Tuesday, September 4, 2012

new blog

I’ve been told by a few too many people that I should start another blog … like, a “real” blog {whatever that means}.  I assume they suggest such an idea to give me a more notable outlet to share my life stories via the creative world of blogging.  Make sense?  I guess the whole “erik & julie” themed blog isn’t exactly was drives people to read your posts about oatmeal.

so, after a LOT of brainstorming, I came up with a new blog title slash site slash concept.  and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure I love wordpress just yet; however, I’m convinced it will grow on me.  I do, however, love the template I found for my new blog … so that makes things better.

if you are interested in reading my life stories, my amateur adventures into the world of DIY, my 20-something insights, and so on … please join me over at “The Lovely Forecast”.

The reason I landed on this name {again … it took months, and I’m still working on loving it}, is because I like the idea of “the forecast”:

fore·cast

   [fawr-kast, -kahst, fohr-] noun

noun

1. a prediction, especially as to the weather.

2. a conjecture as to something in the future.

3. the act, practice, or faculty of forecasting.

4. Archaic . foresight in planning.

I know it’s a term generally used to determine or predict the weather … but think about it in terms of life.  We can neither determine what is going to happen next, nor predict the future.  However, with God’s grace, mercy, and guidance, we can certainly determine how we are going to respond to it.  Are we going to find joy in our struggles (2 Corinthians 12:9)?  Are we going to respond to the pains of life with His love and grace?  Can we even do so, without abiding (John 15see also) in Christ?

Thus, I want my story to reflect God’s love.  I want it to be a lovely adventure, in which I choose to pursue His wisdom.  Thus, I want my life’s forecast to be lovely.  I want to run in the sun and I want to find a way to dance in the rain.

So for now … it fits.  “The Lovely Forecast” 

it may change in the future, and it may not.  we’ll just have to see how these growing pains pan out.

so, please bear with me as I continue to tweak my new blog.  I fully understand that the world wide web is saturated with bloggers and I am merely adding to a world already filled with creativity, insight, and tips & tricks … and I’m not intending on make millions from this little corner of cyber-space. I simply hope to use it as an outlet for the words that fill up my brain and need a place to be written. I do hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

sand first, then prime, and paint …

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source

last weekend, erik was somewhere around 9,000 ft above sea level with a few fellow backpackers on a camping trip they take every year.  ever since the date was set for their annual trip into the wilderness, I planned to use the lack of distraction {being my cute husband} as the perfect time to get my painting finished. 

I wanted to finish painting our bed, his nightstand/dresser, and a wine rack.  all in one day.

I was actually pretty excited for my painting day, knowing how fulfilling it is to transform something that was once ugly, into something that is … well … no longer ugly. 

watching the paint instantly cover the bruises and scratches an old piece of furniture has acquired over the years is thoroughly satisfying …

although, my use of the word “instantly” isn’t really accurate.

while I love the painting process, I HATE the prep process.  taping is fine.  and even the priming is fine.  but the sanding.  blah! I wish it wasn’t such a critical part of the process.  every time I thought I had successfully roughed an entire layer of stain off the dresser, I’d smooth away the dust to find that I did not in fact sand away an entire layer, but rather barely touched the surface. 

uhhhh.  I had too many projects to complete in one day (day 2 of his trip was dedicated to organization), to waste spend so much time sanding … unsuccessfully at that! (clearly, I should have spent more time looking for my contractor-husband’s electric sander …)

I hate to admit, that when it comes to painting, I’m a lazy DIY-er.  I sanded what I could … and then I went straight to priming.  and oh, did I prime that baby! gave it enough for my black paint to grip on to.

in the end … I’d say it looks pretty good.  we’ll just see how long the paint lasts. 

but hey, by the time it starts to chip, I’ll probably be ready to paint it another color … so in reality, I’m just making the job easier next time around.

