Cupcakes and Sunshine: April 2018

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Much to Celebrate

I've been asking the Lord to open my eyes to see the goodness in each day. I so easily can forget that God withholds no good thing from those who believe in him, and knowing and trusting in this promise brings so much hope for the present and future. Some days are full of learning- some patience, humbling, and challenges. Sometimes even the hard way.

But God is so good and withholds no good thing.

This weekend was a celebratory one!

One of our best girls, Meg, is heading to Nigeria for the next few months to serve and love on some people in need. Meg is one of those friends who exudes compassion and love and wow, what a joy it is to know her. She is humble, kind, loving, and we're sure going to miss her!   

We also celebrated the end of a busy work week and made a trip to the theater... 

and a celebratory dinner because our girl Sarah is GRADUATING!

This week also may have consisted of lots of sun, windows-down old school country music up, and dancing.  Praising the Lord for his goodness and so much to celebrate this week. Happy Sunday, friends!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Life Lately- Things Making me Smile this Week!

I've been in somewhat of a funk lately, where I've been feeling a bit stuck and there have maybe been a couple of sour lemons here and there.

But the best part of sour lemons, is they make seeking and finding the little joys in the everyday actually a little bit easier! Really, seeking and finding joy is easy when you're looking in the right places. Or actually, just looking at all.

Here are some spoonfuls of sugar lately that have added some sweetness to the lemonade and put a smile on my face!

1. Everybody Always: This is one of my very favorite books. I read Love Does years ago, and I've had this book on pre-order for months! Bob Goff, what a guy I tell ya! Give this one a read. It will make your heart happy!

(also, the colorful fingerprints on the front cover are all fingerprints of witch doctors who have given their lives to Jesus!!)

2. These lemon jammies. I'm thanking Jesus that Target is somewhat inconvenient (in comparison to its close proximities during my Athens days), but this past week, I logged into my Target account for the first time in months and discovered I had a giftcard (?!). Definitely purchased these lemon jammies.

3. Maybe there's a citrus theme going on here, but my sweet grandmother sent me a box of oranges- some  "Florida sunshine"- she said. Happy, happy heart!

4. This mini fry pan has been a life changer!

I make breakfast a priority, and every morning I usually have a fried egg, chicken sausage, and fruit. I got a little bit tired of washing a whole pan for one small egg, and THIS pan has been the ultimate morning-time game changer. It's so dang cute too!

5. She Reads Truth Nehemiah Bible Study.

The She Reads Truth study books are not only beautiful, but they help you dig in to the Bible with an in-depth breakdown of chapters, commentaries, maps, application questions and scripture memory cards. Grab a buddy, grab some coffee, and grab one of these study books. Love these.

6. Coffee dates with this roomie! Whether we're in (lemon) pajamas, or hanging at Starbucks, these coffee dates will forever make me smile.

7. Long catch-up calls with friends from home are my favorite, and I've had a lot of them lately. Thankful, thankful.

8. THIS:

Fight the fight for joy. Love this so much!

My friend Sarah let me borrow a book by a DTS writer who has memorized books and books of the Bible and how she does it in every single minute of her spare time. I've been so encouraged and inspired to do the same. If I would just step off social media in the downtime, and begin memorizing scripture instead- I can't even imagine what an incredible impact that would make on my life. 

9. The DROP App. I really don't know how the app makes money for itself, but every time I shop at Trader Joe's, Target, Whole Foods, Starbucks, or Chipotle (which is where I do most all shopping!), it drops points in my account to earn giftcards to Amazon- without even thinking about it. 

Which is how I purchased the above egg pan, lots of new journaling pens (I go through G2's and Pentel Energels FAST. These make me smile too), and a few more things. Favorite app of the moment. 

10. Territory Foods

I love Territory Foods. I don't know how I could have gotten throughout this past year without them. Picking them up each week feels like Christmas. HURRY because they are giving away $50 of free meals <----if you use this code. (Yes, that's 6 meals for less than $10- no gimmicks, no subscriptions).

You can see my post about them: HERE.

11. Cotton Candy sunrises!

What are some things that have made you smile this week? Happy Sunday, friends! 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Consider it JOY!

There have been a couple of rainy days over here, and it's not just this gloomy Dallas weather. There's that saying when it rains, it pours and I've seen a lot of rain in a lot of good friend's lives and my own lately. It's pouring, and these days haven't been the easiest. 

This week, my sweet friend Miea reminded me about making lemonade, and I remembered this post from last year

Some days are unexpectedly tough. I think when graduating from college, you expect change and fear the future, and you're aware that everything is about to be new...but after that, a little life turmoil and rain can be unanticipated. Abrupt changes can throw you for a loop if your heart isn't in the right place. It's during these times that the Lord invites us to be near and come boldly to the throne of grace to receive mercy in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

"And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5: 2-4 Perseverance and Hope! 

