Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This angers me

Click here to read about the lawsuit asking that "so help me God," and any other religious references be prohibited from Brack Obama's inauguration.





This is ridiculous. Ok, so you don't believe in God. I don't get it, but that's your opinion. You cannot prohibit the rest of the country from acknowleging him.



Why is it that people want to push God out of every aspect of our lives, but we wonder why he doesn't help when a child has cancer, or someone's house burns down...they wonder where he is, but they tell him to leave.

Changing habits

Okay, so I have my motivation. I pray it lasts, or at least that I can have the willpower to do this even when I lose my motivation.

Did you know that it takes 3 weeks to break a bad habit?? With that in mind, here are some bad habits I want to break, one at a time for 3 weeks.

1) Give up sweets! I am going to resist dessert and sweets for 3 weeks. Then hopefully I won't feel the need for them as much and will be able to eat just one cookie.

2) Stop being a couch potato...aka: exercise (along with the other millions of folks this time of year). Once I've accomplished my sweets addiction, I will begin walking 3x a week for 30 minutes, or doing some other physical activity. Hopefully after 3 weeks, I'll be enjoying my exercise...

3) H2O! Weeks 7-9 I will drink at least 2 bottles of water a day.

These are the top 3. Why not do all three at the same time, you ask? Slow and steady does it. If I get carried away and focus on all of my goals at once, I'll quit. But if I can be a couch potato for 3 more weeks and focus on the small (but HUGE) task of sweets, I won't feel so overwhelmed. SO, one at a time.

I CAN do this. I always have it in my head that I can't (or just won't). But I want this, and I need it. So, join me, if you wish. Click here for information.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I MUST have one of these!

I must have a Jessie Steele apron! These are the cutest things I have ever seen, and I think I might even be a better cook if I had one :P



Here are a few of my faves from the catalog:



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Words of Wisdom

"Will you keep going when you don't know why? When you can't get any answers that would make the pain go away, will you say, 'My Lord,' even though his ways are not clear to you?"
I am struggling with this incredibly right now. Sometimes it seems as though I am POSITIVE that God has a certain thing planned for me, that it is what I was made for. He has given me such a passion for it that it hurts. Yet, I cannot see the path...there are no open doors. It seems as though He is not giving me the means to do so. Sometimes it actually seems as though He is KEEPING me from doing it. That makes me angry.
Still, I know God has plans to prosper me and not to harm me. I know He loves me, even if I don't feel it all the time.

Thank God for the weak economy!


Couples Find It's Too Costly To Divorce

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Husband and wife make a vow for better or worse.
But when money is tight more marriages often end in divorce.
That's not the case this year.
Tough economic times are forcing couples to stay together.
Getting a divorce is expensive. Take the court costs and lawyer fees and divide all of the couple's assets.
And many couples don't have the money.
"You know those family issues of money, jobs, the stresses those are the things that really impact people on a daily basis," said Dr. Charles Ihrig, a licensed psychologist.
Ihrig said more couples are enrolled in counseling in an attempt to save their marriage. Ihrig said tough economic times are a factor.
"Honestly money is usually one of the easiest things for couples to fight over," Ihrig said.
"Yeah, typically when there is a bad economy the number of divorces increases," said Rob Turner, a Nashville attorney.
Turner said this recession is unlike anything he's seen.
"But this particular economic collapse has affected us even worse because what you're finding is people don't have the money to get divorced," he said.
He said he's seen about a 30 percent drop in the number of clients seeking a divorce.
In Davidson County, the number of people filing for divorce has also decreased. About 2,300 people filed for divorce between January and November 2007. During the same period this year, 2,173 filed or a 7 percent drop.
Turner's even offered his clients payment plans. But sometimes it's not enough.
"So it's really bad in this economy," he said.
Forcing a fighting couple to stick out will likely be a bitter split.
Turner said executing a divorce has also become more difficult because of the economy. If a couple owns a home, they're having a harder time selling the home. In some cases, a person can't sell the home and divide the funds. As a result, he or she can be found in contempt of court.
Local counseling services are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of patients seeking help for marriage issues, depression, and job loss. They said the weak economy is a main reason for the increase.



Here is one reason to be thankful for a weak economy. Story taken from www.newschannel5.com

Monday, December 29, 2008

New Start

I usually don't make New Years' Resolutions. While I do love the idea of a fresh start, and the motivation we all feel at the beginning of the New Year, I have yet to actually keep a resolution. However, I do have some goals for the upcoming year.

1. (I make this one every year) Start an exercise routine...hopefully my new mp3 player will motivate me.
2. Get more financially stable.
A. Create a budget and stick to it!
B. Put money in the savings regularly.
3. Lose weights (yet another that I make every year). I am thinking of joining Weight Watchers....again.

That's all I can handle for now. Too many goals are overwhelming, so I will focus on the most important.

We also are hoping to start our family this year! I am discouraged because we are having some problems (my mom had similar problems which resulted in 5 miscarriages and 18 years of marriage before she had a baby). I am hoping and praying that it doesn't take that long. I am taking ovulation inducers, and hopefully that will work. I'll let ya know.

Happy New Year!

Christmas is over...ready for Spring!

Christmas was good. Everyone got along for the most part, with the exception of a few bad attitudes, which was anticipated. We had 3 Christmases...it was exhausting! You guys who have 4 or 5 or more...I don't know how you do it! I'm pooped!

Anyway, I got a Chi flat iron for my hair, which I have been wanting forEVER! They are expensive, so I never would have bought one for myself, but I can straighten my curly, curly hair in 5 minutes flat, as opposed to the 30 minutes it takes with one from Walmart. This excites me.

I also got a pretty cool Mp3 player, a pink Sansa fuze.

Brandon bought me a few DVD's I had been wanting (Grease and Dirty Dancing), the new Taylor Swift cd, which I was especially excited about, and some stuff to go with my mp3player.

Brandon got 6 new Xbox360 games, and a GPS! We made out like bandits!

We did have a bit of bad luck this weekend, but all turned out well in the end. On Christmas night, Brandon decided to do some laundry, but didn't check his pockets...he washed his Sirius Satellite radio! Yep...round and round in the washing machine it went. By God's grace, it still works! I am convinced that it is indestructible!

We finally decided that Saturday would be our day at home, to rest and play with our new toys. Not the case. We had to return some stuff, which took the first half of the day because we had to go to 3 different places. Then, when we got home, Brandon got into his jammies, put one of his $300-$400 worth of games in the xbox, and it broke. Yep...the xbox died. Again, luckily, the Xbox people are going to fix it for free. He had to send it off for a few weeks though, so I am not sure what he will do for that period of time. I think the xbox is his lifeline.

Overall, we had a good Christmas. No major arguments or anything. We enjoyed our time with family, had some great food, and even started some new traditions. We got completely spoiled this year, but hopefully next year we will be spoiling a little Swindell. :-)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Isaiah 32:17

This Christmas, I am trying to remind myself of Isaiah 32:17, which says, "This righteousness will bring peace. Quietness and confidence will fill the land forever." I am trying to fill my heart with peace, and pray that we make it through Christmas quietly, and are able to enjoy and savor every bit of it.

I am troubled this Christmas. Sometimes the ones you love most (aka your family) can cause you the most pain, and the most problems. Why is that?

I will never understand my inlaws. I will always love them, but will never understand why things that don't matter are such a big deal, and why they cannot simply be thankful that they HAVE a family to spend Christmas with! So, this Christmas, I am shooting for peace. If things get out of hand and tension arises, Brandon and I will leave and spend Christmas on our own...at home. That sounds pretty good right now!

Speaking of Christmas, I have plenty of activities planned! (Some of which I wish I could change...cough cough) Tomorrow, Brandon will have to sleep for a while since he has to work tonight, so I'll probably just hang out during the day reading or watching Christmas movies. Then, tomorrow evening, we are going to my inlaws'. This is one of the few times that I am truly greatful that we live only a mile from them. We'll eat and exchange gifts, and I am sure someone will complain about what they got (or how it's labeled), and then Brandon and I will head back home. Before we go to sleep, we will get in our jammies, fix some hot cocoa, crawl into the bed, and Brandon will read me the book, "Twas the Night Before Christmas." We'll probably awake unusually early on Christmas Day, since we are like small children who simply cannot stand the suspense any longer! Before we open gifts, we are going to read the Christmas Story from the Bible, which is a new tradition! Yay! I am truly excited about this tradition. I want to take time to remember WHY we are opening presents in the first place! Then, we'll pray together and tear into those beautifully wrapped packages that we spent no telling how long perfecting! After that, we will have some breakfast...probably cinnamon rolls...and take a nap. After our nap, we'll head to my mom's and spend the rest of the day there. (Thank you, Lord, for giving us one set of family that doesn't cause drama!) At mom's we'll have yet another gift exchange and a large dinner, which includes a whole Honey Baked Ham! Woo hoo! Then, on Friday, we will make the drive to Sparta, TN to have Christmas with his Grandparents. So, this will be a full weekend, but we are praying it is a good one!

