Monday, January 31, 2011

14 Days of Love

Yesterday I went to a Valentines Day workshop at our church.  It was a coffee filled morning with stories and advice from some of the neatest women.  I walked away with another challenge and boy is this one going to be fun!

I will admit... I am not creative or fun when it comes to being romantic and cute with my husband.  It's quite the opposite, actually.  I get stressed out, frenzied, and get anxious about what I should do.  I start sweating.  Litterally.  I want things to be so special because I care about David so much, but somehow my gestures fall flat on the page or explode in the kitchen.  I am not the gal who's designing exciting scavenger hunts or making exquisite meals (hello, broccoli/cauliflower casserole).  I cave at the thought of making public displays.  I think I must be insecure for fear my gesture won't be received well, even though David always loves anything I do for him so I have nothing to worry about.  I'm just a mess.  Knowing that about myself, I still want to participate in what I am calling "14 Days of Love" and maybe I'll get over myself.  This is, afterall, all about my husband and not about me!

The morning started off with one of the women talking about the different seasons of marriage and how each one is different and special in its own right.  She mentioned a few things that really hit home with me:
  • Praise your husband for his good decisions and be silent on the bad ones.
  • Be under his leadership and don't undermine it.
  • He needs respect, through all seasons of marriage.
  • Praise him where he shines, pray where he doesn't.
  • Let him be the spiritual leader (she reaffirmed one of my goals of this year!)
  • Be encouraging.
  • Let him dream.  Better yet, dream with him!
  • Be his cheerleader.
  • Be purposeful in doing things together.
  • Spend shoulder to shoulder time.
  • Don't be too busy.  When you say yes to something, you say no to something else.
After hearing the widsom pour out from this amazing woman who's been married over 30 years, another younger woman in her earlier years of marriage got up and explained an activity her mom did for her dad around Valentines Day for as long as she could remember.  She called it "Be My Valentine."

"Be My Valentine" starts on the first day of February (tomorrow!!!) and lasts until the day right before Valentines Day.  Each day, beginning with February 1st, you do something special for your husband.  This could be making his coffee in the morning or warming up his car, maybe cooking his favorite meal or writing him a love letter.  All creative things that I'm not good at doing, so I was soooo thrilled when she gave us a list of brainstormers that served as possible ideas!  You could use the actual letters from the words "Be My Valentine" and each day give him a letter with something special about him starting with that letter along with a piece of his favorite candy.  The possibilities really are endless, and what's great is it's personal and individual based on what your husband would find meaningful.  "And remember," she told us, "it's not about getting something in return.  This is all about serving your husband without expecting something back from him.  Do it simply for the reason that you love him, and want to show him through these small gestures."  Good point to remember!

So here I am, with tomorrow being February 1st, about to engage in what I am calling 14 Days of Love (even though the letters "Be My Valentine" really only are 13 letters, I'm going to include the 14th as well).  These next days leading up to Valentines Day I will be intentional about doing something, however big or small, that speaks to who he is as my husband and why I love him. 

I'll let you know how it goes, and if you have any ideas, pass them my way!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Goals for 2011!

I know I'm late to the whole new year's resolution/goal setting party for 2011.  I'm sure some people know exactly what they're going to resolve to do come January 1st, and others don't care, and still others (like me) ponder and marinade in the process of thinking about the year ahead.  What is it that I want to accomplish, experience, share and be this year?  Where will God lead me?  Will I be still enough to hear his voice?  What does 2011 hold?  What do I want it to hold?

These are all the questions that tend to overwhelm me.  Then I avoid making commitments and another year passes me by.  Not this year.  This year I am making a few decisions.  And yes, I know it's already begun.  That's just me, a little late but right on time. :)

I've broken up my goals into four different categories just to help me along.  Whenever it's goal season at work, I get stressed and anxious, but I wanted this process to be fun since this is simply for my own personal enjoyment.  It should be fun!  I love planning things so what's better to plan than goals for myself in 2011?!  It's all God's anyway, so I'm welcoming him to trump anything I've written down here.  I pray that if it's not God's way, then he'd change my heart to seek more of him and less of my way.  Oh that he would have his way in me!

