Snowed in.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


For days, Nashville weathermen had been predicting up to 9 inches of snow on Friday, but many were doubtful because they almost always seem to overestimate things. Schools close before a snowflake has even hit the ground in anticipation of a blizzard, but then we get a little snow but nothing accumulates and everyone is disappointed.

Well, this time the weathermen did not disappoint! Actually, it was even worse than they had originally predicted.

Shawn and I both worked yesterday morning, and decided to meet up in Cool Springs around 12:30 for lunch. The snow was falling steadily, but it still seemed ok.

I got off work at noon, and I carefully drove out of the neighborhood, making new tracks as I went. It was very slick, I could tell that much, but I thought it would clear up by the time I got to a main road.

Either way I turned, I'd be going up a steep hill, so I didn't have much choice. My heart raced as I precariously made it to the top of one hill, only to be greeted with a "15mph" sign on a steep downhill ahead, along with a very sharp turn. I felt paralyzed. And to make things worse, my gas light came on.

Here's the thing about snow and ice in Nashville. Not only do people have no idea to drive in it (we only average 9 inches of snow per YEAR here!), but there are just a few working salt trucks in the entire county! Also, there are hills. Monstrous hills. Definitely the worst part.

I stopped the car at the top of the hill and turned it off, trying to plan my next move. It was steep in both directions. A car behind me drove around me, attempted the downhill ahead, and landed in the ditch. I started to cry.

Just then, another car came up behind me, turned its flashers on, and a man got out of the car. It was an angel - in the form of a Nigerian man - who came to my rescue! He cleaned off my windshield again, told me to take a deep breath (sounding just like Mr. Eko from LOST), and gave me some tips on how to make it safely down the hill, assuring me it flattened out and I could turn into a neighborhood and wait for my husband.

I made it, praise God, thanks to the Nigerian angel (who knew that an African man would know so much about snow?). :)

After about 30 more minutes of treacherous driving, I made it to Shawn so we could ride back together. The snow continued falling on top of a thick layer of ice underneath. I had already seen 5 other cars that had run off the road before meeting up with Shawn.

We prayed before heading home, asking God to protect us from other cars and from black ice and would allow us to get home. He answered by sending a salt truck - one of very few around here - to drive right in front of us, plowing and salting almost our entire way home. We made it home in about 2 hours (which would normally be a 25 minute trip) but were so thankful to be in and safe.


And now, we're soaking it all in. This beautiful, fluffy snow continues to fall and has cancelled all of our plans for more than 24 hours now. Instead, we're making hot chocolate and watching movies. And that is fine with us!

{Just after getting home yesterday.}

{The backyard.}

{The front porch.}

{The back yard, again.}


{Are you sure we're in Franklin?!}

{My brave driver attempting to run errands this afternoon. We got about a half mile and turned around.}


{The driveway has disappeared.}

{This is the "main" road... obviously nothing has been done. No plowing or salting. Tennessee just shuts down when it snows!}

{The main road again.}


{The lack of driveway, again.}

{This was about the moment we decided to turn around.}


{The neighbors.}


Great opportunity for bloggers!

Friday, January 29, 2010

A couple weeks ago, I was contacted by a business called Hotels Combined that currently offers to give $20 to a charity of your choice if you blog about their organization. Hotels Combined is a search engine that searches over 900,000 hotel deals worldwide for the best price possible. The aim of this promotion is to help spread the word about the company in an ethical and environmentally friendly way.

It's completely free to you - you choose the charity, they donate the money!

I am asking them to send $20 to the Hands and Feet Project in Haiti.


So here's how you can help:

If you have a blog, mention Hotels Combined in a post and they will donate $20 to your chosen charity (just email them with the URL and your chosen charity).

If you become a fan on Facebook, Hotels Combined will donate $5 to your chosen charity (simply sign into Facebook, become a fan, then post a commend on their Facebook profile indicating your choice).

And if you twitter about them, they'll donate $10 to your chosen charity.

Giving to worthwhile charities or ministries can't get much easier than that!

Missing Argo.

Last night I had the TV on and flipped over to this silly show...

{This ad just so happened to be on a billboard right outside our bedroom window in Chicago.}

Before I knew it, scenes of our beloved Chicago flickered on the screen.
They showed lots of touristy spots: the Bean in Millennium Park, joggers along the lakefront, and tourists on Michigan Avenue. My eyes were glued to the TV. Of course, they showed all of these scenes in the summer, so it was even more alluring.

