Sunday, March 31, 2013

46 Days of Gratefulness - Week 6 + 4 days

Happy Easter!

The past 46 days have been a great time of reflection for me. And today I am reflecting most on the sacrifice Jesus made for me. I am incredibly grateful for the blessings I have focused on over the last six and a half weeks, but I know that my blessings are far more abundant than just those 46 things. 

Day 36
I am grateful for the easy access and availability I have to clean drinking water. I have witnessed with my own eyes areas of the world that do not have this convenience and it is not something I take for granted.

Day 37
I am grateful to live in an area where I can watch the change of the seasons, watch the ice melt as the air around it warms. I am grateful for the reminder that this change is, that even as something ends, something else begins.

Day 38
Today I am grateful for a freshly sharpened No. 2 pencil.

Day 39
I am grateful for music and its ability to engage, inspire, heal and connect people.

Day 40
I am grateful for the anticipation and excitement that accompanies embarking on something new. I am grateful that there are people in this world who will still freely share their knowledge and passion to help others embrace the things they love as well.

Day 41
I am grateful for the beauty of natural light, for the highlights and shadows it creates, and for the way it can transform an object.

Day 42
I am grateful for the soothing sound of the ocean, whether it is real or artificial. There is something about it that calms my mind and brings me back to myself when I start to feel overwhelmed.

Day 43
I am grateful for my sister and the unique friendship you can find in a sibling. It is unlike any other friendship because no one understands you quite in the way a sibling does, as they have shared the same upbringing and childhood environment. They might not have experienced it the same way as you, but they understand you and your story and how you became who you are.

Day 44
I am grateful for our military men and women and their families, for the sacrifices they make, for their bravery, courage and dedication.

Day 45
I am grateful for the miracle of pregnancy. I am grateful to have experienced it. I am always in awe of a beautiful growing belly and the amazing process it is.

Day 46
I am grateful for the passing on of traditions and the creating of new ones.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Walk in love

There has been a lot of talk and profile picture changing on Facebook the last few days. And while I didn't change my profile picture and I'm not gay myself, I 100% support gay marriage.

To me, love is love. I don't think you choose your sexuality or who you fall in love with whether you're gay, straight or anything in between. Love chooses you. I have friends who are gay. I have friends who are gay who have better marriages and are better parents than a lot of straight people I know. And so even though I don't usually comment on such highly debated issues, I feel compelled to express my feelings on the subject and the negativity of it all.

Let's start with the arguments that the bible says that gay marriage is wrong. First, let me state that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. Having said that, my view of the bible is probably not a popular one in the Christian community. Do I quote scripture? Yes. Does it help me learn and grow and be a better Christian? I think so. I hope so. But am I perfect? Ha! Far from it. Do I believe that the bible is God's word? Yes. But I also believe that the bible was written by men. These flesh and blood men were sinners just like me. The writings of these men, like any human, were influenced by their point of view and the time they lived in. And so for me, the bible is more about the messages than the specific words. I might be wrong. Believing that might be a sin. But I am a sinner anyway. And Jesus walked this Earth, flesh and blood, and died for me and my sins. And so when I pray, I ask for forgiveness of my sins, both the ones I am aware of and can acknowledge, and the ones that still escape me. And my Lord and Savior forgives me of my sins because He knows I have a sincere heart. He knows my intentions.

And if that continues to be your argument, and you insist that gay marriage is a sin, I'll say this: we're all sinners. Again, me included. Leviticus 11:8 while talking about pigs says, "You shall not eat of their flesh nor touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you." Do you eat pork? Timothy 2:9 says, "I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes..." Do you wear gold rings or earrings or necklaces? Leviticus 19:19 says, "You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together." Take a look in your closet. Do you have anything in there that is not a blend of two or more different fabrics? And these are just a few examples. Ben Franklin reminds us, "E'er you remark another's sin, bid your own conscience look within."

Still holding firm that your religion tells you that gay marriage is a sin or "unnatural?" The Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution say that, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." While the "separation of church and state" refers more to keeping government out of the church than church out of the government, the people of this country are free to exercise any religion they choose - including those religions, or lack thereof, that do not believe that gay marriage is a sin.

And some people will still push that "What? Are we supposed to leave all morals of out our laws? Should we let people go around killing other people if their religion isn't against it?" Well of course we shouldn't let people go around killing each other. How could that be a good thing? But letting people love each other? Letting a spouse have legal rights? Letting them raise children, and teaching them about universal love and acceptance of others? How could that be bad? A 2012 report estimates that 40-50% of marriages will end in divorce. And gay marriage is going to ruin the institution of marriage?

