Sunday, September 28, 2014

Vegan Recap!

Well, after 40 days, Mike and I no longer vegan. Our little "experiment" was at times fun, interesting, and challenging, but we did it! Here are 20 things from our vegan adventure!

  1. The first 2 days I had a headache... and I rarely get those because I drink like, an exuberant amount of water! Guess my body was detoxing!
  2. The very first day, I noticed that I had to do a lot of "thinking" about the food I was going to eat. I couldn't just grab any ol' thing out of the pantry or fridge. Which I thought was very interesting because I feel like we should think at least a little bit, and care at least a little bit, and know at least a little bit about what we are putting in our bodies! 
  3. It really wasn't as hard as I thought. Yes, I missed cheese. Like, a lot. Vegan cheese is... well... the worst! I was so saddened by that. But for the most part, it was pretty simple, even in a not-so-vegan-friendly town. 
  4. In the beginning, it took a lot of planning in regards to meals, but after we became more familiar with foods that were vegan, it became easier.
  5. Our local grocery store actually has more vegan-friendly options than I realized! 
  6. There were a lot of meals I made that were super yummy and will for sure make again, even now that this is over! (I'll post recipes below)
  7. Going out to eat was a little bit annoying in the beginning as well... especially in a town that loves meat! When going out friends, most were very gracious and sweet and wanted to make sure we were going to a place that Mike and I would be able to eat something. Mike and I quickly became knowledgeable of restaurants in town with the best salad bar or vegan options, but not necessarily advertised as "vegan" eateries. Also, it was much easier to ask to see an allergen menu to check for dairy and things like that than ask for ingredients!
  8. Lots of people don't really know what veganism is...
  9. Lots of people don't really care what they eat...
  10. Lots of people don't really know what they eat...
  11. I could be a vegan if I had to. 
  12. I could definitely be a vegetarian. Who knows...
  13. I never really felt that "ugh-too-full" feeling. That feeling you get when you've just eaten enough for 2 people. Yeah, that never happened, which was nice. I felt a lot lighter, and after a meal, I would be satisfied, but not overly stuffed. However, I felt like I was always eating and always hungry. BUT, I wasn't gaining any weight. In fact, I lost weight. (which was not part of the plan, so I was glad that we stopped!) But I really did feel good, ya know?
  14. This might be TMI, but I was regular and felt very cleaned out every day!
  15. Not all vegans/vegetarians are crazy-weirdo-hippies! (I already knew that, but to all those who think otherwise, there ya go!)
  16. There really is a problem with the meat industry; how the animals are treated, but also how the meat is produced. I watched quite a few documentaries about the food production in our country, and a lot of it was appalling. Now that we can eat meat, I want to try to be more conscious of where I am buying my meat from.
  17. Mike and I will still have a couple nights a week where we are eating vegetarian/vegan.
  18. Cashews can be ground up to make a "ricotta" like texture for lasagna. :) Yum!
  19. I wish every box of food, every restaurant, every item you could eat had a label saying "vegan" or "vegetarian". It was so funny to tell people "oh, yeah, Oreos and Lay's chips are vegan!" And them being totally surprised, because those weren't weird-hippy-people foods. I just think the labels would make vegan life a little easier! And if all restaurants had those options, that would just be so nice!
  20. Vegan chocolate chip cookies don't even come close to the real thing. I tried. The real things are just too good!

Some of our faves:

So there ya go! I'd challenge you to try vegan, or even vegetarian diet for a short time. It was a fun adventure! I was a little sad that it was over, but then I thought: CHEESE! :)

happily eating cheese,

Friday, August 15, 2014

Ready or not, here goes VEGAN!

So Mike and I are going to do a vegan diet until September...

This should be interesting... actually, I went to the store yesterday and already felt healthier! ;)

I'm sure most of you already know what a vegan is, but incase you don't, basically a vegan doesn't eat any animal byproduct- including meat, milk, eggs, cheese, etc. Some vegans don't even eat honey... but that's just crazy. I LOVE cheese so this will be an adventure- a whole new world has been opened up to me about vegan cheese, which seems weird, but it'll have to do for now.

We aren't going vegan because we think animals need equal rights or anything, although I do care how they are treated, but that's not our reason (don't worry, you won't see us protesting the local KFC anytime soon). Pretty much we just want a little challenge and to eat healthier. I'm curious how I'll feel- if I'll have more energy, better skin, sleep better, etc. So over the next month and a half, I'll try to post some of the recipes I make for us.

I am a little apprehensive about the possibilities of going out to eat with friends, or having friends invite us over for dinner... so just know that we still do want to go out to eat with you (just might have to stick to a salad or something) and we do still want to come over, we just might not eat much, or you can come over to our place for dinner! We won't be hermits/snobs/those crazy diet people I promise!

If you are a vegan and have any recipes to share, please do!

vegan for now,

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

cast out fear

I have this fear. This fear that people will reject me, or not like me, or like other people more than me. This fear that I need to earn people's love to stay in their good graces. This fear that causes me to believe lies about others and lies about myself, sometimes even lies about my Savior.

No one wants to live in fear. I believe fear is not something that was in God's original plan. There was no fear in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. They didn't have any reason to fear or distrust the other until sin entered the picture and they felt like they had to cover themselves with fig leaves.

But before sin, there was no fear. And the Lord says in His word that there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear. 1 John 4:18 I believe the word of God to be true, and I believe these words, but do I live like I do?

Sadly, no. Sometimes, maybe. But more often than not, this fear of rejection sits in the back of my mind, sometimes dictating my decisions, my motives, my thoughts, without me even realizing it is there.

But go back to that verse for a second... perfect love casts out fear. The only love I know out there that is perfect is that of God the Father and His Son, Jesus. His love is perfect. His love will never reject me. I am His for eternity. I never have to worry about being in or out of His good graces because where my sin increased, His grace abounded all the more. Romans 5:20. Because His grace is sufficient for me. 2 Corinthians 12:9. And because it is BY His grace that I have been saved, through faith. Ephesians 2:8.

So you see, I have no "real" reason for these fears. Nothing that any person can do or say to me will ever change how Jesus feels about me. And His opinion is all that matters, in this life and the next. Because I am convinced, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39.

I want to encourage you with this truth. Because I know I am not the only one who struggles and wrestles with this. Jesus Christ loves you. And He wants to have an intimate relationship with you. And though I struggle with these things, I can have peace.

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27

For this, I have Jesus.

Monday, March 17, 2014

... to die is gain

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

This past Friday my dad was honored for the 33 years he served our country. 
He served both in the Air Force and the Army, as well as the National Guard. 

His ashes will be buried at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio. It's amazing to me all the people that have been buried there and that there is somehow room for others still! It was overwhelming to see all those headstones. From the moment I got out of the car, there was an air of honor, respect, and dedication. I felt so proud that my dad would receive a service like this.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect at a 21-Gun Salute. My mom had already had the flag, and the 2 men who presented it to her first unfolded it, and then folded it again- off to the side (I guess a practice?) and then after the 21-Gun Salute, stood in front of us and unfolded it in a neat presentation, only to fold it again. It was amazing to see what seriousness there was in their eyes. While unfolding and folding, both the men looked each other in the eyes the entire time, somehow communicating with each other. Later, when I looked up the meaning behind the folding of the flag, it made a bit more sense, and held an even more special meaning. I would highly recommend reading this article to find out what each fold means. There are 12 folds in all, the final fold representing an emblem of eternity, and glorifies God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Very cool. Please go read it. :)

These men are retired veterans and represent each branch of the military. They do this as a volunteer service. They were so cute with those big, powerful guns. Again, I wasn't sure what a 21-Gun Salute was, but there are 7 men with guns, and they fire 3 times, equalling 21 shots fired. The shots represent peaceful intentions by emptying their weapons. You can read more about it here. It does a way better job of explaining and anyone interested in history will appreciate it. The man you see on the far right side was playing Taps. Wow. Talk about chilling. It was so surreal to hear that song in the context where I was sitting, with my family, honoring my father. That was probably the most emotional part for me.

