My 2012… Intentions

I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions. I seem to always make them, along with every other American with their head in the clouds, despite my distaste for them. And then 23 days into January, I somehow have already failed at every single item. And who needs a list staring you in the face telling you that you are a failure? I am a starter, not a finisher, unfortunately. I am doing 1,000 things at all times but finishing less than half and not doing the other half very well, at least not up to my perfectionist standards. I am a planner by nature but I rarely see my plans though. I make to-do lists but then I add so many things on the list that it is impossible to accomplish that many things in the amount of time given. And I am always adding to the to-do list. And when I do something that is not on the list, I add it so that there can at least be something on it that is crossed off. This is my life.  Sigh…

It is my recent goal to live life intentionally, not just letting life happen. If one doesn’t plan, things don’t happen. Well, things happen, but not the things you want to have happened. I recently read this resolve by Jonathan Edwards, written in 1723:

“I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.”

This is my dream, to honor God and live so as to glorify Him in all areas. I have made a list to this end. Things I can do much better, things I see in others that I want to see in myself, things I know that God desires for me. I want what He wants. I know some of these things are: discipline, devotion, organization, kindness, hospitality, servanthood, etc…

Rather than calling them resolutions (although at this point, I do feel resolved… but alas, it is December 31. The whole world feels resolved!), lets call them intentions. I have some intentions for 2012. I have expectations for what God can do in my life, in my family, in my church and in my neighborhood and town in 2012. Here they are:

Spend more time with Jesus and be intentional about praying. I only have so much time and lots that I can do with that time. Although I can and do pray sporadically throughout the day, it is my intention to plan specific times to go into the closet and pray to my Father in secret so that I don’t neglect the strength-giving, trust-enabling relationship.

Sunday Night Planning
This is very new, but I intend to start personally planning my week on Sunday nights. When I am going to pray, what we are going to eat, who we are going to serve, how we are going to serve them, who I will write a card to, what we are going to learn in [home]school, what games and activities I can do with the toddler, what I will read that week, etc… I think this will help me to get organized at the beginning of the week and not just wake up Monday morning having all sorts of thoughts swimming around in my head. It will help me to be intentional, as well, and with my purposes to serve others… to actually do it and not just talk about it!

In addition to this, it is my husband and my intention to go over a ‘weekly agenda’ on Sunday night together. He can see where our budget numbers are at, what we have on the calendar for the week, who we should invite over for dinner, what we should do the next weekend, etc…  We will literally be on the same page. 🙂

Bible Reading
Justin Taylor wrote an incredible, and pretty comprehensive, post on all sorts of different reading plans for 2012. Pick one and do it! I have been doing Professor Grant Horner’s 10 chapters from 10 different books/genres for a while now. It hasn’t been going so well or consistent, but it is my intention to give this higher priority this year. This plan is pretty intense though, and I may switch to M’Cheyne’s. I just want to read the Bible and set myself up for success. Man shall not live by bread alone. (I spend a lot of time planning meals so that verse always hits home…)

House Cleaning
Confession: I am a terrible housekeeper. I now have a system, separated by days. Or at least that I’m supposed to do every day.

Mondays- Dust and wash all mirrors and glass doors, Budget
Tuesdays- Clean bathrooms, sweep, prepare for Community Group
Wednesdays- Laundry day!
Thursdays- Errands, Showers
Fridays- Deep Clean
Saturdays- Organization
Sundays- Rest, Planning

I also have a list I do every day, called my Daily 6:

1. Make beds
2. Wipe bathrooms down
3. Keep kitchen sink empty
4. Pick up after myself and have children do the same
5. 10 minute tidy before lunch
6. 10 minute tidy before dinner

My grandpa’s mother kept a journal. Every day. Every day! It is so incredible to read things that someone wrote 50-70 years ago. That seems impossible to me, as I have tried to do this. But I would love to pass this on to my kids and be able to read it myself when I am old and gray. So instead of fully documenting every word that my child says or any event we happen to be a part of, I am intending to- most days, anyway- write at least one sentence. I am also intending to keep it out, with a pen tucked inside, so that I actually write in it. This may turn into a Family Journal, one where anyone and everyone can write in it and we document everything in it. But for now, let’s start small…

I would also like to create a gratefulness list. One that the whole family can list things they are thankful for throughout the year. This can go in the back of the journal. I think it would be a great new tradition, somewhere around Christmas to New Years,  to read aloud some of the things we have been grateful for in 2012. How quickly we forget when trials come our way.

