Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Change of Plans

Last week I didn't post. I was supposed to be on vacation. I would never want to make the loss of possessions and even loss of life seem less important than my almost frivolous travel plans, but I truly felt the need for a break. So many people have suffered due to this harsh, unforgiving European winter, and I was simply "snowed in" a little with full access to electricity, heat and comfort. For that I am extremely thankful.

We had plans to go on a mini-vacation. Because we had a winter wedding right around Christmas time, it's a challenge to find time to celebrate our anniversary on the actual day, but my sweet husband is always good to find a time to get away in January or February when prices are low. This year, we found a deal that was so unbelievable, we decided to take the kids along with us. We were all completely thrilled to get a break in the middle of the school year, and looked forward to our four-day excursion. But, as you have probably already deduced, that didn't happen. When what should have been at most a 2 and 1/2 hour car ride to the airport turned out to be a 6 hour drive, with snow still coming down, we were forced to make decisions.

The whole thing wasn't traumatic, just disappointing. I found myself constantly saying "At least we're all together, and everything's okay." I knew everyone was a little put-off by the fact that we weren't supposed to have to work that week, and it was difficult to get into the mood to do anything at all, to be honest. So, I did take a little break last week. I didn't do anything but the necessary housework, I didn't get on the computer every day, I didn't cook a big meal every night, I just read a lot, and reflected.

Sometimes plans change. I tend to be the type to over-analyze things, but this time... I don't know why, but I didn't. While it was a little frustrating to lose money on a trip and not be able to go (yes, our plane was actually the one flight that got out on time!) it didn't matter that much to me, oddly enough. When others were asking "Why?" and "What am I supposed to learn from this?" or "What is God trying to teach me?" I for some reason, just kind of sat back, and took it all in. Not that I don't want to learn from the disappointments in life, or that I didn't learn from this, rather, I think sometimes plans just change because life is an evolving, changing thing and we are never really in control no matter how much we like to think we are.

My husband is such a planner. He had everything done and paid for. Things were waiting for us to enjoy our time without a hitch. I love him for being that way. When he does things, they are done right. But not even he is in control. Not really.

It's all about GOD.

And in my life, one thing I struggle with is just trying to find that balance of doing what I can, but relying on God to just do his thing... and be okay with that. This time, I was okay with it. But it seemed like a small thing to me - it's the big things that I want to just take over and demand that things go my way... but maybe the small things will one day become the big things and I'll learn oh-so-slowly, but surely.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Since this is the first of my recipe posts, I just wanted to specify a couple things I do. They are optional, of course, but healthier. I always keep my flour at a half wheat/ half white mix. I have found that if you make whole wheat brownies or cookies, the consistency is compromised greatly. But if you mix half and half, the cakes won't fall apart on you. And you only get half the amount of white flour intake! Also, if you want to substitute sugar with honey, just use half of the amount. Honey is sweeter and requires only half as much as sugar. I am going to try to be precise with my recipes even though I am not the type to measure everything while cooking. So, be forewarned... you might find you need to tweak things for them to work for you! ;)

Here are my SUPER easy brownies. They can be a bit temperamental, so keep an eye on them! We like gooey brownies in our house, and they can be very cakey if overcooked.. something I did not too long ago, to my family's dismay! But if you are careful, these are the best not-from-a-mix brownies I have ever had.

1 cup (200g) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (96g) cocoa
2 cups (270g) sugar
1/2 cup (40g) plain white yogurt
1 Tablespoon (10g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 cups (270g) flour
(Walnuts optional - maybe 1/2 cup?? I just eyeball it)

Melt butter in medium sauce pan on low. When melted, add sugar and cocoa while stirring. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients one at a time, stirring each ingredient until well-mixed before adding the next. Bake in a greased and lightly floured 9x13 (23x33cm) glass pan. You will get the best results if you use glass, and probably be disappointed if you try this recipe in a metal pan! Bake for 22 - 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven (180 C). Like I said, keep your eye on these as they can be overcooked easily. I usually check them at around 18 minutes, turn them (I have a gas oven) and then decide how long they need from there. In my oven, they usually cook from 24 - 26 minutes. If you like them gooey (like ME!) then take them out when your toothpick is a little "sticky" but not full of runny batter. Let cool before cutting and serving. I like to serve mine within an hour or so of baking so they are cool enough to cut, but warm enough to serve with good old vanilla ice cream!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Another Good Wednesday

I was tempted to not write today. Since last week I decided to be a more active participant in this Wednesday activity, wouldn't you know that the doubts of insignificance and fears would plague me? But... I will not succumb to those fears again, at least not today anyway.

