21 Things to Make You Smile

good things list + notebook

Last Wednesday (I think) I had the worst day.  I was feeling very sick as result of the terrible red devil in my uterus, I had cried uncontrollably the night before (about nothing in particular of course, stupid period.) making my eyes all puffy and blue and  I didn’t sleep much at all and, on top of it all, work was CRAZY! My Wednesday sucked. But, all I could think about was a post I saw by Leona Lane called Write a List of Good Things. In Rene’s post, just as the title suggests, she wrote a very long list of really good things. Things that gave her comfort, laughter and smiles. It was such a great reminder or two things.

The first is how blessed we are. Here, in America, we have so very much! Even those who don’t have very much have an opportunity to change that or at the very least have a warm bed and hot food and unlimited access to God’s word. We are so blessed and how very much we take for granted!

Secondly, I was reminded how much power lies in our words. Whether to encourage or discourage, our words mean things and there is always someone listening. Rene’s words gave me comfort days after I read them! It is not like they were words of a theologian or a prophet, they were the words of a women sharing what is on her heart and people listened. Take this second thought however you’d like; take it to be encouragement to stand up for what is right; take it to mean that we should think twice about what we say; take it to give you encouragement in that whoever you are, whatever your background you have the power to effect the lives of many. Me, I see them all and I am overwhelmed with encouragement and it is a beautiful thing.

So, in response to Rene’s wonderful list, I thought I would create one of my own.

spiced cider.

autumn leaves.

God’s word.

an infant’s belly laughter.

a friends hug.

fluffily goose down comforter.

my husband’s kiss.

an accomplished to-do list.

freshly baked … anything!

an adorable mug filled with hot tea.

a cleaned home.

roasted pumpkin seeds.

ink pens.

prayer.

sharpened pencils.

artwork.

bouquet of flowers,

rain.

ribbon.

oatmeal.

the way leaves crunch under autumn boots.

Today, I pray your day be better than my Wednesday, and if it is not then think of 21 things to make you smile.

In Sharing // 4 of 7 in a Series on Vulnerability

Sharing isn't just for kids

If you missed the part one through three you can catch up here.

vulnerability // part four

“Your relationship with God should be personal, never mistake that for being private.” – unknown

We can learn two things from the above quote. The first is that God craves a personal relationship with you. He knit you together in your mothers womb! He made you to be you, and he is deeply in love with you. Relationships require time, love, patience, care and sharing even the most intimate of thoughts. You have to allow yourself to be vulnerable, open up and put the work in.  Secondly, God wants you to be vulnerable enough to share that hard work! He wants you to talk about your struggles and triumphs with people. He wants you to fellowship and build relationships with others. Relationships that require time, love, patience, care and sharing even the most intimate of thoughts! The things God does in your life do not live to their full potential if they are kept quiet. Can you imagine if Mary (Jesus’ Mom) and Mary Magdalene didn’t share that Jesus had risen?

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” – Matthew 28:8-10

Mary and Mary Magdalene’s fears were present, but their joy – the joy of Christ – overcame those fears. God asks us to surrender our fears and be overwhelmed with His pure love and ultimate joy. Our God is not a quiet God, and as women of God neither should we be! Allow Him to speak through you. Nothing God does is mundane, don’t disrespect your creator and think that your testimony isn’t powerful, that is a lie straight from Satan. You have a powerful testimony, a beautiful story and you have the God who will give you courage enough to speak those words. We are called to speak and do so in faith and with wisdom! Words mean things and are precious.

“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” – Proverbs 31:26

Last Sunday my Pastor shared some thoughts on a popular quote, and I was so pleased with what he had to say.

“Preach the gospel to everyone, and if necessary use words.”

He recognized the deep value in this quote and then said that while our character has such influence on how we show God’s love, it is our words that people hear. While God is a mighty and infinite God, I don’t think it likely that a complete stranger will see you in the grocery store buying milk and eggs and think to themselves, “Wow, that stranger has such joy! I should repent the sin in my life, ask for forgiveness and accept Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for me so I can live forever with Him in heaven!” NO! Don’t you see? You have to have a real life conversation with someone.

The sad truth is that sometimes you really are the only bible people have ever read. This week I challenge you to share; to share your love of Christ in words and in deeds, to open up and tell someone your testimony, to allow yourself to be vulnerable for the sake of your creator.

Lately // #waketomake

make beautiful things

(click the photo above to see more prints by The Higgins Creative)

Lately, I have been inspired. My house is clean and painted, I have a work space, I have a goal in mind and I just want to make things! It is such a good feeling. I talked about my summer already (here), but can I just say again how grateful I am for it. It was difficult, but I believe God is was just further preparing me for what’s next and I am so very honored.

// In other news my birthday is only one month away and my dear husband got me my present early! The box set of The West Wing!!! I am just so happy anytime I think about it I have to resist the urge to talk in a really high-pitched voice at excessive volumes and jump up and down. I must admit, I am not always very good at preventing it. I just love this show too much.

