Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Battlefield - Week 4

On Tuesdays I am doing a Bible study of the book "The Battlefield of the Mind" by Joyce Meyer. It's a great book, and I encourage anyone to read it!

Last week I wrote about how I was going to try to have a positive outlook on my life, and to work on praying and reciting scripture aloud to fight away mind-binding spirits.

Well this past week has been a doozy, I guess you could say :-) I was extremely stressed out about some things having to do with the beginning of the school year. I had to fight some very worrisome thoughts. I always struggle with this, but this week it was much worse than usual, even. But I did try to pray aloud and recite scripture aloud, and it helped! The verse that I proclaimed as my own this week was Psalm 28:7 -

"The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy, and I will give thanks to him in song."

I inevitably faced the things that were causing me so much stress on opening day at work. Everything turned out fine, as I knew it would. But once the worry was gone, I had to face something else this weekend and today!

I've been having trouble sleeping lately, school is starting, I've been sick, and getting up at 5:50 in the morning is not helping. I have been fighting this horrible mood for about three days now! I feel so bad for Luke. I have had to keep myself distanced from him because I keep blowing up at him for really stupid things. I feel really bad for him! I'm pretty much Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde over here. These crazy mood swings are something I haven't dealt with in a long time, and I am not dealing well! I've been trying to fight the negative thoughts and the complaining, but it is so hard! I'm working on it, though. I'm chalking it up to being a little stressed out and overly tired, and I'm trying to focus on the things that I'm thankful for to ward off the anger. Funny that the week I read about staying positive is the week when I'm feeling sooo negative. It's good practice, I guess :-)

Okay, now onto this week. Chapters 7 & 8.

Chapter 7: Think about what You're Thinking about

This chapter sounds simple enough: We need to really think about what we are thinking about. I have sort of been doing this since I started reading the book a few weeks ago (because I knew this chapter was coming up. Ha! Remember, I read it a year ago, too). I've found that I think about things that worry me a lot, and I dwell on problems or negative things a lot too. I also struggle with envious thoughts.

This chapter talks about how important it is for us to meditate on God's word. The more we meditate and delve deeply into the word, the more wisdom we will have, and the more likely we will be to dwell on Good things, i.e. The Word, instead of the bad things.

One thing that really stuck out to me in the chapter was when Joyce pointed out that when we're upset, we usually blame it on things that are going on AROUND us. But really, we are probably upset because of things that are going on WITHIN us. This is so true! This is a really good thing to keep in mind.

Chapter 8: When is my Mind Normal?

In this chapter, Joyce speaks about how our "normal" mind should be. "Normal" meaning, how God wants it to be without all the lies and bad thoughts from the enemy.

Basically, the "normal" mind should be calm. At peace. No crazy, wandering thoughts or panic, worry, confusion, etc. Because if our mind is calm, we can hear the "still, small voice" of the Holy Spirit. If our minds are not at peace, more often than not, we will miss what the Lord is trying to tell us.


I will work on MEDITATING on the word this week instead of just reading it. I will reflect on what I've read and pray that God brings a deeper understanding and more wisdom to me.

I will also pay attention, again, to the kinds of thoughts I am having. And I will try to keep my mind calm, avoiding panic and worry. Basically this will just be more of what I did all week last week!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Homemade Croutons

2 posts in one day on the day I start back to work with the kids?? Wow, I'm on a roll! I actually wrote both this post and my school supply post on Saturday night, because I had so much blogging inspiration for some reason!

Saturday night was one of those nights when I threw a meal together with ingredients that I needed to use up. I made pasta with both Alfredo sauce and spaghetti sauce to put on it (umm, not both at the same time. Ha!), because I only had enough of each for one serving. so I had spaghetti while Luke had spaghetti noodles with Alfredo sauce on top. I'm sure that is breaking some kind of foodie rule, but we were okay with it! I also made a salad because I had some lettuce I needed to use up, and I had a ton of yummy tomatoes in my fridge just calling my name. I put everything together and realized I was missing a pertinent ingredient to the salad: croutons. Luke and I have a hard time eating a salad without croutons.