Love and serve my family sacrificially. Play with my kids doing what they want to do even when I don’t want to. Make my husband breakfast and lunch for the next day even when I am tired. Discipline and train my kids when they need it, even though I don’t want to deal with their crying at the moment.

Have date nights at least once a month. Our kids go to bed early in the evening so we have most evenings to ourselves. But evenings are quickly taken up doing other things than gazing romantically into one another’s eyes. It is helpful to get a sitter or to set aside at least one night a month (ideally one night a week, but we’re going to set the goal at once a month) to just be really together.

Start GAPS diet and start fermenting more things. My aim is to heal my husband’s gout and psoriasis through diet and after researching, I think the GAPS diet may be the answer. Fermentation goes right along with it. Yogurt, Kefir, pickles, sauerkraut, other vegetables can all be tastily fermented. They add good bacteria/probiotics to your intestines which eats the bad bacteria and gives you the gift of health.

I am also going to start doing Pilates videos. I have done P90X (wayyyyyy too great of a time commitment for me), the treadmill (this would work if it wasn’t in the baby’s room!), and… nothing! So Pilates videos here we come. To quote one of my children’s favorite movies (Monsters Inc.): “Work out the flab that is hanging off the bed!”

Face Cleansing
Oil cleansing regimen for my face. Here is the new plan: 20% Castor Oil, 80% Jojoba oil. Steam face with warm water washcloth, rub in oil, rub off oil and rinse. Finish with Melon Seed oil (or other non-comedogenic oil) for moisturizing if needed (I need).  The idea is to exfoliate, remove dead skin cells and bacteria from pores and not cause your face to over-produce oil by drying it out with harsh cleansing products. I am 1 day in and loving it!  My face is glowing… and no I’m not pregnant! Hopefully simultaneous breakouts and wrinkles are not in my future, after all.

Family Jesus Time
Quiet times for the preschooler with the audio Bible and a journal. Instilling in a 4-year old how to spend daily time in the Word of God.

Do Family worship each night with the whole family around the Bible, prayer and singing.

Book List
Read every book on the 52-book List!

Study Scripture
Out of my Bible Reading, choose one thing monthly and study it in-depth. I have Logos, I should use it.

It is my aim to have company over weekly. Doesn’t have to be a fancy Friday night dinner. It can be Saturday morning breakfast or brunch. Or tea/coffee and dessert. Whatever… My aim is to think outside the box with the times and the people. Not just church friends (although, that’s certainly important!), but unbelievers, people who aren’t like me, people who need love, people who need food, and especially people who need Jesus! May my eyes be opened to needs and my house be open that we may share the love of Christ.

I have been doing this for a while, but again, inconsistently. So I would like to consistently (weekly) send cards/letters/little notes of love and appreciation and encouragement to people in my life.

Keep our family checkbook up to date so as to stay within budget in all areas. We already do this with, which makes it super easy (and it’s free!). But I am a procrastinator and only do it monthly… or worse. I have to improve and discipline myself in this area.

See God Save
This is obviously God’s work and not mine, but my intention here is to pray for these people by name, regularly lifting them up and asking God to save their souls. It is also our calling to lift Jesus up, for He said if He is lifted up, He will draw all men to Himself. I want to more boldly and more passionately proclaim the name of Jesus to my sphere of influence. He is the only One who saves. Why wouldn’t I say His Name? He also said that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. It starts small but ends huge. I believe that God desires to save and will save souls in this town. His Kingdom will grow.

Follow Jesus and Love Him More Fully, More Deeply
Obey the simple commands of Scripture (simple, but not easy), believe the Gospel and add nothing to it, take nothing away from it, preach it to myself every day, as often as I need it, which is really every moment. Repent often, humble myself, love Him, show Him to the world and make Him famous this year.

