Monday, January 25, 2010

Heaven

On Saturday, Mel and I saw the movie, The Lovely Bones. If you don't know the premise, it's about a teenage girl who is murdered and is stuck in the "inbetween." She helps her family to figure out who killed her. Although it is a well made movie, we went to see it because we had read the book awhile ago. It is a hard movie to watch, so I don't recommend seeing it unless you read the book first.
The reason I'm blogging about this, is it really got me thinking about Heaven. Heaven is portrayed as a cornfield and other never ending fields with green hills, etc. Everyone just runs around, free as can be. Plus, they go back and forth between Heaven and the "inbetween." They get to go to Heaven whenever they are "ready."

It looks like an interesting place, but it is NOTHING like the Heaven I picture. But after I started thinking about it...even after reading this book, it is so hard to even begin to comprehend what Heaven will be like. Will we sleep or eat? Will we recognize anyone? Will Heaven be the same for everyone? I don't think it's that important for me to really be able to visualize Heaven. What is important is that I remember that Heaven is a place of neverending joy! Who cares what it looks like? I will forever get to be with my Saviour who loves me. What an awesome thing to look forward to! But...until then...I can't help but think about how I can serve Him on Earth to make sure as many people as possible will be able to experience Heaven!

"Heaven is too great, hell is too horrible, eternity is too long that we should putter around on the porch of eternity." ~ John Piper

"Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither. "
C. S. Lewis

What do you picture when you think of Heaven?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Recipe of the Week #7

Last week, I found this cookbook at Borders. My roomies and I have been having tons of fun trying new recipes! Here's the first one I tried. Lots more to come!

Chicken Salad Dijon with Grapes and Apple
1 lb chicken breasts
3 teaspoons olive oil
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons fat free plain yogurt
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/3 c chopped celery
1/3 c grapes, cut in half
1/3 c chopped red apple
Rub the chicken all over with 1 tsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on the grill and cook for 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until the chicken is no longer pink. Cut into bit sized pieces. (I cut it into pieces first, and then cooked it)
In a large bowl whisk together the remaining olive oil, yogurt and mustard. Add the chicken, grapes, celery and apple. Gently toss. Season with salt and pepper.
I ate it in a lettuce wrap, everyone else had a pita. Sooo yummy! Enjoy. :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Recipe of the Week #6

Greek Chicken and Penne

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package penne pasta
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts in water
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large pot with boiling salted water cook penne pasta until al dente. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat melt butter, add onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add chopped chicken and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to medium- low. Drain and chop artichoke hearts and add them, chopped tomato, feta cheese, fresh parsley, lemon juice, dried oregano, and drained penne pasta to the large skillet. Cook until heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Serve warm.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Got Sleep?

Tonight I had an awesome time of worship and prayer with some friends. We are excited/scared about the adventure that is the next few months! (more on that later). One of my favorite parts of the night was just sharing about the things that have been keeping us up at night, and praying for them. We all have those things that are on our hearts and minds. The question is, are we just worrying? Or are these things that break God's heart, too? I felt like blogging about this because I love sharing my heart with you all. And this way, you can be praying for all these things! Here are just a few of the things that have been keeping me up lately...

Haiti
Dakshin Barasat and the 30 amazing girls that changed my life(I know, I am behind on India posts)
Money and the lack of it
Will my students catch up enough to make it through high school successfully?
Am I a good teacher? How can I be better?
Nate Kaeding and the Chargers(haha)
Am I following God's will or just doing whatever I want?
Worrying about the triathalon and whether or not I can actually do it
Relationships and patience while waiting for whoever God has for me
Ways I can be more Christ like at work(this one is huge for me)
If I will ever figure out how to change gears on my new, fancy bike (I'm not even kidding...)

Some of these things are good things keeping me up and others I worry about. Worrying does nothing for us, as I continually remind myself. Making this list has really encouraged me to give those things to the Lord. Generally, things that keep me up at night are things I can't control. I want to be kept up at night because I want to pray for things that break God's heart, like an unsaved friend or those in need. Later on, we learned a song called Yielding. I loved it, and it was exactly what I needed to remind me of who is in charge.

