Secret Church (and why it's important that you go)

Friday, February 27, 2015

My church is hosting a Secret Church simulcast on April 24th.  We've been advertising it for about two weeks now, and when I found out the number of people that had registered already, my mouth dropped.  I was shocked.  Why weren't more people as excited about going to Secret Church as I was?

If you live in north Alabama or near a church offering the Secret Church simulcast, I think that it is SO important that you go!  I've made a list of just a few reasons why I think it's imperative that you make attending Secret Church a priority in your life.

For those of you who don't know, Secret Church is an intense Bible study led by David Platt that will last 6 hours.


Have you ever thought about how lucky we are as Americans that we get to openly walk into church anytime during the week without the fear of being arrested or maybe even killed?  Some people even "check in" at church and think nothing of it.  It's not like that all over the world.  Some of our brothers and sisters in Christ have to meet secretly in house churches.  And because they are meeting secretly, sometimes their meetings are sporadic so they last much longer than our churches in America.  Attending Secret Church should raise your awareness of what it's like to go to church "secretly" and worship for long periods of time as if you didn't know the next time you would be able to meet.


Secret Church will feature a special prayer focus the night of the simulcast.  Going along with my first reason, Secret Church will focus lots of prayers for an area of the world whose people experience persecution.  Have you ever really just prayed for the persecuted?  I know a lot of times I never think about those in other countries (and some here in ours) who are persecuted because of their faith and who aren't allowed to worship freely.  This is something that we all need to be more aware of so that we can pray for those who are persecuted.  We can't ignore situations in other countries just because we don't see it or experience it!  


I love listening to David Platt preach and reading his books.  His sermons are full of Biblical truth and his love for the Lord is evident.  When he pastored The Church at Brookhills, I used to download his sermons to listen to in my free time, and even now I'll download archived sermons to listen to as well.  I remember the first time I went to listen to his sermon I was in college and I saw that it was a little over an hour long.  The first thought that ran through my head was, "Wow, this is going to be long!"  After the sermon had ended, I wanted more.  Listening to a pastor who kept the Scripture as the #1 focus of the sermon is like feeding food to someone who has been hungry for so long.  It was like a breath of fresh air.  I guarantee that his 6 hour Bible study will fly by the night of Secret Church because it is evident that David Platt loves the Word of God, knows the Word of God, and lives by the Word of God.


David Platt recently released a book called Counter Culture.  In it Platt shows Christians that we don't need to be vocal only about issues like orphan care and sex trafficking.  As a Christian, how are you supposed to respond to a coworker who openly talks about her abortion?  Platt shows us how to respond with compassion and truth.  Secret Church will be tittled Christ, Culture, and A Call to Action.  Platt will be guiding us through Scripture where we not only learn about Christ, but where he challenges us to live for Christ in a culture where it's becoming increasingly politically incorrect to be a Christian.

Please visit my church's website to learn more about Secret Church AND register!  It's free and open to everyone!

A Healthy Tater Tot Casserole

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Casseroles are the epitome of the southern comfort food.  But they are also full of fat.  When I got engaged, one of the things I was excited to register for was the Cotton Country Cooking cookbook from the Morgan County Junior League.  I felt like it was such a rite of passage to get it.  My mom always cooked out of it and I couldn't wait to start cooking out of it for my family.  It was published in 1972 and has great recipes!  My sister pointed out a recipe in it that she had made, and I knew that I could make it healthy so that Dustin and I could enjoy it too!

This is a recipe that takes little to no time to prep.  The only think you have to wait on is cook time--but it's worth it!

Tater Tot Casserole (the healthy version)

1 lb lean ground turkey, uncooked
1 small onion (yellow or white), diced
1 can 98% fat free cream of chicken soup
1 can 98% fat free cream of celery soup
bag of frozen tater tots
1/2 can water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. With a spatula, evenly spread your turkey over the bottom of a 9x13 pan
3. Spread your diced onion over the turkey
4. Spread your cream of chicken soup over the onions
5. Evenly spread the frozen tater tots next
6. Spread the cream of celery soup over the tater tots
7. Pour 1/2 can of water over the casserole
8. Bake for 90 minutes!

