Sunday, October 2, 2016

On my children's baptism

Thirty years ago, on a Wednesday night, I heard a teacher talk about Jesus and how He died for my sins. I went home that night and asked my mother and she told me what it was all about. That night, in my bedroom, she led both my twin sister and I in the prayer of salvation. The next day our pastor, Brother Gibson, came by to talk to us about it. It did not seem unusual to me at the time. Now, as a mother, I wonder what that conversation was like when she called him up. Did she wonder if she had done it right? Was it a matter of fact conversation? Here's what happened, will you come talk to them? I was baptized on a Sunday morning in August. I wore a red and white dress. I knew what I was doing was a big step but I had no idea how big. I had no idea how that moment would affect, shape, direct my entire life.

Last December I decided to do an Advent Box activity I found online. One of the nights we were talking about Jesus and how He came to die for us and how to we have to pray and accept His free gift. My, then 5 year old, son very matter of factly said "I'm going to do that tonight!" My husband and I just looked at him and said "ok". After more discussion that night, he did pray and ask forgiveness of his sins and asked Jesus to be his savior. He's always been a child that made up his mind about things pretty quickly and knows what he wants to do. We decided to give him some time to think about this and make sure he really understood.

Last month my daughter, who was 9, came to me to talk about salvation. I have been praying for this for several months and had talked to her about it on several occasions. She has to think about things for a while before she can make a decision. She needs to know she understands before she commits. That night she decided it was time to confess her belief in Jesus and accept Him as her Savior. When she told her brother the next day he said, "Yeah, I already did that."

Today, they were both baptized by my husband. Here's why this matters so very much. The water in the baptistery has no special powers. It cannot heal. It cannot save. It cannot make anything better. But it was a symbol. A symbol of dying. A symbol of living. A symbol of the washing away of sin..of things we should not have done or that we should have done but did not. A symbol of forgiveness. Knowing Jesus will change the way they live. It will change the way they view and interact with the world around them. They have no idea how this will change them and change their lives. I don't know either. But I know my story and I know how it changed me. Since they were born I have wanted more than anything for them to know my Jesus. I have looked forward to this moment. My daughter told me not to cry but it was difficult because my emotions often spill out through my eyes. I so look forward to watching these two grow in their relationship with Jesus.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Disaster Relief Day 5: Church Camp for Adults

I've decided disaster relief is like camp for adults. The past 4 nights I slept on an air mattress in a church.  I shared a room with ladies from North Carolina and Virgina. My roomie from Virgina was a new college graduate who had all the entusiasm of a young adult ready to conquer the world.  She came in each day smiling and smelling of a combination of mold and a hard days work. Two of the ladies in my room looked to be in their seventies and spent all day doing laundry.  They were up before anyone else and came back to the room after everyone else. Th 5th lady in my room was probably I her 50's and was an Assessor. She spent all day driving from house to house looking at what needs to be done and reporting back to her crew.

A typical day started around 6 Am when we got up and got dressed and ready for the day. We had a morning meeting at 6:45 with brief instructions for the day followed by breakfast. (There was an entire other crew cooking for the volunteers.) Lunch options were spread out on the table and each person was in charge of packing his/her own brown bag lunch including snacks. We headed out around 7:45 AM. The rest of the day was spent working until around 4PM. There were coolers full of water and Gatorade available all the time. We took a break around 9:30 AM and then lunch was around 11:30

When we got back to the church it was a race to the shower.  This was one time I glad to be a girl because the female showers did not have as long a line as the male showers. The "shower trailer" was a hoarse trailer divided into 6-9 shower stalls each with their own changing area. 

We had dinner at 6 and devotion at 7. By 9:15 most nights we had the lights out. I got about 2 hours more sleep each night than I do at home.  I guess that's the way this was not like camp. Once the lights were out so were we.

One of the cool things about disaster relief is that they send you a state pin from whatever state you have worked in to put on your hat. So all the old guys that have been doing this for years sit around and talk about all the disasters they have worked and compare pins.  

So if you are nostalgic for church camp days but don't want to spend a week keeping up with teenagers volunteer for disaster relief.  It's a lot of work but a load of fun.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Disaster Relief Day 4: Life Lessons

It's been a month since the flooding hit Baton Rouge. Most homes have had some if not all the work done to them.  They may need to be sprayed to kill mold and prevent growth of mold but for the most part the work has been done. The homes that are left belong to people who cannot physically do the work,  the are dependent on other people.  The home we worked in today was a prime example.  We never met the homeowners but we had contact with their adult children. I'm pretty sure they'd had no idea what the home would look like when we were finished.  Our basic job is to clear the entire house so it is empty. Picture all the knick knacks, paper and furniture in your home. Now picture 20 strangers throwing it all into buckets and wheelbarrows and dumping it in a heap on the sidewalk. This was our job.  

I've always looked younger than I am. Which is a blessing when you reach the late 30's. But I've always felt the need to prove to people that I'm not a little girl. I guess some habits die hard.  With the exception of the 11 year old I was the smallest woman on our team.  And I wasn't bigger than her by much! But everybody on the team gave me a chance. I learned how to take about sheetrock and door frames. One big lesson I learned : if you don't know how to get it apart just hit it harder.  I so appreciated all the words of advice. 

One life lesson I have learned over and over is that if you work hard, don't complain and don't give up people will be more willing to help you out along the way.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Disaster Relief Day 3: Jesus loves you down to your studs

We moved to a different house today. The lady who lives there had some family that had emptied most of her house and pulled down half the sheetrock . So we thought there was not much to the beginning.  About 5 of us spent at least 2 hours just pulling nails.  That's 10 man hours just removing nails from studs.  Part of the group removed her crown molding so it can be reused.  So much of the time there's not much that can be saved but we try to help the homeowners when we can.  We spent a total of 8 hours working in this one house today. But now she's ready to rebuild. 

I have learned so much in just two days of working.  Like the best tool to remove a slew of nails is not always a hammer.  Mind blown.  I've learned how to remove sheetrock and feel a certain amount of success when it comes down in big sheets and not little clumps. I have never been very coordinated or strong but I try to take advice and be teachable. And that goes a long way.

The FEMA truck was working on the same street that we were on today.  It has one or two huge bins (depending on the truck) and a monster claw with an operator sitting on up by the bin so he can see what he is doing. We saw them fill 6 of these massive garbage trucks ( for lack of a better comparison) and they barely got 2 blocks done in 8 hours. So if you wonder why the cleanup effort lasts so long it's because the damage is so massive. Entire homes are on the side walk like junk. The claw picked up a couch in one load and dropped it right in. 

The last two days I have helped strip homes down to the studs. I have learned that if there is anything between the mold spray and the wood the spray won't work. The mold will continue to grow. We have found layers and layers of flooring in one house. When everything is stripped away we can see what a home is made of and the true extent of the damage. That's how God sees us.  He sees us down to the bare bones. He knows how deep the hurt and damage goes. He knows how many layers we have piled on top of the damage to try to cover it up. But He also knows that everything must be removed between Him and us. His love does that. His love puts all the damaged stuff on the sidewalk. Not so people can walk by and gawk but so it can be removed. Thrown as far as the east is from the west. If you have never experienced the saving power of Jesus please ask me about it. I will be glad to talk to you about my Jesus anytime. He wants to take all the broken, moldy, smelly things out of your life and build you up again, brand new. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Disaster Relief Day 2: Sledgehammers and Divine Appointments

Today we finished gutting a house. To give you and idea of the amount of work required on this job it took 15-20 people 13 hours to clean out this house.  That's 260 man hours on one project. We were working on a parsonage. Being a youth minister's wife this hit close to home. There were a few momentos that were salvageable but most of it went to the curb. 

Yesterday I joked that I wanted to use the sledgehammer. The guys laughed. But today they gave me a chance. Of course they all stood and laughed because I'm the smallest adult on the team but I kept up. And it was fun.  In fact, I may have found a new calling: demolition. 

We took a break between house #1 and house #2 and stopped at DQ for some ice cream ( I had an ice cream/coffee mix because, well, why not ?). One of the couples with use brought their children along. The van they rode in left to go to another job without them so they rode with us. We were a little cramped. But at DQ we spotted a 4y/o boy waiting for his mom to get off work.  Our crew sat down and start d talking to him.  The kids immediately took up with this boy. One of the guys on our team bought him an ice cream. His mom thought he was bothering us and told him to move but I told her he was fine.  I sat as a bystander to see God allowing us to love on this little boy and as a consequence his mother. There wasn't much time to share Jesus with them but I know when we left that mother knew there was something different about those people in the yellow hats. Those parents followed the leading of the Holy Spirit when they brought their children. And it was no accident that they were left by the van they originally rode in.  God had what I can only describe as a Divine Appointment planned for us today. It was nothing we orchestrated. It was purely His guidance. 

