a story with some advice sprinkled in.” And God isn’t sending a plan…He sent Himself~to be with us. In our mess. The perfect God came out of a perfect Heaven to enter into the mess of this world and the mess of our lives. You’re interrupted if you’re worshiping God…and during the Christmas season…know that Christmas is disruptive…it’s supernatural, historical, and personal. No matter how shattered our lives may be or how little faith we have…He is here. With us. Through tragedy, through joy…He is here…in this broken world. He is our only true comfort. Even when life crashes and storms…He is the only thing that remains calm.

The Journey STL, December 16th. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVFyyGwF_zI

I have been busy! I finished up my Teaching Kids English Seminar via the TEFL INSTITUTE online. Today I started the Advanced Grammar Certification Course. I also have been cooking and baking here in Missouri with my sister. Check out a couple Gluten-Free recipes below.

Pumpkin Pie Cookies (Vegan, Grain-free)
makes 2 dozen cookies
Ingredients:
1 cup creamy almond butter
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
optional: 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:Preheat your oven to 350F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl, and mix until a thick batter is formed. If adding the dark chocolate chips, fold them in last.

Note: Because this batter is egg-free, feel free to taste-test it at this point, and adjust the flavors to your preference.
Using a tablespoon or cookie scoop, drop the batter onto the line baking sheet, and gently press each mound with a wet fork (to prevent sticking) to flatten.
Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are golden.
http://detoxinista.com/2012/09/pumpkin-pie-cookies-vegan-grain-free/

Panera Bread Black Bean Soup Recipe
YIELD: 8 Servings
PREP: 20 mins
COOK: 2 hrs 0 min
READY IN: 2 hrs 20 mins

Ingredients:
1 loaf french baguette
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 cups peppers diced, I used a variety of peppers, jalapeño, bell peppers, green peppers and red, seeded.
1/2 cup yellow onion diced
2 cups tomato chopped
4 cans black beans 15.5-16 ounce cans
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp cilantro
1/2 tbsp ground pepper
1/2 tbsp salt
4 cups water

Instructions:
Heat the oil in a wok while dicing the peppers, onions, and tomatoes. Once wok is hot, add peppers and onions and sauté until tender. Stir in cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper, and cook another 5 to 10 minutes on low.
Add black beans, not drained, tomatoes and water and stir well. Heat on medium high until rapid boil and then reduce heat to low and let simmer another hour, stirring occasionally. Soup should thicken as it sets.
Heat bread in oven and serve with soup. Enjoy!

I’m seriously considering going a bit more gluten-free in my diet. Less ingredients and much healthier! 🙂

Advanced Grammar class..done. 98% in the class. What a great review! Thanks TEFL INSTITUTE!

December 23rd
Two days til Christmas…yesterday the siblings and I made a graham cracker mansion (gingerbread house).

Advent devotion for the day…
I love giving gifts…making gifts…or paying for a coffee, lunch, drinks, or dinner, or just sending a card in the mail…Sometimes I don’t think my gift is enough…enough expression of how much I appreciate the friendship and love the person has showed me…
Did you know that Christmas is all about presents?! Now … before the self-righteous Scrooge of your personality rears its miserly head … think about it for a minute.


Every joy-filled day of this miraculous season … every holiday cookie that is lovingly baked … every Christmas card that is hurriedly mailed is all about giving a gift. The intent of the heart is to give a gift to someone who has been a part of your life Sometimes the gift is a loving sacrifice … and at other times it is a necessary nuisance.

For some people you buy a gift because they feel that it is expected. For others, you buy a gift because you, quite simply, wouldn’t have it any other way. Many people buy gifts out of tradition or of family demands but most we buy out of heart-felt love. We give because we care and long to express a small piece of our heart.
Heaven gave every person in every generation the greatest Gift of all. The Bible says, “A Child has been born for us!” Imagine the miracle of that gift … just drink in the joy that God gave the gift of His Son for you!

The first Christmas, over 2000 years ago, was all about presents! It was about a Gift that came from heaven with your name on it … with love, from God! It wasn’t wrapped in expensive red paper and tied with a bow of gold, but it was a gift personally chosen for you just the same.

It was a present that Someone knew you were unable to live without. He knew that this particular Gift would change your life forever.

The gift has been given … a Baby in a manger. The Bible says that “God so loved the world that He gave His Son … His only Son!” When you love somebody … you just have to give! God loved you enough to give you what you wanted most of all: unconditional love and a never-ending song in your heart.

