Dec 28, 2016

What You Need To Know and Do When Tough Times Hit

It's inevitable that we're going to face tough times in our lives. The most important thing about walking through these difficult times is how we approach them.

Pain & Suffering is Part of Life

A very common response for most when a trial hits, is to immediately question why God would allow it to happen. The reality is, pain & suffering are a part of life. Even if you don't share my worldview you would probably agree that everyone goes through difficult times at some point in their lives.

If allowed, pain and suffering can help us grow to become a better and stronger person. Sometimes pain and suffering can lead us into a deeper relationship with God.

For what it's worth, I wanted to share some of the things I've learned along the way.

You Need to Protect Your Mind

Don't allow your mind to spiral into the negative, I know it's so easy to go there. When things are hard and pressing in you might feel as if everything is going wrong. If you're not careful your negative thoughts can lead straight into hopelessness and you'll start thinking that your situation will never change.

Don’t let your hard times make you feel hopeless and certainly don’t let negativity control you. Most importantly don’t let bitterness take root in your heart. Bitterness leads to anger and nothing good ever comes out of bitterness.

You must work hard to guard your heart and mind. Take every thought captive unto the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

Keep Your Problems in Perspective & Just Do The Next Thing

Don't blow your problems out of perspective. Don’t let your "molehill turn into a mountain". It's easy to allow our problems to grow in size and get blown all out of proportion.

Sometimes because we allow our problems to get too big we grow fearful and become paralyzed from making decisions or from moving forward to make changes that will help our situation.

Be careful not to let fear stop you from doing what you need to do. Acknowledge your fear and deal with it.

Focus on your goals, focus on your daily tasks and just do the next thing. It's ok if you can't focus on anything beyond that. Once you've completed that one thing then attempt to do the very next thing.

Believe Your Experience is Making You Stronger

Experience is one of the most valuable commodities you own. No one else has the same experiences as you, they are what makes you, you. Your experience builds strength in you and new experiences help you to grow.

Some experiences may be painful but you have the power to turn your wounds into wisdom and eventually you can help others who may go through something similar.

Your experience can help you face the future with more confidence as you think about how much you've grown.

Your Attitude Does Not Need to Be Controlled by Your Circumstance

You can have joy even if your world feels like it’s falling apart. You can have a smile on your face even when you don't feel like it. I've seen some of the most wonderful examples of people who have gone through horrible tragedies and yet somehow still managed to praise God through it.

A Bible verse that kept me focused during difficult times is Nehemiah 8:10, it ends with "the Joy of the Lord is Your Strength." Read that again, The JOY of the LORD is your strength.

The Lord's joy is your strength. His joy gives you the strength you need and is what will get you through.

You are Where You’re Supposed to Be in Order to Get to Where You Need to Go

Look at your life and see all the little blessings you have & they add up to great big blessings.
If your circumstances seem hopeless choose to recognize them as a tool to get you to where you need to go next.
I know you won't feel this way when you're going through it but if you're a child of God, He promises to use all your circumstances for your good, even the bad ones. Romans 8:28

Choose to Be Thankful

Being positive in a negative situation is a sign of leadership and strength. When you’re overwhelmed and want to complain choose to smile and be thankful. It will make you feel better to smile even if it doesn't change your circumstances.

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18


Be Patient

The definition of patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset. It’s the willingness to stay focused as you move ahead one step at a time.

God is working a greater work in you and that takes time but as we wait patiently God promises to bless us.

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:4 


You’re Not Alone

Finally, everyone is struggling with something but not everyone is brave enough to talk about it. You really need to know that you are not alone!

Not only do you have the Lord to help you but more than likely you have friends and family who can be there for you. I know that some of you don't and I'm sure that's very painful. Pray that God brings healing and relationships. Some have found encouragement in online support groups.

You are not alone! You are not the only one going through a difficult time. This will not last forever! You can do this! You will get through this!


1 Peter 1:6 Though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.



Dec 26, 2016

Why I'm Not Waiting Another Day To Begin Exercising


The new year begins in less than a week. Many people wait until January 2nd to begin their New Years resolutions with the desire to begin exercising at the top of that list.

Getting fit, regaining health, and losing weight are all great goals but it takes a lot of will power and determination not only to begin but to continue.

It never fails, my typical routine every year is a gung-ho exercise routine from the Spring through the Summer, that's when I feel best and I love exercising outside. As soon as our homeschool routine starts in the fall, my exercise routine goes out the window.