But then... Giuliana and a friend walked into Argo Tea.
Not just any Argo, but our Argo (if we could claim it) on Rush and Pearson.

And my heart ached for Chicago.

It didn't even matter the conversation that Giuliana and her friend were having. I was too focused on what was going on in the background of one of my most familiar spots in the city. I recognized both baristas behind them: the sweet, quiet Asian woman who always wore a green bandana and the tall, lanky barista who always seemed a tad aloof but was always in a good mood.

I know it's a chain tea shop and there are more quaint spots in the city, but I made a thousand memories in that room.

I remember trekking there through wet snow with a scarf wrapped around my face in defense of the wind and it seemed like way more than a few blocks from Moody. But it was so worth it once inside!

I remember studying my Bible there at the bar near the window, which sometimes led to deep conversations with strangers about life and faith.

I remember walking there "to do homework" with Shawn before we were dating. We'd look for a table near an outlet to plug our computers in, but when none were available, we'd use it as an excuse to talk for hours.

I remember taking both sets of parents there - a rarity considering they live in different countries - and being thrilled and excited that we'd be married soon!

I remember reconciling a friendship there.

I remember having my wallet stolen there as I tried to help a woman (who had set me up).

I remember Saturday morning dates with my new husband where we'd walk a few blocks south from our apartment, split a scone, and welcome the weekend.

So if you have the privilege of being near an Argo, stop in!
If it's cold outside (and I'm sure it is) and you like something sweet, I recommend the Valentea Passion. It's not on the menu and most baristas argue that it's sickeningly sweet, but I love it nonetheless.
If you like something more creamy (and caffeinated) my personal fave is the Earl Gray Vanilla Cream. It's as sweet and fattening as it sounds, but it warms your very soul.

Scenes from the morning.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

On the days I don't have to rush around getting ready for work, I love just soaking up every drop of morning.

It hits me: I live on 20 acres of gorgeous land. There's a pond and a creek in the backyard. I see deer and coyotes and skunk families and squirrels and raccoons and geese and blue birds playing.

I'm a lucky girl.

{Our backyard, from the sunroom.}

{More of our backyard.}

{Our front yard.}

{Our front porch, which we haven't actually used yet, but I'm sure we will once the weather turns warm.}

{Morning light streaming into our living room.}

{Our entryway, aglow.}

{When Shawn is away, I steal his slippers. They're way cozier than mine.}

{Our coffee station that only gets used when we have company.}

{A favorite wall.}

{A favorite candle.}

{My messy craft room, just begging to be played in.}

{Favorite cookbooks.}

{My grandparents' anniversary clock they gave us. I love it.}

Hope you enjoyed scenes from my morning!

Wrestling in the tension.

Monday, January 25, 2010

"If you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday."
- Isaiah 58:10


On Sunday at our church, the entire service centered around the crisis in Haiti. Our pastor spent much of last week on the ground in Haiti, visiting the Hands and Feet Project, an orphanage in Jacmel that our church supports.

We watched a few videos that were taken this week as the tragedy of January 12 and the many aftershocks are still so raw. One video showed a small group of Haitian Christians huddled in a room that had not yet crumbled, and they sang out, "I am not forgotten. God knows my name."

It was such a powerful moment, and Mark Stuart (one of the orphanage's founders) said he believes that one reason God allowed the earthquake is to remind the world of the plight of this hurting nation. God has never forgotten Haiti, but the world has. And now the global spotlight is on them - they are being rescued, clothed, fed, and prayed for by people in every continent.

At times, the tragedy seems very real and really shakes me. At other times, I flip off the TV and get back to my (often petty) to-do list. But when I see images on the screen that are difficult to fathom, I try to put myself in their shoes. What if I was the one who mourned for her husband as she just found out he was buried alive in the rubble? What if my house had crumbled and we were left without food, water, or shelter? Why not me?

I am quick to realize that everything I have been given - literally everything - is a gift from God.

My life is not my own.
My time is not my own.
My money is not my own.
My home is not my own.
My future is not my own. (That one is especially hard to swallow.)

So even though Haiti is seemingly so removed from my life here, I feel that I have a responsibility to at least ask myself this question: "What is my part in the restoration of Haiti?" I believe each of us should ask ourselves that question. No, I don't think everyone is called to make a trip there. In fact, I think very few people should go as it's been emphasized over and over that unqualified people - even with good hearts - will only add another mouth to feed. But I believe that to whom much is given, much is required. And we have been given so much.

