Thursday, February 19, 2009

I Wonder....

why I struggle to focus so much of the time yet was able to read The Associate (John Grisham's newest book) Wednesday night. Regardless I'm so glad that I finally read an entire book! Only my second completed book of this year.

how it is that until today I had never known the deliciousness that is a warm white chocolate raspberry scone. And how this same bakery also sold me a dry, hard chocolate chip cookie that was seriously lacking in chocolate chips.

what I'll be doing this time next year.

if I will go on a date this year.

if I'll ever get around to writing a post about sacrifice. It's been on my mind a lot this week, but I've not been feeling very blog-a-rific...or focused.

I wonder what you're wondering.

how I missed World Nutella Day. I plan to celebrate late by creating some delicious baked good containing the yummy Nutella. I was pretty enamored with Nutella during my travels in Greece--mainly in the form of white chocolate & Nutella crepes.

if this economic "stimulus" package is just a bad joke.

if God will ever get e-mail. Seriously sometimes it'd be nice to just get clear answers on what I should do.

what my youngest niece will be like in ten years (she's five now).

if most people's "I wonder" list would be as self-centered as mine.

p.s. I'm grateful that I don't have to wonder about really serious things like where my next meal will come from, how I'll provide for my family, or my health. Silly lists and thoughts like these remind me of how incredibly blessed I am.

Monday, February 09, 2009


I'm not really a product girl, but I like fun products that don't cost a lot (I love a good deal). I have long time favorites like Aquaphor (for my lips), Extra peppermint gum, and Tree Hut Shea Body Butter (Brazilian Nut or Ginger)--which I can sometimes find at Walmart or Kroger, and I've recently discovered some new favorites and would welcome comments about any of the good buys you guys have discovered.

Bi-Lo is a grocery store that's common here, and I've learned that I like its store brand brown sugar and maple syrup oatmeal (usually $1.50) more than the $3 (with a coupon) oatmeal (Quaker Simple Harvest) that I usually buy. The highlighting I subject my hair to has rendered a heavier conditioner necessary, and I now love Neutrogena Triple Moisture Daily Deep Conditioner (but only use it on the bottom half of my hair since it's so moisturizing). I'm also a big fan of Snickers Marathon Caramel Nut Rush bars (tastes like real chocolate, 21 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber, and is marketed as a low GI food) for when I need something quick to eat--and unlike some of the other protein bars that taste good, they keep me full. I also like my new water bottle ("My glass is always half full.") from Bath & Body Works courtesy of my friend Sara.

p.s. I'm grateful that my sweet nieces are coming to stay with me this Friday & Saturday. I'm taking them to IMAX and to ride the carousel in the park two blocks away; we're making strawberry cupcakes (subject to their approval) for VD; and hopefully having a wii tennis tournament and dinner with some of my friends. Should be a blast.

p.p.s. I'm also thankful that the sun finally came out and brought warm weather with it, which meant croquet and a really fun game of kickball in the park.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Trainers, Books, and Hot Peanut Butter

Since my contribution to the Super Bowl party Sunday night was suppose to be sweet, I tried a new recipe from a fun website (Nosh with Me) I stumbled upon on Saturday. I ended up making Marshmallow Crunch Brownies. I decided the actual brownie layer didn't need to be homemade and opted for the Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Chip mix; I've tried several homemade brownie recipes, and none have been significantly better than the box--so I save myself the time and money. Anyway it's a combo of brownies, marshmallows, peanut butter, milk chocolate, and Rice Krispies. Needless to say, it's rich and yummy. I'd give it 4.2 stars out of 5. I think it might would have scored higher if I hadn't licked all of the bowls and eaten so much as I baked.

I'm glad for February. January wasn't the best month ever and I'm tired of feeling moody and less than 100%. The upside has been that I have succeeded so far with my resolution not to consume diet sodas. I also gave up sweets for two weeks, which was sort of nice. I liked not having the energy/blood sugar drops that I sometimes experience after eating goodies.

Another resolution was to read two books a month. I still need to read the last 100 pages of Eat, Pray, Love and am struggling to get excited about it (I started this book last summer!). It's sort of like reading a middle aged stranger's journal, and I think 200 pages was just enough of that for me. I want the next book I read to be much better. Any suggestions?

