You tell me

 

Friends, I need to hear you. Let’s have a change of style for today. I have more articles coming up, but I thought it would be good to include something semi-interactive in between too. I want to make you speak, comment, express yourself and let me know you’re there reading this. I actually get a little tiny tingle of excitement whenever I see comments. 

Life is complex, and we need friends to come alongside and help bless each other through the journey. So let’s imagine we’re together on the hilltop in that photo and watching the sunrise and fellowshipping together.

Read the sentences below and complete the answers. Copy the sentences, paste them in comments and start typing, I can’t wait to hear what you say!

  1. My favorite (or usual) breakfast is….
  2. My goal for this month is to….
  3. A book of the Bible I want to learn more about is… 
  4. The place/spot I visit most often during the week/month/year is…
  5. The app, (or electronic device) I use most often is…
  6. By the end of the year I want to…
  7. My favorite (or usual) type of physical exercise is…
  8. I usually snack on…
  9. A book I would tell my friends to read is…
  10. Three things that are always part of my day…
  11. When I go out, I always carry with me…
  12. When I first meet someone, what makes a good impression on me is…

  

The Opportunity of a Lifetime (#iwasthere)

Just about two weeks ago, I had the opportunity of a lifetime!

#iwillalwaysrememberthis , #sneakygirl, #sorrynotsorry , #shepherdsconference2015 

Also, I got the hashtag bug as you can see. It’s not limited to instagram or twitter anymore, but rampant across all social media have you noticed? Hashtag this and hashtag that. People use them instead of making proper sentences, and it’s now beyond the purpose of tagging, it’s used more for describing your photos in a lazy kind of weird way.   Continue reading

Video Tutorial- Best Christmas Walnut Bread

I have a little Christmas gift for you today!

Here’s the BEST European (Romanian) Christmas recipe for sweet walnut bread.  It’s not actually a bread, it’s more like a delicious sweet, chocolate-y, nutty bread. This dessert should win a place in your Christmas menu because it’s so good. We gave some to our neighbors this year and they loved it! My family asks me to make this every Christmas and New Years now.

And guess what? I made a little video for you all to see how its made. My first ever video tutorial! So you have no excuse not to make it now! The recipe is listed below. Please like, share, pin, comment, instagram it, and most of all- make it.

Here’s the Sweet walnut bread recipe. Recipe instructions translated into English, are all from this blog: Cucina Jugariu

Yields 2 loaves of bread

Dough:

2 packets of dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs (at room temp.)
2 egg yolks (at room temp, to brush on top of bread dough)
6 cups flour (I usually use 5 1/2 cups so it won’t get too dense)
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter
2 TBSP rum emulsion (or 4 tablespoons rum essence)
1 TBSP vanilla essence

Filling:
4 egg whites
40 grams dark chocolate (grated)
2 cups minced nuts
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 TBSP rum emulsion
2 TBSP vanilla essence

4 tablespoons rum essence (one of the secret ingredients to this walnut bread, so it’s important you put plenty of it).

For the filling ~
beat egg whites with sugar. Then add the grated chocolate slowly, followed by cocoa powder, and crushed nuts, and the rum essence.

For the dough~

Mix warm milk with 1 tablespoon of sugar, and add the yeast. Set aside for 5-10 minutes for yeast to activate.

Then add the sugar, eggs, egg yolks, and rum essence, and stir gently. Afterward add the flour and salt. When the batter becomes homogenized, start kneading a bit with the (softened) butter.
The dough will be a bit sticky and soft at first, but don’t add any extra flour. Then, exercise your patience as you knead until the dough becomes elastic (may take 30 min.)

Let rise for 1-2 hours in a warm place until it doubles in size (at least). After the dough grows, punch it to let the air out, and let rise again for 1 hour.

Then divide the dough in two pieces. Roll out both pieces in large rectangular shapes. Spread half of the filling on one piece and half on the other.

Roll up the dough tightly as if making cinnamon rolls. Then fold the roll in half, twist as if making a braid, and place in baking pan.
Let it sit in the baking pan until doubled in size. Do the same for the second piece of dough.

Then use a brush to spread egg yolks on the braids.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes until the dough rises nicely in the oven. Then lower heat to about 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Test the middle with a long thin toothpick to check if ready.

When done, sprinkle powdered sugar on top, let cool slightly, slice and serve!

Fellowship Friday: The Comrades of Honor Series – Guest Post

The Comrades of Honor Series:

Historical-Fiction portraying courage and honor
in the Middle Ages

When Rebekah asked me to do a guest post, I must admit I was delighted with the prospect. She asked me how I got started with writing and my medieval trilogy, The Comrades of Honor Series. The answer is a journey, one that spans nearly ten years!

My interest in writing started when I was about ten or eleven, although I didn’t become serious about it until I was thirteen. I didn’t start off writing medieval fiction, but Civil War era fiction. It didn’t take long before my interests grew inclined towards chivalrous knighthood!