I took this after we had eaten.  It's good!

We've got yet another snow day, so I probably will spend all day baking out of being bored!  Hopefully the warm weather gets here soon!!

Friday Favorites!

Friday, February 20, 2015

I'm trying something new this Friday and doing a Friday Favorites post!  I'm linking up with Andrea and Erika, so be sure to check out their blogs!


We're out of school today for weather and I'm loving it!  I slept in (which is why this post is later than usual) and I'm just going to relax and catch up on last night's Grey's and Scandal. And then I'll clean and do laundry while I watch my shows--I can't stay at home without cleaning ha!


I posted Wednesday that we've decided to build a house!  You can read more about that here.  We're standing in our empty lot, and I'm so ready for this crazy weather to stop so we can get to building!


Speaking of building, this is what I'm loving right now for the cabinet/counter top/hardware look.  Let me emphasize right now!  I know I have a little time until my decisions have to be finalized, but let's hope I don't change my mind too many times.


New York Fashion Week.  Need I say anymore?  I love that my Instagram feed has been bombarded with NYFW photos.  Maybe one day I'll be able to experience New York during Fashion Week!

Have a great (and hopefully warm) weekend!

We're Building a House!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

 It's official!!!  We finalized a contract with a builder and now we're building!!!  We're standing in the exact lot where our future home will be standing in a few months!  I can't wait to document this process--more for myself to be able to look back on in the years to come.

What made us decide to build?  
A couple of months into our marriage, we decided to start looking online at the housing options in our town.  We set our budget and had a list of certain things we each wanted--at least 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, one story (we hate our upstairs bedroom now), I wanted an area I could run in, and a spacious lot.  After a few months of looking, we decided to start touring homes once the new year started because we figured it would take us a while to find something.  We also couldn't move out of our apartment until our lease was up.  After LOTS of prayer and thinking, we've decided building would be best for us.  I can't wait to watch our house go up!

We have really been praying over this house!!  We want our house to be open for the church and we pray that God allows us to spread the Gospel through this house!

Chicken and Refried Bean Burritos

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Let me start by prefacing this recipe by saying that Dustin was not excited about me cooking another Mexican dish.  He's tired of Mexican, and I love it!  But when he finished eating his supper, he told me that he LOVED these burritos!  These are definitely husband-approved!  Oh, and did I mention they are healthy?!?  I love anything that's healthy and full of flavor--which these burritos are!  

Another reason why I loved this recipe so much?  It can really work with your schedule!  Since the chicken needs to be prepared before, it can be done the night before, the morning before, or when you get home from work.  It's great!

Chicken and Refried Bean Burritos
-about 2 cups prepared chicken (recipe below)
-can of fat-free or reduced fat refried beans
-can of Rotel (drained)
-1-2 cups reduced fat shredded fiesta cheese
-whole wheat/grain tortillas 
-olive oil or olive oil cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 425 and take out a cookie sheet and cover with foil and spray foil down with olive oil cooking spray.
2. Place your tortilla on a flat surface.
3. Spread your beans down the middle of the tortilla.
4. Spoon some of the Rotel down the middle.
5. Sprinkle some of the cheese on top of the Rotel.
6. Place your shredded chicken on top of the cheese and tightly roll your burrito. 
7. Place the burrito seam side down on the cookie sheet.  Heavily spray or brush with olive oil all of the burritos.  My recipe made 5 but could easily make 6.
8. Bake at 425 for 7-10 minutes or until burritos are crispy!

I served this with roasted cauliflower because I had a head of cauliflower in the fridge.  I would also serve it with sautéed green beans or a great salad.  This burrito was nice and crispy on the outside and so tender and moist on the inside.  I can't wait to make this again!