Afterwards, we enjoyed a lovely lunch at Los Patios where my parents had their wedding reception 35 years ago. It was gorgeous. Tons of trees created a beautiful canopy over several acres of land, leading to a little creek with lots of turtles. My mom and aunt talked about what a beautiful and lovely party it was. Wish I could go back in time and experience that joyful moment.

Please take a look at my brother's blog to see some much better photos! ;)


for to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21
This verse will be on my dad's headstone- a true testimony of his life here on earth.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

All dogs go to heaven...

So yesterday my mom put our old dog Foster down to rest. He was so old and seemed to be getting worse every time I saw him, I started saying my goodbyes early- like 4 years ago! And yet he still managed to live on every year!
"This is your last Christmas Foster" became sort of a joke in our family. He just wouldn't die. It was a shock that Foster outlived anyone in this life!

And not that we wanted Foster to die, but he just wasn't lookin' too great. He was blind, and eventually he couldn't even hear anymore. Within the last 6 months or so he lost almost half his body weight and was just getting worse and worse.

However, Foster was ol' faithful to my dad. They were buddies, and I think Foster became really sad when my dad wasn't around anymore. When my mom took him to the vet, the vet took one look at him and gave a sort of sympathetic grunt saying "He either has diabetes or cancer." I think that helped my mom feel more at peace putting him down.
He lived a loooooong 16 years of doggie life and enjoyed half of that with our family when we rescued him. I'm sure Foster is just bounding around heaven, tail wagging, meeting up with our other dog Rowdy, and possibly Pockets too. I imagine them running with my dad in heaven, licking him and smiling at him.

Foster, you were well loved. Gonna miss you sweet boy!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Overwhelmed... in the best way possible.

Ok y'all. Can I just share how GOOD and PURPOSEFUL and AWESOME God is?!?

It's only been about a month and a half since my dad went to be with the Lord, but wow. God is so good and doesn't waste anything. Conversations I would have never had with people are happening, being more intentional to pray for others and my family, and just how God constantly reminds me of His abundant lovingkindness towards me and His grace and peace.

The other night I was sitting in bed and I picked up my journal. As I started writing, I was curious to see if I had written anything the year before. Exactly a year ago I had written a prayer for both of my parents, that they would grow more in love with each other and more in love with the Lord and that Christ would just be in every part of their marriage.

I noticed more joy and love in my parents' marriage in the last year of my dad's life and that there was true enjoyment and lots of laughter, all the while my dad's tumor was probably growing inside him.

I turned even further to see if I had written anything 2 years before, but my journal had started on April 2012. That day was filled with prayers of thanksgiving and praise because the tumor that was found in my dad's brain was benign and not cancerous.

That whole story just gives me chills now because as I look back, I can see an even bigger thing happening.

When my dad had his brain tumor and there were many uncertainties. God answered my prayer in a way that I couldn't really understand until now.  You can read about that story here. (and his response below that post is just so great) Yes, God healed him of that tumor and was faithful to answer my prayer in that moment, but our God is not a God who is confined to our timeframe or any time for that matter. Our God sees the whole picture, not just one piece. Because my dad had that tumor, I began to see the frailty of life here on earth. I began to think about what it would be like to lose someone very close to me. I began to be more intentional with my dad in conversations and being more patient with him. I didn't want to take my dad for granted.

Those 2 years were a blessing from God. Who would have known that just two years later he would be diagnosed with cancer. I praise God for giving us that time, for those 2 years that God helped me love my dad with more intentionality and allowed me to experience more of his love in return. I am so thankful that God doesn't waste any of our sorrow, any of our pain, any of our suffering. He is purposeful in every way. He truly does work all things for our good and HIS GLORY!

And He is worthy of all the glory friends! I'm just overwhelmed by His sovereignty and goodness. No, my prayer wasn't answered in the exact way I expected, but I have a hope and peace that I can trust my Lord and my God with everything.

