Questions to Ask Yourself

I love taking self evaluations.  Myers Briggs, Strengths Finder, DISC, Spiritual Gifts…I love them all.  Myers Briggs tells me I constantly see potential and things that can be improved so I think that explains my love of these assessments. You can imagine my joy when as we approached the end of our latest small group study and found a couple of lists of personal assessment questions!
We just recently finished going through Gospel in Life by Tim Keller with our small group.  The last session includes questions to help assess how you’ve changed over the past year (pg. 135-136).  It’s one of the best lists I’ve seen and it’s definitely something I’d like to put on my annual calendar (yes, I have a list of things to do daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually – I’m just silly like that, but more on that another day!).  I hope that you find the questions as helpful as I did!
  • Are you a more loving person than you were last year?
  • Are you a more joyful person than you were last year? Do you give thanks more?
  • Are you a more peaceful person? Do you worry less?
  • Are you more patient? With people? With circumstances?
  • Are you a kinder person?
  • Can you take criticism better?
  • Are you bolder, more courageous, and more confident in following Christ?
  • Are you a less angry, more gentle person?
  • Are you a more self-controlled person? In what areas? Where do you still need to change?
  • Do you regularly love and encourage others, even when under stress or undergoing suffering?
  • Are you more able to love people you don’t not necessarily like?
  • Do you regularly communicate love and affection toward others in a visible way?
  • Do you regularly offer hospitality to those around you?
  • Are you more able to unselfishly help others with their needs and problems?
  • Are you better able to challenge and confront others but do so with love and humility?
  • Are you regularly helping others grow and mature in their faith?
  • Are you a more forgiving person than you were last year?
  • Are you more involved with the needs of others?

Marcy’s Salad

I am currently obsessed with this salad.  I got the recipe from a coworker, who got it from another coworker, who I think got it from another coworker.  Apparently this recipe is based off a salad served at Cedar Creek Inn in San Juan Capistrano.   Seriously, it is the BEST combination of sweet, savory, spicy…the textures…oh it is SO good!

Marcy’s Salad

  • 2 Bags or Heads of Mixed Lettuce
  • 1 Bag of Frozen White Corn
  • 1 Cup Chopped Cilantro
  • 2 Cups Chopped Apples
  • 1 Cup Spicy Peanuts
  • 1 Cup Crumbled Blue Cheese
  • 4 Grilled Chicken Breasts Chopped
  • 1 Bag of Blue Tortillas Chips (crumbled)
  • 1 Chopped Red Onion
  • Mix 1 bottle of Ranch and 1 bottle of BBQ sauce for dressing

This salad serves 12 people.

Of course you can make substitutions according to your preferences.  We didn’t have any blue cheese, so we used goat cheese.  I also most recently used yellow corn, not white, but you get the idea.  It is delicious!


Top 10 from the WCAGLS

It’s hard to narrow it down, but here are 10 of my favorite quotes from the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit 2013.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. God will be with you and will never forsake you.” Joshua 1:9 (via Bill Hybels)

“People need to be reminded more than instructed.” -Samuel Johnson (via Patrick Lencioni)

If a non-believer with my same skill set had my job, would they be doing it differently? -Chris Brown

“Laughter = the tangible evidence of hope” -Michael Jr.

Quit something every Thursday. If you make some margin, Jesus will fill it with some awesome stuff. -Bob Goff

Do a lot more with a lot less for a lot of people. -Vijay Govindarajan

Contributing more than criticizing is an amazing way to live. -Brene Brown

The opposite of bad is not good.  The opposite of bad is love. -Dr. Henry Cloud

And lastly…Colin Powell’s Thirteen Rules – such good stuff!


WCAGLS – The Aftermath!

The past 2 days, we had the awesome opportunity to attend the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit via satellite campus at our church.  The speakers were incredible.  It was one of those events where you just try to soak in as much as you possibly can, while scribbling notes as quickly as possible, knowing that any of the good quotes you miss can be found later on Twitter!

Leadership principles are relevant for everyone.  Many say that we’re all leaders – and I agree.  We all have opportunities to lead people in our sphere of influence, whether that be in a formal or informal capacity.  But the reality is, if you’re alive and living life these principles apply.  The leadership insights are about life and people and unless you’re a hermit your world has a lot of life and people going on!

Now it’s time for what I’d call the aftermath. The thought of trying to summarize these last two days is incredibly overwhelming.  I feel that there’s no possible way that a summary can even begin to do justice to the powerful insights and wealth of information shared by the speakers.  I suppose the best way to do to justice to an event like this is not simply with more words, but with action.  Taking these words and prayerfully applying them to your life…  Allowing them to change the way you live and interact with people. It really comes down to this – what are you going to do now?

With every bit of new information comes new responsibility.  In a world that is producing new data like never before (seriously – you have to check out this Infographic of how much new data is produced every minute – it is unreal) we are facing a battle against information overload.  Being inundated with so much new information can paralyze us.  What do we do next?

I took some time this morning to sit down with a cup of coffee and my notes to reflect and consider all that I’ve heard. The only thing I do know is that I can’t do everything.  But I cannot and will not allow the fact that I can’t do everything to be a barrier to me doing something.  

