Wednesday, February 29, 2012

When words fail...

You know those songs that feel like someone just knew your heart, took the words that you couldn't find, and turned it into a song? This song is one of those for me. It's by Elevation Worship, and we've been singing it at my church for awhile now. It never fails to make me cry, but at the same time, I love it so much.

*disclaimer- this is a long video, but I wanted to have their video, not link to someone else who put their song over some pretty pictures.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thankful Thursday

This week, I have been so touched by the people in my life. It's really the little things. I am so thankful for the little things each day- for the sunshine this week, for caffeine, for finally understanding something in one of my classes.

But the things that I have probably been the most thankful for, and that have impacted me the most this week, have been the little messages of encouragement from my friends. The text messages that say something as simple as "I love you" or "I read this verse today and thought of you" really make me feel special.

These days, I'm just going day by day and needing all the encouragement I can get. I never expect messages like these- I'm usually the sender, not the receiver. But when my phone lights up with a message, and I see a reminder that someone cares about me and is thinking about me, that has such a positive effect that I can't even begin to explain.

So this week, it's pretty simple. I'm thankful for the sweet notes and the reminders that people care.

What have  you been thankful for?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My favorite cookie.

I love chocolate chip cookies. I don't make them very often, because when I do, I'm liable to make myself sick from eating half of the dough as well as half of whatever actually lives to see the oven. It's a problem-- for my waistline, anyway.

It seems like there's always a bakesale going on in the music building at school. Last week, the percussion studio was having a bakesale, and I bought a delicious brownie one day and a gorgeous (and tasty!) cake pop on another. This week, it's Phi Mu Alpha, also known as Sinfonia. They are an all-male music fraternity. But let's get back to the real story here.

This morning, their bakesale started, and I felt like supporting them, and having a treat to celebrate my last 7:30 class of the week. But mostly I just wanted a treat. The table held some unidentified truffle-looking blobs, some saran-wrapped pieces of red velvet cake, cookie-dough swirled brownies, and chocolate chip cookies. I think we can all figure out what I bought.

As I was walking away, I eagerly opened the bag and broke my cookie open, where I found an Oreo lodged in the middle. I was totally ok with that, but not after I took my first bite. I think it's safe to say that the men of Phi Mu Alpha made the treats themselves. :( The cookie was hard and tasted like it had been made at least a week in advance and not stored well. I couldn't even bring myself to finish it!

They made a good effort, and the Oreo inside was a good idea (especially if judging by it's apparent popularity on Pinterest, thanks to Picky Palate). It just wasn't working for me.

So, I did what any reasonable and slightly hormonal 20-year-old would do. I went home and made my own dang cookies!

I used my go-to recipe for chocolate chip cookies, which happens to be a slightly adapted version of the one that you find on the bag of Nestle chocolate chips. And instead of just making a normal batch of cookies, I decided to change things up, so I made 6 big cookies, 8 Oreo-stuffed cookies, and used the rest of the dough to make normal-sized cookies.

For the giant cookies, I scooped out the dough using my ice-cream scoop and baked them for about 18 minutes. Look at how big that is! I think they're comparable to the bakery down the street from me that makes the BEST gigantic chocolate chip cookies. I also got a little cray and sprinkled some sea salt on the cookies before putting them in the oven.

For the Oreo-stuffed cookies, I followed Picky Palate's instructions. I put a scoop (normal-sized) of cookie dough on the top and bottom of an Oreo, and sealed it up! These took about 14 minutes to bake in my oven.

Oh, man. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with all of these cookies yet, but I'm sure I'll find something. :) I guess I really shouldn't leave you hanging though, so here's my go-to recipe!

My Favorite Chocolate-Chip Cookies
adapted from Nestle

1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup of Crisco shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 (12 oz) bag of Nestle Semi-Sweet chocolate chips (or more if desired!)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Beat butter, shortening, sugars, and vanilla extract in a large bowl (I use my KitchenAid stand mixer) until smooth and creamy.
3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until well-combined after each addition.
4. In a separate small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir it together to evenly distribute everything.
5. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and beat until combined.
6. Add the chocolate chips, and either fold them in with a spatula or give them another spin in the mixer.
7. Scoop cookie dough onto baking sheets that have been lined with parchment paper, allowing them room to spread a little as they bake.
8. Bake cookies for about 8-12 minutes, or until golden. Keep an eye on them! Sometimes ovens can be ornery.
9. After they come out of the oven, let cookies stand on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then remove them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
10. Store in your favorite cookie jar or storage container, if they stick around that long! :)


Thankful Thursdays

I'm going to cut right to the chase this week.

Some things I have been thankful for include:

God, and that He sent His Son to die for my sins. I try to remind myself of this often.

