Cupcakes and Sunshine: November 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

mixing things up with skinnypop


From holiday jammies, to Christmas tunes, to warm fuzzy socks, and peppermint EVERYTHING-- the best time of the year is finally here!!


It's also one of the busiest times of the year- school, work, to-do's, and deadlines galore! It can be hard to find some downtime leading up to the new year. This year, I am really working on resting
and soaking in every part of this Christmas celebration season with friends and family.


I was so excited to work with SkinnyPop to bring you a delicious and easy recipe to enjoy as you spend time with loved ones. Mix things up! Leave behind the busy, watch a Christmas movie, sip some cocoa, and enjoy this chocolate-y popcorn mix!


This recipe only takes 5 minutes!! First things first, you will need mini marshmallows, peppermints, white chocolate chips, and milk chocolate chips. SkinnyPop's Dusted Dark Chocolate Popcorn is amazing on its own. So hold yourself back from eating the whole bag before you actually mix in all your mix-in's. Melt your chocolate chips and crush your peppermints. Mix marshmallows, crushed peppermints, and melted chocolate with SkinnyPop's Dusted Dark Chocolate Popcorn and BOOM. You are done. So, so easy.


And then, hold yourself back from eating the entire bowl of popcorn before friends and family arrive as well. Because this stuff is too good, my friends.


Hey! Let me know how you're mixing things up this holiday season. And also- let me know once you try this recipe. It's a good one that I may just have to have around year-round. Happy, happy Wednesday friends!




**Disclaimer:
This post may contain affiliate links that do not effect the prices of items included in this post.













Friday, November 25, 2016

quiet time


Recently, I've been really intrigued by how great leaders spend time with Jesus. This topic was something I was really interested in a few months back, and has since come up in a few conversations, so I thought it would be cool to revisit these thoughts and do some research!

I feel sometimes we think...HEY! That person is a great leader! That person is an incredible influencer! I want to be just like them!

But in actuality, we are seeing how much they reflect Jesus in their words and actions, and that is what attracts us and draws us to be led and encouraged by great leaders. It is important to seek Jesus first and he will mold you, shape you, and transform you to become a great leader as you take the posture to surrender your heart to look more like his.



If you are a Christian, you have been called to LEAD. You are a leader! You are an influencer, and the Lord has given you the resources and tools to go into the world and to make disciples. (Matthew 28)

A few weeks ago, I was on a weekend retreat with 10th graders who had surrendered their lives to Jesus, and wanted so badly to know Jesus and become more like him ASAP- right then and there. in the moment. One of my girls said, "I just see so many godly people!! And I don't know how to be godly!"

It was super exciting to see how excited they were to become more like Jesus! But, they were expecting instantaneous growth and heart change, and becoming a great Christian and a great leader is a process of yielding your heart and having disciplined time each day with the Lord.

To become more like Christ, you have to know Christ. And to know Christ, you have to spend time with him and get to know him. This quiet time you reserve with the Lord is the environment for growth and heart change. Your quiet time with Jesus is the most important part of the day because you are surrendering your time to his counsel and guidance to lead you in whatever you do. Isaiah 9:6 describes Jesus as being our "Wonderful Counselor." I love this because it means we can trust him with what we are going through, and he will lead us and guide us as we spend time with him.

One of my favorite leaders, Ben Stuart, said "I’ve never met a good Christian who isn’t in the word every day, and I’ve never met a bad Christian who is."

So first things first, I get in the word each morning!

This is what my morning quiet time looks like...

1. I don't set an alarm clock but I get up really, really early. Mornings are my favorite! I used to get frustrated that I couldn't sleep in (actually most of my life I've been extremely frustrated by it), but now, I am so so thankful for morning quiet time because it is my favorite part of the day- crisp air and stillness and the most peaceful time! I usually get up shortly after 5. Right when I wake up, I start the coffee pot and make oatmeal too. While the coffee pot is going and the oatmeal is on the stove, I grab my bible, journals, and pens and turn the lamp on in the living room. (this week I grabbed my heated blanket as well because it is now cold in Dallas too! hooray!)


I play some worship music (I have a spotify playlist just for "morning" quiet time) Then I pour my coffee and begin praying for focus, a willing heart, and an open mind for whatever the Lord has in store to teach and show me that day.



2. Next, I start writing books of the bible. This may sound a bit funny, but I feel it has helped me to slow down and comprehend the bible SO MUCH. I currently am writing through Isaiah. I'll write a chapter or two- word for word- each morning in a separate journal to start my quiet time. One of the biggest insecurities I have is that I didn't grow up reading the bible and I feel so behind in bible knowledge. (which is SILLY and something I'm working through) Writing the bible has helped me know who is who and where is where and what is what. And I get to soak in each and every God-breathed word!



3. After writing a few chapters of a book, I open my daily devotional. I've had the same devotional for a couple years, and I usually write whatever I am walking through or thinking of each morning on the bottom of that devotional page. I have recently picked up a new devotional, and I'm planning on doing the same thing in this one. I read through the daily devotional, pray about the devotional message, look up the verses on the page, and journal some life applications. 

4. Afterwards, I journal my prayers and spend time with the Lord and just pray about the day and life and the world and for leaders and friends and people on my heart.




A few weeks ago, I wrote down some verses and taped them to my wall so I could see them and remember them throughout the week. And I don't really know how it happened, but the index cards kept growing and growing on my wall as I needed more and more verses. I started writing out prayers and putting them on my wall too. And now I keep index cards with me wherever I go- in the car, in my bag, next to my bedside table.

The cards have really helped me to pray specifically for different people and situations because now I have a whole index card to devote to them, instead of just a...Lord be with them. Amen prayer...ya know? Now I fill each card with specific prayers. Then when the day is over, I hang them all up in the evening time and just think about them and pray about them while I do it. I'm a WORDS person and a VISUAL learner. So this wall is a combo of both and really has helped me during my quiet time to write and see. It is really cool to visually see prayers that have been answered on the wall as well.

5. Usually sometime throughout the day, I'll go on a walk and listen to a podcast too.
I am a podcast junkie to the max, and I'll go ahead and accept the nerd title for this reason. Sometimes I do this in the mornings or evenings, but I'll list some great podcasts by some great communicators below! Podcasts set my heart on fire and just really get me motivated to dive into the word or work on things I need to work on. (also this week, I've been petsitting and I've had a podcast and walking buddy. It's been the best)



6. And lastly, I chat with a friend, accountability partner, mentor/leader a few times each week. Great mentors and leaders will direct you where your focus needs to be during your quiet time. Proverbs 17:7 says iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Find a person you look up to who leads and loves well and ask them for wisdom and advice. (Join a small group!!) If I'm having a hard day, or just need some help, having someone there to pour into me and walk through life with me makes all the difference. Jennie Allen says, "We can't pour out what's not poured in."I have some great mentors and leaders back home in Georgia, and I'm currently working on asking some life advice/wisdom from some great leaders here in Texas too!

Okay, this may all seem like a lot. And it may be, but I have a lot of time in the mornings before I have to start getting ready around 8. If it is time you are needing (which I know from experience this can be a real issue for sure!), PRAY FOR MARGIN AND TIME to spend with the Lord.



If you feel you don't have time, pray for it and the Lord will show you areas in which you can narrow your focus and schedule to spend more time with him. Last year, I was a hot mess of busy all the time. But I asked the Lord to relieve my schedule and show me where I could spend more time with him and he did!

Your quiet time is about how YOU spend time with the Lord. It is resting, and being vulnerable, and just opening up your heart to receive. This could be through journaling, listening to music, writing, creating things with your hands (sometimes I'm just like...I NEED TO CREATE SOMETHING AND I NEED TO DO IT NOW), painting, singing, worshiping, reading books, praying on the way to work or class, running (shout out to you. I wish I felt at rest with the Lord while running), etc.



When I was having a hard time finding time to spend with the Lord, I would try to pray wherever I was right in the moment. I used to hate being stuck in traffic, and now I don't mind it because I use that time to talk to Jesus out loud. (the people in the cars next to me may think I'm crazy, but it's fine. it's cool. Jesus is worth it.) And a couple years back, I started parking in the very back of parking lots- and would spend the time walking to wherever I was going- whether work or the store or class- in prayer. Now, it's a habit and I park in the back of almost all parking places, and get to squeeze in some time with the Lord. (He's with you wherever you go! Joshua 1:9

I hope these tips have been helpful and encouraging in some way for you!!

Some of my favorite messages, blogs, and podcasts by some great leaders:

Ben Stuart: Pure and Simple Devotion-
http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/pure-and-simple-devotion

 Nicole V. Cole: Quiet time Resources (<----One of my favorite blogs I follow!!!):
http://www.nicolevcole.com/blog//2015/10/day-15-quiet-time-resources.html
^^lots of good resources and devotionals and encouragement!