Will you receive heaven’s gift this year? The gift has already been given and is yours to receive. It is the gift of a Father to His child. It is a gift that will guarantee heaven’s entrance into all of your circumstances, and a gift that will ensure your entrance into the joy of heaven.


Culture shock during Christmas= a high strung and frustrated me. Frustrated with consumerism. Frustrated that not everyone sees what I see. Tears and words of hurt and misunderstanding flood around me this season. So happy on the outside, but on the inside…crying from missing moods, rich foods, and not knowing how to explain myself. Yeah, maybe I should suck it up…because I am in America and did miss things while I was away, but now the level doesn’t seem so concerning anymore and I could be anywhere, but here right now. Even though happiness abounds all around me being home and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be here…my mind wanders to Christmas last year abroad. Such mixed emotions…too many for one to deal with in one day…but as the Jenga game builds, one small block causes the gates to break and the the blocks to crash down for no apparent reason other than the wrong block was touched…was bumped. So in the next couple days I’m really going to try hard to really be joyful. To reserve my misunderstandings and frustrations for another day…and to celebrate the true reason for this season.
plotting the fountain

Jake’s guilty…i swear i’m not eating the frosting…

drifting snow…

graham cracker mansion

yep.

sometimes we get along… 😉

frost covered trees after the first snow

my beautiful friend asked me to take
Christmas card pictures…
what a wonderful couple!!!

Coffee should be Black as Hell; Strong as Death; and Sweet as Love~ Turkish Proverb

I was watching “She’s outta my league” and this Sara Bareilles song came on….”There’s too many sunsets I haven’t seen….there’s too many things I haven’t done yet…but how far do I have to go to get to you…Many the miles…”

November 20

Received more Chile information today. Have to write a letter to my host family describing my family, hobbies, interests, etc. In Spanish. Found out the visa fee is waived. Saves me approximately $500. Much paperwork still left to do. Going through old boxes today I found all my college Spanish vocab note cards and a textbook…perfect timing to start refreshing my mind!

Training day of 10 miles. Time of 1 hour and 37 minutes. And yes I coaxed myself at about mile 8 to just keep running and not stop! Beautiful run day…60 degrees. Soaking up that sun in shorts and t-shirt before the snow falls! Thought about all the Spanish words I could say, rocked out to some good jams, contemplated the next few weeks…so many thoughts running through my head…

November 24

There’s something that makes me feel sexy about drinking an ice-cold beer in a hot shower. Needed the house to myself after a fun-filled, laughter highlighted weekend with my mom and sisters. Sunset run once we got home. Yum. Leftover enchilada and beer. Soundtrack of the Weeked and mumble of the t.v. in the background. Gotta fill up the quiet house with a bit of background noise to accompany my thoughts. I was thinking in the shower…and maybe this sounds a bit Sex and the City episod(ish)…but I wonder if people think they’re sexy alone? Like do we really have to have a guy or (a girl) around to make us feel sexy? Do we do “sexy” things for ourselves? I hope you do. 🙂

In reflection of Thanksgiving I’m thankful for…

my sisters
my brother
my mom
my dad
my whole family…grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins…
friends all over the world
laughter
hope
my kiddos in Korea who made me laugh on the toughest days- gosh I miss ’em
dreams
upcoming adventures

December 14
oh wow…it’s been a while since I have made a post…

Ran 17 miles the other day amazing feeling… Farthest I’ve ever run. Jammed out and just focused. Ran on the Rock Island Trail through Lincoln… Pretty peaceful trail. The last few days I spent at a good friend’s house with her and her husband. Their house is so homey, and it was wonderful just to help around the house, paint, make morning coffee, workout, bake, make dinner, and just hang out. One night three of us girls to got dinner and nice drinks and a second night played Scattergories. Another best friend of mine that I hadn’t seen it over a year came over for dinner one night. It was so good to have both friends together. Yesterday I spent the night at Grandma’s; my cousin came over to bake cookies all afternoon!

