Lovely things

Monday, July 14, 2014








1. Milani lipstick in Flamingo Pose:  This has hands down turned into my favorite lipstick this summer. This lipstick has beat any NARS or MAC lipstick that I own. The staying power is ridiculously long and the color pay off is incredible. I promise you I wear this every single day; it's very bold, but totally wearable, which is why I like it. 

2. Coconut Oil: I use coconut oil every single day without fail. I use it when I cook pretty much anything that requires oil. Not only that but coconut oil makes an amazing hair mask, moisturizer for your face and/or body, and I also use it to make my own deodorant. 

3. Witch Hazel: I use Witch Hazel and Tea Tree oil as a toner on my face and I love it! Witch Hazel has amazing benefits that helps your skin. I've also heard that it can be used to help reduce the appearance of varicose veins (which I'm going to try, because unfortunately I'm starting to see veins in my legs. Boo!). 

4. Baking Soda: It might seem really odd to you that I included baking soda in the list of things I can't live without, but it really is an essential part of my day because it keeps me from smelling :) I use baking soda, coconut oil, and some essential oils as my deodorant; it works wonders! Another thing I've used baking soda for recently is removing stains from the carpet. I'll pour vinegar onto the stain and sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over it; it'll soak up anything that you spill, animal accidents, etc..and it takes the smell out of the carpet as well. It's a miracle worker, really. 

5. Tea tree oil: As stated earlier, I use this and Witch Hazel as my toner every day. I love this stuff!

6. Not Your Mothers Dry Shampoo:  I tend to only wash my hair once every 5 or 6 days. I'm serious. Washing your hair too often is really bad for your hair, and it sometimes will actually cause your hair to get greasier faster. With that said, I only wash my hair when absolutely necessary, which tends to be about every 5 or 6 days. This helps me go longer without washing my hair--I love this stuff! 

7. Elf Blush and Bronzer Duo: I used to buy the blush/brozer duo from NARS, which is like $50. This is pretty much the exact same thing for $3. Needless to say, I quit buying the one from NARS. 




The great love with which He loved us.

Friday, July 11, 2014



I have some very special people in my life who suffer greatly with guilt and shame--In fact, this guilt and shame has completely separated them from their church family, because they don't feel worthy of stepping into a church, knowing how "terrible" they are. I have a lot of compassion for these people, because they're clearly not understanding grace--not just grace, but God's grace. If you're not understanding Grace, then chances are you don't have the correct understanding of who God is, why Christ died for us and who we are in Him. 

I know this, because I've been this person before. I wasn't planning on sharing this on my blog, because I don't like to bring up my semi-rebellious past ( okay, maybe wasn't just semi), but it seemed necessary for the topic of discussion.  Not many people know this, but I went through a phase where I smoked. It wasn't a very long phase, thankfully, but it was still something that I struggled with. I didn't want people to know about it, because I felt like it would change the way everyone viewed me. I was so ashamed of it. I would sit outside, read my bible and smoke a cigarette and think to myself  " Seriously, Allyssa...what are you doing!" I wasn't really going to church at the time, but I was in biblical counseling with a precious woman who God used tremendously in my life.  It was around that time in my life where God really began to teach me who I am in Him and how much I needed to be a part of the church body. My view of who God was completely changed. He wasn't a scary man who I needed to constantly be perfect for; he was full of grace, compassionate and loved me despite my wrongdoings. I began to realize that it wasn't my smoking that was the problem, it was my sinful nature that I was fighting against. I needed to work on my heart first, and then the rest would fall into place. And you know what? God totally started to transform my life and started working on me from the inside out.

 " And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience--among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind...." 


"But God....

Being rich in mercy. 

Because of the great love with which he loved us,

even when we were dead in our trespasses,

made us alive together in Christ

by grace you have been saved...."

Ephesians 2: 1-5



He is RICH in mercy because he loves us, not because of anything we've done or because for one reason or another we deserve it, but because he has chosen to love us. What a loving and compassionate God! Doesn't that give you a desire to walk in obedience?

Everything begins to change when you realize what Christ did for you, and who you are now because of it. Christ died so that you don't have to live in that shame. He suffered, so that we don't have to--yet there are still people out there who believe they have to do the hokie pokie before God will accept them--that's not how it works--God accepts you just as you are. God has a purpose for your life, and you know what? Sometimes that purpose is going through hard stuff so that we'll recognize how desperate we are for him.


" For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption
that is Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood,
to be received by faith..."

Romans 3:23-25


I think scripture says it all.  Even when I was going through my smoking phase, God still saw me as righteous and never once did he stop loving me. The truth is, we're all terrible people apart from Christ--no one is good, not even one! This isn't to say that we should just keep on sinning because God forgives us anyway, instead, this gives us all the more reason to worship Him. Why? Because we don't deserve this grace--I know I don't. But because of the great love with which he loved us, he has given us the greatest gift of all, and for that we should never cease to praise Him. 





Just a thought :)

Happy Friday, friends! 






