Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mommy Monday- Dairy Free

At my LO's two month appointment, her pediatrician and I discussed her fussiness. He suggested a milk protein intolerance and asked for a poopy diaper. He administered the test and it came back positive where she had tons of microscopic blood in her poop. That was the beginning of my milk free diet.

At first it was very overwhelming and I did not know where to even start. I love milk, cheese, and everything associated with milk. I started out talking to a friend of mine who I knew was dairy and soy free because of her daughter. She showed me the Deliciously Dairy Free Facebook group. I highly suggest it to anyone who has to or voluntarily become dairy free. They are very helpful and make you feel at ease. Another website that I found helpful also guided me through grocery shopping or going out to eat.

Through this process I have learned how much milk is in things. Milk is in most snacks and treats that I eat. Here is a website that was very helpful for me concerning this.
Here is also other snacks that are dairy free that I have enjoyed
Nature Valley (anything that does not have chocolate)
Anything gummies (such as Fiber One's)
Rice Cakes (Only get Apple Cinnamon or Carmel corn)

Cereals was also another shocker for me. I have kept it mostly safe by just keeping with the ones I am most sure about. My favorites are Chex of course along with Cheerios (the basic kinds though).

For milk I have used Rice Dream which is actually very good. I was surprised that it did taste so good. Soy milk is good but I was told by my friend that it messes with your hormones. That is why I picked rice milk. Of course there is almond milk or coconut milk but I have never tried those yet.

Bread was kinda hard at first because on most nutrition labels, they say there could be traces of milk or made in the same bakery as milk. So I had to find something different. One lady on the Facebook group recommended Rudi's. It is a little expensive; so I don't buy it too often maybe twice a month.

For cheese I tried two kinds. First I tried a soy based cheese called Vegan Gourmet which to be honest was very good. Now it does not melt together like real cheese which brothers some people. It did not bother me though. But I decided to not go for soy and had to find a dairy and soy free cheese. The Facebook group talked a lot about Daiya Cheese. I went out and got it and tried it on my shrimp pizza. It does melt more like normal cheese but not as much as everyone seems to be excited about. It sort has the same taste as the powder cheese that you get when you make mac and cheese. I think it was better that second time I ate it though.

For butter I chose the first thing I saw at the store which is Earth Balance. To me it just tastes like butter so that was not that big of a deal.

For the fun stuff such as chocolate, ice cream or coffee creamer I have tried various things. For chocolate, I found at the Giant store Enjoy Life Chocolate bars. They tasted like chocolate but the texture is a little harder and chalk like but most definitely fixes my chocolate cravings. For ice cream, I tried some ice cream sandwiches from So Delicious. The after taste tasted like soy. It also has a icey texture to it  but it still does taste good. I also get my creamer from them which is amazing. When I go out for coffee, I just ask for a ice coffee with a flavoring or sugar and add my own coffee creamer or rice milk to it. It takes planning ahead but well worth it.

So has it been worth it being dairy free for my LO? Yes it has. I have experienced new tastes which I have always enjoyed. But also my LO has gotten a lot less fussy which has been nice. She is more predictable for now : )

Friday, November 28, 2014

Favorite Friday_ Advent Calendar

In one of my many jobs, I took care of teenagers. We had many many hours to find things to do. As staff we had to be creative to keep them from getting bored. So for Christmas for two years we made advent calendars made out of match boxes. We got like ten match boxes for a dollar at Wal-Mart. Than we got some wrapping paper. That is it! From there with their creativity, each kid who wanted to got to make one. As soon as they were complete, I filled the boxes with small individually wrapped candy like tootsie rolls or jolly ranchers or gum. In random boxes, I made out tiny slips of paper that either had a verse on it for the Christmas season or something nice they had to do for someone else. Maybe one or two of them actually did what they said but that was ok. It was so fun to see what the kids came up with and how they enjoyed making them even if they did not admit it. 

