Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Why I chose to talk to them about it...

The past 4 days have been numbing for so many. None more than those who lost children on Friday. We all stand confused and unsure and angry trying to make sense from the senseless.
As soon as I saw the news Friday, I began thinking about how we would handle talking about it with our daughters. I assumed Kate would hear about it at school and figured the questions would come as soon as she was in the car, but they didn't come. She hadn't heard and I was thankful. I was thankful that I would be able to be the one to share with her what had happened in Connecticut that same morning.
I've had friends and acquaintances who have talked to their children about it and those who are choosing not to and those who can't decide.
I thought I might share with you why I did.
Friday after Abby came home from PreK and I turned the news on, my heart and mind were just in a weird stage of shock. At first disbelief maybe, but then tears began to flood my eyes. I felt utter urgency to begin praying. I went to where Abby was and sat down with her, fighting through tears to tell her what happened in a way a 4 year old could understand. I told her that a man who wasn't very nice went and hurt many little girls and boys and their teacher and they needed us to pray for them. We held hands and prayed together. Abby asked why I was crying and I told her my heart was hurting for the mommies and daddies and that we needed to remember them when we talked to Jesus. Why put this burden of prayer on a 4 year old? One of the most important things we are trying to teach our daughters is compassion. She's 4 and so she'll only understand so much of what's going on, but I felt in that moment that it was important to teach her that when we see the need for prayer around us, we need to respond. After we prayed, she went on about her happy little self and probably didn't think anything else of it.
Later that day when my oldest came home from school, I was expecting her to jump in the car with a pocket full of questions, worry and concern. She is almost 8 and is very tenderhearted and I knew if she'd heard, she'd want to talk about it, but she hadn't and she didn't.
Once we were home, I sat her down to talk to her. No, I didn't want to implant that worry and concern into her heart when it wasn't there already, but I knew she'd find out at church on Sunday or school on Monday and I wanted to be the one to answer her questions.
I explained what had happened and in a little more detail with her than Abby. We didn't talk about gory details, just the basics and I let her ask questions and I answered as best I could. After I felt she understood as best she could for the circumstances, I explained to her that I felt there were 2 reasons I felt she should know. The first and foremost so she would be a prayer warrior for the families and friends. That as a family, we could bring them before God asking Him to bring them comfort only He could bring.
Secondly though, I wanted her to be prepared. Yes, you could say this is erring on the side of paranoia,  but I felt this was an opportunity to give Kate some guidance as to what to do if this were ever something she and her friends were faced with. I pray they never do. I pray it's never something she even has to consider, but just as we teacher them about stranger danger and stop, drop and roll, I felt the need to teach her what to do in this scenario if she has the ability to react. We talked about hiding and we talked about lying down. We talked about being very quiet and listening to what our teacher is telling us. We talked about calming our friends down and praying. It is so sad to me that it even has to become a topic in our home, but it has and so we take the moment to learn and to teach.
I realize that this won't be the right thing for every family, but I feel it's right for ours.
Each morning when I send my sweet little ones to school, I always pray for God's safety and angels around them, that they are a blessing and be blessed. I've prayed it everyday since the very first day they went to school and I will never stop. My job as my daughter's mother is to protect their minds, their bodies, their souls and their hearts and I will always do what I can to do this.
 This is why I chose to talk to them about it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

So I woke with a song in this heart of mine...