The lesson I learned today: it's important to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit so you do not miss those Divine Appointments. But it's ok to have some fun and even tear stuff up in the process!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Why I'm doing disaster relief

A month ago I watched through social media as Louisiana was hit with terrible flooding.  A friend of mine from college and her family, including 3 children, were stranded on the interstate. When they finally got to safety and then home again to assess the damage it was a mess. I messaged her asking what she needed. Her reply "I just need bodies. We have everything else." My mind reeled.  I had no idea how I could help but I felt such a burning in my heart to do something.  Then our Pastor announced the Oklahoma Disaster Relief was being called out.  Our church would take a crew. And then the kicker. They were letting untrained volunteers go on this trip.  I could barely listen to the rest of the sermon because I knew I wanted to go (sorry Pastor!). As soon as the service was over I looked at Hubby and said "I want to go." Hubby looked at me and said "really?" 

You see I'm a youth pastor's wife. I'm a mom to three terrific kids. I work full time.  I have all these balls I'm juggling so I don't usually get to go on trips.  I stay home and juggle. It has been a decade since I have gone on a mission trip without children.  Which is ironic because it was on a mission trip that God spoke to my heart and called me into ministry. 

So this past weekend I did all the laundry and laid out clothes for the kids all week. Even picture day. Yes, you read that right. Picture Day at school is this week. I helped Hubby think about meals. And this morning at 6:30 AM I loaded into a truck and drove 9 hours to Baton Rouge, La.  

I'm hoping to blog throughout the week about the work here so stay tuned!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

You Might Be The Youth Pastor's Kid If......

1- You know where the church secretary hides all the good snacks.

2- The pastor teaches you to throw rocks at church camp.

3- You're the only one to get 12 hours of sleep at youth camp.

4- You can fall asleep despite the rocking worship band playing.

5- You have "church camp sheets" that only get used once a year.

6- You hear your parents talking about camp and you wonder what cousin you get to spend a week with this year.

7- You are potty trained at youth camp.

8- You're first "real" concert is to see Toby Mac.

9- You can sing along to all the songs on the Christian radio station but have no idea the lyrics to the songs you're friends are singing.

10- You know all the VBS songs weeks before VBS.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

My 20th High School Reunion

I travelled 400 miles to go to my 20th high school reunion this past weekend. 20 years ago I couldn't wait to graduate and move far away from these people. I've been looking forward to going back and reconnecting for weeks.  How time changes things.

This was not just a high school reunion. It was a reunion of my childhood. I grew up in a one redlight town in the 80's and 90's. We had 43 people in our graduating class and most of use had known each other since 1st  grade. We grew up together. We had slumber parties together. These are the people we talked about our first kisses with. We were cheerleaders together and went to band camp together. As a youth minister's wife I spend a lot of time with teenagers. I listen to a LOT of teenage girl drama. This weekend I smiled, hugged and laughed with lots of those who caused MY teenage girl drama.

Time changes things. Marriage, babies, tradegy changes things. I looked around and didn't see an extra 20 pounds here or extra wrinkles under the eyes there.  I saw the bright faced 18 year olds that used to be.  I saw dreams that worked out and some that didn't. We laughed together because the music was too loud and we were "out past our bedtimes".  We stood in the middle of Main Street for our class picture. The same Main Street that we rode down in floats in the Christmas parade and marched down in the Homecoming parade.

I had a terrific time! These were the friends of my youth. They shaped who I was for better or worse and helped to catapult me into the woman I have become.  It was great to catch up.

There was no pretense or pretending or trying to be better than someone else.  I am who I am and that's it. And even though 20 years ago I didn't feel like that was enough this time it was.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Why Legoland is the safest place in Dallas

Two weeks ago when we went to Dallas for a short vacation we spent a morning at Legoland. First up  let me tell you I thought it was a little overpriced. It was $90 when I paid for 4 of us and we probably stayed 3-4 hours. For that much I want something to keep me occupied all day. (To be fair we did not take advantage of the outside water play because I just did not want to take the time to undress and redress 3 children into water gear and then back again)

The two best parts of the place were the 4D movie and the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride.  The laser ride cart was built for 5 ( seriously how many attractions can seat a 5 person family all together and everybody gets their own laser gun?) it was great because the 2 year old could operate his own laser gun and thought he was big. The 4D movie was entertaining and short enough to keep even the 2 year old's attention.

There were lots of places to build Legos and see how they work and lots of already built scenes. One of the places my bigger kids wanted to play was the play land with slides, nets, stairs and giant foam Gate is serious. At the entrance to the play land there was a lady, an employee, standing guard. She made sure each child met the required height and she made sure there was a parent present before a child was released. This was GREAT! I knew my children were going no where until I showed up (I never left I was almost constantly trying to track them through the playland). Then there was the tweenager. The exchange went something like this:

Girl: my mom and dad are over there ( indicates somewhere in the crowd around the corner near the cafe)
Keeper of the Gate ( KG): well I can't let you out if they're not here
Girl: I'm just going to walk over there
KG: I can't let you out if they are not here. Please step to the side to these others can get out.
Girl (stomps to the side, crosses her arms, rolls her eyes): I am not a baby! I am 10 years old!
Me: giggles off to the side
KG: I will call my manager and she will take you to your parents. Please put your arms down to your sides.
Me: Those are my kids.(motions to my kids waiting patiently behind Attitude Girl) And thank you for not letting them out without me here. I know they will not be abducted.
KG: (motions at Ms Attitude) See what I have to deal with here?

Just for the record I did see Ms Attitude with her parents a short while later so she was not trapped forever in the playland. BUT, the rigidity with which the Keeper of the Gate guarded those children ensured safety.

So in the end Legoland may be overpriced but the safety factor is pretty high.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Reasons not to take a 2 year old on vacation.

We just got back from 4 days in Dallas on a short family vacation. On more than one occasion Hubby and I would look at each other and say "I'm never taking a 2 year old on vacation again!" The list of reasons we will not do this goes a little like this... 1. gas station bathrooms 2. ballpark bathrooms 3. waterpark bathrooms 4. ballpark bathrooms... again. And let's not forget the meltdown at The Melting Pot.

On the way to Dallas we stop to get gas and 2 of us needed a potty break. I got back to the van and checked the toddler's diaper and decided to change him in hopes that he would be asleep when we got to the hotel at 10:30 pm (I'll just pause here while you laugh that I can still be so naive after 3 children). My dear 2 year old who is potty training decided he wanted to "peepee on the rocks" aka the parking lot. No big deal right? He's two. Except there is a police officer who just pulled someone over on the other side of the van. Now I don't know if a 2 year old peeing in the parking lot is illegal but I did not want to find out. So we went in the gas station. My son is too short to stand up and pee in the potty so I had to hold him. And figuring out how to aim someone else's pee in the potty...well let's just say it wasn't easy!

Lackluster Potty Training: The Horrors or potty training and the ridiculous hype of speed training.  Being Momma blog.: I really had intended to take a break from potty training while on vacation but my son is just getting the hang of this thing and has discovered if he says he needs to go potty I will drop everything and take him.So when he got bored at the Rangers ballgame (he's 2, his attention span is about 5 minutes and the game lasted 3 hours) he would yell every 5 seconds that he had to go potty. So it went something like this: look in every potty stall and pick the one you want, wait no not that one let's look again, pick the one with the most pee on the seat (probably left from some other toddler who had trouble with aim), cry when mommy cleans pee off the seat because he wanted to clean pee off the seat, refuse to potty because he did not get to clean pee off the seat and sit down in the dirty floor, then, scream and yell when mommy insists on washing his hands because he touched all manner of disgusting things in the bathroom. I convinced Hubby to take him once. Only once. His words "I can't even tell you the disgusting the things he touched and did. I'm never taking him again. Let him pee in the diaper."

Day 2 at the Rangers game he actually went pee in the potty. And I managed to get him to hurry up by promising nachos when he was done. Of course he had to share his nachos with his brother. Which was unacceptable. Cue another meltdown.

meme | Minute For Mom: The Melting Pot Meltdown was one for the record books. We went to the potty 3 times in 2 hours. We walked outside. My food was over cooked because he insisted on sticking cooked food back in the cooking pot. By the time dessert came and he commandeered the strawberries. Our poor waiter brought 2 more bowls of strawberries because as he said "if this will make him happy I will bring strawberries all night long." He and his wife are expecting their first child this fall. Pretty sure my toddler made him question if that was a good idea. Hubby and I  agreed we were not going back to the hotel until the 2 year old was asleep. We would drive around Arlington for an hour if needed. Fortunately he gave in to sleep quickly and we threatened the other two with all manner of bad consequences if they woke the baby. For the love of all things good in the world DO NOT WAKE THE BABY!

And so it's a good thing this kid is our last because we don't want to take a 2 year old on vacation again!

Check back in the next few days and I'll provide reviews of Legoland, the Dallas World Aquarium and Hurricane Harbor.

Friday, June 24, 2016

How I (accidentally) taught my children to pray

I don't remember when my first child began to pray at meals but I remember when we started bed time prayers.  She was almost four and she had stayed with the same sitter since she was 8 weeks old.  We had changed to a daycare and she was having trouble adjusting.  She loved playing with the other kids and learning at class time but nap time was not her favorite. Drop off had become a battle and we had tried everything to get her to stop crying every morning.  One night in a moment of desperation (isn't that how we often come to God) I told her we would pray for God to go with her to daycare so she would not be alone.  After a few days of bedtime prayers the crying stopped.  And a new bedtime routine had begun.  As situations in life came up we would pray about them and slowly added people to our prayer list.  Our 3rd child is beginning to pray at meals and here are a few things I have learned.

