A Call To Rise

Saturday, February 28, 2015

When I was 15, I attended a week long conference where I came face to face with the truth that I was created for the glory of God. I may have come to Christ at 9, but it wasn't until I was 15 that I FINALLY knew what being a Christian was all about. After years of searching for the answer to the "now what" questions that were constantly coming up in my mind, I had answers!

To this day, I can't help but wonder how many other people have those same questions going on in their heads. I'm always looking for ways to remind myself of the importance of the Gospel in my life so that I don't lose sight of what it means to be a Christian. Rap that is faithful to the Gospel has played a huge part in my fight against sin and complacency.

One of my most recent finds came in the form of a book that happens to be authored by one of my favorite rappers. By the time I finished chapter 6, I was telling anyone who would listen about this new book that I'd been reading. You see, most of my friends don't listen to rap, but if I could get them to read this book, they'd finally be able to come into contact with this man that has been a huge encouragement to me since his first record deal!

"Rise: Get Up and Live in God's Great Story" by Trip Lee is that book. It's a book that takes a place right alongside a handful of other books that have encouraged and challenged me to BE a Christian. It's a book about living the life I've been called to live as one of God's people. I had my pen out to mark and underline and star things constantly. I picked up this book right as I was getting to Ecclesiastes in my Bible reading plan and I paused "Rise" to go through the book of the Bible that plays a crucial role in helping readers understand what Trip is trying to communicate.

As Trip says on page 48, "There are really only two ways to respond to Jesus: you can deny yourself and follow Him, or you can deny Him and follow yourself." That's the kind of hard-hitting truth that Trip has been weaving into his songs. I'm excited to be able to say that he is just as faithful to God's Word in this book!

I will say that I feel careful discernment is needed in chapters 12 and 14. I would love to sit down with Trip to chat about them. My concern is that these chapters hold implications on music and living as a Christian in a culture that is anti-Christian that could lead some people to compromise. I know that is not his intent at all, but I still feel that these chapters could be taken the wrong way.

Overall, I'm excited to get this book into people's hands. It will lead you to take stock of your life. It will answers the questions that you may not have even realized that you have. Whether you call yourself a Christian or not, you've got a life to live. This book is all about living a life that counts. Pick it up, read it, discuss it, and most importantly: rise!

God has called you to Himself and into His story. We're meant to live for His glory and Trip Lee has used a pen to join God in declaring this truth.

Click HERE to get your copy! 

For more from Trip Lee, click HERE. Since no post is really complete without a little music, here's "Real Vision" which happens to be one of my favorite songs and a great intro to Trip Lee for those of you who've been wondering about this talk about rap:

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers. All thoughts are my own honest opinion.

What I'm Into: February 2015

Friday, February 27, 2015

In just a few days, February will be behind us! This was a month of really getting back to normal. I keep telling myself that signs of spring are everywhere. Play practice continues, soup suppers have begun for Lent, and my friend Heidi's baby should be here any time.

I really enjoyed celebrating my Mom's birthday this year. The dinner and dessert was a group effort! My Uncle (and aunts) assisted me from the East Coast was I attempted to make my Grandma's Spaghetti and Meatballs. I jumped in over my head with the cake...My Mom came to the rescue with the decorating and my sister joined me in laughing at my helplessness. More on all of that later!

What I'm Watching

I'll give you a list:

The House of Anubis (done)
Downton Abbey (almost done)
The Great British Baking Show
Cut Throat Kitchen
Alton Brown's Good Eats
The Great Courses: Gardening

And now I'll tell you more about each one:

We finished The House of Anubis and Downton Abbey is nearly over, so I've been on the look out for new shows. Somehow, I stumbled down the rabbit hole of cooking shows.

The Great British Baking Show. We got a Roku last month and I'm loving the PBS stuff they have. I discovered this show over last weekend. I'm already hooked! I really like Norman and Kate...but then there's Luis whose food always looks soooo fancy and Nancy who reminds me of myself and Richard who isn't afraid of anything. I don't really know who I'm rooting for!

Cut Throat Kitchen. This came as a result of my recent obsession with Alton Brown's Good Eats. Cut Throat is sort of harsh, but I really enjoy watching people overcome each challenge.

Ron and Julie gave me several gardening videos from The Great Courses. Since the cold weather is back, I've been watching a few of those each week! 

Oh and I almost forgot...We also discovered Grantchester this month! It's a mystery show on PBS set in the 1950's. So far, it's been hit and miss with the themes though.

In the Kitchen

We had a lot of old favorites this month. To name a few: Meatloaf, Chicken ala King, Baked Potato Soup, and my Grandma's London Broil.

