Sunday, August 7, 2016

Fast Fixins - Shrimp Stir Fry

Happy Sunday!  I hope y'all are enjoying this last day of the weekend.  By this point, the Sunday blues are probably setting in as you get ready for Monday morning.  I know that's especially true for my teacher friends who are heading back to work tomorrow.  This summer FLEW by!  I am praying over all of you and the sweet kiddos that will soon walk through your doors.  I know the Lord has placed them all in your care for a reason.

We had a great morning at church.  We had bagels with the seniors that we teach as we enjoyed our last Sunday school class together before they head off to college, then we heard a good word from Dr. Ben McCarty.  He preached on God's mercy in the middle of our mess.  It was a humbling sermon and a reminder that we all have messes in our lives - some of us bare our messes for the world to see and others have internal messes that we try to mask and hide. If I'm being totally transparent, the latter would be me.  I don't mean to do this.  It's more of a "I don't want people to think I'm a negative person" issue.  I definitely don't have it all together.  Some days it feels like it's hanging by a thread.  BUT The Lord sees, hears, and opens the way for us. He wants us to come to Him so that He can help us deal with our messes.  Praise Jesus!  I need all the help I can get!

With a busy week looming over us, I thought I'd share my first "Fast Fixin" (here in the South, fixing has numerous meanings).

This recipe is so delicious, healthy, and QUICK!  From start to finish it takes about 20 minutes.  Here's what you'll need:

Shrimp Stir Fry (feeds 2-3 people)
(adapted from The Pioneer Woman)


Ingredients:
-1 to 2 lb shrimp frozen or fresh (I buy mine peeled and deveined then quickly remove the tails.  If you buy frozen, make sure you allow about 5 minutes for them to thaw)
-3 fresh zucchini, cut into wedges
-2 cups grape tomatoes, chopped
-1 cup corn (fresh, frozen, or canned - just drain canned)
-2 cloves garlic
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-fresh basil
-salt & pepper to taste
**Disclaimer: I honestly don't measure when I cook.  So, these are my estimates based on what I used.  Feel free to use more or less!

Directions:
Mince and saute garlic in olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan.  Add shrimp and cook until opaque.  It's usually about 5 minutes.  Remove shrimp and set aside.  Add a bit more olive oil to the pan and saute your zucchini and corn over med/high heat for about 5 minutes and then add in tomatoes, stirring to combine for about 2-3 minutes.  Add the shrimp back to the sauteed veggies and season with basil, salt, and pepper.

 

This is seriously so easy.  And so healthy.  Shrimp is an excellent source of lean protein and you're getting a good mixture of complex carbohydrates from the vegetables.  I serve this just as it is.  If you want, you can always serve it over rice, but it's honestly not needed.  I hope you enjoy!


Friday, August 5, 2016

I'm Baaaaack!

Y'all...it's been quite awhile!  I think my last post was December of 2013.
So much life has happened!
I got a chuckle reading my "About Me" section.  "I'm a twenty something year old..." Ha!  Not anymore!  I need to make some updates.  That one made me laugh, but then the "Featured On" made me sad.  I can't bring myself to take that off.  I miss reading my sweet blogging friend, Leslie's posts.  She went to be with Jesus a year ago.

Where do I even begin?  I will have to go back and blog all about our infertility struggles and ultimately success because J and I are now proud parents to our precious miracle girl!
 Newborn photo courtesy of Patsy Brown

Those big blue eyes melt our hearts.  She brings so much JOY to our lives and she's a constant reminder of God's goodness.  He hears our prayers!  I could never thank Him enough, but I will always try.

So, since I'm a new momma, time is of the essence...meaning, I don't have a whole lot of it.  I'm going to try to blog a couple of times a week.  I thought about bringing back Meal Plan Monday to help motivate folks to try new foods and meal plan too.  I will also try to do a weekly recipe post that I'm going to call "Fast Fixins".  It'll be a healthy recipe that takes 30 minutes or less.  Sound good?  Of course I'll have to post about our precious Emmy girl as well!  I'm excited to start back to blogging.  Here's to my 30s and the adventures life holds!

Image result for psalm 116:2


Friday, December 27, 2013

2013: My Ugly Beautiful Year

It's eerily quiet in my house.  Our company left this morning and I have been feeling melancholy over them leaving.  I just cherish our visits so much and I am so thankful to have married into such a wonderful family.  I've been sitting here catching up on my thankful journal and felt the need to write to reflect on 2013.  This year wasn't at all what I expected, but it sure was "ugly beautiful".

I'm reading "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp.  I've been reading this so slowly because I really just don't want to finish it.  