// I have been working on a bible-in-a-year plan through my bible-gateway app.  I read The Great Divorce by C.S.Lewis and really enjoyed it.

// I made the worlds best hot chocolate, skillet brownies, pumpkin muffins and pumpkin oatmeal cookies. We roasted marshmallows over a plate full of the light candles and replaced Oreo cookies for the gram crackers.

// And, lately, I have taken a LOT of pictures.

The end.

Follow me on instagram @mrsdusty_road.

Lessons Taught Over Steamed Milk and Espresso // How are you?

I am a barista at a local coffee-house in the beautiful PNW and I do so enjoy it. I have drunk more caffeine than the human body should consume; burnt my hands on steam wands countless times; spilt espresso on every article of clothing I own; laughed so hard I spewed latte all over the place and I have learned so much. But, God has a sneaky way of teaching you more than meets the eye in these lives of ours.

Anyone who has ever worked in any sort of customer service job knows that you meet some… umm… interesting people. The other day I met a women whom I thought fit into this category perfectly. To be honest, part of me still does. I do not know her name, I can barely remember her face, but I remember her drink order (16oz hemp milk chai latte) and most importantly I remember her words.

I greeted her with exhaustion and a little frustration from the last several hours masked by a perfectly crafted smile to hide it all. With all the cheerfulness and genuine kindness I had inside of me I asked her,

How are you doing?

If I could have seen inside her head I am sure I would have seen her climbing up on to the top of the world biggest soap box as she cleared her throat to give it to me straight.

“Let me give a piece of advice I have given several people.” She began with an unforeseen friendliness on her lips, “You can’t ask me how I am doing unless you really want to know.”

“That is why I asked you, I really do want to know.” I responded with a smile.

“No. You don’t.” She said as a matter of fact, with a smirk in her eyes.

She went on to tell me of all the other things I could have said to greet her just as pleasantly, but with a more honest intent. Although the smile on my face never said otherwise, I was angry with her. I was hurt that she did not believe my sincerity. I truly did ask her with full intent of deeply listening to whatever it was she had to share. I genuinely wanted to know.

 “I really do want to know, Ma’am. God calls us to love others, and sometimes it is much easier to talk to a stranger.”

I am still not sure if she was skeptical or impressed by my response, and to be perfectly honest it doesn’t matter. We talked a bit longer about the matter before I wished her a fabulous day and she was walking away sipping on her hemp chai.  As she walked away I was still bothered and I felt a little-up-in-arms about the whole ordeal. At first I thought she was just being rude.

“I am sure a lot of people do just ask for the sake of to making conversation, but not me.” I thought defiantly.

 The day went on as usual, 5:30pm rolled around and I locked up and went home. And that was that, I thought nothing more of it and chalked it up to another “interesting” customer.

The next day everything she said hit me like a ton of bricks. We were in the middle of a very busy rush at Mud Bay Coffee and I was at the register.

“Hello.” I would say with a smile, “How is your day?”

“Good, how is your’s?” they would respond.

“Good, a bit frantic at the moment, but good.” I said back.

I was like a broken track record. I didn’t even realize what I was saying! I just said it because, well, that’s what you say when you see someone. I was in shock. I was doing everything she said I would.

For a second I was angry at her again, but this time because I saw the truth in what she said. I began to think about all the people who we don’t spend the time to sincerely listen. I was thinking about how nobody has the time to sincerely listen to everybody and i was thinking of the value and importance of the question, “how are you doing?”.

This is what I came to.

THINK AHEAD.

Yes, that is a good question to ask people will honest intent, so ask! But, be ready to listen. Be ready to hear the hard things and to pray for and encourage the stranger you asked. Don’t ask when you are in the middle of a rush at work, don’t ask as you walk past someone in the hallway and never ask if you are in a bad mood.  Ask when you have the time to listen, respond and love. It’s okay not to ask! Sometimes, we really are just to busy! Don’t lie to someone by making them think otherwise.

ANSWER HONESTLY.

When someone asks you, “How are you doing?” or “How is your day?” answer honestly. Be kind, this isn’t an opportunity to vent to a stranger until you are blue in the face, this is an opportunity to show God’s love – even in your bad days! Answer with the truth, don’t sugar coat it, don’t lie.  Be vulnerable enough, just as Jesus would, to open up and allow them to listen, respond and pray for you!  God really does call us to love and be loved. This is part of that! Brace yourself, ask for God’s guidance and talk.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies by THROWING PINECONES

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies-16 Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies-39

Okay, guys, before you even pre-heat your oven take the butter our of your fridge in advance. It needs to soften! I had a struggle and a half, because I didn’t read the recipe in advance. So, here is your chance. Go. Now. Take it out of your fridge. But, if you are like me and totally forget, or don’t allow enough time for it to soften (despite ample warning!), have no fear! Just cut the sticks of butter in half or in fourths if you’re in a hurry and seal tightly inside a zip-lock bag. Place bag in a warm bowl of water and it will quicken the softening process. You’re welcome.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/3 cups oatmeal
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Butter/Sugar Mix

