9.21.2015

Journey

10 years ago Matt & I started dating. 10 years ago Journey Church was established.  I always thought this was the coolest thing...but it's really not a coincidence. It's the plan God had for us all along. This post isn't about us though...

Over the past few weeks our church, Journey Church, has been celebrating our 10th anniversary. Our Sunday services have been full of laughter, memories, looking ahead, and LOTS of tears. I can't help but to think "what if.." What if God had not brought us to meet our friends Pam & Daniel Gardner through Camp Caswell? What if we had not had said "yes" to visiting with them the week after our wedding? We have been forever changed because we chose very early on in our marriage to make Journey a part of our lives. This post isn't about Journey either...it's about Jesus and how He has been so good to us and to our church.  I am blown away by His faithfulness and goodness...



Matt & I both grew up in Southern Baptist churches. We knew about the Gospel and both accepted Jesus as our Savior early in life. However, it wasn't until we were older that we learned about what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus. It wasn't until attending Journey that we actually learned how to live it out.

We started out as volunteers on Sundays at Journey...Matt served on the tech team and I served with elementary kids. We never in a million years thought that within a year of attending Journey, Matt would be asked to join the staff as the tech director...which is something he always dreamed of doing, but was never sure how it would happen.

When I took a break from teaching, or what I thought was a forever break from teaching....ha, I never thought I would serve on staff for two years. I loved every minute of what I did at Journey and God taught me a lot about himself and who I am in Him...it was not just a coincidence that they had an opening for this job when they did. I thought I was going to quit teaching and become a stay at home mom. Within 6 months of Laney being born, Matt and I knew that staying at home wasn't an option for me. I was bored and we needed the money. In a random parking lot conversation with my friend Lisa, I learned that they were interested in me working on their team. Before I knew it, I was working as an administrative assistant to the next steps team. In the two years that I worked at Journey, God reminded me that He had given me a passion for students and for teaching. As much as I would have loved to stay in my comfortable position at Journey, I knew I had to get back to the classroom. Now I get to work with girls every day and allow Him to be His hands and feet through me.

Not only have both Matt & I been impacted by what God's doing through Journey, we've been able to begin raising both of our children there. Both Laney and Ben LOVE going to Journey on Sunday mornings and are learning that God loves them and He wants to be their friend forever.

I have never been a part of a church that cares so deeply about sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with people. It's not about Journey, or about how big Journey gets, or even about how many people come to know Jesus at Journey on a Sunday morning. Journey is and has always been about reaching a city for the sake of Jesus and about reaching the world for the sake of Jesus. I could write all day about the countless stories of God's faithfulness and how He has used Journey to bring people closer to him...from Africa to South America, to right here in our city God is at work.

Matt & I are forever grateful that we get to be a part of a ministry that is not about themselves or about their own agenda. We are grateful for the leadership and that they aren't scared to make changes when necessary and speak truth into our lives. You guys are like family to us and have impacted our lives, our marriage, and our family in so many ways. We are humbled that God would chose us to be where we are and doing what we are doing, for His sake, in our city.

I know that our lives would be completely different from where we are now had we not have said "yes" to Jesus 7 years ago. I cannot wait to see what God is going to do in our city over the next 10 years at Journey and I am excited to be a part of it!


8.30.2015

Meal Planning for the Keith's

I feel almost kind of silly sitting down to write a new post. It's been quite a while since I've kept up with this little ole' blog of mine...I do wish I had more time to write, but more important things call these days...



I did want to take a minute to share how I've been planning meals for my family lately. It's really nothing genius...just something that needed to be done for several reasons...
1. We have a grocery budget and we need to stick to it.
2. We have a restaurant budget and we can't be lazy with it...if I don't plan meals, it's easier to come home on those days that are rough and just not feel like figuring out what to eat for dinner...then Matt feels bad for me, and we end up at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Before we know it, we've spent way too much money eating out. Plus, I'd much rather feed my family a home cooked meal than go through the drive through or take my 3 and 4 year olds out for dinner.
3. I really wanted to make sure that I'm feeding my family healthy meals...

So last school year I dappled with the idea of doing freezer meals at the beginning of the month, and I did do it a few months, but was never super successful with it. I'm certainly not a "pro" at it, but I successfully plan and make 14 crockpot freezer meals for August. I actually took it a step further and planned all of our dinner meals for the month. Yep...I used my planner and planned out our menu for the week.

Then each week when I went to the grocery store, I only had to buy a few things (breakfast items, fresh veggies & fruits, etc.) And the best part...I was able to stick to our $400 grocery budget!

So many people have asked what I do...and it's really not that hard. I sat down and made a list of things my family likes to eat, plus I searched Pinterest for ideas. Then, I packaged all of the ingredients in labeled ziplock bags. On the day we are going to have the meal, I take it out of the freezer, empty the frozen ingredients into my crockpot, and set the timer (generally for about 8 hours on low).  I'm still tweaking a few meals and the times that they need to cook... When I get home from work,  if there are any sides that need to be fixed, I make them (and my kids help me...maybe I'll write a post about that later).

Here's a list of the freezer meals I made for August and a couple of the recipes I used:

1. Jumbalya
2. Creamy Italian Chicken
3. Homemade Spaghetti Sauce (Not a crockpot meal, but I freeze it and set it out the day we're going to eat it to unthaw and warm it up on the stove in less than 5 minutes while the noodles boil.)
4. Italian Chicken
5. Teriakyi Chicken
6. Beef Stroganoff
7. BBQ Chicken
8. Hamburgers (Not a crockpot meal, but Matt can throw them on the grill and cook them quickly.)
9. Cilantro Lime Chicken
10. Chicken Tacos (I just freeze the chicken, tacos seasoning & water...then I just put it in the crockpot for 8 hours on low.)
11. Salmon (Not a crockpot meal, but again, another easy thing to throw on the grill.)
12. Southwest Chicken Wraps (I make the chicken and stuff the wraps before we eat.)

We eat a lot of Mexican...at least once a week, and obviously a lot of chicken. There are other meals I make (Roast, Soups, Chili, Stuffed Potatoes...I'll post those recipes another time.)

It takes me about 2 hours to prep everything, an hour and a half if Laney & Ben aren't running around. Once I've prepped the meals, I sit down with my calendar and plan out when we are going to eat the crockpot meals (usually nights when we have something going on or if I know Matt has to get the kids because I have to work late at school). Then, I fill in the other days with meals that are easy to prep on school nights and save the longer prep meals for the weekends. I also make 1 night a week "leftovers night," because Matt has band rehearsal on Thursday nights. The kids and I enjoy a movie and eat leftovers on Thursday...it also helps us clean out the fridge without wasting food.

Anyways, there ya go...my little "secret" to cooking for my family every night while working a crazy teaching job. This also allows me the ability to spend some time with my kids because I'm not slaving away in the kitchen every afternoon.

I also make mason jar salads and do some other food prep...more on that another time. For now, it's time to go play bouncy ball with Laney! :)

Happy Sunday friends!

2.22.2015

Tiberius

I had planned to be able to blog everyday, but the internet connection here in Tiberius isn't great, and uploading pictures to my blog hasn't been very successful. Instagram & Facebook posts will have to do for now...

Maybe I can try again when we get to Jerusalem at a different hotel.


2.20.2015

Day 1: Tel Aviv

We finally made it to Tel Aviv about 3:00 pm this afternoon, 8:00 am North Carolina time. I don't have much to write about today, as we came straight to our hotel, rested, had dinner, and are about to go to bed. We'll be up bright and early tomorrow for a full day. 

I did promise a post though, so below is a picture of Tel Aviv (the capital of Israel) from our plane, and the Mediterranean Sea (taken from our hotel room). The weather here is rainy and about 55°. It's so crazy to think that I am on the same ground that our Savior once walked, much to take in and see over the next few days. 


Tomorrow we'll visit Caesarea & Megiddo, stay tuned! 

2.19.2015

Israel 2015

It's been a while since I've written anything on my blog, but I wanted to be able to post updates and share our experience with friends and family while we're in Israel. I don't know how frequently I'll be able to post, but blogging is relaxing for me and I promised my students I would be blogging for them, so I hope to share a lot while we're there.



A little back story...I never in a million years could have dreamed that we would have been given this opportunity to travel to Israel. When I was a little girl my grandparents shared pictures and stories of the many times they had traveled to the Holy Land, and I always dreamed about how awesome it would be to get to walk the lands that Jesus once lived. Back in September Matt took a trip to Israel to film a sermon series on the life of Jesus (you can check that out here...). When he returned we were presented with the opportunity to go together. We prayed about it, and knew that if we were going, the pieces would have to fall together quickly...place for our kids to stay, the okay from my principal, the funds to go, etc. Within about 3 days, everything came together and we knew that this was the right time for us to go! As I write, we are getting ready to leave. I still cannot believe that we are going to Israel! I know that this will be a life changing trip, and that it will be more than just a trip to another country. I know that I am about to experience just a glimpse of the things we read about in the Bible, and that the Holy Spirit is going to do things in me that I cannot even fathom while we are there. I cannot wait, and I cannot wait to share this experience with you!

Below is our itinerary for the trip...

Thursday, Feb. 19th- Travel Day!  (It's a 11 hour flight from Philadelphia, PA!)

Friday, Feb. 20th- Arrive in Tel Aviv Israel

Saturday, Feb. 21st- Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Ceasarea, Mt. Carmel, Megiddo
(Visit a monastery, Roman Theater, Aqueducts)

Sunday, Feb. 22nd- Cana, Nazareth(Visit a synagogue, several sites important to Christianity)

Monday, Feb 23rd- Tiberius, Capernaum, Banias 
(Tour of Tiberius, Boat ride on Sea of Galilee, Synagogue, Church, Golan Heights, Caesarea Philippi)

Tuesday, Feb 24th- Jericho - Bethany
(Monastery, Abraham's Tent & Camel Ride

Wednesday, Feb 25th- Dead Sea - Masada
(Dead Sea, Qurman Caves, Visit Jewish war sites, King Herod's Palace, Synagogue)

Thursday, Feb 26th- Jerusalem – Old City 
(Mt. of Olives, Eastern Gate, Garden of Gethsemane, City of David, Western Wall, Dome of the Rock/Temple Mount, Via Dolorosa, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Greek Orthodox of Patriarchate, Church of St. Peter)
 
Friday, Feb 27- Bethlehem - Jerusalem – New City 
(Rachel's Tomb, Church of the Nativity, Israel Museum, Garden Tomb)

Saturday, Feb 28  Return home!  (13 hours to the US)