Heart Check: 
I was recently doing a Bible study that encouraged me to make a list of all the times I've felt closest to the Lord. And as I made this list, I realized most of these moments were all times of unknown, hurt, and pain....rainy, pouring moments when I was on my knees calling out to and trusting in the Lord. We need to anticipate the trials, and remain steadfast and dependent on the Lord in both the good and the bad, so that when these rainy days come, we are prepared to surrender and rest in His truth & promises. The answer to every need: God is faithful, and is always always near. 

“The Lord’s mercy often rides to the door of our heart upon the black horse of affliction.” ~Charles Haddon Spurgeon

This year I fell into a grey area where scripture and worship became somewhat cliche' to me. I was busy, choosing worldly things, treading water, not resting in truth and grace, and lost site of where I needed to be. It took some good friends to say, "Whoah, pause Haley- heart check!" And if I’m honest, my faith felt really weak as I wrestled with the Lord through some anger, confusion, and fears over my life’s circumstances. But these are the greatest opportunities to show and display our faith. I began praying for a renewed mind (Romans 12:2) and dependence again on the Lord. I was back on my knees in the unknown, hurt, and pain. 

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7

Thoughts Check: 
A verse I have really been leaning into lately is Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy  think about such things and the God of peace will be with you." I've taken some steps to renew my mind. If you've seen me lately, this verse is probably written on the palm of my hand. 

My thoughts were a mess, and I've decided to replace my time with true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable things. I've gotten rid of music that is not pure and edifying, tv shows, and social media. I've hit "unfollow" on some people and media that are not pointing me in the right direction. If it's not true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, I've done my best to get rid of it- thoughts, relationships, songs, media, etc. And I've spent my time replacing it with truth, scripture, books, songs, podcasts, and people that are leading me well and reminding me If the Lord isn't at the center, then it's not the right path. 

Immeasurably More: 
I love words. I've filled journals with hundreds of words and prayers and this week, I've taken some time to look back and see a lot answered prayers from the one-time unknown. I've felt so encouraged and hope-filled! Every time I see Ephesians 3:20 ("Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us"), I think of my sweet friend Alex who boldly rested in this truth during some TOUGH times and sent me to Dallas with this verse in mind a couple years ago. After looking back, I would have never imagined I'd be where I've been, and I'm in awe, expectantly, that he is going to do immeasurably more!!

Grateful Heart: 
I've recently read somewhere that you can't be both grateful and unhappy at the same. And I think it's so true! 

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

Something that has been really helpful for me is writing down all the things I'm thankful for at the end of each day before going to sleep. A joyful, grateful heart is good medicine! Consider it JOY whenever you face trials. 

What I'm listening to:
Without You, Shane and Shane 
Do it Again, Elevation Worship
Glory and Wonder, Mosaic MSC
I Will Wait For You There, Phil Wickham
New Wine, Hillsong
Seasons, Hillsong
Touch of Heaven, Hillsong (love!) 
Sinking Deep, Hillsong Young and Free
Fall Afresh, Jeremy Riddle
Your Love is Better, Will Reagan
Here's My Heart, Crowder
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Sufjan Stevens

I also believe you can't eat cheesecake and be unhappy at the same time either :) 

So here's a cheesecake recipe you need! Cheesecakes can seem a little daunting, because you do have to create a "water bath" to prevent the cheesecake from cracking while baking. The first time I made a cheesecake was for Jenny's birthday circa 2014. It was actually no biggie! See directions below for some tips and tricks.  

1 cup of cookie crumbs (I used chocolate cookies) 
3 Tbs. melted butter

3 packages of cream cheese (Philadelphia brand! Not a fan of generic cream cheese!) 
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of sour cream
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
1 tsp. lemon zest

1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

1. With a stand or handmixer, mix softened cream cheese, sugar, and sour cream.
2. Slowly whisk in each egg (just until combined), lemon zest, and vanilla extract. Do not over mix once eggs are added! This could create cracks in your cheesecake.
3. Double wrap the bottom of your cheesecake pan in aluminum foil.
4. Pour cheesecake mixture into cheesecake springform pan. Set your aluminum-wrapped springform pan in a roasting dish filled about halfway with water, and bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.
5. Then turn off your oven, open your oven door, and leave cheesecake for another 60 minutes.
6. Set cheesecake in refrigerator overnight.
7. Pour 1/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk over top, and add sprinkles or other cheesecake toppings. I like to place in freezer for another 20 minutes before serving!

Invite over a few friends- your tribe, your people- share your burdens, your JOYS, and  this cheesecake as well! 


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