So what is your part?

Maybe your part is to pray. I am often guilty of thinking prayer is not enough, when in reality, there is nothing more powerful we can do than plead with the Creator of the universe on Haiti's behalf. We can pray for peace, for restoration, for hope. Most of all, we can pray that the thick darkness that has bound Haiti for so many years would dispel in Jesus' name and revival would envelop this country! What an incredible picture of redemption that would be - and not too big for God! He holds Haiti in the palm of his hands.

I really don't know what else I am called to do. I may donate another round of jewelry to World Vision. Maybe we'll adopt. I really don't know. But I am "wrestling in the tension" (as our pastor would say) that here I sit in Franklin, Tennessee with everyone of my needs met while our brothers and sisters in Haiti have nothing. I sit here sipping a cup of tea, thankful that I have electricity, running water, more clothes than I would ever need, clean air to breathe, and I have never once gone hungry. My brothers and sisters in Haiti cannot say the same right now.

So right now, I pray.

The following passage from Isaiah 54 was written for Israel, but it is such a stunning prayer for Haiti right now. I hope you'll join me.

"Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
not my covenant of peace be removed,"
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

"O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,
I will build you with stones of turquoise,
your foundations with sapphires.

I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of sparkling jewels,
and all your walls of precious stones.

All your sons will be taught by the Lord,
and great will be your children's peace."
- Isaiah 54:10-13

My Celiac story.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Back in April of last year, I experienced a horribly turbulent flight just before Easter weekend and, that evening, my first full-blown panic attack. I had never felt anything like it - a complete loss of control, shaking limbs, and the palpable fear that I was near death. I begged Shawn to take me to a hospital, thinking something was seriously wrong. He tried to calm me down and ran a hot bath for me, which helped a little. We prayed and asked my parents and some friends to pray, which helped more. But it was still a mystery why this had happened in the first place. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced, and I didn't feel that I was in a particularly stressful season in life. The flight was scary, but not necessarily bad enough to cause such severe symptoms.

As several days and weeks passed, I didn't experience another full-blown attack, but would feel panicked about every other week and my legs would tremor (like severe chills). Other symptoms started showing up as well. I developed a dull, constant headache that would ebb and flow in severity. And after eating, I'd nearly always feel nauseated and dizzy and have to lie down until it passed. I became an expert at faking that I felt good, but even if I seemed completely normal to friends, I usually didn't feel ok at all.

There were also gastrointestinal symptoms, such as waking up in the middle of the nightfamished. I was so intensely hungry at 2 or 3am every morning that I'd run blindly to the fridge, eat a little peanut butter or bread, then fall back asleep for a few hours. I'd be woken again no later than 5am by the same feeling.

As you can see, this was no way to live.

This went on for 5 or 6 months, and during this time, I visited five different doctors. The first two doctors thought I was "just pregnant" and dismissed my symptoms as very early pregnancy. I was not pregnant, for the record, and left frustrated because they hadn't really listened to me. For the leg tremors, one doctor said, "Don't worry, you don't have MS" and prescribed a potent muscle relaxer with horrible side effects, which I opted not to take.

Another doctor surmised that I had blood sugar issues, and sent me home with a glucose monitor. I knew I wasn't the typical candidate for diabetes, but I went along with his idea. I tested my blood sugar every few hours or when symptoms would occur, but the numbers didn't coincide with my symptoms like I had hoped. I did have very low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) at times, but never too high which would indicate diabetes. And it still didn't account for all the symptoms I was experiencing.

This miserable "not knowing" lasted 7 months before we had an answer. I took 16 different blood tests, and the only one that turned up abnormal indicated that I may have a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease. I thought gluten was like glucose (back to the blood sugar issues) but when I did further research, I learned that it is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.

At this point, I was willing to try anything, though I was pretty skeptical that something I ate could cause neurological symptoms. But I cut gluten completely out of my diet anyway. You'd be amazed at how difficult this is in the beginning! No bread, no pasta, no crackers, no cereal. And it doesn't stop there - gluten is found in many soups, sauces, soy sauce, and even certain coffee flavorings, soy milk, and tea bags that are sealed with wheat paste! It is a culinary minefield! I became an incessant label reader, trying to detect if there were hidden gluten sources in anything I ate (gluten can even be disguised as "modified food starch," for example).

But it worked.

Within weeks of establishing my new diet, I felt like myself again! I had no more panic attacks, no leg tremors, no headaches, no nausea, no dizziness. And now, three months later, my health has been completely restored! Praise the Lord!

The problem is, once you stay away from gluten, your body becomes even more intolerant of it. So if I get a trace of gluten (such as if my chicken was grilled on the same grill with chicken covered in glutenous sauce) I could be very sick and throwing up for hours. So I am very, very careful.

One question I've gotten a lot and have asked myself as well: If you've always been allergic to gluten, how did you just find out? Well, from what I've read, Celiac is a tricky disease and manifests itself in many different ways throughout life. Looking back at my own history, the puzzle pieces fit together and it makes sense that I have been intolerant to gluten and not known it for many years. For example, I had asthma and allergies and chronic bronchitis in middle school, and chronic acid reflux in high school. These symptoms and others point to Celiac, though many aren't diagnosed until their early twenties or later when your body finally says, "Enough is enough" and there is a more acute reaction. Most experience GI symptoms; some never do.

I am very thankful that the general public is gaining understanding of gluten intolerance now more than ever! Many restaurants now have a gluten-free menu, such as Carrabba's,Maggiano's (who even have gluten-free pastas!), P.F. Chang's and many, many more. Also, there are more and more gluten-free products coming out on the market that taste normal or almost normal. There are brown rice pastas that taste great, and certain baking mixes and granolas that are almost like the real thing. Even Betty Crocker has a gluten-free line now!

There are also gluten-free cookbooks, my favorite of which is Babycakes. It isn't entirely gluten-free but I have loved everything I have tried of the gluten-free recipes!

At times, I've wondered why the Lord didn't just heal me or reveal the problem the first time I prayed instead of allowing this to go on for 7 months. But He's shown me a few reasons.

First, I believe it was to allow my precious husband, in the critical and formative first year of our marriage, to really serve me. My stubborn independence wouldn't have allowed him to do that otherwise. He willingly, joyfully cooked dinners, prepared epsom salt baths to help me calm down, drove me to doctor's appointments, cried with me, and spent countless hours praying over me and reading Scripture to me. I must also mention that my husband has become my guard dog when it comes to food. He reads every label and if it isn't clearly "gluten free," I'm not allowed to touch it. He watched me suffer first-hand for 7 long months, and he's not willing to risk it again. Sometimes when we're over at friends' homes for dinner, it's tempting for me to just endure the consequences if I have a little gluten (always a pounding headache a few hours later and usually stomach sickness). But Shawn takes the lead and risks offending to make sure I stay healthy.

Secondly, I also think the Lord prepared me through this struggle to comfort others with the comfort I have received from Him. As I'm about to enter nursing school, I am sure I will encounter patients who deal with chronic pain. Before now, I wouldn't have even begun to understand their situation. But after a 7-month constant struggle, I can honestly say I have a glimpse of what they must be enduring.

Lastly, and most importantly, the Lord has drawn me even closer to Himself. I'd never faced a health issue like this one, so drawn out and debilitating at times. I became a woman of constant prayer, mostly out of sheer necessity. Praying and feeling the Lord's presence was the only comfort I felt.

One story in the Bible that gave me so much hope was that of the woman who bled for 12 years before Jesus healed her. I would read this story and weep, asking the Lord to heal me as he had healed her. I knew He was capable of healing me in an instant. I argued with Him all the things I could do for Him if He would just help me to feel better. He doesn't work like that.

The account in Matthew 9:20-22 is just three short verses, but so powerful:
Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, 'If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.' Jesus turned and saw her. 'Take heart, daughter,' he said, 'your faith has healed you.' And the woman was healed from that moment.
In Luke's account of the same story, he writes, "Immediately her bleeding stopped." He also records that Jesus called the woman, "Daughter," and in the Gospel accounts, this woman is the only individual Jesus addressed with this affectionate, tender term. It tells me He must have been filled to the brim with compassion for this woman who had bled without stopping, without answers, for 12 long years. She must have been gaunt, her eyes sallow, and her whole countenance weak and defeated. Just thinking of how Jesus allowed her to touch his cloak without getting angry - for it would make a person ceremonially unclean to have contact with her - gave me such hope and more love for Him.

For more gluten-free resources:
Gluten-Free Goddess - tons of wonderful GF recipes!

Giving Haiti a BrighterDay.