Arrived at the airport at 6:00 am to board a 7:05 flight to St Louis for a visit with Timmie. Gorgeous morning sunrise as the plane floats over the clouds. Reflecting on the past week or so. Crafted my sisters’ Christmas gifts which I am soo excited about!! Took an online mini course to get certified in Teaching kids ESL… Aced it! Awesome feedback on my lesson plans and other assignments. I know more than ever I can reach kids (and perhaps adults) in (underdeveloped) areas of the world… I can encourage their abilities and intelligence that others don’t recognize or put to shame. Like my kiddos in SK that teachers scolded or thought they couldn’t learn the material. I knew they could. 
“I cry just a little when I think of letting go…” Giving up the life I want to have so desperately… To meet someone amazing and get a condo in the city and eat breakfast together and go on bike rides or to the beach on Saturdays; to go somewhere a little less easy on the mind. But to know the challenges to know His will is being fulfilled and I will know a deeper love than I can imagine… I need to have this as my ultimate goal even though it’s a constant struggle when my best friends have the life I imagined myself having at this age. It’s not about being patient and waiting for the things I want..It’s about me living for Him and His plan and not waiting for something to happen on the sidelines. It’s about going places, meeting people, praising this glorious world He created, seeing His glory in the darkest places farthest from any comfort I’m used to. Seeing the beauty in those the world thinks less of and loving every race and kind. 
I am absolutely loving being home this holiday season. To be able to be surrounded by family and friends, to celebrate the joy and peace brought to us so long ago. To fully enjoy the blessings He has given. To share laughter and memories and catch up on life. It’s truly amazing to have the child-like giddiness of being home this year!

Flo-Rida “I cry” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLuWHr6-0YQ

Justin Beiber “Home This Christmas” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYBtiNqGphk

Blake Shelton and Michael Buble “Home, Christmas version” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vg7Tb6uWT90

#26


November 13th

Another Recipe…

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Ingredients
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (I used the kind with sweet onion in it)
1 10-ounce package frozen whole kernel corn
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped yellow, green, or red bell pepper (I used red, which is my favorite pepper)
1 10-ounce can enchilada sauce (I used mild)
1 10.75-ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup
1½ cups milk (I used skim)
1 cup shredded Pepper jack cheese (4 ounces)
2 chicken breasts

Instructions:
In a 3½ to 5 quart slow cooker, combine drained beans, tomatoes, corn, onion, and bell pepper. Place 2 chicken breasts on top of mixture. In a large bowl, whisk together enchilada sauce and soup. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth. Pour sauce mixture over ingredients in cooker.Cover; cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.
Remove chicken and cut or shred into bite sized pieces. Add chicken back into soup.
Top with pepper jack cheese and serve. Can also be topped with avocado, sour cream, or crushed tortilla chips. Note: if the soup is too thick for you, just add a little more milk after it’s all cooked.

Umm…IT’S DELICIOUS!!!!!!

November 15th

Shake it off…Shake it off…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVRl5vNnrBk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbN0nX61rIs

Shake It Off

One of my favorite stories is about a farmer’s donkey that fell into a dry well. The animal cried pitifully for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do for his poor donkey. Finally, he concluded that the well was too deep, and it really needed to be covered up anyway. Besides, the donkey was old, and it would be a lot of trouble to get him out of the pit. The farmer decided that it was not worth trying to retrieve the animal, so he asked his neighbors to help him fill in the well and bury the donkey.

They all grabbed shovels and began to toss dirt into the well. The donkey immediately realized what was happening, and he began to bray horribly. Crying would be our normal response if somebody was mistreating us this badly, so this donkey was responding the same way we would at first, but then he got real quiet. A few shovel loads of dirt later, the farmer looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit the donkey’s back, the donkey would shake it off and step on top of it.

As the neighbors and the farmer continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he continued to shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon the donkey shook off the last shovel full of dirt, took a step up, and walked right out of the well. We can learn so much from this story. When trouble comes, if we will get still and listen, God will tell us what to do.

By the grace and mercy of God, I was able to shake off a lot of things in my life, a lot of hurt feelings, a lot of mistreatment, a lot of abuse, a lot of unfair, unjust, unkind things. Just like the donkey, in order to keep pressing on and have victory in our lives, we are going to have to learn to shake off the troubles that come our way.

From the book New Day, New You by Joyce Meyer. Copyright 2007 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved.


Wow. You know how you get smacked in the face with reality and things to improve yourself? It’s been happening these past two weeks with this devotion and once again I am amazed how a few paragraphs can smack me in the face. I am one for holding on to things, to people, to words, to situations…why not just shake ’em off and become stronger trampling the hurt beneath like the donkey did with the dirt? Why not make a “dirty” situation one for growth and a stronger relationship with God? Instead of struggling beneath the hurt and dirt, listen…and shake it off! Yep…I’m gonna work on shakin’ it off! No more dwelling on the past of let-downs and failures…it’s time to press on and realize what better of a place I’m in! Yes, maybe I was like the donkey…complaining and crying, pitying myself, and running to tell every little problem to someone who would listen…maybe I should keep quiet and listen…and shake it off. Because eventually those problems will turn in to successes and the failures into victories…and hurts into freedom of pain.