  1. Pray in front of your children. Kid watch what you do and they copy what they see.  Our 2 year old has recently started saying "I pay! I pay!" (I pray) at meals. He has watched his brother and sister pray at meals for 2 1/2 years. He knows this is what we do and he wants to participate like any other member of the family.
  2. Keep it simple. We start with "God, thank you for this food. Amen." Or at bedtime "Thank you for this day." These are words toddlers can pronounce and are probably familiar with. It doesn't take much time so you won't lose their attention. As kids get older I try to ask them to think of one thing they are thankful for and to thank God for that person or thing. I hope to instill an attitude of gratefulness. 
  3. Don't force them. We ask " Do you want to pray?" If the answer is " no" it's no big deal. I don't ever want to force my children to pray. 
  4. Praying with your children will change your prayer time. You will find yourself with more things you want to talk to God about and not enough time in the short bedtime prayer time. Plus there are things that you will want to discuss with God that are not appropriate for little ears. Which brings me to...
  5. Keep it age appropriate. When we pray for sick people we discuss basics. Not how serious cancer is or life expectancy. 
  6. Pray for people you know and things that concern your children. Make it personal.  Some days your kids will come up with people they want to pray for on their own. Encourage that. If something or someone has been the subject of your conversation throughout the day pray for that person.  One of my 6 year olds friends had appendicitis and surgery recently. We had been to the hospital to check on him so it made sense to pray for him that night. 
  7. Handling disappointment. I'm not sure if you've experienced this or not but God doesn't answer all my prayers the way I expect. Maybe you are just more in tune with the Holy Spirit and know exactly what you are supposed to be praying for. But in my life things don't always work out the way I expect or sometimes want them to.  So how do you handle this with kids? This is where one of the biggest opportunities to teach your child about trusting God comes into play. We pray and we trust God for the answer. It's not my child's responsibility if things don't work out. (For the record adults, it's not yours either.) 
It's a tough world to raise children who love Jesus.  As parents it's our job to teach them about Jesus and how to pray.  If you have any tips feel free to comment and leave them below!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Broken hearted

As a mother this week my heart has been broken.  As I rocked my son to sleep Monday night I thought of all the parents planning funerals for their 20 something year old children.  Children they rocked and kissed and cuddled as two year olds.  Parents who are trying to remember the smell of their child's hair and the sound of his laugh.

Last night as I fought the bedtime battle (and won for the first time this week) I thought of another set of parents who would give anything for one more bedtime battle.

I can't think on these things too long because it gives me anxiety. I cannot be with my children 24 hours a day.  Even if I could I could not protect them from everything. There are children every day who are diagnosed with cancer and other life threatening illnesses. There is no way to protect them against these things.

In our hyper media driven world, where we see tragedy in real time, that so many people need medication for anxiety. There are days when I wish I had something on hand to take. On those days when a anxiety creeps in and I find it hard to breathe I remember I have a good, loving Father in heaven who loves my babies more than I do. And a Father who loves me just as much. In those moments I pray for peace. Peace for myself, peace for those who are hurting, peace for those who are afraid.

I do not serve a God who is like a fairy in the sky granting wishes.  It doesn't work that way. I have had my share of requests to God answered in a way I did not like. But I pray His will be done in my life. And I pray for the grace to give Him all the praise for everything in my life.

There are still days when I want to buy bubble wrap in bulk and not let my kiddos out of the house. But I take a deep breath and fine a way to send my heart wrapped in the flesh of my babies out the door to live and enjoy life. And I pray again.

Please let me know how I can pray for you and peace in your life.

Don't walk this scary road of motherhood alone.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What I would say to the bride I was

Twelve years ago this week I married my best friend. If I could travel back in time and give the woman I was a few tips to help her along the way what would I say? Nothing.

If I told her how hard it would be to raise kids hundreds of miles from family she might make different choices. Then she would miss some precious friendships. She would miss the blessing of seeing God use His church to be her family. I certainly wouldn't want her to miss that.

If I told her to enjoy her in laws because they would gone too soon she would worry about when it would happen.  That worry would rob her of the joy she would feel watching her father in law hold his first grandson.

If I told her that her first and only daughter would wrap that smiling groom around her little finger before he left the delivery room it would ruin the gender surprise. Plus there are no words to describe to the feeling of watching that father/daughter bond grow.

How do I describe what it's like to watch her groom teach their children to play catch and ride a bike? Or how hard she will laugh the first time he tries to change a diaper (and the second and third time too). Would she be able to understand that the wonder of a new baby doesn't diminish after the first child is born?

If I warned that glowing bride that there would be days when she and that groom were so tired from the work of living and raising babies that they would barely be able to mumble "I love you" before collapsing into exhausted sleep then she might decide not to have those babies. And I certainly
wouldn't want her to miss that.

How would I tell her that she has get through ER visits, traumatic birth experiences and potty training  to get to the fun of family vacations and cheering on kids at tball games? How do I tell her that after the newlywed glow has faded it will be their commitment to each other and the God they serve that will get them through the bad days? How do I tell her that those bad days when they are clinging to each other will be what makes the good days sweeter?

No, I certainly can't tell her any of that. So if I could go back in time and sit in the back row of that church and watch the bride I was marry the man I waited many years to meet what would I do? I would hug her tightly, squeeze her hand and simply whisper "You chose well."

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Whole 30 update

So here we are in June and we finished our whole 30 four months ago. I thought I would give all my eager readers a little update.

1. We still eat eggs for breakfast. One of the biggest changes to our diet came at breakfast. During our Whole 30 experience we cut out all the sugary/bready/carby things at breakfast. This is probably one of the more difficult changes to our diet as it requires more time in the morning but I believe is an important change.

2. Weight loss. Hubby and I have both gained a little of our lost weight back but have kept off over half of what we lost. When the summer is over and we are home more we are hoping to do another Whole 30 so we can lose a little more.

3. Labs. I know a lot of people have expressed to me concern about increased cholesterol since we increased the amount of meat we were eating. Recent labs show that blood sugar levels are lower even 4 months after the Whole 30. Bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride levels both dropped over 20 points. I believe this is related to the decreased in processed food and increase in natural fat we are consuming.

4. Processed food. We still avoid as much processed food as possible. We ran out of our Tessemae salad dressing a few weeks ago and I had a salad slathered in Ranch dressing. I gagged. It was awful! It felt so heavy and thick. We do eat a little bread and we do eat out about twice a week but this is a hug improvement from what we were doing this time last year.

5. Coffee. I know you are all anxious to hear about this one. This is where I have fallen off the wagon. I am back on my coffee creamer...sorry to let you all down. I guess this is how smokers feel. It's a hard addiction to give up. Hubby however has let it go. He still drinks coconut milk in his coffee.

So there's the update. Some successes and some failures. The key, I know, is that if we go back to eating the way we were the weight will come back on. I don't feel as energetic as I did when I was doing the Whole 30 but it's not something we can do 365 days a year and it wasn't designed that way. If you haven't tried it yet give it a go. If you have and fell off the wagon before the 30 days was up get back up and try it again.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

When life catches up to you

Yesterday my middle child, my first son, my rainbow baby graduated from kindergarten. Earlier this year I proudly said I didn't mind my kids growing up.  "I'm enjoying each stage of their little lives!"   "It's fun to watch them grow!" But when the music at graduation started yesterday so did my tears. He was so proud and stood so tall and sang so loud. He said his name clearly and gave the principal a high five and then it was over. He's headed to big school.

I went to work and did sports physicals for the Jr High. The now 5th graders who will be going to 6th grade next year came over for their physicals. Do you know how old these kids were? Eleven. My oldest is 9. Did you do the math there? In 2 years she will be going to Jr High. Wait.  What? Jr High? Not my sweet giggly baby girl. But then I looked at her and realized she's not a baby.

In a discussion yesterday I discovered there are young girls in my midst who do not have a mother to take them shopping for female essentials. Or who recogrnize when it's time to go shopping for them.  When I got home last night I told my husband "if I die before my daughter reaches puberty please don't ignore the signs. Please get my sister or yours to take her shopping."

Then I took my coffee onto the back porch and cried. I cried because I'm so very proud of who my children are and who they are becoming.  I cried because I can't stop time and some days I'm not sure if I want to. I want to enjoy each precious moment and I don't always know how.  But God knows.

After dinner my 2 y/o grabbed me by the hand, drug me into the family room, sat in his favorite chair and said "thit down me". So I did. I snuggled his little body in close to mine.  It wasn't long before the 9 year old was snuggled up with us too. Then my hubby started a video game competition. The 6 year old beat us all once. It ended with kids wrestling on the ground and lots of giggles.  God knew what my mommy heart needed.

Some days I have to clean the house. But someday I choose to play.

