Wednesday, April 16, 2014

struggles + leaning on the everlasting arms

hi friends, 
i've been meaning to put together a blog post for a while now
about the reason i can be a bit distant sometimes
about the things that have been weighing down on my heart
about tears that have silently crept down my face
and long nights spent thinking instead of sleeping

it all sounds very dramatic, but it's mostly just everyday things 
that i have allowed to creep in and steal my joy:
parenting struggles, insecurities, dealing with change, hearing of others' deep and painful loss, stress...

i've struggled to practically trust in the lord lately
(i know it in my head, but sometimes my heart needs are reminder...)
and my heart can seem so ultra-tender at times - it just aches as things add up
then my head steps in and tells my heart to toughen up, 
but all that means is that i wait till i'm behind closed doors to mull over it
and, hopefully, to bring it to Jesus
which is exactly what i finally made a point to do last week
and boy am i glad that i did

what a relief it was to have my burden's lifted
and to be reminded that no matter what happens, good or bad,
He is in control, and i can trust in Him and in His goodness 
even (or rather especially) when my heart is heavy with fear, anxiety and grief

i was also reminded that in those specific times i should cling more than ever to His word

so, how do i practically do this?

well, for starters, i follow a great daily Bible reading plan
there are tons of good ones out there - some with more reading, some with less
if this one is too much reading for you on a day-to-day basis,
 i encourage you to find a plan that works for you
there are so many different options out there!
(feel free to get in touch with me if you need some direction in finding one)

i also like to have reminders of God's word tucked here and there:
for example, i often scribble encouraging verses onto scrap paper
and scatter them around the house, to find later
(journals, on my bedside table, my workspace etc ...i even have a couple in my wallet!)
sometimes, i'll write them up all pretty and stick 'em to the fridge or on my to-do list,
since i know i'll be looking at those two places often

another tool i've been using (and loving!) is my 50 Promises flashcards,
which are 50 verses printed in pretty fonts with colorful backgrounds
that i just keep propped up in the kitchen (since that's always been the "hub" of our house)
they're a nice little addition to our "decor"
plus they constantly remind me of truth and encourage my heart
here are a couple that i've "cashed in" lately:
     Matthew 6:30                                                          Philippians 4:19

(oh and there's one in this post too!)

it is such a blessing to renew my mind when life starts to feel overwhelming!
anyway, i hope this post leaves you feeling encouraged
feel free to chime in and share how you work scripture into your everyday life.

Monday, March 31, 2014

a decade of Dangy

8 dinners at the olive garden
carpooling to school and back in a little red civic
long summer days, bonfires, late night beach walks
extreme croquet, extreme bocci (slap "extreme" infront of anything and it instantly becomes more fun)
working side-by-side on campus
tackling classes like statistics together (ugh)
tears...lots of tears (i cry when i'm happy and when i'm sad!)
a late night out on a rugby field, watching planes take off through corridors of stars shining bright 
coffee dates, dinner dates, anytime dates
road trips, camping, kayaking, hiking, picnicing, garage-saleing
rugby games, basketball games, volleyball games, 
talking you into dressing up as a bunch of grapes for halloween
a beautiful engagement, wedding planning, 
learning how to love each other
ikea dates, naps in parking lots
honeymooning, our first place together, bumps in the road
walking with Jesus together, forgiveness
fresh flowers, saturday morning baking, football games, anniversaries, 
finding a barn in the middle of nowhere that sells the BEST ice cream and pies, B&Bs
new jobs, new place, new cars, new friends
long walks, "growing up", making decisions
babies...twins!
loooooong nights, compromise, sacrifice
love that is deeper, messier and more fun than i ever expected

what on earth do all these things have to do with each other?
they are a snapshot;
a handful of memories from the last ten years spent in with Daniel 
happy aniversary, you old fart - here's to ten more!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

st patrick's day green x2

yesterday was st. patrick's day
which has always seemed to be an interesting 'holiday' to me
some people seem to go all out - green hair, green clothes, big green themed party...
and others...not so much

my family never really celebrated it growing up
in fact, i remember going to school those first couple years after moving to the states
and thinking what a coincidence it was that nearly every once in my class wore green on the same day 
what are the odds? i would think to myself
and why are these green-clad classmates of mine pinching those of us who didn't get the memo?
i eventually figured out what was going on
and started wearing something green on the day, just for fun
but that's about as much as i participate...and my family thinks i'm strange for even doing that!