There is a lot of hate and intolerance being spewed in the name the bible. Not by every Christian, mind you, but by some. But here's the bottom line: If Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, you believe that He walked this Earth, flesh and blood. When He walked this Earth, He walked in love. He didn't walk in fear or hate even if He didn't agree with the way someone lived their life. And that is what He wants us to do, to walk in love. It is not our place to judge. Why does two men or two women loving each other and wanting the same legal rights as a man and a woman affect your life? It doesn't. And you still have a right to practice your religion and maintain your beliefs as you so choose. The legal definition of marriage does not have to change your personal definition of marriage or your beliefs. No one is forcing you to have a gay marriage yourself.

Are there gay marriages that will end in divorce? Sure. But many straight marriages do. The problem isn't gay marriage. The problem is, most often, that people give up too soon. The problem is that we teach intolerance of many things far too often with our actions. The problem is that we walk in fear and hate more often than we walk in love.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Project Delete: Update

After just a few days, I have officially deleted over 1,000 photos! And I'm nowhere near done. I am simultaneously proud of myself for finally doing it and ashamed that it is this bad!

While I'm finding some blurry, nonsense photos easy to delete, I'm also struggling a little. One of the things I'm finding the most difficult is deleting any photo of Audrey. They can be blurry, but I see a cute face I want to remember through the blur and I just can't do it.

Struggling with this has reminded me that there's a difference between a well composed, sharply focused photograph that you've created and a snapshot. And while I strive to create beautiful photographs, snapshots are just as important. Sometimes, especially with our children, there just isn't enough time to think and create, you just have to shoot and capture that spur of the moment slice of your life. As your photographic techniques improve, you may get luckier with these snapshots. But the fact of the matter remains: some days you're lucky and some days you're not.

These snapshots don't need to be perfect. And imperfect snapshots shouldn't always be deleted. They will often be a more accurate representation of our memories than a well thought-through photograph. In 10, 20, even 30 years, I will look back on these snapshots and I won't see the blur, but the smile or the silly face or the joy of experiencing something for the first time. And while the beautiful photographs may hang on our wall, the snapshots are our life. They are a reminder of the precious moments that can get buried in the depths of our mind or heart.

Snapshots are not always perfect, but neither are we. And just as our imperfection doesn't make us any less important, neither does it make our snapshots less important.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Project Delete

Hi! My name is Sara and I am a photo hoarder!
Phew! That feels nice to get off my chest! Seriously, I am really bad at deleting photos. I mean, really, REALLY bad! I save anything, like a hoarder, just in case I could possibly use it one day. And while that is a good reason to keep some photos, I also save a lot of junk that is the result of practicing a new technique or multiple shots taken in attempt to achieve something I have in mind. I even save the blurry ones.

My hard drive is filling up fast and slowing my computer down, so it is time to take control of the situation. I have to stop, but I also have to go back about 6 years and rectify the situation there too. So slowly but surely I'm going back through all of my photos and deleting. I set two main criteria to help me along the way.

1. Anything blurry goes! (Unless, of course, it was meant to be blurry.)
2. If it has no clear subject and nothing interesting about it, hit delete! 

It's been hard, but I'm working my way through and I've deleted over 300 photos so far! I think there will still be junk left when I'm done, but at least it's a start.

Do you have criteria for what photos you delete? Do you delete it as soon as you import, or are you a terrible hoarder like me? If you have any tips or criteria for letting go, please share! I need all the help I can get!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

46 Days of Gratefulness - Week 5

I realized this week that there are actually 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday. I never actually counted and you always hear that there are 40 days of Lent. After a little research, apparently this is how the 40 days comes about: Since the original disciples were Jewish, they were raised to hold the Sabbath as a day of rest and worship. Though the early Christians changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday (to celebrate Christ's Resurrection on a Sunday), they still upheld this idea. So there was no fasting or repenting on Sundays during Lent. And if you leave the Sundays out of that 46 day period, you get 40 days!

So, I learned something! But since I've already been including Sundays for Weeks 1, 2, 3 and 4, I'm just going to turn 40 Days of Gratefulness into 46 Days of Gratefulness. And I don't think it hurts to be grateful for 6 extra days. So here's Week 5:

Day 29
I am grateful for the opportunities I've had to travel and see not only the country, but the world.

