Merry Christmas! With Peppermint Mocha!

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Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Mannnn what an amazing year it’s been! Through so many trials and tribulations, times of joy and times of peace, times of loss and times of restoration… God has just been so good! With the year coming to a close and many new things on the horizon in the upcoming year, I wanted to just leave a quick post to say… No matter where you are in life… if you’re on the mountain top of victory, or if you’re in the desolate desert, I pray that you continue to keep pressing on, having faith that God is alive and working! For me, I’m in a place where it seems a lot of my dreams have crashed and faded. Battles still raging with my body, doing all I can to try to pick up the broken pieces of a shattered life and put them back together again only to watch them crumble time and time again. I now come to a point where I’ve had to ask myself… “Am I going to give into doubt and give up, or am I going to continue to believe even when all seems hopeless… pressing on toward new journeys and adventure, knowing that somehow, some way…. God is creating a masterpiece of this mess?” Well, my answer is this… I’ve stopped try to pick up the pieces by myself. I’m handing the pieces of this shattered life and giving it to the only One who can make all things work for good! I pray that if you’re in that shattered dream boat (Lord willing, you’re far from that horrific place) that you’ll hold onto the promises of God and choose not to give up or give in. Know that God is with you. Now, being that in the new year, I’ll be taking on school, work (still looking/ believing for employment), and setting up ministry, I will be taking my posts from 1 per week to 1 per month (possibly every other week).

Now, on to the main topic of faith… with the holiday season I know many people are struggling. There are a lot of lonely people, people who have lost loved ones, people who don’t have enough money to eat, people who go out to get loaded just to avoid the pain… yeah, the season that is supposed to be filled with joy isn’t always for many. However, let me share something with you! This year marks a bitter sweet season in my life. You see, it was last Christmas that I received the call that my God Father was in the hospital. We lost him a few months later. Also, I’m a gift giver… one of the talents the Lord has given me is the gift of giving. Honestly, I really LOVE to give! With my job situation being the way it is… I didn’t know if gifts would even be in my vocabulary this year. Mom and I had a small Thanksgiving dinner, which was perfect being that it’s just her, little guy (my troubled loved one’d child we are caring for), and me. I began to pray… yes I know that Christmas is not about gifts…. but I HAD to ask… I asked the Lord to provide so I could at least get a gift for my mom, little guy and my God mom and for provision for food and other necessities. This I did with my mom. Then, I reminded her of how God blessed us with not just one, but THREE whole turkeys last year! I began to praise God for what He’d already done  and… I remembered, He provided a house sit for me this month and thankfully, I was able to use some of it for gifts!!! Plus, my aunt ordered a Christmas, turkey dinner for us. This past Sunday, I went to see a friend perform at her church. The show was beautiful and after was a gathering in the fellowship hall where I met the pastor. A total divine appointment! We talked about running and I was given the opportunity to share my testimony with him . After, some members pulled out a bunch of food donations and told everyone to help themselves! I was blessed with TONS of salad and bread! Then, the pastor opened up the freezer and… He told me to help myself. Inside was a whole bunch of frozen turkey!!!! I went home with enough food to share with my neighbors! Also, while waiting with my friends for my mom to pick me up, my mom had received a call from the church. They had presents for little guy! When she arrived she had three wrapped boxes for him AND two cards for our family. One had money and the other a grocery card. Apparently the Lord placed it on some of the members hearts to help us out for Christmas! WHAT A BLESSING!!! So, whatever you have faith for ask God. Know that He hears your cry, release your faith and watch Him work. I leave you with this question… What are you believing God for? God bless and MERRY CHRISTMAS! On to the recipe!

*EASY PEPPERMINT MOCHA*

Ingredients

-24oz of brewed Starbucks Columbia blend coffee

-8 oz non fat milk or almond milk heated to the “start” of a boil

-2 tbs Ghirardelli Chocolate syrup

-2 tbs DaVinci Peppermint syrup

-Whipped cream (I use non fat)

-1 small candy cane (crushed)

-2 small candy canes (whole)

Directions

In two 16oz mugs, 1 tbs chocolate and 1 tbs peppermint syrup, add 12 oz of freshly brewed coffee along with 4 oz of heated milk to each cup and stir. top with whipped cream, crumbled candy canes and stick one whole candy cane along the side of the cup so the stick in in the beverage and the hook hangs over the outside. Sit back by the fire with some good old “Blue Eyes” or Buble Christmas music playing and… enjoy!

To Everything There is a Time…. Plus gluten free Ginger bread!

