From Consumer to Creator

Day 69 of my COVID-19 quarantine.

God began to convict my heart about the amount of media I consume a while ago. My husband would tell you that I have a long-standing sensitivity in this area. Over our 15 years of marriage I have regularly taken inventory of what I’m putting in my mind, body, soul – a healthy habit that I highly recommend. But this year was different. During our fast at the beginning of the year, I fasted TV and movies for over 40 days and the most remarkable shift happened: I moved from being a consumer to a creator.

As image bearers of Christ, we were created to create not merely consume.

In Ephesians 2:10 Paul encourages us that, “We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (NLT) God desires that we use the creative gifts He has given each of us. As we create, we are walking out His purpose for in lives, for His glory. I recently really enjoyed reading Rebekah Lyons new book, Rhythms of Renewal, and I love how she defines create “using your specific talents, skills, and callings to live deeper into your God-given purpose, to create something that blesses him and the world around you” (page 221).

We live in a culture with an insatiable hunger for entertainment. It is so easy to fall into the gluttony of the “Netflix & chill” mindset and completely miss the purpose for which God created us. What’s worse is often this mindset trickles into how we view our relationship with God. Many desire to be entertained more than they want to be transformed. Attending church solely to be entertained with their favorite type of music, speaker, décor etc., rather than desiring to use their gifts in obedience to Christ and in service of His call and purpose. Getting bored with reading the Bible or prayer because it’s not exciting enough. Constantly seeking entertainment and consumption.

It is impossible to create when you are constantly consuming. Think about it! When we are too busy consuming the creations, lives, and stories of others – that is time taken away from creating big or small for the glory of God. Don’t get me wrong, I love to enjoy the beautiful creative works of others but I’m advocating for balance and a season of introspection.

“No matter our age, dreams get squashed when our lives are consumed with entertainment and technology” (Rebekah Lyons, Rhythms of Renewal, page 227). Consuming was literally robbing me of fulfilling my dreams and walking in my God given purpose. Unplugging the TV for 40+ days allowed the space in my brain and in my life to dream again. I began to use my hands and mind to make things, write, and dream like I haven’t in such a long time. To use Rebekah Lyon’s analogy, this time allowed me to build a creative rhythm back into my life that was long overdue.

As I stood in the kitchen for hours yesterday prepping our meals for the week, I stood back and thanked God for the opportunity to create meals with my hands, for His glory. I thanked Him for the necessary shift that has taken place in my life. Creating isn’t limited to arts & crafts. It is using the gifts God has given you, in the way He has wired you, for His glory. I’m convinced that our ability to create is limited more by our own over consumption than any other circumstance. Over consumption is literally robbing the world of what you and I were made to create. I pray that my own journey will be the catalyst you need to seek balance and move from a consumer to a creator.

Journal & Process

-What are the dreams that God has placed within your heart?

-What adjustments to your consumption need to take place in order to walk boldly in your purpose?

-What is limiting your ability to create?

5 Daily Actions

Day 62 of my COVID-19 quarantine.

Last year I heard a powerful talk by John C. Maxwell that made a huge impact in my daily habits. Within his talk he shared what he calls “The Power of Five”, and of course he has a whole book about it that I cannot wait to read, here’s the link in case you want to dive in. During his point on the importance of consistency he shared with the audience 5 things that he does every single day of his life. Five essential, invaluable actions that he repeats over and over and over again. These actions in and of themselves were simple & straight forward, yet they are critical in helping him accomplish his call and purpose.

After hearing his talk, my husband and I were challenged to pray about and write down our own 5 daily actions. These are 5 actions unique to each individual that are essential to our mental, spiritual, & physical health. They are also invaluable to our purpose and calling. As I share mine, try to think about what your 5 daily actions might be. Some might be the same, but some might be totally different which is to be expected. I have noticed that as I engage in these 5 daily actions, they make a HUGE difference on my sanity throughout this crisis. My mood is happier, my hopes are up, and I’m able to be patience, kind, and loving toward my family. Y’ALL these 5 daily actions are a lifeline from Heaven that are making such a big difference for me. I wonder if yours would have the same affect for you???

First, I pray! My prayer time begins with a few moments of silence & stillness in the presence of God. I focus my mind and heart on Him, surrendering my fears and receiving His love. Then I pray through several lists of needs from our church, family, friends, ministries we support etc. As I intercede for these loved ones, laying their needs in the capable and mighty hands of Jesus, an interesting thing happens. I feel lighter & happier – like the burden I was carrying was literally transferred to Jesus and now I’m not weighed down by it.

Second, I write. If you’re new around here I’m a very big advocate for journaling. Throughout the quarantine I’ve begun each journal entry the same – partially to record this amazing moment in His-story and partly because I wake up each day literally not knowing what day it is, lol! Here’s what today’s entry looked like:  Thursday, May 14, 2020 at home QD 62 (quarantine day).

As I journal, I share a summary of our activities from the previous day – to be noted I don’t normally treat my journal like a diary, although you totally can but each day is so unique during this crisis and I want to be able to go back to this time years from now and reflect on this season in greater detail. I will also write a prayer to the Lord with anything on my heart that day. Then as I continue my time with Jesus, I use my journal as a space to record all the many things He speaks to my heart through His word. I’ll write verses that pop out at me, even whole passages. Something powerful takes place in my heart when I’ve not only read a verse but read it out loud and written it down. Those extra steps seem to cement the truth deep within my heart and memory banks. This space in my journal is precious to me, it’s like God’s love letter to me, beautifully crafted from our time together. Lots of times this writing becomes a blog post or is used as I serve others.Third I read. While reading my sole motivation is to PUT TRUTH IN. Listen, there are millions of things coming after our minds each day, it is critical to our sanity throughout this crisis to be vigilant with what we are putting in our minds. You are a gate keeper, choose wisely my friends. I begin with reading the Psalm & Proverb from that day’s date, then continue to whatever book in the Bible I’m studying at that time. I am currently devouring the fascinating truth within 1 & 2 Kings. As I read, I sit with my journal, my Bible, and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary. Whenever I have a question, don’t understand what something means, or am curious about a detail from the Bible I whip out Dr. Evans Commentary and look it up. It’s like having the greatest Bible teacher in the world as a personal mentor – I highly recommend it.

