5 Things I Am Loving

It happened again this week.  I kept having moments of “I really love this” and “man, I love this thing” so instead of just whispering it to me, I thought I would shout it loud for all to hear.  And by that, I mean blog about it 🙂  So, without further ado, the 5 things I am loving this week…..

1.  Warm Running Gear

I really don’t like running on the treadmill, but with temperatures in the 20s to the 40s in the early morning hours, I have two options:  suck it up and run on the treadmill or bundle up and run outside.  I got these warm running leggings from Kohls and the hat and gloves from Target.  They are all active wear gear and are supposed to keep my sweat from drenching me and the gear.  And man, do they work!  I have told Ed quite a few times “My feet got cold but not my legs, hands, or head.”  I am so thankful for warm running gear that actually works.

2.  FitBit

Speaking of fitness, my sweet, sweet neighbor Denise gave me her old Fitbit when she got a new one.  Her old one wasn’t staying charged the full time it was supposed to, so Fitbit sent her a new one that stayed charged.  Meanwhile, I benefitted by getting her old one.  For someone who was hesitant about getting one, I have to say that I really like it.  It has made me more conscious about getting steps and trying to stay active, which is super helpful with trying to lose weight.

3. Kanki Japanese Restaurant

Today is my birthday, so happy birthday to me.  To celebrate, we went out last night as a family to one of my favorite types of restaurants – Japanese.  Let me be real for a second – I am not picky about a lot of things and can go with the flow most times, but when it comes to Japanese restaurants, I am very, very, very selective.  I grew up going to a really, really great one that gave consistently great food time after time, gave you lots of food for a great price, and delivered great entertainment.  If I am paying this much for food, it had better be good.

The whole time we were in Kentucky, I never found one that I liked enough to go back to again.  When we moved to Raleigh, the search began again.  I have tried a few here in Raleigh and the only one that I really like is Kanki.  It is a little pricier than the one I grew up going to, but we have had great food and entertainment every time we have gone.  And great Yum, Yum sauce, which is a must for a Japanese restaurant.

My kids love this restaurant too.  Emerson kept saying “This is so fun”, and Kinsley wants her next birthday party there. I am glad they love it – I may have to ship them off if they didn’t 😉

After eating at Kanki, we went to the mall and let the girls visit the Lego Store, the Disney Store, play in the kids area, and went to Gymboree for clothes.  They had a blast and it was a great birthday celebration for me – to see my kids happy, having fun, and for us to enjoy spending time with each other.

4.  USAA Insurance Company

Last week, I got a call from Ed that I have always dreaded. “I haven’t made it to campus yet, because I got in an accident.”  What?!?!  Thankfully, he was okay, the other guy was okay, and the cars were driveable.  But, Ed’s rear bumper from the guy hitting him in the back was pretty dented.  So we called our car insurance company, USAA, and man, they did an awesome job!  They are easy to contact and deal with, have had great communication, have got us a rental car super easily, and even waived our deductible because we met certain criteria.  I seriously don’t think this process could have gone easier or faster up to this point.  Ed’s car is in the shop as I write, so the process is still ongoing, but up until now, they are doing a great job!

5.  “Uprooting Anger” book

Ya’ll, this book has rocked my world.  A counselor recommended I read this because of some hard stuff I have been dealing with related to all the changes in our life this past year.  The Lord has used this book to allow me to process why I get angry, to show me what is really going on deep down in my heart and lies that I was believing about the Lord, and help me to change from the inside out with the Lord’s help rather than just “trying harder” to not get angry, not yell, not get frustrated, etc..  It has rocked my world in almost every area of my life and while I am still a work in process, it has changed me.  I am so thankful to the Lord for leading people to write books like this that He uses to sanctify us and make us more like Him.  I could go on and on about what the Lord has taught me about this book, and I may in a later post, but for now, I think this book is a must read for everyone!


DIY Update

I have been feeling the urge to do some crafting lately, and since I haven’t had time to make that a reality, I thought I would share some crafts I have done in the last few months (more like last 6 months…lest you think I have lots of time and am super ambitious).  I also want to share some new recipes that we have tried and really loved lately….since I am all about sharing the wealth in that area as well.

1.  Monogram Shirt – Being Southern, I am all about monograms and sweet tea and “ya’ll.”  Anytime I have the chance to monogram anything, I am going to take it.  So, I had extra t-shirts I had bought and decided to make this initial shirts for my mom and myself.  I think they turned out great and they were super easy, using heat transfer vinyl.

2.  Then, continuing on the monogram train, I decided to put my name on my Kindle case.  I never take it out of the house and don’t use it that much, but it never hurts to have your name there just in case 🙂

3.  And, because my kids need their name on something too, I made these really cute buckets for them for Halloween.  I actually loved the way these turned out with layering the vinyl and wish we could use them all year long.

4.  And continuing down the name train, I have loved these frames on Pinterest for a while now and finally decided to recreate them.  I made one for us and then one for my brother and sister-in-law in Gamecock colors.  I also loved the way these turned out….in person, they look very professional and elegant.

5.  And I can’t leave out my friends when monogramming….so for Christmas, I bought these cute mason jar ornaments and put their initials on them.  They can even open the lid and fill them with cute things should they decide too.