Accomplish.  These are the goals I have regarding what I want to do this year. 
  • Make our bed.  Every day.  Am I the only 28 year old who doesn't make the bed?!
  • Write on this blog twice a week.  It's therapy for me!
  • Complete the certification requirements to teach CPR and become a part of an organization where I can teach.
  • Reach out to local community colleges and schedule informational meetings with the A.D.'s so I can learn what I need to do to teach there (one down, 2 to go!)
  • Come in or under our new Lillard budget-- every month. 
  • Finish the cabinets and floors in our kitchen (more painting, argh!)

Experience. Things I will do to make the experiences I want actually happen.
  • Plan a date for David and me once a month.  He always plans, so it's time for me to step up and be intentional about planning something special for us.
  •  Seek new friendships.  Reach outside of our circle.
  • Less is More Lifestyle.  I know this is vague.  If I was at work my boss would want a metric with a timeframe and and a clear objective.  Thank goodness this isn't work! :) I want this to be my mantra for 2011- Less is More.  If I'm ever going to be a stay at home mom one day, I'm going to need to learn this lifestyle of living on less and making more of what I have.  Being creative and resourceful.  Less really can be more fulfilling.
  • Eliminate most convenience foods from my grocery list and eat most meals from whole foods in their natural state.  I put this under Experience rather than Accomplishments because I truly believe this is a lifestyle experience, not just a task to complete.  Notice the word most.  David loves bagged lettuce because it's easy so I know we'll probably buy it every once in a while.  And while I love to bake bread, realistically I'm going to buy it, not make it every week.  However, I know that it's healthy and less expensive to eat whole foods that require preparation and don't come from a package or are packed into a 'protein bar'.  I'll finish whatever convenience foods are in my cupboard (hello Zone bars and microwave popcorn) and then that's it. 

Share.  What I want to contribute to or be a part of.
  • Find an area at WCC that I want to serve in, and do it.
  • Give more of our resources than we did in 2011.  I'm not sure what percentage or increase that should be, but I know it should be more!

Be.  The character attributes I'd like to focus on.  It's the woman I want to be more like- as a daughter of the King.
  • Spend time in God's word- every day.
  • Allow my husband to lead me- without questioning his every move or being unsupportive.  Let him have the role God's given him as the leader in our marriage.
  • Look for true joy in something- every day.

There are a million other things I want to do, go to, be a part of, and transform myself to be like, but these are the things that have been tugging at my heart in this season of my life.  Like I said previously, if any of this isn't in God's timing or God's best then I pray that he will change my heart to mirror his (now that's a lifelong goal!).  I know his best truly is the best.  You have my heart Lord Jesus.  Be my source and sustainer, my all and everything, my guide and direction, my love and my passion.  Your way above my way, it's all yours anyway!  Make me more like you, and may these 'goals' I have be only a tool to grow more into the gal you've created me to be as your daughter.  What a joy, blessing and gift it is to be a daughter of the king!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Who We Belong To

Our women's bible study started up again on Monday at WCC.  I was so excited to see all the girls again!  We had such an awesome time studying James together previously so I was really looking forward to our new series called "Anointed, Transformed, Reedeemed".  This time we'll be studying the life of David, through teaching videos featuring Beth Moore (my all-time favorite), Kay Arthur and Priscilla Shirer.  I've read a few of Beth and Kay's books but had never even heard of Priscilla Shirer.  Let's just say she is incredible.  I had to post this quote from her talk that we watched Monday night because it is amazing! 

Girls, remember whose we are and who we are!  David had to wait 22 years before his anointing came into fruition and he reigned as king of Israel.  22 years!  God has put an anointing on each of our lives, and we can rest assured that we are His even as we wait.  How comforting to know who we are in Christ!

To watch Priscilla quote this in action, check out the YouTube video below.

He Is…..

The First and the Last

The Beginning and the end

The keeper of creation

The creator of all

He’s the architect of the universe

And the manager of all time

He always was, always is and always will be.

Unmoved, unchanged, undefeated and never undone

He was bruised but brought healing,

He was pierced but eased pain,

He was persecuted but brought freedom

He was dead and brings life

He is risen to bring power

And he reigns to bring peace

The world can’t understand Him

Armies can’t defeat Him

Schools can’t explain Him

And leaders they can’t ignore Him

Harold couldn’t kill Him

Nero couldn’t crush Him

The new age can not replace Him

And Oprah can not explain Him away

He IS Life,

HE IS Love,

HE IS Longevity and He IS The LORD

HE IS Goodness, kindness, faithfulness


HE IS holy and righteous

and powerful and pure
His ways are right,

His word eternal

His will unchanging

And His mind is on us!