I lost 16-lbs from last Spring through the Summer but now that I've been less active, let's just say I can tell my clothes aren't fitting as loosely as they were. I refuse to hop on the scale but I did decide last week that the day after Christmas was my day!

It would be easy to delay exercising, especially since the new year is in a week but I made a commitment to myself that I wouldn't wait.

Today I started back exercising and it was so hard! The exercising itself revealed my lack of movement; my muscles were tight and I was out of breath after the warm-up. The hardest part though was getting up and actually beginning.

I hemmed and I hawed, I said, "Oh, I'll go right after I get this next thing done!" I found myself not wanting to exercise. I was dreading it. I actually made it worse than it needed it to be.

Finally, I just got up and headed to put on my workout clothes. I knew if I didn't do this today, I would just keep making excuses and would never exercise.

I decided to start with a walk routine I was doing off and on during the Summer. When I couldn't get outside for a walk I'd go to my playlist on YouTube and find Leslie Sansone's "Walk This Way 1 Mile Walk".

I enjoy this workout because it's easy to do, it goes by fast, it's not boring like a treadmill, and Leslie is so encouraging. Let's just say, I need all the motivation I can get. When she says "great job, you can do this," I believe her! {Smiles}

Here's Part 1: Start Quick & Easy, and when this becomes too easy you can move on to the next more challenging video.


So, today is the first day of my new exercise routine. Why don't you plan to start exercising right away and don't wait another day!


In a few weeks I'll share something else I plan to add to my workout routine, so be sure to check back.

How do you stay active and fit?


Dec 24, 2016

Merry Christmas


I am so very thankful for each and every one of you who faithfully read my blog. I love hearing from you, hearing your stories and love to hear how one of my posts has encouraged you. It really makes a difference to know that the things I write and share are helpful.

I wanted to make sure I wished each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas! Because I write about chronic illness and Lyme disease, I'm very aware of the struggles that you face as you approach your holiday.

I know all too well the struggle to get everything ready on time, pushing myself to the point of exhaustion so that my children would have a great Christmas, putting on a little extra makeup so that no one would notice exactly how terrible I felt.

I remember not wanting to make a long trip to visit family because it physically hurt to sit that long. Then there was the extra burden of packing up special food, supplements, and medications and then make sure everyone took what they needed when they needed it.

Holidays can put an extra burden on the one with a chronic illness or who has chronic pain, that most people wouldn't understand.

The complexities of medicine, over exerting oneself and knowing that because you enjoyed today you'll probably sleep all day tomorrow.

Even so, I want to encourage you to enjoy your Christmas as much as you can. Enjoy every minute, every smell, every word from your Christmas Eve service. Enjoy watching your family as they open gifts and spend time together.

What you allow your mind to focus on will make all the difference for you as you celebrate these next few days. Even if your circumstances are less than ideal, find the positive, find the blessings, and learn to enjoy the little things.

Remember, Christmas is a celebration of the Lord Jesus's birth and the miracle that lies within.


I pray that you and your family will have good health, peace, and happiness as you share time together.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!



Dec 23, 2016

Will You Be Present For Christmas?

Are you feeling it yet? That pressure to make the next few days a magical perfection of Christmas Bliss?

If you're a Mom, you may have opened your eyes this morning with the realization that Christmas is here. As I write this you have 1 day, 5 hours, 32 minutes and 20 seconds to finalize all your shopping, wrapping, baking, last minute grocery runs, cleaning the house, getting everyone ready for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.

I don't know about you but there have been some Christmas mornings where I've sat there so exhausted while everyone else opened their presents; I was still dreaming of sleeping in.

Are you so busy trying to make Christmas Perfect that you've forgotten to be present? Present for your family, present for worship and present to enjoy this time with loved ones?

I recommend we all stop right now and take in a very deep breath to the count of 10 and then let it out very slowly!


From friend to friend, I want to remind you that your children, your family, will enjoy Christmas much more when you're present, paying attention, sharing the moment with them and creating timeless memories.


Laugh, sing, hug and snuggle up together. Watch a favorite Christmas movie. Blast some fun Christmas music. 


Make this Christmas Merry with your presence not your presents!


Dec 22, 2016

Creamy, Nutritional Butternut Squash Soup


One of my daughter's favorite soups is Butternut Squash Soup. She'll eat it for lunch, dinner or for a snack.

It's rich, it's creamy and it's very good for you.


Butternut squash is rich in Vitamin B-complex vitamins like folates, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, thiamin and pantothenic acid. It has more vitamin A than that of in pumpkin.

