Friday, December 31, 2010


One word to sum up 2010. Change.

In the midst of a ton of change in my life this last year and lots of adjusting, I'm thankful for this truth:

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever". Hebrews 13:8

I am thankful I can rest in His steadfastness in the midst of change.

With that.... Here are my New Years resolutions for 2011. I'm usually pretty bad at keeping them :(, but I was thinking that if I make them public maybe I will be more likely to keep some of them this year :). I'm also thankful that my successes and failures in this life are not based on new year's resolutions!

Brian and I both read Radical by David Platt this year. Seriously... you need to read it.At the end of the book, Platt challenges the reader to the "Radical Experiment". The Radical Experiment is to commit one year of your life to these 5 specific things:

1. To pray for the entire world
2. To read through the entire Word.
3. To sacrifice your money for a specific purpose.
4. To give your time in another context.
5. To commit your life to a multiplying community.

So these 5 things are going to be 5 of my New Year's resolutions. Some ways Brian and I are going to commit to this in 2011 are by reading/praying through Operation World every night; read through the Bible in a year with the one year Bible reading plan our church is starting (tomorrow:) called Crave; we are going to start saving money this year to adopt our orphan (possibly Ethiopia); we are going to try to go overseas for at least a week this year (possibly to China), and I am going to commit to volunteering at Siloam Family Health Center twice a month. Siloam is an amazing ministry in Nashville that gives health care to the uninsured. The majority of their patients are international with a large amount of people from Sudan, Somalia, and Iraq, and the best part of this place is that every refugee in Nashville has to go to Siloam for a health screening once they arrive in the USA (I think within ten days of their arrival). Siloam is the only government approved place in Nashville that can do these screenings. I am going to start volunteering at the refugee clinic twice a month. My heart was seriously overwhelmed when I heard about this opportunity and I am excited to get started.

On a less important note... I am also going to try to make at least one home cooked meal a week. I know that doesn't sound like much, but we are gone A LOT and our schedule has been pretty busy, which makes dinner at home difficult at times. Brian and I are also resolving to be better at keeping our budget. Brian is good at it, but me on the other hand.... not so good. I'm hoping the radical experiment also helps with my spending habits :). With that resolution, I am also going to try to be better at couponing. I think I have somewhat learned the technique.... it just makes me really tired to think about actually doing it, but it's definitely worth a try!

With that.... I know that I might not be faithful in keeping all of these, but I am thankful that as I look back at 2010 I see God's faithfulness even when my faith was small and I wasn't always faithful to Him, and I know that I will be able to say the same thing about God's faithfulness at the end of 2011 and every year after that.
New Year friends!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas is for...

I just read this on Justin Taylor's blog. Merry Christmas friends. I am thankful for you.

Matt B. Redmond:

Jesus came for those who look in the mirror and see ugliness.

Jesus came for daughters whose fathers never told them they were beautiful.

Christmas is for those who go to “wing night” alone.

Christmas is for those whose lives have been wrecked by cancer, and the thought of another Christmas seems like an impossible dream.

Christmas is for those who would be nothing but lonely if not for social media.

Christmas is for those whose marriages have careened against the retaining wall and are threatening to flip over the edge.

Christmas is for the son whose father keeps giving him hunting gear when he wants art materials.

Christmas is for smokers who cannot quit even in the face of a death sentence.

Christmas is for prostitutes, adulterers, and porn stars who long for love in every wrong place.

Christmas is for college students who are sitting in the midst of the family and already cannot wait to get out for another drink.

Christmas is for those who traffic in failed dreams.

Christmas is for those who have squandered the family name and fortune—they want “home” but cannot imagine a gracious reception.

Christmas is for parents watching their children’s marriage fall into disarray.

Christmas is for those who hate it most.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas goodness.

I have eaten many oreo balls in my life, but I have never attempted to make them... until now. While I was making them I swore to myself I would never make them again, but then I did a few days later :). They are quite messy and very time consuming, but the end result makes it all worth while.

Here is the recipe.

Ingredients: 1 package of oreos, 8 oz package of cream cheese softened, package of vanilla almond bark (or you could use white chocolate bark or vanilla candy coating).

