Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Anytime Fruits



One of the greatest healthy habits established in our home was to eat more fruit. As we began to seek healthier habits, we learned breakfast is very important and should never be skipped.  I don't like to eat until I've been up a few hours, but I knew something needed to be ate for health benefits. Fruit became the answer,  it was easily digested and fulfilled that portion of a healthy diet. 

I was thrilled when sweet hubby jumped on board with some morning fruit. He is super disciplined and has an awesome morning routine.  Fruits are on the list and citrus is his favorite type of fruit - every day.  I love variety and different types of fruits every day works great for me.  In late summer, citrus fruits are getting scarce and sweet hubby has to adapt some!  

I found this list of the healthiest fruits that can be found year round.  The plan is to keep these fruits always available for our morning fruit ritual!

Bananas
The United States imports bananas throughout the year—mostly from nearby Central America—making them "in season" no matter the season.  Research shows that bananas fuel workout performance just as well as sports drinks do—and they provide more health-boosting fiber, potassium, and vitamin B6. Mix up a banana smoothie or eat the fruit whole with some peanut butter for an energy boost that lasts for hours,

Avocados
Avocados (classified as fruits due to their pits) come from California year round and contain more than 20 vitamins and minerals—including potassium, fiber, and vitamin C—along with a healthy dose of unsaturated fatty acids, 

Frozen Raspberries
Raspberries are among the healthiest foods you can eat, period. Plus, they're packed with antioxidants. Even though the berries do have a short season (peaking in late June and done by early August), you can eat them no matter the season, thanks to your freezer. Because they are picked and sealed at the height of their freshness, frozen raspberries actually have higher antioxidant levels than do never-frozen varieties.

Apples
pples are a fall favorite, hitting their peak ripeness between August and November, but they're available all year long, thanks to cold storage.

Tomatoes
It used to be that summer tomatoes were red, juicy, and altogether amazing—while winter crops were basically just colorless mush. But with an increase in commercial greenhouse farming across the U.S., it's easier than ever to get them all year long..

Dried Apricots
Studies show that the antioxidants contained in dried fruits are significantly more potent than those found in their hydrated counterparts. Dried apricots are the perfect fruit to throw in your trail mix, cereal, or eat by themselves before your workout.

Lemons
The lemon is available year round, but how often do you think to pick up a few at the market? A little lemon here and there can give your day a healthy dose of flavor. Adding a few squeezed lemon slices to your water can add flavor to help you increase your daily water intake, and lemons also contain the electrolytes that your body needs mid- and post-workout.



Monday, July 17, 2017

Women's Ministry - More Than Coffee and Chocolate


Women in the church....when we gather together, what fun it is to share common bonds, families, books, fun and lots of life stories we can relate to.  This is a place where friendships are formed, families are bound together by the common bond of Christ and lifelong friendships can be made. Women's groups can make one feel welcome and provide a variety of support, service and plain ole fun.  

As wonderful as those qualities that knit us together are, our foundation must be stronger than our feelings and emotions. Our Lord is the one who created us, He knows our greatest needs and has great purpose for each of us. As women gather together in His name, some helpful pillars will hold us up and equip us to be women of God. 

THE 4 PILLARS OF WOMEN’S MINISTRY:

1. STUDY – Providing women the opportunity to study God's Word.
2 Timothy 3:16-17(ESV), “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

2. SERVICE – Offering and equipping women the opportunity to serve others.  
Doing so together, as the body of Christ, builds unity, encourages growth, and develops relationship. 1 Peter 4:10 (ESV), “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”

3. SUPPORT – There are time when women need a safe place to find biblically sound support. .
In a world of hidden hurts, women in a variety of seasons of life need support and encouragement that is based on the Word of God. This could come in the form of support groups such as DivorceCare and GriefShare, mentoring, or interest groups such as MOPS. Ecclesiastes 4:10 (ESV), “For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”

4. SOCIAL – Women benefit from regularly meeting together with other Christians. 
Offer opportunities for Christian friendships to form and mature by meeting regularly. Hebrews 10:25 (ESV), “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

When church gatherings bring women together, may we keep these pillars in mind. As we ponder and practice building on these foundations, some beautiful things will happen:

  • These pillars will work together – and build on each other..
  • Your Bible study group will naturally support the women in the group.
  • Your fellowship event may offer both a service and a social component.