ironically, i had a green smoothie for breakfast today
and thought to myself: 
darn - shoulda thought of this yesterday, then i could have put a st. patty's day post on the blog!
but then i figured, why not share it a day late - it's what all the cool kids are doing, right?
...ok, maybe not, but it's what i'm doing

i should note that i was feeling pretty lazy when i made this
which means this recipe is as simple as it gets:
3 ingredients, 1 step - easy, peasy

lazy day hemp protein green smoothie
ingredients:

- 1/2 to 3/4 cup mighty mango naked juice
(maybe this is cheating, but it was in my fridge so i used it!)

- 1 big fistful of organic baby spinach

- 2 tbsp raw shelled hemp seeds
(you could probably bump this up to 3 if you want, i only did 2 because i had some coconut coffee already and i figured the fat from that would fill me up a little bit)

directions:
- blend ingredients together and pour into a glass

oh, and if you want to see even more green, 
check out this picture from a recent newborn session i did with my sweet niece:

Monday, March 10, 2014

early mornings deserve good coffee

being a mom means lots of early mornings
which, in turn, means more coffee than i had in my pre-baby life
don't get me wrong, i've always loved a good cup o' joe

usually black
sometimes with a splash of cream or whole milk

but with so many more cups of coffee in my day-to-day now,
 i have that many more opportunities to try something new with my coffee
i've had mochas, lattes, macchiatos, flat out espresso...and the list goes on
i'm a creature of habit though, so most of the time it's still just black

that first cup of the day is definitely the most important, though
and my current favorite way to drink it is with coconut oil
weird, right?
i thought so when i first read about it
but after mulling it over for a while, i came up with a couple reasons to give it a shot:

1) it would start my day off with healthy fats
(which sends your brain happy, satisfied vibes and helps ward off sugar cravings)

2) i would get to enjoy the flavor of coconut in my coffee, 
without the addition of an unhealthy sugar-based syrup

3) it would help stabilize my wacko blood sugars (this was especially important since sometimes breakfast has to wait till the girlies are fed...and i am prone to getting hangry)

4) sort of related to the first benefit, but i wanted to incorporate more good fats in my diet, since it reduces inflammation in the body, helps your body absorb fat-soluble nutrients and does wonders for your hair and skin...among other benefits (i'm speaking from experience here!)

and if those reasons aren't enough to convince you to try it, this last one has to:

5) if i didn't like it, i could just pour my coffee down the drain and make a fresh cup

so, what are you waiting for?  go give it a try!
 ingredients:
- hot, freshly brewed coffee (enough for 1 cup)
- 1 tbsp organic virgin coconut oil 

special equipment:  
a milk frother 
OR 
a magic bullet / comparable single serve blender 

directions (frother method):
- pour coffee in your mug so that it is 1/3 - 1/2 full
- add coconut oil
- use frother to blend oil and coffee until it reaches a latte-like color and consistency*
- top with remaining coffee
- enjoy!

*this step helps avoid coffee and oil splatter everywhere...trust me, i speak from experience!

***

directions (magic bullet / single serve blender method):
- dump all ingredients into your blender
- blend until it reaches a latte-like color and consistency
- enjoy!

one thing i should note is that if you take too long to drink your coffee you might have to re-blend
just because after some time, the oil can separate from the liquid and form a layer on the top
which, as you can imagine, is not exactly appetizing
most people drink their coffee faster than it takes for the oil to separate
but i thought it was worth pointing out just in case!  :)

Monday, March 3, 2014

a pinch of weekending, a dash of parenting, a heap of grace and a grain-free pizookie!

hi friends!
how was your weekend?
my big event was hosting a "welcome baby!" party for my two week old niece on saturday
which meant a quick coffee with friends then a bunch of errand running on friday
followed by some great napping (on the girls' part anyway)
we kicked off saturday pretty early by bundling everybody up and heading to the beach
on a cold, windy, snow-in-the-forcast morning
because i'm crazy and my family loves me enough to play along
well, that and i had to pick up some macaroons for the party later that day 
(which were amazing, by the way!
if you're local, you have to pop by Spiritual Ingredients Bakery on East Beach and give 'em a try!) 

