Monday, February 29, 2016

Glimpses of Spring

Good parenting is not for the faint of heart.
Successful parenting requires a plan.
Over-the-top patience.

Some days, even with the best of intentions, with careful counsel, prayer,
and vision,
it can seem like a fruitless ministry.

Like you've wasted your time and plans.

Negative and toxic thoughts can begin to seep into your head:

"What's the point?  They will never get it."

"I've been saying the same thing a million different ways, and we're still
struggling with the same problem."

"Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines;
the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat;
the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be 
no herd in the stalls:
Yet, I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The LORD God is my strength and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will
make me to walk upon mine high places."
~Habbakuk 3:17-19

Even when things look bleak, God is working.
Even when it looks like a waste of time, persistence pays off.
New life will spring forth.
Children will blossom!

The flowers will bloom again!!
And how sweet the fragrance!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Women's Wellness Wednesday: Komboucha!!

So, funny story.
A couple years ago, a friend of mine asked me to try some of her homemade komboucha.

For those of you unaware of what this is,
it's a fermented "tea" that begins with a "scoby" and ends up as a tasty, fizzy drink.
It is full of great probiotics as a result of this fermentation process.
Some people have mastered making it in their kitchens.
Some of us have not.

As I stood in her kitchen and took a sip, my eyes widened.
"I'm afraid she doesn't know what's going on here," I thought to myself,
"This is Mamie Baldwin standing here looking at me.
This is nothing more than the recipe! {of the TV show The Waltons}
She's making moonshine!!"

Since that time though, I've been learning how our gut health basically affects
every system in our body including our immune system.
Poor gut health being implicated as a contributing factor to autoimmune diseases,
Type 2 Diabetes, allergies, and neurological issues.

One of things that I'm learning have clear benefits for our gut health is the addition
of probiotics to our nutrition.
There are several ways you can do that:

fermented foods
homemade bone broth

When our intestinal flora is healthy, it makes sense that our immune systems would
be better equipped to fight off a variety of illnesses.
My family has not had a bout with a stomach virus in several years,
but we have had a sick one or two here and there.
Usually after an overdose of junk food or sugary things.

Once their tummies have settled, I immediately start them back up on extra doses
of probiotics as well as the rest of the family as a preventative measure!!

The brand of komboucha pictured above is my favorite!
It comes in lots of different flavors with the gingerberry, cosmic cranberry, strawberry serenity
 and passionberry bliss being my favorites so far!!

They usually run a little over $3.00 at our local health food store, but I've seen them at Kroger
and Wal-Mart as well.
My local Wal-Mart has stopped carrying them though.

It should be very fizzy when you open it but is fine if it's not.
Be prepared for your taste buds to flip out as it's pretty tart upon first gulp.

But you'll get used to it.
Never mind the floaties in it either.
That's part of the "scoby" that is very good for you.
You can't even tell you're drinking the floaties unlike the drinks with the chia seeds in it.
Way too much texture for me!!!

This is a great alternative to drinking soda or pop and is much healthier for you.
Low in carbs and sugar!

If you're looking for ways to eliminate sweetened drinks from your diet
or if you're looking for a way to support your body's overall health,
give komboucha a try!!!

Here are some great articles to research if you're interested in reading more about the amazing benefits of good gut health and how to achieve that:

"Neurologist speaks out about the importance of gut health......"

Friday, February 19, 2016

Fun weekend: Master Club Regionals

Last weekend our Abby had the privilege of participating in a regional
competition with our church's Master Club program.
We just love this ministry and it's excellent program that systematically
teaches our children the Word of God and how to practically apply it to their
lives at their stage of life!!

You can read more about it by clicking here.

I swallowed back a bit of a lump in my throat as I realized this was her
last year to participate in this amazing event as she is in the 6th grade this year
and will graduating out of Master Clubs at the end of the school year.

She participated in a trio with two of her sweetest friends who just happen to be sisters.
They received 3rd place out of the 10 churches participating.

Then there was the ensemble.
They took 1st place!!!

She and her friend performed as a super cute puppet team,
and they took 3rd place in that event as well!!

She also participated in several team competitions such as speed stacking, big ball bounce,
and flying carpet.  
She eats this stuff up and hasn't missed a year in which she was eligible!

We are so grateful for this delightful girl who loves to serve and minister in her church.
Master Clubs affords her so many opportunities to explore different areas of ministry
and spiritual growth, and these super fun competitions to challenge her skills and expose her
to even more ways she can be a blessing and serve the Lord!!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Fun sewing project #3: Minky dot baby blankets

One of the things I want to do with the girls in my homeschool co-op sewing class
is to model to them this idea of seeing the big picture.
Looking outside of our little bubble worlds to those
who have very little resources and who need a helping hand.
Of using the skills we have learned to bless others.

So when I found this tutorial (click here),
I knew my search was over.

In the month of February, we are making these super soft baby blankets
and hopefully donating several to Bridges Safehouse which is 
a local shelter for homeless, pregnant woman where I volunteer every week
teaching a parenting class.

I have to say that this was quite a challenging project.
One that required several torn out seams and do-overs.
Minky dot fabric is a little tricky to work with, 
but in the end we all loved the finished product.

As the girls would trim down their seams and begin turning their blankets
right side out, they could see what the finished product was going to look like
and how all the mistakes and ugly seams on the inside weren't even going to show
on the finished product.
Isn't life so much like that?
Often we go through a life-learning process, and all we see are the heartaches,
messes we made, the knots and tangled threads.
But in the end, the Lord has a design for it all.
He's in the process and has a beautiful plan that He wants to reveal to us.
We must learn to trust His wisdom and the process He has us going through
before He will show us the beautiful end result!!

"He hath made every thing beautiful in His time;
also he hath set the world in their heart,
so that no man can find out the work that God
maketh from the beginning to the end."
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Women's Wellness Wednesday: Sugar-free Chocolate!!

In 2009, several health challenges intruded our family.
Type 1 Diabetes, ADHD, and Hypothyroidism among the most challenging.
By the end of that year, I knew I had to get a handle on what was going on.
There had to be a better way to manage the bodies God had given to us,
and to work at preventing any further health issues from sending us cascading
down this slippery slope we all seemed to be on!

Thus began a journey to better health for myself as well as for my family.

I realized that it was imperative that I regained my health if I was going
to be able to function in my roles as Mama to six energetic, yet high maintenance, kids; 
As well as be able to serve the Lord of my life who has given me so much!

I was tired.
Tired of feeling tired.
Tired of feeling 14 steps behind the world.
At 40 years old.
That seemed ridiculous to me!!!

So I determined that enough was enough and I was going to do what
it took to feel better and to prevent myself from getting sicker and more reliant on the health care system, pharmacies, insurance, and medications.

You can read more about the beginnings of this journey here!

Over the last several years, I've discovered that a journey to better health
comes in layers.
We've changed a lot of what we eat here in our house, though
the junk-food monster is constantly peeking in our window, ringing our doorbell,
and generally hanging around trying to gain re-entry.
I'm ever learning how-to balance between crazy schedules and eating healthy at home,
and that staying sane and choosing good relationships with my children
over constant food battles makes for a more peaceful journey.

We have learned about the healthy benefits of using essential oils in our home
in place of chemical laden OTC medications and cleaning products.

Since the beginning of this year, I have been working with a chiropractor
in addressing my ongoing, continually worsening issues with what my 
OB-GYN has diagnosed as "mittelschmerz."
It causes debilitating pain and nausea for me, but is very hard to plan for
because it doesn't happen every month.
It is lasting longer and longer when it occurs which forces me to bed
wondering if maybe I indeed should be going to the ER.

We're learning so many things about the importance of probiotics for good gut health.
Gut health impacts many more health issues than I had ever imagined,
and I've barely scratched the surface in researching that.

This year, I'd like to highlight some of the amazing products that I've experimented with
along with journey and talk about them on Wednesdays.
So I'll be revisiting my posts titled:  Women's Wellness Wednesdays.

You can visit my other posts under that umbrella here.

Today, I'd like to introduce my new favorite chocolate!!
It is simply delicious.
Stevia can sometime have a medicinal or bitter aftertaste, 
but this does NOT!!
I highly recommend you try this.
As a little treat once in a while for yourself.
Not the entire bar in one sitting.
I noticed no cravings for more after eating a bit of it
and it has a lovely, smooth texture.

My chiropractor is helping me focus on no sugar right now as my A1C was
borderline Pre-Diabetic at my last blood work!

So I'm looking for alternatives without artificial sweeteners like aspartame and phenylalanine (Nutra-sweet, Equal) or sucralose (Splenda).

Now I know this is not the perfect food.
Is there really one?
Somebody, somewhere can always find something wrong with everything!!!

But I think that if you want a treat now and then, suggest this to your family and friends
as an option to other store-bought candies!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Valentines Day Recap 2016

"Beloved, let us love one another:
for love is of God;
and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God.
He that loves not knows not God; for God is love."
I John 4: 7, 8

I love to make holidays festive!!
It really doesn't take a whole lot of time or money to straighten up
one area of your house and make it look pretty!
You'd be surprised how much your children and even your husband
notices the effort and feels appreciated.
Valentines Day holds so many fun possibilities and I just love
all the pink and white and red goodies available to use!!
I use it as an educational tool to remind my children of God's sacrificial love for us.
How Christians are differentiated from un-believers by their love.
How giving a sweet card can express things we don't normally say everyday
that maybe we should.

Because this special day was on a Sunday this year, our morning
surprises had to be abbreivated.
In years past, we would do fun things all throughout the day together,
but that didn't take away from the sweetness of these early moments.

I don't think I've purchased new Valentines decorations in many years {blush.}
But when it's all still in good condition, and can be put away in storage for use the following year,
why not recycle and reuse?
It's way easier to shop your house at the last minute than to have to push through
crowds to the picked over shelves to spend full price for leftovers!!

To see how we've had fun with this holiday in the past, click here.

To print out some of your own easy, affordable Valentines, check here and here.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Valentine Banquet 2016

  Earlier this week, our homeschool co-op hosted the annual Valentine Banquet
at the church where our co-op operates.

Ashlyn and Abby really enjoyed helping get the dessert cupcakes decorated,
and serving in the kitchen.
They waitressed tables at the meal as well.

Ashlyn played a part in the comedy skits, and what fun we all had.

The charming, whimsical decorations were created by our learning center supervisor
and her friend from the church......

......our delicious meal was prepared by
another homeschooling Mama from the church and our co-op...

......and my Family and Consumer Science Class girls helped decorate cupcakes
and serve the meal to all the guests!

What a delightful evening for all who participated with us!!

Happy Valentines Day!!!