Living free because Jesus Christ chose me. Wife to Anthony, mom to Samuel. Love reading, blogging, crafting & cooking! Sac State MA alumni, passionate about life.


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Five Minute Friday: Brave

Back in October, I briefly mentioned Anthony and I had gone to Portland, Oregon. While we were there we happened to visit a church called the Solid Rock. The evening we attended that service, John Mark Comer, the Lead Pastor of Solid Rock, introduced Dominic Done, who was coming on staff as an embedded church planter to ultimately plant a new church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

They played a video where John Mark asked Dominic why he was planting in the Raleigh area and Dominic began to explain. At the end of the video, John Mark asked everyone to pray and consider selling everything they had and move to Raleigh to help start this new church.

Anthony and I both felt they were speaking to us. Actually, it was more than just them, it was the Holy Spirit. Something was stirred inside both of us, at that moment to consider the idea of a cross-country move. 

We began to research the Solid Rock, Dominic, the Raleigh area, and anything else we could find.

A few weeks after we came home in October, were were asked to visit Raleigh with the Lead Elder of our church, Capital City Church, Rick Martinez and his wife Kathy. "Coincidentally" they were asked to help with another church in the outskirts of Raleigh in February.

On that trip, we met so many great people from the area and made new friends. The city of Raleigh wasn't what we had pictured or somewhere we would choose to move. But moving there wasn't our idea to begin with so our preference doesn't matter that much.

As we flew away from Raleigh, I looked out the airplane window and began crying because I wasn't sure if we'd ever be back. The seed that began in October continued to grow.

These have been the most eventful months in witnessing firsthand the intervention and orchestration of God in our lives. This blog post would be SO MUCH longer if I were to add everything that has happened.

Two days ago, we did something pretty crazy. We turned in our resginations to our employers and landlord. On May 27, we will begin our move to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

I've never been more scared, yet felt so brave at the same time. 

This is why there have been so few posts lately on my blog. I look forward to sharing more of our story in the future!

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker and whole bunch of other awesome people for Five Minute Friday. (I went a little over the time today)


Five Minute Friday: After

After...things are easier to explain after they have happened. It's a lot harder to discuss challenging or difficult seasons in the midst of the event. 

Afterwards there is clarity that comes. Hindsight and understanding of why or how that thing shaped who I am. Before and during, now these are words that convey where the struggle takes place.

Faith isn't needed after the trial happens. It's needed during. It's needed in the midst of the situation.

After a little while the sting of a challenge is less "stingy". I find I need hope in the middle, but that's the most awkward time for me to share my life. I want to tell you when I've already seen the outcome. When I'm not questioning my decision or how I'll respond. When I already passed the test. Afterwards I'll tell you I'm a success. 

But I need to share the before and during. 

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace. - Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV

Linking up with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday.


31 Things I learned in March

I was inspired by Emily to write the things I learned in March. They aren't in any particular order:

  1. Helping with a school's accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges is a lot of work. 
  2. Being present when someone is hurting brings comfort and healing, to both people. 
  3. God's sovereignty means he can't and won't change.
  4. A cup of coffee with a friend can lead to a 2-hour conversation that feels like minutes.
  5. Sharing important news with the people closest to me is much harder than telling a stranger.
  6. What we think about worship impacts how we worship.
  7. "Worship is faith expressed. We better start with the Bible" - Rick Muchow 
  8. It is possible to plan outfits for a 3-day trip and not check in luggage. A huge improvement for me since a 9-day trip, the month earlier, resulted in 48 pounds of luggage and I didn't even wear 1/2 the stuff!
  9. A warm greeting at an unfmailiar place, makes me feel included and accepted immediately.
  10. Portland is weird and probably always will be.
  11. Strangers will open up and tell you their life story if you ask and listen.
  12. Faith is a lot easier to conceptualize than to act out.
  13. A bracket is a list of all the basketball teams competing in March Madness. I'm hoping Duke makes it because my other 3 Final Four teams already lost.
  14. Being married is easy when you're married to the right person and are committed to staying together.
  15. Buttercream frosting, once chilled, will not soften when 1% milk and powered sugar are added. It will look like curds and water will drip off your cake. Not good. 
  16. When you make buttercream frosting according to the recipe, it turns out perfectly! Shocking.
  17. God's Word, the Bible, truly is living and applicable today.
  18. Self-forgetfulness is the way to get my thoughts and attention off me and what others think. It's accomplished when my mind is renewed to think like Jesus. (Tim Keller's books are very thought-provoking)
  19. A 'blind' is the look-out place for hunting. Thank you to my Father-in-law, Scott, for that bit of information. 
  20. Intense movies like "Olympus Has Fallen" stress me out.
  21. Listening is a skill that is touted, but is much harder to practice.
  22. When we pray, God listens and prayers are answered. Last week we heard of 4 different prayers answered miraculously.
  23. It's easy for me to give opinions, but it is challenging to focus and hear what someone is communicating.
  24. I'm not in control of my life.
  25. It is possible to go into Ikea and only buy food.
  26. Daffodils only bloom for a few weeks each year.
  27. Puffy clouds make people want to bounce in them (Brittany).
  28. Steak tartare is nothing more than raw ground beef and a raw egg. When you don't know what a term is, it's best to look it up before ordering.
  29. Flannel purchased at speciality fabric stores is much higher quality than the type Joann carries.
  30. Creating anything: crafting, writing, cooking, etc. is nearly impossible when I have a lot on my mind.
  31. The most comforting thing someone can say when I'm going through a hard time is, "I'm sorry that happened" and their eyes empathize with me.

Did you learn anything new in March? How have you been?


Five Minute Friday: Home

The word home evokes many images and sayings. 

Two that I immediately thought of were: Home is where the heart is and Home Tweet Home. The second saying hung above Tweety-Bird's house and is a throwback to my cartoon days.

Home also brings to mind houses. As I thought about houses, they aren't always needed for some place to feel like home. This week I was travelling for work and in doing so, I was keenly aware of what home means to me.

Home means comfort and security. It represents love and a feeling of care. 

To me home doesn't mean the nicest house on the nicest street in the best area. It's a place that's familiar. 

Lately, the thought of home is simply complex. It's people and the person that most represents home to me is Anthony.

What is home for you?

Linking up with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday, where one word is written about for 5 minutes. 


Hungry for Change

We just finished watching the movie Hungry for Change. I loved it! 

(photo credit)

I didn't think that a movie could help me think about my word for the year, grace. But it did. For a few months now, I haven't been dieting. Instead, I've been eating what I want. 

Mind you, I'm still cautious. I try and drink water whenever I can and limit useless calories. A shift has occurred though! I don't feel as deprived. 

I would highly recommend this movie because they talk about how much the food industry markets their product. And the product is food. So it's not surprising that a lot of what is put in our food is addictive and makes us want more. And more. 

You might be wondering what made me think about grace. The movie talked about loving yourself and self-image. Since January, I have begun to stop berating myself. When I think terrible things about my body or why I'm not measuring up, I remember that God made me. 

There's a little children's book called You Are Special, and it has taught me a lot. What I believe really does influence the way I act. God made me and he doesn't make mistakes. He also only made one Malisa and he wants me to be genuine, not a fake. 

How have you been lately? Have you watched any good documentaries? 


January 2013 Recap

January has ended. Thinking about what happened this month, I am still loving my public library. I've discovered that the 3-week window to return a book helps me read it. Maybe I should borrow some of the books I have in our own library and I might actually read them too? 

(photo credit: the Hubster

This month I read:

100 Pound Loser by Jessica Heights: You can read my review here.

The Prodigal God by Tim Keller: Awesome story about the parable of the prodigal sons.

Talking with My Mouth Full by Mindy Kaling: I was expecting this book to be a little funnier, but I did LOL a few times. And yes, I just said LOL in context. 

Snow Mountain Passage by James D. Houston: EEK. A novel of the Donner Party. I pretty much will never go to the snow again because of this book and Into Thin Air.

Although I like all of my posts, my favorite one was A Tale of Bread Pudding.

My favorite new find was Farro.