Paleo Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake

Monday, July 7, 2014










  This Lemon Blueberry cheesecake is stinkin' amazing! You know what else is amazing about this cheesecake? It's gluten free, dairy free, soy free, egg free and the only sugar involved is coconut sugar, honey and juice from the blueberries. I know what you're thinking--cheesecake without dairy? Yes, it's possible--even better, it's really, really good!

 I wouldn't consider this to be super low on calories, because it's actually pretty calorically dense, due to all the nuts involved; however, it's does contain more nutrition than a "normal" cheesecake does. Either way, consider it a treat! It's perfect for those emotional days. haha! I'm only kidding..kinda.

 There are several recipes online for Paleo cheesecake, and I got really overwhelmed with trying to decide which one to use--instead I got an idea of everything I would need to actually make it work and then made it up as I went. I admit, I'm really excited about how great this crust turned out. The crust is AMAZING and it comes out of the pan flawlessly--it's an overall win if you ask me.

 



  
Tp: Click on the pictures of the recipes, the picture will pop up, and you'll be able to see the recipe clearer.


Updates

Wednesday, July 2, 2014






      Happy Wednesday, everyone! Aren't you so happy we're halfway through the week? I sure am! Our Corporate office is closed on Friday,too, which means I don't have to work--obviously that's a giant win for me. Do other companies take the fourth of July off? I don't even know. I'm presuming most do. 






+ VBS came and went really fast. It was such an encouraging time for me and hopefully for the kids, too. The picture above is of me and my sister, by the way. I love her to pieces. She's been the most influential person in my life. One day I'll write a post about her. She deserves her own post, because she's that amazing. 



+ I finished my 21 day's of clean eating! You guys, it wasn't that hard at all. The most challenging part was during vbs when they fed us food every single night, because I couldn't eat most of the stuff that they had, so I stuck with dry salad and whatever type of meat they had. There towards the end I was really starting to crave a pizza, though. So, to celebrate, that's what I did! I felt horrible afterwards, though. I always knew I felt really gross after I ate pizza ( or any kind of bready food), but I never realized just how bad it was until I cut bread out of my life. No joke, I felt 6 months pregnant. It was really good pizza, though, even if it did make me incredibly bloated and uncomfortable.

 I've had people asking me what I'm going to do now that I'm done with the challenge, and truthfully, I'm going to just stick with it.  I feel way too good to add processed food, sugar, and gluten back into my diet on a regular basis. Every once in a while, yes, because I have to be realistic, but for the most part, I'll continue eating paleo. 


[excuse my red eyes; it always happens to me]



+Saturday night I went to a dance recital with my friend Melanie, which was amazing. The dancers were incredible. The only thing that really bothered me about it was that every single outfit throughout the entire recital ( which was more than 2 hours long..) made them look like they were half naked--no more than half.  Even the little girls were half naked, and then they were dancing up there,shaking it like Biance. I know that comes with the territory of being a dancer, but it just really urked me, and then you see all their dads watching them in the audiance. Does that bother anyone else? Maybe it's just me. 




+I had a random desire to have herbs in my kitchen window, so I did it. I bought some really cheap pots, spray painted them with chalkboard paint and planted my herbs. I started out with these two, but I plan on getting some cilantro and thyme, as well. It's so fun to cook with your own herbs! 




Since being on the 21 days of clean eating challenge, I had to cut out anything artificial in my diet, which included stevia ( The stuff in the packs isn't really natural. If you're growing a stevia plant in your backyard, then that would be considered natural). I was one of those people who had to have some sort of sweetener in my coffee, or else I couldn't drink it. I ended up with just coffee and heavy cream. It took some getting used to, but now I don't want it any other way. Funny how that works. 



I hope you all have a great rest of the week and a fabulous 4th of July! 










You are Loved

Friday, June 27, 2014



 Tonight is the last of VBS. I'm totally pooped, but it's been worth it. See all those little girls in the picture above? They're making memories. Precious memories. We've had such a good time this week. Yesterday we shared the gospel with the kids in our classroom, and for whatever reason, the kids payed more attention to that than they did any game we've ever played. We talked about the creation of the world, the fall of man, Jesus' death on the cross for our sin and the Resurrection. Rory and I had planned a game to play afterwards for the last class ( the older kids), but we didn't make it to games. The kids were asking so many questions. 



"But how did sin come to be?"

"What does the bread mean when we take communion?" 

" How come God just doesn't take sin away?" 

" Where did the devil come from"?





I was flabbergasted by how interested they were, and how intently they listened to Rory as he explained it all to them with the biggest smile on his face.  My heart was completely overflowing. We ended up having to tell them it was time to go, because they would have kept asking questions all night. 

I kept finding myself wondering where these kids would be in 10 years, praying that they remember all of this and continue having a desire for God and His word. The world is a tough place to be in, and I want more than anything for them to realize how much Jesus loves them. I want them to turn to Him when they're hurt, and to know that Jesus is the ultimate comforter. When something doesn't go the way they plan it to go, I want them to trust that god will take care of them and that He has a plan that is greater than theirs. 