And it goes like this, "It's beginning to rain, hear the voice of my Father. He's saying who so ever will, come and drink of My water. He's promised to pour His spirit out on your sons and your daughters. If you're thirsty and dry, look up to the sky. It's beginning to rain."
What makes this different is that I haven't heard this song in some time. It's not one I'm typically drawn to, but none the less, I woke up singing it.
As it replayed in my head, I realized that this may be my God speaking to my heart, whispering His promises to my mind. I knew then that today would be a good day.
Over the last 2 weeks, I have struggled. Emotionally, physically, mentally just not been in a good place. I felt like I was doing a lot of giving and not receiving in all 3 of those areas and it left me drained. I spent many of those days in almost tears because I felt hopeless.
During the last month I heard God give me clear direction in a few areas that I was being called to be obedient in. I learned through the process how selfish a person I really am and when being called to be fully unselfish, I don't handle it well, but I was trying. I knew during this time that God was trying to bring me out of myself so I could become fully immersed in His plan for my life. There were moments of frustration and bitterness, but all the while, knowing I had to do what I was doing. Problem was, I wasn't doing it with the attitude I should have been and that, my friends, was not okay.
Wednesday of this week, everything came to a head. We were notified early last month that our home was deemed to be in a Zone A Flood zone and because of that FEMA was mandating that we obtain flood coverage. Wednesday afternoon I received a call from a friend with our insurance company to tell me that this coverage would be costing us right at $3,000 annually. That was it. I was done. While that alone didn't make me fall apart, it was the straw that broke this camel's back and I lost it.
Sobbing, I called the one person I knew could uplift and love on me in that moment. I felt defeated in every area of my life. My personal life, my business life, my spiritual life. Everything felt like it was just crashing.
Kelly spoke some words that supportive words of love and some were words of honesty that I needed to just go ahead and swallow. I will be 100% honest and tell you that I was questioning God. I was essentially saying to Him, "Listen, you've told me to do these things and I'm doing them and I'm not seeing anything from it! Not only am I not seeing anything, but things are getting worse!" Holy cow! Who did I think I was? Even when I said it, I knew it was wrong, but I didn't care.
Later that evening I had to go to church and teach my Jr. Youth kids. I didn't want to. I was upset, my day was aweful, and I just didn't want to go and have to be 'happy', but I did.
The lesson Wednesday night was on the Israelites and the 12 spies. You see, these were God's children and God had some good stuff in store for them, but because of their unwillingness to wait and trust God, they cheated themselves out of amazing blessings. Some never even getting to experience those blessings and some having to wait many, many years before they even had a glimpse of what it was God had waiting that entire time.
In the middle of the lesson, I smirked to myself realizing that this night, I wasn't there to teach those kids about spies, I was there to teach myself about God's timing, His faithfulness and my unwillingness to fully trust.
After service, we talked to our pastors and asked them to be in prayer about the flood insurance issue with us, that God would intervene. My pastor's wife and friend spoke encouraging words to my heart and on the way home, I decided that I would start preparing my praise report for that issue right then and continue to prepare it until the time came to share it. The rest of the evening was filled with continued battles that left me emotionally lifeless by the end of the night.
Thursday I woke up with a better attitude. I read my verse of the day and it was Luke 11:10-13 "Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you would not think of such a thing—you’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?”

Yes Lord! I hear you! That was very clear. That was for me in that moment. He's renewal in my Spirit that He was there and He did have a will and He did have a purpose and I had a purpose.
Continuing in praise report preparation, I went through my day trying not to worry and to do the things I knew to do.
Then we get to today. I woke with that song on my heart ready for day and ready for God's purpose.
A couple of hours ago, I got a phone call from our insurance girl Jennifer. I missed it, but quickly sent her a text to see what was up. Oh my goodness! :D What amazing news it was! She did some work (that we are so grateful for) and was able to get our flood insurance coverage dropped from that almost $3,000 to $931 annually! THAT is the kind of God I serve! THAT is my God who is reminding me that HE is in control. THAT is the God who, even in our disobedience, desires to love on us and meet our needs. THAT is MY God!
This may not seem like the miracle to you that it is to me, but that's okay. It's not your miracle. :)
My whole attitude is different now. I'm thankful that God knows I'm weak and loves me despite it. I've apologized and asked for forgiveness and am trying to begin again.
You see, I can't walk in obedience expecting reward. I must walk in obedience in faith that whatever the reason I'm being called to walk, that there is purpose and a great one and that the 'reward' the Father may have for me may not be in the shape or form I'm expecting, but something even greater. While the physical blessing that came from this week was the affect on that insurance, the mental and spiritual blessings were greater. I am renewed and revived and while I'm disappointed in how I acted earlier this week, I'm excited to begin again and work to walk in obedience in what He's called me to do. Excited to drink of that water. Excited to see His Spirit poured out over my soul. Excited to stand in the rain!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

So there is this girl from Germany...

I know it's been a while since I've checked in and so forgive me for that! Once my littles were out of school, everything went haywire! :) The good news is that over the summer, my journey through weight loss continued and I am now officially down 37lbs since May. Amazing how much better I feel and look and I'm thankful for the encouragement and support of my awesome friends cheering me along the way. 20 to go and I'll be where I want to be. Feels so within reach!

So a lot has changed for my family over the last week. We went from being a family of 4 to a family of 5 and it all happened in the blink of an eye. Many have asked how and why it happened and so I thought the best place to share it would be here, where I can take you through the journey with us.

Before the school year began, we were asked if we would consider becoming a host family for a foreign exchange student by a good friend who was placing in our area. To be honest, the thought terrified me! I talked to Josh and be both decided that we really didn't think it was something we could do between schedules etc, so we declined.
Jump ahead four weeks and we land on last Saturday, the 8th. Lisa, my friend I mentioned before, send me a message that I could tell was filled with concern. She was coming to us sharing the story of a young girl who was going to need somewhere to stay. She had been placed with a host family and it just wasn't going to work out. She was truly not getting a good representation of a typical American home. She needed and was going to be pulled from it. She asked if we would consider taking her in and again, that chord of fear struck my heart. I mean, there would just be no way we could do it, but I told her we would be praying and looking for God's guidance in the situation. Problem was, it needed to be a quick one!

That Sunday morning  I went to my close friend and asked her to pray for us in this situation. That God's plan would be crystal clear with no room for misunderstanding. Little did we know how crystal clear He would make it. That morning, the pastor spoke on obeying God even when we might get uncomfortable with what He's asking. It caught my attention, but I didn't necessarily feel like it spoke to this situation.
As the day went on, Josh and I teased that it would be nice to meet the student and 'try her out' to see if she's be a match for our family without any pressure on us or her. Obviously, you can't really do that...unless you have a big God.

The next day I got a frantic phone call from Lisa asking if there was any way I could go pick this student, Maja (pronounced Maya) up from her host home and let her stay at my house for a few hours until she got home. Her host mother did not want her there any longer and Lisa was at the doctors office and couldn't get away to go and get her. My afternoon was free and so I agreed. I quickly drove over to pick up a visibly saddened girl who needed someone. She got in the car and started crying which then led me to cry because, well, that's what I do. :) I patted her leg and reassured her that all would be well. I can only imagine being her mom half a world away in that moment. How scared would I be if this was my little girl?
Maja spent the afternoon with us only thinking that we were just friends of Lisa's doing her a favor. She had no clue we were considering taking her in. The girls loved her, she was quiet, sweet, spoke English well, was curious about God and our religion.
She left later that afternoon and as I talked to Josh, we remembered the comment we'd made the day before about wishing we could have a test run and that's exactly what had just happened. We were able to 'try her out' without any pressure on our family or on her.
As the night went on, we talked more and I decided to jump into my Bible to hopefully find some direction and peace on what we should do. Now, I kid you not when I tell you that this was the verse my quiet time was over that day. "Put into practice what you have learned from me, what you have heard and saw and realized. Do that and God who makes everything work together will work you in His most excellent harmonies."
I read it to Josh and I think it was then we realized that between that verse, the test run that afternoon and our pastor's message the morning before, we may just have our answer. We decided then that we would be asking Maja if she would like to come and live with us over the next year.
The story doesn't end here though. I went to bed that night knowing what the answer was. Seeing clearly what God desired of us even though it scared me. I barely slept and when I got up the next morning, I questioned God. I just couldn't believe He was placing us with this charge.
Before I began my quiet time, I asked Him to reassure me so it was beyond the shadow of a doubt what He wanted. This was what my verse was that day. "You were sure of yourselves then. It's still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God's plan so you'll be there for the promised completion."
Holy cow! Honestly! I don't think I've ever had God speak to me through Scripture like this before. It was just an unreal experience.
Later that day, although still nervous, but seeing the plan ahead, I told Lisa that we'd like to welcome Maja into our home if she'd have us. She told Maja and from what I understand, she jumped up and hugged her, so excited to be coming to stay here.
We spent the next 2 days moving my littlest one into the bigger one's room and giving Maja her very own room. On Thursday, we officially welcomed her 'home'.
It was upon telling one of my closest friend's this story yesterday how over this summer God kept bringing to be the idea of 'you've been blessed, so I'm calling you to be a blessing' to me over and over. Through sermons, quiet times, Sunday school, songs, etc. That single thought replayed and replayed and I kept asking God to show me why I needing to be paying attention to this. Was there someone in our lives we needed to help? Who was it? I would think it was one person and then that would pass. It left me very confused because I knew it was for me, but wasn't seeing where I needed to be using it. Now I see that God was solely preparing my heart for this moment in our lives.

I can't tell you how thrilling and terrifying it is to be in this place. A place of knowing we're exactly where God wants us to be, but also being so unsure of myself and my role in it. One thing I do know is that if God has brought us here, He will carry us through and it will be with an amazing journey along the way.

I ask that you, my friends, keep our family and especially sweet Maja in your prayers as we share our lives together over the next 9 months. Also for her own family as they watch her grow from so far away.
 I'm learning how to 'parent' a teenager, cook for 5, clean for 5 and juggle all the things we have going in our lives for 5. I'm deeply humbled that God saw us fit to take Maja into our home and I'm anxious to see what this year will bring for our new family of 5.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Why there won't be an after...

