Saturday, September 14, 2013

New recipe I am loving a latte!

I heart lattes. So much.

They are my go-to insta-feel better drink.

But sadly, I cannot afford a latte every time I want an insta-feel better drink.

I have searched high and low to find a DIY at-home recipe. They have all called for some fancy machine, or in some cases machines.

I had all but given up hope... until TODAY!

It began when I stumbled across a blog that said to use double the amount of fine ground coffee and a stick blender. Having no idea what the heck a stick blender was, I googled it. It's a blender you put into the pot.

So my brilliant self thought, well why can't I just pour my pot of milk into my regular blender.

Off to the kitchen I went!

I doubled my coffee grounds, and double brewed the coffee for the "espresso" part. 

I heated up my pot of milk and poured it into the blender to get it forthy. 

After a few zooms around, I mixed it with my strong coffee and BAM! I had my long awaited for DIY no fancy machine needed latte. 

It was heaven, so much heaven and goodness. My soul literally felt happy after just the first sip. 

Happy Saturday!!!!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Failures and Mountains

I just got done with a pretty good workout, so I decided to indulge in some pinterest. What a terrible idea. 

An hour later I am looking at my life incredibly disappointed. How did I get here? 

In the fall of 2009 I began working out. It was not because I had some desire to change my appearance, but instead it was to battle my bulimia, a hellish nightmare I was yet again facing. Before I knew it I was running almost daily, I was very careful with what I was eating, and the need to purge was no longer crippling my life. I also happened to lose a bunch of weight in the process. 

During that time, my mind was so focused on being able to make it thirty minutes after a meal that the size of my pants had little hold on me. But when I did finally look in the mirror, I couldn't wrap my mind around what I saw. 

My workouts continued into the fall of 2010, and by then I was somewhere between a size 12 and 14. I also weighed less that I did in the sixth or seventh grade. Looking back, I looked incredible. 

But low self-esteem doesn't change over night. The number of days that I hated myself and my appearance the wasn't that much different than now. One night in fall 2011 really stands out to me. I was at my place getting ready for a party at Ray's apartment next door. I must have tried on 15 different outfits. I finally reached the point of crying in front of my mirror because of how awful I looked. Ray came in about that time, and after asking me what was wrong, put his arms around me and said, "One day I hope you look in the mirror and see what I see. And that's beautiful."

My thought then was the same thought I have now. "Yeah right." No way, no how will I ever feel beautiful. 

I know the harms of self-pity, but I also know it is not a feeling  you can just easily decide not to have. Regardless of how many times my husband tells me I'm beautiful or sexy, or how he hugs my curves, or the way he stares at me as if I'm the most attractive woman he's ever seen, I'm not sure I will ever feel beautiful. 

This decision to relose all of the weight I once lost just intensifies those feelings of self-loathing. I stare at myself angry and disappointed, screaming in my head. Why! Why did I let myself get here again? The simple answers would be not truly knowing how to maintain a weight combined with the lack of attention I gave my weight because I was so focused on my new boo. That mixed with lots of date nights and dinners. 

Regardless of the cause, or the length of time it took me to get back here, I have still never been more disappointed in myself. I failed. I failed myself. I failed my health. I failed my new clothes. I failed any confidence in myself I was gaining.

Now I'm left at a point where I can no longer hold onto that pity, but have to use it as motivation to start again. 

I'm not sure I've ever faced a bigger mountain. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Lessons on Our One Year

I am a little late posting this, but I wanted to write a blog about how perfect our anniversary was.

Before you tune out, I promise you it isn't a sappy story about how wonderfully romantic our life is. But instead is a reminder of how perfect God's timing is.

Ray and I were looking forward to our big one year like no other. We had plans to go away for the weekend, have an incredibly nice dinner, and buy each other a super nice, but very sentimental gift.

But like most laid plans, this one went awry.

I have never been more thankful that they did.