And THAT is what God has so graciously revealed to me in the last couple of days.

overwhelmed by the goodness and mercies of our Lord,

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Dad, with love.

Today was a celebration of my dad's life. Not only remembering my dad and who he was, but Who he lived for. I don't feel like the English words "thank you" expresses how grateful I am to friends and family that came to the service. I was completely blown away to see so many friends there, even ones I hadn't seen in a very long time! What an incredible blessing from the Lord!  I had the privilege to speak at my dad's service, and the following is what the Lord laid on my heart.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me- the task of testifying about the wonderful good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:24

I don’t think there is just “one word” to sum up my dad. He was so many things to so many people he encountered throughout his life. He was funny, caring, dedicated, faithful, hard working, humble, and the list goes on. My dad didn’t know a stranger and made every person he talked to feel important and valued- which was a lot because he loved to talk to people! I’m sure he’s seeing a lot of people in heaven right now that he maybe met only briefly in his lifetime, but somehow greatly impacted!

My dad deeply loved his family. Looking through some of his drawers and dressers there were pictures of cousins, aunts and uncles, and us kids everywhere. Even though most of them were old pictures, he never took them down. He cherished every card, and I mean every card from us, whether handmade cards from my brother, sweet cards from my sister, or corny birthday cards from me, they were still all hanging up at his desk. Even a poem my brother and I wrote for him in the 3rd grade was still hanging up by his desk! I know he thought about us a lot and loved us so well. He’d call from work ‘just to talk’, even just for 10 minutes, encourage us with a verse, or even sing us a song. My sweet, sweet mama and daddy shared 35 years together and have been such a testimony of faithfulness and unconditional love. Lovers through thick and thin.

My dad never forced us to be anybody we weren’t. He encouraged us in our extracurricular activities- no matter what they were. And even though he wasn’t always able to be there because of his job, his words of encouragement and telling us how proud he was always meant so much. His love was completely unconditional and never got upset if we didn’t get 1st place or “win” or whatever the case, he was just so proud of us for going out there and doing our best. His smile and hugs were worth more than any medal or ribbon received.

My dad’s life was never about himself. I know my family can all recall countless times of my dad’s generosity, even when it didn’t seem like he had much to give. I remember one time he passed by a man on the side of the road while I was in the car with him. He mentioned something about going back and talking to him, and I was begging him not to because that meant he would be talking to this stranger for at least 30 minutes and that’s just not what I wanted to do! Well, of course, he turned the car around, drove back, and parked near where the man was. We got out of the car and my dad gave him some food he had in the back of the car. I can’t remember the conversation or even how long it was, but I’m sure he talked to that man about Jesus. He wasn’t about to let that man go without a Bible and the Gospel presented! He even picked up a kid waiting outside in the hot summer heat and gave him a ride where he needed to go. My dad taught me so much about compassion and generosity that I will never forget.

My dad worked hard for our family. He never sought the recognition or praise of man over that of the Lord’s and was a true example of doing all things without complaining. When others would have quit or thrown in the towel, gotten upset and felt sorry for themselves, my dad chose to persevere and endure, to choose joy and praise the Lord. When any other dad might be closed off and want to be alone after long hours of work, my dad was rejuvenated by spending time with us and loving on us.

Not only was his love of family so evident, but his love of the Lord shined brighter than anything else. His Bible would always be open at his place at the table. He wasn’t ashamed to lift his hands high, jump around, and shout praises of joy to the Lord. He wasn’t ashamed to walk up to complete strangers and hand them a small Bible and some snacks. He wasn’t ashamed of the Gospel- The Good News that gave him the very life he lived. Romans 1:16 says “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” That seemed to be my dad’s life verse… among many others! He lived by the truth of God’s word! The grace and love of Christ poured out from his heart, and he was a true testimony of a faithful, humble servant. He would pray these verses over me as he tucked me in at night, ones I will never forget:

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26

There may not be “one word” to sum up my dad, but if there was one thing my dad lived for, One Person he lived for, it was Jesus Christ. Yes, he loved us very much. He loved others so well and put them before himself. But all of that was just an overflow of his love and passion for Jesus.

