Friday, December 31, 2010

10 words that define 2010: My Valley

I saw a post from Elora a few days ago about 10 words that defined 2010. I loved it. I wasn't really planning to do my own, but it ended up writing itself while I was at Cafe Milo today with my journal and a delicious latte. 
  • community
  • heartache
  • transition
  • death
  • brokenness
  • worship
  • beauty
  • revelation
  • growth
  • identity
I expanded on each of the words, really thinking about what the year has been like. I'm not going to pretend that 2010 was a cakewalk. It wasn't at all. 2010 was the hardest year of my life, hands down. I experienced pain and rejection and death. Yet 2010 was probably one of the most JOYFUL years of my life as well. I had community. Friends that breathed life into the broken parts. A Savior that delighted my heart in simplicity when all of the complications of life seemed unbearable. 2010 was a year of change.  
I decided to flip back in my journal to see what I had written last year around this time. To read about what my dreams were for 2010. I found a short entry:
January 1, 2010.
My prayer for this year from the Valley of Vision:
Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, 
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, 
where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; 
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. 

Let me learn by paradox 
that the way down is the way up, 
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart, 
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, 
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, 
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, 
that to give is to receive, 
that the valley is the place of vision. 

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, 
Thy life in my death, 
Thy joy in my sorrow, 
Thy grace in my sin, 
Thy riches in my poverty,
Thy glory in my valley.
I was sitting in Cafe Milo and just started crying. GOD DID NOT ABANDON ME THIS YEAR! A few posts ago I wrote about how my God was there the day I got fired. As I read over the prayer that I felt the Lord laying on my heart to define the coming year back in January of 2010-- I saw an outline of my year. 
My God was there this YEAR. 
The year my heart broke.
The year a few of my friends walked away. 
The year I moved three times. 
The year my grandma and one of my great friends both died from cancer. 
The year I felt like such a failure. 
The year of dust and ashes. 
My prayer a year ago was that the Valley of Vision would define me. That I would live by paradox. The words that defined my year SCREAM of paradox. Growth. Death. Brokenness. yet Worship. Beauty. Identity.

I see 2011 as a year of HOPE. Of starting to see the seeds from 2010 start to bloom and grow. A year of beauty from the ashes of 2010. A year to press into my Savior. To cling to truth. To choose LIFE and JOY instead of shame and envy. To enjoy each season of my life the way I enjoy the seasons of nature. I anticipate spring rain to wash away the filth of winter. The thawing of cold and desolate places. Slow changes. Blossoms. Fresh wind. Warm rain. HOPE. 

I pray that I can run toward hope. Through truth I can grab ahold of hope and believe in change. A year ago I felt the Lord calling 2010 a Valley of Vision. I now see how true that was. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Cake of Dreams...

My wonderful brother and his wife got me a subscription to Bon Appetit Magazine for part of my Christmas gift. I ADORE reading it cover to cover. The December issue arrived in all its glory with the shining beacon of CHOCOLATE on the cover called the Spiced Chocolate Torte Wrapped in Chocolate Ribbons.

This is what dreams are made of:
  • 3 lbs of butter
  • excessive quantities of dark chocolate
  • sugar
  • spice
  • hours in the kitchen 
Making the ribbons with chocolate dough-this part was a bit frustrating. I'm definitely going to make chocolate dough for another dessert just so I can conquer it FULLY!
 I had to ask the fam to take a few steps backwards to allow me some space :)
I added some spiral curl "flair" to my cake -- not bad!!
Right before eating the cake for Christmas Dinner at my Grandpa Charlie and Mary's house
The ladies...
and GENTS!
Rockin the Christmas apron...
Milk required (or red wine)- The cake was delicious. REALLY sweet. I'd prob cut down the sugar in the cake itself if I were ever to try to make it again. The buttercream with RUM and CHOCOLATE in it was absolutely killer.
My beautiful sister and me showing off Christmas outfits for the OTHER side of the family celebration
COUSIN PIC! Bummer to have Michael and Lindsay gone.
Love this little boy. My cousin Liane's son, Lincoln.
Best gift ever!! We've already played at least 10 games...
Posing next to the gift my mom got my dad (a chronological map of events in the Bible)
We've been out to dinner a few times, played lots of games, had a girls' shopping day, prayed together, laughed together, cried because of one another. My family: flawed, fiesty, fun, and on fire for Jesus. I am blessed. So thankful that they encourage me to seek God first, have big dreams, and never settle.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I am Anna Pascal

The pondering stage has begun again. Some call it unemployment, I prefer to call it a life analysis and search process. As I wrestle with the different options before me, one thematic element sticks out. If you know me, this will seem obvious --- I LOVE to bake. I have this fear of doing it for a living. I'm afraid that it will ruin everything I love about it. But the question keeps coming up in the back of my there a way to do it AND love it?
Pastry school / actual chef route seems absurd. Crazy hours, not my ideal lifestyle.
Own my own specialty bakery. Owning something requires finances and the desire to see it through --there's still the possibility of doing cakes to order etc.
FACS/Home-Ec Teacher -- Teach kids to bake and sew and have manners. Sounds fun. Could I handle the day to day? The planning?