1. Crush the oreos. I had to get creative with this :). First I tried the blender but that didn't work very well. Then I put the oreos in a ziplock bag and got out my trusty hammer and went to town crushing those oreos.

2. Combine the oreos and cream cheese until the mixture is black and smooth.
3. Form balls out of the mixture and put them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
4. Put them in the fridge for approximately 15 minutes
5. Melt the bark.
6. Dip the balls into the vanilla bark and place on parchment paper and refrigerate (I only put them in the fridge for 10 minutes before dipping them again)

7. Dip the balls a second time in the vanilla bark and place back in the fridge
Optional - Place in cute bags and give as Christmas gifts : )

I also made peppermint bark for Christmas gifts this year.
Ingredients: one bag of white chocolate chips and one bag of milk chocolate chips, candy canes

1. put parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
2. melt the white chocolate and milk chocolate in separate bowls in the microwave.
3. pour the milk chocolate on parchment paper. smooth it out with a spatula so that it covers the cook sheet.
4. pour the white chocolate over the milk chocolate and smooth it out with a spatula to cover the milk chocolate
5. crush 4-5 candy canes (I used my hammer for these as well :)
6. spread out crushed candy cane over the chocolate
7. Place in fridge for at least 1-2 hours. Then break up the peppermint bark into small pieces and serve.

I sure am glad that I only eat/make oreo balls, peppermint bark and other yummy Christmas goodness during this time of the year.... otherwise my thighs would be the size of Montana. With that said, I hope you all have a very merry Christmas!

P.S. Some of these oreo balls might be in your hands in the very near future :).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

All things Christmas.

December has been a busy month so far, but this weekend, time seemed to slow down a bit. Brian and I were able to stay home for most of it and just relax. Sitting around isn't the easiest for me.... but I found a few things to do during our weekend at home :). I did leave the house for a few hours to make cookies with Victoria Duer and some of her friends in her mom's BEAUTIFUL kitchen. We made sugar cookies for some of the elderly at Willow Springs Assisted Living home. We were planning on going there today with the students to sing Christmas carols.... but it snowed a whole lot here today, so we had to cancel and now Brian and I have a zillion sugar cookies in our house. Not good. I had lots of time to do some crafty things this weekend. I had some burlap I have been wanting to make something with, so I cut approximately 2 inch thick strips and made garland for our Christmas tree. I saw burlap on the tree at Pottery Barn and I knew it would be pretty simple to make. I really like how it turned out! I forgot how messy burlap is.... our bonus room is covered in burlap fibers, but I think it was worth it.
I made a wreath out of twine and made felt flowers for one of a Christmas gift. I made a similar wreath when I first moved into our house, and I made some flowers for that one as well this weekend. To make the wreath, I just wrapped the twine around the wreath and hot glued as I wrapped. I put a little bit of glue on the back of the wreath and then wrapped it a few times, and then more glue on and wrap some more and so on... Pretty simple. To make the flowers, I cut circles out of the felt, and then I cut around circle to make it into one large strip and then started wrapping while hot gluing the felt around itself. I hope that makes sense. The pictures should help make it more clear.

I also left the house this morning to spend time with the fabulous Blantons for a few hours. One year old triplet boys are super entertaining to hang out with! It was a fun, snowy, and relaxing weekend in Nashville :).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Messiah.

This sermon by my fave, John Piper, really helped focus my heart on Christ this Christmas season. Read and be encouraged today.

Isaiah 40:5

Meditation One: The Revelation of the Son

Even though Psalm 19 says that every day "The heavens are telling the glory of God," nevertheless there is coming a time when the glory of the Lord will be revealed in a way that it has never been revealed before.

It will be revealed, Isaiah says, in such a way that all flesh will see it, and they will see it together. There will not be a person here and a person there saying, "I have seen the Lord, I have seen the Lord."

No more solitary Moses on Mount Sinai. No more solitary Ezekiel with his visions. No more solitary Paul with his ecstasies in the third heaven. But every single human solitary being together will see the glory of Lord.