I've learned some new things from my trainer and definitely worked out harder than I would on my own, but all in all I've been pretty underwhelmed by the experience. I've wondered if I should sit down with my trainer and talk about it, but since I only have 4 or 5 more sessions I may not bother. I think I will ask if my remaining sessions can be used in 30 minute segments since we should be able to do what I need to in that amount of time. I think he is used to working out with people who aren't serious and chit-chat and whine, so I often finish fairly early and end up doing cardio or more abs--and I can do cardio on my own and don't need to do 15 minutes of abs. Last time we did 4 or 5 sets of each exercise (because I completed everything much more quickly than he'd anticipated) and that just seems inefficient to me. Three weeks ago he reviewed my diet (and you guys can guess how poor it was, especially given the holidays; it has since improved:) and said it was fine and that I should eat 2000-2200 calories a day to meet my goal (of losing 5-10 lbs and decreasing my body fat), which I can't figure out.

He pushes eating 6 times a day, which I had been trying until last week....but I've concluded that eating 6 "meals" a day just doesn't work for me. It takes way too much thinking about food, and it sort of rendered me obsessed with eating/food/planning my next meal. Not healthy. And I've read articles and studies that suggest that it doesn't really make a substantial difference in your metabolism either. So I'm back to 3 squares a day and liking it much better (and thinking about eating a lot less).

p.s. I'm grateful that my love of running and weight lifting and experimenting in the gym (I did my first real high intensity interval training (HIIT) yesterday and loved it in that weird sort of I almost feel sick way) sort of helps balance my love of hot peanut butter mixed with milk chocolate and homemade Italian cream cake and whatnot.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

It's Not About Me

I began college at a liberal arts college, and I expected an "open minded" (read: liberal) environment of free thinkers. Instead I was surrounded by a lot of conservative Christians, and while I wasn't opposed to Christianity (or any other religion), I was agnostic--I didn't know if there was a God and didn't care to take the time to figure it out.

And as I observed those around me and their "virgin clubs," refusal to discuss the Bible in class (b/c it wasn't "literature to be discussed and dissected"), objections to required reading that referenced premarital sex, and the like, I determined that Christianity was about what I was not allowed to do. Not surprisingly it was unappealing to me, and I was certain that if I was ever going to seriously consider Christianity I needed to wait at least until I was at least out of college (b/c sex, drinking, etc. were entirely too fun).

I'm pretty sure it never occurred to me that Christianity isn't about me (no surprise there...I was as self-centered then as I am now)--that the Bible isn't about me or a set of moral principles I need to follow to be an adherent of the faith. As Tim Keller points out--there are only two ways to read the Bible: either as basically being about me or about Jesus. When I read it through the lense of being about me it can be boiled down to what I must do, and "as only principles of living, the Bible is a crushing burden." It's just an exhausting list of things I should and should not do.

Years later I slowly realized that the Bible isn't about me or what I must do; it's the story of what Jesus has done. "The Bible is not primarily a 'book of virtues.' It is the story of how God is redeeming us through Jesus Christ." As now that I read Scripture through this perspective, a weight is lifted. I'm so overcome by Christ's generosity--giving up everything for me on the cross--that I want to give myself, my money, and my time away. And as I reflect on His forgiveness and grace, I want to extend it to others. But in order to receive God's acceptance I don't have to do those things. Instead the gospel is "I am accepted by God through the work of Jesus Christ--therefore I obey."

Thus one of my wishes for those who aren't Christians is that they would at least understand what the gospel is--and not reject it as I did on the basis of a false premise. Christianity isn't morality. Christianity isn't about you or me. Grace cannot be earned. You don't have to do anything except believe (which I know isn't took years for me to take that leap of faith).

If you're interested in a fairly short summary of the gospel (133 short pages), check out The Prodigal God.

*All of the quotes are from Tim Keller ("Gospel Christianity" Bible study and The Prodigal God).
p.s. I'm grateful for two days of sunshine, being less sick today than yesterday, new songs, a fun Super Bowl party with friends, new recipes, and getting to see my students at PTM last week.