Friday, August 30

On using your gifts

If you haven't yet seen the YouTube video of Sarah Horn's singing "For Good" on stage with Kristin Chenoweth, you're in for a treat.  Truly.  This is worth your time.  

Not surprisingly, many people who saw the performance assumed that Sarah was a plant rather than a Kristin Chenoweth fan who happened to be selected from the audience at the Hollywood Bowl.  In an interview for the The Hollywood Reporter, interviewer Seth Abramovitch asked Sarah: "What do you tell people who insist you were too good not to be a plant?"

Sarah, a 26-year-old voice teacher from Riverside, California, replied:  "One phrase: years of preparation for a moment of freedom.  That's something that just popped into my mind.  I've been studying music for years, studying how to sing, but I'm also very prepared with the Wicked music because that is my favorite musical of all time.  I was obsessed in high school.  I would sing the part of Glinda going through "For Good" and then jump back to the beginning of the song and sing Elphaba because I wanted to learn both [parts]."

An opportunity to sing with Krisitin Chenoweth at the Hollywood Bowl is the stuff of dreams.  No doubt Sarah cherished that kind of dream, but she didn't just dream.  She got a degree in vocal performance from Belmont University.  She works as a vocal coach at California Baptist University and Riverside Youth Theatre.  She's not in the spotlight every day, but she uses her gift every day.

When an interviewer asked if she had musical aspirations beyond teaching, Sarah said, "I would love to perform more.  If I could still manage to teach that would be a blessing, but I know I was born to sing and I don't sing much teaching.  I know that I inspire people when I perform. . . Even in smaller settings--when I would sing at church or weddings--I have people come up to me every time and say that something about whatever I did touched them."

Did you catch that?  "I know that I inspire people when I perform."  That's the mark of a gift, isn't it?  And the amazing thing is that we're all gifted.  We've all been given gifts that, when we practice them, inspire people.

Maybe your gift is singing or dancing or playing an instrument.  Perhaps it's photography or painting.  Maybe it's writing or cooking or organizing things.  Whatever your gift might be, it's that thing that, when you exercise it, people are prompted to say that you've inspired them.

Will you ever have a chance to use your gift onstage in front of thousands of appreciative fans?  Perhaps not.  But one thing's sure for sure: if you don't practice using your gift in small ways, you won't be ready for the big performance if the opportunity comes.

So sing!  Dance!  Write!  Cook!  With an appreciative audience or just in humble service to the One who gave you the gift, use it!  The world can be a dark place.  We need to see you shine.

What is your gift?  How do you use it?

Tuesday, August 27

Kid-friendly breakfast sandwich:
the easiest, fastest way to fry an egg

My house is quiet this morning.  After one of the busiest summers ever, everyone is now back to school.  Which means that my kids need a good breakfast that will keep them fueled throughout the morning.

Introducing the kid-friendly breakfast sandwich.  Kid-friendly because they love to eat it and because they can make it themselves!

My boys have taught me many things over the years.  In 22 years of being a mom, I've learned to expect to learn things from them.  One thing I never expected to learn from them, though?  How to fry an egg.

I mean, seriously.  I've been frying eggs for more than 40 years.  What else could there be to learn?

Once more, I stand humbled.  My son recently taught me a bit of cooking magic that I'll share with you: the easiest, fastest way to fry an egg.  No kidding.

Use a small, microwave-safe bowl.  We use a fruit bowl from our everyday china.  Break an egg into the bowl.

Pierce the yolk and mix it into the white just a little.  A plastic fork works well for this task and won't leave a mark on the bowl.

Microwave on high power for 30 seconds. The egg will make popping sounds in the microwave, but if you've pierced the yolk it shouldn't explode. If you like, you can stick a toothpick into the yolk and leave it in while microwaving; this should prevent too much popping.

Using a potholder, remove bowl from microwave.  Be careful! It'll be hot!  Flip egg over with the plastic fork.  Microwave for another 15 seconds. Season as desired.  Note: you can spray the bowl with non-stick cooking spray if you like.  This makes clean-up easier, but it makes egg-flipping a little tricky.  We prefer to skip the spray.

This makes a fried egg that's the perfect size and shape for a breakfast sandwich. My oldest son likes a sandwich made with an English muffin, a piece of cheese, and a couple of strips of bacon on his fried egg.  My youngest son likes the same thing, but prefers to use two frozen waffles instead of an English muffin.  Two pieces of toast would also be good.  We keep pre-cooked bacon in the fridge so that they only have to warm the bacon in the microwave for a few seconds.  The sandwich is ready in just a couple of minutes--perfect for busy school mornings!