Here is a link where I got some inspiration. Of course googling always works too : )

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Devo

Wars. Uncertainties. Fears. These aspects of everyday life haunt us. The U.S is at war with terrorists and our country struggles with a low economy. As individuals we are at war with ourselves. We struggle to figure out what is right everyday while battling with our own uncertainties and fears. We are unsure what tomorrow will bring or how uncertain situations will work out. Whatever our fears, we are at war.
I read William Bradford's proclamation for Thanksgiving. Governor Bradford and the Pilgrims were also at war physically and spiritually. Through their first winter in 1620, after they arrived in America, they suffered a harsh winter loosing more than half of their people. As spring was approaching, they had many uncertainties and fears concerning their new life because of the brutal circumstances they had already faced. They were also at war with the Native Americans. The very moment the men reached land, the Natives were there to defend their land. Things were not looking good for the Pilgrims. But the example Bradford showed dealing with his fears and uncertainties revealed through his reflection on thanksgiving of God’s mercy.
On March 17, 1621, God was merciful to him and the Pilgrims with a Native American named Squanto. He too experienced war in his own life by being taken away from his family and becoming a slave. When Squanto returned 10 years later his family and entire tribe was gone. But by the mercy of God, through being enslaved and being away from his family, he was able to meet a nice British family who took him in and taught him English. He also was sold to friars, but they told him about Jesus and then let him go. Because of his interactions with many European people, while also holding onto his Indian ways, Squanto was able to save the Pilgrims. He showed them how to plant corn in an effective way, how to build better houses, and how to communicate and trade with the Natives. Bradford and Squanto were able to celebrate their thankfulness of God’s mercy through their times of uncertainties and fears. As Bradford stated, “and fearing the Lord should take notice under so many intimations of his returning mercy, we should be found an insensible people, as not standing before Him with Thanksgiving, as well as leading him with our complaints in the time of pressing afflictions.” Through our life of war, we too can be thankful for God’s mercy. 

There is a passage about God’s mercy in Psalm 136. The author, David, states that God’s mercy endures forever. As I continue to read God’s Word, I can see how numerous parts of the Bible connect to each other. Psalm 136 does too. The first three verses say:
"Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
    For His mercy endures forever.
Oh, give thanks to the God of gods!
    For His mercy endures forever.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords!
    For His mercy endures forever"
These verses give us the reason we celebrate Thanksgiving, which is to give thanks to our God for His goodness. Verses 4-9:
"To Him who alone does great wonders,
    For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who by wisdom made the heavens,
    For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who laid out the earth above the waters,
    For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who made great lights,
    For His mercy endures forever—
The sun to rule by day,
    For His mercy endures forever;
The moon and stars to rule by night,
    For His mercy endures forever
These verses refer to the beginning in the first book of Genesis, praising and reflecting on how God is our Creator and how His mercy holds the world together.
In God’s chosen nation, Isreal, the story unfolds in verses 10-22. In summary, these verses start at the beginning in the second book of the Bible, Exodus, where God’s “strong hand and outstretched arm” struck down the Egyptians and brought His people out of Egypt into the wilderness. It continues telling us Pharaoh came after the Israelites, but God’s mercy saved them with the parting of the Red Sea. God mercy is shown when Isreal is able to “strike down great kings” and gain their Promise Land.
The last 4 verses of Psalm 136 show us concerning God’s mercy.
"Who remembered us in our lowly state,
    For His mercy endures forever;
24 And rescued us from our enemies,
    For His mercy endures forever;
25 Who gives food to all flesh,
    For His mercy endures forever.
26 Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven!
    For His mercy endures forever.
We have fears and uncertainties which bring us to lowly states and cause us to fear our enemies, but in these verses God’s mercy endures forever.
 So, today we should reflect on giving thanks for God’s mercy in our own lives. Let us give thanks knowing we don’t have to fight this war of uncertainties and fears alone. Psalm 136 shows us a God who takes care of the ones He loves. And as William Bradford quoted from Romans 12:2, “…by the mercies of God we may all…offer up our bodies and souls as a living and acceptable service unto God by Jesus Christ”. That’s it! By the mercy of God, we can say yes to Jesus and no longer fight the battles of knowing when to do right or wrong. We need to let go of our fears and uncertainties, giving ourselves to Jesus who came and died, not because we earned it, or even deserved it, but because of His mercy and love towards us. Let us give thanks that His mercy does endure forever.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Top 5 Tuesday- What I Am Thankful For

I am thankful for:
5)The ability to express myself with words
Ever since I watched Harriet the Spy, I have always enjoyed writing. I have started many stories (which, of course, never got finished) and have written in whatever journal I could get my hands on since I was 12. I believe it is a gift God has given me in order to glorify Him by blessing others. I hope to get better as I continue to write more and more. I hope one day I get to write a book or be a contributor to a book.

