halfway flasback : june

I loved this picture and this lesson and this post. A prefect way to wrap up June’s Making Things Happen series!

Here is the crux of Making Things Happen, at least for me:

You have to be willing to let go of what you want to make happen.

Case in point:

A few weeks ago I was sitting in my apartment, working furiously on blogging and emailing and job searching and to-do listing. I had a pile of projects to get done before the night was over and I was bound and determined to finish them. Friday Night Lights was on in the background and I was perfectly content to productively wile the evening away.

I looked up from my laptop and noticed that the sunset was casting gorgeous colors on the bathroom shower tile. I had an internal debate about whether or not to Instagram the scene (“It’s so pretty!” “Really, no one wants to see your shower.” “But the colors!” “But seriously…it’s a shower.”) and decided in the end to snap a quick picture and post it:

Done! Pretty! Back to the to-do list!

But I couldn’t help but look outside at the sunset…wondering what it really looked like…not just what it looked like reflecting off of bathroom tile. I’d look out the window and then get back to work. And then repeat. And then repeat. There was this nagging feeling that I should do what’s most important: value the real beauty, not the productivity.

I knew I wanted to go see the sunset. But I did not want to go see the sunset, for a laundry list of reasons. Namely:

  • I did not want to leave my apartment (hello, have you seen Tim Riggins?!)
  • I did not want to leave my parking space and have to find a new one
  • I did not want to stop progress
  • I did not want to take pictures and have to edit them after
  • I did not want to make the effort

In the end…the sunset won. At the last possible moment I ran out of my apartment, out to the car, and drove up to Cobb’s Hill to see this:

A gorgeous sunset over a city I love and a memory I’ll have forever.

I was so glad I made the effort.

So to review, what I wanted for myself was this:

What God wanted for me was this:

Clearly, we have a winner.

When I get stuck inside of my own plans, I get left with only what I can do for myself. What’s easy, what’s comfortable, what’s right in front of me. That night, all I wanted was to check things off of my to-do list. I was content with a shower stall sunset.

But when I respond to what’s tugging at my heart, to the things that God gently guides me to, I get so much more. SO much more! Things I never could have dreamed on my own. I’ve always loved the verse from Ephesians that reminds us that God is capable of doing “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” It’s so true.

It’s important to do the hard work to make things happen – to have a plan, to take action steps, to look fear in the face, to have big dreams. But I think it’s most important to allow plenty of room for God to make things happen for us – immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine.

 

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beka stays : june recap (and a blogging vacation)

faithful : how weird is this…I didn’t write a faithful post in June! But this Making Things Happen Monday post definitely counts, and I loved it!

relational : did I blog in June? No relational post either…but this one from my weekend at home fits in that category…Go Mom, Go!

hungry : unsurprisingly, there are no shortage of posts to choose from in this section. But my favorite? Man Pleasin’ Chicken.

athletic : P90x!

creative : sunset city, no contest

compassionate : love, love, love the birthday project

intelligent : annnnd…I can’t seem to finish a book these days. I’ll be mailing my English degree back to Roberts tomorrow. But this month…I’m really hoping to finish Living on the Edge and read Love Does by Bob Goff.

in Rochester : sticky lips! finally!

out of Rochester : it was home sweet home this month! no big trips to report.

real : not sitting on the cactus

favorite good thing : fire and backflips and joy

favorite post : probably making things happen monday : the final lesson

People…we are halfway through 2012! Can you believe it?!

In order to keep things rolling smoothly here for the rest of the year, I’m going to take a week off of blogging to rest and reevaluate. In the meantime, I’ll be reposting my favorite posts from each month so far this year. A little blast from the (recent) past for ya.