And by far, I'm most proud of my video 2012 in Photos.

Joining Beth and Erika for The List and Shelia for the 2013 Reading Challenge.


Just Write

You might have noticed there have been a decrease in the number of posts I write each week. A while back I began to ask myself if what I was posting was quantity or quality. I found that much of what I said was a space-filler or blogging for the sake of having something here each day. 

Over time what I've observed is I actually enjoy writing. The writing process can be hard. But I've found that if I'm reading good books and insightful/encouraging blogs, I have lots on my mind I can write about. The trick is actually doing it. 

The past few days I've been a little under the weather. The Hubster was at work and I was home by myself for 3 days. One day alone is nice. It's refreshing and gave me time to think. But the second and third days were hard on me. My thoughts are not the best company. 

I've been attempting to take every thought captive, as the Bible says to do. It's hard though! I occupied my time by reading a novel on the Donner Party, Snow Mountain Passage. Oh my word. When I thought I was bored, I was slapped into reality. There was no boredom, no loneliness like that of the Donner party. 

Their life of being trapped at Donner Lake sounded like cruel punishment. Yet, they survived. 

I'm beginning to grasp that life is so much about perspective. When I focus on the events, things, or circumstances, I get discouraged. I can choose to think, I haven't yet perished. I can still go on. 

That's what I think Paul meant when he said: 

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do know: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus - Philippians 3:12-14, NIV

I don't really know how to be a follower of Jesus. But I do know that I can try and keep trying. When doubts enter my mind, I will think about:

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things - Philippians 4:8, NIV

Wherever your are today, I pray that God's love would surround and encourage you. That His grace would wrap you and you would know that you are special.

Joining Heather for Just Write.


High Five for Friday

This week was filled with lots of friends, spontaneity, and food. 

1. Sunday I got a phone call from my sister Heidi. It was later than she normally calls so I was a little worried. She was talking super fast and in a high-pitched voice.

"Mal, Olivia rolled over! And she didn't do it just one time, she did it a few times. On either side too." Me, "AWESOME. Our baby is a genius" (we aren't biased at all) Here's a recent picture of her:

(taken by her loving dad, Caleb)

She's 58 days old today. And I love her even more than before. 

2. Friends brunch.

If you ever want to have a great brunch, ask the gentlemen to bring meat

and the ladies to bring fruit.

You will have plenty of meat for everyone and enough fruit to last you for days.

If you want enough coffee, ask a coffee-aholic, aka my sweet Hubster to brew the good stuff.

If you want enough pancakes, ask someone who grew up in a big family to prepare them.

If you want pictures of the day, invite a photographer or two.

This group of friends also went to get massages from a local place in Little Saigon, called Happy Day Spa. It was quite impressive, especially for $20. We were in a huge room and sat in big overstuffed, leather chairs, with clothes on, and had a blast. I don't know how relaxed I was as the koi fish were jumping and I got splashed a few times. It sure made for a great memory though!

3. Pitch Perfect. What a funny movie. Anthony and I both enjoyed it and I think it's acca-awesome. Yeah, I just said that. And how can you beat a $1 movie from Redbox. Oh yeah, and $10 any size pizza from Papa Murphys?

4. Hanging out with my parents and on a different night my sister and brother-in-law. Talking with them about what our future may hold. Their thoughts and input. But more importantly their love and prayer for us. Anthony and I are so fortunate to have such a supportive family.

5. Yesterday, we were spending time with our friend Kelli and I got a few video texts from my sister, Heather. My mom has lots of home videos and would often try and record us doing our normal activities. In this video, it's one day before I turn 4. I'm holding Heather, who was 3 months and Heidi is 2 1/2 years old. The mumbling and laughing in the background are my sisters who just recorded this on their phones. I thought you might laugh at me being a baby whisperer and one of the bossiest little kids around.

Here's the dialogue:

"It's okay, Malisa's holding you. Here. She had a bad day today."

My mom, "How come?"

"Cause she was sitting in the car today cryin' and I gave her her fodder (that's what I called pacifiers), but she still cried.

Yelling at Heidi, "Don't touch her. I don't want any.

