Sunday, September 20, 2009

College Football and The Love Dare

Posts have been a bit sporadic and random lately, I know. This one is no exception. Two things I wanted to write about.

First ... College Football
I didn't really have the typical college experience. I went to UT Dallas for undergrad. Although UT Dallas is very strong academically, it has typically been known as a "commuter school" with little to offer to those wishing to have the typically social college experience.

The school is doing its best to shake that image off, though. There is a RIDICULOUS amount of construction going on right now, including new dorms, a dining hall, a new student center. And I think these things will help.

But I also think there is one HUGE thing that is missing. Something the school has indicated it has no intention of changing anytime soon.

A football team.

UT Dallas currently has no football team. As far as competitive undertakings go, its claim to fame is its nationally acclaimed chess team (I'm so not kidding). For homecoming, students attended a soccer game (again... not kidding).

And as a result, I don't have any memories of sitting in the stands at UT Dallas, rooting for my fellow classmates and indulging my competitive nature. No crazy nights of painting my face orange and green (yes, those are UT Dallas's colors) and yelling "Whoosh! Go Comets!!!!!!" (Again... I'm so serious. At freshman orientation they tried to convince us that everyone walked around yelling "Whoosh" and doing this very awkward hand motion, which was meant to simulate the path of a comet.)

That's probably why I generally have ZERO interest in watching college football. Or why I feel NO loyalty to any Texas team. If I'm forced to watch a college game, I might root for one team during the first half and then switch to the other team for the second half. Or I'll just get excited when there's a good play by either team. That's so dorky, I know. And SUCH a foreign concept to my friends from A&M or UT.

But oh well. I blame UT Dallas for my lack of enthusiasm. Maybe someday we'll get a college team, and I can retroactively become a college football fan.

Second ... The Love Dare
On a COMPLETELY unrelated note... Micah and I were browsing through Barnes and Noble yesterday (cute, right?). I wanted a new book to read, and Micah was just looking at all the random books they had on the most obscure and uninteresting topics. For example, they had one that was titled "How to Clean Your House." Ummm.... seriously??

But I found one book in the Christianity section called "The Love Dare." I picked it up to see what it was, and I discovered that it was meant to be a 40-day journey for married couples. I'm pretty sure it was in the movie "Fireproof" for those of you who saw it (we never did, although it's currently sitting in my Netflix queue).

According to the book's website, "[t]he Love Dare personally leads you through daily devotionals, records your thoughts and experiences, and ends each day daring you to perform a simple act of love for your spouse. This 40-Day journey equips you to melt hardened, separated hearts into an enduring love that can withstand the flames of fear, pride and temptation. The Love Dare book will help you reinforce and enrich your marriage, earn back a love you thought was lost, and hear more about the One who not only designed unconditional, sacrificial love—He illustrated it."

First, let me make this clear. Micah and I are doing WONDERFULLY! No big marriage issues or anything. And we're both completely happy.

But... we never did pre-marriage counseling with a pastor before we got married (something I really, really wanted to do). So I thought that maybe going through the book together could sort of be like a post-marriage, pre-marriage counseling session for us. :)

Anyway, just wanted to check and see if anyone knows anything about the book. We went ahead and bought it and will probably start reading it together tonight (after our bible study time). I'll let you know what we think. :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Yummy Dinner Idea

I made this recipe the other night, and I just had to share because it was SO good! It's a chicken and pasta dish with a cheesy, creamy, spicy sauce. And it was SO easy to make!! Plus, if you can get a good deal on chicken (HEB has chicken breast on sale this week), it's very inexpensive.

South of the Border Chicken and Pasta Skillet

2 cups pasta, uncooked (I used farfalle - the bowtie pasta)
2 skinless chicken breasts, halved (I cut the chicken up into bite sized pieces)
16 oz salsa (I just used Pace Original Salsa because it was on sale)
10 oz frozen corn, unthawed
4 oz cream cheese, cubed
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup shredded cheese of your choice (I used more because I LOVE cheese!)

Cook pasta as directed.

Meanwhile, cook and stir chicken in non stick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on
med-high heat 6 minutes, or until done. Add salsa, corn, cream cheese, and cumin. Simmer
on med-low heat 6 min. or until corn is heated through and cream cheese is melted, stirring

Drain pasta, add to skillet with half the shredded cheese. Simmer 3 minutes or until heated
through. Top with remaining shredded cheese; cover. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes
or until cheese is melted.

