5 Things That Will Make You Happy Today

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  1. This is a given – Pharrell Williams – Happy.

Listen to this song. Watch the video. I mean, get up and dance to it. You are blessed! How can this not make you happy? if you don’t want to move to this song, smile or jump for joy – you are super lame. C’mon, move your feet and thank God for his beautiful promises!

  1. This Banana Dog.

From the company, Home Grown Foods, this little guy is sure to put a smile on your face and add some fruity goodness in your hearts! He is super cute and reminds you to eat your fruits and veggies.

bananna dog

  1. This gigantic human smile.

People joined together for one purpose – to form a smile! This is like the ultimate reminder to put on a happy face. You can listen to the song, here, if you did not get the reference.

human smile

  1. Any type of bear hug!

From Teddy Bears to this baby sloth, we all love bear hugs. Maybe not in the wild, but look how cuddly and cute this little guy is giving his teddy a big squeeze!

bear hugs

  1. Only the cutest Disney animal ever – Meeko!

You may not agree with me, but this little biscuit cheek cutie from Pocahontas is sure to brighten any day.

meeko

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When Real Love Sets In

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ImageOften times I feel society has a skewed sense of love. To the young, love is something magical – like fairy dust. It lifts you off your feet, makes life sunnier, brighter and heightens your senses. Everything has to be going right to feel you are wonderfully ‘in love.’

However, when these feelings no longer take root in our hearts and real life [rather real love] sets in, these feelings are cast aside and love is forgotten.

Did we miss the part in the Bible which states, ‘love is long suffering’? 

Love has become more about the experience you have – rather than the commitment you make. To the world, it’s more about the happiness than the grief, the excitement more than the mundane.

But, love is not love unless it truly encompasses all those feelings. Love is not just a pristine vase full of sea glass hearts. It’s messy, yet beautiful all at the same time.

It’s grieving with your spouse when he or she has lost their job. It’s encouraging a child who is afraid to start a new school. It’s holding a wrinkled and worn hand and looking into the aging eyes of your loved one, or just sitting there, in silence, when a friend is in tears.

True love is the picture of Christ’s hands and feet nailed to a cross and blood flowing down from His divine head of thorns. That was not pretty – that was messy and real. It was not a storybook or an instagram moment. Rather it was heart wrenching, earth shattering and a long suffering moment.

Love is both pretty and sometimes tattered. How vain to walk away when the stitches are loose. 

Like the Skin Horse said to The Velveteen Rabbit:

‘It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”  [Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit]

 

Greek Yogurt Dots {Gluten Free, Low Fat}

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yogurt bitesI discovered the best little homemade snack out there. Children and adults will enjoy this yummy sweet treat. It’s so simple to make and you don’t have to feel guilty gobbling down this heavenly, creamy, gluten free dessert.

Don’t be worried when I tell you that these dots are Greek yogurt, they are blue because I thought it would be fun to incorporate a hint of color into this delicious snack {kids will love that part}.

You will need: 1 cup of greek yogurt {0 % fat}, 1 heaping tablespoon of agave nectar {or honey – if you desire}, 1 drop of blue food coloring {or any other color}, and a ziploc baggie. 

I’d stray away from really reddish hues in the food coloring department, especially for children. However, I am not a child and any type of red food color makes me have a deep headache.

Read about food colorings, here. 

All you need to do is put your 1 cup of yogurt into a mixing bow, add the agave nectar along with the drop of color and stir this sweet mixture up.

With a big spoon, dump the yogurt mixture into a plastic baggie. Make sure all the yogurt is in the bag and pushed all the way to one side.

With scissors, cut a tiny little hole in one of the corners of the bag {the side you squished all the yogurt to!} This will be your tool for making your dots. All you have to do is gently squeeze on the bag – and a nice little dot will form.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and just squeeze little rows of dots onto the pan. When it’s filled up with your beautiful yogurt treats, simply set the pan in the freezer for about an hour.

Once the dots are frozen, use a spatula to get them off the pan and place them in a nice little bowl for others to enjoy.

Wedding Shoes – on a Budget

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If you have been married, I don’t have to tell you this – but the money adds up pretty quickly. You go from throwing a nice intimate gathering (so you think) to inviting the neighbor’s dog (kidding, but that is how it feels looking at the receipts!).

In order to be a savvy bride, you learn to save even the smallest amount of dinero.

One way you can do this is finding some budget friendly shoes. Now, I have not found just the right shoes – yet. So – warning (but my wedding is months and months away).

But there are some pretty cute options out there online. And, by the looks of the prices, they are pretty affordable.

I mean, if you are a Jimmy Choo name brand aficionado, these picks are not for you. But, if you are a savvy bride who realizes: you will probably just wear these lined lace babies once, this post is for you!

Learn to save in the tiniest areas. However, don’t sacrifice price over comfort. You want your feet to be comfy (as possible) as you dance the night away. As girls, we all know that heels are not ‘comfy.’ Read my previous post on high heel pain relief here. 