Tomorrow is my birthday!

A friend posted on facebook today:

Age 18…
Dated: My neighbor
Now: Married (not to my neighbor)
Wanted to be: Foreign correspondent
Now: Small business owner (brewery)
Biggest fear: Flying
Now: Corporate-run America
Where I lived: Denver/Lincoln, NE
Now: Columbia Falls, MT

Like it and I’ll give you an age

She gave me the age: 20.
Dated: I think I was hanging out with a guy in my study abroad program…or at a frat party…
Now: single…
Wanted to be: Event Planner for a Resort in California
Now: A Traveling ESL Teacher! and then, in a few years, a Study Abroad Director at a University or ESL Teacher in an inner city school.
Biggest fear: Public Speaking or Managing
Now: finding cockroaches in my suitcases! (oh wait that happened to a friend and I was right there!) so… I’m not really sure…I’m not really a fearful person.
Where I lived: Nairobi, Kenya and Lincoln, NE
Now: Holdrege, NE… just got back from Jangyu, South Korea…
Just reflecting on the past few years and how much I’ve changed and grown since I was 20! (6 years ago!) I am so incredibly happy with being 26, and I feel great! I’m seeing the world and I have the best family and friends anyone could ask for…they have are supportive and have faith in me and love me unconditionally and I know I am one very very blessed woman.

November 16th
Today’s my birthday…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRZBAvstyxA&feature=youtu.be

Lovely messages…emails…texts…and phone calls…Thank you everyone for making this day so special!

Ran 9 miles in an hour and a half. Feels great!!!

November 17th/18th

Two close friends of mine drove down from Lincoln to my parent’s home in Holdrege…so incredibly sweet of them to make the drive to come hang out for the afternoon and evening!!!

Here’s what I made!!! Successful baking day! YAY!

A-Freaking-Mazing Artichoke Dip

Just mix everything together in a baking dish and then throw it in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-45 minutes or until it’s heated through. 

Ingredients:
8 oz. Cream Cheese, warmed in the microwave for 2 minutes on 50% heat to soften it – (Even if you’re making your dip in the oven, pre-microwaving the cream cheese will help you mix it with the other ingredients, so I recommend not skipping this step.)
A dollop of sour cream – maybe 1/4 – 1/3 cup
A dollop of mayonnaise – about 1/4 cup
About a cup of chopped spinach (either fresh, cooked, or frozen, thawed)
2 cans or jars of non-marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
Garlic salt
Chili powder – be generous! The cream cheese and sour cream will act to “cool” the dip, so you can sprinkle away with the chili!
A handful of shredded mozzarella cheese

Cookie Dough Dip Recipe
Prep time: 10 mins
Total time: 10 mins

Serves: 12
The most delicious recipe for cookie dough dip you’ve ever tasted.
Ingredients:1 8-ounce package cream cheese
½ cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup toffee bits
Instructions:
Cream together cream cheese and butter.
Add all remaining ingredients and mix until well-combined.
Serve with graham crackers or apple wedges.
Notes:
Do NOT use reduced fat cream cheese as it may cause your dip to have the wrong consistency. 
I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese and it turned out great! 🙂

Vanilla Cupcakes
Yield: 18-20 cupcakes

Ingredients:


FOR THE CUPCAKES

2 1/4 cups cake flour (I used Swan’s Down brand)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

FOR THE BUTTERCREAM
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract (this helps maintain the bright white color)
1 ½ pounds (24 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream or milk

Directions:
FOR THE CUPCAKES

1. Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and egg whites.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla bean seeds at medium speed for 3 minutes, or until the butter and sugar are very light. Add in the vanilla extract and one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until well incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter fully incorporated and smooth, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
5. Once ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Using a large scoop (about 3 tablespoons), distribute the batter between 18 muffin wells, filling each well 2/3 full.
6. Bake for 18-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centers come out clean. Cool on wire rack.