A few of the snapshots of my life that keep re-playing in my mind:
  • A conversation with a past co-worker: I had baked biscotti and brought them in to work last December. She took one, got all teary, grabbed my hand and said --Anna, PLEASE follow your dreams. You LOVE baking! Don't end up stuck in a job that you don't enjoy.
  • A seminar from a year ago where one of the VPs of the company came down to Austin and asked everyone in management at Hyatt to stand up, introduce themselves, and say what their 'dream job' for when they grow up would be. Mine was to own a specialty bakery. 
  • The doldrums I felt after meeting with the English Education Advisor at Iowa State versus the elation only a week later when I got the email from the Family and Consumer Sciences Education Advisor. 3.5 years to get an english teaching certification, 1 or 2 for FACS.
  • I've made my own birthday cake or cupcakes for the last 3 choice.
  • The first thing I do when I feel homesick or lonely or down in an apartment is bake my mom's oatmeal bread. The process of proofing the yeast, kneading the dough, waiting for it to rise, punching it down, waiting for it to rise again, and having the rich smell of homemade bread permeate my surroundings makes me feel home.
  • I read Bon Appetit Magazine COVER to COVER within 1 day of it arriving. 
  • My happiest and most full moments over the last 3 years have involved farmer's markets, baking with friends, baking for friends, baking with my family, dreaming of baking, or eating.
My heart started beating faster and faster as the scene from Stranger than Fiction unfolded before my eyes.  I realized: I am Anna Pascal. 
So now I figure out how to make my job be something that makes my soul come alive. I think teaching kids to bake etc might be my ticket...I meet with the FACS Education advisor the first week of January.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My God Is Here

Late last week I was on the phone with my dad talking about the state of my heart and life. Just expressing my desire for more. My desire to come alive. My ache for something else. He prayed over me as the tears rolled, then we said our goodbyes. I was sitting in my little studio wondering: what now? Everything seemed trite. TV? Movie? Blogging?

Prayer. That's what. God told me to stop looking in the mirror and look to him.
I got out my macbook and started typing:

My God is good.
My God is faithful.
My God does not make mistakes.
My God is completely sovereign.
My God hears my cries.
My God created me with a distinct purpose.
My God is a great provider
My God is mighty.
My God is trustworthy.
My God has a sense of humor.
My God is an artist.
My God is just.
My God is the giver of all good things.
My God is the ultimate protector.
My God is creative.
My God does not abandon me.
My God designed laughter.
My God can count the stars.
My God is a phenomenal musician.
My God commands the sun to shine.
My God is unchanging.
My God is immortal.
My God pursues me.
My God hears the longings of my soul.

It's now Tuesday. 
I see that on Thursday night, My God was showing me his perfect timing. That Friday would be one of the hardest days I've had in a while, but I would get on a plane to Austin, Texas and see some of my very best friends in a weekend of JOY and LAUGHTER and PRAYER. He would delight my heart in letting me sing with the choir at the Austin Stone. Then Monday would come and I would lose my job, but my MOM was already planning to be in Chicago to pick me up from the airport coming back from Texas Sunday night. She could pray over me the night before since I knew the hard conversation and unknown was coming. She could do my laundry and clean my apartment to prepare it to show to potential subleasers while I handed in my key card and blackberry. She could hug me and help me pack then drive me home to map out what's next. The way He was preparing my heart and soul for the coming days/weeks/months in affirming that He has me covered and He knows ALL. The way His humor would light up my commute to work before I got let go by having the doorman of the building I walk by every day tell me HAPPY MONDAY over the loudspeaker. Then the way He would minister to me through that same doorman that asked me what happened and actually cared two hours later when I was walking by again and he knew I usually don't come home til evening. He was singing his song over me. He was whispering to the dark and quiet places of doubt "I AM HERE".

He is here, friends. REJOICE!  

