Thursday, October 27, 2016

Sweet Potato Hash

Finally getting this posted! This dish is so tasty, probably one of my favorite breakfast foods. You don't even realize it doesn't have cheese in it. It's really easy to make as well. I used a large cast iron skillet, but it's not 100% necessary. You could keep the pan warm in the oven if you'd like, which makes cast iron easier.

1 pound breakfast sausage
1 1/2 large sweet potatoes
Coconut oil
10 eggs
½ onion chopped 
2 tbsp Butter
1/4 cup Chicken broth (optional) or milk/almond milk
Salt and pepper

1. Cut sweet potato into small chunks and cook in 1-2 tbsp coconut oil (you can sub for butter also).
2. When sweet potatoes get soft and barely brown, add sausage and onion (I separated the potholes to one side of the skillet and cooked sausage on the other side and then mixed together).
3. In another skillet, add 2 tbsp butter, whisk 10 eggs ina bowl, add your liquid to whisked eggs.
4. Cook eggs in pan until fluffy and still "wet" trying not to over cook. Add salt and pepper.
5. Add eggs to sausage and sweet potatoes pan, stirring together. Sprinkle salt and pepper to your liking.
5. Serve this deliciousness.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Journey Continues

"So there is an incalculable, faultless, eternal God who loves the frail beings He made with crazy kind of love. Even though we could die at any moment and generally think our puny lives are pretty sweet compared to loving Him, He persists in loving us with unending, outrageous love." 
-Crazy Love

It's no secret that a better part of this year has been one of the toughest struggles Kyle and I have faced (I've written about it here). The good news is that the last 2 1/2 months have been the start of healing for us. Healing in so many ways and I believe there's a lot more healing that has to happen, but it's good. 

When you go through a fiery trial, it's easy to feel alone and unloved. It's easy for the enemy to sneak in and tell you lies about yourself. It's easy to feel insecure. Trust me, I know. But one thing I'm definitely learning is more about God's love for me. I'm learning that He seeks me out. He reiterates that I'm not alone and that I am His daughter, His beloved daughter that He wants to wrap His arms around. 

I stumbled upon a book called "Move On" by Vicki Courtney. There's a section that I just can't stop thinking about. 
"When you choose to be real, you embark on a journey. It is not a journey for the fragile or faint of heart. Showing up at the starting line will require courage. It's far easier to blend into the crowd and pretend all is well and good. Smile, learn your lines, and join the ranks of the status quo. If you want to be real, you must be willing to put up a fight. Others will be uncomfortable with your honesty. Many will label you as emotional or unspiritual. You will meet resistance at every turn.

Psalm 51 is an anthem for authenticity, "what you're after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life." A true life. No pretending. No more of saying you're ok when you're really not. No more pressure to keep it all together and keep it all hidden. It's about giving ourselves permission to be honest about the whole journey of faith, our muddy messes included, not just the highlight reel we broadcast to others. The choice is simple: you can stay where you are or you can get real and move on." 

Here's the deal. The enemy would love for us to feel isolated and alone in our struggles. He would love for us to abandon our faith when what we believe about Jesus doesn't seem to match up with our circumstances. But when we choose to live authentic and remove our masks, to share our sufferings with others, then the Spirit meets us and it's like He even knits our hearts with those who are walking with us. 

Another book I'm reading is "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. I'm in a Bible study at church for this book. Francis articulates aspects of God that I think we forget or gloss over. We get wrapped up with ourselves and our lives, only to diminish the power and presence of God. And we lose sight of how God pursues us. I know I do. When you feel feel alone from people but also from God. You know God loves you intellectually but you don't believe it in your heart and mind. You don't live it out. 

So in the midst of my healing, God has made it clear to me that He is reaching out after me. He is pursuing me, He is loving me. He wants me to know that He loves me. Even in my sin. Even in my doubt. Even in my anger, fear, unloving attitude towards others, and sadness. I'm so imperfect, but His perfection seeks me out because it's not about me, It's about Him.
Recently I had an emotional day. Those are far and few lately, thankfully. A series of events added up, that brought me down. But man did God blow me away. The thing is that on this day, I had 5 friends reach out to me with encouraging words. All at different times of the day. All concerned about me. All sending me prayers and words of encouragement. This isn't chance. It's God. My God is real and He is an extravagant, loving God. 