sadly, i was too busy playing hostess to get any pictures of said macaroons
or anything at the party, actually
but i did snap this shot from our beach outing:
there's so much i love about this picture, my heart is filled everytime i look at it
my best friend + my girlies + the ocean + early mornings = the stuff my dreams are made of!
i love that they were willing to come along and turn an errand into a family adventure
and i love having moments like this to flip back to on my phone
(technology these days can be such a blessing sometimes, can i get an amen?)
especially on the not-so-splendid days...like sunday

sunday actually wasn't all-bad, 
it was just heavy on the parenting-two-year-olds-is-exhausting/frustrating/sanctifying scale!
i'm learning that i'm much less patient than i thought i was
but i'm working on that
because grouchy mama isn't someone i like to be
and i'm pretty sure it isn't someone the girlies want me to be either

sometime in the afternoon i looked up from whatever i was doing at the kitchen sink,
saw one of my 50 promises and decided it was time to choose a better attitude
because seeking righteousness doesn't always come easy, but the reward is totally worth it
i know that in my head, but sometimes my heart forgets
later that night we had family over for a games / dessert night which was super fun
i tried my hand at a grain-free pizookie for us to enjoy
there was hot coffee for the girls and fancy beer for the boys
all of which was wonderful

but long after the coffee had grown cold, the pizookie was reduced to crumbs
and the game had been played (twice!)
 came my favorite part of the night:
we sat there, chatting away, 
sharing funny stories and insights,
learning about each other - our struggles, our loves, our plans...
i soaked up every minute of building community and deepening relationships,
beaming on the inside and thinking myself
"this here is evidence of grace, and i am so thankful for it."

so there you have it - my weekend in a bit more than a nutshell...
oh, and before i sign off, here's that pizookie recipe
this was the original recipe, below is my tweaked version! 

Paleo[ish] Pizookie
(grain free, dairy free and honey sweetened)
    Ingredients:
    1 cup almond meal / flour
    2/3 cup cashew meal / flour
    1/3 cup coconut flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    1 cup chocolate chips1 egg, at room temperature
    (my free-range, local eggs tend to be bigger than "regular" eggs. if you're using the latter, use a jumbo or extra large.  also, the easiest way to bring an egg to room temp is to stick it in a bowl or cup of room temp water for 10 minutes or so)
    1/3 cup organic honey
    1/4 cup coconut oil
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    Directions:
    - melt your coconut oil in a small pan on medium heat then remove set aside once it's melted

    - meanwhile, combine your dry ingredients (almond meal through to sea salt) in a large bowl and mix using a fork

    - stir in chocolate chips

    - in a separate, smaller bowl, beat your egg then add the rest of the wet ingredients (honey, coconut oil, vanilla)
    note: make sure the coconut oil is not hot enough to start cooking your egg! 

    - add the wet ingredients to your dry ingredients and stir until just combined

    - chill dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes

    - once you're ready to bake the pizookie, preheat your oven to 350* F and turn the dough out into a greased 12" cast iron pan (i used bacon grease!).  

    - press the dough into the pan evenly (it's totally normal for your dough to be quite a bit  thicker than typical cookie dough), give it a good sprinkle of sea salt then pop it into the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and your pizookie is a nice golden brown.  

    cut like you would a pizza and enjoy...but watch out for those hot chocolate chips!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

signs that my life is in compete chaos

#1
i haven't blogged in over a month
(oops!)

#2
i STILL haven't looked through pictures from the girlies' birthday party

#3
things are getting crossed off my to do list because they're no longer relevant,
not because they're actually getting done

#4
valentines day included dinner out for my best friend's birthday 
followed by attending the home / water birth of my first niece
...all in the span of 3 hours (dinner, labor, delivery and all)!

