Visiting “Home”

Bier und brats, gut! 

This is it! Schools out of the way, time to see family in Switzerland! Grandma, Mom, Dad and I! Maur, here we come!

   

I hold on to the beautiful memories in my mind of hanging out with my cousins from Switzerland in our backyard here in Los Angeles. Such fun, getting together with family, especially when you are all living in totally different worlds on opposite sides of the country!  

Cousins weekend in Los Angeles, CA. 

  Cousins weekend in Dana Point, CA.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

Wish us luck and send prayers our way! Via SwissAir, we will be landing in Zurich, Switzerland in about 17 hours!  

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Happy Mothers Day

Another 5am trip to the local flower shop to pick up Moms big yellow sunflowers wrapped in brown paper. Mmm, the smell of fresh roses! That slight burn in your nostrils from the cold crisp air. All the birds singing the song of their people! That’s what Morher’s day morning looks like for me. Then, it turns into 18 grown adults, 7 children, 3 dogs, and a tortouse, all hanging out in the backyard by the pool. It’s sunny, it’s smokey, it’s loud and most of all, it’s surrounded with food and fresh flowers. 

  
Mother’s Day at my parents house is so much fun! All my mom wants to do is get together with family and feed everyone. Every year that’s all she wants, but this year my sister and I thought we’d surprise her with a little more. We didn’t want to take away from what she asks for and her annual tradition, so we bought her tickets for ziplining in Catalina Island for another weekend. Booked a hotel, typed up a personally made itinerary, and put all that love into a little envelope addressed to “Mom!” Well, guess what? That weekend just happened! 

   
 

We took a boat to the pretty Island, had dinner and relaxed at the hotels jaccuzi. It was such a wonderful weekend! The weather was perfect for us to hang out at the beach and then strap up to fling our bodies through the protected and secluded land. 

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Psalms 16:11

The tour consisted of two workers that were so friendly and so educating, about 20 minutes of learning how to fly, 7 other people, and 5 different lines to ride. The air was fresh, the scenes were God given. The entire experience was just remarkable!  

         

New Happiness

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It’s not New Years, but I do feel a new me. Yep! Randomly, in the middle of March! Here I am! So I’ve had some terrible experiences thrown my way, but I try not to let them get me down. I just wanted to post and say that life gets better! Don’t let your head drop, keep your chin up and keep going! If it didn’t kill you, it really did make you stronger. If you’re not stronger then I bet you’re still in the middle of that rut. You have a little bit of a ways left. Keep on going before the devil even knows you’re there! (Love country music!)

I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.

Psalm 121:1

When I’m at my lowest and hardest days my best friend reminds me of just how blessed I really am.

The devil attacks the ones who are the biggest threat. So you must have some strong faith & a close relationship with God if you’re struggling. Keep it up!
-Best friend/Sole sister

It really opens my eyes. Everything bad, truly is a blessing. The issues draw me closer to God. Gives me more prayers, and in return, more answers. Even when the answer is ‘No’ it’s still an answer. Remember that. Remember how blessed you are. Be proud of yourself and just keep pushing.

A Toast To A True Hero

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Now if everyone will please raise your glass! We all know why we’re gathered here, but incase you’ve had too much to drink, we’re here to thank a true super-hero. No, not Batman nor Superman. We’re here to thank my uncle, Frank Phillips.

No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
2 Timothy 2:4

Being the youngest sibling in the family isn’t always easy; especially when you’re the only girl. I remember this one Thanksgiving my family from other states came to celebrate with us. My older cousins were all roller-blading up and down the street while my brothers and I were playing Fun-Air Scoop Ball with my uncles in the grass. Everyone was dominating on me. That’s until Frank picked up a yellow scooper and helped me out. I was no longer the loser little sister. Together, we beat all three of my competitive brothers and even my other uncle, John. From that moment on, he became a hero in my eyes. Once I grew older I realized, I’m not the only one who thinks of him as a hero. The rest of the world knows about his super powers, too. He is a hero to others for different reasons though.

