When God Says Wait: Reignite Your Passion

I think there’s a misconception that becoming a Christian will make life easier. At least I had that misconception, even subconsciously. Following God and giving Him the driver’s seat to my life, I somehow thought that meant I could tap into His power to always have peace of mind when moving forward into the unknown. I know – how ridiculous is that? But looking back now, I realize I had inadvertently come to this belief by being passive in my faith walk rather than passionate and diligent. “If I just pray enough, if I just give God more control, I will know the path to walk and I will be fully confident in knowing the way God is trying to lead me.”

There’s some truth and a whole lot of reality to my previous beliefs about faith in God. The truth is, the more control I give up and the more prayer I engage in, the easier it will be for me to hear God’s voice and decipher His call on my life. I absolutely have access to God’s power and peace through Jesus! But does that mean I will always feel like it? I’m learning “no” is an ok answer…but it’s what I do after becoming aware of my feelings that count. The better answer is to realize that it’s ok not to always feel God’s peace, as continual trust, faith, and contentment in the Lord is something to actively choose and fight for.

Sometimes being a Christian (or just a human, lol) feels a lot like you’re stuck downstream without a paddle. Faith doesn’t always mean you have a plan, know the plan, or are certain of your life path. Faith does mean regardless of what we know or don’t know, we DO know our God. We know His character and what He says about us. We know that we are called to Him to rest in the promises of His peace. How amazing is THAT?

Ok, but I would be lying if I said to road to continual peace in His promises and being content in all circumstances is all sunshine and roses. It’s NOT! Also, the Bible tells us to “take up our cross and follow Jesus”. Does that sound like “hey, so glad you believe! Here’s to an easy life here on earth, sit back and enjoy the ride.”….LOL… I would argue it isn’t even possible here on earth to rest in His continual peace. Our world is far too broken not to lead us astray from His presence.

That being said, as a Christian, as a mother… I haven’t ever felt so sure and also so lost at the same time as I am at this point in my life. I am so sure of my call to be a mother, the call to my wonderful job, and the calling to live out my passions and gifts God has given me. But next steps in our life… so many unknowns from all angles. I am sure you can relate! Yet, even the paths I KNOW I am being called to are often the most fought over.

I am reading a new (to me) book called “Fervent” by Priscilla Shirer. It is absolutely rocking my world! In the beginning of the book she talks about Passion. She says:

“Passion is what pushes the athlete to run one more lap, to crunch through one more set of reps. It’s what silences those screaming thighs and stomach muscles, making them do what their owner demands of them, no matter how loudly they complain. Passion is what keeps a piano player anchored to the practice bench when no one else is around to notice the effort or give a pat on the back for approval. Passion is what inspires the eager young employee to out perform expectations, instead of just punching the clock to earn a paycheck like everybody else. Passion is what burns up the road between a child in danger and a parent in pursuit. It glows red-hot. And goes on driving. And grows even larger, the larger the obstacles become. Passion is the fuel in the engine of your purpose. It’s your “want to.” It’s what keeps you going when mundane tasks bore you or difficult ones dissuade you. Passion is what keeps you moving in the direction your best intentions want you to go. That’s why, if I were your enemy, I’d make stealing your passion one of my primary goals. Because I know if I could dim your passion, I could significantly lower your resistance to temptation and discouragement. I could make you walk with a spiritual limp and lengthen how long it takes you to recover from the injury. If I could chip away at your zeal, at your hope, at your belief in God and what He can do, I could chisel down your faith to a whimper. Make you want to quit. And never try again. I’d cup an ear in your direction, hear nothing in your voice that sounds like anything but token prayer, and snicker at my success. Chalk another one up to my “Passion Elimination Plan” – the one with your name on it. That’s what I’d do. If I were your enemy. I’d weaken your passion, your cutting edge, knowing full well that weak, impotent prayers (or better yet, prayer-lessness) would follow right behind.” – Fervent, Priscilla Shirer. (Guys…I could keep going but just go READ the book! It’s SO good!!!!!!!)

As a believer, I know God cares for me and is the one who holds my future in His hands. I know I don’t need to worry because God cares for us. Knowing and doing are two different things. It takes passion and conscious effort to bridge the gap between knowing what I should do and actually doing it. I know prayer and active communication with God is the road to peace, but I don’t always do it — even when I need Him the most. Unless I have an active part in the relationship with Jesus, my faith is passive faith. To be content and fulfilled in the Lord it takes more on our part, and it takes Passion. Sometimes I don’t feel like praying — instead  *if I am honest* I feel like complaining.

But passion for a life well lived with Jesus moves me to pray even when I don’t feel like it. Doing that thing that’s seemingly mundane or difficult, but you know you should do it, and you choose to do it anyway regardless of FEELINGS – that’s passion, and grit. That is the type of passion that’s going to move mountains…in life, faith, business, and relationships.

Maintaining that spiritual passion is not easy, especially when God doesn’t answer our prayers right away. I have found that God usually answers prayers in these ways: yes, no, not right now aka *wait* and be patient, my daughter. That last answer is the hardest for me. But that’s the one that will grow us the most! I have been in a LONG suffering season of waiting and praying….and if I am honest, I’ll tell you that I am writing this as a realization of all the prayers that haven’t been said. I am writing this because I can see I have grown weary during this battle we are walking through and at times it’s swallowed me up. Lack of spiritual passion and exhaustion left me defenseless during battle…when I needed it most. God leading us into a season of waiting is hard as heck but its an amazing opportunity to GROW in love and in faith with Jesus. If you are in a season of waiting, reignite your passions and pray about this season of life. God has a plan!

I have found that lack of passion in my spiritual life has led me into placing too much weight on my own shoulders to do it all myself. Lack of passion and an intimate relationship with Jesus has led me into searching for that intimacy in other places that no one can fulfill except Jesus. Our worldly relationships are meant to enrich our lives with Christ, not stand in place of it. If you feel continually let down by others, evaluate yourself and your spiritual passion.

Does your personal life or business feel stagnant? Evaluate why you do what you do and reignite your passion. I look at my daughter and know I push myself to work harder in order to give her the life she most deserves. That’s what pushes me to do the mundane even when I don’t feel that passion…I CHOOSE it! Motivation and passion are not something to feel occasionally, they are something to FIGHT for. Go to war for it! You deserve it, your family deserves it, and you’ll be amazed what passion can do to transform your world.

If you are in a season of uncertainty where you feel distant from God and/or unsure….I invite you to pray with me. Dust yourself off, smile and know you are loved. Put on your armor and GO TO WAR. Identify your goals and pray…this life is meant to be enjoyed but it is also greatly a spiritual battle. Prayer and closeness with Jesus is what will get us through and to our goals. Please know that you are invaluable and you are loved.

Book reference: Fervent by Priscilla Shirer – Purchase Here

(This is not sponsored or affiliated with the book)

 

A Blogging Break: Why

Thank you for visiting my blog and for being a continual supporter, it means the world to me. If you’re new here, thank you for being here with us.

You may or may  not have noticed my posts have been less regular and even non-existent in the last 6 months or so…here’s why:

If you know me personally or follow me, perhaps you’ve gathered a few conclusions about me. I’m a giant goof ball and love to have fun — like, don’t turn on The Greatest Showman soundtrack on around me unless you want to be automatically entered into a full on (and embarrassing) dance off. In all seriousness, while I do spend most of my days being completely ridiculous and silly with my daughter, I am also very interested in digging deeper with matters of the heart.

I started this blog several years ago, in the trenches (biggest blessing of my life – I was just so sleepy, lol!) of being a new mama and in hopes to find balance between motherhood and my individuality. I needed a creative outlet, but I also needed to focus on staying healthy. My health journey has been ever evolving over the last 10 years or so, but motherhood really kicked it up a notch for me. As a mama, I don’t have the capacity to be anything but my best self. My daughter deserves me at my best and I am a better mom when I am practicing self care and self love. This blog was created to be a place to share that journey and join the conversation with so many of you who are on similar journeys.

Writing has always been a form of therapy for me. I am a visual learner and writing things down helps my brain see things more clearly. My writing style is very much a mirror of whatever is on my heart at the time. This is what has made blogging even more difficult for me in the last couple years as my heart (and life) has very much been in turmoil. Admitting that right now is pretty hard and humbling.

This blog has always been meant to be a positive place and so much of what I have felt inclined to write about are rather difficult and dark at times. I am a perpetual silver lining seeker and even my posts about hard things have some form of gratitude or hope attached to it. Yet I couldn’t help but think, “who in the world would want to read this? It’s so depressing.” Social media can be so curated and beautiful but real life can be pretty dang messy. I am also mindful that my problems, while monumental to me, are:

  1. Not bigger than my God.
  2. I am sure there are many, many people out there who would trade places with me because their situation is so awful. It could always be worse. 
  3. Every difficult situation is an opportunity for growth.
  4. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. (repeat as needed)

But those things don’t shrink my problems, they just help me stay rational and grateful despite circumstance. Our family has seemingly been hit from all sides in the last few years with trauma, addictions coming to light, cancer, separations, distance, job changes, deep waters of unknown, and occasional financial worry. I know I am not alone in these struggles, either. So many of you are walking through similar life experiences, and I suppose that comes with the territory of living in a broken world. But I sure as hell am not going to just accept these things as is. I am going to hold my head high, demand better, and work harder…all the while praying for the strength to do it.

But I am here to say that I have done a lot of heart (hard) work in the last few months and I am feeling better. Rather than wallowing, feeling resentful or bitter, I want to stay positive and share our story anyway — the good and the not so good. The beautiful and the messy. When pain & healing is shared it then has purpose and the healing can spread like wildfire. If you are walking through hard things or if you are hurting today, I invite you to pray with me. Light drives out darkness, so in hard times choose joy. Choose to be grateful for whatever good you see in life, no matter how small it seems. Override negative feelings with intentional positive choices. It’s hard but it’s worth it! I also invite you to talk to someone. You are loved and you matter.

 

What to expect in the future here:

I plan to share more about emotional healing, yes, but I want to also go back to sharing recipes and practical ways for everyone to work toward a healthier life! I am down 11lbs and still losing, all with simple healthier habits. I’ll be sharing more about this soon! If you have any questions or topic requests, let me know!

Time Saving & Healthy Meals: Basil Curry Peanut Veggies with Rice and Roasted Chickpeas

We’ve probably all had that moment where it’s almost dinnertime and you have nothing planned. Well, assuming you aren’t a hard core meal planner. Honestly, meal planning is SO helpful! But some weeks, it’s Wednesday before I’ve even thought about it.

Here are some tips we use regularly to make sure we are staying on track with our eating yet not stressing out over meals.

Are you ready?

It’s really as simple as figuring out some good foundations. What are the meals your family always enjoys on the regular? Choose 4-5 meals that can be prepared in 15-20 minutes and make sure they ingredients are ALWAYS in stock!

Stock your freezer and pantry. I have a separate post on pantry and freezer must have items that will be coming to my blog later this week.

Last night we had, “nothing to eat” because I have not grocery shopped in a couple weeks. My stocked freezer and pantry saved me! I was able to whip together a delicious meal with items I typically always have one hand. Here’s what we made:

Sweet Peanut Curry & Basil Vegetables over Rice with Roasted Chickpeas. It was SO simple, yet so satisfying. The photo does the flavor zero justice:

Here’s what I did to make this:

For dinner, since we mostly eat a plant-based diet, I like to always include a variety of the following:

  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Greens
  • Healthy Fats

This meal checked off all the boxes because I was able to throw together: sweet potato, stir fry veggies, peppers, onions, mushrooms, quinoa, rice, kale, corn, chickpeas, and a sauce with some nut butter incorporated. It turned out to be a well balanced meal and here’s how I made it:

I took inventory of the freezer and noticed I had a bag of stir fry veggies! I also had a bag of Trader Joe’s frozen Quinoa & Sweet Potato veggies. I threw both bags into a cast iron skillet and added some sesame oil. I decided I would make it saucy & serve it over brown rice, which I also had on hand in my pantry. My daughter will eat just about anything if it has a delicious sauce and is served with rice, so I went with it.

