Daily Lenten Reflection: Thursday After Ash Wednesday

As mentioned yesterday, this semester I contributed to our daily lenten reflection booklet at school. Below is the reflection I wrote for this Thursday after Ash Wednesday. If you would like to check them out each day, look here. Enjoy!

Reflection
In the first reading, Moses instructs people to choose a life in the Lord. He says: “Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding His voice, and holding fast to Him. For that will mean life for you…” Moses clearly and directly speaks to the people. He challenges them to examine their own lives in Christ.  He reminds them of the good that the Lord has promised their descendants.

In this Lenten season, think about your own life in Christ. Do you work to spread His good news? Do you follow in the footsteps of Christ? Do you turn toward Him during times of struggle and strife? Do you place your trust and hope in the Lord? Do you make a daily choice to turn your eyes, mind, and heart toward Him?

The Lord speaks to each and every one of us, even though sometimes we aren’t willing to listen. He guides us down the right path and carries us upon His back when we can no longer carry ourselves. The psalmist says: “Blessed are they that hope in the Lord.”  Hope in the Lord that we may be renewed this Lenten season. Hope in the Lord who has planned a marvelous life for us. Hope in the Lord who gave His only Son because He loved us so very much.
Prayer

O Lord, our God, help me to turn my eyes, mind, and heart toward You. Let me be consoled by You in times of despair and helplessness.  Help me to spread Your good news. Guide me to the path that You have set forth for me. Help me to listen to Your voice, Lord. Amen.

Emily Carolin, ’16

Lent + Some Thoughts

Lately, I have felt like I am wandering amidst the sea without a compass to guide me. I feel lost and without direction. I am unsure what to do and where I am going. For that reason, I have taken several months of rest from blogging. I want to only write when I feel a purpose and a calling to do so. I don’t want a jumble of meaningless words to fill up this beautiful space.

There is no day like today, Ash Wednesday, to start anew. I want to build on the life that I already have and come to know Him more intimately than ever before.

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I want to take the season of Lent to work on my relationship with God, to build a space that is reflective of my heart, and to spend more time with Scripture. These are my promises for this Lenten season.

To celebrate this season of Lent, our campus ministry has compiled together reflections from students, staff, and members of the worshipping community. It is filled with heart-opening prayers, words of wisdom, and questions that cause you to think deeply about your relationship with God.

Emma, one of my sweetest friends, wrote today’s reflection: “Lent is a time of preparation for the Resurrection of the Lord on Easter. Ash Wednesday starts off this time of reflection and turning inward to evaluate our daily lives and habits. Often in our society, we are swept up in instant gratification and showing the world only our ‘good’ selves. Today on Ash Wednesday, we as Christians, are called to recognize our sinfulness and return to the Lord in a slow forty-day preparation and rejuvenation.”

How will you prepare and rejuvenate this Lent season? How will you turn away from sharing only your “good” self?

Tomorrow, the Thursday after Ash Wednesday, I will be sharing my own reflection from our daily reflection booklet. Make sure to check back in!

November 2015 Goals

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Life has been a bit of whirlwind lately. Despite the craziness and forgetting to set October goals (whoops!), September and October were months of great progress in many ways. Lots of next steps are being figured out and it makes me oh-so-giddy to think about where I will be in a year from now!

This Month’s Goals:

  1. Spend more time with my Write the Word journal
  2. Exercise every day
  3. Take an entire “me” day (i.e. no homework or meetings, just spend the day doing things that I love)
  4. Read a fun book
  5. Finalize holiday gifts for family and friends

September’s Goals:

  1. Kick my GRE studying into high gear (GRE’s have been taken!)
  2. Continue training for a 5k in October (I have continued training and still am. My race in October ended up being cancelled so I am trying to fit one in this month.)
  3. Pick up colored pencils to work on my Mindfulness Coloring Book
  4. Apply to be on LEAP team (I will be giving a talk on prayer this weekend on the retreat! I so very thankful and overjoyed.)
  5. Memorize four Bible verses (Unfortunately this was moved to the back burner, I have been focusing more on specific verses but they haven’t been memorized.)
  6. Cook once a week from a recipe

P.S. The above image is of Farmgirl’s Dabbles Baked Apple Oatmeal. It has been my breakfast on repeat lately!

A Simple Fall

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Fall is a time of settling the heart and mind, despite the approach of a busy season.