Hope you guys have a GREAT week! Happy July!

inspired : 6.17.12

summer food love from joy the baker (that strawberry pineapple crumble! oh my word!)

all about the wonderful world of southern weddings

love these colors : lagoon and lemon

how to teach your kids (or even yourself!) responsibility and discipline

9 no-bake summer desserts from fitsugar (um, yes to all of these!)

love this article about monthly challenges by 12 months of lent (SUCH a cool blog!)

the gotasks app has been a such a great find! I use tasks in google calendar for my daily to-do’s and this app syncs seamlessly.

this copy and paste recipe calculator is going to save me SO MUCH TIME

if you haven’t been on the chobani website lately, you are missing out! great content!

a catalog you can purchase from and feel great about : gifts of compassion

my affection for the packers notwithstanding, I honestly love the branding of wisconsin cheese. check out all of their outstanding websites!

a pinner after my own heart – love all of amanda’s boards!

SO inspired by katie’s story, her love for the Lord, and her outstanding website. it’s a true treasure!

pin of the week:

Cake Batter Protein Shake (190 calories and 35 grams of protein...flipping out over here)

(190 calories and 35 grams of protein. FOR REAL.)

(THANK YOU, KATIE!)

pinned here via here

staying hungry : maple mustard (aka man pleasin’) chicken

People, we have a winner.

Over the past 6 months of the Dinner Challenge I’ve made some meals that were good. Parchment paper salmon and Beef and Tomato Stew come to mind. Some will stay starred and highlighted and exclamation pointed as keepers in my recipe binder – we’re talking Salsa Chicken and Chicken Stir Fry with Goat Cheese and Raspberries.

But even though we’re only half way through the year, I already know that this week’s meal is going to be my ultimate favorite. Because OH MY WORD…it’s the kind of meal that is going to appear on the table at least once a week month for the rest of my life.

And that meal is Maple Mustard Chicken. Or as the original recipe states, “Man Pleasin’ Chicken.”

Since I’m fresh out of men, I just tried it out myself. And let me tell you, it’s “Woman Pleasin’ ” too! There is no gender inequality where this dish is concerned.

But really, when I am not lacking a man, this is what I’ll feed him. All. The. Time.

Without further ado:

Maple Mustard Chicken

originally posted by Witty in the City

Ingredients:

  • About 1.5 lbs chicken breast tenders (the original recipe calls for thighs; I’m sure that would be great too but this is what I had on hand)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • fresh rosemary (DO NOT skip this! I debated cutting it because for some reason I have a hard time shelling out $1.99 for fresh herbs, but seriously, this flavor combination makes the meal, and I’m not even a huge fan of rosemary!)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450 and line a medium sized baking dish with aluminum foil. Whisk together the maple syrup, mustard, and vinegar. Add chicken strips to the marinade and toss to coat. Pour strips and marinade into your lined baking dish and arrange in a single layer. Bake at 450 for 40 minutes (or until fully cooked) and baste half way through. Rest for 5 minutes after cooking and serve with roughly chopped rosemary and a spoonful of sauce from the pan.

Then, pen a song of praise for this meal…and all chickens, everywhere. It’s going to happen.

Rating:

5/5. My life has changed for the better. Thank you, Man Pleasin’ Chicken (and Witty in the City!).

beka stays : may recap

Here’s what happened in May, my favorite posts from each category!

[faithful] : a decided end to career confusion

[relational] : in real life

[hungry] : grilled raspberry balsamic chicken over roasted asparagus and pecan pilaf

[athletic] : no post, but progress! I started P90x!!!

[creative] : GARDENS!

[compassionate] : fail, fail, fail. I’ll be sure to focus on this in June!

[intelligent] : fail, fail, fail! I am in the middle of this book and loving it, my goal is to finish it in June.

[in rochester] : f. oliver’s

[out of rochester] : north carolina

[real] : the water inside my glass

favorite post: band-aids and burns and pie

favorite good thing: discoveries

favorite pin:

romans 8

pinned here via here

favorite verse: “Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Philippians 10:13 (MSG)

staying hungry : coconut tilapia with summer quinoa salad

It worked out well that this week’s dinner challenge meal was shelved for a week. It’s PERFECT for Memorial Day Weekend and the unofficial start to summer!

It’s one part real recipe, one part creative grocery aisle decision making.

Let’s start with the real recipe, this summer quinoa salad from Iowa Girl Eats!