pictures of my newly painted furniture to come.  prepare yourselves.  or don’t.  it’s really not like I painted anything a really fun color.  it’s all just black.  BUT, I did try my hand at a very subtle antique job on the wine rack.  could have been better, but for now, on a $5 wine rack, I’m pleased. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

and they were already good …

I know I’ve mentioned it before … but I LOVE mexican food.  in fact, my employer is picking me up a carne asada taco and 3 rolled tacos covered in queso and guacamole, right now.  he asked what I felt like, and I said … “mexican!”

really, it’s never a surprise. 

in particular though, I love tacos and burritos … and the fact that most mexican meals are comprised of the same ingredients in a different form.  easy to keep those staples around the house!

last night, in the midst of this 100+ degree weather, erik and I halted our work on the projects we were wrapped up in, at the realization that we were both starving.

in an effort to think of something that would not require the heating of the house via the oven (and even the stove), we agreed on grilled fish tacos.

and can I just say, they were pretty fantastic.  we had tilapia steaks in the freezer and given their thin nature, they thawed in a matter of minutes.

erik spread them over a foiled bed of olive oil, lemon pepper, & garlic salt, then topped them off with the same seasonings plus a squeeze of lemon and a drop of butter.  and then he grilled those babies to perfection.

meanwhile, I prepared the tortillas, using a new trick I learned in mexico.  a trick that has increased my love for tacos even more … and I didn’t think that would have been possible.

July 2012

at our favorite taco stand in mexico, we saw them throw the cheese directly onto the grill … genious.

after a second or two, they threw the tortilla right on top.  they let it sit, then used a spatula to flip the tortillas, cheese and all.  amazing.

I prepared a couple of tortillas and stacked them, allowing the hot, gooey cheese to keep them warmer, longer.

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and then, we topped them off with lettuce (our last minute decision for fish tacos meant the lack of cabbage), tartar sauce, and hot sauce.

can I just say, I was in heaven ….

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

nails, polish, and all that girly stuff …

Yesterday, my youngest niece left the world of childhood and jumped daringly into the world of teen-hood.

Given her southern california roots, it was quite an act love when her family drove her north on i-5 in order to celebrate this momentous occasion with her family.  And for that, I am grateful.

I don’t get to see my sweet cousin enough, nor do I check-in nearly enough via the numerous avenues as are now readily available thanks to the wide world of social networking.  And I hate myself for it.

But that’s what led me to really think about what I wanted to give her for her birthday.  She is no longer a little girl, but she’s not yet a woman (oh dear, never thought I’d reference a Britney Spears song in my blog).  I want her to enjoy her youth and not race towards the next stage of life that promises freedom … or the illusion of it, rather.  We live in a world where girls leave childhood behind before they have the chance to experience it.  And I told her that in my card.  I also told her, that elegance and class are seen as fashion trends, instead of qualities to pursue.  And that, my friends, is a shame.

I did my best to put together a “Teenage Girl’s Survival Kit” … full of all the fun girly things necessary for life as a lady … while attaching tid-bits of advice from her older, grey-hair-going, cousin.  You know, things like, your parents are actually on your side, contrary to popular belief (as is established by most teens these days); and guard your heart, you’ll be softer because of it, etc.

(I should have taken a picture of my survival kit … it looked pretty cute, if you ask me)

One of the things I included was a travel sized pack of nail files.  this may seem silly to anyone who was not raised under the teachings of Barbara Richardson (the quintessential lady, in my opinion).  you see, Barbara, or as I affectionately referred to her, Omie, was the epitome of class and elegance.  She was calm, passionate, strong, tender, proper, kind, forgiving, hospitable, and nearly every other quality of the noble woman as described in Proverbs 31.  and we are blessed to have had her as an example.

now back to the nail files … I’m not sure if it was something she was taught in her etiquette classes or not (yes, ladies, they actually took classes on etiquette … what a novel concept, right?), but she always had a nail file by her side.  by her chair, in her purse, in every drawer of the kitchen and each bathroom; a nail file was no further than a reach. and because of her obsession with the beauty tool, her nails were always perfect.  sometimes they were painted and sometimes not; but they were always beautiful. 

I’m sure, if I though hard enough, I could think of some sort of metaphor or analogy to her nails and the nail file, but work has nearly fried my brain, so I’m not going to think much more about it.