Happy Mother's Day to you all!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Rainbown Baby Turns 6

It was my 32nd birthday. David Crowder was playing in the background as I leaned my forehead against the nurse's chest and bowed my back at the CRNA who was sticking a needle in my spine. At that moment I began to sob quietly. Uncontrollable. I'm not sure the poor nurse knew what to do or why I was crying. She didn't know that 2 years before this moment I had discovered I was pregnant and 6 weeks later learned the baby had no heartbeat. This loss was followed 3 months later by another lost pregnancy. I became so obsessed with having another baby I took my temperature religiously every day for 3 months in an effort to know my body's cycle.  (I jokingly say my son is so rigid about things done a certain way because his conception and birth were planned meticulously.) I changed doctors and saw an endocrinologist for a full thyroid work up.

This pregnancy had gone perfectly. And finally after 2 years of waiting it was all over. In a few moments I would look in the face of my new baby. I knew that months of tears, praying, waiting and hoping were coming to an end. I could feel the pages of that chapter of my life closing. The poor nurse patting me on the back had no idea that my tears were tears of relief, joy, sadness, fear and excitement all at once.

That was 6 years ago. Social media has taken to calling these post miscarriage babies "Rainbow Babies". The beautiful result after a storm. I call him a miracle baby. An answered prayer. Grace from God. You see in those dark years of not knowing if I would carry another child in my womb I cried out to God. I came to a place where I simply said "Please teach me the lesson you want me to learn, Father. Show me what you would have me to do." I learned that He is my refuge and my strength.

So on my birthday, 6 years ago, I got what I wanted most in the world. A baby. He was longer and thinner than his sister was a birth and had no hair but I adored him. When they brought him to me to nurse at 2 AM my husband was sleeping quietly in the cot beside my bed. One little light was on over head. The nurse handed him to me wrapped snugly in a blanket and smelling like baby lotion. I wanted that moment to last forever.

My "Rainbow Baby" has had his share of trouble. He has asthma, reflux and allergies. It took us years to figure it out and get it under control. I joke and say he is so rigid about having things done a certain way because his conception and birth were planned meticulously. But he has the best smile. And when he wraps his arms around me and says "I need Mama lovin'" Oh be still my heart. He is such a funny boy. Even his kindergarten teacher has commented that he has a great sense of humor. He is the spitting image of his father when his father was 6. He is a big brother now.

Not a birthday goes by that I don't thank my God for this sweet blessing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

When Satan knows your weakness

I spent this past weekend at a youth retreat at a camp in southeastern OK. Our speaker, Mike Kebone, said something that really stuck with me. "Satan knows your weakness." And he knows how to exploit it.

I hate chaos. Sunday morning chaos is the worst. Sunday morning, post youth retreat exhaustion with a headache chaos...well that's what I dealt with today. Satan know I can't handle the chaos. The dog woke 2 of my 3 children an hour early...after he destroyed the book we had been reading at bedtime and a friend's shoe. Hubby, suffering from the same post youth retreat exhaustion, got up just in time to get dressed and head out the door. I'm trying to cook breakfast while the 9 year old is crying because she is awake (I'm not kidding- we are NOT morning people), the sausage is smoking and grease is popping in the skillet, the 2 year old has undressed himself and is walking in only a diaper around crying about something and the 5 year old is talking non stop. I could feel my heart rate rising and my head begin to pound. In the middle of the swirling chaos I just wanted to call the whole day off. Just go back to bed and forget this morning ever happened.

In that moment Satan had my number. I bet he's had your number too, dear mama. Maybe your husband doesn't go to church with you and getting the kids ready is all your responsibility. Maybe your a single mom who struggles Monday through Friday to get the kids up and dressed and off to school and one more day of chaos is one more than you can handle. Maybe chaos isn't the button Satan pushes to keep you out of church and away from God's people. Maybe it's fatigue or busyness or the mountain of laundry that threatens cause an avalanche in your laundry room.

I took a deep breath and through vision blurred with tears finished breakfast and sat with my kiddos in front of the tv for a few minutes until they were all awake and functional. I pushed through the chaos and managed to get to church mostly on time with 3 kids in tow. Although I was weary and worn I found rest at the feet of Jesus in His House with His People.

I don't know what your weakness is. I don't know how Satan is tempting you but know this my God is stronger. He can and will provide a way out of temptation if you will rely on Him and seek Him. Keep pushing through the chaos.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Hiding from the storm.

"Mommy, aren't you scared?" The question comes at me in the dark from my 8 year old who's green eyes were wide with fear. It was Memorial Day and instead of sitting outside at a barbeque celebrating the beginning of summer I was hiding a storm shelter with 3 kids by myself. All I could think when she asked that question was "No, I'm no scared. I'm mad. I'm angry because this is not what I signed up for." (That was the reply in my head, NOT the one that came out of my mouth) 11 years ago I stood in front of God and family and friends and signed up for a fairy tale. I signed up to be a youth pastors wife. I signed up for beautiful babies and ministry together and days in the sun. I did not sign up for miscarriages, loss of parents and struggles of faith. Yet, here I was sitting in a concrete shelter in the earth while it sounded like Big Foot was thrashing around outside and the whirly thing on top of the shelter spun like a pinwheel. My youth minister husband was taking shelter with some 20 teenagers at a local camp 40 miles away. Early in our ministry together we went everywhere together. Even after our first child I was able to get to camps and retreats without too much trouble. But by the time baby #3 came along my work had changed and getting away became more and more difficult. So that is how I found myself alone in a storm shelter with an 8, 5 and 1 year old.

Then that same beautiful 8 year old asked if we could pray. And so we did. Every 3 minutes for the next hour. We prayed for our safety. We prayed for the safety of Daddy and his students and the workers huddled in bathrooms at camp. In my heart I prayed God would let me see His will in all of this. "For I know the plans I have for you- this is the Lords declaration- plans to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and fine Me when you search for Me with all your heart" Jeremiah 29:11-13.

There was no tornado over us that day. There was only a storm. An hour later we returned to the house to eat supper, watch tv, get baths and head to bed like every other day. So often we cannot see what is going on in the midst of the storm. We can only pray and trust God.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Be Still

I attended the Extraordinary Women's Conference in Tulsa this past weekend. The theme verse was Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God." Almost every speaker stood and talked about how difficult it was for them to "be still".  They talked about struggles in their lives and how they want to control the events and outcomes.

My confession: I'm a control freak who is borderline obsessive. If I get something on my mind I will think and rethink about it until I have examined that topic by every angle. A few years ago after 2 miscarriages I bought a basal body thermometer (BBT) and took my temperature religiously every morning for 3 months. I researched how to use this fertility tool best. I even took it to church camp and slept with it under my pillow so I could check my temp every morning and chart it. I could not control my body but I could figure out how it worked and use that knowledge to my advantage. I knew the exact date my second child was conceived and had a positive pregnancy test just 10 days after conception. More recently our dog died and I became convinced I wanted a Golden Retriever. I have spent hours looking through Humane Society, animal shelter and animal rescue groups websites and Facebook pages. When I get something on my mind I talk it to death. Being still is not an easy task.

I have been praying about a certain issue for over a year. A desire of my heart. Over the past year as I have prayed and read in God's Word I have heard the speaking of the Holy Spirit that I am to do nothing but wait and watch as God works. So I guess God sensed my restless spirit and sent me to a conference where I heard 5 different speakers expound on waiting on God. Five hours. "Be still and know that I am God."

So when it seems as though our world is going crazy- Be still and know that I am God
When we don't know who will be the next leader of our country but all the options are scary- Be still and know that I am God
When we know that God said He would never leave us or forsake us but we feel lonely and scared- Be still and know that I am God.

My God is on His Throne. He is in control. Sometimes he just needs me to sit down and shut up and watch Him work.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Lifestyle changes

Last night Hubby and I got all dressed up for a formal event to benefit a scholarship program for a local college.  I love a night to get dressed up and feel special. Hubby wore the same suit he bought last year. He had no trouble buttoning the collar on his shirt and felt more comfortable than last year. His suit was looser as well. I had fun trying on new dresses because I felt better. We stayed mostly on track with our eating...except the cheesecake! We said no to the dinner rolls but the steak, roasted potatoes, asparagus and carrots were on the healthy side. I think we both cleaned our plates. We had no sweets the month of January and very few sweets this month so we splurged. Hubby got up this morning with a headaches and thinks it was the cheesecake.

We still eat 3 meals a day during the week at home. We ate out for Valentines and eat out for lunch on Sunday but are mostly eating at home. I had a chance to look at what we spent on food the month of January. We actually save several hundred dollars by eating healthy food at home. Our grocery bill was nearly double what we usually spend but because we were not eating out and were not wasting food but eating most of our leftovers we ended up saving money. So yes eating healthy is expensive. Buying fresh food costs more than eating off the dollar menu at a fast food store. But when you add in the cost of regular visits with your health care provider and medication to treat chronic illness it's less expensive to eat at home.