Recently, the Southern Weddings gals have sharing their favorite ways to simplify and get cozy.  You can check out their current interviews here and here. I love this series and thought it would be wonderful to share my own ways to simplify and streamline my daily routine and home.

Favorite simple beauty routine or product: Washing my face is my simplest daily routine. I do it every morning and evening. I alternate between Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash and Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser, while always using Purpose Dual Treatment Moisture Lotion. At a young age, my mom drilled into me the importance of washing your face twice a day and it is something that I am most thankful for! I also recently started using Stowaway Cosmetics, which are the perfect size. Their foundation helps cover up the dark circles under my eyes.

Favorite simple fall activity: In terms of simple and fall, I love to pick up pumpkin boxed mixes at Trader Joe’s. Their pumpkin muffins, pumpkin scones, and pumpkin chocolate chip bars are easy to pop in the oven. I love to bring them as a treat to bible study each week during the fall!

Favorite tech device/app/strategy that simplifies your life: It sounds basic but my iPhone’s calendar is my absolute favorite. I always have my paper calendar in my tote bag but it often much easier to pull out my phone and see my availability for the week when planning meetings. It syncs with Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner app too, which I often use for a quick look at my day, to keep notes, and meal plan for the week.

Favorite morning routine that simplifies your life: Hmmm…it wouldn’t really say that I have a morning routine because every day has a different schedule and start time. Most often, I make a berry spinach smoothie for breakfast (1 banana, 1 cup mixed berries, 1 cup spinach, dash of cranberry juice, and 1/2 cup TJ’s vanana yogurt) and pack my lunch for the day. I recently purchased a lunch bag from Vera Bradley and it makes such a difference in my daily routine!

Favorite evening routine that simplifies your life: If I didn’t run outside that morning, I often try to fit my run in before dinner. The biggest thing that simplifies my evenings is that once a week I wash and chop all of the veggies I have. This is such a time-saver and makes it easy to grab them to put in your dinner. Each night, I also try to read some from the current book I am reading. Right now, it is Brene Brown’s Rising Strong

Favorite trick for simplifying your schedule: Each week, my CSA sends out an email with what is the week’s basket and recipes that contain most of the included ingredients. This helps me easily meal plan. Monday nights, I make my weekly trip to the grocery store with a basic list of any extras I need. I have learned to always make a grocery list! It keeps you on track and you don’t forget anything.

Favorite simple weeknight recipe: Check out my fall favorites for recipes I hoping to try this season! One of my current favorites is this sweet potato hash because you can always add and take away ingredients depending on what is in the kitchen.

Ten Fall Recipes To Try

Now that I have my own kitchen, I am always on the hunt for new recipes. I love to work my way through Pinterest, cooking magazines, and my always handy Fannie Farmer cookbook. Since the weather is turning cooler, I have compiled a list of ten fall recipes I want to try this season. I think you will find a few here to love!

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Fall Pot Pies | The veggies in this pot pie scream fall and with the topping of a pumpkin sage biscuit, it just makes me want to curl up by the fire with a bowl of this and a cost blanket.

Apple Cinnamon Pork Chops | I love applesauce on top of my pork chops but sliced cinnamon apples take it to a whole other level! A simple and sweet comfort food meal.

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Chili Mac and Cheese | Combines two of my favorite classics in one pot for an easy meal to be shared with the whole family.

Tom Kha Gai Butternut Squash Soup | Tom Kha Gai is a primarily ginger and coconut milk based soup and when paired with butternut squash, it make a tasty fall favorite.

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Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Beets | Butternut squash and beets are two of my favorite fall foods so I am definitely excited to try this maple side dish.

Parmesan Pumpkin and Spinach Quinoa | If I had the choice, I would attempt to add pumpkin to just about every recipe…but pairing it with spinach and quinoa is one I definitely hadn’t thought of. It looks to be a perfect lunch option!

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Butternut Squash & Sausage Stuffed Shells | Ooey-gooey cheese topped sausage stuffed shells surrounded by butternut squash puree? Count me in!

Honey Soy Roasted Chickpeas | I will certainly be packing these for snack in my lunchbox for the next couple of weeks. Crispy flavorful goodness…

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Baked Risotto with Butternut, Pine Nuts & Sage | Risotto is the epitome of fall comfort foods but I don’t always have the patience to stand at the stove consistently stirring it. Baked risotto offers a simpler option for those patience-lacking folks like me.

Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa | Are you sensing a theme here? I guess I tend towards recipes with butternut squash in them! The quinoa and squash offer a bunch of protein and fiber.