Needless to say, this week has been a huge encouragement to me. The lack of sleep and complete exhaustion has been more than worth it.  It's also pretty great that I get to do all of this with Rory; it's really special to be able to be by his side while we're teaching little ones about Jesus. I'm feeling really blessed. 

I hope you all have a great weekend!

VBS

Tuesday, June 24, 2014




Vacation Bible School is this week, which is always so much fun for me. It does my heart good to teach little one's about Jesus. I have very fond memories of going to vbs when I was a little girl. Unfortunately one of my biggest memories is having a giant crush on this boy ( I say boy, because I was in like 3rd grade), and I looked forward to going because he was going to be there. It's really sad to me that the most distinct memory I have of vbs is that boy--not that I learned about Jesus or the gospel, just that there was a boy there that I had a crush on. ha! It's actually not funny; it makes me frustrated with my little third grade self! 

Rory and I are the teachers again this year. It's such a joy to be able to be with these kids every evening for 5 days straight to teach them about Christ and what He did for us. You're totally exhausted by the end of the week, but it's so worth it.

 This year's theme is " International Spy Academy" and we're teaching the kids how to be detectives to find truth (distinguishing between false religions, and recognizing that there is only one true God). It's really stinkin' cool if you ask me, and a great way to keep them interested. 

When these kids get to be my age, I want them to have precious memories of vbs. My prayer is that their little hearts will be touched, and that even at this young age they'll recognize just how much Jesus loves them. I want them to have a heart that desires to follow him ( not boys--ha!)

I'm keeping this sweet and simple today. 

Love you all

....and yes, my code name is twinkle toes! 



Looking Inward.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

 








  Happy Thursday! I don't know how you feel, but I feel like Thursdays are total teasers! It's like we've had a long week behind us, but we're not quite to Friday. See! Total teaser. 

On a completely different note, I've been thinking a lot lately about physical appearance and what role it should play in a Christian's life. Most, if not all of us, have a desire to look good. "Good" might look different for everyone, but regardless, everyone wants to be physically appealing. Right?

I've grown up always being incredibly self conscious. I remember being in 8th grade graduation, and wearing a cardigan with my graduation dress, because for whatever reason I hated my arms and didn't want them to show. There were days when I wouldn't go to school because I had pimples on my face, and moments in high school where I would go home "sick," because I felt like my outfit made me look fat. I even dropped  out of a dance the day of a recital, because the costume "made me look fat" ( this was probably Jr high-ish age as well). Needless to say, my pre-teen/teenage years were really rough for me.

I'm happy to say that now, even though I'm still not exactly where I want to be physically, I'm so much happier being me. Sure, I still have days where I change my outfit 6 times before I leave the house, or days when I feel like my hair just won't do what I want it to, but that's just part of being a woman. I believe it's also a part of putting my life into perspective and recognizing how much more important it is to get my heart in shape, because that's what Jesus is ultimately concerned with. That's not to say that we should just let ourselves go, eat lots of junk and not care if we're healthy. I truly believe if we focus on our hearts, usually the desire to take care of this body that Christ gave us becomes easier, as we set our focus on Him and less on outward things.

I really wanted to focus on God in all of this. I want to take care of this body, because it's His, not because I want other people's approval.  We've grown up in this world where physical image has become extremely important, and in a lot of ways has turned into woman feeling this overwhelming need to be perfect.

 I've got news for you: 

Having the " perfect" body isn't going to make you happy, and it won't make all your problems go away.  It just won't. 

Our body is a temple. What does this mean?  We need to honor God with our bodies! God's spirit dwells within us; therefore, we need to treat it that way. For this reason, yes, I believe that God wants us to take care of our bodies. I totally believe we can honor God when we're eating healthy and watching what we put into our bodies; it's all a part of being disciplined. Just as we're supposed to be disciplined in our actions and thoughts, we need to be disciplined with our body.

Friends, we're made in the image of God. Isn't that amazing? We were made to resemble God. That's a big statement, I know.  It makes me want to go sit in a corner for awhile, and just think about the ways that I'm resembling God. Am I resembling God? Can people see Christ in me?

Which leads me to this....
I could have just stopped at " Therefore be imitators of God..," but I just couldn't leave out the part about walking in love, because I feel like that's very important to a believers life.

 Jesus is love, and since we're called to be like Jesus, we need to walk in love. I'm not going to turn this into a "you need to love yourself" pep talk, because that just brings the focus back to ourselves, and not on Him. We need to be love, because He is love. Not for ourselves, but for the purpose to bring glory to our creator.

On this earth, we're never going to sinless as Christ was, but he tells us that "...he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus" Philippians 1:6  Isn't that exciting news? God will faithfully, and consistantly be working on our hearts, sanctifying us until we're with Him. I don't know about you, but this brings me extreme comfort and joy.


The main point of all of this was for me to just refocus myself. I get caught up in eating this and not that, making sure I work out enough, and I spend way too much time thinking about how I wish I could fit in a size 5 pants again for once in my life.

You readers are so awesome. Thanks for letting me share my life with you.

By the way...head on over and pick yourself up one of these.
Amazing shirt, right? I need one.

















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