After we moved out here, we knew that Ray's last Walmart check from Illinois would hold us over until we had my first check on the 20th. What we did not plan on was the check going missing for two weeks and my new teacher advancement not coming until the 30th instead of the 20th. Talk about frantic. Had it not been for my mom buying us food, we would have been eating moldy bagels. We had no money. None.

But for the first time in my life, I have never felt so blessed or so taken care of. I knew that somehow, someway God was going to get us those checks, and I knew it was going to be when we needed them, not when we wanted them.

That they did. FINALLY! The first arrived two days after our anniversary.

Which brings me back to the point of what I wanted to write.

Instead of some elaborate picturesque weekend away. I got to spend quality time with the man of my dreams, giving each other gifts that cost less than $20 combined, and being reminded of a priceless lesson.

I gave Ray a little plaque for his nightstand that said "I love you more." He, like most holidays, blew mine out of the water.

After handing me a "Happy Anniversary" card that he forgot to sign (he said I knew who it was from), he handed me a little book he had made himself. The cover was hand drawn, and the pages each had a huge letter, spelling out "LOVE" over four pages. Next to those letters was the most beautiful, heartfelt, message I have ever been given. I never knew how much of a man of words my husband was until this book. He described the way he fell in love with me, the blessing that our first year of marriage was, and the excitement he has for our future. I have never felt more loved, valued, or treasured in my life.

What was the most perfect about the entire card though was a line that said, "Here we are on our first anniversary, on the verge of making more money than we've ever made, and we are flat broke having no idea how are bills will be paid." He closed his card by saying what will bring us through is Love and God. He's exactly right.

God has taught us so many lessons in our first year. But I'm not sure I have ever been so thankful to learn this one. No matter the situation in which we find ourselves, love and God will always bring us through.

When Ray proposed he said, "Whether we're traveling the world or eating burnt rice in the kitchen with Aiden and Avery (an event that happened the night of our proposal), as long as I'm with you, I'm happy." I could not have agreed more then, just as I could not agree more now.

Happy anniversary, Baby. I love you!

One year later :) 

P.S. Thank you, Mom, for paying for an incredible anniversary dinner!!! We love you!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Thy Will Be Done

While several people know, we have yet to officially make it public knowledge. Ray and I have decided on Kansas. 

There are so many emotions in this, that I am going to keep it on the positive side in this blog. But please know, there is definitely some heart break when it comes to leaving my family and friends. 

Several people had mentioned maybe God was giving us a choice. This entire time if there was a door open in Peoria, I took it. This past week was no exception. Ray and I had the opportunity to go look at a house for rent last Thursday morning. We had really been praying that if we weren't supposed to be in Peoria, doors would stay closed, but as we left my brother's to go to the house we got a phone call saying that the people who viewed it before us rented it. I physically felt my heart break. I scrambled onto Craigslist and called a different house owner to set up a viewing. I was desperately praying, "Please God, just let this one be the one. Please let this be an open door," even though I knew it wasn't going to happen. It didn't even take us entering the house before I knew my answer. God was sending us to Kansas. 

The rest of the trip I cried on and off and couldn't bring myself to tell people we had made our decision. Because I knew once I finally said it, that was it. But praise Jesus for a Godly husband who kept my heart where it was supposed to be. 

I had been praying this entire time to not be a Jonah. For my friends who aren't Christians, Jonah is a person in the Bible who was being sent to a town called Nineveh. He refused, but God made sure he went. I didn't want to be a Jonah. If God was sending me, I didn't want to fight Him. I wanted to say what we say at the end of every church service, "Here am I! Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8) But as you can tell from my desperate prayers, it took a whale to get me to agree on Kansas. (Jonah was swallowed by a whale... It's a great story! You should check it out!)

So here I am. Sitting in the car, realizing I am Jonah, and my mind starts to think about all of the people who had told me, "God could be giving you a choice! He will bless you either way!" What if they were right? What if I made my own door by just choosing Peoria? Choosing my own free will over what I felt I was supposed to do? Well then I wouldn't just be Jonah. I would be Eve. 

