Saturday, December 29

[better late than never]

Belated presents.

If you know me.. you know that these are one of my fortes. Better late than never? I think so. SO, if you too are a belated gift giver.. fear no more, for I have the perfect gift idea for you.

Homemade Strawberry Jam
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
    • Personally, I'm going with store bought lemon juice. Oops.
    • 3 tbs lemon juice = 1 medium sized lemon
  • Kerr Mason Jars.. whatever size you so desire
  • 1 1/2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
    • If you are an inexperienced 'huller' as I am, the picture below is for you. (You're just cutting out the top middle part of the strawberry.)
 
 
Ingredients
 
Special Instructions Before You Begin:
You're in need of some jams while you make your jam, I can tell. By the way, the pun was intended. I strongly recommend the following video
 
 
Directions
  1. Combine the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over very low heat for 10 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved.
  2.  
     
     
  3. Add the strawberries and continue to cook over very low heat for 20 minutes, until the strawberries release some of their juices and the mixture boils slowly.
  4.  
    Before
     
    After
     
  5. Pour carefully into your mason jars and either seal or keep refrigerated. Use immediately, or follow proper canning guidelines below.
 
Sterilizing Directions:
  • Jars should be made from glass and free of any chips or cracks. Preserving or canning jars are topped with a glass, plastic or metal lid, which has a rubber seal. Two-piece lids are best for canning, as they vacuum-seal when processed. I got mine from Wal-mart - they're Kerr's.
  • Boil the jars and lids in a large saucepan of water for 15 minutes.
    Happy cooking!

Tuesday, December 25

[homesick]

Do you ever go through funks where you feel inadequate, pointless, and/or insignificant?

No..? Just me? That's awkward.

If your answer is yes, I feel your pain. I'm totally not saying that this world is overflowing with hardships and negativity, BUT on the other hand, you can't deny that it's not always blue skies and butterflies. Why is living in this world so hard to do at times? Why does it feel like I am away from home when I'm sitting right here in my queen sized bed in the heart of Tulsa, Oklahoma?

Oh, that's right - I wasn't made for this world. And neither are you.

Once we realize this, two things come to mind. The first being the fact that it sucks to live in a world I wasn't quite created for - take me home! The second: it doesn't altogether suck because..
 
a.      Jesus promised to be with me through it all (Note: Jesus does not break promises)
Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." -Matthew 28:20
No longer are you inadequate. Jesus is with you.
 
b.      He's already been through life here on Earth and overcome it all, so why can't we?
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33
No longer are you insignificant. Jesus resides in you.
 
c.      Life is GOOD. Yes - we go through hardships. Yes - we experience pain. But in the end.. it's worth it. Our time here on earth molds us into a person who is hopefully becoming increasingly more like Christ with each day, and that my friends, is what counts in the end.
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. -2 Corinthians 3:18
 
d. In HIM we live on purpose. Beats haphazardly floating through the day with the only purpose of pleasing oneself.
Therefore, we are the Messiah's representatives, as though God were pleading through us. -2 Corinthians 5:20
No longer are you pointless. You have meaning through Christ.

So.. I'm totally reading right off of my Pinterest; nevertheless, these quotes are straight BALLIN.. not to mention the fact that they fit this post perfectly:

The older I get, the surer I am that I'm not running the show.
-anonymous

Faith is the art of holding on to things despite changing moods and circumstances.
-C.S. Lewis

 
If I find in myself desires in which nothing in this world can satisfy, I can only conclude that I was made for another world.
-C.S. Lewis

Friday, November 16

[in the spirit of Thanksgiving]

Brighten your day with a couple of headlines on CNN.com as of November 16, 2012..

- "Israel mobilizing troops for 'possible invasion of Gaza' "
- "The Patraeus scandal: What we know"

..or not.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I know what you're thinking: how is one supposed to be throwing their hands up in praise over THIS? Let me take you on a little journey known as perspective..

per·spec·tive  (pr-spktv)
n.
3.
  • The relationship of aspects of a subject to each other and to a whole: a perspective of history; a need to view the problem in the proper perspective.
  • Subjective evaluation of relative significance; a point of view: the perspective of the displaced homemaker.
  • The ability to perceive things in their actual interrelations or comparative importance: tried to keep my perspective throughout the crisis.

And now - in the spirit of Thanksgiving - I am going to list a few things I am thankful for:
  1. The traffic I encounter on the way to work that turns out making me late because it means that I am employed.
  2. Hurtful yet honest words from a friend because it means that they care about me enough to speak truth into my life.
  3. All the complaining I hear about our government because it means we as a nation are blessed with freedom of speech.
  4. The inadequacy I find myself getting caught up in as a 'Post Grad' because it forces me to look to the confidence I have in Christ.
  5. The long lines we had to wait in to vote earlier this month because it means we live in a country that prides itself on democracy.
  6. Natural disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy, because they force us to come together as a country.
  7. The After-Thanksgiving-Dinner Food Coma I go into every year because it means that I have enough to eat.
  8. The pain I feel in my knees after a long jog because it means I have the ability to run.
  9. A sink full of dirty dishes because it means that loved ones are nearby.
  10. The alarm that goes off in the early morning because it means that I am alive.
Keep reading.. now I'm going to ask you, "What if?"
  • We viewed setbacks as opportunities.
  • We realized that some of our complaints are completely and utterly worthless when taken into perspective. Take, for example, the complaint I voice when the restaurant I visit does not offer Diet Dr. Pepper; there are millions of inhabitants of this world who do not have clean drinking water.
  • We noticed that only when we experience problems do we fully appreciate the good things in life.
  • We took time out of our day to truly focus on all of our blessings and thank God for them; He didn't HAVE to give us anything.
I can assure you we would be more joyful; I can assure you we would be more prayerful - in turn, leading us to be more thankful.

Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys.
-Rita Schiano

The glass really is half full..

Monday, June 4

[i'm genuinely sorry.]

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry for having the tendency to misrepresent Jesus and the Gospel through my actions/words/etc.; I'm sorry for not doing everything in my power I can to rebuke the actions/words/etc. of every other Christian who does the same thing; I'm sorry if I have ever been a stumbling block to you; I'm sorry if I do one thing and say another.. hypocrites are my pet peeve; I'm sorry if anything about my lifestyle has ever turned you away from Jesus.

I REALLY am.

Basically, what provoked my thinking about this was a conversation I had with friends concerning this lovely piece of artwork.. (that was sarcasm, by the way):


I'm sorry.. but REALLY?

a.   Can someone tell me what that billboard really even means? A cookie goes to whoever can tell me what I will be "saved" from.. other than the fiery pits of hell (which are so beautifully depicted on the top of the billboard)?
b.   Last time I checked, Christians are not supposed to scare people into a relationship with Jesus.
c.   This is one of the prime examples I'm talking about when I say that Christians (myself included) have the tendency to misrepresent Jesus and the Gospel.

Jesus is about truth and love and peace and freedom.

"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
John 10:10

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid."
John 14:27

"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."
Galatians 5:6

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 2:5

I really hope it wasn't the billboard maker's intention to merely scare a nonbeliever into a relationship with Christ; I really hope that they prayed over the creation of this billboard and truly felt that the Lord was calling them to this exact wording, etc. But if not, that sucks.

Time and time again, I come to the much needed realization that I will never be a perfect representation of Jesus, and I'm not supposed to be. THE only perfect representation of Jesus was of course.. Jesus. BUT what that does not mean is that we as Christians should not examine ourselves (the movies we're watching, the music we're listening to, how much we're drinking, our tendency to gossip, etc.)..

and CHANGE what needs to be changed so that we may become increasingly more like Christ.

Christianity is not about saying we're Christians and not living out the life change. Nope. That is called forgery. So if we say we're Christians, let's act like it!

To enforce the importance of this, remember that Jesus left US with the sole task and purpose in life of glorifying Him and declaring His name among the nations. How are we to do that if we are not seen to be a credible source? How are we to do that if our actions are not matching up with our words? How are we to do that if we are discrediting the name of Jesus in a carefree manner?

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

just a little food for thought.

Thursday, May 3

[taste and see that life is good]

In a world where it is normal to hear of an event such as a sex scandal taking place with government officials or details on the most recent local homicide, how is one supposed to see the good things in life?

I refuse to conform to the ways of this world.

The author of this blog post is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to, or reliance on any information contained within this post. While the information contained within this post is accurate for the author, it is in no way deemed as the right way for all readers to experience life's goodness.

a recipe for happiness.
PURPOSE: to taste and see that life is good.

- 1 thirty minute work out (jogs with your favorite jams are recommended.. yoga, pilates, dancing, soccer, hiking, rollerblading are also advised) Don't stop until you sweat.

- a quiet morning engaged in journaling/reading/praying outside near your garden with your Nonfat Chai Tea Latte in hand.

- 2 (or whatever number you see fit) random acts of kindness for a stranger or friend. Examples include, but are not limited to: paying for the car behind you in the fast food lane, burning a "because I love you" CD for a friend or lover, etc.

- Hard work. Whether it is studying if you are a student or working if you are in the workforce, do it to the fullest. Know that your work is making an impact on those around you. Let your work be meaningful and significant. Encourage those around you.

- Engage in a deep conversation with a friend. Find out what is on their heart. Discuss struggles you need prayer for. Laugh at your imperfections. Plan weekend get-aways.

- Cook dinner for others. Personally, I would recommend getting a recipe off Pinterest. It's all the rage.. or haven't you heard?

- Constantly remind yourself that you.are.not.made.for.this.world. When life gets you down, pray. Remember that Jesus also suffered, so it's pretty obvs that you're gonna suffer too. After praying, leave it in God's hands and be done with it.

- When the day is done, rest underneath the stars before heading to your high powered fan, memory foam mattress, down comforter, and feather pillows.

- Thank God for this beautiful day. If it wasn't as great as you wanted, remember you have a fresh start tomorrow. If it was freakin awesome, smile.

- Take a deep breath and realize how completely insane it is that you are alive before dozing off.

Rinse and repeat.

Sunday, April 22

[life is freakin good]

today was a good day.

this was a good weekend.

life is good, isn't it?

God really has been blessing me lately.. or maybe He has turned my eyes into seeing the good in everything? I think it is a combination of both. One of my favorite preachers to listen to, Rodney Hobbs, is from Stonegate Church in Midlothian, Texas. One of the first podcasts I listened to from Rodney covered Ephesians 1:15-23. In these verses, Paul is telling the Ephesians that he has been praying for them - I love when people tell me that they're praying for me; it's usually when I'm undergoing some stress or having a fight with a friend or family member or something along those lines. My favorite prayers are those wonderful unexpected ones.. those ones that aren't particularly for any special purpose. Look at what Paul tells the Ephesians:

"..Ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ.. may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe."

Paul prays that the Ephesians would be filled with God's revelation - that they would see God more clearly - that they would know Him better, for Paul knows that as one begins to know God better and see God clearly, life is good.

No, life is great.

Rodney talked about two prayers he prays consistently:
1. For an expanded view of God
2. For a greater love for people

For some reason, these two "basic" prayers clicked with me. I wrote them in dry erase marker on my closet mirror (real middle school, Laura.. I know).

But really..

Just think about what would happen if you grew in these two areas. Your whole world would change. First of all, learning about God truly is one of my favorite things.. and my favorite part about the learning process is that I can never know enough about God. Isn't it cool that even though God is completely constant, I learn more about him on a daily basis? Take, for example, my computer mapping class (ArcGIS is becoming my new BFF). There's going to be a time when I learn all that I can about it. It's a finite computer program (with boring qualities and characteristics, might I add). Yes, they will probably come out with a new version, but with a few clicks of the mouse, I've found all there is to know. That's not how it is with the Creator of the universe, the lover of your soul - God is a mystery, and that's the way I like it.

A greater love for people. For some reason, I used to think that I was really good at loving people.. I was a tad bit off - don't get me wrong, I still see loving people as one of my better qualities, BUT I've transformed the way I do it. Along the way, I've learned that there is a better way of loving. It involves coming and meeting people where they are. It involves telling them about the greatest possible love they could ever come to know - JESUS. What if that became your top priority? What if you didn't care what people thought of you? What if you focused on ways you could help others out of the genuineness of your heart rather than feeling as though you should "do the right thing?" It's possible.. with prayer.

ANYWAY, on a lighter and unrelated note, I hosted my first bridal shower this weekend - for my beautiful freshman year roommate. I've started realizing something more and more about myself this year, and it freakin freaks me out. If you're my close friend, you know that I've recently become somewhat obsessed with.. homemaking. I'm extremely lame, I know - I'm perfectly capable of admitting it.. and owning it.

Hi, my name is Laura. I enjoy decorating, baking, and reading Southern Living.

So, today was a glorious day for me.








Wishing you a restful rest of the night and a superb, sunny week!

Sunday, March 4

[freshman in life]

2 official months until this girl graduates.

This past week I had to apply to graduate.. sounds pretty intense; however, I can assure you it's not. I basically filled out two forms indicating my major, degree, current address, birthdate, and other minor details. WOO. But I will tell you that just the idea of the whole "applying to graduate" thing is a little on the creepy side. I know, I know.. I've been in college for the full four years (no victory lap, unfortunately) so clearly, my time has come. It's just a little weird actually thinking about the reality of it. Starting from when I was in kindergarten up until this year, I have constantly been asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Turns out apparantly I'm going to magically be "grown up" come this May. Don't worry, I'll be sure to tell you on May 12, 2012 what it feels like to be a "grown up" if you ask.

I've come to a few realizations as I come to this point in life.. I'm deep - get over it. Also, I've come to the realization that I like lists, but that's another subject.

a.  I'm pretty sure I'm not going to become a new person come May 12. It's going to be the same me with a degree that I could potentially frame.. and in all reality, I'm not quite sure that I would frame that bad boy.


b.  Going along with becoming a new person, I'm not going to magically be completely fulfilled in life. It's not like, "Oh sweet! Now that I have finally reached my dreams of obtaining a degree after 16 long freaking years of attending school, I'm legitimately content." There are more things in life; there are more goals to reach; there are more people to meet and places to go.


c.  Great things are about to happen. "There are far, far better things to come than any we have left behind." Thank you C.S. Lewis.

Graduation can be a scary time. Most likely you're moving away from friends and the college town you have spent the last four years in. You're getting out of your comfort zone. The world has told me that I'm supposed to be a grown up in the real world dependent upon myself. I have to wear business suits to work everyday. No one jokes around and acts like a kid. (Those last few are lies, by the way). No matter what you're told, the concept of graduation is freaky in some way.. you can't deny it.

This semester, I am working and going to school. So, on the way into my office, I go by another office everyday.. I think it's an attorney or something. Anyway, they have a see-through door. Everyday I get the opportunity to pass through the hallway and see a verse written on the wall inside of the attorney's office:

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
- Jeremiah 29:11-13

These verses just remind me that no matter what path I may take upon graduation (it's still up in the air.. cool.), the Creator of the universe has plans for me; amazing plans that God has made for me specifically so that I may call on Him and come and pray to Him - the single reason I exist. So rather than getting caught up in selecting "the right way" to go from here or worrying about the future, I choose (although my actions may not always reflect it) to be dependent on that. I choose to get completely excited over the fact that while this little chapter may be coming to close in my life, I've got quite a few chapters to go.

I've heard the quote that says
"Nothing is constant in life except change."

I think it's funny. Mainly for the fact that change doesn't always make my heart happy. But how cool is it that I get to go on to new things? If they are bad, they will mold me into a stronger person, and I can rejoice in that. If they are good, they will mold me so that I may rejoice, as well. The way I look at it, it's a win win situation. There will be clinks and there will be clashes, but choose to sit back and relax and have a sip of wine along the way. Wouldn't life be boring if everything stayed the same? We wouldn't know the good for what it is - or the bad for what it is. No bueno in my book.

Also, something that puts that quote to shame:
Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
- Hebrews 13:8

woohoo!!!!!!!! Choose to rest in that while you're getting used to the other changes in your life.

The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Sunday, February 26

[it's not about what you do; it's about why you do it]

In the midst of busy weeks, filling out my planner like its no body's business, and forgetting to breathe along the way, I find it REAL easy to forget what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. I feel like it can be so easy to get caught up in the motions like some pointless little robot when we neglect our ability to take a step back to relax and look at the big picture, if you will.

What am I doing here?

What is my purpose?

What is my heart's deepest desire?

What are my passions?

Who am I living for?

What is my motivation?

Whenever I first learned about Christianity, I thought that it was more like what we now call "legalism." I thought it was about believing Jesus died and rose again but treating it as a fact rather than an amazing, life changing truth. Through learning from others and my own messed up thinking, I mistakenly thought that if I didn't cuss, engage in underage drinking, have sex with my boyfriend, rebel from my parents.. you get the picture.. I was "clean." I was "worthy." If I read the Bible occasionally, I was good. If I volunteered at my church, I was good. If I could memorize John 3:16 and had the ability to recite it in front of my friends, I was fine.. I didn't need to hear more about Him. If you told me I did, in my defense I would most likely say, "Go find the homeless dude on the street - homeboy needs WAY more help than I do. He's the one getting money from people to buy alcohol."

Woah, woah, woah. I'm pretty sure that's not what Jesus said. At all. In fact, Jesus has quite a different viewpoint on this.

First off, we're ALL sinners. And we're never clean. Sucks to suck, right? But think about it: no matter HOW hard you try to be perfect, to respect your elders everyday, to love your neighbor (yes, this includes your enemies) as yourself, to never think "bad" thoughts, to never steal (even if you jack your friend's bracelet without asking.. guilty), you're never gonna be able to do it. Don't believe me? I challenge you to go for an hour without sinning.. then we'll talk.

"We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all."
- Isaiah 53:6

So how do I cope with this truth?

That's when the legalistic crowd (including pretty much every other religion aside from Christianity) will most likely tell you to volunteer at your church, to work with the homeless, to work on cleaning yourself up.. I can tell you this doesn't work from past experience. If you don't believe me, I again challenge you to try it. Once again I will give you the option to contact me.

Jesus says.. go with it!

You're flawed. You realized it! We're all messed up. It's comforting that that statement included "we're all".. not so comforting once you realize the claim. Rather than go against it, I vote you go with it. Then you pray. Not some scripted prayer - pray what you feel. Pray what's truly in your heart. Ask God to move in your life. Give Him time - he'll do it. I'm not saying you should sit in your sin and chill.. I'm saying that you should look for passion in your life. Look for Christ.

"Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners."
- Matthew 9:13

That's the God I want to worship. Funny how Jesus tells us to do the EXACT OPPOSITE of other religions. He knows we are flawed - that we're doomed for failure on our own. No matter how many freaking self help books you read, no matter how much money you give to the homeless, no matter how many times you volunteer at your church, no matter how many Bible studies you join, if there's not an inward motivation - an inward feeling that is not of your own (can I get a Holy Spirit?), what's the point in even going through with the actions? Sounds a little bit like LEGALISM if you ask me.

I find it SO comforting that in order to experience God's presence in prayer, I don't have to freaking go through the innumerable Old Testament ways of cleansing myself.

Jesus made intercession between God and man so that this wouldn't have to happen.

SO.. next time you find yourself going through the motions, forgetting why you're here on Earth and your purpose in life, go back to Him. Do less; not more. Focus on the things you are truly passionate about and seek to glorify God in. Cut out the rest. Do it.

I challenge you.

Tuesday, February 21

[just breathe]

Pinned Image

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

-Psalm 46:10

Pinned Image

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
- John 14:27

Pinned Image

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
- Matthew 6:33-34

Pinned Image

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
- John 16:33

Pinned Image


Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, February 19

[home, sin, and everything in between]

I got back today from a lovely trip to Fort Worth/Dallas. I got to see Ben Rector for the second time in the last 2 months (he gets cuter every time) and Needtobreathe for the first time ever at House of Blues on Thursday night.. yay for skipping my Friday class. Even though I was gone from Norman for 3 whole days, it felt like a real short weekend unfortunately. Oh well. ALSO, on an unrelated note (I'm not really good at the whole tying things in if you've noticed) I realized that Norman is my home now, meaning it was good to go back to Fort Worth, but I missed Norman quite a bit. Finally, after 3 and a half years of going to school in Oklahoma, I finally feel like I live here. And the best part - this is my last semester here.. that was sarcasm if you couldn't tell. I really like Norman.

And moving on . . .

This morning I went to a different church than I usually go to when I'm home. I'd been wanting to try it out for a while now, so I finally did today. This morning the preacher quoted Simone Weil (some philosopher dude):

"Every sin is an attempt to fly from emptiness."

Spot on.

So sin means to miss the mark right? An offense against moral law.. an immoral act. Take your pick.

So I started thinking about it.. SO true. I never thought about sin that way. I thought about sin as rebellion. I thought about it as a trait of the imperfect.

but never did I ever think about it this way.

So, let's do a little experiment. I'm going to pick a few sins that I constantly engage in:

1. Gluttony
2. Gossip
3. Worry

OH HEY..

1. gluttony: when I overeat (specifically chocolate covered raisins and/or Dove dark chocolate after a long week), I am legitimately hoping the freaking candy will soothe me. I overeat chocolate.. because I feel empty. Not my stomach - myself in general.

2. gossip: when I gossip, I am intentionally putting someone else down in order to make myself feel better.. because I feel empty.

3. worry: when I worry, I am not believing that my God is strong enough to lead me through my circumstances. If I were satisfied, I wouldn't worry. But I worry.. because I feel empty.

Funny how that works out. Mr. Weil, you seem like a very wise man.

Thursday, February 16

[snow in February]

this was supposed to be posted on Monday, but I just finished it.. soooo pretend like it's Tuesday.

long time no.. post?

I have been missing blogging, and although I have no particular subject on which I would like to focus on, I decided to post anyway. Sorry I'm not sorry if this post is a little incoherent and/or jumpy. Also, it's most likely going to be a bit hurried because this girl is sitting in her PJs and has class at 11:30.. oops. Read on..

This morning I woke up to a nice layer of snow at the Bob Marley house.



It was wonderful. So this week has the potential to be one of the best weeks I've had in a long time. Snow on Monday + Valentine's Day outing with wonderful people + [give or take two quizzes on Tuesday] + Valentine's Day strawberry cupcakes with cream cheese icing + Needtobreathe & Ben Rector + Fort Worth to see my lovely family. Does it get any better?

SUBJECT CHANGE - don't quit reading.. I already told you this post would be jumpy.

Do you ever feel like this new age of "relativism" where anything goes is starting to sweep the nation? Well I do. And sometimes it gets to the point in which one has a hard time separating fact from feelings.

relativism (n.): Relativism is the philosophical position that all points of view are equally valid, and that all truth is relative to the individual. This means that all moral positions, all religious systems, all art forms, all political movements, etc., are truths that are relative to the individual.

Like, I'm sorry, but who let homegirl Nicki Minaj onstage at the Grammy's last night with that beyond creepy exorcism act? When did that become okay? If you're going for the "shock" factor, Nicki, you got it. If you're going for the "you're a creep" factor, you got that one too. Straight nailed it. I just am not really sure why one would want to include something like that in their act - thousands (probably millions, actually) of people, teenagers, etc. are watching you for your talent (that is what the Grammy's are all about, right?), and THAT is what you want people to see? Anything does NOT go.

So just because something (like Nicki's little act) "feels" wrong to me, how do I know it's wrong? Feelings for me, unfortunately, a lot of the time do not go hand in hand with truth. Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, uses the example of the fact, faith, feeling train.



Wait, wait, wait..

but why do I even have these feelings?

Romans 2:14-15

14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)

That's a case for a Creator if I've ever seen one.

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis states :
"If no set of moral ideas were truer or better than any other, there would be no sense in preferring civilized morality to savage morality, or Christian morality to Nazi morality. In fact, of course, we all do believe that some moralities are better than others... Very well then. The moment you say that one set of moral ideas can be better than another, you are, in fact, measuring them both by a standard, saying that one of them conforms to that standard more nearly than the other... You are, in fact, comparing them both with some Real Morality, admitting there is such a thing as a real Right, independent of what other people think, and that some people's ideas get nearer to that real Real than others."

Sorry for being philosophical, this was just on my mind.

In other news, I woke up from a dream this morning that I was 32 and single.. it was interesting.

Monday, January 16

[freaking out]

why.......

      do I always freak out?

      do I act as though I do not know my Maker is in perfect control over my life?

      do the things that I spend time worrying about turn out to be completely fine?

COOL, Laura, real cool. Maybe because I'm a girl.. maybe because I'm human.. most likely because I want to be in control.. because I think that I have better plans for my life than my Creator.

so obviously that's a lie, right? Yes. How can one even possibly think that they know themselves and their life goals better than THE omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, powerful, beautiful, King of Kings, LORD of Lords who put themselves (along with the whole world, of course.. I mean we're talking sunsets, mountains, oceans, continental divides, galaxies, sounds, thought, tornadoes, earthquakes) into creation?

Probably because I'm sort of ignorant at times. Okay, REALLY ignorant.

So, today I was completely convicted over not trusting in the Lord's plans. I'm not going to go into the situation, but if you feel like you have been convicted of distrust before, feel free to read on.

"Come to me, and rest in My loving Presence. You know that this day will bring difficulties, and you are trying to think your way through those trials. As you anticipate what is ahead of you, you forget that I am with you - now and always. Rehearsing your troubles results in experiencing them many times, whereas you are meant to go through them only when they actually occur. Do not multiply your suffering in this way! Instead, come to Me, and relax in My Peace. I will strengthen you and prepare you for this day, transforming your fear into confident trust."

THAT was my devotional this morning from Sarah Young's Jesus Calling. And somehow it went PERFECTLY with my morning - funny how that works out sometimes..

As if that was not enough, the suggested reading was from Joshua 1:5, 8-9

No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

Solid.

Time and time again humankind ( --> ME <-- ) turns away from God and His plans in false belief that we know better than Him.. a bit conceited, right? BUT He loves us.. doesn't make sense, right? We don't feel worth it. We don't feel adequate. We don't feel enough for a perfect, loving Savior. But He thinks we are.. and that, my friend, is what matters.

When Jerusalem was unfaithful (much like the human race nowadays) and engaged in detestable practices even when they had been clearly taught what to do and who to follow, God had righteous anger. Jerusalem was seeking out alliances with pagan nations and adopting their customs. If you're a mother or a father and your child knowingly disobeys, you have the right to discipline and be upset. God goes about his righteous anger by destroying the city for turning from the one, true God. To make an impact, sometimes one must go to extremes, right? Even though God saw Jerusalem as "more depraved than they [Sodom]" (P.S. - that's a lot of depravement, if you will), THIS is what the Lord says.

Ezekiel 16:59-60

"I will deal with you as you deserve, because you have despised my oath by breaking the covenant. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you." ..... aka JESUS

Now that's comforting. Just a little food for thought.

Tomorrow is the first day of my last semester of college. Crazy how time goes by. I am excited/scared/trying so hard to sit still and TRUST. There are a few things that are different this semester (sucks that I suck at change), but that doesn't mean it can't be good, right?

It's not going to be easy, it's not going to be boring, it's not going to be completely blue skies and butterflies.. but wouldn't it be boring if it was? And after all, these situations bring us closer to Him. Hellooooooooo Spring 2012!

Tuesday, January 10

[rainy but yummy]

Today in the Fort, it is cold and rainy outside. This type of weather makes me want to eat, sleep and watch movies - all of which I do not have time for today.

This morning I tried out Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins - they are healthy AND delicious. Perfect for breakfast or a late morning snack - however, I am no knowledgeable chef, so you can plan to eat them whenever you want.

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins
Yields: 18 muffins

1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 large bananas)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
6 tbsp peanut butter (use Bee's Knees.. it's THE best)
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 large eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp applesauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup whole wheat oats
Canola Oil Cooking Spray/some type of cooking spray/muffin liners

(Obviously, my family is down with Wal-Mart's Great Value brand..)


Directions: Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners or spray with Canola Oil. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir together with a fork to blend. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the applesauce, brown sugar, eggs, banana, peanut butter and buttermilk until smooth. Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix just until incorporated and fully blended. Divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. After cooled, decorate with peanut butter "icing" and a banana slice.





Listen to this on repeat while you bake - I promise it will make it better.


"Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained." - C.S. Lewis