Jennie Allen: Choosing Not Empty-
http://www.jennieallen.com/choosing-not-empty/

Tim Keller: Basis of Prayer-
http://podbay.fm/show/352660924/e/1370018647?autostart=1

Francis Chan: Quiet time-
http://www.allaboutgod.com/quiet-time-video.htm

SoulScripts: Shut Up and Pray (<----One of my favorite blogs I follow!!!):
http://thesoulscripts.com/blog/2016/7/26/shut-up-pray 

Nancy Ray: Organization in my Spiritual Life (<----One of my favorite blogs I follow!!!):
http://nancyrayphotography.com/organization-in-my-spiritual-life-part-1/


Podcast Suggestions:
Songs on my "morning" playlist: 
  • You are Love and Love Alone- All Sons and Daughters
  • Immeasurably More- Rend Collective
  • Mercy- Amanda Cook
  • Prince of Peace- Hillsong United 
  • Sinking Deep- Hillsong Young and Free
  • Scandal of Grace- Hillsong United
  • Fall Afresh- Jeremy Riddle
  • Rest in You- All Sons and Daughters
  • Oh How I Need You- All Sons and Daughters
  • Reason to Sing- All Sons and Daughters
  • This is Living Now- Hillsong Young and Free
  • Great Are You Lord- All Sons and Daughters



Sunday, November 20, 2016

easy roasted tri-pepper & pineapple chicken bowl


Some really great things have been going on...



...like my sweet roommate published her very own book this past week-Divinely Beautiful!! I haven't read it just yet, but it is live on Amazon and you should check it out!! (how cool is she?!)
*my copy is on its way asap!

Secondly, I have been pup-sitting this cute thing!!


highly considering keeping him forever.


he's also the very best walking buddy!


it is COLD in dallas! I stopped by Teavana and had the best tea of my life. It's their White Chocolate Peppermint seasonal tea. Sometimes I drive to the mall just to get a cup of it. SO good!


...and lastly, dinner has been brought to you by Trader Joe's and I had to share this recipe with you!! It's one of my faves and so easy! (it may be a little summer-y, but that's okay. It's a nice contrast to all the Thanksgiving casseroles coming up this next week!)


 Chop your peppers, chicken, and pineapple....


Toss with 1/8th cup of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, rosemary, and pineapple salsa (I used Trader Joe's Island Salsa)...


spread onto a baking sheet/roasting pan:


& roast at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

While you're waiting for your roasted chicken and veggies to cook, blast the following hodgepodge jams while you clean dishes and put away the cooking mess:

*All We Got, Chance the Rapper
*Senorita, Justin Timberlake
*The Way You Move, Outkast
*Crush (dance mix!!), Jennifer Paige
*Sway, Michael Buble

and HEY! by the time your kitchen dance party is over, everything should be all ready:


Some other variations:
  • add 1/2 cup of coconut for a sweeter, tropical-style meal 
  • replace pineapple and pineapple salsa with tomato salsa and avocado- fill corn tortillas and you have tacos!
  • serve with rice
  • scoop with tortilla chips or plantain chips
Have a sweet Sunday, friends! Hope your weekend has been great!


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

crafty days!


We have this whole week off (!), so the past few days have been full of fun times and crafty things. It's been real, real good. 


We stopped by Flea Style- a craft show in Dallas- and I think I could have stayed forever. So many pretty things and inspiration and handmade EVERYTHING! I walked away and my head was spinning with so many ideas...


^^also, thinking about replacing my bed with a teepee. not sure how wise of a decision that will be, but if anyone knows how to make one!?!^^^ :) :) :)




^^Sunshine Tienda was one of my fave shops! THEIR RUGS. Check 'em out----> HERE

some of my fave shopping buddies...


some more fun flea things...




...like these teenytiny graphic tees for littles!!

and...







IT WAS JUST ALL SO GOOD.

Yesterday morning, we got up really early for mission top-secret-deck-the-car-with-birthday-donuts for Sarah. She didn't even know we stopped by.

Mission accomplished! more crafting and donut puns for days.


...and can we celebrate Sarah for days too? THIS FRIEND DESERVES IT!! Happy birthday, Sarah!


HEY! Happy Tuesday, friends! Hope its been great!!


Friday, November 11, 2016

you are love, and love alone.




Last night, we went to the All Son's and Daughter's Poets & Saints concert, and it was an incredible evening...one of those special worship nights where you lose track of all time and get to be fully present in the Lord's presence. Those words will speak right to you- so full of LOVE. It was good and my heart needed it.