This is a season of Lent. A season to give up something to which we are addicted and focus instead upon Christ and that He should be the Lord of our lives. I cannot say enough what a positive difference this program has made in our lives. So if you are still not sure what you want to give over to God during this season of sacrifice consider doing the Whole 30.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Life After Whole 30

Christmas Day I was helping my sister in law cook Christmas dinner and texting my sister at the same time. My sister said "We should take the girls an American Girl store sometime." And thus began the planning for a girls weekend. There was bargaining over where we would meet because there is no store halfway between us. Then my mother says "You really think this is going to happen?" She's known us (my sisters and I) for over 3 and a half decades you would think she would know by now that a comment like that only makes us  more determined to make it happen. So this past weekend my 9 year old daughter and I flew to Nashville to meet my mother, father, sisters and nieces for a girls weekend. I was way off what has become my regular diet the first day and by the end of the day I bloated and having a lot of abdominal pain. That alone convinced me to try to stick closer to my plan. It's not easy eating out and staying on a strict diet. I ate a lot of grilled chicken and salad. I know the dressing was on the plan but I did not eat as much of it as I once would have. I found some Larabars at Target and packed those for breakfast on the trip home. We stopped at Cracker barrel for lunch and I had grilled fish and sweet potato but had to scoop off the brown sugar.

I got home just in time for our Super Bowl party with the students from church. I ate off plan in a big way Sunday night. Monday morning though I just got back on track with eggs and thin sliced steaks. Lunch was chicken strips, roasted sweet potato and asparagus. I never thought I would be looking forward to my routine lunch but it was so good. This morning I cooked up the rest of the thin sliced steak. We had some for breakfast and saved the rest for lunch.
I put a roast in the crock pot for dinner and covered it with Tessemae's slow roasted garlic and added potatoes. The kids had 2-3 helpings each of the roast so I guess it was good stuff. I also used the Chesapeake Mayo as dip. First time I've had mayo in over a month. I've been a mayo addict longer than I've been a coffee creamer addict!
I gained 1 pound back in my off plan eating over the weekend but Hubby was at home and stayed on target. He's lost almost 20 pounds now. A lot of people have commented about his weight loss.

I did drink some coffee with real creamer and even one Starbucks coffee this past weekend. But Monday morning I went back to my coconut milk and cinnamon. Today is Fat Tuesday. Lent starts tomorrow. A lot of people will give up something for Lent. Sounds like a great time to start your Whole 30 journey!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Whole 30: Reintroduction

Reintroduction is scary. Because the program works well. We eat well. We feel well. We're in a routine. Why change things now? We can continue if we want but that's not the way the program works. Part of the point is to find how certain food affect your body. Being in control of your choices and not letting cravings dictate what you eat and how much of it you eat is a huge gain.

Yesterday morning I got up, pushed the button on my Keurig and grabbed the new container of coffee creamer out of the fridge. Regardless of what the book said about reintroduction I was having creamer! And it was GROSS! The taste was all off. I had 3 cups of coffee with real creamer and today I went back to coconut milk, cinnamon and cocoa. It was much better and less sugar and less calories.

We had edamame at dinner. If you haven't ever tried this green legume you should (after your whole 30). We were introduced to them at a sushi restaurant and the whole family loves them. But by bedtime and again this morning my stomach was hurting. I think it was the coffee creamer but it may have been the edamame.

Tonight I made chili with plantain chips for dinner. It was pretty good. I think I let the plantains sit too long because I read they make better chips if they are green and mine were not. But we ate it. Two different students at church told Hubby he looked thinner. I think that made him feel pretty good.

Friday we get to reintroduce dairy. We'll see how that goes.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Whole 30: Day 30!!!!!!!

This is how I feel right now! We did long as we can last the next 2 hours and 49 minutes. Today our food was mostly just about getting through the day. We had poached eggs and pork chops with greens and cherry tomatoes. I made 4 pork chops at breakfast so lunch was already cooked. We heated up roasted sweet potatoes (I like roasted sweet potato but I'm about sick of it just to be honest) and had salad with our pork chops for lunch. Dinner was baked salmon, asparagus and I made homemade french fries. So that's it. Our last official day. We still have another 10 days of reintroduction and will quite likely do a whole 10 or whole 14 several times in the next few months. 

I've lost a total of 8 pounds this month. And I was not hungry. I realized in October that I needed to lose about 15 pounds. I counted my calories religiously and went to bed hungry for 6 weeks and barely lost 2 pounds. This month we ate. A lot. And the weight was easy to come off. I have not added exercise to my plan yet. Quite honestly I have a stressful job and I come home to 3 kids ages 2-9. I have a hard time figuring out where to fit exercise. This month was about food and it took all my energy to cook 3 meals a day and keep the kitchen somewhat clean.

So a few pieces of advice I would give anyone thinking about taking on the Whole 30:

1. Read the book. Visit the website.- Make sure you have all the information about the how and why. In my experience if you understand why you are doing something it makes it easier to stick to the plan.

2. Get on pinterest and Instagram. - I can't tell you how many recipes I got off Instagram. Don't try to come up with your own food combinations. Thousands of people have done this before you. Take advantage of that.

3. Amazon.- Find the products others are raving about and order them. Our first week was rough because we had not done research on some of these products. Once we broke down and bought them it made things more enjoyable.

4. Have a buddy.- This is not something you can do alone. You need someone to sit down and eat meals with who can make a meal if you are sick or get too busy with other things in life. Accountability is key

5. You can do this.- I live 45 minutes from the nearest Wal-Mart and who knows where the nearest Whole Foods store is located. I work full time and am raising 3 kids. If I can do this so can  you!

PS- I am going to add a little creamer to my coffee tomorrow.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Whole 30: Day 29

This morning I listened to a post on periscope by Melissa Hartwig about the reintroduction phase of the Whole 30. I tried to find it and link it here but with periscope posts are only up for 24 hours so it's gone. I looked for it on YouTube but it's not there yet. However, here is the link to her blog post on about reintroduction. My daughter and I have some plans this weekend for a girls weekend which will leave Hubby and the boys on their own for a few meals. Hubby says "We'll probably get pizza." I said "Do you really want to go back to eating that way?" He replied "No." That really made me think that we need a game plan for the next 2 weeks. The past 29 days have been pretty well laid out. It was easy and not easy all at the same time.

I made a point to read the reintroduction chapter of It Starts With Food. Day 1 we can reintroduce legumes. Hubby doesn't really like peas and lima beans (which I was raised eating and like) but the whole family is a fan of edamame (soybeans in the pod). So I'm thinking that may be our reintroduction day 1. By Thursday or Friday we can add dairy back to our diet. Grains and gluten don't get added back until around day 10. The point is to take a few days and see how certain foods affect our bodies before adding in more food. On periscope Melissa talked about how grains make her feel lethargic and unsociable. So she's aware of how she will feel if she eats too much of one certain type of food.

A few things I think we will continue doing after finishing the Whole 30:

1. Coconut Oil- This oil has less of the bad fat and more of the good fat we need in our diet. It has a mild taste and really doesn't make the food taste all coconutty.

2. Sunbutter- Even our kids like sunbutter without sugar as well as peanut butter. So why eat something with sugar when there is a healthier alternative we like just as well.

3. Tesseme- Why eat salad dressing with fake ingredients and sugar when there are healthier alternatives? We really like the Tesseme dressings and there are lots of options available.

4- Eating a full breakfast and lunch- I have really gotten used to eating a full meal at breakfast and lunch. I don't get starving hungry at 10 AM or 3 PM and have to have a snack. I think I have a clearer mind and better focus when I'm not hungry. I also don't get "Hangry".

5- Clarified butter- Have you ever tried this stuff? So much better than butter or that fake margarine. I love it on my baked potatoes!

6- Avoiding processed food- I've been preaching this for years but until now have not found a way to do it so completely myself.

So tomorrow is the last day. The first week was long and hard. But we've just about done it.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Whole 30: Day 28

One of the things we have given up in the Whole 30 is bread, well any type of grain actually. For years we have been told we need grains at every meal. But if you are looking for fiber there are lots of ways to get fiber without using grains. The Mayo Clinic web page has this chart showing the fiber content of different foods. Cutting out a lot of the food we eat every day has forced us to try new food and in new ways.

I wasn't very hungry this morning when I got up so I had banana and Sunbutter. I think Hubby made himself some eggs. I went for groceries and got back late so lunch was not until 2 and I made chicken on spinach and arugula with avocado, grapes and grape tomatoes. It was beautiful outside today so we cooked dinner on the grill outside. We had grilled chicken and steak and I roasted parsnip fries and asparagus for dinner. The kids had friends over and they even tried the parsnip fries and asparagus. Not sure they cared for it but they tried it.

I wanted to make the breakfast meatloaf I found on Pinterest again. Last time I used some Italian sausage I found but it really called for ground pork and added seasonings. I had looked for ground pork for weeks and could not find it. Earlier this week I asked one of the guys at the local grocery store if he could ground me some pork and he had it done by the time I finished the rest of my shopping. I guess that's the benefit of living in a small town. I've got the breakfast meatloaf in the slow cooker now.