He is our savior, our guide,

Our peace, our joy, our comfort

Our Lord and He rules our lives

I serve Him because His bond is love

His yoke is easy His burden is light

And His goal for us is abundant life.

I follow Him because

He Is the wisdom of the wise

The power of the powerful

The ancient of days, the ruler of rulers,

The leader of all leaders,

His goal is a relationship with me

He will never leave you, never forsake you

Never mislead you, never forget you,

Never overlook you and

Never cancel your appointment is His appointment book.


When you fall He’ll lift you up,

When you fail He will forgive you.

When your weak He’s strong,

When your lost He’s your way

When your afraid He is your courage,

When you stumble He will steady you,

When your hurt He Is going to heal you,

When your broken He will mend you,

When your blind He will lead you,

When your hungry He will feed you,

When you face trials He Is with you,

When I face persecution He shields me,

When I face problems He will comfort me,

When I face loss He will provide for me,

And when we face death

He will carry us all home to meet Him.

He is everything for everybody,

everywhere ,every time,

And in every way.
He is your God

and that sister is who you belong to.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Recipe Makeover- YUM!

Chicken Broccoli Casserole- Healthy and Yummy!
Check out this recipe... If you dare!

It's a Rachelism, which means there's improvising and less measuring, but I came up with something good this time, I promise!  It turned out delicious, and it was oh so healthy.  But first, an update on my meal planning :).

In an effort to plan a couple meals a week, I went grocery shopping over the weekend after my cupboard challenge.  I looked at grocery shopping entirely differently.  No more random almond butter or dried mangoes just because.  I purchased the fresh items I knew I'd eat over the next week, and with resolve determined to make meals from what I had available to me without making a random trip to the store again.

Whole chickens were on sale at Fred Meyer, so I bought one and roasted it over the weekend.  David and I had fun scraping the meat off the bones, and the next day I used the chicken bones to make homemade chicken stock!  I always thought homemade stock would be cumbersome and take forever, but goodness was I wrong.  It was the easiest thing ever.  Plop the bones/carcass in the pot, add garlic, carrots, celery, a handfull of black peppercorns and a little kosher salt.  Cover with water and heat to a simmer.  Walk away.  EASY and I know what ingredients are going into that pot, so I don't feel bad about eating it!  Low sodium, and I can skim off all the fat.  Another bonus is now I have a freezer full of homemade stock just waiting for me to use for soup or sauces, ready to use for adding flavor to my rice or pasta.  I need an easy button!  That was easy! 

Now for the awesome recipe you health foodies will have to try.  I also bought broccoli at the grocery store and really wanted to make Chicken Broccoli Casserole, which is one of my childhood favorites.  My mom used to make it with cream of mushroom soup, which is filled with fat and who knows what ingredients, I sure can't pronounce them!  Now, please hear me out-- I'm not judging anyone who uses canned soup.  I have canned soup in my pantry.  I just know that anything processed can't be as good for us as something made from it's whole, natural state.  So I resolved to make this casserole healthy, without the canned cream of mushroom soup.

Try googling Chicken Broccoli Casserole and good luck finding a recipe that doesn't have a can of creamed soup involved.  It took me a while but I finally found one that sounded okay, but I just knew I'd miss out on that thick, creamy sauce from the canned soup.  I had to find a better alternative.  Lightbulb!  Idea coming through!

Pureed cauliflower.

Yes, you heard me right.  If you've watched the Biggest Loser, you know they constantly endorse making whipped cauliflower in place of mashed potatoes.  David's made it before and it turns out really good, so I thought, why not puree it to a smooth consistency and make that into a sauce for my casserole? 

I got home from the gym and got my cooking on.  Little bit of butter.  And I mean a little.  Add in some onion and garlic.  Add in a little flour as a thickener, add in some of my homemade stock.  Milk.  Pureed cauliflower.  Hope and pray it tastes good.  It doesn't just taste good.  It tastes AWESOME!  So awesome I have to share it with whoever might actually read my blog. :)  Here's the recipe, and believe me, it is delicious, and so healthy.  I called David, and he was surprised.  I don't know if he was surprised like "that's a good idea" or surprised like "oh boy, another Rachelism that she thinks tastes great like her chocolate scrambled egg souffle" (that's another post for another day!).  Anyway, the point is I might be the only one who thinks this is good, but I doubt it-- I think if you try it you'll be surprised in the "it's yummy!" way.  It's good for you and it tastes great!

