Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Count It All Joy.

I stare out the window watching the snowflakes slowly fall, and my mind is suddenly on top of my Nonna's rooftop in Italy. I usually sit there and take photographs of the setting sun behind the vast mountains.
The air smells of burnt wood and summertime. I lift myself off the terracotta tiles and slowly climb off the roof onto the little balcony. I pull out a notebook and pencil tucked deep inside my worn out leather messenger bag and begin to write.

I write of the beauty of this place, how when I'm here it's hard to imagine anywhere or anything else in the world exists, and suddenly...

I'm whisked back by two tiny finger taps on my shoulders. A small squeaky voice wearing a Ninja Turtles shirt holds up a book to me and says, "Can can you wead this to me?"

I sit myself on a wooden rocking chair designed for toddlers and he sits himself on my lap, his little light up sneakers dangling off the side of my legs. And I begin to read about Space Shuttle Sammy and his adventures.

We all wait. It seems everyone is waiting on something. For that dream job, for that test result, for vacation, for school to end, for that special someone to come around, for our workday to end, for the weekend.


I think it's one of the hardest words to really accept. I don't think we ever really grow out of disliking it. Whether its waiting our turn for the swing during recess, or waiting for our number to be called at the deli.

Us and wait don't go well together.

And yet, somehow in the midst of these little hands and smiling cheeks... I see Him.

Stumbling my foot over toy trucks scattered around the room. Grace. Having a who can make an angrier face with an upset child face off. Grace. Cleaning up milk and cookie crumbs after snack. Grace. Helping to build the world's tallest Lego's castle, so that the evil piggies won't attack. Grace.

Some days it's easy. Some days it's hard. And I don't really understand it.

But even though I may not be where I want to be, I feel God's presence with me. I'm starting to think maybe this stuff, the waiting, the trials, the whys and whens... it's all preparing us for where we're headed.

I hear Him whisper, Hey I'm not letting go... so don't you let go.

And maybe, just maybe for right now... I'm exactly where I need to be. 

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces patience.// James 1:2-3

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Ordinary for the Extraordinary

I have a confession to make: I have an evil villain against me. He's constantly waiting at every corner and never fails to show up at every event. He cowers over me and follows my stumbling steps throughout the day. His name is Perfection. 

Perhaps you've met Perfection before. He doesn't like your meager ideas. He whispers in your ear that you'll never be enough, and what you're doing has no purpose. We often go through our lives believing or chasing the perfect idea of what we think in our minds life ought to be. We create this perfect image of ourselves, with a cookie-cut life and path so direct that if anything were to come close and steer it's course... we'd in a sense abandon ship.

A particular story of a certain ordinary man who achieved the extraordinary comes into mind. This man was chosen for a very important job by God himself, but his beginning will surprise you. 

His name was Moses. Moses was born to a Hebrew family living in Egypt during a time when the children of Israel were being mistreated and killed.
But God's plan for Moses was far greater than anyone would imagine. Moses grew up among the Egyptians and when the time came, God revealed His plan to Moses. 

You would think if God comes and speaks to you to tell you His grand plan for your life, surely you would respond with excitement "Yes Lord! I am here and will do as you say!!" But that was not the response Moses gave. 
Moses went on to to explain that he was not made for this mission. He gave every excuse possible to try to convince God that surely He had made a mistake. He wasn't qualified to speak to the Egyptians, he didn't have the courage. 

But the one thing Moses failed to see as many of us do as well, is that God doesn't make mistakes.  
We like Moses only see what we are in this present moment. But God... He sees all that we are to become exactly like He created us to be. We let Perfection dictate our little sparks of ideas and fear tell us we aren't cut out for that type of purpose. We let the idea of the "right" way keep us from doing it our best way. 
But isn't it funny how God doesn't need someone that fits the standard of what the world would perceive to be adequate? He doesn't ask us for a concise resumé filled with our qualifications of why we do or don't fit a specific role. 

Instead, God just asks us to show up. He asks us to come as we are, stumbling over our two feet, bruised with our loads of baggage, and mispronounced words and all.
We often perceive courage to be the absence of fear. But courage is that place where you come with all that you have, lay it out before God and let Him take it from there.

Courage is that place where you surrender yourself and all that you are, and trust that God already knew where He would take you. 
Dear friend in times of doubt, and when Perfection leans over your shoulder to tell you you're just ordinary and not good enough... remember who YOU are. God chose you and made you with every little quirk and trait for a purpose. A purpose that can only be accomplished by you. 

Don't hold back from who you are and what you were made to be. And may you never forget that God uses imperfections and the ordinary to do the beautiful, and seemingly impossible extraordinary things in life.  

And God said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt you say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me unto you. // Exodus 3:14

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Recipes | Nutella Bread

We had a snowy day this week, and with the wind howling and snow silently spiraling outside my window, I decided to give this recipe I found online a try. It's not as difficult as it looks, but it does require some time since there is kneading and layering of dough required. 

The taste was like one of those delicious Italian Brioche (my favorite!!!) they sell in little packets at the store... only better because it was homemade! Here is the recipe and my photos to go along with it... enjoy! 


2 cups milk
1 yeast packet (8 grams) 
1 tbsp. sugar (for yeast mixture)
4 cups flour
4 tbsp. sugar
pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp. melted butter


1. Mix lukewarm milk, yeast, 1 tbsp. of sugar in a bowl. Leave to rest for 15 minutes. 

2. In another bowl, sift flour, salt, and 4 tbsp. sugar together in a bowl. Then, add 2 egg yolks (put aside egg whites for later), butter, and activated yeast mixture. 