I have been thinking about our reintroduction this next week. I don't want to go back to eating the way we have in the past. My skin looks clearer and I got into some pants today that I haven't been able to wear in several months. So I don't want to go back but I am looking forward to relaxing the rules a little.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Whole 30: Day 27

Friday is Hubby's day off work so I try to let him and the 2 year old sleep in. I get the other 2 kids up and ready for school. Today I made sausage and poached eggs for breakfast. The 9 year old told me she wouldn't mind eating eggs for breakfast every day so she had what I had today. The 5 year old pukes when I feed him eggs but he wanted sausage so I only had to make one breakfast this morning.

I ended up not getting to leave work for lunch. I had some fruit which held me for a little while. Hubby had to come to town at 3 so he brought me a salad with chicken, tomatoes and avocado. Kids wanted chicken nuggets and mac and cheese for dinner. I don't know about anyone else but by Friday evening I am worn out. Pan fried chicken and roasted sweet potatoes have become my quick and easy go to dinner. So while they ate junk I did not.

Not much planned for this weekend. Hoping to get some rest.

Sorry for such a short post tonight. I'll try to have some new information to bring you tomorrow night.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Whole 30: Day 26

So I was getting tired of eggs, sausage and sweet potato for breakfast every morning. I had cooked it about all the ways I could find to cook it. So today I decided to try salmon for breakfast.
I put 4 small pieces in the fridge to thaw last night and cooked all 4 this morning. Hubby helped me make poached eggs and wilted greens. It was really a good filling breakfast. I'm thinking I should have thrown in some avocado as well. We used the other 2 pieces in a salad a lunch. 

One night a month I volunteer as the nurse practitioner at a local free clinic. I knew I did not have time to get home and get dinner before going to the clinic after my full time job so I had an apple and sunbutter to get me by until I could get home. The manager at the free clinic usually makes dinner but since I'm being so particular about what I'm eating I just figured I'd eat when I got home. The manager had heard I was doing the Whole 30 and made a compliant soup with chicken, sweet potato and carrots. It was so good! I have found that people are willing to help if they know what we are doing.

I prepared meatloaf for the kids and Hubby to have for dinner. All Hubby had to do was stick it in the oven. He also cut up a sweet potato (the 9 year old was quick to point out she peeled the sweet potato with the potato peeler) and roasted it with some asparagus. The kids didn't like the meatloaf and I tried it when I got home and probably won't try it again. Kind of a strange flavor.

4 days left! I think we're gonna make it!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Whole 30: Day 25

Today was a little crazy. I overslept by about 30 minutes. I've had this sinus infection for 2 weeks now. Monday I went to see the Dr in our clinic and got a steroid shot and some antibiotics. I took one NyQuil capsule (they come 2 in a pack) last night and apparently slept through the 2 year old falling out of his toddler bed. Fortunately, Hubby heard him and got him back in bed. So I think that was partly why I had trouble getting up. I was tired of sausage and potatoes with my eggs so we had leftover pork chops with wilted greens and poached eggs for breakfast. "It Starts With Food" suggests looking at meals as Meal 1, Meal 2 and Meal 3 instead of breakfast, lunch and dinner so you are not locked into a mindset of what is ok to eat at what time.

For lunch we had salad with chicken, avocado, grape tomato and grapes. I used Tesseme's Southwest Ranch dressing and Hubby had the Cracked Pepper dressing. I compared the calories and the Southwest Ranch has 90 cal per serving and the Cracked Pepper had 100 vs Buttermilk Ranch dressing at 120. Low Fat Ranch dressing has more calories but also more added junk. The list of ingredients for Ranch and Low Fat Ranch is long and includes sugar. The calories from the Tesseme's dressing mostly comes from olive oil.
Avocados have a lot of fat but it is a good fat and helps increase the good fat in your body. The fat also helps keep you full longer. I use a spring mix salad mix. It's a good mix of textures and flavor. The darker greens have more vitamins and are better for you.

My new dishwasher was delivered this afternoon but the install guy did not finish til 4:30. I usually pick the kids up at 3:30 on Wednesday so they can get chores and baths done before church. Since I was running an hour behind I barely got dinner fixed for Hubby and I before heading back to church. We had chicken and roasted sweet potato. Corn dogs were on the menu at church and my kids love them. I like them occasionally as well but I was satisfied with my dinner tonight. The closer we get to the end of this whole 30 journey the more nervous I get. We have worked so hard to get all the junk out of our diet I'm afraid to introduce any of it back in.

5 days to go!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Whole 30: Day 23 & 24

One of the comments I have heard from a lot of people is concern about the amount of fat in our diet. We eat 2 eggs every morning and have sausage with those eggs most mornings. We have been conditioned in the past to look at eggs, sausage and red meat as "bad" food. I have been a little concerned about that as well. But if you look at the fat we have cut out of our diet it evens out. Think about the amount of fat in dairy, bread and processed food that we eat every day. Those foods have been eliminated from our diet therefore, that fat has been eliminated. Next week we finish our Whole 30 so I have been pushing to finish reading "It Starts With Food". At the end of the book there is a reintroduction phase which discusses how to reintroduce the foods that we have eliminated (just as a side note I haven't found where they want me to reintroduce my sugary coffee creamer, huh wonder where that note can be found?). They suggest adding one food group and see how it affects the body so we know what foods make us feel bad and which ones we can tolerate. Added sugar and processed food is not on the reintroduction list.

Yesterday it was potatoes and eggs over easy with wilted greens and grape tomatoes, lunch was chicken breast with roasted asparagus and sweet potatoes, dinner was balsamic chicken again with roasted butternut squash. Hubby was out of town yesterday. He had chicken and veggies from a whole food store for lunch then his sister made him dinner. She called to make sure what she cooked was on his eating plan. It's nice when others in the family take enough care and concern to be supportive of this strict diet. He even did his driving without having to have an energy drink to say awake.

This morning I made eggs with lime, cilantro and mushrooms and added some fruit on the side. The eggs turned out a little mushy but the flavor was good. Lunch was chicken with leftover veggies from yesterday. I made baked pork steak with garlic and rosemary mashed potatoes and parsnips. It was kind of a weird flavor but the 2 year old had 2 helpings. I'm trying to use more spices and different flavor combinations to combat the food fatigue.

One piece of exciting news that I know will thrill all my readers : My new dishwasher comes tomorrow!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Whole 30: Day 22

8 more days of our super strict diet left. We have decided we want to transition into a Paleo diet/lifestyle from here. Paleo supports most of how we have been learning to eat this past month but gives a little more leeway in that you can have honey and maple syrup where on Whole 30 you cannot. I'm not sure if I will go back to my normal coffee creamer or not. I'm sure if I do I won't use near as much of it. I probably needed an intervention on that stuff anyway.

I made poached eggs with sweet potato and fruit for breakfast. The 9 year old ate eggs and potatoes as well and the 2 year old ate most of my blueberries. I put ribs in the crock pot for lunch with Tesseme bbq sauce and we had sweet potatoes and salad with it. For dinner we had leftovers from Friday dinner and today's lunch.

I was talking to a friend today about sticking on our diet while there was pizza and cinnamon rolls available. She asked if I didn't just crave it. It's hard to describe how the craving is different. There is the thought that it would taste good but then there is the decision not to eat it. Instead of a craving driving my food decision it is a choice to eat or not to eat. I am in control of my food choices and that is a good feeling to have.

The dress pants I wore to church today fit better and my jeans were a little loose tonight. I'm not down a pant's size yet but it's nice not to have to suck in the gut and wear a loose shirt to cover up the belly hanging over (come on, admit it, you know what I'm talking about). It's also easier to stick to this plan when the results are obvious.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Whole 30: Day21

We finally ventured out into the world of dining out. Until today we had not eaten anything that I had not cooked in 3 weeks. I lead a high school small group at church on Sunday morning and today was our yearly outing. We had decided to go to Incredible Pizza. Just in case you are wondering, pizza is not on the whole 30 matter how incredible it is. I made a big breakfast because I wasn't sure what we would find that we could eat for lunch. We had breakfast pork chops with fried egg, wilted greens and grape tomato. I use coconut oil for anything I fry or brown in the skillet.

We did find a few things we could eat at Incredible Pizza. Mostly salad and I took my own salad dressing so I knew it was compliant. Hubby put some taco meat on his salad and had some chili. I ate green beans and salad. We saw some ham and asked how it was cooked and sure enough it had brown sugar in it so we passed on the ham.

One of Hubby's friends from college was going to be close to us around dinner time so after we dropped off the high schoolers we picked up our kids and drove over to Chili's for dinner. I had avocado steak with salad for dinner. It had another sauce on it but after asking the waitress I found it had sugar in it so I asked for no sauce. I also requested no cheese or dressing on the salad and pulled out my own dressing. The steak was excellent. Hubby had steak and broccoli.

So we survived our first dining out experience. We are hoping to stay on a Paleo diet when we finish our whole30. Getting some experience asking about how things are cooked was helpful.

