Friday, February 21, 2014

Update: New Blog!

I’m so excited to finally have my own self-hosted blog! I’ve been blogging over here at Blogger since November 2011, and I thought it was time to get serious and have my own domain name. This is definitely one way I wanted to dream big this year! I’ve been working hard to redesign an all new, and I hope you enjoy it!

I won't be posting on this site anymore, so please head over to for all future updates, thanks!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What brings me joy (Plus a granola recipe worth rejoicing over)

Grilling out for lunch on a snow day...
The warm sunshine spilling out from between the blinds after a week of snow...
An encouraging conversation with a friend that lasts two hours...
Watching a client's eyes light up with realization during a coaching session...
The taste of sweet-n-saltiness in my morning granola (see recipe below)...
All these things and more bring me joy.

I experience joy in the small, unexpected graces of every day and also in the big realizations when I am fully living into who I was created to be.

Yet it's not necessarily these things in and of themselves that bring joy but rather the recognizing and paying attention to them.

When I go about my day and eat that same cereal as a means to end... 
When I ask the same coaching questions as a sense of responsibility not opportunity...
When a date with a friend runs long and I view it as throwing off my schedule... 
These prevent joy. 

Instead, it's the change in perspective that brings the joy

As author Ann Voskamp says, the height of our joy depends on the depths of our thanks. "As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible." 

Yet so often I start the day with expectations and standards, and then I'm only thankful or joyful when those are met. 

What if we stepped forward into our day expecting nothing but uncovering joyful moments? What if the only expectation that we had was the expectant hope found in Christ?

"I always pray with joy... being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:3-6). 

As the footnote in my Crossway ESV Bible says, "The joy that Paul calls for is not a happiness that depends on circumstances but a deep contentment that is in the Lord, based on trust in the sovereign, living God, and that therefore is available always, even in difficult times." 

There is deep joy found in living out the mission that God has called you to and abiding in His every day graces.

To celebrate the every day small joys, here's some pictures of the snow day last week and a delicious new recipe for granola. (Despite John initially joking that the granola was "birdseed," he actually loved it and ate it for a snack every day.)

Grilling out on snow day last week

The parking lot to the zoo by our house.
I wasn't overly joyful about the snow itself, but John being home this time
and taking an evening walk in the snow together were reasons to be joyful.

Sweet and Salty Granola

I based this recipes off of Bon Appetit's granola but then made it my own.
Serves 12
3 cups oats
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (I did a mix of walnuts, cashews, and almonds)
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp. flax seeds
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
2 Tbsp. black sesame seeds
1 egg white, beaten
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup warmed coconut oil
2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup mix of raisins and golden raisins


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Combine oats through sesame seeds in a large bowl. Add in egg white, honey, coconut oil, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Toss to combine.
  3. Spread out evenly on a rimmed baking sheet, sprayed with cooking spray.
  4. Bake granola, stirring every 10 minutes, for 30 minutes or until granola is golden brown. 
  5. Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes.
  6. Stir in raisins and store in an airtight container.

Today I'm linking up with Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Twitterature: 3 book reviews, Twitter-style

Since the New Year, I've finished reading three incredible books in three very different genres. I recommend all of them, but if I had to choose, start reading The Ocean at the End of Lane now and you won't be able to put it down.

Today I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Twitterature: book reviews Twitter-style.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman 
Genre: Adult Fantasy/Fairytale 

Back at his childhood home, the narrator replays fantastical adventures with his next-door neighbor. Leaves you thinking: what is reality?  


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
Genre: Historical Fiction/Epistolary Novel

An author visits her pen pal, finding quirky, book-loving friends & a sobering perceptive of WWII’s German occupation of Guernsey island.

#Charming #WantASequel

You're Made for a God-Sized Dream by Holley Gerth
Genre: Christian Non-Fiction

Through encouraging words and memorable messages, you’ll discover the big dreams God has planted in your heart & courage to pursue them.

(Also- You can print out questions and exercises to go along with the book from Holley Gerth's website.) 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Do you rest after work or work out of rest?

We wake up and immediately think, "I didn't get enough sleep." As we rush to get ready and head out the door, we're already thinking how there isn't enough time to get everything done that we need to do today. And it's only 9am. We live in what researcher Dr. Brene Brown calls a "culture of scarcity."

There is never enough (whether time, money, accomplishments, etc.). And by default, we are never enough.

What if instead we changed our perspective?

On Saturday, I wrote about the need to shift our gaze and take in the whole picture in order to gain a better representation of who we are and to recognize our growth. This perspective change is the same for other areas of our lives too.

What if instead of resting after you work because you're exhausted, you work out of your rest because you're energized? Author Ann Voskamp includes a "daily stillness appointment" as a part of her 25 Point Sanity Manifesto for the New Year. She says, "For 5 minutes midday, be still and cease striving... Slow down: You only pass by this way once."

It can appear to be merely semantics, but changing your perspective can result in noticeable differences. When my coaching clients set goals, I often have them reword their action steps to change the perspective from a negative to a positive.

For instance, do you have a daily thought of "I need sleep because I'm exhausted," or "I need to sit quietly because life is so chaotic"? These can be true statements, but what if you reworded them and said instead: "I am going to bed earlier so I can wake up energized for the day ahead. I am going to meditate because it will refocus me for the remainder of the day."

Rather than living out of never having enough energy or time or space to recharge, you live out of what do you have. You recognize that no matter what is going on in your life, you're going to be ok because you already are enough.

Today, stop and consider: Are you fueled by what you lack and are rushing around, trying to make up for the deficiency of time, energy, money, etc?

Remind yourself:
You are not alone in feeling this way.
You are more than your To Do list.

You can dare to live out your dreams when you live out of the place in your heart that brings you energy and restores your soul.

Today I'm linking up with Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Encouraging words for a hard day

The snow in my backyard melted in patches, the greenish brown turf poking through snowy footprints. I was amazed at how little snow had actually melted until I looked to the far right of our yard. Green grass with only remnants of yesterday's snowflakes spread across the yard.

This shift in perspective is similar to our development: In bits and pieces, part of the new you shines through the patches. If you only look at the covering - the parts of you that haven't changed into fertile ground for growth - your perspective would be wrong. You'd fail to see all of the new developments and areas of growth that have taken place inside of you.

Without looking at the whole picture, you limit your understanding of the truth.

When I am having a hard day, it's often because I'm only looking at snippets of a situation. I make blanket statements, like the snow blanketing the ground, about my lack of growth or how unfair a situation is or all the reasons something isn't right.

At these moments, I need someone to remind me to step back and get the whole perspective. Where are the green patches, the opportunities, the things that are going right?

Sometimes others can see growth in you before you recognize it yourself. But other times people will make blanket statements or assumptions about you that don't take the whole you into account. 

Remember: you are not others' perceptions of you. But you're not your own perception of yourself either. 

Only our Maker, the one who is able to see the entire picture, the Alpha and the Omega, only He has the correct perception of you: Daughter or Son of King. Redeemed. You can see this whole picture when you realize you are made whole in Him.

As a She Reads Truth devotional states, "It means I am a new creation, renewed daily by His grace and mercy." We're already a new creation yet we're also continually being made new. Keep this encouraging picture in mind next time you're having trouble seeing the bright patches in your life.

Today I'm linking up with Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart

Monday, February 3, 2014

What I ate during #snowmageddon & other adventures

With the temperature getting to 60 degrees today, it's hard to believe that almost a week ago my backyard was covered in snow. Thankfully, last Tuesday, I got back from the grocery store just before the snow started in Atlanta, so I hunkered down inside and weathered the storm fine.

John was in Memphis last Tuesday for what was supposed to be an up and back business trip. When his return flight got cancelled, he and his coworkers tried to drive back. After getting to Birmingham and realizing there was no way they would get home in "snowmageddon," they turned around and drove to the nearest hotel that had available rooms, which landed them in Athens, Alabama. Thursday afternoon he made it home safely, and we were just thankful he was "stranded" in a hotel and not on the road for 20 hours like many people. Despite John having no change of clothes and using whatever toiletries the hotel had on hand, we weathered the storm just fine. (And no frozen or burst pipes this time either: success!)

On Wednesday, I ventured outside with some friends and went sledding in the park with their Flying Saucer. It was lots of fun, evidenced by my smile in the picture below. Though not being able to steer, I ran into a tree about three times... all part of the adventure!

About to hit the tree...

Since I was stuck at home alone, I made two hearty meals that lasted me the week. One was a variation of my avocado quinoa, which is a staple in our house and a favorite of John's. Once John returned, I served this with cod topped with a salsa. The other was a sweet potato and butternut squash sweet and spicy stew.