2012 Book List

I know this may seem like I am trying to be an overachiever! Especially since I didn’t even complete my 2011 Book List! My husband said I need to limit myself to 40 so I don’t fail… but…

There are 52 books on this list. I KNOW, okay? But does it matter that I have already started a few and it’s not even 2012 yet?! And if I read one per week (which is do-able), I will finish the reading list by the end of the year. Having 52 books and 52 weeks may make it easier on me to stay on task… I’ll know when I’m behind anyway if I didn’t finish a book that week. Anyway, some of them are small and some are more of a reference type book than a read-from-cover-to-cover book. Some are even coffee table books that you can peruse while you’re waiting for your tea to steep.

So that is my goal and I am intent on reaching my goal. One note: The list is subject to change because almost every day Gospel eBooks comes out with free and inexpensive books for your Kindle or eReader. So I may replace some here and there, depending on what pops up. This year I also plan to do short reviews for all (or nearly all) of the books.

Without further adieu:

Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids With the Love of Jesus Elyse Fitzpatrick
Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches Rachel Jankovic
Bringing Up Boys Dr. James Dobson
Gospel-Centered Family Ed Moll & Tim Chester
Teach Them Diligently: How to Use the Scriptures in Child Training Louis Paul Priolo
The Joy of Family Traditions: A Season-by-Season Companion to 400 Celebrations and Activities Jennifer Trainer Thompson

The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education Leigh Bortins
Life Skills For Kids Christine M. Field

The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food Kaayla T. Daniel
The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice and Sustainability 
Lierre Keith
Good Calories, Bad Calories Gary Taubes
Gut and Psychology Syndrome Natasha Campbell-McBride
Great Cooks and Their Recipes: From Taillavent to Escoffier
Anne Willan

Living Organized: Proven Steps for a Clutter-Free Home Sandra Felton
No Ordinary Home: The Uncommon Art of Christ-Centered Homemaking Carol Brazo
One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler Tsh Oxenreider
Open Heart, Open Home: The Hospitable Way to Make Others Feel Welcome and Wanted Karen Mains

Sacred Influence: How God Uses Wives to Shape the Souls of Their Husbands Gary Thomas
The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God Tim and Kathy Keller
Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship & Life Together Mark and Grace Driscoll
What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage Paul David Tripp

Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God’s Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther and Calvin (Swans Are Not Silent series- Book 1)
John Piper (Free PDF here) 
The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce (Swans Are Not Silent series- Book 3) (Free PDF here)
Contending for Our All: Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen and J. Gresham Machen (Swans Are Not Silent series- Book 4) John Piper (Free PDF here)
Portrait of Calvin T.H.L. Parker (Free PDF here)

Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers John Owen
Imitation of Christ Thomas A Kempis

Planting Missional Churches
Ed Stetzer
Breaking the Missional Code: Your Chuch Can Becmome a Missionary in Your Community Ed Stetzer
Counsel from the Cross: Connecting Broken People to the Love of Christ Elyse Fitzpatrick
Community: Taking Your Small Group Off Life Support Brad House
Vintage Church: Timeless Truth and Timely Methods Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears
Ten Most Common Mistakes Made by Church Starts Jim Griffith
What is the Mission of the Church? Kevin DeYoung

Cross of Christ John Stott
Bloodlines: Race, Cross and the Christian John Piper
Jesus + Nothing= Everything Tullian Tchividjian
Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends and Others Who Know You Well Randy Newman (Free here from Desiring God)
Disciple: Getting Your Identity from Jesus Bill Clem
The Gospel and Personal Evangelism Mark Dever and C.J. Mahaney
A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World Paul E. Miller
The Soul-Winner: Or How To Lead Sinners to the Saviour Charles H. Spurgeon
A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, and Mission around the Table Tim Chester
Gospel Wakefulness Jared Wilson
 The Cross-Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing C.J. Mahaney
A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life J.I. Packer
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life Donald S. Whitney
Death by Love: Letters from the Cross Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears
A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer John Piper
Holiness of God R.C. Sproul

Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of  the Christian Message Ravi Zacharias
Christianity at the Religious Roundtable: Evangelicalism in Conversation with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam Timothy Tennet
The Gospel in a Pluralist Society Leslie Newbigin

Weekly Dish: Tortilla Soup with Chipotle

I got a Vitamix for Christmas! A professional Vitamix, complete with a dry container for grinding grains! I am ecstatic about this and though I have been excitedly and passionately making smoothies for a few days now, this is my first meal made in the Vitamix. Or at least part of it was made in it.