At the beginning of 2020 I committed to read at least 1 chapter in a book per day. To date I have completed 16 books by staying consistent with this tiny little habit. What happened was a love for reading was birthed in me, after my 1 chapter was completed, I found myself longing to read more later in the day. There have been many times that I’ve chosen reading over watching the TV at night, who am I? John C. Maxwell says, “consistency compounds” and he is totally right.

Fourth I move. God beautifully designed movement as a vital part of our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Moving is one of my favorite ways to relieve stress. My hubby and I walk at least 30 minutes daily (weather permitting, while social distancing of course) and I can tell such a huge difference in my mood when we do. Moving allows us to think more clearly, talk through the day, and dream together.

Fifth I connect. Last but not least, I try to connect with family and friends every day. This looks like texts, calls, messages, video chats, and even Zoom hangouts. God created us as relational beings and connection with family & friends brings a level of perspective and hope that is much needed. Often, I am able to encourage someone who’s having a tough time, which then encourages me as well. Connection speaks truth to the lies of isolation, reminding me that I am not alone, and I am deeply loved.

As I pray, write, read, move, and connect I am grounded in God’s love and truth. I am building health habits that will compound, serving my calling & purpose. I am taking the best care possible of my mind, body, & soul. I hope these inspire you to pursue 5 daily actions both now and far beyond this pandemic.

Journal & Process

-What are 5 daily actions that are essential to YOUR purpose?

-What adjustments will you need to make as you begin to walk in these actions?

-What is your mind, body, & soul craving in this season?

MY FAVORITE THINGS – ESSENTIAL OIL TOOLS

I did it y’all!! I finally compiled a complete list of all of my favorite essential oil tools. I have links for everything from DIY supplies, storage solutions, reference books, & more. I hope this is a blessing to you on your journey and makes life super simple!

ESSENTIAL OIL BOOKS

Most of these books listed below are available at www.discoverlsp.com or you can use the Amazon links referenced below. *All Amazon links are affiliate links

Essential Oil Pocket Reference – https://amzn.to/34VLpLO

Essential Oil Desk Reference – https://amzn.to/2Xfn9lq

Supplements Desk Reference by Jen O’Sullivan – https://31oils.com/supplements/ or https://amzn.to/34REZxp

Animal Desk Reference – https://amzn.to/32CMrL7

Gentle Babies: Essential Oils and Natural Remedies for Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infants and Young Children (10th Anniversary Edition) – https://amzn.to/2pdgA6h

Betsy Bosom’s Baby Book: A Girlfriend’s Guide to Using Essential Oils from Bellies to Babies (Lucy Libido) – https://amzn.to/2qQvgbG

Lucy Libido Says…..There’s an Oil for THAT: A Girlfriend’s Guide to Using Essential Oils Between the Sheets (Volume 1) – https://amzn.to/2X8OYLV

Essentials: 50 Answers to Common Questions about Essential Oils by Lindsey Elmore – https://amzn.to/2NFxwMa

Essentials: 75 Answers to Common Questions About Essential Oils and Supplements by Lindsey Elmore – https://amzn.to/32CTIe9

Healing Oils of the Bible – https://amzn.to/373irvE

Essential Parfumerie by Melissa Poepping – https://www.essentialparfumerie.com/

Pure Male Cologne Book by Melissa Poepping – https://melissapoepping.com/

Essential Oil Make & Takes by Jen O’Sullivan – https://31oils.com/make-takes/ or https://amzn.to/2NEBG6M

The Art of Blending with Essential Oils Booklet – https://amzn.to/2O4YjR0

ESSENTIAL OIL BAGS
Modern Makerie – https://www.modernmakerie.com/

Honey Hive Five – https://www.etsy.com/shop/HoneyHiveFive

Baggage and CO – https://www.etsy.com/shop/BaggageandCO

Cowgrl Creations – https://www.etsy.com/shop/Cowgrlcreations

Amanda Fair Designs – https://www.etsy.com/shop/AmandaFairDesigns

ESSENTIAL OIL SHELVES
Tucker Design Co. – https://www.etsy.com/shop/TuckerDesignCompany

Chipped with Charm – https://www.etsy.com/shop/ChippedWithCharm

His Hers Woodworking – https://www.etsy.com/shop/HisHersWoodworking

Essentially Curated – https://www.essentiallycurated.com/

Tree of Life Oil Shelf – https://amzn.to/2NZomc4

Oily Hounds – https://www.etsy.com/shop/OilyHounds

Essential Racks – https://essentialracks.com/

DIFFUSER JEWELRY (*best choices)

*Ashley Madrigal – https://www.etsy.com/shop/AshleyMadrigal

*Put On Love Designs – https://www.putonlovedesigns.com/

*Lava Essentials – https://www.lavaessentials.com/

Aroma Dream Jewelry – https://www.etsy.com/shop/AromaDreamJewelry

Leaved Gates – https://www.etsy.com/shop/LeavedGates

Ashleyy’s Finds – https://www.etsy.com/shop/AshleyysFinds

Joy Plus Jewels – https://www.etsy.com/shop/JOYplusJEWELS

Halle’s Jewels – https://hallesjewels.com/

CARRIER OILS

YL V-6 Carrier Oil: http://bit.ly/204kDHA

Coconut Oil Unrefined – https://amzn.to/2NEP4bf (#1 choice)

Coconut Oil Refined – https://amzn.to/2X5IaPg (some use in beauty products)