  • 1/2 a head of cauliflower steamed and pureed in the food processor (add milk or water to make a smooth consistency)
  • 2 medium size broccoli crowns steamed (but still bright green and crunchy)
  • 4 c. shredded chicken
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 c chopped onion
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 3/4 c. chicken stock
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 2 Tbsp low fat sour cream
  • 3/4 c. shredded cheese
  • Frenches 'fried onions' for topping (but go light on this!)
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Steam cauliflower until tender when pierced with a fork.
  • Transfer steamed cauliflower to food processor, puree until very smooth (add milk or water if necessary)
  • Steam the broccoli until crunchy.  Set aside.
  • Melt butter in a saucepan, and add onions and garlic until transluscent. 
  • Season with salt to draw out moisture from the onions, add pepper.
  • Add flour until a roux is formed.  Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add chicken broth, and with a whisk combine until roux is fully incorporated with no lumps.
  • Add milk, pureed cauliflower, and sour cream.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  • Toss chicken, broccoli and most of cheese (reserve some for the top) and pour into a 9x13 pan.
  • Pour sauce all over the chicken, broccoli and cheese mixture.
  • Top with remaining cheese and a few Frenches fried onions.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until the casserole is bubbling and cheese has lightly browned on top.
Even if you eat this entire pan, the worst that could happen is that you eat 3/4 cup of cheese.  Yes, that's not healthy but imagine how much cheese is on a pizza.  Enjoy this, it's got tons of fiber from the broccoli and cauliflower, and the pureed cauliflower makes for a really creamy sauce with none of the fat.  It's so good!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Finished with my Cupboard!
Last week I decided to do a cupboard challenge.  Basically what this meant was I would only eat what I had in my cupboards, freezer or refrigerator.  No grocery shopping.  If I didn't have it, I wouldn't eat it.

So, how'd I do?

I started last Friday, and David joined me in the challenge while he was home over the weekend.  He made protein shakes, I made oatmeal.  We made some beef and broccoli.  Tuna and canned grean beans.  Rice.  Friday and Saturday were easy and I was really motivated.  Then Sunday rolled around, and it was just more of canned grean beans, canned black beans and taco bell sauce with rice, cereal for breakfast.  Both David and I were getting bored of the cupboard.

Monday night was the college football championship game, and David was gone travelling but only an hour and a half away.  He invited me to stay with him for the night so we could watch the game together.  I pondered the drive, but it was well worth a fun evening with my hubby so I drove down to Eugene.  I didn't bring food from my cupboard, he took me out to dinner!!! :)  That was cheat #1.

Cheat #2:  last night was one of my very best friend's birthdays.  You can read about her here!  Her awesome hubby organized a super fun surprise party for her with close friends and family, and I wanted to bring the cake-- a cheesecake!  I didn't exactly have all the ingredients though.  I had cream cheese, but not marscapone which the recipe I was using called for.  I also didn't have enough eggs or any graham crackers.  And I really wanted to make a yummy cake for her birthday, no improvising (David was telling me just to use oats instead of graham crackers.  My usual self would probably go with that, but not for Krista's birthday!  No shortcuts and definitely no experimenting for her birthday cake!).  I cheated and did go to the grocery store to buy the cheese, eggs and graham crackers.  The cheesecake turned out (gotta love Giada) and Krista liked it, and her party was a great time with some awesome people and best of all we celebrated one amazing chica!  Well worth cheating on my cupboard. :)

What did I learn?

Eating out of my cupboard and fridge was really healthy.  I ate lots of the veggies that I might have let go bad if I had otherwise gone to the store and purchased other things.  I ate a ton of oatmeal which is a superfood with whole grains and tastes awesome with frozen berries mixed in.  Swirl in a little agave syrup and it's definitely a treat.  Canned grean beans aren't that tasty on their own, but add in black beans and rice and some taco seasoning and it's not that bad.  It's definitely healthy!  I ate some of the frozen soup I'd made a few weeks ago, and made tuna sandwiches for lunch.  I still haven't eaten through my entire cupboard yet, but no, I'm not signing myself up for week two!  I'm tired of tuna and grean beans and rice, but I sure did eat healthy this past week.!