And enjoy! This was enough for four very large servings.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Drama Drama Drama...

If you haven't heard about the Taylor Swift/Kanye West drama, you clearly don't follow entertainment gossip like I do. But it's okay. I'll fill you in.

Last night at the MTV Video Music Awards, Taylor Swift and Beyonce (among others) were both up for Female Video of the Year. Taylor won (yay!), and as she began her acceptance speech Kanye West randomly jumped up on stage, stole her microphone, and began to tell everyone how Beyonce's video was one of the best videos of all time. Everyone in the ausdience just seemed kind of flabbergasted, and poor Taylor looked lost. She didn't have any time to thank anyone, and MTV cut to commercial. Google it, and I'm sure you can find a YouTube video showing just how jerky Kanye was. The media has been all over the whole debacle, and Kanye has since issued two very generic and halfhearted apologies.

The whole thing just got me thinking a little bit.

Why in the WORLD did Kanye think we cared about his opinion?? Why is what he thinks about who should have won even relevant?

I think that people like Kanye West honestly believe that, by sharing their unsolicited opinions, they're making the world a better place. And that BLOWS my mind.

Surprise, surprise... I'm a positive person. But this isn't about me thinking everyone should see the world through rose-colored glasses.

It's about two things.

First, if I don't ask you for your opinion about me or my life (or about those that I care about), you shouldn't direct your negative thoughts in my direction. And honestly, I can say with some certainty that the rest of the world doesn't care what you think either.

Second, there's an approriate time and place and manner. I completely agree that celebrities put themselves out to the public, and that a certain amount of criticism comes with the territory. I'm sure Taylor Swift understands that, too. But Kanye West should have tweeted about it... or blogged about it... or texted his friends about it. He should have stolen that moment from her. It wasn't his right to take that away from her.

I know I sound uncharacteristically sassy. I just think that we all know people who offer their unsolicited, negative opinions about us or our families or our jobs or our life decisions. And I think it's time they stop.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dinner this week...

I'm going to go ahead and post our meals for the week. I'm thinking that if I put it out there in cyberspace, I'll hold myself accountable!

Homemade pizza with lettuce wedge and homemade ranch dressing
Dinner: Leftover biscuits and gravy

Monday: Tender pork roast and mashed potatoes
Tuesday: Hot dogs and chips w/ guacamole
Wednesday: Chicken and pasta skillet meal
Thursday: Micah's choice (I've got class until late and can't cook)
Friday: Eat out!

Dinner: Pork Tacos

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A few shopping tips...

If you can make it to a Kroger this week, they're having some great deals!

They've got value packs of boneless skinless chicken breast on sale for $1.99/lb. Plus, their Kroger brand shredded cheese and sour cream is on sale for $1 each. Also, Minute Maid lemonade is on sale for $1.

Micah and I also saw that their big bags of Kingsford charcoal were marked down from $10.99 to around $5.99.

I ended up getting a whole basket of groceries this week for $59! That's including two value packs of chicken, pork chops, and lots of fresh produce!

Also, Micah and I get the Houston Chronicle on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays, and there was a great coupon in Friday's paper for $10 off a $50 purchase. That'd make your deals even sweeter!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Fruit Tip...

Have you ever eaten one of these??

Nope. It's not a cantaloupe. It's called an Israeli Melon.


I'd never heard of them until I started dating Micah. But Micah's dad grows them in his garden and asked me to try one. So I did, and I was BLOWN away.

I've always been a fan of cantaloupe, but Israeli Melon blows cantaloupe out of the water. It makes cantaloupe taste like dried out, bitter mush (yes it's THAT good.)

It's got the same kind of consistency as a cantaloupe, but the flesh is cream-colored, and it tastes almost like pure sugar. I'm sure the fact that they're home-grown doesn't hurt, but they're so juicy, you can't eat one without getting juice all over your face, hands, and hair (well, maybe only if your hair is as long as mine. When your hair is this long, EVERYTHING gets in it).

When we went home for Labor Day weekend, Micah's dad sent us home with a box full (to my absolute delight), so we've been eating it all week, and it makes me SO happy. So I thought I'd just pass the happiness along. I'm not even sure where you can buy them, but if you EVER see Israeli melon for sale at the grocery store or at a fruit stand, stop and buy some. SO worth the money. :)

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Message for Me

Can I just tell you the 5,678,231th reason that I know there is a loving God who loves and cares for me? A God who has a plan for my life and is leading me, despite my best efforts to live life on my own terms?