It has a similar mineral profile as that in pumpkin, containing adequate levels of minerals like iron, zinc, copper, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.

Butternut squash seeds are a good source of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids that benefit for heart health. In addition, they are rich in protein, minerals, and numerous health-benefiting vitamins. The seeds are an excellent source of health promoting amino acid, tryptophan. Tryptophan converts to health benefiting GABA neuro-chemical in the human brain.

My daughter doesn't know all the nutritional information about butternut squash but she does know it's good for her and she loves to eat it.

Here's the recipe I use!

Butternut Squash Soup


INGREDIENTS
1 2-3lb Butternut Squash; peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 Carrots, peeled and diced
2 TBSP Butter
1 onion, chopped
6 Cups Chicken Stock
Optional: Nutmeg, ginger, diced apple.

DIRECTIONS
Peel, seed and chop Butternut Squash. Peel and chop carrot. Place both in a roasting pan together, drizzle avocado oil over, sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until cooked and soft.
In a stockpot over medium heat, melt butter and saute onion, carrot and roasted butternut squash until all are tender. Puree the mixture in a blender or use an immersion blender.

Return puree to the stockpot, add chicken stock and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Season to taste. Enjoy


Dec 21, 2016

My Absolute Favorite Biscotti Recipes


Today I'm baking my absolute favorite biscotti recipes.


Years ago, I found these two biscotti recipes in a popular magazine that was delivered to my home. I was intrigued by these recipes and couldn't believe that I could actually make biscotti at home.

Biscotti goes great with coffee! I'm a coffee lover and I mean, I really love coffee. I don't need sweeteners or fancy schmancy drinks, just a good strong brew made with freshly ground java beans.

But, I digress; on to my biscotti recipes.
The first recipe is for an Almond Biscotti from Joy of Baking. This biscotti is delicious exactly the way the recipe calls or you could add lemon or orange extract, (I use Young Living Lemon or Orange Essential Oils), in place of the almond extract.

The second biscotti I make is a Chocolate Brownie Biscotti from Good Housekeeping, which is just as delightful as it sounds. This recipe make a larger biscotti and it's chewier than the almond but still holds up to dunking it into a large mug of coffee.

If you're not a dunker, no problem, just don't double bake them. That's what makes them a hard cookie.

Drizzle or dip in chocolate. Sprinkle with chopped nuts or chopped candy cane and you have the perfect gift.

SUBSTITUTIONS:

Need a Gluten Free recipe? Try substituting Namaste Perfect Flour Blend which converts cup for cup. I use Organic Cane Sugar whenever I use sugar. It's non-GMO and unrefined.

Biscotti is so easy to make. You might want to double the batch, they won't last long, I promise.


Dec 19, 2016

On the Search for Healthier Christmas Cookies

I've already shared how much I love Christmas baking. Before Lyme disease, my list of favorite baked goods was quite long. I could bake for an entire week and I was totally in my happy place.

Today, I went on my search for some healthy Christmas cookie alternatives. It's not as easy as you think. I found recipes but either they had too much sugar or they had gluten.

My youngest daughter has found that being on a strict gluten, dairy and sugar-free diet is the key to keeping her OCD and anxiety at bay. I have found that limiting my intake of these foods helps with my fatigue. The rest of my family just eats whatever they want for the most part.

Paleo Sugar Cookies
I found this recipe for Paleo Sugar Cookies over at Elena's Pantry. The ingredients look great and my daughter was so happy I mixed this dough up for her.

Be sure you follow directions and cover the dough with parchment paper while you're rolling it out otherwise the dough sticks to the dough roller.

My daughter will be baking these cookies tomorrow.

For the rest of the family, I pulled out my traditional Sugar Cookie recipe but instead of using powdered sugar, I substituted 1/2 cup of organic cane sugar. This recipe rolled out nicely but after baking, they were pretty crumbly. We loved the taste. They were just the right amount of sweetness.



Here's the recipe with my sugar modification. The original calls for 1-1/2 cups of powdered sugar.

CHRISTMAS SUGAR COOKIES
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Butter
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract
2 1/2 Cups King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar

Mix sugar and butter in a large bowl. Stir in egg, vanilla, and almond extract. Stir in flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm.

Heat oven to 375°f. Roll half of dough at a time 1/8 inch thick on lightly floured source. Cut into desired shapes. Place on ungreased cookie sheet; sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until light brown. Remove from cookie sheet. About 5 dozen 2- 2-1/2 inch cookies.

