Monday, April 30, 2012

Breakfast of Champions

I get asked a lot of questions about how my hubby and I do things...What do we feed our kids? Do we immunize? Do we eat any meat? Are we organic fanatics? Not because I have an "Oddball" sticker across my forehead(hold on a second...yep, it's gone.  Had it for years. You can still see the tape tracks), but because once they find out he's a Chiropractor, or one of us mention "paleo"...or, we are the ones who raise our hands in the classroom of 20 kiddos when asked any parents object to their kids partaking of the doughnut hole treat, it's bound to happen.

So, today, I thought I'd mix things up a bit! (great pun, Jacque) You'll see why that's such a funny soon!

Without going into detail about all the things that people ask, that many of you don't care to know, I thought I'd cover a fun one...

 Nope, it ain't Wheaties in this house!

Nathaniel, who is 2 1/2, has basically the same thing every day for breakfast, with the exception of eggs or nuts and fruit, or maybe almond-flour pancakes or muffins on an occasional day.  We each try to consume one at some point in the day, just to keep balanced.  

Here is a general list of things that go into Nathaniel's shake:

1 organic banana
(optional) 1/2 c berries
1 t.VitaMineral  Green powder
1 probiotic(necessary for good bacteria)
2 Wuji Chlorella tablets
10 frozen pieces brocolli or 1 large kale leaf
1 heaping T almond butter
6 oz Almond milk
6 oz water
We mix all this up in our Vita-Mix blender...Love it!

Here are some pics below of the products we use:

We love this milk because the almonds they use are GMO~it's not organic, but we're satisfied with it.  We use the unsweetened vanilla.
One of the greatest things about this combo is that it's fresh and nutrient-dense.  It's a great way to start the day, and a super way to make sure that Nathaniel is getting the proper nutrition.  If he pushes away his veggies at lunch or dinner and only wants his protein, I don't get so concerned.

Each of us in this family have a variation on the recipe above, but again, the key is nutrient-DENSITY.  As "yucky" as the broccoli or kale seems like it would taste, honestly, you'd be surprised at just how "banana-y" it tastes!!  

If you introduce these things early, your kids will truly enjoy them!! One of the most exciting parts of Nathaniel's morning is getting to help make his "shake".  

Be blessed! Be encouraged! Be inspired! 
Happy Monday to all of you!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bless God

The Bean on Easter this year

My little Nathaniel is at such a cute age right now...Well, almost all the time.  For those of you out there who have walked through(and survived!)the toddler years, I'm sure you know exactly what I mean.  These little folks can be just WILD one minute; leaving us in a tailspin; where we stop only to count all of the new gray hairs; and leaving us overwhelmed with joy at the fact that they are ours the next. He is working so hard to be independent; learning new ways of dealing with his emotions; learning new ways to get what he wants; wanting to please us, yet wanting what HE wants more than anything.  It can become exhausting...Since yesterday afternoon, his new phrase is, "I want to break that. "

However...didn't we ALL begin in this place?  We have all had to learn and grow.  Stumble and fall.  Hope that someone we trust is there to kiss our boo-boos and brush us off and pick us back up. Hope that someone will be there who loves us unconditionally.  Someone who will encourage us to grow and be all we can be. Someone who will be overjoyed because we belong to THEM.

There is something so precious about a little person. They are so new.  So angelic.  So unblemished.  They love.  They forgive and forget.  Their joy overflows at things which we as adults take for granted.  The simple things.  The things that we seem to pass over as unimportant.  They have such life in them.  Life ahead of them.  Dreams yet to be dreamed.  Destinies yet to be fulfilled.  

One of the sweetest things that Nathaniel does is "bless God" when he coughs or sneezes.  This is his little way of saying, "God bless," or "God bless you."  It's so funny when we'll be out shopping somewhere and he'll sneeze(or even fake sneeze-oh yes, he's a smart one) and yell, "Bless God!"  People always stop and ask what he means by that, and then laugh when I tell him what he's doing.  It's one of those cute endearing things that I know I'll be sad about when he figures out the "right" way to say it.

