Live Free, Love Others, Be Fruitful

Learning to be Bold & Brave

Galatians 5 – Christ Has Set Us Free! (ESV)

“For freedom in Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

I’m about to get really honest with you all right now. Writing is my chosen form of therapy, after all.

One of the themes of my adult life that I strive for has been to live freely in Christ. Along with Jesus up on that cross also went MY sins. There is no reason for me to live in the shadow of sin so long as I am in Christ. Whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.

Fear. It’s a crippling thing, really. It’s handicapped a lot of my adult life, in fact. Most people who know me probably wouldn’t guess that, though. I’m relatively outgoing, outspoken, and yet introverted all at the same time. If I had to guess the reason for fear & anxiety it would be some mixture of dealing with a parent with addiction, loss of a parent, loss of loved ones in general, low self-esteem, to name a few. I’ve had multiple chances to do well with various endeavors yet either failed to fly, wouldn’t jump, or self sabotaged. I’ve spent a lot of time healing and learning healthier coping mechanisms. F.E.A.R. It’s crippling. I wasn’t willing to bet on myself for too long.

Fear of failure can debilitate you, like it did me. When I commit to something, I am usually all in and going to try my hardest to perfect it. Yet for so many years, I battled fear and anxiety. This is why the idea of “living freely” in Christ has meant so much to me. Jesus knows me, he loves me, and he cares for me. He died so that I may have a life worth living.

Obviously, I haven’t conquered all my fears. I am still humbly asking for God’s guidance with this daily, and probably always will. I write this from a place of humility, wanting to walk alongside others struggling, too. But God is SO GOOD and so lovingly reminds me to “live freely”, on occasions when I need it most. A Pastor will give a sermon about it, I’ll hear a song on the radio, or like today, when I really needed it, I’ll be led to read Galatians 5. “Christ has set us Free, stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” Here, it talks about legalism going on in that time in history and how Christ has freed them from the laws to prove their faith. Instead, all we need to do is believe and trust in Jesus as our Savior to be saved. Today, these verses tell me to be free from my sin, fear, and anxiety to trust that God will lead me well if I let him. Jesus has set me free and I can feel safe being bold and brave so long as I am walking hand in hand with Christ, being led by the Spirit.

“What is important is faith expressing itself in love.” Galatians 5:6

As I keep walking as Christian, a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, and a woman, I pray that I have the strength in Christ to drive out fear and live boldly!

Jesus has changed my life and the idea of living freely in Christ means I will be betting on myself again. I’ll be betting on my success because Jesus CAN and will heal my tendency toward fear and anxiety. I want to be a shining example of strength for my daughter.

This year I will be jumping OUT of my comfort zone, in faith, that God will help land me on my feet. What are you doing to get out of your comfort zone and what is your source of strength? I would love to hear about your journey, too. Please leave a comment or send me a message about it. God bless!

Love others, be free. 

 

 

 

Grateful for All of It

It was 5:15am. Which is astronomically early for a stay at home mom who is frequently woken up by a nursing baby in the night. Let that all soak in for a moment.

Usually my daughter and I are both peacefully visiting dreamland this time of day but my husband had just came into our bedroom with a flashlight searching high and low for his favorite hoodie before hustling out the door to make it to the gym before work. Thankfully, she slept through it, but I wasn’t so lucky. After all, I am a mom and wake up to even the faintest noises. You know, like the carpet blowing in the wind of the air conditioner or my daughter faintly humming in her sleep. Anyway, I do frequently steal said hoodie (it is the best), so it’s understandable why he was searching through my closet for it (doh!). In any case, as I laid there awake I thought maybe I could get my day started early and get some things done. My daughter does not take very long naps and I don’t get much quiet time to myself to think. Around 5:30 I decided, OK, I’ll get up, get some coffee, read my bible and devotional, and get cracking on some things.

As usual, my daughter had other plans. She began to stir and wanted to nurse. I thought, oh great! This means she’ll sleep in longer if I nurse her now. Wrong again, mom! She promptly sat up straight in bed after nursing and stared at me. Ok…tried to coax her into going back to sleep – no luck. New diaper – still no luck. Next move, I went to get her a bottle, as she takes a supplement a few times a day, and thought maybe that’s what she wanted. Wrong again, she tossed her cookies everywhere after getting 1/3 through the bottle.

So now I’m up extra early, tired, and cleaning up puke. Not exactly the relaxing and quiet start to my morning I had envisioned. As I felt frustration and exhaustion start to set in, I began to pray and ask for patience. Ever pray and ask for patience? It’s God’s most favorite way to answer in irony as He’ll just give you more opportunities to practice. So of course what came next were multiple attempts to lay her back down and a baby fighting sleep.

After I finally coaxed her back to sleep, I quietly walk downstairs to get some coffee. Ah, yes. This is what I wanted! I got my coffee, a cozy blanket, my journal, and began to read my bible and devotionals. What happened next helped me make sense of my entire morning and refocus my attention.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV – A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

There’s a time for everything, because every season of life comes with all kinds of situations. This was a reminder to me that despite my occasional moments of difficulty, exhaustion, and frustration, this season of life also comes with the most beautiful moments too. It’s so easy to get stuck in the rut of frustration but to battle that, I need to always keep the bigger picture as my perspective for positive living. My daughter is almost a year old and I’ve loved to watch her grow and change every day. She is just beginning to walk unassisted, says mama in the sweetest voice, pretends to talk on the phone to me, gives the most slobbery adorable kisses, flashes me a smile whenever I walk in the room and has such a sweet yet cautious personality that emerges more and more every day. My walk through motherhood has been such a blessing and this season of my life is something I’ll always look back on fondly, so these verses were a real reminder to me that there’s a time for everything in all seasons of life. In order to enjoy the sweetness of this season of my life, I must also take with it the frustrations that come along and walk through them with grace and patience.

As with everything in life, motherhood’s adversities are no match for a grateful & loving heart.

My Daughter’s Inner Voice

This morning started off as just an ordinary morning with my 9 month old daughter, yet it will always have a profound and lasting impact on me as a mother.

After our morning kisses and cuddles, we got out of bed and I set her up with a few toys to play with while I brushed my teeth and got myself ready for the day. While standing at the sink, I found myself feeling a little  discouraged about my body and where I am physically in my postpartum journey. I had expected things would be going back to normal faster than they have. I expected I wouldn’t be as tired as I have been as a new mother and would have had the energy for the workouts I’d love to do. Yet, as I stood at the sink, I found myself lifting my shirt to examine with disappointment the battle scars I have on my lower abdomen from late in my pregnancy. The negative thoughts I had quietly in my head were screaming so loudly through the look on my face. Feeling two little eyes gazing up at me, I looked down to see my baby girl standing there, with one arm holding herself up against the bath tub and the other holding her own shirt up as she examined her own tummy.

Oh, my. What am I doing?

Sure, she’s just 9 months old and was just innocently mimicking her mama as she loves to do lately. But make no mistake, my actions were ultimately teaching her that it is ok to have negative thoughts about yourself and to give into the pressures of this life to feel you are anything less than uniquely beautiful in God’s eyes – no matter how you look.

Although it is reasonable to want to lose a little weight and wish away the marks on my abdomen, the problem was my heart behind it this morning. I was trying to live up to unreasonable expectations based off of other people that do not match up with my reality. I am recognizing this morning that as her mother, my voice  and attitude about myself will greatly influence my daughter’s inner voice about herself. I want to treat myself better in order to teach her that beauty is not the sum of your gravitational pull and overall outward appearance. Beauty is what flows from the heart through your actions. It’s how you love yourself and how you love others. I was not loving myself well this morning and it is a blessing I have had this revelation while my daughter is so young.

