Friday, October 21, 2011

Everybody's Done It, Right?

Well, here’s a laugh at my expense…and I am not talking about the time recently where I was filling up my gas tank, and the wind blew knocking me off my heels and splattering gasoline all over me…not that time. No, I am talking about falling in the toilet yesterday, but it gets better.

You see, I started another liquid fast earlier this week, so I am making more frequent trips to the restroom than usual. I know, TMI. But, I had “to go,” so I hurried down the hall from my office to the LADIES restroom…where no one EVER leaves the toilet seat up. Why…because it is a ladies restroom! I would probably have been more observant had I been in my own home, but no. And well, you know the drill; I quickly unzip my pants and prepare to sit. Just before my bum reached the bowl, I noticed! Too late though. I had already committed, and in a failed attempt to save myself, I slipped in my high heels which resulted in ripped pants, a broken zipper and a really cold, wet behind. Go ahead and laugh. I mean, I didn't, but I am now. Luckily, this happened as I was finishing up my work day!

But worst of all, it was one of my 3 pairs of pants that I got for $.97! (You would need to have read one of my older blogs to understand.) I’ve probably worn them about 20 times, so I guess I got my money’s worth. {sigh}

Therefore, the quest to search for a new bargain and a new pair of brown pants has commenced! A pair of dress pants cheaper than $.97 might be hard to beat though.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

So Easy a Caveman Could Do It

When I was growing up, my mom always made gumbo at the first sign of fall. And with the first cool breeze passing though recently, that's exactly what I did, too. It is a tradition that most cajuns have adopted and one that I eagerly anticipate all year. For some reason the chill in the air paired with warm soup just does something for the soul. Whether you're sick and sipping down some hot chicken soup or enjoying a tasty bisque on a lazy afternoon, I find that soups in general have a soothing and comforting effect.

Well, last year I tried a new recipe for Corn & Crawfish Bisque (compliments of my cousin), and I just made another pot of it on Monday. This time, however, I substituted the crawfish for potatoes, or I suppose you could substitute it for shrimp as well. This recipe is so easy and delicious that I just had to share it. And all you really need is a can opener! For those interested, I will post it below:

1 can cream of mushroom
1 can cream of celery
1 can cream of potato
1 can Rotel
1 can creamed corn
1 can regular corn
3 cans milk (or 3 cups of milk)
16 oz velveeta cheese
2 tbsp butter
1 package crawfish tails (optional)

In large pot, add all 3 cans of soup, milk, butter and the velveeta cheese (cut into cubes). Turn heat on medium, stirring often, until all cheese is melted and mixture is smooth. Then add the Rotel tomatoes, creamed corn, regular corn, crawfish tails (defrosted) and salt & pepper to taste. I actually like to season with a bit of Tony's (of course), but due to the crawfish and the Rotel tomatoes, you may not need any other seasoning. Turn heat down to medium/low and let simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve and enjoy!!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Beautiful? Blah...

How can you possibly still be beautiful when you feel sick, look ill and have no interest in caring if true beauty is portrayed from within or not? Honestly, let me tell you what I feel like today. My head hurts. My sinuses are stopped up. My face is swollen, and I can't stop sneezing. I put on very little make-up this morning, threw some gel in my hair and could really care less if anyone saw me. I am trying not to talk because I sound like a nasally frog. I'm tired and ready to crawl in bed with some NyQuil. I don't feel that friendly which could easily be mistaken for rudeness, BUT I am at work and have errands to run. So, time to throw on a half-smile and get to it...

While at the store, I was engrossed in my own agenda just trying to get what I needed and head out without anyone noticing that I looked a mess. I mean, it's North Dallas where everything is bling, glitz and glam! But someone WAS watching me. Not in a weird, creepy sort of way though. As I was standing in line, I noticed this lady was staring at me. I politely smiled, and then she said the last thing I would have expected. "Wow, I just wanted to tell you that you are sooooo beautiful!"

WTHeck?!? I was so shocked that I ran straight to the bathroom when I got back to the office to see if I could see what she saw...well, that and I had to blow my nose. Nope, I still looked and felt like I did the last time I checked. So, if it wasn't outer beauty and she never had a chance to judge my inner beauty, then what was it that she saw?

This instance reminded me that we are made of a body, soul AND spirit; all of which are crafted in God's image. Since the body and soul were weary, I can only conclude that it must have been my spirit that she saw or felt. Something different, something beautiful. But how and why?

I believe that when we are surrendered to Christ, our spirit man undoubtedly reflects Him which also allows Him to shine through even when we are at our dullest moments physically. Now how beautiful is that?

But I guess if you look at the flip side of the coin, it could also mean that even the most beautiful person can still be ugly if their spirit man is a reflection of something other than Christ. And given today's assessment, it seems like some people subconsciously pay attention to that stuff...or at least their spirit does!

So, apparently our spirit is a mirror. Who are we reflecting?

P.S. Normally, I would have NEVER uploaded a pic like that! lol

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What a summer!!!