This is the chicken recipe:
-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
-1 TBS ground cumin
-1 TBS chili powder
-1 TBS garlic salt
-1 TBS onion powder
-1/4 cup water
1. Place your crockpot liner in the crockpot and turn on high.  If you don't use crockpot liners, spray generously with olive oil cooking spray.
2. Put in the chicken breasts (I use frozen) and pour in all spices and water.  
3. Cook for 2 hours and shred.  Set aside.

I cooked this chicken after church on Sunday, and after I shredded it, I put it in the fridge until later that evening when I was ready to make the burritos.  

Weekend Recap

Monday, February 16, 2015

This weekend has turned into a four day weekend for me!  It's been wonderful!  I started my weekend off on Friday by heading to the gym with my sister.  We met there at 6:45 AM to do a 45 minute spin class on the Peloton app.  We absolutely love this app!!  I know the biggest fad right now in the big cities is Soul Cycle.  We don't have anything like that in small town Alabama, so this app is the next best thing.  We can access this studio in NYC at any time for a spin class!  My favorite instructor is Nicole, and Rachel likes Jessica's classes!
We did one of Jessica's Throwback Thursday archived classes Friday morning.  It kicked our tails!!  I'm pretty sure we sat down for a total of maybe 12 minutes during the whole 45 minute class!

Then I headed to the doctor.  I knew I would be spending about two hours at the doctor so I brought along something to read.
I'm only about five chapters in but I'm really enjoying this book!  I've learned that as a Christian, we're all theologians--meaning we all have some knowledge of God.  I started learning about theology in college and I've enjoyed learning about it ever since then!  If you're ever interested in learning more about theology, make sure that whatever you're reading is scripturally-based and of sound doctrine.  This is just a short list of some of my favorite authors and/or pastors: John Piper, Francis Chan, David Platt, Tim Keller, and Paul David Tripp.

Friday night, Dustin and I had our Valentine's dinner.  Since we waited too late to make reservations, we ended up going to Las Vias in Decatur because Dustin had never had the creamy jalepeno sauce and I knew he would love it.  He loved it!  He even got extra to pour over his nachos.  We went home after and exchanged presents.  I got him a Drake shirt that's similar to the Columbia PFG shirts, and he got me a Fitbit Charge HR!!!  I've been wanting one so bad!  I was saving my birthday money to by myself one when they came out in January, but I ended up using that money to buy Dustin a gun for Christmas.  I plan on doing a post about it soon once I figure out how to utilize everything it offers!

Saturday, we started off Valentine's Day by heading to our local park to walk and run a little. We bundled up because it was VERY cold and I tried to figure out my Fitbit a little more.  After doing my weekly meal planning and grocery shopping, Dustin and I hit the road for Nashville.  His friend (who was a groomsman in our wedding) was getting married!  We got to hang out Saturday  night with some of Dustin's friends and had a fun reception at the Hard Rock.  

It was SO cold in Nashville Saturday night!  Parking was interesting.  We spent the majority of our money paying to park in these badly-designed parking garages.  I think we've decided to go back to Nashville to spend a weekend once it warms up because Dustin told me he had never been to downtown Nashville before.  I love any excuse for a trip!

Sunday was pretty laid back.  We went to church.  After lunch, Dustin watched some Nascar prelim thing and I took a short nap.  We both cleaned our house before heading back to church Sunday night.  After church, we rushed home so I could finish putting together supper (a new recipe coming tomorrow!!) and watching The Bachelor!

It's Monday and I'm still off from school thanks to this unused weather day!  While we were threatened with snow, I woke up this morning to nothing.  I was kind of wishing for a little snow but maybe we'll get some on Wednesday--my weather app has snow flurries as a possibility! 

