Thursday, April 10, 2014

book review: "mended" by anna white

Mended is a collection of essays inspired by kintsugi, the Japanese art of beautiful repair. Kintsugi is based on the idea that broken things can be repaired, and once that process is complete they are even more beautiful than before. 

I've been broken. I know what it's like to feel shame at my weakness, to starve myself to be worthy, and to want to sleep forever. If I had to guess, I'd say you might be a bit broken too. 

But being broken is not the worst thing. We can be mended. Our cracks can become beautiful. We can be even better than new. 

This collection of essays focuses on the struggle of living with anxiety and depression, and how to also live with grace and faith in the midst of darkness. It is raw and honest, and does not provide any easy answer or gloss over the pain. It is a narrative of struggle, but also of prayer, of hope, and of rescue. 

There's an honesty in Anna's words that draws you in and makes you want to keep reading. Each section - while seemingly unrelated - flows in such a way to weave a story about healing and having the strength to get up each day. Anna mentions several times about being "enough" and being worthy. I think that's something we can all relate to. Of knowing we have God's love and don't have to do a thing to earn it. We just accept it. There's one line that stands out to me: "This is the great challenge: to be seen, accepted, and loved, I must first reveal, offer, and surrender." And I think there's great truth in that. We don't like to be vulnerable because we don't want others to think less of us. But it's through that vulnerability that we allow others to truly see us. Anna allows herself to truly be seen in Mended. Overall, I liked this book! It was a quick read but one to be savored; not rushed. 

I received a copy of this book for my honest review.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

recipe: brownie frosting

I made some brownies the other weekend and added some frosting. I've never put frosting on brownies before. I wasn't sure if you use regular cake frosting or if there's a special "brownie" frosting. So I googled it. I bought a box of brownie mix (and added some mini chocolate chips) and then put together this frosting. It was super easy. I added the rest of my chocolate chips to it before spreading it over the brownies. I made the brownies for a church event and wasn't able to see how they turned out. But several people told me the brownies were really good! I'll have to make them again so I can see for myself :) You can click here for the full recipe.

What you need:
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons cocoa
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup or 1 tablespoon honey (I used honey)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons milk (I used 2 tablespoons)

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

recipe: cookie dough fudge

I've never made fudge but this looked too good to pass up! I've heard stories about how tricky fudge can be and...they've proven true. I don't think I let the fudge base get hot off before adding the powdered sugar but it still tasted good! I took it to work and we ended up just eating it with a spoon :) Cookie dough is good in any form! What I like about the recipe is that - except for the half-and-half - I already had all of the ingredients. I think this could be one of those "I feel like baking" recipes that can be done on a whim. I'll try again to get the consistency right but again, what I made tasted pretty awesome! You can click here for the full recipe. I found another recipe that's the same but the I like the picture better :)

What you need:
Cookie Dough:
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons half-and-half
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Fudge Base:
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup half-and-half
- 4-5 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla 
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used the mini ones)

What to do:
"Line an 8-by-8 in baking pan with buttered aluminum foil. Combine butter and sugars in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Mix in vanilla, salt and half-and-half. Add flour and mix until incorporated. For the fudge base, combine brown sugar, butter, salt and half-and-half in a saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until butter is melted and brown sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Slowly stir in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until mixture is smooth and sugar is completely mixed in. Stir in vanilla. Add cookie dough and stir together. Let mixture cool to room temperature. Fold in chocolate chips and spread fudge into the prepared pan. Chill until set, about 3 hours."

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

a chat with habbakuk

I have a current favorite verse. It's Habbakuk 2:3. I did a little research on the background of this verse to help me better understand. And wow. Habbakuk is someone we can relate to! A lot of bad things were happening around Habbakuk - "he lived when there was great national corruption and distress, when the nation and land was filled with violence, with hatred, and with outbreaks of evil" (source). So God has told Habbakuk some things would happen but he's waiting on those to come about. This is where 2:3 comes in:

God's saying "hold on. It's coming. Wait for it." I like this verse! I have a few things in my life I feel God has promised me. I don't have them yet but I'm waiting on them. I've written them down and look at them, thanking God for them before they've yet arrived. And I know they're on the way! "...wait for it; it will surely come;". 
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

book review: "10 days without" by daniel ryan day

A rebellion against apathy. A strategy for action.

     Daniel Day could tell you all about his love for God and his desire to live as a follower of Jesus. Yet it took a simple but radical experiment to move from merely talking about it to actually living it. For ten days at a time, Daniel chose to abandon a certain "necessity" - a coat, his voice, shoes, media, furniture, legs, touch - and to blog about it to raise funds and awareness for organizations that are doing amazing things to make a difference in the world. And then he invited others to join him in the experiments and spread the vision. Together they served God and others - and experienced significant personal change in the process. Ten Days Without is the account of their life-altering adventures. 
     This compelling story and practical guide will equip you and your friends to break through walls of convenience and indifference. Join a movement that is confronting apathy and ignorance around the world to make an impact on people's lives in a God-honoring way. Ten Days Without is where good intentions end and making a difference in the world begins.

"Action must follow awareness." This is a book to challenge you to give up what's comfortable in order to make a difference. I liked this book and reading about Daniel's journey. I can't believe all of the things Daniel gave up! And it didn't just affect him. His wife and friends helped him along the way. His wife joined him on his Ten Days Without Shoes challenge. His kids tried to understand why he couldn't talk to them or hug them. And then there was how people responded to him. All of it comes together to tell one amazing story! Daniel has done what so many of us only think about doing. He saw need and actually did something about it. He chose to make time for things he saw as important. I think we all can learn from that. It's one thing to "like" a non-profit on Facebook whose goal is to help others but it's something else entirely to join them as they help others. Ten Days Without will help you think outside the box and get creative as you strive to make a difference for God. This was an easy read and one that will stick with me. 

I received a copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah for my honest review.

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Monday, March 3, 2014

willing to wait

I had the privilege to go to The Dream Center in 2008 for a short-term mission trip. I'm always super excited to hear about the amazing things they're doing and how God is using them! And they always have good Facebook statuses, including this recent one: "Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on the object we're waiting for." I needed this. There's something I've been praying about for a few years and know God is working it out but I've been tempted to "help" Him a bit, trying to make it happen sooner. I know I should be patient and trust His perfect timing but sometimes that's not so easy :) So coming across these words helped me. What I'm believing for is one of those desires you tuck away and keep close to you. It's not something I share with a lot of people. But I do have a handful of awesome people who are agreeing with me - and they'll be the first to know when the answer comes about! Because if you think about it, if you knew God was working on your answer and that it would be even better than what you can imagine, would you not want to wait until it was ready? Would you not want anything less? I know the waiting can be hard and you might want to give up and just settle. But don't. Trust God's timing and know He's working things out. Know He's orchestrating events in such a beautiful and amazing way - if only we knew. Be willing to wait. 

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

book review: "ingredients for success: 10 best practices for business and life" by joseph james slawek

What ingredients do you need to succeed in business and in life? Award-winning entrepreneur Joseph James Slawek shares 10 best practices for business leaders, which he draws from the teachings of Jesus. You'll learn what the Bible has to say about business, and how to:
- know, develop, and use your unique abilities
- use your talents responsibly or you'll lose them
- invest your talents faithfully for maximum return
- aim for excellence, not perfection

I like that this book isn't just for those who might own a business. It's advice for life. Slawek takes the parables from Matthew 25, creating his ten best practices: 
1. Boldly, yet compassionately, tell the truth.
2. Plan ahead but be ready for surprises.
3. Know, develop, and use your unique abilities.
4. Use your talents responsibly or you'll lose them.
5. Be ready for the accounting.
6. Invest your talents faithfully for maximum return.
7. Aim for excellence, not perfection.
8. Be strong and courageous.
9. Redistribute unused talents and resources.
10. Express gratitude to God and others.
Reading this has challenged me to do more - to be a "good steward" of my talents. "They [the five virgins who ran out of oil] lost the opportunity to be a part of the wedding because they didn't steward their resources responsibly." I liked the personal stories Slawek used through the book, helping to illustrate his points. This was an easy read, full of practical advice. He asked a question that stood out to me: "Have you taken the time and effort to grasp what your responsibility is? How are you going to fulfill it?" This is a book to get you thinking and then asking what you're going to do about it. Overall a good read and one I would recommend to others. 

I received a copy of this book from Handlebar Publishing for my honest review.

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