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To everything… there is a season… the Bible states it, the Byrds even wrote a song about it… and well I’m going to talk a little about it! Lol! Seasons, seem to have been changing like whirlwind around me… at times, I thought was so alone I couldn’t bear it, times when there were so many people around that I just wanted to be alone, times of peace, joy, birth, death, feast ,famine, and my most recent one… a time to just plain GROW UP!!! You see, for a long time I somehow got this great idea that God was going to just drop a miracle in my lap. A giant, sudden, fix all my problems MIRACLE! When, In reality… I don’t even deserve it! To be honest…  here I am, 31 years old, practically living off my mom and wining about some of the most stupid things… and… in my spirit, I felt the Holy Spirit say, “why don’t you JUST GROW UP!” No really… so, along with the joyful chaos of final rehearsals and performances in the Hilltop Community Church’s “Singing Christmas Tree” this past week (which was an AMAZING production), I made some choices in regards to school and work that.. well… LORD WILLING will have me on a path to freedom I so desperately crave! If you think about it… I was running around doing races and running around doing this and that for other people, but when my own life is a sinking ship, that’s not a good testimony! So, in my attempt to not only help myself, but to set a good example to little guy and to give my poor mom a break from bearing the burden of me (and that can be rather large at times), I’ve set out on a scholastic journey, gotten more serious about my job search, and have begun the blueprints of a project that will remain on the “DL” for now. What will come of this? Only God knows. However, I WILL tell you this… I refuse to give up on life! I refuse to settle for anything less than accomplishing all that God has for me to do while I’m here. Most of all, I REFUSE to remain childish and expect miracles when I’m not willing to put in the footwork to make it happen! As for running and racing… I’m focusing on finding answers and getting my body back into balance. IF I race again (which my soul so desperately longs to do) it will be in God’s time. Surrender is ever so bitter sweet! In closing I just want to say… If you have goals and dreams, give them to God, let Him work. I’ve done just that… and…. I hope ya’ll will continue to join me in seeing what He decides to do! This weeks recipe, gluten free Ginger Bread Cookies!  God bless and have an amazing week!

Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookies

(Recipe modified from minimalistbaker.com)

~Ingredients~

-1 free range egg

-1/2 cup dark brown sugar

-3 Tbs molasses

-1/2 cup non-fat or lowfat plain Greek yogurt

-3/4 tsp ginger

-1/2 tsp cinnamon

-1/4 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp gluten free baking soda

-1 1/2 cups brown rice flour (or gluten free flour of your choice)

~Directions~

In a large bowl, mix Greek yogurt, sugar, molasses, egg,and spices and mix on low-med until thoroughly mixed. Slowly add flour and mix with a spoon, you may also use your hands, making sure dough is no longer too sticky yet not too firm. Chill dough in fridge over night. the following say, preheat oven to 350 degrees, get a cutting board or other flat space fit to roll dough, sprinkle some gluten free flour on the rolling space as well as the pin to keep them from sticking to the dough. Roll dough until about 1/8 inch thick, cut into desired shapes and use a floured spatula to transfer them to a cookie sheet (sprayed with butter flavor cooking spray). Bake for 8  min or until edges are slightly golden, then let cool for about 20 min and transfer to a rack where you can add some powdered sugar or even decorate with some cream cheese icing!

Sweetmint Hot Chocolate…and Praise Praise Praise

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1 Thessalonians 5:18New King James Version (NKJV)

18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Have you ever been in a position where it seems that Murphy’s law seems to have flooded your life? Everything from financial struggles to family woes and health issues… your world seems to have hit the perfect point in the domino chain to set chaos off in every direction of your life and you’re standing there like… “Whhhhat?” Well…. yeahhh that is something I know all to well! Here it is, yet another week has gone by and this time… a midst the struggles I learned something that helped change my perspective, thus lifting my spirit and giving me hope despite what I face. You see… as we head into another holiday (Christmas), my family and I face the struggles with not being able to see my troubled loved one (due to her addictive behavior), my troubled loved one’s little guy (living with my mom and me) showing signs of aggressive behavior as he battles emotions he (as a 19 month old) can’t yet verbally express, the loss of a VERY treasured loved one (5th death I’ve experienced in the past year), mom and me being informed that we may have to do some major life changes in order to keep little guy (should my troubled loved one decide not to straighten up by March), my search for work, battles with the nagging injury that has put a damper on my running and racing career/ ministry, going to doctors, seeing a counselor to help me deal with the stress from the tidal waves that just seem to keep hitting my family and me… man… a few weeks ago, I found myself depressed and wanting to hide. I was angry with God, myself, the rest of the world and…. the Holy Spirit prompted me to look for a book that I had received from K-LOVE called “From Prison to Praise.” Right away,I (being the visual learner that I am) got a visual of where it was and I headed for my closet, pulled out this timeless classic and… began to read it for the first time. My breath was taken away! For about five years, I’ve had this book thinking I was supposed to give it to someone else, because, after all… I was never in the military… been to jail but not prison…. there’s no way that I could relate to this book! Or so I thought! Little did I know, I’d been in a prison to my circumstances. I’d allowed my attitude to be soured by my circumstances instead of seeing it through a Kingdom set of eyes. You see it’s true that the enemy can’t attack us without permission from God (Job 1:6-12). So, what do we do when that attack comes??? Think GIDEON! This man defeated a huge army with a minuscule army of his own HOW? He PRAISED! He trusted what God told him to do, reduced the number of men under his command and worshiped his way into victory by the power of God! When we praise God despite the impossibilities that surround us, your problems will fade and a sense of peace and joy will overtake you. Why? Because you’re taking your eyes off of your problem and saying, “God, I know this attack was not from you, but YOU DID permit it. For whatever reason You’ve allowed this, I choose to praise You and trust that You will work all things out for my good!(Rom 8:28)” Your problems may worsen, but continue to praise and somehow, some way… God WILL bring the victory! HOLD TIGHT CAUSE IT’S A COMMIN! In closing I’ll say this… while my troubles haven’t decreased…. my joy HAS increased. Financial problems still loom, issues with my troubled loved one… yup… still there, jogged 2 miles and felt the pain AGAIN, however what is no longer there is the sense of despair and anger. I now have peace, joy and hope knowing that God is in control and WILL come through! Be encouraged, be blessed and know that God is with you and with Him Murphy HAS NO LAW! Now, onnnn to the recipe!

