this abundant life: best of 2013 {instagram edition}

Here is what 2013 looked like for me as captured by instagram.

I love how I can look back and review the year. See the highlights. Remember how I felt in each season. See how often I took pictures of my food, ha!

The year starts and ends with the gospel for me. I can’t be saved with out it and I can’t live each day without it. Jesus is so good and I need to remember His truth each moment that passes. How can I love if I do not first understand His love?


2013-02-25_1361762734Snow and Jr. High Winter Camp.

2013-04-03_1365024212Lots of working.

2013-05-04_1367627987New blogging adventures.

2013-02-01_1359755775This is my best friend, my love, my one and only.

2013-02-28_1362033585Lucy is growing up beautifully. (Can you tell I just want to squeeze her?)

2013-05-10_1368223254Bret started seminary at Talbot.

2013-02-26_1361842428I made pans and pans of these in 2013.

2013-02-10_1360486613I turned 25.

2013-04-01_1364844845We tried our best at clean eating.

2013-02-03_1359869044We played together.

2013-07-16_1373957653Replanted our pallet garden with succulents (that I can’t kill).

2013-06-04_1370316682Two visits from mom this year!


2013-06-23_1371961221New invention: treat corn.

2013-01-31_1359607297I made apple crisps for dinner guests quite a few times.

2013-05-06_1367866512We bought a Blendtec and made lots of green smoothies. I ironed weekly.

2013-07-13_1373687883Jr. High Ministry in our apartment – going strong.

2013-01-20_1358663168He is my sunny day.

2013-10-16_1381902267Gained new friends and grew in community.

2013-08-01_1375337043We experienced the loss of a dear loved one.

2013-06-22_1371872801We spent more time at the beach than ever before.

2013-07-03_1372836564We drank lots of coffee & tea.

2013-05-13_1368414862My life-long friends blessed me with their love.

2013-06-10_1370823511We learned how to surf.

2013-08-02_1375407827Surfing and beach camping in my new favorite spot.

2013-08-18_1376786366My close friend got married to her one true love.

2013-08-23_1377299725I learned more about photography and had great adventures.

2013-10-05_1381003942We picked apples and learned about fruit.

2013-12-11_1386786993Gracelyn was born. Isn’t she lovely?

2013-12-16_1387174956Christmas Under the Stars with The Fields.

2013-12-27_1388183211This is where we lived.

Instagram makes life’s memories so tangible! AND fun.

What was your favorite memory from 2013?

xo sarah


gospel monday

Gospel Monday


Guest post by my intelligent, handsome, and admirable husband: Bret Theis. 


Christmas is, sadly, behind us now – along with all of its trimmings and traditions.
And the gifts.

Christmas gifts are, simultaneously, the most exciting and most stressful parts of the holiday!

When you’re a child, Christmas gifts are almost entirely one-sided. It’s so much more simple: “what am I going to get for Christmas?”

However, as an adult, you don’t think as much about what you’ll be getting. Instead, you fret about what you’re going to give. The range of emotions is endless!
You can go from excited, to nervous, to stressed, to anxious, to confused, and even to utter apathy! Christmas is just plain different as an adult.

But one thing that surprised me about enjoying Christmas as an adult is how I respond to the gifts I get. I’m assuming you’re like me and there’s at least a handful of things you might want for Christmas. Perhaps a new laptop. Maybe a new car even. Everybody would love a new car!

However, as an adult, when I receive gifts that I need…that’s a completely different experience.

When you’re a child and you receive a gift that you need (socks, a sweater, underwear), it’s an incredibly underwhelming experience. As a kid, socks just aren’t that exciting. Here’s a handy tip: if you want to know if your kid is going to be a good liar, give him socks for Christmas; if he acts excited, don’t trust him.

But as an adult, getting a gift you actually need is something to celebrate over. When you’re older, you have a much better idea about what you actually need versus the meaningless things you want. You have a bit of a better idea of what’s good for you.  Since you’re actually supporting yourself, you know the things you need compared to the luxuries you’d like to have. So when someone helps you out by gifting you with something you actually need…it’s just sweet.

This is what makes Christmas so amazing.