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Infused Waters


As a child growing up, my family wasn't very traditional - in any area!  Even our meals were nothing like 'normal' families.  My mother had a way of doing things all her own and if it worked for her, it worked for all of us!  She loved to drink her soda.  Fresca in the can - all day long!  I'm going with the line of thinking that back then, the dangers of soda were not realized, especially since that was what we were raised on - soda all day long. 

After I got married and had a home and family of my own, I quickly gained the understanding that soda was not a feasible  daily drink - cost wise or nutrition wise. My husband and children loved sweet tea, but I'm just not a tea drinker. Lemonade worked for years, then the benefits of drinking water led me to try to begin that healthy habit.  

But I found that water is just bland!  No taste, no excitement, no fizz, nothing.  Back then the only option of spicing up the taste of water was by adding lemons.  Forcing myself to begin drinking water with meals, then adding a glass during the day eventually led to one of my greatest victories in healthy living.  Drinking only water (and a cup of coffee in the morning!). 

Now there is an abundance of creative ways to drink water.  Fruit infused water is one way to add a variety of flavor and the possibilities are endless!  Here are a few easy ideas to try to give your water some pep!

1. Cucumber Mint
Thinly slice one cucumber. Peel if it isn’t organic! Add the sliced cucumbers to a 1/2 gallon glass jar. Add 8 fresh mint leaves, muddled (squeezed to get  the most flavor), and fill with filtered water. Stir gently and place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

2. Citrus Blueberry
Slice two organic oranges into thin slices (leave the rind on for better flavor). Add sliced oranges and 1 cup of blueberries to a gallon-size glass jar. Add filtered water to fill the jar and stir gently. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and store in refrigerator.

3. Pineapple Mint
Peel and thinly slice about 1/4 of a pineapple. The more thinly sliced the pineapple, the more flavor it will infuse. Add to a 1/2 gallon-size glass jar with 10-12 leaves of fresh mint, muddled. Add filtered water to fill and stir until well mixed. Store in refrigerator.

4. Watermelon Basil
Add about 2 cups of finely chopped fresh watermelon (without rind) to a gallon-size glass jar. Add 15 leaves of muddled basil and filtered water to fill. Store in fridge and allow at least 4 hours to infuse.

5. Strawberry Lemon
Like strawberry lemonade, but better! Add 15 fresh strawberries, washed and finely sliced to a 1/2 gallon glass jar. Add one sliced lemon with rind on. Fill with water. Let sit 4 hours (to overnight) in fridge and enjoy.

6. Cherry Lime
Reminiscent of Cherry Limeade, minus the sugar coma. Add two cups of fresh cherries, cut in half, and one fresh lime, sliced into thin slices, to a gallon-size glass jar. Add water to fill. Mix gently and store in fridge until ready to drink.

7. Grapefruit Raspberry
Add one grapefruit, thinly sliced with rind on, to a gallon-size glass jar. Then add 1/2 cup fresh raspberries, muddled slightly. Add water and mix well. Store in fridge for at least 4 hours before drinking.

8. Mango Pineapple
Peel and thinly slice one fresh mango. Add to 1/2 gallon glass jar. Add 1 cup of finely chopped pineapple and filtered water. Allow to infuse in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours before drinking.

9. Grape Orange
Place 2 cups of organic grapes, sliced in half, into a gallon-size glass jar. Add one orange, thinly sliced with rind on. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

Go ahead and make up a pitcher of flavored water.  Make it your goal to drink it through the day.  Those are some steps to a better and more healthy hydrated you!


Monday, July 10, 2017

Lead... Who Me?



I'm not a leader....I'm too timid to tell others what to do, to make my point known, and I do everything possible to avoid confrontation - none of which are leadership qualifications.

When we think of the word “leader” it is easy to put into the same context as the word “boss” or “supervisor” or “CEO.” and we usually turn away and run. But leadership is behavior, and it is possible in any context.  Leadership can be done at home with your family, on the job, in the community, in church positions. 

Titus 2 is a foundational Scripture passage for women.  "Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,  so that they may [a]encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,  to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored." It is not age specific, we are all 'older' than someone and are able to influence and guide someone 'younger' than us.  Leadership is based on influence and make no mistake about it, we all influence someone, the question is how are we influencing them?

 Anyone, no matter what position they hold, can step up and behave like a leader when leadership is called for.  This kind of ability isn’t given to you, you seize the opportunity—you recognize a need and you fill the need effectively.