Anyway, I tried to encompass a lot of different looks in these samples shoes: lace, pop of color, plain white, beach babe sandals, glitter princess, sparkle peep toe and kitten heels. The links are below and under the picture in a caption.

Lace Heels – Modcloth $40 

Kitten Heel – Overstock.com $40

Sparkle Peep Toe – 6pm.com $22 

Sparkle Flats – Accessorie.com $34

Pop of Color – Modcloth $33

Plain White – Dorothy Perkins $35

Beach Babe Sandals- JC Penny $40

Browse these choices – maybe you will find that perfect shoe for the best day of your life. Also, as a side note, Etsy has a lot of cute, unique affordable options too. Cute choices, here.

I Am Not Afraid. I Was Born To Do This.

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joan of arcI am not afraid. I was born to do this. Chills, puzzlement, depression – then inspiration.

That’s a profound statement. Chills. What type of person says that? Puzzlement. Why can’t I have this type of strength? Depression. I will strive harder every day – to attain this spirit. Inspiration.

These words were uttered by Joan of Arc. She is not a foreign figure to most. A young lady burned at the stake then elevated to sainthood. She led an entire army in strength and dignity –the Braveheart of her day.

This is her actual quote:

“I do not fear the soldiers, for my road is made open to me; and if the soldiers come, I have God, my Lord, who will know how to clear the route that leads to messire the Dauphin. It was for this that I was born!”

Why can’t I have this faith – that mountain moving, earth shattering faith? The faith that gathers warriors to link up their rusty battle armor and march for a cause void of fear!

Fear is a pesky, life crushing thing. We are told in 1 John that ‘perfect love casts off fear.’ Reading this I worry that my love is not perfect for I am prone to fear. I know my faith is smaller than a mustard seed – and, I confess, worry lines my stomach at times.

What can God do with a person like that? I tell you what, he can transform her. He can whisper his mission in her heart and soul. He can call her from picket fence living into front line fighting.

I want to be like this sister of sainthood. Her courageous cries inspire me. Her bravery is one to elevate but not to worship. For, it was not her personally that was the magnificent– it was the cause that riled her heart. That cause, that belief made her fearless.

We have a cause, a Savior to shout valiantly about. He is more than a cause – he is life everlasting. Every day by proclaiming his marvelous name – we are acting like daughters of steel, like present day Joan’s. That is a battle cry. In a world that is cascaded with darkness we are the light.

We can hold our heads up high – and say, I am not afraid. I was born to do this.

Are You Too Electronically Plugged In? {IF SO…} Some Great Ideas To Get You Living Again

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Are you a slave to social media?

We live in a generation of computer screens, iphone/pads, televisions, Netflix and Fitbits. And while I congratulate technology, I mourn real life experiences.

Remember when you actually took a walk through a park and did not immediately think of taking a picture of flowers with your phone – or posting your pondering to Facebook? Sadly, it’s hard for me to remember a time when social media was not in the equation.

Facebook has been around since I was a freshman in college. And, social media has escalated from that point on really. It has skyrocketed. I am not going to complain about this burst of new media – because partly, it encompasses a lot of what I do in my daily job.

Yet, it is sad to think that my kids won’t know a time when a flower was just a flower and a hike was just a physical experience, not one that you share with the world. There is something peaceful about ditching the hyper media scene and just breathing air – listening to sounds and being comfortable in your skin without virtual accolades.

I made a list of things (below) that I miss the most about real, tangible life– and need to remember to do and reflect on –especially with social media now pervading our world. I hope this list encourages you to leave that iphone at home when you are on a nature walk. Or simply listen to the stillness instead of automatically clicking on Pandora.

Life is real. It is tangible. People are not icons on your screen. Embrace feelings, emotions, facial expressions and the magical sounds of laughter over robust coffee. It’s your choice to live in a virtual reality or really breathe in the full, bodily life. You only have one life. Live it.

Try to soak in these things. Swap the screen for a real scene.

Human Touch – we are so used to looking a pictures on the computer and feeling the keys on our keyboard. Go out with a friend and give them a big bear hug. Hugs are underrated. It’s said that you need at least 8 hugs a day and that’s no joke. So give a friend, your partner, your mom a hug. Hugs create a happiness your computer screen cannot generate.

Read Good Books – what happened to the days we read before going to bed? Now, we are caught up in Dancing with the Stars or whatever junk show is on television. Get lost in a good book. Use your imagination and expand you brain power. Cry over the pages of Wuthtering Heights because you feel the printed words in your soul.

art

An art journal is always a good idea.

Listen to the Song of the Birds – there is something about nature that soothes the soul. Take time to listen to nature. Lay out in your backyard and listen to the chirping of the birds. If you are in a tiny apartment, take a blanket to a park – lay out and just listen to the music in the trees. Digest real life.

Handwrite a Poem or Anything for That Matter – buy a journal and jot out your thoughts on paper. Bleed your heart through pen and ink. Write a note to a friend or your grandmother and send it via snail mail. Penmanship is really being lost in this age of the computer. Exercise this talent. It;s not old fashioned. Written words have endured for centuries or more. 

