Archive for November, 2012

November 30, 2012

Day 325: A Happy Sad

Looks like I’ll have to ask a bit of forgiveness… again. But this time I truly have a good excuse… well, actually, several worthy excuses, and one excuse that I wish I didn’t have.

To start it off, last Friday my oldest got sick… 103° fever and followed it with a nasty cough. Ick.

I was in a semi-monologue skit at church with a bunch of lines, a three-hour rehearsal on Saturday afternoon, and three services on Sunday… don’t get me wrong, I love doing that stuff, but it does need to go in my “excuses” list nonetheless! (It was really a beautiful skit. You can see it and the whole service here. I’m around minute 43, I think.)

My husband, two boys, and I flew out to Denver on Wednesday morning to visit his brother’s family… which means I had to pack us and we spent a whole day at airports and on planes. Since then we have been hanging out non-stop (which might be why it has taken me several days to craft this post!)

On the plane, my youngest came down with the same cold/flu sickness his older brother had and has had a 103° fever the past few days.

In the midst of all that… life… and all that… stuff, my world and heart was forever changed by… well, by eternity.

On Saturday morning, my grandmother began to have symptoms of congestive heart failure. She went to be with Jesus on Sunday afternoon at 1:02. My whole family was there, and she even waited for me to get there after I rushed to the hospital after finishing my skit at church… she died about thirty-seconds after I got there and gave her one last kiss. She was an amazing lady… made me feel special right up to the last moment.

Indulge me… I want to share my favorite photo of her with my son. (We had snuck in some ice cream for her. She loved ice cream… but I think she loved my kids even more.)

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And not to minimize or appear like I am “using” the experience for a post, but her favorite hymn was “To God Be The Glory”. And so I would like to give God some glory for minute.

Throughout a painful mourning process, I was able to turn to The One for comfort. And, more so, when I turned to Him… He provided the comfort I asked for and needed. He answered with peace. He responded with the salve of The Hope that I have in her destination and in our future reunion. He assured me of my Identity in Him as I suffered through the pangs of regret.

And I experienced God fulfilling the verse that has been my favorite since college… perhaps written on my heart then for such a time as this…

    We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

And I read that verse this week… needing to be reminded that my sadness wasn’t going to crush me. But then, I read further on…

    We never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

And knowing that my grandmother was saved and warmly welcomed into the arms of Christ (you can read her beautiful salvation story here) gave me the ability to fix my gaze on things that cannot be seen and know that those things will last forever… like her soul being united with His Promise.

And I honestly thought to myself a few days into the grieving process how glad I was that I had learned to cope the “real” way. For once, I had true, real, deep, cutting pain… and I didn’t turn to food to soothe me. In fact, I never once thought about eating food as comfort. My husband even had to remind me to eat, but never once was did I need to be reminded to turn to scripture or prayer.

And it’s all because of the renewal that Christ has done in my mind. The retraining is slow at times and there are setbacks here and there. But my mind IS being renewed. reworked. retooled.

And I can think of no greater testimony and gift to my Mamaw’s memory than to turn to The One she taught me about.

And I will end with one more indulgence… a tribute to her memory. She repeated this poem to us hundreds upon hundreds of times. And it is beautiful. I hope you are as blessed and encouraged as I have been by it.

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November 24, 2012

Day 319: Half-Car Garage

A couple of days ago my husband and I set out to clean the garage. My mom offered to watch the boys all day (thanks to my request on Day 303: Zero Car Garage!) so that we could really “git ‘er done” as we like to say here in Texas.

And look at me here… so optimistic.

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We got a goin’ right after I got back from dropping the boys off around 9:30. And we sorted and cleaned and purged. And sorted some more and cleaned some more and purged some more. I just knew we were gonna get that garage in ship-shape condition.

We ran a trip to Goodwill, then to the ReStore (a Habitat for Humanity resale store), and got some lunch. And when we got back and I saw the mounds that were yet to be touched, I started to feel a little doubt creeping in that it might not be possible to clean out an entire garage in 8 hours. A garage, mind you, that had not been sorted, cleaned, or purged in about 5 years.

But I was just so determined to finish that I plugged on ahead. I only had a limited amount of time to finish… so it simply HAD to get done.

No excuses. Play like a champion.

… … …

Yeah. We didn’t get it done.

And I was really pretty disappointed. As I hooked back in the kids’ car seats to go pick them up, my husband kept trying to remind me that we had done A LOT. And he was right. He was. But, it wasn’t DONE.

And I drove off feeling semi-accomplished and semi-failure.

{And how does this relate to the covenant???}

Oh yes. Well, as I drove off I was like, “Why am I disappointed? We did so much work! …… But we didn’t finish. And I really thought we’d finish. I dunno maybe cleaning out the garage in one day was an unrealistic expectation.”

Bam.

That was it. Unrealistic expectation. And I immediately started thinking about a mental conversation I’d had with myself earlier that day about how I was a little bummed that I was going to have to keep in the covenant for another year. I’d sorta started feeling like within this year I should have been all healed of my obsession, a size six, have my blog written into a book, and all of that with a nice little bow on top.

But. It was an unrealistic expectation.

Or maybe it’s more so that it was a undivine expectation instead of looking for God’s divine timing.

Cause again and again I am reminded…

    “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord . “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

And I also came across this verse:

    This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.

Habbakuk 2:3-4

I added in verse 4 as well… because it is like the opposite of waiting patiently. Trusting in myself… had all of those things happened in MY timing, I might have trusted in myself. I might have thought that I was the one that made it all happen. Even if it was just a tiny seed in my heart… we all know how dangerous a tiny seed can be.

So, now I’m glad that my covenant has not reached its fulfillment yet. I’m glad to have a chance to be a righteous one and live by faithfulness to God.

But the garage… well, I wish that HAD been finished in MY timing. Haha!

November 21, 2012

Recipe: Easy Cheesy Veggie Pasta Bake

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Easy Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake

I love this meal… and it gets double love because my husband said he loved it too… in fact, he said it twice! And then it gets triple love because it can be made ahead and refrigerated!

I got the original idea from this baked tortellini recipe over at Real Mom Kitchen.

Ingredients
• 16 oz dried penne pasta
• 1 cup frozen broccoli
• 1 cup frozen zucchini
• 1/2 cup whipping cream (not as good but will work: whole milk or half and half)
• 1 Tablespoon of Ana’s Herbs (or other Italian seasoning mix… although if you can find some Ana’s Herbs, get some… they are awesome! Their website has stores where you can find it)
• 1 1/2 cup shredded cheese (mozzarella or colby jack)
• 1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
• 1 jar (24oz) of spaghetti sauce (I usually use a basil and garlic kind)
• 4 Tablespoons butter, divided
• 1/2 cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs

Instructions:
1. Get out broccoli and zucchini so they can defrost just enough to separate from each other to be mixed.

2. Cook penne according to instructions until al dente. Drain and stir in a tablespoon of butter to keep from sticking.

3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine spaghetti sauce, cream, Ana’s Herbs, and 1 cup of Parmesan cheese.

4. Add in zucchini, broccoli, and penne. Stir until evenly combined.

5. Stir mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, then with bread crumbs. Drizzle remaining butter, melted, over bread crumbs.

6. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes and let cool for 10 minutes. Then serve!

It’s really easy and I love that I can incorporate frozen veggies without having to remember an hour in advance to get them out to defrost.

I’d love to hear some other variations you think would be good (and easy) in here. I was thinking some pre-chopped mushrooms? What else?

November 20, 2012

Day: 315 Hunger Is Hard

I have been becoming more and more aware that I had fallen back into a trap of eating, eating, eating. Eating too much at meals, eating too much for snacks, eating when I wasn’t hungry, eating.

And I’m afraid that I cannot deny that it was a mild case of emotional eating. You see, I’m a beach bum at heart… nice warm weather is the ticket for me. Sooooo, winter is tough on me. And yes, I live in Texas… and some might say that we don’t even have winter, but it’s cold. And that’s all I need to be a little party pooper. I mean… look at this:

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40°?!?! And it’s only just the beginning!!! {I’d better watch out or all this cold weather talk is gonna make me want a Snicker’s bar! Ha!}

So, since we are inside an awful lot more that also means that I am in the same room as my kitchen and pantry a lot more. So, I just… eat.

I have really noticed it because the last few days the weather has been decent (actually pretty close to idyllic today) and so I have spent much more time outside. And eating has been sort of an after thought.

I have also been trying to be more aware of what is going in my body. I put on my size 8 jeans on Sunday to wear to church and had to make sure I was wearing a lose-fitting top because I had me a little muffin-top going on there. Like I said on Day 306, not fitting into clothes was simply a “Dangeometer” that indicates that something is off.

Sure enough something has been “off”. And it’s interesting… I just need to be aware… consciously aware, that is… that something is wrong and then sometimes I have the power to fix it. Now, let me be clear that if “I” have any power, it is only because Christ’s power is still in me and the residual effects of having to rely solely and completely on Him for the past… wow, essentially for the past year… are still there.

    To those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:24

But anyway, what with eating meals again (trying to stop the snacky-meals and actually cooking), the weather being nice, and not fitting into my “skinny” jeans acting as an indicator/reminder for me… I have had a pretty good few days. (Hopefully this post doesn’t put a Murphy’s Law curse on me for having said that!)

November 18, 2012

Day 313: January Cleaver

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Ya know… I’m just gonna lay it out there…

I… don’t like to cook.

Nope… no June Cleaver here.

Maybe this will change when all my kids are in school (unless I have a job again…) and I’ll have time to prep dinner before everyone is home. But… currently, cooking only brings me stress. Plus… I have pretty much zeroooooooo cooking instincts.

But at the same time… I know that as much as I might not enjoy cooking… I need to cook.

Why?

Because I DO love to eat.

I love flavor. I love the taste. I love to savor things. I love the conversation around the dinner table.

And when I am missing out on those things pretty frequently, then… I start scrounging. I guess it is my body trying to find the nutrients that I am not getting in meal-snacking (meals that are made up of snacky type eating).

I have been provided an abundance of food, of recipes, of cooking utensils, spices, and the like. I have easy access to grocery stores. I have an oven that works (no, it’s not pretty… but it works!). I have a stovetop that works (also not very attractive – ha!). And most importantly, I have three (count em) three crockpots.

So, because of all of that, I also have no excuses.

And last night I decided to plan out my meals. Tomorrow I will go to the grocery store and get what I need. And I will cook. June Cleaver be derned. I will cook.

  • Thursday: Brenner (Breakfast for dinner)… eggs, hash browns, grits {for the boys… lil smokies sausage and pancakes}
  • Friday: Potato Soup (thinking of trying Paula Dean’s recipe that uses frozen hash browns because the store was, literally, OUT of potatoes).
  • Saturday: Fish tacos (it might not be fancy, but frozen tilapia works awesomely for this… with a litte cajun seasoning)
  • Sunday: Crock Pot Stuffed Bell Peppers
  • Monday: Veggie Paninis
  • Tuesday: Stir Fry
  • Wednesday: Vegetarian Enchiladas
  • Thursday: THANKSGIVING… yummy stuffing and sweet potatoes and my mom’s broccoli!
  • Friday: Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Saturday: Black Bean Burgers

*Ironically enough, I wrote out this post and then never went tot the grocery store. It was originally because I knew that I could stretch what we had in our pantry for a few days and since we are on a bit of a snug budget, I decided that was the way to go. But I have cooked every night! We had Brenner and then Friday we had Italian Bean Soup and last night we had Black Beans and Rice.

November 13, 2012

Recipe: Enchilada Bean And Chips Crock Pot “Bake”

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This is one of the first recipes that I have ever made-up on my own, so I’ll admit that I had my fingers crossed hoping all day that it would be good! And it wassssssssss!!!

With this one, remember… just because it’s “vegetarian” (if you use two cream of celerys) that doesn’t mean we should super-chow on it. Eat when you’re hungry… until you are satisfied. Then stop. I’d even recommend serving yourself a bowl/plate of it and then immediately putting the rest of it in tupperware and in the fridge. Maybe make yourself a fruit salad to go with it… eat half of the fruit salad ahead of time and then the other half, if you are still hungry, after you finish the enchilada bake. Not trying to be preachy… more so just reminding myself of this for the next time I pull up this recipe to make! It’s always a good reminder for me of how to move away from gluttony!

Enchilada Bean And Chips Crock Pot “Bake”

Ingredients

  • 1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of chicken soup*
  • 1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of celery soup
  • 1 can (4 oz) chopped green chiles
  • 10 oz reduced-fat sour cream
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 bag of white corn (or similar) tortilla chips
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can (16 oz) red kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed
  • 2 cups finely shredded colby jack cheese (or similar)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl combine: cream of chicken, cream of celery, green chiles, sour cream, hot sauce, and cumin.
  2. Crush a few handfuls of tortilla chips and spread over the bottom of the crock pot.
  3. Grab a handful of the verrrrry cold corn and “sprinkle” it on top of the crushed chips.
  4. Place a layer of black beans and kidney beans.
  5. Spread a layer of the soup mixture.
  6. Over the soup mixture, place a layer of shredded cheese.
  7. Repeat the layers again. (I repeated them twice… it might vary based on the size of your crock pot)
  8. End with a layer of chips.
  9. Cooking options: Low for 4-5 hours or on high for 2-3 hours (but you run a bit of a risk of your sour cream separating if you do this)

*Here you have the “easy/convenient” version, but you could totally make your own cream of chicken/celery, make your own tortilla chips, use fresh chopped green chiles, fresh corn, and cook your own black beans and kidney beans. Honestly, I hope to be able to do that someday but I’m not much of a cook, I don’t really enjoy cooking as some do, and I’m not good enough of a time manager to do all that with my toddler and preschooler with me!

And a quick shout out to this flavor combo… Frank’s Red Hot Sauce with ground cumin is uh.maz.ing. I use it in our black bean soup (which is double uh.maz.ing.) and now I use it in anything Mexicanish.

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November 12, 2012

Day 307: Hunger Games

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Yesterday I realized that I was hungry. Like, really… really hungry.

And nothin we had was cuttin it.

I ate like 10 clementines and 3 bananas and a big ol salad and some oatmeal with raisins and several scoops of peanut butter… and then things got messy.

“A few chips won’t hurt anything.”

Phrases like that are dangerous. Danger. Danger. Danger.

Cause a few chips almost always turns into a lotta chips. Which turns into a tortilla. Which turns into four tortillas. Which turns into a bowl of cereal.

And stillI went to bed with a little bit of hunger.

Hellllllo January. God designed your body to communicate with you through hunger. We have discussed this before! Why do you play games with your hunger like this? It never ends well!

Yeah, yeah, well…

I have to plan. I know I need to plan. I even came across a blog post yesterday and there were some tips to remember and, well, whadda know… planning meals was on there.

Cause all weekend I ate, like, fruit and snack-like meals. And, even if my husband is out of town at a trade show, I still need to cook. Cause I’m gonna need “real” food. So I need to plan again and grocery shop. Breakfasts, lunches, dinners. All of them need a plan.

November 11, 2012

Day 306: Dangeometer

As much as I wouldn’t like to admit this… I really think that maybe I’ve gained a little bit of weight back. Probably about 5 pounds or so… since I don’t weigh, I’m not sure. I say this because my “comfy jeans” are more like “snug jeans” around the middle. A big difference though between the way I looked at weight gain “then” and the way I look at weight gain now is that before, when I gained weight, it was me. my fault. my inadequacy. my failure. my worthlessness. my stupidity. me. me. me.

But now, I use weight gain as… well, as an indicator light. Which I like to call my “Dangeometer” which is a total steal from the movie Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs… and can I just say that I lovvvvvve that movie?!?! We just had to return it to the library after having had it for three weeks, and I’m pretty sure that I miss it more than the kids!

Anyway, my dangeometer is not necessarily an indicator that I’m eating poorly. or that I’m eating too much. or that I’m eating the “wrong” things.

It is honestly a pretty good indicator of where I am with Jesus.

Cause if I’m gaining weight then I know that I’m doing at least one of those eating things above. But the eating is, honestly, not what concerns me anymore. The eating is what shows me that something is off. It indicates to me that I’m not relying upon the One that satisfies. And that sets off an even bigger and more important dangeometer in my mind!

It’s really the first time in my life that I have realized that I had gained weight and not freaked out about my clothes not fitting… and not worried about how I will look in a bathing suit… and not felt like I was a failure at dieting. Cause when I pulled on my comfy jeans and thought “Hmmmmm, these are a bit snug… I wonder if I have gained a bit of weight back lately what with all my snagging a tortilla there and a few chippies there…” the next thing that I asked myself was, “Why am I relying on something else other than Jesus? It’s definitely time for some introspection… and prayer… and searching.”

Soooooooo much better than blaming myself, than talking down to myself, than hating on myself.

So I started off with a simple prayer that I’ll be praying over and over again:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24

And then I read more about what to do:

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. James 4:7-10

Twice… I see to humble myself before God. Not sure what that exactly looks like… gonna be working through that. Probably though, as I “come close to God” I will be forced into humility… I have a feeling that the closer I get to His Presence, the more that my natural reaction will be to humble myself.

And seriously… ya know, considering that gaining a fewish pounds is gonna bring me a bit closer to God… I’m pretty glad those little fat globs found their way to my belly.

November 10, 2012

Day 305: God Vision Goggles

I was thinking about yesterday’s post and as I tried to embrace the verseGod doesn’t see things the way you see them” I had this moment where it moved away from being all about my fauxfat and more about food…

Like, I was hungry this morning and was looking through my pantry for something and thought, “Oooooo, look… chips… yummay!” And then I thought to myself: Okay, this is when I need to come up with a verse to help me… and the verse that I focused on yesterday was God doesn’t see things the way you see them, but that doesn’t really apply to food… that was about appearance. But, well, really God probably doesn’t look at these chips the same way that I look at them. And God probably doesn’t look at a banana the same way that I look at it.

And then I really started to think about looking at my food options the way God might see them. I mean, remember Luke 16:15? “The things that most people think are important are worthless as far as God is concerned.” Like, I see Nacho Cheese Doritos and think “yummmmm” and He probably sees them as black gunk and tar. I see a bag of my mom’s famous chocolate chip chunk cookies and think “delishhhhhhh” and He… well, actually, bad example. I’m pretty sure even GOD knows how amazing those things are. So, let me try something else… I see an ad for a supreme chaulpa from Taco Bell and think “soooooooooo goooooooood” and he thinks “gonna suck your life away”.

And on the flip side, I see a banana and think… “{insert sarcastic tone} wow. a banana. that’s just so… healthy. woo hoo.” And He sees His creation, His gift of easier days for me physically, His blessing of a longer life.

(Okay, yes, this is me being heinously overdramatic… but go with it), what if God looks at the world and everything in it, like, in infrared like that picture of my fridge up there??? And all of the things going on that are pleasing to Him are in red and all of the stuff that is temporary and just eternally lame is in that green and blue color??? Wouldn’t that be RAD to be able to see the world that way!?!? To see the world His way?!?!

Cause here’s the deal… I spend so many of my days looking at the world and longing for those areas that are green and blue… areas of life that separate me from Him. Food. Popularity. Gossip. Fashion. Entertainment. Etc.

But His thoughts are not my thoughts… His ways are not like my ways. (Isaiah 55:8)

So, this week one of the things I’m going to do is to put on my God Vision Goggles and try to seek out those eternal things that are glowing red hot with holiness. I’m going to look at my fridge and pantry with that vision and I’m going to reach out for those things that please Him. I’m going to look around at the people I see, and do as Jesus would do… I’m going to aim for those people that are blue and green on that infrared scan and I’m gonna let the blinding red of Jesus’s life and goodness shine through me… and maybe they’ll want to join in with the red crew.

And maybe, after I’ve worn those God Vision Goggles for a while… maybe they’ll just become, like, part of me. And maybe I’ll start to see like that all the time. And maybe I’ll love God all the more for the way He sees this world.

Hmmmmmm, probably not “maybe” on that last one… pretty sure that one will be a “definitely”.

November 9, 2012

Day 304: Fauxfat

I’m getting in touch with the Shakespeare-within.

Although I will admit that I looked up the word “fauxfat” just to double check if it was real or not! Ha! Nope, it is my word!

fauxfat: noun. the areas on the body that appear too big (when mentally compared to air-brushed pictures of anorexic models) that cause a person to think they are really and truly fat but in truth are not: The beautiful woman looked in the mirror and saw nothing but her fauxfat.

I’m sure you can’t tell where this is going… but in essence, I was looking at myself in the mirror the other day and I was like, “Man, a month ago I was all pumped about the way my bod looked and today I look at it am a little disappointed.”

Now I’m honestly not sure what has changed in my mind. Although, truth be told, my body might be a little bit bigger than it was a month ago. I’ve been discussing about some of the struggles I’ve been waking through with temptations and not wanting to eat fruits or veggies. But I think, like, three days ago I was looking in the mirror thinking “Girl, you looking gooooood.” So, regardless of what my body really does look like, it was a mental thing this time.

The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. You judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at your heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

And I know this to be true. I know it. Why do I keep denying its truth???

I’ve actually learned it first and foremost from my friend Alice… she’s a skinny girl and likes to eat healthy (seriously, what is that about???? Hehe). But she also had issues with giving food the wrong place in her life. I may have “judged” her from the outside as having it all together, but her heart was having issues with food. And there is another girl at church that also looks like a model and a couple of weeks ago she was talking about her issues with sugar.

So, I know the heart is our true “image”, but how do I remind myself of that?

I think I need to just inundate myself with whatever scripture reminds me of truth. Maybe just for a few days and then find another because after a few days it starts to either seep in or just become “background noise” in my house.

Like, I’m going to write it on my mirror with a vis a vis marker. Put it on a random cabinet door in my kitchen (cause I know that I’ll ignore it if I out it on the fridge). Schedule in reminders on my phone calendar for random times during the day.

And maybe I can start to remember that I was made in His Image. And the only “fat” that matters is the excess of worldliness on my heart.

Guidance: What else can I do to help write a scripture on the tablet of my heart?

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