God’s timing

Mike and I have been waiting for quite some time for some life-pieces to fall into place. Throughout most of it, I’ve been battling some serious anger, resentment, and overall frustration at Mike, but honestly also at God. Most of it has been my own image in my head of how I thought my life would look at this point (or by this age), and it is drastically different than I would’ve thought. 

I was reading in Luke the story of John the Baptist. The angel, Gabriel, just showed up to his dad, Zechariah, and said “this is going to happen.” Zechariah didn’t really believe him and asked, “how do I know?” Gabriel’s response is basically “shame on you. I’m a flipping angel and actually IN the presence of God, so now you’re mute till these things happen.” I remember always shaking my head growing up thinking how silly Zechariah is, an ANGEL showed up and told you!! How could you doubt God?! 

But now I read that section and I pause. First, Zechariah lived in the silent-years; there weren’t prophets, appointed kings, God wasn’t in a burning bush, and they had long since departed Egypt. Even in our time, is our reality really that different? Second, if an angel showed up, aside from freaking out in terror, if it told me what Gabriel told Zechariah, i.e. something that is HIGHLY unlikely will just come to be, would I really believe him right away? Wouldn’t I, in all my human glory, challenge them almost immediately? Without a doubt. I would challenge them without a doubt. 

Zechariah’s question I can relate to. It’s the ultimate question, can I trust what God says will happen and can I trust his timing in it? The on-the-spot moment, all rational thought flees and you’re left wondering where the hell has God plan been in it all?

That Zechariah’s response basically sums up how I’ve been feeling since January 2020. What has been the point? What are you (God) doing? How (if ever) is this going to come together? 

Life doesn’t just stop because you don’t feel like you have a sense of direction, or purpose, or know what’s happening yet. But my overall control, worry, and fear of the incontrollable have decreased. God has worked into some of those nooks and crannies, breathing out the disobedience of my faith in him. Things have suddenly taken a pretty big turn, direction, options, purpose, next steps… they’ve all popped up rather quickly. And like a brick hitting my head I go, “oh right! YOUR timing, God, not mine. DUH.” Then, the rational part of the brain that shuts off when an angel is talking to you kicks in, and I’m sure just like for Zechariah after losing his voice, or in your case the idea of life in your head, you look back at everything that God has timed perfectly and allowed to happen in his plan for you and go “of course these things will come to pass,” and you won’t even worry if these new plans you think are of God don’t pan out because the angel is gone now, you’re already down the road instead of just entering it, and you realize “oh, I guess it just works out in his time anyway.” 

I might not have questioned an angel, but I’ve been questioning God for over a year now. I think I’m just beginning to get it. God’s timing is everything. And his plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope for a future isn’t referring to anything in this life, as much as I sometimes might wish it to be so, but for the continual cultivation of my soul for my life with him.

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

“Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years. ”The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” Luke 1:18-20

Podcasts

Hey you!

Ok, I’ve been listening to some podcasts again and had to share the ones sticking out to me.

So kicking it off in true form with all the Family Life Today episodes I’ve really loved, you know, aside from all of them.

  1. The Power of a Wife’s Affirmation — This is a recording of Anne Wilson speaking on their yearly couples cruise. It’s a must for all women to help them understand the power of their femininity on men, especially us wives.
  2. Killing Spiders — As a part of Family Life Today the played another speech from their cruise featuring Gary Thomas. I LOVE Gary Thomas. He has some great books for dating, marriage, relationship, etc. Excellent speaker and some real practical and applicable advice for your marriage. Definitely worth the listen. (this one will probably make you cry a bit)
  3. Forgiveness — This is by Voddie Bauchman and man is he amazing. Yes he’s talking about in the context of marriage, but only SLIGHTLY. This is a GREAT break down of forgiveness and what it means and why we struggle with it. This is a personal battle of mine that I’m having a very hard time breaking through. Bauchman did an amazing job of showing me where my footfalls are.
  4. Finding God in the Desert of the Soul — Mike and I have been enjoying some Saddleback Church sermons that usually feature Rick Warren. But they had one of their other pastors speaking a few weeks back and I like him even more then Warren. He five main points about what you can be doing while in the desert and believe me, I feel like I’ve been in the desert for awhile now. If you need some practical direction and advise as to what you should be doing here and now in life, check this one out.
  5. Lastly, Maybe Just the Podcast — this is a shameless self plug. My bff and I started this podcast at the beginning of the year and we’re really enjoying making it all come together. It’s new and it’s a bit rough, but we want you to join us weekly for a little coffee (or wine) chat!

That’s all I’ve got at the moment, but they have helped me reflect and grow a bit more.
Let me know what you’re listening to! I’m always looking for more and other podcasts to check out.

Amazon round up!

So I’ve got a round up of some of my amazon purchase over the last month, at least the ones I love. The number of Amazon boxes coming and going from our small apartment…. it’s getting a bit insane. Mike commented that Amazon was going to start upping our Prime membership just for all the shipping alone…

This is a reoccurring purchase that I love, Ancient Nutrition. Great product, great reviews, and when I remember to take it, I feel so good. There IS a funky taste and it doesn’t always dissolve the best, but I just squirt some water flavoring into it and finish it as quickly as possible. This targets one of the myths that topical stuff helps prevent aging and enhances beauty. This brand focuses on the reverse. Start on the inside and work your way out.

Shopping for a quick Florida trip that unfortunately didn’t happen… I decided to hang on to this bathing suit, from Honlyps Bikini, that I fell in love with. The bottoms fit on the ~slightly~ larger side, but overall it fits great. The shape is super flattering and it comes in a variety of colors. It is a slightly high-thigh cut, so if you’re looking for more coverage on the backside, this might not be for you. That being said I didn’t find it crazy revealing or anything too sexy, just overall more flattering in cut.

THIS SWEATER. Ok, I’m not sure about you, but Barbie was my JAM growing up. All things Barbie. Another influencer shared this item, and then my bestie gifted it to me for V-day, but my gosh it’s been on my “to-buy” list for awhile. I wear this all. the. time. ALL THE TIME. It’s cute and AMAZINGLY comfy. I can’t rave about this enough. Seriously. I am almost always a extra-small/small, but sized up in this for the over-sized vibe and I’m loving it. You cannot go wrong.

Sick of styling your hair every day? Need something to easily spruce up that last day before hair washing? I gave these head-bands a try and I love them. Cute, easy, and while maybe not the largest grouping of colors, diverse enough to hit the mark. They’re comfy and (usually) don’t hurt my heard. If they are bothering me, I just readjust them. I’m definitely going to be on the look-out for more summer/spring colors in the future.

Everything else I purchase was returned and seriously, there were a LOT of returns. What are you buying from Amazon these days? I work in a warehouse for a small-retailer that sells on Amazon and the more I know the more I really love so many different things about Amazon. Send me your best purchases!

***These are amazon affiliate links***

Tithe

Growing up in the church, we’re always told that 10% of our income should be given to the church.

Several church plants/fund raising and who knows how many sermons later, I still roll my eyes just as heavily every time that message-theme pops up.

First, nowhere in the bible does it say 10%. This is taking out of the book of Leviticus (27:30) in terms of how much land/crops/etc. the Israelites were to set aside for God. Then again in the book of Mark (12:41-44) we’re given an example of tithing, in this case a widow versus the wealthy. But no definitive amount is listed.

My most recent exposure to church-funds raising has left me shaking my head. Most of the call to actions are challenges, “Give and see how God gives to you,” “Give and see how your perspective is changed,” “Give and see what we the church can do.” All relevant and good points. More importantly, as a Christian, we believe we are stewards of all we posses therefore making the whole idea easier to understand and justify giving to God. It’s his money after all. But for me, I have an issues with church pushing, all but demanding, you be tithing regularly to their cause. Yes, churches are important, buildings need maintenance, people need a place to go, and the list goes on. However, there are MORE things you can be giving to that are impacting local and global communities better than I personally believe a lot of churches can and will. Churches require staffing, salaries, benefits, maintenance, etc. The cost can be high, justly so, to support all the people that are living and dedicating their life to the church’s mission. One huge benefit of this is that churches can host numerous ministries as a result. They can be the platform other outreaches can use for practical reasoning.

I still don’t like the pushing. I have just finished over a month worth of sermons telling me how to give, why to give, what to give, and when to give. In my life, sometimes I have given more out of discipline and obedience than my heart being in the right place. I don’t think that’s wrong, although ideal you’re working towards your heart being in alignment with the action.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7

However, sometimes people’s circumstances are just too much for them to be giving; too much debate, a known huge expense coming, barely scrapping by, and in those instances we are directed to that chapter in Mark. But not because a church or pastor is telling you to. I believe personal financial guidance and overall stewardship encouragement would have a greater impact for the people of Christ.

For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. – 2 Corinthians 8:12

I have used the 10% as a guiding block of where to start, but I personally hope to be giving and using what God has given me on a much larger scale than that in my life. I also understand that sometimes the barn (or church) needs to be raised and obviously they need funds to do it, and there are always some great biblical points to take out of the “money-bag” sermons.

Here are some things I’ve gathered over the years:

  • Earthly treasures can’t follow us into eternity (this does NOT mean you can’t or shouldn’t enjoy them. See Solomon.) Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. – Luke 12:33-34
  • Money (or time, or resources) can be used to create eternal impact (this is cool to think about) both for the giver and receiver: You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. – 2 Corinthians 9:11
  • God is generous, so we should be too: Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. – Hebrews 13:16
  • You can’t serve money and God: For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. – 1 Timothy 6:10

This was mostly a rant, but needless to say it’s been a good challenge of making sure my perspective is on God and not just what’s next.

Here are some of my favorite missions (and a church trying to build) if you’re at all interested or unsure where to start:

Drop your favorite charities in the comments! I always love to know what else is out there!

All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing. – Proverbs 21:26

Anchor

Ely, MN

Working through some yoga this weekend, too exhausted to convince myself to do a regular workout, I got to the part where the video asks you to set a mantra for the duration of the practice. Usually it’s some self affirmation, “I am strong,” “I am worthy,” “I am free,” and whatever else. All good things to remind yourself, with a Christ centered lense for sure. This time around it was about your breath being your anchor, which I right away found insteresting because God breathed life into us from the beginning. Our breathe is our anchor, but our breathe itself is of God. So I repeated “Christ is my Anchor. My Anchor is Christ.” It felt so powerful and also so peaceful.


” You will keep in perfect peace those whose mindsa re steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.”

– Isaiah 26:3-4

Everyone has their doubts and there are moments where I lay in bed praying “please be real, please be real, please be real.” But there have been so many before me and even more after me challenging, questioning, seeking, and proving that God is real. And when I look back at my own life, my own walk, and I reflect on the promises God has given us, I am reminded that not once has he let me down.

I will doubt, I will struggle, I will get caught in my own web of creation, completely unfocused on Christ and what, where, and who my identity lies in, but he is always faithful. I’m not nearly as biblically versed as I should be in my faith, but when I seek, I always seem to find.

I’ve been working towards focusing on not letting my own selfish ambitions define me, my worth, my identity. It’s hard. A daily (hourly) struggle for me. But as I get ready to (hopefully) enter back into the workforce, I am working towards challenging myself to remember I am not defined by what I can or can’t accomplish or what people think. It doesn’t mean I shouldn’t work hard and strive to achieve, but that I should remember Christ is my Anchor and my Anchor is Christ. Life (or death) doesn’t seem so terrifying when I remember that.

“God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sactuary behind the curtain,”

– Hebrews 6:18-19

Valentines

❤️❤️❤️

I was going to write this whole post about this holiday and how sweet it is, how even when single I loved it for a variety of reasons, but I honestly had a pretty rough week leading up to it and I just couldn’t muster the happy-go-lucky feelings I usually have surrounding it. Even going into this week, the PMS-turned-period emotions have trailed my like a faithful puppy setting a less then thrilled outlook on life at the moment.

But I still love v-day and despite my crappy week and mood, I had a fantastic one. One thing I’ve been working on (and admittedly failing at last week/this week) is owning the fact that I am in control of my reaction, response, and emotions to any given situation or circumstance. Despite the crappy week, I buckled up and got excited about what I DO have for my Valentine weekend.

My thought process went a little something like this:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

“Trust in the LORD with all your hear and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straights.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)

First, the things I was upset about weren’t anything important when looking at life. They have no barring on my well being and it wasn’t as if God was purposefully screwing over all and any plans I had. Second, if I wanted to have a good weekend, I was responsible for making that happen. Not God, not the stars aligning, not Mike… me. If I wanted to have a great weekend, feel loved-up and romanced, I had to CREATE the mood and act upon it for myself. If I want Mike to be fun and romance-y, I have to be fun and romance-y. Third, my attitude towards Mike and my marriage are seeking out God’s purpose and intent with marriage. It’s seeking his will and his way over mine and resting in the promise that he will direct it either way. Some of the things bothering me are 100% circumstantial, but how I engage and treat Mike, especially on v-day weekend, is 100% my own actions.

The good news is it was a great weekend. Mike has been working a ton and that was honestly the most togetherness and time in each others presence we’ve had in probably a month. It wasn’t anything crazy, but it was much needed. We kicked it off Friday with a Dave Ramsey live event (if you’re ever looking for something to do check out live-streaming events about whatever you might be interested in!), Saturday was half chores, but we finished the day with home-made charcuterie boards, wine, and some movies, and Sunday we hosted some single friends for dinner.

I hope you had a good vday. I would love to know what you did!

Just skin

Skin — something that is so personal to everyone, especially women. Unique in appearances, textures, reactions, movement, and the list can go on. It’s one of the first things people notice about you. Acne, dry, oily, pigmented, scared, smooth, wrinkled, freckled…. all words used to describe it.

Every single person skin journey is personal, special, and specific to them. Each one concocting their own routine, or lack there of, product line up, and makeup application. Hopefully acheiving whatever the desired results maybe.

I personally have had a very deep insecurity with my skin. I battled some pretty nasty teenage acne that has followed me into adulthood. Mine and my sisters acne was so bad we were able to participate in clinical trials for new acne medication. Long before the world of Differin gel and all the fancy prescriptions that they have now, I tried various antibiotics, topical creams, and hormonal pills to try and combat it. None of it really worked. So I would slap on as much salicylic acid as my face could take, get whatever non-acne producing cream my dermatologist would recommend and spot treat my entire face religiously.

As I entered into young adulthood and resources were more readily available, I started working towards not hating my skin and boy, has it been a journey.

Basic things to know about my skin, it’s EXTREMELY oily. Those Italian-Mediterranean roots are strong. I do still struggle with the occasional little breakout. I have SERIOUS dark under eyes; it’s definitely hereditary, and at this point it has a lot to do with the general shape/placement of my eyes on my face. Some discoloration (redness) and a little bit of acne scaring is about the only other issue. My overall goal is to protect, prevent, and maintain the overall health of my skin.

The other important thing to know? I’m cheap. fifty dollars on an eye cream? I don’t think so… I tend to do a lot of list scanning, asking my go-to skincare obsessed friends, and general research before I even remotely shell out that much money. Most of the time I’m looking for well rated, results-driven, wallet friendly products. There are some brands worth splurging on and definitely a few product here and there, but overall if I can get the results I want without breaking the bank, I simply won’t. I also want to say that while I have my routine down-pat, I do like trying new products and alternating in different things to try. Finally, like I stated above, everyone skin is uniquely different, what might be amazing for me might not do anything for you and vice-versa.

Here’s my current routine:

AM

  1. Wash my face first thing (unless I’m working out) with MaryKay’s 4-in-1 TimeWise Age-preventing Cleanser (I linked to amazon, but you can always got to a local rep)
  2. The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
  3. The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG
  4. (depending on what my skin needs…) MaryKay Oil-Free Hydrating Gel
  5. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face Mist Sunscreen Spray

PM

  1. Remove any makeup — I don’t currently have a favorite makeup remover… I LOVE Lancome’s Double Action Eye Makeup Remover, but haven’t wanted to committed to the $$$, so I’ve been using MaryKay’s Makeup Remover until I run out and then I’ll be shopping again. MK’s isn’t bad, but it’s not as gentle as Lancome’s. I’ve tried a few other products I’ll review later.
  2. Wash my face again (sometimes twice to remove everything) with MaryKay’s 4-in-1 TimeWise.
  3. MaryKay’s TimeWise Replenishing Serum C
  4. And again just a little bit of spot treatment for any dry spots using MaryKay’s Oil-Free Hydra-Gel

A few things I want to point out. First, the Ordinary products are half the price at Ulta. Second, I did sell MaryKay products for a period of time, I no longer do, but yes I still love a lot of what they have to offer and no they stuff isn’t crap, it’s just from an MLM company. Lastly, the reason I am very light on moisturizing is not because my skin is oily, but because my dad has a background in toxicology and pharmacology and while he is in a different industry now, he originally started in the pharmaceutical/beauty/cleaning industry. He specifically ran clinical trials on the long-term continual use of moisturizer on peoples skin and basically he said that the more you use it, the more your skin starts to adapt and expect it as the barrier for moister on your face — i.e. your face stops producing it’s own necessary oils/moisturizer etc. Both my mom and I are very light on the amount of product we put on our face in general. The BIGGEST factors for deterring aging is sunscreen, retinol, diet, moisturizing (as needed), and genetics.

So what’s your skin story? Do you use any MUST HAVE products? I would love to know what! Remember, we are all beautiful in our own skin, created as image bearers of the true king.

(*** all links are affiliate links with amazon ***)

You can’t just stop

I was thinking about a lesson with an old trainer way back in my riding days, she would always yell at me “Jacki, you can’t stop riding the course just because you screwed up the first fence!” Immature fourteen year old me definitely couldn’t understand what she was trying to implement into my life at that time, but as 2020 closed out and 2021 started off a little rocky, I feel like that lesson couldn’t be more applicable.

Several years ago I was introduced to the tradition of instead of making new year resolutions or goals, to pick a word and try and see how that word might play out in your life. One year it was thirst (thirsting in my faith), one was grace, faith, wait, and so on. It’s amazing how much you see that word pop up throughout the year and prompts reflection on the thoughts surrounding that word. Sometimes I would very clearly know what the word was going to be and other years I haphazardly choose something that didn’t really have that big of a meaning throughout the year. But I like to always try.

So this year I’m going with the word Seek. There’s a lot of unknowns up ahead for Mike and I, and as I look back over the last year, I definitely see a pattern of just sort of being lost. I want to seek what it is next for our lives with Christ, whatever that means, and work towards being more accountable and intentional with the direction my life is heading. Because I am awful at all the above.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Matthew 7:7-8

How about you? Do you have a new years resolution? Or would you try the word idea? What do you like to focus on and look forward to heading into a new year? Because we can’t just stop or give up because the year has started off.. well, like crap. It can still turn into a beautiful ride, especially if we set our eye above.

Podcast Update!

I’m definitely slacking off… But! I’ve been listening to various podcasts over the last month and I wanted to share my top two.

First up: Daring to Wait on God (Part 1) from Pastor Rick’s Daily Hope. I love Pastor Rick. I think he always has some really good key points on whatever topic he’s preaching on and most of his podcasts are no more then 20 minutes? Great for a quick reflection/quiet time in the car or over a short lunch break. It is one of three (I think?) and while I started part two and didn’t finish, I think part one was plenty good enough on it’s own. He covers five main things to remember when waiting on God, 1) There’s a natural daily between planting & harvesting, 2) There’s an unseen battle going on, 3) God is preparing me for his blessing/what’s next, 4) There’s good company in the waiting room, and 5) Remember that God always keeps his promises.

Number two: What is a Cultural Christian from Family Life Today. As always, I LOVE Family Life Today. You can never go wrong listening to them. In this episode they chatted with author Dean Inserra about what it means to be a follower of Christ verses more of a lifestyle-cultural belief. Very interesting and compelling to reflect on if you yourself claim to be a Christian. It definitely helped me question my own life values and how I prioritize things. It also pointed out that while everyone needs to hear the truth, sometimes living it out in a country such as the USA might be more difficult in some ways. There is at least one other episode that piggy-backs off of this topic, also highly compelling, but I thought this one was a good starting (and possibly ending) point.

Anyway, there are so many podcasts to listen to these days that sometimes I always find a little recommendation surprisingly helpful. Maybe you’ll hate both of these or love them! It’s definitely a personal preference. Either way, I would love your recommendations as well!

All things cookies!

I put the petal to the medal this holiday season with some different recipes for cookies. First round was some basic sugar cookies for decorating and the second round was a test between two different ginger bread cookie recipes.

I was pretty picky when looking through all the difference sugar cookie recipes on Pinterest. There are a ton to choose from, but I always find sugar cookies to be rather basic and was really focusing on ingredient list. I found this one that specifically called for almond extract with zero chill time. It also had me cut the dough a little on the thicker side for baking.

It wasn’t anymore complicated than other recipes and honestly, I found the consistency and taste spot on. The almond extract made a real difference in the flavor profile and the thicker cut helped maintain a softer texture. This is the recipe I used for the cookies from In Katrina’s Kitchen. The frosting was a custom recipe from a friend well versed in the baking world. I’m not sure I would recommend it for decorating per-say, but for taste? Absolutely. I’ll share that in another post.

Next up was the dual of gingerbread cookies. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of the rock-hard, snap in half type of cookies. I want me gingerbread cookies soft and chewy, almost bread like. So I picked two different recipes to see which one I liked more.

This one was all regular sugar and much heavier on the molasses. There was no chill time and a sugar coating before cooking. Overall the taste was great and the conclusion was that it would be great for dunking. Melt in your mouth type texture but definitely a little crunchier overall. Borderline sugar cookie vibe with a nice ginger-bite. Very simple and easier to throw together before a last minute event.

This ginger bread cookie recipe one the favorite cookie of the season award. Soft, chewy, and overall a more “authentic” ginger-bread like taste. It had way less molasses then the last one and only used brown sugar. There was a chill time (make sure you COVER it… learned that lesson..) and a nice little icing finish and wow is all of the little extra time worth it. Not something you can throw together quickly, but definitely wins over everyone who tries it. I brought home and empty tray from our community group this year. I can’t recommend this one enough.

All of these recipes I have saved on file for next season or for whenever I’m craving a good cookie. I’m no baking expert by any means and I tend to get nervous doing cakes or anything fancy, but cookies I always seem to love. So many different recipes that can hit any craving.
What’s your favorite cookie recipe? Send them my way! I would love to try them out.