My week in pictures (Part 3): running, working, celebrating

365 Project: Day 49-51 I guess it’s no surprise what I’m “into” right now. When I came home from work this week, I was so happy to find these books on our front step. I need all the help and inspiration I can get, and these books will help me reach the fitness goals I’ve set for myself this year. I’m really looking forward to reading Running with Joy. If you don’t know anything about Ryan Hall (author of the book on the right), not only are he and his wife, Sara, elite long distance runners and record holders, but they are incredible human beings… AND they love the Lord. I’ve been reading 4 Months to a 4-Hour Marathon this week, and I’m really enjoying it. I’m learning a lot. One of my 2012 goals is to do a 4-hour marathon, which would mean shaving off an entire hour from my 2011 finish time. This book was rated pretty well on Amazon and had good reviews written about it, so I thought it would be good for me. I’m hopeful that I can do what I’m setting out to do–in 4 hours–but it won’t be easy, so just know… I welcome your prayers, and you can pray for me whenever you want in the coming weeks and months. Just want to throw that out there. 🙂 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * My new business cards arrived this week. I felt really happy when I saw them on my desk because I’ve never had a business card in all my life–until this week. I feel kind of official. 🙂 In exactly 10 days, I’ll have worked at church for 3 years. Where oh where does the time go?? *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * This is my father-in-law, Royce. He turned a whopping 81 years old this week. We got to celebrate with him at Jon’s brother’s house on Friday. Doesn’t he look great? He doesn’t look OR act his age :)… and he’s pretty amazing. I love him like crazy. He honestly lives his life like no one else I’ve ever known. Jon’s mom was the same way, but he loves unconditionally… lives purposefully… gives wholeheartedly… listens sincerely… and though I don’t think I’ve ever heard him quote a verse from the Bible, he is THE most real-life example of the love of Jesus in my life. He is a true imitator of Jesus in all he says and does. He is love, love, and more...

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My week in pictures (Part 2): Renee

365 Project: Day 48 Tuesday… Here’s Renee teaching a great message on grace at Life After Work on Tuesday night. She’s pretty amazing. Not only is she one of my bosses, but one of my dearest friends also… and so anointed. This year’s theme at HomeMakers and Life After Work are all about God’s grace. Grace That You Can’t Imagine is the title. It’s based on the verse in 1 Timothy 1:14 (Message translation) that says, “Grace mixed with faith, and love poured over me and into me… and all because of Jesus.” I love that she’s teaching on this all year. It’s been one of the best seasons of HomeMakers in all my 11 years of attending. Renee has got to be one of the most gracious, loving, wise, tenderhearted, humble, funny, and real people I know. Anyone who knows her, sees that she practices what she preaches. She’s not perfect, and she’s the first to say so, often making us laugh as she tells stories each week of her most recent blunders. Her honesty and transparency are two of the reasons that HomeMakers has grown to 200+ women. She helps us realize that although we’re each beautiful and unique in our own way, we as women, generally are very similar. Some could argue that we might even be considered normal. 🙂 HomeMakers and Life After Work are places where we can not only learn and grow spiritually, but a place where we can be there for each other. Renee is all about relationships, and her heart for all these years has been to provide a place where we can help each other navigate through life’s ups and downs and encourage each other in the process. She’s done just that–every single week… always keeping us grounded on the Word of God. Her life’s work and dedication to God’s will and purpose for her life has changed MY life in more ways than I can count. I’m sure there are many people who would say the same thing. Someday, I WILL write about this in more detail. She’s beautiful inside and out, and although petite and small on the outside ;), she’s a powerhouse for the Lord. After more than 20 years of teaching at HomeMakers, she’s still going strong at Living Word Christian Center, and continues to teach, inspire, encourage, and lead by example week after week… day after day. I am blessed to work with her. I hope her mansion is next to mine in heaven. I love her like a sister. P.S.  All of our Tuesday morning messages at HomeMakers are available to download for free. If you’re ever interested, you can listen...

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My week in pictures (Part 1)

365 Project: Days 45-47 Saturday (Day 45)…  We cleaned out our dressers, closets, every nook and cranny, loaded up the car, and brought a bunch of stuff to Goodwill last weekend. I was surprised to discover some high-waisted jeans in the waaaaaay back of my closet that I’ve probably had for 10 years. I’m still trying to figure out how they’ve managed to avoid the trip to Goodwill a hundred times before. I tried them on for fun, and the ONLY thing that made me happy about seeing them almost touch my belly button, was that they still fit! Other than that, I was happy to say ‘so long, Sally!’ Even though they’re out of style, someone is always having a retro/ throwback party, so I like to think that someone, somewhere, someday will be blessed by them.   Sunday (Day 46)… Yay! Allison’s home! She came over that night after she got off work. We haven’t gotten to spend any time with her since Christmas, so we were happy she was going to be able to come over and stay for a couple days. You know this was a special occasion for me because it was almost 11 p.m., and I hadn’t taken my picture of the day yet. I planned all day that I would catch her as she walked in, so there I sat, on the step, like a stalker, until she opened the door. Then… SNAP! Happy momma. Monday (Day 47)… The girls and I had a girl day, so we decided to go to the Mall of America. We all found something, but it was a rather dubious several hours for Hannah. She’s the one who desperately needs clothes, but she couldn’t seem to find anything she liked. Here’s what I say… If you can’t find something to buy with your mother’s money at the MOA, there’s a problem. We were getting close to leaving and I made her try on some jeans at dELiA’s. She actually liked them, so I bought her two pairs. The lesson here? Listen to—and trust—your mother. Allison got jeans there too, but she’s over 18 and working, so I only donated $20 to her cause. One of the advantages of still being an unemployed minor in our home, I suppose. 🙂 I found some cool jeans for myself on clearance at Nordstrom Rack for less than $17, so that was a fun find, especially after chucking my last pair of “belly button jeans” (see Saturday, above). We shopped, ate lunch at Noodles, walked around with our Caribou drinks, and then before we left, we stopped in at Puma to visit my brother, Bryce. If life were a fraction, he’s spent like over 1/6 of his life working there. I hope and pray he gets the promotion he’s believing for. We hung around, laughed, chatted, and kept him from his work for a solid 20 minutes. He’s such a great guy. Bryce and his wife, Dawn, are expecting their first baby very soon, and I’m pretty sure that having three older sisters (aka: four moms) has prepared Bryce well for being a daddy. Jon was home from work when we came home from shopping, so we sat down at the table to play a family game. It was only supposed to take an hour, but it took 2 ½ or more. That could be the result of many things, but both Allison and I were distracted and feeling antsy, so that didn’t help. She had homework, and I had work to catch up on since I spent the day out gallivanting. It was so worth every minute though. For so many reasons, it was one of the best days I can remember in a very long...

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A Must-Make Apple Cake

365 Project: Day 44 For my book club, we just read the book, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, by Erik Larson (no relation to me). Since part of the fun for us is to eat at our book club meetings, we always try to make food that somehow relates to the book we read and are discussing. Some of us really get into it and even come in costume! Dressing up has never really been my thing, but we ARE theater moms, so it seems like I should, but I don’t. Everyone still accepts me… as far as I know. 🙂 Anywhoooooo… On Friday, I made this German Apple Cake to bring (…or GAC for short. I like abbreviating or making acronyms out of nothing, even when it’s not necessary :)). I had never made this cake before, and to my sheer delight, it was one of the best things to ever come out of my kitchen. No joke. Doesn’t this look utterly droolable (or UD for short)? It’s moist and slightly cooled, but still warm out of the oven here, which made the frosting drape over the sides. Just how I like it. But then when I couldn’t go to the book club meeting (kind of last minute… wahhhhhh! :(), I was stuck wallowing, with this 9 x 13 cake in front of me… all to myself. I shared with the family, but after the first bite, I thought surely I would sabotage any healthy eating and moderation goal I have for myself because it is SOOOOOO delicious! I’ve never had an apple cake I liked, but THIS, well… it’s just beyond words. I’ve stock-piled the past week’s photos (not a habit I want to get into, for sure!), so I didn’t want to just post the photo without enriching your life in a meaningful way by sharing the recipe with you. I hope it was worth the wait. When you make this GAC, come back and tell me if it isn’t UD!!! Your friend, JL GERMAN APPLE CAKE INGREDIENTS: 2 eggs 1 cup vegetable oil 2 cups white sugar 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 4 cups apples (peeled, cored, and diced)  DIRECTIONS: 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour a 9×13-inch cake pan. 2. In a mixing bowl, beat oil and eggs with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla, and beat well. 3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and ground cinnamon together. Slowly add this mixture to the egg mixture. and mix until combined. The batter will be very thick. Fold in the apples by hand using a wooden spoon. Spread batter into the prepared pan. 4. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until cake tests done. Let cake cool on a wire rack. Once cake is cool serve with a dusting of powdered sugar or with a Cream Cheese Frosting. (Recipe below.)   CREAM CHEESE FROSTING INGREDIENTS: 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese (softened) 1/2 cup butter (softened) 2 cups powdered sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract  DIRECTIONS: 1. In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. 2. Mix in the vanilla, and then gradually stir in the powdered sugar. Store any extra in the refrigerator after...

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