In the beginning, God created paradise. We're talking complete and utter perfection. And He gave it all to His finest creation, mankind. But as you know, Eve decided to choose her own will, and, urging her husband to join her, they lost God's will. His good, pleasing, and perfect will. 

Now I am not saying Kansas is going to be perfect. I already know it isn't. They have tornadoes. But what I am saying, is God has paved the way for us to have His will, and judging from what Adam and Eve had in the beginning, I am going to believe that it is pretty spectacular. Peoria is my apple. It is my will. It is what I want. Does that mean if I chose it that God wouldn't care for us? No. God blessed Adam and Eve with clothing, shelter, food, and children, and I believe we would be blessed had we decided on Peoria. However, I can't help but wonder how much more lavishly will we be blessed for choosing God's will over our own. I don't want my will. I want God's will. That's what being a Christian after God's heart is about. 

But I still feel ridiculous. I actually asked Ray, "What am I supposed to tell people when they ask why we are going to Kansas. 'Well, the truth is, I don't want to be here, but this is where God is sending me?'" YES! Because that's the truth. While there are so many blessings that I can already see from choosing Kansas, the reason we chose Kansas is because that is where God is sending us. 

I feel a bit like Noah, the guy who built a huge boat to prepare for a flood when it had never even rained all because God told him to, and it takes me a minute to accept the fact that I sound crazy to those who don't believe in Christ before I tell them our story. Let's just say I know at least one reason why God is sending us. We have more for our testimony. We have an open door to witness, to encourage, and to share what Christ is doing in our lives. 

I am so blessed and encouraged by seeing God's handiwork all over His plans for our lives. And I am beyond blessed to have a husband who is stronger than Adam when it comes to following God's will over our own. (He's a rock. I've tried everything. Offering the best sex every day for the rest of his life. Asking if he'd be willing to just endure whatever bad things came out of Peoria. Begging. Pleading. Nothing. There is no moving that man. And I thought for sure I'd win him with the sex!... Anyway!)

I'm just blessed. To have my family and friends who have been relentlessly praying for us, to have a husband who seeks to serve the Lord, and to have church families who have guided and shaped us along the way into a Godly couple seeking to serve the Lord, following His will over ours. 

For I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I! Send me!" Isaiah 6:8

Monday, July 1, 2013

Decisions Decisions

While we have told a few people, not everyone knows about the plot twist in our plans to move to Kansas. 

A week and a half ago I was offered a teaching job in Peoria, Illinois. Ray and I had previously talked about eventually returning to Illinois and settling down in Peoria. However, that wasn't supposed to happen for a few years. 

The job offer came really quickly, or rather offers. After my first offer I called the principal of the school I wanted to teach in to requested a short-notice phone interview. I must have said something right because about a half hour after we spoke, I got the job. 

Since then our life has been an absolute whirlwind. We have been scrambling to find a place to live, and I have been working on getting everything in order job-wise in both Wichita and Peoria. Because the truth is, Ray and I just don't know where we are supposed to be. 

I know a lot of people in my life don't follow Christ, nor do they turn to God to guide their lives. While I pray their hearts will change someday, that doesn't change how Ray and I live our lives. I truly believe in the bottom of my heart that God has a plan for us. And Ray and I have made it our mission to figure out that plan. 

So for the past week I have hit the absolute rock-bottom of emotions, I have been under physical strain of anxiety, and I have cried more times that I can count. I am utterly exhausted. 

I know, I know, "Cast all your cares upon the Lord for He cares for you." "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future." "Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest." I know! I know the Lord cares for us! I know He is going to take care of us! But it doesn't stop me from picking it up for the thousandth time after laying it down at His feet. 

Why do I keep picking it back up? Fear. Plain and simple, I'm scared. I'm scared of God saying yes and God saying no. I actually told Ray the other day that whatever decision we made it was going to be the wrong one. Whichever city we ended up in, we were supposed to be at the other. 

What a fool. 

