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

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Tuesday
Jan292013

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.

Friday
Jan252013

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

Wednesday
Jan232013

#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!

Tuesday
Jan222013

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.

Friday
Jan182013

Weekly Roundup

This is my first weekly roundup for 2013! I love reading blogs, but the best part about reading is sharing awesome finds with my friends. 

Here are a few posts that have caught my attention lately:

What have you been reading lately? What posts have caught your attention?

Wednesday
Jan162013

#WriteStuff Tweetup

Last night I had a great time chatting with other writers about practicing writing. We weren't in the same room, but it felt like we were having a lively discussion in my living room. You may be wondering how I could have a discussion without anyone being at my house? 

Ah. The connecting power of the internet, social media, and my personal favorite: Twitter. The conversation took place on Twitter and with a #WriteStuff tweetup. Because I'm new to this whole tweetup concept, I thought I'd describe it to you.

A Tweetup occurs when a group of people use a specific hashtag (#) before the subject (ie #writestuff) at a designated time. When anyone searches the tagged topic, all the tweets containing that hashtag appear. When a tweetup is happening, there are lots of people joining in and you get to read all of their tweets. It's basically like having a chat room devoted to yourselves with a focused topic. (Does anyone remember chat rooms?)

The WriteStuff tweet party is normally hosted by Unkwown Jim. Yesterday it was hosted by Team Bogel (Anne & Will Bogel). It happens every Tuesday night from 9-10 EST. According to Jim, they talk about writing on Twitter using the hashtag #writestuff. Each week has a different theme, last night's was deliberate practice.

Anthony and I use Tweetbot, which is a program you can install on your iPhone/Mac to help you manage your Twitter account. Here's what my #writestuff screen looked like last night:

 

For our conversation last night, Anne was the moderator/leader and had questions to guide the group's discussion. Here's her first question:

 

Once she shared that question, people started responding. Whenever someone responded with #writestuff, everyone who was searching that topic could see it.

There were great ideas shared and tips for getting more writing incorporated into life.

I enjoyed meeting new writers, getting inspired, and seeing some of my writing group friends at the discussion (hi Claire). I was encouraged by this statement from Ashley, who was replying to Anne's question:

Have you ever participated in a Tweetup? What were your thoughts?

Tuesday
Jan152013

A Tale of Bread Pudding

There once was a woman who thought it would be a lovely evening to have bread pudding. But this was no ordinary bread pudding, this was pumpkin bread pudding. Made with only the finest ingredients.

After she left her place of employment, she went to a local coffee shop. The employees refilled her jar of coffee beans and even ground them for her. She also purchased the most delicious looking baguette. It was a crusty baguette, the type Remy from Ratatouille would love. As she carefully took the bread from the kind employee, her hand was sliced by the waxed paper. Ouch, she thought, and as she looked down she saw a little cut. Walking out of the store, she greeted the coffee aficionado who was roasting coffee beans. He gave her a sample of the freshly roasted beans. Ah. Delicious.

As she drove to her castle, she thought of how exquisite the bread pudding would be. She thought it was even worthy of serving to her fair maiden sister, Heather. Who happened to be joining the feasting that evening.

Once the woman got home, she unwrapped her bread. Of course, as any good and caring lady would do, she began to chronicle how to make bread pudding. That way her friends and neighbors could read about it on her online story telling machine (the good 'ole blog). Photographs were taken. 

The recipe was splendidly mixing together. This would be a delectable bread pudding. It would be just sweet enough. Just dense enough. And certainly it wouldn't be a problem for the waistline. 

She knew as she cut the bread this was going to be scrumptious. The bread turned and the knife slipped. The poor choice of a knife cut her dainty digit instead of the bread. YIKES. She stopped cutting and ran to the sink.

She sat down afraid she might faint from the shock of the cut. A knock was heard on the castle door, she opened it. Heather, the fair maiden, entered. She helped the woman with the digit. 

When the master of the castle joined them from his excursion, he rushed to the woman. He kissed her hand and assured her she would live. His proclamation brought her happiness: the digit would be saved and a trip to the physician would not be necessary.

As any good tale should end, the woman's digit was spared.

But the best news was that the fair maiden came to the bread's rescue. And the three feasted on melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin bread pudding. 