I just loved hearing the resounding remarks of agreement when kate opened the package of nail files, from all of the women in the family.  nice nails are a part of being a lady.  they aren’t reserved for school girls anymore … it can be a beautiful accessory that compliments the “lady” in all of us.  painted or not.

Monday, July 30, 2012

gone grey

a couple of years ago, while sitting in the passenger seat of my momma’s car, I started to notice a bit of a glimmer coming from the top of my head.  it glistened in the sunlight, like glitter from a prom dress.

I flipped the handy-dandy visor down to get a better look at the sparkle atop my head.  my mom nearly drove off the road when she heard me gasp at the discovery of the shiny, grey strand peeking it’s way through my dark brown locks.

amidst her blonde wavy hair, she laughed at me, {how dare she?!} saying that she started to go grey in her early 30’s … so don’t worry.  

DON’T WORRY?!  coming from a head of blonde hair … the color that nearly masks a few greys amidst the lightly pigmented strands!

I was only 25!

setting all vanity aside, what did I do in response to my head’s lack of melanin pigment? I pulled out the teasers … and I plucked

and I continued to pluck for a couple more years.  I dismissed the wives tale that curses three more in the spot of the plucked grey hair … aaaaaaannnnnnd I kept on plucking.

as the years passed and my plucking continued, more grey’s developed.  as if laughing at my disregard for the tale. 

who would have know it was true?

ah, but now there are too many to pluck.  I’d nearly have a bald spot if I kept removing the greys that seem to be strategically placed directly at the top of my head.  they seem to follow my part too … in the middle or on the side, there they are.

so, instead of trying to get rid of them, or spending millions of dollars trying to paint over them, I’ve decided, reluctantly, to embrace them.  it wasn’t so much a choice, as much as it was … well, simply weighing my options:

a) create a bald spot on top of my head
b) visit my stylist {I have never had a stylist to call my own, but now that my friend is a stylist, I suddenly have one} every 6 weeks at the cost of too many pennies from this cheap woman’s pocket
c) or, give in

so, give in I did!

and you know?  as long as my grey strands are smooth and conform to the natural {thanks to the blow dryer} flow of the rest of my hair, it’s not so bad! and thankfully, they are growing into sort of a streak … so I’m trying to channel my inner Rogue {I’ve always wanted to be a super hero} … with a touch of Stacy London …

406px-Rogue

Stacy London What Not To Wear

 

I can pull that off …… right?

Monday, July 16, 2012

South of the Border

Hola! I’ve been gone for a week exploring my roots south of the border!  Yup … we went to Mexico with a group from our church … and to clarify, it wasn’t to explore anything, but rather to minister to God’s little ninos through construction, sports, and VBS.

I was the ordained blogger for the trip, so instead of reiterating everything we did, (if you are interested) here is the link to the blog I penned along the way: http://www.cotf.org/mexico/

I am SO glad the doors were opened for us to go on this trip! It was truly a blessed adventure and we pray for provision, as plans have already begun for next year’s missions trip!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

berry stains

the berries are just too good not to sacrifice a few scratches for … and for some reason, when I’m picking berries at my grandpa’s place, my pain tolerance increases.  the thorn pricks and raw scratches acquired just don’t seem to bother me.  I almost don’t even realize all of my wounds until I wash the sweet berry stains from my fingers and the warm water awakens the scratches.  even then, it’s worth it.

to soak in the sun-setting rays while picking juicy morsels of fresh sweetness, in the stillness of the early evening, with nothing but a slight breeze and chirping birds to distract you … simple perfection.  the red stains on my fingers bring me back to my childhood and memories race through my mind.  I’m surrounded by the fields that housed my adventures with the native americans and the swiss family robinson.  and I’m simply, for the hour it takes to glean every ripe berry from the vines, in heaven.

now what can a 2-person household do with that many berries?  oh, I can think of more than enough recipes to fill with sweet antioxidants.  and thankfully, there will be more ripe berries in just a few days.

thanks to my papa, the multiple freezers he acquired over the years, and the oversized garden he never ceases to plant, I know the perfect way to prevent time from stealing the life from my sweet addiction: 

