Beyond Measure

I suppose I’m a bit like everyone else out there when it comes to the approach of a new year. I get reflective – more reflective than usual, I mean – and I begin to ponder what the upcoming year is going to look like. The funny thing about that is that I know that the year is probably not going to end at all like what I envisioned in the beginning. I can look back to this these last few days of December over the past four or five years and I see the same pattern. And truth be told, 2019 is one of the first years that when I think ahead – I don’t really have a clear vision.

That’s not to say that I don’t have goals for this year or things that I’d like to work towards, because that’s not the case at all. These past few months have created a new sense of appreciation for detours and a beautiful acceptance in my heart. The road may diverge from where we think it is leading us, but the journey is good and holy and full of beautiful work.

From 2014-early 2018, I was in this season of preparation where I truly felt so in tune with what I felt like God was asking me to step into that I never even considered that possibility that He might change the plans on me. And when He did? Well, that’s how I ended up here. In a city that I’d once prayed that He would send me to but never did. In a job that I’ve spent five years thinking I’d be leaving.

I began 2018 believing that I was going to end up in Central Illinois for grad school and I’m ended it here in Central North Carolina. As Annie F. Downs writes in her most recent book, Remember God, “sometimes when you’re following God, even doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing can still land you in the wrong spot. Or at least not get you where you wanted to go. And yet sometimes, those are the best stories He tells. Heartbreaking. Hopeful. True for me.”

And for me.

As I sit here now, on day three of a new year, I do not believe that I landed in the wrong spot. Different doesn’t mean it’s wrong. But those words that Annie wrote in her book, this book that reached me at the perfect time, are certainly true for me. My walk with God is full of stories of Him using detours and heartbreak to create something hopeful and it gives me all the feels.

Life today looks differently than what I thought it would a year ago. And I will probably be saying the same thing this time next year. But today I’m crazy grateful for our God who consistently gives beyond measure and who chooses answers years-old prayers instead of my newer ones.

2019, Let’s Go

Happy New Year and welcome to 2019!

It doesn’t quite feel believable that it’s January 1st around here although that’s probably because it’s legit 70 degrees here in Raleigh today. Seriously.

It seems fitting, though, that today is the first day of the year and I spent a portion of it in the gym. Now, that’s obviously not all that different from thousands, if not millions, of other people but hey, I was there.

I’m beginning 2019 in a manner that I would have never thought I would – and that is with a trainer. It feels strange even saying that, like there’s this weird thing that happens when I even say the word “trainer” but nevertheless, I’ve got one. And truthfully, it was high time.

My health journey isn’t super interesting in the grand scheme of things and I’m still learning to listen to my body and become more in tune with what it needs. And right now, in this season, it needs the addition of strength training and I know myself well enough to know that I’m not going to get very far if I start out solo. Is it uncomfortable? Um, yes. My body kind of hates me. Is it awkward? Yep. But God has been showing me lately just how much I need to focus on my health in all areas (spiritual, mental, physical, etc). He’s reminding me that when one thing is off – whether it’s in my physical wellness, spiritual wellness, or whatever – it shows up in other areas of my life.

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Cauliflower Gnocchi with Pesto and Chicken

When Trader Joe’s first debuted their cauliflower gnocchi in the frozen section a few months ago, I was super excited that it was a product that was not just gluten-free but also paleo. I tried it soon after it hit shelves and served it with a marinara sauce and while it was good, I wasn’t necessarily wowed. Recently, though, as I’ve been taking steps to getting back in the gluten-free eating game I found myself pinning all sorts of gnocchi-based recipes to try with the cauliflower gnocchi and ultimately decided that my next gnocchi attempt would be with a pesto sauce.

So I picked up a bag of the cauliflower gnocchi, Trader Joe’s vegan pesto (seriously, SO good, and dare I say way better than any traditional pesto I’ve ever tried), and some chicken breast tenderloins. I cooked the gnocchi according to the directions on the package and while that was going, I seasoned the tenderloins with TJ’s 21 Seasoning Salute and cooked them in a separate skillet. Once the chicken and gnocchi were cooked through, I chopped the chicken up and tossed it with the gnocchi and pesto.

Cauliflower Gnocchi with Pesto and Chicken

GAME CHANGER, MY FRIENDS!

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5 Things

5 Things
  1. We’re having our first snow of the season here in Raleigh! Well, I guess it’s not even Winter yet – how crazy is that? Around here, we don’t usually get any snow until at least mid-late January since it usually doesn’t get cold enough until then. But this pre-Christmas snowstorm brought us 5-7 inches (we never officially measured) but some areas near us got up to 10-11! As a teacher, it’s always a mixture of feelings when it snows. It’s always nice to have a break but having to make up the time can be frustrating. 
  2. I signed up for Emily P. Freeman’s Quiet Collection for Christmas today and I am so excited to start listening! Emily has the most soothing voice and I love listening to her podcast so I knew that this collection of audio devotionals would be just wonderful. There are 14 of them so starting today, I’ll be able to listen to them up through Christmas!
  3. Also, on that note…how is Christmas Eve already two weeks from today?! I always find myself wishing this season could last twice as long – it’s just so cozy and merry and wonderful!
  4. In the past week or so, I feel myself gradually coming out of this “funk” (don’t know exactly what to call it) that I’ve been in for a couple months now. I know a large part of why I’ve been feeling what I have has been due to my relationship with God. While He never leaves us unattended, this has definitely been a season where I’ve retreated inward a bit and definitely didn’t seek Him out and communicate with Him like I should. Like I shared in my post earlier this week, the theme that I feel like has been continually highlighted for me has been Remember God. It’s no coincidence that I read Annie F. Downs’ book by the same name back a couple months when I first slipped into this season and then these words came up again two weeks ago in a super convicting sermon at church.
  5. This past week, with my first published blog post since September, I feel myself being pulled ever so slightly back to the blogging world a bit. Writing and blogging have been so central in my story for more than eight years now and it’s a platform that I truly don’t know that I could ever fully abandon. My audience has ebbed and flowed over the years but I can’t help but feel sometimes like it doesn’t really matter how many people actually look at this space (currently, that would be very few at all) just as long as I’m sharing something. With the New Year just a few weeks away, I always take this time each year to think on the year ahead and intentionally write out my goals with the aid of Lara Casey’s Powersheets (which are wonderful!). I am praying and reflecting on how God would like me to use my voice in this space and what He wants it to look like. 

That’s what’s up around here lately! Here’s to finishing out 2018 strong!

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