Friday, May 1, 2015

Friday Faith: No Doubt About It.

Being a Christian--living life this way--is not always easy.  And, if I'm being completely honest with you, I've had my moments of doubt.

You heard that right.  I have had those times in my life where I've wondered if what I'm believing, the life that I'm living, the faith that I'm choosing, is the right one.  

That's bad, right?

I'm not supposed to say that, am I?

But it's the truth.  And I am pretty sure I'm not alone.  

The thing is you can know that something is real and still doubt it at the same time.  Doubt creeps in when you least expect it.  It hits you when you're weak.  When you don't even realize it's coming on.  There it is.  Whispering that maybe, just maybe, you're wrong.  

And yet, I can still know, really know, that the God I believe in is as real as you and me.

I doubt the way I believe all the time and the way that I'm carrying out my beliefs.  Am I living the way that God wants me to?  When people look at me, do they see what a Christian should be?

Mostly, I doubt it.

I try.  Just like I always try to push through any doubts that come my way about my faith itself.  Believing--choosing to believe--is a constant choice.  You choose to live the way that God asks you to.  You choose to follow Him.  You choose to be in a relationship with Him.  These are choices that he leaves up to you.  There is no force--though He could use it.  There is simply your choice.  

Doubt is not a choice.  It just happens to you.  Like fear, sadness or getting angry at someone; it's a feeling.  What matters is what you do with the feeling you've been dealt.  Do you let it take over and lead you away from the life you've chosen with the God that loves you?  Or do you fight it?  Push through it and climb over it and use it as a part of your story to build the relationship that your God longs so badly to have with you.

You can call me a bad Christian.  You can wonder why I'm willing to tell you that I have my moments where my faith is shaky and my foundation is not so solid.  But I know that I can say anything, because there is nothing that surprises God.  He knows me.  Better than anyone else ever will actually.  He already knows my faults, my shortcomings and my sins.  He knows every doubt I have ever had or will ever had.

And he loves me fiercely anyway.

Wants me anyway.

Chooses me anyway.

In spite of my doubts.  Because there is no doubt bigger than His love for me.  Or mine for Him.

And there is no doubt about that.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Chocolate What Cookies?

The problem with trying to eat healthy most of the time is the fact that, along with my want and need to eat well, is my insatiable want and need to eat crap.

Pure and utter crap.  Generally in the form of something baked and sweet.

Cookies and breads and pies, oh my!

I've really been trying to limit by sugar and flour intake so that really counts out most cookies and breads and pies.  Dang it.

There are tons of recipes that don't use these things and you can find them all over the internet and in various cookbooks that cater to such things.  You know, the sugar and flourless.

I ran into one the other night that looked both easy and like it might have potential to not totally stink.  And, like something that would be cheap enough considering I already had most of the ingredients, that I wouldn't be upset if they ended up being gross.  So, all the important boxes checked, I set out to make Chocolate Avocado Cookies.

Yep.  Cookies.  With chocolate.  And avocado?  And honey, an egg and a tiny little bit of baking soda.  Oh, and some chocolate chunks for good measure.  Really, that's it.

I found the recipe on the blog The Smoothie Lover.   You can see the full recipe here.

Basically you blend it all together and cook it at 350* for 8-10 minutes.  Mine definitely took at least ten.

She says: they look like coal.
He says: they look like cow poop. 
When they are done they look, well, interesting.  I believe my husband asked who let the cows poop in the house.  So, there's that visual for you.  But, he was brave enough to try them and, wouldn't you know it, actually liked them!

They are super chocolatey and you don't taste the avocado.  Well, I did a tad, but that's me.  Steven
hates avocados and he couldn't taste them at all.

My little gave them a shot and ate the entire cookie, minus one tiny morsel, before declaring he didn't like it.  I think it's a texture thing.

Speaking of, they are extremely sticky and not your typical cookie.  But they're good and I could see making them again when we need a chocolate fix that won't undo any good we've done.  You know, like an Oreo does.  Or a KitKat.  Or a brownie.  With ice cream on top.  Or...