Coconut Oil Fractionated – https://amzn.to/2XcAavV (good for rollers)

Sweet Almond Oil – https://amzn.to/2NIrDxT

Jojoba Oil – https://amzn.to/2KfDDo6

Argan Oil – https://amzn.to/2qOY5Wk

Vitamin E – https://amzn.to/2Kg4Wi8

DIY SUPPLIES

Shea Butter – https://amzn.to/2KgcOjG

Cocoa Butter Wafers – https://amzn.to/32DV203

Bees Wax – https://amzn.to/2rGdJDT

Epsom Salts (8lbs unscented) – https://amzn.to/2qO9JQW

Dr. Bronners Liquid Castile Soap (32 oz unscented) – https://amzn.to/36YqQQT

Witch Hazel (8oz) – https://amzn.to/2CzzJ5t

Aloe Vera Gel (12 oz) – https://amzn.to/2X9wP0x

ESSENTIAL OIL ROLLER BOTTLES

*I recommend re-purposing your empty essential oils bottles then make a roller by adding an Aroma Glide Fitments from YL. These fit both 5ml & 15ml bottles bit.ly/1RQ8W3t

Whimsy & Wellness –  https://www.whimsyandwellness.com/

Wood and Oils – https://www.etsy.com/shop/WoodAndOils

The Root & Petal – http://www.therootandpetal.com/

10ml roller sets on Amazon

6 amber with black cap – https://amzn.to/2KfzXTg

8 colorful frosted – https://amzn.to/2O5roeX

12 amber with gold cap – https://amzn.to/2CGGbr6

12 colorful with gold cap – https://amzn.to/2KiUWVA

OTHER DIY CONTAINERS

8oz Glass Spray Bottles • for diluting Thieves Household Cleaner:

6 pack assorted colors – https://amzn.to/2KfEO6Z

6 pack amber – https://amzn.to/36Wi45Q

2oz Glass Spray Bottles • perfect for linen, room, or outdoor sprays:

4 pack blue – https://amzn.to/2O2JfTU

6 pack amber – https://amzn.to/34WGKt7

2oz Dropper Bottles • for face serums, holding carrier oils, etc.

2 pack blue – https://amzn.to/2rwstF1

2 pack amber – https://amzn.to/2pVqwBP

Foaming Hand Soap Dispensers (3 pack) – https://amzn.to/34SYHZA

Empty Veggie Capsules • for taking vitality oils internally – https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/clear-vegetable-capsules

4 oz Mason Jars (set of 4) – https://amzn.to/2O47dOA

8 oz Mason Jars (set of 6) – https://amzn.to/2QeCKjw

MORE FAVORITE ESSENTIAL OIL SUPPLIES

Essential Oil Bottle Labels – https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/essential-oil-bottle-labels

Essential Oils 25 pack 2ml Sample Bottles – https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/essential-oil-sample-bottles

Essential Oil Spray Tops For 5, 10, 15 to 100 ml Bottles (rainbow) – https://amzn.to/356JdRX

Smelly Faces – stuffed animals – https://www.etsy.com/shop/SmellyFaces

The Cheeky Doormat – essential oil doormat – https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheCheekyDoormat

6 pack of stainless steel lids and straws for wide mouth mason jars – https://amzn.to/2q5GGIE

4 pack stainless steel straws – https://amzn.to/2O1yhOw

Essential Oil Inhalers (great tools for those interested in quitting smoking!) – https://www.breathefum.com/

YL BUSINESS BOOKS

Propel: Your Guidebook to Freedom by Niccole Perez – https://inspiredsharing.com/  Or https://amzn.to/32Dju1B

Gameplan: The Complete Strategy Guide to go from Starter Kit to Silver by Sarah Harnisch – https://amzn.to/2QcmW0Q

Unstuck: How To Talk To Humans & Get Them To Respond To You by Sarah Harnisch – https://amzn.to/2O8RRrZ

Getting Noticed: A No-Nonsense Guide to Standing Out and Selling More for Momtrepreneurs Who Ain’t Got Time for That by Lindsay Teague Moreno – https://amzn.to/36VKtsK

Boss Up!: This Ain’t Your Mama’s Business Book by Lindsay Teague Moreno – https://amzn.to/33Jr0cW

The Four Year Career, Young Living Edition by Richard B. Brooke – https://amzn.to/34VXVuK

25 To Life: Jailbreak Your 9-5 & Escape to Financial Freedom by Adam Green – https://amzn.to/2qaa5Bs

YL BUSINESS RESOURCES

Young Living – https://www.youngliving.com/

Young Living Blog – https://www.youngliving.com/blog/

Young Living Seed to Seal – http://seedtoseal.com/en

Young Living Foundation – https://younglivingfoundation.org/

Young Living Farm Tours – http://younglivingfarmtours.com/v2/

Nature’s Ultra – https://naturesultra.com/

Life Science Publishing – https://www.discoverlsp.com/

GROworkspace – https://www.groworkspace.com/

Oil Revolution Designs – https://oilrevolutiondesigns.com/

Oil Supply Store – https://oilsupplystore.com/

31 Oils – https://31oils.com/

The Social Oiler – https://thesocialoiler.bigcartel.com/

Melissa Poepping – https://melissapoepping.com/

Essential Oil Transformation – https://essentialoilstransformation.com/

The Oil Posse – https://theoilposse.com/

Inspired Sharing – https://inspiredsharing.com/

Bethany Shipley (Diamond Workbook) – https://bethanyshipley.com/

Oil Ability Team – https://oilabilityteam.com/

Growing Healthy Homes – https://growinghealthyhomes.com/

*All Amazon links are affiliate links

Our Journey to this Crunchy Life

Crunchy blogDo you ever sit back, take a good hard look at your life, and giggle? It brings such joy to my heart to think about our health journey over the last decade, through all the ups and downs God has certainly been by our side teaching and guiding our steps. Today I want to share a little bit about our journey to this crunchy life!