Of course, my metabolism is not quite the same as my boys', so I don't get to indulge in the same breakfast sandwiches as theirs.  Still, one of these eggs on a light multi-grain English muffin makes a tasty and nutritious breakfast.  For 170 calories and 5 grams of fat I get 11 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber.  Not bad.

Hats off to the chef!

Do you have any simple, tried-and-true breakfast ideas for school mornings?

Sunday, August 25

Soul Care Sunday

My husband took this photo of sunset over the Kiawah River.  Isn't it beautiful?  God's creation never ceases to amaze me!

Tuesday, August 20

How to make a pedicure last longer

This may be the most frivolous post I've ever written.  But after a really heavy week, I'm ready for some frivolity.  And I discovered a little trick that I just had to share--how to make a pedicure last longer!

Told you it was frivolous.

I got a professional pedicure on June 27--my first in a long time.  I love to get a pedicure, but I don't do it very often, because it's time-consuming and expensive.  My French pedicure made me feel like a million bucks, though, so it was worth it. 

Unfortunately, within a couple of weeks, my toes looked like this:

The tips still looked fine, but the nails had grown, leaving an unsightly mess at the base.  Lacking the time or money to go get another pedicure, I pulled out these trusty tools:

I simply used the block to smooth away the roughness at the base of my toenails, being careful not to disturb the tips.  (I just held the block at an angle so that it only touched the part of my nail that I wanted to file.)  Then I applied a new clear coat over the top of my toenails.  

Believe it or not, I took this photo on July 27--a whole month after I first got this pedicure.  At this point I'd done my smooth-and-recoat trick twice!

While they're perfect like freshly done nails, they look pretty good to me!  And all it took was a few minutes of my time.  

Got any beauty tricks to share?  I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, August 18

Soul Care Sunday

This is the prayer I need today:

Maybe you need this reminder, too!  If so, leave a comment and share the reason.  We can pray together.

Tuesday, August 13

A heart too full

I knew it was coming.  I've been preparing for this day all summer long.

Mom valiantly holding back tears at the airport
Today my oldest son, Will, left home.

He's headed to the other side of the world.  Where his mom won't be able to see him for many months.

Watching him go through security, wishing I could go with him to the gate

I am so proud and grateful and humbled that Will would go.

I am immeasurably glad for him to go.

And I am so very sad for him to go.

See that blur?  That was my last glimpse of him as he headed off.  

My heart just isn't big enough to hold all these feelings.  I think it might burst open.

Or maybe bits of it will just leak out, a few tears at a time, until it can fit in its proper place again.

Wednesday, August 7

Haven Conference

Last week was a whirlwind!  I was in Atlanta for the wonderful Haven Conference,  I don't go to many blogging conferences, but honestly?  This one was fabulous!  Maybe because I had the best roommate in the world:

That's Cyndi Spivey from Walking in Grace and Beauty.  Cyndi is a fashion blogger, so she styled me for the conference.  How's that for a deal?  I wish I'd had her do my make-up!

Here I am wearing a chevron dress that Cyndi accessorized for me.  I had no idea what to wear with such a bold pattern, but she knew!

Cyndi also tried to teach me how to pose for a photo.  I need more practice, for sure.  Here are several of us, all trying to strike the "Cyndi pose":

You may recognize Ginny from Organizing Home Life, Leanne from Organize and Decorate Everything, and Becky from Organizing Made Fun.  I figured that if I hung out with organizing bloggers, perhaps some of their expertise might rub off on me.  I'll let you know if it works.

I didn't get many photos of the conference organizers, but here's a pic of me with Sarah from Thrifty Decor Chick.  Such a lovely person inside and out.  Let's pretend that the fuzziness of the photo is just a soft focus effect, okay?

And of course I had to get a pic with Traci from Beneath My Heart, one of my dearest blogging friends.

Bottom line?  The conference was awesome.  The speakers were excellent, the workshops were fantastic, the parties were fun, the sponsors were incredibly generous.  In the end, though, the very best part was simply getting to hang out in person with these lovely women who have become my friends.  The Haven Conference was such a blessing to me.  I thank God for the opportunity to be there!

Have you ever attended a blogging conference?  If so, what did you think?

Monday, August 5

One last month

Today I'm looking for advice.

Why?  Because today is August 5, 2013.  And one month from today I will be. . . wait for it. . . 50 years old.

50.  How did that happen?

My precious friends and me at a wedding this summer.
Surely we're not old enough for our kids to be getting married, are we?!
I can hardly believe that I'll be a half-century old.  I think I may have to start admitting to myself that I'm middle-aged!

So today, tell me--what do you think I should do in this last month of my 40's??