Day 30
I am grateful for the opportunity to watch longstanding friendships continue through the next generation.

Day 31
Despite the problems within our government, I am grateful to live in a country where, as a woman, I have the right to vote, drive and pursue higher education. I am grateful that I have many basic rights and freedoms that are not afforded to many people in this world.

Day 32
I am grateful for time spent together, as a family, in the kitchen. I am grateful to have time to be beside and work with my husband and daughter to create something, both teaching and learning from each other.

Day 33
I am grateful for the amazing entity that the mind is. I love how a drive down a certain road, or a particular song, or specific scent can instantly send memories flooding back to you that you would not otherwise recall.

Day 34
I am grateful for the fire in my heart recently - to do, to learn, to give and to love.

Day 35
I'm grateful for all the sparkle in my life because everyone needs a little sparkle.

Friday, March 15, 2013

New RSS reader

If you haven't heard, Google Reader is shutting down. I've been in denial about it, but I need to find a new RSS reader. Do you use something other than Google Reader? What do you like about it? And if you're still using Google Reader, do you know what you're switching to yet? Why did you choose it?

Thanks for your help!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Finding your authentic self

I just finished reading Distant Shores by Kristin Hannah.
Kristin Hannah is one of my very favorite authors. Every book I've read by her, I have loved. I find that some authors tend to write stories that feel practically the same, with only slight differences in the characters or setting. Not Hannah. And yet, she draws me into every story, every time.

I don't post about every book that I read, but I particularly loved this book, not because it was spectacularly written or the best story ever told, but because I could deeply relate to it. Despite the age difference between myself and the main character, I felt a kinship with her. And she gave me hope because this year for me is also about finding myself again and renewing my passion. There was one quote from the book that resonated right in my heart:
"Finding your passion isn't just about careers and money. It's about finding your authentic self. The one you've buried beneath other people's needs."
Sometimes a book can just strike a chord in you. Not only because you can relate to the story or characters on an intimate level, but because it reminds you that, somewhere, someone is feeling or has felt the same way you do. You feel like you could have written the words with your own hand and you remember that you're not alone in this world, that your struggle isn't a solitary one.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Week 4

Weeks 1, 2 and 3 weren't all that difficult. But as I got into Week 4, I struggled a little bit to make the time every day and reflect on something new. I did it though! And the more difficult it was to pick something that day, the more I found I appreciated it after my reflection.

So here is Week 4:

Day 22
I am grateful that my parents saved so much from my childhood. A little time spent digging through boxes produces videos like Puff the Magic Dragon and Gumby, allowing me to share my childhood with my daughter.

Day 23
Growing up, we almost always ate dinner together as a family. Not just my parents, sister and I, but my grandparents too. No matter what our schedules were, we sat down at the table together. I think that played a large part in our family dynamic. And I am grateful that as an adult, I can still sit down for dinner with my family. I am grateful that Audrey knows that tradition of gathering, and eating and sharing as well.

Day 24
I am grateful for the beauty the night sky can hold and for the promise it holds of a beautiful day the next day.

Day 25
I am grateful for the opportunity to play. Life is short. It is important to let go of everything else and just have fun every now and then.

Day 26
I am grateful to be alive, to feel alive, for every single breath. Because despite our struggles, each breath is a gift to be here and to live this life.

Day 27
I am grateful to live where I grew up. I am grateful for the sense of community here and for the connections I have made, past and present.

Day 28
I am grateful for the roof over my head, a physical protection from the elements.

As we get closer and closer to Easter, is there anything this week that you are particularly grateful for?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Texas Caviar

I had Texas Caviar for the first time last summer and I fell in love! Since then, it makes a regular appearance in our house. It makes a huge batch, but we love it so much that it is usually gone in 2 or 3 days. We eat it like salsa with some blue corn tortilla chips. It's great as a snack and I've even been know to eat a big bowl for lunch! It would be great to bring to a BBQ like that. I've also heard that some people spoon it over some salad greens or even onto a baked potato.

Since we love it so much, I thought I'd share the recipe with all of you, so you can enjoy it too!

Texas Caviar
1 (15 oz) can black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can corn, drained
4 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
4 scallions, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
½ c. fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
4-6 oz Italian dressing- I use Wishbone, but you can use one you like or make yourself.

