Self-care for the days when you really don’t care

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Let’s face it, even if you’re health conscious or trying to move more in that direction, there are just. those. days. You know, the days when no matter how amazing your intentions are, you can’t seem to make the healthy choices you know you want to be making. Sometimes it’s a lack of willpower, sometimes there are most pressing priorities, other times it’s a day filled with a million distractions. Maybe you’re just tired, sick, or emotionally spent (or pregnant! haha :). Your reasons could be different than mine, but I’m sure you’ve got them.

On days like this, we have a few choices…you/we can:

1. Beat yourself into submission… in which case you might make what appears to be the healthy self-care choice, but because you had to 100% guilt yourself into doing it, your soul remains empty, unnourished, and little to no true self-care was actually accomplished.

2. Give up. This option is equally dangerous, because typically what follows (at least in my experience) is a litany of negative self-talk that leads me to despair that I will ever reach the goals that I have for that particular area of self-care.

3. Push through. This is different than beating yourself up, this is tapping into a deeper part of your soul, leaning into the power of God, your ‘inner why’, or mentally sorting through the thoughts or emotions that could be convincing you that you can’t make the right choice, when really you can! Totally different than a guilt motivation, this is a chance to envision a successful choice, and finding the strength and inspiration to overcome in the midst of difficulty.

4. Give in. This might sound counter-productive, and perhaps initially it is. However, I’ve found that there are usually reasons why my soul needs a break from the health routine. What does it mean to give in? It is very different from giving up. Giving in means that you listen to what is really going on inside of yourself, instead of plowing past the inner nudges that might serve as important soul-care indicators. (ie. you had a rough day, a drive-through salad is the best you can do, and taking a few minutes while you wait in the line to process what is going on…)

Giving in also means asking for help. Is there someone who you can team up with to meet that health / self-care goal? This could mean: calling a friend to exercise with, making chores fun by teaming up with family / roommates, or spending ten minutes in meditation and prayer, without fretting that that’s all the time you have. This last option is ultimately about admitting that we can’t do it all, and that we were never intended to get it all right, all the time. We might get some things right, all of the time, or all things some of the time, but all things all of the time? It’s not going to happen, unless your soul dies in the process (or you’re just not human)… This last option is also a good pre-cursor to following through with #3 – listening in to your thoughts and emotions, before you decide if it’s a time to push on or let down.

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If you are a follower of Christ, the real bottom line is that all our efforts are completely worthless, unless we are abiding in Him. Without Him we can do what? Some things? Most things? No, apart from Him we can do nothing. And friends, that includes your best intentions of being healthy, eating better, exercising, caring for your relationships, etc. Because on the days when you’re spent and really could just use a bowl of chocolate ice cream? That could be exactly the self-care that you need, just sitting with Jesus and that lovely bowl of ice cream.

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Grace links for body : mind : soul [10.19.15]

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Dear friends,

As summer welcomed fall, and now winter temps dance with fall beauty, we are invited to embrace the changes in every area of our lives. Rather than protect, hide or defend, may we nurture our souls with Truth, warm them with fellowship, and draw near in our winter seasons to the One who alone can renew life. For it is only through death that life can come. May we walk bravely through our valleys, knowing that Jesus promises to walk closely with us, carry us, and remove all fear of danger. Though He does not promise to remove our troubles, we will see His radiant light shining through the brilliance of fall, and the serene silence of winter. He is with us, whispering comfort and Truth, if we will lean in long enough to listen, looking always for the beauty in every day, hardship, and season.

Body //

~ Here are some new recipes that I’ve enjoyed lately : Home Baked Grain-Free Organic Coconut Flour Bread and Sauteed Kale for Kale-Haters. Both are easy and good – bonus!

~ Farmer’s Markets – I’ve been trying to do a better job of looking for farmer’s markets and local food, and am having a great time doing it! There is something amazing about getting to talk to the people who are growing, raising, and making your food, and certainly supporting your local economy is a great benefit to you and your family. Having grown up on a farm, I have first-hand knowledge and a huge respect for the amount of work that goes into growing, raising and preserving home-grown food. It is a labor of love that is totally worth supporting. The Local Harvest website can help you locate CSAs, farmer’s markets and more in your area. Some other benefits I have noticed from shopping locally is the added inspiration when meal prep can feel mundane, as well as finding ways to connect with like-minded foodies.

~ Post on Mindful Eating – it doesn’t have to be stressful to eat well, friends. 🙂 In fact, there are ways to really enjoy life, eat well, and feel good about your choices (without having to give up on dessert – wink)

Mind //

~ Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All (affiliate link) – I’ve shared this book link elsewhere, but I’m really being challenged to follow through on finishing it myself. Choosing to use your words wisely is a ministry to your home, relationships and life legacy that you will never regret.

~ Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change (affiliate link) – Love, love, love anything by Paul Tripp and this one I’ve been needing to read for a while. So challenged and encouraged by his Gospel reminders of God’s sovereignty, grace, and glory. We can only change and help others change when we focus our hearts and minds squarely on the hope found in Christ.

Soul //

~ Suffering and Sovereignty – Kara Tippetts has passed into glory, but this post is a great reminder to suffer well, without faking happiness.

~ Soak in the beauty of Lauren Bath’s amazing photography on Instagram!

~ Beautiful baby photos shortly after birth

~ Hebrews 13:5 – this verse has been my meditation for the past several days after hearing this podcast and the whispers of His love throughout my days. We must embrace His presence to be able to share that with others…

Blessings on your week!

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Easy fall dinner – Homemade Tomato Soup

I’m about to wow you with my culinary genius, friends! (Not really). But you will hopefully enjoy this recipe, and you can thank none other than my dear husband, who rarely asks for a particular meal, but was recently hungry for some good ol’ fashioned grilled cheese and tomato soup. Who am I to protest?

My philosophy for cooking is that it should:

1) taste good

2) be real, nourishing food

3) be easy – moderately difficult to prepare and understand, and requires only ingredients I usually buy/ have on hand/ will use for other recipes…this recipe fit the bill!

Here’s my Homemade Tomato Soup recipe, adapted from this one.

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2 (14-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes (original recipe calls for chopped canned tomatoes but I never buy them… they might caramelize better because they are smaller but diced seemed too small? Your choice :))
3/4 cup coconut oil (better for high heat)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 stalk celery, diced  we do not force this issue in my home but feel free to include it 🙂
1 medium carrot, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced (but hey, more garlic is always allowed!)
2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
4 tablespoons butter (same applies for butter as w/garlic :))
2-3 tsp. Litehouse Instant Fresh Basil – use whatever you have, but this seems to be fresher than dried and doesn’t spoil as quickly as fresh! A major win in my book.
1/4 – 1/2 cup cream / optional (I used whole organic milk)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Strain the tomatoes, reserve juices, and spread onto a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, to taste, drizzle with coconut oil (slightly more than 1/4 cup should be enough) and roast until caramelized, about 15 minutes (I used a bit too much oil, which meant they didn’t caramelize quite as much)

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat remaining coconut oil over medium-low heat. Add the celery, carrot, onion and garlic, cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes, reserved tomato juices, chicken broth, bay leaf and butter. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add basil and cream/milk, if using. Puree with a hand held immersion blender until smooth (I used my Blendtec, which worked quite well, however I did learn the hard way with previous soups that you must slightly vent the lid if using a blender or your kitchen walls will get more of the soup than your tummies! 😦 Don’t overfill the blender either. Or just spend a few bucks and get that handy little immersion blender!)

We also had sourdough grilled cheese sandwiches with this lovely and quite easy soup. Here is the grill pan I use…and love (with plenty of butter, of course!) Take a look at the image at this site – they are happy because they eat butter. A relatively good life philosophy, no?

One of these days, I will get to making my mom’s world-famous sourdough bread, but until I have time make time to add another fermented food to my regular prep (more on that later), the Aldi brand has been working just fine (That is, until my husband tastes my mom’s! Moral dilemma here, people.) Aldi also recently started selling organic wheat bread – not as good as homemade of course, but worth giving it a try!

Bon Appétit!

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Grace links for body / mind / soul

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Hello friends ~

Let’s find a comfy chair somewhere, a quiet spot, or gather a group of friends to drink deep of grace, laugh long, listen well, and open wide to the mysteries of Christ this day of rest. May His presence fill you in the deepest darkest places, may His joy delight you in the way no one or nothing else can, may His people encourage you to press on, to press in, to fight for the joy that is your birthright as a child of the King. Truly, joy is the serious business of heaven (C.S. Lewis) and living in joy is the quickest way to bring heaven to earth! I pray these links will spark a little more joy in your life, as they have for me this week. To Him be all glory and praise! xoxo

Body //

The weather is changing up north, so I’ll share a couple of foolproof tricks that help keep colds/flu at bay…

Homemade bone broth – Hoping to get a detailed post of my own up on this topic soon…

Nasal rinse with Neti pot – feels weird the first time, but really works!

Essential oils – I like thieves, lavender, lemon & peppermint for a variety of things (oils are powerful, use with caution as you would any other medicine)

Yoga for immunity

Mind//

Reading the classic Austen book, Pride & Prejudice – for fun, new vocabulary, and because the ebook is free on Kindle! 🙂

Encouraging prints to post, save on your phone, etc.