This weekend, some sweet neighbors invited us over to meet and have dinner with them. Our new neighbor- Maria- told us about her passion and heart for the middle east. She shared so many stories and her LOVE for the world and people just set my heart on fire. I walked into that dinner feeling so tired and weary, and walked away from that dinner feeling so refreshed and renewed and I couldn't even sleep that night I was so excited. It's a joy when you spend time with people who just light up the world-- and it's a joy to get to know your neighbors!!

One of our new friend's birthdays was this past week as well. We left to grab breakfast for dinner and a few hours and about 5 refills later, we were still hanging around the dinner table of Buzzbrews, talking about life and God's faithfulness in even the yucky times and it's funny how just a few weeks ago, we didn't even know each other! After a tough day, these girls encouraged me, prayed for me, and loved me.

My heart needed it too.

This morning, Ben Stuart visited our campus and spoke on our Father's LOVE for us. And WOW did this message come in good timing. More than anything, I need our Father's love for sure. Or I need to be accepting of our Father's love, which has been such a struggle for me. Knowing I'm accepted and adopted and feeling and accepting that I'm accepted and adopted are two totally different things. Because sometimes (a lot) I just run when I am being pursued. I just need to surrender this area of my life to Jesus completely. There's no fear in LOVE, because perfect love casts out ALL fear. If you accept knowing you are accepted by perfect love, then there is nothing to fear.

These past few weeks, I've just been praying for authority, clarity, direction and wisdom. I feel like time has not been my friend, and my fears and anxieties have been taking over my emotions. I've been praying for a YES in a certain area of life, but have been giving and receiving NO's in all directions. Class is the best. It's where I get to sit and rest and learn about the Lord and the story of Jesus and truth. I'm surrounded by friends and community. I walk into class with my best foot forward and may even look like I have myself together sometimes, but then I step away feeling so insecure as I hop back into my car alone and face life and begin to fear the future and the insecurities step in again. everyday.  This is my struggle. But this isn't the way to live! and fear is not of the Lord! I need to rest in the Father's love. I need to accept it and accept knowing that I'm not alone. ever.

Ben's message today reminded us "Your antidote for your anxiety is the authority of your father." WELL HOLY MOLY YES. I have now written this in big giant letters and it is front and center on my wall.


Love has shown through this crazy week of elections, opinions, discussions, NO's, fears, and anxieties. I have friends who are hurt and broken and are living in fear because of political outcomes and "leadership." But we need to remember he is LOVE and LOVE alone. In this time, we need to meet, know, and love our neighbors. We need to gather and accept one another, and we need to know and accept that we are accepted and LOVED because perfect love casts out fear. He is Love and love alone. Even when we fear and feel alone.



I've had the song You are Love and Love Alone by All Sons and Daughters on replay all week. In this time of fear, worries, and anxieties, it's another reminder of our Father's great love for us. Let's accept his love as we accept and love each other. Our hearts need it.

Happiest of Fridays, friends!



Sunday, November 6, 2016

can't stop, won't stop...


can't stop won't stop...

....thinking about how last year at this time, I had no idea where I'd be today. I hopped on an airplane to visit Dallas last November, Jesus just kept making some things very clear, and BOOM. Here I am today!


can't stop won't stop....

....dancing to the nineties. you can most likely find me driving through the city listening to Men in Black, Space Jam, or Butterfly. no, i don't want no scrubs. (:


can't stop won't stop....

....also listening to John Mayer. all the time. anytime is a good time to listen to John Mayer (that is- unless you are listening to the 90s) 


can't stop won't stop....

....READING THIS BOOK.



I read this book in two days. It is SO GOOD. neglected all my other obligations. almost was late to class because I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN. This past summer, I visited Passion City Church and heard Nabeel speak for the first time. His story is INCREDIBLE. And I have been wanting to read his book ever since then!!! After a friend mentioned his name a couple of weeks ago, I knew it was a sign to order it and read it and I HAVE NOT PUT IT DOWN. READ IT.

*also, what should I read next?! 

can't stop won't stop...



....snacking on Sour Patch Watermelons. I love them.


can't stop won't stop...

....thinking about the fact that we GOT TO HANG WITH OUR FRIEND SEAN LOWE THIS PAST WEEKEND. I tried to keep it real cool. And I have no pictures with him. dang it. But here is a classy picture of me trying to keep my cool!



can't stop won't stop...

....with the fall candles. It is not supposed to get over 74 degrees in Texas this week and I AM SO HAPPY ABOUT IT!!!!! This 88 degree weather needs to go! You can't prepare your holiday-lovin', parade-watching, turkey and dressing-eating heart for pumpkin pie in 88 degree weather. 

can't stop won't stop...



...the holiday spirit. It's Christmas mug time, am I right? 




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