Mitch. I could go on and on about how wonderful he is. He responded really well after we had to talk the other day, and I'm really encouraged and looking forward to whatever may come. And also, he made a point of making sure that I'd have something to smile about on Valentine's Day. He's just been even more awesome than usual lately, and I am loving it.

Sleep. When you haven't been sleeping, you certainly appreciate it a lot more.

People who actually understand. God works in mysterious ways and is always ALWAYS at least 12 steps ahead of us. Seeing now how He has worked some things together just puts me even more in awe of Him. As a result of His planning, I've sort of been taken in by a family here from my church that knows what I'm going through and has been there. Lately, the time I've been spending at their house has been the times that I've been smiling the most. And I've missed really smiling.

Caffeine. When I don't sleep, it keeps me going. Love it!

What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Sometimes, it's hard to thank God. Like when you're sitting in the middle of a storm or feeling lost or broken. It's hard. I know that it doesn't make everything magically better, but sometimes, it can help to actively list things that you can thank Him for. So, once again, here's part of this week's list.

I'm thankful for God's working in my life. Even I don't see Him in things that I think are the small things, the mundane and everyday, He is working and setting things into place for the next stage. This week, I got to see some of that come together.

I'm thankful that I will get to see my boyfriend this weekend.

I'm thankful for sweet friends.

I'm thankful for coffee. And caffeine. And all of that good stuff that keeps me functioning.

I am so thankful for Jesus.

And triple grande skinny mochas with sugar-free caramel.

And wonderful baristas who throw in a fourth shot of espresso [for free].

It's the little things, and the BIG things. But mostly the BIG things.

What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Looking Up

First, an update:

Today was actually a pretty good day. So far, there have been no tears, and I'm hoping to keep it that way. I'm glad to say that although my situation and burden hasn't been miraculously removed from me, God has been growing me every day. Things are happening in tiny increments, but I'm just glad to be climbing up out of that pit.

I realized today that it has been exactly four weeks since I had that doctor's appointment. Four weeks since my future changed. Four weeks since I was forced to start letting go of my plans and start listening for God's. My sense of time and date has been (and still is) off, so I am incredibly dependent on my calendar, my watch and alarms, and my lists. The first two weeks, I know I was a zombie. I probably couldn't tell you what I did during that time period. I know I must have done stuff, I just wasn't paying any attention. At the beginning of last week, I feel like I finally started to move forward. I finally had a big ol' cry-fest on the phone with Mitch while I proceeded to tell him everything I'd kept bottled up while I was hiding from the world. We got to have a real talk about it, something we didn't get to do before I came back to school. I started baking again. I started taking better care of my body, and caring about the food that I was putting into it. Instead of hollering at God and waiting for Him to fix everything, I dove into the Scriptures. And I am so glad that I did.

Here's some of the verses that I've been meditating on recently:

Habakkuk 3:18
Proverbs 19:21
Romans 8:26
Luke 22:42
Colossians 3:3

I'm not totally 100% yet, but I am making progress. Some days are harder than others, and I have no idea why. There's not necessarily that triggers the tears, they just invite themselves to the party.

Like I mentioned above, I have gotten back to baking. I made two batches of brownies, and I thought that I had met my baking nemesis. Good news, though! They weren't failures! (I was so preoccupied with having them turn out well that I forgot to take a picture, though. Oops.)

I also made The Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls. I was so excited with the way that they turned out, and I think I fell in love with the icing. So, to the dismay of my waistline, I am now trying to think of what else I could put that delicious glaze on. Cakes? Streusel muffins? I'm started to get excited!

Unfortunately, I need to really buckle down and focus on school now. Educational Psychology test in the morning, and a whole mess of things to do after that! I'll see you back here for Thankful Thursday, but for now, here's my current favorite Bible verse (aka today's favorite):

Psalm 103:17 "But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him."

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I can hardly believe that it's February already. 2012 is pretty well underway, and I feel like I missed it or something. Even though this semester already seems to be dragging on endlessly, it also feels like it just started.

Anyway, it's Thursday, and you know what that means!

Some of the things I've been thankful for this week include:

God's Word. I can't even tell you how many hours I've spent in the Word this week. God is so faithful, and He is showing me some Awesome things.

Mitch. I love him, and he is so supportive and just so good to me in general. I also miss him. A lot,

Sara. Once again, she is incredibly sweet and loving. So thankful for her, and that she loves me even though I'm a mess.

Sweet friends. I may be a mess, but these girls love me anyway. I am so thankful for them-- I just wish that I could get out of this funk sooner so I could really show them.

Caffeine. Man oh man, have I been taking in a lot of caffeine this week. It's keeping me going, so it must be working!

What have you been thankful for this week?