Low-calorie yummies!

August 31, 2008

Ok, so I know I have a separate link for recipes but I just wanted to make sure everyone saw these two little delicious things I’ve tasted.

Low-Cal Pumpkin Loaf

I heart pumpkin loaf/muffins/cookies so very much, I just can’t even explain it. The problem with these little tasties is that they are usually loaded with calories. I gave this recipe a shot last week and it totally satisfied my pumpkin craving. If you make them into 24 muffins they are just 95 calories a piece. Try them with a little peanut butter on top for a very tastey breakfast.

1 large can of pumpkin

1 box spice cake mix

Mix those two little ole ingredients together and bake according to the directions on the box. I’m telling you, these rock!

Chilly Peanut Butter Cups

While the flavor of these will make you want to eat every last one in one sitting the richness will help you control yourself. I just can’t explain the deliciosity but you need to give them a shot. They’re about 110 calories a piece. Next time I’m going to try them in mini muffin tins so I can have tiny 55 calorie bites.

8 oz Lite Cool Whip

1/4 cup Peanut Butter (I used skippy naturally and it was yummy)

6 tablespoons chocolate syrup

Mix the cool whip and peanut butter together with a wisk until smooth. Evenly disperse the mixture into 12 muffin cups. Try to level off the tops as best you can – I had to use my fingers and kind of swirl the mixture around. Top each one with a little swirl (about 1/2 a tablespoon) of chocolate syrup and put the pan in the freezer. Lick the bowl and enjoy the fake cups once they’re frozen. Soooo good!

Miscellaneous Updates

August 27, 2008

It’s been quite a little week. Ever since last Monday rolled around, the days have flown by. This would explain my lack of blog updatage. Here are some random jottings.

First of all, it’s been interesting to hear the responses to my last post about why James and I don’t go to church. Some people are understandably concerned, others have shared their common frustrations and I really appreciate both kinds of responses as well as everything in between. I’m not sure how to respond to things said except that I see where you are coming from. Let me just say, if you have any questions then pass them along. I’m happy to answer them. Also, James and I are looking to start up a small group for our fellow friends that haven’t found a church but are looking for fellowship. Let me know if you’re interested.

Depending on where you live, you may or may not have heard about the 5 men that were found brutally murdered in a Birmingham apartment complex. Well, James and I live in said apartment complex. On Wednesday night James and I finished dinner and went on a walk up to The Wright Dairy (extremely tasty – get the kids size for a perfect serving at a fraction of the cost) and as we were walking out we saw some police tape going up near the gym. Cops aren’t uncommon where we live but the tape was a little unnerving. We just kind of shrugged and kept walking. We got up to the ice cream shop (I got apple pie ice cream, James got a cheesecake bar – both delish!) and we headed back home. As we round the corner and see our apartment complex we see a large number of police cars with their lights a’flashin. As we get closer we also see an ABC news van – not a good sign. We came to find out that they weren’t letting anyone in the apartment complex without ID proving that they lived there. James and I had just gone out for ice cream – we didn’t bring out wallets. We were stuck sitting on the curb without knowing what happened. An officer approached us and we explained that we had no way to prove our identity. There were a couple other groups of people that had headed out for their nightly stroll and were also stuck. The nicest policeman that I have ever met had compassion on us and drove all of us stranded folks to our apartments where we could show him our ID. I got to ride in the back of a cop car. Not my first time – what can I say? That’s another story for another day.

Anyway, we get inside and look online and find out that 5 people have been found dead. I was pretty freaked and was considering calling a friend and staying somewhere else for the night but we held our ground. Over the past few days more details have come out and they arrested four men on Monday. Yesterday they released a motive – organized crime and unpaid drug bills. That’s actually more comforting – it wasn’t random. Still, I’ve found a new place to go running.

Speaking of running – this may not be all that impressive to my athletic friends but I have recently weaned myself off of the treadmill and yesterday I ran a little over four miles! Trust me, this is amazing. In the spring 4 miles was the farthest I had ever run on a treadmill – for me to do it outside is a big accomplishment for me. I just have a much harder time mentally when I’m outside – I’m more prone to stopping for rests. I felt pretty excited about it. Braggin’ on myself. Sorry.