Pick berries {note: the basket should have more berries than your belly by the end of your picking adventure}

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Rinse berries and remove the stems

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Spread out on parchment paper in a single layer

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and freeze!

simple, I know.  tutorial totally not necessary, but I love the step by step process … it’s my favorite food to freeze!

this afternoon, I’ll put them in my vacuum food saver for future smoothies, cobblers, crisps, yogurt parfaits, etc

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but I couldn’t resist saving a big bowl of antioxidant goodness for myself

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

best combos for the tasters

prior to wasting taking your time and reading this post, I must warn you that it is entirely pointless. 

last night, as I was making my staple bean and cheese burrito for the quick-out-the-door meal that monday night bible study requires of me, I was thinking about how much I LOVE the combination of beans and cheese.  refried pinto beans, that is.  it’s just the best.  if I were on an island, stranded for the rest of my days, the food item I would want in bountiful amounts would be … the bean and cheese burrito. talk about protein.  and if you use low-fat/non-fat beans, it’s not even bad for you.  it may not have a whole host of extra nutrients, but I’m not on an island, so I still get those from the other foods that I regularly consume.

other food duos that evoke shear pleasure from my taste-buds? oh, there may not be anything quite like the combo of hot frijoles oozing with gooey queso, but my mouth also certainly enjoys …

cinnamon and sugar {hello sweet heaven}

cinsugar

bbq sauce and ranch {new favorite salad topper}

bbqrnchsld

peanut butter and banana {something elvis & I have in common, I hear}

pntbtrbnana

{pic source}

and so on …

but nothing quite satisfies like a good ol’ bean and cheese burrito

burrito
{pic source}

now, you know you want to go slather some low-fat refried pinto beans on a flour {or my new favorite corn} tortilla, sprinkle it with some shredded queso of choice, and a dash of mexican seasoning {I use emeril lagasse’s essence seasoning} …  but don’t forget to put it in your george forman grill to toast the tortilla to a crispy golden brown …

mmm … I’m hungry now.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

can I brag?

thanks for your permission to brag on some absolutely fantastic women …

these women:

IMG_7741

I’m pretty sure I’ve bragged about them before … but they are just so wonderful that I think they deserve a little more bragging.

I met these beautiful women when they were in high school {most of the just sophomores} when I was a youth leader at church.  We all clicked individually, mashed a couple of trios together, and wham.  one big group of extraordinary women, joined by their passion for life, love, and Jesus.  I’ve spent many hours over coffee dates, lunch dates, girls nights, small group sessions, and even locked up in bathrooms, mentoring and loving these women.  the Lord has graciously given me the wisdom that they’ve needed to hear, while at the same time, taught me a great deal through each of them.

Now, they are all in college, working full time, traveling, and ministering to the world.  talk about proverbs 31 women in training.

this summer alone, they are spread across the world, from LA to Germany to Orlando to Australia to Mexico to Asia and beyond.  I love watching their hearts grow as the they discover their passions and purpose on this little planet.

I’m so excited to see where life takes them and I’m honored to get to call these women friends!

now, go and conquer the world.  well, don’t conquer it, but win them to Jesus.  boom.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

an american sport

in my humble opinion, you can’t get much more fun, or american, than a baseball game.  you just can’t.

there’s something about the smell of the grass, the roar of the crowd, and even the crunch of the peanut shells under your feet, that evoke a patriotic infused feeling of summer. 

even if it’s at the minor league level.  the same feelings apply.

the sound of the bat, making it’s ever so brief impact with the stitched ball and catapulting it into the sky.  the moment the lights turn on to illuminate the field and it’s surrounding audience.  the smell of the dodger dogs, being roasted to perfection.  oh, wait … I guess that only happens at dodger stadium.  but our local minor league team {go rivercats!} has a pretty mean dinger dog going for them too …

it may go unmentioned, given my permanent union to a die hard giants fan … but deep down inside, I’m a dodgers fan at heart.  I blame my dodger blue blood on the mexican that raised me.  the guy that taught me the classic baseball song {take me out to the ballgame, for those that might not be american} and replaced “home team” with “dodgers” … for far too long, I actually thought the song was strictly a dodgers song.  im just that gullible trusting of the man that I call “dad”.

he loved the dodgers for good reason: born and raised next to dodger stadium, with stories of sneaking in to view the game from a perched position on top of a fence … before working there in highschool.  it’s his childhood.  and he passed the love on to me.

now, given our lack of a tv to help in my fandom, I’m not much of a fan.  {my blood is in fact red, like yours, believe it our not} but when it comes down to it, given the opportunity, I’ll always “root, root, root for the dodgers!”

but back to what I was saying about the game of baseball …

one thing in particular that makes the plastic-chair-sitting experience of being at a 9 inning-long baseball game so fantastic: the food.  and thank God for 9 innings.  makes way for 3 courses. 

1st inning: hot dogs
3rd inning: garlic fries with jalapenos
supposed to be 6th inning, but couldn’t wait: nachos … with jalapenos of course

at least that was the menu for our last baseball outing.  and to disgust my sister even further, another story about all the food items she would never dare let enter into her healthy little body: one time, my dad and I went to a rivercats game with the goal of eating one of everything on the menu throughout the game: dogs, nachos, cheese steak sandwiches, fries, crackerjacks, cotton candy, and who knows what else was consumed during that game.  I admit, it was in my younger years of higher metabolism and no care for the processed food.  {don’t worry kris, I couldn’t and wouldn’t do it again … but at least I can say I did it!}

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he’d hate me for including this picture, but I guess that’s a perk of him not keeping me accountable and checking what I post on here.  he’s just so cute!

Friday, May 25, 2012

goin’ to the chapel …

ever since exchanging vows with my hot hunk of a husband, weddings have made me a total kind of a sap.  maybe it’s silly, but I see so much significance in proclaiming your love and promising to work on that love in front of all the important people in your life.  and in front of God.  because, whoever takes a vow with God lightly … well, I just wouldn’t suggest it.

it’s huge!  it’s a huge commitment.  it’s a huge proclamation.  it’s just pretty much HUGE.

and spectacular.

what makes weddings even more fun … is when it’s two of your bestest friends.  it just doesn’t get much better.

last weekend, erik and I had the honor of standing beside Becky & Zach as they said “I do”.  not only did this mark off a pre-baby bucket list item {numero 7 … check},photo

probably the only picture we have of the two of us at the wedding, and most of the picture of of someone else’s head.  fail.

but it entered The Leighton’s into the incredible club of the marrieds. congrats guys!

this was the kind of wedding where we knew both sides … we knew almost everyone.  and that just makes for one fun party if you ask me!

short story:

julie’s family has known the Leightons {Zach’s fam} since both julie & zach were too little to remember. as they grew up, they didn’t really hang out much because julie was older and well, he was one of those athletic boys that julie couldn’t have kept up with if she tried.

many years later.  erik moves to california and meets zach through the dude he worked for.  before erik ever met julie.

a few years later.  erik meets julie.  they fall in love.  all while zach was away at school.

erik & julie get married.  julie meets becky through her sister, stacey.  julie and becky sit at a pizza place for 5 hours. and the friendship continues from there, with weekly dates.

many people tell erik & julie that zach and becky should meet.  erik & julie agree.

finally, zach comes to a bible study we invite him to.  becky is there.  their eyes meet.  and BOOM.  sparks explode.

{or something like that}

1.5 years later. they are hitched.

check out the spectacularness of the event that united these two phenomenal people together:

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me & jenna {zach’s little sis}

if you can’t tell, they choreographed their wedding dance … and it was pretty much, awesome.

best wedding. ever.  except for ours. although ours was chaos and a total mess … it did make me mrs. benson, so, it stands as the best wedding ever in my book.

now if only they’d come home from their honeymoon so we can hang out.  come on guys.

my thumb is turning colors

and by colors, I mean, it’s slowly returning to it’s green nature, once again.

yes, I’m planting again.  I may not have the gigantic garden that I had when we lived on the acreage of my grandpa’s ranch, but I do have a front door and pots.  thus, the front door is covered with pots.