Spumoni Cake rounded out my Mom's italian birthday dinner perfectly!

Chicken Tortilla Soup warmed us up on a day that was more winter than spring.

Last week we (my Mom, sister, and I - and maybe my brother) teamed up to make egg rolls, fried rice, and some dipping sauces. Then I made hamburgers. And then we teamed up again for taco bar. See the theme there?

Sunday Brisket via this cookbook was a real hit on Tuesday night. 

What I'm Reading

I've got what I hope will be some great books on the way from the mail order library! (For those who may want to know: "Maisie Dobbs" by Jacqueline Winspear and "The Lottery Winner" by Mary Higgins Clark.)

In the mean time I'm reading "Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ" by John Piper , a review copy of "By Your Side" by Candace Calvert, and a collection of essays by EB White.

Stay tuned for a look at my winter reading list in the next week or so!

On the Blog

The getting there pictures and Asheville pictures from our trip south have been a big hit!

I introduced another goal of mine for Through * For * By in 2015 and I'm calling it A Month of Saturdays.

Sometimes God meets you while you garden in February and you write about it.

Ask & Answer returned with questions about traveling, memorable years, inspiration, and winter. It thrills me that your answers are still coming in! What do you want to Ask & Answer in March?

I'm linking up with Leigh

Chipping Away At The Old Testament

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The last few weeks have gone super well! I started reading my Bible first thing in the morning again. I don't really know how I got out of that habit, but I did. Getting back to it has made a big difference in the rest of my day. I've been working my way through this Chronological Bible Reading Plan. As of earlier this week, I'm officially half way through the plan. If I keep up my current pace, I should be done before the end of March!

I've been reading a mixture of 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Psalms, and one of the prophets each day over the past week or so. Reading Scripture in large chunks and in a chronological time frame has really helped to iron out the timeline of Scripture in my brain! Every now and then, I stop to study a map or to find out a little more about a certain time period. I'm grateful to my Mom for her patience and help with these questions of mine! She is a far better scholar than I will ever be and I really appreciate her willingness to pass the wisdom on. 

This month, the theme of sin has been front and center in my studies. As we come up on the season where we remember Jesus Christ's last days on earth and the events that surrounded His death on the cross, God is preparing my heart! The theme can be summed up in this: the wages of sin is death.

Wherever sin is mentioned, it is followed by the call to repent, a course of discipline, or a promise of redemption. I've been shocked at the way the Gospel is promised again and again throughout the Old Testament. For whatever reason, I hadn't really seen it there before in the way that I've been seeing it recently.

So, that's all for now! I'll be checking in each month this year with a little update on my where I'm at in God's Word. I hope these updates will serve as accountability for me and a little encouragement for you!

Where are you in God's Word this week?

How would you sum up the theme of your time there?

The Best Christmas Vacation EVER pt. 2

Monday, February 23, 2015

From Atlanta, we headed to Asheville, NC for a few days. I've got a ton of pictures from this leg of the trip and I'll be putting them all in this post just because that's better than drawing this series out! My brother insisted on calling us Chinese tourists (why is that a stereotype, BTW)  with all the pictures we were taking. By the end of this post, you might agree with him.

The drive there was super uneventful. I think we only made one stop before meeting up with my brother in Asheville. The first was at a rest stop just as we passed into South Carolina and the second was at a Quick Trip in Greenville, SC. We made it to Asheville in time to have lots of hugs with my brother, drop our stuff off at our friends' house, and head to dinner before the attending a candle light tour at Biltmore.

PSA: If you go to Asheville, eat at Appolo-Flame Bistro. Have their ranch dressing and try not to eat it all.

My favorite part of the candle light tour  was the group they had singing in the winter garden. Until we left the main area of the house, we could hear them singing and it really added something special. After the tour, we browsed the gift shops and bought a few souvenirs. My Mom and I got matching key chains and I'm really glad we did!

On the shuttle that took us back to our car, the driver asked if everyone on board would sing Jingle Bells...It was a great way to end the night! Whenever I go on vacation, there is always a moment when I feel like I am on vacation with everyone else who is also on vacation. As we bumped along on that shuttle, singing a familiar song at the top of our longs, that was that moment. Thank you, Mr. Bus Driver, for the ride and for that memorable moment!

After a hearty breakfast (that included some of the best breakfast potatoes I've ever eaten) with our friends, we took some goodbye pictures and headed back to Biltmore for a day of touring during daylight hours!

The butler's tour was scheduled for the morning, which worked out perfectly because there as a bunch of smoke in the air. After a quick lunch at Wendy's (sister and youngest brother), Moe's (brother), and McDonald's (Mom and me), we headed to Biltmore one last time for the architect's tour. The smoke had cleared, the sky was blue, and we were ready to go up on the roof!


