Latest Project: A Tiny Toddler Purse

Today, my sweet niece turned 3! I remember when she was first born, holding her when she was just a few months old, and now she’s an intelligent, sweet, caring, beautiful little girl!

I made her a couple of simple skirts last October, including a Minnie Mouse one. Since that has been several months, she’s outgrown them. When she was told that they needed to be put away since they no longer fit well, she was upset – “But aunt Jenn made those for me!” I knew what I had to do – I wanted to make her something new, something she wouldn’t outgrow as quickly.

I searched Pinterest for a tutorial or pattern for a child’s purse and I found the perfect one on Make It, Love It. I’d had experience making bags previously (see here) so I knew this would be pretty simple for me. I went to Joann Fabrics & purchased a couple of fat quarters. I’d stocked up on different types of interfacing several months ago when it was on sale so I didn’t need to purchase that.

It was a fairly simple project and easily completed in a few hours with a couple of breaks in between. The tutorial says it takes just an hour, but it definitely took me 3 times that (at least!). When I finished, I was surprised at just how tiny it is! It is the perfect size for a little girl. The tutorial was well written and SO easy to follow. There were a couple of instances where I was confused, but it was a ‘user error’!

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I can totally see myself making more of these in the future for the little girls in my life. As I do more of these, it will go a lot faster!

I can’t wait to give this to my niece as a gift from her uncle and aunt. I am sure she will fill it with all of the little girly things she can think of! :-)

Learning to Run with Couch to 5K

runningRecently, I started Couch to 5K (and when I say recently, I mean this week)! It is a system designed to get you in shape to run a 5k (3.1 miles) in 9 weeks. With a total of 27 workouts, each week is designed to get you accustomed to being able to run without stopping. Week 1 starts with a brisk 5 minute walk, followed by intervals of 60 seconds of jogging & 90 seconds of walking, and ending with a 5 minute walk as a cooldown. Each week slowly increases the amount of running while decreasing the amount of walking.

I had thought about doing it many times before, but what did it for me was a trip to the lake a few weeks ago with my husband. The lake is beautiful and has a great trail around it. Runners, walkers, and bicyclists alike flock to this trail daily! We’d been there once before, but decided to venture there again one Saturday morning.

I felt so confident as we walked toward the trail! David looked at me and asked if I was ready. I sure was! We were off, jogging and taking in the scenery. Since he’s taller and has much longer strides than I do, he quickly got ahead of me. And about 20 seconds later, he got further and further ahead because I had to stop. I was out of breath! I couldn’t handle it, and we’d just started! Oh boy, did I have a long journey in front of me!

I learned the importance of cross-training that day as well. I go to the gym and put in 40 – 50 minutes on the elliptical so I was surprised at my lack of endurance while running.

By the time we’d both finished the trail, almost 4.5 miles later, I was sore, tired, red in the face, and hot. Because of my inability to truly run, my poor husband’s run was limited due to waiting for me at some points. I determined that I wanted to go back to this trail sometime over the next few months and conquer it!

I researched Couch to 5K again, solicited feedback from Facebook friends on their experiences, and finally put it into play this week. I am praying that I am able to commit to these workouts. I want to run! I will still do the other cardio & strength training on the in-between days, putting me at 5 days of cardio per week. Nothing wrong with that!

Using the RunDouble app is a huge help. It prompts me when to run and when to walk, lets me know how many intervals are left, and tracks my pace and mileage. Using GPS, it also tracks the route that you run.

If all goes well, I should be done by the end of August. And hopefully, by then, I can go back and dominate that trail!

 

Noted & Quoted

quotesEver so often, while reading, I come across sentences that really make me stop and pause. Over the years, these quotes have become a part of that collection. Christians & teachers, these are men that I learn from years upon years after their deaths. I am thankful for their faithful service to God and to His people.

 

On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats; it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.
- C. S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

To know God is to be changed by God; true knowledge of God leads to worship.
- John Calvin

When you argue against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all; it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on.
- C. S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

Oh, that you and I might get into the very heart of the Word of God, and get that Word into ourselves! As I have seen the silkworm eat into the leaf, and consume it, so ought we to do with the Word of the Lord—not crawl over its surface, but eat right into it till we have taken it into our inmost parts. It is idle merely to let the eye glance over the words, or to recollect the poetical expressions, or the historic facts; but it is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your very style is fashioned upon Scripture models, and, what is better still, your spirit is flavored with the words of the Lord.
- Charles H. Spurgeon

Do you mortify? Do you make it your daily work? Be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.
- John Owen

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten Free & Delicious!)

DSC06165One of my favorite go-to recipes for my husband, for friends, and for events is Tollhouse’s chocolate chip cookie recipe. I cannot tell you how many batches upon batches of cookies I have made in the past several years with that recipe! It always gets rave reviews and I always have to confess that it is no recipe concoction of my own! After I decided to bid gluten adieu, I tried the recipe using King Arthur’s GF multi purpose flour (& no xanthan gum, mind you) and ended up making some flat cookie patties! Ha! They tasted great, but sorely lacked dimension.

A close friend of mine, Enrica, sends me a lot of great gluten-free dessert pins, for which I am so thankful! One of the recipe pins she recommended a while ago was a recipe for chewy gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. What!? I was hesitant for a moment, breaking away from my tried & true Tollhouse recipe (I am still determined to make it work!), but I’d decided to try it. I purchased some gluten free oats, put them in my Ninja blender, and decided to try these out.

Note: Bob’s Red Mill does make a gluten free oat flour, but once I found out that oat flour is just oats ground into a powder, I decided to do it myself. It ended up being much less expensive & more economical for me to purchase a 2 pound bag of oats versus a 1 pound bag of oat flour. Tip: Bob’s Red Mill offers a $1 off coupon. Click here to access it!

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The recipe was certainly easy, didn’t call for other flours, and required no xanthan gum. And the taste of the cookies – outstanding! The texture was assuredly different from the Tollhouse cookies due to the oats, but I didn’t care – they were delicious! They passed the husband test too! I brought some to our church for our staff and they enjoyed them as well. I have made them a few of times since the first, sending some to my family and they were a hit with them too. These cookies are not ‘good for gluten-free’; they’re just good!

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The only thing I would do different is refrigerate the dough, but that’s it! Even without chilling the dough, they came out wonderfully!

Going Gluten Free! Again!

I am not really good at blogging frequently. One look at my blog and you have probably figured that out. Now that school is out for the Summer, time looks different, so hopefully my posts will be more frequent. (And by frequent, I am hoping at least 1 weekly!)

gfreeAbout 3 months ago, I decided to get back to my ‘gluten-free roots’, haha! I was gluten-free in 2010-2011. I’d noticed that when I ate certain items with wheat, I’d have some strange reactions so I decided to eliminate that from my diet. I had blood work done to test for celiac sprue, which came back negative at the time, but I knew how consuming gluten made me feel. When I moved to Austin in late 2011, I let go of my gluten-free diet and started to consume it again. I didn’t have the same reactions so I thought that maybe I was in the ‘clear’ and it was just a temporary intolerance. Breads, cakes, and cookies were my friends again! Or… so I thought.

Due to several reasons earlier this year, I decided to do some research and conduct my own personal experiment. I went gluten-free for a couple of weeks. I attended small group during that time where spaghetti and bread was being served. I decided to partake, thinking I’d be okay. Not even! Later that night, I felt horrible. I felt sluggish & exhausted for days, nauseated, and my body ached pretty badly. Those were just a few of the things happening to me! I thought to myself, If this is how I feel after eating gluten now, how has my body been reacting internally all this time? I decided at that moment to completely go back to being gluten-free.

Has it been difficult? Yes! Some of the restaurants that my husband and I enjoy have some amazing bread! Hello, Olive Garden! Hello, Longhorn Steakhouse! And oh, how I miss eating naan when we have Indian food. However, I know that this has been the better option for my health. I do feel a lot better these days, and I can tell when I’ve been ‘glutened’. Because I have been gluten-free these past few months, my body has a strong reaction when I do eat it. I have been finding new ways to make the foods & sweets that I have enjoyed. One thing my husband and I like is homemade spaghetti. In addition to wheat pasta, our local grocery store offers corn pasta. I have been using this when I make spaghetti and it has gone over well.

What about chocolate chip cookies?! Thankfully, I have a recipe for those that uses oat flour. Slowly, but surely, I am finding healthier, gluten-free ways to enjoy the things I miss. For any of you that are considering going gluten free, I thought I’d share some of my favorite substitutes and recipes that have been in frequent rotation. I’ll also share some of the not so great substitutes! Look out for those in my next post!

Are you gluten-free (or considering it)? What have been your experiences?

How the Lord Saved Me

crossLast Fall, during our church’s Disciple Now (DNow) weekend, I was asked to share my testimony of how I, a DNow leader & redeemed sinner, was saved by a gracious God. Here is what I shared with the youth, parents, and fellow DNow leaders.

Good evening, friends. I stand before you a redeemed sinner, a sinner saved by grace, and this is how that very grace transformed my life.

I grew up attending church because being an African American, this was a cultural norm for my family. I was 12 when I was baptized and helped with different ministries yet I lived a life that didn’t reflect Christ. My high school years were the pinnacle of my rebellion. I did the things my classmates did: I ran away from home, I disrespected my parents, I got into drugs and alcohol. As I got older, and graduated from high school, I’d left the church I grew up in while my sinfulness continued to escalate, finding me with a desire to learn more about the occult and pagan practices. I read all the books that I could read, researched, and made purchases to support this newfound desire. It was interesting though – even though I wasn’t a Christian, I found myself praying to God, while in my ignorance, pursuing my new interest. At that time, I thought that I was a good person. I thought that I was going to Heaven. I thought that there were many ways to God, not just one. I thought I was perfectly fine doing what I was doing, but praise God that He did not see fit to leave me to that way of thinking.

On the evening before my 21st birthday, I met someone that spoke truth to me about the life I was living. He warned me that my new interest was dangerous and it scared me. I returned to the church I grew up in, afraid that God could never forgive me for what I’d done. The youth pastor at that church comforted me with the truth that God is a forgiving God and He could forgive me.

Over the next several months, the Lord was working in my heart, causing me to see my sinfulness more clearly. In the summer of 2002, God’s Gospel became clearer to me. I understood that my sin separated me from God and I deserved His wrath.  It also became clear to me that God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to live the perfectly righteous life that I couldn’t and to die as a substitute in my place. Jesus took the wrath of God that I deserved. Three days after His death, Jesus rose from the dead proving His innocence and his righteousness. I knew my only hope was to respond to this gospel by repentance and faith and that is what I did.  Over time, I saw evidence of a changed heart that had new desires. My desire toward sin was replaced with a desire to please God – a desire that only He could give! My life is different and I am a new creation in Christ. The cross changed my life and I now realize there is no greater joy than living a cross centered life.

Preparing for Sunday

Originally posted on Urban Resurgence :

gotochurch What do Saturdays look like for you?  If you’re like me, you probably think of Saturday as a day of rest or a day to do something relaxing or enjoyable.  There’s nothing wrong with that and after a long productive work week, we should enjoy the fruits of our labor.  Rest and leisure are good gifts that we should appropriately enjoy.  But should Saturday only be thought of as a reward to a long work week? Or should we also think of Saturday as a day of preparation for our Sunday worship gathering?

I wonder how much thought is given to preparing for Sunday morning on Saturday. Sure we give some thought to preparation by getting our clothes ready, putting the children down to sleep, or deciding what to eat for breakfast, etc. But how do we and how should we prepare our hearts to commune with the living God and…

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