This is just one small part of the endless journey to try and thrive on grace! This is MY journey! I needed this reminder to be grateful for the amazing body God has given me that gave LIFE to my daughter. Every mark is worth it. It was an important reminder to love myself, accept the things I cannot change, and work harder with a positive attitude to change the things I can. But most of all, it was a reminder to always be confident and kind to myself, as little eyes are looking up to me.

How to Clean & Store Cilantro

In the video I have linked below, you will see the best way I’ve found to clean and store cilantro! The method I share in the video has proven to make my cilantro last up to about two weeks, which is a huge improvement from how long it normally lasts. This is the way my grandmother has always done it and how I’ve been taught to do it. Also, I have found that if it’s washed and ready to eat, I am more inclined to eat it more often and therefore there is less waste.

How to Clean & Store Cilantro

Enjoy!

-K

Enchiladas Two Ways – Chicken & Vegetarian

In our home, we all love to add our own spin to things! Everyone is different and I love to embrace those differences and offer a variety of fun ways to eat the same dish, whether it be different toppings, sides, or sauces!

This set of enchilada recipes will offer a shredded chicken and vegetarian variety.

**Disclaimer**

I am terrible with measurements! I will mostly give approximations. But have hope! My motto is when you’re using quality and delicious ingredients, its almost impossible to have the dish not turn out deliciously! Happy cooking!

Shredded Chicken n’ Cheese Enchiladas – Makes 6-8 Enchiladas

1 Rotisserie Chicken, Shredded

6-8 Soft Taco Sized Flour Tortillas

1 Bottle of Enchilada Sauce (I used the Trader Joe’s Sauce)

2-3 Cups (ish) Shredded Cheddar-Jack Cheese, plus more for on top

Topping Ideas: We did shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, avocado, Mexican cotija cheese, sour cream, lime wedges, cilantro, and hot sauce

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Earlier in the day, to save time, I shredded the chicken. But you can do this now if you like. I shredded just the breasts but you can use the dark meat as well if you prefer. I saved the legs, wings, and thighs for another meal.

Shredded Chicken

Get a baking dish of your choice, I used 9×13. Put about 2/3 cup of sauce in the bottom of the tray. Take a tortilla, and using a basting brush I brushed sauce onto one side. Now, if you want to speed this up and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, go ahead and just lay the tortilla down in the sauce to make sure one side is coated. Once the one side is coated, I put shredded cheese and chicken inside, then rolled it up. Repeat this process until your pan is full of delicious enchiladas! At the end, add the remainder of the sauce over all the enchiladas and top with cheese. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted.

Enchilada Prep

Here they are ready to go in the oven:

Enchiladas Ready for the Oven

The finished product with all the toppings:

Chicken Enchiladas with Red Sauce
Chicken Enchiladas with Red Sauce

Quinoa & Spinach Enchiladas with Cilantro, Lime, & Avocado Salsa Verde Sauce

1/2 Bag of Frozen Quinoa & Vegetables from Trader Joe’s **You can substitute this out for just regular cooked quinoa, follow instructions on the bag).

1/2 Jar of Cowboy Caviar from Trader Joe’s **It’s just a spicy black bean and corn salsa, you can omit or add regular corn, salsa, and/or black beans!**

6-8 Whole Wheat tortillas

1 Medium Onion, Caramelized

2-3 Cups Spinach

1 Tablespoon garlic powder

For the Salsa Verde Sauce: 

2 Jars of Trader Joe’s Salsa Verde

1.5 Cups Cilantro

Juice of One Lime

1/2 Avocado **Adds a lovely creamy texture to the sauce and thickens it**

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chop and sauté onions until they are cooked to your liking and/or caramelized. Next, add the quinoa, garlic powder, and cowboy caviar.

Quinoa & Veggies Cooking

While this is cooking, I made the sauce! To your blender or food processor, add the salsa verde, cilantro, lime, and avocado.

