Truly my soul waits for God; From Him
comes my salvation. He only is my rock
and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall
not be greatly moved.
Psalm 62: 1-2
Peace often comes in the tiny moments, with children. It can be a drink of hot tea, a sliver of silence, worship music, a deep breath, reading a devotional, a Scripture, a prayer. Peace can be being outside exploring, jogging by the beach or lake, watching the kids love & have fun with each other. Peace can be a moment my husband & I smile at each other, laugh or really hug. Peace can be a Scripture coming to mind or excitement for what another person is experiencing. Peace is recalling & trusting in the character of God & his promises. Peace is resting in His hands or simply opening your hands out towards Him. Peace is in not looking for more, but, relishing in who He is & what you have in Him.
Becoming, especially, a first time parent of a newborn, has a way of highlighting fears & insecurities you didn’t even know existed. I want people to be more honest & for moms to never feel alone when they question their ability to be a mother. I know I had moments, with our first, where I wondered if my lifelong desire to be a mom might have been misplaced. At times, I wondered if I really knew what I was doing or had what it takes. I don’t believe that anything can properly prepare you for the reality of having a newborn. I remember, so many times, thinking, “why didn’t anybody tell me this?” I felt almost slided that there was so much to pregnancy, birth, recovery, breastfeeding & sleep training that wasn’t more commonly spoke of. You just can’t fully understand the degree of challenges you’ll encounter until you are there. On the other hand, you cannot comprehend the inexplicable joy & love this bundle will bring to your life. The smilies, the thoughts, the prayers, the tears to your eyes from a new, pure love are innumerable. The awe that you have just staring at them. It’s an incredible opportunity to depend on Jesus. If you do it without Him, you’ll immediately feel like you are lacking. I can’t fully explain how miraculous & special newborns are. What they do to you, is change you. They add to your identity. They help you see life in a completely new way that almost makes you feel like a child again. You are learning & experiencing so many things for the first time, along with them. Remember grace dear mama, grace for yourself. Grace for you and your husband as you navigate these new waters. God gave you your specific child to be yours. Don’t be alone, reach out. I believe God wants parenthood to give you a greater depth of community. There are plenty of woman who have been where you are & so many willing, even hoping, to be there beside you. I know I love reminiscing about the newborn days.
Can “No” Be Kind?
We put so much pressure on ourselves as moms, don’t we? In a time where little kid birthday parties can look like they required a full year to plan and a bank loan, comparison comes easy. Ok, that may be exaggerating a bit, but you get my drift. Facebook is a huge means of comparison. We somehow forget that it’s not indicative of real, everyday life. Honestly, how often does or how long can your home look Pinterest perfect when you have small children living in them? That pressure translates into many facets of our mom and wife lives. Everyone has needs but not everyone’s needs are solely ours to fulfill. We extend ourselves so thin that there are days that I look at the clock and count down until I can crawl into bed. Are ya with me?
Saying “no,” can make us feel almost inferior or like we “should,” be able to juggle another obligation onto our already overflowing plate. Why don’t we feel ok with ourselves if we aren’t overloaded to the gills? Why is it so difficult to be honest and say that we are sinking right now and simply cannot take on an extra duty? I know not everyone struggles with saying no or feeling inferior, but I do, too often. It is possible to say no while being kind and compassionate. A lot of times we need to give ourselves permission, and not put unrealistic expectations on ourselves. We do it to ourselves. After all, we say more negative things to ourselves than anyone else does.
