Friday, April 29

Laying Open my Heart: One of Many Struggles

They say that "ignorance is bliss".  Now I don't know who "they" are, but I feel like I do understand that sentiment, especially when I learn something new that I want to pursue but there are a million roadblocks in my way.  In general this is how I feel about eating well.  I don't mean dieting or eating low-fat, but really nourishing my family with good foods that aren't processed or contaminated.  This issue may not apply to a lot of people because you either don't care, don't believe it, or don't have a problem implementing it.  But this weighs on my mind weekly if not daily.  I want to feed my family the best possible food I can.  I want my boys to be healthy and strong and smart.  Heck, I want to be healthy and strong and smart.  But sometimes my goals and plans don't line up with where I am in life right now.  I'm definitely not healthy or strong...I can agree with some that I'm kinda smart (but I'm no genius by any means).  Being a parent has really changed my feelings about nutrition. We know more now than we did when I was growing up and my kids generation will know even's just the way we, as humans, are...we crave to know more, to dig deeper, and to understand.

For me, I really feel that eating a whole foods diet is healthy (I think few would compete with that statement).  I believe that eating organic is important in most aspects, that making your own things like bread is important (because of limiting chemicals and preservatives), and I think raw milk is great!  Unfortunately, I'm not a millionaire--I know you're shocked, but it's true.  I don't have unlimited funds available to buy meat straight from my local farmer or raw milk up the road...and even if I did, well do you know how expensive that can be?  And therein lies my dilemma...the one I struggle with.  Knowing what is most important RIGHT NOW, in the place God has me NOW, and knowing what it is that God has charged me with.  

That probably sounds weird, let me try to explain.  I feel passionately about feeding my family the best food possible, but what I don't feel passionately about is going broke doing it.  It would make me a poor steward of my families resources to ignore the balance in our bank account and spend all of our money on better food.  You might think I'm being extreme about how much it would cost or underestimating the importance of good food on our nutrition, but the honest lay-it-all-out-there-for-the-world-to-see truth is that our budget for food every month is slightly less than it would be on food stamps...I have a grand total of $320 to spend on food, toiletries, household products, dog food, and all 4 members of our family.  It's tough, it's a stretch, and that number actually includes a generous increase that I finagled when we decided Carter needed to eat gluten free (not a cheap option)--before two weeks ago our monthly budget was only $220. Its frustrating!

This amount of money can only be stretched so far.  We don't always do a good job of sticking to our budget, but we definitely feel it elsewhere if we don't.  And I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God has called me--as a stay-at-home wife and mother--to do everything possible to keep us on track.  It is my responsibility to ensure that we have enough food in the house to feed us all as well as finding unique ways to make up for any shortfalls.  If I don't do this, then I am not only disappointing my family, but I know I am disappointing my Heavenly Father.  This is what he has called me's not always fun, it's very often frustrating, and I don't know how I make it sometimes.  Coveting others grocery budgets is something I have to keep in check quite often.

I don't talk to many about how much I spend on groceries and I do my best to make sure that we still get to use a good portion of that for ministry opportunities (inviting people over to our house to share a meal, taking someone food when they're sick, eating out occasionally in fellowship with our church family, etc.).  Ministry is very important to us and I joke that my spiritual gift is cooking :).  God has demanded us to be open to these opportunities to fellowship with others--believers and unbelievers alike.  It is important to us and a calling from God.  So that brings another aspect of my struggle to light.

How do I justify spending my small budget on others?
God has asked me to.  Can I really say no?  I guess I could, I could say to myself and others that we just don't have the money or it's more important to feed my family, but then I would be saying to God that he doesn't provide for us adequately and that is absolutely un-biblical!  God tells us in the Bible that He always provides for our needs.  If I say that I can't do something because of my own folly or poor stewardship that is one thing, but to claim that I "can't" because I don't have enough?  That is claiming that God is not who He said He was.

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

So that is where I stand, or usually kneel.  Dealing with my own frustrations and sinful thoughts, relying on God to reveal a better path for me.  I am so thankful for his grace and compassion.  I am also thankful for a wonderfully understanding and hard-working husband.  But this is my struggle...not the only one, but one that is prominent and I frequently have to return to God for strength in going on.  I can't let myself become mired down by what I *think* I should be doing, but to find strength that God can help me through it.

I hope that all who reading this will understand that it has been difficult to reveal this personal aspect of my life and will take that to heart before commenting.  I know that I am doing the Lord's work and I would be more than happy to have a more intimate conversation about this with you so feel free to email or (if you have my number) to call :)
I hope that in sharing these intimate struggles and thought, I can encourage other women--especially Christians--to step up and be willing to be more transparent with one another.  I don't think anyone has it ALL together and I certainly don't think we're meant to seem we do.  While it's important for us to seek joy and understanding in our situations, this doesn't always have be done in private or alone.  Please reach out to those around you and if someone comes to YOU with something weighing on their heart...please try and be Christ-like in your response.  God Bless!