To those who feel alone, know you're not. To those in pain, run to Jesus, He is the only way to find healing and redemption. This was one text a dear friend sent me and I really have to share some of her words. Holy Spirit, how you speak to me through close friends in my life! Thank you, Lord. 

"I just had a mirror kairos moment while making my pizza crust dough and I had to share it with you. As I was kneading the heck out of my pile of floury, crumbled dough, I was reminded of how that resembles my life on a daily basis. A messy, crumbly pile that, on its own I can do nothing with. But God, in His mercy, pushes back together and kneads every crumbly and broken piece of my life...until it becomes smooth and ready for the next season."

God's love and redemption never stops. This doesn't scratch the surface of their ways He is renewing things and relationships in our lives. I'm on a pretty cool journey. A journey of learning the depths of Christ's love. A journey of watching and waiting. A journey of learning to rest in God's embrace. He is putting pieces back together better than I could have imagined and He has set us on a new path. The best part is that He is with us. 😃

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Paleo Blueberry Crisp

One thing I have been missing is a tasty dessert that's ok to consume. I've made Paleo chocolate chip cookies that are growing on me. I'm keeping them in the freezer when I want some dessert. Decided to try this blueberry crisp. I enjoy the topping. So I thought I could sub flour, oats, and refined sugar for different things, turns out I was right! So tasty. 


4 cups blueberries
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice 
1 tbsp honey
1 cup almond flour/meal
1 tbsp maple syrup plus more for drizzling
4 tbsp butter 
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon 
½ tsp salt

1. Put blueberries in 8x8 pan. Drizzle lemon juice and maple syrup lightly. Mix together. 
2. Mix rest of ingredients together. Spoon on with your fingers little chunks of topping. 
3. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes (my blueberries were frozen so it took longer). Watch every 10 minutes after 20 minute mark. 
4. Pull out when bubbling and topping browning slightly. 

Quite easy to make! 


I mentioned in my last blog post, that I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's auto-immune disease. What is that exactly? That was my thought when I got the news. Well, turns out, it's not very good, and it's also not that uncommon. I have had several blog posts (here, here, here) on issues I've dealt with, especially since having children. Some symptoms come and go but in the last few months, with added stress, my body just wasn't handling any of it well. Not handling it well to the point of concern for me. Feeling like you hate life, can barely keep from crying ALL day long, and don't have energy to workout weeks on end is probably not a good sign...especially because I haven't missed this many workouts willingly in about 14 years. When I would workout, the soreness was almost unbearable for 2-3 days no matter what exercises I would do. That's not normal either. These are only a few of my symptoms. So I reached out to a doctor that I respect and deals with issues like mine and got direction. Blood work confirmed her suspicions that I have this disease.

What does this mean? Well, it means my immune system is attacking my thyroid. Yikes. There are foreign invaders and my body is producing antibodies to destroy these things but it is in turn destroying my thyroid and causing a host of problems. If you know me at all then you know I am not a fan of being put on medication if I don't have to. Thankfully, I have Dr. Angela to help me wade the waters (like she has helped many others) of this and change diet aspects of my life to stop further damage. 

Right now I'm eating strictly Paleo. No grains, dairy or legumes right now. I track everything about my day. I'm not even sure if I'll be able to consume modern wheat safely ever again. That was a pretty daunting thing to realize the other week (tears definitely shed). But if this is the route I have to take, I trust God will give me the strength I need to walk this path. He is so far! I have been Paleo for over 2 weeks. I'm taking some supplements to help my condition as well and truthfully, it is helping. I'm feeling so much better already and am getting some needed energy back. I'm typically a peppy person and it's nice to feel some of the pep back 😃. 

I want to add in here that if you are a person experiencing issues with your body, keep searching for answers. You know when things aren't right. Hair thinning, excessive soreness, menstrual issues, emotional instability, the list sadly goes on....all these things are not right! I had to keep searching and thankfully there are becoming more doctors like Dr. Angela who are devoting their life's work to helping people without the use of conventional medicine and looking to the true source of problems, without masking it. So please, keep seeking, asking questions, and searching. 

Exercise is limited right now for me. I can only do light activities and definitely not heavy weights. I'm living out my intense workouts through training my clients 😉 ha. Instead of being gloomy about my food options, I'm excited to be researching and trying new recipes. I normally attempt Paleo lifestyle but with lots of add-inns on things I enjoy, so it's not a new concept for me. Only now it's paramount that I stay Paleo and find new indulgences within the guidelines. It's worth it to forego my wants and desires in order to stay in good health. I'm learning that God wants sacrifice from every area of my life, but He has a life for me better than I realize. I have to lean in and say "Your will, not mine" for His beauty to captivate me once again. Not eating bread or sugar-laden desserts is a small sacrifice on my part, in reality. It reminds me that this life is not about me and my wants. I give Him thanks for having a great doctor to trust and finding out what I needed to find out. I only hope that another part of my life can bring Him glory. 

BEST grain free pizza I've ever had! 

If you want to follow my grain free and Paleo lifestyle, IG and Facebook (Venia Fitness) are the best places to see what I'm doing everyday. The goal is to eat whole foods (aka God foods) and that's what I post food ideas of. Follow along! 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

When Life Hands you Lemons

It's been 4 months since I have written a blog post. I have only sat down a couple times to try to write but no words were formed. Sometimes you go through times in your life that challenge you, that punch you in the gut, but you catch your breath and keep moving. Other times there are things that happen that knock you down and change your life. The kind where you feel like you've been stepped on and left at the side of the road, alone. I think the latter is a good way to describe the last few months for me.

Kyle wrote a blog post a few weeks ago, announcing his departure from a company he started almost 7 years ago. The process of letting this go has been heart-wrenching for us. 

Rewind to over a year ago, and Kyle was approached by someone from Zipp, inquiring if he would be  interested in taking over the company because the owner was looking to retire. Little did we know, this would change pretty much our whole world a year later. 

When Kyle started J2, we were just beginning to figure out how deep we were in school debt and how we needed to change our family tree. But shortly after, I got pregnant with Abigail and at the height of a growing personal training business, began to stay home on the call to raise our kids. For the next 2 years we struggled. From financially to our marriage, we had it. Kyle was working his tail off from sunrise to well after sunset; I was raising our daughter at home. Even though he worked like crazy, we didn't make enough money. We went into more student loan debt because we couldn't pay the bills, and many months I worked with a very tight grocery budget; one month I only spent $70. When you grow a business, there's so much work and expenses that don't get paid for at the beginning. This is your investment, your sacrifice, so that one day your investment pays off. That is business ownership. Our marriage went through a really tough phase for a while and we sought counseling for help because Kyle was so immersed in having to work and I was lonely and frazzled. 

We told ourselves the climb would be worth it. This is what entrepeneurs do in the beginning. 

We sold Kyle's truck, went down to one car so we could manage him to work on the business and not go into more debt. I rode around on a bike with Abby for a while to go places or just stayed home while Kyle went to work, could drive to networking lunches, and have meetings with potential clients. 

My parents graciously loaned us their car for a while, so I could have something, while we worked to save money for another car. Then we felt called to sell our house and my parents again, graciously let us live at their house for a year and a half. We did all this to continue on our debt free journey and continue growing J2, so Kyle could focus on that and not find other work. 

During this time, God has grown our hearts to see that we need to love him and love others more. He has shown us the areas that need refined. Almost everyday I see how inadequate I am for this life. I see my demons and how He gives me grace and strength to overcome them for me. Over a year ago He called me to fast often, so I did. He has taught me new disciplines such as practicing silence (SO hard, amen?!). He called me to have a prayer partner to help grow my faith, seek wisdom, and challenge my dependency upon Him. He told me that the road was about to get bumpy and that I needed to cling to Him more than ever. I have

Fast forward to now. After making the climb these last 6-7 years, we walked away. Around this time in a growing business, it's typical to finally start reaping benefits from all the blood, sweat and tears. Not us. We had to walk away and leave that dream behind. We left with no payout and a lot of hurt. We stand with broken relationships and wounds that run so deep I can barely breathe at times. 

Some days I'm ok and some I'm just not. Some are filled with hope, and some are filled with tears. Some are filled with expectation of the future and some are filled with pain of the past. Perceptions I want so badly to change, miscommunication I want to clear up, good intentions I want to be made more clear, and it goes on, but it's too late. We have to move on.

In addition to all of this, I have been diagnosed with Hashimoto's autoimmune disease. Now I start a year long journey with a doctor on Monday to help me figure out how to navigate this disease. My best friend's mom was hit by a car and almost died. Close friends of ours who discipled us our whole marriage moved across the country. Lemons

Even though the journey has been rough, I know God has not abandoned us. I know that He has given us nuggets of grace and peace. I know He is shielding us from things we can't even see. I know that He is putting people in our lives who are willing to step into our mess and just be with us, to grieve with us. I'm so thankful for that. 

Redemption and wholeness. That is the business God is about. It truly is His mission. I'm figuring out that this is the goal. I know He wants to redeem, restore, and make whole the things that are wrong. I'm not sure how long that will take, but I'll cling to Him. Being passionate and vulnerable is crazy hard because the fall is hard and the wounds drive deep. 

There are so many good things to praise God about. I praise Him that I'm writing this while sitting at my own house again; a house we love. A house that needs some TLC like me. A house that represents new chances and the potential to be even more beautiful. I thank Him that through each tough time, we have managed to pay down more student loan debt. I praise Him for Zipp. God provides, and we thought taking over this business wasn't going to happen, and we were ok with that. After continuing to pray and fast for a long time, God literally opened the door and made all the pieces fall into place within a very short time after that. We have amazing people who work there and so much potential for growth. Blackwood Creative is another praise. That's the new business we have started that is going to allow Kyle to continue pursuing his dreams. He is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate and talented in design, web, marketing, and leading projects. We are excited to see where it takes us, figuratively and hopefully geographically. I thank God for my parents. They continue to give to us and be there for us in profound ways. They truly love us and I'm beyond grateful for them. 

And I praise God for my husband. He is being stretched and growing more than we thought possible. We are continuing to learn how to balance our personalities together and grow more as husband and wife. I think God is refining things in him to raise him up as a stronger leader. A good friend said that it may be time to change the mentality of 'small business, pull-up your bootstraps and work from the basement,' to building a team surrounded by advisors who can lead him beyond that. Where you make more calculated and intentional decisions without just figuring things out as you go. A legal, spiritual, and godly business team of people who can advise and advocate for us the best decisions to set us up for success when growing a business. 

I thank God for my friends and my girls. They are sunshine on my cloudy days. I have amazing friends who are here for me and I can't describe the joy of raising my daughters. It is incredible and deeply meaningful. Friends who call me, pray with me, fast with me, let us use their lake house for a week. These people have helped hold me up and turn my face to Jesus. 

With all the lemons that have been handed to us, I know God's purpose was for us to make lemonade with them. To break through the tough skins, releasing the juice, and turning the tart flavor into something sweet. Each day that passes now, the more hopeful I am of the future once again. While we think we have taken some steps back in our minds, I do truly think God is saying, "Let's keep going together and I can't wait to surprise you around the corner, this is a new beginning." Stay tuned 😃

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

6 Ways to Fight Soreness

Since having babies, exercise affects my body differently. I have found that I get sore faster and longer than before children. Because I'm a researcher, I've been on a mission to find ways at relieving muscle soreness. Backing off of heavy weights for about the last 9 months has been one step, with doing a lot of stretching and restorative muscle work. I've still been lifting but felt I needed a break and focused more on Piyo, abs and cardio. Rotating different benefits (or utilizing all) and following these methods to reduce soreness is in your best interest to keep your body healthy and free from injury. 

1. Stretch

A flexible muscle has more strength potential and less of a chance for injury. When your muscles are more pliable, they have the ability to move more freely. Soreness is evidence of muscle tearing and tightening, so stretching helps heal the tears and loosen the muscle, which pull less on joints, bones, and nerves. Warming up lightly first, then ending with longer stretching time is proven to help reduce soreness.  

2. Hydrate

Our body is composed of 65-75% water and our muscles need a lot of it to function properly. Lack of water can cause muscle tightness, back pain, headaches, etc. We know how important water is and it's especially important when you exercise. 

3. Protein/extra supplementation 

When a muscle tears, it has to rebuild itself. This is the process of getting stronger. Protein is the building block that literally helps repair the muscle tears. This is achieved AFTER your workout. Most athletes use whey protein powder, eat a heavy meat meal, or eat higher protein foods to rebuild the tears more quickly, which reduces soreness. 