I have petunias, hydrangeas, 3 different kinds of tomatoes {we clearly love tomatoes}, and hot peppers.  we have an extra pot and plenty of soil left over for one more veggie … but the selection was just too much to handle and we couldn’t decide.  erik reminded me that we don’t have to choose right away.  I mean, we could go home and think about it.  we could decide to get yet another tomato plant.  {although I’m thinking 3 plants for 2 people is more than enough tomatoes}.  or we could get more peppers {we are thinking copious amounts of salsa}. or a fruit maybe?  who knows?!

there is just too much to choose from.  too many possibilities.  and too little space. 

until we decide … we will tenderly care for the plants we do have growing.  we will “parent” them in a way.  every morning, tending to their needs {via water & sun}.  protecting them from the forces of nature that could harm them.  praising them when they produce beautiful flowers and yummy food.  {ok, my plant-parenting much stops there}.

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sorry for the lack of uber cool pictures.  these were snapped on my way out of the door the morning after I planted them … I just couldn’t help myself!

oh, and were you wondering where I got those cute blue & white miniature pots? $2 … garage sale.  for real.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

some unsolicited advice for the single ladies …

I promise.  if you just wait, as long as it takes, you will never regret it.  it may seem like it will take forever or like it will never happen at all, but it will be worth it.  so, incredibly worth it.  don’t rush into something, thinking it will turn into your fairy tale.  chances are, if it doesn’t start that way, it won’t stay that way.

wait for that man that stares at you with his lips curled up ever so slightly while you are talking to him about something as silly as where to put the bananas.  wait for the man, that when asked why he has that smile on his face {thinking you said something funny or have something stuck in your teeth}, he just looks at you and says “you’re just so cute”, then graces your cheek with a sweet kiss from his lips.

wait for that man, ladies.  because he will melt you heart, every.single.time. 

{if you can’t tell, mine melted last night, for the bazillionth time}

it’s worth it.

because who doesn’t want a man to look at them like this:

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wait for it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Benson’s are going to Mexico!

Yup … you heard me right! We are taking a week off of work {which makes me a little nervous} to help grow and build a church in Mexico!  We’ve been wanting to do this for years and finally feel like we are in a place where it just might work out.  I’m nervous {I know … If it’s God’s will, then He will provide!} about raising the funds and justifying a week off of work for the both of us, but I also feel like after years of serving with the youth and young adults, it’s time we stand beside them in their step of faith!

Just for your info, here is our letter with the details of our trip.  I’m not posting this letter as a request for money from those that read this little blog, but rather as a plea for prayers!  It’s also part of my attempt to keep you updated on the life of the Benson’s, as is the original purpose of this blog.  Since the letter filled with all the details pertaining to the trip was already written, I thought I’d just save a few key-strokes and cut & paste.  Call me lazy.  Or busy.  Either one would work right about now!

 

Dear Family and Friends:clip_image002

As you may remember, Erik and I worked together with the youth ministry at our church for about 4 years, starting in 2006. In all honesty, ministering together was how we became friends, and later fell in love. It was a blessing to us to be a part of a ministry that we both cared for in such a real and intense way. Shortly after we got married, and after our students graduated, we moved from working with the high school to the college/young adult ministry. We have been working with young adults at "Impact" and now a Monday night Bible study we like to call "Abiding" for the past 3 years. Ministering together alongside the leadership of Pastor Danny Basham has become a very important part of our lives as a couple and as Christ's ambassadors.

Over the past few years, Pastor Danny has asked the two of us to join him and the high school youth on a missions trip to Mexico. Up until now, we couldn't figure out how to make it work. However, after a year of prayer (since last year's trip left for Mexico), we feel God is calling us to join the youth on this trip to the Jehovah Jireh Church and village of Lomas Bonitas, located about 10 miles southeast of Ensenada, Mexico, during the week of July 7th to 13th.