4) The experiences I have had in life: the jobs I've had and the places I have been
My dad was in the Air Force until I was 16 years old. Through those 16 years, I lived in many different countries including England and Turkey. Even after my family settled down when my dad retired, I then moved on to 4 other places. These have helped shape me to be the person I am today. Traveling from place to place has made me more flexible and more family-oriented. As I have grown, I have had to move because of jobs. Once, I worked a job where I had to travel around the East Coast setting up a three screen multi-media production in schools that told kids the choices they made today affected their tomorrow. I have also worked at a group home. In both places, I could clearly see how God was working in me. Without those experiences, I would not be the daughter, wife, daughter-in-law, or mom that I am today.
3)My Husband and LO (Little One)
My husband and I met seven years ago, and it was a God thing. We compliment each other and because of that he challenges me everyday to be the best help meet for him. It is so exciting to see how God has used our relationship to make us both grow. I am thankful that he takes seriously providing for our family in order that I might be a stay at home mom. His unique sense of humor makes me laugh. He is my man!
My LO has rocked my world! She is a gift from God. She has such a spunky personality for 4 months. When she smiles and turns her head in glee, it melts my heart every time. I am so excited that God gave her to me to mold and teach her to be a better person than I am. 
I love both of them to death and would do anything for them.
2) My Family
My family is my rock. We have been through thick and thin. They were the only ones who loved and accepted me as we moved from place to place. Because of that, we are super close. We did everything together! I am a daddy's girl. I would have rather watched and learned from him working on the car than going to shop class. He is the level-headed one in our family : ) My mom is my constant companion. We are both so opinionated. I don't know how dad handles us : ) My big little brother is my constant friend even though I am such a bad sister and don't call him as much as I should. I am so proud of him and have always been jealous of his creativity and numerous giftings. Love you guys.
1) God's Grace
I am NOTHING apart from the grace of God. It is through His grace that I am able to make it day by day. It is His grace that made me see I am a horrible self-centered person, but that He loves me all the same. I am so thankful that Christ came on this earth to die for me and conquered death through raising from the dead that His grace would be bestowed upon me. I only write because of His grace. I have been to all the places I have been and have had the jobs that I have had because of His grace. I am the wife and mother that I am because of His grace. I have the family that I have because of His grace. Who I am is because of His grace. I am thankful for that.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mommy Monday- My Mom

In preparing for this week, I have been thinking about the holidays. Unlike our society, I have been thinking about Thanksgiving and what I am thankful for in my life. So since today is Mommy Monday, I wanted to write a blog on my why I am thankful for my mom.

I am thankful that my mom and I are close

I am thankful that my mom is always a phone call away

I am thankful that, even though we don't always agree, we have never stopped talking to each other

I am thankful that through our relationship we both have become teachable

I am thankful that through our relationship we have seen God's grace

I am thankful for the things my mom has taught me

I am thankful for that she has never given up on me even when I didn't treat her nice

I am thankful that she goes the extra mile when trying to help me with something

I am thankful that around her I can be crazy and goofy and have tons of fun

I am thankful that she supports me in all that I do even if she does not agree with me

I am thankful that my LO has my mom for her grandma

I am thankful that she prays for me

I am thankful that through our relationship we can keep each other spiritually accountable even when one of us have a bad attitude

I am thankful that God planned before the foundation of the world that she was going to be my mom

I am thankful that God gave me the mom He did

Thanks mom for everything that you do for me. You always mean the very best for me.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Favorite Friday- Crockpot meals