Thursday, April 28

Gluten Free...Week 2

I know I'm a little behind on getting this posted, but life has sprung up in weird ways this week.  Anyway, week one of our gluten free diet went great!  I cooked more last week than I think I ever have in my life.  Almost everything has been made from scratch and it was all pretty wonderful!  Even the things that seemed like flops turned out to be pretty tasty and I'm learning a lot in the process (like my Crockpot gets super hot and doesn't need nearly the whole time to cook chicken...unless of course you want it to be SUPER dry).  So we're heading into week two--though I'm almost positive at this point that we'll be continuing this diet for the long term because of how well Carter's doing.

Anyway, here's the plan for this week.

Mini Crustless Breakfast Quiche
Coconut Flour Muffins with Chocolate Chips/Walnuts
Peanut Butter Oatmeal
Scrambled Eggs with Bacon

sandwiches; steamed veggies
chicken nuggets; fruit

Lemon Chicken; Salad; Brown Rice
Tortilla Soup
Cheesburgers; Oven Fries
Easy Cheeseburger Pie; Salad
Tandoori Chicken with Rice; Salad
Boston Chicken; Quinoa Pilaf
Cheesy Beef and Rice

Wednesday, April 27

Cleaning House

So the post where I bear my soul that was due last Friday?  Life snuck up on me in the form of fussy kiddos, ER trips, and other issues at home.  But I am going to post it this Friday.

I also have a post in the works on our family blog about our first week gluten free and I'll post a link to that over here as well when it's up...the changes have been surprising!

Today, however, I want to blog about a subject that I don't have much experience  I know how to clean and the reasons to do it, but I'm awful at actually doing it and doing it correctly (if there is such a thing).  I have this grand idea in my head that the entire house should be scoured from top to bottom every day and when that doesn't happen--and let's be doesn't with 2 under 2 in the house--I get very distracted and discouraged.  Combating my ADD also proves difficult in this are and I tend to jump from one thing to another never quite completing anything.  This is frustrating for me and my husband is not a super fan of half finished projects....sooooo.  Anyway, this book was just released called 31 Days to Clean – Having a Martha House the Mary Way and i'm so excited to read it!  I have been waiting for the money to buy it, but today if you blog or tweet about it, you can actually get the ebook for free!!!!  I love free stuff :)

Anyway, if you're interested...head here to check it out and get your own copy!

Wednesday, April 20

Christian Women...a call to openness

I have a personal journey, we all do.  There are stories about my life that are nice and fun and silly and romantic. And then there are stories that aren't so nice, things that aren't fun, and others that are down right uncomfortable both for me to share and for others to hear.  What to do with these stories?  The ones we try so hard to make sure no one else sees.  This video touched me and I hope that you can find some level of yourself in her words (I found this video in this post on Rachel's blog, check it out for more inspiration on goals).

So how do we deal with this?  What do we share?  What is too personal to share in public or even with close friends?  These are questions I struggle with constantly.  I like to share some of my stories.  I like to think that what I went through means maybe someone else won't have to or will find comfort in the fact that they aren't alone.  I have met (in the last two years) two women who I was able to speak candidly with about one story.  Two women who, to my great shock, were both indirectly dealing with the same issue.  I would like to believe that I opened doors between them and myself that can create great and lasting bonds and friendships.  I hope that they can see that there is success/merit/value/hope in the situation of someone else going through the same struggle.

Do you have a story like this?  Do you struggle with wanting to seem "perfect" to those around you?

I have found that Christian's seem the worst at this!  I had many friends in high school whose entire goal in life was to see who had it worst!  Whose day was worse...whose parents were the worst...who had it so bad that no one could possibly feel anything but pity for their situation.  What time I wasted in those feelings!  On the other hand...I know that I've been guilty of going to church and trying to seem like everything is completely normal/together/fine when I feel like my whole world is crashing down.  We all struggle with things--small and large--and you would think that your church family would be the ones most likely to be compassionate.  Of course we all know the reality is that they are people just like anyone else.  People who can be judgmental, back-biting, ugly, and mean.  But do we give them the benefit of the doubt?  Do we give  people a chance to show their Christian compassion?  A chance to show us Christ-like love?  Or do we stay quiet, wishing someone would ask just the right question or make the right statement to let us know that they will be understanding.