Wow, so ALOT has happened over the summer! As most of you already know, we were dealt a series of blows in the last few months that required lots of prayer and intercession. Some of them range from Jeremy losing his job to Roman's surgery, my car accident, my dog's surgery and Brittany almost dying in Cambodia; it has been quite eventful. I almost forgot to mention that we also took in a family of 5 that needed a place to stay for a while. We appreciate the companionship, and they cook us some amazing Mexican food! I'd say that's a great trade off!

So, here's a quick recap of the latest highlights from this month: I turned the big 3-0. Jeremy got a job making about 2x more than he was making previously. PTL!!! Roman has recovered well and is back to skateboarding. Brittany made it back safely to the U.S. and was welcomed with an airport proposal that has prompted us to plan a wedding for next fall. My brother and sister-in-law gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Carter. Javin and Kadi are back in school and loving their new friends and housemates. The Rodriguez-Valdovinos family seems to have adjusted well and will be tentatively staying with us until next summer. And thanks to Brittany and the Covenant Church Children's Ministry, apparently we needed 3 goldfish as well.

My latest venture and goal for my thirties is to open a retail shop. I have partnered with my mom, and we have created Kelly Ranne Essentials which include handmade shower caps among other things. I call it a little practical indulgence; everybody needs some! And they make great gifts, too...especially with Christmas around the corner! The best part is that you can order online, so check us out at Inventory and development are still in the early beginning phases, but check back often for updates!

Whew! I know I have not blogged in a while, but I am back on the horse now and ready to ride! Giddy up!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tattoos, Piercings and Christianity

As we continue our topical ventures, I believe that this rather obscure subject is actually as simple as black and white…{pun intended}…and what you decide to plaster permanently on your body is up to you. You are the only one accountable for it. Forever. But the decision undoubtedly will cause questions to be raised, motives to be checked and religion to be challenged.

With that said, I believe that tattoos and piercings are one of the laws that was abolished by the cross. We can see very clearly God’s original stance as found in Leviticus 19:28. “You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD.” This seems to be the main verse that everyone questions, and this particular controversy is only found in the Old Testament.

Now let’s break it down. First off, if this scripture is read in context, then you will see that God was making a reference to the cultic and religious practices of that time and culture. In essence, it was a sign of slavery, bondage and idolatrous worship. This command was given to the Israelites as a means of protection from being led astray by those practices; it was specific to them and was not directed at the body of Christ. In those times, it is my understanding that the cutting of the skin or marking of the body was also used as a means to honor the spirit of the dead, mourn the deceased and offer respect to the gods. Just like the sacrificial offerings and eating restrictions that were set forth at that time, those customs have passed away. Did you have to kill a ram this morning? I didn’t. Thanks to the blood of Jesus, we are not bound to those traditions anymore. We have been set free!

Obviously, in today’s culture, piercings and tattoos are used for ornamentation and adornment. I believe that He gives us freedom to choose those things. God created each of us as unique individuals. Now WHAT you choose to ink on your body is a different story, er, blog. Many times, this can also be used as a witnessing tool to a group of people that we may otherwise have a hard time reaching since it is a great conversation starter. There can definitely be pros and cons among other variables though, but it is not a sin.

I do know that God’s word says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20) In this New Testament reference, it seems that this is to be used as a guideline. After all, the temple was draped with beautiful fabric and laden with gold. And if God did not want us to embellish ourselves with jewels, then why would He make references to our individual jeweled crowns in heaven? Grant it, He was most likely making a symbolic metaphor, but an example of adornment nonetheless. The latter is just my own interpretation and rationale…not a “thus saith the Lord,” but I also strongly believe that there is a time and place for everything. Use wisdom.

Here are a few important questions to ask yourself though if you are thinking about inking or piercing:
*What is the dynamic of your surrounding culture and will it be offensive?
*Is this something that you are going to want 30+ years from now?
*How will your current/future spouse feel about it?
*What is the importance and what does it symbolize?
*Is it in a place that could hinder employment?
*Who does it glorify?

The last time I checked, God judges the heart, not the outward appearance. Christianity is based off of a relationship with Jesus Christ, not a critical religious spirit with an aloof or judgmental opinion. A tattoo won’t make you a Christian, and it certainly won’t do the opposite either. Regardless though, if you are the one doing the questioning or the one doing the responding, do so in love and with the right spirit. ♥

Mine is a Fleur de Lis and Heart combo that was designed by my husband. It reminds me of my roots and is also a representation of the Trinity. (And it is only slightly coincidental that I got it the year the SAINTS won the Superbowl! lol)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

To Drink or Not To Drink?

So, I said I would tackle some controversial issues. In this particular blog we will focus on drinking. Is it OK for Christians to drink? How much is too much? What does the Bible say about this topic? These are some of the questions that I will attempt to answer. I want to remind you that before you read any further, if you have not read the previous blog introduction, please stop and do that first since that is the foundation that we will be building on.

As we stated previously, everything is filtered through the cross which either abolishes, continues or fulfills the law. In this instance, I believe that God’s point of view on drinking remained the same in both the Old and New Testaments, before and after the cross.