I made the sauce by adding in 2 TBSP of peanut butter, some tamari, liquid aminos (soy sauce), maple syrup, and a drizzle of pre-made teriyaki sauce. I even had some mango juice I splashed in because fruit with curry is where it’s at! I added all of that to the pan once the veggies had cooked down then added in some water, you could also use vegetable broth. For spices I added in curry powder, ginger, basil, and garlic. I didn’t measure, I just threw it together with hope and a prayer. (Or just quickly google something like “peanut butter curry sauce” and make one based off whatever ingredients you have) At one point it was too spicy so I added some more peanut butter. You really can’t go wrong when you’re using delicious ingredients!

So thankful for my freezer and pantry items! They really come to the rescue for me several nights a week.

Here’s a recipe for roasted chickpeas:

Crispy Oven Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted chickpeas are a delicious and nutritious way to get added protein to salads, bowls, and even just as a snack.

Some staple meal ideas:

  • Pasta and Marinara – have meatballs (vegan or not) pre-cooked/frozen
  • Tacos if you keep shells in the pantry or freezer, eat with beans and rice from the pantry. You can make filling for tacos with walnuts and sundried tomatoes. Recipe here. 
  • Freeze leftovers from a nice meal and save for a day you need something fast
  • Breakfast for dinner! Pancakes are always quick to throw together meal. I throw my pancake batter ingredients in the blender and blend. So fast! Here’s a great vegan pancake recipe: Vegan Pancakes
  • Bowls: basically, I just cook whatever rice, veggies, and potatoes I have and eat them together in a bowl. I love to make a quick sauce or drizzle a dressing I like over the top.
  • Soups! I always have broths on hand and just throw in some spices with whatever veggies I have to make a vegetable & beans soup.

Get creative when you’re in a pinch. I always have so much fun when I am facing a challenge in the kitchen. Stay tuned for my pantry and freezer post coming soon!

How to Be Truly Joyful During the Storm

Ah, joy. That’s what everyone’s goal is right? We all crave happiness. Yet sometimes along the way, happiness and what it takes to get there get twisted.

Goals, material possessions, and situations often dictate our happiness. It’s not a new thought for me to suggest that perhaps true happiness isn’t from any of those things or circumstances, rather, true happiness is a choice from within. Several years ago while attending Saddleback Church in Southern California, Kay Warren did a series entitled “Choose Joy”. It so resonated with me then, yet still all these years later this mindset of CHOOSING joy trips me up.

I knew that happiness isn’t just a feeling, but I didn’t actually put it into practice. Knowing and doing are two very different things. I got caught up in the trappings of situational (un)happiness. Sure, I have really difficult situations I’ve been going through, but there’s no reason I can’t still be grateful during the storm. Even when it feels like I’m barely getting through something, I know God is right there holding me up.

I have struggled the last few years with this feeling of unhappiness, between late nights up with my baby, to early feedings, to marriage challenges, to feeling like my sanity got lost in the shuffle as a new mom…. and here’s some examples of how I snapped out of it and began to LIVE my life again knowing that JESUS is my true Happiness:

Jesus

As a Christian, I believe that when true happiness is determined by situations or possessions, it’s superficial. Not to say that those things can’t make us happy! But true joy, that isn’t fair-weather joy, is a God thing. Christian Joy is truly different, and it’s genuine, sustainable, and worth fighting for. Being truly happy and joyful as a Christian means I will remain content, joyful, and at peace in all situations because I know God is in control. I also know that God will use all for the good of those who love him. (Check out Romans 8:28 and James 1)

That’s pretty standard in our faith as  Christian. But what does that look like in day to day life when your marriage isn’t thriving, your finances maybe aren’t where you want them to be, and you have a baby that refuses to sleep for two years? It means being faithful in the small things. Choosing to read God’s word when you don’t feel like it. Praying about it instead of incessantly talking about it (Gut check to myself, Chatty Cathy). Trusting God will take care of the situation, no matter how big or small. When I remind myself to do these small acts of faith, I am met by God in even bigger ways, letting me know He’s here and cares for us. So when life is messy, stop to pray. Praying often means we are putting our knowledge of God and faith into action, and it’s a curator of true happiness!

Practice Healthy Happiness Habits – Intentional Living

What in the world is a Healthy Happiness Habit? It varies from person to person. What are the activities you love to do that really feed your soul? I’m talking things that make up the best days. For me, I love to read, write, be at the beach, paint with my daughter, cook, go hiking, play volleyball, have coffee with a best friend, among many other fun things! Sometimes it’s all too easy to get caught up in everyday life, todo lists, work, and monotony. Make time to live intentionally, practicing healthy habits that feed your soul and happiness tank! Do more that makes you feel alive and grateful.

Eat Healthy Foods

It’s really hard to feel good if you’re fueling your body with the wrong foods. Eating healthy and wholesome foods always helps me to feel my best. Feed your body well and thrive! If you need healthy recipe ideas, let me know and I would be glad to help. Also, ohsheglows.com is a wonderful blog and resource, I love her cookbooks. Angela Liddon is the creator of Oh She Glows and her blog even has an APP! What! So cool.

Make Right What You Can

Start by tackling the obvious issues in your life that you can make right. For me, I made a list of all the areas of my life that needed improvement and I made a plan to tackle each one. When I was struggling with unhappiness, I was so overwhelmed that it felt like nothing I did would help. This did coincide with a two year long state of ‘new mom’ sleep deprivation, so no wonder. Being a new parent isn’t for the faint of heart! But it is also the biggest blessing of my life. The bottom line here is: we cannot control all of our circumstances, but it is our responsibility to do our part and make right whatever we can. For me, one major improvement I did was decluttering my home. I used to have piles upon piles and covered up countertops. I took THREE SUV’s full of STUFF to donate to local charities. Visual clutter clutters my brain, which stifles my creativity, and leads to unhappiness. The book “The More of Less” by Joshua Becker has been so life giving on how to live a more minimalist lifestyle at home. Another thing I did that to help relieve stress in our home was teach our daughter to sleep. That’s something I have tried to do for quite some time and my many attempts were unsuccessful. I ended up loosely following a gentle sleep training book, creating a new bedtime routine, putting her in her own bed, and incorporating Essential Oils into our routine. I made her a calming oils sleep roller and she applies it herself before bed, she loves it! We also diffuse oils in her room at night, and it’s been a Godsend. We both have been sleeping better and overall it’s allowed us to be HAPPIER during the day!

Exercise

Find an exercise you LOVE and do it! For me, that’s Pilates, Yoga, and walking. The best exercise is the one you’ll do. Exercise is a proven practice that is essential for wellness and to help with overall happiness. Let’s get moving!

Essential Oils & Self Care

As a work at home mama of a busy toddler, self care is usually the last thing on my list! But when I do make the time, I never regret doing it. Self care means I am being mindful of my own needs, too. Self care looks different for everyone, but here’s how I practice self care:

  • Baths – I love taking a relaxing bath with 2 cups Epsom Salts, one cup Baking Soda, and mix it all together with about 10 drops of Lavender Essential Oil.
  • Reading – Just taking the time to be still and enjoy a good book and/or learn something new totally feeds my soul
  • Mama Mornings – I love to get up a little bit before my daughter so I can have some time alone with coffee, my bible, and my thoughts. It really helps set the tone for the day!
  • Spa Day! I love a good spa day. I will do DIY face masks, paint my nails, and just pamper myself. Although, Spa day is usually spa hour. Hah!
  • Essential Oils for Hormone Support – I make a roller bottle for myself with oils to support hormonal and emotional health and I put it on daily. Keeps this mama happy and my cycles from not turning me into a dragon lady. It also really helped support my body when I recently stopped breastfeeding!
  • Essential Oils for Emotional Health – I make a roller bottle I named my “Calm” roller for whenever I need to relax. I just roll it onto my wrists and take a deep breath.
  • If you’d like to know more about the oils our family uses, read more in the link below: Learn More About the Essential Oils We Use

Positive Mindset of Gratitude

Sometimes a mindset shift is the only change we need to be happier. If we are looking at life through dark shades of negativity, how do you think we’ll perceive our world? I try to be a realistic optimist, and sometimes I am better at it than other times. But one thing I know for sure is that having a mindset of gratitude helps me deal with hardships in a healthier way. The next time a tough situation arises, ask yourself, “what can I be grateful for in this situation?”

Write Out Your Blessings

I’m a visual learner. This exercise is a good one when you’re feeling down. Make a list of all the things you can think of that you are grateful for. It works wonders!

Read Books, Listen to Podcasts, Watch YouTube 

I cannot speak highly enough of arming yourself with knowledge and positive inspiration. For financial wisdom I’ve read and enjoyed Total Money Make Over by Dave Ramsey. I highly recommend his course, Financial Peace University. For marital wisdom, I LOVED the book Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. This is not your typical marriage book, and I’ve read several. This one by far trumps them all for me personally, which is a whole other post in itself. There’s also a phenomenal podcast called Love That Lasts by Jefferson & Alyssa Bethke all about relationships – go listen! I love to listen to podcasts and audiobooks when I am folding laundry, doing dishes, and cleaning. What subjects interest you? Go find a good book, podcast, or audiobook and take your mind somewhere else. Seek out people who are better at something than you and learn from them. God created us all so uniquely, and sometimes people have gifts that you just don’t have or you haven’t grown in that area yet. I even love to watch YouTube videos of mamas who are scheduling & tidying geniuses because that is NOT MY THING but I know it is so helpful to keep a toddler on a schedule, ya feel? Whatever it is you want to learn or improve about your life, seek it out in others and in resources — then own it! You’ll feel so much more empowered when you arm yourself with knowledge. And feeling empowered means I am usually so productive & feeling HAPPY!

Talk to people, get help. 

When all else fails, talk to trusted friends & family about your situation. Therapy is also a wonderful option, I am a big believer in getting an educated professional’s guidance. Mental health is definitely something to take seriously, and there is no shame in talking about it. I’d totally lose it some days if I didn’t try my best to do all of the above to keep my sanity. Even so, I have been to counseling to help me learn and cope. It’s awesome!

MY ENCOURAGEMENT:

It’s so common for so many of us to be living stressful and unbalanced lives. My encouragement would be to remember that life is meant to be cherished, enjoyed, and lived vibrantly! Live consciously and CHOOSE to be joyful. Choose a life that fills your cup and your happy tank. Do more of what you love. I love my job so much and could easily work myself to the bone and get up the next day to do it all over again. (I do, whoops). But the point is, if you’re pouring from an empty cup then you aren’t being as effective. Just like being on an airplane, put your own oxygen mask on first and then help others. What is your form of oxygen? Get your cup filled up, get enough air to breathe, and then continue to be the badass mama, boss, and/or incredible person that you are!! Happiness as a feeling is fleeting, but lasting happiness is found in the things that really matter, like Jesus, our families, and living our best lives doing what we love. When we CHOOSE to be joyful regardless of the circumstances, we are taking the power back to stay positive and then we are unstoppable!

 

 

 

 

 

Kids & Veggies: Top 10 Tips to Get Little Ones to Eat Better

Kids and vegetables. They go together like oil and water sometimes, right?

