Grateful.

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(photo from www.LumoProject.com)

A few months ago my pastor touched on the story of Jesus told in Mark 2:2-12.  Four men had a paralyzed friend who needed to see Jesus.  They went to great lengths to get him into Jesus’ presence – lowering him down through the roof.

I’m going to paraphrase here, but one of the applications to real life that was given in the sermon was, as a Christian, if we aren’t the one lying on the mat, we should be one of the people picking up the corner of a friend’s mat.

This has stuck with me.  Initially I was asking myself the questions, “Whose mat am I carrying?”  “Do I even know what friends around me need to be carried to Jesus?, or am I too self-absorbed to notice?”  “What can I do for those I know who are suffering?”

These are all great questions and I believe led me to take some action that I might not have otherwise taken.  But I was looking at this story from only one perspective, and mostly thinking about it as outward actions I needed to take.

This summer, however, the WHOLE picture of this has become clear to me.

I have been the one lying on the mat.  We have been dealing with some serious mental health issues in our family (I may or may not write more about this as I do want to protect privacy).

In the midst of this I’ve been having a hard time praying about it.  I have never, at least since recommitting my life to Jesus in my mid-twenties, had a hard time praying about anything.  I’m still not even sure why it’s been hard.

But what I DO know?  I have amazing friends who have carried me into Jesus’ presence by praying FOR me, my family, and our specific needs.

It makes me want to cry with thankfulness when I think of the love and faithfulness of these dear friends.

They have picked up the corner of my mat.

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Anniversary Trip

At the beginning of summer, Dave and I took a trip to Mexico to celebrate our 20th anniversary.  Our anniversary isn’t actually until October, but this was the most convenient time of year for us to be away!

We splurged on an amazing resort, Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita.  We would highly recommend it.

We’ve never been away from the kids (together) for a whole week and it was glorious.  Rest, relaxation, quiet.  Not to mention beautiful views and amazing food. Just what we needed!


I think we’ve decided we need to do this more often!

 

The Last Week in Pictures

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Tuesday: My youngest turned 10! How did that happen!

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Wednesday: Major windstorm knocked down this beautiful evergreen in our front yard. Thanking God that it only fell on our garage but damage was minimal!

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Wednesday, continued: Can you believe the tree missed Dave’s car by mere inches?

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Thursday: Dave home from China with a cold and a story of a Chinese pharmacy adventure.

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Friday: Rehearsal for first musical! Hairspray! And did I mention this girl turned 16 two weeks ago?

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Saturday:  My niece’s wedding!  A full day of visiting with family – including my two sisters from out of town.  It doesn’t happen often, but it’s so wonderful to have us all in the same place!

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Sunday: Hairspray!! Even after missing a few rehearsals because of the windstorm, the kids did an amazing job!

Monday: Tree being removed from the garage roof.

Monday:  The tree getting removed.

Tuesday: Snow day! Deer looking for food.

Tuesday:  Snow storm and another day off of school!  Deer looking for food in the backyard.

 

 

 

2017 Focus

Have you heard about the trend to choose one word for the year rather than make New Year’s resolutions?

I am pretty wordy (I guess you know this if you read my blog, lol) so choosing just one word is difficult for me.

The last few years I’ve had some new year’s resolutions AND tried to pick a phrase or bible verse to focus on for the year.

This year instead of a word/phrase, I’m picking a song.

Magnify” by We Are Messengers

I love the chorus:

“God, be greater than the worries in my life,

Be stronger than the weakness in my mind,

Be louder, let your glory come alive,

Be magnified.”

I’m praying that in 2017 I live so that God is magnified in my life!

What’s your word for 2017?

A gift of a different kind.

Last week I had lunch with a woman who I’ve only recently met.  We are serving together in a ministry capacity and I invited her to lunch so that we could get to know one another a bit better.  I enjoyed our time together very much and when we were about to leave, she said to me something like, “Sharing your real life is a true gift.”

I had been open with her about my doubts and fears in taking on a new ministry role.  Let me tell you, to open up and give others a glimpse of what’s really in my heart feels risky.  Vulnerable.  Scary.

But so many times I’ve seen when getting to know other women that they will only be as open with me as I am with them… and so I am willing to take the risk, and I often do.  I’ve seen firsthand how being authentic is the first step to deeper and more meaningful relationships.

