Adoption journey

Over the past year, the Lord has been growing, teaching, and challenging our family in so many ways! We are responding to the Lord's leading and are expanding our family through the adoption of a precious baby!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Christmas anticipation!

As a mom of 4 boys (10 and under), there is great excitement and anticipation as we near Christmas. My boys make Christmas wish lists, see boxes arriving on the porch from gracious grandparents and... and Amazon ;) While we decorate our tree, string lights on our home, and unpack our treasured nativity sets, I want to help my boys see and savor the real reason for our celebration. As we were driving in the van yesterday, I heard the song, "Mary, Did You Know?" on the radio and while I've heard this song dozens of times before, this line captured my attention and my heart leapt with the magnitude of this truth...

"Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.",

The same Jesus who spoke creation into existence, who had perfect fellowship with God the Father, and was constantly praised and adored by angels, chose to step down from His throne in heaven and join us on earth in the form of a babe. Wow! That's amazing LOVE! I want my boys (and myself) to stand in awe of Christ, this season and every day. Here are some of the books, devotions and traditions we do every Christmas season to open our eyes to the mystery and majesty of God coming down to us, in Christ's birth.

“Because some years you desperately don’t want a Christmas that can be bought,
or a Christmas you have to produce.
You want a Christmas you can hold.
A Christmas that holds you,
remakes you, revives you.
You want a Christmas that whispers: Jesus.”
-- Ann Voskamp

Ann Voskamp, author of 1000 Gifts, writes the most awe inspiring words. Her book, The Greatest Gift, truly unwraps the full love story of Christmas. These daily readings walks through the lineage of Christ with Scripture, prayer and devotions that help us set our gaze on Christ as we prepare to celebrate His birth.

Our boys LOVE going through Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree Devotional and putting one of the coordinating ornaments of the tree. The Jesse Tree also goes from Creation/Adam through the lineage of Christ. My boys LOVE this advent devotional and preparation for Christmas! I have a Jesse Tree devotional in a Word document and will happily send it to you! Just as I got together with group of about 30 women and exchanged Jesse Tree ornaments a couple years ago, I hope to get a group together to do this next year!

At a Family Ministry Conference 2 years ago, Josh and I heard from Sarah Cunningham, the author of The Donkey in the Living Room. This sweet children's devotional tells the story of each of the characters that were present at the birth of Christ and includes wooden characters to assist with storytelling.

Last year, we started reading The Biggest Story with our boys and were challenged by the in depth devotions and discussions in this beautiful book! Kevin DeYoung is one of Josh's favorite authors and he didn't disappoint in this book that helps kids' take classic stories and connect to Scripture’s overarching message about God’s glorious plan to redeem his rebellious people. Awesome book for everyone!!

Every Christmas Eve, we read several stories out of the Jesus Storybook Bible. There are even free videos to enjoy! Here are several other books and ideas for Christmas gifts in this post I wrote a few years ago.
The majority of our Christmas decorations revolve around nativity scenes... some from around the world (Burkina Faso, Malawi, and Nicaragua), as well as adorable kids' sets. Our boys enjoy acting out the Christmas story with the many nativity sets around our home. Their first and favorite was Veggie Tales nativity set! They enjoy playing with Daddy's old PlayMobil nativity set and the Little People set and I love hearing their sweet voices talk of the miraculous events that surround Christ's birth!

I would love to hear how you prepare to celebrate Christ's birth! What are your favorite family traditions?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Elderberry and Winter Wellness Tips

As winter approaches, people "Winterize" their homes to protect them from winter temperatures and weather. How much more should we prepare our bodies for the winter months, so they will maintain health and wellness through this season?!
An easy way to support health is removing the things that tear it down and weaken our Immune System.

Did you know that SUGAR (even in juice) will completely freeze/suppress your white blood cells and your body's ability to get rid of germs/bacteria/damaged cells? When preventing illness, and especially when you're fighting it, SUGAR will completely derail your efforts. While many reach for soda, Gatorade, juice or carb filled "comfort foods", you will experience far more comfort by avoiding those sugar laden foods & nourishing your body with healthy fats, green leafy vegetables & antioxidant rich foods. Here are several recipes for each meal!
Toxins from environment, household cleaners, body products, disrupt the pathways of the Immune System. Getting rid of toxic products in home is a simple way to boost Immune System! Thieves Household Cleaner is an amazing powerful and safe cleaner for every room in the home!
A weekly DETOX BATH is a great way to maintain Lymphatic flow and reduce toxins and stress. I have a couple recipes I like...
1 cup Epsom salt
1/4 cup organic baking soda 
Add EOs to salt and soda
-  Serious Immune support: Ginger, Thieves, Orange, Frankincense
- Relaxing detox: Lavender, Stress Away
- Respiratory support: RC and Lavender 

As a former "germophobe", I used to think staying away germs would keep us healthy. Inevitably, we will all be exposed to something. Strengthening & nourishing our God given Immune System empowers us to live the healthy life God created us to live!
I LOVE that we can be empowered to take charge of our health and make healthy choices for ourselves and our families! Our family supports our wellness with an antioxidant rich sugar free paleo diet (no mucous forming dairy or inflammatory difficult to digest grains). We eat lots of leafy greens (in smoothies, in soups and on plates). 