Tortilla Soup varies and can house a variety of ingredients. I love this one oh so much because of the addition of chipotle and also the inclusion of a few different vegetables which makes this a super-soup! Not one ounce of guilt involved. This is the combination of a few different recipes and it works wonderfully. If you like chipotle, you will love this…

Tortilla Soup with Chipotle

Place the following in a large saucepan or dutch oven:

2 bone-in Chicken breasts
8 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 large yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled
handful cilantro sprigs
1/2 teaspoon Real Salt

Meanwhile, place the following in a blender:
5 Roma tomatoes, cored
1/2 large white or yellow onion
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
1/4 of a red or yellow pepper
small chunk of cabbage
2 small slices of yellow squash
1/2-1 jalapeno, depending on desired heat level
1-2 chipotle chiles, plus 1-2 teaspoons adobo sauce, depending on desired heat level
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Lime wedges
Avocado, diced
Cotija cheese, crumbled
Fresh cilantro
Minced jalapeno
Crema Mexicana or Sour Cream

Bring the broth, onion, chicken, garlic, cilantro and salt to boil over medium-high heat; reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken, let cool, and shred or dice into small pieces. Discard the bones. Pour the broth through a strainer; discard the solids.

Puree the vegetable mixture until smooth. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering; add the tomato-onion puree and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until it is darkened in color, about 10 minutes. Stir the strained broth into the tomato mixture, bring to boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer to blend flavors, about 15 minutes. Taste the soup and adjust any seasonings or add more adobo sauce for more heat. Add the chicken until heated through, about 5 minutes more. (Or place it all in a crockpot on low until ready to serve, which is what I do!)

To serve: put homemade tortilla strips* on bottom of individual bowls and ladle the soup into the bowls; pass the garnishes separately.

*Chips, unless baked, are not good for you and can wreak havoc on your health, as they are deep fried. Here is a baked tortilla chip/strip recipe:

Preheat oven to 425. Cut 8 6-inch corn tortillas into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Spread strips on a rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and toss until evenly coated. Bake until the strips are deep golden brown and crisped, about 14 minutes, rotating the pain and shaking the strips (to redistribute) halfway through baking. Season strips lightly with salt; transfer to a plate lined with several layers of paper towels.

Optional ingredients: Also can add corn and any kind of beans to the soup!


I am sharing this post at Real Food Wednesday and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.

I Didn’t Do It

I didn’t read every book on my 2011 Book List. Fail! But I did learn a few lessons:

1. Don’t put books on the Book List that you aren’t interested in reading but just want to check off your list.
2. Do make somewhat of a schedule for reading so that in December, you aren’t left with 11 books to read.

With that being said, I have read some very good books. I did book reviews on some. It is my 2012 goal to read many more books (that I am very interested in) and to write book reviews on all of them. I will probably fail at that too, but maybe not. I am learning how to better manage my time.

Here is my 2011 Book List with the reviews that I did write, in case you are interested in putting any of these on your list for next year. (The books that aren’t crossed off are the ones that I am still working on and hope to have done by the New Year… I’m halfway through the last four… I can do it!)

Weekly Dish: Spinach-Artichoke Dip

Here’s a seriously delicious Real Food appetizer for parties and gatherings this Christmas. It makes a lot, so you may want to cut the recipe in half the recipe for a smaller crowd.

Spinach Artichoke Dip 

1/4 cup grass-fed butter (ie: Kerrygold brand)
1 10-ounce frozen chopped spinach (still partly frozen)
14-ounces jarred artichoke hearts, drained
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese (softened)
2 16-ounce containers of sour cream
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
garlic powder to taste
real salt or celtic salt to taste

Melt butter. Add spinach and drained artichoke hearts. Add cream cheese and sour cream. Stir in parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and real salt.
Heat for 10-15 minutes over Medium heat.

