Friday, May 27, 2016

God is Zion's Righteous King.

At some point in the past, my mom gave me a copy of a list entitled, "365 Names, Titles, Attributes of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." I like to reference this list when seeking to find verses for prayer. Tonight, I came across this attribute: God is Zion's Righteous King. The juxtaposition of attributes in the title alone surprise me. Zion is a place on earth, yet God is righteous, a quality that only a heavenly being can perfectly possess. The verses below juxtapose similar qualities. God is holy, yet dwells on earthly mountains. He receives praise from earthly people. He is a victorious ruler, but rides on a lowly donkey, a beast of burden. How can God be all of these things? Because he is God, unfathomable and past finding out.

God is Zion's Righteous King.
Upright, moral, virtuous, genuine, wonderful.

Psalm 2:6
“I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”

Psalm 48:2
Beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth, like the heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King.

Psalm 149:2
Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King.

Micah 4:8
As for you, watchtower of the flock, stronghold of Daughter Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to Daughter Jerusalem.

Zechariah 9:9
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

John 12:15
“Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”

Reference:
Righteous. (n. d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved May 18, 2016 from http://www.dictionary.com/browse/righteous

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cruise Do's and Don'ts

I read A LOT of blogs before going on my first cruise. Here's my list of do's and don'ts after my own seven day stay on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas.


(Photo credit: Joanna Paige Designs)


Do:
  • Book an interior room. These are cheaper and completely dark for sleeping, which helps when you want to rest.
  • Complete activity waivers online before sailing. This saves time when you want to participate in on-the-ship activities, like rock-climbing.
  • Research and book shore excursions ahead of time. While the cruise ship will not guarantee these excursions, these excursions are often very much the same as the ones the cruise ship offers, at much-reduced prices.
  • Ask previous cruisers for advice. They are full of it!
  • Pack your own face wash, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. The ship provides only provides bar soap and a soap dispenser of 2-in-1 shampoo in the shower.
  • Pack bug repellent spray and calamine lotion. I got some very itchy bug bites on an excursion despite having covered myself in bug spray.
  • Bring along pre-packaged snacks. These are the only snacks you can take on and off the boat (more in the don'ts section). Protein bars are great, but make sure they are not coated in chocolate, as it melts in the hot Caribbean sun. (I learned this lesson the hard way!)
  • Tote some of your favorite nuts along for extra protein. The ship provides a wide array of snacks, but few have protein. Nuts help control the sugar rush from all the heavily sweetened goodies.
  • Bring workout clothes. The ship has a full gym with treadmills and other cardio machines that look out over the ocean. The view alone makes you want to work out!
  • Bring mostly maxi dresses. These are the most comfortable and most practical attire for all of the activities on ship. (I might have had to stop wearing one of my dresses for fear of stench, I wore it so much.)
  • Pack multiple cardigans. The ship is like a giant air-conditioned hotel and rooms are often cold.
  • Bring jeans or long pants. The ice skating rink requires them.
  • Remember your crossword or Sudoku books. There is no free wireless or cell service on the ship, so these help fill time while waiting for shows or events to start.
  • Attend on-ship lectures about shore excursions and port shopping. These do contain the cruise line's sales pitch, but prove highly informative for first time cruisers.
  • Bring a backpack or tote bag for use on excursion days. You'll need it to tote around your water, snacks, towel, etc.
  • Bring along a modest cover up for excursion days. It's easiest to wear your swimsuit off the boat, but you want to feel fully dressed when you leave.
  • Invest in a floppy sun hat, even if it's just for this trip. If you work in an office like I do, your skin will want some shade pretty quickly.
  • Take a refillable water bottle with a wide-mouth opening. Health regulations prevent filling water bottles directly from the water coolers, but you can fill the bottle using water glasses. Taking water on excursions is a must, and taking water off the ship is a free way to hydrate yourself.
  • Go to as many shows on the ship as possible! The shows are very high quality and included with the cost of the cruise.
  • Eat in the main dining room for at least a few breakfasts and lunches. The food is amazing and the service stellar, plus, you have more time to meet cool people!
  • Make Facebook friends with the awesome people you meet on the cruise. You will want to stay in touch!
Don't:
  • Let the cruise line book your room for you. Our room was over a lounge and next to a service elevator, so we had almost constant noise pollution day and night.
  • Bring too many books. There are plenty of activities to keep busy on the ship. I had to set aside time to work at getting through one of the four books I brought along.
  • Stuff your suitcase with games. Again, the ship has plenty of its own activities.
  • Bring too many casual clothes. The only days you really need casual clothes are port days.
  • Pack extra hangers. The cruise ship closet has plenty!
  • Take produce off the ship. It is illegal to do so! I had grandiose ideas of eating "safely washed" fruit on the beach, but those failed.
  • Book the 5:30 pm dinner. It's hard to get ready for dinner after port days, and the later shows are more crowded. You can eat all day at your choice of several eateries, so you probably won't be hungry at 5:30 pm anyway. The 8:00 pm time allows for earlier shows and more time to work up an appetite for the three course dinners.
  • Book My Time Dining. You'll miss out on the great friendships you will make with your table mates at a reserved dining time.
  • Forget to eat breakfast on the ship before you disembark. It is free and a good time to have one last rendezvous with your cruise friends! 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Chocolate Buttermilk Brownies

Moist, ,chewy, fudgy, dense, chocolatey, not-too sweet brownies with a hint of tang from buttermilk and yogurt. Mmm! I have been on a black bean brownie kick for quite awhile. (See here, here, and here.) But I've been out of black beans lately, and it takes time to make more. I wanted brownies now! So I made these.








Adapted from Amy's Healthy Baking The Ultimate Healthy Fudgy Cocoa Brownies and Clean and Fudgy Dark Chocolate Frosted Brownies).


If you like sweet brownies, you might want to double the maple syrup and reduce the buttermilk, but as a dark chocolate fan who likes her chocolate a bit more on the bitter side, these hit the spot.


Ingredients:



1 c whole wheat flour
3/4 c cocoa powder
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla
1/2 c buttermilk, sour milk, or whey*
2 flax eggs**
2 T vegetable oil
1/4 c maple syrup
1/4 c Greek yogurt.


Directions:



1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined. (Add more buttermilk if needed.)
5. Scoop the batter into a greased eight inch by eight inch pan. (The batter will be very thick.) Smooth with a spatula.
6. Bake 24 minutes and remove from the oven.
7. Cool completely before cutting.


Makes 12 brownies.


*Buttermilk can be purchased in liquid form in the dairy section of the grocery store, or in powdered form on the baking aisle. Sour milk can be made by adding 1/2 T white vinegar or lemon juice to milk to cause it to curdle. I used whey left over from making Greek yogurt in my recipe.


**To make flax eggs, stir together 2 T ground flax meal and 5 T water and allow to gel in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Give thanks to the Lord.



There is no theme for thanksgiving verses this time, just verses about thanksgiving to the Lord. (And yes, I did take a week off from my regular prayer routine. I am trying to learn to understand grace, especially when it comes to spiritual disciplines. These are important, but not a means by which I receive my salvation. That is God's gift of grace.)

Ezra 3:11
With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.


Psalm 7:17
I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.


Psalm 9:1
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.


Romans 7:25a
Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!


1 Corinthians 15:57
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.


Colossians 3:17
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


Revelation 11:17
We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.

Friday, May 6, 2016

God Blesses.

I often find attributes by reading the "Psalm of the Day." The "Psalm of the Day" is the number of the day, plus or minus multiples of 30. I read Psalm 115 the day I made my verse sheet, and these words struck me: "The Lord remembers us and will bless us: He will bless his people Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron, he will bless those who fear the Lord—small and great alike." God did not have send Jesus to die for our sins to save us. God does not have to bless us, but He does. He remembers us. He cares for us. This blessing is my prayer focus this week.


God blesses.
Bestows divine favor or good upon (Dictionary.com, n. d.).



Genesis 1:22
God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.”



Deuteronomy 2:7
The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.


1 Chronicles 4:10
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.


Psalm 67:7
May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.



2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.


Ephesians 1:3
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.



Reference:
Bless. (n. d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved April 25, 2016 from Dictionary.com website http://www.dictionary.com/browse/bless

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Peanut Butter Cup Overnight Oats

Yes, I'm writing about oatmeal again. Yes, this one includes chocolate and peanut butter. And I realized as I ate it that it is really a variation on my favorite oatmeal. But this was so good for breakfast that I have to share the recipe. I could really eat this for dessert, as it reminded me of the Braum's peanut butter cup ice cream I ate in the middle of the night last night. (Yes, the middle of the night. I was hungry and couldn't sleep and so I chose to enjoy ice cream and the novel I was reading.) So without further ado: peanut butter cup overnight oats (adapted from Bran Appetit's Double Chocolate Overnight Oats)




Rich chocolate, salty peanut butter + the health of oats? Mmm!


Ingredients:



1/2 c rolled oats
1/2 c skim milk
1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
1 t maple syrup
2 T cocoa powder
1/4 t salt
1 T (or more) natural peanut butter for topping


Directions:



1. Mix all of the ingredients except the peanut butter in a small bowl or a medium-sized jar.
2. Refrigerate overnight, or for at least 8 hours.
3. Before eating, "fill" the chocolate peanut butter oatmeal shell with the peanut butter.


Notes:



Don't omit the salt mixed in with the oats. It really brings out the richness of the chocolate and the sweetness of the maple syrup.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Is it May Already?

Where did April go? It certainly flew by, and since it is May already, I guess it is time to update THE LIST.


1) GO! on a cruise. We leave in exactly one week!


2) Stop checking e-mail on my phone while at work. I turned my e-mail off for awhile, but now, I turned it on again. I am still trying to find a balance. "It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes" (Ecc 7:18).


5) Memorize some new scripture, or at least review the old. I finally made it through Philippians.


7) Purge excess. Soak up blessing. My housemates are having a garage sale while I am away on my cruise. Let's get rid of the excess!


8) Run a 5K. I signed up for a second race in June.


10) Pursue counseling licensure. Still submitting paperwork.


11) Rest. M y mentor challenged me that I can make time for what's important. If I have a good book on hand, I rest more. I'm going to the library more and deciding I would rather read than surf the internet. Reading is relaxing, in moderation.


12) Trim down the processed. Bulk up the produce. (In my diet). I find it hard to get it enough leafy greens. As it gets warmer, I am drinking smoothies again. I can add a good bit of spinach and not really notice it.


14) Finish the books I have and read more. This month, I read Sandpiper Drift by Vanessa DelFabbro, and The Edge of Recall by Kristen Heitzmann.


15) Spend time with and love the people around me. April was full of trips to see family and friends, including: an unexpected family funeral gathering, a trip to Kansas to see a cousin, and a Saturday at Crystal Bridges Art Museum with my granddad. I also walked with friends, shopped with my housemates, and continued to enjoy house dinners.