Another supplement I am personally testing out is Magnesium. This is a mineral the body needs to relax muscles and reduce spasms, cramps, etc. Magnesium also strengthens bones, lowers blood pressure, and keeps the heart rhythm steady. Lifting weights helps strengthens bones as well as your muscles, so fueling my body properly with vitamins and minerals it needs to ensure this, is important to me. 

4. Foam Rolling/Massage

Foam rolling is AMAZING and everyone should have one! It's another thing to have in the warm up and cool down phase of exercising. It helps warm up your muscles, work out tension, and aid in muscle healing. It's works the same as a massage, but you get to do the massaging. Professional massages are a great way to rid yourself of soreness and bring heal to those muscles. Both are great things to try and fit in regularly. Foam rollers are about $30 and last a long time. Definitely getting. Your money's worth even if you only use it twice, compared to paying for a massage. 

5. Hot Shower/Bath

Taking a hot shower is another way to keep blood flow moving to those muscles, healing them. The more blood that flows, the more the muscle stays warm and pliable. Taking one after a workout or the morning after, is a great way to reduce soreness. 

Taking a bath and maybe adding essential oils or Epsom salt can also relieve soreness. 

6. Muscle balance

A sign of muscle imbalance can be chronic soreness and pain. If you're a mom, you know that muscle imbalance can be reality. Picking up kids, nursing, holding a child on the same side of the body all the time, and carrying a car seat builds up a lot of muscles on the front of your body but not the backside. Back pain is all too common and a weakened core puts a lot of stress on certain organs, not to mention the spine. This pain can be reversed if we take time to strengthen key areas that provide muscle balance and prevents injuries. Strengthening your low and upper back helps support the spine and stomach muscles. It also improves posture. All these things can allieviate constant soreness, aches and pains. 

Combine all these elements on a regular or semi-regular basis, and your body will be taken care of with a noticeable difference in providing relief from muscle soreness. 

If you're having a chronic problem and you have pain that is unmanageable, please get checked out by a professional. Recently I thought I had a muscle problem and turns out it was a spinal issue in my low back. After trying each of these methods the pain would not subside and it was only through chiropractic treatments, icing, and resting, that the problem is resolved. Seeing a sports massage therapist would be a good option for finding answers, as well as a reliable chiropractor. And hopefully if they can't help, they would refer to another type of professional who could.

Since the minor injury, I've reassessed my own body and I'm currently trying to strengthen my muscle imbalances, supplement with magnesium each day, and try Epsom salt baths to prevent future injuries and relieve soreness. Hopefully adding those things will help! 

Monday, January 18, 2016


My husband and I are goal setters. We sit down at the new year, review last years goals and set new ones. Last year my husband started a new thing. He decided to pick one word to describe his intent for the year. He also picked a new one for this year (read it HERE).

I tagged along with his word for last year; focus. But this year I decided to own a word for myself. I prayed about it and as I started a new journal (I start new ones each year), I opened it up to find the word, Flourish. A friend, and leader in MOPS, gave me this journal this past summer. I have been anticipating writing in it and she wrote Flourish, describing it in the notebook. It was like a lightbulb went off...that's it! I'm so thankful God prompted Allison to write in it. 

Words have power. They speak life, or death. They can lift up or tear down. Grow, thrive, prosper. What words I desire to be true in life! So I do think that claiming a word and letting it be part of your story is a great thing. I'm excited to meditate on this word and see how God uses it in my life this year. I hope and pray that He grows me as a wife, mother, friend, daughter, and trainer.

One way I've been feeling a desire to grow is in prayer. "A particularly favorable environment" means I have to enter into relationships most likely, to flourish. What better environment to enter into than presence of God with prayer? I stumbled upon a blog that has free printables on praying scripture for the entire year. I'm on board ( Praying scripture over my family is something I desire, so diving into this is going to be fun, challenging, and no-doubt rewarding. 

Among prayer, I am also seeking out the relationships that bring peace to encourage me. Relationships that are focused on loving God and others. Relationships that challenge me to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I'm learning to recognize more what these people look like in my life. I'm excited to continue diving into these relationships. 

Do you have a word you're going to embrace for 2016? I hope and pray that God helps me flourish this year and I'm excited to see His work in my life.