When I say world, I mean he is respected and recognized globally as a great manager, an admired leader, and also for his intense security skills. Frank has accomplished so much that has contributed to the freedom that we live with today! He served an 18-year career as a Navy SEAL. After that, he established Golden Seal Enterprises. Yes, these two amazing things really stand out, but they aren’t his only accomplishments. Please don’t get me started with them, there are just so damn many . . .

Just to name a few: He was personally selected as a founding member of the Navy’s first SEAL Team Six and first Red Cell Team. He’s achieved many certifications and licenses such as Paramedic, Diver Medic, PADI Master Scuba Instructor, NRA Firearms Instructor, and so much more. He’s a good husband, father, grandfather, son, and friend. Like I said, don’t get me started!

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We always hear about how much our veterans do for us. We are always told to thank a vet the next time you see one. Well, I’m saying thank you. The next time you see a vet, give them your thanks. The next time you meet a vet, shake their hand and tell them thank you! They are extremely humble so you may not realize it, but they have gone that extra mile to give us what we have today. I love and admire you so much, Frank. For you will always be a super-hero to me!

Goruck Challenge #1335

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So this was an amazing experience for me! This past weekend I became a GRT, which stands for Goruck Tough. The Goruck community is one that I’m proud to be apart of! Everyone is so loving and no one is ignored or left behind. Whether you like them or not, these people are your resources. I will never feel alone because I know that’s not possible when being a member of this community! I am in a subgroup called Jesus Freaks as well. They are like the church of Goruck. We have a facebook page that allows us to post about the good and the bad that we go through. We do this so we can pray for one another and be there for everyone. Like I said, you will never be alone once you’re a GRT. This event took place in Santa Monica, starting and ending at the pier. It was lead by Cadre Flash, with a little surprise visit from Cadre Big Daddy.

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Isaiah 41:10

When we got to the top of a near by trail that we hiked up, we were able to do a Q & A with Flash. It was a really awesome opportunity to ask whatever we wanted about his life and the special operations military branches. We also went around and shared why we chose to do Goruck. I didn’t share at the time because I hadn’t finished yet. Honestly, I didn’t want to jinx myself and not finish… Why I chose to do the Goruck Challenge…

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Phillippians 4:13

2 years ago I was diagnosed with a rare heart disease. Getting news like that is scary and somewhat lonesome. But what was really lonely was the fact that I couldn’t do any physical activity what so ever without passing out. I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and well, that just sucks. My goal was to not let these issues stop me from living. I’ve trained hard and worked closely with doctors to get me where I am today. I’m not just living, it’s good living!

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I decided to do Goruck because I wanted to be able to prove to myself that I can do this! I wanted to be there to support my teammates that are going through their own issues, and I wanted to feel the support from my class, even if I had just met them! After going through 12 hours of hell with each other, you’ll be supportive friends for sure. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of crazies!

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My body may have taken a beating, but yes, I do plan on doing it again! I prayed every hour during the event and I can honestly say that I felt the strength God gave to me. I will be doing more events for sure! I earned my grey patch, and now I have the need for a blue one! I do plan on keeping up on the work outs and eating right because without the 21 day fast, I would never have been prepared physically or mentally for this.

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The Right Pace

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So I have accomplished a very successful 21 days of doing the Daniel Fast. I will admit, I cheated once and ate a bite of my moms homemade pineapple upside down cake- it was delicious, but full of refined sugar. Other than that, my Lord and savior provided for me. He gave me the strength and courage to get through so much! A lot has been going on lately in my life personally, but with His grace, I’ve been just right! Here was my last devotional from the church for the fast…

“Day 21

Prayer direction:

Pray that God’s favor might be upon your family and our church as we continue to put Him first in all things.

From the Desk of Pastor Dawn Jackson…

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7 NIV

Long-distance runners know to make it over the long haul, you’ve got to have a steady pace. Run too fast, and you will burn out early and end up sidelined. Run too slow, and you minimize the potential within you. Running the right pace speeds you to the finish line and prevents injury and burnout.

Pace is also important in life. We often overestimate what we can accomplish in a short amount of time and underestimate what we can accomplish in a long amount of time. We live in a fast-paced world. Many people rush to and from exhausted at the end of each day, with nothing left to give to those closest to them. This results in shallow relationships and regret. Of course, on the other side of the spectrum are those who spin their wheels, never seeming to move forward, aimlessly distracted by insignificant pursuits.

Think also about the pace in which you live your life. With 21 days coming to an end, now would be a good time to make the necessary adjustments so that you might truly finish the race he has called you to run. Consider the following acronym as a guide in developing your pace:

Prioritize. Focus on what is most important.

Assign times of work and rest.

Consistency: doing what you say you are going to do.

Enjoy the journey.

God desires for us to have a full, abundant life, filled with meaningful relationships and the satisfaction of accomplishing purposes which honor his name. A healthy pace will empower you to both accomplish your tasks and build solid relationships.

The Lord is my pace setter…I shall not rush.

He makes me stop for quiet intervals.
He provides me with images of stillness which restore my serenity.
He leads me in the way of efficiency through calmness of mind and his guidance is peace.
Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day, I will not fret, for his presence is here.
His timelessness, his all importance will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity by anointing my mind with his oils of tranquility.
My cup of joyous energy overflows.
Truly harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours for I shall walk in the Pace of my Lord and dwell in his house for ever.
A Japanese version of the 23rd Psalm by Tokio Megashio.”

Even now that it is over, I still eat healthy (but not as healthy..) and I am still keeping my faith clear of distractions. Nothing processed about my faith! Living and loving life, with a purpose!

Christmas Tamales!!

The time is here! Yup, that’s right… Tamale season!!! The warm house that smells of steamed corn, marinated pork and beef… snacking on chicharrones, and jalapeños!

So every year my grandma, aunt, and I get together to make tamales for Christmas! We wake up early, throw our tamale making aprons on, and meet at grandmas house to drink our cups of coffee together! Then, we get to it! Mixing the corn dough with the vegetable shortening and broth, getting it the perfect consistency! We add salt as we go until it tastes just right! It’s a messy messy job, but our aprons love it!

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil…

Ecclesiastes 2:24

This time of year is my favorite because in my family, the way we show love is by feeding each other. These tamales used to sell for twenty dollars a dozen, but we no longer take orders. The only tamales we make are the batches we give out as gifts. The more food Grandma shoves in your mouth, the more she loves you! Every year she teaches me how to cook something new. Over the past few years she has taught me how to prepare each kind of meat, the pork, beef, chicken, all different kinda of salsas to make the same meat taste different, and even a simple jalapeño and cheese!

The key to making your jalapeño and cheese tamales is to add a little bit of root beer leaves! Also, we’ve tried all the different kinds of cheeses, make sure your masa is salted just right and use mozzarella cheese! Your cheese will melt, but still stay in your tamale!

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This year she taught me to make chicharrones tamales with a green salsa made from tomatillo. Let me tell you, the chicharrones aren’t crispy anymore once you are done steaming the tamales, but they are still quite delicious!

I truly cherish moments like the ones I made today because my grandma and aunt aren’t always going to be around. And the really scary thing is no one else knows how to make these tamales! Without their recipes, no more tamales! I know, what a horrible thing to say, but it’s true! So, please! Look at your life and cherish the moments. They can end at anytime!

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Once Is Nice, Twice Is Tradition!

Happy Thanksgiving y’all! I know, I’m really late, but it’s pretty much my favorite holiday so I’m going to post about it anyways!!

I absolutely love Christmas time! To celebrate the life of Christ, get together with family, repeat traditions, eat amazing food, and give back to those who need it is so amazing! Don’t let me forget the cold weather, that’s the cherry on top! I will say though, I do get a little sad when I see Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving even arrives. We should enjoy the holiday season, every minute of it!