I want to wish you ALL a very Merry Christmas!!! God Bless!

Three years ago today....

I was busy getting engaged. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was cold, and Brandon picked me up to go to Starbucks for coffee. Then he asked if I wanted to go for a drive, and I said sure. He wouldn't tell me where he was going, but just pretended he was driving aimlessly. Then we ended up at Centennial Park, which was one of my favorite spots. I loved going there on warm days and laying on a blanket reading a book and watching the ducks at the pond. We parked and got out of the car (he conveniently had to get "something" out of the trunk, but I was clueless...didn't even catch on). We strolled through the park, right over to the pond, which, of course, wasn't full of ducks at this time of year, and there were only a few people walking around, so we were pretty much alone. The fountain was on, and we stood there watching it for a moment. He was standing behind me holding me, and he said "I have a question." By the time I turned around, he was already on one knee with the ring displayed. It looked huge! Of course, I teared up, said yes, and we had our huggy moment. It was beautiful. Nothing fancy or over the top...just us, and a few onlookers. But it was perfect :-)

"My Husband Rocks" Fridays...on Tuesday

I'm not sure I'll have a chance to blog over the Holidays, so I thought I would go ahead and brag on my hubby.

Brandon's family makes Christmas very difficult. I know, all inlaws do, but trust me...you have NO idea. They are impossible, and they cause drama over stupid stuff. I have lost all patience with them, and all it is going to take is one comment in front of me, and I'm going to lose it on them. However, my husband apparently has more class than I do because he just keeps putting up with it. I am a very patient person, but even I have limits. Brandon is not patient at all, but he seems to find patience with them, I suppose because it's his family, but I commend him for remaining so calm because I would have walked away a long time ago.

Friday, December 19, 2008

"My Husband Rocks" Friday

Simply put, he rocks because he puts up with me when I am controlling and make a big deal out of nothing because I am emotional. Thanks, babe.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Discernment

Sometimes I find it hard to discern between what God is telling me, and what I WANT Him to tell me. And then, sometimes, I know for SURE what God is telling me, but I don't like it so I try to convince myself that He is really telling me something else.



I haven't elaborated much, but long story short, Brandon and I made a decision a few months ago concerning our church home, and we are now realizing that we did it mainly out of anger and hurt feelings. So, we are now faced with the decision on whether to leave our new church, where we have met some wonderful people and I have made a very good friend, and go back to TRBC, or whether to stay where we are. It is a tough decision because we love both churches. So I am learning to try to stay out of God's way and stop trying to tell myself what I want him to tell me. It's confusing, and a long story. Just wondered if anyone else ever has that problem?

My Pampered Chef wish list

As someone who loves being in the kitchen, I have fallen in love with Pampered Chef items. I have received a few items as gifts, such as the batter bowls (which I LOVE) and the spatula. I have listed just a few of the items that I need (yes, need). You should try them :-)


Grill Press
Grill Press

Salad Chopper
Salad Chopper

Drainer
Drainer

Baker's Roller
Baker's Roller

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Merry CHRISTmas!

I HATE forwarded emails, texts, etc, and there are very few that I actually forward. This is one that I got on my work email, and it expressed me feelings about Christmas pretty well...only much more nicely than I would have (I have VERY strong feelings about this topic!).


MERRY CHRISTMAS....
On the way home last night, we were listening to the radio when a
newscaster
called his little 91 year old granny to talk to her about the
'Holidays'. He
mentioned that he had noticed that Christmas has become so 'politically
correct' that no mention of Christmas is made by most retailers, we now
wish
people 'Happy Holidays.'
His granny said she missed the Old Fashioned Christmas when everyone
wished each other 'Merry Christmas'.
We thought about it and agree...so this year we will be making a
conscious
effort to wish everyone Merry Christmas...our way of saying that we are
celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. So we are asking our e-mail
friends, if
you agree with us, to please do the same.
And if you'll pass this on to your e-mail friends, and so on...maybe we
can
prevent one more treasured tradition from being lost in the sea of
'Political
Correctness.'
God Bless and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!


While the subject is open, here is my opinion in brief: if you are going to celebrate someone's birthday, INVITE THEM TO THE PARTY! (Don't try to say you celebrate something else this time of year, but not the birth of Jesus. That's just an excuse for a party. Christmas is what it is. Either recognize it or don't.)

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

Mixed Feelings

Do you ever have a hard time figuring out what God is telling you to do? Usually I am pretty good at hearing what God is saying, but I am torn. I don't know what He is telling me to do. I made a decision, and at the time I was positive God wanted me to do it. But now I feel as though He is telling me to do the opposite, and I am quite confused. Did I do the wrong thing? Was God really telling me to make that decision, or did I make it out of hurt feelings, anger,and bitterness? Is He really telling me to change that decision, or am I feeling the desire to change it because I miss the way things were? What is the right decision? And why can't I seem to "hear" God? Am I not listening hard enough?

Hard Times

Kroger cut Brandon's hours in half next week. They SAY it's just for that week, because of Christmas...they are closed for a day and a half, but the pessimist in me (which rarely shows it's face) doesn't buy it. I can't help but fear him getting laid off. And at the same time, I fear for my own job. I work for the State, which usually is a good thing and makes me feel safe, but not lately. With each dept having to make 20% cuts, it's not looking good. I'm praying that God will fix our economy, and fast. I am holding onto God's promises. He has promised to provide, and I am clinging to that.

Dear, Lord. Please take care of us. I am scared and worried. I know your word says not to worry, but I am human and cannot help it. I am truly greatful for all you have blessed us with, and I know that you giveth and you taketh away...but please don't taketh. No matter what happens, I will praise you and worship you, for I know you have plans for me. Amen.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Words of Wisdom

"When human beings shrink God, they offer prayer without faith, work without passion, service without joy, suffering without hope. It results in fear, retreat, loss of vision, and failure to persevere."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Did you know?

Did you know that one way to curb the mid-afternoon munchies is to think about what you ate for lunch? According to Good Housekeeping, there was a study conducted among 47 women. They fed each woman lunch, and 3 hours later asked them to write about either their lunch, or their morning commute. Those who wrote about lunch consumed 1/3 less calories later in the afternoon. Apparently, thinking of your lunch trigger's your body's natural "I'm satisfied" signal so you will eat less. Who knew?

Thanks to Good Housekeeping(December 2008) for this information.

Blogging Tips

My blog isn't getting very much attention, and I have realized that it is because I am a terrible blogger. Apparently, there are folks out there who go to any length to get traffic on their blog, such as using social sites (some that I have never heard of) to publicize their site. While I don't want to take it THAT seriously, I would like more followers (I only have 3). So, with the help of SEO, I have a list of tips to help gain traffic on my blog. Hopefully they will help!

1. Add an unforgettable image in your blog header

2. Reply to your comments

3. Link to other bloggers, not only the well known ones

4. Create pillar or mile stone content like huge lists, thorough tutorials, breaking or unique news

5. Be the first to say something: uncover scams, debunk myths

6. Review other bloggers

7.Make a list of the top 10 blogs in your field and try being like them and better

8. Contribute guest post on other blogs

9. Write about popular topics but not those everybody else already covered

10. Do not write too short posts

11. Do not write too long posts

12. Know your audience and offer it what it wants, not only what you think is appropriate

13. Ask questions and incite discussions

14. Use headings, lists, bold, italic and other means of making a text readable

15. Use striking images in your posts, like collages, bright colors, images that metaphorically illustrate your point

16. Do not steal images without proper attribution

17. Cover the most important things in life: Love, peace, happiness, community, freedom

18. Interview interesting and well known people

19. Write about stars, people love stars

20. Write about what you know first hand, what you experienced

21. Concentrate on positive topics, do not just write how bad everything is

22. Get a unique and remarkable name for your blog

23. Use your logo and/or avatar throughout the Net

24. Do not offend people for being different than you

25. Be open minded, let anything and everything inspire you

26. treat your readers and other bloggers like real people, with respect and compassion

27. Do not overload your blog with ads


You can see the complete list here. I just took what I could use. Happy Blogging!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Help!