Not in our house! But that was after intentional decisions and work. I bet there are some children who are born loving broccoli, and that’s great. But that was NOT the case for my daughter. It was a struggle, every. single. meal. for. a. year. to get her to try anything new.

But here we are, she’s 2 and a half, and she eats everything.

I am writing this to share some of the tips I found successful when trying to teach my daughter to love vegetables, and also to encourage you to endure those tough days and not give up. Eating a variety of foods is so essential for proper nutrition and starting children early is the best tip I have.

Here are 10 of my favorite tips to get kiddos to love their veggies:

  1. Cook them deliciously! SO often people have said things like “I hate Brussels sprouts” to which I reply “Really? How have you had them?” Most common answer is boiled or steamed. Um,  I wouldn’t like that either! The best way to eat Brussels sprouts in my opinion is to slice them and saute them with onions and garlic in a pan or roast on a sheet tray in the oven. They get such delicious texture and flavor, a family favorite. Another example is broccoli. My daughter loves it when I serve the broccoli roasted with lemon, garlic, and salt.
  2. Serve with a Dipping Sauce – kids LOVE to dip. Do they like ketchup? BBQ sauce? Vegan cheese sauce? Cook the veggies, cut into spear type finger food and serve with a sauce. This instantly makes it more interesting! My daughter also loves it when I steam broccoli, season with garlic & salt, then serve with a vegan cheese sauce to dip in! My favorite vegan cheese sauce recipe is one I adapted from Oh She Glows and the Minimalist Baker. I’ll share on my blog soon!
  3. Serve with their favorite foods! OK, we don’t want to totally torture the poor kiddos. Sweeten the deal a little with making a delicious and balanced plate. What do they like? My daughter loves pasta. I try to get her to take one bite of something new every 2-3 bites of her favorite on the plate.
  4. Set an example. Your children are watching. You can’t just make salad, broccoli, or green beans once a week and expect them to hop on board. They have to see their parents eating them, loving them, and serving it to themselves before they are willing to do it themselves. If you want your children to eat healthier, you have to be willing to eat healthier yourself first.
  5. Be consistent! If there’s something you’d like your children to eat more of, make it regularly. They have to be exposed to healthy foods regularly in order to be more open to try them.
  6. Guacamole Trick: This one is from a fellow mama that I follow, Ellen Fisher. (She has a plant based e-book that’s incredible!) To teach her sons to love salad, she finely chops spinach and blends it into guacamole. As her children age, she slowly lessens the avocado and it turns into more of a salad and less of a bowl of guacamole. I tried this with my daughter and it works. I chop spinach, tomatoes, onions, and season the mashed avocado and serve with a spoon. She loves it!
  7. Sneak them in if you have to! One of my favorite ways to sneak in veggies is to shred carrots and chop spinach then mix them into pasta sauce. My daughter always loves to eat pasta so loading up the marinara with veggies is a great way to get her to eat a more balanced meal.
  8. Smoothies every day. My daughter did not love smoothies. It took me a while of consistently making them for myself and offering them to her to get her to actually want her own cup. I love to add spinach, flax seeds, powered greens, kale, and other goodness into smoothies. I got her a stainless steel thermos that hides the color of she smoothie so she doesn’t refuse it based on color. Her favorite smoothie is more like a milk shake and is a mixture of: bananas, flax seeds, almond milk, peanut butter, dates, and greens.
  9. Make it Fun! I also love to tell my daughter stories. I talk to her and tell her how broccoli are little trees! Aren’t they cute? Make it fun. Let them see you enjoying your meal and they’ll follow your lead….eventually!
  10. Don’t give up. Kids will take their own lead if you let them. Sure, some kids just will not love broccoli, and that’s ok. It’s up to you to find healthy foods that they’ll love. It’s not an easy job, but it’s worthwhile. I am so happy I put in the effort with my daughter as now she eats salads, veggies, and pretty much anything I make. I cook one meal at each meal time and we share. Keep the faith, my friends! The effort you’re putting in is worth it to help instill a sense of vibrant health and a life long love of veggies.

If you’d like any specific recipe ideas or to chat more about this, feel free to comment or message me!

 

Lavender Vanilla Blueberry Banana Ice Cream (Vegan)

Fall may be here but that warmth outside doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to leave! Plus, do we really need a reason to have ice cream? Ok now that we’re on the same page…. 

Cool off with this delicious Lavender Vanilla Blueberry Banana Ice Cream!

The recipe is inspired from Young Living’s blog, the link is below. The only change I made to our version was to skip agave and add some frozen banana and vanilla extract! It’s SO good! I love to cook and prepare delicious treats with Essential Oils. Let me know if you give this a try!

As you probably know, Lavender promotes CALM. I am hopeful that this ice cream will keep my toddler fully happy without the hype of traditional processed sugar filled ice cream! So far she’s loving it!

Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups frozen wild blueberries (reserve the half cup for garnish)
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut cream
  • 2 Small Frozen Bananas
  • 4 drops Lavender Vitality Essential Oil
  • Up to ⅓ cup coconut water
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Instructions

  1. Line a small casserole dish or large container with wax paper or parchment paper.
  2. Add frozen blueberries, coconut cream, Lavender Vitality, bananas, and vanilla to a high-powered blender or food processor.
  3. Pulse ingredients together, adding coconut water 1 tablespoon at a time to help the ingredients blend together smoothly. Be careful not to add too much liquid or your ice cream will become too soft.
  4. Pour blended ingredients into the prepared dish, cover, and freeze for four hours.
  5. Scoop into bowls and garnish with more wild blueberries.

Recipe inspired by:

Essential Oil Infused Garlic & Herb Roasted Potatoes with Creamy Cashew Dipping Sauce

Have you ever tasted a FLAVOR BOMB? Get ready….

I have one delicious recipe to share with you all today. First, I infused some salt with essential oils then used the salt to season the dishes.