It is so beautifully and eloquently written.  It breaks me down and builds me up again in such a gracious way.  If you haven't read it, I highly suggest it.  She keeps a thankful journal and was dared to write down 1,000 things she was thankful for.  That's what inspired me for my thankful journal.  I have a ways to go as I'm only on 126.  The part of the book I'm reading right now is all about what she calls "ugly beautiful".  It's those hard times in a day, week, month, whatever season of life, where nothing goes as planned and you feel sadness, anxiety, anger, disappointment, etc.  But practicing the art of thanksgiving means giving thanks in ALL circumstances, regardless of your current situation.  I've been practicing thanksgiving during ugly beautiful.  At first, it was really hard, but as soon as I'd do it, my mood would automatically change and I'd often find myself laughing at the situation.  This year was an interesting year and I plan to recap month by month.

January
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Ringing in the new year at home
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Our 1st breakfast of 2013. :)
 February
My grandpa turned 91
 March
Some of our best friends got married.
My Aunt Margaret's 65th birthday.  Sadly, it was her last Earthly birthday.
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I played in a kickball tournament for our school.  We won 1st in our division.  Who knew I was actually good at kickball?!
 April
We celebrated Easter.  It was one of the most spiritual Easters I've ever experienced.

We had a shower at my house for our friend, Rilee.
Paisley became a new family member!
 May
Mother's Day with my beautiful, strong momma.
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School year came to an end.  I had such a special, wonderful group of students and parents who I will cherish forever.  They became my family.

 June
Father's Day with my amazing, kind daddy.
The beach was so beautiful the whole month of June.
July
I celebrated my 27th birthday surrounded by A LOT of family.

My Tink (my niece) turned 4!  This same day, my sweet Aunt Margaret met Jesus.
August
My Meemaw turned 75!
Leo left us :(
We buried my Aunt Margaret.  We could smile because we knew she was finally at peace and no longer suffering.
I started back to what would be my most trying year of teaching.
September
We began our anniversary vacation get away in Seaside.  We had quiet, peaceful mornings on our patio reading our Bibles and enjoying God's awesome creation.
My best friend.

Spending all day on the beach without a care.
October
Mom's surprise 60th birthday party.  So thankful for the years in her life!
 November
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Daddy's 80th birthday celebration.  So thankful for his life!
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Thanksgiving with this handsome dude.
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I finished reading the whole Bible in less than a year...cover to cover in chronological order. What a blessing it was to me.
 December
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Ready for Christmas!
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My daddy and I teaching a lesson together on rocks and minerals in my class.
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Our dear friend Timothy's going away party.  We were so blessed to get to know him!
  
As I think back on all this year brought and didn't bring, I am overwhelmed with emotions.  God's grace was so evident in each moment and I cherish the time I got to spend with Him as He grew me.  I have been so humbled through each experience and just pray He continues to get glory through my life.  It is well with my soul.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Boast in my Weakness

This is a post that truthfully, I rather not be typing.  I have put it off for months and months, thinking that one day I'd post good, exciting news about a growing family and be able to leave this part of my life behind.  But as fate would have it, that's not how this has played out and frankly, God won't let me run from it anymore.  His prompting for me to write and share is far too strong to ignore.  And something crazy just happened that made me realize I better start.

This all started back in March of 2012 when Jared and I decided we wanted to start a family.  Three weeks later we found out I was pregnant.  9 1/2-10 weeks into the pregnancy, we lost the baby.  If you haven't read that story, you can find it by clicking here.  Honestly, since May 10, 2012, my life has drastically changed.  Never did I think I would have the emotions and feelings that I've had and never did I imagine that my relationship with the Lord could grow SO much.

After the miscarriage in May, I had problems with my hcg levels returning to normal.  That's a whole other story in itself, but in August we were cleared to start trying again.  August, September, October, November, December all passed with big fat negatives.  Now January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November have all passed with the same fate.  I've had numerous tests and procedures run, all coming back perfectly clear and normal.  That in itself is a praise.  A frustrating one, but a praise none the less.  Jared's testing came back perfectly normal as well.  Our doctor told us that he didn't know what was wrong, scientifically it didn't make sense, and referred us to a fertility doctor.  We haven't been yet.  I don't really know what to do, other than pray about moving forward.

We've been patiently and sometimes not so patiently waiting with each passing month to see if the desire of our hearts will be filled, but that's when it started to click that maybe my desire is all wrong.  Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart."  Yes, He wants to give me the desires of my heart, but it comes from a place of delighting in Him simply because He's Lord and He's good.  He is so good.  He has so much mercy on me and covers me in grace.  He's revealed time and time again why the timing wasn't right with the first baby.  But still, my selfish arms long to hold my baby.