Typically when one is trying to lose weight gained over time and get in better shape, you have pictures of the person you were before and the person you are after. Well, there won't be an after for this girl.
When I started this challenge, honestly, it was just to see if I could make it for 2 weeks. I never thought I'd make it through all 6. When week 3 started, I thought, "you can do this for 2 weeks again!" and so I did. Right now, I'm 8 weeks into my journey.
What I am doing is not a diet. Diet is such an ugly word. What I am doing  have done is changed the way I feel and think about food. It's not the center of my universe. It is my energy, my fuel, my sidekick, not my comfort. Comfort is lower numbers on the scales and new clothes.While I will definitely take a picture of what I look like when I get to my goal, I won't be calling it my 'after' picture. After is defined by 'following an event or time'. What I am doing is my life now. Its the way I'll always live. I feel awesome from the inside out and no burger or pizza is worth taking that away from me. I don't want to just be thinner, I want to be fit. I want to be healthy- body, mind and soul.
So maybe I'll find a new name for it. Suggestions are always welcome and you're definitely welcome to say 'man, doesn't she look great after losing all that weight!' After is most welcome in that case. :)
18 down...26 to go to fitness goal.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

God is proud of you...

At the end of this month, I will hop on an airplane for the first time in 22 years. I have lived in utter fear of them for a long time and I'm learning that I'm definitely not alone. 1 in 10 adults has a fear of flying! Crazy, right?!
The reason I am going though, is worth it. We will be driving to Colorado to drop my littles off with papa and nanna and my husband and I will be flying to Las Vegas for Scentsy Convention 2012. Hands down one of my favorite things to do every year. There is nothing like it! After trying to talk my husband into driving, I swallowed the fact that flying was the best option for this trip. Oh and by swallowed, I mean that big 'gulp' you see cartoon characters do with the bowling ball going down their throat.
To amp myself up, I've been watching videos for people with a fear of flying aimed at calming common fears. The first video absolutely freaked...me...out! Yes, I was sitting in my bed watching it on YouTube, but honestly, terrified me. So I begun to pray.
Time finally came last week to book the flight. I knew if I waited much longer, I'd pay more for it and if you know me, you know that was not going to happen. I prayed about it much the night before and got up early so I could get it done before the family woke. I prayed about which airline, which seats, what days...everything! God really does care about all of these things if they are our worries.
So it is done. Tickets are purchased and I'm continuing in prayer and will be until we're home again. If I were honest with you, I'd tell you that my fear of flying has kept me from doing so many things. Most recently from taking an all expense paid trip to the Dominican Republic. I don't want to let fear keep me from experiences like this any more.
After booking the flight, I hopped right on Facebook to 'brag' about my achievement claiming that all should be proud! :) After all, this was a big step! So many funny and kind comments came pouring in of support and applause, but one comment stuck out and became a blessing.
A friend I've known for a very long time simply said, "God is proud of you!"
It resinated in my spirit for days. Those 5 words stuck like cement in my head.
Was He really proud of me for this? The longer I thought on it, the more my spirit responded with 'yes!' God was and is proud of me for booking those flights. Why? Because it is me giving up a fear and putting my faith in His love and protection for me which is one of the most basic things He asks of us. He wants us to put our everything in His hands, to allow Him to watch over, guide, and bless our lives. We are His creation whom He loves and adores! He desires us to trust Him and that is exactly what I am doing. My hearts greatest desire in life is to make my Maker proud of me. To hear one day "well done my good and faithful servant".
So, on July 22nd and 28th, if you think of me, throw an extra prayer up to Him on our behalf. Not only for our safety, but for my mind to be peaceful and my heart to be in full faith of my Creator.
Oh and thank you dear friend for your words. You probably didn't think much about them when you replied, but I really feel like those were words spoken through you for me and I appreciate you!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Things I'm learning along the way...

Tuesday marks week 6 of my 6 week habit change challenge brought on by Scentsy's Wellness coach, Lee Leslie. How is it that depending on what you're doing, 6 weeks can either seem like eternity or the blink of an eye?
Regardless, what a change 6 weeks has brought to me and my body!
When I started the challenge, I have to say, there was a week of cranky Amanda. I wanted sugar, eating out was torture and I walked around 24/7 with a headache. I didn't like it, but it was only 6 weeks. Surely I could make it!

So this is what I've learned about all things 'habit changing' in the last 6 weeks...

We, as society, want quick fixes. We don't want to have to work too hard for what we want. Pills, potions, starving ourselves etc. have become our 'go to' ways to fix the damage we've done to our bodies. We're cheating ourselves out of lifelong health & wellness because, well, we're lazy. God has already provided a way for us to be fit, why aren't we using it?

We also like to make excuses. Lots of them. Excuses like, "I can't do it", "I can't give up fries", "I can't work out because...", "I'm a picky eater", "I love food too much", "I'm okay with being overweight" Said it before? I have. I've said all of those in fact. Quit making excuses. You're only hurting yourself. You're giving yourself permission to fail before you even begin. When you get on the scale and it doesn't move or goes up, there's no one else to blame. I'm not trying to be harsh by any means, but it's reality. When I was ready to quit making excuses, I was rewarded. Don't let yourself give in to a craving because you know you can start over the next day. Just don't eat it! I promise that you'll be reminded how not worth it that bite was when you get on the scale.

Sugar is the 'debil'. :) Okay, so not really, but wow, has my attitude towards it changed. In Coach's 6 week habit change, we're challenged to give up all white sugar for 6 weeks. Week 1 was tough, week 2 was easier, and here at week 6, I don't even care. Cookies, cakes, ice cream are not appealing. I was the girl who said 'there's no way I can give up dessert!' I loved them, but what I've learned is that it's just, if not more, addictive than caffeine. It's almost like a little drug for our bodies. That's why when you go for a little while without it, it's all you think about.
When you can get it out of your body, everything changes. I can focus better, my tummy doesn't feel heavy, I'm not sluggish or tired all the time like before, and no sugar crashes. Does this mean I'll live completely sugar free my whole life, probably not, but it is NOT my go to desire any longer. What freedom!

Water is a cure for insomnia! No, I'm not a doctor, but I would say that if you have trouble sleeping at night, start getting all your water in. Drink those 8 glasses if it's all you do all day. You'll need to go to the bathroom a lot in the beginning while your body adjusts, but when it's all settled, you will feel 1000 times better! I've always had trouble sleeping, but can drift off easily into very restful sleep which I treasure! On top of that, when I wake up, I'm up. No grogginess! I'm ready to take on the day. Gold my friends, gold!

Eating out is hard when you're taking care of yourself. End of story! But, it's not impossible. It takes planning and thinking ahead. Not listening to your stomach and making the best choices you can. When I find something I can have at a fast food or sit down restaurant, I save it in my phone so it's at my touch next time we have to eat out. I also use my MFP app which is my best friend right now! If you're not found www.myfitnesspal.com , do it and then add me :) My username is gamjohn .

Working out really can be a stress reliever. Just ask my husband after I hide in my room for 30 min. on my elliptical when my girls are making me pull my hair out. I'm a much nicer/calmer person afterwards. You can also ask the girl in the mirror when she gets that happy sigh of relief when she see's a new number on her measuring tape. It can totally turn your day around.

Finally, eating better is not cheap or easy, but you know what? Neither am I! :)

I don't claim to have all the answers in this whole process, but what I can tell you is just how much better I feel. Inside and out. I'm proud of myself for working so hard to take care of me. You know what? THAT DOESN'T MAKE ME SELFISH! It makes me smart!

I committed myself to 6 weeks of habit changing. Besides more knowledge on how our bodies work, better sleep, a stronger body and mind, more energy, and a happy me, I am 16 lbs lighter and 24" smaller.

Would you commit yourself to 6 weeks of habit changing if those were your results?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

So there's this fish....

-"Not even a sparrow, worth only half a
penny, can fall to the ground without your
Father knowing it. And the very hairs on
your head are all numbered. So don’t be
afraid; you are more valuable to Him than
a whole flock of sparrows."
Matthew 10:29-31

Growing up in church, I've heard this verse too many times to count. Such a sweet reminder of God's care for us and yet I think sometimes, I don't appreciate it as much as I should. Or maybe understand is a better word.
That was until I learned about a fish.

While watching National Geographic randomly the other day, I learned about the 'Splashing Tetra'. My guess is you've probably never heard of it. I certainly hadn't.
Something unique to the Splashing Tetra is that when it's time to lay their eggs, an amazing thing happens.
The female swims next to the male, somewhat attaching herself to his side, and together they jump out of the water, in the air, attaching themselves to a leaf. It's there that the female lays her eggs and the mall fertilizes them and then they both fall back into the water. Pretty neat, right? But wait!
Once the eggs are laid, the momma Tetra swims away while daddy stays in the water directly under the leaf. For 2 days, daddy spends his time using his tail to flip water up onto the leaf to make sure babies stay nice and wet. That's all he does. With a whip of his tail, water shoots into the air covering his little ones until they're ready to hatch. After the 2 days are over, daddy flips his tail for a final time and the water droplets help the newly hatched 'fry' gently fall into the waters below to begin their new lives. (Here's a little video just for fun... Splashing Tetra )

I just thought it was too neat! The more I sat and thought about these crafty little fish, the more that verse from Matthew kept creeping in.
We know He watches the sparrows and not one falls from the sky without Him knowing. They are His creation and He loves them, but what really made me understand His infinite love, was this little fish. God loves this little fish so much that He didn't just create it to swim and lay eggs on the bottom of the pond hoping everything works out and babies come. He cared so much for these fish that He created in them a unique way to do this. He also created in this daddy fish a 'knowledge' to stay there so the eggs wouldn't dry out and die. A fish!!!