Summer Quinoa Salad

mildly adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 small red onion, minced
  • 1 grapefruit, peeled & diced
  • 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (I omitted these because I forgot them!)
  • 2 ears of corn, kernels cut off cob (I used 1 cup of canned corn)
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from 1 1/2 limes
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook the quinoa as per directions. In a separate bowl, combine all other ingredients. After quinoa has cooled slightly add to the rest of the salad ingredients. Mix until combined.

Now, for the tipalia!

Coconut Tilapia

serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 tilapia filets, about 4oz each
  • 4 tsp coconut oil
  • 4 handfuls cilantro
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Roll out a square of parchment paper. Season the fish with salt and pepper and add a teaspoon of coconut oil and a handful of cilantro.

Then pick up the sides and roll them down together until they form a seam on top of the fish and tuck the open ends underneath. Like this!

Then bake at 425 for about 20 minutes, or until fish is entirely cooked through.

Rating: 3/5. I liked this one! Very summery. I found out that I preferred the quinoa salad cold and the tilapia hot. But march to the beat of your own drum! Do what you like temperature wise, and enjoy!

beka stays : march recap

Better late than never – here’s the March Recap!

[faithful]

DEFINITION: to be in constant relationship with Christ; to live a life which bears evidence of that relationship

2012 GOAL: complete Project 345, keep a one verse/one gratitude daily journal, memorize Galatians 5

PROGRESS: Possibly one of the biggest things I’ve learned from Project 345 is that it’s ok to not make every goal a back-breaking-almost-too-much goal. The plan of reading one chapter per day for 5 days seemed lame to me at first. Like a real goal has to be reading at least one chapter per day every day of the week, ideally more. But having a realistic goal has worked wonders for me. It allows me to actually be successful long-term, able to complete a marathon and not just a sprint. I love having the grace to catch up on the weekends and still be on track. It’s teaching me so much about goal-setting for success, not pride.

//

[relational]

DEFINITION: to love the friends and family who make my life so rich; to make people a priority

2012 GOAL: make one meaningful connection per week with a friend or family member

PROGRESS: Just updated this one this morning. But can I tell you about my friend Karen real quick? She’s giving up her hard-earned spring break to help lead her church’s youth group on a mission trip to New York City. She’s amazing, and so is the work that her team will be doing next week in NYC. Can you pray for them to have safety and impact? And can you cheer on nice people like Karen whenever you encounter them? They deserve it!

//

[hungry]

DEFINITION: to eat thoughtfully prepared (or purchased) food enthusiastically; to expand my culinary skills beyond brownies

2012 GOAL: make one new dinner recipe (from the millions of magazines or billions of blogs I subscribe to) per week

PROGRESS: I would have done Chick-fil-A proud this month, making chicken-based meals for the dinner challenge 3 out of the 4 weeks in March. Favorite by a landslide: chicken stir fry with with goat cheese and raspberries.

//

[athletic]

DEFINITION: to make the most of the healthy body I’ve been given; to run a lot of miles, do a lot of yoga, lift something heavy every now and again, and make every effort to be active as opposed to inactive

2012 GOAL: run 1000 miles

PROGRESS: I’ve been avoiding posting about this because I don’t want to admit defeat. But the 1,000 mile goal for this year is not going to happen. I could absolutely catch up on the miles I missed while I was down for the count by running about 7 miles a day for the next few months. I could do that. But I’d have to give up doing other workouts that I love, and I’d be giving up being well-conditioned overall, and I’d be making myself much more prone to recurring IT band problems. Reluctantly, I’m throwing in the towel on one goal in order to have the ability to achieve another goal.

//

[creative]

DEFINITION: to use the gifts I’ve been given to see the world in a unique way; to appreciate beauty everywhere

2012 GOAL: take one new (legit) picture per week

PROGRESS: I love, love, love this picture:

And also…expect to see more Instagram pictures than you know what to do with in the coming days now that I’ve received the best early birthday present ever: Instagram is now available on the dumb droid. I can’t even talk about it without squealing.

