Thursday, January 19, 2017

Benefits of Bone Broth & How to Make It

I posted a chicken noodle soup recipe a couple weeks ago that has become a favorite in our home. We have recently started using bone broth instead of chicken broth because there are so many incredible benefits!

Bone broth has been around for forever, but I just heard of it about a year ago (maybe a little longer). I didn’t give much thought to it, but I found this organic bone broth at Whole Foods back in October (they have chicken and turkey and low sodium as well) and decided it was time to give it a shot.

No automatic alt text available.

Since then, I have learned a LOT more about the powerful benefits of bone broth and have started making our own from scratch. It can be used in any recipe where you’d typically use chicken broth, or you can even drink it straight. It is very nutrient-dense (unlike the broths we typically buy in stores) and packed with over nineteen amino acids, trace minerals, collagen, & gelatin. Because of all of that, it  helps aid in digestion, supports brain health, immune system, function, boosts metabolism,, strengthens connective tissue, & feeds muscles. It can even be used to help detoxify. Yep- gut, brain, joints, skin, and ligaments! It’s pretty much a super food! Or drink. Whatever ya wanna call it.

I definitely recommend making your own, but prefer that organic store bought brand of bone broth over a traditional broth you’d buy at the store if you’re short on time.

Here’s how I made ours. First I roasted a whole chicken in the oven & we ate the meat for supper (& lunch the next day).  Did you know the dark meat in the legs and wings is more nutritionally dense than the white meat like the breast?

Image may contain: food

Image may contain: food

To make the bone broth, I used a simple recipe I found online that called for water, 2 TBSP of apple cider vinegar to pull out the minerals, the bones of a whole chicken, pink Himalayan salt & ground pepper, a few spices,, and some veggies. (I also used butter when roasting the chicken initially. I put a link to how I made it on the chicken soup post.) I simmered it for almost 24 hours on low in a crockpot, strained, then poured it in glass containers. I allowed it to cool and then just stored it in the refrigerator because I knew I’d use it quickly, but if I wasn’t going to use it immediately I probably would have frozen some. (It’s good in the freezer for up to 3 months.)

You don’t have to use chicken. You can also use turkey, beef, or fish.(Jut make sure it’ high quality meat and you know the source.)

I also found this free cookbook with 50 bone broth recipes and was pretty blown away at some of the creative ways they incorporated bone broth into different recipes. Definitely download the free e-book and check it out. Good stuff!

If you can, I’d recommend start trying to incorporate this as often as possible. It is SO very good for you. And let me know if you try any of those recipes. So far I haven’t branched out from anything beyond soup…ha!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Parenting…Whew!

I truly believe that parenting is one of the most HUMBLING callings of all time. It is hands down the most phenomenal, rewarding, fulfilling role and such a treasured gift. Of course ALL great things also come with great responsibility. That is not something we take lightly. I have been praying since before we even had babies that the Lord would give us wisdom and discernment in raising them and surround us with godly mentors to shows us the ropes. He has absolutely put some INCREDIBLE people in our lives who have the “fruit on the tree” and we have learned so much from them. We are so thankful for their wisdom, guidance, and example.

But…Nothing shows you that you need to constantly turn to Jesus more than being parent.  All of the reading, mentoring, podcasts…they are important and very helpful tools, but they aren’t THE answer. God is our answer, and we have to continuously seek Him for wisdom. Just when you think you’ve got them figured out, they change & grow. They are their own, unique being. And although it’s hard to imagine when you are holding a precious newborn, they are born sinful as all of mankind is. I think the Lord uses our children to show us our need to truly depend on HIM, daily.

Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting and shoes

(And grace…sweet grace! We need big doses of it ourselves just as much as we need to learn to give big doses of it.)

When you think you’ve got it all figured out, watch yourself…that might be when He yanks the rug out from under you and gives you a big dose of humility.

Being a parent has felt pretty easy for the most part thus far. Both of our boys have been very laid back, happy & healthy babies. We are so thankful for that and hopefully do not take it for granted! (It has been an answered prayer because we prayed specifically for those things.) I’ve called them both our angel babies because they have both been so easy. I have 14 nieces and nephews, the first of which was born when I was six years old, so I have grown up around babies my whole life. I know the baby phase can be a tough one.