FOR THE BUTTERCREAM

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and seeds from vanilla bean until fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in confectioners’ sugar, and continue beating until well blended.
2. Add in vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk. Blend on low speed until moistened.
3. Add an additional 1 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk until you reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

Graham Streusel Coffee Cake

this cake was the “camping” cake…the cake we would ALWAYS make when we would go to Fort Kearney for the weekend… 🙂 then I learned to make it and became the cake I would make for company…

Ingredients:
2 c (28 sqaures) graham cracker crumbs
3/4 c brown sugar
3/4 c butter, melted
1 c water
3 eggs
3/4 c chopped nuts (optional)
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 pkg white or yellow cake mix
1/3 c vegetable oil

Directions:
1. Mix crumbs, nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter: reserve.
2. Heat oven to 350 degrees
3. Grease and flour a 9×13″ pan
4. Beat cake mix, water, oil, and eggs on low speed until moist.
5. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes
6. Pour about 2 1/3 c batter in pan
7. Sprinkle with 2 c crumbs
8. Pour in the rest of the batter and crumbs
9. Bake 45-50 minutes

Glaze
1 c powder sugar
1-2 tbsp water

1. Mix sugar and water until smooth
2. Drizzle on cake


Best with coffee… 🙂

November 20th

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOM17kGtEYA&feature=related


Some days I feel so displaced. Memories flood through my head. Maybe it has to do with clearing away six boxes of old high school and college junk. Terrible photos, old notes, sobbing journals full nonsense words…I’ve grown so much. Still the memories flood. Part of me wants to be sinking my feet in some exotic sand, another wants to be in my Korean cafe, another wants to open the red door of my Phoenix apartment and drive down the freeway going 80 or walk across the street for a Starbucks latte, another wants to be in a crowded market in Nairobi or Nampo-dong, or Insa-dong prying through treasures and making bargains, and yet another wants to just continue to curl up on my parent’s couch with a good book. How did I pull myself into so many places? I kakao talked my Cafe Muse lady. And she is doing well…she’s a bit sick now. The weather is cold. She misses me. And I miss her. It’s not the same as face-face communication. Especially with the language difference. I continue to wonder how my kiddos are…I know they are so full of energy and talent…will in get wash away into the daily grind of pressure to get into the best university starting when you’re 5?

I can see myself anywhere. Living…laughing…making friends. I hope the people I meet understand if I need a day of reflecting and missing the other places and people I’ve met…it just happens every now and then that I let my mind wander to displaced locations…I’ll be brought back to my current location in a matter of minutes…

And as of this morning…25,000 views…Exciting!!!…I truly hope you enjoy the current stories, pictures, and recipes…I know I’m not abroad, but stayed tuned for more overseas adventures in 2013…and the process it takes to get there! Xx

A Taste of Fall

can’t beat a Pumpkin Spice Latte
from Starbucks!

view from my front porch

Nebraska sunrise on I-80

running 8 miles out around town and the slough!

I love Fall. Crunchy leaves. Feeling of cooling off after a heated summer. Crisp air. Pumpkin. and more Pumpkin. Warm days. Rosy cheeks. Striking harvest sunsets. Fall…

My recent endeavor has been cooking…and baking! First came meatballs, chili, cream corn, pumpkin bread, and Thai noodles and chicken. Enjoy the recipes…definitely fall favorites!

Meatballs

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup milk
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats (QUAKER)
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a large bowl combine first 4 ingredients. Crumble beef over mixture/mix well. Shape into 1-in balls. Place in a 5 quart slow cooker.
2. In a small bowl, combine ketchup, water, vinegar, and sugar. Pour over meatballs. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is no longer pink. (Makes 6 servings)

Chili

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb ground beef
1/2 c chopped green pepper
3 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 c water
28 oz can whole tomatoes cut up
1 can condensed tomato soup
4 oz can chopped green chilies undrained
15.5 oz can kidney beans, undrained
1/2 c chopped onion
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce
6 oz can tomato paste

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a medium skillet, brown ground beef with onion; drain
2. Throw everything in the crockpot except for kidney beans, high heat for first hour, low heat for the rest of the day
3. For the last hour, throw in kidney beans (heat is still low!)

I also want to try this combination I got from a friend…
lots of smoked paprika, some curry powder, and a beer (I usually use PBR), Ground beed (used bison before–yum!), onions, canned tomatoes, regular Ranch beans, jalapeno Ranch beans, and other spices. Let simmer for an hour or two. Super simple!