SNOWBALL COOKIES

Mexican Wedding CookiesOne of the traditional cookies my Mom always made were something we called "Snowball Cookies". When I grew up I found out they're actually called Russian Tea Cookies or Mexican Wedding Cookies. This week I plan to try these Paleo Mexican Wedding Cookies.

I have a few other favorite cookies on my list, I sure hope I can get around to making them.

What are your favorite Christmas Cookies?



Dec 16, 2016

My Annual Christmas Shopping Date


Preparing for Christmas used to be quite a bit stressful for me, mostly of my own doing. I was a perfectionist, love Christmas and love to have everything beautiful and magical for my family.

I prepared the month before by printing off all my checklists and creating a Christmas Binder stocked full of printable labels for my Christmas cards, organizing forms, lists, a schedule of what to do when, favorite Christmas recipes and a budget tracker.

Honestly, I still have that binder and it still has a few things in there but they're mostly left over from years ago.

I love to decorate and absolutely love to bake. Every year I baked Christmas cookies with the kids and then I proceeded to bake Snowball cookies, Ginger cookies, and Biscotti. As my girls got older we added to our list of baked yummies.

There's nothing like the smell of delicious cookies filling up the home.


We participated in the church programs whether it was a play or the choir. We visited neighbor's, we took the kids to Christmas plays and Walk Through Bethlehem. I truly loved Christmas especially when my kids were younger.

When I got sick with Lyme disease 10 years ago I became so overwhelmed with basic things like keeping my house clean and grocery shopping that just the thought of preparing for Christmas made me cry. I couldn't possibly fill out all those forms in the binder and baking multiple types of cookies was impossible.

My husband came to the rescue and helped me prioritize the things that were truly important for our family. That was hard for me because I didn't want to let go of things we had always enjoyed but I hoped it would only be temporary.

One of the symptoms I had from Lyme was intense pain in my legs and feet along with sciatic nerve pain. Walking was incredibly painful for me. Because of this pain, Christmas shopping was very difficult.

Before getting Lyme I did all the Christmas shopping for the kids and family on my own. It wasn't a big deal and I did quite well.

When I got sick with Lyme my husband realized that Christmas shopping wasn't something I could do on my own and so he offered to take a day off work and help me shop. I completely jumped at the offer.

Shopping has always been stressful because I'm the kind of gal that goes to every single store just to save a buck. Have you seen that commercial about FOBO? I laughed out loud when I first saw that because that's so me and now I have a name for my condition. FOBO - Fear Of a Better Offer! When my husband shops with me he likes to purchase what we find at the store we're at instead of spending the entire day going to a bunch of different stores trying to get the best offer.

He made it so much easier for me and our first Christmas shopping trip became something I now look forward to each year. Since that first year of shopping together we've continued this tradition even though my health is much better.


Now each year my husband and I pick a day to go Christmas shopping, we set the budget, discuss our plan, I create the lists, check the store ads and look for coupons. We leave in the morning and begin our shopping spree. We work through our lists for awhile and then take a break for lunch and coffee at our favorite spot. In the afternoon we finish up, head home and sneak all the gifts into the house.

We turned Christmas shopping into a favorite date for both of us.


This has become one of my favorite Christmas traditions! What are your favorite traditions?



Dec 14, 2016

Where Are All the Good Doctors? My Search to Find a Doctor I Can Trust


I'm looking for a doctor and it hasn't been easy. I don't need a Lyme doctor, just a doctor who I can go to without fear of being prescribed medication for every ailment or told my cholesterol is bad because I eat eggs and butter.

For years I've avoided the medical community because I disagreed with their philosophy. I prefer to use food, herbs, homeopathic remedies and supplements to heal my body.

I don't want to have to explain why I believe I have chronic Lyme disease or get that draw dropping look of confusion when I say the word "co-infection".


I want a doctor who aligns with my desire to treat holistically and who will guide me in my usage of herbs and supplements. It's been really hard to find a primary physician in my new hometown and I really just want to know, where are all the good doctors?

Today, I had an appointment with a very young, as in I could be his mother, doctor who was a little bit too smug for my liking. I don't know about you but as a Mom, I have a difficult time not "mothering" people like that if you know what I mean.

Several times I politely told him that I was not answering his questions even if they were on the medical questionnaire. I'm not sure why they have such personal questions included which I believe are irrelevant to my treatment, absolutely none of his business and obviously, have nothing to do with my shoulder pain.

It's nice to be old enough to know that I don't have to fill out a form just because they hand it to me.

