14 Life Truths for Overcoming Worry & Having Faith

Tonight is New Year’s Eve and I’ve decided my New Year’s resolution for 2020 is to worry less + have more faith. While deciding that I can really do this, I reflected on some life lessons I’ve learned over the years that continue to ring true for me. Admittedly, some of these life truths were learned the hard way.

14 life truths that continue to ring true:

  • If you experience rejection, whatever form it may take, it is often a necessary “loss” to pave the way for something even better to enter your life.
  • Fear-based decisions are typically the wrong decision. Make decisions with confidence.
  • The wonderful thing about dogs is that you can choose them for their looks, and chances are they’ll be just as beautiful on the inside.    
  • Worrying about what other people think suffocates authenticity and self-confidence.

 “What other people think about you is none of your business”

  • Do not underestimate the power of prayer.
  • Running shoes, nature trails, and fresh air can fix many things!
  • Do not give up if you perceive others to be better than you. Do your best version of you and success will follow.
  • Be gracious in both victory and defeat.
  • You can’t be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s actually a good thing.
  • You cannot live your life for others. It will end in resentment and precious time lost from your own unique purpose in life.
  • Nurture your dearest friendships. If you are still in touch with your childhood friends, you are blessed.
  • Choosing a career based solely on prestige or money can lead to misery. I’ve noticed the most fulfilled people really enjoy what they do for a living.
  • When feeling caught up in social media, it’s time to take a break. No need for any announcements, just take a break.
  • We can learn much from our dogs. A home, love, food and water, fresh air, and purpose are all the blessings we need.

The Only Wine Cake Recipe You’ll Ever Need!

Grandma Georgia was a creative and talented cook, but baking was her first love in the kitchen. She knew how to perfect recipes and when to keep things simple. Here is my grandmother’s great wine cake recipe.

Update: Originally, I used this recipe at Christmastime. I’m now baking this wine cake in the summertime as well. For the warmer months, I skip the nutmeg and top with fresh berries.

Wine Cake (Yellow Bundt Cake)

Ingredients:
1 package moist yellow cake mix
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
¾ cup cooking oil (if you prefer butter, use 1 cup + 1 tbsp. room temperature butter)
¾ cup white wine (the alcohol burns off in the oven) or substitute with Sherry cooking wine
4 eggs
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg + a dash of cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients with mixer on medium speed for 4 to 5 minutes
  2. Pour mixture into a well-buttered angel food / Bundt cake pan
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes (Check with a toothpick)
  4. Let it cool, remove cake and sprinkle generously with powdered sugar

TIP:  To make it a gift, place the Bundt cake on a sturdy Christmassy plate and wrap with clear or color cellophane. Secure at the top with a ribbon.

I miss the way Grandma Georgia brought our kitchen to life when she visited my childhood home for the holidays – more of her recipes to follow!

http://sprightlyspruce.com/chocolate-chip-cookie-recipe/

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies: Fluffy Yet Chewy!

Chocolate chips cookies are a must-have for the holidays.

Why? Because they just taste so good. Not to mention being as close to universally liked as a cookie can get!

In the spirit of finding a chocolate chip cookie loved ones could fully agree on, I set out to find the right balance of texture + taste. My husband loves fluffy-textured chocolate chips cookies, while my baking friend prefers chewy. Personally, I like the puffier chocolate chip cookies, but with the sweetness of chewy.

Bottom line: after trying out, and fine-tuning different recipes, I created my happy medium cookies in both texture and taste.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Ingredients

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup butter (room temperature) TIP – Do NOT heat or melt the butter

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup packed brown sugar

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 package vanilla instant pudding (I used JELL-O Instant Vanilla pudding)

2 eggs

1 package (or 2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips

OPTIONAL: For chocolatier cookies: hand chop an 8 oz. Chocolate bar with a knife, in place of the chocolate chips *I got this tip from The Food Lab blog.

OPTIONAL: Sprinkle a little sea salt onto the cookies once they are complete, and push the salt in a little.

(I plan to try out these two options on my next batch!)

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugars, vanilla pudding mix, and vanilla extract. Beat until it has a creamy texture. Gradually beat in the eggs. Gradually add the salt, baking soda, and flour. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Then, CHILL DOUGH IN THE REFRIGERATOR FOR ONE HOUR.

Remove the dough from the fridge. Drop dough in slightly clumpy tablespoon amounts for each cookie – about 2 inches apart onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes, or until slightly brown on the edges.

Cool cookies slightly and then remove the cookies from the cookie sheet. AFTER EACH BATCH, RUN THE COOKIE SHEET UNDER COLD WATER & DRY before placing the next batch of dough on it.

Milk & Cookies

This was the recipe I felt worked best. My cookie taster said “Wow. These cookies are REALLY good.” I agreed, and enjoyed a couple myself, with some A2 milk. Good stuff.

Happy Baking!

Photo credits: Dreamstime Stock Photos

 

 

 

My Two Cents On Finding Inner Peace

It was late fall, and I was at a traffic standstill on a gorgeous stretch of highway surrounded by Redwood forest. The light rain created a mist that made it all so rustic and holiday-like. It was my favorite time of year, yet I was miserable. I had lost my inner peace.

Not because of the traffic.

Life had been hitting me hard, and I left a good company for a new position. I ignored a gut feeling and ended up with a nightmare manager. Insomnia soon became the price of my emotional stress.

It was a rough patch, but I had survived worse. So why was it that a decade later, I remembered my despair that day in traffic as though it were yesterday?

