Monday, December 22, 2014

November & December through Photos

Greetings, blog friends!  Here's a brief update on life (married life!!) mostly told through photos....

On November 15, I said "I do" to my husband Brett.  It was a gorgeous fall day, though much colder than we anticipated!  But even despite the shivering at the altar, it was beautiful and memorable.

We are so thankful for this group of people who were able to be part of our special day!  One of my bridesmaids road-tripped from Missouri to be there, and all of Brett's groomsmen traveled all the way from Alaska!  This is a special group of friends and loved ones.  Many other family members and friends traveled from Pennsylvania, Kansas, Mississippi, and other states, too.  What a great reunion. 

Brett and I are loving being married! We are learning what doing life together looks like and learning the communication, fun, challenges, and joys of marriage.  God has been so very good to us -- He has blessed me with a strong, godly leader as the husband I have been praying for, and I'm so thankful.

After our wedding, we stayed a few days in a cabin locally, then drove to Isle of Palms, South Carolina for the rest of our honeymoon.  

We had our first little Thanksgiving dinner together in our beach condo!

After the honeymoon, we were still traveling for another couple of weeks, but now it was in work mode!  Brett and I, along with most of the other Echo Ranch Bible Camp Staff, attended the Christian Camp and Conference Association's annual National Conference.  Following that week of seminars and networking with other camp professionals, our staff held our annual Winter Meetings -- another week of intense, strategic planning for the year of ministry ahead.  

As a bonus, these conferences and meetings happened to be held in Orlando, Florida this year!  A local church blessed the Echo Ranch staff with free tickets to Disney World, and we enjoyed a great day there in the parks.  It can't be all work and meetings -- camp people gotta have fun, too! :-) 

After nearly a month on the road living out of suitcases, Brett and I are finally back "home" to our little apartment in Tennessee.  We're enjoying the Christmas season here and visiting with my family and friends, while we also work on getting ready to return to Alaska soon -- things like selling my car and buying a four-wheel-drive, contacting the people we need to see on our way back, preparing for support-raising, etc.  We plan to leave Tennessee just after the New Year to embark on our cross-country road trip back to The Last Frontier.  

Life is constantly changing and the future is unknown, but I'm thankful for a life partner to share it with, and a God who holds our tomorrows.
Please keep in touch with us, through blog comments, email, Facebook, or whatever method you prefer :-)  We love hearing from you!

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Last Day

Today is my last day as a single lady.

Since I was probably 13 or 14, I've always thought about these days -- today and tomorrow -- and wondered what they'd be like.  What would it be like to realize it's your last day as a single person?  What would it be like to wake up one morning and think, "I'm getting married today"?  

And now, at 28 years old, that moment is here.  This evening is my wedding rehearsal.  Tonight I'll kiss my fiance goodnight and whisper, "See you at the altar."  And tomorrow I get to marry the man I love, the man I have waited for.

It's pretty surreal, and super exciting.  I'm so thankful I can't even put it in words.  Today, 28 years of waiting, praying, questions, and heartaches fades into distant memory. "I have found the one my soul loves." {Song of Solomon 3:4}

Friday, November 7, 2014

How do I know he's THE ONE?!

Lately I've come across quite a few of these "marriage advice" articles, many of them titled something like this:

Twenty Questions to Ask Before You Get Married
Ten Marriage Deal Breakers
Thirty-Five Things You Absolutely Must Agree On
The One Characteristic You Can't Overlook in Marriage

I'm sure some of these articles contain some decent advice.  One should never go into a serious relationship blindly.  But don't you get the feeling, from those titles, that the authors are trying to reduce it to some sort of formula?  "Ask all of these questions, then you'll know for sure whether you should marry this guy or not."  They're trying to give us the steps to go through to make the process simpler -- ask this question, make sure you agree on this issue, don't forget to notice if they have this characteristic...figure out if they are "perfect for YOU" ...and if all the ducks line up, you've got yourself a spouse!