There are an abundance of Scriptures that reference drinking, both for and against. For discussion purposes, we will note a few, but for a deeper study, you should read them in the full context for which each was written. Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • Deut. 14:26 - “Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice.” (NIV)
  • Ecc. 9:7 - “So go ahead. Eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God approves of this!” (NLT)
  • Is. 29:9 - “…be drunk, but not from wine, stagger, but not from beer.” (NIV)
  • Eph. 5:18 - “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery…” (NIV)
  • Rom. 13:13 – “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness...” (NIV)

    I believe this is where personal responsibility comes in to play. While it may be OK to drink, it is the overindulgence and lack of self-control that is the sin. Alcohol, namely wine, was used many times in the Bible. In the New Testament, Jesus turned the water in to wine (John 2:1-11), and Paul told Timothy to drink wine to help with his stomach and frequent illnesses (1 Tim. 5:23).

    Because Christ made us human, He gives us choices. We can choose to have dependency on Him or dependency on a substance. He created wine for our physical benefit, but we should not be overcome by it or dependent on it as in 1 Cor. 6:12 which addresses this very clearly. “You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’--but not everything is good for you. And even though ‘I am allowed to do anything,’ I must not become a slave to anything.” I believe that this is where you need to know your limit, but let me add this. If alcoholism runs prominent in your family, then you should not be considering even the thought of one drink. That would be like playing with fire and expecting not to get burned. The Bible also says that if you see trouble ahead, avoid it! (Ps. 27:12) This would be a prime example of trouble!

    Which also leads me to my next point…as Christians, we should be conscious about not being a stumbling block like it says in 1 Cor. 8:9. “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” I am reminded of a wine and cheese social that Jeremy and were going to host several years back. Unbeknownst to us, we had a newly made friend who was a recovering alcoholic that was planning to attend. We received a phone call advising us of the situation. Immediately, we decided to cancel the event and do something else. Why? Because we cared enough about that person that we did not want to do anything that would create an opportunity for them to fall. And while their intent was just to come for fellowship, it would have still placed them in a situation of temptation and weakness. Yes, they are ultimately responsible for their own actions, but we should not be contributors.

    In closing, I did want to mention that aside from the right and wrong debate, there are also times when the decision to drink is based on a personal conviction for a specific reason or a command from God for a specific purpose. We must be attentive to both. There are several cases in the Bible where individuals were commanded not to drink; Samson’s mother was one of them along with John the Baptist. There were also a few corporate commands to a body of people like the Israelites and Aaron’s sons to name a few. God sees what we can’t see, so He gives us those commands for protection.

    We are also instructed not to “join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves.” (Prov. 23:20) This is very prudent advice that will keep you out of situations that present the opportunity for sin. Remember, the drink is not the sin. It is the drunkenness that results from overindulgence that creates the sin.

    So those are my thoughts. Your decision should be based out of your personal relationship with Christ at His discretion and direction. The End.

  • Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Who am I?

    What do I believe and why do I believe what I believe? These are the questions that I have been asking myself lately. This has caused me to focus in great detail on some controversial issues and seek Scripture for the answers. Some are a result of personal conviction while others are written in Red.

    I have decided to begin a series of blogs that share my personal opinion on topics such as drinking, tattoos & piercings. I may pursue other topics as well depending...Sure, I realize that not everyone will agree, but this blog will be more for the benefit of myself and keeping me accountable. I want to be able to look back in 20 or 30 years and have something to gage myself against. Will I still have the same convictions? Will I be wiser then or wiser now? My main goal is to prevent compromise and compare my “notes” as God reveals Himself to me over the course of my lifetime.

    You are more than welcome to share your opinion, so please feel free to do so in your own blog. I will allow comments, but use discretion. This is not meant to be a discussion, just my point of view. And if there is an individual seeking guidance, then I hope that this will empower, confirm, convict or encourage you. Either way, you need to establish your own belief system based on the statutes of God’s Word and the relationship that you have with Him.

    Let me note that everything that I believe has been filtered through the cross. Last night in the shower, I had a really cool revelation, or maybe it’s just an analogy. The American flag is a symbol of freedom and liberty. Our ancestors came here to establish a nation that allows freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom from the governing body that they left behind. Anything before the flag has passed away. Everything after the flag establishes democracy for a new nation and represents a new hope, new rule and new doctrine. Freedom and hope. Men gave their lives for the flag. That sure sounds a lot like the cross.

    In the words of my husband, the cross does three things. It either fulfills, continues or abolishes the law. The tricky part is figuring out which one is which, and that’s what I hope to dissect over the next several weeks. There is a reason that it’s called the OLD Testament and the NEW Testament. We are not bound by the chains of bondage and sacrifice anymore! The cross brings freedom thanks to the blood that was shed. Christ sacrificed Himself, so that we don’t have to. All this to say, filter your life, convictions and beliefs through the cross.

