Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Come to the Well

Leave it all behind and come to the well.

We all have things about ourselves that we surely do not love.  At least I know I do.  I know I always fall short no matter how hard I may try.  And during certain seasons in my life, I feel more unworthy than others.  Thank the Lord for His good news that I never have to be "good enough".  His grace is sufficient to cover all of my flaws and mistakes.  But still - I need to check myself before I wreck myself every now and again.

Sunday night we attended the Casting Crowns concert.  In one word, AMAZING.  The best concert I've ever been to.  But it was so much more than that.  The artists were so REAL and inspiring.  Mark Hall, the lead singer of Casting Crowns, talked about their tour name, Come to the Well, and preached a short bit on just how that message in the Bible changed his life.  It comes out of the book of John in the New Testament:

4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])
 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Mark Hall was making the point that Jesus was trying to make when talking with this prostitute at the well.  He was telling her to leave it all behind and come to the well.  She was getting her reassurance from a hole in the ground, what she saw as a well, not Him.  He was the true well that she should seek for fulfillment to quench her thirst. 

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I do that very same thing.  So often in my life, I seek reassurance and approval from "holes" in the ground instead of the true well, the Father.  I was actually just doing that very thing Sunday morning and got quite upset thinking about something I might have said that could have offended a friend.  I have struggled with this my whole life, trying to be a people pleaser, trying to make others happy, often sacrificing my own sanity.  But why do I do this to myself when He is more than sufficient to quench my thirst?!

So, here's to making some changes within myself - facing my daily struggles and anxieties head on.  When it comes down to it, those that I love, love me in return and that's really all that matters.  I'm tired of caring so much what others think of me and trying to get my thirst quenched from "holes". 


Yes, yes this is perfectly okay.  I am perfectly imperfect.  Taking it one day at a time in my walk of faith.  I debated on whether or not to even publish this post but I'm doing it because maybe this is the same message one of you needs to hear and I want to make myself accountable.



Sunday, February 26, 2012

Honey Butter Pork Tenderloin, Mexican Stuffed Peppers, Cake Batter Blondies & Oreo Triffle - Recipe Catch Up!

I'm getting so bad about posting.  I've thought time and time again since I last posted - almost a month ago - that I needed to blog, but I simply just haven't been able to find the time.  Well, I've got the time now and have a lot of post about.

I'll start off with Valentine's Day.  Yes, very old news.  BUT I want to document it none the less.  I've never been one to go all out and celebrate Valentine's Day because you should show someone everyday that you love them.  But I don't mind if one day out of the year, we take the time to calm down our busy lives and just simply focus on our love.  Since Valentine's Day was on a Tuesday this year, J and I stayed home and had a nice meal and just spent time together.  We agreed on no presents (since we're going to the Casting Crowns concert), but of course he ended up getting me something.  Not just anything, though.  A hand made,. extremely heart felt gift that was totally free.  It was the best gift I have ever received, hands down.  It made me cry and thank the Lord for my husband.  If there's one thing I've always admired about my husband, it's his ability to really get to know someone and remember important details about their life, learn what makes them tick.  Obviously he knows these things about me because I'm his wife, but I was just blown away at how personalized and sweet his creation was.  My kids at school also blew me away with their kindness.  I have enough chocolate to feed an army!  It just made me smile knowing that they took the time to pick out gifts for me and spend their allowances on me this Valentine's Day.


I've been up to a lot in the kitchen.  I've been diversifying my meal plans (even though I haven't posted one in quite some time) and was really pleased with some new dishes that are definitely being added into the rotation.  A couple new supper time dishes we've loved have been Honey Butter Pork Tenderloin and Mexican Stuffed Peppers.

Honey Butter Pork Tenderloin (adapted from food.com)

-4 tbs butter
-2 tbs honey
-1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed
-1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning (I just used blackening seasoning)
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-3/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In an ovenproof pot (I used a cast iron skillet), heat butter and honey over medium heat until melted.  Sprinkle pork tenderloin with Cajun seasoning and black pepper.  Brown each side for 5 minutes.  Lower heat if honey begins to burn.