Wait, what was I saying?  

Anyway, this one was a keeper.  A weird-looking, have to stay refrigerated, kinda odd-textured, winner.

I'll consider that a victory.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It's going to be a "dry spray" summer!!

So, we are about to get a little personal!!!!! We are talking deodorant today!!! I started using Degree Motionsense deodorant stick the summer before last and I LOVE it!!!! I feel it really keeps me dry and fresh! Plus it smells really good! It says it will last 48 hours but I don't find that to be true but it lasts through my day which is pretty good!
I had no intentions of changing or even trying out any other products until I started seeing the commercials for the new "dry spray" deodorant! I know you've seen either the commercial or the actual product in the stores! It comes in a slim and nifty can- not the traditional bulky can and inconvenient cap!

Both Dove and Degree have the same type of product out now but since I already liked the Degree brand, I figured I would stick with them! All you have to do is shake it and spray it under your arms! In addition to keeping you dry and fresh it goes on DRY to the touch and best off all it doesn't leave white marks on your clothes!!!!! White marks on my clothes has always been an issue for me so this is a major perk!

<3 Rachel

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Best Date Night In

In a round about way, Rachel is responsible for one of the best dates I've ever been on.  True story.

A few months ago she suggested that I begin following Michelle Myers on Instagram.  She's a faith driven fitness pro that helps inspire women in their journey to a healthier relationship with their bodies and their Savior.  She's good stuff and worth the follow.  

Anyway, on one of Michelle's posts she mentioned that she and her husband were having a date night-in using DateCrates.  I followed the link to their Instagram page, @datecrates, and from there I ended up on the website:  

Here's the scoop:  you choose from a list of pre-planned dates and DateCrates sends you what you'll need right to your doorstep.  Pretty simple, right? 

Steven and I chose the Glamping date and, let me tell you, I was almost stupid-excited for it to get here.  The day that box showed up on our front porch I could not wait to see what was inside.  When
we chose our date, we were given a basic idea of what we were getting into, but all the details were pretty much kept secret.  So it made getting the box a real treat.  

I don't want to give too much away--just in case you want to go Glamping yourself--so I will tell you what DatesCrates says about this particular date choice:

(taken directly from
Two words: Glamorous Camping. It’s the new craze and this at home date brings you the fun activities of camping without leaving the comforts of home. Need I say s’more?

We chose a night for our date, sent the little guy off to the grandparents' house and really spent some quality time with each other.  

Because, not matter which date you choose, that's really the point, isn't it?  Being intentional with your relationship and focusing on the person that deserves your attention and time more than anyone else.  And the one that usually gets put on the back burner when the rest of life gets crazy and begins to take over or get out of control.  

It's easy to think that once you get married it's OK to stop dating.  Granted, dating others is seriously frowned upon.  But dating your spouse is amazing.  And necessary.  I won't lie and say that I'm always the best at it or that it even comes as the most natural thing for us all the time.  Things get in the way sometimes--or even lots of times.  But the planning of a date really doesn't have to be one of them.  DateCrates will do it for you.  And you don't even have to go anywhere.  

But you do have to turn off your phone.  The only one you need to talk to is right there.  

So go ahead.  Go on a date.  

And tell Rachel, "thank you."  You might end up going on your best one yet.  

- Jess


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Monday Motivation: YouTube Channels You Need

Be honest, how many workout DVDs do you have in your house?  Now, how many do you have that are not covered in a layer of dust?  Yeah, me too.  

DVDs are great and they have their uses.  But after a while they can become a tad monotonous and they end up taking up more space on the back of the shelf than they do in your actual player.  It's ok.  It happens.  

I find that I need different workouts to keep me motivated and getting up early in the morning on a regular basis.  I've looked all over YouTube for exercise videos videos and you can easily come across some good ones in varying lengths.  

In the process, I've come across three fitness-based channels full of organized videos to help you find exactly what you're looking for to work you from top to bottom.  You can easily subscribe to each and get updates when new videos are added.  

Take a look at the links below and get moving!  

- Jess

    Tone It Up: Not surprisingly, the You Tube channel I go to the most.  You can find me hanging out with Karena and Katrina almost daily to do it all from HIIT routines to individual toning workouts.

    LivestrongWoman:  Workouts and recipes geared towards women. Yes, please. The best part of this channel for me?  The how-to videos.  Don't know how to do a Spiderman push up?  They'll show you.  

    POPSUGAR Fitness: The workout videos are listed in categories by time.Whether you have 40 minutes are only five, they have a whole set of workouts to get you the results you want!


    Friday, April 17, 2015

    Friday Faith: Riding Waves

    Every summer we used to go to the beach with my dad's side of the family. Twenty-something people, all related, all under one roof for an entire week.  It's a wonder we survived.  But we did.  And those are some of my favorite memories.

    One thing I really loved to do while we were down at the water was float on my back, head toward the horizon, feet toward the shore.   I would wait for the start of waves to come and push me high into the air, and upright, leaving me in a standing position.  I would do it over and over, floating further and further down the beach.

    I don't remember ever being scared of what was below me, or that I might land in a way that left me hurt.

    Even though I had no idea when the next wave would come or if it would roll on by or crash on top of me, I was never worried that I would end up any other way than on my feet.  Upright.  Standing tall.


    That's what it feels like.

    The truth is we're all riding waves, moving from one thing to the next.  Today to tomorrow.  Week to week. But when you have faith, you can lay back and let God carry you.  True, you move away from the shore--the safety--but that's where the real living and fun start.  And when you stop fighting the waves, and start letting God lead you, you'll find that you may not end up where you planned, but you'll always end up where you're supposed to be.

    There's no telling what's under you while you're floating along.  Troubles, dangers, unexpected changes. But when God is the one that's in control--when you let Him truly carry you--you don't focus on what's below.  Your focus is on the ride--the life itself--that God is providing.

    Giving control to God doesn't mean that waves won't knock you done from time to time or that you won't end up in difficult places, far from comfort.  But it does mean you're never alone.  Your God is with you. And He will never leave you as He sees you through the worst to get you to the best.

    When you pass through the waters, 
    I will be with you;
    and when you pass through the rivers, 
    they will not sweep over you.
    When you walk through the fire, 
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

    Isaiah 43:2 (NIV) 

    Tuesday, April 14, 2015

    “Always Off Makeup Cloths"

    In the age of using special cloths for specific purposes I had no doubt the concept would start to show up in a more mainstream place I just wasn’t thinking that Wal-Mart would be the first place I saw them! Target needs to step their game up!!! However, on my most recent trip to Wal-Mart I found these “Always Off Makeup Cloths”! They were hanging horizontally in the cosmetic section and for $3 (actually $2.99) for 3 cloths- I had to try them!

    They are advertised as “gentle, ultra-soft cloths to quickly and easily remove makeup in one easy step” meaning you can use your regular cleanser with it or just water! The microfiber cloth promises to lift away dirt, oil, makeup and even waterproof mascara in an economical way (since it could take the place of disposable cloths)!


    My thoughts:

    ·        Yes- this is the only color choice you have. Within pack of three you get a solid hot pink, teal with pink polka dots and a teal, pink and tan chevron pattern. Maybe a Wal-Mart in a different area might have different color selections!?!?

    ·        They are not square like washcloths- they are 6x12 rectangles with rounded edges! The shape/size was perfect for the purpose!

    ·        I have not used them without cleanser (water only) but I really do like them. They are softer than my washcloths and I think my face appreciates that! They really do a good job as far as getting all my makeup off without feeling like I’m pulling the skin too hard especially in the eye area!

    ·        I feel kind of fancy when I use them- like I’m being pampered in a fancy spa!

    ·        Do I need them in my life- no but I do enjoy them and I will continue to use them!

    ·        No- they aren’t anything like the Norwex Brand Makeup Removal Cloth Set- these are microfiber and the Norwex are an antibacterial suede material. I have not tried the Norwex so I cannot compare them other than material! I would be open to trying them though!



    <3 Rachel