Serve warm with raw veggies and/or  sprouted/soaked bread.
(If it cools, you can heat back if up needed)

I am sharing this recipe at Real Food Wednesday and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.

Real Food Reading

Still doing any Christmas shopping? Consider any of these excellent Real Food books for anyone on your list interested in nutrition and health.

Books I recommend with 5-plus stars: 

Nourishing Traditions
My #1 Real Food recommended book.  A cookbook and a textbook in one. The textbook part is invaluable.

Maker’s Diet 
Very helpful, from a Christian’s perspective. As prescribed in the Bible, God gave us meat, dairy, etc… to feed and nourish our bodies. I don’t necessarily agree with avoiding pork, as the New Testament sort of takes that law off the table. But helpful, nonetheless.

Enzyme Nutrition
Americans eat a diet with the Macro-Nutrient profile of that of McDonald’s. This books seeks to remedy that situation with education on enzymes.

Cure Tooth Decay
Seriously, it is possible to heal up cavities. I haven’t experienced it myself.. yet… but I am convinced by the research and evidence that it truly is possible. This book, as many others in the natural healing category go, have premises and world views that are contrary to Scripture. Chew the meat, spit out the bones.

Gut and Psychology Syndrome

I am just beginning this book but I have read through the entire GAPS wesbite and have been persuaded and convinced by the science and common sense that this is what is wrong with the bodies of so many- even many close to me. Campbell-McBride has degrees in both neurology and nutrition, and through years of seeing patients with autism and other brain abnormalities and dysfunctions, has made the connection between gut (intestines, where 80% of your immune system is held) and the mind (and other parts of your body that can dysfunction). We are starting the GAPS diet sometime in the new year to see if we can heal our own intestines from the years of SAD (Standard American Diet) damage!

 Real Food for Mother and Baby
This is an excellent reference book for anyone who is unsure of what to feed a youngster or a woman during pregnancy.

Nina Planck also has written a book before this one that is worth reading called, “Real Food: What to Eat and Why” that is a fantastic jumping off point for someone interested in Real nutrition.

 Eat Fat, Lose Fat

This book gives a overview of why we get fat, what foods contribute and why everyone who recommends low-fat diets to shed the pounds is dead wrong! This is a great book and one I reference so often.

The following books are on my “To Read” list so I have to give that disclaimer. However, they are real food reading and I have high expectations for all of them: 

The Vegetarian Myth
The Whole Soy Story
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration
Coconut Oil Miracle
Could it Be B12?
Patient Heal Thyself 

The Last Straw

The Last Straw is a beautiful and wonderfully Christ-centered children’s picture book for Christmas! I didn’t expect to be brought to tears by a book we checked out from the library, but I was. My son loved it because it was funny and has great illustrations and I loved it because I was able to teach him about giving to Jesus from the heart and about not being proud, but being humble like the One we worship.

I hope you are able to get your hands on this book this Season! Be prepared to buy it and have it for years to come. I will be doing just that!

Glory to the King

We sing songs of God come to Earth, but so many still don’t know the King. Many talk about him- when they curse, when they mock, when they are in a bind, when it’s Christmas and time to go to church. But many don’t really truly know the King. Some know about the King. Some have heard the stories. So many have other kings on the throne. But there’s no room for this King. There wasn’t room at his birth and for most there isn’t room now. But some will turn and worship.

God, give us hearts, vision, feet, and words to rescue those blindly running to their death. Let us build ourselves up in the faith, pray in the Holy Spirit, keep ourselves in the love of God. Let’s save souls in this town, through mercy, through snatching out of the fire. Through praying for the Kingdom to advance, sitting with the King Himself, and proclaiming to this lost town: glory to the King! The King whom God and sinners reconciled. Glory to that King. The King who is above all kings. Above all that we hold dear this Season that doesn’t give him glory. Let’s continue to tell this town about that King.