    I am in no way a Biblical scholar and I sure don’t pretend to be! But I am a daughter of the King who aims to please her Father. What you see is what you get. Thus, the following blogs will be raw, real and relatable.

    The timing couldn’t be more perfect with the 4th of July just around the corner. So, let’s go racing, boys! Gentlemen, start your engines! (Yes, I am a NASCAR fan.) …And God bless America!

    (based on 2 Corinthians, chapter 5)

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Sorry, Honey!

    Apparently, I am not perfect. Who knew? I went hang out with a couple girlfriends last night and got home about 10pm. I walked in to find Jeremy in the bathroom shaving his head with the electric clippers and a pile of hair in his sink. So, I walked over to my side of the bathroom where I had a shirt soaking in bleach in the other sink. I realized it had drained, so I thought that I would just rinse it out. I turned the water on and chatted briefly with Jeremy over the loud buzzing of the clippers, but I forgot about the water since I couldn’t hear it (and obviously neither did he). At least that is my excuse anyway.

    I initially walked off to grab a towel since I was about to take a shower. Then my 90 mile-a-minute brain took over. “Oh, the dogs need to go out first. Let me go open the back door. (And wait for them to finish). Oh, Jeremy left all the lights on in the house - as usual. Let me turn them all off. Oh, my Ipad is dead. Let me go get the charger out of Jeremy’s backpack. Now, what was I doing again? Oh, right, getting a towel. Oh, there are a few towels in the dryer. Maybe I’ll just fold a few, too.” And then…

    “KELLY!!!! ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME?!?” What in the world was he screaming about? I ran into the bathroom and stepped into the Great Flood. Jeremy was scrambling to jump out of the water that surrounded him, unplug his clippers and race to turn off the water on the other side of the bathroom…that now covered my hair dryer that fell on the floor, the cords for my curling iron and straightener and a few pairs of shoes. Oops.

    The one towel in my hand was pointless. My shirt had clogged the drain, and water was just pouring over the side, down the cabinet, on the floor and in the closet before making its way to the bedroom. Everything was soaked, including a pile of dirty clothes. By the time it had made its way to Jeremy, the water had already covered the rest of the bathroom floor. Now remember, Jeremy is focused on clipping his hair and trimming his neck while listening to the buzzing that has drowned out the sound of rushing water! Pun intended. He didn’t realize the impending danger creeping up on him until his feet were wet. SHRIEK!

    OMGosh! I almost killed my husband by means of electrocution! I felt so terrible; I just kept apologizing. I didn’t even bother explaining my train of thought at that point. At least he was OK and I’m still alive, er, I mean, HE is still alive.

    So much for all the towels that I just folded. Now my Jacuzzi tub sits filled to the brim with wet towels, laundry, bathroom mats and my REALLY white bleached shirt. Guess what I’ll be doing tonight?

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Action vs. Intention

    Lately, my heart has been grieved by all of the recent reports that I have heard regarding individuals with physical illness, cancer or other life threatening diseases of the sort. I have crossed paths with each of these people at some point or another. One was my school secretary, another my 3rd grade teacher and most recently was my Sr. Pastor’s daughter. I have found all this out just within the past 2 weeks.

    They have recently been added to the list of people that I have agreed to “pray” for. I have committed myself to “pray” daily for Brittany while she is in Cambodia. I have agreed to stand in the gap for several others needing favor, encouragement, provision…and the list goes on. I “pray” for my pastors, my husband, my kids, my life.

    Sometimes, I find this to be a real challenge though. I put the word “pray” in quotes because it is so easy for that phrase to become cliché and over-used. It’s so easy that when we hear someone going through a rough time, we automatically say, “I’ll be praying.” But are we really?

    I have to make a conscious effort to be a woman of my word when I say that. If I say that I will pray for you, then rest assured I will. But that is only after the tug of war in my heart that rages regarding my integrity and actually doing what I say I will do. And it is only after I specifically schedule time to do so, that it gets accomplished. I have noticed that if I go about my day without making prayer a priority, eventually I forget. I have made promises to people that NEED my prayer on their behalf, and sometimes it is too late before I realize that I have overloaded my realistic list with unrealistic intentions. I have to be cautious not to throw that word around like any other verb.

    So, I encourage you to look at your prayer list and turn those intentions into actions. This will cause you to realize the weight behind prayer. Be cognizant of your promises to pray so that prayer doesn’t become just an off-the-cuff comment aimed at providing the hurting individual with a false sense of temporary hope.

    “Pray” is an action verb…just a friendly reminder. Who are you praying for today?

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Nothing to Wear???

    I had someone come up to me a couple weeks ago and mention that I must have a huge wardrobe because they never see me in the same thing twice. I wish! But with the way the economy has been these last few years, I haven’t exactly had money flowing out my ears. But I do get bored wearing the same thing just like every other woman on the planet, so I am forced to be creative. If my wardrobe appears diverse, it is because I have a few secrets.