When? When will this happen? The Lord Jesus tells that it will be at the time of his coming (Matthew 24:29–30):

The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

The Son of Man will come with power and GREAT GLORY. And all the tribes of the earth will see—not just believers—but everyone, all flesh will see it together. Some will rejoice with joy unspeakable as they hear the cry: "Behold your God." And others will mourn and weep and gnash their teeth as they hear the cry, "Behold your Judge."

Think very seriously about this today. If Christianity is anything, it is the promise that Jesus Christ is stronger than Satan, and that his glory will be supreme over all the earth. In the end Satan and all his forces and all who have worshiped him and followed him will be cast in the Lake of Fire.

I believe with all my heart that the day is coming when Jesus will be utterly and totally and gloriously triumphant over all his enemies. This is what keeps me going when I feel sometimes like I am about to drown in a sea of evil.

O that I could persuade every one of you that the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and that when it is, those who have been in love with the world, who have walked in disobedience to Christ, who have played at religion without knowing the power of it, who have taken pleasure in unrighteousness will be so frightened at his appearance there will be nothing but regret and misery for the rest of eternity.

But before the revelation of that awesome glory God planned another revelation first. He ordained that his Son suffer many things. And to suffer many things, he had to become a man. And to become man, he was born of a virgin.

Meditation Two: Isaiah 9:6

The dawn of God's glory was the first coming of Jesus Christ. The high noon of God's glory will be the second coming of Christ. And that is where the sun will stay forever and ever.

The next text that the choir will sing, Isaiah 9:6, describes the glory of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. What we find here is a combination of excellencies that correspond perfectly to needs of our souls.

Consider these four things:

  1. The Lord is a counselor. And that corresponds to my need for wisdom and guidance.
  2. The Lord is mighty. And that corresponds to my need for strength and power to live my life pleasing to the Lord.
  3. The Lord is Father. And that corresponds to my need for firm and gentle care and provision. Especially if I've never known it here.
  4. The Lord is peaceful. And that corresponds to my need for quietness and rest and freedom from trouble and agitation.

But that's not all. What makes the Lord exceedingly glorious is that

  1. His counsel is wonderful. The Lord has better advice for your life than anyone. It is amazingly and wonderfully different from the advice of the world.
  2. His might is divine. (Mighty God!) There is no greater power in all the universe than his. It will prevail over all his enemies. It is full of hope.
  3. His Fatherhood is everlasting. You will never attend this Father's funeral. He will never get old and senile and leave you like an orphan on your own.
  4. His peace is maintained by his princely authority. (Prince of Peace!) The government shall be upon his shoulders as a great prince, and his kingdom will be everlasting peace.

The glory of the Lord has risen upon us. The noonday is not yet. But given what we know now, it will come. And we can live and wait in hope.

Meditation Three: Jesus the Savior

"Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people; for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior . . ."

You know what will make this really good news for you this morning? It will be good news of great joy if you feel like you need a Savior. If you are content without him, if you don't feel like you need him, then he is not your Savior.

Or if you feel like you need him, but only as a Savior from a bad relationship, or from a financial problem, or from sickness, but not from sin, then he is not your Savior.

The angel said to Joseph in Matthew 1:21, "You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." We take him as Savior from sins or we do not take him at all.

But we must be even more careful in the way we say it. For there are many who want Jesus as Savior from the penalty of their sins but not as a Savior from their sins. They want to be saved from the consequences of sin, but not from the corruption of sin. But if you don't want Jesus to save you from the pleasures of sin, and give you a new and deeper set of pleasures, then you don't have Jesus as your Savior.

Jesus came into the world to destroy the works of the devil John says (1 John 3:8), namely, sins. If you try to take him only as sin-forgiver and not as sin-destroyer, you don't take him at all.

Jesus Christ is a glorious Savior! A glorious Savior. He said, "It is not the well who have need of a physician but the sick." He came to save us from the disease of sin. To take him as a sin-forgiver and not a sin-destroyer is like being deathly sick with pneumonia and using the precious antibiotic to rub on your skin.

The doctor says, "You're supposed to swallow it! It goes inside of you!"

But you say, "I don't care for the taste. Besides it feels good on the outside; I think it helps."

"But the medicine is made to fight your disease. You're going to die if you don't take it!"