Did you know that Lemon, Dill, and Sage Essential Oils are great to assist in digestion? Cooking with them is a win/win! Tastes amazing and helps your digestive system process everything more smoothly. Um, sign me up! If you’d like to know more about Essential Oils, feel free to contact me. 

A word about my recipes: I don’t always measure exactly, so taste and season more if necessary! This is *basically* what I did to create this family favorite! Please let me know if you give it a try and your thoughts.

Essential Oil Infused Salt

I added about 1/4 cup of salt to a glass jar and then added about 20 drops of Lemon Essential oil, 1 drop of sage essential oil, and 2 drops of dill essential oil. Shake that baby up! Set it aside. The salt helps the oils mix together and be more evenly dispersed when using them in a recipe! The essential oils are very powerful and the salt helps you get all the flavor, while using less of the oil per seasoning.

Now, take whatever potatoes of your choice. I chose:

Garlic & Herb Roasted Potatoes

4-5 Small Yukon Gold Potatoes

2 Small Sweet potatoes

1 Teaspoon olive oil

1 Teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika

1 Teaspoon (or more) Infused Salt

Dash of Pepper

Wash and Cut potatoes into wedges of similar size and mix together with seasonings in a glass bowl. It’s best to use glass whenever dealing with essential oils as it can erode plastic.

Line a sheet tray with parchment paper and roast at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, flip, and roast for another 15. Depending on your oven, and the size of your wedges, you may need more or less time.

Essential Oil Cashew Cream Dipping Sauce

This is basically a cashew ranch dressing seasoned with essential oils and it’s life. This sauce can be as creamy, thick, runny, or gritty as you choose.

Notes to think about:

** The longer you soak the cashews, the creamier the sauce. Overnight is preferred.

**The liquid you add will have a direct affect on consistency, so add with caution to get your desired thickness. Less liquid is more like a sour cream, more is more like a ranch dressing. You take your pick! Below is how I would start off, you can always add more.

1.5 C Raw cashews (soak in water in the fridge for 1hr or up to overnight)

1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2 C Water

1 C Plant milk (unflavored, unsweetened)

3 Drops of Lemon Essential Oil

2 Drops of Dill Essential Oil

1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

Season to taste with the Essential Oils Infused Salt!

Drain the soaked cashews and add to a blender with all other ingredients. Blend in a high speed blender or food processor. Enjoy! Keep leftovers (If there are any) in the fridge for 4-5 days.

** I ran out of plant milk while making this sauce one time and I mixed in some vegan mayo, it was delicious! Not my first choice, but it works.

** I reuse the sauce by mixing it with more plant milk and nutritional yeast, then serve it over noodles as a mac and cheese for my toddler.

**This would also be delicious if you added chives.

 

 

His Strength in Our Weakness

Ah, social media.

What a marvelous tool we have at our fingertips to keep in touch with loved ones!  It’s great to see what people are up to through social media, but are you getting the full picture?

We see what others want us to see. Some people are more transparent than others, and that’s OK.

I recently shared something with a friend that I’ve been going through and she was both brokenhearted for me and also completely shocked.

I have been diagnosed with moderate depression.

After feeling off for the past two years and trying everything to get myself back to feeling like myself again, all to no avail, I knew I had to get professional help. It took three doctors to get me to realize that there was something wrong chemically in my brain. They all concluded it was a mixture of post-partum depression, possibly situational depression, but nonetheless: it was happening to me. I never thought it would, and it did.

I always try to be a positive and upbeat person. A silver lining seeker, a glass half-full believer. After I had a baby, I never felt so alone and hopeless. This made ZERO sense to me in reality. I had the sense that my thinking and feelings were flawed, but I couldn’t shake them. I had the reality of a blessed life with my family, my sweet baby girl, and all God has given us. Yet I had this overwhelming sense of hopelessness I could not shake. I hated that I felt so down, I was ashamed of it.

I went through about a year of just barely going through the motions. I was chronically sleep deprived with Tessa that first year, and it was the hardest time of my entire life. I had no idea how much getting little sleep could negatively affect your life until I had a child who wouldn’t nap more than 20 minutes at a time or sleep longer at night than 1-2 hours every night for  the majority of her first 1.5 years. It actually was more physically and emotionally draining than any other trauma I’ve endured. I tried several different methods, read books, etc, to get her to sleep more and none of them worked except time. She’s a pretty good sleeper now, thank God, good routines, and Essential Oils. Thank God He makes babies so adorable because, man, that was rough! But I love her so much, even when we went through such a hard time together.

I always felt an inherent sense of gratefulness for Tessa, never blamed or resented her, I wanted to help her sleep because I bet she was just as miserable as I was, if not more! I am grateful my depression was not so bad and I still had somewhat of a grip on reality. Many women who suffer from post-partum depression have had it much worse than me, and my heart breaks for those families. I am so grateful to God for giving me what I could handle and seeing me through it. I am on the healing side of this now, however this is still very difficult to write.

When my friend was so surprised to hear about my struggles, it made me think about how I am perceived by others. Something that’s always been a part of my nature is to be stoic. I don’t hang on to the negative, so I usually don’t talk about it either. I accept things, grieve internally, move on, and truly don’t let things get to me. When I am upset, handling myself from a place of strength and poise has always been important to me. These are not inherently bad things, however I have found so much of God’s power in my weakness by sharing it with others. We are not called to be prideful and stoic, to suffer alone and live in darkness. Through talking more openly about my depression I have learned the value of bringing our struggles to light, and seeing them in the light of God’s truth through scripture and the encouragement of others.

I’ve been learning a lot about this lately and it’s caused me to feel compelled to be more transparent about my struggles. Obviously, I never mean to suggest people should air their family’s struggles online, out of respect for the family unit that is not always appropriate. However, my own personal struggle with depression is something God has called me to share. Keep in mind, sharing your struggles may look differently for different people, too. But I urge you, if you are struggling, talk to someone you trust about it. Seek help. Seek God! You can get better. You will get better if you truly want to!

