Lifestyle

Hate Hate Hate

“The line separating good and evil passes, not through states, nor through classes, nor between political parties… but right through every human heart – and through all human hearts,” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
I feel like all I have been hearing lately (especially because of the election year) is hate. Hate for the poor, hate for the rich, hate for immigrants, hate for politicians, hate done in the name of Christianity, hate hate hate. I don’t know about everyone else, but I know that God’s people are called to be different; I also know that our God is the God of love and joy, not of hate. While doing my daily scripture reading today, I came across something very interesting that spoke to me, and felt like I should share:
“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God,” Leviticus 19:33-34.
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I believe that these verses speak to the moral laws against racial discrimination. I believe that this is an encouragement to love your neighbor as yourself and to not treat strangers as aliens, but as friends, that they may be brought to the knowledge of Christ. It is important to show people what you are for, not just what you are against. It is important to remember that God is fighting for everyone, even the transgenders, homosexuals, people of other religions, people of color, and the rest! “God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,” Romans 8:28.
God is working in even the darkest of places. Our love for Christ should overflow to everyone else. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself,” Luke 10:27. This is the greatest commandment. The person that obeys God’s laws will find life. We are victorious in Him!
My prayer for anyone that reads this is that you will find comfort in God’s unfailing love. Remember that nothing done out of love for Christ is ever wasted or forgotten.
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Recipe

Spaghetti Squash with Grilled Chicken, Sundried Tomatoes, Broccoli, And Peas

My mom has been begging me to make my (not so) famous spaghetti squash dish lately. Partly because she loves the low cal, paleo dish, and partly because she wants an excuse to skip out on making dinner. Either way, I will admit I love cooking it. That is why this month I have decided to share this recipe with all of you.

If you aren’t familiar with spaghetti squash, it’s a winter squash that is oblong with a yellow, hard shell. The inside is a stringy, which is why the name “spaghetti” squash. In my opinion, spaghetti squash may be the perfect wheat-free, gluten-free, paleo-friendly, low carb, low calorie solution to pasta, and we have certainly adopted it in our household as such.

IMG_0276This recipe starts like any other, with a large, deep skillet. I am using my favorite 12″ caste iron braising pan.

IMG_0270First, heat olive oil and garlic. Then add cooked spaghetti squash (I like to cook mine in the morning, or even the night before and leave in the fridge.) Click the link for my recipe on how to cook the squash.

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IMG_0272Add broccoli, sundried tomatoes, and 1/4 cup chicken broth. Sauté for 5 minutes.

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IMG_0273Add peas, grilled chicken, parmesan cheese, and remaining chicken broth. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for about 3 minutes.

IMG_0275Serve with fresh parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

 

Spaghetti Squash with Grilled Chicken, Sundried Tomatoes, Broccoli, and Peas.

Prep Time: 5 min

Cook Time: 15 min

Total Time: 20 min

Ingredients

  • I medium cooked spaghetti squash (about 2 lbs)
  • 2 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • 1 C Chicken Broth
  • 1/3 C Sundried Tomatoes
  • 1 Broccoli Crown, chopped
  • 1 C Peas
  • 1 lb Chicken Breasts, grilled and sliced
  • 1/4 C Grated Parmesan Cheese

Instructions

  1. Cook spaghetti squash and allow to cool.
  2. In a large, deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, sauté 1 minute. Add spaghetti squash and sauté an additional 2 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add 1/4 C chicken broth, sundried tomatoes, and broccoli. Sauté 5 minutes.
  4. Add peas, grilled chicken, and remaining 3/4 C chicken broth. Shake about 1/4 C grated parmesan cheese into mixture. The parmesan should help to thicken the mixture.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover skillet and simmer for about 3 minutes.
  6. Serve with fresh parmesan cheese.

 

 

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Finding the Perfect Study Spot

I don’t care what anyone tells you, finding the perfect “spot” to study is absolutely essential to your success as a student. It is magic when you find that place you look forward to go study, and it is my firm belief that it should feel like home. This process is very individualized, and it’s all about figuring out what works best for you. For me, this study spot usually takes the form of a coffee shop. After a year of exploring, I have compiled all of the elements that make up my perfect working environment.

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  1. Coffee Coffee Coffee: As previously noted, I like to go to coffee shops to study. First and foremost, because I like coffee, but also out of necessity; caffeine keeps me awake and moving. That is why my #1 requirement for a study spot is good coffee.
  2. Small Space: I don’t like to go anywhere that’s too crowded. Too many people means too many distractions. It is also very difficult to go somewhere that you will run in to a lot of people you know. Less people also means more seating options (and not having to fight over outlets.)
  3. Good Lighting: It may sound crazy, but good lighting is essential to productivity. Too bright, I get headaches, too dim, I fall asleep.
  4. Outdoor Space: Weather permitting, I like to go somewhere that offers outdoor seating. If I have been working for a long period of time, sometimes it can be nice to have a change of scenery without having to go very far. A little sun can go a long way.
  5. Wifi: Free, reliable Wifi in a public space can be difficult to find. Unless you have your own hotspot, if you are doing work on the computer, good Wifi is non-negotiable.
  6. Comfortable Seating: It may seem obvious, but there needs to be comfortable seating… But not too comfortable, or you will fall asleep. It may sound nice to curl up on that couch by the fireplace, but sometimes it can be easy to drift off. I like to find a nice table next to an outlet.
  7. Friendly Staff: Last but not least, I always value friendly staff. Baristas that remember your name or favorite drink are to be cherished.

 

 

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Recipe

Cook the Perfect Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash has become wildly popular lately as a low-carb option to replace spaghetti noodles. It’s paleo-friendly, naturally gluten-free and fairly inexpensive. It is also super nutritious, offering significant amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, calcium, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which support a healthy immune system and can help prevent heart disease.

Last fall, I went through a pretty serious spaghetti squash faze. During that time, I   experimented countless ways to cook, roast, and sauté that beautiful yellow vegetable (I even tried slow cooking it in the Crock Pot!) I have finally decided that this is my tried and true favorite way to prepare spaghetti squash.

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First step is to cut the squash in half, lengthwise. Be sure to use a very sharp knife.

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Next, using a metal spoon, scoop out all the “guts” (seeds and pulp.)

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This next step is optional, and looking at other recipes, I found that not many other recipes call for this. Using my fingers, I like to rub the insides with olive oil and sprinkle on sea salt and pepper. I think it just gives it a little more flavor, but depending on what recipe you are using the squash for, you might want to skip this.

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Place the squash face-down on a baking sheet and cook at 375 for about 45 minutes… Cook time will vary depending on the size of your squash.

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They come out looking beautiful! I like to flip my squash over and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before shredding.

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Last by not least, using a fork, just pull the strands out. It comes out looking like spaghetti noodles!

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 45 min

Total time: 50 min

Ingredients

Spaghetti Squash (about 2 lbs)

1 Tbs Olive Oil

2 tsp Salt

1 tsp Pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF
  2. Slice squash in half, lengthwise.
  3. Rub squash with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place squash on baking sheet, cut side down.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Using a fork, pull the strands out.
  7. Enjoy!

How you decide to cook your spaghetti squash will depend on what you are using it for and how much time you have to spend on it. This may not be the fastest or most hands-free way, but in my opinion, it is the tastiest. Keep an eye out for another recipe coming soon… My favorite spaghetti squash entrée! Thanks for reading!

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Lifestyle

How to Set Goals (and stick to them)

With 30 credits under my belt, I have officially completed one year of my college education. Yay for me! Taking online classes has opened many doors for me and allowed me to experience some amazing opportunities. My online schooling is extremely flexible, which is both amazing and challenging all in one. Although it allows me to create my own schedule, there is also little-to-no accountability. I very quickly learned that I need to set my own deadlines, or nothing will get done. Taking online classes has helped me to develop self discipline and forced me learn how to create my own goals (and stick to them.) Goal setting is an invaluable skill, and one that needs to be consistently regulated. These are the five tips I have gathered that have made me a successful goal-setter.

 

  1. Make a Schedule

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It is so important to write everything down. Getting into the practice of having a planner is essential to goal setting. Make a list of everything that needs to get done, then prioritize. Use your calendar app, a paper agenda or whatever you find the easiest to use and schedule those items in! Make appointments for yourself. Being able to check things off allows you to track you progress, it’s so rewarding! This transitions to my next tip:

2. Make it Specific

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Be specific with your goals. Don’t say things like “I want to complete this class in one month,” or “I want to try to workout more.” Avoid words like “try” and other uncertain terms. Be firm. This is what I like to call, the “break down.” Phrase goals carefully and specifically, assignment by assignment, day by day. Don’t let yourself have an excuse in case of failure.

  1. Make Yourself Deadlines

 

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Every goal needs a deadline. If you are like me and most of your goals don’t have a harsh deadline, it is absolutely essential to create your own. I learned this very quickly doing my online classes, not every one of my classes has due dates. That may sound great (and sometimes it is) however, that can make it very difficult to get anything done. So, I started making my own. Make your goals attainable, and put a time restriction on them. Time bound goals are goals that get done.

  1. Make a Reward System

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If I find that I am getting nothing done, I like to create rewards (or consequences) for myself. For example, if I get my assigned reading done, I will allow myself to eat that snack I have been craving. Or, until I get all my emails sent out, I don’t get to drink anymore coffee (I find that I am very food motivated.) Whatever works! Often this helps me to focus harder and motivate me to get things done.

Bonus tip: stay electronic free if at all possible. Social media is a huge distraction and pulls focus away from more important tasks. For me, this means no phone until I complete my daily assignments and no phone while I do my daily Bible study. This can also be a huge motivator to get work done!

  1. Make a Strong Team
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Look at how cute she is!!

Lastly, and arguably the most important component of goal setting, is accountability. I found out very quickly into my college career that it is essential to my success to have accountability, especially because I don’t have teachers or classmates to keep me in check. It can be a huge burden to feel like everything is on your shoulders to complete your goals. If you have an accountability partner, or team, it can lift some of that burden. In my own life, I have found that my mom is my best accountability partner. Not only in school, but also in my relationship with God, and my physical health. Working with a coach or mentor can be a powerful tool. Choosing someone to examine your goals and check in on your progress can keep you in check.

 

Goal setting and achievement is a lifelong process. We are constantly growing and learning, and our goals and priorities should reflect that. These are the tips that have helped me succeed in this season of my life. I hope they can help you in some way as well! Thanks for reading!

 

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Lifestyle

Decide to Give, Not Just Live In Your Home

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin was a very interesting book I read for the Leadership Theory and Practice class. I highly recommend it if you are interested in history or politics.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin was a very interesting book I read for the Leadership Theory and Practice class. I highly recommend it if you are interested in history or politics.

In the final week of my Leadership Theory and Practice class, one of my assignments was to listen to an interview between Dr. Jeff Myers and Dr. Voddie Baucham. Dr. Voddie Baucham brings up the issue of authority many times throughout the interview. He really convicted me of the way I respond to the authority figures in my life, especially my mother and father. Baucham mentions that the way we respond to people in authority is the way we respond to God’s authority. I feel like I need to be more aware of the way I am responding to my parent’s authority, not just being willing to obey when I agree with their decisions, but more importantly, when I don’t.

I feel that God is calling me to have more of an attitude of service in my home, offering the gifts God gave me to bless my family. I need to trust the authority He has me under. Dr. Voddie Baucham made me realize that I need to give, not just live in my home. Romans 13:1 says “let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Even if you don’t always see eye to eye with your parents, God has placed them in that position of leadership, and we are all called to trust the authority God has put us under. Easier said than done, I know. But we have a biblical obligation to submit to our rulers.

Someone once asked me, “what if that manager you loathed the most was the person you showed the most respect?” Yikes. I immediately felt the gunshot of conviction right to my heart. Since then, I have tried my best to make every response to the people I work with thoughtful and respectful. The more I do it, the more of a habit respect is becoming to me. It has been the hardest behavior change for me to adopt, and the most fruitful.

My prayer is that I would learn how to humbly submit to my parents and develop an attitude of service in my home. Not only with my words, but with my actions. I pray that without saying anything, I could become an example of biblical service to my family.

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