Sunday, November 30, 2014

Do daily devotions really make a difference?

This summer I had an interesting conversation with my friend Chelsey about faith. We shared our concern about why it is difficult to take time each day to spend with the Lord. We also talked about how sometimes we just feel so far from God. We began to ask why and discuss if those two concerns are connected??

So on a long truck ride home from a car show with Jeff I started to talk with him about doing an experiment. What if I asked Christian women in my life to be part of a 60 day - 2 phase study that would try to answer these questions.


Women in the survey would get a daily survey like this to answer. They would simply answer how they would describe their "cup of faith". It also allowed room to describe more about their day. 

After Phase 1 some women shared that this process of reflecting on their faith each day helped to keep God more in mind each day. But I was excited to start Phase 2.


I was most excited to see how Phase 2 would change the women's daily cup of faith surveys. For the next 30 days I sent a daily devotion in the morning for the women to read. The devotion had 3 parts.

First was the Scripture of the Day:

Second was the actual devotion for the day. I used various devotionals online, personal experiences, and devotional books to write the daily devotion. 

Third was the Focus Point of the day.  It usually included a question and an action step.

I asked the women to try to read these devotions within 1 hour of waking up. I thought this might set the tone for the day.

At the end of the day I sent the daily survey. For this phase I also asked the women to share thoughts on the morning devotion.


So...what did we learn?


52% of the participants described their "cup of faith" as much more full after the 60 days


29% of women described their "cup of faith" as quite a bit more full after the 60 days.  


93% of women felt like a daily reflection on their faith affected their faith walk quite a bit or greatly


78% of women felt like the daily devotions affected their faith walk quite a bit or greatly

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Planning our meals

Every Sunday night you will usually find me sitting on the couch creating our menu for the week. This system has worked well for me over the past 9 months or so.  Here is what I usually do...

First I look at the Fareway ad for the week. If anything catches my eye I try to use those items in my menu for the week.

Second, I start a word document with the days of the week at the top of the page and space for my grocery list below.

Third, I mark off any nights of the week I know we won't be home or we have plans that might lead me to choose a quick meal or a night it might be best to have a crockpot meal.

Fourth, I ask Jeff is there is anything he is craving. Usually I have a craving for a certain type of food like Mexican or Italian. I try to work those in first. I have found that choosing meals that sound good to us help us to not eat out as often. We actually look forward to what we have planned for the week!

Fifth, I start filling in some of our staple recipes that I can think of. I usually end up with two or three nights open.

Sixth, I head to Pinterest to find a new recipe to try. I usually search by the meat we have in the freezer or what is on sale at Fareway. These helps me narrow down the search that can be very overwhelming!

Once I have filled in the menu at the top of the word document I start my grocery list. I look at each recipe and quickly type the items I don't have in the fridge or pantry. Sometimes I type them down and put a question mark next to it if I am not sure. It is better to just get everything written down before I go check, otherwise I get distracted by other things!! :)

If my grocery list isn't too long I will add a "Sweet Treat" recipe to the list. I love to try new recipes for cookies, breads, etc. but I only add those items to the grocery list if I think I will actually have time to make the recipe or if I think I am not going to go over my budget for the week.

I also add those weekly items that are staples for our family like things we like to pack in our lunch (String cheese, pudding, pop, etc)

I try to type the items in groups on the word document by area of the grocery store. I am not always correct but being close helps.

Last I write my menu up on our chalkboard. This helps Jeff and I both to remember what's for dinner and usually one of us will remember to lay out the meat we might need that night for dinner. That really helps me when it comes time to cook!!

So...that's how I do it!! Here is a look at what we are going to have this week! I have linked the recipes that are online!

Monday – Little Cheddar Meatloaves and Baked Potatoes
Wednesday – Burgers on the Traeger Smoker
Thursday – Small Group (no meal)
Friday – Chicken Fried Rice
Saturday – Manwiches and Coleslaw or EAT OUT
Sunday – Chili and Cornbread
Monday – Eggs and Bacon

Either Jeff or I usually pick up groceries on Mondays so I usually plan one week out. I have the ingredients at home for the Monday night I get groceries so that I am ready to go the night I have to pick up groceries. The other factor I include is making sure I have enough for our lunches the next day. I try to make something good for lunches on Sunday night so we have food to take to work the next day or two. Friday and Saturday nights are better for things like steak which aren't quite as good as leftovers. 

Hope this was helpful or at least interesting! :)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

In Fall

Our fall has been filled with three things: field work, running, and kitchen remodel plans!


Field Work - Harvest has started and we have had a few late nights here. Nights in the field usually look like Jeff and his parents working in the field until 8ish. Some nights I bring dinner out the farm for us to share together. Other nights Bailey and I hang out at home watching TV and do things around the house until Jeff gets home.


Running - I have almost made it to my goal! Saturday is my 5K race I have been training for. I am now able to run 35 minutes without stopping! I can hardly believe it! I hope that Saturday isn't too cold and I am able to run the whole race! 


Kitchen Remodel Plans -  It is almost GO TIME for our kitchen remodel. We have almost everything picked out. It is just a matter of working out the details of the budget, getting things ordered and then we can start! I will definitely blog about all those exciting changes!! 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cinnamon Rolls

Lately I have really been enjoying trying new recipes. This weekend I tried a BIG one - Homemade Cinnamon Rolls. 

I found this  recipe on Pinterest. It is from the blog "Culinary Couture". Click on the blog to see the recipe. Here are pictures from my experience.

1. Make the dough and let it rise


 2. After punching down the dough I rolled it out into a large square.
 3. Then I put melted butter on the top and then added a cinnamon, brown sugar and cornstarch mixture.
4. I rolled up the dough into a log and cut into small pieces.
 5. Then the rolls had to rise again for 2 hours. Lots of waiting!!

 6. The really grew in size!! I baked them for 20 minutes and then added 1/2 the cream cheese frosting right after they got done so the frosting would go into the rolls. After they cooled I added the rest of the frosting. SO YUMMY!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Good Eats

One of the fun parts of being married has been having someone to cook for every night. I am lucky because Jeff is a very easy person to please when it comes to food! He is also quite helpful and has done a lot to help out with cooking and dishes! Here are some our favorite recipes I have made lately!



1. Breakfast for dinner.

 We have made eggs and sausage many times for dinner. This week I tried this recipe for Biscuits and Gravy. It was delicious and very easy!!


Baked Spaghetti

2. Baked Spaghetti

This recipe caught my eye because it used alfredo and marinara sauce. I tried the recipe for homemade alfredo and it was delicious! Of course the jar of alfredo would be a great quick option! I also made the meatballs with some Italian Sausage we had in the freezer. The recipe calls for frozen meatballs so that is also a quick option!


Slow Cooker Enchiladas

3. Crock-Pot Chicken Enchiladas

I am sucker for Mexican food. This is probably the fourth enchilada recipe I have tried and I have loved them all!! The day that I made this recipe I wasn't able to get the crock-pot set up in the morning so I ended up baking the recipe for 45 minutes at 350 degrees and it tasted great!


Slow Cooker Meatball Sub Sandwiches ~ meatballs cook up in the crock pot to top tasty and effortless subs | {Five Heart Home}

4. Meatball Subs

This is one of our ABSOLUTE favorites! I usually use Italian sausage instead of hamburger when I make the meatballs.


chicken enchiladas

5. Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

These were so rich and wonderful! Not too spicy but lots of flavor!

Monday, August 18, 2014

August Awesomeness

There are lots of fun things going on at the Williams' house these days. Here is our August Top 5 List.


5. Running - I have started training for the Des Moines Marathon 5K race. My goal is to run the whole thing. I have made it to week 5 in the training. Tonight I ran 8 minutes and walked 2 minutes 3 times!! I never thought running 8 minutes would be possible back when I was just running 2 minutes BUT it is!! 

I think it my new shoes have really made a difference. This was a big splurge for me but they are amazing! 


4. School - The end of summer has not really been a sad time for me. It was a great summer but I am really excited to get back to school. I feel much more organized and prepared for my second year in the classroom. I am most excited about our new math curriculum, my newly organized classroom library and my fish, Oreo's, new rock/plants in his aquarium.


3. Family Time - We really enjoyed spending a day in Clear Lake with Jeff's family for a day of kayaking, tubing, and boating. It was a blast! We celebrated his niece's birthday and had a yummy grill-out! We also had the pleasure of spending a whole weekend at the Ramada Waterpark in Des Moines with the Menefee family. It was so fun! We even had a SPOONS card tournament. Here I am with my cousin Amanda. She was the winner this year! She will take home the big spoon and decorate it for next year. I think I see Cyclone decorations in its future!!


2. Kitchen Remodel - We have been working on making plans to do some updates on our house. I am most excited about our plans to remodel our kitchen. Here is a sneak peek at what we have been working on...