The doctor proceeded to smugly suggest I take a multi-vitamin instead of the specific supplements I've chosen, for very specific reasons mind you, with the help of a friend who is in the medical field. I wouldn't have minded his suggestion but I did mind his attitude.

I left there disappointed, frustrated and quite a bit irritated and he even wants me to come back for a physical.

Most Lymies are used to being dismissed or treated with this sort of attitude from doctors because Lyme is a stealth like infection that can go undetected.

On average it takes 2 years or more to find out that you have Lyme. 


This is because of the inaccurate testing and ignorance on the doctor's part which most of them can't help, they're not being trained or educated.

Lyme most often goes misdiagnosed as RA, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, MS, Lupus, Alzheimer's and even Parkinsons.


While I could make an appointment with a functional medical doctor, it would be another out of pocket expense for me that quite frankly doesn't fit my depleted Lyme budget. Chronic Lyme expenses are not covered by insurance, especially if you're using alternative medicine.

According to Dr. Zhang of the CDC, the average cost per person to treat late stage (chronic) Lyme disease is $10,343 per year.* 


This cost includes direct and indirect medical costs as well nonmedical costs and loss of productivity.

I've learned a long time ago to put the effort into finding a doctor I can trust and talk to, otherwise, I'll never go. So, I will continue to be on the lookout for another doctor, a doctor with a better bedside manner and a doctor who is supportive in treating more holistically.

What is the most important quality when you look for a doctor?


For Further Reading

Dec 13, 2016

Preparing Your Bathroom for Seasonal Sickness

Herbs, Seasonal Sickness, Charcoal, Young Living

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links which only means that if you click on them and purchase the items I'm recommending I might make a small commission which will help pay off Lyme medical bills. Thanks


Is your bathroom ready for the icky sicky bugs that are going around?


Mine usually is but we haven't had the flu since 2003 and we haven't had a tummy bug for about 8 years. I believe we've done so well because we've been very diligent about taking a good quality probiotic.

While we were being treated with antibiotics for Lyme we had plenty of side effects that kept us in the powder room which is when I began keeping my bathroom ready and stocked for anything that might come our way.

Last night my 9-year-old son woke up with a terrible pain in his tummy! It was a long night of the "double-ended" sickness and because I haven't fully stocked my bathrooms in our new house, my husband and I had to scurry through the house looking for things.

Here's what I usually keep in each bathroom and you should too!


Activated Charcoal - I've talked about charcoal before and it's one of the most important things to keep in the bathroom for those late night tummy bugs. Charcoal absorbs toxins and gently rids them through your bowels. Take 2 with water and then 2 every hour as needed. Be sure to replace necessary minerals when you're well.

Ginger - You've heard of ginger, ginger tea, ginger in Asian food etc. We keep ginger capsules in the medicine cabinet and in every bathroom. Ginger is an anti-spasmodic and works wonderfully for tummy aches, gas, bloating and even acid reflux. Take 2 capsules with plenty of water. Ginger can cause some burning in your throat if you don't drink enough water.

Young Living Peppermint Essential Oil - Peppermint is such a wonderful oil. It is also an anti-spasmodic and when rubbed in a circle on the tummy it can soothe and calm irritated intestines and tummy aches. Be sure to always dilute your peppermint oil or you could burn your skin. Just squirt a little almond or jojoba oil into your hand, add 1 drop of peppermint oil and rub on the tummy.


Thieves Household Cleaner -  Thieves is an absolute must. I haven't used chemical cleaners in my home since discovering Thieves Household Cleaner. One bottle lasts me a good 6 months because it's concentrated. I simply fill an empty glass cleaning bottle with a capful of Thieves concentrate and then add water. Thieves kills almost all the germs, seriously, it's just as good if not better than typical cleaners including bleach.

Personally, Thieves smells amazing and when I've used it in the past it has halted the tummy bug to where no one else got it.

Plastic trash can - You should keep a small dollar store plastic trash can under the sink in each bathroom. This is because when your little Johnny gets sick and needs to throw-up while sitting on the toilet, you can simply grab that trash can. Rinse it out after each episode and then when they're ready to go to bed they can keep it beside them just in case.

Small water bottles - Keeping small water bottles in your linen closet or under the sink makes it easy to take Ginger or Charcoal and it's also helpful to soothe a sore throat after throwing up.

Paper towels - Let's face it, when you have littles they might miss their target and having paper towels handy makes cleaning up quick and easy.

Don't get caught having to scurry around your house in the middle of the night looking for the things you need for when someone wakes up sick. 