Salsa Verde Sauce

At the very end, add the spinach to the sauté mixture in the pan. I only cook this briefly as it will all finish cooking in the oven.

Spinach added to Quinoa

Get a baking dish of your choice, I used 9×13. Put about 2/3 cup of sauce in the bottom of the tray.

Sauce going into tray

Take a tortilla, and using a basting brush I brushed sauce onto one side. Now, if you want to speed this up and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, go ahead and just lay the tortilla down in the sauce to make sure one side is coated. Once the one side is coated, I put quinoa and vegetable mixture, then rolled it up. Repeat this process until your pan is full of delicious enchiladas! At the end, add the remainder of the sauce over all the enchiladas and top with cheese.

Filling for Quinoa & Spinach Enchiladas

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Ready to go into the oven:

Enchiladas Two Ways

The finished product!

Quinoa & Spinach Enchiladas

Ideas and Things to Note:

We served these with black beans, but you could do refried beans, pinto beans, or Spanish rice! 

If you wanted to make the veggie enchiladas vegan and gluten free, you could use a vegan cheese and corn tortillas! Enchiladas are SO versatile and easy to make. 

This made a lot for the two of us but we are lovers of leftovers so I was happy to make two full trays! Hope you enjoy these recipes. If you give them a try, I’d love to hear how it went!

Blessings,

K

Roasted Root Vegetable Breakfast Bowls

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Roasted vegetables are a basic staple in our home. There are many variations I like to prepare depending on what we have on hand in the house. We actually LOVE to eat this type of meal for dinner! Breakfast for dinner is one of my favorite things. Also, another thing to note: often times you will see various ways to eat the same recipe. That is because my husband and I often like things served differently with different toppings! He’s more of a “ranch and white bread” type, which is perfectly OK, and I’m a little more adventurous with my palate.  You will see multiple ways to eat my recipes and I hope you find something you’ll enjoy. 

Sausage & Veggie Breakfast Bowl

Roasted Root Vegetable Breakfast Bowls

– Serves 2 Adults, Bakes at 375 degrees for 30 Minutes

Ingredients:

3-4 Eggs, however many each person wants

1 Medium Sweet Potato, peeled & cubed

1 Medium Sweet Onion, cut into 4-6 pieces

2 Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled & cubed

3 Carrots, peeled and cut into medium sticks

2 cups Broccoli, chopped into florets

1 Medium Lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

Seasonings: Equal parts thyme, rosemary, smoked paprika, curry powder, garlic, celery salt, and pepper – I lightly dusted each one over the baking tray of root vegetables, then mixed.

**Optional Ingredients/Toppings** – Grape tomatoes, shredded cheese, breakfast sausages, green onions, avocado, hot sauce or salsa

If you have never tried smoked paprika, I highly recommend it! It has become one of my favorite spices, especially when roasting vegetables. It adds a subtle smoky flavor that is out of this world! I also have grown to really love curry powder in my dishes, even when I am not making curry. I have found it adds a subtle touch of sweetness and a boost of great flavor. It may seem odd to regularly add curry to things but it really pairs nicely with the other seasonings. I love both of these flavors, especially together.

Preparation & Cooking:

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To start out, I arranged the vegetables on the cutting board and took a pretty picture – I mean, I laid them out and began to peel and chop them! Hehe. Anyway, after peeling and chopping I usually would add all of the veggies into a freezer bag with olive oil to be tossed around and then coated in the spice mixture. However, I am out of freezer bags so tonight I did all my mixing and seasoning on the baking sheets directly. This way is a little more work but less of a waste of freezer bags so that’s a plus!

Root Vegetables

I keep the broccoli separate from the root vegetables until the end. I do this for two reasons: 1. To create depth of flavor in the end dish. I took the broccoli and tossed them in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, celery salt & pepper. The lemon juice adds a lovely freshness and tang to the dish and another layer of flavor. I love cooking with lemons! 2. I hate mushy broccoli! It is very important to me to maintain the crunchy integrity of the broccoli and I quickly roast them at the end. This means, once the root vegetables are almost done, I put the broccoli in for about 8-10 minutes. Now, if you like your broccoli cooked more, I would turn down the oven temperature to 350 and bake them longer. I prefer a higher temp as to roast the outside of the broccoli yet still leave it crisp and intact. I have thought a lot about broccoli, can you tell?