Looking back on his life these last couple of weeks with family and friends, and reflecting on my dad’s last months, I see even more clearly how my dad lived for things of eternal value. He truly saw each moment as a gift, definitely didn’t rush through life, and really lived each day as if it were his last. My dad was full of life and shared Life with others.

I am so comforted knowing that he is in heaven now, partying with Jesus and the angels, pain and cancer free, never having to be rushed through a conversation again because he has all eternity! He probably had the biggest welcoming party at the gates as he heard the words from the Lord: “Well done, My good and faithful servant”. I’m sad because I miss him, but I have such joy and peace knowing that Romans 8:18 is true: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” And I know my dad is basking in the glory of God right now, where he was always meant to be.

still joyfully praising,

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Bienvenidos 2014!

First off, I want to say a HUGE thank you to friends and family that prayed for my dad, and continue to pray for my family, and me. Your prayers and words of encouragement have been felt, despite whatever distance is between us. The body of Christ is amazing! I know my dad is enjoying looooong, lovely conversations with lots of people and as my Tia Nancy said, he is singing in God's heavenly choir with gusto! So, despite 2013 ending quite differently than I ever imagined, God is still good and I am resting in His goodness as this New Year begins.

Looking back at my 2013 NewYear's goals, this is what I wrote:

  • grow in the fruit of the Spirit
  • read the rest of my mystery series
  • run a half marathon... or 2
  • work out. just do something
  • be better at budgeting and saving
  • be better at keeping in touch with others
  • blog more? (there was literally a question mark there... I guess I wasn't too sure about that one)
  • read 1 classic book
  • invite people over for dinner
I would say I had pretty good goals in mind. Did I remember that I wrote those? Nope! I'm pretty sure I hadn't looked at those since the day I wrote them. However, I did accomplish some of those things this past year! 

Obviously, growing in the fruit of the Spirit is a lifelong goal, so I can't say that I am there quite yet. 

I actually re-started my mystery series from the beginning and JUST finished the last book I had already read... which means THIS year I will be starting to read the rest of the series! 

I did run a half marathon with my sister, so that was fun. Mike and I have already signed up for the BCS half next December, so that one is a for sure this year as well!

Sooo... hopefully since I've signed up for another half marathon I will continue to work out in some shape or form. One can only hope. 

As far as budgeting goes, I just downloaded YNAB (You Need a Budget), so we are trying something new this year. Hopefully this will help us budget and save, especially since Mike is back in school and we have more loans to pay off. Our goal is to pay off my small loan this year. Let's see if we can do it!

I think I did a fair job of keeping in touch with others. Haven't been too great on the bookface, but I have stayed in contact with friends.

I'm not sure if I blogged more or not... maybe that question mark was there for good reason!

Hmm... classic book. Did I read a classic this past year? Ummm... I honesty don't remember. I know I read books, just can't think if any were classics or not. This year Mike and I have cleared out one of the shelves on our bookshelf to add any books we read during this year to see how many we come up with. This should be fun!

And I think I can recall at least 3 times inviting people over for dinner this year! So, that's like, 1 invite every 4 months! Yeah! I could probably be better about that too. I think we could handle once a month!

Some of these past year's goals will stay the same and just continue on into 2014, but I think I'll add some more.

2014 Goals:

  • Spend more time with family (talking on the phone, dinner, visiting, emails, etc)
  • Pay off one of my small school loans
  • FINISH my mystery series
  • practice guitar at least once every week
  • keep a list of those that I am praying for and pray for them often!
  • finish reading the Bible all the way through for the 2nd time (currently half-way there!)
  • continue to grow in the fruit of the Spirit!
  • blog more?... yeah, let's just keep that one on there. It's a goal. If I put it on the list it might happen, but if it's not on the list, it probably definitely won't happen... right?! :)
I think that should do. (Don't want to overwhelm myself from Day 1!) Do I think I'll remember all these come July 23rd? Probably not. But maybe you can help keep me accountable with these things. What are your New Year's resolutions/goals? 

Happy New Year!