    1. I NEVER buy anything that is not on the clearance rack. Notice I did NOT say the “sale” rack. Half the time it’s a gimmick anyway just to entice you. Target usually has a great clearance section of 50-75% off, and Kohl’s is a definite option with its 80% off rack. Old Navy is a keeper, too; I just got 3 pairs of dress pants for $.97 each a couple weeks ago. The better the bargain, the more items you can purchase within your budget. (Yes, you need a budget.) Would you rather pay $30 for one shirt or $30 for 2 shirts, a pair of pants, some rocking shoes AND new earrings? (Yes, it can be done.) Always buy the seasonal clearance. Don’t worry; you will still be “in style” next year. Here’s why…
    2. If you are one to follow the trends, then this one is for you. Clothing can always be tweaked, altered, blinged, sewn, etc. Get creative. I may see an item on clearance and immediately my wheels start turning. I love Hobby Lobby. You can get some really trendy iron-on patches, Swarovski crystals and loads of other items to make your clothing stand out. (But only go on the weeks that your items are 50% off! If it’s not on sale the week you go, wait a week and it will be.)
    3. Or instead of following the trend, BE THE TREND! How else do you think trends are started? Since my job does not allow much room for creativity, the only way I can express it is with my style…which I have no idea what that is since it changes with my mood or activity! Be you. Express yourself! (This does not mean that you can wear white after Labor Day. Some rules are just not meant to be broken.)
    4. Recycle and Re-use! This is my favorite. Recently, I needed a formal, but I was way too frugal to go buy a new one. So, I found a bridesmaid dress collecting dust in my closet along with my 10 year old rehearsal dinner dress from my wedding. I paired the two together (after a couple other failed attempts) and found a happy marriage of sorts. Then I added a long black scarf, some bling and a glove for a little glam effect fit for the red carpet! (The pic is one of me goofing off, but it's the only full length pic I could find of the dress.) And I didn’t have to spend a penny. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your wardrobe. This brings us to my next point…
    5. Mix and Match! If you have always worn “that” shirt with “those” pants, then don’t. Make yourself try something new. Your wardrobe will appear much more diverse if you follow this little secret. Add a tank or jacket to a shirt that you may normally wear by itself. Change up the accessories; swap out the shoes or add a fun hair piece. This is by far the most fun step! If you really want to step outside your comfort zone then invite a friend over to look through your closet. They may pair something together that you would have never thought of. Two heads are better than one!
    6. Lastly, browse through the thrift store. You can find lots of great vintage pieces, fun jewelry and other unique items. I found a dress that I wore last year for a Christmas social for $2.50! It is still one of my favorite finds so far! What you may not know though is that you can bargain at a thrift store much like a garage sale. Tell the clerk what you would be willing to pay. Stick to your guns (or put it back) and you could walk away with a steal!

    Now you can never say that you have nothing to wear again! I ♥ being frugal, funky and fun…and even more so when it can be accomplished on a shoestring budget. Now Roman has caught the fever, too! He bought a shirt off the Target rack for about $2 the other day. I’m so proud. (sniff, sniff)

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Friends! Who Needs Them? (Pt. 2)

    So, I left off in Pt. 1 about finding the need, but still needing the want and the why. I began to study what the Bible says about friendships, and I really got an eye-opener. Man, Ecclesiastes 4:12 is where it’s at! “You are better off to have a friend than to be all alone, because then you will get more enjoyment out of what you earn. If you fall, your friend can help you up. But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble. If you sleep alone, you won't have anyone to keep you warm on a cold night. Someone might be able to beat up one of you, but not both of you. As the saying goes, ‘A rope made from three strands of cord is hard to break'." (CEV)

    Wow, I don’t know about you, but I grew up thinking the three strands of cord was for married couples only and represented the inclusion of Christ into your relationship. But when read in the context of the other Scriptures, it is talking about FRIENDS!!! Did you know that if you take a triple braided cord and pull on the bottom of one of the strands, the other two will tighten or bond together? I’m just gonna let you ponder that for a second.

    That passage showed my WHY we NEED friends and, in turn, created the WANT. In chapter 3, it talks about all the different seasons and how they are fleeting. Solomon, the assumed author, declares in a matter of words that life can feel meaningless unless you have God and FRIENDS. Of course we know that HE will never leave us or forsake us, but it is just as important to note the importance of finding a friend who won’t either. And in looking back at Proverbs 18:24, it is definitely a possibility!

    But in order to find, you first have to seek. That’s the challenge, but the benefits are worth it…which I probably would have not said a year ago. As I venture through this unfamiliar territory, I am finding that the terrain becomes less and less treacherous. The road gets smoother and my trust grows deeper. I love the transformation that has taken place and watching it re-develop into a natural desire that I have missed for so long.

    When I take the kids to school in the morning, we have always prayed that God would help us to be good friends and make good friends. Ideally, you should be the friend that you want to have. That’s what I have been focusing on lately. No matter how busy I am, I can always find time to take a call from a friend. Five minutes may not be a lot, but it is worth its weight in gold when trying to cultivate and maintain a friendship. A simple text or Facebook message can go a long way, but I am finding that face time is key as well. I kind of even like it! (Work in progress…it could still be higher on the priority list known as my crazy schedule, but I’m getting there!)