It was a cheap way to eat, obviously, and things didn't go to waste.  I only bough cream cheese, graham crackers and eggs, so my budget for the week is certainly still in tact.  The food in my fridge which I am notorious for throwing away because it's gone bad was eaten.  Nothing went rotten.  I used up the fresh veggies and lots of canned goods.  I really didn't need to go grocery shopping, even though I totally would have if I hadn't challenged myself to do this.  Now for some people, this is normal, not grocery shopping every week.  Probably for most people!  But for me, well, it's not and because of that, I end up wasting stuff and spending more.  This past week I spent very little (even though I cheated!) and didn't have to throw anything away.  That feels good.

Limiting my choices of where to eat (I had three choices- the cupboard, fridge or freezer) made things simple.  I made my lunch because I knew I wouldn't have to figure out where to go and buy it, and it was easy to decide what to cook for dinner since I didn't have all that much to choose from.  It wasn't easy eating the same things a few days in a row, but it sure was simple!

What now?

I haven't committed myself to grocery shopping every couple weeks or once a month or something restricting on myself but I do think I will try to plan out a few meals a week.  Since I knew ahead of time that for the whole week I was going to eat what I already had on hand, I knew what I was going to prepare for meals and it made things so simple and faster than normal.  Since I'm a "single lady" during the week, I won't be cooking elaborate meals but I do want to continue the streak of eating healthy and preparing food.  Less buying my cup of fat laden soup at Safeway for lunch and more sandwiches!  In order to do this I need to plan what I'm going to eat so I can buy the appropriate items ahead of time.  I sound like my mom right now, oh how I love her!

Winco is probably the cheapest grocery store around but going there is like a field trip in and of itself.  If I go there once a month to pickup some of the bulk items (like oats, flour, dried fruits) it will help me stay on my new budget and I'll only have to deal with the crowds once a month.

All in all, this was a fun experiment and now I feel like I need a new challenge, which will be writing out my goals for 2011.  I know, I'm late to the whole new years resolution party, but now that I've had a few weeks to let it all marinade upstairs I think I'm ready to start the task of writing out my personal goals for this upcoming year.  I've never done it before.  Stay posted, it will be interesting I'm sure...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cupboard Challenge

thank you!
 So week one is up on the Lillard family budget, and so far it's been interesting.  We had an unexpected expense come up for one of our rental properties.  David had his suit pants hemmed (so he could actually wear those nice suits we bought a few months ago).  One of the stones in my wedding ring was loose so I had to get that fixed.  All of these were expenses we don't usually have every month, but we budgeted for this kind of thing so it was okay. I kept having to remind myself that's what that money is for!  It's made me aware (in just a week-- I can hardly imagine what it will be like in a month!) of how much of what goes where.  It's weird being on a budget, but a challenge no less and being the competitive person that I am, I'm always up for a challenge and I'd like to do well.

With week one now being over (David and I decided to start our fiscal week (fiscal, haha!) on Fridays), I looked in the cupboards and the fridge to see what we might need for this next week.  That's when I began to get real with myself and realized that in actuality- we needed nothing.  We had plenty of rice, pasta, beans, frozen veggies, frozen chicken breast, beef jerky, a few fresh veggies and some apples and oranges.  Not a ton of variety (that's what gets me into grocery trouble- thinking I need more walnuts or feta cheese or maybe another bag of lemons or dried cranberries blah blah blah) but we had absolutely enough.  My thoughts went back to Joel's sermons about the orphans our church visited in Africa and how they lived on flat bread, rice and beans and here I was wondering what I needed at the grocery store.  We had plenty of food without visiting any store.  I could litterally shop in my own pantry.  Okay.  I thought.  Let's up my game here.  I decided right then and there to do a cupboard challenge.

Starting today, Friday, until next Thursday- basically one whole week, I (or we, if David is home... He just counted himself in on this challenge when he's home this weekend!) will eat what we have on hand.  If we don't have it, we won't be eating it. 

This means beans and rice, frozen veggies, defrosted chicken breast, that weird looking beef jerky in the cupboard...  I will tell you right now I can't wait to start and I can't wait for it to be over.  I think it will be fun and boring all in one challenge.  It's going to be like an episode of "Chopped".  Oh boy.

It's time to get cooking from the cupboard....
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