Ok guys, I need your help. I'm trying to find tons of healthy, low fat recipes for lunches, snacks, and dinners so I can stock my recipe box. I have a LOT of weight to lose, and I need ideas! For dinners, they should be relatively easy and quick since I work all day. Snacks should be something I can prepare ahead of time and take to work with me, and lunches as well...quick and easy, grab and go kinda thing. So if you have any recipes, or if you know of any good websites or blogs I can view, please share. :-)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas: 1 Corinthians 13 style

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family. I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata, but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, through harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way.

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust... but giving the gift of love will endure.

~Author Unknown~

Thanks to Katie for this post! (Katie is an awesome blogger, and I steal a lot of stuff from her!)

Parade pictures

Here are just a few photos from the Nashville Christmas Parade last weekend.

It was COLD!
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SNOW!

I am so glad we got to see some snow before Christmas! :-) Take a look!

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Buttermilk Pancakes

I'm not a huge pancake eater, but I like good buttermilk pancakes, and I finally found a great recipe! Click here to see it!
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Truffles

I got this recipe out of my Kraft Foods cookbook I got in the mail. They are messy to work with, but yummy and easy!

20 squares Baker's brand semi-sweet chocolate (2 1/2 pkgs)
8 oz cream cheese


Melt 1 pkg of chocolate. Cream with blender the cream cheese until smooth. Add melted chocolate and mix well. Chill until firm. Shape into small balls and place onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill a while longer, until firm.

Melt remaining chocolate. Using spoon, dip truffles into melted chocolate and replace onto paper. Top with garnishes as desired. (I used crushed peppermint candies and sprinkles. You can also use powdered sugar, nuts, or edible beads). Allow chocolate to harden.

These are really yummy!!

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Gingerbread Men!

Here is the recipe for gingerbread cookies I got from Karla's blog. The recipe is from Food Network. I was a little worried as I made them because this was my first time working with molasses, and I must say...I hate the stuff. I had no idea it smelled THAT BAD. Molasses reeks! I was afraid they would taste like they smelled before baking them, but they actually turned out very good. I usually am not a Gingerbread fan because it's usually hard and really spicy, but these are neither. They are soft and not spicy at all, and they hold their shape well, although the dough is kind of hard to work with because it is somewhat crumbly. This was a little more difficult than I am used to, but it was worth the work in the end. (click here to get recipe).

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We're ready to decorate!
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Yay!
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Brandon couldn't wait...
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He's hard at work.... (don't ask what exactly he's doing to the poor man. Not sure what the red blob is)
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This one is supposed to be singing, but he looks scared instead...
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Friday, December 12, 2008

"My Husband Rocks" Friday

I almost forgot about this today since I stayed home! I got to stay in today because of all the snow (Northerners, do not laugh). I had already planned on doing a ton of Christmas baking this weekend, so I was glad to be able to get a head start on it. Today, I made truffles and gingerbread men! It was my first time making both, and let me tell ya...gingerbread men are no easy task! I'll be posting pics and recipes for both later.

Anyway, once all my baking was done, Brandon and I sat down and decorated the men together. This was a first as well, and we had so much fun! We laughed forever! I think this is yet another new Christmas tradition!!! A lot of men wouldn't do something so "girly" but Brandon really got into it and had fun with it. And I love him :-)

Snow Day!

I am very excited to say that we have a snow day today! I absolutely LOVE snow days! And a snow day BEFORE Christmas never happens!!! I guess this is as close as we'll get to a White Christmas.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Christmas Tradition

I have accomplished another task from my "101 in 1001." We have come up with a new Tradition to start this year. Actually, we've come up with a few, but for the purpose of this post, we'll focus on the one. This year, before we open our gifts on Christmas morning (or possibly on Christmas Eve), we are going to sit down together, Brandon and I, and read the Christmas story from the Bible. Although my dad is a former preacher, this is something we have never done before. So, since this is our new tradition, I felt the need to share it with all of you. So, here is the Christmas Story, taken from the Bible!

Luke 1:26-35

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you![
a]”
29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel[
b] forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.
Luke 2:1-35

1 At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, his fiancĂ©e, who was now obviously pregnant.
6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
The Shepherds and Angels

8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I hate Goodbye's

Next Wednesday, I have to say goodbye to some people who are very near and dear to my heart. I am officially leaving the Two Rivers family.

We joined FBC Smyrna a few months ago, but have continued to serve in the preschool dept at Two Rivers on Wednesday nights for several reasons. One of them is that I could not bring myself to say goodbye. I have worked in the Preschool as a teacher at TRBC for 5 years. Most of that time was spent teaching 3 year olds, but this year we have been in the baby room. So, through the last 5 years, I have kept some amazing kids and their siblings a few years later. I've seen a lot of these kids grow up. I have become attached to the parents and families. Therefore, this is not going to be an easy time. I love these families, and I will miss them terribly. I also will miss my connection to TRBC. I have loved this church dearly for most of my life, and it tears me apart to see what is happening to it. I pray that I will be able to forgive. I am still struggling with that.

Anyway, tonight will be hard as well because I have to tell all my parents and coworkers. I know they'll have no problem finding another teacher, but I have poured my heart and soul into these little ones, and I pray that the parents know that.

Thank you for letting me serve you and your children!

Christmas Baking

I'm pretty stoked about this weekend. This weekend is when I am going to do most of my Christmas baking! I still haven't made my complete "menu" yet, but there will be several things on the list. So far, I know I'll make chocolate truffles, peppermint bark, chocolate covered pretzelz, peanut butter ritz cookies (2 ritz with PB in the middle, covered in chocolate), oatmeal carmelitas, and probably some cookies. We may make gingerbread men this weekend and decorate them :-) We are having a Christmas lunch at work next Wednesday, and I'm making a sweet potato casserole for that. I still can't believe there are only 2 weeks left before Christmas! Part of me can't wait, and the other part will be sad to see it go. Time goes by entirely too fast!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Drive Safely!

In light of the storms occuring right now, and the fact that in 40 minutes I will have to drive home in it, I found some safe driving tips for all you Nashville drivers! I thought these described my drive home perfectly!

Drive carefully! Remember, it's not only a car that can be recalled by it's maker.

A careful driver is one who honks his horn when he goes through a red light.

Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?

Until you've learned to drive, you've never really learned how to swear

Aggressive Driving is Emotionally Impaired Driving

When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

Who will protect the public when the police violate the law?

Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey.

Travel safely!

Monday, December 8, 2008

My First Christmas Parade

I have been a horrible blogger lately. I apologize!

Friday night Brandon and I went to the Nashville Christmas Parade. This was both of our first Christmas Parades! It was very exciting, and we had a blast! It was freezing cold, though! I was all bundled up in my Timberland boots, jeans, layers of clothing, a down coat, and a scarf! The only part of me that really got cold was my feet. At one point during the parade, we had to step inside a record shop to warm our feet up because we could not longer feel them! Nonetheless, we had a great time together. I'll post a few pics in another blog.

We stayed in the rest of the weekend, playing board games and whatnot. It was a wonderful weekend. This is one of my favorite things about this time of year...staying home in our jammies with the Christmas tree lit, playing games and watching movies and baking cookies together. Ahhh...memories to last a lifetime. :-)

Friday, December 5, 2008

"My Husband Rocks" Fridays

Brandon got off work 30 minutes early this morning, so he got home right as I was getting in my car. He literally jumped out of the car, RAN over to mine, opened the door, and wrapped his arms around me in a huge hug. It was sweet. Then he even scraped my winshield for me! It was a simple thing, but made me feel loved and missed. :-)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Carried Away

Wow. Christmas is a mere three weeks away! I can't believe it! This year has flown by so fast! Where do our lives go?

Well, I have been REALLY into the Christmas spirit this year, at least for the most part. However, I find that I have been very stressed out about our finances. It just seems as though every time we get stable and somewhat comfortable, or every time we are going to have some money to put into the savings, SOMETHING comes along to take it. We bought a chair to match our couch back in July, and we got it on 6 months no interest. We did the same thing with our couch and paid it off pretty quickly. Not the case here. The interest is added in January, so I've been freaking about it. My mom gave us our Christmas money early so we could get it paid almost all the way. Well, I'm not real sure where that money went, but it's no longer there. We were waiting till we had the rest of the money so we could write one check, but by the time we got the rest of the money, the other $400 was GONE. It's just seemed like we needed this and needed that. So, we still owe on the chair. I'm paying like crazy on it this month, but I'm scared to death that we won't get it paid off. On top of that, my tags expire this month, so there's another $100.

I think maybe I got carried away on my Christmas shopping. This is the 1st year since we've been married that we have been able to buy ANYTHING for our families. So, I kinda got lost in the spirit :-(

Oh well, I guess money management isn't my best strength. Not this time of year anyway. *sigh*

What's For dinner?

Ok, I know I've been lazy with my menus lately. I apologize. This week's menu is nothing exciting, because we are financially strained right now, so I am on a TIGHT budget. But, here you are, nonetheless.

Friday: Eating out CHEAP since we are going to the Christmas Parade downtown. :-)
Saturday: Spaghetti (I'm making a huge batch)
Sunday: Leftover spaghetti
Monday: Asian sesame chicken (can you tell we like this dish?)
Tuesday: BBQ Chicken with cornbread and veggies
Wed: Church night.
Thurs: Probably a do it yourself night. Or maybe a frozen pizza :-(

I know, we eat a lot of chicken. That's cause Aldi has big bags of boneless skinless frozen chicken breasts for $6.99, and that gives us 3 nights.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving 08

Well, we made it through the holiday! Whew! We have had a pretty good weekend overall. Brandon was off Thursday and Friday night, so it was nice to spend some time together while he is alert! We spent Thursday in Lewisburg with Brandon's maternal Grandparents, which was nice overall. Of course there are the one or two family members who seem to enjoy causing drama over stupid stuff, but that's a whole series of blogs in itself. We were so exhausted Thursday night we turned in at 7:30pm! This NEVER happens unless I'm sick!

After a much needed 12 hour nap, I spend half of Friday with my mom and sister, putting up my mom's tree for her, and then we went to Walmart and then mom treated us to a Pie in the Sky pizza...delicious! You must try it if you haven't already!

Friday evening Brandon and I went and walked around Opryland hotel for a while. I love this, but unfortunately Brandon doesn't enjoy it as much as I do. That's ok though, he is sweet enough to go anyway and watch me run around like a 4 year old, amazed by the lights which never seem to change, but I like that...I know what to look forward to!

Today we had our 2nd Thanksgiving dinner at my parents' house. Then we all watched Elf. I love that movie :-)
After that, Brandon came home and went to bed while I went and did some Christmas shopping and then wrapped them.
Now, I am fixing to go play the xbox 360 for a bit till Brandon gets up for work.

Not sure why I felt the need to give a play by play of our weekend, but there you go. If you read it all, then A) thank you for reading, and B) I'm sorry you're so bored :-(

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Nana's Famous Sweet Potato Casserole

This is the best sweet potato casserole I've ever had! Put it this way, before I discovered this recipe, I wouldn't TOUCH a sweet potato!

1 29 oz can Bruce's sweet potatoes, drained well.
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. vanilla
2/3 c. sugar
2/3 stick butter, melted
2 eggs
salt (optional)

Topping: 1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. flour
1/2 stick butter
1/2 c. chopped nuts (pecans are best)

Beat potatoes with mixer until smooth. Add cinnamon, vanilla, sugar, and butter. Beat 2 eggs and fold into mixture. Add salt. Pour mixture into buttered baking dish. Topping: mix all ingredients except nuts until it resembles course corn meal. Mix in nuts. Pour on top of potatoes. Cook at 350 for 25 minutes.

Brandon's Amazing Red Velvet Cake

Well, I took my shot at making them this time. I even made them into cupcakes!!!

1 1/2 C. sugar
2 c. oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vinegar
1 oz red food coloring (1 whole bottle!)
2 1/2 Self rising flour
2 Tbsp cocoa
1 C. buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla

Mix sugar and oil in small bowl. Add eggs and beat well. Add vinegar and food coloring and beat. In a separate bowl, sift or stir with fork flour and cocoa. Add flour to first mixture. Add buttermilk and 1 tsp of the vanilla and beat well.
Pour into floured cake pan and bake as follows:

2 9in cake pans bake at 350 for 35-40 mins.
12 cupcakes bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.

Icing:
1 stick butter, softened (BUTTER, not margerine)
8 oz cream cheese
1 lb box powdered sugar
1 c. chopped pecans (optional)

Beat cream cheese and butter. Add remaining vanilla. Sift or stir sugar in a bowl. Add to mixture gradually. Add nuts and mix well.


This cake is fabulous!!! And rich! It's surprisingly not that hard to make.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankless...a must read

Today I made a run to the Gyro place for lunch. The man in front of me ordered his food...a beef Gyro...and asked for some cucumber sauce (which just SOUNDS nasty!). The man behind the counter was working somewhat slowly, and didn't seem to be "all there." He informed the man that they were out of the sauce. At that moment, this man became upset at the fact that he may not be able to enjoy his $6 sandwich with this disgusting cucumber sauce, and stated (in ebonics almost), "oh yes you do! Don't tell me you ain't got none, I know you do!" The worker's boss told him (the worker) that there was a little bit left, and so the worker went to retrieve it. In the worker's absence, the customer says things (quite loudly) such as "what's wrong with you folks? Tell me you ain't got no cucumber sauce. You be tryin to lie to me." Yeah, ridiculous. The man returns with a squeeze bottle with a small amount of the sauce in it, grabs a little cup, turns the bottle upside down to fill the cup, and... SPLAT! The lid comes off of the bottle, squirting the entirety of the sauce all over the counter, leaving not even a drop in the man's cup. At this point, the "gentleman" (or not so gentle), becomes IRATE, saying "I don't even want it now. I can't eat it without my sauce!" and storms out the door, leaving his sandwich behind.

I'm sure my mouth was hanging wide open at the thought of someone acting so childish, but I was trying to figure out if this man was as old as he looked, or if it was really a four year old that had grown very quickly to over six feet tall.

As I left there (WITH my food), I thought, "the NERVE of that guy! The day before Thanksgiving and he obviously isn't thankful for ANYTHING!" I thought about all the kids in Haiti and Africa and other various places, who are literally dying of starvation right now. I thought about how they would have LOVED to have that sandwich, with or without the cucumber sauce, and how they would NEVER throw such a fit about something so small. It would make their day if they had a full, hot meal. I wanted to approach the man, but by the time I got over the shock, he was gone.

That got me thinking about tomorrow. I thought, "is there anything that we will eat tomorrow, that I would be upset about if I couldn't have it? Turkey? Sweet potatoes? Any one of the plethera of pies I'll have to choose from?" I realized that, while I really would never get THAT upset if I didn't get it, I would be somewhat disappointed. We all have our favorite holiday foods, and it just wouldn't be the holidays without them. Or would it?

Is the point of Thanksgiving to eat my sweet potato casserole? What if I couldn't have it? Would it not be Thanksgiving? Could I not still give thanks for what I DO have? Whoa.

We may not realize it because it is our very culture, but America is the richest, most selfish country in the world. Literally. We celebrate Thanksgiving with a huge Turkey (or the meat of your choice), tons and tons of sides, that we spend DAYS preparing, and a bunch of sweets. We celebrate Christmas by giving many wonderful, expensive gifts, wrapped in wrapping paper that costs around $4 a roll, with bows that are almost the same price. All the while, there is a family in Haiti that, tomorrow, will just pray to God that they survive another day.

Wow. Kinda makes me feel bad for eating that Turkey.

Brother Jerry Sutton!

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Tonight we are going to New Visions Church to hear Brother Jerry Sutton speak. Most of you know the drama that went on at Two Rivers Baptist church, which resulted in Brother Jerry's retirement. This broke our hearts, and we have missed him tremendously, and I think that Two Rivers is feeling the effects of his absence. This, too, breaks my heart, because I love that church, and always will. Needless to say, I am ecstatic to hear him speak. He is an amazing, God-led teacher, and he ALWAYS has a good word for me, wherever I am. I miss his teachings greatly.

"My Husband Rocks" Fridays...on Wednesday

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, we have a busy week planned so I decided to go ahead and do this post today, while I have a chance.

I previously posted the story about locking my keys in my car. That day, I felt so loved and protected by him. He had slept all of 5 hours the two previous days, and we had church that night as well. He was exhausted. I was afraid he would be upset that I had to wake him, but when I called him, all I heard was his concern. When I told him that the man at the Kroger Customer Service desk was being so terribly mean to me, Brandon become furious! He was ready to fight, and in some ways I think if that man hadn't gotten my keys out of my car and I hadn't left before Brandon made it, he would have! He was almost to my office when I got into my car, so he came on up to say hi. He was so sweet that day. It reminded me that I can call on him anytime of the day (or night for him) to come to my rescue, and that he would kill to protect me if he had to. He doesn't like it when people treat me poorly, and that is a wonderful feeling.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In light of the holiday...

I thought I should write about all the amazing blessings in my life, or "count my blessings," so to speak. I have so much to be thankful for this year, and these are just some of them.

- My husband, and that he puts up with me day in and day out.

-That God had mercy on Brandon and I, and saved us from what could have had much worse effect on our marriage. He used what seemed so bad, and turned it into something that drew us closer together, helping me to forgive and Brandon to get past things.

- My mother's health. I am so thankful that they got all of the melanoma, and that God has healed her.

- That I have another year with my family. Since my parents are 65 and 70, it is never far from my mind that this might be the last Thanksgiving/Christmas with them. They still hopefully have years ahead of them, but watching my Daddy change so much this year, becoming slower and slower has really made me realize that not everyone lives till they are 90 or 100.

- That my sister got married and is happy.

- That we have our own place this year! (We were living with my parents this time last year)

- That our rent is NOT going up when our lease is up!

- that we both have jobs!!!!

- That my mother in law has been so gracious as to give me a free ride to work the last few months to help us save on gas. This has helped tremendously!

- Our new church

- New friends. Bekah, Glenda, Brian, Charles, Jennifer G., our small group... they have been a blessing.


And here is what/who I am praying for this Thanksgiving:
-All of those who do not have anyone to spend Thanksgiving with.
- Those who have lost their jobs, homes, cars, etc in the economy.
- That people will stop complaining long enough to realize all of the blessings they have been given.
- Everyone to have safe travels, of course
- Our friends, Bekah and Charles, who are having a tough time. Charles' health, and finances.
- My friend, Jennifer...I am asking God to bless her and show her the way to go.
- My sister and Darrin, that they will feel God's love for them.
- Of course, this isn't all, but these are some of my prayers this year.

What are YOU thankful for this year?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sausage Balls

This was my first time making sausage balls. I'm not a sausage person, but I've always enjoyed sausage balls whenever someone brought them to work. I got this recipe from a family cookbook.

1 lb sausage, mild or hot
2 C Bisquick
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Mix all ingredients well. This is much easier if you use your hands. Gross, but effective. It takes some time and work, but it WILL eventually mix.

Roll into 1 inch balls. Bake on 350 for 10 minutes.

These were really good, although I have had better. They seem to be missing something...they were somewhat bland. Maybe it's because I used mild sausage? Not sure. You should try it and tell me what they need. :-)

(Sorry about the pictures. Sausage balls aren't very photogenic. I took 20 pics and they all looked like poo...literally)
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Absense does make the heart grow fonder

In the last few days, I have seen my husband all of 5 minutes. His work schedule was different this weekend because of Thanksgiving this week, so he has had to sleep all day yesterday and today. When he has to sleep, I usually enjoy about the first hour that I have to myself. This is when I will typically take a bubble bath, watch a chick flick, or pick up a book. However, after that first hour is over, I get bored. Terribly bored. Almost to the point of tears. I hate that he is just in the next room, but I mustn't bother him...I get super lonely. It is these times, when I go days at a time without seeing him, that I realize just how much I love him and need him. I do a lot of thinking during these times, and yesterday I asked myself, "what in the world would I do if I lost him? I'd go nuts! Literally!"

The other day, I was talking to my friend, Bekah, who has been a great blessing in my life. She has been in this very spot before since her husband used to work 3rds as well, so she knows my pain. I was telling her how frustrated I get with Brandon because he doesn't seem to want to better himself. He stays at this job, hating it, when he could do so much more. He has so much to offer the world...he could really make a difference! But, he doesn't. It aggravates me because I know he is more intelligent than he gives himself credit for. She made the comment that in his mind, he is probably doing the best he can, and my frustration only brings him down. WOW. This was painfully true, and I needed someone to say it to me.

So, I wanted to take a moment to praise Brandon. He is an AMAZING husband...the best there is, if you ask me. But, I'm biased. He works so hard. He has called in all of twice (exactly) since we have been married, which is amazing to me... I love taking time off. He has more commitment to his job than I do, and I admire that. My words and even my actions don't always say so, but he is my hero. I know he does his best, and he wants to be loyal.

Honey, I love you more than anything, and I am so proud of you, even when I don't act like it. You are amazing, and I am trying each day to become the wife God wants me to be. I am imperfect, so forgive me. I just want you to have the life you deserve. I AM proud of you!

Grilled Sesame Ginger Chicken

I tried this last night and it was quite yummy. I'm sure Brandon would have liked it as well, but he had to sleep all day, so I ate alone :-( It was still good, though.

4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
2 TBSP teriyaki sauce
1 tsp ground ginger
Sesame seeds, toasted

Mix ginger, teriyaki, and sesame seeds together. Coat each breast in the mixture. Grill until juices run clear (I used an indoor grill...med setting for about 12 minutes).

I paired this with some stir fry veggies and noodles.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

This is a simple but really yummy Christmas time treat!

1 packet Swiss Miss hot chocolate (or whatever kind you like)
hot water
Peppermint coffee creamer

Make your hot chocolate according to directions. Add about 1 tbsp peppermint creamer and stir. YUM!

I still want to try this with Gingerbread creamer as well :-)

Down Here

Yesterday, we went out to Opry Mills to see the Music at the Mills with the band Down Here. This was the first Music at the Mills I had ever been to. We had a really good time, and the music was good. If you don't know who they are, you have probably heard their music on several Christian stations. One of their most popular songs is "How Many Kings," which is played a lot around Christmas. It is an excellent song! You can go to their website and listen to it, along with several of their other songs. Check em out!
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Friday, November 21, 2008

"My Husband Rocks!" Friday

A day or two ago, I was at work chit-chatting with some coworkers. My friend, Teri, was complaining because her hubby is going to be off work for a few weeks on medical leave (he is an officer in a public high school and was breaking up a fight when he fell and hit his head). She was telling us how he NEVER helps out or does anything around the house. She said he lays his trash on the counter instead of in the trash can, he can't cook, won't clean, and won't even straighten the house up a little before she gets home from work. Apparently, this is common for men. Several of the women in my office were telling me how their hubbies don't do any cooking or cleaning.

Brandon has always been great about these things. I do most of the grocery shopping, and he does tend to leave stuff laying around a lot, but he does most of the laundry, he takes the trash out, he cleans the bathroom, and usually on his day off, he'll vacuum if I haven't already, and he'll do any other cleaning that needs to be done, with the exception of dusting. He also shares the cooking duties. Often times, he already has dinner cooking when I get home. I really appreciate this, and need to recognize his efforts more often, because he does a wonderful job.

Thanks, baby! You rock!

A familiar yet new journey

Well, I've started a journey today that I have started many a time. I am starting a "lifestyle change," aka a diet. I always seem to find something that I think will help, so this time I'm hoping that if I blog about it openly and I know people are reading it, it'll hold me accountable...we shall see. What's my plan this time, you ask? Well, here it is:

- log in everything I eat on My Fitness Pal, a totally free weight tracking site
- cut way down on red meat and breads/white enriched starches
- pump up the protein and fruits/veggies
- have grilled chicken and lettuce 4 nights a week (just kidding)
- Eat the veggies on my plate FIRST
- plan ahead!
- eat 2 snacks a day to keep from getting too hungry and binging
- When eating out, stay away from the bread basket, and order salads with grilled chicken and dressing on the side, or have grilled or baked fish or chicken with veggies.
- Drink water like a camel...right now my goal is a 1 liter bottle a day. I'll add more later.
- Do some sort of exercise every day, even if it's just a 15 minute walk twice a day on breaks
- Shoot for 30 minute workouts 3 times a week.
-Have UNSWEET TEA (this is ludacris for me) and sweeten it by the glass with splenda

That's pretty much it. I started this morning, and so far I'm great! I've had a bowl of bran flakes with 1 paket of splenda (I usually use sugar), 1/2 cup milk, and 1/2 a banana sliced for breakfast. For snack I just had an apple cinnamon rice cake with 1 tbsp reduced fat peanut butter and the other half of my banana, and I've downed half a liter of water almost. :-)

Ya'll leave me a word of encouragement!

Stunned

Ok, so I was a little stunned to find SNOW on my car this morning as I left for work! What's up with that? It's still a little early for it to be this cold, much less SNOW!!!

Well, maybe we'll have a white Christmas for once...here's to hoping!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My new found love...

is the Peppermint Mocha Twist from Starbucks. I wasn't so sure about this one at first, since I don't care for the coffee taste so much, and mocha tends to be kind of strong, but I had to try it because I LOVE peppermint. And I LOVE it! It almost tastes like hot chocolate with peppermint, only with a hint of coffee. Topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, this is a very yummy Christmasy treat! You should try it!

However, I was bummed at the realization that the Starbucks Holiday cups lack the "The Way I See It" quotations. Am I the only one that did not realize this?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My First...

I had a "first" today. On my lunch break, I drove to the Kroger in Bordeaux (the not-so-good part of town) to get gas since I get .10 off per gallon. I was going to get my gas, and then eat at the Chinese place right next door. As I got out of my car, I shut my door and immediately realized I locked my keys in my car!!! In 8 years of driving, I have NEVER done that! I am always so careful to take my keys with me anytime I exit the car! Well, I was somewhat panicked because my purse, wallet, and cell phone were ALL in my passenger side seat...laid wide open! It was an open invite for a theif, especially in this area of town! I asked the lady at the little box if she had a phone, and she said I'd have to use the Customer Service phone at the store. With no other options, I asked her to keep an eye on my car, knowing she wouldn't, but thought I would ask anyway. I trecked across the parking lot, in the cold, with no coat on and my debit card in my hand, thinking someone was going to mug me at any minute. As I'm using the CS Desk phone to call and wake my husband from his slumber, the guy starts shooing me away, telling me I was tying up the phone lines. Well, my husband's key to my car was broken, so I called my daddy to see if he had a key. Negative. I called Brandon back to ask him to call AAA, as the mean man is continuing to get more and more hateful with me. At this point I'm MAD and in tears. I told Brandon (right in front of the man), "Well, this guy doesn't care if I stand out in the cold with no way to get into my car, so I have to stop tying up his precious phone line. Get out here please." And I hung up. As I started to walk away, the gentleman looked at me with a terrible look and said, "ma'am, I didn't mean to upset you, but I needed my phone line." I replied, "Well, you aren't being very nice. I have locked my keys in my car, and my phone, purse, and wallet are all sitting in my front seat. I'm very upset, and you are being very rude." He said he would help me get into my car. As he is walking back across the parking lot with me, he says, "I break into cars all the time....I mean, people are always locking their keys in their car, and I've always been able to get them out..." I thought, "yeah...I bet you can." So, we get to my car and he starts fiddling with it. He needed a hanger, so he went BACK to the store to hunt for one. As I'm standing there, in the cold, alone, a man was pumping his gas right next to me. He said(as I'm looking in the window, trying to fiddle with the door), "Ya lock your keys in your car?" I thought, "here's your sign...." This man was pretty nice, as he began to give me tips on how to break into my car....WOW. I'm really scared now. He comes over and starts looking in my window, probably scanning the "merchandise," which only consisted of a Sno-Caps box, a Mt. Dew bottle, and an empty coke can. I'm really scared at this point. He told me about the "hold the key thing up to your cell phone trick," which I have recently learned from Katie's blog, does not work.

Here comes the rude man walking back across the parking lot, hanger in hand. He goes to A car (not sure if it was his or not...I wonder), and gets a set of wire pliers. At this point, the lady pumping gas behind me says, "I have a jimmie if you need it." Ugh...I have three people around me that are very prepared to break into a car! The jimmie didn't work, so he wedged the pliers between the door and the car, stuck the coat hanger down there, and pulled the lock up!! HOORAY!!!! I thanked him and apologized if I was hateful, that I was just afraid someone would break my window and steal my purse, and he apologized again as well. And after all of this, I was too flustered and embarrassed to get gas, so I'm still on empty!

I guess if you're going to lock your keys in your car, there's no better place than Bordeaux!

What's For Dinner?

I finally made a decent weekly menu. Well, I hope so anyway! We are on a TIGHT budget with Christmas so close and all. I'm hoping to keep the budget around $30 for food this week. I'll let you know how well that works!

Friday: BBQ Grilled Chicken with corn and green beans
Saturday: Sesame Ginger Chicken with asian style stir fry veggies
Sun: No clue yet
Mon: Grilled chicken salads
Tues: Chicken pitas - this will be a 1st, and I don't have a recipe. I'm attempting the greek restaurant style chicken sandiwch. Again, I'll let you know how it goes.
Wed: on our own


I know...heavy on the chicken. Like I said, we're on a budget, as well as a diet, if you couldn't tell. We both have gained a ton of weight since we got married, and are desparate to get it off. So, we're changing our habits....again. For the 3rd time, I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Marriage isn't religious?

Most of you have heard about the vote in CA the day of the Presidential election that banned same-sex marriage. Apparently (well, obviously) many people are very outraged at this. Today I read an article on cnn.com about this ban, and the gentleman that they are interviewing said something very interesting.

"Hughley: But I think what happens is that marriage, regardless of the legal aspects of it, are seen mostly religious. You stand before God and you vow to love and to cherish this woman or this man. And so I think people have a -- I know particularly people that I talked to -- had a hard time unhooking the religious component from the civil. "

So, am I right that he is saying that marriage should not be religous, but only a civil issue? God is the very one who created marriage in the first place, so who are we to take him out of it?

You don't have to wonder too much to figure out my stand on gay marriage, but I found this chilling.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Congrats to Shannon and Russ!

This weekend we had the honor of attending the vow renewal ceremony of our dear friends, Russ and Shannon. Brandon and I work in the preschool dept at Two Rivers with Shannon, and we taught their youngest son, Wyatt, last year in the three year old class. They have been through a lot in their marriage, and wanted to re-commit themselves to one another. I think this is an awesome thing to do! Congratulations, Russ and Shannon!

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Wyatt right before he stopped to give Brandon a high five
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Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

At least in our house!

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Macaroni Grill...Made by me!


That's right. Made by ME! I love Macaroni Grill...it could possibly be one of my favorite places to eat. They have now come out with Macaroni Grill meals in a box - like Hamburger Helper, only MUCH better. Today we tried the Basil Chicken one, and I must say, it was great! I loved it. Brandon even liked it a lot. He doesn't like Macaroni Grill, but now he wants to go just to get this dish in the restaurant! He usually doesn't like cream sauces, but he really liked this one!

This is what it looked like when done
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Friday, November 14, 2008

My Husband Rocks Fridays

Every week on Thursdays after work, I go to the store...95% of the time by myself. I HATE going grocery shopping because I can think of much better things to spend money on. I mean, who needs food, right? Well, Brandon's not usually up for going to the store with me...he would rather stay home and play video games or sleep. Well, I didn't make it to the store last night, and so this morning Brandon called when he got off work and told me to email him the grocery list (it was in my purse)...so HE could go to the store today!!!!! This never happens. He is giving up sleep (he works 3rds) so he can go to the store while I'm at work! I don't even have to SEE the inside of the grocery store this week! And, he even is going to 2 different stores! That REALLY never happens!

Thank you, Baby! You rock! :-)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Me? Organized? Apparently.

Lately I have been extremely organized. Well, when it comes to schedules, anyway. I have actually created a "Christmas Holiday Schedule." This is a first, I must say. So was creating a Fall Schedule (which we actually stuck to, by the way!). But I have found out that if I do not write activities into my calendar, we will never do them. We always find an excuse, or something else comes up. But, if I write them down, then it becomes a solid plan, and I don't feel so bad telling people "no" when they ask us to do something else.

I have been REALLY into the seasonal spirit this year...first Fall, now Christmas. And when I say REALLY, I cannot express just how into it I am. I've always loved this time of year, but for some reason, this year I simply couldn't wait until Thanksgiving to begin the Christmas season. I suppose it is partly due to the fact that last year we lived with my parents and were flat broke, bored, and miserable. So, this year, even though we're still broke, I am determined not to be bored! I am so thankful to be on our own again...it feels wonderful. Last year just didn't feel like Christmas, so I am determined to make up for it this year! We already have the house decorated, packages wrapped AND under the tree!! Yeah...I've lost it.

So, here are my activites so far for this year:

11/22 Music at the Mills with the band Down Here.
12/5 Nashville Christmas Parade! (Neither of us have ever seen it!)
12/6 Annual trip to Opryland Hotel to see lights, and have hot cocoa in the Delta!
12/13 Brandon and I are baking and decorating Gingerbread Men! I am excited!
12/13 Later that evening, I am thinking of having a Christmas party/movie night with a few friends...food, popcorn, a Christmas movie, and maybe board games!
12/20 I scheduled an entire day to do my Christmas baking!
12/24 Christmas Eve at mom-in-law's
12/25 Christmas Day at my mom's
12/27 Possible Christmas in Sparta

I also plan to go on a carriage ride through Nashville one afternoon, as well as going to the Festival of Lights in Lebanon one evening. :-)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What's For Dinner?

Ok, I know I haven't posted recipes in a while, and that's mainly because I haven't tried any new recipes in a week or two. This past weekend I made a big crock pot full of homemade vegetable beef soup and we ate on that all weekend. I didn't do much cooking at all while I was on "vacation." But, I'll be getting back in the swing of things soon with the Holidays coming up. I'll be posting my Thanksgiving menu and recipes, plus all my Christmas baking in the coming weeks. I'm thinking of starting a food-only blog as well, but then I'm not sure what I would blog about on my regular blog. :-/ I probably won't post a weekly menu this week. With Thanksgiving coming up, we're eating cheap the next few weeks...SpaghettiO's, Hamburger Helper, etc.

Lunch on the go

I am constantly looking for new, convenient, yummy lunches to take to work. I get sooo sick of sandwiches, chips, and soup. And I am most certainly not the type to eat "fancy" things like hummus, or anything that looks like it was removed from the human body.

I really enjoy Lunchables. My favories are any of the meat and crackers, and the Pizza ones... I love those! However, these can get expensive, and they are terribly fattening and loaded with sodium! So, I decided to try making my own "lunchables." Today, I made myself a pizza, and I must say...it was delicious! And very satisfying, too!

Here's what I used:
1 Whole Wheat pita
3 tsp pizza sauce
about 1/4 c. low fat shredded mozzarella cheese

The directions should be self-explanitory: top pita with sauce, then cheese. You could even put pepperoni on it if you want! It was very good. You can also microwave it for 30-45 secs till the cheese melts if you don't like the Lunchable thing. This one clocks in at 243 calories.

Tomorrow I am having multigrain crackers, thick sliced turkey and ham, and cheddar slices.

Pair these with 1/2 cup canned mandarin oranges, or whatever canned fruit you like, and BAM! You have lunch!

Happy eating!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

When trials become blessings

Marriage Love Pictures, Images and Photos
I'm very thankful today. I'm thankful always...or at least I try to be, but especially today. Brandon and I have recently gone through a very rough patch together, and I must say, it has brought us so much closer together and strengthened our marriage greatly. It has made me more aware of words I choose (which seems to be a lesson theme in my life right now), and of how I treat him. It has helped him realize what he has to be thankful for, and that he really CAN talk to me. For the longest time, he was scared to death to tell me certain things for fear of judgment, which makes me think one of two things: 1)Either I am extremely judgmental, or 2) it was simply because I am his wife, and the last person he wants to disappoint. For the purpose of my ego, I'll go with the latter. Either way, once he talked to me and realized that I wasn't going to run him over with my car, lock him out of the house, or pack my things and leave, he learned that he can confide in me...no matter what. I may not always smile and nod, or say "Ok, honey. That's fine...no biggie," but I will support him and choose to be thankful that he told me in the first place, even if I didn't want to hear it. Ever since we discussed this issue and went through a few days of emotional and mental distance, we have been closer than we have since the day we married. We haven't argued (we bicker like crazy!), we have both been so much more patient with one another, and in all honesty, some of those "old feelings" have come back. God has taught us some great lessons through this, and I am eternally greatful. I know that we'll have to go through rough times now and then, and I know that we will face more trials in the future, but for now, for this moment, things are amazing. We have learned that we are SUPPOSED to be different, even complete opposites (which we are), and that it's ok! We aren't weird for being completely different from one another and for challenging each other. If we didn't challenge each other, our lives would be totally boring. So, thanks, God, for waking us up. And thanks to everyone for your prayers, support, and encouragement. We love you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ahh how I love

Not having to get up early on a Monday morning! I've been on vacation since Friday, and I have loved every second of it! We've gotten all our Christmas decorating done (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know), I've spent some much needed time with Brandon, and we have done some Christmas shopping. Other than that, we've watched a ton of movies! There is nothing like piling up on the couch with the Christmas tree lit up, and watching movies and eating popcorn. I love it! I have some errands to run today...going to visit mom and dad for a bit, and maybe some running around later. Then tomorrow I'll be on the couch all day since Brandon will have to sleep all day...well, that's the plan anyhow. :-)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Another simple pleasure

PEPPERMINT Pictures, Images and PhotosPeppermint Holiday creamer...delicious! I'm not a coffee drinker, but this stuff is awesome! I still need to try the gingerbread kind, and there is one other flavor I can't think of...oh yeah, Caramel Apple I think!

Friday, November 7, 2008

My Husband Rocks Fridays

I got to spend the entire day with Brandon today, which is very seldom since he works third shift. The only day that he is off is Saturday (well, Friday night), and he always has to sleep in the evenings to prepare for work on Saturday night. But I took the day off today to be with him, and we have had an amazing day. We haven't left the house all day. We cleaned up, clowned around, and decorated for Christmas (it's early, I know). But he rocks because all I have done today is laugh...hysterically. I love it when he makes me laugh :-)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I've lost it...

My mind, that is. I listened to Christmas music on the way to work this morning. Yes, Christmas music. I know...it's so early! But I can't help it! I am so into the Holidays this year! I can't wait! I absolutely LOVE the Holiday season...I could do without the super-cold weather, though :-)

I think I'm going to put my tree up this weekend since I'm off for 5 days. Hey, it's logical. That means I won't have to do it on Thanksgiving weekend while trying to go to 10 different places!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Simple Pleasures

1) I LOVE the sound of leaves crunching under my feet!
2) Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks
3) Watching children jump in piles of leaves, like I used to do!
4) Any dessert with apple
5) Hearing my husband say "I love you."
6) Holding and cuddling babies and lil ones
7) A good glass of sweet tea
8) Not having to drive to work because my mother-in-law is gracious enough to bring me!
9) Christmas music :-)
10) Text messages, and messages on Facebook and Myspace.

Change

Well, I'm obviously not happy with the way the election went. Here's why. The majority of people who voted for Obama, only voted for him based on the color of his skin. I am the least racist person there is I think, so let me get that on the table...skin color had NOTHING to do with my decision. I voted based on morals and values, and the Biblicalness (new word?) of them. Abortion is NOT Biblical. Gay marriage is NOT Biblical. Greed is NOT Biblical.

But I feel that the majority of blacks only voted for Obama BECAUSE he's black. That's ridiculous. So, now, because you wanted "change," there's no telling where our country will go. We need some old fashioned values. Our society already tells us that murder, abortion, homosexuality, promiscuity, etc are OK, and they are not. Just read the Bible...I don't make the rules. We need to CHANGE THAT because THAT is what's wrong with our country to begin with!

You wanted change, huh? Although, no one has ever said exactly WHAT kind of change they wanted. I hope you want negative change, and when we get that, I'll just tell you like I tell my husband all the time..."Maybe next time you'll listen!"

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Finally!!!

I cannot express how happy I am that election day is finally here...and that it will be over in a few hours. For months, all we have heard is "Obama this, Obama that..." and then there's McCain's mud-slinging that just got on everyone's nerves. I hate politics!

