Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Weekend 2014

Easter has always been an interesting holiday for our family. Some years we celebrated with extended family, and other years we did absolutely nothing! Daniel and I had fun this year, remembering Easters from years past...

2013 - Installing our fence
2012 - Visiting with Daniel's mom at the beach
2011 - SeaWorld Easter Sunrise service and shopping at the outlets
2010 - Church with Daniel's mom, then visiting his extended family
2009 - Daniel's last Easter with his father alive

For this Easter, I wanted to go all out- especially with cooking! I grabbed my Pioneer Woman cookbook and hit the kitchen! Among other things, I made her...

Hot Cross Buns
Cheddar-Chive Biscuits
Glazed Easter Ham
Carrot Cake

I also wanted to punch up the weekend with some fun, family activities. We dyed hard boiled eggs and also did the Resurrection Eggs activity (which is so sweet, for adults and kids alike!). I made my own kit, rather than buying, using Courtney's instructions from Women Living Well Ministries (it's the 3rd activity listed).

Saturday was special for us, as we got to visit Daniel's mom at her beach condo. We had brunch together and then walked along the beach.

Sunday we enjoyed going to church with our neighbors. They were sweet enough to ask us to carpool with them, so it felt like one big family event. We really appreciated going to church on Easter Sunday this year, as the last time we made it to church was in 2010.

I hope you also enjoyed Easter with your loved ones!

Friday, April 11, 2014

First (make that Second...) Friday Book Review - Not a Fan

Title and AuthorNot a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus By: Kyle Idleman

Release Date: June 2011

Page Length: 215 pages

How I got the Book: ChristianBook.com

Find OnlineGoodreads Amazon ChristianBook.com

Description: "Are you a follower of Jesus? Don't answer too quickly. In fact, you may want to read this book before you answer at all. Consider it a 'Define the Relationship' conversation to determine exactly where you stand. You may indeed be a passionate, fully devoted follower of Jesus. Or, you may be just a fan who admires Jesus but isn't ready to let him cramp your style. Then again, maybe you're not into Jesus, period.In any case, don't take the question---Are you a follower of Jesus?---lightly.

Some people don't know what they've said yes to and other people don't realize what they've said no to, says Pastor Kyle Idleman. But Jesus is ready to clearly define the relationship he wants with his followers.Not a Fan calls you to consider the demands and rewards of being a true disciple. With frankness sprinkled with humor, Idleman invites you to live the way Jesus lived, love the way he loved, pray the way he prayed, and never give up living for the One who gave his all for you."

My Thoughts:
I've sat down three times to write this book review for you, but each time has been difficult. I'm stumped- how do I share how amazing this book is?! How do I encourage others to read Not a Fan? It's a Christian book about being a better Christian. If you're not wanting to dive deep into your faith, this book is probably not for you. It's not a marriage book, a weight-loss book, or even a book on how to pray. Truly, it's a call to examine your faith. 

Not a Fan asks you to really examine if you are following Jesus, or just a fan who likes the thought of a Christian life, but only lets Jesus in to certain areas. It asks, am I putting my relationship with God in the forefront of my life? Am I turning everything over to Him? Kyle talks about the "decision to believe" versus the "commitment to follow". What have I decided to do with my life?

Define the Relationship? Huh?

Kyle walks readers through a series of scenarios and questions to help understand "followership" versus "fandom". He goes through specific stories from the Bible that highlight others who have had to make the decision to follow Jesus (and radically change their life) or to just be a fan of Jesus, and remain the same. 

After reading through the difference between a Christian fan and a Christian follower, Kyle challenges us in Parts 2 and 3 of the book to put that following into action. He reminds us that this journey is a "passionate pursuit"; a journey of "total surrender". He says, "There is no way to follow Jesus without him interfering with your life". 

Applicable to My Life & Others Around Me
Not only did Not a Fan help me better understand my faith, but it helped me understand on a deeper level, other Christians around me. Kyle touches on all types of Christians, ones who were raised in the faith, others who became Christians as young adults or later in life, and shares the challenges each group faces. I loved that I could see myself and others in the examples he uses.

This book will really shock you and shake you! It really helps guide you to understand where your faith is and where you'd like it to go. Kyle has a very easy writing style, so reading goes quickly. He also has hilarious quips in the footnotes and provide a lighter note to his otherwise serious topic of discussion. I absolutely loved this book!

Check out the Not a Fan site to learn more! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Our Southern Road Trip - Savannah

From Charleston, SC we headed south to Savannah, GA....

As we headed further and further south that day, the weather kept getting warmer and warmer! Wohoo! By the time we parked in Savannah, we got to change into shorts and t-shirts.

And we were just about ready for a sweet tea...

lemonade and sweet tea
The Lady & Sons restaurant

...at Paula Deen's restaurant! 
Yep, I couldn't believe we got in, but we enjoyed a wonderful meal at The Lady & Sons
I guess the key is to go for lunch at like 2:30 in the afternoon on a week day. We walked right in! 

Although they do recommend ordering the buffet meal, that way you can try everything, Daniel and I just wanted a quick lunch. I order the Lady's Choice Salad and Daniel had what's called the Bag Lady, your choice of half sandwich, soup and salad. (Of course you know he chose a bbq sandwich!)

Lady's Choice Salad
Bag Lady (sandwich, soup, salad)

Visiting the "House of Deen", really inspired me to get back into cooking. And cooking simple, staple things. Like, I could make fresh lemonade or sweet tea to drink, rather than buying a pre-made tea or mixing up a Crystal Lite. 

I could just buy those cookies at the grocery store, or wouldn't a homemade pie or cheesecake taste way better..?

There's just something special about making your own food. 

Here are the recipes for the sweet tea and homemade lemonade we had at The Lady & Sons.
After lunch, we headed toward the famous Savannah River Street
I was captivated by the old buildings and cobblestone pathways. 

On the other side of this (above) photo was the Savannah River. So when you walked around, you had buildings and storefronts on one side, and the riverview on the other!

We spotted this cute, touristy ferry!

Although we spent only but 3 or 4 hours in Savannah, I still really enjoyed my time there. 
Savannah is a beautiful city with lots of parks and green spaces. It (like Charleston) has that port city feel, filled with rich history. 
The people are friendly and the food is delicious!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Our Southern Road Trip - Charleston

From Myrtle Beach, SC we headed south to Charleston, SC....

Now for those of you who don't know much about Charleston, here's a little history for ya!

Founded in 1670 (about 100 years before the American Revolution), Charleston is the oldest city in South Carolina. It is located on a harbor and definitely has that port-town feel. During both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, the forts in Charleston played key roles in defending the city.

The early colonists of Charleston were British, and I still think today you can see the influence England had on the architecture of Charleston's oldest buildings.

I absolutely loved this city and felt like there was so much Daniel and I could do and explore over a week's time.

Our first stop was to shop! Wohoo! We walked around the historic City Market.

Daniel in front of the City Market building. 
Although it looks small, this building is quite long! 
It is constructed as a very long, narrow open air marketplace. 

Here's a view from the inside.

I'm just so amazed at how old this building is (close to 225 years!) and still looks good! I love those wood beams!

Next, we headed toward Waterfront Park to see the Pineapple Fountain.

And we were also surprised to find beautiful views of the Ravenel Bridge, Charleston Harbor, and Fort Sumter!

They had beautiful park benches and landscaping.

Definitely a romantic and gorgeous place to be.

After the park, we wanted to check out the river view. We walked along Vendue Wharf, which is a wide, wooden pier that extends into the Cooper River and offers sheltered swings. The pier provides unobstructed views of the Ravenel Bridge, Charleston Harbor, and Fort Sumter.

After that, it was time to head back to our Myrtle Beach condo. Even though the weather was overcast all day, Charleston was so incredibly beautiful! The architecture and preserved buildings from the 18th century were just astounding! I really felt like I was in a historical town (yeah, we pretty much have none of that in Florida. And, no St. Augustine doesn't quite count in my book).

Charleston also had some great, quirky places to eat. Foodies- you would love this city! We grabbed some hot chocolate at Kaminsky's Baking Co. on our way back to the beach!

Love ya, Charleston! I'll definitely come back and visit!