Neither one cried much. They have both handled all of their transitions extremely well so far. They are sweet, happy, smiley boys. They both eat and sleep well. Nap well. Learn well. They’re smart, tough, & funny. Jase did everything quickly. Potty trained in a couple days.  They handle change well. Rarely sick. Honestly, it has just been pretty easy parenting them. They bring us so much JOY!I know I’m a rose-colored-glasses/glass half full kinda gal, so I’m probably forgetting a few of the tougher times (because I know there have been some), but overall, this parenting thing hasn’t seemed too hard so far.

But then we hit 3. As in 3 years old. And WHOA. Can anyone say threenager? Because “terrible twos” is totally a myth (was for us anyway), but the threenager is REAL.

I’m sure there are some people who have read my posts about our angel babies and laughed inside thinking “Ohhhhh her time is coming!” Well, it’s here folks. And I’m sure some of the more seasoned moms are giggling a little on the inside reading this.

Honestly, Jase is still such a sweetheart. We have lots of times where he is pure joy, makes me laugh hysterically, and completely melts my heart. He has such a sweet voice and randomly does and says the most precious things that I wish I could just bottle up. I love watching his little mind work & grow. I am so proud of him and so proud to be his mom! He can be so helpful, thoughtful, and has such good manners most of the time. And I have NO DOUBT he is going to be a strong leader, mighty man of God, and warrior for the Lord. (So that means we have LOTS of training to do!) I cannot wait to watch the Lord’s plans for his life unfold because I truly believe he has a BIG calling on his life.

But, like kids do at some point, he is testing some boundaries. There are times he has tantrums or says or does things & I literally have NO CLUE where they come from. If he’s hungry or tired, he can be very ill (most of us can relate to that, right?). He can be insistent & stubborn and sometimes disobedient. Sometimes he talks back.  Sometimes when other adults talk to him, he will ignore them. We are in an awkward phase where he needs naps, but sometimes refuses them. (Yes, we have quiet time instead.) But if he does take a nap, even a short one, he stays up WAY too late. I catch myself making excuses for him when he isn’t behaving the best or has a sour attitude, but realize quickly I can’t do that.

These are some of the things we are working through right now.

I 100% believe in having high expectations & standards, while at the same time reminding myself he is only 3 and I don’t want to expect too much, especially because he looks and acts older than he is. (Although for the record,  I do think kiddos are capable of more than we give them credit for!) I’m trying to find the right balance of grace and expectations, while remaining consistent & firm (in love). I know lots of those things we are working through are just “training” things that we need to work on more diligently, so I am trying to find the balance between taking personal responsibility for things I haven’t worked with him enough on and things he should know better. And at the same time I’m wondering “Do I hold Kade too much? Do they feel equally loved and each get enough attention? Am  I remembering to teach Kade the same things I taught Jase?” It’s just a LOT.

Image may contain: 4 people, people sitting, people eating, child and outdoor

I think more than anything I don’t want anyone to judge our kids (or our parenting). Of course I know you can’t worry about what other people think, and ordinarily that is not a trap I fall prey to, but for some reason it’s a little different with parenting. I want others to see the precious side of my children that we do! Sometimes Jase is unpredictable, and it’s almost always the worst when we’re around other people. I have no doubt the Lord is trying to pluck the pride right out of my heart & teach me to resist the urge to raise a little Pharisee. I think He’s also trying to teach me not to allow any struggles I’ve had with perfectionism to transfer over to parenting or for me to put that onto our kids in any way. They aren’t going to be perfect, and it’s unfair for me to have those expectations. (That is a struggle for me if I’m being transparent. I struggle with expecting perfection out of myself and Jonathan too, so I’m working on that. I have seen the Lord do a work in my life in this area, but if I don’t guard my heart, it’s easy to go back.)

Up until this point, I hadn’t really felt any insecurity or doubt in my “mom abilities.” I was pretty confident. Not necessarily because of anything I was doing, but because we had such easy babies and I have read SO much that I felt equipped. But I have to confess, there have been times when I felt those doubts and insecurities creep in over the past couple months. I would think  “Am I doing okay? Is this normal? Will he outgrow this? What are other people going to think?”

