Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Let's Go

"What if the kingdom of God isn't some far off galaxy waiting to go to, but it's one inch off the ground, ready and waiting for us to join?" My pastor shared this quote this last week. Powerful. God continues to open my eyes to the needs that are all around us. He is teaching me that the world isn't made up of upper middle class citizens who only struggle to buy the things they want (but can provide the things they need). I live in a world where it's so easy and justifiable to stick inside my own bubble. To put ALL my time and energy into my family and Christian friends. To keep my kids "safe" and only put them in Christian environments. It's so SO easy to only bless the blessed. 

When I look further than my own space I am seeing that there are kids being sold into slavery. Girls being prostituted. Boys being taught to murder. People dying of starvation. It's real. I know it exists but it doesn't come close to touching my world. I am blessed beyond comprehension. I don't even realize the half of it. 

My heart hears those things and is saddened, angry, and baffled. What should I do? What can I do? Well, I have been praying. Praying for those in need, poverty, oppression, abuse, and endless bad cycles to be freed. That God would send people, money, and resources to their aid. I know God hasn't called me to literally go to other countries and be a missionary or special ops agent to recover people, but He has placed me here. He has placed me in the most relaxed and richest country in the world. It's like I won the lifestime lottery! I think He is telling me that I can still have a role in this. While others are fighting to find food and stay out of slavery, I am here with time in my day to turn off the morning show and pray for those out there on the front lines and the destitute. That my voice to God speaks louder than reading and arguing articles on FB. My voice, along with hopefully millions of other Christians are storming the gates of heaven and God is using people He has sent to give them what they need to help others. 

But, even hearing all the things wrong in this world, I think God is whispering another story. One of redepmtion, restoration and wholeness. I think He is saying, "I AM HERE. I haven't left. I am still working in the midst of these things. The kindgom IS here. Hear my voice, see Me." He is also encouraging me to not be afraid. That I need to keep my eyes on Him while raising my girls. To recognize that the evil is already there and to bring the power of God into our lives and be a light. That hopefully the light inside me will impact my kids and the people around me. Through that, I think He is opening my eyes to see other struggles where I am. 

He is also placing people in my life that have a passion for our community. Such as those who can't afford a coat. People who literally walk in the snow wherever they go without a coat because they don't make enough money to buy one and can't afford to have a car. There are marriages on the rocks; women who are single moms, coming to a mom's group twice a month looking for friendship and conversation. There are kids lonely and turning to the wrong things to fill the void of workaholic parents. Kids being abandoned and left to be orphans. There are people stuck in a poverty cycle and don't know how to get out of it. 

With that, I try to open my hands and ask what He has for me, little me, in my community. And when I open my hands, I see other people right there beside me, kingdom followers, saying, "Yes, let's join together." Join me is starting a business to help job train people stuck in poverty cycles. Join me to help buy coats and give them to people in need. Join me in speaking about ways to live a healthy lifestyle to help women connect with God. Join me in a mom's group to invest in other women's lives (and let others invest in you). Join me in sending our kids to school so that we can make an impact on the community, while discipling our kids in the mess, with the power and presence of God. Let's put a small footprint in our community and join God in changing our world. Let's ask God, "How can I get in on what You're doing?" Let's start our day with a posture of opening our hands and saying, "send me." God is the one who turns the 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread into enough for thousands; we just have to give what we've got. 

"If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people's sins, if you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go. I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places-firm muscles, strong bones. You'll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild foundations from out of your past. You'll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again." 
Isaiah 58:9-12

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Summer Eats

The number 1 question I get asked is "what do I eat?!" Food is the challenge. When planning to change your lifestyle or start a new year's resolution, exercise is pretty easy to "know" what you should be doing. Food is a different matter. There's a saying that goes, "Lose weight in the kitchen and get lean in the gym." Helping people balance making lifestyle changes and not dieting is work. So I thought posting things I eat might be helpful. 