Nathaniel is on to something...maybe we should "Bless God" more often.  Bless Him for being Him.  Bless Him for loving us.  Bless Him for caring deeply enough about every single one of us to send Jesus to die for us.  Bless Him for looking down upon us, and confirming His presence and His ability to provide for us when times are tough.  Bless Him for using us, even in our imperfection, to bless others.  

Last week I had my own "Bless God" day.  

I woke up with no solid plans~other than it was Wednesday, so I planned on taking Nathaniel to Grandma's and running errands, cleaning, food shopping, etc.

What I didn't yet know was that by saying "Yes" to God first thing in the morning, and making a conscious effort to walk in His Spirit, and listen for His voice, He was going to bless me immensely, and bless others in the process.   

I made my day's plans on the way to drop off Bean.  I would go to UPS and have a forgiveness letter notarized and faxed(part of what God had been speaking to me about my "Nineveh")...this was a big deal.  I knew that it couldn't wait one more day.  I wasn't about to give Satan a foothold where he didn't deserve one...Then, off to a women's shelter to drop off a few to clean, etc.

After the letter was faxed, I felt such joy in my heart.  So happy to be part of what God wanted to do~even though it took me some time to do my part.  I was on cloud nine as I drove to the shelter.
I showed up unannounced.  Not like me.  I was kind of flying by the seat of my pants. I left the donations in the office, and something told me to stay and help out.  I had committed to organizing some closets. With only one down, this day seemed as good as any.  

Here is something to ponder...What do we do when we know of a little person who is doing without?  What if they've been abused, or have been in an abusive home?  What if that place of safety and rest has become a place of sorrow and loneliness and pain? What about the women who have fled from these environments?  What about the ones who have taken their children and fled?  Many have nothing but the clothes on their backs.  They are thankful to be alive and to have each other.  They pray that someone will care enough to intervene.  To protect them. To give them shelter.  Maybe give them a warm meal and a change of clothes.  Maybe, just maybe a chance to live.  To heal.  To learn how to trust again.  To learn how to live again. 

This is one of those places.  SO very close to my heart.  A place of safety and love.  Encouragement and hope.  Security and healing.  New life.  Second chances.  

So, one of the women who work there told me about a young woman who had come to them with two small children.  They didn't have anything.  Truly nothing beyond what they had on.  I felt like God whispered, "This is yours."

The first thing I did was call my husband and ask him to put the word out...Then I called a friend who has a consignment shop to see if she had anything that hadn't sold that might be ready for donation.  She said I could have what she had in back, although she had no idea what was even there.  

Then, I went to work on the hall closet.  As I pondered this, I noticed a young woman.  I had seen her; even spoken with her briefly before.  She stopped and turned to me and said, "Why are you doing this?"

I explained that my heart was in it.  I was able to encourage her and give her some hope.  I told her that this place was an answer to my prayers.  I had been looking for a place to give back to.  God had heard me and led me to them.  We talked for a few minutes.  When she left, no longer was her head down, but her chin was up, she was giggling, and saying "thank you!" as she almost skipped away.  

~"Bless God."~

Just a few minutes later, another woman came by.  I had been watching her pace back and forth.  She was clearly on the verge of an emotional breakdown.  I could see how stoic she was trying to be.  I asked, "Are you okay?"

She explained that she wasn't okay...not by a long shot.  For several reasons.  She couldn't be the strong one anymore.  Everyone needed her shoulder to cry on, but her own problems were too big, and she had no one to turn to.  She didn't know how to get through what life had dealt her at the moment.  Her child had been abused.  She had been abused.  She had nothing left to give. She was frightened.  She was overwhelmed. 

I talked to her for a while and then just wrapped my arms around her.  I asked her if she wanted me to pray. She said, "No, that's okay."  So...I said, "Well, these are the things I'm going to pray when I get home," and just sort of prayed them anyway.  I told her to keep her chin up and to always remember that "God is a miracle worker."

She looked over her shoulder and said, "That's what my mom always said."

~Again, "Bless God."~ 

I walked back down to the office and let them know that I was finished with the closet, for now anyway, and that I wanted to get to the consignment shop to see what might be available for this little family.

When I arrived, the owner took me to the back room.  In the corner was a pile of clothes.  Just haphazardly thrown there.  A few bags nearby.  She gave me a big rubber bin to stuff everything in.  And, stuff I did.  I was on a mission.  In a huge hurry.  Within five minutes, I was thanking her and running to my car.  I had no idea what was in there, but I felt excited!

