Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Every Day with Jesus

Here is an excerpt out of my daily devotion book "Every Day with Jesus".

"The secret of my identity is hidden in the love and mercy of God... Therefore I cannot hope to find myself anywhere except in Him." -Thomas Merton

"We take another promotion, seeking status in our work. We build bigger nest eggs (or I say "barns"), seeking power in our money. We take exotic vacations, seeking adventure in our trips. We relieve our past through our children, seeking a lost youth."

"We are looking for ourselves as though we were searching for hidden treasure. Yet our gift is the presence of Jesus. Consider his love to us. Despite our faults, he runs to us. Seeing our sin, he forgives us. Knowing we deserve death, he grants us life. Our identity is hidden in the love and mercy of God. In him, our veneers of self-preservation are sanded off; the scaffolding of stuff to hold is removed. We are loved (and redeemed) by God. What better gift could you find? Receive it as your own."

Where do you find your identity? Is it in physical appearance, material things, approval of others, success, busyness, perfectionism, past, etc.? We are told in Phil 3: 8 to count these things as NOTHING compared to knowing Jesus the Lord. The Bible also says to SEEK GOD FIRST, and THEN these things will be added to you as well (Matthew 6:33). Take time this week to notice who, what, and where you choose to put your identity. 

John 1:12 - Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

Colossians 2:13-14 - When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

Romans 8:35-39 - Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Charlie Post Classic 2012

Yesterday morning I ran the Charlie Post Classic 15K on Sullivan's Island. This is the third year I have participated, and it is one of my all-time favorite races. It is a small race = no hassle with parking and crowds. The distance is great and I get to enjoy the beautiful scenery while I listen to worship songs.
The other nice thing about a small race is that I can place! I finished 4th in my age group and 99th overall. 

4 268 ASHLEY SIMS 01:12:46 7:49 F 24

99     268   ASHLEY SIMS            01:12:46   7:49    F       24        

Crossing the finish line!
 I finished exactly a minute faster than last year, so I was pleased! I believe it was because I had Cole there cheering me on! Getting out of bed this morning was a challenge...every muscle in my body hurts...Not because I wasn't well-trained, but I did run it faster than my normal daily pace. Could it also be that I took a speedy shower and went to work for the day (on my feet for hours)?!

We did make a pit stop at Triangle to grab a free mimosa on our way in from SI. No worries people...just 1...I am a responsible pharmacy intern!

Hopefully my body will feel better before the Folly Beach Half Marathon next weekend!

Pepperoni Spaghetti Bake

Cole and I stayed in and cooked Pepperoni Spaghetti Bake Friday night. This is a favorite from the cookbook of a friend of my Aunt May-May.  

Pepperoni Spaghetti Bake
8 oz. spaghetti noodles, cooked according to package directions and drained
1 lb. lean ground beef
8 oz. sliced pepperoni
1 cup green bell peppers, finely chopped
1 cup onions, finely chopped
8 oz. canned mushroom slices or stems and pieces
2 cans (26.5 oz each) spaghetti sauce
1 tsp. each garlic powder, basil, oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 oz. sliced olives (optional)

Brown beef and drain. Cook onions and peppers until tender. Add beef, pepperoni, spaghetti sauce, olives, and spices. Stir to mix well. Spoon 1/2 of meat sauce into a casserole dish. Place noodles over sauce and cover with the remaining 1/2 of meat sauce. Sprinkle top with both cheeses. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes of until hot and bubbly in the center. 

My modifications: ground turkey instead of beef, no olives or green peppers

Pepperoni Spaghetti Bake
I decided to double the recipe and stock the freezer. I am always thankful to have meals that are easy to pull out during a busy week. 