Fear. It's an awful thing. 

But what am I fearing? Moving? Not really. Failing? Yes, definitely. I'm also afraid of God saying no. Saying no to Kansas, and saying no to Peoria.

What does Kansas have? That's what I keep hearing... Well, on the surface, financial security. My pay is more, Ray's pay is more, the cost of living is less. Our money will go so far there. But what Kansas has is beyond that. It's an incredible, incredible school district with so much support for a first year teacher. I'm set up for success in their district. I can do what I love without the added stress of the instability of Illinois. Words cannot describe how much my heart hurt when I thought about having to turn my school down... And then the other aspects of life. A fresh start. Do you have any idea how much I desperately want that? I've lost so much the past few years. Family. Friends. My church. More family. More friends. I'm broken and lonely and hurting. Don't get me wrong, I'm not so naive to think moving will fix everything, but I am so looking forward to a fresh start. One where I am no longer viewed as an individual with a husband. But instead, I'm viewed as someone's wife. I am not Stephanie Lewis, used to be Carter, but when people get to know me, especially in our church setting, they will view me as a part of an "us." I want that. I need that. My husband and I need that. Ray is the most important person on this earth to me. He is my everything. The love of my life. And I have the opportunity to face the world with him and start fresh together? What a blessing. I've had the "Well, what if you and Ray have problems" talk. But ya know what? We will just have to suck it up. Because he's my husband. And I am stuck with him death til we part. No matter how many times he leaves the toilet seat up. 

I don't know how it's possible, but I love Kansas. I've been there less than 24 hours. But I love all of the things that can come from there. I love that I can have a job I love. I love that I have an apartment that is beyond wonderful and homey and cute and perfect. I love that the church that was suggested to us is a 15 second car ride or a 3 minute walk away. I love that for the first time in my life I am truly spreading my wings, and I get to do so with my best friend. I really really love Kansas. And I really really want to be there. 

...But what about Peoria? What about my family? What about the opportunity to not only teach English as a Second Language, but also get to team teach math, science, and social studies? What about being a hop-skip-and-a-jump away from everyone I love so dearly? What about finally getting the opportunity to know my amazingly incredible big brother and big sister? What about having the chance to be a part of family dinners at my dad's? And finding my place in my step mom's wonderful family? What about being in Illinois? A few hours from the part of the state I love and that has been home for the past 15 years? What about having the chance to mend and rebuild relationships with my family, and strengthen the family ties with my husband's family? What about being here when my friends have babies, or get married, or when my loved ones are sick? What about now having to be away, only to see everyone via Skype? What about knowing that given our fresh start and new jobs I will probably only hug my loved ones once, maybe twice, over the next year. What about having to say goodbye? When the truth is, I just don't want to. I just don't want to leave. 

And that, is what has left us at this unnerving crossroad for the past week and a half. This nauseating, terrifying, utterly miserable crossroad. Because I am so torn. So deeply torn over what to do and where to go. Because I don't know. I have no idea. And every time I pray for clarity or peace, or I lay it down at God's feet, I keep finding myself holding onto the decision again screaming inside saying, "I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO DO!" Because I just don't know. 

But what I can say, is that in the midst of this storm, I did find peace. It was fleeting, but it was there. 

As some of you know, Ray and I have had a rough year. A hard tough year. Being married isn't easy. But what got us through was Christ. What kept us together was turning to Him for guidance. And believe it or not, my peace in this situation came when I truly turned to Him. 

Ray and I want to glorify God. We desperately want to be a couple that serves and honors Him. But what we have realized through the chaos of our past year is that we have be home. We have to have a home together. A home that we live in, pray in, grow in, serve in, love in. We need a place to be at the end of the day where we find rest, where we can be recharged to keep serving God. Our place last year was a disaster. Heck, it was so bad, we did anything we could just so we didn't have to be home. Do you know what it's like to sit in your car for an hour after work, playing on your phone or reading a book, just because you hate your home? Ray and I were there. And what we really need out of this move is a home. A place where we can have friends or loved ones over. A home we can rest in. A home we can feel at peace in. I'm not saying we need anything lavish or over the top. But we need that place that feels like home. 