On the way back, I felt like I should pull over and try to organize this stuff.  I had made such a mess.  It was going to take someone a lot of time, and a lot of work to go through this.  So, I pulled over into a parking lot a mile or so away.  

I reached over and tugged on the clothes.  Out came a little girl's dress~in EXACTLY the size I  needed!  I pulled out another.  Another.  And yet another.  Dress after dress.  Beautiful and girly.  A nightgown.  Little pants.  Shorts.  A cardigan.  Piece after piece.  There were over twenty things!  I was almost in disbelief!  God's presence was so tangible.  I knew He wasn't finished. I began to cry, just thanking God out loud.

Again, I reached over and tugged at the clothing I had so tightly stuffed into this bin.  Out came a little boy's shirt~in EXACTLY the size I needed! Again and again.  Now, I had clothes for both of them!  

I reached in and pulled out....a woman's size small..And another.  Another. A pair of jeans. And another.  While this wasn't a lot, this was for someone who had basically nothing.  

I sat there and cried. Truth be told...sobbed.  I called my mom just so I could share it with someone.  I could barely talk.  We got off the phone and I drove back to deliver everything. 

There was so much to give that this woman needed help getting everything back to her room.  I said, "I know...I'm the woman who shows up and talks about God all the time.  I can't help it!  He is so amazing! Only HE could do this!!"  We were all laughing together.  It was truly exciting to see how quickly and how mightily He worked!

I prayed after I left.  Just praised Him for being so good.  For His unfailing love and provision. For using me to bless others that day.  For blessing me through it.  For releasing me from the bondage of my past by urging me to formally forgive someone else.  Walking in His spirit is the most beautiful, most joyful, most blessed place to be!

...The next day a friend called who often has clothing items to be donated.  I was about to give her directions to take them herself when she said that she had a big bag of size-- women's clothing.  All nice stuff.  Conservative.  Great shape.

I cried again! (after I jumped up and down!!)  God had provided things for the mother now, beyond the items I had found in the bin!! Only God.  Only God.  

~Bless God!~
 The humble soul will bless God under misery as well as under mercy, when God frowns as when he smiles, when he takes as when he gives, under crosses and losses as under blessings and mercies. The humble believer looks through all secondary causes, and sees the hand of God...for the rest of this, go to this link 

 May you all have a blessed, beautiful day!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Word of God Speak

Word of God speak...Would you pour down like rain? Washing my eyes to see Your Majesty? To be still and know that You're in this place? Please let me stay and rest in Your holiness...

This has been the summary of my prayer for two weeks now.  

An opportunity presented itself two Tuesdays ago.  I knew I had a big decision to make.  When the idea was presented initially, I was overwhelmed.  Honored.  God had moved.  He had answered prayers.  Opened doors.  Created opportunity for growth and challenge.  And abundant blessing. 

 My prayer for over a year now has been,"God, please use me.  Use me in whatever capacity you choose.  I want nothing less than the destiny that You have created for me.  I don't want to miss out on any more of what YOU want for me.  I've wasted enough time. I pray that You will open doors that no man can close.  Give me the faith and the courage to step through them, without wasting time analyzing and second-guessing.  I don't want anything if You aren't in it.  My desire is to be in Your presence always.  Not behind You.  Not in front of You."

So, one would think that a simple "YES!!" would be in order.  It was~initially.  But, just to be sure, I really needed to discuss this with my husband.  Both of us needed to pray about it.  We needed time to seek the Lord and make sure this was what HE wanted for me...for US right now.  I needed to be sure that it was my season.

Well, life sort of took over.  I began to get overwhelmed by the "what if's"...The "I don't know's"...the "I'm not sure if I'm qualified" kind of questions.  The doubt that can creep in.

So, here I was, on Monday evening...sitting on the bed with my phone and my Bible on my lap.  I had just had an encounter with the Lord earlier in the day.  Huge. Perhaps that was what He thought would nudge me into a place of confidence in Him.  You see, I was asked to sing at a close friend's mother's memorial service.  I've been a bit under the weather.  I had actually not been able to sleep the night before because my throat burned so terribly.  My head hurt.  I was feverish.  My nose was running like a faucet.  Jump to about forty-five minutes before the service, and I had no singing voice. Nada. Zilch.  Zero.  I was attempting to warm up my voice all the way to the church and NOTHING was coming out.  God always shows up, but there was still that nagging little voice, and I have to admit~I was more than a bit nervous.  