I'm going to try something new here.  I'm going to share with the world something that I struggle with daily.  It may not be a big deal to you, though it is to me, but I hope that it will inspire others out there to share more of themselves and for a way for us to step up as Christians and be loving and kind to one offer support...and maybe we might even realize that we are nowhere near alone in our struggles.  I want this to be important, not just something I throw out, so please come back on Friday when I plan on sharing my story.  It won't be anything earth shattering like a drug addiction, affair, or anything else you might think of when you hear the word 'confession'.  But I hope that it will inspire!

Therefore, confess your sings to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
James 5:16

Tuesday, April 19

Cooking Gluten Free

This is our first week on our four week challenge to eat gluten free.  We are embarking on this to try and help my son with his recent diagnosis as well as trying to resolve some of the health problems that my husband and I have dealt with or are currently dealing with (PCOS, heartburn, allergies, asthma, migraines, depression, ADD, etc).  Hopefully this experiment with help, but we'll have to wait to see.  I have read everything from 2 weeks to 6 weeks are needed to see a quantitative change, we're going with four because it seemed manageable to me and not too overwhelming to my husband.

The biggest change so far has been the need to plan more specifically.  While I almost always menu plan dinners for at least a week at a time, I now have to plan breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for every day of the week.  Buying convenience food that is gluten free (though possible) is expensive and it's difficult to find places that are safe to eat out.  I also felt it would be easier to just focus on cooking while I'm still learning more about what is ok for us on the diet.  I have made a general rule to not buy things with extensive lists of ingredients as I'm still not sure about all the hidden gluten-containing things I need to watch for.  By buying things with readable ingredient lists, I have a better chance of getting things that are a) healthier and b) don't contain gluten.

For the most part we have avoided a lot of convenience type foods for ourselves, though I have splurged a bit on things that are quick or good snacks for my son...things like gluten free graham crackers (which are surprisingly yummy), crackers, Lara bars (until I can make some from scratch), cereal bars, and animal cookies.  I also ordered a box of gluten free food from Angel Food Ministries which is an EXCELLENT way to buy some more convenient gluten free food and not go completely broke.  I also try to spread out my shopping, only purchasing the absolute necessities at more expensive stores like Whole Foods and buying what I can at Aldi's (where I buy gf lunch meat, canned veggies and fruit, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, etc.).

So that is where we are right now.  I'll update more as we progress :)

Monday, April 18

Menu Planning on a Gluten Free diet

This week is our first week going gluten free, so this menu will be more extensive that what I normally plan.  I will try to link to recipes when possible, but if you want more ideas on gluten free foods I am posting a link to some good recipe sites at the bottom of this post.

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothies
Crustless Mini-Quiche (made mine with turkey ham, hash browns, and cheese)
Coconut Flour Muffins
Overnight Eggs (I make this without the salsa)
Yogurt and Fruit
Baked Oatmeal (using gluten free oats)

Sandwich (using this bread) with fruit and string cheese
Chicken Nuggets with veggies and hummus
Spinach Ricotta Bites
Chicken with potatoes/rice

Stone Soup
Beans and Rice with Corn Tortillas; Fruit Salad
Baked Chicken; Baked Potato with Broccoli Cheese Sauce
Boston Chicken; Salad; Quinoa Pilaf
Tacos with Spanish Rice
Jerk Chicken; Carrot Salad; Rice
Taco Corn Fritters; Fruit

Protein Bar
Peanut Butter Krispie Treats (with gf cereal)
Corn Tortilla Chips with Salsa
Veggies/Crackers and Hummus
Apples/Celery with Peanut Butter
Granola *
Applesauce Fruit Rolls *
Mock-Lara Bars *
Peanut Butter Cookies

* - These recipes came from the ebook, Healthy Snacks to Go, which you can purchase here.

Some great resources for gluten free recipes:
Heavenly Homemakers
Lynn's Kitchen Adventures
Kiki's Kitchen
Found this blog today and it is WONDERFUL!
Chocolate Covered Katie

This post is part of Menu Plan Monday, hosted by

Wednesday, April 13

Out with the Gluten

Since we will soon be embarking on a voyage into the world of gluten free, I felt I should clean out my cabintes and pantry of anything containing gluten so we don't accidentally pull things from there and so I know what all I need from the store this weekend.  And here is the result.

5 bags cleared out of my pantry:

And 2 from my kitchen cabinets:

Now, some of the stuff is already opened and we will try to use that up this week in preparation (while not going overboard and making ourselves sick).

Sunday, April 10

Gluten Free...the way to be?

This has been a crazy week.  Started out with finding out some big things about our son, Carter.  You can go read about his diagnosis on our other  This discover has lead to a renewed interest in going completely gluten free (which we've had good results with before).  I'm giving myself a week to get ready for it and use up some food in my fridge (though much will be boxed up until after our experiment) and then we're going all in!  I have to admit I'm a bit scared.  But the idea of being able to control some of his symptoms (as well as ones my husband and I have experienced) is so promising!