Whole 30: Day 20

When I was growing up we spent every Friday nigh at my grandparents' house. We would drop by the house and then rush back to the car and drive the 20 minutes through the country to their house. Twenty- five years ago 20 minutes was a long drive...or so it seemed. Now I live 8 hours from my parents. So we would drive over to my mother's parents' house. Mamaw would cook dinner. Often my favorite salisbury steak with gravy and mashed potatoes. Even when I went away to college every Friday when I was home we went to Mamaw's house. I never realized that the time spent there was probably rejuvenating for my mother. She didn't have to cook dinner and when she tried to clean up Mamaw would often shoo her out of the kitchen and say "I'll have those dishes cleaned up before you get home." And we would sit and talk and watch TV. After working all day I came home to dishes piled in the sick because the dishwasher is still broken. I was exhausted and cooking another Whole 30 dinner was not appealing because I knew it would leave more dishes to clean. I suddenly realized one of the reasons we went to Mamaw's house every Friday...Mama needed a break!

We had leftover breakfast casserole this morning. Hubby made grilled chicken and spinach salad for lunch. We had steak, baked potato and broccoli for dinner. I put balsamic vinegar dressing and red pepper flakes on the broccoli for a little extra flavor. We used clarified butter on the potato and added some green onion.

We are 2/3 of the way done with our Whole 30. Just 10 days left to go but the challenges are not over. Hopefully this weekend we can find time to look at dishwashers. Not an easy feat when even Walmart requires almost an hour drive.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Whole 30: Day 19

Food fatigue is starting to set in a few days early. I'm just tired of cooking. I feel like I cook the same stuff over and over and over again. Eggs, Italian sausage and sweet potatoes are my breakfast staple. And I've done it about every way I possibly can. Today I made poached eggs with Italian sausage and wilted greens (spinach I threw in the skillet after the sausage came out but doesn't "wilted greens" sound fancier?) and grape tomatoes. We cleaned out the fridge for lunch and came up with a sliver of leftover steak, a piece of baked fish and a piece of bbq pork. For veggies we split the last of roasted squash and made a salad. It was healthy, our plates and bellies were full and I did not have to cook an extra meal so we called it good. I made balsalmic chicken with mushrooms and thyme. All the kids loved it and so did Hubby. I might have to try that one again. I made roasted carrot fries which really tasted sweeter than raw carrots and not so carroty. Which is good because none of us really care for carrots that much.

After dinner I discovered our dishwasher is broken. I always turn it on in the morning and when we went to empty it I discovered the dishes were not clean so I turned it back on again. It got stuck with 1 minute left and it was not hot inside and the dishes were still not clean.

12 days to go! We can do this!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Whole 30: Day 18

My word for this year is "Healthy". There are a lot of different ways to get healthy. Physically, mentally, spiritually...the list could go on and on. The first thing we did this year to get healthy had to do with physical health. Tonight I sat in on the preview for Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University at our church. When Hubby and I got married 11 1/2 years ago his best friend gave him a copy of Dave's "Total Money Makeover".  We both had some debt and I had quite a bit in savings. Hubby read the book and said "This is what we need to do." I said "sure, ok". And we focused in on paying off our debt. Within 2 months we had paid off both our vehicles and a small credit card debt. It took us longer to pay off his student loans but we got it done. When I decided to go back to school for my Master's in nursing we decided to do it debt free. I had the option of taking out student loans and then hoping I would get a job with a company that offered loan repayment (incidentally I did get a job that offered that but I didn't need it). My conviction was that I did not need to be indebted to anyone but my God. I wanted to be free to pick up and go if He said move. We have not always followed Dave's principle's to the letter but anytime we do take out a loan we try to pay it off as quickly as possible.

I say all of that to say this. A lot of people are slaves to food. Just as many people are slaves to money, people are slaves to food. We crave it. We think about how good it tastes and how we want certain things to eat.  When we stop eating those things we get headaches and withdrawals. The Bible says we are to worship God alone. Not food. Not money. Not anything else.  These past 18 days I have recognized more when I am hungry and when I am full. I have beat back cravings. And I don't want to go back to being enslaved by those cravings.

Today's eating was just plan old leftovers. But it nourished my body just the same. I made sure the money we spent on food did not go to waste because we ate what was leftover.

What is  your plan to get healthy in 2016?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Whole 30: Day 17

24 hours with our Tesseme dressings and Michael is ready to buy another box because they are that good. Seriously, read the ingredient list. You can pronounce all the names. It's all real stuff!

I made a egg and sweet potato casserole for breakfast. Hubby thought I used too many sweet potatoes and not enough eggs. I like sweet potato more than eggs so I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this one.

For lunch we had leftover salmon on spinach with grape tomatoes and avocado. We used the Southwest Ranch dressing. I was hungry by dinner time so I grabbed a few almonds while I was cooking to tide me over. We had pork loin that marinated in the Tesseme BBQ sauce and I put on the George Foreman grill. I served it with mashed potatoes and salad. We used the Tesseme ranch dressing with the salad (I told you we were in love with these dressings!).

 Not being able to load up the mashed potatoes with butter, milk and sour cream was a bit of a challenge in in the beginning. Tonight I used Trader Joe's clarified butter, along with some coconut milk and to thin it out a little I added some of the chicken stock from the chicken I cooked the crock pot Sunday night. There were no potatoes left. All 3 of the kids had a clean plate after tonight's dinner so I'm gonna call this one a definite win. Now you and I both know I can cook the exact same dinner the exact same way next week and they will refuse to eat it!

Cooking 3 meals a day for 17 days takes a lot of time and leaves a very messy kitchen. After one particularly nasty tantrum from one of our older kids Hubby and I decided their 2 measly chores were not enough. For the past 18 months they have each emptied part of the dishwasher and folded 10 pieces of clothing every day. This was a good start to the chore list but they needed to be doing more. I guess I kind of got into the groove of doing everything for them because they were little. Then one day I looked up and I had a 9 year old. Tonight I branched out and let her cut up the potatoes after I peeled them. I have been very hesitant to give any of my children sharp knives. But she did a good job. The 9 year old and the 5 year old helped mash potatoes and pound out the pork chops. Maybe that's why they ate better because they helped cook it. Who knows. We are learning a lot more than just about food through this 30 day journey!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Whole 30: Day 16

After 2 weeks of virtually no sauces on anything we splurged and bought this set of Tesseme dressings off Amazon. It was $40 for the lot but to finally have some ranch dressing it was worth it. I read the ingredients and it made me feel healthier just reading them. No sugar. In any of them. Fresh ingredients and mostly olive oil.
Tessemae's All Natural Whole30 Pack
We did not get them til lunch so we did not use them on breakfast. I made poached eggs with roasted sweet potato and asparagus. I cut up extra sweet potatoes and asparagus for breakfast and stuck some in the fridge for lunch. When lunch time came around I heated up some of the chicken I made in the crock pot yesterday and added the Southwest Ranch dressing and we had lunch in less than 5 minutes after adding the sweet potato and asparagus. For dinner we had fish. We bought a HUGE thing of fish at Sam's at the beginning of the month. I made salmon and tilapia. I put salt and pepper on all of it then on half of each I added paprika and lemon. On the other half I added lime and cilantro. We had broccoli on the side. Even the picky 5 year old ate the fish and broccoli without arguing tonight.

I plan to use the salmon on a salad for lunch tomorrow. I feel like we are finally getting a groove that does not require cooking every single day for lunch. I was just getting into a groove of cooking enough to feed 5 people without having too much left over. Now we are actually eating our leftovers so I don't feel so bad when I 've got stuff left. My fridge is much cleaner too because we don't have a lot of stuff that we don't eventually eat.

I don't think I'm getting enough sleep. Most parents I talk to say "We're all in the bed by 9:30." Most nights I'm up til almost 11. I've decided I'm doing too much and we've added some chores to the list of things the kids have to do so that is helping. Mostly I just need to turn off the TV and go to bed.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Whole 30: Day 15 Halfway!

When I was growing up we lived 4 hours from our state capital Jackson, MS. Whenever we traveled to Jackson we took the Natchez Trace Parkway. There was really no place to stop for gas or bathroom break until about halfway. We grew up calling it the "Halfway Station".  Today we are at the Halfway Station on our journey through 30 days of no processed food or added sugar. We have found a good groove and have a stock of healthy food with which to cook.

 Time management on Sunday is a big deal and the past few weeks I've been late to church because of the breakfast I cook. This week I ironed clothes for church last night so that made this morning go a little smoother. We had poached eggs with sausage, fried potatoes and cherry tomatoes for breakfast. I intended to make chicken with carrots and potatoes for lunch but I did not get it in the crock pot in time so we had left over chili  and saved the chicken for dinner. The 2 year old ate 3 helpings of carrots. I have a hard time telling any of my children "No" when they ask for more vegetables.

Our 9 year old will try almost anything we cook at least once. The 5 year old starts dinner by saying "I don't want that." He sometimes even says it before he knows what we are having. We eat most dinner/supper at the kitchen table. There are lots of research articles out there proclaiming the benefits of eating dinner at the table as a family. The list of benefits includes lower rates of obesity and lower rates of drug and alcohol abuse. So even if one our children does not want what we are having for dinner everyone sits at the dinner table. Your plate may be empty but you will sit and talk with us. Most of the time our picky eater will choose something to eat. It may take 10 minutes but 90% of the time something ends up on his plate. We gave up making him take one bite of everything a long time ago. If push comes to shove and he just refuses to eat I offer fruit. I do not make a second meal and I do not offer junk food. My kids love dessert but they do not get it after every meal. They also know if they did not eat enough dinner they do not get dessert. If you are still hungry then you need to eat more real food to fill up your belly and not junk. So there is my trick to getting kids to eat healthy. Put it on the table. Eat dinner together. Do not ask them to eat something you won't eat. And it's a lot easier to start these habits when they are young and when you have your spouse on board.