I decided to be adventurous and make my own. And yes, making something homemade with no recipe is about as adventurous as I get!

I had some hamburger buns that were starting to get a little bit borderline stale. So I took one, and cut it up into little squares. I then took a cookie sheet and put a tablespoon or two of Extra Virgin Olive Oil right in the middle. I threw the bread squares right in the EVOO and kind of smeared them around so that they soaked it all up. then I just poured a bunch of Italian Seasoning (The Pampered Chef variety) and garlic powder on top. I shook the pan a few times until it looked like they were all evenly coated. Then I stuck the cookie sheet into the oven which had been preheated to 350 degrees. I probably left them in there for about 10 minutes, but I took the pan out and shook it around every 2 minutes or so to prevent them from burning.
They came out really tasty with the perfect amount of crunchiness, if I do say so myself! At least as good as store-bought if not better. I'm excited, because now I know what to do with my hamburger buns when they are a little past their prime without having to throw them out. Luke and I can never use up a whole package quickly enough between the two of us!

I'm sure this would work with any other type of bread, too. It was so easy, and I'm glad I tried it!

"A Bouquet of Newly Sharpened Pencils"

Have you ever seen You've God Mail? I sure hope so! The line from my title is from that movie, which is one of my favorite movies of all time. I've always loved that line, because I am a self-proclaimed new school supply addict.

Today is my first day back to school, and these are some things that are making me happy in my new classroom (I wrote this post on Saturday, though, so don't think I'm blogging on the job! Hehe):

PaperMate Flair Felt Tip Marker Pens...the best writing utensil ever invented.
These just make me happy. They are as thin as pens, but write like markers. Writing looks so crisp and nice with these marker pens! And they come in just about every color imaginable, and last pretty much forever. These are my grading pens at work. But I also use them at home too to write out my grocery lists, sign birthday cards...okay, and pretty much everything else, too. Shopping for groceries is just more fun when the items are written in bright pink or blue!

Fun sticky notes and other paper products
I bought this huge pack of little notebooks, sticky notes, and bookmark flags for $5 at Big Lots last week. That just makes me smile! My favorite things are the little bookmark flags. I love the stripes and polka dots!

BIC Velocity Mechanical Pencils

I love that they are thick, they have a nice comfortable gripper, and there's a little cap that goes over the eraser. And I love the pastel colors. I cannot stand to use anything but mechanical pencils anymore. Unfortunately, I have to keep these hidden in my desk, because all the little girls in my classroom end up stealing them! The colors are just too tempting for them. And they love the fact that they look like pens.

BIC Highlighters
Who doesn't love highlighters? I love these because they last a long time, and they have grippers.

Blade-Style Staple Removers
I LOVE these! You just wedge the little blade behind the staple and push on the bottom of the remover. So much easier to use than the old-fashioned kind that you have to squeeze together. And mine is magnetic, so the staples stick to it instead of falling all over the floor! Perfect for decorating or changing bulletin boards!

PaperMate Profile Pens
Clicky-top pens get my vote over twisty bottoms every time! (That was a Scrubs reference...any Scrubs fans out there??) And PaperMate Profile pens are my favorite pens of the clicky top variety. They come in all kinds of different colors, and they write so smoothly! It annoys me to no end when I use a pen that randomly stops working in the middle of a letter, and then pours out gobs of ink in the next. Which is why I just can't stand gel pens. But I never have that problem with PaperMate Profile pens! I have been using these for years. And again, they have the ever-important gripper. The pink, purple, and light blue ones especially make me smile :-D

I think that about rounds out my list! What are your favorite school supplies? I can't be the only addict out there, right??

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Week in Review: End of Summer Edition

Sunday 8/22 - After church, Luke had a bunch of guys over for a Fantasy Football draft party. I stayed around long enough to eat some pizza with them. It was from Wedgewood, some of the best pizza ever! But then I decided that was too much testosterone, so my mom and I went out to see a movie together. We decided on Nanny McPhee Returns. We both loved the first one. The second one did not disappoint! It was so good, completely whimsical, and just adorable like the first one. I even cried not one, not two, but THREE times during the movie! Crazy, I know. After the movie, I came home and chilled for the rest of the evening.

Monday 8/23 - I was supposed to baby-sit kids during an exercise class at church that morning, but no kids came! Next I had to bring my car back to the dealership to get the brakes looked at (Boo! I am just not having good luck with cars lately!) And then I went out to lunch with my mom and some friends. Sort of a last hurrah of the summer. After lunch, we went to Handels for some ice cream. Then mom and I went shopping! At Big Lots, there were big bins full of $3 books! Umm, heaven. Look at the picture to see whose book was right on top of the cheap books, too :-P Later that evening, I made a big dinner to celebrate the summer, and watched my TV shows later that night.

Tuesday 8/24 - I spent most of the day getting things together and organized for my classroom. Later in the evening, Luke and I went to pick up our car. Our breaks were fixed, and the dealership didn't charge us since we bought the car less than two weeks ago. Praise God! I went grocery shopping, made dinner, did some laundry, and then Luke went out with some guys to see a movie. I took the opportunity to get in my pajamas early, jump in bed, and watch TLC all evening while also catching up on blogs and reading a book during commercial breaks. Yes, I am a multi-tasker ;-)

Wednesday 8/25 - I didn't have much going on this day besides a doctor's appointment. After the appointment (which felt like it took 5 hours, but only actually took 1), I went shopping, and came home and had dinner with Luke. When Luke went to band practice, Sarah came over and we caught up since I hadn't seen her since her vacation! Then we watched "The Proposal." I love that movie so much!

Thursday 8/26 - This day was my last official day of summer vacation, and unfortunately I have to say that I spent most of it feeling depressed. The summer just went by way too quickly! But I snapped out of it in the afternoon, got a ton of cleaning and laundry done around the house, and read "This Present Darkness" all evening. It is such a great book!

Friday 8/27 - I woke up at 4:30 Friday morning because I've been having major stomach pains in the middle of the night {again} lately. I never ended up falling back to sleep before I had to wake up at 6:15 for opening day at work! So I got up early and felt really funny about having to get a shower and get ready soooo early after having 3 straight months of not waking up before 7 or even 8. At 8:00 I headed to the high school for breakfast and meetings. It was sooo great to see everybody from work after 3 months! I am so blessed to really like and get along with just about all the people that I work with, and it was great to catch up with them! After the meetings at the high school, I headed over to my building (the elementary school) to start setting up my new classroom (my old one was turned into a computer lab over the summer and my new classroom is about 1/3 the size of the old one). I was in for a bit of a shock when I saw my classroom. It was small and for some reason half of the room was filled up with computers! I really only need about 3 or 4 computers at the very most. I spent about an hour trying to figure out the best placement for the desks and tables, and I finally came up with one that I like. I will share pictures next week! I then had a building staff meeting, ate lunch, had a grades 4-6 discipline meeting, came back to my classroom to decorate, and then spent the last 2 hours of the day tracking down the teachers I will be working with, and figuring out my seriously messed up schedule (this inevitably happens every year) I was finally ready to leave at about 4:00. And somehow by this time I had a horrible sinus headache and was so congested I could barely breathe. Yikes. I came home and rested after my looong day, and then we went to a fish fry at Luke's aunt and uncle's house since he has family visiting from out of town. It was delicious, and so great to see everyone! After I left the fish fry, I went to my grandma's house because my parents were visiting. It was my dad's birthday, and he and my mom left for Myrtle Beach on Saturday, so I wanted to say "Happy Birthday" and "Goodbye." After THAT, I came upstairs, turned on some stupid tv show on VH1, and pretty much didn't move for a few hours. Sometime later I somehow dragged myself downstairs to brush my teeth and get in bed, but I really don't remember it. Let the madness and tiredness begin again! I must say, though, it felt really good to be back in a classroom again :-) Whew, that was a big explanation! I doubt anyone read through that all. If you did, you deserve a prize!

Saturday 8/28 - As crazy as Friday was, Saturday was just the opposite. Luckily, whatever illness I had been fighting the day before was much better by Saturday.I spent the entire day doing a marathon cleaning of the house while Luke worked outside. I want to get everything in place before school officially starts with the kids next week. In the evening, I went to my parents' house to take care of their dog, Holly, which is my job while they're in Myrtle Beach. I came home, made dinner, and spent the night chilling out at home, taking in every quiet moment before Monday morning!

And that was my crazy week. Only one picture this week! How boring am I? That's okay, I really enjoyed my last week of summer :-) It is the last week off that I will have until Christmas, so I tried to have fun with it!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Summer 2010 Review

As you are reading this, I am probably in meetings or setting up my new classroom. Today is my first official day back to work, although students won't be there until Monday. Pray for me! Haha...

I can't help but look back on this summer and wonder, where the heck did it go so fast? Why was it in such a hurry to leave? *Sigh* It feels like just yesterday I was writing this post on the last day of school in the spring. And I am already gearing up for another 9 months of craziness. And by that I mean, 9 months of waking up at 5:50 in the morning. Of eating crappy frozen meals for lunch, and barely having enough energy left to make dinner. Falling asleep when I sit down to read a book or watch TV in the evenings, no matter how early it is. Watching my house fall apart at the seams with an unmade bed, dishes overflowing in the sink, and obscene amounts of laundry waiting to be washed, dried, folded, or put away. Yikes. Let me just take a moment of silence to mourn the passing of summer '10 and my clean house!

Anyway, onto the review of this summer...

This summer I was looking forward to a relaxing time, thinking it would be pretty much the best summer ever. (Not including, of course, the summer when I got married!) A chain of unforeseen events happened pretty much right when summer did, though, that turned this summer into a nightmare. Never have I felt so lost and frustrated in my life. There were a few days in June that I don't even know how I made it through. I was driving myself crazy. It's hard to be going through something when you have so few distractions. My problems were staring me in the face 24/7.

BUT...God did not disappoint. Through this situation, I have learned so much. I have learned that I can trust God in any situation, and that He is making me go through this thing because He loves me. He wants me to know that He has a plan for my life, and He wants to show me that I can trust Him with everything.

Along with this problem, the Lord has sent me some amazing things. He has sent me a great friend who was also going through a hard time. The two of us have greatly bonded over our struggles, and a great friendship has formed.
He has brought me comfort in the form of some blogging friends who are going through or who went through the exact same thing that I'm going through. You know who you are :-) It is great to have someone else who understands. And it's great to pray for each other, too!

He has brought me comfort, and so many blessings. Maybe because I've been struggling so much this summer, I've noticed all the everyday blessings so much more. My heart is overflowing with thankfulness for all the little things this summer!
He has brought Luke and I closer through the things we have gone through this summer together
And above all, He has brought me deliverance. And in doing so, brought me so much closer to Him. Yes, I am still struggling with the same things I was struggling with at the beginning of the summer. But it is no longer something that causes me so much pain. It is no longer something that I think about for hours on end. My heart is no longer breaking. Instead, I feel like I am absolutely overflowing with hope!

To put it simply, he has given me peace. He has given me so much love. And He has shown me that I can trust Him in any circumstance. I would never have gotten to feel all of that if I hadn't gone through this situation.

(As a sidenote, I have found one thing to be so helpful this summer, and that is worship music! I have added another playlist to my blog. This one is full of songs that have given me hope, and provided so much comfort to me. So I pray that when you visit my blog, these songs speak to you, too!)

So summer 2010, Here's to you!
(Picture overload about to come your way!)

"Today my soul is soaring
way over mountains high
Though I can see the valleys
They're all just passing by
It's not that I am stronger
Look at my feeble wings
But I've been lifted higher
Yahweh's lifted me with His own strength

Oh how I love you, Lord
I love your perfect word
With tearful eyes I see
The God who always will endure
Now I will celebrate
For all the thousand ways
That You have shown me grace
And made my heart in grace to stay"

~The Swift, from the song "I Need You"

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Beautiful Movies: The Proposal

I love movies. This is no secret if you know me at all. I love the story and the acting, but my favorite thing about a movie is the scenery, sets, costumes, and cinematography. Even a movie with a sub-par plot can be saved if it is beautiful to look at.

I decided to start showcasing my favorite and most beautiful-to-look-at movies on my blog. Tonight, Sarah came over and we decided to watch "The Proposal." It is one of my favorite movies! It's hilarious, and a love story, and full of beautiful, Alaskan eye candy.

My very favorite thing to look at in the movie is the Alaskan scenery. The movie is set in Sitka, Alaska. Gorgeous!
My mom was actually born in Alaska. Her dad was in the military, and he was stationed there when she was born. I've always wanted to visit Alaska because of that. But after seeing "The Proposal" for the first time, the yearning to go there became much stronger! I think it's obvious why.

I also love the quaint little downtown area of the movie. It's just too cute. (I LOVE the internet cafe with the dial-up internet...too funny!)

I also love that Sitka is surrounded by water.

And oooooh how I love the Paxton house!!
This is the best picture I could find of it, but I think it's just beautiful!

And the bedroom is so amazing. I couldn't find a picture of it, but I'm sure most of you have seen the movie. Giant room, huge fireplace, a gargantuan bed with a beautiful headboard, and a phenomenal view of the lake. I really wish I could have found a picture!

I can't forget about the wedding in the barn
And while we're at it, check out her wedding dress! I love it. Vintage and unique. This whole scene is just perfect.

There are so many things I love about this movie! hopefully someday I will be able to visit Alaska to experience all of this for myself!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

End of Summer Feast and Movie Recommendations

I know that our big dinner and movies have absolutely nothing in common, but they are both on my mind today, so I thought I'd share about them both.

First order of business: our End of Summer Feast:

On Monday night, Luke and I were both tired and just kinda felt like hanging out at home, so we skipped small group. Instead, we had a late dinner, and relaxed. It was a great night!

So many people have been so nice and given me vegetables from their gardens this year! I'm so thankful! This week I have such an overabundance of beautiful, delicious fruits and vegetables, so Monday night I cooked a small feast for us :-)

First of all, I had some squash that I bought from White House last week
I fried it up with butter and onions. This simple dish is one of my favorites. I could live on this stuff.
I also fried up some green beans from my grandpa's garden

And we had some chicken and baked potatoes.

While I cooked, I snacked on these from my in-laws' garden. Oh, they are so good!

And for dessert? Ooooh, dessert.
Peaches. The BEST peach I've ever had, no question. I bought these at White House on Friday, and as soon as these are gone, I'm going to go out and buy a bunch more. I wish I could share these so you could experience them too :-)

And that was our end of summer feast :-) I guess I feel like meals will be a little more rushed when school starts, so I wanted to make a big dinner on my last week off. And I'm glad I did!


Okay, now onto the movie recommendations:

This summer I've been really addicted to Instant Netflix movies. I haven't been watching much TV aside from a few shows on Monday and Tuesday evenings. So the rest of the week if I wanted to watch something, I just clicked on a movie to watch instantly on my computer. So convenient!

Today I wanted to share some good movies that I've watched this summer in case you are looking for any movie recommendations. Most of them are older movies, or lesser known ones. But they were all great movies.

1. Amelie
This is a French movie, and it was so quirky and cute! It is a rom-com. If you are looking for something different, this is a good one!

2. Pan's Labyrinth
Another foreign movie, but this one is Spanish. And after watching it, I seriously want to learn to speak Spanish. The language sounded so beautiful in this movie! Anyway, the movie is a drama, and it is VERY depressing. don't say I didn't warn you. Another warning is that it's also pretty violent. But it is a great story, and really makes you think at the end.

3. Sense and Sensibility
I had seen this movie before, but not in a few years. Oh my, I love this movie so much! It is so romantic and sweet, and I feel like I identify so much with Elinor Dashwood, played by Emma Thompson. I think most women either identify with Elinor or her sister Marianne (Kate Winslet) in the book/movie. I like this story more than Pride and Prejudice.

4. Life as a House
If you're looking for a movie about family that will tug at your heart strings, look no further than Life as a House. Make sure the tissues are close by. Again, don't say I didn't warn you!

Like I said, these are all available on Instant Netflix if you have it.

Happy Wednesday!