Thanksgiving is just as amazing as Christmas! It’s when the leaves have all turned from green to oranges and yellows. There is a delicious smell of hazelnut in the cool crisp air! One of the times of the year that family comes together, and everyone pulls their heads out of their asses to actually appreciate what’s in front of them! This is the time when we get to shine brighter than the stars and let the world really see our caring hearts!

I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful family to spend my Thanksgivings with. I understand those who don’t have that, and that’s why every year I choose to work on Thanksgiving as my holiday at work. I’ve been working with the elderly for a few years now, and something I’ve unfortunately come to learn, is a lot of them don’t have family to spend holidays with. Not just the elderly, a lot of people don’t. The older population have trouble getting around, and for many other reasons they can’t even cook those traditional holiday meals for themselves. This year I found myself cooking up a full breakfast for a sweet older couple to get their Thanksgiving Day started! They were so thankful, just like they are every other day I’m with them. The sweetest part, was I was asked to lead them in prayer before I left and they ate.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

I got off work at 8 in the morning to come home and start cooking for my own family. Every year, since I was about 7 years old, it has been my tradition that I make the cranberry sauce for my families feast! So once I got home, I brought out the eggs, sausage, cilantro, tortillas, cheese, and salsa, and started to make breakfast for everyone. Haha! Yes, I was pretty tired so my priorities were a little off. That’s when I realized I needed to make the cranberries before I ate and fell asleep.

Delicious, tart cranberry sauce for the holidays!
1 bag of whole fresh cranberries
1 cup of apple cider (or apple juice)
2 naval oranges
3 sticks of cinnamon
1 cup of sugar

Over medium heat I put the cup of apple cider (or juice), the whole bag of fresh cranberries, 3 sticks of cinnamon, and the cup of sugar. Zest both oranges into the pot, then squeeze the juice of those two oranges into the pot. Stir and bring it to a boil. The cranberries should start to pop and the floating cranberries will start to become a thick chunky sauce. After the berries start to pop you can turn the stove off and let it cool enough to put into your serving dish. Let cool in the fridge until ready to eat!

I like to make the sauce early in the morning or even the night before, leaving the cinnamon sticks in it while it cools in the fridge. The flavors only get better with time!

Try making some for Christmas! I bet you’ll be so thankful I posted my not so secret recipe! Maybe it’ll become a tradition that you make the cranberry sauce every year. Enjoy!IMG_4417.JPG

#empowerothersbeauty

Just like everyone else and their moms, I have a Facebook, too. Well, the other day I was scrolling through my news feed to see what looks like a new version of a dumb chain letter kind of thing. It was called “The Sexy Challenge” and it consisted of 5 ridiculous selfies of a person and a message saying that those are the 5 pictures that make them feel sexy. Then they tagged a handful of people, challenging them to do the same. I looked at it and immediately thought, Great! I hope I don’t get tagged in this stupid thing!

Fast forward a couple days and bam! Facebook notification says I’ve been tagged in my sisters post. I look and it says “…I challenge you to take the beautiful and strong challenge.” At first I rolled my eyes, but then my boredom got the best of me and I opened it. Looked at her 5 pictures and saw 5 beautiful photos of her and her progress in weight loss. She’s not covered in make up nor was she acting provocative. There wasn’t even a filter on the slide. Then, I saw her hashtag “#EmpowerOthersBeauty” and I got it! These pictures made her feel both beautiful and strong, while inspiring me and those 17 other people who “liked” the post. !

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:24-25

I went ahead and made my post of 5 pictures and tagged a handful of people that were either in those picture with me, and/or those who can easily inspire others! It was wonderful! A few of the people I tagged completed their challenge and it was absolutely heart touching to see their collage and read their comments. So many people are inspired by others. It was beautiful, and it wasn’t photoshop at all!

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