Salads and beer bread topped off the meal! I usually steer away from having bread at dinner, but once in a while I will...and beer bread is usually Cole's choice carbohydrate. 
Salads with homemade italian dressing
Beer Bread

Monday, January 23, 2012

Free Parking = New Shoes

Earlier this semester I had the great idea of selling my parking pass and parking at a friend's house for school. She lives about an extra block away, but I thought the extra money might be nice. It costs $90 a semester to park in the MUSC garage, which is ridiculous! Sweet Cole told me to keep my pass, and I obliged... until I got an email offering the $90 plus a hefty profit for it! I quickly offered it up. Being so resourceful, Cole told me I could use the money on whatever I wanted to! After weighing my options... saving it (the mature option), getting a massage at The Charleston Place Spa (they are half off until the end of January for MUSC students and staff), giving it away (the selfless option), putting it towards our upcoming trip (the predictable option)...I decided on two pairs of shoes from Gwynn's biannual sale. (See my previous post here.)
Vaneli's Black Suede Booties
All Black Kitten Pump
Probably not what Cole had in mind that I do with that money... but it was fun seeing him enjoy me being excited about my new shoes!


Recently, Cole and I enjoyed a weekend at DeBordieu. He was off from his normal duties and call at the hospital for 2 days in a row, which is unheard of these days, and we took this opportunity to pack our bags and head to the beach. This post is a little past due, but I think the photos and food are worth it!

Sunset Golf Cart Ride
One of the best beaches in the world

We bundled up to walk on the beach, read and relaxed, studied a little, and cooked some yummy food. 

Above: Crock-pot BBQ Chicken, Sweet Potato Cornbread, Sauteed Green Beans, and Trader Joe's Coastal Merlot. The chicken was so easy! All I did was place a few boneless and skinless chicken breasts in a crock-pot with BBQ sauce, a little brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and a touch of bourbon and cooked it on high for about 5 hours. Easy and delish!

Above: Bart's Black Bean Soup with Rotisserie Chicken with Guac with an Orange Twist (inspired from this recipe). One word to describe this soup is QUICK... it is ready in minutes. I add the chicken to make it more filling for my hungry husband. The guac was so good! We got on a guac kick and ended up making it 3 nights in a row! It is a nice twist to our normal guac concoction. 

Above: Scrambled Egg Muffin Sliders (made with Cheddar and Bacon Corn Muffins) , fruit salad, and OJ. 


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Behold, I make all things new..."

"I make all things new...
I am the Alpha and the Omega, 
the Beginning and the End. 
To him who is thirsty I will give drink without cost 
from the spring of the water of life."
 -Revelation 21:5-6

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, 
he is a new creation; 
the old has gone, 
the new has come!" 
-2 Corinthians 5:17

As we embark on 2012, be reminded of these verses. They teach me that..

1. ALL things need to be made new. We are all sinners that live in a fallen world (Romans 8:20-21). Only through the believing in the work of Christ on the cross and his subsequent resurrection can we be cleansed from our sinful nature. 

2. God's gift of salvation extends to ALL those who have faith in Him. He has the power to redeem any of us, no matter how sinful we are or have been.  He desires to make us more like himself and delights in our surrender to Him. 

What greater comfort than this?! As you focus on the new year, if you are a believer, take time to worship and thank God for making you new and redeeming your life. If you have not completely given your life over to Christ, then be reminded that it is God alone who has the power to make all things NEW. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012


When we first looked to buy our home, I loved everything except the light that dangled over the open space for our kitchen table. I told Cole that this light HAD TO GO. Over two years later, this utility light still remains there.

I have had my eye on a replacement for a while, and I finally found what I thought was the perfect pendant light to replace it, Pier 1's Gold Leaf Light. Not only did I fall in love with its whimsical and young feel, but it was a steal at $88.

I unpacked it just in time for our "handyman" to come over and unfortunately, found out it was a swag lamp. UNADVERTISED! I don't love swags anyway, and even if I did there is no place to swag it!  Y'all...I even shed a tear! I tried to think of every possibility....Is there battery powered light bulbs? Can you change a plug to hard wiring? Can I fit the drum over the existing light fixture?

To no avail, I am returning it tomorrow.

I am now drooling over a few drum pendants from The Well Appointed House that are WAY out of my price range. Any suggestions? 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Homemade Christmas Gifts

This Christmas was the year of homemade gifts to my friends and family. I love about any craft or project, and because of our double-income student budget, I thought this year was perfect for it! Some people see homemade gifts as cheap, but I love giving and receiving homemade gifts because I know the time and effort put into them.

See this post for the Christmas cards we I made this year.