I am letting go
Of all I am that keeps me far from You
I am not my own
For all I hold, I'm yielding now to You

I yield my plans, I yield my dreams
I yield my life to You my King

All I have been, all I could be
I place it in Your hands
I'm yielding all I am to You
To You

What has been keeping you up at night?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Video

video video

The dance in the first video was my favorite. I wish I had gotten the whole thing on video. I had the chorus of that song stuck in my head for the whole 2 weeks I was there. The girls would always laugh and dance with me, whenever I attempted to put the words and the dancing together. :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

India: Part 3

Yesterday at church I was given the chance to share about my time in India. I got to show some pictures and just share about my life changing experience. I had a fun time dressing up in my Indian clothes and remembering everything great about India. A lot of people came up to talk to me after, it was fun to answer questions and encourage people to pray. God is good! It also reminded me how behind I am in blogging my trip...so here I am...a short post, so I can be rested for work tomorrow!

These girls are practicing for the Christmas program I'm about to tell you all about....
This is the village where the school is. These are just a few shots, and they don't even come close to describing what it is really like. It is a place with character, but a lot of poverty. The train comes through on the hour(that's another story). On my second day in India, Julia took Jen and I shopping for Punjabis to wear to the Christmas program that night. These are a few of the pictures we took, as I walked around Dakshin Barasat for the first time.



Jen and I became close to these two girls while we were in India. On the left is Noringina(Esther) and on the right is Shannarah(Julia). These two girls are the leaders of the two hostels. They are so on fire for the Lord, I looked up to them!

My second night in India, the high school girls put on a Christmas program. The girls sang and danced, there was a speaker and they showed the Jesus film. It was an awesome celebration of Jesus' birth! There were thousands of people from the village that came and were able to hear the gospel. It was such a fun thing to be a part of. Much of the money I raised for this trip went to pay for this program. They almost cancelled it, when they heard we were coming. So awesome how things work out!! I have some video from this night. I'll have to upload it on the next post.


Jen and I all dressed up in our fancy Indian clothes and crazy amount of bling. Thanks for reading! Lots more to come...sorry it is taking so long.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Praying in the closet and in the spirit

I'm not big on new year's resolutions, but I have recently been feeling like I am not very faithful in my private prayer life. I feel like I pray a lot, but usually with other people. I have not been good about the type of prayer described in Matthew 6:1-5.

I subscribe to John Piper's podcasts. This sermon could not have come at a better time. He describes the difference between disciplined and spontaneous prayer. He proposes that most of our generation has been falling away from disciplined, private prayer. Piper believes both types of prayer are important, and that there is a place for both. One interesting point he brought up was that he hears people say "Spontaneous prayer is more aligned with what the gospel teaches." And the Gospel does teach about this type of prayer. But it also leads us to disciplined prayer. By doing it, we are obeying Him, we are desiring to receive more, and we are acknowledging that we know that all of our NEEDS are met. He said, "Jesus didn't come as the basis for some things we need, he came because he is all we need."

I have to know that when I give everything to God in prayer, I have to believe and trust in Him, to do whatever is best for me. It was such a great reminder of the fact that God is 100% on my side. He wants me to learn through trials and things, but he is always for me. Lately, I've been wondering why I feel like I don't know what God wants me to do in some situations. It is obvious now that maybe I haven't really been praying like I should. I yearn for that type of connection with God, and I am excited to try to be more disciplined in my life. At the end, Piper encourages everyone to incorporate some type of "closet prayer" in your life. The amount of time is up to you and God.

After the podcast, this song by David Crowder came on my ipod. God is there, and isn't letting go, ever. Because of this, I am excited to be more disciplined in my prayer life in 2010!

I wasn't planning on actually posting this, but I'm hoping you'll check out the podcast, too. It's a good one. :)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Recipe of the Week #5

Taking a little break from my stories about India to bring you my next recipe. I am at least 3 weeks behind on my weekly recipe plan, but that's ok. Here's the cookie recipe I made for our Christmas Cookie exchange...they were yummy!




Cream Cheese Cookie Cups
  • 1 (18 ounce) package refrigerated chocolate chip cooke dough
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar

Directions

  1. Cut cookie dough in half (save one portion for another use). With floured hands, press about 1 tablespoon of dough onto the bottom and up the sides of 12 ungreased miniature muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.
  2. Using the end of a wooden spoon handle, reshape the puffed cookie cups. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until blended. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar. Spoon into cookie cups. Store in the refrigerator.

India: Part 2

So...after a lot of praying and waiting, Ana Maria(founder of the school I was going to be working at) and Eva (another missionary) came to pick me up. My first experience in India was the amazing/crazy driving. I could already tell this was going to be an interesting 2 hour drive to the school. Check out the beginning of this video from when my friend Bobby visited a different part of India. It is just a small clip of the non stop honking and driving without lanes. Every type of vehicle I experienced in India was interesting, to say the least.