So if our great, amazing Creator cared so much about the 'Splashing Tetra' that He makes a way to meet their tiny little fishy needs, we have no room to doubt anything less for our own lives and every teenie tiny aspect of it. Nothing is out of the realm of God's love and passion for us!

God is ever present. God is healer. God is provider. God is comfort. God is peace. God is faithful. God is loving. God is counselor. God is teacher. God is mine. God is YOURS! He loves you. He really, truly loves you.

So while I'm thankful for that sweet verse in Matthew and God's reminder of His care for us through the sparrow, I'm even more thankful today for the little fish and what they taught me about God's care of each one of us.

Today, if you're struggling with something, remember that you have a great big God who desires to be there to meet your needs. He's waiting to listen and ready to move on the scene. NOTHING is too small! NOTHING!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Preparing your praise report...

I was lying in bed last night thinking of all sorts of crazy things. The biggest roadblock to many nights of great sleep is my ever wandering mind. It's so hard to just get it to stop.
However, last night all my thoughts were filled with good stuff. Things I was thankful for, people I admired, wishes for my girls' futures, what I hope my spirit shows others in my daily walk and other things. I thought about how blessed I am and how God will bless us in our futures.
We had a guest speaker at church last night who's message is certainly what spurred this thought process. He spoke about claiming healing and blessings in our lives and thanking and praising now for what's to come. It brought me back to an experience I had with God and I'd love to share it with you.
About 6 years ago, my mom, after her own mom experienced breast cancer, found lumps in her breast and was going to be having a procedure to remove them and check for cancer. I was terrified. My grandmother had a double mastectomy, lost all her hair and the thought of my mom going through the same thing was scary. I can't even imagine how she felt.
The night before her procedure, I couldn't sleep. Again, I was eyes wide open because my mind was going a million miles a minute. What happens if it is cancer? What if she has to have chemo? How will my brother and sister feel? How will she feel? What will I be able to do to help? Question after question after question. I sat there crying from fear. Then, I started to pray.
It was then that I experienced what I think was my first real hearing of God's voice. It was clear as day. It was sweet, calming, full of peace. At first, it was for me to just be silent. So I did. I sat and waited. Then, in that same sweet clear voice He said, 'Prepare your praise report!'
Prepare your praise report. Yep. That's what He said and in that moment, I understood exactly what He meant. It was written on my heart and has been ever since. Instead of sitting there worrying in fear about 'what ifs', He simply wanted me to to prepare the praise report that I would be sharing with everyone I knew when everything turned out okay. And that's exactly what I did. I prepared my praise report.
A few days later, the test results were in and the masses were benign and you'd better believe that the next Sunday I popped myself right up and delivered the already prepared report of praise! God was good, is good and my mom would be alright.
Since that time, I've shared this with others who are going through a struggle or are waiting for their blessing to come. We already have victory people! It's already been paid for, it is already ours. We just have to claim it, believe it and prepare that praise report for WHEN it comes, not IF it comes. That is the truest definition of faith in God's will for you.
So, as I laid in bed going through all those thoughts last night, I made a list of 'praise report preparations' that I will thank God for each and every night and then again after the come to fruition. Some are short term desires and some are long term (like my children's own desire to love and follow God and them finding spouses who love Him as they do).
I want to encourage you to do the same. Thank God now and prepare praise for what you don't see. Thank God now and prepare praise for the desires of your heart and their own coming to life. Thank God now for His abounding love and desire to bless YOU!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Have you flowered a friend lately?

If you're looking for inspired writing, I have to pass on to you my bestie's blog. Although we live states apart, Kelly knows me like no one else does (whether that's good or bad).
Kelly was inspired a few months ago to begin Flower a Friend Friday and what started as a wish in her heart to bless others has grown into a 'movement' among Scentsy consultants and others.
I've been a part of helping spread the flower love and it truly is one of the most exciting parts of my week.
I want to encourage you to read her rockin' blog and if your own heart feels challenged, grab a small bouquet or two and flower a friend (or stranger) today!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

This is NOT a weight loss blog....