Mom, "Be kind, Malisa."

To Heidi, "Go away."

Summary: Heidi was just excited about a little treat we were having. I was more concerned with Heather. Sheesh.

What were five of your favorite things this week?

Linking up with Lauren for High Five for Friday


#OneWord365 Grace

This year I'm focusing on receiving grace. I'm not sure how to explain what this will look like or mean to me. But I am confident that giving grace to myself will be a good thing.

I am quick to beat myself up.

I expect to be perfect and am disappointed when I'm not.

I am my biggest critic.

I am not a fan of myself.

These are characteristics I believe need to change. God created me. And he doesn't make mistakes. 

I believe this word has been brought to my attention, because it's something I lack. I tend to be a high-performing, goal-driven, perfectionist. If something doesn't go as I planned, my first instinct is to start analyzing what I did wrong and why.

Take cooking for example. As I prepare my meal, I'm improvising and modifying the recipe. I tend to do this when I make a new recipe. As I add a pinch of this and a dash of that, I begin to think, what have I done? What if this doesn't taste good? Panic. I'm serving this to guests. What will they think of me?

As I place the food on the table, I preface with, "This might not be okay because of ____." I think preparing them for a flop might make the imperfection less glaring or bring less damage to my reputation. Forks picks up the food. The arm draws it to the mouth. Expressions are studied carefully. "Wow, this is very good." I breath a sigh of relief.

My mind has been made up. I will give myself the room I need to learn from things going differently than I planned. I will extend mercy to myself. I will bring charm and seemingly effortless beauty to my own heart and troubled mind.

I will accept the state of being protected by God. I am learning I have pleasing characteristics and qualities. And maybe, as I learn to accept my own failures and setbacks, I can show you more grace and love. For isn't that the nature of our kind and loving Father? The compassion and mercy God has given me. Now that is something I can courteously accept.

For it is by grace I have been saved, through faith (belief/trust) and this is not from myself, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so thtat I cannot boast. For I am God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for me to do. - Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV, personalization added)

This means faith comes first. God doesn't need or expect me to work for him. I only respond to what he has already done. He doesn't have a "You owe me because..." list.

For God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us - Romans 5:8, NIV

Are you focusing on a specific word this year? 

*Isn't the Grace graphic pretty? Melanie made it for me as a gift!


All paths lead to the Bay Area

Anthony and I stayed in the East Bay over the weekend at our friends' home. Their house is on a steep hill that overlooks San Francisco and downtown Oakland. These friends opened their home to us and even call us family.

As I penned this post, I could hear a river. That's what our friends call the massive freeway that can be seen and heard from their gigantic, living room window.

These friends are the parents of Andy and Jessica (Polish and Pout). Saturday, Jessica and I got the opportunity to meet up with a few other bloggers for lunch at a local diner.

As soon as we arrived at the diner, I knew we would have fun. My real life friends were going to meet my blogging friends. Worlds were colliding. We ordered our brunch/lunch. As we dined on turkey sandwiches, breakfast paninis, and quiche, we realized how interconnected we were.

Casey lives down the street from where we are staying. Joyce's sister and brother went to school with Andy. Casey just moved to the Bay Area from Raleigh, North Carolina. Joyce met Casey at a park in the Bay Area. Jodi and I met because of our blogs. Jessica and I met at church many, many years ago. As we talked, I saw something amazing.

Jessica, is a professional makeup artist. Her love of cosmetology and fashion matches my love of food and sugar. The conversation digressed to what everyone's age is. All 5 women are between 28 and 32. Preventing wrinkles and taking proper care of our skin is important.

I watched Jessica shine as she educated us in the beauty trio: moisturizing, exfoliating, and sun-protecting. A big cheesy smile overtook my face as I heard Jessica explain what steps to take to help maintain your skin. My blogging friends were getting a taste of her passion for teaching you how to take care of your face and hands. The other ladies were soaking in her knowledge (as I have over many conversations).

We left the table with full stomaches and a sense of awe that we all came from different towns, but somehow our paths have intersected.

I'm grateful for the chance to meet such amazing people and call them friends.