Most of you know that I wasn't really sure what I was getting myself into when I decided to go to India. I knew that I would be involved with kids, but I was pretty sure it would be at an orphanage. On the 2 hour drive from Kolkata to Dakshin Barasat, I learned all about what I would be doing.

I learned that I would be staying in a girls hostel, with about 30 junior high/high school girls. It wasn't an orphanage, it was a school, Maranatha School. The school serves 300 children from K-to class 10(the end of hs.) The 30 girls and 4 boys that live in the hostels are there year round. Most of them have been invited to the school to save them from bad home situations, early marriage and/or being sold into prostitution. Most of the younger kids were on Christmas vacation, so I was told that my job would be to mostly spend time with the older girls, because they don't get visitors very often.
This is the room I slept in, and a couple views from the roof of the school. The first few days in India were really, really difficult for me. I was recovering from not so fun jet lag(Kolkata is 13.5 ahead of California) and I was struggling with figuring out why God had sent me to India. For the first few days, I felt like I had raised money for people to send me on vacation. The missionaries treated us like kings and queens. There wasn't much to do at the beginning, nothing to build, nothing to help with. I spent a lot of those days in the Word and in prayer. I knew I was supposed to be there, but I was pretty confused about the impact God wanted me to have. It definitely wasn't a typical missions trip with a schedule and something to do at all hours of the day. It was comforting to know that Jen and Jarrod, the other 2 Americans visiting, felt the same way. I was so blessed to have some other people to share my experience with.


My first night in Barasat, the staff was preparing for a Christmas teacher appreciation breakfast the next day. I got to meet a few of the girls and help them decorate the room a little bit. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by this time, but I was so excited to be in a place I have always wanted to travel to!

These two wonderful ladies, Eva(from Brazil) and Elena(from Bolivia) are enjoying the Bollywood music videos on the t.v. Both of these girls turned out to be two of the most Godly and amazing women I have ever met. I remember praying while I was there, and asking God if I could ever be servants like they are.

Much, much more to come...

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

India Part 1

I'm back! These last 2 weeks have been amazing. It was full of fun, challenges and life changing experiences. I am going to try to blog about all the stories I have written in my journal. I'm going to have to do it in parts. Here's part 1! The traveling part. I left on December 19, 2009. It was a 15 hour flight from SFO to Dubai(the middle East).

The Flight wasn't too bad. I was sooooo excited to be going! I read The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks, Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale and watched 17 again. The flight felt long, but before I knew it, I was there!

15 hours later I was in Dubai. I've always wanted to go there, but I didn't get to leave the airport during my short 6 hour layover. I slept in a chair until 3:00 a.m, when my next flight left!
Does everyone put showers in their prayer rooms?
After 2 days of traveling, I arrived in Kolkata, India at 9:00 a.m on December 21st! As soon as I stepped out of the plane, I could tell how different India was going to be. I could smell the pollution and the poverty, and I have never seen an airport like the one in Kolkata. My plane came in an hour early, except I didn't know that. So I waited 45 minutes for my luggage, got passed the men with the big guns lol and headed outside to the craziness that is India. The hour I waited for Ana Maria and Eva to pick me up was, quite possibly, one of the scariest hours of my life.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Heading home...

Today (Friday) we left the school to head to Kolkata. All the girls were on vacation, but many of them came back to say goodbye. Many of them cried and kept saying things like "Don't forget us." "Keep praying for us." "Come back to visit soon!" We have only been gone for 2 hours, and I'm already missing them. Every single one of those girls had some kind of impact on me. I am so thankful for them and the opportunity to meet them.

Our new year's eve was awesome. We did a fun skit, played games and danced a lot! They all said that this was the best Christmas and New Years they've ever had, and we have to come back every year to plan...I'm not sure my family will agree to that. :) Thanks to everyone who has been praying while I've been gone. My flight leaves Saturday at 8:30 p.m., India time. I'll be at SFO on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. CA time. I'm looking forward to the 20 hour flight, so I can reflect on everything. God reaffirmed a lot of things for me...but more to come on that later. Can't wait to come back and blog all the awesome stories.

Keep praying for:
-safety while traveling
-my 8.5 hr layover in Dubai. They are giving me a hotel, but it's a little scary going out by myself at 1 a.m.
-The 30 girls from Maranatha school, while they are on vacation this weekend. Home life is rough for them. Often they are without food or shelter.

talk to you all soon!

P.S. Grandma...as soon as I get home, I'm cooking chicken every night, and posting them all here. :-p