I had a couple of job interviews last week – I was offered a job at one of the locations but in the end I decided to stay with Banana. A part of the problem at Banana was that the only other sales person was requesting all weekends off. That does not work for me. It’s just so hard for James and I when I have to work every weekend. Well, the other sales person agreed to working all weekend every other weekend. This turns out great for me – now I only have to work every other Friday and Saturday. So, I get to have most of my nights and weekends off, I keep my discount, I keep the rewards program, and I get to keep working with awesome people like Marie. Hooray!

What else? Oh, I did have this past weekend totally off – it was awesome. James and I relaxed quite a bit but we did go for a couple of runs. Anyhow, James and I are diner fiends. If you don’t know what a diner is then I feel sad for you. There is actually a lack of them here in Alabama but we found an awesome one on Saturday morning – Salem’s Diner. While this diner is missing one of my favorite classic diner features – open 24 hours – it did have a chef that knew everyone that came in the door, serve your own coffee, inexpensive and delicious foods (cheese grits!), and just that down home kind of feel. I don’t know how to explain a diner but when you find a good one, you don’t want to let it go. We’ll be headed back there soon.

Oh, I almost forgot – classes started up. I feel weird about it. I’m sure once I’m a few weeks into the semester that I’ll get into the groove but I feel weird right now. I’m ready for my books to get in – I need to start reading!

Alright, that’s all for now. I’ll try to think of something awesome to write about soon!

the future and the present

August 12, 2008

For so long now James and I have had our future plans set. Graduate in May, move to Denver over the summer, grad school for the next two years. This has been the plan for the last two, if not three, years. Recently these plans have gone up in the air. James and I are considering new options and I can see grad school slowly slipping away. I think I’m excited about the other options but am still sort of grieving the whole school thing. I’m still going to apply to Denver for next fall but the reality is that I would have to have a full scholarship and someone would have to let us live with them for free for that to happen that soon. It’s likely at this point that school is going to be put off for a little bit. We’re just deciding what to do in the mean time. I don’t really have any updates on our plans but would really appreciate y’all’s prayers. We so want to be in the right place and we’re just not sure where that is.

Now, switching gears, let’s move to the present. I wanted to write a little bit about something that has been on my mind lately. Church. James and I do not go to church. There it is, it’s all out there in the open. We haven’t gone to church regularly since we left Valleydale Church over a year ago. We went off and on to a few places but nothing stuck. Here’s the truth of the matter. James and I do not like church. I do not enjoy being at church. For so long I was really negative about church. I had a bad attitude. Lately, as James and I have been talking through some things, I’ve come to some new revalations.

James and I both have a lot of missions experience. Well, a lot for your average Christian. We’ve done a lot of cross-cultural ministry. Whenever you’re “doing church” in another culture you really seek out ways to make the gospel relevant to people. No, you don’t change it, but you start with trying to work it into people’s lives. You seek to meet people where they are. That’s basically lesson number one – if you try to recreate american church you’ll fail, you have to create a church that will fit into people’s lives.

Now, I had never looked at American church this way. I know that this might seem simple to a lot of y’all. At some point along the way I guess I forgot that pastor’s are just trying to reach people where they are. This helps me to understand why it doesn’t have to mean a whole lot that James and I don’t like the church’s we’ve been to. This can give light to why a lot of my friends at Southeastern also struggle with church. We’re in a unique place. We’re not your average churchgoer and we’re not going to fit into your average college group. We study the Bible on an academic level and are in frequent conversations about the integration of theology in our everyday lives. Ok, that makes me sound like I think we’re all smart. What I really mean is that our classes are about God and the Bible and those topics enter our conversations pretty often in the same way that law students end up talking about law in their spare time. Anyway, we’ve got a certain perspective when we think about the Bible and Theology and spirituality and life that is unique. Not necessarily better but unique.

Thinking about the American church in this way has also helped me to see the really great things that it’s doing. I think about how good church ministries are at reaching families with small children, middle school students, and high school students. I mean, it is so effective to get a ministry going that engages children so that the parents are also getting themselves plugged in. I could go on and on about the ways that the church is ministering effectively to the groups it’s trying to reach and it is really awesome.

This also makes me have a little more understanding about all the different denominations there are. I mean, if you think about it, many denominations perfectly fit personality types and sub-cultures. For example, it makes sense that in an upper-class northeastern community a high church will do very well. That culture is used to things being done in a particular way (I’m searching for a word here but I can’t find it). Also, it makes sense that a church that really values eating big ole meals together will do really well in the south. Furthermore, different theological viewpoints make sense in certain cultures because they fit into people’s lives.