You'll be so glad you at least have everything right there and ready to grab when you need it.

A tip for keeping yourself and your kids from getting these bugs in the first place is to keep a good diet with limited sugar, take a probiotic every day, and of course the most important thing - wash your hands often. Skip the antibacterial, they don't work and disrupt your hormones. Plain old soap does wonders.



Dec 10, 2016

When You're Too Old For Santa

It happened this year, my 9-year-old son asked me point blank if Santa was real.

He is the youngest of four, he has three older sisters who never believed in Santa. For reasons all our own, my husband and I chose not to do the Santa thing when they were growing up.

But Little Man came along and all his little friends were excitedly talking about Santa and while we never taught him that there was a Santa, he believed with his whole heart that there was.

A few years ago he asked me if Santa was real and I asked him if he really wanted to know to which he responded, yes! I gently told him the story about the real St. Nicholas and where the jolly St. Nick came from. He became so angry and cried out "What! Are you trying to ruin my life!".

Well, what do you say to that? Total Mom fail there and so, we went a few more years pretending Santa was real.

A few weeks ago my son asked if he could talk to me. He whispered in my ear and asked me if Santa is real to which I asked again, "Do you really want to know?" He said yes and so we talked, for a long time, and now he knows.

He handled it very well but of course asked, "who ate the cookies and drank the milk?" He learned that Mommy is really Santa. Mommy does all the shopping, all the wrapping and making everything look beautiful before Christmas morning. So, Mommy sure does deserve those cookies and milk at the end of a very long day to which he totally agreed.

We have visited the same Santa at the same mall for his entire life. This Santa was genuine, gentle, and has a real beard; he sure looks like the real Santa. This Christmas we live in a different town with a different Santa.

Last week my son and I went to the mall while we waited for tires to be put on the Mom Mobile.

As we walked through the mall we came upon Santa's Wonderland. I asked my son if he would like to go visit Santa to which he replied, "What's the point!" Ugh, heartache! I gently told him that while we know Santa is not real, it's still a fun tradition and if he'd like to go I promised I wouldn't post his picture on Facebook. He said, No!

The tire install took a lot longer than expected and as we took our second trip around the mall, we came upon Santa's Wonderland again. I chose not to say anything this time but what my words didn't say the emotional picture I saw with my eyes and my Mom heart said everything.

We walked slowly by and saw Santa sitting there waiting for children with wide-eyed wonder to stop by to see him. My son looked over, Santa waved, my son waved and then looked away and kept walking.

It kind of crushed my heart that he's so bummed to know that Santa isn't real.

I asked him again if he was sure he didn't want to go see Santa and he softly replied, "I want to go back to where my Santa is, at the other mall."

So, there it is! While he knows the truth about Santa it's just not the same to visit a new Santa. So as any good Mom would do, we'll make the hour long drive this week and pray that our old faithful Santa is still at the old mall because while he may be too old to believe Santa is real, he's not too old for Santa.


Dec 9, 2016

Late Nights and My Need for Quiet

late nights
Here I am, sitting up late into the night once again. Every morning when I have to drag myself out of bed, completely exhausted, I tell myself to get to bed at a decent hour. I even set my sleep/wake alarm on my phone and each night I get a sweet lullaby reminder that it's time to get ready for bed.

My problem is, I'm on the run all day long, I don't want to go to bed. I want to sit, in a quiet house. Everyone else is in bed or at least in their rooms and the only sound I hear is the humming of the dishwasher. It's absolutely wonderful!

I've been bombarded with messages lately about self-care. I've even been the one to share about self-care and how important it is. I've been on Periscope sharing about the importance of getting to bed by 10pm and yet here I sit.

While I know this, the thing is, I'm giving of myself from the time I wake up in the morning until the time I go to bed and quite frankly, I'm exhausted. More reason to get to bed on time right?

Maybe, but I also feel a deep longing inside to sit in the quiet. Sometimes I want to sit just to read, sometimes it's to write and sometimes just to sit in the quiet.

This is part of caring for myself. I know very intimately my need for quiet and grounding. If I go for too long without it I get snappy and irritable. Sometimes, I can be downright unpleasant to be around.

I'm a homeschool mom and right now I'm spending a lot of time on the road driving my two older daughters back and forth to work. Some people love driving but it stresses me out. I need quiet and stillness every day in order to be a good mom. I don't have little children grabbing for my attention all day, but I have big kids with bigger problems and longer talks, who need me to drive them places, to listen to them, to watch movies and to remind them what big words mean.