Create an Art Project – that’s right, make an art project. Don’t look at your phone for inspiration. Create something from your heart. Paint with messy colors, clip pictures out of magazines – to construct a collage. The sky is the limit. Let your amazing creative juices flow free.

Throw a Tea Party with Friends – have a basket at the door ready to collect everyone’s phone for just 30 minutes. Drink strong tea out of fine china and talk. Connect with one another. Talk about books, your kids, whatever – just don’t use social media. Think of yourself in the time of Little Women.

Stuck In The Smelly Belly of The Whale

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ImageI am not my own. This is a phrase that should pervade my spirit from day to day. Yet, it is so easy to act like we are the captain of our ships.

It’s easy to grab the reigns – to be a Miss Bossy Pants and exude the attitude of ‘let me lead!’

However, in the long run, that’s a Jonah attitude. And, I surely do not want to be stuck in the smelly belly of the whale. I want to obey and let his light shine in me.

God’s way is higher and his direction is key. So often we lean on our own devices. We whine, cry and make ourselves feel miserable because life is not fair. We let the green eyed monster of jealousy and that soothsayer, pride, abound in our souls. How ugly!

I want my confidence and assurance to be found in Christ and Christ alone. I cannot boast about my accomplishments or ideas – for it is Christ who lives in me. What a hollow existence gloating in moves made without acknowledging the Giver of All Good Things.

Life is not a walk through Candy Land. It is full of hardships, failures and grief. But, there is joy in the growth. There is contentment in the love that the Lord offers. And there is peace in reliance of his faithfulness and direction.

I am not the Captain of my own ship. I have a choice – to let him lead. I’m just a sailor – confident in the one who steers the ship of my life. Where you lead, I will follow. Whether the sea is rough or calm, I will praise you – for I am your vessel.

Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord. – Jonah 2: 8-9

Read Jonah’s FULL prayer, here.

 

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts {Gluten Free, Guiltless}

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ImageWell the sun is shining is again, thankfully. This little butterball hid way too long. Sun equals fresh veggies, bathing suits and sand – to my mind anyway.

Last night, I made a heaping bowl of Brussels sprouts. I just love the savory crunch and rich taste of this lean, green vegetable.

Cooking them is easy. All it takes is a few simple spices. And the result is mouthwatering goodness.

You will need: 1 bag of Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper, garlic powder and 2 caps full of olive oil.

I chopped each little sprout in ½. So just take your knife and half them. This way they are easier to eat and sauté. Pour your olive oil into the pan and let that heat up.

Just dump your little veggie bites in the hot pan and stir. Use the salt and pepper to your taste buds content. However, I used about ½ a tbsp. of pepper and like a pinch of salt.

Sprinkle about 1 tbsp of garlic powder into your mixture. Continue to use the spatula making sure the little sprouts are getting toasty and brown.

Let them sauté for about 15 minutes. Then let them cool in a pretty bowl and enjoy.

This veggie is so healthy for you. Not only does it provide your body with vitamin C, it also contains loads of fiber and is a part of the disease fighting cabbage family. Read about the benefits, here.

30 Minute Cardio Workout With Yoga Moves

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Sometimes it’s hard finding good workout videos on YouTube. Believe me, I have searched for hours sometimes – just to find one that meets my workout goals. And 30 minutes or less, please. I just can’t do a workout video in my apartment longer than that.

I stumbled across this 30 minute video yesterday and completed it on my yoga mat in the living room. I was sweating, heart rate pumping – and felt totally worked out. Score!

Also, there are yoga moves incorporated in this workout. Being a yoga enthusiast, loved that. Now, it is an intense video. However, the video is peppered with 30 second breaks in between sets of heart pumping exercise.

Would definitely recommend this video to your home workout routine. I loved it so much that I am going to do it again today. Happy cardio training ladies and gents!

Cocoa Greek Yogurt {Gluten Free, Low Calorie}

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ImageThe App ‘Lose It’ is a lifesaver. Seriously. I have been using this app on my phone for the past week and it really helps me track my calorie intake.

Since, I am trying to eat within a set number limit, I have been experimenting with food in a different way. Taking those pesky calories into consideration. Strictly. Pain – but it’s a science.

This sweet little hunger saver gives you a hint of chocolate – for those of you who have a sweet tooth. The fresh strawberries provide a sweet, tart taste as well.

You will need: 1/2 cup 0% fat Greek yogurt (70 calories), 1 tbsp. cocoa powder (30 calories) and 3 big chopped up strawberries (13 calories). 

All you have to do is mix in the cocoa powder into the yogurt. It may take a little more time than you think because the powder is chalky and takes time to gel. I also mixed in the berries – so the chocolate goodness covered them. Left one on top for aesthetics.

You can eat this for a little snack or a yummy dessert after dinner. All for 113 calories. Remember, you can always add honey or a pinch of sugar if this is too bitter for your taste.