Someday, the woman mused, she would share her recipe for the infamous bread pudding!

The end.

I'm joining another Heather (Extraordinary Ordinary) for Just Write Tuesday.

Friday
Jan112013

When there are too many choices...

I feel paralyzed to pick the right one. 

I am afraid I might not be able to decide which one is best for me. 

(photo taken by the Hubster in Point Reyes, California)

Like this post. Fridays are my favorite days in the blogosphere. Lindsay (Hello Hue) hosts the Little Things link up where she talks about being grateful for the little things. Rachel hosts Friday Favorites where the favorite things of the week are shared. Lisa-Jo hosts #FiveMinuteFriday which is a quick-write link party or as she calls it, a flash mob. Lauren (From my Grey Desk) hosts High Five for Friday and writes things she's happy about from the week. There are more than these too!

As you can see, I am a little torn. I love talking about what I'm thankful for and my favorite things. Being grateful helps me ward off discontentment and other yucky things. 

This week, I decided to "dive" in and write.

My heart was so touched that one of my friends asked me to mentor them on Sunday. The fact that she saw something in me and believes I can help her is huge. I said yes and was honored to meet with her. 

Anthony and I have said yes a lot. Whether it's because of inspiration from Bob Goff or just a change in focus. We're diving in. Going deep. (thank you Steven Curtis Chapman for the song-spiration)

Have a fabulous weekend, dear readers. I am so thankful for you!

And I chose to join Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday, which may have taken me 7ish minutes to write & Lauren for High Five for Friday.

Tuesday
Jan082013

Farro with Chicken Sausage & Apples

The other day I was at Trader's (that's my nickname for Trader Joe's) and saw Farro. It was in the "What's New to Our Store" section.

The bright blue colored bag caught my attention. And at the price of $1.79, a bag, I couldn't pass it up.

Waiting in line to pay, I started reading the Farro package. It included a recipe for Sausage with Apples. Perfect. Now I had a recipe to create with this new find.

You may be wondering, as I was, what in the heck is farro? According to the New York Times, it's Italy's ancient grain. It's a small light brown grain that tastes like the offspring of pasta and brown rice!

This recipe cost under $10 and was the main dish for a dinner with 8 adults. Super affordable.

Farro with Chicken Sausage and Apples

(adapted from Trader Joe's bag)

Ingredients

  • 2 packages Farro

  • 1 pound Sweet Chicken Sausage

  • 1 package onion, shallot, garlic mixture (or 1 small onion, 1 shallot and 2 garlic cloves)

  • 2 Apples (cored and diced)

  • 1 tbsp. Olive Oil or butter

  • Garlic Salt

  • Cayenne Pepper

  • Salt & Black Cayenne Pepper

Directions

Cook farro according to package instructions. Set aside.

Remove sausage from casings and add to a large skillet. Cook over medium heat. Use spatula to cut up pieces and ensure even browning. When sausage is browned, remove from skillet and set aside. In the same pan, with the drippings, add olive oil.

Sauté onions, garlic, and apples in the pan for about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper the onion mixture. Add the farro and sausage to the skillet. Cook for 5 more minutes until heated through. Liberally add garlic salt and pepper. Sprinkle a dash or two of cayenne.

Makes 8 servings

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Monday
Jan072013

She Reads Truth: Israelites

I started the newest series of She Reads Truth: Fresh Start last week. As I was reading, I was reminded of a truth God impressed on me two summers ago.

That summer I had begun reading the Bible in 90 Days. Shortly after God miraculously dried the Red Sea for the Israelites to walk across the middle of, there's this:


And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, "Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger. - Exodus 16:2-3, ESV

The Israelites' hearts grumbled, over and over and over. Each time I read this, I found myself getting angry with them. How could they be upset with the miracles God was continuously performing? How could they not see His hand at work for their best? Then it hit me like a ton of bricks:

I am no different. {Truth dagger to the heart}

When things don't go the way I think they should. When God doesn't respond as fast I want. My heart gets hard too. I am the Israelites.

I am so appreciative God continues to be faithful when I am not. I am indebted to His continual pursuit of me. I am thankful He doesn't give up on me.

How can I be so confident of this? Look at His commitment to the Israelites!