I’m not trying to get into a conversation about whether or not things are getting compromised in order to reach people. I really don’t think that they are. I guess I just think that it makes sense that in a country as diverse as ours that there would be churches that match that diversity.

So, for now, James and I haven’t found a church that has a ministry that reaches out to young, childless, married couples that study the Bible on an acedmic level but also want to see it’s relevance in their lives. That doesn’t mean that we’re lost and it doesn’t mean that the American church is failing. It means that we need to make sure that we keep in fellowship with other believers that can build us up and push us onward. This is why I’m ready for the semester to start. Southeastern is our church in so many ways. I’m looking forward to having friends over, eating food, and talking about the Lord with people who share my tiny sub-culture that is Bible College.

August 1, 2008

Hooray! We’ve got our internet back. Good times. That means I should start back at blogging so here I am. I actually really like to blog – thanks for reading it.

Anyway, I had some promised topics so here I go. The first is a couple of prayer request.

James and I have had a pretty set plan for our lives for the past few years. Specifically it involved me graduating (still the plan) and then moving off to Denver for seminary. It’s that last part that has recently come into question. James and I have a lot of dreams for our future and there’s a chance that seminary isnt the best way to fulfill those dreams. We’re excited about some other options we may have but we want to tread with wisdom. So, the first prayer request is that we would have wisdom as we move forward.

The second is more immediate and something that we would really appreciate prayer for. Whatever dream we pursue, whether or seminary or the other thing we’re keeping under the wraps for now, we’re going to need money. Right now a huge amount of our money is tied up in rent. On Sunday night I just felt a leading that James and I needed to pray for some kind of miracle in our housing situation for the next year. We’re willing to move pretty much anywhere that will allow us to stay at our current job and school. We’re willing to live with people. Any money we saved on housing we would put directly into savings for our future.

Let me give you some background on this prayer request. A couple of weeks ago my best friend, her husband, and their baby moved back to the states so that she can go to nursing school. They have been blessed with free housing for the year – they’re going to be living in a basement apartment and will be splitting the utilities cost with the owners. Now, I’ll be honest, my first reaction was jealosy. I know, it’s terrible, but it’s true. I was jealous of the way that God was blessing them. This kind of thinking brings me face to face with my theology and how inconsistent I can be sometimes. Here are some things that I believe:

1. Blessing and cursing are God’s to give – He has total perogative and owes us nothing.

2. God wants to bless us.

3. There is a verse in James that talks about having not because you ask not. With this one it’s important to remember the first belief – God doesn’t owe us. This is the weakness of much of the “prosperity gospel” teaching. God does not owe us health, wealth, and happiness. He may choose to give those things to us according to His perogative but prayer is not a formula to getting whatever we want.

Here I am, being jealous of things that I don’t have but I want. I’m all jealous of things that God has given someone else. In the meantime I have never prayed for a less expensive housing situation. I cannot boast some kind of super prayerful and faithful life. There is a part of me that is afraid to pray for things that I want, like I feel like it’s wrong to do.  I don’t think that’s right.

So – this is my challenge to myself – to try to pray a faithful prayer regarding our housing. In general our prayer is for something that will help boost our savings for the future but I’m trying something new here. I know that God does not have to bless us in this way. I know we do not deserve God’s blessing. I know that we have a nice home and I strive to be thankful for what God has given us. I believe that God can do more than we can ask or imagine. I’m trying to have faith.

As James and I have been praying for our future God has already begun to bless us in unexpected ways:

– the house-sitting job made us $150 which went right into savings

– I got a job helping a professor this week that will pay $10 an hour

– I got a tip about a bank that might be hiring. I would have hours closer to James’ schedule and get paid better. This is important since everything I make goes into savings. We live off of James paycheck and even some of that goes into savings too.

God is good.

Now – before I end this I wanted to get some of your thoughts. I’m working through my own thoughts about praying for something you want, I want to know what y’all think about it. Do you think it’s ok to ask for something you want but don’t necessarily need? Do you practice that in your life? Where do you think the border between faithful prayer and prosperity gospel is?

Ok, the end.