This might sound counterintuitive since I have such high expectations, but I also tend to be more lenient when it comes to discipline. I have a tendency to want to let things slide. I know that is doing a disservice to my children though so I personally have to work to be consistent there. Leniency is NOT how the Bible tells us to raise and train up children, and I know the world will not be good to kids who are brought up that way. In order to create responsible adults, specifically mighty men for the Lord, we have to train them up. We have to teach them about reaping and sowing, about discipline and self control, about repenting/forgiveness, and they must understand there are consequences for every choice and action. Yes, we still must have lots of GRACE (& again, I know there is a balance), but discipline is NOT a bad word. In fact, it literally means “to train.” That’s part of our role and responsibility as parents.

Anyway, if I’m being honest, this was a difficult post to write. I don’t want it to ever seem like I’m saying anything negative about my children because they are such a tremendous BLESSING and I am so grateful beyond words for them. They bring so much joy to my life & I LOVE being their mom!!And I also don’t want to ever make it seem like I have it all together or everything figured out, cuz that’s definitely not the truth either. So even though part of me didn’t want to put this out there, I felt like I should. I know that sometimes, you just need someone to tell you you’re doing a good job, to stay consistent, to be firm but extend grace, and to keep fighting the good fight because this is normal and this too shall pass. I want to be that encourager for some mom reading this today who can relate, even though I’m in the trenches with ya and don’t have it all figured out. So for the mama who is feeling isolated and alone…who is feeling insecure in their parenting…who is feeling a little overwhelmed or frustrated or discouraged…who is looking at their spouse shrugging their shoulders like “How do we even handle this?” KEEP GOING. Specifically, keep going to the feet of Christ.

Image result for you don't have to be a perfect parent but be a praying one

There have been a couple of times when I honestly felt like I didn’t know WHAT to do, and I am learning THAT is when the Lord is drawing me to Him. Giving me a dose of humility and reminding me of my need for complete surrender and dependence on Him. After all, these sweet boys are simply on loan to me, but they are HIS. I want to raise them up to love the Lord, their God, with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength!

I need to remember, even when things are smooth sailing, to give my babies to the Lord, to pray for parenting wisdom,to seek out godly resources, and to continue to go to “the well” to be filled up.

And when things aren’t such smooth sailing, to draw near to the Lord and seek His counsel. To PRAY, PRAY, PRAY. To Seek the wisdom in the Word and remain consistent. I know His promises, and I believe them.

So, that was pretty much a bunch of rambling, but I wanted to get it out. And by the way, since beginning this post a few weeks ago, I really focused on consistency with expectations and discipline and have seen some tremendous progress. That is SO encouraging, so hang in there, Mama!

Also, I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I am a big reader and have read several parenting books. Parenting is not the type of thing where you read one book & have it all figured out. For me, I have found that I’m a big mix of everything & several parenting styles! It’s so important not to compare yourself or your children to anyone else’s. You have to find what works for YOUR family, and that will be different for everyone!! Isn’t there such freedom in that? So just because a mama you respect swears by one thing, take it into consideration, pray about it, and try it…but know there isn’t a one size fits all approach to parenting. Even the kiddos within your own home are going to be different and you may have to do things differently with them. Like I said before, All of the reading, mentoring, podcasts…they are important and very helpful tools, but they aren’t THE answer. God is our answer, and we have to continuously seek Him for wisdom.

God created YOU to be that child’s parent, and He will give you the wisdom to raise that child if you ask,seek, and knock.

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, child, tree, outdoor and nature

Here are a few of the books popping up in my head that I have read:

If you have any other suggestions, I am ALWAYS open to new reads! Send em my way!

Image result for train up a child

Monday, January 16, 2017

Baby Butler #3 is 36 Weeks

I’m 36 weeks today (1/16)…officially 9 months! We’re praying we go the full 40 with sweet Beau & want him to keep cookin till the Lord’s PERFECT timing. We sure are getting excited for another sweet baby & Butler brother to love on though! Getting so close.

image

Growth: Babycenter.com says “Your baby is still packing on the pounds — at the rate of about an ounce a day. He now weighs almost 6 pounds and is more than 18 1/2 inches long (about the size of a head of romaine lettuce). He's shedding most of the downy covering of hair that covered his body as well as the vernix caseosa, the waxy substance that covered and protected his skin during his nine-month amniotic bath. Your baby swallows both of these substances, along with other secretions, resulting in a blackish mixture, called meconium, will form the contents of his first bowel movement.