I just want to share one thought from one verse we read this past week. Ephesians 2:10 seemed brand new to me when I read it this time

We are created for good.

Did I miss that somewhere before? When did I start thinking that just because we are still human that we have to be doomed to fear all the "bad" in this world?

I can choose to do good works, not in my own power, but through Jesus Christ and I can walk in them. Like, in everyday life, a perpetual journey of spreading good. When did this battle become more about me and less about God??

I don't really know the answer to that one, but what I DO know is that for some time now, it has become less and less about me, my works done in my power of lists and rules and expectations, and more and more about God and his love and grace. Sufficient enough to cover anything any of us mortals can throw his way.

Today is another day for good. That's what I was created for.

Have a good day, all!

Monday, February 6, 2012

New categories

I have decided to become a little more faithful in my blogging ways. I'm not seeking any kind of audience, just doing a little more on-line therapy, I guess. So, for those of you who follow along, I thought I'd mention a few new categories that I'll be adding.

First, I'm starting a "recipes from scratch" category. Next month will mark 13 years on the mission field for us, and I have realized that through these years I have learned to make all of our favorite meals by improvising and implementing healthy, from-scratch recipes that take very little time. Granted, more time than it takes to pop open a can or a box, but still little time compared to what you might think if you have the right tools and ingredients! So I'll share my favorite tips and recipes along the way.

Secondly, I'll have a "crafts and projects" category. Many friends have asked me how I make certain things like frames I have around my home, and since it's hard to explain without the use of visual aid, and I live kind of far from many of those who've asked, we'll have a little craft corner here. Don't get too excited, I'm no guru, and your favorite crafty blogs and pintrest will still have to be consulted since my resources here are extremely limited as to what you can get in the States. But what do I have, I will share!

Then thirdly, I will begin a series called "Out of the Shell". I recently had a lengthy conversation with my sister about the journey I've been on and how much I've learned about who I am. If you recall (mom, since you're the one I know has read each and every entry! ;) ), I started this blog with a series called "I am Michal". And I have come to realize that this is only a part of who I am, as I have always just been "Shelly", but slipped into becoming more concerned about the outside shell than the person within. My sister said that I should write a book. I love that she has confidence in me when I do not. ;) But I told her that blog about it, I could. So I will.

I hope that something I write here will be of use to someone, and a little bit of joy might come into your life because we have crossed paths!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Growing in grace...

If you look up in the top right corner of my blog, you'll see a little button for "Women in the Word Wednesdays". I shared with you a bit when I did the 1 John study they were doing over there, at GMG and it really got me back into reading and studying the Bible after a long hiatus. I'm not extremely vocal on certain things, and I am not what you'd call a faithful blogger since I rarely have more than a couple entries a month, but I feel compelled to write today, and possibly take part in this "Wednesday-fest" with a little more fervor.

This time around, we are studying the book of Ephesians. If you've missed it, and you're interested, it's not too late. There are literally two or three verses to write out and meditate on each weekday. You can easily do two or three days in one, if you feel the need to "catch up" and be on the same verse as others. Just click on the link, go to the blog, and print out an easy-to-use study guide, and that's it. All Scripture, and space for your thoughts- nothing added but what you put in.

I think that's what I like about it. Nothing but room for God to talk to you.


And in such God-like fashion, it seems that everything in my life has accentuated one single word lately.


Isn't that beautiful? It is, if you know what grace means. I have so much I want to say about what the Lord has been doing in my life lately, but I'll not go into too much right now. What I do want to say is that what once caused me a little uneasiness with not knowing how to take this book of Ephesians and some of its "controversial content", has become an explosion of truth, peace and grace in my life. And it's free for the taking.



"The exceeding riches of his grace", to be more precise (Eph. 2:6-7) It's so much more than I ever thought it was! "Scandalous grace" as called by some. And I like that. Because it's true. How God extends grace in my life might seem nothing short of a scandal to some, but he is the one who gives it so freely.

Come, and grow in the freedom of his amazing grace!