But I'm losing weight! :D
By this not being a weight loss blog, I mean that it's central focus won't be around weight loss. It will be about everything under the sun. You can be certain you'll get a heft dose of randomness here. It's what I'm best at. :)
Today though, I'm going to share it is going to be about weight loss!
Today is my first weigh in day in my new way of eating. As I mentioned in a prior post, I am following a plan that Coach Lee with Scentsy has laid out, so my results come from that plan. It's very simple, but is definitely requiring thought and dedication. As Coach says, if you're going to lose weight, either do it or don't. No excuses!
I've been anxious for today all week. I needed to see loss to vindicate the things I passed over and the decisions I made. While we ate great all week (and by great I mean yummy!), there were still moments I wanted a sweet something like a delicious strawberry shortcake or salty hot fries. I will be able to have these things in a modified way after this week, but remember, first 2 weeks are no whites (sugar, bread, potato, rice).
So are you ready??
Drum roll please...... my first week weigh in has me down 7 lbs!! WOOOHOOO!!!!!!!!!! Totally worth skipping 'not worth it' foods!
Outside of taking care of myself through my foods, I also walked 3 days in the last week.
I love the motivation this loss brings. I'm ready to get up and go play which is to the glee of my two littles. Katie especially loves walking with me in the evenings. We chat about all sorts of things and have lots of laughs. Double benefit if you ask me! Abby likes it for the first block and then thinks she needs to be carried. No dice!

Before I leave this post, I'll leave you with another eating tip! If you have to eat out, which is definitely trickier when trying to eat well, here are two 'better for you' choices you can make.

Taco Bell- 2 Fresco Chicken Soft Tacos and 1 Fresco Pinto Beans - 430 calories & 10 grams of fat
Popeye's- Naked Chicken Basket - 3 really yummy naked chicken tenders, green beans, and a baguette - 300 calories & 7 grams of fat

Happy Eating!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

What's on my menu for the week...

Never been so excited to cook before!

Spaghetti Squash Pasta

Mushroom Whole Wheat Pasta

Greek Salsa Chicken

I'm also going to try and whip up Coach Lee's Super Oatmeal in the morning. Coach Lee is Scenty's awesome wellness coach and is great about sharing super charged foods that are good for us and still taste good! :) Here is the concoction:

Old Fashioned Oats (not quick oats) prepared
Splash of Vanilla Almond Milk
Blueberries and/or banana
Sliced almonds
Stevia Brown Sugar and Cinnamon

Sounds tasty, doesn't it?

Lastly, I'll share what I had for breakfast this morning which ended up being a filling, low calorie meal in itself.

1 Thompson's Triple Health English Muffin (texture isn't gummy or icky like other healthier muffins)
1 slice turkey bacon
1 med. egg over easy in a non stick pan with no oil
1 wedge of Laughing Cow cheese
few leaves of fresh spinach

Assembly as you would an Egg McMuffin from ole Mcd's and enjoy! I couldn't even finish mine today.

Happy eating!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sweet Potatoes & Spinach...

Today will just be a couple of recipes for you. One for a rockin' side dish and the other for a cripsy, salty yummy snack both made with nutrient packed spinach!

I'll say this all the time, but don't knock something until you try it. We work hard with our kiddos to go outside the walls of chicken nuggets and fries and so trying new things is a part of our lives constantly.
Now, when it comes to sweet potatoes, I adore them. Especially the brown sugar, butter, marshmallow kind. :) But alas, we can't be doing that right now, so here's on to new ways to enjoy their vitamin packed goodness. I was nervous to try a savory version, but after working up some bravery, dove into the recipe below. Not regretting that choice for a moment!

Spinach Garlic Sweet Potato

Medium Baked Sweet Potato (I nuked mind in the microwave to save time)
1 cup of fresh spinach leaves
1 wedge of garlic and herb laughing cow cheese

While potato is 'baking', wilt spinach in a non stick pan without oil. You just want to make them soft. Take your wedge of cheese and mix it in the pan with the spinach until blended together well. Gives you that creamed spinach consistency and flavor.
One the potato is done, top it with your spinach mixture and enjoy! I am a salt lover and didn't have to add any to this at all. (Which is good because the next recipe makes up for it!)

Second is a recipe for oven baked spinach chips. There is a trend right now using Kale for this same idea and it is great as well, but if you're looking for a way to ease into the whole green chips idea, this may be a great place to start. I am loving Pinterest right now for discovering new foods and that is exactly where I found these Spinach Chips
Best part? My kids LOVE them! Problem? Terribly addicting and it's hard to not eat them all :)

And finally, for dinner tonight we tried another something new. Tuna Burgers! I'm not a huge tuna fan, but I also know that Tuna packs a lot of good for ya stuff without a lot of junk, so I want to find ways to like it. I used this recipe ( Tuna Burger Recipe ) with a few changes. First I left out the sour cream and now that I've eaten, I'm not sure what it would have added taste wise. I replaced it with a wedge of garlic herb Laughing Cow cheese spread on the toasted English muffin. We also swapped dry coleslaw mix for the romaine. It gave the burger the perfect texture. If you're a fan of a little bit of bite, I totally recommend adding sliced pepperocinis on top of your burger. Makes the burger in my opinion and if you prepare it the way I did, you're having a super tasty, fully satisfying burger that is actually good for you!