I still have a little guy but he insists at the age of 9 he's no longer little. He won't let me call him "Little Man" which is what I began calling him the first moment I laid eyes on him and heard his husky cry. While he's not so little anymore he still needs cuddles and story time. He needs game time, going for walks, exploring, playing and Ninja Warrior running through the house.

I've been a mom long enough to know that while I'm exhausted right now and shouldn't stay up this late, I know this season of my life will pass all too quickly, just like those other seasons of nursing newborn babies, sleepless nights, toddler meltdowns and big sloppy kisses, teenage emotional explosions and late night ponderings about the meaning of life or at least about the urgent need to decide what they want to be when they grow up.


My kids are growing up and moving on and moving out and I won't always need to stay up into the wee hours of the night just to have quiet.

One day, it will always be quiet here in my home and I'll need to go hang out at their house!


Dec 8, 2016

Caring for Those Struggling Through The Holidays



It might be hard to believe but not everyone is looking forward to the holidays.


Not everyone is surrounded by large, wonderful, happy families. Some have families that have been broken apart by disagreements, divorce, or a prodigal child.

Some are still on talking terms but the tension that arises at family get-togethers creates anxiety and disappointment.

Some have other serious problems or financial restraints, others are overcome with great sadness as they remember the loved ones who are no longer with them.

For many, this is their first Christmas without their loved one and their pain is new and raw.

Some have been overcome by incredible health challenges, physical pain, or disease and they can't even enjoy one day without the reminders that their body is failing them.

During a season where joy and peace are expected; love stories play on tv movies and homes are supposed to be filled with happy memory making activities, beautiful smells of Christmas cookies and spiced apple cider, we need to be reminded that this is not reality for many.

While our lives, health or home may not reflect the beauty we think everyone else has, we can still find hope and peace this Christmas as we remember the true gift, Jesus Christ.

If you're having a difficult time this year, you may have to find new ways to experience joy.


If you're hurting or sick right now, in need of encouragement or healing, you might find comfort inside the doors of a candle-lit church service or by inviting a cherished friend over for a potluck meal.

If you're physically capable, your grace moment might be when you serve others who are hurting or needy.

If you're entirely overcome by grief and you are all alone there are places you could go in your community to surround yourself with others who also need friendship, kindness, and a Christmas smile.

Your pain might be new and you may not want to be around others this year. You need to know that you are never truly alone.

You should know it's normal to feel this way, it's normal to not want to celebrate Christmas or be around others or even to be happy. It's ok, really.

You could spend this year remembering and honoring a lost loved one, creating new memories or doing things that you once did with them. Maybe find a grief support group or a few understanding friends who will remember your loved one and let you talk and cry.

If your health is what is consuming you, I know from experience that it's hard to celebrate when you're body is writhing in pain. Limit your pre-holiday activities so that whatever energy you do you have can be used to enjoy the holiday itself.

For those of us who have a family, friends, and our health, even if it's not the greatest, we need to be mindful of those precious people all around us who are deeply hurting and in need of grace, love, and understanding.

Let's take time this Christmas season to look around us with compassionate eyes, to find those who need to be comforted and let's comfort them.

Find those who are lonely and share your time and friendship with them. Find those who are sick and visit them. Find those who have lost loved ones and let them speak about them because they mattered.



Let's find those who need the hope of a Savior and share the truest gift of all, the Gospel of Salvation.




Dec 7, 2016

Learning About Christmas From a Shepherd



DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on it and purchase the item I might make a few pennies but you will not pay anything more than what you would normally.

This year we decided to invite a shepherd into our home. 


He is only about 12 inches tall and he hides each night waiting for my son to search for him in the morning.

He is The Shepherd on the Search from DaySpring. I'm not an affiliate with DaySpring but when I learned about this set I instantly loved the concept of this sweet Shepherd, the accompanying book and the printable activities that DaySpring offers on their website.

The Shepherd is a tool to use as we fix our eyes on Jesus and learn about the coming King in preparation for Christmas. Each days activities will lead us closer to Jesus through scripture.


My son is 9 and he gets very excited to go on a treasure hunt each morning as he searches for the Shepherd. This silly shepherd can hide in the silliest places. The first morning, he was waiting on the piano in with hymnals and music books. The next morning he was found curled up under my son's hat which he left on the floor.

There's no telling where the shepherd will be found next but I have a feeling that on Christmas Eve he will end up near baby Jesus in the manger.