God sees our needs.
God knows our needs.
And, most importantly, life-alteringly, mind-explodingly, reality-bendingly…God has provided for our greatest need in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Fact: Jesus is God.
Chapter 1 of the Gospel of John will fill you in on that reality.

Jesus, God Himself – the eternal Son, condescended Himself and became a human being.
The Timeless One entered into time.
The One who made flesh from the dust of the earth took on flesh Himself.


To give us the greatest gift anyone could ever receive.


Jesus grows up and lives a life of innocent childhood, awkward pubescent teenage years, adolescence, and – finally – adulthood  –  all the while, “he committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22).

  • Jesus was perfectly human and perfectly sinless. Everything we cannot be.
  • Everything Jesus did was pleasing to God the Father. Everything we cannot do.
  • Jesus willingly offered His own perfect life as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of the sins of those who would believe in Him. Everything we need.

Now, Jesus gives the gift of forgiveness of sins, right relationship with God, and eternal life to all those who come to Him by way of repentance from sins and trust in His work of salvation on the cross.

There are some who may tell you that the gift must be “accepted”. Or that you have to “open the gift” for it to “work”. I don’t think that’s true, and here’s why: When you’re an adult, and someone gives you a gift you need, you celebrate!
You tear off the wrapping paper, rip open the box, and cry, “Thank you! I needed this!”

If you don’t think you need Jesus…and, frankly, it doesn’t sound like something you really want…let me encourage you: stop thinking like a child. Grow up and realize your need for Jesus.

He loves you and he’s got a gift with your name on it.

Merry Christmas.

our full life: week fifty-one & fifty-two

OFL 51 & 52

This is it friends! The end of our 52 weeks of 2013.

Some weeks have been hard. Some weeks have been uneventful. Every week included some delicious food and treats. All of these weeks have been a gift from God and full of blessing. I am so grateful for all that Jesus has taught me about Himself, about life, and about myself. I think there will be a lot of new surprises in 2014, but until then I am going to reminisce about all the joy 2013 brought our family.

Enjoy LOTS of pictures in this here post. I guess the holidays give me much more to do and to photograph.

persimmon breadI highly recommend making this Persimmon Bread. The recipe makes 2 loves, so I just halved it. Also, I added dried apricots & chopped pecans and it was excellent!

work coffee timeMost work meetings include going to get coffee. Ahhhh.

blackberry pieLate night baking: homemade blackberry pie.

fast breakfastEating my persimmon bread and drinking some Christmas blend at work.

VG family dateBest donuts ever. So much so, that I served them at our wedding with espresso drinks. They cannot be replaced.

Lucy big girlFamily lunch date! Such a great time with mom, dad, and baby Lu. She is such a big girl now!

breakfast time with bretBreakfast at noon on a Saturday.

making caramel Making Shutterbean’s salted caramels!

prc 2013 Again, and again, again it proves to be the PERFECT ROAST CHICKEN.

Christmas baking ingredients This was one of my most successful nights of baking ever. I mean…caramels, two pies, AND Cornflake Marshmallow Cookies!

baking messIt was also one of the messiest baking nights ever. I totally wore a black shirt and no apron on purpose (not!). SO thankful for my dishwasher.

baking successLookie here! Lemon Pie & Apple Pie. Baking perfection.

Christmas EveChristmas Eve Candlelight Services were beautiful. Thank you to my husband for leading us in song and worship to the Lord. Thank you to The Fields for being our church and blessing.

Christmas decor Christmas decor. Berries and foliage from dad’s yard.

stockings hungI’m just like a kid on Christmas morning. Just (not so patiently) waiting for my husband to get out of bed so we can open gifts!

Christmas breakfastChristmas morning breakfast. Cinnamon raisin bread made with love by our dear friend/mentor. Not pictured: cheesy scrambled eggs and sausage links.

holiday dessertsChristmas desserts at Granny’s.

CA winter Winter in Southern California is too good.

ice cream break YUM. It’s ice cream time.

granny timeTreats and coffee with my family and my beautiful Granny.

vacation sunsetThis reminds me of our honeymoon in Hawaii. Someday we will make it back there. Until then, our Carlsbad Coast is incredibly sufficient.

driving mrs. theis I love when Bret and I are driving together. Anywhere and anytime.

stir fryWe must eat our veggies after all the Christmas food gorging.

Thanks for reading friends! Happy New Year!

xo sarah

this abundant list

TAL 51

  1. Still looking for those last minute gifts for the baker in your life?
  2. Christmas photos done so beautifully.
  3. What does your routine look like?
  4. Snacking like a champ.
  5. Some incredible combinations going on with this sandwich. YUM.
  6. Great encouragement and truth found in the latest Darling Series.
  7. Such a great gift-tag idea for an instagram junkie like me.
  8. And a great gift-wrap idea. Just gotta find some red & green post-its…
  9. The awesome truth about Santa!
  10. ALL!
  11. Making these cookies tonight while we watch ELF and wrap presents.
  12. An oh so sweet holiday garland for the whole family.
  13. Longing for summer time with this sweet drink.

xo sarah

pumpkin spice ice cream


Ice cream. It’s what’s for dinner. Well, not really. But I am an adult…I could totally have ice cream for dinner if I really wanted to. But then I would ruin my appetite for sweet potato tacos, roast chicken, and an incredible arugula salad.

Now that I am sufficiently hungry…let’s talk about this RICH and CREAMY Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream. It has the finest ingredients, the perfect pairing of spicy sweetness, and just a little something special at the end.

Ever heard of the term Mis-en-place? It’s a planner’s heaven and baker’s best friend. Basically, it is a gathering and prepping of all your ingredients ahead of time. A helpful way to stay organized and make sure you have everything you need.

That being said:


Mis-en-place, like a boss.

You know who else does things like a boss? Williams-Sonoma. I can always look to them for a great recipe to jump off from and adapt. Here we go!


  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (I used canned)
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream (I used Horizon brand)
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmieg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Ice water/ice cubes (for setting)
  • 1 Tbsp. Hennessy Cognac (yup)



  1. In a medium-sized tupperware, whisk together the pumpkin puree and vanilla extract. Seal your tupperware and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 1 day.
  2. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups of the cream and 1/2 cup of the brown sugar and cook over medium heat. Cook until you can see bubbles forming around the edges of the pan (no more than 5 minutes).
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the 5 egg yolks, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, the remaining 1/2 cup cream and the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar until well combined/sugar dissolves.
  4. Next, remove the cream mixture from the heat. Slowly whisk about 1/3 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour the egg mixture back into the sauce pan.
  5. Cook over medium heat, keeping the custard at a low simmer and stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. The mixture should turn into a custard that will be thick enough to coat the back of your wooden spoon. this will be the sign that it is ready and should take no more that 5 minutes (Do not allow the custard to boil).
  6. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice water and ice cubes. Strain your custard through a fine-mesh strainer and into a medium-sized bowl. Place that bowl into the bowl filled with ice water. This allows the custard to set and cool. Then, after a few minutes, whisk the pumpkin mixture into the custard.
  7. Cover your pumpkin custard with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on to the surface of the custard. This prevents a skin from forming on the top while chilling. Refrigerate the pumpkin custard at least 3 hours or up to 1 day.
  8. Transfer the pumpkin custard to an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  9. Add the Cognac during the very last minute of churning. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe sealed container. Freeze for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, (if you can wait that long) before serving.
  10. Makes about 1 quart. ENJOY!!!


I brought a quart of this Pumpkin Spice and some Apple Spice to Community Group and they were both devoured. Noted: this recipe is a definite crowd pleaser!

What ice cream recipe would you like to see from me next?

xo sarah

our full life: week fifty

OFL 50Week fifty! Wow. This year is quickly coming to a close.

One thing is for sure: week fifty did not end up how I thought it would. For one thing, I had the most relaxing date night with my babe (we haven’t had one in a while) complete with movies, dinner, and my favorite salted caramel gelato. The other thing I didn’t expect to see…was my best friend giving birth. Yup, that happened. Like, REALLY happened. Keep reading.

hards days workThis is the view from my desk. Late afternoon gets really dreamy.

sunset wonderThen I leave work for the day…and this is what I walk out the door to see. Gorgeous.

GMC 2Best part of my week, month, and maybe year: I got to experience my best girlfriend give birth to her beautiful baby daughter. It was intense, stressful, beautiful, amazing, scary, and lovely all at the same time. I was honored to be in the room with you Jocelyn. You are stronger then I ever knew and I love you.

GMC 1Gracelyn Mina born 12-10-13.

GMC 3God richly blesses all His children.

CC job450 Christmas cards to be labeled, stuffed, licked and stamped. It’s why they pay me the big bucks (I’m kidding).

date night decBenihana date night. Always ask for a side of diablo sauce. Trust me on this.

tree decorOur tree makes me happy. We kept it simpler this year and I like it so much better.

CUS 3Christmas Under the Stars. It’s definitely our new favorite Christmas tradition. Plus, I love getting to hear my hubby sing and lead music!

Thank you for reading friends. Thank you so much!

xo sarah

gospel monday

Good morning friends. I hope the day the Lord has made is finding you blessed and with much joy!

Gospel Monday

Today, I wanted to share about an incredible experience I had last night. Every year our church plans a night of signing Christmas carols, reading the Christmas story, and eating lots of cookies & hot cocoa in the park. It’s called Christmas Under the Stars.

I never knew that when I showed up to the event three years ago, it would become my absolute favorite Christmas tradition. There is just something so special about bundling up, gathering together, and proclaiming the true meaning of Christmas under thousands of white twinkling lights.


Hopefully this picture can somewhat display how incredibly lovely the night is. It was such a cool experience to hear the train go by behind us and sing songs of truth with our community. Last night, we remembered that it’s a blessing to give gifts at Christmas – especially in light of the fact the Jesus is the greatest gift of all.

God sent His only Son to be born of of virgin and she was to name him Jesus. Jesus, being fully God and fully human, lived a sinless life to one day die. He died for a very real and specific purpose: to save His people from their sins. He bore the shame of the cross and died a horrific death so that we would no longer perish, but inherit reconciliation, righteousness, and eternal life with God (John 3:16).


There was a song last night that really reminded me of God’s perfect plan and why we celebrate Christmas. We all probably know it; it’s called Oh Holy Night. This is my favorite part of the song:

Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Chains He shall break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name

Christ is the Lord! Oh praise His name forever! His power and glory forevermore proclaim.

Merry Christmas friends! I hope you can celebrate Christ this beautiful season!

What is your favorite way to celebrate Christmas?

xo sarah

our full life: week forty-eight & forty-nine

Usually when I have to blog two “full” weeks at the same time, it means that I/we have been extremely busy. I would say that is partially true.

The other reason I haven’t blogged very regularly recently, is that I have felt a little discouraged. Sometimes it feels like I have nothing to say, nothing new to report, and nothing trendy or exciting to blow your socks off with.

However, I am so blessed to be posting this blog right now. I just spent the last twenty minutes replying to comments that I have received from some of my readers. I had not replied to them in a while, and I do apologize. I should have read them sooner! So many sweet readers encouraging me, complimenting, and asking for more. WHAT?! I was blown away and reminded of my goal in having a blog in the first place: to share my calling, to proclaim the gospel, and to live life abundantly! I love my readers, and I am so happy to be sharing once again.

OFL 48 & 49

pumpkin ice cream 1I made pumpkin ice cream recently. Recipe will be going up soon – just in time for Christmas.

selfie morningTuesday morning selfie. No make-up and a pretty dress. About to head in to work.

off work skyIt’s getting darker earlier which is always hard for me. However, getting to see the sunset everyday when I’m leaving work is pretty amazing. You can see the moon and a star in this one!

thanksgiving treatsMy co-worker brought some delicious homemade/from scratch chocolate peanut butter salted caramel cupcakes to work. What is she trying to do to me?

work lullWork lull selfie. Loving the high-bun lately. Painted my nails neon orange/pink and started counting down the days until summer again.

ELF gameThis is me setting up a Jr. High Christmas party game called ELF. Do you remember an Elf’s main food groups? Well the Jr. Highers had to chug them one-by-one.

in progress decoratingDecorating in progress. Charlie Brown Christmas is playing in the background.

christmas tree decoratingHe makes it all so good.

staff partyLet’s just say, my staff Christmas party beat all years past.

Hope you enjoyed seeing some of our life in pictures. I would love to hear what you have been up to lately! Make sure you enjoy the Christmas season for all it has to offer.

xo sarah