Operation #GetFit2015

Monday, February 9, 2015

I've decided that 2015 is the year that I'm going to get fit.  I'm not the kind of person to do a New Year's Resolution, so this isn't one of those--and plus, it's February.  If you read my post about my weight loss transformation, then you know that I pretty much eat healthy.  No fried foods, no pizza's or carb-loaded foods, and sweets in moderation.  But I feel like I can do better.

I know I can definitely do better in my eating when it comes to sweets.  I've kind of let myself go in the sweet's department.  When you've restricted something for so long, you just get tired.  I need to limit my sweets way more than I do because they are my downfall!  I would pick a chocolate chip cookie any day over french fries or fried chicken fingers.

Operation #GetFit2015 is all about toning my body this year.  I ran outside Saturday morning for the first time in weeks because the weather was so pleasant.  I ran 3 miles and missed that runner's high that some people experience after running.  My body felt great after running, and I went inside to work on a few ab exercises after I had cooled down a little.  That's what my goal is this year.  I'm going to figure out how to lift light weights and tone by core so that I'm stronger and healthier.  I don't expect to go down a dress size, nor is that my goal.  I just want to make my body healthier so that I am able to serve better.

I plan on posting updates, progress, workout ideas, or even new recipes!  Hopefully you'll decide like me that it's time to finally get fit this year!  Use the hashtag #GetFit2015 and follow me on Instagram!

Five on Friday

Friday, February 6, 2015

This has been a pretty short week for me at school.  Yesterday and today, I've got a workshop at Athen State University for the Leader in Me.  Yesterday we did 2 school tours (which were really cute because they were in elementary schools and I'm not used to seeing little people!), and today we've got break-out sessions.

1. My hairdresser told me about this new app called Houzz.  Umm....I AM OBSESSED!! It's like Pinterest but only for houses.  And the best part is that you get to create filters.  So yesterday while I was on the charter bus heading back to Athens State from the last school visit, I pulled out my phone and decided to play around with the app.  I chose to look at dining rooms and then filtered the style to traditional.  I am loving getting inspiration for color palates and light fixtures--just everything!  It's free so check it out!  

2. Right after Christmas, Anthropologie had a sale on their sale items.  I had gotten an Anthro gift card for Christmas from my awesome in-laws and decided to get these pants.  (They are on sale now!!!) They are a crazy print, but they are so so comfortable and warm!!  I pair them with a merlot-colored tunic from Anthro, a gray vest from Banana Republic, and my very favorite booties!
This was taken on the bus ride yesterday to my first school visit.  I needed some almonds to give me sustenance :)

3. Last weekend I went with Mom to Huntsville to go with her while she went shopping.  As we were walking through the shoe department in Belk, I came across these sandals.  I want to get these for this spring/summer!  Look at how different they are!  I could see myself wearing these with summery dresses and crop pants!  That counts them as a need, right?

4. My hometown has a celebrity make an appearance every once in a while :)  "Michael Jackson" randomly shows up in shopping center parking lots (Kroger or CVS to be exact) and blares "his" music from his van and dances like MJ.  I saw him earlier this week while I was stopped at a light.  Does your hometown have anything crazy like this happen?
Not the best picture, but I had to snap it before the light turned green!

5. Dustin and I are starting to really look into our summer vacation.  He's already taken off for work, so we know what dates we're going on vacation.  Now we just have to choose the destination!!  We have decided to do two vacations this year--the beach this summer and Washington, DC this fall.  My best friend and I spontaneously took a vacation to DC together about three years ago and Dustin has only spent about three hours in DC.  But our problem is trying to decide which beach we want to visit.  We love Alabama beaches but are thinking we might want to branch out.  I checked out the beaches on 30A but aren't willing to spend $300 a night on a rental since we're also going to have to do a hotel and plane tickets for our vacation this fall.  Any suggestions for a beautiful beach?  If all fails, we'll do Orange Beach or Gulf Shores....just thought we might find something different!
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