Monday, January 18, 2010

And the grand total is....

$559 raised for Haiti!


Thank you to Jennifer, Kirra, Aubrey, Samantha, Rickesha, Jessica, Ashley, Maggie, Lynn, Rachel, Shannon, Sara, Sarah, Alissa, Mary Ellen, Mel, Erin, Caylee, Shanon, Allison, Katrina, Deb, Brandi, Katrina, and Linda for your generous hearts for Haiti and for purchasing something from BrighterDay. You all have kept me very busy over the last few days and for the week to come as I package up and send your orders. (It's the best kind of busy!) :)

Thank you to the many, many others who have spread the word through their blogs or via Facebook about this opportunity to give.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for blessing this effort far beyond my own short-sighted belief. Thank you that your will, even when we don't understand it, is perfect.
Thank you for your lavish love for your children in Haiti.

When I see these images...

Haiti Earthquake_Saut(39)_slideshow_604x500

Haiti Earthquake

Haiti Earthquake_Saut(46)_slideshow_604x500

CORRECTION Haiti Earthquake
{all images via}

I quickly realize that $559 is the very least we can do.
But it's still something.

I pray that God would multiply these funds and direct them exactly where they're needed most desperately. I'll be sending the money today to World Vision.

"But you, O God, do see trouble and grief;
you consider it to take it in hand.
The victim commits himself to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
in order that man, who is of the earth,
may terrify no more."
- Psalm 10:14, 17, 18


Saturday, January 16, 2010

As of Saturday morning at 8:30am, we've raised a total of $450.50 for Haiti!

(I honestly had no idea there was even $450.50 worth of inventory in the store!)

God is so good.

I know the shop is dwindling right now, but I'll be adding some new items later this afternoon. It would be incredible to make it past $500, and we're still a couple days away!

Thank you again for your giving spirits.
Let's keep going!

What we can do.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

UPDATE (6:30am on Thursday morning): You guys are amazing. I had no idea the response would be this great, but in less than 12 hours, we've raised $267.75 for Haiti!!! To God be the glory, GREAT things He has done! I am so excited to package these pieces up and send them off to you. Thank you for inspiring me with your giving hearts!


I'm sure we've all seen the images by now.

My heart is so heavy for Haiti today, and I've been praying about what I can do. We can all do something, right? Here's what I've come up with...


From now until Monday, January 19, 100% of the proceeds from BrighterDay will go directly to World Vision toward their relief efforts in Haiti.

World Vision staff is already on the ground in Haiti, assessing the situation, and preparing an emergency response.

So go shopping and make a difference all at once!
Buy some earrings or a ring or a hair pin and know that your entire purchase will be a donation that will go to our friends in Haiti.
And maybe when you wear your new jewelry, you'll think to pray.

Our pastor sent us some ideas of how we can pray:

- Haiti, as a country, pledged its loyalty to cultic practice and voodoo. It has long been a country that has ignored the Gospel and the God of the scriptures. Pray for spiritual awakening.
- There are many missionaries who have served this country faithfully for years. Pray that God would use this event to cause Haitians to question who God is. Pray that these missionaries would be able to leverage their love and service to reveal the truths of Jesus more directly than ever before.
- Haiti has been a disaster economically. Let's pray that God would use this tragic event to cause other nations to get involved in eliminating corruption and providing economic redevelopment and that children, especially, would no longer have to live in neglect.

To God be the glory in the midst of this unbelievable tragedy.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Happy, happy birthday, Mom!

Can you believe this woman is 50 today?!
(I hope I get her unbelievable non-aging genes!)


I am so thankful for you.

I'm thankful for the wife you are to Dad, loving and serving him so well for 29 years. You work and travel and minister alongside him with complete joy and it's incredible to watch.

I'm thankful for the mom you are to me, constantly blessing me with your friendship, your deep wisdom, and lavish love. Thank you for loving Shawn as your own son, too. It means so much to see you accept him into our family with open arms.

I'm thankful for the daughter you have been to Grams and Grandaddy. I know you must miss Grams terribly today, and it's not easy being away from Grandaddy today either. You have been such a faithful, loyal daughter to them, truly honoring them at every turn.

I'm thankful for the humble servant you are to your hospice patients who undoubtedly love every time you visit.

You are the role model the Lord knew I needed, and I am so proud to call you my mom! I am celebrating your life today.