I'm writing this as a piece of my continuously growing testimony.  My heart HAS changed in the last 6 months or so and instead of praying FOR a baby, I find myself praying for God to use me in whichever way He wants.  Help me be okay with who I am and what He's given me.  Help me give Him glory through every tear cried.  Don't let my pain and longing for a child consume me and shape me into someone I'm not.  Make me a parent in the way that gives You the most glory.  Mold me into the woman You want me to be; one that rejoices in the calm and the storm.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 has been on my heart so much lately.  It reads, "And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness"  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

What a powerful scripture.  And like I said, it's REALLY been on my heart for about 2-3 weeks now.  I mean heavily on my heart.  Today I came home, got the mail like always, and we had a letter from a man my husband is good friends with.  He had handwritten us a letter to let us know the Spirit had placed us on his heart and he was praying for us continually through all of our fertility struggles.  In it, he gave us each scriptures to meditate on that he felt like God was leading him to give us.  Want to guess what the first one was?  Yep, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.  That's when I knew I had to write this.

I have to boast in my weaknesses so God can get Glory!  Isn't that amazing?  This same man, having no idea I was about to have an HSG procedure done in October, literally texted Jared the moment we walked into the hospital just to tell him that we were heavy on his heart and he was praying over us at that very moment.  Goosebumps.  Incredible, divine presence and intervention.

Help me to let go of control
Our close family and friends know much of this and have been amazing through everything.  They've prayed over us, sent us notes of encouragement, and told us how our joy, regardless of our situation, has encouraged them.  That is all so wonderful and we are truly grateful.  I don't know what we would've done without them.  But now God has told me that my close friends and family aren't the only ones who need to know.  I need to proclaim His goodness and promises in total faith to the world.  When I am weak, He is strong in me.

If there are any of you out there reading my blog who are going through the same struggles I am right now, please know I am praying for you and please message me if you ever need someone to talk to.  I feel like a weight has been lifted from my back in sharing my struggles and weaknesses with you.  I know that no matter what, God's plan is way better than mine.  I believe it and I trust it.  We always tend to cling to Psalm 37:4, but 5 is what really gets me..."Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it."  God has a reason for allowing things to happen.  We may never understand His wisdom, but we simply have to trust His will.  Sometimes God doesn't change our situations because He's trying to change our hearts.
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We all have struggles and difficulties.  Let's pray for one another and encourage each other to boast in our weakness.  For when we are weak, HE is strong.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lessons on Faith, Trust & Thanksgiving


Warning - this will be a LONG post!

Life at work has been pretty tough lately.  I'm not going to lie.  I'm also not going to go into much detail, but please pray for me and my classroom as we deal with some tough issues this school year.  I am feeling so defeated everyday.  But I keep praying and He keeps providing.  Honestly, The Lord gives me the strength to push through and focus on the good when I just can't. 

With that being said, I've been knocked over the head by lessons of faith, trust and thanksgiving here lately.  I'll start with thanksgiving first.  After a vent session with my momma, she told me to go home and write down three things I'm thankful for.  My cup runneth over.  I have more blessings than I could count, but I will name a few.
1. My awesome, amazing, understanding, hilarious, supportive, best friend of a husband.  Think of every great adjective to describe someone and I could list that for him.  I would be lost without him, plain and simple.
2.  My incredible family, church family, and friends who listen to me, pray for me, love me, and constantly encourage me.  I would be lost without them too.
3.  My stable home.  I know where I'm going to go home to each night - it's clean, comfortable, smells good, fridge is stocked, love abounds within the walls.  It's not a house - it's a home.

I could go on and on, but just focusing on those three made me cry and thank God.  My devotion this morning was all about thankfulness.  I prayed that He would fill my lungs and lips with thanksgiving today.  I feel like I failed miserably.  Today was tough.  Really bad, even.  Tomorrow is a new day and I will keep on keeping on.  Some thoughts that really hit home for me from my devotional were:
*Thankfulness opens the door to God's presence.
*God has empowered us to open and close that door, but a grateful attitude is one of the most effective ways to open it.
*Thankfulness is built on a substructure of TRUST.
*I need to learn the art of giving thanks in all circumstances.

Ahhh...see that scripture at the top of my blog?  Yeah, I need to repeat that over and over.  Practicing thankfulness is hard, but it sure does put life into perspective.  I am so blessed.

The Lord has also been teaching me A LOT about faith and trust over the last year or so.  Hillsong United has a new song out called Oceans.  I really like this cover version though.



And I will call upon Your Name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace

Really listen to those lyrics.  Powerful.  Something happens to me when I hear this song.  My spirit calms and I just focus and believe the words.  All of them.  He has never failed and He won't start now.  I will continue to call upon His name and keep my eyes above the waves.  I will continue to ask for the Spirit to lead me where my trust is without borders and my faith will be made stronger.  Oh boy, is He teaching me this!
I was doing my quiet time yesterday, reading in Hebrews.  It was time for me to wrap it up and start getting ready for work, but I felt SO compelled to keep going.  I looked at the next chapter I was going to read, which was Hebrews 11, and decided it was too long and I just needed to wait until this morning to read through it and take notes.  But then the little voice, aka the Holy Spirit, told me to read it.  So I listened and did it.  Mumbling and grumbling as I turned to it.