Recently, a new favorite thing of mine is making crock-pot meals. Since my husband works in the food business, he eats at work. Crock-pot meals are super nice to have because they can last for two to three days. My ultimate goal was to find something my husband would like on the days he has off, but it ended up that I liked them more! I have tried three recipes so far which I would like to share with you.
Crock-pot Meal #1
This one I made up myself. All you need is:
  • 3 bone in chicken breasts
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 2 cans of white beans
  • half of pack of bacon
  • Italian seasoning (as much as you like)
Combine all the ingredients in the crock-pot and put on low all day. It will be ready by dinner time.
Crock-pot Meal #2
I got this one from someone else's blog
The only thing I changed on this was the steak sauce. I am currently milk free because of my little one and the steak sauce had traces of milk in it, which I did not realize when I brought it. Instead, I put 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth. It made it a little more soupy, which I wanted. Right before I served it, I added my 5 minute rice and allowed it to cook a little while. This thicken it up nicely. I served it with a side salad.
Crock-pot Meal #3
I got also got this one from the Taste of Home website.
Now, I will admit this was kinda disappointing the first time around. But, when I reheated it for the 2nd and 3rd time it tasted so much better. I think I did not like it at first because it had a strong I-am-eating-spaghetti taste to it which I don't like much at all. I think reheating it allowed the other flavors to mix and have a less tomato sauce taste. I used red peppers instead of green and did not add the celery.   

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Theme Thursday- Accountability

Accountability is one of the keys of success for meeting the goals we set for our kids (and even ourselves). It has always been exciting to see through the years how God has put people in my life to keep me accountable. They gave me so much wisdom and insight through the good and bad times. Their lives were examples to me on how I wanted to live my life. Their presence in my life has made me a better person, which in turn will help me meet the goals I have set for my LO. 

One of the most important people God put into my life at a very hard, but self-discovering time, was a lady named Jo. She taught me that despite my circumstances, God was still working in the here and the now. Just like Christ, she always put others first. Even with her busy schedule of being a mom, staying involved in church and struggling with health problems, Jo was always just a phone call away. She kept me focused on God instead of the bad attitude I was struggling with. Through our relationship, I was able to grow and realize that I was an angry person. When I was angry, I discovered there was a emotion behind the anger. When the people I worked with made me feel insignificant, instead of getting angry I saw how they treated me made me feel inadequate. Without God using Jo, I would have gone through another job struggling with my anger toward people whom I felt were mistreating me.

As a mom now, I have a group of ladies who are also moms that I get to hang out with twice a month. It was fascinating to see how God brought these ladies into my life. They were starting a mommy group, and I wanted to be involved with a group of like-minded people. Plus, my husband and I were trying to have a LO ourselves. Little did I know that after the first meeting, I got pregnant and was able to get a head start on motherhood. When the time came to have my LO, they were even there, always a phone call away. One particular lady had four c sections and was able to be there to help me through my own. They are such a huge encouragement to me. They challenge me to teach my little one the ways of God by beginning even now, despite her being only 4 months old. I know that I look forward to seeing them every time we meet and being blessed that God has given them to me.

God has shown me through the ladies in my life who have kept me accountable how to be accountable to others. First, I need to be intentional. I need to pray and step out in faith intentionally to that person He guides me to. If I am not intentional, it is so easy to just slack off. I know that the friend of mine with four c sections was intentional with me, especially during those countless times I was not able to answer the phone. I am thankful for her being intentional with me. Secondly, when I am keeping someone accountable I need to share with them the promises of God. He is the one that made this relationship happen. He deserves the credit. He is the one who knows my heart and this person's heart and how we can encourage each other. All of that is from His Word. It is His faithfulness to us and in return, our faithfulness to that other person. Thirdly, when we are in an accountability relationship, we have to depend on God and not the other person. That person is going to let us down--no doubt about it. They are as imperfect as we are. God is the only One who is perfect and reliable. In order to be there for someone, we need a God who is reliable and stable, especially when we feel unable to help that person.