I’ve gone through so much in the past few years, lots of change in general. I have learned that God has given us the ability to feel emotions, we need to let ourselves feel them and lean on Him to deal with them. So often, while trying to remain positive, I have suppressed real emotions! Life is not always going to be sunshine and roses. It’s going to get messy, and that is alright. It’s how you deal with the mess that counts! And guess what? God loves us anyway, despite the mess.

I am so grateful for my life and my precious daughter. I am thankful to God for all this blessing of a baby has taught me about His love, about life, and about myself. I have grown in ways I never had anticipated. Depression is just a short season of my life, a drop in the bucket. This isn’t going to define me or be the end of my story, and it doesn’t have to be the end of yours either.  I have so many fond memories of Tessa and me during those years. I don’t want to let my depression taint my memories of Tessa’s baby years. I so badly want to go back in time and soak them up a little more, though. Ah, life.

Find the things you love and pursue them with your whole heart. Seek Jesus. Seek true JOY in the Lord. Know that you are so loved by a God who gave it ALL for us, while we are sinners. Yes, I am talking to myself in all of this and sharing it because God did not call us to do this life alone.

God says in 2 Cor. 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” For this reason, among others, I’ve chosen to share my struggle. I am nothing in my own power without the Lord. This season of depression left me feeling weak, unworthy, unlovable, and hopeless. But God says His power is made PERFECT in our weakness. Out of this weakness, I am stronger because of the Lord, and good therapy! God will not waste any hurt or any negative experience, He will work it together for good. He comforts us and so we must comfort others. If you are hurting today, I would love to talk to you. Take heart in 2 Cor. 1 and know that you are SO loved and worthy of love. Again, talking to myself, too!

 

 

 

 

Ministry in Daily Life

A huge part of my heart behind Thriving on Grace is to share with people my journey with God, sharing how I am learning to thrive in His abundant Grace.

I struggle just like everyone else, deal with things that are unimaginable, just like everyone else, and try to take up my cross and walk in faith and light, just like everyone else. To be honest, some days feel like I am carrying my cross up hill with no end in sight.

But I started this blog to share my faith, open a dialog with other believers, and hopefully be an encouragement. Here’s what God has been teaching me lately about ministry.

In our world today there is so much suffering, and with round the clock news cycles and social media, it seems as though we all have a personal view of world wide problems. As Christians, many of us are called by God to go out into the world and be the hands and feet of Jesus. I am in absolute awe of people’s selflessness to get out of their comfort zone and set out to minister to those in need all over the globe in the name of Jesus.

But I want to bring light to something for a moment. Sometimes, with evangelizing, its easy to get wrapped up in big pictures, big ministry goals, and reaching as many people as possible.  God stirs a fire in me that burns so brightly that I want to sprint toward my goals and put blinders on everything else until I reach it. There have been times where I have been so focused on my current ministry outreach project that I have neglected to care as deeply for those directly around me. It’s easy to be overwhelmed and brokenhearted by the suffering of the poor in faraway lands and miss the opportunities to minister to those right in front of you.  I read the following teaching in Galatians and it encouraged me greatly to be more intentional with the people in my daily path.

“Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially to those in the family of faith.” Galatians 6:8-10 NLT

I am, of course, in no way suggesting to not go out into the world, other countries, other cities, and faraway lands to preach the good news. What I am suggesting is we must not forget to live out our faith in our daily lives here at home. We must not forget to minister to those in our own family, family of faith, and church family. These verses begged these questions of myself:

  • Am I being the hands and feet of Christ to those who see me daily?
  • Am I being an example of Christ’s love to all I come in contact with?
  • Am I loving those in my family, community, church family well first?
  • How can I better serve my own family, loved ones, and community?

Invest in your surroundings, and bloom where you are planted. The bible teaches us that we will reap what we sow. Establish healthy roots around you and grow from there to extend your outreach. Our first ministry should be our relationship with God, then our relationships with our loved ones and community.

As a parent, my main ministry is making sure I am a healthy Godly mother to my daughter. I have big ambitions, big goals, and feel a tremendous call on my life from God. Yet in the season I am in right now, God is calling me to lay a foundation, be faithful in the current blessings I have been given, and focus on raising my child to know Jesus.

My encouragement to everyone is to not compare yourself with other Christians. Evaluate the position God has you in, evaluate the current needs around you and how you can meet them in the name of God. Everyone’s ministry may look different, and just because your current season may not have you doing ministry in the same way others are at the moment, does not mean you aren’t a valuable asset of your family of faith. We all have our own set of skills, spiritual gifts, and calls on our lives from God. He created us distinctly different on purpose! Evaluate the gifts God has blessed you with and use them for the glory of God. It will be so life giving and fulfilling to you, and pleasing to God!

Not sure you are capable or qualified to minister to others? If you seek Jesus with a whole heart, He will equip you and meet you there. God can use ANYONE for His glory, all it takes is a willing heart and faith in Jesus. Through Jesus, we all have access to God’s power to do wonderful things for God and through God. 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that God’s power works best in weakness! I know this first hand to be true because I am WEAK without Jesus, I have crumbled under the pressure of trying to do life without Jesus as my focus.

Clinging to Jesus and accessing God’s power will sustain you in all situations. I am praying for all those reading this to step out in faith and love for Christ and make a positive difference in the position God has you in today. I am praying all these things for myself as well.

 

 

 

 

Plant-based Meal Planning for Beginners: 10 Easy Steps

When I first stared to transition my diet to being more plant based, I admit, I felt a little lost. It seemed daunting! I was so used to choosing a meat and a couple side dishes to go with it. But without meat, where do I even begin? Overtime I have found staple recipes that are easy to whip up and that my family loves. But cooking a whole foods, plant-based diet is sometimes more time consuming than the standard american diet because I’m often making more from scratch than I would have in the past.