Antioxidants are SUPER important for maintaining wellness because they get rid of free radicals in our body and protect cellular health. We can eat enough foods to give us a significant amount of antioxidants, so we drink 1oz of Ningxia Red for an antioxidant boost! Our entire family love this drink!
Cloves contain the highest antioxidant level of any substance on the planet and are amazing for boosting the Immune System! Clove is the #1 ingredient in Young Living's Thieves Essential Oil and is also one of the ingredients in my elderberry syrup. My elderberry syrup recipe contains elderberries, rosehips (super high Vitamin C), Astragalus, cinnamon, cloves and Young Living Vitaity Essential Oils: Clove, Cinnamon Bark, Lemon and Ginger.

I make bone broth every week and use it to make soups/gumbo, quinoa, lentil pasta, in my chicken salad. It's great to drink in a mug too!
Supporting digestive/gut health, where 70% of the Immune System resides, is absolutely vital for health! We take probiotics daily and increase to several times a day when our bodies are stressed.
We use MANY Young Living Essential Oils to support Immune, Respiratory and Digestive Systems!

In addition to elderberry syrup and probiotics, our boys LOVE Goop! It's amazingly soothing to throats and respiratory systems! To an 8oz jar of local honey and unrefined organic coconut oil, I add 7-10 drops Young Living Vitality lemon and orange, 3 drops Vitality peppermint and frankincense and 1 drop Thieves Vitality EO.

One of my sons used to have often ear issues. Since adjusting our diet (cutting sugar, dairy and grains) and supporting our body systems, his ears are much healthier! Ear candling is another method that greatly supports ear health and is super simple!
Weekly chiropractic visits with our favorite chiropractors at Active Life Chiropractic have been a HUGE part of our family's wellness! When your body is aligned properly, it can function and even heal better. From torn ligaments to sniffles and clogged ears, they have helped us! Our boys love Dr. Barrett and Dr. Emily and how they keep us healthy!

Young Living's Raindrop Technique is a powerful Immune boosting method of layering oils on the spine. We try to do this weekly/monthly on our family.
 If you don't yet have these amazing oils, I am happy to mentor you and support you as you take charge of your health and wellness!! Follow this link to get your oils!!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Eating Clean on a Budget: Snack Time!

While I try to feed my boys substantial nourishing meals, they are somehow always hungry in between meals! One of my boys has this internal clock and he always asks for a snack at 2pm. I am always looking for simple economical and healthy snack for my boys! I wrote a post on snacks two and a half years ago, but our diet has changed from gluten free to grain free since then. If you can eat grains, you may enjoy some of the granola and gluten free homemade cereal bars.  My new favorite granola is Young Living's Einkorn granola!

Many of our current snacks revolve around fruits, veggies, seeds, beans and nuts. We also love frozen snacks for 100 degree South Carolina summer afternoons!
While there are many foods we avoid, we are thankful that we an eat all nuts and seeds... a couple of my guys are crazy about peanut butter! A simple snack for my boys is a bowl of cashews or another type of nut. My 4 year old likes to add raisins to his cashews and my 9 year old adds sunflower seeds to his cashews for a "trail mix".
Roasted pecans are a crunchy sweet snack!  I mix unrefined coconut oil and honey (3:1) and add a pinch of pink salt, 2 drops YL Cinnamon Bark EO. I toss with a couple cups of raw pecans and baked 45-60 minutes (stirring occasionally) at 275 degrees. 
Roasted pumkpin seeds are a great sweet or salty snack! We use coconut oil instead of butter in this recipe. We also roast cinnamon pumpkin seeds with the same recipe as pecans.