So I challenge you to look at the people in your life, past and present, to see how they have challenged you to be a better person. In return, through those relationships, you can grow and be there for your own kids.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Wordless Wednesday


Monday, November 17, 2014

Top 5 Tuesday- influential verses

For this week's top 5, I have chosen to pick my top 5 verses that have influenced my life starting at 5 and counting down :)

5) Psalm 37:3 "Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness."
I meditate on this verse when I am in need of what to do in times when I feel frustrated about a situation or feel distant from God. It tells me that trusting in Him helps me to do good, but trusting also means dwelling and feeding on His faithfulness. I ask myself, "What did God do in another situation like this in the past?". Or, I dwell on times when I thought I was unable to go on and how He helped me in that situation and now it does not seem like a big deal. That is His faithfulness and when I dwell and feed on that, it helps me to trust in Him and proceed in doing good. It brings me so much peace and joy in those hard times reflecting on this truth.

4) James 1:2-6 "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind."
Trials are hard times in your life when things just don't go your way. They happen. It is just life, but what you do during those trials is what is important. If I can hold on to the fact that in and through a trial 1) there is a purpose for my trial, to make me perfected and complete and 2) that if I am clueless on what to do I can ask God for wisdom and He will give it to me. These verses are a command, but also a promise. All I have to do is go through these trials with joy and have faith that what God says through His Word (wisdom) will help me get through them. I have to confess, having joy is hard, but asking God for wisdom and seeing Him work through that makes it a little easier.

3) Psalm 32:8-9 "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you."
Life is not suppose to be me aimlessly wandering around with no purpose. But how can I remain focused on what my purpose is? I need to realize that God is instructing and teaching me in the way I should go. He is guiding me with His eye. I don't have to be clueless. He knows. He is leading me in the way I should go. But what is neat about God is He gives me a choice. I can make it hard and be stubborn like that horse or mule and fight Him or I can allow Him to guide me knowing that He sees what is ahead. It is kind of empowering when I let Him direct me.

2) 2 Samuel 22:31 "As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven;He is a shield to all who trust in Him."
This verse has gotten me through so much! For 5 years I waited to have a child. My husband wanted to wait to have a set income and be more establish. I have always wanted to be submissive or servant-like to my husband, even when I disagree because God has called me as a wife to do so (Ephesians 5:22). But it was so hard because I wanted a little one so much. Being a mommy was my dream job. So I had to trust in God to know that this was the way He had for me. It was perfect for me no matter how much I did not like it sometimes. How did I know His way was perfect? Because He showed me through His Word how reliable it is and how He is a shield for me when I trust in Him. I can say now with my little 4 month old that His way was perfect because of who I am now and how my husband is with her too. This is one of the ways He was so faithful to me. 

And now for #1... Psalm 139. 
I cannot pick just one verse in this chapter because there are so many good ones. This has become more real to me ever since my daughter was conceived. In verses 13 and 14a, it states that He knew her while she was being formed in my womb and was being fearfully and wonderfully made. What is even more amazing is in verse 16 that when her substance was yet to be completely formed, He had written down every single one of her days. He knew when she was going to be born. That she was going to be breech. That she was going to be a fireball. He knows when she is going to take her first step or say her first word. He knows when she is going to be disobedient. He knows when she is going to accept Him as her Lord and Savior. He knows what she will be when she grows up. Like it states in verses 2-4, He knows her sitting down and her rising up and her thoughts far off. It is freeing when I reflect on these verses to know that her father and I, no doubt, have a role in her life because He has written it down, but that also He is ultimately in control of her life. No detail is misplaced. No event is an accident. He knows it all. Scary, but also exciting. A big responsibility to teach her these things, but to know ultimately He will be glorified through her.     

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mommy Monday

I am a visual person. I have to see things in order to understand pretty much anything. That's why I have always loved a good music video. My favorite are the ones that tell a story or when the artist actually makes a video that has to do with the lyrics. I can't stand the abstract ones! I was thinking about this when I ran into a post on Facebook of the top ten Christian music videos of 2014. I recognized only one person on the entire list (I guess I have always enjoyed the "classics" not so much the Christian music today). But being a music video fan I had to check out some of them. Number two's title caught my eye, "When Crazy Kicks In" by Francesca Battestelli. So I watched it. It was absolutely perfect for all mommies out there! It definitely encouraged me to hold onto why I have quiet times with God, especially being a mom. See what you think.

Also check out her You Tube channel especially the song "This is the Stuff" 
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