Regardless of who wins this election, I am simply glad it is over. Regardless of who the winner is, I will support them. Not because I necessarily like them or agree with them, but because God said to. If God chooses to put Obama in the White House (Dear God, please don't. Amen), then I will continue to pray (very hard) for our country, but I will just deal with it. I hate politics!

Seriously people, if your candidate loses (whoever your candidate is), DEAL WITH IT. I don't want to hear any more about this stupid election. It's enough to make me not want another election EVER. Did I mention that I hate politics?

Monday, November 3, 2008

"It Was Good" Week 3

This week Pastor Hood spoke on something that really hit home. He spoke about marriage, and what marriage is supposed to be like. Here are some key points that slapped me in the face:

*Marriage isn't intended to make me happy. I will be unhappy with my marriage at times. God never promised to make me happy.

*After the honeymoon phase wears off, we tend to focus on our differences with one another, and on our spouse's flaws. Just because we are different doesn't mean we are wrong for each other...this is a GOOD thing!

*God created Brandon and I differently because if we were the same, then one of us wouldn't be necessary.

*(As far as teaching kids about sex) "If you don't want your kids to hear me preach about sex, send em to the locker room...I'm sure they'll learn the right stuff in there. Better yet, send em to sex ed class in school...how about we teach em about sex from God's point of view, ok?" I loved this.

*Woman was created from man's SIDE. She wasn't created from his feet to be beneath him, or his head to be above him. She was made from his side, to walk beside him, from under his arm to be protected by man, and from close to his heart to be loved by man."

Are you a servant?

We all know that God has called us to serve Him and others, but how well are we doing at this command He has given us? I know, I know. You're so busy! You don't have time to invest in others. You have work, school, family, kids.... you just don't have time! You have health problems and can't commit to anything. Yada yada yada...the excuses can go on and on. I have been known to make them, too. We all do.

I have come up with a list of 15 simple, easy things we can do to serve others. They all require different amounts of time and energy, so I am sure you can find SOMETHING that you are perfectly capable of doing.



1. Help clean the home for someone who is elderly or just simply unable to do so. Agree to clean for them or do laundry for them once a week, a month...whatever you can do!





2. Get together with your small group and hold a FREE car wash. This is a fun way to serve others, and it doesn't require a commitment! If you are physically unable to wash cars, agree to hold signs or help advertise!





3. Pick up trash in your neighborhood. People will notice that the area looks much better!





4. Volunteer at church to greet people.





5. Volunteer to work in the preschool, children's ministry, or youth group at church. If you cannot make a commitment, volunteer to help with any special events.





6. Volunteer at a local homeless or women's shelter. They need volunteers of all sorts!





7. Take a friend dinner. This is especially helpful when the family is ill or has welcomed a new one into the family.





8. Have coffee or dinner with someone. Sometimes the greatest thing you can do to help someone is just to be involved and show an interest in their life!





9. Babysit for FREE. Yep, that's right. Babysitters are expensive, and if you have a friend who needs a break, offer to watch their child(ren) free of charge! They will very much appreciate it!



10. Send out birthday cards and just because cards...just to say you are thinking of them or missed them in church! This costs a few bucks and takes only a moment.



11. Call someone randomly just to say hi. This takes no physical effort, little time, and costs nothing, but can mean everything.



12. LOVE. That's all.

13. When at work, why not ask your coworkers if you can do anything to ease their load when you have downtime?

14. Donate loose change. When checking out, leave it for the next customer. Cover someone's expired parking meter. Drop it for someone to pick up! Give it to a homeless person, or buy them a few McDonald's Bucks! Leave change in the little tray in a vending machine for someone to find.

15. More than anything, just pray for others! I like to keep one person in mind at all times and pray for them...someone who is having a hard time, or someone who is lost. Or, sometimes just because...ask God to bless them!

Remember that the point of serving someone is not for a pat on the back. It's not so you can receive credit. It's just because Jesus said so.

Friday, October 31, 2008

"My Husband Rocks" Friday

Ok, call me a theif if you want...I got this idea from Katie's blog. I think it is an awesome idea! To learn more, click here.

I don't have to think too hard as to why my husband rocks. He rocks because he puts up with my endless criticism. Also, he cleaned the whole house today by himself (which he does pretty often), and did the laundry, so I wouldn't have to do it when I get home. You rock, Baby!

I love free stuff!

book Pictures, Images and Photos

One of my things to do on my 101 in 1001 is to read more (specifically to actually finish 5 books). I'm typically not a reader, but check this out!

Thomas Nelson is giving away FREE BOOKS! Yup, you read me right...free books! Of course, there is a small catch. All you have to do is agree to read the book and write a review on it. You pick which book you want to review, they send it to you, you read it, and write a 200-word review on your blog and on any sellers' website, such as amazon.com, walmart.com, barnesandnoble.com, etc. Then the copy is yours to keep! Pretty cool huh?

Intelligent Design

I was posed with this question on intelligent design by my friend Ashli. I found it quite interesting.



Here is what Ashli said:

Did you know that a U.S. District Court has ruled that a school board's policy to present intelligent design to 9th graders in a biology class violated the Establishment Clause? So, what do you think: Is presenting high school students with the intelligent design theory an establishment of religion?



Do you think it is? I don't believe it is because intelligent design is a theory that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." (Wikipedia) So, basically, it is a loophole in the system to teach creation without preaching Christianity or religion in the school system. It simply says that something or someone created us...we didn't just fall from the sky or come from a monkey's baby momma. I think that if they are allowed to teach such crazy things as evolution and Darwinism, that they should at least be allowed to teach an alternative such as Creation. If they are NOT allowed to teach Creation, they should be prohibited from teaching Evolution as well.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What's For Dinner?

Friday: Cheeseburger foldovers
Saturday: Chicken Pasta Chowder
Sunday: Chili!
Monday: Leftover Chili
Tuesday: Frozen pizza?
Wednesday: Probably McDonalds's *sigh*
Thursday: Who knows?

Words of Wisdom 10/30

"Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad - because these trials will make you partners with Christ in His suffering, and afterward you will have the wonderful joy of sharing His glory when it is displayed to all the world." 1 Peter 4:12-13

In case you were wondering, these are the sayings on my daily calendar. Interesting how they seem to fit with what I am going through at any given time. :-)

God gave me this scripture to read the day before I was laid off from my previous job, and now He has given it to me again, while Brandon and I struggle to find the light at the end of the tunnel.

Speaking of which, things are better for us. This particular issue is going to take some time to "get over" and heal, but I am thankful that God has shown mercy on us and helped us both to be understanding and forgiving. All marriages have rough spots, and if you are married and deny that you do, then you're a liar. I have finally gotten over trying to make everyone think I have a perfect marriage. I have come to realize that most married couples are just like us...even if they don't admit it. So, when your marriage sees trials, hang in there, and don't be afraid to talk to someone. :-)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Words of Wisdom part 2

"Testing is reserved for those in a covenant relationship with God. Even though it is painful, testing is an act of love. Suffering serves to test our faith."

Words of Wisdom

"You may know what it is to walk in darkness. Sometimes faith is walking in darkness and refusing to quit. Sometimes faith is just hanging on."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Marriage...the good, the bad, and the ugly

Brandon and I have officially hit our first real "rough patch." The last two years have been very hard as it is, but we have officially joined the "The Honeymoon Is Over" Club. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my husband, and wouldn't trade him for the world, but this is definitely a sign that Satan wants to get a hold of my marriage and rip it to shreds. Since we have been married, I have thought that it was no one's business what our marital problems were, and to a point I still do, which is why I'm not disclosing exactly what the problem is. However, I have learned that it is OK to admit that we have problems. I don't have to post them on the internet, but we do not have to make people think we have a perfect marriage. I've learned that all of my married friends who don't talk about their marital problems are just like us...they DO have problems and obstacles they face. This particular obstacle is one which is very hard, and, in today's society, could have a fatal effect on our marriage. But I am reminded that that is exactly what Satan wants! He WANTS me to walk out and give up. God, on the other hand, does not. He reminds me that these things are going to come our way, and I must fight like h-e-double-hockeysticks to work it out. So, that's what I will do. I can't make Brandon do the same, but I hope he finds me important enough to, and I believe he does. So, when you say your prayers, please mention us and ask God to rescue us, and to show each of us the proper way to handle this...don't worry, He knows exactly what we need.