#5
my on-again, off-again relationship with my espresso machine is very much back ON
she's temperamental and practically vintage,
but she makes a mean americano when she works
plus i got her for $2 at an estate sale...don't judge!
#6
i've done four photography sessions in just about four weeks:
one maternity, one Tiny Footprints,  one (my first!) birth and one newborn
plus i've got another session penciled in pretty soon
(so much for choosing to be very part time during this season of my life...!)
it's all good though - this was just a random busy stint, 
plus i'm thankful to be busy doing something that fires me up!  :)

#7
i can't remember the last time i went to bed before midnight

#8
we almost put in an offer on a house
...aaaand didn't, since we still had a few more numbers to crunch
i was in tears, but knew it was the wise thing to do
and now that we have taken a look at all the numbers, 
i'm super grateful to the Lord for giving me a wise (and number-savvy!) husband
so we're back to the drawing board for now
where the Lord continues to whisper to my fretful heart:  trust in me, I've got a plan

#9
i keep forgetting to eat breakfast,
and when i do finally get around to it, 
i'm finding i prefer to drink it, because it's that much quicker to "eat"

lucky for you, i actually remember what i threw into my most recent shake, 
and I carved out time to share it...you can thank me later!  ;)

a couple notes before i share the recipe:
- it has a really strong almond flavor, so if that's not your thing, you might want to pass on this one
- you don't really taste the banana in the shake, which is a BIG plus in my books since i don't like drinking bananas.  weird, i know.  when i order a smoothie on the go, i always ask for the banana on the side, for reals...talk about getting funny looks!
- the ingredient list looks long, but gathering them is the hardest part so don't let that keep you from trying it!
ingredients:

1/2 - 3/4 cup chilled coffee or espresso shots
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 tsp pure almond extract
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsps hemp seeds
1 [heaping] tbsp cocoa powder
1 frozen banana
1-2 tbsp almond butter

dump everything into a blender and blend until smooth
presto, change-o
your mid-morning / afternoon pick me up is ready!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Rest, Heaviness and Grace

i'm still in recovery mode from last week's birthday party planning
there was a lot of staying up and prep work leading up to it 
but it was so worth it to see the looks on those girlies faces,
to hear their squeals of delight and laughter ringing through the house
to share those moments with loving friends and family... :)

but i've definitely been trying to keep it low key since then
just until i catch up on some sleep (fully catching up will have to wait till the kids move out!)
also because we've got family flying in this week and i want to be rested up for them
i haven't even looked through pictures from the birthday party yet...that's really saying something!

for me, this is what "low key" has looked like:
spending time with the girlies and their daddy,
a laid back afternoon with our best friends,
time alone; often in a dark/quiet room - sounds weird, but it's actually really soothing
(a BIG thank you to my loving husband for occupying the kids so that i can have said time alone)

one of the things i like to do when i'm on my own is mindlessly flip through my instagram feed
which is how i ran into this post a earlier this week and then this one a couple days after that
warning:  you'll likely cry...her mama's battling cancer and it's not looking so hopeful right now

i don't even know kristen 
(we have a lot of mutual friends and aquaintances, which is how i found her feed)
but my heart just aches for her and her family
and i'm inspired by her strength and her faith.
i've been thinking of and praying for them lots over the past couple of days
(if you think of it, i'm sure they'd appreciate your prayers too!)
as i read kristen's updates, i am amazed by grace i see through the heaviness
here's an excerpt from her most recent blog post:

Our home is a sacred, weighty, alive place right now.  It's holy ground, filled with the tears of grown men and little children.  We're in the parking lot of heaven, preparing to drop off our dear mother.  We're able to see some of it's light from here.  We wish we could see it all.  We wish she wasn't going without us.  We wish that maybe this is a dream and we'll wake up to her making coffee in the kitchen. However, the rays from Home are warm sun to our hearts.  We're not ready to lose her, but we're ready for her to dance on the clouds, run to her mother who she has deeply missed for over a decade now, and join her voice in the triumphant choir to the Father King.  Thank you for every single word or thought of care for us.  Every single "Dear Jesus." Every single offer to help.  Every single communication.  Every drop of love.  We're swimming in a deep, beautiful sea.  And our mama is sailing to the shore.

only through Jesus can a situation like this produce joy
and as hard as it is to read those words (infinitely harder, i'm sure, to write them)
there is hope
there is hope and grace in Jesus Christ

thank you, kristen, for sharing your journey with us
thank you Jesus, our ultimate comforter, for grace and redemption
for taking our heaviness and giving us garments of praise instead
for your goodness and your sovereignty
thank you for searching us and knowing us 
and sending your Spirit to help each of us grasp all the good things you have prepared for us, 
as well as the things that break our hearts

But, as it is written,“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, 
 
nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. 
For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? 
So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.

1 Corinthians 2:9-12
Amen
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