    Let me be clear though, I am not advocating for a friendship without boundaries that can just become high maintenance and produce a co-dependent relationship. I am talking about healthy relationships that are mutually beneficial, supportive and below surface level. And while it is good to be open and authentic, not everyone deserves the right to speak into your life unless they have earned it. Choose your friends wisely like a well-balanced diet. This is a special privilege that you decide, but just remember that it goes both ways. Make sure that they have your best interest at heart and not their own agenda. This is what separates friends and acquaintances.

    So, FRIENDS…Who needs them? We all do...especially me. =D

    Friends! Who Needs Them? (Pt. 1)

    This is probably one of my most difficult blogs to write since it touches on so many areas that have left scars on my heart. Without going into great detail, several years ago, I went through one of the hardest times of my life. Along with many material things that were lost, the most important thing I lost was the relationship of close friends due to circumstances beyond my control. I am grateful that over time, most of those friendships have been restored, but it hasn’t been without heartache in the process.

    During the trials that Jeremy and I faced, there were a few people, namely the Gamble’s and the Miyake’s, that never left our side and helped put our pieces back together. Proverbs 18:24 states that there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother, and they are it! We would go to battle for either one of them and they for us. And though a couple of them may be miles apart (or in Hawaii), I know they are only a phone call away. Others are only a few blocks away which I find comforting. But I have also used this as a crutch and an excuse not to seek out “new” friends. I mean, I’ve got Jeremy and a few good ones, so what do I need new ones for? The truth is that each person brings something different to the table, and sometimes we don’t know what we’re missing until we find it.

    The devastation that occurred took years to repair, and while getting there was not easy, it is opening the door to seek out new friendships that I find even harder. Over the years, I began to develop a lack of trust, not in God, but people. I decided that friendships were too much work and too much hurt. I allowed “busyness” to be my excuse when others wanted to hang out and made sure that everyone was kept at arm’s length. In return, I ended up with a whole lot of acquaintances and not many true friends. There is absolutely a difference, but that is a separate blog all together!

    Finally, last year I decided to deal with that last unresolved issue…thanks to Pastor Debbie’s unrelenting prodding. And what was her solution you ask? A room full of women. Just the thought of it sent chills down my spine. Nonetheless, out of obedience, I went to the Women’s retreat and had an amazing time despite the insane anxiety beforehand. I met (and observed) some wonderful “friends” who caused me to see the NEED, but I still wasn’t completely to the WANT phase yet…the phase that required my TIME. Can you guess what my New Year’s resolution was? Yep, not kidding. I needed to figure out how to want a friend, how to be a friend and why I needed them in the first place. I was gonna need some guidance though. So, what did I do?

    You’ll have to check out Pt. 2 to see what I found out. Craziness!

    Friday, May 27, 2011

    MOM: the Multi-tasking Obsessed Mother

    Apparently, I inadvertantly developed and contracted a new disease called the "Multi-tasking Obsessed Mother". As a woman, I find it very easy to multi-task, and it just sort of seems to come naturally without much thought. Actually, there is scientific evidence to prove it; once again, just google it! At work, I can be on the phone, writing an email, listening to a webinar, journaling money and, of course, blogging and stalking on facebook all without missing a beat. Seems harmless, right? Wrong. What's bad is that I have noticed that I multi-task in everything. This has become a habit that needs some balancing. Let me tell you why.

    While it may be a great strength at work, it is more of a weakness in other areas of my life. Last week, Javin and Kadi asked me to go sit on the couch to cuddle while we watched a movie. Sounded good to me! Time to relax. So, I sat down, got my IPAD (because I am addicted to Words With Friends), grabbed my cell to return a few texts (because the world will end if I don't), mostly paid attention to the movie and put my other arm around Kadi while I also sat next to Javin. Then Kadi said, "Can't you just spend time cuddling us?" Just then Javin proceeded to take my IPAD and put it on the table. They wanted my full focus, not some lame, half-baked attempt at quality time characterized by my divided attentions. I quickly apologized, squeezed them and reassured them that they were well deserving of my full focus and affections. They wanted and needed JUST ME. That is when I realized that there was a problem.

    I began to think about another area of my life, the spiritual part. I noticed that I do the exact same thing to God. I will put on some P&W music, sing, read a Scripture, pray and still try to listen all at the same time. I guess I assume that God will talk louder than my singing. Sometimes He actually has, but how much more could I hear the still, small whisper if I didn't have all the background noise? Oh, and I forgot to mention that most of my quiet time occurs early in the morning at the office, so I may get interrupted by a phone call or two. And though my heart may be right and my intentions pure, I am actually being counterproductive.

    Additionally, I realized that in all of my selfishness and despite the fact that I know He can be wholly devoted to each person individually, I still expect God to focus on just me and not the billion or so other people on the planet. Ironically, that is exactly what he wants from me, too. Since I am not God, maybe I should just leave the multi-tasking up to Him.