Here's the story.

I should start out by telling you a little bit about what's going on in my world right now. I interned with two law firms this summer and fully expected to get permanent offers of employment from both firms, which would mean that I'd pick between the two firms and begin working for one of them as soon as I graduated and took the bar.

However, in light of all of the economic woes of late, one of my firms (and many others have done the same with their interns) told me that they would be unable to extend an offer to me. I'm still waiting to hear from the other firm, but I won't be surprised at all if they don't extend an offer either. There really just isn't enough legal work to go around the market right now, and firms don't have enough cases to keep their attorneys busy.

I hadn't really given much thought to what I'd do if I didn't get a job from one of the firms I worked for this summer. Before this summer, summer interns were basically guaranteed jobs unless they had some sort of social mishap or turned in really crappy work (I did neither, by the way :)). And I didn't really have a backup plan.

The past few weeks, after hearing bad news from the first firm and expecting bad news from the second firm, I've felt kind of lost. Really lost, actually. I've second-guessed a lot of choices I've made, and I've been unsure of the Lord's path for me. I've been doing anything and everything I can think of to try to make something good happen for me--applying to other law firms, applying to clerk for a judge after graduation, etc. The frenzy of activity was consuming me, and I really couldn't think about anything else.

Fast forward to this weekend.

Micah and I went home to Josephine for Labor Day weekend. I had actually asked Micah if we could go home another weekend because both of my parents and my grandparents were going to be out of town and I wouldn't get to see them. But his grandma is sick, and he wanted to come home and visit with her, and nothing I could say or do persuaded him to put off the trip another few weeks.

So we went. We sat in HORRIBLE traffic on the way down, but we finally made it to Micah's parents' house on Friday night around 10:30. I visited with my sister-in-law and my best friend Saturday afternoon, and we ate dinner with his parents that night. After dinner, Micah went dove hunting with my brother (and killed two innocent birds, I should add), and I had a quiet night at his parents house, enjoying a long bath and a good book.

On Sunday morning, we got up to get ready for church. His dad was speaking at another church that morning, so Micah and I had to decide whether we wanted to go with his parents, or whether we wanted to go to our home church in Josephine. I originally thought we might go to church with his parents, but changed my mind at the last minute, thinking I might get to see some of my family at church.

We made it to church, and very little of my family was there (except Kim! So good to see you!). But we sat down anyway and prepared to enjoy some good gospel singing and preaching.

Little did I know that God had much more in store for me.

Our pastor began his sermon with a disclaimer, letting us know that he had originally prepared a different sermon, but that in his quiet time that morning, God had laid a different message on his heart.

He started out by reading Jeremiah, Chapter 1, telling us Jeremiah's story. Telling us how God had called Jeremiah to be a prophet and speak a difficult message to Judah and how reluctant Jeremiah was to fulfill that role. He told us about how God has called us ALL for a purpose. A very specific purpose. And that God has gifted us all in specific ways to fulfill those purposes. He also told us that we should be listening for God's direction in our lives. And that even if we think we're headed in one direction, we need to be ready and willing to follow God in another direction. That we should be willing to say to the Lord: "Here am I. Send me."

I sat in my pew, tears streaming down my face, feeling the Lord speak.

To ME. To Ryan Hargrave. To the girl who thought she had life all figured out and fell to pieces a little at the first sign that things weren't going according to plan.

It was the most beautiful, terrifying feeling. I know beyond any doubt that sermon was meant for me. That God called me to Dallas, to First Baptist Josephine to hear His message. And I heard Him LOUD and CLEAR.

I need to stop.

Stop doing.

Stop worrying.

Stop wondering.

I need to LISTEN. I need to be quiet and hear the Lord's still and quiet voice.

I need to look for the doors which the Lord has opened for me, and I need to stop trying to force my way through the ones He has locked.

I also need to be willing to be sent. Wherever He leads me.

And I felt convicted for having jealously guarded control of my life, when I should have been surrendering to the Lord's will. Hence all of the tears. I'm sure my pastor thought I was having some sort of a breakdown in my pew. And I guess, in a way, I kind of was.

Sorry this is so long... I just wanted to share the Lord's message with you. Maybe you're wondering where the Lord is leading you. Maybe things aren't going quite according to your plans.

Maybe you need to say these words with me: "Here am I. Send me."

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