I am about 6 years into my plant-based journey and recently started efficiently meal planning. I had never really found a successful way to meal plan before, and the way I have figured out how to do it now is much more efficient. Keep in mind, this is just one way to do it and this is what works best for me! There may be something totally different that works for you, and that’s OK! I love to meal plan Saturday, shop and prep Sunday, and begin Sunday night.

Here are the basics of how I meal plan for the week:

Step 1.  Clean out anything old and expired from your fridge

NO ONE likes a dirty fridge. Go through and toss anything expired, older than you remember, and get rid of junk! After that, give it a quick wipe down. I promise you that you’ll feel so good afterwards! Oh, and yes, I did say TOSS the junk! Even if said junk is good, toss it. Your health is more important! Here’s a list of common food additives to avoid if you need some inspiration:  Top 10 Food Additives to Avoid

Step 2. Take inventory and organize your fridge 

I have found that I am so much more willing to prep food for the week and store it in the fridge if my fridge is clean and ready to go. In the past, I found that a disorganized fridge was really frustrating to maneuver throughout the week. However, a clean and organized fridge is so much more inviting and once you have shopped and prepped your food, it’s fun to put it in your fresh fridge! Think that’s loony tunes? Try it. Then come chat!

Step 3: Consult your calendar and figure out which days you’ll need to make dinner, which would be better for a leftovers night, and which you’ll eat out 

This was my area of downfall. I am a spontaneous (and ADD) mother who – is that a squirrel? – you get the point. Planning ahead and foresight are NOT my strong suits! I have to make an effort to make my life run even somewhat smoothly and for me a tangible way to do this is getting my calendar involved with the meal plan. This one is probably a “Duh” moment for most people, but there was a time I planned Lasagna for a night I had an outing to go to and instead I was left scrambling for something faster, so, I thought I’d better mention it. Now, I consult my calendar! For example: this coming week I have a bible study on Tuesday night, so Monday night I planned to make Lasagna! Lasagna is the perfect day before meal to make because the leftovers the next day are JUST as delicious. So the night of bible study I’ll just have to warm up some dinner and we’re good to go!

Step 4. Recipe choosing tips: Choose recipes revolving around what you already have, recipes that make sense, recipes that you can easily make extra of, and recipes that have shared ingredients  

This is something else that didn’t come naturally to me. I originally just started finding recipes that sounded good without taking much else into consideration. Now, I take inventory and see what main ingredients I have and go recipe hunting based off of that! This is a money saver to use what you already have. I also tend to try and make recipes that make good leftovers. We like to eat leftovers for lunches, and sometimes dinner the next night. It’s an easy way to make sure you’re eating well with doing less cooking.

Step 5. Adopt the “make it once, use it twice!” motto and have fun!

Another time saving trick I love to do is my “make it once, use it twice” motto. One example of how I do this is on my prepping day, I’ll make a salad dressing I can use throughout the week. Another way is my cashew cream sauce. I love cashew cream and I make so many things with it! I start by making cashew sour cream and I store it in the fridge. I use it as a topping for multiple meals, I add it to lentil noodles with almond milk & nutritional yeast for my toddler, I’ve added it to marinara to make creamy vodka sauce, and I’ve even made it into a cool ranch dip by adding herbs and garlic. Soak the nuts once, make the cream once, and use it twice (or more times)!

Step 6. Create a master grocery list of items you’re missing from each recipe

Go through the recipes one by one and write out which items you don’t have, take that to the store and you’ll have what you need for the week! I tend to write the groceries into categories of the store, so when I go to the store, I can be efficient and get all the produce, then dry good, etc and my list is more visually organized.

Step 7. Go grocery shopping

Go, go go! Don’t forget to have fun. You might be buying some brand new ingredients! Congratulations on taking this step to taking better control of your overall wellness.

Step 8. Come home and organize your fridge so during the week, things are easy to find. 

Unload and organize your fridge. Make it presentable, it doesn’t need to be rocket science, but having a good looking and highly functional fridge will be super helpful to your motivation & success throughout the week.

Step 9. Prep as much ahead of time as you can

I love to prep ahead of time. Look at your recipes and see if there are any veggies or fruit you could wash and store ahead of time. What would make your life easier in the long run? One thing I always try to prep are my greens. I have found that I am WAY more likely to eat more greens if they’re already washed and ready for me to eat. I love to wash my romaine lettuce and kale, dry in a salad spinner, and store in a freezer bag. I also do this with my cilantro! Did you know that cilantro is one of those herbs that goes bad in the blink of an eye? You can prolong it’s life by simply rinsing it thoroughly, wrapping in a paper towel, and sticking that inside a freezer bag in your fridge. Mine lasts up to two weeks this way beautifully.

Step 10. Set reminders for yourself if you need to do any day before prep

I am useless without lists and reminders. I have recently began utilizing alarms and reminders in my phone more often lately and I love it! I’ve become so much more efficient. Some ideas on how to use alarms and reminders to help your meal plan be a success would be: Look at your recipes, set alarms on your phone for each day to start cooking. How long will each recipe take you? Set an alarm for when you should start cooking based off of what time you want dinner on the table. Another recommendation, look at the recipes and make sure any day before prep is done and set an alarm for that if you need to! For example, some of my recipes call for soaking cashews ahead of time. I love to soak them overnight in the fridge to make super creamy sour cream! So I love to set an alert for the day before to make sure my cashews get soaked.

You can do this!! 

I know it might seem like a lot, but it’s pretty simple! A little planning ahead can make everything run so much more smoothly during the week. Also, I am sure that most of you aren’t nearly as scatter brained as I can tend to be so you may not need the reminders and alarms like I do, and that’s awesome!! Skip over those steps. This is to make your life easier, so do what works best for your family. If you’re just starting out, you can try this plan or another one and then adjust to your needs as time goes on. Either way, happy meal planning and I am so excited for you embarking on this journey toward better health!