Here’s my plan of attack:

1. I’m not going to rush it.  I need some time and space to think.  It’s just how I’m wired and I’m going to make choices with my time that allow that.  And it’s a great way to rationalize why I’m still in my PJs at 1:51 pm on a Saturday afternoon!

2.  I’m not going to forget. My Summit notebook is right next to my laptop. I can’t ignore it. I won’t let the tasks, schedule, people, etc. allow my mind to move on and past this without properly reflecting.

3.  I’m going to get specific. Broad, generalized actions get me no where.  It has to be concrete – something I can do at a specific time, place and in a specific way.

Why all the effort? Because I refuse to to let the aftermath of information overload paralyze me into doing nothing.

San Diego Anniversary Trip

California is full of amazing and beautiful places to explore! We treasure free weekends to travel, as there are so many great places just a few hours away.  This weekend we were able to check San Diego off our California bucket list (though I’m pretty sure we’ll go back at some point because there are so many things to see and do there!).

We started our journey on Saturday morning at Pronto’s donuts for Apple Fritters – Than’s favorite. A couple of hours later we arrived at our first stop – Balboa Park.  We wandered through all the beautiful gardens, enjoying the sunshine and 70 degree weather.  San Diego weather is what I though all of SoCal was like.  I was wrong.  It’s not always sunny and 70 here in Pasadena. Oh well – still beats Chicago! Here are a few photos from the gardens.









We grabbed some amazing, authentic Mexican food at a little restaurant in Old Town then headed over to our hotel on Shelter Island.  Our room was decorated in teal and yellow – it was beautiful!  Wouldn’t that be a great job?  Interior designing for hotels… So fun!  Here’s the pretty hotel room I was talking about….Image

We enjoyed some time at the pool/hot tub, Cable TV (yay for the Food Network (for her) and ESPN (for him)) then got ready for dinner at Bali Hai.  We had a great view at the window and enjoyed a couple of different fireworks displays from our seats (from Sea World and the Padres game we think).



The next day we drop up to La Jolla.  I went to La Jolla a few years ago and LOVED watching the seals, so I told Than we had to go there!  The seals are just SO cute…as is evidenced by 20+ photos I took of them!



La Jolla is a beautiful place!  We enjoyed the gorgeous beach, music in the park, then the hotel swimming pool!


Lastly, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset at Sunset Cliffs!  I took just about as many pics of the sunset as I did the cute little seals!



It was a great weekend to celebrate a great 1st year of marriage to my best friend!



Our First Year As Mr. And Mrs.

People often talk about the first year of marriage in extremes. Some gush on and on about how amazing and perfect life is after finding their soul mate, while others share tales of horror of the many adjustments that comes from uniting your life with another.

As I reflect on our first year of marriage I would say we fall somewhere in the middle. It has been a great year – no doubt about that! Filled with a tremendous amount of transition (moving across the country, back to school, new job, working from home, etc), each day has given us the opportunity to learn to be “us” rather than him and her.

As I reflect back on the year, I want to share what I would consider the best advice we were given going into marriage.

1. Always turn toward your spouse, not away when having a disagreement.

2. Think of expectations like a bar of soap. Hold then loosely because if you grasp too tightly it makes life really difficult.

3. Habits form quickly. Be sure to build good, strong habits from the beginning.

4. Allow God to give you a vision of who He wants your spouse to be, not just how you see him/her today.

5. Sometimes a good night of sleep can make all the difference in the world!

We Need More Dinner Parties In Our Lives!

I just finished reading the book “Bread and Wine” by Shauna Niequist about life around the table.  Since getting married (and probably thanks to the creation of Pinterest) I am finding that I love to entertain…or I at least love the idea of entertaining.  I couldn’t put this book down!  I was captivated by her stories and her recipes, swooning over the community that can be found around the table and longing for more of that.  And I felt so much better about myself after reading that Shauna reads cookbooks from cover to cover too!

There’s something about sitting around the table and sharing a meal that bonds you together.  Our tiny apartment doesn’t hinder the “magic” that comes from gathering around the table over conversation and food. I love that hospitality is something the transcends all cultural differences.  No matter where you are sharing a meal together is a sign of friendship.  I often find myself wondering where we’ll live (probably somewhere in Africa) and wondering what ingredients will be available and dreaming up just how creative I’ll get to be in the kitchen!

Here’s last night’s dinner party menu – a few of our favorites!

Dinner Party Menu:

  • Appetizer: Bacon Wrapped Dates (stuffed with goat cheese) – This is a recipe I got from the book mentioned above – delicious! Definitely a recipe to keep.  Than said they looked like beetles, but he quickly changed his tone after tasty one and switched over to jokes like “Does this bacon look dated to you?”
  • Chicken Marsala
  • Parmesan Garlic Orzo
  • Roasted Broccoli – no recipe needed, just broccoli, olive oil, sea salt and a hot oven!
  • Pineapple Cake

Here are the Bacon Wrapped Dates – amazing sweet/salty combo!  Seriously, go out and buy some dates, bacon and goat cheese right now.  You NEED to do this.