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We will be working closely with the Pastor Juan Ambrocio and his wife, Karrie, to minister to the people in the struggling village. Jehovah Jireh Church functions as a central “hub” in the community. A breakfast program feeds 50-60 children and their mothers three times a week, English classes are given to high school students as well as interested adults, and church services are held weekly on Sunday morning.

This year our main service projects will be painting the outside as well as some inside areas of the church, insalling new flooring in the 2nd floor of the church, the Breakfast Ministry, and Sports Tournaments & Testimonies

We are so excited for this opportunity to serve God and the people of Lomas Bonitas this summer. We are confident the Lord has great things planned for our team while we are training and during our trip. We feel very passionate about the opportunity this trip will provide to touch many lives in Mexico, as well as to work alongside the youth as they take this step of faith.

A trip like this cannot happen without the support of our family and friends, so we want to invite you to take a part in this trip with us. The most important thing you can do is pray. Pray specifically for our team, safe travels, and those to which we will be ministering. Another way you can consider is providing support financially. Our trip will cost $400.00 per person. Thus, we need to raise $800 for the both of us. If it is possible for you to send financial support, we would be very grateful. If you cannot, please know how much we appreciate your prayers and encouragement as we continue to prepare for this trip. This trip and ministry will most definitely be a life-changing experience for everyone involved!

In His Love,

Erik & Julie Bensonclip_image007

 

Friday, May 11, 2012

I jumped on

I'm usually the kind of person that decides to avoid band wagons. You know, the kind that everyone obsesses over & that consumes the current trends of all things from conversation, to clothes & styles, to even baby names. In fact, I usually get so tired with them, I turn into that annoying person that makes a point to not jump on the wagon, even if, in a secret part of my head, I think I would actually like whats on the wagon.

Example: The Twilight Series. I watched the movies, yes. But I waited until they came out to rent instead of paying major dollars to see it on the big screen. I used to love the name "Bella" ... Ever since I was a little girl, actually. But now, with the rise in popularity of the name thanks to the blood-sucking obsessor, I wouldn't dare name my daughter after a vampire movie. Bummer for me ... Since its such a pretty name!

Anyways, all that to say ... It's not very common that I jump on board a wagon occupied by the rest of the world.
However, this time, I did it. I jumped on board. Maybe a little later than the rest of the clan, but I'm on the train nonetheless.

THE HUNGER GAMES.
So good. As in, read it in 2 days so that I could see the movie before it left the theaters, good.

My sister (Mrs. PhD, herself) recommended it to me. I was surprised that she would take the time to read something so frivolous, to be honest. But she guaranteed me that her non-book-loving sister (that's me) would love it. So, after another encouraging friend bought me the book (accompanied by Starbucks & the sweetest note ever), I decided to crack it open.

Even though I've never been a big reader (I was such a slow reader when I was little, not to mention my poor scores in reading comprehension, that I filled my time in the great outdoors instead of buried in a book), the feel of a brand new book, with crisp pages and what seemed to be fresh ink, intrigued me on its own.

And then, the words themselves. They are gripping. The story, the characters, the adventure. I fell in love.

Officially obsessed and fully on board that gigantic bandwagon, well worthy of its full status.

Being a "non-reader", I never understood why movies were not as good as the books. I mean, why not sit down & watch a story come to life in a fraction of the time? Well, now I get it. At 27 years old ... It finally makes sense. I've read a few other books that were digitally depicted onto the silver screen & never thought much of it. But this time, I get it. The movie was great ... Definitely entertaining ... But not the same. So, if you haven't jumped on board, take my advice. GO FOR IT!