I started some research and came to develop an interest in squires. They seemed my type–the dashing, hard working lads who made their knights look good and served them faithfully. To my surprise, I couldn’t find a book about them! (Unless you consider one particular series, which is entirely fantastical and unhistorical.) It didn’t make sense.

How could you not have a book about the very backbone of knighthood?

Worse still, I quickly came to discover that there are very few historical-fiction books out there which portray the Middle Ages as it was. They always seemed full of fantasy, overly-romantic ideas about chivalry, gory violence, or the errors media has placed on the medieval days. So, about the age of thirteen, I set out to write my own book on the subject. To Birmingham Castle was born!

Years of editing, research, rewriting, and a lot of learning followed. I studied the classics and the Middle Ages, hoping to someday, somehow create a book like that of H. R. Haggard or Florence Kingsley.

Then, one day, reality snapped.

I wasn’t getting my story out there. Oh, my dream was to be a published author, but I wasn’t making it happen. God gave me a story and I wasn’t sharing it!

Skipping over the separate adventure of how I found my publisher, my publishing consultant Mark expressed what I was already feeling. He spoke about how my manuscript was important, how I needed to get into the hands of readers.

That was a year and a half ago.

Today, praise God, I have two published books and an additional published novella (exclusively on Kindle). The books are the first two installments in The Comrades of Honor Series. The novella, God of Her Fathers, is a historical-fiction novella about the old west.

 

 

    The first two installments of my series are To Birmingham Castle: A Tale of Friendship and Adventure and In Search of Adventure: A Tale of Courage and Devotion. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but let’s just say the books are full of adventure, peril, honorable knights, beautiful ladies, devoted squires, cute little pages, and just enough enemies to keep you guessing! The third and final book should, Lord willing, come out in 2014.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKDjcxmnSBo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4RVx2bsN70

I don’t believe in sacrificing morals to create a fast-paced story. But neither do I believe in creating a boring, preachy book either! I wove godly principles, facts, and hair-raising escapades together, hoping to give you a fun adventure while still getting a historical taste of the Middle Ages.

I’ve gotten a number of positive reviews, but there are several quotes in particular that I feel details my desires for my series.

About To Birmingham Castle: This was truly an exciting and well-crafted story. It reads like a classic. The language was beautiful – impeccable dialogue of the “thou wilt” variety, but very easy to understand. I took my time reading it and basked in the medieval English world of Robert, Strephon and Brandon, each a wonderful companion to have along. I was sorry when it ended – this is the kind of book that could on and on and not get wearisome. The characters were very real – they were committed to doing the right thing but did make mistakes, so they were easy to relate to. There were so many inspiring and heroic parts! It portrays the true, heart-touching meaning of chivalry: men who defend the defenseless from the dangerous world around them, who display sacrificial love like Christ did. This would be a great read for all ages; boys especially would get a whole lot out of the description of knighthood. I wish my brother and I had had this book when we were studying medieval times in our school years!

Similar reviews have been made about In Search of Adventure.

All I can say is: God has been good. I’ve gotten some attention across the US and a wee bit more in England, and I’ve been compared to classical authors like George Alfred Henty and Howard Pyle. It’s all through Him.

Like many others, I hope you too will be inspired to check into The Comrades of Honor Series. Experience the Middle Ages. Live the adventure.

For Birmingham Castle!

You can visit my website at www.thecomradesofhonorseries.weebbly.com and my blog at www.aliciaannewillis.blogspot.com. At either site, feel free to contact me and/or sign up for my monthly newsletter, Little Corners. I look forward to hearing from you!

From the publisher:

Alicia A. Willis is a home-school graduate and avid historian. From an early age, she has had the desire to write family-friendly, accurate books about the past. She has authored two historical novels and anticipates the Lord leading her on to many more writing projects in the future. When not writing or doing endless historical research, she enjoys being a church pianist and teaching music. She and her family live in New Mexico.

***

Note from Rebekah: I hope you all enjoyed our guest today! Christmas is coming soon in December, so these exciting books could be a great gift for someone you love (or even yourself 😉 )!

Fellowship Friday: A Day in the Life of a High School Cross Country Athlete

Every once in awhile we will have a Fellowship Friday with a guest posting from other bloggers or friends. Today I’m happy to introduce to you Leila!
Hi!  My name is Leila, and I am a high school sophomore cross country athlete. I live in beautiful, sunny California, although sometimes it may be a bit too sunny.
So what is cross country? No, it is not running across the country. *:) happy It is, yes, running all day every day, and ultimately training for our 5k races, that are like other teams’ games. (Quick fact- a 5k= 3 miles! Just to give you an idea of how long our races are.)
My high school team is combined with boys and girls together at practice, however, we race separately. (Imagine a girl trying to keep up with a boy for 3 miles! But who says girls can’t do anything guys can do, right?) Our practice runs from 2-4:30pm, Monday-Friday.

Our Typical Practice:

First, we start out with a “warm-up” lap, to get our blood flowing and body pumped, of one mile. Then, we begin our stretches, complete with lunges (and yes, everybody’s favorite) -squats. Next, the part that you’ve all been waiting for…drumroll please…our coach sends us out on our run! *:) happy Haha. We do not run inside our school’s track and field, it is simply too boring and repetitive running around in circles. 🙂 So we run on trails, hills, parks, and quiet residential streets near our school’s neighborhood.
Typically, our girl’s varsity team (basically the faster girl runners) goes on a run of about 5-6 miles a day. Our girls junior varsity team runs about 3-4 miles a day. I am proud to announce I get to run with varsity!! However, on the boys side, the varsity team runs 9-10 miles A DAY. UH-HUH. YOU HEARD RIGHT. I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE ALL THINKING, OUR COACH MUST BE CRAZY!! Although sometimes it may seem like a lot, all of this training builds us up for our much shorter mileage race, of only 3 miles.
When we get back from our run, tired, weary, and yes, sweaty, we usually have a 6 minute workout. What this workout is is basically running sprints back and forth on the track for 6 minutes, 1 min at a time, as fast as you can. And I’ll have you know, YES, it’s exhausting after running 5 miles in the heat. (I warned you that California can be too sunny *:) happy) Then, we do a “cool-down” to slow our heart rates, of 1 mile. After that, we stretch again so our muscles don’t get sore, and lastly we have what my team likes to call “killer sets”.  🙂 Basically these sets consist of 100 pushups and 100 crunches. Yes, you can breathe again now, that’s it for the day folks! Have a good one and I’ll be back later.
Yeah, right. There’s a lot more to cross country than just running, folks. We also have to be eating healthy and  stay hydrated, because running so much can really suck the nutrients out of you if you’re not careful to replace them properly.
Eating:
Because a mile burns about 100 calories, my team and I typically burn about 700 calories a day. (not to mention the boys team, which goes over 1,000 calories). So it’s important to replenish your body, but with the right stuff, not junk food. Yes, fine, okay I’ll admit it- the girls and I often fail to abstain from chips, sweets, and chocolate. However, it’s okay to eat junk food, only in moderation. Lots of carbs, such as bread, pasta, cereal, and protein such as eggs, meat, and beans are needed to give you the proper nutrition. And yes, everyone’s favorites, fruits and LOTS of vegetables are needed for vitamins in the body.
Hydrating: 
My coach claims that a typical runner, especially when it’s sunny needs to be drinking a GALLON of water a day, which is about 8 bottles of water. I try my best, but I usually average about 6 bottles.  It’s important to hydrate 3-4 days BEFORE  a race day, because not drinking enough water before running 3 miles at your fastest can impede your score, and also cause you to faint, heatstroke, etc.
However, there are many benefits to joining a cross country team!!!
1.) You obviously become a better runner! I remember before I joined my average mile time was about 7:45, and now my record is 6:08! 🙂
2.) You stay physically fit! (burning all those calories sure pays off!)
3.) You have a new family. Joining a team can create new friendships and bonds, and your teammates will always be there for you to support you during practice, a race, or even just a regular day.
4.) You feel good about yourself!! Although running so much is physically draining, everyday when I step into my dad’s car to go home after practice, I can hear a little voice inside my head saying, ” Good job, Leila. You gave it your all. You tried your best. Now let God do the rest. “
Also, I have learned a very important lesson from my experience with my cross country team: “Never give up” and “Just do it”. Yes, I may be quoting Nike, but they really do have something here. No matter how hot it is or how tired you are, just do it. You will feel so good in the end that you pushed yourself a bit further, ran that extra mile, lifted that heavier weight, and won that medal. And most importantly, never give up. God is always with you.
I hope you enjoyed reading this, and that I didn’t bore you!
-Leila *:) happy

Isaiah 40:31
” But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
  

In Memory of Pastor Chuck Smith – A Humble Man of God

(Image Source: pastorchucksmith.com)

I heard the saddening news this morning on the radio that Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa passed away to be with the Lord, at the age of 86. He was the founder of the Calvary Chapel Movement and the Lord used him mightily to work among the hippies of California and plant a church that grew and had a national impact.

I was rather shocked to hear the news of his passing… although it was to be expected after he battled with lung cancer. Yet it seemed like yesterday we were there attending the Creation Conference at the church he pastored in Costa Mesa. Before the conference began we all watched a pre-recorded welcoming video by Pastor Smith greeting everyone from his home (he was not able to attend the conference because he had been hospitalized recently after recurring problems from cancer). I didn’t want to think he would leave this earth so soon. Pastor Smith was a humble man of God, with a warm heart, faithful to the Word, and to Christ. We had the joy of visiting his church and hearing him preach a few times.

I know he is now joyful in the presence of the Lord, but he will be missed here by many who were impacted by his ministry. My dad always mentioned he learned one of the most important lessons about the Christian life from listening to Pastor Chuck Smith on the radio. It was the verse that Pastor Smith frequently repeated:

Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Zechariah 4:6

If you want to learn more about Pastor Smith’s ministry, see some pictures, and read his biography visit this website: ChuckSmith.com. You may not know Pastor Chuck Smith at all…or you may have heard about him on radio or in other places, but after reading this post, please remember his family in your prayers during this time.