Looking back over these, it is funny that they all involve names and initials…I didn’t plan that, but I guess it is because I am going back to my roots 🙂

Now for the recipes….we have tried lots the last few months – a few were really, really good, a few were complete misses (not in the can’t eat – it tastes like rubber way but the I will eat another bite because this is what we have way), and a few were good but way too time consuming to put together.  To be keepers in my book, they have to be quick, cheap, and good.  So, these are the recipes that passed my tests.

1.  Ham and Cheese Sliders – These are super easy and super good – I originally had these in NYC the summer we were there at a birthday party in the park, so when I found this recipe, I was totally game to try.

2.  Healthy Baked Chicken Nuggets – these are really good and are a huge hit with the kids.  They are a little work intensive but not enough that we found it wasn’t worth it.  And best part?  they are healthy!

3.  Taco Bake – I have made this recipe LOTS since trying it for the first time.  Confession – its not the healthiest.  Truth – its really, really good and easy to put together. Try it…you will be glad you did.

4.  Chicken Tetrazinni Casserole – again, this recipe isn’t the healthiest, but it is really good and pretty easy.  I love the cheese on top…it makes it so, so yummy.

5.  Cheesy Taco Bake – Another taco type recipe, which our family loves if you can’t tell.  I love that this one has salsa in it, which gives it a special kick and taste.  Super yummy.

Feel free to share the wealth if you have projects or recipes that you think I should absolutely try. I love trying new things!


Maze Magic

The stage was set, the doors were locked, and the hall was packed full of people.  As the clock struck 7, the doors opened and over 980 students filled Talley auditorium to watch The Maze.  We had spent the last week getting the word out all over the whole NC State campus about the coming of “The Maze”, from posters to social media to chalking the sidewalks, and it seemed to have worked based on the turnout.  During the day of the show, Jim and a few other illusionists who travel with the Maze, go throughout the campus doing crazy illusions and inviting people to the show that night.

The Maze features an illusionist named Jim Munroe who wows students with his illusions, challenges them with the question “How do you know what you think is true is really true and not merely an illusion?”, and openly shares his story of battling cancer and that leading to him discovering truth in the person of Jesus.  He then boldly challenges them to make a decision to follow Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and to place their faith in Him.  59 students made the decision to place their faith in Christ last Wednesday night, which is amazing!  76 students indicated that they wanted to be involved in a Maze group, a small group Bible study where they talk more about the show and about Jesus.

One student made this comment about the show:

“When he talked about being at the end of his rope – it hit me.  That is me.  I am there and I need Christ.  I want to pray and surrender my life to Christ right now.”

After the show is over, our staff and student leaders enter all the students’ info that they collected from cards into a database that we use to followup with each student who indicated that they made a decision, want to be in a Maze group, or want to talk more about what Jim said and Christianity.  Our prayer is that these decisions and numbers aren’t just that, but that we get these students connected into Maze groups, small group Bible studies, churches, and other groups of Christian community where they can grow in this new relationship with Christ.

Will you pray with us that this happens?  Will you also pray that the Lord continues to work on hearts at NC State, calling people into a relationship with Jesus, whether they did or didn’t come to the Maze?  We have already seen the Lord doing big things on campus, but we are praying for so much more.  These years are so crucial in students’ lives, and we pray that we get to hear about how college was an influential part of a student learning to walk with the Lord for a lifetime.  Thank you for partnering with us through financial support and prayer to make this happen!


Adoption for the Weekend

We gained another family member for the weekend.  Yes, you read that right.  Kinsley has been waiting and waiting and waiting to be the line leader in her kindergarten class.  The kid who is the line leader for the class also gets to take home the class pet, which is a stuffed dog named Elly, and is the Bengal Buddy for the week.  So, guess who’s turn it was this week?

Poor Elly had to be without Kinsley for part of the day Saturday as Kinsley had Saturday school.  Elly rode in the car to drop her off and pick her up, but had a great time spending the rest of the weekend with us.  She and Kinsley helped Ed washed the cars (since it was crazy hot this wknd – didn’t we have ice on the ground just the week before?), she and Kinsley played outside with Blake and Emerson, and they even ate smores with us and our neighbors.  It was a full weekend and I am sure Elly is enjoying resting at home this week, without Bruno and our wild bunch of kids.

In other news, we have a huge outreach happening tomorrow at NC State.  We are bringing The Maze which features an illusionist named Jim Munroe.  He uses magic to cause students to question “What is true?” and shares his testimony about how he wrestled with Christianity and eventually came to faith in Christ.  While he travels and performs all over the world, we personally have hosted this show at University of the Cumberlands, Morehead State University, UNC Pembroke, and Fayetteville State University.  All 4 of these times, we saw the Lord changed students’ lives as a result of this show.  Pray that students who don’t know the Lord will come, that they will make a decision to place their trust in Jesus and begin a relationship with Him, and that they will get plugged into the Maze specific Bible studies we are starting, another Bible study on campus, or a mentoring relationship with another student or staff – where they can grow in this new faith.  I am excited to update you in a few days about how it goes!