//

[compassionate]

DEFINITION: to love people, especially those who need love most

2012 GOAL: volunteer one day per month

PROGRESS: Updated this one this morning, too. But while we’re talking about compassionate people, can we talk about my parents? They were really nice to me last night when I was sporting a less-than-nice disposition. I’m thankful for them and for love…which really does cover a multitude of sins.

//

[intelligent]

DEFINITION: to use my brain

2012 GOAL: read one book per month

PROGRESS: Hello, Hunger Games. Goodbye, social life.

[in rochester]

DEFINITION: to make the most of the city I live in by exploring new places and frequenting well-loved ones

2012 GOAL: visit one new place in Rochester per month

PROGRESS: Two new places this month: Bin and Barrel and Good Smoke BBQ. Both winners!

//

[out of rochester]

DEFINITION: to scratch the travel itch, expand my perspective, and regularly recharge by getting away

2012 GOAL: travel outside of the greater Rochester area and, if at all possible, the state of New York, once per season

PROGRESS: If Buffalo counts, Morgan and I took an awesome half-day road trip to go visit Jamba Juice!

//

[real]

DEFINITION: to enjoy life, warts and all

2012 GOAL: not to get so caught up in goals and plans that I forget to enjoy laughable life moments, football and snow, coffee and chocolate, Gilmore Girls and magazines, candles and Pinterest, stumbles, falls, and a boatload of other things that make life so much fun

PROGRESS: Keeping it real in March entailed faulty fire alarms and dogs rising from the dead.

//

favorite post: The Southern Weddings post, for sure!

favorite good thing: DIY Chocolate Greek Yogurt. This is life-changing.

favorite pin:

Oh, March. Oh, Pinterest. The two met frequently. I think my favorite is still this one:

truth

pinned here via here

favorite verse: “What God did in this case made it perfectly plain that his purpose is not a hit-or-miss thing dependent on what we do or don’t do, but a sure thing determined by his decision, flowing steadily from his initiative.” Romans 9:11 (MSG)

March in a nutshell: fast, determined, and full.

How about you?

beka stays hungry : chicken stir fry with goat cheese and raspberries

IMG_2069

Oh. My. Word.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.

As soon as I saw this recipe on Iowa Girl Eats I abandoned my former Diner Challenge plans for this week and switched to this recipe. I just couldn’t wait to try it!

My instincts have never served me better.

Chicken Stir Fry with Goat Cheese and Raspberries

mildly adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

Ingredients:

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed

1 cup chicken broth

dash garlic powder

1 teaspoon canola oil

2 chicken breasts, sliced

salt & pepper

1/2 small red onion, sliced thin

1 scallion, sliced diagonally

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 bag (6oz) baby spinach and arugula

1/4 cup bottled fruity dressing – I used Annie’s Fat Free Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

1 oz goat cheese (or feta cheese)

Directions:

1. Combine quinoa, chicken broth and a dash of garlic powder in a saucepan. Bring to a boil then cover and turn the heat down to medium-low. Simmer until quinoa is tender and all the broth has been mostly absorbed, about 10-12 minutes. Turn heat off and let the remainder of the liquid soak into quinoa, about 2 minutes. Fluff with fork.

2. Meanwhile, heat canola oil in a large skillet over high heat. Season chicken slices with salt and pepper. Add chicken, red onion, scallion, and minced garlic to the skillet and stir fry until chicken is cooked all the way through.

3. Add salad dressing and baby greens to the skillet and toss until wilted, about 1 minute. Divide quinoa among plates, then top with the chicken stir fry, raspberries and cheese.

Rating:

5/5. AMAZING!!! This dinner is spring. You can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be making it again (and again and again) throughout the spring and summer…and fall and winter, too.

beka stays : february recap

Well.

February was a bit of a hott mess.

Basically because I was a bit of a hott mess.

But there were good parts, too!

Read on for an assortment of experiences:

[faithful]

DEFINITION: to be in constant relationship with Christ; to live a life which bears evidence of that relationship

2012 GOAL: complete Project 345, keep a one verse/one gratitude daily journal, memorize Galatians 5

PROGRESS: Small tweak to this goal. I’m still loving Project 345 and chronicling life in verses and gratitudes, but I’m currently working on memorizing A Psalm for Life instead of Galatians 5 because it’s so many things that I need to remember on a daily basis.