Check out that bamboo!!! We pulled over because every time we entered the estate, I kept forgetting to take pictures of it. I hope to get back there to take pictures during warm weather! I should note that my brother has made several trips to Biltmore since moving south and he always asks the best questions! Touring the estate with him was like having a second tour guide. He was always pointing out things that he has learned on his previous trips.

Now for the architect tour pictures...I'm pretty sure that this part of the tour was my brother's favorite!

via my sister :)
via my sister :)
via my youngest brother
The estate was buzzing when we were there! Everyone seemed so excited. Strangers offered to take pictures for one another. Strangers shared jokes and exchanged memories of past visits to the estate or excitement over this being their first visit.

One man in our group kept joking that he was going to push the woman he was with off of something at some point during the tour. She kept laughing and asking when...Eventually, people in the group started suggesting appropriate times. I offered to take pictures of a group of ladies and ended up teaching them how to use their digital camera. We talked with a man in Antler Village who was from the same area of England where my friend Hannah has spent time doing mission work.


You can read about the first part of our trip here. Next time, I'll be sharing pictures from our visit with family back in South Carolina.

Ask & Answer pt. 3

Friday, February 20, 2015

December 27, 2014

What's your favorite place you've ever visited?

Visiting Mount Vernon (in 2010) was the most surreal traveling experience I've ever had. I was in Baltimore for a conference and the option to make a side trip to Mount Vernon came up, but I found myself expecting that part of the trip to fall through at the last minute. Walking the grounds and looking out over the views was pretty amazing. I grew pretty fond of George Washington sometime over the last 10 years and I actually want to go back to Mount Vernon some day!

Of the years you have lived thus far - which year is the most memorable and why?

My 15th year was pretty memorable. It was a tough year in a lot of ways, but I started standing on my own two feet, I discovered what being a Christian was really all about (living for the glory of God in all areas of life), and things just started making sense.

What inspires you? 

God, His Word, and people that love Him inspire me the most. I love hearing about what people are learning from Him and how it is getting them through or challenging them to be more obedient to Him.

It's no secret that I'm also a fan of words, pictures, and food. Words communicate things, pictures commemorate things, and food plays a crucial role in bringing people together. I'm always gleaning from people who are masters in these areas.

What are three things that make getting through winter a little bit easier? 

Warm clothes - sweaters, socks, hats, and gloves are pretty much my favorite.

The shorter days - I never thought I'd say this, but I've really come to enjoy the slowness of winter.

Christmas - My favorite holiday distracts me while the last bits of fall are going away and since Christmas doesn't end for us until Epiphany, it has a way of giving me plenty of time to rejoice and celebrate the gift of Christ! Celebrations make everything better.

Now it's your turn! I'd love for you to leave your answers in the comments so that I can learn more about you too!

Thank you for supplying the questions that make this series possible! Anytime you think of a question, please be sure to leave it in the comments or an e-mail and I'll be sure to include it sometime.

Around the Table: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Today I'm joining The Quiet Place and Madison for a bit of recipe swapping! Last month, The Quiet Place began their "Around the Table" link up. This is a once a month link up that will feature different prompts all dedicated to our favorite recipes. This month's prompt is SOUP...

I bring you one of my go-to soup recipes. Chicken Tortilla soup is simple and it can feed a huge crowd. Since I always have everything on hand, I can whip up a batch at the last minute!

Ingredient gathering is where it all begins. I tend to use a lot dried spices, but feel free to use fresh onions, garlic, and oregano. You've got a lot options with the chicken too! You can use breasts, a pulled rotisserie chicken, or shredded leftovers from another meal. It's all up to you!

I wasn't joking when I said that this soup comes together quickly! It's basically just filling up a pot with the perfect combination and waiting for all the flavors to blend. It doesn't get much simpler than that! 

The diced green chiles are everything! I've got a few people who always pick them out, but the flavor they lend to this soup is really the star of the show. Trust me. Don't skip the green chiles.

And there you have it! A recipe that all the people around my table love. I hope the people around yours love it too!

Chicken Tortilla Soup
adapted from "The Christmas Kitchen" by Tammy Maltby

1 chicken, cooked and shredded OR 3 large chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 quart chicken broth OR 1 quart water and 1 1/2 Tbsp. Better Than Bouillon
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
smidge cumin
1 tsp salt
dash pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 small can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
1 (4oz.) can diced green chiles

Place broth, spices, tomato paste, water, and chiles in a large pot. Bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Turn down heat and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add chicken and heat through.

Shredded cheese, sour cream, avocados, and tortilla chips make great add ins!