Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Project 31 Day 11: Good Enough to Eat

 Day 11.  Post a recipe
Buffalo ChickenDip


Ok people it's tailgate season!!  In honor of college football starting this week I decided to post a tailgate recipe.  This is one of our favorite party/cookout/tailgate recipes and it is quick and easy to make.  It is so yummy and everyone always asks for the recipe, so I thought I would share it with ya'll.  So here you go.

Ingredients:
Grilled chicken strips cut into bite size pieces (we use the frozen strips like Tyson)
2 bars of cream cheese (we use the 1/3 less fat)
1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot sauce or any buffalo sauce
1 cup ranch dressing
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese

Make It:
Preheat oven to 350*
Microwave the grilled chicken strips (enough  to thaw, about 5 min.)
Chop the chicken into small bit-size pieces
Spread the cream cheese on the bottom of a 9X13 glass pan (I usually put the cream cheese in the microwave to soften for easier spreading)

Spread the ranch dressing on top of the cream cheese
In a separate bowl, toss the chicken with the buffalo sauce
Evenly spread the chicken over the ranch/cream cheese layers
Top with cheese
Cover with foil and bake for 30 min.
Serve with Tostito's Scoops
Enjoy!

What are your favorite tailgate foods?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's Not Like the Movies



Do you ever wish your life was like a movie or a television remote?  I mean have you ever wanted to hit the rewind button, edit certain events in your journey, cut and paste, or erase a scene all together?  I've been thinking a lot about the things that have occurred in my life in the past year and a half or so.  There are certain things I would keep on repeat and certain things I would rather redo.   There are moments that make my heart melt and that keep me smiling, but there are moments that have wrecked my soul and that continue to haunt me.  

Sometimes I wish I could hit the edit tab and I think If only I had seen what I know now, then (insert Taylor Swift reference here).  If I could just go back and get a redo, I could change it and maybe I wouldn't feel this way today.  With the simple touch of a button I could edit the scene and, in retrospect, I could make it right.  I could make that person treat me better, I could retract that statement, I could invest my time differently, and in effect I could have no regrets.      

Maybe life would be easier this way, maybe it would lessen our stress, but the reality is that life is not like the movies.  There are struggles, there are joys and tears, moments come and just as quickly they are gone.  Yes, it is not like the movies and we do not have a remote control, but there is good news.  Our creator has a magnificent, perfect plan with every detail laid out just as it should be.  The tears are not for loss, but for our gain.  He works all things for our good.  So, yes we do not have life on DVR, but we have a Mastermind who knows every second of our existence.  He is in control of every moment and because of this, no remote control needed.        

 


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

She Works Hard for the Money

As most of you know I am a working woman now.  I got my first school counseling job and have hit the ground running.  I have been crazy busy and have had little time to even stop and eat lunch, much less relax.  The kiddos start school tomorrow and I am looking forward to meeting all of them.  We have 1300 kids at our school and only two counselors.  It is going to be an interesting year for sure.  So if I am not posting as often that is why.  I did want to show off my office space though.  I am still in the process of decorating, so any fun ideas that would be good for a middle school would be appreciated.  I have one big blank wall and I am trying to come up with something fun to put on it.  I want my office to be an inviting, warm, and safe space for the students.  I think I am getting there slowly.  




Notice the duct tape holding the arm of my chair on, haha




Saturday, August 20, 2011

Freedom is Here




Last night Brandon, my parents, and myself had the privilege to go to the Hillsong United concert in Greensboro!  It was beyond amazing.  If you don't know who Hillsong United is, they are a worship band from Australia who writes most of the popular worship music used all over the world.  They have such a heart for Christ and for worship.  It was so freeing to be in a huge arena full of people worshiping the same amazing God.  We are so privileged to be able to worship freely. There are so many people across this world who cannot openly express the joy they have in Christ.  We get to do this whenever we want, which is something that is too often taken for granted.  If you ever have the opportunity to attend a major worship event like a Hillsong United concert I highly recommend you take advantage of it.  The experience is priceless. 





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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Valley








"I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow." --maya angelou

I feel the need to write a difficult post that I have needed to write for a while.  Most of the time I blog about happy moments, moments of joy, the up's of life, but I feel that sometimes it is important to be transparent, to be vulnerable.  Now, don't misunderstand it is a not a post of self-pity, but a post of personal healing, of personal process.  