Weight/Baby Bump: I’m up 25 lbs from pre-pregnancy weight. For the record, I haven’t lost weight, it just fluctuates depending on time of day I weight, what I’m wearing, and when I go to the bathroom. (TMI, sorry.) The bump definitely feels larger in person than I think it looks in pictures.

image

I also feel like I’m carrying a little different this pregnancy. It is definitely a torpedo like with Kade, but I feel a little more rounded and wider on the sides like with Jase.

image

Jase came in our room yesterday morning & said (deeply concerned), "Whoa Mom, look at your belly! It's about to pop. It's gonna pop Mom. Let me cover it up so no one sees it." Jonathan & I were cracking up!

Sleep: I’ve slept pretty well the past few nights. Waking up to potty a few times & it definitely wakes me up to roll over from side to side, but overall I’m sleeping well.

Movement: Wild man! He’s running out of room, but he’s a mover!

Appointments: I didn’t have an appointment last week (other than chiropractor- going once a week for that), so next checkup is this week. I think they’ll probably do GBS test but I’m going to ask not to be checked yet. Going weekly now!

Work Outs: Finally got in a little yoga, & my plan is to get to 9 more classes before baby. (Because that’s how many I paid for- ha! Nice motivation, right?)

Other than that, lots of activity seems to really bring on some major Braxton Hicks. (Even walking sometimes.) I do clean the house a good bit and have been trying to do some body weight squats and light upper body work.

Jonathan has been crazy busy trying to wrap up our Fixer Upper before Beau gets here & it’s a busy and exciting time in AdvoCare too, so we haven’t been to the gym much. Mostly doing stuff at home.

Best Pregnancy Moment This Week: Definitely AdvoNation & getting to see & Catch up with so many friends. We LOVE AdvoCare, and a huge part of that is because of all of the incredible people it has brought into our life.

I didn’t take as many pictures as I intended to, but did get a pic with these sweet ladies.

imageimage

Goals: I made my list of things for Jonathan to get out of storage (Boppy, bouncie chair, swaddles, heating pad, newborn clothes, breast pump, baby bath tub & wash cloths, & Boba wrap)…

Plan to get my sound machine from Mom’s…

Ordered some extra pack n play crib sheets…ordered some glass bottles and new nipples…and now just have to get some diapers and another pack n play.

Put together goody bags for nurses & doctors. (Almost done! Just got in the Advo goodies I’ll be putting in there, bought the bags & tissue paper, & ordered the cards from Shutterfly.)

Need to pack hospital bags soon.

Want to get gifts for both of the boys from Baby Beau.

Mom just ordered them all shirts (SO cute!) and a coming home outfit for Beau, so need to wash & pack it when it gets here.

image

Get the infant seat ready to go.

I also remember putting together a little “after care” basket in my bathroom after Jase & Kade, so I’ll probably work on that some too. Not to get all TMI, but sometimes people don’t tell you these things. It had witch hazel wipes, a squirt bottle, pads, stool softener (I don’t think I needed it with Kade but I’m pretty sure I used it after the c-section with Jase), & breakable ice pack pads. Also found a good recipe for sitz bath from parenting.com.

Here are the ingredients you will need for your herbal sitz bath:

  • 1/2 cup Epsom salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons witch hazel
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 drops lavender essential oil
  • 8 drops chamomile essential oil

Also, having a shower for my sis-in-law this weekend who is expecting our new NIECE and due one day after me! So exciting!!

Thoughts: I would REALLY love to have everything all ready to go by the middle of next week. It sounds like a lot to do, but I can knock that out pretty quickly. It’ll make me feel better so I can just focus on praying, stretching, making a few freezer meals, spending time with my fellas, & mentally preparing. Plus, I’m starting to feel a good bit of pressure (not labor, but I can tell he is LOW), so it’d make me feel better to know we’re ready to go when the time comes.

We are SO excited to meet him! Jonathan tells the boys every day he can’t wait for another brother…& I feel the same way. I LOVE hearing him say that. I’m praying circles around our sweet Beau daily, of course, but also praying more fervently for Jase & Kade. They have both always done very well with transitions and I feel confident this won’t be any different, so covering them and asking for prepared hearts, wisdom beyond their years, understanding and patience, an easy adjustment, a desire to protect, for them to both feel very LOVED & SECURE, and for a sweet bond between all of them.

Comparison:

Jase:

[IMG_3024_thumb1%255B3%255D.jpg]

Kade:

[image%255B8%255D.png]

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Calling Sin…Sin.

Someone commented on this post about Overcoming Anxiety, Worry, & Fear upset that I would refer to anxiety as a sin. “Anonymous” was dismayed that I would suggest someone with an anxiety disorder is sinning, then went on about mental illness and being embarrassed to be  a Christian. I deleted it of course, because I delete any negative comments. But, I did spend a little time thinking about it & questioning if that statement had any Biblical basis. I always, always want to share BIBLICAL truth & never want to stray from that.

And to be honest, I almost went in to that post to edit that part after first reading the comment. I did try my best not to undermine people who have those feelings because I know they are very real.

But, after thinking about it, talking to Jon about it, and praying about it, I decided to write a blog post further sharing my perspective, because I think this may bring spme clarity. I will back what I believe with Scripture references. I pray that “anonymous” comes back long enough to read this post and at least consider it. That comment is EXACTLY what is wrong with modern day Christians, in my opinion, and here’s why.

The modern church is too afraid of offending someone to call sin what it is…sin.

Image result for sin is missing the mark

In Greek, the word sin means “missing the mark.” Missing the mark is when we don’t do what God tells us to do and when we DO what He tells us not to do. Wouldn’t we all agree that if God tells us NOT to do something, and we DO it, that’s sin?? It’s pretty black and white, really.

We are all in agreement that when God says do not murder (Exodus 20:13), it is sin to commit murder. When God says do not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14), it is sin to have an affair. When God tells us not to lie or steal (Lev 19:11), we are sinning if we lie or steal. But all of the sudden when God says “Do not worry” (Matthew 6:25, 34), or “Do not be anxious” (Phil 4:6-7), the waters get muddy and it’s NOT sin when we do it ?? It’s suddenly exempt under the precept that it’s “mental illness”? Friends, that is simply what our modern culture wants us to believe, and unfortunately what many of us have come to accept as “truth” without considering what the Word of God has to say about it.

Bottom line: We are all born sinful. Human nature is sinful. And we all have some type of sin struggle or tendency. But the good news? The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ came to SAVE us from that very sin! Does that mean we’ll be perfect? Of course not. But through Christ, we CAN have victory over sin (1 Cor 15:57). The Bible says that in Him, we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). That’s part of how He demonstrates His power- by giving us POWER over SIN (Romans 6:14); something that takes supernatural strength and is something we would not be able to do in our own flesh (Phil 4:13).

When we walk in sin, we hurt our fellowship with God. It separates us from a Holy God. The only way to restore it is through repentance and seeking forgiveness.

**By the way, there is a big difference in anxiety (which I was referring to in that post) and an anxiety disorder or a mental illness. I wasn’t really writing about that. I do know mental illness is real.  I believe it is from the enemy and rooted in sin (not necessarily the person struggling with the illness), or sometimes it may be some type of brain deficiency. Sometimes it is the sad consequences of others’ sins or upbringing. For example, an adult may struggle with an anxiety disorder as a result of sexual or physical abuse as a child. That is not THEIR fault in any any way, but unfortunately they are dealing with consequences as a result of another’s sins. Whether we like it or not, there are ALWAYS consequences for sin (principle of reaping and sowing), and sometimes others pay. When a drunk driver makes the horrible decision to get behind the wheel and kills someone else, others suffer from the heartbreaking tragedy of that person’s sin.

I DO believe our God can HEAL that though. I believe He is capable of healing, restoration, releasing from bondage, & removing demons. He is willing & able to do this for His children. And I also believe He gives us doctors, medicine, therapy, and counseling to help people through some of those things.

Also, Jonathan wanted me to clarify that I was not saying we never have thoughts of worry. We do. I was just sharing how we have learned/are learning to combat that (how we combat ANY sin struggle) Biblically. Through studying Scripture (2 Timothy 2:15), through renewing our mind (Romans 12:2), through praying without ceasing (1 Thess 5:16), through praising & worshiping (Psalm 86:12), & through choosing gratefulness (1 Thess 5:18).

I hope that helps. “Anonymous”…if you still disagree, it may be worth praying about & studying the Word to see what the Lord reveals to you about it. For me, I am choosing the believe that if God says NOT to do something and I do it anyway (regardless of the reason), it’s sin.

