Friday, September 27, 2013

Fall Outdoor Circuit

The leaves are barely starting to change here in Atlanta, but the weather is definitely getting cooler. To take advantage of the nice temperatures of Fall, here's a workout that you can do outdoors, whether in a park, field, or at a track. Happy workout!

Enjoy any Fall plans you have this weekend! We're excited to celebrate my friend Alex's wedding on Saturday!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Quiet Adventure of a Rhythm of Rest

Being embraced by the journey doesn't necessarily mean that all of life is going to be an exciting adventure. I believe in living an adventurous life, but that doesn't make every day unusual and new.

Instead, living an adventurous journey oftentimes means persevering and engaging in the quiet. Yet, this description isn't the escapade that the world wants us to pursue.

During a time of prayer with our community group last night, we discussed how instead of giving attention to our emotions, we run ragged, filling days with more to-do's as an escape. Because if we're too busy to think then our lives must have meaning, right?

Of course the other side of this extreme is a society that also tells us to only give credence to our emotions. If it's uncomfortable, it must be wrong. If it feels good, do it.

Yet somewhere between these two extremes is a journey into the quiet, the stillness. It's uncomfortable. It's necessary.

I know I would rather ride waves of a thrilling adventure that others can visibly detect. Yet, sometimes we're called into the calm waters, which can feel more disruptive than the waves. It's here where you discover a different adventure. One that requires you to wrestle with your identity and search for the quiet answers to those questions that bubble up when you're still: What is my identity in? What is my main purpose in life?

When we let them, the quiet times in life yield an adventurous journey into trust. Do I trust that I am a daughter of The King? Do I know that He has a purpose for me?

“He does have surprising, secret purposes. I open a Bible, and His plans, startling, lie there barefaced. It’s hard to believe it, when I read it, and I have to come back to it many times, feel long across those words, make sure they are real. His love letter forever silences any doubts: “His secret purpose framed from the very beginning [is] to bring us to our full glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7 NEB).” ― Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
Are we willing to be still enough - am I willing to sit in the quiet - and let this truth sink in? Am I still enough to hear the whisper of this secret purpose?

It was such a blessing this past weekend for John and I to have a weekend getaway in the North Carolina mountains. Rain all day on Saturday "forced" us to spend a wonderful, relaxing day inside, embracing the quiet except for the crackle of the fire. This stillness allowed us to spend time in the Word, relaxing by the fire (in cozy PJ's and fuzzy socks!), reading (I am currently reading the 900-page yet awesome book Team of Rivals about Lincoln), and cooking together.

Sunday ushered in beautiful sunshine that we took full advantage of with a game of tennis and an afternoon hike. We were the only ones on the trail ...probably because the first 30 minutes we accidentally got off the trail and were scaling through thorny vines, fallen tree trunks, and mud until we finally decided to turn around. Somehow we'd missed the initial turn for the actual trail, which was much easier to hike once we found it! By that time everyone else we'd seen had finished the hike, so we enjoyed the quiet of the canopy of trees around us. However, by the time we found the correct trail, we had to book it up the mountain so we could make it back to Atlanta in time to pick up my car from getting worked on.

The quick pace was worth it, though. When we got to the summit, the views were stunning. The cool breeze and visibility for miles was a picture of the peace and beauty that quiet can bring.

Today, quiet your heart if it's beating hard from the fast pace that you're running. Or if life is quieter for you right now, dig into why God has you here, rather than trying to distract yourself from the calm. Embrace the stillness and be willing to engage in it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

There's a first time for everything

The past month or so has included a couple of exciting "firsts" for me.

1. Yurtin'

This past weekend ten girls met up in South Carolina to celebrate a bachelorette/shower in a yurt. A yurt was originally a Mongolian tent that was portable. (A link to the Wikipedia article is here for those who are interested!). The celebration was for my friend Alex, who was on my hall freshman year and who's been a dear friend ever since. It was my first time staying in a yurt, which looked like this:

1. Me, Leah, and Heather spelling "yurt" without the "u"
2. The inside of the yurt... kind of like summer camp
The expert campers in the group (me not included in that list!) called it "glamping" (glamorous camping) since we had nice bathrooms, showers, and a kitchen nearby. The weekend was a great mix of catching up with friends, spending time outdoors, and relaxing!

On our Saturday hike to a nearby waterfall
...and yes we made Alex wear the bachelorette sash and hat the entire hike!

1. Taking a nap outside post hike (also a first for me to actually fall asleep on the grass)
2. The whole group of girls on the hike
3. Exploring the waterfall
2. Georgia Football

It's almost embarrassing to say that we've lived in Georgia for over two years and neither John or I had been to a UGA football game before. (If you're not from Georgia, FYI UGA football - and college football in general - is a BIG deal!)

Our friend William and his brother Wilson, both who graduated from UGA, took care of that a few weekends ago by taking us to the UGA vs. South Carolina football game in Athens. It was a lot of fun to tour the school on game day and see Athens. The game atmosphere was very exciting - especially since Will got all of us into the student section! Plus, UGA won!