And it was while Ray and I were discussing our need for a home and I felt peace for the first time, an actual physical relief. Then it became clear. How can we serve God to our fullest when we are miserable? When we are catty at each other because neither of us can find peace at home? 

So it's that home and that peace that we are seeking. We are trusting that God has it. We believe that He can and will take care of us, and we believe that He is going to help us find our home. The hard part now is the waiting game to see if that home is in Kansas or Peoria. 

Until then, I will be wrestling with the decision, trying to leave it as His feet, going back and forth between Kansas and Peoria, fretting and anxious, and slapping myself because I just can't trust God. 

God is going to take care of us. Ray's already reminded me of that by pointing out our surroundings at camp. Through God's provision at a place that bears His name, we have food, water, laundry, shelter, internet, income, and an opportunity to learn about Him and praise Him nightly. He is already taking care of everything! I just need to keep having faith and keep trusting in Him 

So until we make our final decision, Ray and I truly appreciate any prayers and encouragement you feel like sending our way. 

"Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" -Matthew 14:31 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Big Announcement!

No, we aren't pregnant! 

We're moving to Kansas! 

"KANSAS?" you ask? Yes. Wichita, Kansas. 

After months of applying and searching for jobs, God has opened a door for me to teach in an incredible school in a truly phenomenal district. 

While Kansas was no where near my first choice in terms of location, I truly believe this is a great opportunity. 

I will be teaching English as a Second Language at Jardine Technology Magnet Middle School to primarily Hispanic students. I have visited once, and I already love the school, the staff, and the students. While it is going to be a huge adjustment being that far from home, knowing that I will be in a school I love turns that fear into excitement. 

I have also found us a fantastically adorable apartment to live in, and I am super pumped about living there. This is also a great opportunity for Ray and I to grow closer.

While this potential move has been in the background for a while, I wanted to be certain this was definite before I officially announced it. But I sent in my first check to the apartment today and am signing my contract this week, so I am not sure how much more official it can get. 

We will miss all of our friends and family here and are looking forward to seeing you before we take off this August. That said, unless God keeps us there, this move is not forever. Once we start having babies, we plan to move back. But that won't be for a while... 

Until then, we appreciate your prayers and your love and we take this huge step into the real world. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Five Months.

My husband is incredible. And I am certain that I do not let him know this enough. 

He is my constant support, my lifeline, my lover, and my true best friend. 

He is there every day, all day. ...Well unless he's busy doing something else. 

He listens to everything I talk about, even though I sure he would rather zone out.

He wipes away my tears. Holds me when I am upset. And kisses me when I need it the most.

He plans for our future and makes the best decisions he can now in order to have a stronger family in the future. 

He talks about our future kids. Our home. And our retirement.

He helps me to find the silver lining when life is full of gray clouds. 

He fills even our most difficult times with strength. 

He makes me laugh until it hurts. 

He keeps our marriage full of joy. 

He strives to let me know I am his one and only. 

His love for me is genuine and pure. 

And he makes me feel like i am the object of his school boy crush.

My heart flutters, my knees go weak, and my breath is taken away constantly by him. 

I have truly found the one whom my soul loves. 

I love you more than the sun, and the moon, and the stars in the sky, Lorran. 

You may love me more, but I will always love you most. 

Happy 5 month wedding anniversary, baby. 

Monday, January 7, 2013


One of my besties recently bought me a tasty bottle of Blue Sky Rocky Comfort Red. It's by far one of my favorite wines, and I have been saving it since before Christmas. So after a long day of being a woman, she and I decided to have a well-earned glass.

My hubs left my good corkscrew at someone's house a while ago, and all I have is a few crappy ones.

And that is where our adventure begins.

After struggling for a bit, the corkscrew snapped right off.