A fascinating change has occurred in my attitude towards leadership.  Through the past few years, instead of avoiding it, I cautiously began to look into the subject. Some church ministries I am involved in have offered (or demanded!) growth in this area. As I began learning more about leadership, it wasn't as intimidating as I imagined!  Instead of having to be mean, assertive, bossy and up front, it provided the opportunity to connect deeper with others in a manner that had the ability to draw them out and allow them to be the best they can  be.  An added benefit is our personal growth. As we grow, we become more confident and seek to be the best we can be.  Leadership can encompass beautiful things such as adding value to others, learning to listen with the heart to understand others, to guide and make ways smoother, communication better, to seek one the good of one another. It is a fascinating subject that when embraced becomes a valuable lifestyle. It is surely a gift worth opening to look into! 

Where to begin? What does it take to be a good leader?  Here are a few thoughts: 

1.    It takes awareness.  You must be aware of the need for leadership.  For example, if there is a fire in your home and someone needs to calmly help people get to safety, there is a strong need for someone to take charge and lead others with the calm and organized and sensitive manner that is required. What situations arise around you that need someone to lead?

2.    It takes good communication skills.  Being a leader is about being clear and concise.  Leadership communications are inspiring, and insightful.  They should inform, motivate, guide or direct, but also invite further discussion.  Even an introvert like myself can grow in these areas.  These are learned skills that perfect the more they are practiced. 

3.    It takes humility.  Being a leader means doesn’t mean that it is all about you all the time.  There are many times when a good leader puts others first and builds them up to lead in their own way.  There are also times when the leader must recognize what he/she does not know, and must learn from others.  A good leader knows their strengths and weaknesses.  They use their strengths but seek out those who are better in those areas of weakness than they are. If creativity, organization, compassion, preparation are not your gifts, surround yourself with those who do have the gift. Working together bring all of our strengths to the table to be used. 

4.    It takes consistency.  If you only take a leadership position or action once, others may appreciate it but won’t necessarily think of you as a leader.  However, if you take a leadership position or action again and again, others will see that pattern and will begin to think of you as a leader.  For example, if there is a difficult student or client that your team members encounter often, and you make it clear that you are available to help, people respect you and appreciate you for that.  In time, they even come expect it of you as a leader in this area. Find something that you like to do and do it well. That is how leadership is born. 

5.    It takes a positive attitude.  Leaders believe in others and in the fact that positive outlook and behavior can make a difference.  They aren’t naive about difficult situations, but they do believe that those situations can be managed towards a good outcome. An eye and an attitude to see things not as they are but as they can be can make all the difference in the world. Everyone has value and gifts that are waiting to be unwrapped. Every person has a desire to make a difference.  May we find and help them to discover how to do that. 

Currently I"m intentionally seeking resources to grow in the knowledge of leadership.  There are many inspiring and interesting books, articles, podcasts that assist in growing and learning.  I'll be sharing more in the days to come what inspires me and can in turn inspire you. 

But be encouraged to open the lid to the subject of leadership.  Pray and be open to the areas God would have you to be a godly influence over. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Summer Camp


As a child, I never went to summer camp. The fear of spending the night away from home hindered me from getting a glimpse of the fun and blessings that come from camp. When our boys were smaller, our church began a small church camp. They expressed an interest in going and went; and then went every year they were age eligible!  After their age limit came for a camper, they continued on to be camp counselors. 
A friend talked me into becoming a camp counselor one year for the girls cabin. I decided to go and have continued going every year for over 10 years now! Camp week isn't a vacation, but has lots of time away from the stresses of everyday life. It is a ministry time, a time to form relationships and for the children to take in and grow in the Lord. A time to grow closer to one another and meet new friends. To enjoy simple pleasures like ice cream cones, put-put golf, swimming, meals, riding in the back of trucks, lots of walking. Trying new things like paddle boarding, having fun on water slides, truly connecting with the campers. 
This year's camp was one of the best.  There was a great group of kids, a wonderful co-counselor and many sweet memories made.  Here are a few pics from the week:

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Here is a sweet memory...my co counselor and myself and our sons who were junior counselors for the boys cabin. Although they did sneak over a few times to visit their mama's...and get a few snacks!

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Camp week - one of the highlights of summer for our family. Who says ministry cannot be fun?