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar

Wet Ingredients

  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Optional Choices
  • 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup craisins (and/or raisins)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 // Mix together dry ingredients, set aside.
2 // In a mixing bowl blend butter and sugars until fluffy.
3 // Mix in the wet ingredients to the butter/sugar mix.
4 // Add in the dry ingredients and mix well.
5 // Add semi-sweet chocolate chips, craisins and nuts.
6 // Grease cookie sheet and Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes, longer if you want them a bit less chewy.
Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies-62

In Trusting // 3 of 7 in a Series on Vulnerability

vulnerability in trusting

If you missed the part one and two you can catch up here.

vulnerability // part three

My goal for this series on vulnerability is to show the value and importance of healthy vulnerability in an applicable way. Yes, there is a lot of “big pictures” to be considered when talking about confession and learning, but my focus is on the smaller picture. Like the two before this, I went into the topic of trust with that same mind set, but was quickly stopped at a halt. When you open your bible looking for what God says about trusting people he straight up says, “DON’T!” . . .

Jeremiah 17:5 (NIV)

This is what the LORD says

“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the LORD.

To understand these harsh words let me bring you back to a point I made in the first post of this series. Guys, we are a broken people! Our hearts are prone to wickedness and sin. Therefore, we know that people are not worthy of our complete trust. Ever.

In today’s world this sounds incredibly rude. To say that all people are evil and not deserving of our trust is a bold and outrageous thing to say to the ears of most. But if there is ever truth in anything, there is truth in that. God himself is the only one deserving of our trust. He is the only one who will never fail us, never mislead us and never let us down. As God’s children we know this to be true.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:4-5

This is the big picture.

The smaller picture in this case feels a little less specific. While God may not say to trust people we are to love them. That he says over and over.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 (NIV)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Here, God tells us to always trust and earlier he said to never trust his people. But I must ask, what is the power behind love. What is the true, most pure definition of love? The answer is God himself. God is love. (1 John 4:8) So, in trusting God’s people we must experience love, we must experience Him and trust in Him and Him alone. He will guide us.

On a smaller scale trust is a delicate thing, one easily broken and painstakingly healed. Often times, because we place our trust in man, there is a certain fear that follows trust. Fear of lose, fear of failure, fear of worthlessness. God also speaks against such fears!

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

While yes, placing our whole trust in man is foolish, there is something to be said about being vulnerable enough to face your fears and open up to someone in this way and love them; trust them.

In my family we were always taught that when you let someone borrow something to not expect it back and if by happen chance they do return it, in whatever condition they return it in, it is a blessing. Sometimes I think trusting people is similar. Yes, we should trust them, we should open ourselves up and let people in, but not without asking God to guide us all the while. If you don’t involve God in where you place your trust your trust will be broken. Our full trust should be placed in God, who rules over everything, who created everything, who loves everyone, he will never break your trust and he will heal your trust broken by man.

In Learning // 2 of 7 in a Series on Vulnerability

vulnerability in learning

If you’ve missed something you can catch up here.

vulnerability // part two

Learning is hard. Allowing myself to be vulnerable enough to welcome potential embarrassment, failure and disappointment is a job I’m not partial to welcoming. The thing is, simply confessing and apologizing just isn’t enough. God calls us to be better than that. Like I said, it’s hard.

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? James 2:14

James teaches us that our faith without deeds is dead. In the same way words must be followed by action. It is on a smaller scale is where I believe many of us struggle. There is so much room for embarrassment, failure and disappointment. It is a real test of character to be able to learn well. The question you should be asking yourself is: Can people see the Jesus in the way I learn?

As a child I fought tooth and nail with my parents about my spelling words. I was (and still am) terrible at spelling and I always had to study extra hard. I knew there was an issue, but the work to solve that issue was hard for me to face. I spent many hours with my mom and dad angrily repeating the spellings, many hours of claiming, “well, this is how my teacher spells it!” and many hours crying and crying due to pure frustration. And it’s all I remember now.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. (1 Corinthians  13:11)

Now, we are adults.  Let’s act like adults. Men and women of God. Let’s accept that fact that we are wrong, and work toward growth. We are no longer children that won’t admit we can not spell. We are now adults that have the power to both admit to and correct consistent misspellings. This is the larger scale to this lesson.

See, it is on the a larger scale that we know we are saved by God’s grace and we need His perfect teaching. On a larger scale we know we can never reach perfection. On a larger scale we know we are sinners and will always be broken, but dare I say it again, “Faith without deeds is dead!”. Can people see Jesus in the way you confess? Can they see Jesus in the way you learn? For some people you are the only bible they will ever read. Let’s welcome vulnerability and learn like we were created to learn.