Do the next thing post – Simple, not easy – focusing on the next thing, one day at a time, keeps my thoughts captive and obedient to Christ (work in progress, mind you…)

Soul//

Pastor Dan on JOY – what do you do / where do you go when your wine runs out??

Amazing time lapse video – heaven declares the glory of God! How can we not trust a God who spoke all this into existence?

Come to me, get away with me… learn the unforced rhythms of grace! Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

Audrey Assad – I Shall Not Want  music video

 

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What are you waiting for?

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You chose the perfect restaurant, gathered your friends and/or family, and showed up at the agreed upon time. Your new haircut and cute shoes make you feel great, and you’re looking forward to an evening of quality time with people you love, until you speak with the hostess. “I’m sorry, she says, there’s a 45 minute wait. Should I put your name on the list?” The energy of the night seems to fall as quickly as your hair, the kids are getting hungry, and suddenly, waiting feels like your biggest enemy.

Waiting. Some are more naturally inclined to it, but none can avoid it or walk through waiting seasons perfectly. Perhaps waiting makes you feel like this cartoon song from my childhood… 🙂 I think we can all relate to the thought, ‘are we there yet’? We naturally look towards the next event, desired outcome, or longing fulfilled, but being present in the unfinished and incomplete realities we all face is most certainly not natural. The ability in our modern society to have many wants and needs provided with a simple phone call or click of a button further drives our souls towards impatience and discontent. Can we truly find joy and hope while we wait?

Teach us, O Lord, the disciplines of patience, for to wait is often harder than to work. – Peter Marshall

Waiting certainly has it benefits: the chance to develop confidence in God’s goodness & character, the ability to grow in our need for and appreciation of community, and the development of peace and confidence when the right door opens, among other things. How have your life, career, soul, family, and/or relationships benefited from your seasons of waiting? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Waiting on the Lord to lead us into His will for our family has been joyful at times, excruciating at other times, and very rarely what we have expected! I have historically been a ‘jump-first-ask-questions-later’ type of gal, but have had the privilege of learning from a man who patiently considers every decision and *hopefully* some of it has rubbed off on me? Throughout the last year or two of waiting, there have been wonderful surprises that have energized us and kept us going a little further.  I could make you a list of things that we have & are waiting for…but I could make an equally long list of all God has done while we have waited. My intent is not to conjure up sympathy over the difficulties we have faced, but rather to challenge and inspire us as we all strive to wait on God in big and small ways. Your waiting could be visible, or it could be known to few or none but yourself…but God sees your heart as you wait, and is pleased as you seek to honor Him. I don’t intend to write a theology of waiting here…you can find a good one here or here. I am simply sharing a bit of what God has been stirring in my heart.

Where do you fall on this spectrum? How can we encourage each other as we grow in our confident expectation of God’s goodness on our behalf despite the circumstances we are facing?

Waiting that honors God:

  • inspired by confidence in God’s character
  • putting your hope in Christ (not in what you are waiting for)
  • spurred on by fellowship, encouragement, or conviction from others
  • desiring time to pray, consider, and hear from God
  • time spent seeking counsel
  • allowing suffering to finish its work in our hearts
  • waiting with joy, praise & thanksgiving
  • using it as a time of preparation and eager expectation
  • surrounding yourself with those who are waiting with joy and godliness

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Waiting that grieves His heart:

  • avoidance of difficult responsibilities or conversations
  • avoidance of specific callings or burdens given by God
  • doubting God will be with us
  • expecting the neon sign telling us how or when to move forward
  • waiting in doubt, fear, or discontent
  • giving in to anger & demanding-ness
  • despairing that God will not answer or has forgotten us
  • living in passivity and inaction
  • waiting fueled by fear of man vs. fear of God
  • waiting for the perfect _________.

What would you add to either list? It is so easy to jump from one list to the other as well! This is another area where prayer, the Word, and fellowship help us to see our blind spots and live in a way that more closely reflects God’s heart and desires for us as His children.

I will admit, I have been stalling a bit on putting up this new blog…at times to seek counsel and wisdom in prayer (good waiting), some days out of fear (bad waiting), other days because I felt I had no good news to report (pride and/or shame)…but the BEST NEWS has never changed! As Christians, we have a secret super-power 🙂 – we can find deep joy and peace in Christ as we wait, whether or not God ever provides what we want!  This is perhaps best displayed during the ‘imperfect’ seasons of life. God has given His life so that we might know Him, be known by Him, and be changed into the image of His Son. So that we might live with Him for eternity. So that we can live out the Gospel in our homes, churches, workplaces, and communities. So that we can continue the work that He began!

Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. – Charles Spurgeon

Finding this joy in Christ is simple, but not easy. If you do not know Christ, you must acknowledge your sin & need for Him, accept His grace, and put your faith in His finished work on the Cross to live in relationship with Him now and throughout eternity. If you do know Christ, you must also cry out to God, asking for His daily mercies to sustain us, but also join hands with other believers for support. No unwelcome circumstance can change His will for us, and there are many practical commands about God’s will that have nothing to do with getting what we want or making decisions (His will that we be sanctified & avoid immorality, that we suffer for good, and that we choose thankfulness, for example.) Good things to practice while we wait!

Forgive me for waiting for things ‘to get better’ before I poked my head out again into this visible blogging space. God has continually impressed on me the ministry of sharing my weakness so that others may know His power perfected through me. But the Enemy likes to whisper lies and in a world that ‘has it all together’, being a honest voice that admits her insufficiency and desperate need for God is not always fun!

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So, welcome to my humble blogging home – it’s a work in progress! Let’s all gather around the well of grace, knowing it will never run dry, and we will never be too much for Him. What a relief.

May we grow as we wait, sing as our hands remain empty, and share when they are filled to overflowing, for it is in Him that true joy is found, not in the things that we so deeply crave. Perhaps a better title to this post would be not what are we waiting for, but how are we waiting, and are we waiting on the only One who can fill our empty souls?

Psalm 62:5-8 (ESV): “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him, He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”

 

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Grace that brings freedom

Earlier this summer we celebrated the fourth of July, commemorating our country’s independence as a nation. We all love gathering together with friends and family for backyard BBQ’s and fireworks, but I noticed another trend popping up on social media. More discussion is centering around our freedom as individuals, specifically as believers in Jesus Christ. True freedom is indeed spiritual, something we must fight for, something others fight for on our behalf often before we realize the battle we are facing. Have you had a chance to reflect on those things? To be thankful for those who have paved the way not only for our safety, but for us educationally, financially, spiritually, relationally, or practically? Think of the mentors and friends who have labored on your behalf, whether that be teachers, college mates, siblings, parents, church leaders, etc. Our successes are not our own, but they are shared with those that have invested in us, in any way.

My story has been a fight for freedom. A fight to discover who I really am, what God is calling me to, and also learning how to fight for the freedom of those I love and anyone God brings into my path.

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The path to freedom is a fight that can only be fueled by the free gift of grace from God. This is such an important point, that I will always come back to! Relying on our own power and resources alone will never be enough to change us in a lasting way. There might be short-term victories, but true freedom is an uphill (but worthwhile) marathon. It is a glorious and noble endeavor; a small gate and a narrow road that leads to life, and only a few find it. {Matthew 7:14} I hope that as God continues to reveal his plan for this blog ministry and gives me words to share, you will be inspired to fight well in the power of Christ, for the freedom that is our birthright as his beloved children.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

What does all this have to do with a health and wellness blog, you might be asking? Our spiritual condition is deeply connected with every other aspect of our being! Spiritual issues are often tied to physical, relational, and even financial issues. No matter what area God is helping you address in your life, the ultimate goal is that we know him more deeply, and live into the deepest understanding of grace, love, freedom and peace possible, things that he died that we might know. Doesn’t that sound like something worth fighting for?

God is the only one that can bring true peace and freedom to our hearts. There is much strife going on in our world and in our country today, but no matter who wins and loses in the cultural wars we face, we all must turn to God for the freedom we truly crave. Will you open up to him today? Will you crack open the door to a new world of possibility, of freedom, peace, joy, hope and love? Despite what you have seen from Christians, myself or others, turn to God. We falter, but relationship with Jesus can be more than you’ve ever imagined. He offered himself up for you, so that you could live and walk in abundant freedom. That gift is yours for the taking, if you will accept it. (I’m smiling now, because I know that His love is irresistible, and I’m hoping that will soon become apparent in your life if it is not already!)

For all those reasons, now is a great time to launch my new blog. The season we are in has been hard, but I have found that hard seasons force us to either fight, or give up. I know that many have been fighting for us in prayer, through encouragement, and in numerous practical ways.  This inspires us to keep fighting to hope, trust, and believe in the goodness of a God who allows hardship for our good and his glory. God continues to surprise us with unexpected graces even as we wait on his guidance forward. I am thankful that God has strengthened us to continue fighting for each other’s hearts, as well. What a privilege to walk closely beside someone you treasure, learning more about their heart and what makes them who they are.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite sections of Scripture. Ephesians 1-3 shows us so beautifully how our fight to grow in grace is only made possible by the finished work of Jesus Christ. My hope is that this blog will always point back to Jesus Christ as the power, motivation, and purpose for everything we do and say. To him be the glory forever and ever!

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:1-10 (HCSB)

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