But you say, "I think it will work this way. I feel better already."

Jesus Christ is a great Savior. He will save from hard relationships and financial problems and sickness. He will save from the penalty and consequences of sin. And he will save from bondage to the fleeting pleasures of sin and give you fullness of joy and pleasures at his right hand forever more. But not if we refuse him as mighty sin-destroyer and only try to use him as sin-forgiver.

Our great duty and our great joy this morning is to worship Christ—the whole Christ, the glorious Christ. Come and worship. Come and worship. Worship Christ the newborn King!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cozy food.

So I highly dislike being cold. I know.... I grew up in Wisconsin and I should be used to it. I'm not. This morning I looked outside and it was snowing. I know snow is pretty but it also means that it's cold. Yesterday it was in the high 50s, and I was hoping today would be the same, but when I saw the snow outside I knew it wouldn't be :(. I'm the kind of girl who would rather it be 99 degrees every day then it ever get below 50. I know I'm weird. The one good thing about the snow today was that Brian and I could use it as an illustration when we taught the 6th graders from Psalm 51 where David is confessing his sin and being made whiter than snow. I guess some good can come from snow after all.

There are a few things I like about winter... hot cocoa, CHRISTMAS!!, sweaters, boots (i'm in love with boots), fireplaces, fleece blankets, cute scarves, and of course soups or chili. A warm bowl of chili makes me feel so cozy and warm on a cold wintery day. The only problem, Brian pretty much hates chili, so I don't end up making it very often.... but my book club girls came over for dinner on Friday so I took that as the perfect opportunity to make some cozy chili. I tried a new recipe, and it ended up being pretty yummy. I tweaked the recipe I found online a little bit to my liking. Here it is... Enjoy!

White Chicken Chili
3 cooked chicken breasts (or you could use a rotisserie chicken) cut into small bit size pieces
1 large white onion diced
2 cloves of garlic (I just used garlic salt)
2 - 15 oz cans of Northern White beans (drained)
1 - 15 oz can of Pinto Beans (drained)
1 - 4 oz can diced green chiles (drained)
2 cans of chicken broth
1- 4 oz can of jalapenos (drained)
2 - 15 oz can of white corn (drained)
1 tablespoon of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon of Oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Tortilla chips
Sour cream
Shredded cheese

Mix together all the ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4 hours. I mixed about a cup of shredded cheese into the chili before I served it. When I served it, I topped it with shredded monterey jack cheese, crushed tortilla chips, and sour cream. It would also be really yummy with guacamole.

I made a salad and rolls to go along with the chili for my dinner on Friday.... and it got devoured (Samantha:). It was super simple:
1 bag of spinach
1 bag of craisins
1 small container of feta
about a cup of walnuts
1/2 of a red onion
Dressing of choice (I used the Olive Garden Italian dressing, but it would also be really good with balsamic vinaigrette or just olive oil and vinegar)

Winter is for cozy foods.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hello Christmas. I love you.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Coates' house. This really is my favorite time of the year. A few of the many things I love about Christmas.... everyone seems a little bit more cheerful, we are buying things for others instead of ourselves, time with family and friends, tons of opportunities to give to and serve those in need (and with that comes a greater awareness of those in need around the world), decorating, Christmas music, yummy treats, the movie Elf, and most importantly having my heart refocused on Christ and that He came to this earth to die so that I might live. What a beautiful time of the year.

I have been really enjoying decorating our house since we moved here in May. I'm trying not to spend a lot of $$$ on the decorating process (it seems a little frivolous at times), so I'm always look for opportunities to makes things myself. I have been working on some Christmas crafts, and the latest thing I made were some Christmas lanterns to hang in our dining room. I saw the tutorial on this fabulous blog, The Creative Place, and decided to give it a try.... and I love how they turned out! I cut my strips a little bit thicker, and I used different colors/designs of scrap book paper. I used 8 strips per lantern, and then put ribbon on each one and hung them in the dining room. Also, I found super cute jingle bells brads to hold them together at Hobby Lobby. I might also make some for garland for the fireplace mantle. Have you been working on any Christmas crafts? I would love to hear about them!