We are not failures if we don’t have the perfect home, children, marriage, if we don’t serve in a bunch of ministries, volunteer regularly, etc. There is no such thing as perfect since we are not Jesus. We are actually serving ourselves and our family better when we aren’t running on fumes. We can end up doing many things mediocre or more things wonderfully. Oh priorities, there you are again. There are people in our lives that require and deserve more than mediocre. We need to give ourselves permission to say no to some things. Then, we can give more of ourselves to the best and most important parts and people in our lives. Our marriages can only be put on the back burner so many times and our children will never be the age they are now, again. Truly believing these things will help you say no from a place without guilt or shame. There is so much freedom in that. Knowing you are not spreading yourself too thin and giving more to your most precious relationships will help the “no’s,” be kind. Release the mommy guilt. As a quote I’ve heard and bring to my own mind on a regular basis says, “I can have the courage to be bold and assertive while still being humble.” When playing a name game and finding an adjective that starts with the same letter of your name, mine was “timid Tiana.” Enough said, this is real for me. If you aren’t “bold Betty,” maybe you want to print out that quote and put it on your bathroom mirror. Say it out loud everyday until you believe it and see it working out in your life. Talk to Jesus about it. You can be grateful for saying “no.” There will be different seasons where you can do more of this or that. Make the most of yourself for your family. Besides, adding yet another thing to your calendar that you will do begrudgingly is not kind or honest. Do what you can with a pure heart that doesn’t cost those you dearly love.
-2 Handfuls of fresh basil
-1-2 cloves of garlic
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-4 Tablespoons of olive oil
-4 Tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon
-2 Tablespoons of water
-1-2 Tablespoons coconut aminos (you could substitute with honey), optional
-2 Tablespoons of whole, plain yogurt, optional
Throw everything in the blender & viola!
I’ve been trying to incorporate more herbs into our food. This is a nice dressing for a summer salad and the basil isn’t too overpowering. If you really like savory, leave out the coconut aminos/honey. If you like your dressing creamy, use the yogurt. It tastes great with or without the yogurt. I didn’t measure everything exactly, so, you might want to play with the amounts.
Are you one of those people who leap out of bed ready & excited to start the day, AKA a morning person? I am not . . . In the slightest. I’m pretty sure my morning stink eye displays this all too well. Having 2 young children who like to get up between 5:45-6:15am, I am now up early. Before kids, my idea of a pleasant time for rising, on a Saturday, would be 10am. This morning I was still laying in bed trying to get my son to stay a few more minutes before my feet had to hit the ground. Our daughter had already been in our room and then went out to the living room to play, or so I thought. Our son was just in the last few seconds of me staying horizontal when our daughter comes in and says, the very dreaded, “I went poo poo & pee pee in the living room.” A look of terror sweeps my face & my heart rate jumps up several beats. I think I even started to get a light sweat going on. Um, there’s no potty in the living room. I say, “what do you mean?” She just says that wretched statement again & I know I’m in trouble. I haven’t even brushed my teeth yet. I haven’t washed my face either & I most definitely have not had my tea. Low and behold, she has gone on the floor, in the living room. Good morning mama! I was traumatized for almost an hour. I truly couldn’t believe she went on the floor. What can ya do? There’s breakfast to be made, teeth to brush and a husband to get lunch made for work. Lucky me, the hubby was home & took the first half of clean up duty!
The morning improved dramatically & I had an instant heart change. I was in the bathroom & the kids were laying in our bed. I hear the absolute sweetest exchange going on between them. Y’all, my heart was mush. I was so proud of our daughter I could hardly stand it! She was praying with her little brother. She thanked Jesus for him(yes, for her brother. My heart turned to putty.), toys, animals, food, etc. She prayed for her dad and I. What a sweet, tender heart she has. Our son was shaking his head, in agreement, with each thing she prayed for. They are three & a half and one & a half. Oh my, so cute. Proud mommy moment was in full effect. Her little voice was enough to cause me to thank Jesus, simply for the gift of her, but wow, the prayer. The prayer, y’all! That was my, “in an instant.” In an instant my mind was no longer thinking about poop & pee. What’s a little(ok, a lot) of poo poo & pee pee when that happens?! Thank you, Jesus! All we could do was thank Him.
Today I took my children to the local library for preschool play and story time. They read Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses to the kids. I had my two kids and there were another 30+ kids so I didn’t get to listen to every word, but, I’ll can tell you the gist of it. The cat was having a grumpy sort of day, seeing the negative in everything. Then, Pete the cat gets his magic glasses and everything changes. He becomes an optimist and spreads his cheer to other animal friends along the way. This made me think about what we have available in Jesus. We have those “magic glasses,” in Him. It doesn’t always, or often, feel like it’s as easy as it might be to just put on a pair of glasses but, we have something so much greater. Jesus can change us. He is mighty. He can change our outlook, our attitude, our heart . . . If we let Him. That’s the hard part for me. I’m just always getting in my own way. Am I alone in that?