I can't wait to get the next 2 books in the series ... But am trying to give my husband & house some more attention before I nearly obsess over yet another book!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

come on baby, light my fire …

everybody loves a bonfire, right?  what’s not to love?  the circle formed around the fire conjures up a sense of community and fellowship, which our human need for is too often underestimated.  they are warm, comfortable, and oh so mesmerizing.  I don’t know of anyone who can help but stare into the flames as they flicker shades of orange, red, & pink, with occasional bursts of blues and greens. 

now, I know that with a fire, comes smoke.  and smoke is no fun for the ol’ eye balls.  but sometimes, on nights of near perfection, the air rests still, providing the smoke with a completely vertical channel of escape.  and on those nights, bonfires are that much more inspiring. 

they nearly always seem to generate rich conversation from the bodies huddled around it’s warmth, with spurts of laughter sprinkled amidst the flames.  there is something so beautiful … romantic, even … about the peaceful nature that surrounds the experience created around the fire pit.  stories are shared, retold, and written.  the memories made are based on the entire sensory experience … the sounds of the flickering fire & the voices surrounding it, the warmth of it’s flames, the smells of it’s progress, the sight of the glittering embers and the golden glow reflecting off loved one’s faces. 

to me, bonfires are extraordinary.  any opportunity we can, we light up that fire.  even if it’s just the two of us.  I call those sweet opportunities, our fire-pit-date-nights.  they are the night when we make our entire dinner {dessert included} over the fire.  and on those nights, the same extraordinary experiences that happen when with dear friends, happens between the two of us.  they are beautiful additions to our relationship and marriage … and we will continue these warm traditions for the rest of our lives …

now, to explain the fantastic nature of our fire-pit dinner … well, they are awesome.  you just have to like veggies and bacon.  I’m sure you can go without one or the other, but who would want to do that? {notice my lack of vegetarianism.  sorry.}

we took a couple of long, extendable marshmallow skewers … the kind with two prongs.  erik separated the prongs where they were welded together, in order to give us more room for our brightly colored feasts.  the only prep for these dates is the chopping of the veggies {we use vibrant colored bell peppers and red onions} and a glass of wine. 

to assemble our masterpieces, we just alternate the veggies on the skewer with the bacon.  the strips of bacon are gently wrapped around the vegetable of choice, and then poked with the skewer.  {I realize that was not a very good description … sorry about that}.  the end result looks something like a ribbon candy on a long skewer, but only this time, the candy is bacon.  winner in my book.

see:

fire date

sprinkle with some seasonings {garlic salt, steak seasoning, etc}

THEN, you cook it.  over the fire.  {talk about no dishes to clean} you have to talk while you cook it.  while else would you be sitting around a fire pit if not to engage with your fellow food-cooker-slash-fire-enjoyer.

all that’s left is the buns {sourdough, hot dog, whichever you prefer – we butter ours first}!  and slide the juicy delight into the bun when cooked to your liking.  top with a condiment of choice {erik: mustard; julie: ranch} if desired and enjoy.

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dinner is always finished off with the makings of some s’mores {those ingredients are permanent fixtures in our pantry}. 

see, our fire-pit-dinner-dates are nights of near perfection. 

try it sometime.  I dare you. you memory bank and your belly will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

we showered the bride!

last month, amidst the chaos, I was blessed with the opportunity to shower my dear friend, Becky, with a party to celebrate her upcoming nuptials.  given the lack of rain this winter produced, I was so na├»ve as to think that I could plan an outdoor affair in march.  you’d think after my wet-wedding day in the 3rd month, I would have learned to not attempt such plans. 

I had hoped to enjoy an afternoon luncheon on the patio - a la … my mom’s house.  what can I say, it’s the best place to hold such an event.  but of course, regardless of the fact that the week prior to the shower, the weather yielded 70 degree plus weather, the day of the event proved to be too cold for an out of doors event.

good thing my momma has a nice house too … with windows large enough to allude the presence of nature ... sans wind. 

overall, the shower for over 60 people was a success.  it was very large {yes, I said 60} and surprisingly not too crowded.  we made it work, with a salad bar to care for the gluten-intolerant and fruity treats for the sweet-inclined.  Had I not been so busy hosting the large affair, I would have taken some more fun pictures to show-off the few areas in which I indulged the creative side of my brain … but alas, I was just unable to do so.  Thankfully, a friend and fellow bridesmaid snapped these little details.B1

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I must give credit the my sweet momma who ran her little you-know-what around in circles preparing for the herd I invited into her house.  She was so sweet to accept my request and proved her fabulous hosting skills to be even more extraordinary than I already knew them to be!