3. Stir the mixture, then knead for 5-7 minutes. Cover with towel, and leave in warm place for 45 minutes to rise. 

4. Once dough has risen, transfer to floured surface, knead again and divide into 4 pieces.  Roll each part out until thin and wide.

5. Use a cake/plate tin to leave a circular imprint on each layer of dough as a guide for spreading the Nutella. 

6. Spread the Nutella on 3 layers, leave 4th one plain. 

7. Place each layer on top of each other. Remove the extra dough.  

8. Place a glass cup in middle of dough. Then, take a knife and cut into the layered dough 4 slits on top, bottom, left and right. 

9. Take each section and twist twice into a braid. Continue all around. 

10. Brush with egg whites. 

11. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 360° Fahrenheit. Sprinkle with some powdered sugar for extra prettiness :)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Just In Case

I'm a just in case kind of person. You know, the kind that has to have backups or extra things just in case something goes wrong. Like just in case my hair accidentally sets on fire... I carry a mini fire extinguisher with me in my bag. 

Okay, Okay. I'm just kidding about the whole mini fire extinguisher thing. Although that would be pretty cool to carry around should you ever need to put out any fires, just sayin'.

But I do do certain things that others would probably deem me as the girl who is unnecessarily prepared for a possible zombie apocalypse.

I carry extra Advil's, pens, tissues, sanitizer, coins, band-aids, snacks, and plastic bags to place those snacks in just in case they spill into my tote-bag. When traveling, I store a few of my favorite clothes in my carry-on just in case my luggage is lost.  

Just in case.

In high school my friends said I pretty much had the entire Staples store in my pencil case. And before the lifesaving invention of GPS', my uncle told me to stick a compass onto my dashboard and carry a 1995 New Jersey road map,  just in case I should ever get lost. He totally understood me... too bad I got lost anyway.

I was doing some of my scripture reading and I imagined God sitting next to me and giving me one of those this one's for you kind of looks as I read this verse:

Therefore, I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and more than clothing? // Matthew 6:25

Gosh. Not worry about food or clothes? Or how my life is going to turn out?!? You can see why I struggle with this one. It hits home. 

I worry a lot about the future lately. Will I be okay? Where will I live, am I ever going to find what God's purpose is for me? I thought by now I would "have it all together".

Sometimes I think it would be so much easier if I knew it all already. But then given how indecisive I am, I'm relieved to know that God has the wheel to my life.  

I'm finally learning (slowly) what it means to surrender your all to the Lord. He told us not to worry. That if we trust in Him, He will take care of us.

No just in cases required. Just trust and let go. And that is the sweetest truth that my soul can ever rest upon. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Work of Hands

A thought came into my mind recently. If someone were to place me in a room and I had to distinguish my family and friends without seeing their faces... would I be able to? 

Hands. Their hands... I realized anyone that I was really close to, I knew what their hands looked like. My mind memorized their features. I was fascinated by this discovery.

Odd thought, I know. But think about it. Hands are basically all sort of similar in structure, five fingers, nails, etc,... and yet they are distinct and unique to each and every person.

Isn't that awesome?! We all have OUR very own set of hands that aren't alike to anyone else in the entire history of time in the universe! Such a simple concept but boom, such an unbelievably awesome fact.

A few days ago at work, the word domestic came up, and a child asked what it meant. The teacher went on to explain how it means having to do with the house, or being particularly well at things done at home.

Today many things have almost gone the opposite direction of domestic. Where once it was praised to be skilled in many different things such as sewing, cooking, handwriting a letter, being able to fix and work with car parts... I feel like we've almost forgotten the beauty and importance of working with our hands.

Everything is automatic, microwaveable, or instant. We type or text messages, opt for fast meals that don't require making anything from scratch, and throw aside the blouse with the buttons popped off.

Have we lost the touch?

The work of hands fascinate me. The rhythm of movement as one slices an apple, rolls out the dough, cuts the perfect angles in someones hair, paints a portrait, carefully inserts the needle in and out of a button, the way fingers glide and dance on each piano key. 

And so I observe. I watch my mamma cut, blend, and pour tomato sauce onto a rolled out dough. I look at the strokes and dotting of someone's i's in their signature. I watch as my cousin interlaces her fingers through each strand to form a braid in my sister's hair. 

Our hands are marvelous tools we often overlook, and these skills and talents are treasures I'm holding onto in the hopes they never fade away.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Sweet Love | Proposal: Kellianne & Daniel

I first met Daniel a few years ago at the church we both attended, and his caring character and love for Jesus beamed through him as he led the youth group and every time someone spoke to him. 

When he first introduced us to Kellianne he said, "She's beautiful... even more on the inside than the outside." And she really is!

So when he asked if I would take photos of his surprise proposal, I knew I couldn't miss out on that special moment he had planned.

Kellianne was already in the restaurant with her family, and Daniel had a bunch of his friends in on the plan. We hid with balloons, cameras and excited smiles in the back room, waiting for his song to play and then we would follow him out. 

He danced and twirled her around as Kellianne laughed. Then at the right moment, he got down on his knee and proposed. 

I can't say I heard the exact words over everyone's shouts of "She said yes!!!", but I snapped away behind my camera. I tried sooo hard not to cry, but there was no stopping these hot tears from rolling down my cheeks. It was such a sweet moment!

Kellianne's reaction was priceless. She was so overjoyed and surprised, it was contagious. There was shouts of happiness and claps throughout the entire restaurant.

Daniel and Kellianne, thank you so much for having me be part of this special day in your lives. I had so much fun documenting it.... I wish you two tons of love!!!