Crockpot Corn

COOK TIME: at least 3-4 hours in crockpot
INGREDIENTS:
2 (20 oz pkgs frozen corn)*
6 T water
8 oz cream cheese (cubed)
1/8 c sugar
8 oz Velveeta cheese (cubed)
1/2 stick butter

DIRECTIONS:
Mix in crockpot and cook slowly until cheese is melted and corn is done.

*My family froze summer sweet corn- yum!

from http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/pumpkin-bread-recipe/

Pumpkin Bread
YIELD: 2 loaves
PREP TIME: 20 minutes
COOK TIME: 60 minutes
INGREDIENTS:
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons *pumpkin pie spice

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8.5 x 4 x 2.5 inch loaf pans.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, combine pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, vanilla and sugar until well blended.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice until well combined.
4. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour batter into the prepared pans.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
NOTES:
This bread is a fantastic base for all sorts of additions. Get creative by adding in chopped nuts, chocolate chips, dried cranberries or whatever else sounds good to you. 
***I added chocolate chips to mine! Delicious! 
Served best with Archer Farms Cinnamon Vanilla Nut coffee

*Pumpkin Pie Spice
YIELD: about 5 tablespoons
INGREDIENTS:
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice
1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves
DIRECTIONS:
1. Combine spices in a small bow, mix well to combine. Store in a small jar or spice container.

Thai Noodles and Chicken

What You’ll Need:
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Mushroom with Roasted Garlic Soup
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 package (6 ounces) refrigerated fully-cooked grilled chickenstrips (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 package (16 ounces) vermicelli pasta, cooked and drained
2 cups coleslaw mix
1/3 cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves (optional)

How to Make It1. Heat the soup, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar and red pepper in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Add the chicken and cook until the mixture is hot and bubbling. Remove the skillet from the heat.
2. Add the pasta and coleslaw mix to the skillet and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the peanuts and cilantro, if desired.

Lessons Learned on this cooking experience…

1. Know your family’s schedule
2. Read and re-read the recipe…the pasta takes extra time
3. Mom actually doesn’t like Thai food… 😉

Oh and less pasta will make it better! 
~~~~~
I came across this in my “New Day, New You” Devotion….Laugh. Find a Reason. Everyday. Just Laugh.

It’s Okay to Laugh
Many serious things are going on in this world, and we need to be aware of them and prepared for them. But at the same time we need to learn to relax and take things as they come without getting all nervous and upset about them. We need to learn how to enjoy the good life God has provided for us through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ (SEE JOHN 10:10). In spite of all the troubling things going on around us in the world, our daily confession should be, “This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Something we Christians need to do more of is laugh. We tend to be so heavy about everything – our sin, expecting perfection from ourselves, our growth in God, our prayer life, the gifts of the Spirit, and memorizing Bible verses. We carry around such heavy burdens. If we would just laugh a little more – be of good cheer, “cheer up” – we would find that a little bit of laughter makes that load much lighter.

In the world we live in, there isn’t a great deal to laugh about so we will need to do it on purpose. It is easy to find plenty to worry about. To be happy, we need to work on it a little. We need to laugh and have a good time.
~~~~

Sunday November 11th

taken from my devotion…


But God…

There is a little phrase in the Bible that I get excited about every time I come across it. It is just two little words, but it is found throughout the Bible and is probably one of the most powerful two-word phrases in it. It is simply this: But God . . .

As we go through the Bible, we constantly read disastrous reports of the terrible things the devil had planned for God’s people. Then we come to this little phrase, But God . . ., and the next thing we read about is a victory. In the above scripture, the fact is mentioned that we are all sinners, a condition that deserves punishment and death. The phrase But God . . . interrupts the process. God’s love is brought into the situation and changes everything.

While we were sinners, Christ died for us, and by doing so, proved His love for us. He proved that His love interrupts the devastation of sin. When God called me into the ministry, people told me, “Joyce, a group of us have been talking, and we feel that there is no way you are ever going to be able to do what you say God has told you that you are going to do. We don’t feel your personality is suitable for such a job.” I still remember how awful I felt when they said those things to me.

I was hurt and discouraged . . . but God had called me, and He qualified me. What others thought was not even usable, God saw value in. He helped me, and He will do the same thing for you.

From the book New Day, New You by Joyce Meyer. Copyright 2007 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved.

I just love this devotional guide…it’s been challenging me lately and gives me comfort as I continue to move forward to the next step… I recently was officially accepted into the English Opens Doors Program in Chile starting in April. It’s with the Chile Ministry of Education. I am so excited…though I don’t know exactly where in the country I will be placed, I do know I will be staying with a host family and teaching English. 
Yesterday I celebrated with a dear friend and her family, her baby’s 1st birthday! I was asked to be photographer…had to share a couple shots I took! Isn’t he a cutie???

before the cake!
“am I allowed to eat this?”

“yumm…”
“smash cake baby!”

“what is on my hands??!”
FROSTING!!!

~~~

Today was the toughest most enjoyable run I’ve ran in a long time. I pushed myself. I really did. Stopping for only two 30 second times just to catch my breath in the 27 degrees wind. Ran 4 solid miles. Even though it’s not many, I’m building up slowly. I have to run 9 miles later this week. I made a new mix and bundled up. I’m so determined to do this. I know I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in. It takes hard work to keep it up. No I’m not on a strict diet, I just watch what I eat. Sometimes I don’t eat enough of the right foods and I consume under my daily limit with all the wrong foods. Start over the next day. Need to drink more water and less beer and wine. Need to eat less m/ms. Know it takes more than just diet to get into shape. It used to be a constant battle looking in the mirror and wishing I looked like X, Y, and Z, now it’s looking in the mirror knowing I can do more for myself and forget about what everyone else thinks. That’s why I run. Only for myself. For my health. For my self-esteem. For my confidence. Because I can. I know I am blessed to be able to run. Some people can’t. Some people can’t even walk. And I…can run. I run for other reasons too…to breathe. to focus. to get away. to catch my breath. to learn about myself. to talk to God. to jam out to music. to release bad energy and negative thoughts. On January 20, 2013, I’m taking my running to the next level. This week I signed up to run the full marathon. It’s actually really cool- I’ll be 26 and 2 months…so I’m going to run a mile for every year and month. Here’s to 26.2 miles. I know I can do it…just a matter of how much I’m going to push myself to run the time I know I can.

"Old School"

Sunday November 4

Daylight savings time sleepy Sunday. Reading paper and laughing at comics. Sipping my coffee and enjoying my oatmeal. Word jumble answer without doing the puzzle. Making chili and listening to some Jason Aldean and other country artists on Pandora. Back to the paper and came across this article.

Isn’t it sad? That a major challenge faced of a power outage is no t.v? And heaven forbid there was talking! Really?! Though I’m not shocked, it’s pathetic. Do these people even know problems? No. I have seen too much not too be sickened. Talking. People don’t know how to converse anymore. I see it. There’s nothing to hear. People are engrossed in pixelated  images and don’t know reality outside that big screen. Maybe it’s just sad that this one lady wanted to portray herself as someone who couldn’t survive without a t.v…but will thousands or millions nod their heads in agreement? Please name one thing you can survive without. I hope t.v. is on your list. Perhaps there are thousands who can agree with me? Or maybe I am just a little “Old School” in my ways.

Tuesday November 6

Election Day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0mmajhLKh8http://todayonthetrail.today.com/_news/2012/11/02/14885350-immigrants-voting-for-first-time-i-have-the-right-to-have-a-voice?lite&preview=true. Why do I vote?

I vote because it’s a privilege. It’s a right millions long to have. People who can’t vote want to…and some people who are able to vote don’t. Maybe I can’t fill in all my circles…I can at least vote for what I know to be true…and not just good for me…because maybe what I vote for I don’t necessarily agree with all of what he or she says or does…but I think about those in need those who my decision is going to affect. Maybe it’s not for the good of everyone, because nothing is perfect…maybe just maybe my vote will help out the majority. No matter what the outcome is determined to be…God is in control. Perhaps many feel suffering under this law. But I am not under the law. I obey the law, but the law does not define who I am. My trust is in God…He is in control, and Nothing that we suffer lasts forever if we believe in Him. So under Earth’s rulers, Presidents and other leaders, we must obey; but ultimately we obey God…and He will deliver us from any evil we may be under. I pray our leaders look to Him…

In my Bible Study, I came across this quote that gives me comfort to Trust and Obey. “I would rather suffer obediently than prosper disobediently because I know my disobedient prosperity is as temporary as my obedient suffering.” God is a God of grace and no matter our trials and tribulations He will always be there. He will never give us anything more than we cannot handle…without Him. We alone cannot handle anything…

Ten days til I turn 26. And in the past 10 days I’ve discovered a new appreciation for dryers, washers that don’t smell like mildew, bikes, peace and quiet, my gym, an oven, kitchen space, bathroom space, couches, an amazing shower, good food, good drinking water, good air, wide open spaces, Quality Face Time with Friends I haven’t seen in over a year…and I’m sure a million things I haven’t mentioned… I know I’m going to grow and learn even more in the next year..ah 26. I’m so excited!

***Food blog to come..I AM learning how to cook!!!***

….and I’m back in the states!

When the constant familiarity of characters I couldn’t understand only read fade into understandable words, the open fields fly by in the car, and the piercing sunrise lightens the dark fall air, I know I am home. Or stated Back in the States. The battle of letting people know I am not on vacation…doing projects at home and sorting myself out can be well…not sure what the word is to describe the melancholy daze I’m in; I need this time to sort myself out. So many thoughts going through my head I know I’m still in a whirlwind of excitement and jet lagged thinking. Happy to be back, but still sadden by the thought of being outputted to a different country in a matter of 40 hours. That’s all it took to be back to the place I’ve known for the past 24 years and then my 25th year I knew a different country. The whiny KPOP blaring over the loudspeaker of a too brightly lit Lotte Mart always gave me a sullen headache, but now somehow I wish it was here. Or that was there. Or this was that and that was this. Will I always have these thoughts? Knowing other worlds and my own so well. I know what I have and I now know what they have. The Walmart bill beat the cost  hands down to the Korean grocery store. But there are no 5 day markets with fresh produce here. 

Recent musings of being back in America….

First breakfast: pumpkin bagel and vanilla chai spice coffee
Amazing night sleep
Shower with curtain
Sitting on comfy couch watching the news with over 200 Channel choices
No construction sounds…so peaceful and quiet
Instead of English being the language translated, it’s now Spanish
Whole Foods Salad
Homemade Ice-Cream
Cooked Meatballs- my first dish to make at home!
Bathroom size- almost half the size of my Korean apartment.
Pumpkin EVERYTHING- pies, bagels, breads, lotions, body wash, candles, decor…coffees and lattes…
Wifi is not convenient…ha! No more walking down the street connections!

Five days earlier…

Opened my window and saw my first sunrise in the states after a year. Colors strike the cloud lining as I look down pink fluffs zoom by and further along the horizon yellow beams peak through a split in the straight line ahead. I’ve never been so happy and bittersweet. Or excited to fill a United States customs form. I know I’ve said before and it rungs true especially today that my heart lives with so many people in so many places…


I haven’t let my jet lagged sleep deprived headached heart write for the 12 hours for fear of it be some blabbery tear filled mess of a frustrating complaint session of the annoyances I’ve dealt with on this flight. Reason to hold off until the last 2 hours. All I will say is there should be a quiet rule in the plane at all times. Conversations taking places over rows of people in loud voices should not be happening. 

My clock on my iPod says 12:13 A.M. I’ve been traveling for 25 hours already. Bus ride to Seoul, Waiting for checkin/departure to Shanghai, Flight to Shanghai, layover, and now flight to LAX. About 12 hours to go. 

Oh whatta day. Got through customs and immigration fine. Turns out my Seoul to LAX and LAX to OMA flights were booked separately so when I went to check in to US Airways the lady told me I could upgrade to first class for 100$ then proceeded to tell me it would be 60$ for my bags to be checked. When I went to weigh my bags one was 10 lbs overweight and China Eastern didn’t charge me that fee. So I either had to rearrange my suitcase or pay 90$ over charges. I opted to be bumped to first class with no baggage fees. Amazing. Though my first flight there were no open seats and sat in the very last row… I am currently in first class is this amazing chair and nice people. Finally. Great last flight. So glad I also opted to leave LAX early and sit in PHX for a longer amount of time- love that airport- clean, variety of restaurants, and free wi-if. Eyes are burning, throat is dry and stomach is doing flip flops. So sick and desperately need sleep. 

Arrived to the airport and was surprised by my cousin, my friend soon arrived!! Amazing!!! Saw grandparents and friends, sisters, Timmie drove up from Missouri and surprised me too…Feel so loved. 
Fabulous first weekend home…so much laughter and hugs and tears, hair and nails done, and new clothes too…Soaking up familiar sites and sounds and smells that have been absent from my sense for 13 almost 14 months…it really does feel like home. 
More to come about being back in good ole Nebraska!!!

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