I'm in a season of change in my life, a season of transition where people I thought were going to be there for the long haul have fallen short and left me to drive the cart on my own.  I am a firm believer that the Lord places people in our lives for specific purposes.  Some are there just for a season and some are there forever.  Don't get me wrong I have the forever kind of people in my life, my husband, parents, sister, but over the past year or so I have experienced a season of challenge with other people in my life.  I feel betrayed, hurt, lonely at times, and misunderstood by certain people.  To be quite honest I often feel defeated.  

As most of you know, I'm pretty passionate about relationships and when they don't work out it's extremely difficult for me to move on.  The emotions rise up and fill my soul, they command my attention and leave me broken.  The Lord brings us through the valley so that we can see the mountain.  I feel like the Lord is calling me to move forward, to start anew when it comes to these issues.  I have a strong sense that I cannot let my past continue to invade my present.  I cannot continue to let these people rent space in my head and in my emotions as they have for awhile.  

I have to trust that the Lord is bringing a new season with new relationships.  I have to purge these people.  The happy memories will always be dear but new memories are calling.  It's difficult, but necessary for healing.   I have to continue to seek relationships that lift me up and I must keep trekking through the valley...for a new season is on horizon.     




Monday, August 15, 2011

Travel Tales: Savannah

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  I had a busy but great weekend.  On Thursday we traveled to Raleigh to move Brittany, my sister-in-law, into college.  I can't believe she is going to college!  She chose a great one though if I do say so myself.  Anyways, it was a day full of hauling all of her stuff up to the 8th floor in the NC heat, unpacking, organizing, and sweating, lots of sweating.

But, what I really want to tell you about is our trip to Savannah. After getting Britt all settled we jumped back in the car and headed down south for an anniversary weekend in Savannah, GA.  Neither of us had ever been there, so we decided to give it a go.  We got an amazing deal on a hotel in the historic district with Priceline.  If you have never used Priceline, you should, now.  With more than 50% off the hotel price in the heart of the city, we were thrilled to go to Savannah.
64 oz. of caffeine for $1, yes please
After a long and rainy 5.5 hour drive we finally arrived late Thursday night, exhausted.  On Friday we woke up to a beautiful view of buildings that date back to the 1800s.   Savannah is a beautiful city, rich in history.  It's so southern and I adored it.  We took a trolley tour of the city and learned some of the history.  We saw the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and marveled at its intricacy.  We got ice cream at Leopold's, one of the top ice cream shops in the world, and spent the evening watching massive boats sail into harbor on the Savannah River.








Saturday we headed to Tybee Island for a day in the sun and sand.  While hanging out in the water I saw something splash in front of me.  Now, I'm not an ocean person and anything that moves scares me, so I was terrified.  I kept staring wondering what in the world was in front of me.  A minute later I see a dolphin fin graze the surface of the water.  It was amazing!  100 feet in front of us a wild dolphin was swimming.  What a sight!  After heading back from the beach we took a nap and headed out for some yummy pizza and a quiet walk on the river front.  We got some slushies and sat by the water. 

Sunday was our first wedding anniversary.  We celebrated by eating lunch at Paula Deen's restaurant The Lady and Sons.  It was a southern buffet complete with fried and baked chicken, mac n' cheese, creamed corn, mashed potatoes, and other deliciousness.  Dessert was banana pudding and peach cobbler.  After lunch we picked up some pralines and turtles to go from River Street Sweets and hit the road back home.  







We got home pretty early and decided to go to church for the second week of the Follow series because Brandon decided he wanted to be baptized!  He has been saved for a while, but has never been baptized.  On our one year anniversary he made this decision.  It was awesome to watch!  Overall it was a wonderful anniversary weekend.  Now I am starting orientation for my new job.  Welcome back to the real world Brown family.  




Sunday, August 14, 2011

One Year Ago

One year ago I made the best decision of my life.  I said "I Do" to the man of my dreams, my best friend.  There was aqua and red, lots of laughter, guitars playing, dancing, eating, and pure joy.  Every day we are growing closer in our marriage and I am so thankful to have him as my partner in life.  Happy anniversary Brandon, I love you with all of my heart and I can't wait for the years to come.  Here is a look back at the best day of my life.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Guest Post: Courtney from Vintch

Hey everyone!  While Brandon and I are in Savannah celebrating our anniversary I asked a dear friend of mine if she would guest post for ya'll.  Courtney has a wonderful blog called Vintch.  She is an amazingly talented writer and her passion and love for Christ inspires me daily.  I have known her since college where we were fortunate enough to be in the same Bible study.  Courtney has such a kindred and sweet spirit.  I hope you all enjoy her post and you should definitely hop on over to her blog afterwards.  