If you didn't know about The Shepherd on the Search, I'm sure it's not too late to order one. I purchased mine from Amazon Prime and was able to get him in a few days.

You might want to get one and save him for next year, he will make a fabulous addition to your Christmas preparations.



Dec 5, 2016

How and Why You Should Make Bone Broth

How and Why You Should Make Bone Broth

DISCLAIMER: This post may contain affiliate links which only means that if you click on one and place an order, I might make a little bit of money but it doesn't cost you anything.


It's the perfect time of year to learn how and why you should be making bone broth for your family.


My Mom always made homemade chicken soup by slow boiling an entire chicken for hours. It's still one my favorite recipes and I always feel great making it for my family and as soon as anyone shows signs of sickness I get to work.

Abounding In Hope Chicken Soup Bone Broth


I learned about the benefits of bone broth from Sally Fallon who is the author of the book, Nourishing Traditions. If you've never read this book and desire to eat a whole foods diet, I highly suggest you make the investment.

Bone broth is full of vitamins, minerals and collagen which are easily absorbed by your body. With these nutritional benefits bone broth helps to heal your gut lining, is great for your joints and can even give you beautiful skin and nails. Bone broth is an immune boosting food and can reduce the symptoms of the cold and flu viruses.

Bone broth can help move toward healing ADD, ADHD, and anxiety. To learn more about that you can research the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) Diet by Dr. Campbell-McBride.

I used bone broth to help heal my gut after 4-1/2 years of antibiotics for chronic Lyme disease. I still make bone broth and homemade chicken soup for my family whenever anyone sick.

Whenever we have roasted chicken or any meat with bones I'll throw the bones in a ziplock back and keep them in the freezer until I'm ready to use them.

Here's an easy recipe to get you started.


INGREDIENTS:

1 Whole Chicken or 3lbs of bones, including neck, wings and legs
2 Large Carrots, chopped
2 Celery Sticks, cut in half
1 large onion, sliced in half
4 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and chopped
1 Teaspoon Himalayan Salt
2-3 Tablespoons Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
Water

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Place all the ingredients in a large pot and fill with filtered water.
2.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 8 hours.
3.  Let cool and then remove all the cooked bones and vegetables.
4. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.
5. Let cool and then refrigerate where it will last for 1 week. You can also freeze for up to 3 months.

*Optional: make in a crock pot and simmer for 24 hours.




I hope you'll add bone broth to your diet and especially as a healthier option to canned soups during the cold winter months.

Here's my Mom's Chicken Soup Revamped Recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.




Dec 3, 2016

Making Elderberry Syrup for Immune Health




DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links which only means that if you click on them and order I will make a little bit of money.  Thanks

I sure hope you have already been making elderberry syrup for you and your family but if not I think you might be convinced that you should by the time you're finished reading this.

In my previous post about Immune Building Foods I shared just a few of the ways elderberries are good for your health.

Here's a recap:

Elderberries are rich in flavonoids and help to protect your DNA integrity.

Elderberries reduce stress and increase recovery time. It's antiviral and speeds up the body's ability to recover from colds and the flu.

Not only that, it has the ability to protect against 10 strains of the flu unlike the flu vaccine which usually only targets 1 or 2 strains.

When taken at the first symptoms of the flu, it has the ability to reduce the duration of the flu to 3-4 days. Elderberries activate a healthy immune system and reduces inflammation.

Overall, elderberry syrup is an inexpensive and delicious way to protect your family during cold and flu season.


Here's how I make elderberry syrup!


Elderberry Syrup

1/2 Cup Dried Organic Elderberries
3 Cups Filtered Water
1/4 to 1/2 Cup of Honey

(Optional: 2-5 drops of Young Living Thieves essential oils for extra immune strength)

Add 1/2 cup of dried organic elderberries or 1 cup of fresh elderberries to 3 cups of water.


Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer for an hour.

Smash berries with a potato masher and then strain the elderberries using a fine mesh strainer and throw out elderberries.

Add honey (and optional Thieves essential oil) to the elderberry liquid. Stir thoroughly. Label a canning jar and pour your elderberry syrup into the jar. Store in the fridge where it will last for 2-3 months.

Take by the teaspoon every 2-3 hours while sick. Drink it daily for immune boosting and for protection against the flu.

Print Here
abounding in Health, Elderberry syrup

























I purchase Frontier Organic Dried Elderberries and I use local raw honey that I purchase from a co-op. You can easily find a local apiary by searching online or asking at a farmers market near you.


Check out Pub-Med for more information about elderberries.