Before I get to the recipes, the other notable occurrence in our life was watching Chuck, our great friend from middle/high school, get recognized in a Super Bowl commercial! Budweiser threw Chuck a surprise parade and celebration for his homecoming from serving in Afghanistan as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot. John even made a cameo in the commercial around second 28... so I suppose even though he wasn't home the week our pipes froze/burst, it was all worth it since he was in Orlando at that time, attending Chuck's homecoming parade! I can't think of a better person for Budweiser to have surprised and honored than Chuck. He is truly inspirational, a wonderful friend, and an incredible leader. We're all so glad to have him back home! Check out this Fox News interview of Chuck to see his genuine humility.

John's one second of fame :)
Now onto the recipes...

Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Sweet and Spicy Stew

I baked gluten free bread, which was an excellent addition for the stew.
Serves 6
3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 - 2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt, pepper, and dried Italian herbs to taste
1 onion, sliced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 jalapeno, diced with seeds
1 cup red lentils
2 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp. sunflower seed butter (or peanut butter)
1 -2 cups kale
1/2 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Fresh cilantro for topping

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss sweet potatoes and butternut squash with olive oil and salt, pepper, and dried Italian herbs, to taste. You want enough to top each piece but not be covered. Lay out sweet potato mixture onto a baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.
  2. While sweet potato mixture roasts, heat a Dutch oven over low-medium heat. Add in olive oil and onion. Caramelize the onion for 25 minutes or until browned.
  3. Remove sweet potato mixture from oven and let rest. Add in garlic and jalapeno to onions. Stir for 1 minute. 
  4. Add in lentils and chicken broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and cover. Let lentils simmer until softened, about 12 minutes. 
  5. Add in sunflower seed butter and stir to combine into soup. Add in kale and chickpeas, stirring until kale wilts. Add in sweet potato mixture. 
  6. Let simmer for 10 minutes then remove from heat. Top each serving with fresh cilantro. 

Avocado Quinoa

I've been making this recipe for a while now, but the version below is my new and improved recipe.

Serves 6
1 1/2 cups quinoa 
3 cups water
3 small avocados, mashed
1 tomato, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 bunches cilantro
2 jalapenos, diced and with seeds
Juice of 1 lime
Dash of paprika
Sea salt and pepper to taste

  1. Rinse quinoa under cold water. Cook quinoa in 3 cups of water according to package instructions.
  2. Once quinoa is done, remove from heat and into a bowl. Add in avocados, mashing with a fork to combine into the quinoa. Mix until quinoa is coated and avocado is fully mashed.
  3. Add in remaining ingredients, expect spices. Stir together. Add in spices, tasting as you go until it's the right saltiness/spiciness.   
Cod with Yellow Pepper Salsa

Serves 4
4 cod fillets
1/4 cup corn meal
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 onion, diced
Juice of half lime
2 tsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro for topping

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix salt and pepper (to taste) with cornmeal in a shallow bowl. Coat cod pieces with cornmeal mixture. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and put cod onto the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until done and cod flakes easily with a fork.
  2. While fish cooks, whisk together dijon, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. 
  3. In a separate bowl, combine yellow pepper, cucumber, and onion. Drizzle with olive oil, lime juice, and salt/pepper to taste. Toss to coat.
  4. When fish is done, place a fillet on each plate and drizzle each fish with dijon dressing. Top with salsa and fresh cilantro.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A tree in a snowstorm

On the tree outside my window, squirrels jump onto snowy limbs and a cardinal perches just long enough to collect white dots on its red feathers. The tree's trunk divides the white landscape in two and its branches stretch into the snow-speckled sky. For a Florida girl (an even for a now-Atlanta girl) this is a scene to soak in.

In the nearby park, parents show little ones snow for the first time. Children (and adults!) sled down the same hills that I ran over the day before. Yet here in our backyard, the quietness of this beautiful landscape almost feels lonely.

It's often the same feeling when you're pursuing a dream. When there's lots swirling around you, the chaos can be disorienting. Standing strong like the tree in a snowstorm sometimes feel solitary.

I want to encourage you today that you're not alone.

Whatever dreams are tugging at your heart are there for a reason. The road will be bumpy but just take it all in. See the beauty in the chaos. Reach out your limbs and share your dreams with those close to you.

And let the Light illuminate whatever covering you're hiding behind. Keep soul-ly stretching toward your One focus. He planted that dream in your heart, and others will rejoice in seeing the Ultimate Dreamer in you.
Today I'm linking up with Holley Gerth's Coffee for your Heart