My mom found this beautiful pillow adorned with a painted oriented tree at an interior design store a few years ago. The painting made it a few hundred more dollars. She knew I could paint something similar on it, so she bought it plain. All I needed to begin painting was a reason to procrastinate studying for my pharmacotherapy final...sorry it took me so long, Mom! Thanks Patricia for the paint! (I thought I would need her artistic hand to make it look presentable as well, but I am proud to say I did this by myself!)

My sun-loving sister and cousins from way yonder (up north) received these seashell ornaments made from shells that Cole and I found over the past year on the Low Country beaches of DeBordieau, Edisto, Folly, IOP, Sullivan's Island, and Hunting Beach (Beaufort). I also made picture frames that I used for our Chinese gift exchanges. See Molly's Christmas By the Sea on how to make them!
Snowman...He's my favorite!!

Sweet Angels
Seashell Wreaths

These are fringed cotton scarves. Thanks Louise for the idea to make them! My mom called it a Hot Flash scarf because they are loose fitting around the neck and super lightweight. Sorry Mom, but you even said it yourself!! I am selling them for $10 if anyone wants one! I can make them in about any color. I saw them just this week in a store for $42. 

And this...was a gift of pure love...Merry Christmas to my brother, William!

What is the best homemade gift you have received? I am already scouting for Christmas 2012 ideas. Let me know if you have any!

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's Resolution

Because I can't remember the resolution I made last year and I am way overcommitted, I have made a resolution not to make any more resolutions this year!

As you may remember reading here, Cole and I made the commitment back in August to read the entire Bible in a year. We haven't given up, and SLOWLY but SURELY we are doing it! I have just finished trudging through Leviticus. See Molly's blog post on Leviticus for some inspiration on what made me push through. Who would have imagined someone being so excited to start reading the Old Testament book of Numbers?! I am!! At that same time, we also committed to be more prayerful for the nations through the book Operation World. Although not everyday, we still continue to pray for a specific country when we ask blessing over our dinner.

It is humorous to remember the resolutions that I have made in the past, because, although mostly admirable ones, I have never kept one for the year in its entirety. I usually succumb to our media's "New Year, New You" ads and get on a health kick and make resolutions like... lose 5 pounds, eat healthy, drink more water, no more chocolate (what was I thinking?!?!) Maybe I can redeem myself with reading the Bible through this year. (Upon reading this blog, Cole reminded me that I had kept my running log for whole year in college, logging nearly 1,800 miles!)

What is the most unique resolution you have made in the past? What New Year's Resolution did you make for 2012?! What FRESH START are you cultivating?

Traditional Southern New Year's Day Meal

Dear friends,
              It has been TOO long! I owe you multiple posts. Cole and I are now back in Charleston after an  amazing two weeks with our family. It was a much needed and relaxing vacation. I hope you and your family had a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year too! Stay tuned for updates on our Christmas decorations, homemade Christmas gifts, scarves for sale, and New Year's Resolutions!
Can you believe the photo quality of the iPhone?!
Every year our family enjoys the traditional Southern New Year's Day meal. Our meal consists of pork, turnips, black-eyed peas, rice, and cornbread. If you aren't familiar with this, each food corresponds to an element of good luck in the coming year. Pork supposedly a pig represents prosperity and heath. Our meat of choice is usually ham. Collards (or other greens) look like folded paper money, so they symbolize financial prosperity throughout the year. Black-Eyed Peas resemble coins and also represent financial prosperity. Some people even believe you should eat one pea for every day of the new year!! I didn't count mine this year, but I love them so much I probably did eat 365 of them! Cole's grandmother always places a coin in the beans as she is cooking them. Whoever finds the coin in their portion has the best luck for the year! I am not sure what rice represents. Does anyone know?! Cornbread is included just because it is a Southern classic. Some say the dessert of choice should be an upside-down peach cobbler although we have never followed this tradition. We roasted oversized marshmallows on the fire outside instead!

For the past 2 years, Cole and I have always made Southern Living's Hoppin' John Stew with Cheddar Cheese Grits  with Kale (cooked in chicken broth, water, and garlic) during the first week of the new year. It has become our Sims family tradition!
Hoppin' John
Do you enjoy a Traditional New Year's Day meal? What foods do you choose to eat?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Test Test 1,2,3

Trying out Google Blogger App on my new iPhone. Hopefully now I can blog on-the-go.
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