Because.

It was the moment I accepted that if I wanted to have balance and joy, I had to respond to life differently. 

My Two Cents On Finding Inner Peace 

  • Past mistakes do not define you. Show yourself how much you have grown as a person by doing better.
  • You cannot please everyone. People-pleasing is a dead-end street, not to mention just plain exhausting. Be honest with yourself and others. 
  • Silence your inner critic. When you constantly criticize yourself, ask yourself if you would ever talk to a friend this way? Be kind to yourself.
  • Being wronged and choosing to forgive does not mean you are tolerating an injustice. It means you are actively taking away its power over you.

“We are chained to that which we do not forgive.”

– Richard Paul Evans
  • Do not underestimate the power of prayer. Sometimes the best answer is something we never even imagined for ourselves.
  • Getting up early in the morning does make your day better.
  • Being a good confidant helps keep a clear conscience.

“Do not repeat anything you will not sign your name to”

– Author Unknown
  • The more you organize everything in your life, the easier your day.
  • You are not required to take on the nonstop drama. Be a supportive friend, and trust that real friends will respect boundaries and celebrate successes. Hang onto those friends because they are gems.
  • Listen to your gut feeling.
  • There is no perfect time to pursue a goal or take a chance. Just get started. The more overwhelming the task, the more steps. 

The best lessons have been through life’s heartaches, failures, successes, rejections, achievements, career change, surprises, regrets, and faith.

On NYE 2020, I posted my favorite life lessons learned. 14 Life’s Truths For Overcoming Worry & Having Faith

8 Compelling Christian Movies for Good Friday & Easter

As we approach Good Friday, I wanted to share eight compelling and completely NON-Cheesy Christian movies to watch.

The first four recommendations are courageous Faith-based pictures. The next four movies are honorable mentions with underlying Christian themes.

Movies for Good Friday & Easter

1. The Passion of the Christ (2004, Rated R)

The true story of the final 12 hours of Jesus’ time on earth, in the flesh, on the day of his crucifixion. The subtitles feel like second nature after the first few minutes, and in my opinion, add to its historicity. However, there is now an English version. (Note: this movie has some graphic torture scenes)

Resurrection

2. Risen (2016, Rated PG-13)

This is a story of the Resurrection told from the perspective of a high ranking Roman military officer. Pontius Pilot orders Clavius to find the body of Jesus after it has disappeared from the tomb on the day he rose from the dead.

3. The Case for Christ (2017, Rated PG)

This movie is based on the true story of Lee Strobel. Strobel was an avowed atheist and investigative journalist for The Chicago Tribune, who set out to challenge his Wife’s newly found Christian faith.

4. Ben-Hur (2016, Rated PG-13)

A new, shorter (two hour) version based on the classic Ben-Hur movie from 1959. A prince, falsely accused of treason, is sent into slavery. He eventually returns home seeking revenge, yet ends up finding redemption.

More Movies to Check Out

These four recommendations are amazing stories with underlying Christian principles.

5. Hacksaw Ridge (2016, Rated R)

The true story of Desmond Doss who refused to carry a weapon during WWII for religious purposes. He served as an army medic and received the Medal of Honor, Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his heroic actions.

6. The 17 Miracles (2001, PG)

Based on the inspiring true story of Mormon pioneers who made the journey to Salt Lake City in the mid-1800s after getting a late start in the season. The pioneer group ends up facing a treacherous winter on their journey.

7. A Christmas Carol (Too many versions to list! Rated PG)

“Bah Humbug!” A Charles Dickens’ classic about redemption. There are many versions of this classic, including a Disney animation.

If you enjoy A Christmas Carol, The Man Who Invented Christmas is another good movie to check out.

8. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005, Rated PG)

This movie is an adventure-filled fantasy land story filled with incredible symbolism. Based on the children’s books by C.S. Lewis.

What other movies could be added?

It’s Operation Christmas Child Go-Time!

OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD National Collection Week is November 18 – 25

What is Operation Christmas Child? It’s a way to give to children in need, around the globe on Christmas day. All it takes is a shoe box filled with thoughtful gifts and useful items.

Pack your shoe box with toys, hygiene items and school supplies. Consider including a photo and kind message. Track your shoe box and see its final destination to a girl or boy who will open it on December 25th!

Operation Christmas Child

Here is a shoe box I packed last year.

Shoe box #1:

Stuffed animal, bounce ball, hair accessories, glow in the dark flashlights with extra batteries, pens and pencils, notebooks, stickers, and toothbrushes

The Operation Christmas Child STEPS are easy:

  1. Find a shoe box – any shoe box in good condition will do! Or, you can order the red and green shoe boxes from Samaritan’s Purse. Just make sure they’ll arrive in time for National Collection Week.
  2. Go to Operation Christmas Child  Once on the web site, Select Girl/Boy, Age Range, Donate $9 per shoe box, Print your label(s)
  3. Pack your shoe box.
  4. Take your shoe box to an official drop-off location. There are 5,000 drop-off locations across the USA.
  5. Save your tracking label receipt to track your box.

Shoe box #2:

Deflated soccer ball with pump, glow in the dark flashlights with extra batteries, baseball cap, pens & pencils, crayons, small notepads, toothbrush, and yo-yo – I quickly learned larger shoe boxes are easier!

Our shoe boxes were delivered to a “hard to reach” location in The Philippines.

I hope this post reaches many, and that you’ll share your shoe box 🙂

Cheers to a beautiful holiday 2019!