According to urbandictionary.com, crunchy is an adjective that is “used to describe persons who have adjusted or altered their lifestyle for environmental (and I would add health) reasons.” Yep that’s us and let me tell you we are all in!

It all started when I got really sick with a fungus called aspergillus in my lungs back in the summer of 2011.  That illness led to 12 cases of bronchitis/pneumonia and 55 weeks of bedrest over the 2 ½ years that followed. At my worst I was 36 years old, on 24 prescription medications, and my husband and I genuinely didn’t expect that I would ever work again. This cycle of illness was crippling to our family and our future. Desperately in search of anything that would break the cycle, we took matters into our own hands and began to do a ton of research. We read many books & articles online, watched documentaries, and talked to friends who had been through health issues. We quickly discovered our unhealthy lifestyle needed a serious overhaul.

Crunchy blog 1Honestly I’m so eternally grateful for the information we found, because prior to my illness I would have TOTALLY rolled by eyes and snickered judgmentally at “crunchy” families. I fully and completely trusted that things sold in the U.S. were safe and not harmful for our family, oh boy was I wrong. The truth is that there is very little regulation on household, hygiene, & beauty products. Not to mention genetically modified foods, pesticides, and processed food loaded with chemicals. The more we learned the more appalled and overwhelmed we were. So we made changes little by little, starting with the laundry room.

One of the things we quickly discovered was that our laundry detergent was giving me a horrible rash all over my body, an almost constant yeast infection (sorry guys..just keeping it real!), and contributing to my daily headaches. We had used this detergent for years and I never had a problem, but my now weak immune system could not keep up with the chemicals and fragrance within the detergent. So over the next year we tried 12 different laundry detergents, we tried all the brands of free & clear, we tried all the so called “natural” detergents and yet there was still something in each of them that gave me this horrible reaction. Most companies hide toxic ingredients using the umbrella of fragrance, a term that can be used to represent thousands of different toxic chemicals. If it wasn’t for the very obvious and unavoidable symptoms that remained I may have never continued this costly experiment. We finally found a solution, and for five years we made our own laundry detergent, which at the time was the only option for relief from my symptoms. Gratefully we currently using Young Living’s Thieves Laundry Detergent which works amazing and I have zero rashes, infections, or headaches from it.

Crunchy blog 2Around the same time we began our weight loss journey and made huge changes in how we fuel our bodies. Weight loss is a journey that is far from over, and has had many ups and downs. It began with two successful years on Weight Watchers where we learned a ton in weekly meetings about healthy habits. That was a time I will always cherish! We stopped eating processed foods, began cooking 95% of our meals at home, ate about 75% organic. It was such an eye opener to see a very primitive truth first hand: when you give your body what it needs, it will heal itself. It’s part of the miraculous way God’s creation works.

Back in 2012 I still struggled with painful headaches and was taking 800 mg of Ibuprofen every. single. day! So a girlfriend gave me a bottle of Young Living Peppermint essential oil and told me to try it for my headaches. I received her gift mainly because I didn’t want to be rude but I honestly thought, what is this plant juice going to do for my headaches?!? I had read a little about essential oils in our hunt for natural remedies and there just started to be a lot of buzz online but I basically knew next to nothing. Nothing about how to use them, where to use them, safety…nothing. So the next day I put a drop or two of the peppermint oil on my forehead, temples, back of neck, and shoulders. I WAS SHOCKED that within 5 minutes my headache completely disappeared. Thus began my love affair with essential oils! Since then we have learned how to use essential oils hundreds of ways. They are a celebrated solution to most of our wellness needs and I am so grateful to share our journey with others through my Young Living business.

Crunchy blog 3Throughout the last 8 years we have learned a few principles that we will live by now & forever, by God’s grace.

  1. God’s creation is amazing & powerful. God provided everything we need for life, health, and wellness in creation.
  2. Be an advocate for your own health & wellness. Don’t believe everything you read or hear. Labels lie and are intentionally misleading. Just because something says natural on it, doesn’t mean it is. Do your own research.
  3. We are the gatekeepers of our home and our family. Everything you put in your body or use in your home/hygiene is an investment in your health – either positively or negatively.

I am happy to report that after wonderful medical care + being an advocate and gatekeeper in our home + removing the chemicals from our home/hygiene/beauty products, my health has returned beyond our wildest dreams. I am currently only on 2 prescription medications.  I am able to serve with my husband in fulltime ministry, own my own business, write, speak, and so much more. All of this was possible by God’s amazing grace and direction!

This is just a snapshot of how our crunchy life got started, I’d love to share more with you guys! Tell me about your wellness journey. Where are you at on the crunchy scale?!? All in or just getting started? What questions do you have about our journey?

Next week I’m going to share a powerful self revelation that “I Can’t Do This”  See you then!

 

Learning to Fuel Our Bodies Well

Fueling Bodies

Photo by Megan Hodges on Unsplash

About six months ago I was having a conversation with my chiropractor about my health and I had this MAJOR “Ah Ha” transformative moment! This was quite the powerful conversation!! You have to understand that I adore my chiropractor and he is an absolute gift from God for our lives. He is also an Italian from NYC and is one of the most out spoken people I have ever met while simultaneously being extremely wise and encouraging. Someday I will write an entire post about him because I have learned SO MUCH. Anyway, we were reviewing all the steps that Adrian and I have taken to reduce the chemicals that we use in our home (cleaning products, laundry, dish soap, etc.) and on our bodies (skincare, shampoos, makeup, etc.). These chemicals weaken our immune systems and cause all kinds of havoc in our bodies…especially mine. So my chiropractor gently and wisely prods me with this question, “Jen, you have done incredible things to remove chemicals from your home and with what you use on your bodies, BUT what about what you are putting IN your bodies? Mic drop! I could say nothing but humbly agree. While we have always maintained certain strict boundaries (zero processed foods, only drinking water, etc), we were not doing our best to fuel our bodies well. Our weight gain was a clear indicator of that fact.Breakfast.pngHis words rang in my mind for months, and God began to draw my heart toward change. Around the same time we were encouraged by several friends to watch a Netflix documentary called “What The Health.” I would highly recommend you check it out. Again God seemed to be using many things to draw our hearts toward change. My conviction going into 2018 was to proactively build nutrition into our meals and fuel our bodies well. Um what does that mean? What path is the right path? My thoughts exactly, lol!

I have learned a ton about nutrition since our journey to get healthy began back in 2010. The problem is there is this constant ongoing struggle in the media about which eating plan is actually healthy. Does anyone else get completely overwhelmed and frustrated by that? Seriously, most of the ways of eating healthy now weren’t even around back in 2010. Is it Gluten Free, Paleo, Weight Watchers, Keto, Whole30, Vegan, etc.??? Each with differing & conflicting methods claiming optimum health for our bodies. This is a stumbling block for many people who then just give up and instead do nothing and remain unhealthy. My position and best counsel is for you to learn to be aware of your own body and what YOUR BODY needs. When you eat a certain way do you feel good physically? Emotionally? Do you have more energy, sleep better, and feel more satisfied? For example when I eat gluten & dairy I tend to have some tummy troubles, cramping, etc. My body is communicating A LOT to me through those actions. When you eat a certain way are you healthier, stronger, and able to maintain a healthy weight?LUNCH.pngI credit much of my self-awareness as it relates to food to the 2 years we participated in the Weight Watcher program. The discipline of daily tracking, weekly meetings, and constant education about food, nutrition, exercise, etc. will benefit me the rest of my life. I have also learned a ton about my body through the multiple times we have participated in Whole30 (a 30 day detox).

I have learned that my body likes fuel every 2-3 hours all day long.

I have learned that as I am aging my body like gluten & dairy less and less and less.

I have learned that many times when I think I’m hungry I actually just need water.

I have learned that I am a better human, wife, friend, etc. when I am OFF sugar. Like for reals y’all!

I have learned that I need to plan ahead and be prepared for holidays, travel, and events in order to stay healthy.

I have learned that cooking is my biggest creative outlet.

I have learned that food is fuel.

I have learned that pretty food is more satisfying.DINNER.pngGoing back to basics on January 1st we joined our church by entering into a season of 40 days of Prayer & Fasting. We felt God’s leading to participate in a Daniel Fast as one portion of our personal fast. Don’t feel bad for us y’all we have been eating all the amazing meals in this post & more!! This fast has been a wonderful journey is more ways than one. We are doing our best to fuel our bodies well and are feeling absolutely FANTASTIC!! I’m so grateful for the love of God and the gentle prodding of my chiropractor to draw us toward greater wellness in 2018. Our journey towards wellness continues and I believe the BEST is yet to come!

I’d love to hear from you!!

What foods fuel your body well? Is your body trying to tell you something?  Are you listening to your body during this season and giving it what it needs to thrive?

Shattering Limits!

Shattering Limits WEB REV

Photo by Jilbert Ebrahimi on Unsplash

Have you ever said the words “I could never do that”?

What spiritual, emotional, & physical limits do you place on yourself?

Do you have people in your life that limit you and speak death over your dreams?

In 2010 I was working as a counseling intern, running at outpatient women’s program at a mental hospital. I got very sick with a fungus called aspergillus in my lungs which led to a 180* shift in my life. In the two and a half years that followed, I had 12 cases of bronchitis or pneumonia and 55 weeks of bedrest. I had 12 different doctors and they couldn’t figure out what was causing the complete shutdown of my immune system. I was unable to work because I couldn’t go more than a month without getting sick. I developed horrible fatigue and lost half my hair. When I got bronchitis I would be in bed for days at a time, often my husband would need to help me shower because I would get so weak. A case of bronchitis would take me 3 to 4 weeks to recover from. During this time I gained even more weight and at over 300 pounds I was the heaviest I had ever been. At my worst, at 35 years old I was taking 24 prescription medications. Y’all I was SICK! My life went from vibrant & fulfilling to one GIANT limit!

I don’t know about you, but I DO NOT like limits. I’m basically the personality type that says, “oh you think I can’t do it, WATCH ME!” It felt like people were lining up to tell me what I couldn’t or shouldn’t do. I was crippled with the limits placed upon me by doctors, well-meaning family & friends, but even worse myself. Now don’t get me wrong, God created limits for a reason and some of them are necessary and important. However, I began to develop a very limiting and unhealthy mindset. My thoughts and plans centered around “I am a sick person” or “I’ll always be sick”. This limited my hope, my dreams, and my future! This was NOT the truth about my life, it was NOT God’s plan, but I believed it and acted upon it for a season.

Fast forward nearly 8 years later I am a completely different person today. In the next few weeks I want to share more in depth my recovery journey but for now let’s just say God is AMAZING!! What the doctors said was broken, God renewed and healed!! See God created our bodies in this incredible way, when you give the body what it needs…God designed it to heal itself! WOW!

Now I am in the business of SHATTERING LIMITS! After losing years of my life to sickness, medication, doctors’ appointments, and bedrest I am now chasing after GOD sized dreams. One of the biggest dreams I am chasing is running in a half marathon. With the approval of God, my husband and my doctor I have registered and am training for a half marathon. {HAPPY DANCE!!!} I am absolutely thrilled and overjoyed at the favor of God for the ability & strength to run this race. God continues to show Himself powerful & mighty in my life.