Combine all ingredients except Italian dressing. Mix well. Pour dressing over mixture. Cover and marinate at least 2 hours in refrigerator. Stir again before serving. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 10, 2013


I was tired this morning.
The time change and I are not friends.
I got up at 7 anyway, my husband and daughter still sleeping, cuddling together in bed.
I went to my yoga class.
Class was invigorating today - I'm glad I went.
My blood was pumping.
I felt alive.
The sun is shining and it's warm.
I'm thinking of and ready for spring.
I found myself smiling for no reason.
Genuinely smiling.
I feel happy.
I can't remember the last time I felt genuinely happy for no reason.
Taking care of myself finally feels worthwhile and not selfish.
I am important, too.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Pinterest Favorite Food Finds

I love Pinterest! It gives me so my ideas and has so many sources of inspiration. But when it comes to recipes, if you're anything like me, you pin more than you actually make. However, I have found some recipes that I love and have become regulars in our house. So today I'm going to share a couple of my favorite food finds from Pinterest!

First up, the Breakfast Grilled Cheese! I love this and make it all the time! You get the yummy, buttery, crunchiness on the outside and the warm, gooey, cream cheesiness on the inside. I've used all different kinds of bagels. Sometimes I use the tomatoes and thyme, sometimes I use sage, and sometimes I just use the cream cheese and nothing else. But it's so yummy every time!
Photo from Grilled Cheese Social
I made this Blueberry Tart for a housewarming party I went to last summer and it was sooooo delicious! I love lemon and blueberries! It was really light and refreshing and super easy to make. This summer I'm going to try it with raspberries, too, because lemon and raspberry together is even better than lemon and blueberry.
Photo by Con Poulos from Real Simple
In our house, we love soup! And when you have a big pot of soup, you have to have a nice crusty bread to go with it! I got an enamel cast iron pot for Christmas, so I had to try out this bread recipe! It is incredibly easy and there are so many different things you can add to it!
Photo from Simply So Good
Finally, I made these No-Bake Energy Bites recently to bring to a friend who had just had a baby. The new mom loved them and the oatmeal and flax seed make them great for breast milk production. Audrey and I loved them, too, so we made a batch for us to snack on as well!
Photo from Smashed Peas and Carrots

Do you actually make the recipes that you Pin? Please share your favorite! I'll Pin it and maybe I'll actually try it out! *wink, wink*

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Breakfast Quinoa

We love quinoa in our house. We prefer the taste of red variety, but have only been able to find the white at our local super markets lately. And while the white is okay, none of us really like it on its own.

For dinner a couple nights ago, we had some quinoa sauteed with sausage, onions, and peppers. Yum, yum! I didn't use all the quinoa I cooked, so there was some leftover in our fridge and I didn't want it to go to waste. I've made quinoa for breakfast before with mashed bananas, shredded coconut and milk, but I wasn't crazy about it warm. So I decided to try it cold leftover.

I added a splash of milk, a drizzle of honey and a handful of raspberries and blueberries to the cold quinoa, mixed it up and it was delicious! Audrey kept crawling up into my lap the first morning and asking for more, so the second morning I made her a bowl of her own!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Week 3

Week 1 and Week 2 went by quickly and we've already arrived at the end of Week 3. Here's what I've been grateful for this week:

Day 15
I am grateful for the close relationship that Audrey and I share. I am grateful every time she says, "I love you, Mommy," or "You're my best friend in the whole wide world," or when she simply and quietly holds my hand. I pray that as she grows we will maintain this closeness.

Day 16
I am grateful for my health and, of course, for daily check ups from my favorite doctor.

Day 17
Today I am grateful for my faith, which carries me through the good times, as well as the times that seem unbearable, and everything in between. I am grateful for a God that is limitless in His love, support, encouragement, patience and forgiveness.

Day 18
I am grateful for chocolate. As with bacon, I don't think I need to elaborate any further.

Day 19
I am grateful for a good book and for the escape it provides. Nothing compares to climbing right inside another world, befriending and investing in the characters and leaving reality behind.

Day 20
I am grateful for my education. More than the actual facts I've learned, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to learn. I am grateful that I had wonderful teachers, both in high school and college, that not only taught me facts, but how to think for myself and question what I learn.

Day 21
Today I am incredibly grateful for the sunshine! I am grateful for the warmth and the promise of the coming spring and longer days.

That's it for now. Is there anything you are particularly grateful for this week?