Hope you're eating well today!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

That's some good eatin'...

I'm on a mission to get healthy, not skinny. Skinny is such an ugly word. Everyone's definitions of it are different and to be honest, I don't want to be rail thin. I want curves...just in the right places. :)
In this mission, I will lose weight I'm certain, but my desire is not to 'become skinny'. I want to become healthy.
A few days ago, while on a Facebook group I'm a part of, I felt challenged to take on an abstinence from whites. White bread, white potatoes, white sugar and so on. I love bread and sweets, so this was was going to be a challenge for sure!
So here we are on day 3 and actually, so far, so good. I've been able to modify my meals to 'make up' for what's missing and it's been kind of fun to find those replacements. I think when I took this on I thought I'd get to eat nothing and that my eating world would become dry salads and grilled chicken. You realize VERY quickly what all contains white sugars etc.
To my surprise, I've been able to find some awesomely tasty things that are delicious, satisfying and actually already are making me feel better. I'm a foodie. Said and done. So if I'm going to do this and in turn change my other not so good eating habits, what I do start eating better be danged good! :)
My plan is to post my most yummy recipes here so they're accessible to anyone who's is trying to eat better. I'd love to hear if you try one of them, so be sure and post your own results in the comments!
Have a great day!

Last night's meal was a small, well trimmed grilled steak with salt and pepper with side of Zucchini Fritters and "Tzatziki"

Zucchini Fritters - These were awesome! Makes you feel like you're eating potatoes and are crunchy and full of flavor! I omitted the cheese (ekk, I know right?) and served my own version of a Tzatziki sauce on the side. The recipe for it is below. Don't knock it until you try it!

My "Tzatziki"
Fat free cream cheese (instead of a mixture of Greek yogurt and sour cream)
1 small cucumber- peeled, seeded and diced
1 clove crushed garlic
1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients well and put in fridge for flavors to meld together. Awesome on the zucchini fritters and with pretzels.

The night before, we had a trimmer version of a Chicken Bruschetta I make. Typically this combination is mixed with Stove Top Dressing and baked, but because of my bread hiatus, we omitted it.

Boneless, skinless, lean chicken breasts cut into strips
1 can of Low sodium Garlic, Oregano, and Basil Diced Tomatoes- Drained
1 cup Low fat Shredded Mozerella

Preheat oven to 350
On the stove top, cook chicken slices until done.
pour into a baking dish and top with tomatoes and cheese
Sprinkle Italian Seasoning on top and put into the oven until cheese it melted and bubbly.

Serve with a salad topped with Balsamic dressing and a side of Lima Beans. Our favorite way to prepare LB's is by throwing defrosted beans in a skillet with a little EVOO and salt/pepper until they're browned and warmed through. I'll admit, I used to hate them, but cooked this way, they're pretty stinking tasty and packed with protein!

Happy Eating!

What this blog is not...

I thought before I began that it would be smart to share with you what this blog is not. Odd, I know, but I feel like my purpose here is different than with most. So, here we go! This blog is not… Meant to change your life. I’m no expert. I’m not studied in most of what I’ll write about. What I will write is what is on my heart or on my mind. Sometimes it will be the crazy that is in my every day life. Sometimes it will be the moments of ‘aha’ that I find in my spiritual walk. Sometimes it will be the ‘yummy’ moments as I work towards a healthier me and sometimes that means it will be the ‘not so yummy’ moments. This blog will not… Give you all the answers. I’m not a doctor, nutritionist, politician, Biblical scholar, family counselor, CEO, psychiatrist, or superhero. I am a mom with 2 little girls, a husband, a home, a business and a journey of purpose with my God. This blog isn’t intended to… Keep my family updated on all the happenings in our lives. While it may do that in it’s course, it is really just an outlet of sorts. A way to me to connect to you. For us to share moments of strength, self confidence, pride, self worth, and successes, but to then in turn also share those of failure, hurdles, bumps in the road, moments of defeat and disappointment. This blog WILL be… Honest. I’m sharing my heart and mind. I won’t make excuses for how I’m feeling. I’ll own up to my actions, apologize when I’m wrong and listen when I need to. I’m not here to show a ‘fake me’ or hide behind a pretty blog layout. Now, if that didn’t scare you off, we should be friends. Really though, I felt it so important to be real from day one. I hope that some part of this new adventure does touch someone in some way. Even if it’s just to help them realize they aren’t the only one who thinks they way they think or feels the way they feel or struggles the way they struggle. So if you’re willing to walk with me, feel free to subscribe to the left and off we will go! Amanda