1. Cup of Faith Study - Over the last 60 days I have been blessed to have 20 women walking with me through an experiment. 

First, I asked these women to answer a simple question daily. "How full is your cup today?" I asked these women to think about their spiritual state for 30 days and respond to a daily survey. 

For the next 30 days they were given a morning devotion to read within one hour of waking (if possible). Each day's devotion included 2 focus points - a question and an action. At the end of the day they would also answer the daily survey again. 

My hope was to see a correlation between their spiritual state and a daily time in the Word. More to come on the findings of that soon! 

Here is a link to the 30 devotions if you would like to go through your own 30 day challenge!


It has been an awesome August!! Here comes fall!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Colorado Vacation

Colorado Vacation 2014

Our vacation started last Monday, July 21st. Jeff didn't have to work so we went uptown Madrid Iowa for breakfast. I had not been to the Town and Country Cafe so it was a treat for me. I had their famous HOBO breakfast - hashbrowns, ham, eggs, peppers, onions, and lots of cheese! Yum!!

 On Wednesday morning we woke up early and made it to the Des Moines Airport for our 6:00 flight to Denver. It was a smooth flight on Frontier. I would highly recommend this airline...we had great flights and each seat had its own TV.

 Since we had sometime to spend in Denver on Wednesday I looked up the best breakfast spot in came across the same name over and over... SNOOZE!

 Snooze is called an AM Eatery. They serve breakfast and lunch and it is delicious! The atmosphere is amazing. We had a 15 minute wait for breakfast...must be the spot to eat! The decor is fifties vintage and we were all in!

 I had an almond latte in the cutest yellow mug!

 We both ordered the pancake flight and were given many choices of types of pancakes to choose from. Mine were (left to right) Blueberry Crisp, Peanut Butter Cup, and Strawberry Malted Pancakes. I think I had a sugar rush just eating half of this plate! I would highly recommend this restaurant! Here is the link to their website

After breakfast we headed towards Estes Park to meet my family for vacation. We stayed at the Silver Moon Inn in Estes Park and it was perfect! The staff even had a surprise for my mom and dad for celebrating their 40th Anniversary!

 Here is the view from our hotel...gorgeous!!

 Much of our week was spent just watching my nieces and nephew explore and enjoy the beauty of Colorado. I loved seeing them experience the mountains for the first time!

 One night we went to a local pizza place called Poppy's Pizza and Grill. This was special for Jeff because he calls his grandpa Burich Poppi!  (Notice my new Snooze shirt) :)

We went up the Trails Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park on Thursday. It was gorgeous!

At the first was so windy!

 We climbed to the highest point on the route...lots of steps but we made it!

 Another day we walked around the most beautiful lake...Bear Lake!

It was a wonderful trip with family!!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My life in photos

It seems like summer is flying by. Here are some photos that show what we have been up to the last few weeks! On my last day of music camp I had a special visitor - my niece Addie! We spent the day together. Our day included lunch at McDonalds, seeing the movie Malificent, and grilling out at home with Jeff that night. We even walked up to the Filling Station (ice cream shop) and had a silly string fight! It was so fun having Addie stay over night. She is such an amazing girl..sweet, smart, funny and truly joyful!! We love you Addie!!

A few weeks later my second niece got to have her Aunt Lisha day. For our day together Lauren and I went to Jordan Creek Mall. We had lunch at the food court, played at the play place, took her bear to Build a Bear to get a bath, and then headed to Scratch. Lulu loved picking out a BIG cupcake to eat! She chose Hot Fudge was delicious!

When we got home we created our own pizzas with Jeff. Lulu loves Jeff and that makes my heart smile! I thought Lauren's smiley face pizza turned out great! (Check out the green hair!!) Lauren is a creative, sweet, smart and kind little girl. I love our conversations we shared as we walked around the mall. That girl is a born shopper!!! We love you Lulu!

The other BIG excitement of our summer has to be our new Traeger Pellet Grill/Smoker! This is Jeff's baby but I am greatly benefiting from it!! Here is a picture of the grill and then a whole chicken we smoked (before and after) with some veggie skewers. Everything he has made has been wonderful!

We spent the 4th of July with Jeff's family! (I didn't take any pictures - gotta work on that) We went to the Slater parade and then to Jeff's sister's house for an amazing cook out!! That evening my parents came over for dinner and a fire! We had a nice relaxing day!

To finish off my latest photo post I want to share my latest Bailey pics! You will never believe how we found her sleeping the other day!! We love her so much!!