P.S. Sorry this ended up being so heavy.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Overcoming Anxiety, Worry, & Fear

Historians will probably call our era “the age of anxiety.” Anxiety is the natural result when our hopes are centered in anything short of God and His will for us. —Billy Graham

image

A couple of weeks ago, the sermon at church was about FEAR and how to overcome it. It was a powerful message, particularly because so many Christians are caught in the bondage of anxiety, worry, and fear.  (I believe both anxiety and worry are “side effects” of fear.) This is a surefire way for the enemy to take our focus OFF of Jesus, to steal our JOY, & to cripple our testimony to others. None of those things are from God. Our God is not the author of confusion, of chaos, of insecurity, of doubt, of anxiety, of worry, or of fear. He is the author of PEACE and JOY and desires for us to have an ABUNDANT life No, not remiss of trials, but we can still have peace, joy, and abundant life even during tough times. In fact, that is exactly what it means to me to “let your light shine before men.” That, along with displaying the fruits of the Spirit in our life, is what will draw others to Christ (in us).

Jonathan and I were just talking about some conversations we’d had with others the other day, and I told him I literally had to leave EVERY conversation quoting Scripture because I left every conversation drained. Every person I talked to that day (and maybe it was just the day?) was SO negative, and it left me feeling kinda down. He said he noticed the same thing! I think I am going to start asking for permission to pray, and then pray right then and there. I used to do that more often…not sure why I got out of the habit. (FYI**I recited Philippians 4:8 to help myself refocus on the TRUTH. )

Y’all, did you know there are over 7,000 promises in God’s Word? Promises for His children…and He is waiting on us to claim them. They’re ours for the taking, but so many times we get caught up in our circumstances, don’t take our thoughts captive, and end up living with anxiety, worry, & fear.

imageimageimage

We are far from perfect, and Jonathan and I both still struggle with these things sometimes. But, we are learning to recognize them as quickly as they come in and replace them with the Truth. (May be worth taking a few minutes to read this post I wrote a while back about Taking Every Thought Captive.)

I am not condemning anyone who struggles with these things. I know they are very real and sometimes warranted, so I don’t want it to sound like I’m undermining them. But like any issue/struggle we encounter, God gives us a remedy in His Word and He gives us the ability to overcome sin. ( I think it’s also important we recognize that it IS sin. We know this because the Bible clearly says “Do not worry, be anxious, or fear.”) So many times we have a tendency to overcomplicate things when really the solution is very simple.

I can’t think of a better way to combat anxiety, worry, and fear than memorizing, quoting, and praying Scripture…through praying without ceasing…and through worshiping and praising our Savior. It is almost impossible to feel any of those negative things when you’re busy praising the Lord & overwhelmed with a grateful heart! We have the ability to train our mind and to choose our thoughts and what we believe, but it takes a decision. It takes consistency, spiritual maturity, and faithfulness on our part.

This is personally what has worked for us in helping us overcome anxiety, worry, & fear. Jonathan said Matthew 6:34 (“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”) and PRAYER have helped him the most. And I know for me, it helps to quote Scripture and have praise music playing every chance I get. If you come to my house or ride in my car, you will most likely hear it playing.

Here are the notes from the sermon that you may also find helpful:

*Many of the fears we struggle with today fall into one of the following categories. (These are some of the same fears people of the Bible faced…so they are not new.)

  1. Fear of sudden change.
  2. Fear of inadequacy.
  3. Fear of disapproval.
  4. Fear of loss of control.
  5. Fear of disappointment.

How to overcome fear:

  1. Surrender your life completely to Christ. (Luke 1:38)
  2. Stop listening to the voices of fears. (Romans 14:23)
  3. Fill your mind with music that praises God. (Worship helps you focus on God. Focus on praising Him and not on yourself.)
  4. Base your hope on the Word of God.

“Praise is the anecdote to panic. Worship is the anecdote to worry.” – Jentzen Franklin

I also wanted to share a few of my favorite verses to help combat fear, anxiety, and worry. (There are SO, SO many verses! In fact, I’ve heard there are 365 verses that specifically say “do not fear”…one for every day of the year!) Maybe pick a few that really stand out to you and write them on sticky notes in places you’ll see them often. Take a few minutes first thing in the morning and before you go to bed to read them aloud. Begin to memorize them so they come to your mind (hide them in your heart) when you feel any negative emotions arising.

    The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
    The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid? – Psalm 27:1

    Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.- John 14:27

    David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished. – 1 Chronicles 28:20

    Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:58

    Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. –Deuteronomy 31:6

    Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. –Isaiah 54:4

    When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? -Psalm 56:3-4

    For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7

    The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. - Deuteronomy 31:8

    Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

    So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. – Isaiah 41:10-13

    Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. – 1 Cor 16:13

    Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” –Mark 5:36

    Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

    Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Phil 4:6-7

    Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Phil 4:8

    The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. – Psalm 23

I want to encourage you…(& challenge myself!)…to become the most JOYFUL, THANKFUL, ENCOURAGING, and POSITIVE person you know. What an incredible testimony of WHOSE you are and the Savior you have living in you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Marriage Wisdom & “Date Night” with Ted Cunningham

We watched a video on marriage in our Sunday School class several months ago. It was a Song of Solomon series led by Ted Cunningham, & we really enjoyed it. Here are a few of the notes I found in one of my journals. You can also probably find the sermons online. (I did find this one video on Youtube. It’s a great one!)

1. Don’t react to your mate. Instead, respond to God.

2. Let God do the chastening. We’re never going to change our mate, but God can.

3. Resolution does NOT mean weakness. In fact, it’s strength.

4. Communication is KEY. Conflict is meant to change us.

5. Marriage is REFINING.

6. If you always have to win, you’re going to make someone miserable. Which sounds better to you?

7. If you have been offended, FORGIVE.

If you live anywhere near the Atlanta area, NorthPoint is hosting a “Married Life” Date Night. We may try to go if I am not in labor!

Ted will be speaking live at North Point Community Church and will be simulcast to Browns Bridge Church.

Event Information:
Thursday, February 9, 2017
7:30-9:00 p.m.
$20 per couple
Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

Friday, February 10, 2017
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
$20 per couple
Doors open at 7:00 p.m. for coffee and dessert. Program begins at 7:30 p.m.

Here is the link to register:

Ted Cunningham event

Two Quick & Easy CLEAN Dinner Recipes

Back in August, we visited our awesome friends in Michigan and our sweet friend Marka had us over for dinner one night. She made some sort of Mexican scramble that included sweet potatoes. I’d never eaten sweet potatoes as part of a Mexican dish, but it was absolutely DELISH & I told myself I was going to try it.

Fast forward to January when I FINALLY remembered to do it…and y’all, it is SO, so good!! You may be skeptical (I was, and Big Jon DEFINITELY was), but give it one shot & see if you aren’t thanking me (or at least my friend Marka.) It doesn’t seem like it would go, but it is awesome & you can make a burrito bowl with all your faves. (It is SO filling and also makes great leftovers.)

So here’s what I did. I used homemade taco seasoning to brown some lean ground turkey. I peeled and diced sweet potatoes, then boiled them in a large pot until softened & sprinkled with ground cumin after straining & drying. I heated some black beans and (Seeds of Change) quinoa & brown rice. I chopped tomatoes & avocado. Greek yogurt is an awesome (& high protein, much lower fat) alternative to sour cream. I love making mine as a salad over spinach. You can set everything out so each family member can pick their toppings. You don’t even need cheese or tortillas with all the flavor! Just trust me & give it a shot…

Image may contain: food

Another quick & easy favorite meal is baked cod, roasted veggies, & baked sweet potato chips.

Cod: Follow directions on the package for cooking instructions. I personally bake them from frozen, so I use lemon juice, sprinkle with lemon pepper Mrs. Dash, & add some butter and sliced lemons. (I think I baked for 20-25 min on 425.) We prefer our fish kind of well done, so that may be a little longer than the directions call for.

Sweet potatoes: Wash & thinly slice sweet potatoes. (I peel the ones I’m going to give the boys so they don’t get choked on the peel. They LOVE these!) If you have a mandolin slicer, it’s WAY easier to use (but ours is currently packed up). Spray with an olive oil mister, then sprinkle with cinnamon and ground cumin. Bake at 375. After about 15-20 minutes or so, take them out and flip them. Bake to desired crispiness. (I make them a little softer for the boys and a little more crispy for Jon.)

Roasted veggies: I like the pre-cut organic broccoli & cauliflower mix, & I also peel and slice carrots. Spritz olive oil mister. Sprinkle with Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast seasoning, pink Himalayan salt, ground black pepper, and Mrs. Dash Italian seasoning. Bake at 375 to desired crispiness. (Around 20ish minutes for us.)

Image may contain: table, food and indoor

Enjoy!