Stove top popcorn is a classic afternoon snack! We add yummy healthy twist to our popcorn with EOs. I pop 1/2 cup organic popcorn in 3 TBSP of coconut oil. After popped, I add Thyme and Rosemary EO infused olive or coconut oil (2 drops each EO to 4oz EVOO), pink salt, and 1-2 TBSP nutritional yeast (gives it a cheesy flavor). I've served this at oils classes and to my hungry boys... always a hit!
Homemade Lara Bars are a huge hit and family favorite! Our favorite recipes are Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Snickerdoodle. I can't wait to try Pecan pie and Peanut butter and jelly flavors!
Whether we're dipping veggies, chips, or a spoon... dips are a great snack! My three and four year olds will grab a bowl of guacamole and eat it with a spoon! I make a super simple version of guacamole with a smashed avocado and my seasoning blend (pink salt, pepper, granulated onion & garlic, cayenne pepper). When entertaining, I add a few more ingredients to guacamole.
Hummus is another easy dip that goes great with veggies, sweet potato chips or organic blue corn chips. This fun "pink hummus" is a cool twist on hummus!
Slow cooker refried beans are a great snack or meal!

My boys go to snack has always been fruits & veggies. They know they can always grab an apple or a tomato on their own (my oldest eats tomatoes like apples:) When our spring/summer garden is growing, out boys eat sugar snap peas right off the vine.
Peanut butter (or cashew butter) logs with celery, banana or apple are a great protein and fruit paired snack.

We love to cool off in the hot summer with a frozen treat! While we stay away from the sugar and artificial colored/flavored store popsicles, we have several great recipes my boys LOVE at home! The "Pina Colada Popsicle" is our most used recipe and we almost always have a stash of these in the freezer.  Here are several Paleo popsicle recipes.

Strawberry Limeade Slushies are another wonderful HEALTHY treat! My boys love the taste and I love the health benefits! 

This NingXia Red Slushiue recipe is great as a slushie or frozen into push up pops!
my boys LOVE NingXia push up pops! Look closely for the little one trying to snag big brother's pop!
Here's another fun variation on antioxidant rich NingXia popsicles!

Unrefined coconut oil is a wonderful healthy fat and is great for supporting metabolism! I try to get at least 1-2 TBSP of this good oil daily! This wonderful chocolate recipe helps our entire family get our daily servings!
I spoon Skinny Chocolate into lined mini muffin tins, add a dollop of peanut butter and freeze. I pop out and store in the fridge. We enjoy getting a serving of healthy unrefined coconut oil in this sweet treat!
I also enjoy a peppermint twist on Skinny Chocolate!

I LOVE cooking with my Young Living essential oils! They are labeled dietary supplement and the ONLY EO brand that I trust to ingest. If you're interested in learning more about essential oils, leave me a comment or get started here!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Eating Clean on a Budget: Lunch

I realize that boys are known for eating large amounts of food... but my kids always want to eat! My 8 year is always ready to eat! He had just eaten a large meal and was "stuffed" but walked into Whole Foods and said, "I'm starving!! I mean, I'm stuffed, but I'm starving too!" Love my funny boy! :)

 Lunch is my toughest meal to plan. I'm usually finally past breakfast and digging into school with my boys. Many days, lunch is a "snack" lunch of veggies and hummus, fruits and nitrate free deli meat.

These ham and spinach roll ups are simple and a great finger food for my boys! It's just ham with spinach and guacamole or homemade dip (Just Mayo with garlic, onion, salt and pepper) rolled up.

I'm a big fan of bacon (nitrate free) and like to make a meal around that main ingredient! This bacon spinach tomato wrap with homemade guacamole on Paleo Wrap was wonderful!

 One of my sons who eat grains enjoyed this BLT on Ezekiel Bread.
"Build your own salad" is a common lunch at our home. We throw together spinach or lettuce from the garden, leftover meat from dinner, chopped veggies (peppers, carrots, cucumber, zucchini), and sunflower seeds. Dressing choices are ACV & olive oil, simple "ranch" with Just Mayo and seasonings, or guacamole.
Guacamole chicken salad is super healthy, easy and amazing!! Throw together leftover cooked chicken, an avocado and seasonings (sea salt, pepper, garlic, onion & cayenne) and serve with lettuce, veggies or sweet potato chips! A simple tuna salad is great too!
A favorite simple hot lunch is cut up hot dogs (all beef nitrate free) or smoked sausage, bell peppers, onions and potatoes (works well with white or sweet potatoes). Bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes.
Peanut butter (or cashew butter) logs are a family favorite! 
We make these on apples, bananas or celery!
We read about peanut butter roll-ups in a Berenstain Bears book and they have been a hit for years! We've shifted from using wheat wraps, to using Ezekiel wraps or Paleo Wraps
Pizza is a rare and wonderful treat at lunch! Cauliflower pizza crust or Anna's Bread Pizza Crust is wonderful with tomato sauce, pepperoni and sauteed veggies.
Leftovers are also a great hot lunch! We throw together leftover chicken and quinoa or Tolerant Pasta for a quick lunch. 
What are your favorite healthy lunches??