I love you so much,

For anyone reading this, I know Mom would be so thankful on her birthday if you would say a prayer for her dad, Broadman. He is undergoing rigorous treatment for esophageal cancer and just this morning had a seizure and is back in the hospital. He is fighting courageously against the cancer that is trying to destroy his body, but if you would, please pray for peace and comfort for him today. Thanks.

Remembering the Sabbath

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy."
Exodus 20:8

If I had to give myself a rating on how well I have kept this commandment, I'd give myself a 3 out of 10. I don't know about you, but by the time Sunday evening rolls around, I'm exhausted. We go to church in the morning, cook lunch at home, hang out in the afternoon, then go to our village meeting (small group) for a few hours in the evening. I love each part of our day, but honestly, it just doesn't seem to be much different than the other days of the week in how my heart and time are focused.

Some dear family friends of ours have modeled this principle well, and even their 3-year-old understands that there's no Wii or playing with dad's iPhone on Sundays. The Sabbath is to be set apart from every other day of the week.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, "holy" can be defined as "exalted or worthy of complete devotion."

That definition brought tears to my eyes. I have not been demonstrating to the Lord on the Sabbath that He is worthy of my complete devotion.

And so in an effort to keep the Sabbath holy, I have chosen - beginning tomorrow - to abstain from the following on Sundays:

Internet surfing. Whether browsing through blogs or on Facebook, it has the potential of being a distraction for me. In Leviticus 16:31, it says, "It is a sabbath of rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance." In giving up the internet for an entire 24 hour period, as silly as it sounds, I am denying myself of a habit in order to focus more fully on the Lord. I know that as soon as I pull out my iPhone to check Facebook, I'll be quickly reminded that the Sabbath is to be holy and set apart. I think it will be an encouragement more than anything.

TV. This is not a difficult one as we don't watch much television at all, but I'll go ahead and include DVDs in there, too. I think reading would be more restful and enriching.

Email. Oftentimes, it's work. Most of the time, it can wait. If anyone has a pressing need, they can give me a call.

Cooking, for the most part. I am hoping to stay on top of preparing meals in the evenings so they can be quickly heated on Sundays to free up some of my time. There's even a verse for this one! Exodus 16:23 says, "Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning." I can't say I believe that cooking is biblically prohibited on the Sabbath, but for me, it's a large chunk of time that I could be spending doing other things if I would simply plan ahead.

What I hope to do more of on the Sabbath:

Rest. How often do we set aside time to rest?
Exodus 35:2 says, "For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord." I think purposefully resting my mind, body, and spirit will be even more
healing and rejuvenating than I think.
Spend concentrated time with my husband. We used to have our date nights on Sunday nights and I really loved that. It was a time that we were able to begin our week on the same page.
Spend time in prayer for the upcoming week and catch up in Bible reading on my daily reading plan (if need be).

I hope you see these things as I do - as an encouragement to devote ourselves more fully to the Lord and not as deprivations or rigid rules. And I hope you'll join me in this. Obviously, you may decide to give up different things or spend your time in other ways.

Ultimately, the Sabbath is a gift from God to us. He didn't have to command us to rest, but He knew we would be better for it. In Mark 2:27, Jesus proclaimed, "The Sabbath was made for mankind and not mankind for the Sabbath." The Lord extends the invitation to us on the Sabbath to rest and take joy in it, just as God Himself rested on the seventh day and took joy in all that He had created.

I hope that each of us will find that on Monday morning, we feel rested and ready for the week ahead because we have made the choice to keep the Sabbath holy... to deny ourselves in some way... to devote ourselves to the One whom our souls love... and to find joy in the midst of it.

He is truly worthy of our complete devotion.

My camera.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Probably the most frequent question I've received since starting this blog is,
"What kind of camera do you use?"

Let me just preface this by saying that I am no expert. So for all of you camera gurus out there, I'm sorry if the language I use isn't very technical. I'll just try to explain it all in a way that amateurs like myself understand, and hopefully inspire you in the process!

I use a Canon Rebel XTi that Shawn bought me for a Christmas gift a couple years ago (one of my favorite Christmas gifts ever!). I don't think either one of us really knew how much I would love this camera.

I recommend everything in the Canon Rebel series because the photo quality is excellent, but it's also a very user friendly camera. There are now newer, improved models out there and I can say as a first-time photographer, this was the perfect camera to start out with and grow. Shawn has taught me quite a bit, but I have also learned a lot myself by just adjusting the settings and learning what I like. One thing you have to love about digital is that you get automatic feedback! No need to wait for film to develop and try to remember how you had the settings.