    So, I have been trying a new approach. My quiet time is now spent in my car with the radio OFF. This keeps me from getting distracted when I feel the urge to sing harmonies to every song that I've already heard a thousand times anyway! Instead, I get to focus on just prayer or just intimate worship. I make myself spend time in the awkward silence while I sit back and listen. It's amazing what you can hear when you're not talking! And like I did with my kids, I am letting Him know that he is important enough to me to deserve my full attention.

    Sometimes the truth hurts. Multi-tasking is good as long as it's done at the right time, in the right environment. I am still learning those differences, but making progress!

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Cookies 'n Cream Oreo Fudge Brownies

    Today is my boss' birthday, so I thought that I would bake him something that included all of his favorite things: brownies, ice cream and Oreos! He loved them, as did my family! I ended up having to make two batches. They are very easy to make and would be a big hit at your next event. Brownies can get boring, so let's make them interesting...and delicious.

    Here is what you will need:
  • 1 Box of your favorite brownie mix (I used Ghirardelli Double Fudge, and yes, we are cheating.)
  • 2 Eggs
  • Approx. 1/3 cup of oil
  • 1/4 Cup of Hot Fudge (room temp is fine)
  • 1/2 Cup of Cookies 'n Cream ice cream
  • 1 Pack of Double Stuff Oreos

    Mix all of your ingredients together according to the box directions, but be sure to leave out the water. (You are adding the hot fudge and ice cream in its place.) The batter will be thick. Pour a thin layer into your greased pan, then layer with whole Oreos. Next, pour the rest of the mixture on top and spread evenly. Bake @ 350 degrees for about 35 minutes and enjoy! (Cooking times will vary, so check with your box.)

    To make it even better, add a scoop of ice cream and drizzle on some more hot fudge! Mmm...Forget counting the fat grams. If you've already read this far, you may as well just make them!
  • Friday, April 29, 2011


    Recently, I overheard Javin and Kadi talking about their different spiritual gifts. What an interesting conversation to eavesdrop on! Javin was explaining that his gift was that he could see things in the spirit realm---like demons. He went on to tell her that my gift was a “demon-saver or demon-catcher.” Of course, I was chuckling in the background. Javin said that when he sees one, he tells me and we both take authority over it. Just then, he noticed me standing there and asked, “What is my gift called again?” I responded with “discernment,” and he finished elaborating. I could tell that Kadi was beginning to get frustrated and started to cry, but I didn’t know why until she blurted out that she didn’t know what her gifts were.

    In the meantime, we were rushing to get out the door and off to school, so unfortunately I had very little time to console her. My brain was already going 90 miles a minute, thinking and planning out the day, but Kadi stopped me and made sure she had my full attention. She asked me to make a list of her spiritual gifts for her. That was the most precious and sincere request ever! My daughter was basically asking me what “good” I saw in her, what her strengths were. Now, I was convicted but thankfully recognized the importance of the moment that almost slipped by.

    I sat down today and really began to think about each child and what makes them unique. I ♥ love lists, so I was delighted to write a few! After coming up with several spiritual gifts for each one, I decided to mention the top 3 that I see as prevalent right now. I think it will be neat to see how these pan out over the next several years as they seek to discover their own independence and their own ministries. And whether that’s in a church or corporate America, I know that God will use each of their gifts mightily. I also noticed some secondary gifts that I believe will eventually become prominent as they each mature and begin to operate in them more diligently. Here is what I came up with:

    Roman-Giving, Helps, Mercy
    Brittany-Discernment, Mercy, Leadership
    Javin-Prophecy, Discernment, Word of Wisdom
    Kadi-Leadership, Intercession, Music

    I am excited that I get to use this rare opportunity to sit down and teach Kadi about her intrinsic value and what makes her special. I believe it is important to build up your kids and encourage them so that they can grow up highly esteemed and confident in their abilities and callings that have a direct impact on their destinies. I plan to grab every chance I get to mentor Kadi especially while she cares what I think! Technically speaking, the same goes for the rest of the crew whether they ask for it or not though! Lol!

    Like Kadi, your child may know they have a gift, but might just need a little help unwrapping it. How fun! What spiritual gifts do you see in your kids?

    Monday, January 31, 2011

    The Lord is my WHAT?

    If you have ever been to a private Christian school, then you know that memorizing Scripture verses is usually a requirement. This is especially true for elementary students. I remember that we had to memorize at least one verse a week until about 6th grade! Oh how I dreaded that and didn’t really see the need for it at the time. I can still recite the ones that I committed to memory years ago. (“Quench not the Spirit. -1 Thes. 5:19…of which I can even remember the song!) What’s even funnier is that I can still remember some of the Spanish ones from high school as well, but, unfortunately, what’s sad is that I can barely remember what it is in English though! (“Y la lengua es un fuego, un mundo de maldad. –Santiago 3:6) Some help that is to me!

    Somewhere between school and now, I have lost the motivation to memorize Scripture. It is not that I haven’t wanted to; I have just gotten lazy...or “too busy”. Since I am not “graded” on it anymore, it has not exactly moved up on my priority list. But it should be.

    I cannot tell you how many times I have prayed with someone and gotten stuck on the “Oh, darn, what was that Scripture again?” Or how many times have you gotten into a debate with someone only to find out that they know your Bible better than you? Then there are the times when we are in a situation where we need to take God at His Word and we attempt to remind Him (or ourselves) of it, but somehow the Word eludes us. How can you take Him at His Word if you don’t know it?

    Last night, I had a very vivid dream, more of a nightmare I guess. Crouched in a basement and hugging my kids tightly, a huge tornado was approaching. I could hear the rumbling; I could see the black funnel and I could sense great fear. Jeremy stood watch as I began to pray protection over the kids. I then started to quote Scripture as the tornado swirled in our midst. Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want…Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Your rod and staff, they comfort me.” But I couldn’t remember the rest, so I moved on to Psalm 91, “A thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee.” As I tried to find the words to the rest of the passage regarding His protection, I drew a blank and just went back to praying.

    I woke up and gained a quick revelation. I need to learn Scripture! It’s easy for me to read something and remember it for a few days, maybe even a few weeks. Still, it always seems to get a little foggy or fade over time if I have not committed it to memory. I know from that dream that I do not ever want to be in a situation where that happens again. I want to be prepared and equipped to combat whatever comes my way. And whether it is threatening satan, reminding God of His promises or ministering to an individual, I realize that I need His Word branded in my heart and not as a passing thought or contemplation. You never know when you’re gonna need it! I guess I will chalk this up as an additional New Year’s resolution. Man, my list is getting long.

    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    Good, Better, Best

    Did you know that the number 11 means “revelation”? Bring on 2011! I began my study yesterday morning researching a simple phrase that God dropped into my spirit after praying for someone that He laid on my heart. Know this: God doesn’t create anything second best. Everything that He creates is His best. This means that you and I are His best because it is simply impossible for Him to create anything less. We are GOOD.

    Genesis 1:31 states, “God saw all that He had made, and it was good.” In that same book, it also says that God created us in His image. We were modeled after Him! God is excellent, so that makes us excellent. He is “the best” and in all of His supremacy said that we are good! It is the same principle in that God cannot lie because whatever he speaks instantly becomes truth. So, if He says that you’re good, it’s impossible for you not to be. But sometimes the problem comes in our own definition of good. If I am only good, does that mean that I am not the best?

    I know personally that when I say something is good, I usually mean that it is average, OK, mediocre, satisfactory…good, but not necessarily the best. The great thing is that I am completely wrong!

    The word “good” directly translates to “tov” in Hebrew which literally means “functional”! According to, functional means “to be capable of serving the purpose for which it was designed.” Now, re-read the scripture with the Hebrew context, and you will see it in a whole different light! Oddly enough, when I looked up the definition for “good”, it says that it is “of excellence, high quality, honorable or worthy, favorably regarded.” I thought only the “best” was least that is what we have been programmed to think. The difference is that it is only in the English language that we assign levels of expectation to the word “good” in order to be grammatically correct. (Good, better, best) Everything was created with the same degree of “GOODness” because He chose not to compare one thing or person to another. So, if God doesn’t feel the need to compare, then why do we?

    When God said that something was “good”, He meant that it was excellent and fully functional to fulfill the calling or purpose to which he assigned to it. So, when we feel second rate or just “good” in our own mind, think about what God says about good. There is no such thing as second best when it comes to God’s creation.

    It is awesome to know that if God thinks we are (cap)ABLE, then all we have to do is be READY and WILLING! God is good, and He said YOU ARE, TOO! That’ll set you free right there! I know it revolutionized my way of thinking, that’s for sure!

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    I ♥ Snow!

    Snow brings me to my happy place, and it is one of the very few times that I pause to relax. I love the calm, peacefulness of it all. Amidst the busyness of life, it makes you stop and gaze at the beauty of God's handiwork. I have always felt comfortable and at home with the golf course in my backyard, so imagine my delight when it was covered with snow!

    The kids were having a blast "sledding" down the hills on our giant pizza pan. (Hey, when you live in Texas, you have to make do with what you can find!) We built a snow-woman and an igloo last year, but this time we decided to try our hands at SNOW CREAM!

    Being lactose intolerant, I was finally glad to find a cold treat that I could actually enjoy! We went and gathered fresh, untouched snow and skimmed the top, so that we didn't have to worry about it touching grass or anything. With about 5-6 inches on the ground, we were able to get a pretty good amount. And with all the widespread snowstorms from here to the eastcoast, I thought I would post the recipe if you want to give it a whirl!

    *8 Cups of Fresh Snow
    *1 Cup of Milk
    *1/2 Cup of Sugar
    *1 Packet of Mint Chocolate Cocoa Mix
    *1 oz. of Bailey's (optional)

    Mix it all together and serve immediately. You can substitute any flavor that you want. If you opt not to use the cocoa packet and use vanilla instead, then you may need to add more sugar.