Breakfast- starting my day with the best foot forward really sets the pace. I love using my nutribullet and making smoothies. I typically add probiotic powder, flaxseed, and other goodness to infuse the body with antioxidants, minerals, fiber, and add healthy bacteria to stretngthen the immune system. It's definitely our go-to this summer!

Snacks- that's where it's at! Seriously, my girls snack ALL DAY LONG. Well, to be honest, my body doesn't love when I snack on grains, and it's so easy to snack on that stuff (goldfish and other crackers...you know). So I cut that stuff out a while ago. My newest recent obsession is cashews. Oh yes. Salt? Yup. I just had a conversation about eating raw unsalted nuts. They are definitely not as good. If you're eating unprocessed foods, stop worrying about the salt. Go for salted nuts if that's what you like, seriously. 

I try to put a plate out like this everyday. Helps us snack on good stuff. 

Food prepping is SO HELPFUL. I try to buy, wash, cut and store in nice glass tupperware containers. I put my washed apples in a bowl to leave in the fridge. It's so much more convenient for us!

Gardening- how miss my garden right now. But thankful to enjoy the benefits of others' :)

Lunch- Salads are IT this summer. I have been making my own candied almonds, way better sub over cruotons. Plus hard boiled eggs and chicken (don't forget the onion!). Holy crap I'm freaking in love with salads lately. Can't buy enough lettuce. Ah, soon I will grow more than enough again ;)

Ok, so I said I try not to start or snack with grains. But reality right here....I still eat grains. I just am careful (generally) about the ones I eat. I have several grains I make each week. Tortillas, pizza, and breadsticks. I don't make all in a week but at least one, consistently 2 of those. Tortillas happen often and on this day I was out of tortilla chips (only chip staple in the house) and I had plenty of leftover tortillas so I made my own chips with fresh guac as well. These are what summer lunches are made of! 

Dinner- Corn on the cob has been hitting it a little more than usual. But I tend to go nuts and will repeat often, so I think the rest of my fam is over it. It's been good on the grill lately but probably past it's prime. Again, salad is still in the lime-light for me. 

I made these parmesan meatballs. Well, tonight I decided to add some spaghetti noodles with my homemade breadsticks. Here's the thing, my goal is balance. I try to buy organic, don't roll your eyes, because I think pesticides are a big deal. I can't buy everything organic, so my next step is homemade. The meatballs I made were with quality beef and I made them myself. The breadsticks were homemade and I've been using organic flour, plus the noodles and sauce were organic because Aldi sells them for an amazing price. It's just about balance and getting back to a little bit of work to keep you and your family healthy. 

Desserts- and we come to of course what's at every summer cookout- desserts. I made these cute and delicious cupcakes this weekend. There was enough for a family birthday party, MOPS retreat, and girls' night. Praise the Lord I was busy and surrounded by people to eat these other than just my little fam. Yet again, I know it's sugar and grains but I made these suckers from SCRATCH. Holy goodness. They were some of my best I've made. I think it was how long they cooked. Anyways, cupcakes are my favorite, plus I make chocolate chip cookies probably too often, and then you've got ice cream. But the difference is eating the real stuff. Don't use a box, a bag, or the almost no-calorie options. Pull up Pinterest, or my blog and put an extra 10 minutes into this thing! Buy full-fat ice cream instead of no-fat, "it's not real" junk!. Yes you will spend extra time making a cake from scratch and need more than 3 items, but the benefits are far greater for your body. It will digest it better, pull actually usuable calories for energy, and not take your body deeper into free-radical chaos. Need help with how to make some of these things? That's why I am here and this blog. Ask for help! I'm willing to invest in you :)a

That's a little of what my food has been looking like. It's not perfect but it's fulfilling. It's not a diet, it's realistic. Eating healthy isn't about perfection or cutting out entire categories of foods. It's learning how to balance your wants, needs, and reach your goals while doing it. We've still got the rest of August, enjoy the summer while it lasts!