Monday, April 28, 2014

Passport to Fun // Mexico City, Mexico

our passport to fun date to Mexico City was this past weekend & this was the easiest one so far! we both love Mexican food so i had a plethora of options! i made my mom's stacked enchiladas for our dinner because it's one of my favorites. i also got some chips, salsa, and guacamole! i served the guacamole in our green grasshopper dish because that's the best way to eat guac! i couldn't find churros so i went with Choco Tacos for dessert! & i also used Beth's sangria recipe for some yummy drinks!

i didn't pick out a movie because i didn't think we would have time for one. but i found sombreros at Wilson's so i got some for us! because it's not a fiesta without sombreros! plus they are just fun! we did have an interesting time trying to take a picture of both of us wearing them though since they are so big! i had to squat so we could both fit in the frame! it was so much fun though & now we've got another one in the books!

Friday, April 25, 2014

why you need to run a 5k

so, i somehow convinced my husband to sign up to run a 5k with me! this is actually something on my 30 by 30 list that i thought i would tackle another year, but there's no time like the present!

if you knew me or my husband in real life, you would probably ask why we are running a 5k because we both don't run or even like running. but i think the fact that we don't like running is one of the best reasons to do it. it will be a lot of fun to train together and i think it's one of those things everyone needs to do at least once!

i know a few pretty awesome bloggers that are runners (The Lady Okie, Not Before My Tea, Sunshine to the Square Inch, and Wonderfully Complex to name a few!) i love reading their posts about running and although i have never particularly liked it, i love reading how passionate they are about it! and i end up dreaming that maybe someday i can love it, too! or maybe not. either way, i've gotta try to find out!

the race is towards the end of June, so we have about 9 weeks to train! 9 weeks is just how long the couch to 5k training program is for, so we'll be using this to help us train! running a race in South Carolina in June sounds miserable, but it's a candlelight run held at night so that is pretty neat!

since this is our first race we really aren't sure what to expect and our main goal is just to finish! we are definitely not going to be the fastest runners and we will probably never run a marathon or anything, but this is something we want to do just to have the experience! i wanted to share some of the reasons of why we decided to run a 5k. some may resonate with you and some may not, but that's okay!

o1 | consistent exercising is easier with a goal. planning to reach a goal is kinda my thing, so having a 5k to train for will be the push i need to get back into exercising regularly.

o2 | we want a healthy lifestyle. we have been working towards healthy eating habits but a healthy lifestyle also includes regular exercise. i think it will be a bonding experience for me and my husband to train for this together! especially because we are both starting at the same place. the same place being that we don't run.

o3 | the registration fee goes to a good cause. our registration fee goes to Shriner's Hospital for Children and we are excited about helping out such a good cause! most races are raising money for something, so find one that you'd love to support and run with the knowledge that you are helping those in need!

o4 | learning to pace. i want to learn to pace myself in all areas of my life. along with learning how to pace myself with running, training for a 5k will help me learn much that i can apply to other areas of my life!

o5 | why not? instead of asking myself why i should run a 5k, i started asking myself why i shouldn't. for some things in life, if there isn't a good reason of why i can't do it, then that is a good enough reason for me of why i should!

have you ever run a 5k? 
how has it helped you in other areas of your life?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

real talk // the idol of love.

this past month, i've been reading Love Idol by Jennifer Dukes Lee - a book about letting go of your need for approval and seeing yourself through God's eyes.

it is not a how-to book or a list of requirements that Christians need to go by. it's a story, Jennifer's story to be exact. and stories, they are powerful. Jennifer tells her story of the love idols that have existed in her life. she tells of how she recognized them as idols and how she is working through tearing these idols down. not only tearing them down, but also replacing them with the Lord. she invites us  to receive the love that is already ours in Christ.

looking back on my own life, there have been love idols that lurked in the shadows. i sought approval from success instead of God. i wouldn't have said that then, but looking back on it - i recognize the idol for what it is.

i wasn't really a kid of many talents. i played sports but i wasn't that great at it, i wasn't artsy even though i wished i could draw & paint, i wasn't a writer who had words just flowing out onto the page, and i wasn't the kid with a thousand friends. but i was good at school and learning. it was one of the few things i felt i could excel in. i would feel so accomplished & inflated when i saw an A or a 4.0 near my name. like even if i had nothing else in the world, i knew i was worthy because i was looking to success for my worth.

and then i graduated. i definitely liked being done with school, but i felt a little lost. i felt like i had nothing to strive towards. there were no more grades to get. no more "well done's" to be written at the top of my papers. i had this sense of not knowing who i was or what i was supposed to do. i was so used to constantly working towards something. sure, planning a wedding then getting married and starting a full time job have been challenges and work. but it's different. i had this sense of not feeling like i was good enough because the A's weren't there to tell me that.

i'm not saying that it's bad to work towards good grades or to feel good that you do well in school. but there is a line that can be crossed just like with anything else. whatever rules our hearts becomes our idol.

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:21

this book reiterated to me that i don't have to constantly perform. i can exchange my own love idols for a performance free life. because God's grace doesn't depend on me. it doesn't depend on my works. it depends on Jesus and Jesus alone.

one huge truth in this book is that i can know that i am in process and wildly adored all at the same time.
to me, this is grace. He loves me because He is love. Jesus's righteousness is counted to me and i am saved by His grace and not my performance. so even though i am in process of being sanctified and made more like Christ in my flesh - He already loves me because of the outcome that Jesus has accomplished! nothing that i do can make Him love me more and nothing that i do can make Him love me less.

a funny thing happens when we look to something or someone other than God to be our god. we are greatly unfulfilled. there is always another grade to get looming over me. there is always another promotion to achieve. in our constant search for acceptance and love - we forget that we already have it. with God... He is enough. i don't have to work to feel fulfilled in Him. He is all-fulfilling. i don't have to perform to feel that He loves me. He already does. the hunger i have for love can only be satisfied in Him.

"define yourself radically as one beloved by God. this is the true self. every other identity is illusion."
Brennan Manning

Tyndale provided me with a complimentary copy of Love Idol in exchange for a review. all opinions are my own.

Monday, April 21, 2014


for frequent highlights, follow me @robina_black

highlights from my week:
- two words: bubble tea. if you've never had it, you need to try it! pronto!

- remember Chris P Bacon the roller pig from my post about bionic pets? well there is a book based on his life so far & we now own it! this is such an amazing little pig & i can't wait to share this story with my kids one day! it even has real life pictures of Chris P in it, too!

- one of my coworkers brought in pure Belgium chocolate last week! i got a cone of hazelnut chocolate & it was delicious!

- friday night, we were getting out of the car to go grocery shopping, and there was a nail in the side of our tire! so we drove to my in laws house to change out our tire in their basement since it was pouring down rain! they were keeping my sister in laws dog so i got to play with him!

-the first sunday gathering of our church plant core group was yesterday, but we weren't able to go. Thomas's cousin accepted Christ the week before & got baptized yesterday, so we went to their church to celebrate with him. we hate that we missed the first service, BUT Thomas has been praying for his cousin for years so we are so happy we were able to support him!

-we went over to Thomas's grandparents for Easter lunch! we were out of town last year for my uncle's funeral and Thomas's cousin actually lives in Germany so he only gets to visit for Easter every other year, so it was fun having the whole family there this year!

you may have missed:

favorite reads:
tracing water droplets | Wonderfully Complex
how was your week?

Friday, April 18, 2014

the local church // church planting

if you've read the love story series, you know that my husband & i met at church four years ago. this community of believers has helped shape who we are individually as well as together. interning with this church was a very pivotal point in my Christian walk. it helped me understand more deeply what a disciple truly is and what life we are called to. it helped me to learn how to study the Bible for myself and taught me the importance of discipling others. it taught me how important community is.

the church we've been a part of for the past four years started out as a church plant. if you're new to the idea of church planting and why it is important, you can read about it here. over the past four years, we've met at about 5 or 6 different buildings. this past year, we merged with another church in the area and now have our own building. we've been growing & it is so amazing to see all the changes this community has been through over the past four years and how far we have come.

and now, our church is planting our first church in the city. our church has a leadership institute residency where they train up men who want to be pastors - it is a 2 year pastoral training where the current pastors mentor, disciple & teach these men in order to raise up leaders within the local church. what i think is really cool about this residency, is that once the leaders start their own church plant, they continue to be mentored for the next year. the two pastors of our church plant have gone through this residency together & are now ready to lead their own church. a kingdom community on mission with God.

the city we are planting this church in is 80% unchurched. this city is also growing fast. there is new industry moving to this part of town & there are 3 universities close by. it is expected to see a 50% population growth in the next 15 years. so there is desperate need of more local churches.

my husband & i have the amazing opportunity to be involved in this church plant. there is a group of about 40 of us who will make up the core group for this new church. this sunday, Easter, will be the first official sunday gathering of our core group. we will meet as a core group until September in order to grow together as a community. then in September we will launch the church publicly.

my job has been extremely busy these past 6 months since i took this new job. because of all the hours i've had to work, we haven't been able to be as involved as we would've liked to. being intentional & serving together is something that our first year of marriage has lacked. however, my job will settle back down in about another month and we are excited for all of the new opportunities we will have to serve & be involved.

it is so exciting to serve together as husband & wife. it brings an added element to our marriage & i am looking forward to how this will stretch & grow our marriage. we are leader apprentices for one of the new small groups at our church. this means that we will learn from & be mentored by the current leaders of our small group. and some day when the group needs to multiply, we will become leaders.

this is a little bit scary for my introverted self, but i do love adventure & this will definitely be that. neither of us are super prepared or super comfortable with things like this. but isn't that where God shines the most? and this is what makes me excited - that we have the opportunity to make much of God with our marriage. that we have the opportunity to glorify him more together than apart. that He works not in spite of our weaknesses, but through our weaknesses.

have you ever heard of church planting? how do you serve in your local church?
for those of you that are married, how do you & your spouse serve together?

Monday, April 14, 2014


for frequent highlights, follow me @robina_black

highlights from my week:
- i love living in the country & all the gorgeous views that come along with it! there is a farm just down the road from us that has such pretty land & livestock!

- we are working on coming up with a plan to prep as many meals as we can for each week. with a busy schedule, it's easy to just pick something up because we don't get home until late and don't feel like cooking. however, our budget & bodies don't like that. so we've started prepping healthy meals for lunch & dinner that we can just grab & go!

- have you ever thought about how small the Bible is in comparison to the magnitude of truth & life that is found in its pages? it's astounding how such a small book has the power to change lives drastically! it's almost like there is something supernatural going on! ;)

- saturday we went to a college campus near our house that has a huge lake with ducks, turtles, and swans. we took some bread and fed the animals and it was fun! we found these pretty ducks and they kinda look like turkeys so we called them turkey ducks!

- our church plant was one small group that was pretty large - so we multiplied into 3 groups this past week. before, the small group was on wednesdays and it was very hard for us to make it with me working over a lot. now that we have 3, there is one that meets on Sunday nights! we had our first Sunday night small group last night & we are excited to get plugged in again!

you may have missed:

favorite reads:
Affirming vs Comparing | Lovely Does It
Through sickness & health | Aslan's Adventure
[this article has a very balanced look at working moms & stay at home moms! as a woman who plans to have a full time job even after we have children, i really appreciated this!]

how was your week?

Friday, April 11, 2014

real talk // the power for marriage

this is an installment of my series on The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller.

catch up on past posts here:
the secret of marriage

let me tell you about this picture. we didn't see each other until i walked down the aisle, but we did take a few fun pictures before the wedding without seeing each other. you can't really tell, but Thomas is actually praying in this picture. we wanted to pray together for our marriage before the ceremony, so we held hands around this corner & he prayed for us. i used this picture for the chapter on the power of marriage because prayer contains so much power!

in Ephesians 5 when Paul is speaking about the roles of husbands and wives... the discussion doesn't start in verse 22.... rather, the discussion on the roles is an add on to the verses about it... particularly verse 18 "be filled with the Spirit" - this filling of the Spirit is what empowers the submission in verse 21.

this Spirit that we are to be filled with.... is "the Spirit of Truth. . . [who] will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that [Jesus] has said to you." (John 14:17,26)  Tim expounds on this by stating, "The Holy Spirit's ministry is to take truths about Jesus and make them clear to our minds and real to our hearts - so real that they console and empower and change us at our very center."

Philippians 2:3 tell us to "count others more significant than yourselves," and this is especially true in a marriage. we are to consider our spouse's needs as more important than our own & that completely changes how we relate to each other. when both spouses are intentionally serving each other with joy, the marriage thrives! however, both spouses must also ALLOW their spouse to serve them. if the husband is constantly serving, but not allowing the wife to serve him, he is denying his wife the opportunity to serve him. i've heard "it's better to give than to receive" my whole life, but it's also important to remember that someone else cannot give to you if you aren't willing to receive. freely give & freely receive.

when we respond to what Jesus has done for us and learn to give love & grace freely because much has been given to us, and when we put the happiness of our spouse ahead of our own... in turn, we will discover our own happiness. the reason for this is that we were created to serve God & others. so when we don't do what we were created for, we end up miserable. Tim states that "when facing any problem in marriage, the first thing you look for at the base of it is, in some measure, self-centeredness and an unwillingness to serve or minister to the other."

when we submit to God and become part of the Kingdom, we have to let go of our independence. likewise, when we get married and are unified, we must let go of our independence. marriage does not work with two "me"s but with one "us".

the reason for much of our self-centeredness is that we have been wounded in the past. when we've been hurt, we tend to dwell on it. the more we dwell on how we've been hurt, the more our focus is shifted onto ourselves, therefore feeding our self-centeredness.

we are the last to see how self absorbed we are. we will see it in our spouse though and tell ourselves that our spouses selfishness is worse than our own. however, we need to see our selfishness as the problem and focus on fixing it more than our spouses. Tim tells us the solution to this - "if two spouses each say, 'I'm going to treat my self-centeredness as the main problem in the marriage,' you have the prospect of a truly great marriage."

how do we create selflessness in our lives? by shifting the focus off of ourselves and off of our spouses... and putting the focus onto Christ. when we realize that our needs are met in Christ, we will not look to our spouse to be our savior. Tim explains why this is important - "Until God has the proper place in my life, i will always be complaining that my spouse is not loving me well enough, not respecting me enough, not supporting me enough." marriage is not meant to complete us. Christ is. 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

farmhouse // the living room

this is my favorite room in our house & i think that's because it's the room that underwent the biggest transformation! Thomas had some very gracious people in his life that gave him a lot of free furniture, so the living room before had a lot of furniture that didn't match. it was kept up nice, but there weren't any colors that "popped" or anything on the walls which made the room just feel "blah".

as a wedding gift, my parents gave us some money towards a couch & we found an awesome sectional for a great deal! we ended up getting the couch months before we got married because we couldn't pass the deal up! as you can see, we also got some artwork & picture frames to hang on the walls which makes the room feel less empty. we got new curtains & new rugs off our registry that changed the entire color scheme of the room & we love it! it feels like the room is so much brighter now! we did also get two new lamps for our wedding, so that may help with the brightness factor!

we also found a great deal on two matching end tables which we have purchased since these photos were taken. also, our reclaimed window coffee table sits where that ottoman is now. 

my after pictures didn't catch the back corner of the room, so here's a before & after of just that section. this picture was taken before i added our wedding shadowbox on the wall behind the chair.

and because i love before & after pictures so much, here's a recap of the entire room! 
just for added emphasis!

in this picture, the room is literally brighter in the after picture! this is also another good before & after point - before i moved in Thomas never used the overhead light! he lit the room only by lamps. it drove me crazy when i would come over & have homework to do. my eyes just don't like no overhead light. Thomas, on the other hand, hates overhead lights and would prefer if the entire house was lit by lamp light. of course, we keep the overhead light off for the most part and especially when we're watching a movie, but when we're working on something that overhead light is on!

do you have any colors that pop in your living room?
which do you prefer: overhead light or lamps?

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

spicy black bean burgers

we have been trying to have a "meat free" dinner once a week just to cut down on meat. one of our favorite vegetarian meals is spicy black bean burgers. my husband doesn't really care for black beans, but he loves these black bean burgers. so that says something. we both like spicy foods so we love the spice that these have. plus, we top our burgers with guacamole and they are so tasty!

Spicy Black Bean Burgers
makes 4

1 (16 oz) can of black beans, drained & rinsed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
small handful of cilantro, chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp onion powder
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons of olive oil
(optional) a few red pepper flakes

1) mash the black beans & mix in the garlic
2) in a separate bowl, combine the egg, cumin, onion powder, chili powder, and cilantro
3) add the mixture to the beans & also add in 1/2 cup of panko crumbs - mix well
4) form 4 patties and coat with the remaining panko crumbs
5) heat oil in a skillet on medium heat and brown patties on both sides
6) serve on a whole wheat bun and top with guacamole

have you ever tried black bean burgers? 

Monday, April 07, 2014


for frequent highlights, follow me @robina_black

highlights from my week:
-i had to work over the weekend & almost every week night! but i am very thankful that i can work the extra hours from home! chai lattes & a cute owl background don't hurt either!
-one night for dinner my husband made us spicy black bean burgers! this is one of my favorite meals & topping it with guac is even better!
-our dog is 100% hound! one morning she caught & killed a mole in our backyard and BROUGHT IT INTO OUR HOUSE! i was the lucky one to find it....
-i recently signed up for a one year subscription to Real Simple magazine! my first issue came this week & i am so in love with this magazine already!

-i worked 61 hours total last week! to say that i was exhausted is the understatement of the century! this saturday my husband & i slept in late, watched movies, and just relaxed! it was so nice & MUCH needed!

-yesterday our church family commissioned our church plant & the 2 pastors! in two weeks, our core group for the church plant will start meeting on sunday mornings together! exciting times!

- ALSO there is still time to enter the conscious box giveaway to get a box full of healthy treats sent straight to your door! :)

favorite reads:
Thankfulness Lately | Rivers & Roads
Etsy Swap Link Up | Taking Steps Home

how was your week?

Thursday, April 03, 2014

etsy swap // spring fever

back in February, Megan from Rivers and Roads & Amy from Taking Steps Home announced Etsy Swap 2014! after participating in #greatChristmas2013 & having so much fun, i just had to join in on the etsy swap fun! it is basically a huge round robin gift exchange - i was assigned a participant & someone else was assigned me! and now it is time for the big reveal!

i was so ecstatic to get Shayla from Little Brave to shop for! i actually just recently "met" her a few months ago & we have a lot of the same tastes! so it was really easy to pick out something for her! the funny thing is that i bought part of her gift & then was looking through her blog & saw the exact same paper straws on her party planning board for Fern's birthday! how perfect is that?!

striped wallet | Elah Tree
be brave card | Rivers & Roads
gold chevron paper straws | Thatch & Thistle
mini travel journal | Happy Dappy Bits

i couldn't have been more excited the day i got home from work to find this package on my porch from Vicky @ lovely. healthy. whole.! there are few things better than coming home to fun mail from new friends!

leather bracelet | Good Works
fabric earrings | The Crafty Foxes
owl magnets | The Owl Shoppe

i love ALL of it! Vicky has got to be the best stalker of all time! :) this box just screams ME! i have seriously been wanting those adorable owl magnets ever since i first discovered The Owl Shoppe & they are now gracing the door of my fridge! i've been wearing the leather bracelet ever since i opened it & i love the way it fits! and the fabric earrings are so cute & match just about any outfit i wear!

did you participate in #etsyswap2014? 
or have you ever participated in a snail mail exchange?

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

project 12 // 03

project 12 was birthed by Amanda at The Lady Okie  & this looked like too much fun not to join in! you take a picture of you & your spouse at the beginning of each month, then you post a short recap of your month. at the end of the year, you have these 12 posts to look back on & remember all the little things that happened throughout your year!

i love this idea so much because this is why i blog! i love looking back on my life & remembering the details. if you missed prior months, you can find them here:  January | February

no travel near or far!

March 2 / we tried a new restaurant - Grill Marks & got some cake pops!
March 8 / played on a playground & swung on the swings
March 22 / passport to fun: Dublin (here) + we rented Frozen!
March 23 / create a craft (here)

March 1 / surprise birthday party for my mother in law
March 8 / church plant small group leaders breakfast & training
March 16 / lunch at my parents for my mom & sisters birthdays

March 13 / played with puppies at the humane society
March 14 / downtown with friends
March 15 / organized our house
March 16 / filed our taxes for the first time as a married couple!
March 22 / played with my mother-in-law and sister-in-laws puppies!

what fun things did you do this past month?!