I will say that lenses make a world of difference. My camera came with the lens shown in the photo above - a versatile 18-55mm lens that zooms and takes pretty good photos. It's a good lens for outdoor shots that you need a wide angle.

But my favorite lens - and the one that stays on my camera about 90% of the time - is my Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens. It lets a lot of light in, so the depth of field is amazing and it's easy to take great photos even in low-light situations. I use it almost exclusively for the pictures on my blog. It doesn't zoom (which takes a bit of getting used to) but it's great for people shots, food shots, and most other still life.

Later on, you may want to invest in a telephoto lens to capture more from a distance, such as action shots during a football game or a bird in a distant tree. Also, I love using my macro lens for photos in my Etsy shop.

Last but not least, we started using Lightroom as editing software in the past few months and we LOVE it! It is extremely easy to use and has great results! I have also recently learned to use Photoshop and I love that for graphic design purposes, but if you're looking for a software that edits photos (and you don't need graphic design features), go with Lightroom!

I hope that answers some of your questions. Let me know if you have any more and I'll try to answer them (or have my photographer husband answer them).

Most importantly, have fun!

Make your own yogurt in your crock pot.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

On December 27, Shawn and I celebrated our one year anniversary.

Flowers from Shawn, along with breakfast in bed. I'm spoiled rotten.

We enjoyed a lovely dinner at a nice steakhouse downtown, talked about the highs and lows of our first year, and finished the evening with dessert. As soon as we got home, I began feeling a little nauseous, so I got ready for bed and tried to go to sleep, hoping the feeling would wear off. It didn't. To make a long, gruesome story short, I had gotten food poisoning from our anniversary dinner and spent the entire night very sick, losing 6 pounds in the process, and finally falling asleep at 5am the next morning. Not exactly my idea of a happy anniversary.

Celebrating one year, having no idea what the night ahead had in store for us. :)

The next day, a friend from church who had heard I was sick asked if she could stop by with Bio K, which had helped her husband recover from food poisoning. It's a probiotic, and it tasted like a tangy yogurt drink. From what I understand, it works by replacing bad bacteria in your stomach and intestines with 50 billion good bacteria. I took it with high hopes, and within a few hours, began craving food again. I still felt weak for a day or so, but not nauseous or sick to my stomach one bit. A couple days later, I even stomached Chipotle with no problem!

So here's the point of the story (I know you're ready for it). All of this led me to research the benefits of probiotics and made me want to make my own yogurt. I've cut back on dairy by about 90% in recent months, which has helped my stomach quite a bit, but fermented dairy can be beneficial even for those who deal with dairy intolerance. Additionally, yogurt provides protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals. Yogurt with live, active cultures may aid digestion and boost immunity. For those with lactose intolerance, yogurt's fermentation process converts some of the lactose to lactic acid so it's much more tolerable.

So without further ado, let's make some yogurt.

All you need is a half gallon of milk and a half cup of yogurt to act as a starter.

While I wanted completely raw milk, I would've had to go to a dairy farm to find it. Hardly any groceries carry it because it spoils so quickly. I settled for organic whole milk.


This yogurt from Whole Foods was the purest kind available. Just what I was looking for.




1. Turn your crock pot on low and pour in the half-gallon of milk of your choice.
2. Heat on low for 2 hours and 30 minutes.
3. Unplug your crock pot and let it sit with the lid on for 3 hours.
4. After 3 hours, remove 2 cups of warm milk and place in a separate bowl. Mix 1/2 cup of yogurt with the warm milk.
5. Pour the yogurt-milk mixture back into the crock pot and whisk well.
6. Place the lid back on the crock pot and wrap the entire crock pot in a bath towel. (I didn't take a picture of this step... it felt odd.)
7. Let it culture or ferment overnight, 8 to 12 hours.
8. For the best texture, let the yogurt cool in the refrigerator for 8 hours.


What I was left with was a pure, tangy whole milk yogurt. And a LOT of it! For some reason, I thought it would evaporate down, but in reality, I ended up with 64 ounces or 4 pounds of yogurt. It's a little thinner in texture than I'm used to, but still has all the flavor I had hoped for. I mix it with a little agave nectar or honey and a few drops of vanilla and it is delicious!

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

*Original instructions found on
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