Today I found out that I am officially Board Certified in Advanced Diabetes Management as a Nurse Practitioner. I have been working on this for about 7 months. Going through the Whole 30 makes me think about how I advise my patients with diabetes regarding food.

Also, today walking through church Hubby says "I think you look thinner." I just smiled and said "thank you" but inside I was doing the happy dance.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Whole 30: day 14

Tomorrow marks 2 weeks that we began our Whole 30 adventure and Monday we will be halfway done. One of the things on the "do not eat list" is peanut butter. We tried some almond butter but it was a little grainy and we had trouble finding the sugar free variety locally. I had read some recommendations for Sunbutter 
and we ordered some from Amazon it came in yesterday. Today I had that and apples for breakfast. Michael made sausage and eggs and I ate a little of that but mostly just the apples and Sunbutter. It's made from sunflower seeds and we bought the sugar free variety. It really tastes a lot like peanut butter. It has 2 more grams of fat per serving but half the carbohydrates as regular peanut butter. I figure we will try to switch the kids over to this instead of peanut butter since it is a healthier alternative.

I made chocolate chili for lunch.I could not really taste the chocolate but it was good. Our 9 year old had a bowl of it and started yelling because the 2 year old was eating out of her bowl so I gave him his own bowl of chili. So I figure it's pretty good.

Dinner was nothing special just grilled chicken, sweet potato fries and salad. 

I looked at our grocery spending this month and it was really shocking how much we've spent. But we haven't been eating out and we've eaten most of what we have bought we've had very little that we have thrown away. In the past I've thrown a lot of fresh fruit and veggies away because they went bad before they were used. Looking at what to expect this week we should be having vivid food dreams then experiencing the most energy we will have during the process starting the first of this next week.  So I'll keep you updated. I'm really looking forward to the more energy part!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Whole 30: Day 13 Life Happens

Living Whole 30 in the real world today. Friday is Hubby's day off so I get the two older kids up and ready for school by myself. I made 2 poached eggs and threw some cherry tomatoes on top and grabbed some fruit. I had planned to come home at lunch and bring diced tomatoes so we could get chocolate chili in the crockpot but I had an patient that ended up needing some additional time and care at 11:50 and didn't get to go to lunch til 12:40 so I did not have time to go home for lunch. I had a grilled pork chop I had taken to work a couple of days ago and did not eat so I had that and some more fruit for lunch. We altered our dinner plans and decided to have steak tonight and try chocolate chili tomorrow night.

Tonight we have a house full of 8 and 9 year old girls. They had pizza and cake and ice cream. We did not feel bad missing out on pizza when we had steak, baked potatoes, asparagus and portabella mushrooms. We got some clarified butter from Amazon today.

It worked really well on the potatoes.The first week on Whole 30 we stuck to our meal plan pretty well all week. This week we had to adjust and do some meals on the fly. I feel like we kind of hit our stride with meal planning. We are almost halfway done with our Whole 30. I could see this affecting how we eat for a long time.

Whole 30: Day 12

I'm a little late getting this posted. Yesterday did not go as planned as far as my food. I had planned to have leftover sausage and sweet potato hash I had made Wednesday. When I put it in the fridge there were 2 servings left. I did not know Hubby had eaten one serving Wednesday for lunch. So I told him that was breakfast and he ate the last serving. I discovered this about 5 minutes before I had to walk out the door. So I found some leftover grilled pork and some fruit and that was breakfast. Not really what I wanted but I made it work. My house cleaner was coming around lunch (she comes about every 2 weeks and with 3 kids it's a life saver to have someone else come scrub the toilets and dust and pick up and do the floors...well you get the idea) anyway, I try to stay out of her way so I avoided coming home at lunch. I had leftover squash soup, pork loin from Sunday and green beans. Hubby made a salad of greens, tomato, avocado and bought some shrimp at the store to go on it. Dinner was crazy. My 9 year old is in Girl Scouts and she is presenting a project on cooking Sunday afternoon at their meeting. One of the requirements is to make a full meal. Since we don't have time to make a full meal at Girl Scouts we decided to video ourselves making roasted butternut squash, cracklin' chicken and steamed broccoli. Oh my word! What a fiasco! She picked crazy spices to put on the squash including red pepper. It took forever to get it cut up. I cut my finger with the potato peeler. We finally go the chicken on to cook and I let the first batch cook too long and the skin burned and the smoke alarm went off. Not sure how I'm going to edit that out of the video! It was nearly 7:30 by the time dinner was ready (we try to eat between 6:30 and 7). I was exhausted and my newly cleaned kitchen was a disaster. The video needs some editing but it's done. The boys ate more broccoli than squash which is fine and one we peeled the burned part off the first batch of chicken it tasted fine.

I must add today that I could not do this with out my Hubby. I knew I had to have a partner if I was going to attempt this. It's not really something you can do on your own. Also knowing that I have made this commitment to clean eating public and that other people are watching helps keep me on track too. Accountability is really key.

I ordered some Cacoa powder yesterday.Healthworks Raw Certified Organic Cacao Powder, 1 lb 
I added some to my coffee today cinnamon and coconut milk. It's very dry and kind of bitter so you have to be careful to not add too much but it adds a little flavor.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Whole 30: Day 11 Sick Day Protocol

I feel like my head is so clogged up it is going to pop off. How can your nose be stopped up and run/drip at the same time. If I move too fast I get dizzy. I only worked a half day today and skipped out on church tonight so cooking a full 3 meals today was not what I wanted to do. I wanted soup. I found a butternut squash soup recipe on Pinterest that I made at lunch. I had to use more coconut milk because it seemed really thick. It really seemed to be more like thick chunky potato soup and I was wanting something the consistency of tomato soup. But it worked. I heated that up with some leftover pork from Sunday for dinner. I made Hubby tuna salad with avocado cream instead of mayo and put it on lettuce. It's not my favorite of the meals we've made so far but it works in a pinch. I also made the sweet potato and sausage hash for breakfast that I made last week. I really liked it and tried it again.

Sorry this post is so all over the place tonight. Day 11 has been hard mostly because I'm sick and I want to eat convenient, comfort food when I'm sick. But we have made it through another day despite the sickness. We have a birthday party this weekend and will have to avoid the temptation of cake but I'm hoping to make chocolate chili for our dinner while the kids eat pizza (yes I know I have to eventually start weaning them off the junk too).

One thing that I have noticed doing the Whole 30 is that I spend so much time in the kitchen constantly cooking and cleaning up I feel like I miss out on time with my kids. Maybe that's why people invented convenient food. The goal was to spend more time doing things other than standing in the kitchen. But instead the pendulum has swung the other way and we spend more time staring at the TV shoving food in our mouths instead of spending time in the kitchen together.

I'm going to stop writing now and go take some cold medicine.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Whole 30: Day 10

I woke up this morning and could barely swallow because my throat was so sore. I hang out with sick people all day so I supposed getting a cold in the middle of January was unavoidable. I have not seen any true flu cases yet but I have seen quite a few sick people. I managed to make eggs with red peppers, cilantro and lime for breakfast. All I wanted to do at lunch was curl up under a blanket. I pulled out some left over salmon and put it over a spring mix with tomato, grapes, and avocado. I sprinkled some lemon juice over it and a little vinegar and oil dressing. I prefer my salad with a thick coating of buttermilk ranch but not today. I did, however, eat it curled up under a blanket.
We had grilled pork chops with mashed potatoes and asparagus for dinner. For the mashed potatoes I used coconut milk and homemade chicken broth instead of butter, sour, cream and milk. Even the kids ate it.

The kids are not following our new eating plan but they do eat what we eat at dinner. I don't make a separate meal. I make them a different breakfast but we have been doing that for a while. When we got married we drank a lot of soda and ate whatever we wanted. We had pasta at least once a week and fried rice at least once a week. Several years ago we cut back on the soda and the past 2-3 years we have rarely bought it to keep at home. Our kids like to drink water with flavor and I think it's because we don't buy soda. 2-3 years ago we really tried to start eating healthier and cutting out a lot of fried food and fatty food. We increase eating at home and decreased eating out. We took part in a Diabetes Prevention Program last year where we learned how to count calories and what foods are good and which ones to avoid. Still we had trouble losing weight. I think the 30 day commitment is perfect. It's not a lifetime. It's not forever. There is an end goal. And the rules are clear. It's not even really about weight loss it's about breaking the hold that sugar and processed food has on your mind and body. I like the drastic, jump off a cliff feel to this program. And it's working. I see food differently. I guess I'm becoming the hippie my brother in law labeled me as when we started this program. 

I still can't make homemade mayo. But I'm drinking coffee with coconut milk and cinnamon and  I like it.