Monday, November 15, 2010


I have not loved my job.
I no longer have said job.
I never thought I'd be 'let go' and leave SMILING!

Headed home to Iowa for a few weeks to decompress and ponder what's next for life. Leaning towards going back to school for middle school english education, high school guidance counseling or library science.

Pretty sure I'm done with Corporate America for a while. Ready to have my soul come alive again. I feel like skydiving/cliff jumping is my new hobby. Well, I guess this time around it's more being shoved out of the plane and figuring out the chute on the way down. Pray for clarity on which chute to pull?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

An update of sorts

I'm alive.
Broken, but hopeful. 
  • Learning more daily about this large, bustling, and windy city. 
  • Loving my new church Missio Dei and the community I'm growing in through it.
  • Struggling to thrive at work. 
  • Adoring fall and crunchy leaves.
  • Baking all things pumpkin (Try this pumpkin bread -Add a tsp of vanilla and a tad more nutmeg)
  • Enjoying being a regular at the farmer's market down the street -especially the flower vendor!
  • Headed back for my second football game of the season at Purdue in a few weekends with my sister and her husband. Check out the seats/tickets Joel hooked us up for the last time I went back for a game!
Not bad, eh? 

Then even more recently, loved going up to Minneapolis to see one of my dearest friends get married. I got to be a part of their big day too. Their wedding was such an encouragement - It definitely pointed to Jesus and the hope that we can have in the covenant relationship with Christ. A few snapshots that the groom's cousin took with his iPhone during the pictures session. I kind of love them:
God is who He says He is. I'm so thankful for that. 
Yet again I find myself in a season where I don't know what's around the corner. HE DOES.
I don't know why I have stirrings in the deepest parts of my soul for something different. HE DOES. 
He is sovereign. He makes no mistakes. He loves me. He pursues me. He chose me. He leads me. 
I read a post from a friend's blog that resonated with me (enough to awake the sleeping blogger). You should really read the whole thing, but I thought I'd share the end:
When our lives are stripped of their good circumstances, we get to see God as He really is. When we’re bare and feel empty and alone and hurt, we have nowhere else to go but to Him. And He meets us when we go to Him. We get to see that He not only exists, but that He’ll listen to our cries and, somehow, provide comfort. This is when God increasingly becomes a friend. It’s mysterious and it’s tragic and it’s good. Because HE is good.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Awake my soul: the morning commute

A new aspect of my Chicago life is that I now have a 25-30 minute commute in the mornings and 30-40 minute commute in the evenings. Initially, I wasn't very excited about that idea. After only 4 days of the commute--I'm really starting to enjoy the time. My morning routine has already become somewhat therapeutic. I wake up, get ready, have my coffee pot on auto brew, drink my coffee and read a bit or watch the news, then head out. I pop in my ear buds with worship music and walk to the bus. Once onboard, I take out my bible or book and enjoy solitute (seemlingly) with my Savior. Then my lunch hour is kind of a follow up to whatever I read that morning--whether reading it again, or looking up cross references or mentions.  

I read this on the bus this morning in the Nature of God by Arthur Pink:
 "Well may the saint trust such a God! He is worthy of implicit confidence. Nothing is too hard for Him. If God were stinted in might and had a limit to His strength, we might well despair. But seeing that He is clothed with omnipotence, no prayer is too hard for Him to answer, no need to great for Him to supply, No passion too strong for Him to subdue, no temptation too powerful for Him to deliver from, no misery too deep for Him to relieve. ‘The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?’ (Psalm 27:1). “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen’ (Ephesians 3:20-21)"
Another from yesterday's ride:
"Here is solid comfort. Human nature cannot be relied upon; but God can! However unstable I may be, however fickle my friends may prove, God changes not. If He varied as we do, if He willed one thing today and another tomorrow, if He were controlled by caprice, who could confide in Him? But He is ever the same. His purpose is fixed, His will stable, His word is sure. Here then is a rock on which we may fix our feet, while the mighty torrent sweeps away everything around us. The permanence of God's character guarantees the fulfillment of His promises: "For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed: but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee" (Isaiah 54:10).
This book has already been such an encouragement to me. It is helping me to step back, fall on my knees and truly be in awe of the characteristics and attributes of God. In this time of change and new things and personal stretching at work-it is essential for me to remember that God is completely good and completely sovereign.

Psalm 31:15 "My times are in your hand"

Monday, September 6, 2010

Where's my parachute??

I'm laughing at the fact that I titled my last post "jump". I definitely feel like I jumped and am now in the free-fall stomach hurtling stage of horror that ensues. The water or pillow or parachute hasn't quite come into effect yet...but I'm confident that it will. 

I started my job two weeks ago. The job is insanely stressful and busy right now, but I think it will be good once I get going. This is the phase where I put my nose to the grind and work my tail off so I can reap the rewards down the road. I still don't feel like I live here...since I just moved into my apartment on Saturday morning. My parents came up from Ames with a U-Haul and my stuff to get me moved in. My sister came up from Lafayette to help as well. Stress levels were soaring all weekend (mostly coming from me-work, life and not being settled made me in to quite a pill). I'm so thankful for family that loves me unconditionally and wants to help even when I'm being impossible. 

I think I will love my apartment. It's tiny, but cozy. Initially I was pretty bummed when I saw the size of it--but once I got my stuff in, I really started to love it. It took us quite a bit of furniture shuffling to get the apartment to feel homey. Let's try moving the loveseat over THERE (that won't work. why are you suggesting that?), just TRUST me, TRY IT! With all of our ideas combined, we were able to get a great set up going. 

My biggest hope is that I can get plugged into community quickly. There are a ton of great churches around here--I just want to find the one that fits for this stage of life. I've tried one and am planning to try another new one next week. I think especially with the high stress of a new city and new job, community is essential.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


God is such an unpredictable and awesome creator. He uses us as he sees fit. BOY do I fight against His plan sometimes! I doubt. I wonder what THE HECK God is doing and why He allows what He does. So much has happened in the last few weeks where I haven't really wanted to see God in it--but undoubtedly,  He was there. From allergic reactions, emotional breakdowns in furniture stores, and road trip conversations -- God has been working on my hard heart.

An excerpt from my journal will best describe the journey the Lord has been taking me on through the ups and downs of this transitional season:
"Lord-thank you for ALL of who you are. You are so much! Perfectly good, awesome and terrible in righteousness, awe inspiring and faithful, true to your Word, one who fulfills promises, creative artist of humanity, healer of hurting and aching souls, tender lover and calmer of storms. As Paul says, I have no good beside you. Even when I am actively pursuing you, my sin mars your fame. I seek myself. My own name. My will. My pride. My glory. I take what is yours. All glory and honor is due to YOU, O Most High King.
I see your hand in all the whirlwind around me. I taste the waters of the wells of salvation through forgiveness from friends. Their love for me is only a shadow of your open arms and adoration of all of me. I hear your voice clearly through my parents as they affirm me and love me in the midst of my  mess and stress. I tremble before you and struggle to approach the throne of grace, but you use my family to gently lead me there. I see your creativity and plan as you pave the way for this amazing job. I am in absolute and utter awe. How do I continue to depend on myself and doubt your flawless provision? Every season when I turn inward, it ends with me crumpled and broken-failing. YOU COME - pick up the pieces and lead me to you. The four word gospel- be sick, be loved. Thank you for loving the sick, for healing the broken, for drawing the lost with your voice, for humbling my pride, for going before my fears and anxieties, for conquering death and sin for good, for being my victory. This battle would be futile and lost without you. You are my fullness. You are my boast."
I leave for Chicago tomorrow morning with my mom. I'll be living in a hotel for the next two weeks until my apartment is ready. The planner in me is DYING as I really want to be settled before day 1 on the job. Ha-I'm learning to take deep breaths and enjoy the journey. My first day is Monday. I'm VERY excited and VERY nervous. All of my insecurities seem to be screaming at me the second I try to go to sleep at night. I'm just ready for my first day to be done. So I can have the awkwardness out of my system, an ID card to get into the building without having to go through the security desk, a concrete plan or idea as to what the heck it is I'm going to be doing, some familiar faces, and a desk to call my own. I already have my "first day" outfit picked can you go wrong with a red dress??

Away we's time to JUMP towards the windy city! aghhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cry out in the Desert

Friends. Pray with me? 
The past week or so has been an absolute roller coaster of events and emotions. Highest of highs and lowest of lows. I'm feeling incredibly broken and am clinging to the truth of scripture.

I'm singing and praying the Desert Song by Hillsong on repeat:
This is my prayer in the desert
When all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is the God who provides
This is my prayer in the fire
And weakness or trial or pain
There is faith proved of more worth than gold
So refine me lord through the flames

I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain

I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and he is here

This is my prayer in the battle
When triumph is still on its way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on his promise I'll stand

I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain

I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and he is here

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain

I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and he is here

And this is my prayer in the harvest
And favor and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be emptied again
The seed I received I will sow
We serve a victorious God. He is better than life. He conquers our fears and our emotions. He is good. 

Blog Friends-- Can you be praying for me? That I can KNOW the truth that God is in complete control. That He has my best in mind. That His will for my life in this season will be made clear. That I can listen for his voice. I'm trying to figure out what to do on the job front -- I have a few offers and am having conflicting emotions about where to go/what to do.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

foodie allergies...what to do?

Time at home and moving has meant lots of high qual bonding time con mi MADRE. She has some not so fun dietary restrictions that have opened my eyes to the challenges that people with food allergies face every time they want to cook or eat out at a restaurant. I've been attempting to bake things that my mom can eat. My mom's food qualms: Gluten, Dairy and Soy.

One cookie success:
Power / Energy Cookies (adapted from another recipe that still had dairy in it):

1 cup applesauce (previous recipe had 1.5 cups of butter or margarine, I subbed 1C applesauce and 1/2C canola oil to be sure to stay gluten dairy AND soy free--if you don't have allergies, butter away in place of the applesauce and oil!)
1/2 cup canola oil 
1 cup brown sugar 
2/3 cups white sugar
2 eggs 
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups all-purpose wheat flour (I used gluten free flour mix)
2 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp xanthum gum (only needed if you're using GF flour mix, this is what makes it stick together)
2 cups oats (if you're making these GF, make sure to get GF oats!)
1/2 cup coconut
3/4-1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup of dried fruit (I used craisins)
1 cup of chocolate chips (for gluten free/dairy free, be sure to get GFDF chocolate chips)
Start with applesauce and oil in a large mixing bowl.
Stir in sugars, add eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
Add flour, then baking powder, xanthum gum and soda.
Blend until all flour is moistened.
Add oats, nuts, fruit and chocolate chips and stir.
Drop spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets and bake at 350 F for approximately for 15 minutes.
Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes and cooling rack for 20 minutes more.
YUM. Very hearty. Non allergen people liked them too! Lots of room for alterations (take out coconut, more nuts, vary what fruit to add etc). 
Hey you blog readers-do you have any recipes you think would be good to try gluten free/dairy free? Let me know--I'm thinking of even trying to make that banana cake from a few posts ago into a GFDF masterpiece. Ha. THAT could be challenging!

Another success was by the FABULOUS Chef Kevin from the Hyatt - he made a farewell dinner for us when my mom was in town to help me move. It was AMAZING. My mom has mentioned at least 5 or 6 times and told a bunch of her friends how great the meal was (so Kevin-if you opened a restaurant in Ames, Iowa, my mother alone could fill the tables with her friends!). How wonderful it was not to have to worry about her allergies since he had them taken care of. What we had was a 5 course foodie fest that was gluten, dairy and soy free. It was super. Kevin is proof that yes, it CAN be done: Gluten Free Dairy Free food can taste good AND still have normal textures. A pork taco with mango salsa; potato cake with carmelized onions, spinach, mandarin oranges and smoked salmon; chili seared scallops with watermelon arugula salad; venison with fresh lentils and some awesome kind of cherries; lastly three fresh sorbets. HOLY CRAP. 
A few envy worthy pics from the night:

Monday, July 12, 2010


Two crazy ladies (if you didn't know...that me on the left and my mom on the right): 
One movie that served as our inspiration:
Google search for "julia child boeuf bourguignon":
Drool worthy smells all day long:
So stinking good. We may just have to introduce "Julia Child Appreciation Night" once a week! 

Reading Rainbow

What have I been doing for the last week? We took a family vacation to Innsbrook, Missouri via It was GREAT!

Reading. Resting. Playing Cards. Eating (probably too much of this). Sitting by the lake. Swimming. Enjoying Family. Applying for jobs.

I thought I'd take you on a tour of the literary adventure I went on during my vacation. I can't help but sing:
  1. Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins- found in the Young Adult section, these fast paced adventure books are reminiscent of The Giver in that they are quick reads with more insight than most adult fiction. Very enjoyable and easy to read. I'm eagerly awaiting the third book that comes out in August! 
  2. Brain Surgeon by Keith Black - A biography about a neurosurgeon. I love hearing stories/watching movies etc about medicine (admitted Grey's Anatomy lover, old school ER and Rescue 911 watcher)-so this was the inside track. I got to go inside the operating room with Dr Black and hear the stories of patients that had great successes and great heartaches. This book made me want to read more biographies/autobiographies. Bonus-it's pretty short. Quick read.
  3. Suddenly by Barbara Delinsky - Fiction novel about a small town doctor and her practice. Things run amuck in the town-the story of her dealing with tragedy and life in general. It was okay. Fine to read once, not dying to ever read it again. 
  4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett - Thank you to Elora and my sister Ellen for recommending this! Great read-the pace is pleasant as it takes you through three different narrators' versions of the life in Jackson, MS during the civil rights era. Highly recommended. 
  5. The Crazy School by Cornelia Read - Bleck. Nothing special. I had to finish it because of my unwritten "I'm over halfway done with it darnit" rule. Over dramatized and hokey. Don't bother. I do have to give credit to whoever designed the jacket and the synopsis--it got me hooked! 
  6. World Without End by Ken Follett - sequel to Pillars of the Earth. I LOVE THESE BOOKS. They take you on a beautiful journey through decades of family drama and strife. On top of that, Follett paints pictures with words of the architecture that both books are based around. Based on his magnificent and detailed descriptions, I figured out that one of the cathedrals I visited when I lived in the UK was one of two that the author based his fictional "Kingsbridge Cathedral" on. Both of these books have some graphic descriptions/scenes, but overall I think they are important for the tone of the book and complete character development. 
  7. Gifts of War by Mackenzie Ford - stand alone novel based on WW1. Classic story of boy meets girl, they fall in love, boy goes to war, girl falls in love with new boy while boy 1 is gone etc. Enjoyable, but not particularly memorable. 
Vacation was great. Anyone have book recommendations for me? Sell me on your favorites! I have a lot of time on my hands.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Batch one of Happy Iowa Things...this will be added to as I fall more in love with this season at home.  

1. Hickory Park
2. My crazy family (this picture is from Christmas 2008, but it depicts us perfectly)

3. Hammock
4. Weather that allows for outdoor running at the end of June
5. Strangers that compliment you (this has now happened three times since Saturday)
6. Green grass that's great for barefoot walking
7. INSURANCE! yay praise--I was able to get put on my Dad's ISU insurance policy. No lapse in coverage either! 
8. DOLLAR MOVIE THEATER! How to train your dragon just made it to that theater--the fam is going to have to have a night out on the town. 
9. Cornerstone Church - a house of worship with great teaching and chuck full of friends I still need to meet. And hey, it still has the word 'stone' in the name!
10. Diet Mountain Dew in soda fountains / fountain drink machines at gas stations. I could NEVER find it in Texas! 
11. FIREFLIES! I never saw them in Texas...they twinkle every night in Iowa!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hips, say thank you to David Lebovitz

Want wow factor for your next girls night or family gathering?? Dying to put on a few extra pounds to "fill out" that perfect dress? Want your friends to drool and clap like newborns?? MAKE THIS CAKE! It's called Banana Cake with Mocha Frosting. Yes.

Holy Cow. You had me at banana chocolate--then add the mocha ganache frosting and candied salted peanuts?? Life changing. I initially saw the recipe in David Lebovitz's new cookbook "Ready for Dessert"- I took a picture of the title of the cookbook and the name of the recipe for this specific cake because the picture and description were mouth watering.

Many dreams of banana chocolate gooey deliciousness later, my work lovelies suggested a last hurrah baking, wine and cheese extravaganza at my friend Jen's house the weekend before I moved. 

The four of us (no picture was taken the night of) kept getting more and more excited as the cake came together. The smells from the kitchen did not disappoint. Meet the ladies:
L to R: Jen, me, Emma, and Dawn

The recipe is long and the picture looks complicated--it's NOT a difficult recipe! The banana cake is similar to banana bread and the frosting is just melted chocolate and butter! Looks professional. Tastes AMAZING. Lots of layers of flavor. Dude. Click on this link to the LEGAL copy of the recipe and get baking!! Your mouth will thank you. You can work out later to make up for it.

Photos of the cake taken by the lovely Dawn Mitchell!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

New Normal

Iowa. Amish. Strangers. Corn. No Paycheck. Loneliness. Nausea. 

Iowa. Family. Friends yet to be met. CORN! Funemployment, Communion with my Savior. Searing pain of missing friends. 

I'm trying to change my view of the new normal that is my life. I didn't realize how numb I had become about leaving Austin until I was 5 minutes from my parent's house pulling off I-35 to Ames, Iowa. It was one of those trigger moments. I saw a silver impala and thought of my dear friends (one of them drives an impala). I ABSOLUTELY LOST IT. Well. I had my huge sunglasses on that kind of covered it, but the tears started rolling. My mom didn't notice until we were pulling into the neighborhood... she realized that my one word answers to her questions were not me in awe of my new home, but that I couldn't talk through the tears. What I've known for so long has been swapped: I knew Austin was far from Home.  Now I realize just how far away my FRIENDS are. My Texas family. I'm living brady bunch style with my brother and his wife as well as my parents all in one big house. It's awesome, but I'm torn. I'm all over the place emotionally and keep crying. I try to retreat to my room to 'have a moment' only to find that the WHOLE (yes, ENTIRE) family migrated to my room to spend time with me. They have missed me like I've missed them. I have exactly what I've been wanting--my family to be closer, but I'm hurting. I want to be bouncing off the walls--but I'm not. I'm wishing I were in Texas to celebrate my friends' birthdays that are today and tomorrow. I'm watching the clock thinking that in an hour I would have been leaving for church at the Stone. 

Would have. Past tense. New normal. *sigh*

I would hugely covet your prayers in the coming weeks as I seek the Lord and dig into jobs, insurance coverage, where I want to go, and what exactly I want to do with my life. And for God to use the brokenness that I'm experiencing for HIS glory.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dive In

Aren't insecurities funny? Something as awesome as being asked to write a guest post on my friend Elora's blog made me all nervous. I was like--she's an ENGLISH teacher. Her writing is PHENOMENAL. She's writing a book and it's SO AMAZING. Her blog has people all over the country reading it. Why would she want ME to write?

But you know what? SHE DID! What an honor! And with the encouragement of my English teaching sister, I DID write a post! It's called Dive In. When I asked what I should write about, Elora told me that her blog is about story. However I interpret having an authentic story. 

Read my post on Elora's Blog
Fall in love Elora and her husband through their love story
Add her to your blog roll. Her writing will rock your world. The reason she asked me to write is because she's on short term mission trip to Kenya with Reagan High School Students. PRAY FOR THEM. Pray for hearts changed, Kenyans and Americans. I know that she will continue to have a bold voice and beautiful stories to weave -- don't miss reading them first hand!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Shiny Bike? oooooh

hahahaha...this is so true for me. HAPPY FRIDAY, FRIENDS! via @

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Blue Eyed Girl

I earned a comp day from our team production in May--and my last day is June 18th. SO, I had a whopping 10 work days to choose from to use my comp day. I decided on Wednesday the 9th. My day off was amazing. JUST what the doctor ordered. Spent the night at old school style with my friend Shaylee on Tuesday night. Woke up to summer rain pitter pattering on the roof.  No alarm set in the morning, just SLEPT. Had a leisurely morning writing a guest post for my friend Elora's blog (it should be published next week sometime). Went to lunch with another dear friend, Katie (she MIGHT enter the blogging world, get excited! ** EDIT, she started it! Link included), at Kerbey Lane. Spent a good hour or two at Half Price Books. Then stopped at Sonic's Happy Hour for my standard Diet Cherry Limeade. Went back to Shaylee's and made dinner with her. We just rested and loved and ate and drank and talked. It was perfect.

My friend Kristen once pointed out to me that when I'm happy, my eyes are VERY blue. Yesterday was a happy day.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

He leads...ALL the way

God has a funny way of boldly speaking to me through words and music.

Tonight at I heard a rocking sermon by Halim Suh on Faith being birthed by God's call. He was teaching from Genesis comparing the life of Abraham and Sarah to humanity as a whole. Using the example of the barrenness of Sarah and original lack of faith by Abraham--and God's CALL to Abraham to believe. How when God speaks, there is action (Genesis 1: God calls light out of darkness, and there is light). Then with Sarah's barren womb, there is darkness and no hope YET God creates life and fullness through giving them a child. Halim then probed deeper to what God called Abraham to: leave all human security. Leave your country, leave your people, leave your Father's house-God is calling Abraham to TRULY see GOD as his security. Find his self worth in God and God alone. To find true citizenship in heaven, find true adoption as a son of the Most High, faith that HE is the one true security. 

Wow. Again, he continued about the call to Faith that embraces God's promises from afar. How Abraham was called to the land that god WILL SHOW HIM. Notice: the destination that God is leading him to is not a specific geography. God is calling him simply to TRUST. Sounds familiar. Gosh. Being called to trust and obey without seeing the whole picture--because if we demand the whole picture, we deny the requirement of faith to believe in what is not seen.

After the sermon, we got up to worship again. We sang the Chris Tomlin version of All the Way My Savior Leads Me. Man. It messed me up. I'm going into this phase of life--not knowing what's next, not having a job, a big old question mark in front of my very being. I'm going somewhat boldly into change, yet I still doubt. The lyrics "how could I doubt his tender mercy"--seriously?! How do I doubt this great God? How am I ignoring the faithfulness of this God throughout the Bible? Why do I think that He will not be faithful to lead me? Check out the lyrics and song:

Another quote from the sermon that resonated (Halim got it from a John Piper Sermon): 
" Every joy will have its limits. Every fruit its bruise. Every relationship its disappointment. Every service its critic. And every birth and wedding its nearby funeral. Hebrews 13:14 takes up the very thought of Abraham's faith: 'Here we have no lasting city.' Everything breaks. Everything ages, spoils, rusts. Only God remains unchanged and glorious. "
Yes. GOD REMAINS UNCHANGED AND GLORIOUS! He is trustworthy. He is deserving of all of my worship, all of my trust, all of my heart, all of my being. I pray that I can CLING to the Lord and the fullness of his promises in this season, and every season of my life. May this song resonate within my very soul. That I will live like a redeemed child of God whose citizenship is in Heaven and not earth, whose Father is eternal and unchanging, whose joy is based on the finished work of Christ and not myself. That it will be said of my life that Jesus led me ALL THE WAY.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Now THAT'S what I call a Friday Night!

To my Austinites and to those reading from far far away, let me tell you: last night the foodies were OUT and we celebrated rightly. 

Whether or you were aware, yesterday was National Doughnut Day. My co-workers and I formulated a plan to hit the town for dinner and doughnuts to properly acknowledge the day. We went to Gibson Bar and Gourdough's.

Both places serve their food out of trailers (VERY common in Austin. There are entire trailer parks that are just restaurants--GOOD restaurants at that!). Both venues had amazing food that makes you go SERIOUSLY? THAT? That's what I'm going to eat?

Yes, yes I did eat that (we shared, don't judge):
1. The flying pig: a doughnut w/ bacon on it and maple syrup glaze
2. The most amazing grilled cheese ever: also with a fried egg on texas toast
3. The buenos dias: A hot dog wrapped in bacon with cheese and a fried egg
4. The son of a peach: a doughnut w/ peach filling, drizzled w/cream cheese icing
5. The miss shortcake: a cream cheese filled doughnut w/ sliced strawberries on top

Gourdough's is a must for people visiting Austin: eclectic, ridiculous, fun, food served out of an airstream trailer, BYOB, and great tasting treats!

Photo credit to Mike Sutter with the Austin Statesman blog "forklore":

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cupcakes from Jesus and other great things

  1. the movie "How to train your Dragon" -THIS MOVIE IS EPIC! I loved it! My best friend was visiting from Minneapolis...we were planning to see another movie, but it was sold out. We "settled" for dragons. OH MAN-we were (okay, more me than steph) GIDDY with the film. It was so whimsical and fun. The soundtrack by John Powell is also very fabulous. Tons of soaring and flighty melodies. Do yourself a favor--DON'T watch the preview before it. I think the reason why we loved it so much is that we had NO idea what to expect. Kid friendly too!
  2. the band Alpha Rev from Austin... I heard them at the Music for the City Album 1 Release show at La Zona Rosa a few weeks ago. I love their sound--very friendly for windows down summer driving.
  3. the anticipation of things to come...the road trip with my mom back up to the midwest, the job I don't yet have, the new apartment I'm sure to find, a new city, possible summer international travels
  4. cupcakes from Jesus- these are little happy things that happen day to day. For example, random stranger saying they like your dress at a gas station. Or a guy from a wedding emailing you a the week after the big day saying he saw you smiling at him and wished he'd have said hi at the wedding. Or pretty flowers you got a chance to smell in your office (they didn't even have to belong to you!). Recognizing simple pleasures in life that make life a little sweeter: cupake, and the giver is the one that gives everything in this life: Jesus. Thus, cupcake from Jesus.
  5. having a pink nose from time spent outside at the pool, at bbqs, and enjoying the SUNSHINE!
What are things you're loving lately?


I know I missed posting this on Memorial Day: 
To the soldiers still serving, to the fallen, to those yet to serve that will someday: THANK YOU! For protecting our country. For defending our freedom. For risking your lives. I am so grateful for all of you and for the amazing job you do. Dad--thanks for sharing this poem with me and the story of how it impacted you. For the full story of the
In Flanders Fields by Lieutenant John McCrae
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.