So we attempted to get the other corkscrew in and give it another go... 
That didn't work so well for us either. 

Two corkscrews laid down their lives... which left us asking, "What next?"
What do you think? Pliers!

We tugged, yanked, bent, and twisted until finally....

The cork snapped in half.

That didn't stop us though... We got out the knives and got to digging. 

And, after much effort, we had a breakthrough! ...Literally

And as you know, there is nothing worse than having cork chunks in your wine.... 
So we got out the strainer! 

A glass well deserved! 


Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Year, New You? The Road to Embracing My Curves

Within the past few months my Twitter usage has increased greatly. But I recently realized I was following way too many Skinny This and Skinny That accounts. It was really starting to bring me down to the point of being miserable with myself again. Thankfully, God has a way of snapping your perspective though. Through a simple comment from my husband, my mind did a 180.

He was holding me one night and whispered in my ear, "You're body is so soft." Instantly, my guard was up, and I was completely offended. I wanted to cry. I felt gross and awful. I could think of no more hideous description than to be "soft." I wanted to say, "You mean huge?"  but something stopped me. Instead I replayed his comment in my mind. It's delicate tone and endearment were laced together to not create an insult, but a compliment.

Soft? A compliment? You mean, you like this body? It struck me so deeply. Typically, the thousands of times my husband compliments me are tossed to the side, only quickly to be replaced with my own opinions of myself.

As many of you know, body image has been a major struggle in my life since junior high. I was relentlessly picked on in middle school and have forever hated every ounce of my body. And not just my weight- I permed my naturally almost straight hair three times, I wore non-persciption color contacts for three years, and I was desperate to be beautiful.

High school hit, and I lost control of everything. At some point during my sophomore year I began experimenting with bulimia. It was short-lived, and I was soon "healed." That lasted about a year, and by the end of my senior year I was consistently purging. However, God is bigger than my control, and I  was able to re-reach that point of healing. But like most people who use/do something to escape I relapsed in college. During my freshman year it was only for a short period of time, but during my sophomore year I lost control entirely. I was frantic over it, so in a desperate attempt to have God bring me through, I believed He could heal me. I started running in the evenings and began being incredibly conscious of my food intake. I strived to eat guilt-free portions and foods, and at the first sign of purging, I went running.

Compared to my high school self, I lost a tremendous amount of weight. I felt incredible. I was by no means small, but I was much, much smaller than I had been. And for the first time, bulimia was not a part of the picture, nor has it been since. Praise Jesus!

But then true love enters your life, and suddenly you are going out to eat, having dessert frequently, and not caring about your weight whatsoever because you have a man who loves, loves, loves your curves.
Now don't get me wrong, that's all fine and dandy until the scale numbers creep up and your jeans don't fit. Then what do you do? I know I need to start working out and eating healthy, but I also know that I have love myself where I am before I make improvements. Reason being, I don't want to hate myself the entire journey to my destination.

It's like going on a road trip from New York to LA. Do you really want to be thinking, "Wow. New York City is terrible. It's ugly and gross and awful. I just want to be in LA." Then as you drive down the coast, through the Smokey Mountains, up to Mt. Rushmore, and across wheat fields, painted deserts, and through the Rockies, do you really want to hate the entire view because it isn't LA? No! That's absurd! You are going to love the trip! Buy souvenirs, celebrate landmarks, take tons of pictures, go nice and slow to enjoy the ride.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is going be my perspective of myself.

I am going to love my now size 16 curves, maybe even be a little sad to leave them. I'll then stop to appreciate them as they narrow to 14, will admire when they measure at a size 12, and be look back with joy of the journey as I reach my destination, which in this case is unkown. The best part? I have a fantastic husband who will love every bit of the trip, even if it means taking a rest in-between or even going back to revisit a stop.

And as for Twitter? I ditched those Skinny gals. I searched me up some Curvy Fashionistas and am following a great blog (found here) on embracing your curves.

So take that body image, your fat butt mindset has just been booted out by my voluptuous positivity.