I arrived at the church, and immediately saw my mother-in-law's car was there.  She was volunteering.  I ran down the stairs to see her...Actually in a needy kind of way.  After we got the hello's out of the way, I told her what was going on.  Now, this is a woman of faith.  She has prayed more than once for me, and I've gotten better.  She does this for anyone who needs it.  Says the sweetest, to-the-point prayers, ends them in faith, and that's it.
Well, she said one of those prayers for me.

I went upstairs to the service.  Still couldn't even hum  a tune.  The clock was ticking away.  I sat down in a chair and put about 5 throat lozenges in my mouth.  Still nothing.  Push repeat about 3 or 4 more times.  Still nothing.  All the while, the Pastor was talking.  Another Pastor. And another.  Then my friend's brother.  Then my friend.  Then Pastor called me up to sing.  All the way up, I was thinking, "Holy Spirit, You have to carry this.  Please show up.  Please show up."  Still that nagging voice saying,"What if you open your mouth and nothing comes out?  Then what?"

The music started.  I opened my mouth....Out came a song.  It wasn't perfect.  Not by my standards, but who cares about my standards?  God doesn't.  He totally carried it for me, and people were so blessed.  The less of ME that's in something, and the more of HIM, the better.

So, here I was that evening, feeling confused. I've been known to bring this on myself when I don't make a decision, and choose instead to go down a path of prolonging.

I began to pray.

"Heavenly Father, I am really desperate right now.  I have to respond to this in mere hours, and I need a sign from You...Who am I kidding?  You know my heart.  You know what I'm thinking.  What I need from you is a definite, Yes, do this, or No, don't do it.  I don't want it if Your hand isn't in it.  I'm sure You already told me, repeatedly, what You want me to do.  Could You please just tell me one more time?  Loudly?  Clearly?  I'm going to just read Your Word for a few minutes.  Would You join me, and give me an answer...confirmation as to what You desire for me?  Thank You so much for your never-ending patience with me.  Thank You for showing up today, and for all the times You've carried me."

I had been reading in the book of Daniel the night before, so I had ribbon-marked it, and went to turn to it.  I looked down, and the first thing I saw was this, "Persevere in your faithfulness to God and His call.  Though you feel fearful of circumstances, trust GOD's faithfulness and strength.  Worship the Lord for the great mercy and favor He has shown you in bringing about His plans and purposes.  Believe that you will be able to build, or accomplish, what God has asked for and that HE will cause you to prosper in the work.  HE can turn the hearts of kings toward you."  

This, my friends, happens to be the Truth in Action section at the end of the Book of Ezra.  The only time I've heard God audibly was once.  I was in a place of seeking and searching like never before.  I was alone.  In the quiet.  I prayed out loud and asked Him to help me.  I said,"I don't want to Bible-dip right now.  I need for You to TELL me what you want me to read." I wanted to know where He was taking me, and what He wanted me to do, when I heard someone say,"Ezra."  The first thing I did was holler at my older son and ask him, "Ezra what?"  He poked his head out and said,"I didn't say anything Mom.  What's wrong?"

I didn't even know it was a book in the Bible.  I opened up the index and began scanning.  There it was.  Right there in the Old Testament.  Page 598.  I read it, and felt like it was for me.  Rebuilding.  Renewing.  Restoring. Even from a lost life of poor decisions and sin.  Rebuilding to be used for the glory of God.  In the tenth chapter, verse 9, it even says, "the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month."  

That, folks, is my birthday.  I almost fell over!!  Actually, that, and then I cried.  I know that was God's way of personalizing my experience, so that I would know that this was a book I would come back to time and again, as a great resource and reference on my journey with Him!!

So, there was my answer.  Black and white.  YES!!! My year to say "YES" to God.  To life.  To growth.  To challenging me beyond my comfort zone.  Into a place of great blessing and joy.  

Let's Go!

If you'd like to know more about Ezra, here is a great summary: