Friday, August 18, 2017

Ride Free


When our children were younger they loved to ride their bicycles. We lived in the country down a small paved road.  Not too far from our home was 'the hill', a sharp and uphill portion of the road which took extreme effort to climb but the ride down was something they loved to do.  

As a young mom, I was fearful for their safety as they were flying down that hill on their bikes. A million 'what if's would go through my mind, what if a car is coming around the curve, what if they are going too fast and crash, on and on I would worry and they would race past me loving the thrill of the ride. Sometimes I even asked them to put the brakes on while going down so they didn't go too fast!  

Through the years, the boys grew up and no longer ride bicycles. We moved away from that road but still have family close to there.  Recently the youngest son was mowing a family member's grass and while waiting for him, I brought my bicycle and went for a ride on that same road.  As I approached 'the hill', headed downward it was so much fun!  The speed, the breeze, the feeling of being free made for a great 30 seconds of bliss!  A few more miles of easy riding were enjoyed before headed back and up the hill.  It's much more difficult going up!  But, slow and steady and pushing pedal after pedal, I made it.  

It's funny how time changes your perspective.  I learned as life went by that worse things than skinned knees from falling off a bike would happen. Trials, heartache, disappointments, joys contentment, love would all flow together in life.  Good times and times of challenge will share the ride of life. 

This month we embrace a new season of life. The youngest son is now driving.  As a mom, I"m not needed anymore to drive him where he needs to go, he can get there himself. This morning, I enjoyed my coffee and devotion reading while he got ready and left for school.  Then took a bicycle ride myself!  Although I miss not being needed, I'm going to enjoy some of the freedom that is coming!

Every season has its own shares of ups and downs.  Like the bike ride, we get on and go, we hit easy paths, challenging hills and downhill bursts of joy.  When God is our pilot, we can trust Him to guide us in and through every season of life.  The 'what if's of life will drive us crazy and bring anxiety to our lives if we dwell on them. Trusting in God enables us to hit those hills with His strength, to fly free in the good times, to trust and not fight against the seasons of life.  Wherever you are today, ride free...God's is in control! 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Jump Start Weight Loss



We've all been there...one night, we jump on the scale and see it has risen some.  A plan is immediately formed in the mind, 'tomorrow, I'm going to do better.'  No more - sodas, sweets, breads, whatever that weakness is.  As tomorrow comes, hunger, temptation and availability can quickly squash those healthy plans!

Here is a way to set yourself up for success with some dietitian-approved tips to jump-start weight loss.

1. MAKE YOUR FOOD BEAUTIFUL

We eat with our eyes as much as we do with our mouths! Instead of throwing veggies into a bowl, plate them with care, cut them in new ways and pick lots of colors. Take that extra step to enjoy the process of eating healthy options.

2. DON’T SKIP MEALS

To jump-start weight loss (and maintain it!), get your hunger in check by choosing satiating meals and snacks every three to four hours. For optimal hunger control, aim to have meals and snacks that contain both protein and fiber–two nutrients that have serious staying power.”

3. MEAL PREP IN ADVANCE

Pre-slice vegetables and fruits, and keep in air-tight containers at eye level in the front of your fridge. They should be the first items you see when you need a quick snack. Having pre-sliced veggies makes it easier to whip up omelets, salads, casseroles and soups. If you feel you pressed for time to slice your own fruits and veggies, most grocery stores sell them pre-sliced from their kitchens. 

4. MAKE HEALTHY FOOD VISIBLE

Display fruit on your kitchen countertop, whether it’s in a pretty bowl or on a decorative cake stand. Whenever you want a snack, you’ll see the fruit first and hopefully reach for that.

5. PACK NUTRITIOUS SNACKS

Bring a small snack to work, and eat it 30 minutes before you begin your commute home. This will curb the insatiable hunger, preventing a trip through the drive-thru. It will also make dinner preparation or last-minute stops at the grocery store so much more bearable! My favorite options are almonds or a Greek yogurt.

6. DO WEEKLY WEIGHT CHECKS

Once you start making changes, you are probably agitated to see the numbers go down quick, but obsessing with the scale on a daily basis won’t help. Instead, it’s better to give it a week–the rule of thumb is to weigh yourself every week using the same scale, preferably in the morning.

7. POWER UP BREAKFAST WITH PROTEIN

Make sure to enjoy a balanced breakfast packed with protein. It will help to keep your energy levels up all morning and may also help you snack less later in the day.”

8. EAT YOUR VEGGIES FIRST

Veggies fill you up not out!

9. DRINK MORE WATER

Our bodies need lots of water to keep our energy levels up, undergo regular digestion, etc. Drinking water before meals may also help to curb hunger and keep you satisfied before, after or during a meal.

10. SET A SMALL, REASONABLE GOAL, ONE GOAL AT A TIME

You can easily get discouraged if you can’t reach the big goals you set for yourself. Choose one goal at a time, and once that feels easy and routine, set your sights on a new goal. Slow and steady always wins the race!

Trying new tips, finding the ones that work for you is the way to move into a healthier lifestyle. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Litttle Breathing Room

Our annual vacation discussion began like always..."where do you want to go?"  Being a beach girl, you know my standard answer...the beach! But sweet hubby is tired of the heat and humidity of summer plus sand and crowds are not his idea of relaxing.  Watching Shark Week didn't help my weak attempt to plea for a beach vacation either!

Back and forth our discussions went until the beginning  of school was fast approaching.  Dates were cleared with our jobs and plans were quickly made to spend a week in the mountains.  I dearly love the beach, but there is something equally majestic about the mountains.  We arrived at the cabin to find the back porch overlooked this gorgeous view.




After a day of adventure - my first time zip lining, and exploring hiking trails, creeks and walks I chose to spend the day at the cabin alone while the guys went golfing. After the initial thoughts of 'what am I going to do  all day by myself' I purposed to enjoy it.  Most of the morning was spent on the deck beholding the beauty of creation. It was a time to purposefully reflect on our God  who is the Creator. I pulled my Bible  back out and re-read the morning's devotion  which came from Psalms 24 - "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof." 




Freshness poured into my soul while simply sitting and reflecting on the goodness of  God. The sight of the mountain in front of me, the sounds of the birds, soft breezes and construction noises from somewhere below were an interesting combination. The noises were a gentle reminder that life and its noise  never stops. But, it's what I choose to hear and reflect on that makes the difference.



Of course we can't live on vacation.  It is  over way too soon, but just as memories of special times like this are cherished in our minds, a little breathing  room can make a world of difference  in our everyday lives. Sometime through every day, we can stop, breathe and bless God.  He is always there, a whispered prayer, concern or thought of gratitude in the midst of our busy routine can bring a breath of  freshness to the day.



We are encouraged in Scripture to  make the most of our time. Finding a little breathing room gives that bit of time to refocus. To help pull us out of overwhelmed into a time to breathe in God's grace. Which in turn equips us to  pour out God's grace to those around us.  

Putting trust in the Lord enables us to ward off panic, worry and anxiety. Recalling and meditating on His Word that is filled with promises helps keep that focus. When waves of uncertainty are filling us up, the power of God's Word is like a breath of fresh air, to clear out the doubts, and to instead fill the heart with faith.  God is good, He is all knowing, all powerful and able to be trusted. He is greater than our fears and anxieties. 

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.  Psalm 46:1 NKJV

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?  Psalms 27:1-2

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  John 14:27




May you take time today to squeeze in some breathing room.  It will change your day!




Thursday, August 10, 2017

When the First Day of School Isn't Facebook Perfect

Today is the first day of school in our area.  My Facebook feed is filled with beautiful little children all dressed up, smiles on their face, ready to begin a new year of learning and growth.  The emotions of their mothers range from tears at releasing that sweet little one to jubilant joy for a little down time in their lives.  But the common bond mothers share is that time goes by so fast. "Where did the time go?" is the question that each mom wonders. 

Reflecting back on some of my 'first day of schools' as a parent was fun!  I remember dropping my firstborn off with a toddler in tow, the first time I took them both to school and has some time to myself. Another baby came after they were well in the school years, those days were cherished spending the day at home with a baby.  When at last the baby went to school, it was emotional but opened up the door to work outside the home.  There is such a huge range of emotions through the years.  Words used to sum it up over the years would include - lonely, relaxing, busy, quiet, restful, anxious, excited, refreshing from one spectrum to the other has been covered!

This morning, the youngest is entering 11th grade.  It is a time when time with them is rapidly dwindling down and the need to pour into them and equip them for life is overwhelming.  Our first day of school today was no where near picture perfect.  Along the drive, my motherly advice on how to be the best you can be, to begin the new year with a great attitude was met with stoic silence and the teenager look of sheer boredom.  When I brought up the subject of a back to school picture, the idea was quickly shot down.  

So off to school for him and off to work for me. All those adorable pictures looked back at me, one after another.  How I miss those days when the children are younger and accept the mother's nurturing.  But, there is the time for them to grow, to be independent, to make mistakes and grow from them and to experience life out from mom's hovering care.  Instead of nurturing, this is the season of life to support, pray and encourage independence. 


In my office, I looked up on  a shelf and found a devotional calendar from years ago.  It had not been turned to in years.  Deciding to flip it to today's date, here was the most beautiful message:

"My mother was the source from which I derived the guiding principles of my life."  John Wesley


What a beautiful reminder of the timeless influence a mother has.  Seasons of life may change, but our influence remains for life.  So, it's back to school for us again, no picture but a purpose to influence and encourage and equip a future responsible adult to be. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

It's Almost Pumpkin Time!



Have you seen the cute graphic floating around - "only 2 more months til its pumpkin everything?

Image may contain: text and food

Yes, that is me!  My favorite home decorating store - Kirklands, released their new fall collection today, it's way too early, but I feel fall fever coming on!

A recipe caught my eye, Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies...wow!  There's a lot of goodness in just the title!  Here is the recipe:

Preheat over to 350F Degrees

2 1/2 c. all purpose flour*
2 tsp. baking soda
1 (3.4-3.56 oz) box of pumpkin spice pudding (dry)
1 1/2 stick of butter, softened
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. honey
1 1/2 c. of chocolate chunks

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and pumpkin spice pudding mix- set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, cream together (on medium speed) butter and both sugars until fluffy (about 5 minutes). Then add eggs, one at time, followed by vanilla and honey. Scrape down sides. Then reduce to low speed and add dry ingredients. Combine until just incorporated. Finally fold in chocolate chips .

Line baking sheet with baking mat, aluminum foil, parchment or wax paper. Scoop out 1 1/2-2 inch, cookie dough balls onto sheet.  Space the cookies 2 inches apart. Slightly flatten the cookies using the palm of your hand. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.