Okay, so, I’ve been getting my hands on a few projects lately. It’s fun to tinker around a bit and to try to channel some artsy fartsy into my life. Upcycle sort of pieces have started to arise from our garage. My poor husband, you should see our garage. I shut it as quickly as possible so my neighbors don’t think we are hoarders or something. If I can get some free or inexpensive furniture type stuff on Craigslist while only needing a few things from Home Depot, why not? Right? It’s kind of fun . . . most of the time anyhow. I’m 100% the no nonsense, novice type of DIY-er. If it’s too involved, I quickly say to myself, “not going to happen.” I’m nothing like my cousin at www.thejollyjames.blogspot.com! She’s Aaaa-mazing! Her talent has me in awe! Seriously guys, she could turn DIY or interior decorating into a full time career. She could be on one of those decorating tv shows. Back to the beginner though. . . That’s me.
I picked up a free ladder courtesy of a craigslist posting. All I did was sand and stain it. Remember the no nonsense part? ? I’ve thought of several ways to use it. I’m not sure what I like the best yet. What do you think? It could be used in the kids room to hold blankets and little things. The living room for throw blankets and such. It could be used in the bedroom for scarves, belts and those sort of accessories. It could be hung on the wall, probably horizontally. That creates a shelf, as a way to highlight pictures or knick knacks for a gallery wall or just to be an extra frame piece to add pizazz to framed pictures. The picture with the frames in it takes a little imagination to think about what nice, matching frames and pictures would look like floating in the negative space of the ladder. So, what’s your vote? I’d love to hear!
These muffins can be changed up in several ways. Add whatever kind of fruit you like. I always use ripe, brown spotted bananas for the sweetness and also add anything from strawberries to figs. You can also use any kinds of nuts or seeds that you desire. I usually use sunflower seeds because they are pretty cost effective and also add some healthy fats and protein. You could also put some nut butter instead of nuts or seeds. I don’t use any sugar, but, if you need some extra you can use your choice of honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc. Lately I have had these in my fridge pretty much at all times. It’s a nice, easy, clean snack for the kiddos. When the kids take their afternoon nap, I love having a muffin and hot tea. I make these muffins in my blender. I’m sure they could be done in a mixer.
- 2 and a half Cups of Rolled Oats
- handful of greens (kale, spinach, power greens, etc.)
- 1t of Baking Soda
- 2t of Baking Powder
- 4T Chia Seeds (optional)
- 3-5T Nuts or Seeds (presoak them for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight, if you wish or have trouble with digesting nuts/seeds.)
- 1/2 Cup of Unsweetened Applesauce
- 1 Cup of Plain Yogurt or your choice of (dairy or dairy free) Milk
- 1-2 Ripe Bananas with brown spots
- 1/2-1 Cup Fruit of your choice (I often use frozen strawberries, cranberries, figs or whatever fruit I have on hand. I still have goji berries on my list to try in the muffins.)
- 2 Eggs
- 2T Butter, Ghee or Oil
- 1/2 cup Honey, Maple Syrup, Coconut Sugar if needed (I only use a little sweetener if I know we’ll have guests eating them that might want sweeter muffins)
- Put all the dry ingredients in your blender. That would be the rolled oats, greens, baking soda, baking powder, chia seeds and nuts/seeds. After those ingredients are ground up then you can add the wet ingredients. That’s all the remaining ingredients.
- Put into muffin/cupcake tins and place in pre-heated 375 degree oven for 25-40 minutes. The bake time is the tough part here. My oven takes 40 minutes but, I know other peoples ovens have been finished just before 30 minutes. You might have to check them every few minutes after 25 minutes the first time you bake them to get a good idea of what time is best for your oven.
- Let cool enough to eat, spread a little butter, ghee, coconut oil, jam or nut butter on top and enjoy!
* If you use milk instead of yogurt and your batter is a little runny, just let the batter sit for 5-10 minutes and it will thicken. Conversely, if your batter is too thick, add a little bit of filtered water(half a cup at a time) until you get the desired consistency.
Making coconut milk from shredded coconut is pretty simple. The longest part is waiting for your water to cool so you can put it in the blender. I just start it when I’ll be doing other things in the kitchen. It’s more economical than buying the boxes of coconut milk. Making your own also alleviates the concern of added ingredients like carrageenan or anything else. If you have a Trader Joe’s close to you, you can get a bag of organic shredded coconut for $1.99 right now. Target also has organic shredded coconut for a good price. Here are the steps:
- Bring 2 and a half cups of water to an almost boil.
- Add 2 cups of shredded coconut.
- Let cool and dump into the blender. Blend for about 30 seconds or so.
- Dump into a nut bag(in picture below) or something similar and squeeze out all the water/coconut milk back into your pot and then into the container you want to store it in.
- Repeat the steps 1 through 4 again with the same shreds you already used.
I will then freeze the shreds, after I have used them the two times to make my milk, for smoothies. I save a lot of glass jars that we buy from applesauce, pickles, etc. to use for things like my coconut milk, freezing beans, smoothies for the kids, etc. Sometimes the coconut milk will have small parts that solidify in the fridge. Those are super yummy to eat. My daughter and I love to eat them. I mostly use coconut milk for my hot tea and when the hot tea mixes with the milk, it melts wonderfully. I think it taste better than any coconut milk that I’ve tasted from a box and t’s a little creamier. Yum!
Im very happy with the size and usability of my nut bag. I bought it here:
*there are some affiliate links. If you purchase through these links I may get to add a few coins to my kids piggy banks. This won’t charge you any extra than it would if you went straight to the site to purchase yourself. We thank you in advance for your support!
I use Viglink for my affiliate links.
I have had Coconut Aminos on my list for a long time as something to try. Let me just tell you, I should have tried it long ago! Yum-o! The label says it’s more of a soy sauce replacement. I’d describe it as being between a soy and teriyaki sauce replacement. It’s sweet, but super low in sugar. The story of the company I bought the aminos from say it’s a brother and sister who had diabetic parents and were inspired to make products that are diabetic friendly. Kind of sweet, right? And, sweet it tastes! My husband can attest to it’s yumminess. I was wondering if I might need to hide the bottle so it wasn’t gone in a week. I like to make chicken in the crock pot sometimes, especially when I’m shredding it. I don’t know about you, but, I always feel like our chicken goes further when I shred it. Next time I’ll make a double batch and freeze half for another time. If you don’t want to do lettuce wraps or get tired of them, it’d be good with rice also.
For the filling:
- 1- 1 and a 1/3 lb chicken ( I did breast tenders but, whatever you fancy I’m sure will work)
- 1 (8oz) can water chestnuts, drained and diced
- 1/2 cup diced carrots
- 2 tsp fresh ginger minced or jarred ginger
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼-1/3 cup coconut aminos
- Lettuce leaves (butter lettuce, romaine hearts or iceberg lettuce work well)
mix together equal parts of coconut aminos and dijon mustard.
- Add the chicken, coconut aminos, ginger and garlic to the crock pot. Cook on low for 2 hours, let cool and shred chicken. I like don’t like my veggies getting soggy and don’t know if water chestnuts do, so, I add the carrots and water chestnuts toward the end. I only cook them with the chicken for the last 30-45 minutes. If you don’t care about crispy veggies, toss them in with everything else all together. Cook an additional half hour to an hour on low before you’re ready to eat.
- Scoop mixture onto lettuce leaves. If desired, dip in dipping sauce.
* I’ve found some places for Coconut Aminos to be quite expensive. The best price I’ve found so far is Azure Standard. The next best Sprout’s & Amazon is significantly more. I’m hoping Amazon with have more competitive pricing soon for aminos.