Joshua 1: 9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you God.” Joshua was a brand new leader for the people of Israel after the mighty man of God, Moses had died. As all new leaders are, Joshua was probably a little insecure and scared. He had huge shoes to fill and was commissioned to fight a bunch of battles and bring God’s people into the Promised Land. I feel like this verse is like a pep talk from God. Think about the limits that could have plagued Joshua’s mind and held him back from God’s purposes. God is in the business of SHATTERING LIMITS! God’s purposes & plans will NOT be limited, thwarted, or compromised. Consider this: how has your story influenced the limits you place on yourself? Are you holding yourself back from following your GOD sized dreams? I believe God wants to give us a pep talked today, to be STRONG & COURAGEOUS, to no longer walk in fear but abide in His truth, and that HE will be with us wherever we go! Let’s break down the walls of self-doubt, fear, insecurity, and confusion friends and begin SHATTINGER LIMITS!!

What GOD sized dreams are you chasing right now? How are you SHATTERING LIMITS?

Interested in reading more? Check out My Testimony

NEW MILES. NEW BLISTERS.

I love to walk. There is just something so life giving to me about lacing up my shoes, filling up my water bottle, and navigating a few miles outdoors on a beautiful day. I find I do my very best praying & worshiping along those paths. I hear from God more clearly and feel His love & grace more vividly. A few weeks ago I began to walk again after an admittedly long drought without much (read any) exercise. Anyone else have seasons like that? In the past few years it has been pretty ordinary for me to walk at least 4 miles. We are so blessed to live next to a gorgeous park filled with a variety of beautiful well kept paths. I use an app called CardioTrainer to track my location, distance, pace, & steps.

Praying

My first day out was equal parts glorious & brutal!! My heart & mind were blazing with determination. I was ready!! I have learned in those moments of great zeal, that are honestly way too fleeting, to seize the day and jump in with both feet before the moment passes. In wisdom, since it had been awhile, I thoroughly stretched and embarked on my journey. I SO enjoyed the beauty of God’s creation, soaking it all in. I was very proud of myself for pushing past the zillion reasons (read excuses) that could have prevented me from walking that day.  Completing those 4 miles was absolutely glorious!!

The whole time I was monitoring myself to see how my legs, knees, & hips would do, all was well thankfully. However about mile #3 it started. I could feel the blisters forming on my tender feet and there was nothing I could do. I was over a mile from home and had to push through and finish the race (there’s a sermon in there for another day). That final stretch was absolutely brutal! It felt like both of my feet were covered in blisters, from the toes to the back of my heal, and every step brought the sting of pain. When I got home I took off my shoes and YIKES!! I had at least 5 blisters on each foot. Did I mention how tender my feet are?? Let me tell you it was NOT pretty.

Moses

I have recently been studying the life & leadership of Moses. I’m inspired & challenged by how God worked in and through his life. I see in the life of Moses a man who was called from birth, literally plucked from death, and filled with purpose. Each new mile that Moses walked with God brought new joys & new blisters. He was the man that God choose to lead His people out of captivity in Egypt, and oh what a GLORIOUSLY unforgettable exit they made. He was also the man that God choose to lead His people through FORTY YEARS of wandering in the desert. Talk about BRUTAL!!

Through the life and leadership of Moses I am learning that with each mile I walk with God there will be joys & blisters….sometimes both literally & figuratively. It gives me hope to see a leader like Moses continuing to press into God regardless of the loud and doubting criticisms of the crowd. It gives me hope to see a leader who struggled with self doubt, discouragement, fatigue, and sin to endure and be used by God in mighty and miraculous ways. BIG HOPE y’all!! Moses was not perfect, he was stretched, and challenged but he grew & ultimately fulfilled his purpose to the glory of God.

Moses 2

In my exercise & in my spiritual walk there is one truth that will prevail. NEW MILES. NEW BLISTERS. I have been walking a few times a week and slowly increasing my distance & pace. I was SO excited when I hit 6.46 miles the other day for the first time. WOW!! You know what? Those blisters from my 4 mile walks healed up and now my feet are a little stronger for it. Each time I walk a little farther or faster I may pick up a new blister or two…BUT even when I’m being stretched and challenged God is using it to produce life, and strength, and hope in me. Most of all He is using the struggles in our lives to draw us closer to Him so that he can demonstrate His glory. Today I’m welcoming NEW MILES, by His grace joyfully anticipating NEW BLISTERS, but most of all celebrating His love as he walks beside me to see His purposes fulfilled in my life.

I’d love to hear from YOU!!

What new miles are you walking today?

How are your feet feeling?

How has healing from your blisters made you stronger?

Navigating the Holidays

December 14, 2016

Let’s be honest, December can be a train wreck for healthy living. Hectically busy schedules create an environment where compromise is a matter of survival, unfortunately in our lives often that compromise is related to our health. So, you’re running around shopping all day and grab a late meal from McDonalds, your starving tired and completely stressed to find the perfect gifts! Sooooo you order that extra-large french fry, you tell yourself you’ve earned that giant milkshake and about 3,000 calories later down that slippery slope you’re swimming in a sea of regret & shame. Has that happened to any of you? Or maybe you are planning your week and can’t find even 1 hour to squeeze in time to the gym with all the decorating, shopping, wrapping, cooking, and parties. Oh, the parties, parties on every night of the weekend, meals with friends, white elephant gift exchanges galore! All the wonderful holidays foods that are so special we only make & indulge one time or year. This is such a hard time of year to navigate living a healthy lifestyle, don’t you agree?

A few years back I wrote a Holiday Confessions blog in which I shared a very thorough plan that we used for a healthy & meaningful holiday. Reading it again inspired me so check it out! I am a planner, I love to plan and always function better in life with a good solid plan. As I prepare for the holiday this year my energy & time are so stretched that my approach is simply to survive without gaining weight. This may be disappointing to some but I really believe it is best to be realistic about your expectations and build from there. That said we are making a few major changes that I want to share with you.

This year I am navigating the holidays by:

-Planning & cooking healthy whole food meals for the lunches & dinners we have at home.