Hi friends! This is Courtney from vintch. I’m so thrilled to be guest posting for Christina today. I’ve known this sweet girl since college, where we were in the same Bible study. It was there that I learned of her heart for Christ, and watched as she grew in her faith. It’s been such a joy to keep up with her through the years. She is a God-fearing, beautiful woman of the Lord.



I wanted to write today about morals and temptation. About the real world and its illusions of maturity. Chiefly, about rising above it all and holding firm to the Cross, coming out alive on the other end with a story.



There were six of us girls. At the beach for our senior year of high school. We went out for pizza that night and met up with some boys we knew, also down at the Carolina coast, celebrating the last summer of freedom before college. After supper, I hopped into the SUV with my friends, who quickly made the decision to follow the boys to where they were staying.



I was 18, an adult in all sense of the word. Mature. But as we pulled into that sandy driveway and the inside of the house came into view, I suddenly felt six years old. Beer cans lined the kitchen table. Someone was walking around with a Budweiser box on his head. A girl from a small town, raised in the church and with a little brother and sister to set an example for, I retreated and said I didn’t want to go in. I thought someone would take pity on me and ride with me back to the condo.  



Every single one of the girls left me. No one stayed in the car, though some came to check on me periodically throughout the night. I stayed in the back seat and called mama. I called Robert, who was already in college. I sat in the dark and cried. Embarrassed.



I don’t say this to toot my own horn. Quite the opposite, really. In that situation, holding onto my morals was awful. It felt like the worst decision ever. It ostracized me from the rest of the group. I ended up going home alone two days before everyone else. I lost friendships.



In hindsight, I could have probably gone to that party and remained somewhat virtuous. I could have sat and drank water and been just fine socializing. But that wasn’t the environment, or the people, I wanted to be yoked with. So I whimpered in the backseat and forever branded myself as the baby. I’ve mended some of those relationships over the years and hold no ill feelings, but I can still feel the night like yesterday.



But I’m not ashamed anymore of how I acted. That’s the key to the understanding that grace provides. The power behind endurance. The world’s been real all along, we just grew into it, sharpening our tools of faith along the way. I was green that night. But I know God was working within me and preparing me. For the persecution that would follow me all my Christian life. But what a joy to be persecuted in the name of the Lord!



We adapt. We overcome. We struggle through the chaos of the day, waiting for that sliver of a moment between bath time and bedtime when we can slide to our knees and pray. Because corruption still lives. Peer pressure and negative influence are still at work and still threaten to undo every whispered praise. But we’re equipped to beat it with the tools of Christ. I wasn’t alone in the car that night, that much is for certain.




So my version of the 2005 senior beach trip is different than the rest. It involves fear and humiliation. An early exit and whispers the next week in the hallway. As if high school isn’t awkward enough, seriously.



And we’re going to fail. We’re going to give into temptations, hurt our Father and do unspiritual things sometimes. But we can strive not to. It’s the striving that counts. And the lifelong reach to follow Christ in a jaded world?



It’s always, always, 100% of the time. Worth it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Charleigh Brown

Happy 1st birthday Charleigh Brown!
 

We aren't really sure this  is your actual birthday, but given you were a pound kitty we had to guess.  Happy first birthday kitty!  







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Monday, August 8, 2011

Follow

 
I have decided to follow Jesus. Though none go with me I still will follow.  I have decided to follow Jesus.  

Our church has started a new series called Follow.  It's all about taking up your cross and following Christ.  This weekend we held spontaneous baptisms.  The staff provided shorts, t-shirts, underwear, hair ties, hair dryers, lotion...basically anything to take the excuses away.  Pastor Furtick had a powerful message about doing it God's way, not man's way and then called people to get up out of their seats and go get baptized, right then and there.  I had the privilege to volunteer during this event.  Brandon and I serve as ushers and this was our week to serve and it was amazing to witness.  Hundreds of people at our campus alone got out of their seats and walked out the doors to the tanks that awaited them and were baptized as believers of Christ.  Over two days, 11 worship experiences, across 4 campuses 1,426 people stood in faith and followed Christ in baptism.  I cannot tell you the power of these moments today.  I am so thankful that I serve a God who calls people where they are to follow him.  I am so blessed to be a part of this movement of God in our city.  

Follow from Elevation Church on Vimeo.





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