Sweetmint Hot Chocolate (For two ❤ )

~Ingredients~

-2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk

-4 heaping tsp Hershey chocolate syrup

-1 See’s Candy Candy Cane (crushed)

-Nonfat whipped topping (I like this because it’s sweeter and has less calories than regular)

~Directions~

Place almond milk in a sauce pan and heat until it reaches a light bubble of a boil =) Add chocolate syrup and half of the crushed candy cane. place into two mugs, get some whipped cream going on the top and sprinkle crushed candy cane on top! Enjoy every last bit!

Pumpkin Pie Granola and Words From the Heart

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Hey ya’ll! I hope you had a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving! Mine was… not what I planned, however…. it was amazing none the less. Over this past week I, once again, thought I was going to be able to run outside again and start rebuilding a good training program, but… life has its ways of throwing curve-balls.My heart sank this week as many of my friends enjoyed their Thanksgiving Day racing…. ohhhh the Autumn races… my favorite time of year to run and race… this year, again… I was forced to sit on the sidelines.  At the same time… I chose to have a good attitude and cheer the running community on, and I was blessed none the less. The day was spent making a small dinner for mom, little guy, and me and… I actually felt ok enough to jog a little outside in our local park. Behind me, little guy came running along… ohhh how I was wanting to do the turkey trot with him this year for his first race (being that it had a kids’ run afterward), but God redeemed what was lost right there in the park! WHAT a blessing! So, I guess this week, despite the troubles, God has been there! I mean… so I haven’t been able to run and race like I’d been wanting so badly, no… I didn’t get to spend this holiday with my troubled family member like I did when she was on the right path… but least I got to run with little guy, spend the day with mom and him (who mean the world to me), and… I’m getting ready to perform in our church’s Christmas program which will be my first time acting in a loooong time! Will I run and race again?… I choose to stand firm and believe that God will provide all that I need to rehabilitate and get back out there… in the mean time, I’m choosing to keep my chin up and focus on positive, forward motion. This season I’m facing… seems trying… believe me… there have been times that between the losses of loved ones, financial struggles, battles with health where I’ve truly felt like God had abandoned me, but it’s also where I’ve found that He’s closer than ever before. There have been days where I didn’t want to go to church…. today was one of them  (yet I went and was blessed), days when I couldn’t stand to wake up and face another trying day, but each day I’ve learned truly is a blessing. Once I got that in my head, it’s made every day worth facing and it helps me hold onto the hope that God truly will work all things out for the good. Wherever you are… whoever you are…. I don’t know what battles you face (if any at this current time)… what I do know is, there’s a God who truly is bigger than anything you could ever face and who loves you more than anyone could ever love you! If you’re hopeless… ask Him to give you hope and He will. He gives me hope every time I look into little guys face, it helps me believe that my troubled loved one just might turn herself around to be the mommy I know she can be! If you need love… ask Him! He’ll give it! He’s given me love through my mom, little guy, and my close friends. If you’re lonely…. ask Him to keep you company and He’ll send heaven to invade your room and hold you tight! He’s done this for me during some of my darkest hours when no one was there to console me and He’ll truly do it for you! If you need provision… just ask Him and He’ll do above and beyond all that you could ask or think. He’s done this countless times for me… just read over some of my previous posts and you’ll see He’s always come through! Today, I’ll close today by giving you one FINAL pumpkin recipe =) Pumpkin Pie granola! Ya’ll have an amazing week!

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*Pumpkin Spice Granola*

INGREDIENTS

-1Cup rolled oats

-1Cup quick oats

-1 tsp roasted flax seeds

-1/3 cup crumbled walnuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds mixed

-1/2 cup dried cranberries and/ or raisins

-1/2 cup pumpkin butter (recipe in my previous blog/ click on hyperlink)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all dry ingredients thoroughly, then add pumpkin butter. Spray a cookie sheet evenly with cooking  spray and set aside. Mix until dry ingredients are coated and little clusters are formed. Spread clusters out on cookie sheet, place in oven checking every 5 min to mix and turn on sheet letting bake for 15-20 min or until clusters are golden. Place on a rack to cool, then remove from tray and put into a tupperware container. Enjoy as your am cereal in some froyo, to top a morning parfait… the list goes on!