I love Broccoli

For the root vegetables, after they’re coated in the olive oil and spice mixture, they go into the oven at 375 for 30 minutes, turning them every 10 minutes so they roast evenly. After 20 minutes of roasting, I put the broccoli into the oven and let them roast as the root vegetables finish up. While these two things are happening, you know, the magic in the oven, I cooked two sausage links for my husband and over medium eggs for the both of us.

Roasted Lemon Garlic Broccoli

Roasted Root Vegetables

After assembling this glorious mixture of vegetables, they get topped with whatever toppings of your choice! Tonight, for the mister, he enjoyed his bowl with chopped pork breakfast sausage, cheese, and two over medium eggs. For me, I went a little light and just had one egg over medium with chopped grape tomatoes. Usually, I’ll add avocado, green onions, hot sauce, and a zesty southwestern sauce I make (I’ll post the recipe on another page..it is AMAZING!). Get creative! But the base of this recipe is just so, so satisfying!

Here it is, breakfast bowls two ways:

Breakfast Bowls Two Ways

I hope you enjoy it! Let me know.

Best wishes,

K

Rock Climbing & Blogging

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It’s always that first step that’s the hardest, and sometimes the most intimidating, when stepping out to try something new. This was the case with rock climbing for me…and starting a blog. Both uncharted territories, yet climbing to the top of that rock wall and being able to publish my first blog post were both very satisfying. Both taught me valuable lessons about trying new things and driving out fear to accomplish your goals. Who knew blogging and rock climbing had so much in common.

Situations aren’t always easy, but it’s up to you whether you just survive or if you thrive!

Grace – You Are Enough!

As a woman, a mother, and a fellow human being, I find that it’s very easy to compare myself to others and sometimes come up feeling inadequate. In this day and age, with the rise of social media, we find ourselves living in the fakest reality world – ever. Everywhere you turn someone is using a filter, an angle, a clever saying, and the right lighting, to get you to think a certain way about them. I fear that this is perpetuating a problematic thought among us – that maybe we just aren’t enough. At times I have felt the need to edit things to the point where I’m almost editing reality out! But what I’ve learned is that when I edit out too much of my reality, I lose ownership over my authenticity, which is insulting to me and insulting to the ever-loving God who made me! Now, of course I still use filters and Chrisclever sayings! The point is, I’ve learned to be more mindful of social media and the trap of obsession with perception.

But unlike obsession with perception and thirst for other’s approval, grace tells an entirely different story. Grace says, “You are enough”, because God says, “You are more than enough.” God’s grace and unconditional love has saved us while we are still sinners and that is truly a free gift to whosoever believes in Him. Knowing who I truly am, (behind that Nashville filter and natural sunlight from that window I’m facing in hopes to hide my tired eyes) God says, “I choose you, all of you!”

Now, this of course has eternal implications but for the purpose of this blog post, let me get to the daily – minute by minute – application. Here it is, because God’s grace tells me that I am more than enough – I AM ENOUGH! So I must treat myself as such. This means that every day I choose, to the best of my ability, to extend grace to myself and not be too hard on myself. This means I fully accept myself as I am! This means that you not only extend grace to yourself but to others too. I’m choosing to think the best of others, and give more benefit of the doubt. God loves us all. He extends love and grace to us all. I am flawed and also trying my hardest to thrive on this sometimes uphill climb of life and gracefully love myself and love others in a passionate and genuine way!

I don’t want to just survive on tough days. I want to thrive! I want to thrive on the fact that God’s love and grace have covered me. It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to my new blog, Thriving on Grace.

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