Also, just for humor's sake, you've gotta love this one that regularly circulates Pinterest:

Thank you, wise high schoolers ;-)

Of course, yes, there are basic, important questions that need to be settled before a couple moves forward into engagement and marriage -- the things that are fundamental, things like faith, spiritual convictions, and the direction they're going in life.

Do both love the Lord more than anything else?
Are both actively and intentionally pursuing a relationship with Jesus and being more like Him?
Do both have a similar passion and calling in life?  Are they going the same direction?

These are the questions to ask....more so than these....

Who will be responsible for keeping the house and yard clean?
How do you feel about paying for your children's college education?
What will we do in the case of an accidental pregnancy?
How much time will we spend with our in-laws?
If one of us cheats, what will be the outcome?

(Yep, all of those questions came out of articles like the ones I listed above.  One page even started out, "Sometimes love isn't enough to keep a couple together....ask these questions now!")

One of the best marriage articles I've read lately came from a young lady named Mo.  Here's what she says on her blog after getting engaged:

You see, my mind doubted because I was weighed down with the fear of making the wrong choice. Maybe Jeremiah wasn’t “The One”. How would I know for sure? There are things we disagree on. There are things about him that don’t always make me happy. It’s been a challenge, at times, loving him. And I KNOW it’s been a challenge for him to love me. Maybe we’re just compatible and I’m making the wrong decision. How do I know, for sure, that he is my soul mate?!
But maybe we’ve got it all backwards. Marriage is a covenant – a promise – to God that you vow to love another like Christ first loved us. In the most intimate, challenging, all-inclusive way. A vow to become one flesh with another person. To serve them and selflessly love them as Christ served and selflessly loved us to the cross. To carry their burdens. To take the lashes of their shortcomings. To bear the taunting of their sins and struggles. To put them before yourself to the point of brokenness, so that we can ultimately rise, just as our King did, in love.

I think, after knowing that a potential spouse loves the Lord with all his or her heart, is pursuing God, and that the two of you can truly walk forward in life together, the next big question is
a) does this person selflessly love and serve me like Jesus?
b) can I selflessly love and serve him or her like Jesus?
c) will we love one another in a way that reflects how Christ loves the Church?

Personal story moment.
The other night, my fiance, Brett, and I were sitting on the couch, watching TV, and eventually he fell asleep, leaning against me.  He looked so peaceful, and I began to pray as I watched him sleep.  For ten or fifteen minutes, I silently poured my heart out to God, praying for Brett, for us, for our marriage, and for myself, to be the wife he needs.  I prayed to always be, just like in that moment, a place of peace, rest, and refuge for him, in good times and bad.

When Brett woke up a few minutes later, I shared with him that I'd been praying for us while he was sleeping.  His response surprised me.  Pulling me into a tight hug, he whispered in my ear, simply, "Thank You, God, for Ashley. Please help our relationship always be centered on You and reflect You."  Then, looking me in the eyes, he told me, "I love you. I love how you pray over me. I love how you want to honor God in everything."

That moment, that night, reminded me of how blessed I am to call this man my future husband, how thankful I am that God brought us together.  It reminded me that, though neither of us are anywhere near perfect, we can reflect Christ in a godly marriage relationship.  It reminded me that this won't always be easy -- there will be trials and disagreements and challenges and uncertainties -- but by God's grace we will stay focused on Him and keep loving each other.  And it reminded me of what's really important... not the 276 Questions To Ask Before You Get Married (yes, that's a real article), but the knowledge that this man loves Jesus and loves me, intentionally and selflessly, and the conviction and commitment to do the same for him.

I couldn't ask for more.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

here's the plan:

Hey friends of the blogging world.
This space has been neglected for a few months, but I'm determined to bring it back to life yet again.... especially considering the big life changes that are here now and still coming!

Newsflash:  I got engaged during the six months I didn't write on my blog!  Brett and I will be getting married in just 18 days :-)

My goal is to blog a bit over the next few weeks about our story, thoughts about relationships and engagement, wedding projects, etc.  Then, as we drive across the country back to Alaska this winter (YES, we are DRIVING to Alaska. From Tennessee. In the winter. Unless plans change again. Which they've done about 20934 times.), I hope and plan to blog stories and pictures from our travels.  It should be fun.  So if you want to keep up with us crazy, in-love, road-tripping newlyweds, follow the blog and keep checking back!  And by all means, leave comments and keep in touch -- it will inspire me to keep writing :-)

Love, Ashley

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"If anyone wishes to come after Me.."

My daily Bible reading early this week was Matthew 16:21-28, the passage where Peter rebukes Jesus, telling Him, essentially, No, You're not going to die.  Jesus responds with, "Get behind me, satan!"

My thoughts:
Peter didn't want Jesus to suffer and die.  He thought that wasn't right, wasn't fair, and shouldn't happen.  The literal translation of verse 22 is, "God be merciful to You, Lord! This shall never be to You!"
It occurs to me that this is the attitude of many of us Americans toward the persecution and suffering of missionaries, and of Christians in general.  We say:

"They don't deserve that!"
"If they're suffering so much, they must not be in God's will."
"They should get out of there and not put themselves in danger."

But Jesus has a rebuttal to Peter's well-intended plea: "You are not setting your mind on the things of God, but of man" (v. 22).  Then He goes on to say that if we desire to truly follow Him, we are required to lay down our lives and our own interests -- to "die daily," as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:31.  And not just say we're willing to...but actually do it when called.

Yesterday I read a passage in Acts 21 that echoed this same subject -- "When we heard [that Paul would be persecuted], we...began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, 'What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am willing, not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.'  And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, 'The will of the Lord be done.'" (v.12-14)

For Christians today, it might not always look like being nailed to a cross or burned at the stake or thrown in prison.  Sometimes it looks like moving far from home, giving up worldly comforts, or enduring ridicule.  But in truly following Jesus, some degree of sacrifice, and even persecution, will come.  We will be required to lay down our life in some way -- "for the name of the Lord Jesus."  And others will say it's not worth it...but it is.  Following Him always is.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fourteen Days.

It's exactly two weeks from today that I fly from Tennessee to Seattle, Washington, and then the next day, on to Alaska to stay for the next 6 months.  Two weeks from today.  I can't even comprehend that!

It seems like just yesterday that I got home from Alaska.  In fact, I distinctly remember the day that was two weeks after getting back.  I wrote this in my journal that day:

October 9, 2013
Realized today that it's been exactly 2 weeks since I returned to TN.  Just 14 days.  That's not a long time, compared to how long I was there and how life-changing it was.  Some would say, 2 weeks is long enough to recuperate, now get on with life.  Maybe they'd be right.  But realizing it's only been 2 weeks somehow also gives me a little space and permission to breathe, to know I'm still processing and adjusting, and that's okay.  There's a lot to process.  And not just things that happened there, past-tense, but what is continuing.  What God was doing in me there didn't end when I got on the plane and left.  It's still going.  And yet some things did end and get left behind, like the beauty, the atmosphere, the friends, and the ministry, and those things I ache and long for.  So I'm working through the mess.  I don't know if I can expect to ever feel like I'm 'back to normal,' because I'm changed.  The old normal isn't normal anymore, and that's good.

(What a beautiful mess re-entry is.  If you've ever been on a life-altering mission trip, you understand.  It's good and terrible at the same time...but kinda mostly terrible...with good results, hopefully.)

So I remember very clearly those few weeks of re-entry woes, followed by what was kind of a difficult winter personally and a busy one.... and now I'm here, today, and it's spring, and I'm 14 days from going back to Alaska again, and I can't even believe that it all went by so quickly!  Didn't I just write that journal entry last month?  Nope.  Six months ago.  How in the world did that happen?!

I'm trying to pace myself through these next two weeks while getting everything done -- visiting with family and friends, saying goodbyes, shopping, packing, and yes, excitedly counting down the days until I'm back in the place that stole my heart last year.

Two weeks.  That's so crazy.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

life like the sky.

Tonight as I was driving home, I couldn't stop looking in wonder at the sky.
If I had to describe it in one word, it would be....

The weather today has been absolutely bizarre.  There was a beautiful sunrise this morning, but soon after, it got really cloudy.  Mid-afternoon, I looked out the window, and snow was pouring down!  Since it's been in the 50's and 60's for a couple of weeks now, snow was a complete shocker.  Throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening, snow and sunshine competed:  one minute it was bright and sunny; the next, snow was blowing sideways in violent wind gusts.

So when I drove home tonight at sunset, the snow had stopped, but clouds still covered the sky.  In my rearview mirror, the sun glowed bright orange, shooting out brilliant rays as it started to dip below the horizon.  The sky in front of and around me seemed to be almost constantly changing.  Big, billowy clouds in blue, gray, purple, and pink shifted and changed shape, exposing little patches of blue sky here and there, while the sun cast a slightly orange glow across everything.  The whole thing was awe-inspiring.  Beautiful.  And yes...wild.

I wonder sometimes if my life kinda looks like that.  To be honest, I WANT my life to look like that :  Ever-changing as I grow and follow God.  Inspiring.  Confusing.  Prompting others to praise the Creator.  Colorful.  Wildly beautiful.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Put Good In, Get Good Out

I thought of that creative title for this post, and then I thought, "Hmm that sounds familiar. Isn't that a slogan on a commercial?"  Turns out, it's the catchphrase for Minute Maid orange juice.

Image source -

Oh well.  I just thought I was being creative.  Apparently mass advertising worked its little brain-tricks on me!  Anyway, on to the post....

Today is my day off, so I woke up around 9:30 and habitually grabbed my iPod Touch from my nightstand to check for any emails or messages.  As usual, Bible Gateway had emailed me the "verse of the day," which I opened and read.  Good start to the morning, right?  
That was the only email I had, so I switched over to Facebook.  After checking messages and notifications, I began lazily scrolling through the news feed.  For the next ten minutes or so, I read all the pointless statuses and sarcastic comments, looked at random pictures friends had posted, took the "who's your celebrity boyfriend" quiz and shared the results, and learned what everyone I knew had been doing for the past 10 hours while I'd been asleep.  

As I switched off the iPod and got out of bed, it hit me -- I had just started off my day by filling my mind with useless junk.  

Waking up and reading the verse of the day was good.  Even reading an email from a friend or a fun comment on something I'd shared on Facebook wasn't a bad thing.  But suddenly I regretted spending that chunk of time pouring all that uselessness and even negativity into my mind, letting that be the starting point of my day.  It was something I couldn't get back or do over.  

Ironically, my Bible reading just yesterday included Colossians 3:2 -- "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth."  How important it is to intentionally fix our thoughts "above" the things of the world, rather than on all the crap that surrounds us!  So why, I asked myself this morning, is it so much easier to let the junk into our minds than it is to let the good in?  

The answer?  It's in the word "let."  The negative, pointless, discouraging, time-wasting things of this world are all around us, and we can simply let it in.  No effort required.  Taking good, uplifting, God-honoring things into our minds requires more effort.  Often it's more than just letting it in.  Often we have to seek it, pursue it, and intentionally take it in.  Practically speaking, it requires a lot more focus and intentionality for me to start my morning by reading a Bible verse and praying than to mindlessly scroll through Facebook.  

And it isn't only about the morning.  In multiple situations and conversations throughout every day, we will face the choice to "let junk in" or to "put good in" our minds.  Will we choose the easy route, or the one that may be a little harder?  

That may depend on what kind of fruit we want to bear.  As Minute Maid has so aptly declared, "Put good in, get good out."  It's a simple concept.  Good oranges make good orange juice.  Or as Jesus said, "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good...for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart" (Luke 6:45).  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Pasta Salad

When I lived alone for a year and a half, I had to learn to cook for one person -- quite the adjustment when you come from a family of six!  One day I decided I wanted to make pasta salad, which I honestly had never made before, because the rest of my family doesn't like it.  So while searching the internet for a pasta salad recipe, I ended up choosing bits and pieces from several recipes, combining them, and scaling it down to make just a couple of servings.

I'm actually making this tonight, to take to work for my lunch tomorrow.  While I'm at it, I thought I'd share the recipe.  It's super easy!  This makes about two servings, so you'll have to do some multiplication if you're feeding more mouths!  


1 cup pasta of your choice
Handful of small broccoli florets
¼ cup mayonnaise
A little squirt of mustard
1/8 - 1/4 tsp salt
1/8 - 1/4 tsp sugar 

Boil pasta to desired texture -- I boil mine for about 15 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water to cool.  Mix mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and sugar together to form dressing.  Stir together all ingredients until well-coated, and chill in refrigerator.  NOTE:  I sometimes add some chunks of chicken to make it a meal!  

Sunday, March 9, 2014

We're all consumers here.

If working retail has taught me one thing, it has taught me that we are, without a doubt, hardcore consumers.  The most common phrases I hear, at both jobs:

Give me
Can I have
Can I get
I'm looking for
I need
I want

Plus, of course, all the complaints, the "no I don't like this, give me something different," and the relentless asking for discounts.  Being a retail employee is all about catering to the customer's every need and desire -- feeding their consumerism?! -- while at the same time meeting the employer's high demands for excellency and lots of sales.

Maybe it's my personality, my desire to work hard and give it all I've got, but for me, it's super easy to get sucked down into this endless whirlwind of people-pleasing.  Please the bosses.  Please the customers.  Give them what they want.  Keep that happy face on.  Sell sell sell.  It gets exhausting, and then suddenly I find myself in that I-hate-people-and-don't-want-to-talk-to-any-of-them-for-a-long-time mindset.  Oops.  Not a good mindset for a Christian to have, I guess.  Good thing I have tomorrow off to "renew my mind" (Romans 12:2), right?!

Anyway, this got me thinking a little this afternoon about consumerism and the self-centered nature of humanity.  Really, it's draining.  It's all about I want this and I need that, and we're all prone to it.  This fall I read Jen Hatmaker's book Seven: an experimental mutiny against excess, and it pretty much blew my mind.  It's all about how we can strive to be less consumers of and more contributors to the world we live in.  Jen put this into practice by committing to spend money at only seven different stores for a month, to give away seven things every day for a month, etc.  It's about intentional practices like this, but it's also about an attitude.  Jen writes:

“As Jesus explained, the right things have to die so the right things can live--we die to selfishness, greed, power, accumulation, prestige, and self-preservation, giving life to community, generosity, compassion, mercy, brotherhood, kindness, and love. The gospel will die in the toxic soil of self.” 

That last line gets me every time.  I don't want that to happen in my life.  May my selfish consumerism -- the natural side of me and of all of us -- never squelch the potential of the gospel in any way!  I want to consider, and maybe you will, too... how can I practice being a selfless contributor this week?  How can I let the gospel shine through not only my interactions with people, but through the way I partake of the world around me? 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Not my enemy

My Bible reading this morning was in Ephesians 6 -- you know, the passage on spiritual warfare and the armor of God.  I jotted down a few notes in my journal about boldness, standing firm, that kind of thing.  Then a note I had written in the margin of my Bible several years ago caught my eye:  "We are not enemies to each other!"

I remember hearing this tidbit in a small group Bible study a long time ago and thinking, wow, that's a great concept from this verse!  Our battle is not against flesh and blood, the Scripture says.  That means we shouldn't fight each other, but the devil.  I think, however, at that point in my life, there was no one I was really tempted to "fight" against.  I was young, primarily surrounded by church friends, and had no human enemies to speak of.

As we all grow into adults, though, those people come into our lives, and this concept gains more meaning.  Certainly it's more challenging to me now than it was back in those days.  Most of us have people -- even fellow Christians -- who we don't like.  Who have hurt us.  Betrayed us.  Scarred us.  People we wish had never shown up in our lives.  It's sad, but it's true.

"For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."  (Ephesians 6:12)  Today when I read this verse, I had a mental image of warriors fighting side-by-side.  I saw myself, shoulder-to-shoulder with other Christians, including those who have hurt me and who I might prefer to avoid or to accuse.  And I was reminded that no person is my enemy.  No one who belongs to Christ is an enemy, but rather a teammate, a fellow warrior in God's army, someone to fight alongside, not against.  We are not enemies to each other, but we have the same powerful enemy of our souls.  If we're fighting each other, we can't effectively fight him.  And that's not a battle we can afford to lose.

No matter what the offense is or how much it hurts, as Christians we have something greater in common -- the blood and the love of Jesus Christ.  He covers all and makes redemption possible.  We'll be better off if we forgive, stand shoulder-to-shoulder, and fight together for His Kingdom.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

little sisters

Well, it's countdown time again -- 46 days until I leave Tennessee, Alaska-bound.  I'm excited.  To be honest, I started counting down long before today, and in fact, have been wishing I was going sooner.  But a funny thing is, the closer it gets, the more real it becomes that I'm leaving my family and friends for six months, and the more I want to hang on to every one of the 46 days I have left here.  

Just now, my 12-year-old sister was sitting in my room with me, and made a comment about me being gone for six months last year and not talking to her while I was gone.  I responded that I had answered some of her emails.  She came back with, "Yeah, SOME of them. Like two!  But you answered Mama's emails!"  I made some excuse about being busy..... and then, convicted, chose to stop defending myself and said to her, "I will do better about writing to you this summer."  She just giggled and said, "You better."  And now she's sitting on the bed next to me, trying to teach herself to play my guitar.  

As much as I love Alaska and Echo Ranch, and know I'm called to be there, this is the main thing that makes it harder to go -- knowing that I'm missing six months of these girls' lives and growing up.  I just hope that as I'm following the Lord in this missionary journey, I'm somehow setting a good example for them.  And hope they know how much I love them. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

what do you see?

Last weekend, I had a sleepover with two of my close girlfriends (yes, we're all in our 20's, but you're never too old for sleepovers, right?!).  We hung out at a neat coffee shop, ate cupcakes at  11:30 at night, stayed up late talking, and hiked a mountain the next day.  Fun stuff.

That night as we sat on the bed chatting, somehow we started talking about how well we know each other and the characteristics that we see in each other.  One of them grabbed some paper and Sharpies, and we spontaneously started writing down descriptive words and phrases to describe one another.  I was a little nervous about this at first, but it turned out to be both a fun and uplifting activity!  It was good to intentionally focus on my friends' personalities and qualities, and to call out the things I appreciate in them.  We laughed as we read the funny things our friends had written about us, and were encouraged by the positive, affirming ones.

It's really interesting to see yourself from someone else's perspective.
A few things made it onto BOTH of my friends' lists about me, including
country music
cowboy boots
deep thinker

And those common-denominator items describe me pretty well, I think :-)  It kinda makes me stop and consider, what do I WANT people to see in me?  Mostly, the first one listed above.... Jesus.  And love.  Those are the two primary things I want my friends, family, and acquaintances to think of when they interact with me.  That I loved them and somehow showed them Jesus.

So the next question is, how do I need to be living and interacting every day to make that a reality?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

peaceful day.

I'm currently listening to my iPod playlist titled "Quiet My Soul."
Current song playing:  "Broken Hallelujah" by The Afters

Today has been restful.  I woke up about 5 minutes before my alarm this morning, which was nice -- to wake up on my own.  Side note:  something I've always remembered from psychology class is that when you wake up on your own without an alarm or something startling you awake, it's called "waking consciousness."  And there's your random fact of the day.  

Anyway, I was off work today and didn't have to go anywhere, but wanted to be productive and not waste the day.  Originally, I had intended to go to the courthouse to pay my car tag registration and renew my passport.  But yesterday I acquired three -- not one, not two, but THREE -- terrible zits on my face, and there was no way I was going to get my passport photo made in this condition!  I mean, come on.  I have to show that picture to people for the next ten years.  You understand, right?  

So when I woke up, I grabbed my iPod, opened the Notes app, and sleepily typed out a to-do list entitled "On this rainy Wednesday..."  It wasn't actually raining at the time; in fact, the sun was peeking through the clouds, but I knew rain was in the forecast for the day.  Hence, the to-do list title.  Six simple items made it onto the list -- enough to keep me focused and somewhat productive on my day off. 

After going downstairs and making my coffee, I remembered an email I needed to send to a friend, so I took care of that, browsed Facebook for a bit, then settled onto my couch for some Jesus time.  I journaled a brief prayer to the Lord, mostly thoughts about the 2-month countdown to Alaska, and then Psalms 18 and 19 were today's reading.  A few excerpts that grabbed my heart's attention today:  
"For You light my lamp; the Lord my God illumines my darkness. For by You I can run upon a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall."  (18:28-29)
"You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand upholds me; and Your gentleness makes me great."  (18:35)
"The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands."  (19:1)
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer."  (19:14) 

Presumably, the rest of today should have been spent doing the rest of the things on my to-do list, but in all honesty, it's 5:20pm and I've only done two of the six.  Nevertheless, the day hasn't been wasted.  I've communicated with a couple of friends, conversations that were "unplanned," and went on a long walk with my 12-year-old sister.  As it turned out, it hasn't rained at all today (so my list, by its title, was null anyway, right?!) and was actually beautiful weather.  It's February 19th, but it felt like a spring day -- or a summer day in Alaska!  It was refreshing to be outside, and good to spend that time with my baby sister.  She's growing up fast into a young lady.  

The point to this blog post?  I guess there isn't one.  Just that I'm thankful for days of restfulness, days of soul-refilling, days of little expectation but much expectancy.  May you have some of those days soon, too.  Look for Jesus in the little things.... He is there.  

Current song playing on the "Quiet My Soul" playlist:  "10,000 Reasons" by Rend Collective.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Recipe: BBQ Chicken Apple Bacon Cheddar Quesadillas

First blog post of 2014..... on February 18th?!  Oops.  Yeah, I'm kind of bad at blogging.

I'll try to get a better / deeper / more entertaining / more thought-provoking post up really soon, but for now, how about this recipe I made for family dinner last night?  It comes from this website originally.

BBQ Chicken Apple Bacon Cheddar Quesadillas
10 chicken breast strip tenderloins
1 package of bacon (I used turkey bacon)
1 and 1/2 apples
about 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup bbq sauce

Cook and cut up the chicken.  While chicken is cooking, chop the apples into small chunks, and fry the bacon and cut into small pieces.   Assemble everything in a large skillet -- chopped up chicken, apples, and bacon, the cheese, and the bbq sauce.  Cook over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted and everything is hot.
Serve up a big spoonful and eat as is, or wrap in a tortilla and toast in the oven for a few minutes if you want a quesadilla!  This is very easy and very yummy.
(picture from

Well, I'm off to work to sell stuff and make commission!  Okay, who am I kidding?  It's a Tuesday in February, so let's be real; I'm off to work to clean the store all day while no one is out shopping.
Have a great day!