1. Ringing the bell after a victory is a tradition at UGA
2. The guys post-victory!
3. The arch is iconic on UGA's campus

3. Blue Wig

This "first" is from a month or so ago, but I had to include it... The first time I've worn a blue wig. It was also my first time to actually wear a wig out in public! The occasion was for my friend Sarah's bachelorette weekend in Nashville. We all decided to add some pizazz to the evening by wearing neon colored wigs downtown. Since all nine of us were sporting the wigs, it was a lot more entertaining than embarrassing!

Me posing with the bride-to-be Sarah
Pre and Post pictures

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Three 20-Minute Summer Salads

Nothing says dinnertime during summer than salads loaded with summery fruits and vegetables. Here's three that I've made recently that were delightfully easy, healthy, and summery!

Southwestern Chicken Salad
I had a variation of this salad at my friend Malorie's house and loved it. Here's my re-creation below.

Serves 4
4 chicken breasts
2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
Juice from 1 lime
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp chili powder
Salt/pepper to taste
1 bag of spinach
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 tomato, diced
1 red onion, chopped
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 avocado, chopped
2 corn on the cob, boiled and cut off the cob
2 jalapeno chicken sausage from Trader Joe's (or bacon)
Cilantro, sea salt, pepper to taste

  1. Whisk together dijon, lime juice, garlic, chili powder, salt and pepper. Brush over chicken breasts and cook in 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until done.
  2. Combine the remaining salad ingredients (spinach through corn).
  3. Cook sausage or bacon and crumble on top of salad. 
  4. When chicken is done, cut it into bite sized pieces, add to salad, and top with fresh cilantro and salt/pepper to taste.
Summer Vegetable Ceviche 
This dish was inspired by a Food and Wine recipe. See my variation below.
Serves 4
1 1/2 tomatoes, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1/4 red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced (with seeds)
2 nectarines, chopped
1/2 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
2 corn on cob, boiled and cut off the cob
Juice from 1/2 lime
1/4 cup cilantro
Olive oil, sea salt, and pepper to taste

  1. Mix everything together and drizzle with olive oil and sea salt/pepper to taste.
  2. Would be good to add in avocado too!

Quinoa Mango Salad
Serves 4
1 cup quinoa
1/2 bag of kale
Olive oil
1 mango, peeled and chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced
1/4 cup cilantro
Salt/pepper to taste


  1. Cook quinoa according to directions. (Usually: In 2 cups of water, bring quinoa to a boil and let simmer for 15 minutes.) Remove from heat when done.
  2. Add kale to a bowl and remove any stems. Drizzle with olive oil and massage with your hands until kale is tender.
  3. Add in vegetables to salad.
  4. Add in quinoa. Stir everything together with cilantro and salt/pepper to taste.

I served this with a side of chicken jalapeno sausage and black beans simmered together over low heat with red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and black ground pepper. Delicious!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Living An Adventure

When John and I were engaged, we committed to not take ourselves too seriously in marriage. Life and work can be weighty enough so we wanted our relationship to be a haven for rest and rejuvination.

Yet during busy or stressful times you can't just tell yourself, "Lighten up and laugh a little." That would be like adding "Have fun" to your To Do List. Without a specific action that you're going to take to have fun, it's not as likely to happen.

Here's how we've been intentionally putting fun adventures into our daily routine, despite the busy-ness right now:
  • Indoor picnic: For dinner one night, we spread out our picnic blanket, lit the candles in our fireplace, and ate our meal on the floor. Bonus: indoor picnics can include wine!
  • Indoor bowling: This was all John's idea. (No surprise there with John's love of competition!) We set up three empty tennis ball cans at the end of our LONG hallway. We then competed for who could knock the most "pins" down by "bowling" a tennis ball. After five sets we were tied, so we played one more and John barely won!
  • Six Flags: We went to Six Flags one Saturday morning, racing around the park to ride only the best rides. It was my first time there and I had a blast!
  • Dance off: Pretty self explanatory: Turn on music and compete (see a theme here?!) for who has the best dancing skills. I believe I won this one :)

On the theme of living a life of adventure, I just finished reading Donald Miller's book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to know how to live a good story in life. 

Through vivid, funny, and poignant stories, he explains how what makes a story great are the same elements that make a life great. And great stories are full of adventures.

"The ambitions we have will become the stories we live. If you want to know what a person's story is about, just ask them what they want...when we live a story, we are telling the people around us what we think is important." -Donald Miller
From how you are living your life, what would people say is important to you? 

"We live in a world where bad stories are told, stories that teach us that life doesn't mean anything and that humanity has no great purpose. It's a good calling, then, to speak a better story." -Donald Miller
Are you living a story that others want to hear about and be a part of, one that "invites other people into the story... giving them a better story too"?

Perhaps this book resonated with me so much because of my passion for helping others be embraced by the journey. It's my hope that as I try to live a meaningful story that the little slices of adventure that I show on this blog would encourage you in your journey. Not every adventure is movie-worthy or even fun. Donald Miller talks a lot in his book about good stories requiring sacrifices. And I certainly do not have all of this figured out for my own life either. Hence, why it's about a journey and not a destination.

So go live an adventure today!

If you want to read more about keeping your marriage adventurous, check out these posts: