Breakfast in Bagdhad

20140628-082034-30034747.jpg

Nights turn into Baghdad, and the days echo Vietnam. How did we get to this point? Friends against friends, brothers against sisters, families against families.

Amidst war and among terrified hearts, I hear the harp and choir of angels. Oceans of music and song engulf my soul, enraptured, I listen with pleasure. The sound is gentle and powerful.

My spirit chases the song like a swallow after her breakfast. The noise of a world offended fades and I find myself in the presence of angels and perfect peace. I have caught my breakfast.

Resolve. The days get darker, but my soul gets lighter. The confusion rises, but my clarity anchors. People gamble with hope, I preserve my vision. As egos take their thrones, I step down and remove my crown.

I am thankful there will be a day where I will surrender this kingdom, to gain one I will never lose. And I will no longer eat my breakfast in Bagdhad.

 

Be The Change Devotional Week 21: Be Cool

photo-10When I was younger, my older sister created a “Cool Lady Club.” Pitching me on being cool, she convinced me to join. I wanted what she had -coolness. Over a few weeks she showed me how to ‘be cool’ -like her. She showed me new ways to scrunch my socks, how to do my hair, and how to walk and talk.

But through all the cool lessons, the one lesson learned is that it is wrong to be someone else’s idea of cool. Every time I went out in public, it just felt weird trying to be someone I wasn’t. I was awkward. What I needed was my own cool.

Have you joined a “cool club” that really isn’t you? Do you need to whistle your own tune? Then read on to discover…

Four things I am discovering about the true meaning of coolness:

1) Being cool is to down play. Have you seen those moments in movies where the new graduate gets her dream job. Shephoto 1 squeals, then restrains the excitement. Then squabbles out a self-controlled, thank you? After the excitement passes, there must be self-control to allow the coolness to take over. It is her self-restraint that gives her the sustainability to keep up with her colleagues.

2) Being cool is to allow others to express themselves. When you give someone a gift, don’t be more excited than the other person. When you are sharing a heartfelt or dramatic story, share it without the passionate speech. Have you been in that position where either you or your friend start to cry in the middle of conversation? It gets awkward. Hold it back.

Keep your cool. If you moderate your own emotional expression, you give others a chance to discover their own feelings and thoughts about it.

3) Being cool is to know your value. What are you bringing to the table with your friendships, family, work, and social life? Know your value and position and be confident. You don’t have to pour out your value to solicit cheap compliments. If you’re truly confidently cool, you won’t be reaching. Hold your value back and wait.

When I come across a cool person, they rarely point out their own value. If it comes up: Let your value be understated. Don’t even mention it, or refer to #1: Downplay. Confident coolness is noted by others when you don’t bite the bait. 

4) Being cool is to develop good timing. Timing is everything. Without good timing all coolness goes out the window. Practice restraint in telling a joke, a story, venting, anything at all. Wait. Consider the proper person and moment to share or have a conversation. 

Tip for jokes: Don’t laugh at your own jokes. Refer back to #2: Restrain and allow others to express themselves. 

photo-9Be the Change Devotional Week 21 is all about being cool. If you realize you aren’t being you, it’s a good sign you aren’t being cool. I dare you to be yourself. It could be the hardest challenge you have this week, but don’t sacrifice your value, self-worth, and all your coolness for someone else’s idea of cool (including mine, irony). Be yourself because everyone else is already taken.

If you become emotional, passionate, or overbearing, dial it down. Discover the cool you. When you are alone, look for your cool. And find new ways to work it into your social life. How cool can you be this week? How calmly can you express excitement, satisfaction, or new ideas? 

Be confident, self-restrained, and independent.

Be Cool. 

Elle

Follow Be The Change 2014 Devotional? Subscribe to Grace For Elle and Discover the Good Life with me! 

Baby Girl Quilt: Chevron Design

Yes! Here I go again. After the first quilt, I had to say, ‘yes’ to a second quilt! Out of seven grand children, we finally have a girl! Over a span of ten years all we had were boys. So when I got the news my sister was having a baby girl…I fell off the boy wagon and found myself buying all sorts of cute frilly outfits with ice cream cones and sea horses. Next, the fabric store!

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4So here it is. Not finished, but almost. An original design; I found on Pinterest. (I don’t use patterns much, so I just did the math.) Then you have the pictures of the progress. Fun! She is going to be so spoiled by her auntie!

 

A Simple Thank You

photo-8There are days when I work harder than usual to serve others and desire their good above my own. It’s a fine balance to enjoy others while enjoying myself. Generally, we all want to be treated with respect, fairness, and recognition of who we are.

Sometimes when I express myself too much, I can eclipse my friends and family and not treat them the way they desire or should be treated. No one can enjoy this. These are the days when I realize that I have a lot to learn; and I am humbled.

The past couple of days have been like this…So when I signed on this morning to write a review, checked my notifications, and found some awesome stats! I was instantly encouraged!

  • 14 people had liked my recent post -which is the most I have ever gotten in a day. You can read the post here.
  • I received my wordpress medal for having 100 followers! Woot! Woot!
  • Paulette Motzko, a fellow blogger, http://totallyinspiredpc.wordpress.com reblogged my recent post.

Upon being instantly encouraged, I wanted to write a simple thank you:

Thank you for those of you who subscribe and follow Grace For Elle, visit and read my blog, like my posts, share it with others, and are changed by my words. You are an encouragement and inspiration to me.

Elle

 

Be The Change Devotional Week 20 – Half Way Point

photo-6

At the start of 2014, I set out to be the change I wish to see in the world. All my complaints and irritations would be swept under my own personal carpet. In other words, I have been seeking to ignore the flaws of others, in order to pursue changing my own.

The first half of the year has been amazing so far. And I’m not just writing that to score points or look cool. This devotional has really changed my life. And I only hope my words have changed yours too. Every post I write has been inspired by moments that have cornered me, and then brought the best out of me.

The following categories were the initial reasons to “Be The Change,” so I decided to reflect upon these.

photo 2

My Productivity - I’ve done things for the first time and acquired new hobbies. I’ve stayed focused on my fitness goals and haven’t given up, and now in training to run a race at the end of July. I’ve fought some mental battles, been tested in faith and have come out victorious and strong in habit.

My Confidence - I am not any more confident than 6 months ago. However, the more I commit to change, my hope gets stronger and stronger. (Hope is a form of confidence.) And my confident hope has the ability to sustain my pure enjoyment of life.

My Relationships - Improved. When I am happy and self-regulated, I can enjoy my relationships more. I can give more freely, expect less, and enjoy my friends and family for who they are.

Do you want to follow Grace For Elle’s, “Be The Change Devotional”? Do you want to see positive change in your life?photo-7 I try to post weekly inspirational thoughts that inspire good changes within all my readers. Those good changes fuel the fire that will motivate us to discover the good life we indeed have.

Life is amazing if you give the harder road a chance. It’s hard to change. It’s hard to walk with higher standards, morals, and to walk in a way that is spotless (not completely possible). But I pursue that path here! There is a saying that goes, “Narrow is the road that leads to life and only few find it.” 

Discover the good life with me? Follow Grace For Elle!  

Discover that narrow road and see that it brings new life, amazing energy, and boundless joy. It fills you up and brings new hope daily.

This week consider the weeks passed and the weeks ahead. Choose progress no matter what. You have one life to live here. It is better spent doing what we think is impossible, not what has already been seen. Become the person you were created to be. Change it up and start living your life to the full.

Be changed.

Be The Change Devotional Week 19: Be Disciplined

photo-3

As I was running, I got passed by someone. Before I became competitive, I began appreciating that she was out there with me. She is doing her thing! She is on the picture above. There she goes…into the trail, and into the depth of the foothills. The mountains looked so big, the trail so desolate, and the woman -so courageous. It was a majestic picture of conquering the mountains in our lives, I thought.

On a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being the most self-disciplined) how would you rate your self-discipline? Are you like everyone else? Or are you really different? Whether you are training for a marathon, crafting, being a mother or father, or auditioning to be the next James Bond you are going to need discipline.

People who accept their inadequacies as a part of themselves rather than work hard at transforming them are a dime a dozen. They are like Starbucks in Downtown Seattle…on every block and every corner. Even I have found myself on those corners every now and again. But when I’m there, I quickly realize that I have to kick my discipline into high gear if I want to achieve better results for my life.

The cream rises to the top; and it’s not a natural drift upward either…it requires discipline. That is to say, when your feelings lead you down, your thoughts have got to pull you up! When your physical being says ‘shut it down,’ your thoughts have to override that sensory input and command your body to perform.

There is always something or someone that will try to pull you under with the strength of an undertow…but you have got to power that engine called WILL and fight against that tendency to get sucked under -until at last you acquire the DISCIPLINE to do what must be done.

Discipline doesn’t require emotion or reason. A person who has discipline holds the desired result as their fundamental motivation. There is no emotion or reasoning behind it. Simply put, it is achieving the exact thing you want.

If want to lose 20lbs, don’t lose 10 and be okay with it. If you set out to build a boat, build a boat. Don’t build a doghouse. Figuratively, if you have a big project you are passionate about, don’t redirect your energies because something was slightly off. Get it right! When there is a setback, proper discipline will guide you toward the result you desired. Don’t reason, don’t wait for inspiration -do what must be done to get exactly what you want!

Week 19 is all about being disciplined. Power up your will, fight the riptide, and don’t listen to your signals to quit for once! Push yourself through to heights you thought weren’t humanly possible. You can always do more, be more, and have more. Realize your invisible limits CAN be broken and you’ll live more than ever before!  Strong discipline is the way to do it. Break your limits.

Be disciplined.

Citizen of Heaven

I’m beginning to think I’m living something different from the religion that you have seen or experimented with that you call Christianity. I don’t practice a religion. I’m not a member of a social club. I don’t subscribe to philosophical lectures.And although it’s a sub-culture, the true culture that is manifesting is out of this world.

This is real. God’s truth, His word. All of it is otherworldly.

I called this post “Citizen’s of Heaven” because while I was meditating, I realized that my character is changing to that of someone who would be from heaven. I desire heaven more than earth. The supernatural sanctification comes nearly daily now. Simply said, I enjoy meditating more and more upon heaven and the Lord, yet I ask, “What can do while I am still here?”

I take great joy and comfort in the midst of challenges that someday I will have my perfect love, my complete joy, and my unfettered freedom. I have supreme gratitude that ONE DAY I will become a citizen of HEAVEN. And the more I am sanctified, the more suitable I am to live there. I look forward to the coming days where I can call heaven my true “home.” I know that when I can call heaven my home, my character will reflect one that is from such a place.

You see, I am not that person yet. I am very much apart of the story on earth. I enjoy earthly pleasures, gadgets, fashion, and all the creations man-kind can think up. I think they are remarkably beautiful and inspiring. The depth we have as humans is enough to keep my wheels turning for the rest of my life.

I still get frustrated, angry, exhausted, jealous, discontent, and anxious like everyone else. However, because I have my promise and it completely obliterates all those things and I think to myself…that day is not today, but one day, yes.

Another side of our earthly lives, is brokenness of course. I’ve been broken (for what I thought at the time was) beyond repair. Yet God’s love and faithfulness to me have regenerated my spirit to become greater than I was before.

I have no regrets, I have no resentment or bitterness. And I am amazed at the steady purification that my heart undergoes. Everyday, the challenges of life refine me more AND MORE. And each day, I find myself desiring to become a citizen of heaven. Or at least, reflect one for now.

I want to be sure I am doing everything I can to prepare my heart for heaven. I want to do everything I can to prepare other people too.

The Average Life - Without the daily impression and pursuit of eternal life, the Christian lives in vain. Their pre-destined tests burn up in their passions and lusts and their hope ends up floating in the ashes. They succumb to common behavior which is suitable for a citizen of earth.

I could say that about anything anyone reaches for in vain will vanish eventually. Hope is alive in indulgent revelries reminiscent of dreams. But the dreams are yet in vain, they vanish and hope goes with it.  Love gets lost when steam is gone. Joy is lost when the burdens appear. And faith is lost because they didn’t seek the truth in the first place.

The Christian Sketch – simply put, is one that, in midst of storms and tests, has faith to weather through. They believe God’s promises, and come out victorious. People are better because of the Christian. People are stronger in faith because of the Christian. People are lifted up in hope in a dismal world because of the faith and endurance of a Christian.

Christians endure many hardships as the rest do. The difference is they do not suffer in vain. Their roots run deep. And despite the difficulty life gives, they are strengthened and refreshed. Their wisdom is refined. Their hope never disappoints. Their joy is unshakeable. And their resilience is untiring. All because they have a God who comes through on every blessing and every promise for this life and the next. The Christian lives for the final promise of everlasting life.

 

Homemade Pizza Links and Recipe

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 3.34.44 PM

What American family doesn’t love pizza? When I was young, I remember my father buying pizza one night a week. We ate pizza and breadsticks; And we got to drink soda too. We usually rented a movie and ate pizza. It was our family fun night at home.

Now, things are a lot different. We eat the store bought pizza almost every night of the week and watch movies every night too! All I can say, is that convenience is king…most of the time. (I don’t wholly agree with that idea.)

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 3.38.51 PMI can’t help thinking that store-bought pizza is unhealthy. Hmmm? Got any ideas? So instead, I chose to make a healthy pizza from home. This way, I can control the ingredients, the amount of cheese, thickness of crust, flavors, and I can guarantee it’s freshness better than any pizza company!

photo 3I’ve made a few pizzas already but these links (so Far) are an exquisite addition to my kitchen repertoire of recipes.

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust 

Pizza Sauce

I boiled the herbs and onions (along with the oil) because onions are too strong for me. I also added a bit of apple cider vinegar to avoid creating sauce that was too acidic. (For sensitive stomach’s I recommend doing this.)

photo 1photo 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, I make a Garlic Chicken & Spinach Alfredo Pizza (above). It turned out great. My recipe for the Garlic Alfredo Sauce is below. I pan fried the chicken with basic seasoning, and used the crust recipe above. I cooked the pizzas at 375 F for 17 minutes. (The recipes don’t tell you how long and at what temperature.)

Alfredo Pizza Sauce Recipe:

2 parts milk

1 part half and half

1 tablespoon of salted butter

3 grated cloves of garlic

1/8-1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.

A dash of Nutmeg

Pinches of flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Over medium heat, sauté garlic in butter until light brown. Add dairy, heat but do not boil. Stir consistently. Add Parmesan cheese, stir. Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Stir. Pinch in flour to thicken. (Do not add too much at a time or it may turn out with chunks of flour.)

Time: 20 minutes

 

Be The Change Devotional Week 18: Be Guided

photo

Have you ever let your emotions make choices for you? Have you realized only after the choice was made that it was the WRONG one? I’ve come to discover that there are two types of choices to be made -right choices and wrong choices. Hidden beneath the constant waves of emotions there actually is a black and white, and the gray area is emotional buzz.

Any leader knows that in order to lead others, he must lead himself first. He has to guide himself down paths of righteousness, integrity, and love -considering the interests of everyone. He can’t do this if he ascribes to the ideology of “do what you feel” or “trust your feelings.”

The ability to feel love does not make you a loving person. Feeling good about a choice, does not make that choice righteous or full of integrity. And last, to make choices based on how you feel are almost never decided with consideration for the interest of others.

You can make wrong choices and feel great (despite the consequences that affect everyone else) OR you can make right choices and feel great. The difference is that making the right choices guides your life toward happiness, stability, maturity, and success. Great or small your choices affect everything and everyone around you.

There is a right and a wrong way. Use your imagination to envision a life that is built upon solid, strong choices.

Maybe the picture of your life isn’t great, and that not-so-fancy reality wants to ruin your faith and belief in something better. Regardless of this, you must start making the right choices despite your life conditions. Be like a strong oak tree, and make choices that strengthen your roots and provide shade for others.

Week 18 is about guiding yourself to make right decisions. Your life and those you love will be blessed in a big way if you do this. Filter out the emotional buzz and discover the good and right choices that have the power to build a good life. To be guided, you must believe in, trust, and protect the promises of abundance that await your enjoyment through your choices.

Be Guided.

 

8 Day Sewing Frenzy – Day 8

Final day! After my previous work, I had to at least get it looking acceptable! I spent hours seam ripping so I could start again. I looked for more tutorials for easy, machine binding.

This time, I went to a regular blog. The link I used is here. (I love this website. Now, one of my favorite sewing sites.) She made it simple and clear; My way of communicating! Things don’t have to be complicated if you know how to explain them thoroughly. As before, I went for it. But this time, I could see what I was sewing.

photo 2 photo 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things I will consider for next time:

  • I definitely want to do another chevron quilt.
  • It’s good to practice, so I will do a few more similar to this one. Experimenting with colors, trim, thread, fabric.
  • Buying a quilting machine. I loved making my first quilt so much that I want to do the frilly designs too.

Overall experience in retrospect:  I don’t have proper tools like a cutting table, a large work space, and all the knick knacks that make this easier, or even the sharpest scissors. But somehow all that didn’t matter. Not only did I make my first quilt, but I listened to Bible teachings while I sewed. I used my mathematical and spatial reasoning skills. I stuck to the plan. I overcame obstacles, and finished what I set out to do. I am pleased with the final results for my first quilt. Many of my friends and family encourage me too by giving me positive feedback.

photo

Life Lesson: Anyone can do anything with the resources that they have right now. They only need to look for the inner willpower and then use it. They need to find their drive and tenacious desire to succeed and ride those out to the finish line. Resources may be sparse but motivation is infinite. Money may be lacking, but drive is more valuable than money. To finish what you started is better than perfection.