-Eating breakfast smoothies each morning which maintains our healthy routine and controls our calories to between 250-300.

-Drinking water all day every day. We’ve been adding some lemon or grapefruit essential oils in our water which serves a gentle detox and tastes amazing. Message me for info on therapeutic-grade essential oils.

-I am not baking any cookies or pies this holiday. {GASP!!!} This is a MAJOR step I am doing intentionally as a healthy choice this holiday. Every year I bake upwards of 40 dozen cookies as gifts to family & friends, for parties, and to eat at home and have done so as long as I can remember. We have eaten much healthier this year and I don’t want to sabotage all our hard work and start off 2017 in a sugar hangover. Sorry friends & family but no cookies this year!

-Gifting homemade winter wellness gifts to friends & family rather than sweet treats. My heart to give & create remain in tack but this gift is healthy for all of us. Here’s a snap shot from Monday when I practiced a natural chest rub recipe I’m making.

chest-rub-pic

-We are not buying any boxes of chocolates this Christmas. Let me explain, it had been a tradition for years in my family (Dad’s side) to buy a HUGE box of chocolates to share with friends who visit during the holidays. Well at various times in our marriage we have kept that tradition, but especially the last few years. Well inevitably I would eat a good amount, ok the majority of that box of chocolates. Yikes! Well not this year. We are controlling our environment by not buying chocolates.

-Making sure to not head into the big holiday meals starving! Ugh that is the worst because you eat everything in sight. So, we’ll eat a normal breakfast (smoothie in our case) and lunch and enjoy a wonderful meal while not being out of control.

-Enjoy the wonderful foods we love but NOT taking any home. I don’t plan to deprive myself of anything specific while we are eating the holiday meals but I’m going to control our home environment very strictly. This limits our unhealthy choices to one meal on one day rather than an entire week or eating crappy food. Also, I’ve shared in the past that I don’t do well when deprived, I end up obsessing about whatever it is and then overeat on it later.

What are your tips to navigate the holidays in a healthy way?

What are the foods you look forward to? What are the foods you could give up?

How do you remain active & moving during the busy season?

I’m praying you all have a wonderful & healthy Christmas & New Year! I am looking forward to starting 2017 off right with a 30-day challenge, more on that coming soon!

Old Fashioned Banana Bread

Old Fashioned Banana Bread

March 20, 2013

In Loving Memory to Mrs. Lula Streive & Vera-Jean Lipp

The People’s Church Cookbook “Our Heavenly Treasures”

There is nothing like a church cookbook! Really! A compilation of the best family recipes from the best cooks in an entire church body to be passed down generation after generation, Genius!  I collect cookbooks and especially love to come across old church cookbooks. I guess it must have become a trend to produce a cookbook in the 70’s to fundraise for different projects. Well my absolute favorite…..the one I go to for almost everything….is from the church I grew up in, The People’s Church in Sandusky, Ohio and the cookbook was appropriately titled “Our Heavenly Treasures”.  I’m doing some digging but I believe this cookbook was published in 1977 (the year I was born!) and it is truly filled with many treasures.

The banana bread recipe I am sharing with you today was inspired by a recipe submitted to this cookbook by Mrs. Lula Streive through Vera-Jean Lipp. Mrs. Lipp noted of Mrs. Streive; “She is our oldest church member at this time” and was “93 or 94 years old”. Now you know a recipe is good when it stands the test of time like this one! I’m titling this “Old Fashioned Banana Bread” because this recipe has been around so long. Also because of the simplicity of its ingredients, unlike other banana bread recipes I’ve seen, the bananas really are the focus and steal the show!

I have NEVER tasted banana bread like this, people request that I bring it everywhere I go. It is wonderful for gifts, freezes very well (if it lasts that long), and is BY FAR the most requested recipe of all the food I make.

Inspired by Mrs. Lula Streive’s recipe I have made a few personal touches! Here is what you will need:

5-6 Large & Ripe Bananas *I prefer 6 but it still turns out great with 5*

1 cup of sugar

2 Tablespoons of melted butter

1 egg

1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract

2 cups Whole Wheat or All Purpose Flour  *SIFTED*

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

*1 cup chopped nuts (optional)*

*1/4 cup flaxseed meal (optional) – This is a terrific way to boost the nutritional value!*

The cast of characters for the main event!

The cast of characters for the main event!

Step 1: Preheat oven to 275* then Mix the bananas & the sugar

Ripe bananas &  sugar!

Ripe bananas & sugar!

Step 2: Blend in the egg, vanilla, and butter

Egg, Vanilla, & Butter

Egg, Vanilla, & Butter

Wet ingredients mixed and ready to add the dry ingredients!

Wet ingredients mixed and ready to add the dry ingredients!

Before we go any further I need to talk to you about sifting. Sifting MUST NOT be skipped! I use my Grandma Wilhelm’s sifter that she used making her famous homemade bread. My husband tries to convince me to buy a newer model but there is nothing like Grandma’s blessing in my kitchen. I refuse to update! If you don’t own a sifter my best suggestion is to go buy one right away, lol. The sifter in this picture is packed full of our family baking history and I’m in love with it!

Our baking heritage!

Our baking heritage!

Step 3: Add all dry ingredients flour, baking soda, baking powder, & salt right into the sifter

Add all dry ingredients into the sifter.

Add all dry ingredients into the sifter.

Step 4: Sift dry ingredients and add 1/2 at a time into the wet ingredients. Mix well and sift the remaining 1/2 of the dry ingredients. IF you wanted to add nuts or flaxseed meal now would be the time to mix those in, we prefer ours without nuts. Flaxseed meal is best if added after the sifting as it maintains some of the seed and doesn’t sift well. Flaxseed meal is full of Omega-3 essential fatty acids and you wont even know they are in this recipe! Click this link to learn more about the nutritional impact of flaxseeds.

Sift 1/2 of the dry ingredients into wet ingredients at a time.

Sift 1/2 of the dry ingredients into wet ingredients at a time.

Add second half of dry ingredients and mix just until fully blended.

Add second half of dry ingredients and mix just until fully blended.

Step 5: Spray 2 baking pans and split the dough between them.

Spray 2 baking pans and split the dough between them evenly.

Getting the baking pans ready!

Step 6: Put in preheated 275* oven for 60-65 minutes or until the toothpic comes out clean.

275* for 60-65 minutes

275* for 60-65 minutes

Its a beautiful sight!

Its a beautiful sight!

The final product will be a big hit I quarantee it! I cut each loaf into 8 servings for a total of 16 servings. This bread freezes really well and is perfect for gifts and large gatherings….if it makes it that far. Take a peek at the final product…

Smells so good! The final product!

Smells so good! The final product!

I hope you enjoy this fantastic Old Fashioned Banana Bread recipe! Feel free to pass it along to your friends and family. Thank you Mrs. Lula Streive & Vera-Jean Lipp for sharing this amazing treasure with all of us!!!!

Planning for Healthy Travels

Planning for Healthy Travels

Thursday, March 14, 2013

This time of year begins the busy travel season for families. My husband and I love to travel and many of our fondest married memories are in far off places packed with lots of rest & relaxation. We are actually preparing for a 4 day trip this weekend and I thought I’d share some of my preparation tips with you!

When it comes to maintaining our healthy lifestyle, travel can also be kind of scary, BUT it doesn’t have to be!  Armed with a solid plan any vacation can be a healthy success without compromising the fun along the way. As I prepare for this trip, here is what has been on my mind.

Food & Water– 90% of our meals with be out at local restaurants. When going to restaurants normally we employ the strategy of looking at their website to plan ahead of time. This trip the restaurants are pre-chosen and out of our control so there will be no way to check the menu in advance. Here are my tips:

  1. Discuss sharing a meal in advance with your spouse or travel companion and agree on something you will both be satisfied with.
  2. Look for markings on the menu that indicate healthier options
  3. Keep snacks on hand so that you don’t go into the restaurant completely starving and with less self control. Pre-portion and throw in a bag or purse for easy access on the go. For some great snack ideas that that travel well check out Re-thinking Healthy Snacks: Crunchy & Salty!
  4. Enjoy local and seasonal items, request modifications when needed, and load up on veggies as you normally would at home. =D
  5. We will be going to an area that is near the ocean and I plan to enjoy some great fish that I don’t get often in Texas. Fish is a lower calorie protein when, grilled or broiled and not fried, that is a perfect travel choice.
  6. When staying in a hotel call ahead to find out if they offer continental breakfast and what healthy options are available. Starting the day making healthy choices always keeps me on track!
  7. Don’t forget to keep drinking your water! Save money on your trip by drinking water at meals, keep a case of water in the hotel, and take a bottle when on the go.

 

Pre-portioned grab & go snacks, some of our favorite teas, Organic Stevia, and some go to granola bars!

Pre-portioned grab & go snacks, some of our favorite teas, Organic Stevia, and some go to granola bars!

Activity – Traveling affords terrific opportunities to seek out different activities not available where we live. This trip for us has a specific focus and won’t allow much adventuring. So to fit in activity we have planned ahead, here’s my tips:

  1. Call the hotel ahead to find out what exercise facilities they have available. Our hotel this weekend offers an exercise room, as most do these days. It also offers an indoor heated swimming pool.
  2. Plan ahead by packing a couple workout outfits, tennis shoes, socks, swim suits, and any of your other favorite gear. Having it with you keeps you motivated and dispels any excuses.
  3. Look for a terrific parks, bike rentals & paths, tennis or basketball courts, places to go swimming where ever you travel this summer. Explore museums and other outings that will keep you moving.
  4. Plan activity into your travel. No matter what type of trip, no matter how tight the schedule or budget may be. It is so important to fuel your body with what it needs and be consistent with your active lifestyle.  Our plan for this trip is to squeeze in time at the gym and pool during before breakfast and at the end of each day. Even 20 minutes makes such a huge difference and is totally worth it!

I'm ready for activity! I've got my shoes, socks, workout gear, and swim suit packed!

I’m ready for activity! I’ve got my shoes, socks, workout gear, and swim suit packed!

Stay accountable – Travels don’t have to be the purpose to be derailed from a healthy lifestyle.  Keeping accountable with whatever plan you chose could be just the step that keeps you on track. Here are my tips.

  1. With our Weight Watchers plan we track everything that goes into our mouths on their really terrific website. Just in case we don’t have internet I’m packing a handy paper tracker! This is a fantastic accountability step to keep you aware of food choices and staying on track. There are tons of ways to track your food or caloric intake these days, tons of free apps for the phone and websites. When in doubt pack some paper & pen J
  2. Do you have friends that you stay accountable via phone, email, or Facebook? Why not check in while traveling? We are blessed to have many layers of accountability, here is a pic of us traveling at Christmas and attending a Weight Watchers meeting while in Ohio. It was the perfect boost to get us through the holiday.
  3. Ask friends and others on the journey to help you make a plan ahead of time that works for you! I talked to some terrific friends who understood the details of our travel and they gave me great insights I hadn’t thought of. What a blessing to have great healthy minded friends!

On our trip to Ohio in December we kept accountable by attending a local Weight Watchers Meeting. It was SO much fun!

On our trip to Ohio in December we kept accountable by attending a local Weight Watchers Meeting. It was SO much fun!

We are committed to our healthy lifestyle and continuing to honor God with the choices we make NO MATTER what life throws at us. With a plan in place, tools packed and ready, we are equipped to enjoy a wonderful trip. I hope you have found some of these tips helpful and will enjoy fun & healthy travels this season!