Place pot in oven and roast for 15 - 20 minutes*.  Remove pot from oven and transfer the pork to a plate. Cover with foil.  Add water to the pot and stir over medium heat.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, until sauce is reduced slightly.  Slice pork on the diagonal and drizzle sauce over top to serve. 

*I roasted mine for 45 mins and it was perfect.  Just check the progress of your tenderloin.

This was delicious and very simple.  It had a crunchy outside and tender, juicy inside.  The honey and butter together really made a unique taste.  We'll be having this again.

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients (can feed 2-4 people):
-2 to 4 large bell peppers (any color is fine, but I chose 2 green)
-2-4 chicken breasts, depending on size (I only used 2)
-1 can Rotel and all the juice from the can
-1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
-1 chopped jalapeno
-2 cups salsa
-shredded cheese
Ingredients for Taco Seasoning:
-1 tsp salt
-2 tsp onion powder
-1 tsp chili powder
-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1/4 tsp oregano
-1 tsp ground cumin

Put whole chicken breasts, taco seasoning, Rotel, chopped onion and chopped jalapeno in crock pot.  Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 4 hours.  When it's done, shred chicken and mix well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the tops off the the bell peppers and pull out the inside ribs and seeds.  Rinse under cold water to remove any remaining seeds.  Stuff peppers with chicken mixture & cover with salsa sprinkled with cheese.  Bake for 25 mins until pepper is soft.  You can top with more salsa and cheese if you wish.  Add some black beans or smashed pinto beans and you've got yourself a very healthy Mexican dinner.

Cake Batter Blondies (adapted from Nicole's blog)
(too easy and too good)

-1 box Confetti Cake Mix
-1/4 cup oil (I used vegetable)
-1 egg
-1/3 cup milk
-1/2 cup white chocolate chips
-1/4 cup sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine cake mix, oil, egg and milk.  Whisk until well combined.  The batter will be thick.  Add in white chocolate chips and sprinkles.  Spray a 9 inch round cake pan and pour batter in the pan.  Bake for 20-25 mins if you like them soft, 30 mins if you like them more done.  SO GOOD, but so bad.  It's just too easy and I usually have all of these ingredients in my pantry.

Oreo Chocolate Trifle (NO BAKING!)

-1 package of Oreos
-1/2 cup butter, melted
-1 large box of instant chocolate pudding
-16 oz container of Cool Whip, divided
-8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
-1 cup of powdered sugar

Make chocolate pudding according to directions.  Place in fridge to set.  Meanwhile, crush the package of Oreos with a rolling pin or in a food processor.  Reserve a 1/4 cup for the topping.  Cover the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan or trifle bowl with crushed Oreos.  Pour melted butter on top, mix well and press down to make a crust.

Beat cream cheese in a mixing bowl until fluffy.  Blend in powdered sugar and then fold in half of the Cool Whip.  Spread mixture over the top of the crushed Oreos.  Top with chocolate pudding and then finish layering with the remaining Cool Whip.  Sprinkle the top with the 1/4 cup of crushed Oreos.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Very simple and takes hardly any time.  This is a great summer time dessert.


Alright, enough recipes to catch up.  I hope you'll try some of these and enjoy them as much as we did. 

This Tuesday, we have the FCAT Writing test in 4th grade.  I am so anxious to get this over with.  I know my kids will be fine, but they just put SO MUCH pressure on them to perform.  I'll be happy after Tuesday is over.  I haven't had hardly any time to do much of anything due to school right now.  I'm ready for spring break!  But I have decided to spend this chilly Sunday in pajamas.  I need some rest and relaxation before I pull my hair out.  I'll blog soon about a book I'm reading that is really helping me to calm my anxious spirit and seek what really matters in life.  I have always struggled with anxiety and OCD and when I am under a lot of pressure, it really fires it up.  That's just the devil's way of trying to sneak in and have control over my thoughts.  But I know this and will not let it happen.  I'm staying positive and praying for God's peace to capture my mind and direct my thoughts.

I hope y'all have a blessed week! XOXO

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Decorate to Feel Great

Today I'm hosting my first guest post by the fabulous Christina Johnson.  She works remotely for Elliman Prudential and has great advice on how to freshen up your home.  She is using her journalism major to combine what she loves most, writing and her career.  Her specialties include home decor design and DIY home improvement projects.

Being that I bought my first home not long ago, I definitely agree with and appreciate her recommendations.  Owning a home can be quite overwhelming.  There are so many things you want to do, but you don't know where to start, or the piggy bank just isn't quite full enough to support all your projects and purchases...But there are small steps you can take that will make it feel more like your own.  It's amazing how these small changes can make a house turn into a home.

Here are some simple ways to decorate to feel great:

1. Paint
If you have a room that refuses to look fresh no matter how often you clean, chances are it's time for a paint job. A fresh coat of paint will do wonders for a room’s vitality. This task might sound like a huge undertaking but it can be done slowly and easily and finished within a week or so.

If you don’t have any help, tackle one wall at a time. Pull all furniture about five feet away from your wall and throw a sheet over it for protection. Eggshell or flat paint is suggested for walls with a high gloss or semi gloss paint used on baseboards, doorframes and molding.

Even though it takes a few more minutes out of your busy life, be sure to use painter’s tape to prevent paint splashing on baseboards and crown molding.

2. Crown Molding
This may be the cheapest and easiest home decoration trick that will add a million dollar look to any room. Crown molding costs around $15 per 8ft strip and is as easy as hammering a nail into a wall. If you are going to paint and hang crown molding, first decide where exactly you want the molding to hang so you can cover up any excess wall holes during the paint job.

3. Colors
We all have heard how colors affect our moods. Before painting or buying new furniture/accessories, review the details on how certain colors evoke certain moods. If your favorite color is red, if you are trying to lose weight, this is the worst color to put in your kitchen. Perhaps your favorite color is orange. If so, be sure to keep it out of your bedroom or else you may have trouble sleeping.

Colors will affect you no matter what. When choosing colors to bring into your home, first decide how you want to feel in each room and then find the color that will evoke that feeling.

4. Swap Out Clothe Furniture
If you have children or shedding pets, do yourself a favor and swap out that old clothe furniture for either faux or real leather. Not only do such materials come in a wide variety of colors, the look of this material is never dated in the way that most fabrics are. Out is all clothe couches with patterns. In is all chic and easy to clean materials in neutral or bold tones.


I know for us, just changing the paint color REALLY changed the whole look and feel of our home.  It went from cold and boring to warm and inviting.  We (well, our brother-in-law) painted the entire house before we moved in and he and Jared painted our kitchen cabinets.  It looked like a different house.  If you're wanting to paint kitchen cabinets, check out this post.  It's a crazy project to tackle.  I'm thankful we didn't live in the home during this time.

cabinets BEFORE the paint job (and walls too)


cabinets AFTER the paint job

Excuse the terrible lighting, these were taken on a camera phone.  I'm not sure if you can tell or not, but just by painting the cabinets, it made our back splash and counter-tops look like different colors.  I'm so happy with the change.  Many, many thanks to Brian and Jared for sanding and spraying for almost two weeks!

Our whole house was painted this peachy pink color called "champagne".  There was nothing "champagne" about it.  It made the back splash in the kitchen look pink, the tile look pink, EVERYTHING looked pink.  It had to go.


living room before


RIGHT after it was done

Christina is definitely right.  All of her tips can help us make us feel great about our homes.  Hope y'all can take something away from it like I did.  Be blessed! XO