Wow.  What a slap in the face.  The whole chapter is Luke's recount of faithful acts through the times.  By FAITH Abel's sacrifice was better than Cain's, by FAITH Noah built the ark, by FAITH, Abraham offered up Isaac, by FAITH Moses led the people to the Promised Land, by FAITH the walls of Jericho came tumbling down, by FAITH Sarah conceived.  I could go on and on, but just open it and read for yourself.  I just kept circling BY FAITH, BY FAITH, BY FAITH over and over.  It's BY FAITH that all things are made possible.  It's BY FAITH that we gain approval.  It's BY FAITH that God provides far better than what we can imagine.  Guess I needed to hear that message!

I don't know the ways in which He works, for His ways are far greater than me.  But I do know this, I must have FAITH and I must trust Him.  Along the way, I must give thanks for my many blessings to keep my eyes fixed on the good.  Otherwise, I'm totally swallowed up by the bad and defeated.  Do I fail?  YES.  Can I try again?  YES!  That's the good news.

Praise God for all He's done and all He's yet to do!

If you made it to the end of this post, you have to know that my mood when I started this was awful.  I was crying, angry, sad, all those icky emotions.  Now I feel lighthearted, joyful, peaceful.  Have any of my circumstances changed?  Not a one.  But what has changed is my mindset and attitude.  This was therapeutic for me to get these feelings and words out.  God has really been convicting my heart to share this and start posting again.  I will do my very best!




Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Teacher Talk: Outfits

Today (a day late, sorry!) I'm linking up with Bloom and Southern Simplicity on our 2nd Teacher Talk link up.


Today's topic might be one of my favorite things ever....CLOTHES!  I don't even know when my love for fashion started, but I can remember in high school being very picky about outfits and trying new things.  My poor husband....

I used to work in a law firm and financial institutions before becoming a teacher (learn about that here if you haven't read it yet), so I've always been very used to dressing up for work.  At my school, we are required to wear work casual everyday except for Fridays when we can wear jeans.

Dressing up is fun for me.  I've always enjoyed it.  It just makes me feel better to pull myself together in the morning and be fresh for the day.  I've made it my mission since becoming a teacher to always look nice for the kids.  The heels had to go, but I've transitioned nicely to flats if I do say so myself. ;)

Say what you will, but they way a person dresses speaks.  I try to be mindful of that for school.  It's a psychology, if you will.  I fully believe that what I wear makes a difference- to me and to those kids.  If I've had an "off" day and maybe my hair isn't in place like usual, they will comment right away.  Kids notice just like adults do and a lot of times, they're more vocal...ha!

Here are my rules for my teaching outfits: have at least one statement piece, wear bright colors, try to wear comfortable shoes (but they all become uncomfortable after being on your feet for 10 hours!), dress in clothing that's comfortable, always dress modestly, have interchangable/versatile pieces, and spend just a little time on deciding what to wear.

My hubs was a great sport as we played "teacher fashion show"- taking pictures of me in some of my clothes I wear to work.  He was CRACKING me up. As you'll be able to tell, I LOVE bright colors.  They make me happy.

Dress-The Loft; Shoes-Dillards (on clearance last Winter); Jewelery-Dillards (on clearance last Winter)

Top & Pants-The Loft; Necklace-Etsy; Shoes-Target; Earrings-Wal-Mart

Piko Top-Shop The Rage; Pants-either The Loft or New York & Co (can't remember! I have a pair from both places); Necklace-Steinmart; Shoes-Target

Piko Top-Shop the Rage; Pants-Steinmart; Shoes-Target; Jewelery-Roccoco

Top-The Loft; Pencil Skirt-New York & Co; Shoes-Target; Jewelry-The Limited

Top-Traget; Maxi-Dillards; Earrings were from my mom; Bracelet-Francesca's

Top & Pants-The Loft; Shoes-Target
I didn't realize how much of my wardrobe came from The Loft until I took these pictures.  I'm lucky enough to live close to two different outfits and a regular store, so I get some really good deals.  I used to shop at The Limited for almost everything, but the quality just wasn't there.  I also buy a lot from Target, various boutiques, Dillards (when they have a sale), and I hit up Steinmart/TJ Maxx/Ross every once in awhile.  I don't discriminate. ;)

Thanks for taking the time to read my silly outfit post! :)  I hope you have a great finish to your week!