I'm going to try to keep you updated of our two week experiment and let you know the results.  I also plan on posting some resources we have used to get ready for this and where we've found more information.

Btw...if you are already gluten free you should check out this awesome giveaway!

Wednesday, April 6

Tackling the Laundry Monster

Have two kids under two is tough...especially when it comes to keeping any sort of schedule because something always comes up.  Someone wants to read a story or not take a nap.  While I love these impromptu moments of cuddling and teaching with my boys, it can make it difficult to get anything done around the house.  Laundry is by far the hardest thing to get done.   Partly this is because my laundry room is near our back door and quite a way (in my toddlers eyes) from the main part of our house.  He does NOT like mommy to leave his sight and so it's usually the cause for a crying/screaming fit when I go out there.  So I try to do it during nap time or at night when daddy is here to distract him.

When it comes to actually doing the laundry, I don't sort colors...I know, bad mommy!  I sort based on these five criteria:

  1. Heavy duty clothes -- These are things like jeans, underwear, and socks.  Any kind of clothing that should be washed in warm water for sanitary purposes, but I'm sure won't shrink.  
  2. Regular laundry -- The laundry that can we washed and dried in the dryer (mostly this is my shirts and my kids clothes).
  3. Air dry things -- Mostly this is my husbands work shirts which are notorious for shrinking if dried with any amount of heat in the dryer...some of my nicer shirts go in this one also.
  4. Bathroom towels and bedding -- Pretty self-explanatory.
  5. Kitchen laundry -- We mostly use cloth in the kitchen instead of buying paper towels (check out this post) and I don't like to wash these with the bedding/bathroom towels because they have nastier stuff on them (food, bacteria, etc).
I do 1-2 loads a day (depending on whether I am washing cloth diapers or not).  Here is the schedule I try to keep to:
Monday - regular laundry and cloth diapers
Tuesday - bedding/towels
Wednesday - heavy duty laundry and cloth diapers
Thursday - kitchen laundry
Friday - air dry things and cloth diapers
Saturday - catch up day
Sunday - my day of rest :)

We have four people in our home (including the two boys under 2) and this works well for us now.  My hardest chore is getting it all put away promptly without my 19 month old stealing/hiding things.  I have been really wanting to switch to a family closet for ease of getting laundry put away (only one room to go to to put away regular laundry), but so far my husband has not been on board so I wait patiently (most of the time) until he feels more comfortable and/or until I can find a very compelling way to implement this in our house.

This has been posted for Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by We are THAT Family.

Friday, April 1

10 Years of Me

I read this really cute post on my friend Dollie's blog and though that my birthday (yes, it really is today) would be an appropriate time to post my "10 years".  Enjoy!

10 Years of Me in April

10 years ago: I honestly don't remember much from this time.  I know I was in high school, learning to drive, and getting myself into trouble.  Other than that, I don't remember a lot.

9 years ago:  I was driving, growing in my faith, and trying to figure out what God wanted me to do for the rest of my life.  This was also a time that God used to grow and stretch me in some very uncomfortable ways.

8 years ago:  I was preparing to graduate from high school, head to college in the fall, and was learning that God's will was better than my own selfish decisions.  This was also when God brought some new friends into my life that have been a wonderful addition to this day!

7 years ago:  I was welcoming my little niece, Adriana, into the world.  Enjoying college life and so sure I knew God's plans for me.  It was also around this time that God put Africa on my heart (something I'm still passionate about, but not been called to move yet).

6 years ago:  I had met, dated, and was engaged to the most wonderful man!  We were making plans for the rest of our life.

5 years ago: I moved out on my own (outside of the dorms) for the first time, was working full time at one of the best jobs I've ever had, and planning our wedding.

4 years ago:  I was finally getting close to our wedding day!  A lot happened around this time that is still difficult for me to deal was a very difficult time for me though I stayed VERY busy.  I was working two jobs:  at a furniture store full time and part-time as a wedding consultant.

3 years ago:  We were living in Tulsa and had bought a house here.  This was also the time that I found out I have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and was told that "most likely" I would never be able to have children.

2 years ago:  I was still mourning over the loss of my Grandpa Claude the winter before, celebrating the pregnancy we had discovered only a few weeks before, and undergoing a MAJOR change in my heart totally led by the Lord!

1 year ago:  I was a stay-at-home wife and mom!  I was still reeling a bit from losing my Grandpa Claude (the third death, three years in a row, around the holidays), excited about joining our new church, and feeling really crummy (I mean super sick when I ate anything but salad)!  This day last year we "pranked" my in-laws by telling them I was pregnant again....not knowing yet that I actually was!