//

[relational]

DEFINITION: to love the friends and family who make my life so rich; to make people a priority

2012 GOAL: make one meaningful connection per week with a friend or family member

PROGRESS: I’m living up to this goal and then some! Who would have guessed that?! So it needs to change, I just don’t know how yet.

//

[hungry]

DEFINITION: to eat thoughtfully prepared (or purchased) food enthusiastically; to expand my culinary skills beyond brownies

2012 GOAL: make one new dinner recipe (from the millions of magazines or billions of blogs I subscribe to) per week

PROGRESS: This month’s dinners were a good deal less thrilling than last month’s. I think my favorite was last week’s quick chicken parm. (Thanks, Mom!)

//

[athletic]

DEFINITION: to make the most of the healthy body I’ve been given; to run a lot of miles, do a lot of yoga, lift something heavy every now and again, and make every effort to be active as opposed to inactive

2012 GOAL: run 1000 miles

PROGRESS: Oh boy. Did this goal ever crash and burn in February. A hearty dose of IT Band issues for the first half of February punctuated by a hearty dose of laziness for the second half of February resulted in less than 25 miles run in the ENTIRE month of February. Awful. I’m deciding whether I want to keep this goal and run my legs off for the rest of the year or change it to something less run-centric/more strength and conditioning oriented. It’s neck and neck at this point.

//

[creative]

DEFINITION: to use the gifts I’ve been given to see the world in a unique way; to appreciate beauty everywhere

2012 GOAL: take one new (legit) picture per week

PROGRESS: Dear Photography, I’m so glad we’re friends again. I’ve missed you. And I’m so grateful to have captured this authentic moment, my favorite of the month.

//

[compassionate]

DEFINITION: to love people, especially those who need love most

2012 GOAL: volunteer one day per month

PROGRESS: I had my first day of training for the Better Day Buddies program at Strong last Monday, and it was incredible. Definitely one of February’s highlights – expect an actual post on this coming soon!

//

[intelligent]

DEFINITION: to use my brain

2012 GOAL: read one book per month

PROGRESS: Way behind on this one. I’m only about halfway though Wooden: a Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court. But honestly, this is a read that needs to be savored. SO much wisdom in such a small book!

[in rochester]

DEFINITION: to make the most of the city I live in by exploring new places and frequenting well-loved ones

2012 GOAL: visit one new place in Rochester per month

PROGRESS: Um, yeah. I don’t think this happened. Which means March will receive two new locations!

//

[out of rochester]

DEFINITION: to scratch the travel itch, expand my perspective, and regularly recharge by getting away

2012 GOAL: travel outside of the greater Rochester area and, if at all possible, the state of New York, once per season

PROGRESS: But this did happen!!! Thank you, Pennsylvania, for being so wonderful.

//

[real]

DEFINITION: to enjoy life, warts and all

2012 GOAL: not to get so caught up in goals and plans that I forget to enjoy laughable life moments, football and snow, coffee and chocolate, Gilmore Girls and magazines, candles and Pinterest, stumbles, falls, and a boatload of other things that make life so much fun

PROGRESS: I think this day was my most successful real moment this month. And we all know that I had my fair share of bonding with the Gilmores, as well.

//

favorite post: Without a doubt, the Valentine’s Day whoopie pie post.

favorite good thing: Carmelitas. Of course.

favorite pin:

do something you've never done

pinned here via here

favorite verse: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

BUT…despite some initial complacency, February did end on a redeeming note. I’m looking forward to maintaining these goals while also diving with gusto into a new goal!

Farewell, February. I’ll try to be even nicer to you next time around.

(And March, just so we’re clear, I’ve got my game face on.)

*Also – the blog got a little spring makeover, so if you’d like to see some bright new colors and you’re following by email or in a Reader, hop on over to the main site!

**Also also – how was YOUR February?! And what are your plans for March?