I had never thought of it, though, as a gift that I can give to other people.  And so especially at this time of year, I wanted to share this idea you.

Others don’t need to see my pretty, perfectly packaged “exterior” life and my version of what I think they want me to be.  That doesn’t draw people in.  It doesn’t encourage real relationship.  It doesn’t allow people to breathe a deep sigh of relief and say, “me, too”.

Being real is a gift that allows other people to be who they are, too.

Let’s be women who are gift-givers of a different kind this Christmas!

Trim Healthy Mama Favorite Recipes

It really seems like Trim Healthy Mama (THM) has caught on – I have several friends now locally who are on the plan and by the number of blog visitors that view my how to get started post, it seems that lots of people want to find out more!

When I first got started with THM about 2 1/2 years ago, I tried many recipes that frankly, were flops.  I realized that I needed a simple way to keep the recipes that were winners (and also a simple way to add notes about what tweaks I’d made).  I also needed to not be printing out recipes because I have paper issues (have you seen the picture of my kitchen table here?)

So I gravitated to and have primarily used Pinterest for finding new recipes beyond those in the THM books.  Pinterest is so easy to search and it’s also so easy to save links to recipes you want to try or those you’ve tried that are keepers!  You can also comment on the links you pin, and that’s where I make my recipe notes.

(There’s one small caveat and downside to Pinterest, however, that I’ll tell you upfront – if the blog / website that you’ve pinned a link to goes away, then your recipe goes away.  That’s happened to me twice now – two recipes from the same blog that were so good and I’m so sad I didn’t print them out.  My suggestion is that if you find a recipe that you know you love and will make a lot, you may want to print the recipe.)

When my local friends get started and ask me what recipes I like and what my family likes, I always point them to my Pinterest boards.  Here are some links for you as well:

THM Keepers – entrees

THM Keepers – breakfasts and breads

THM Keepers – desserts

THM Keepers – sides

THM Keepers – snacks & drinks

These are recipes that I’ve tried and at least half my family will eat.  Ha! That’s my criteria for whether I keep it or not!

Hope this helps those of you who are looking for inspiration!

Traveling with kids to DC

Mid-August we took a family trip to Washington, D.C..  It is one of the most beautiful cities!  Our kids were, I think, perfect ages for seeing many historic sites, monuments, and museums.  (Oh, and we can’t forget Georgetown Cupcake as my little one is a fan of the show “DC Cupcakes”!)

Some photos from our trip:

 

Pool Time!

Pool Time!

Arlington

Arlington

The White House

The White House

Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

There is so much to see in DC that realistically, you cannot do it all in one vacation.  I wanted to see as much as possible but also pace ourselves so we’d still have some down time.  Weeks before the trip I gave the kids the DC tourist guidebook (get a free one here:  https://washington.org/visitor-request-form) and let them each pick five things that they really wanted to see.  I put priority on seeing those things and planned out our days to be most efficient getting around the city – and we were able to see everything on the lists!  Now don’t get me wrong, we were still exhausted from lots and lots of walking – but we were back to the hotel before dinner most nights so we could just hang out and relax!

Although we were turned down for a White House tour (BOO!), we still saw lots of great stuff.  Our favorites were going up into the Washington Monument (yes, it’s worth it!), the Lincoln Memorial, The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and my personal favorite, Ford’s Theatre.  So much in DC has free admission – which is good, because lodging and eating out are not cheap!

For us, one of the perks in going to a large city for vacation is the amazing variety of gluten-free restaurant choices.  Traveling with celiac disease can be challenging because you really have to research restaurants ahead of time.  We found some fabulous restaurants with gluten-free menus and so all was good.  I primarily used the following websites to research:  www.findmeglutenfree.com, http://www.tripadvisor.com, and good old google. The best ones we found that had gluten free menus and great food – b DC Penn Quarter and Pi Pizzeria.

I highly recommend finding an affordable hotel downtown as it will cut down on travel time and allow you to do the most sightseeing possible.  (Just a warning that most downtown hotels charge ALOT daily for parking.)  We stayed at Hyatt Place – National Mall and loved it.  I also recommend getting SmarTrip cards from the metro (either when you first get there, or save yourself hassle and order them online ahead of time and have them shipped to you).  These cards give you lower metro fares and can also be used for the DC Circulator bus routes at a rate of $1 per person for 2 hours of hop-on / hop-off rides.  The savings is worth it!

All in all, we loved DC!