One at a Time…

The day after Christmas….relaxing and recovering from a busy day. It was a wonderful day with family. We began our day at our house with our own traditions…presents, Christmas morning breakfast, and lazily taking our time to get ready. This year, we had a little surprise thrown into the mix….electrical issues in the kitchen. At least it waited until after the pancakes and sausage were done!

Then, we headed to my parents’ house for more Christmas joy. We enjoyed family dinner, family Christmas photos, desserts, and presents. If there is one tradition that has carried on from when I was a child, it is the “one at a time” opening presents rule. Presents are passed out to one individual at a time and then opened one at a time so everyone can see who received what. It’s a stark contrast from the way my husband’s family does Christmas presents….everyone tears in at the same time in a flurry of paper tearing chaos. I have to say, I don’t think one way or the other is right or wrong in terms of opening Christmas presents.

In our home, we practice the “one at a time” method with our own children. It does take longer, but it allows for the joy of the Christmas festivities to last just a little longer.

When applied to life, I think the “one at a time” method usually works best. Taking life one day at a time and not knowing what lies ahead is not easy, but definitely usually the least stressful. I am learning to worry less and pray more although I still have a lot of room for growth! As 2015 is soon upon me, I think I will try harder to live out the “one at a time” way of living.

I’m still debating whether that applies to chocolate…

Chocolate

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Joy in an Imperfect World

It’s Christmas Eve, and as I sit here and type on my computer, I can hear the rain beating against the chimney outside. Last year, we were under about 12 inches of snow. Ohio’s weather is crazy. Life is like the weather….unpredictable. Life can change in the matter of seconds. It is filled with moments of joy and moments of suffering.

On Christmas Eve, I take a moment and reflect on the birth of my Savior, Jesus Christ….the moment of joy when He entered our world, born in the most humble of ways in a manger. Despite how unpredictable life may be, I know that my Savior, the Light of the World, is always there by my side. He is there to guide me through this imperfect world.

Not only is this world imperfect, I am filled with imperfections. Just like the molasses cookies I made a few weeks ago (henceforth the importance of sifting coconut flour) that were filled with spots of imperfections, my life is filled with imperfections. I’m not always patient. I can’t carry a tune. I’m in my 30s and still struggle with acne. I have food sensitivities making me a challenge (or pain) to go out to eat with. I am far from perfect yet my Heavenly Father loves me. He gave me the gift of His Son to guide me through this imperfect world.

imperfections

My life is like this cookie. Despite its less than perfect appearance, it still tasted delicious with a cup of coffee or tea. My life, despite my inward and outward imperfections, can be filled with joy if I so choose. On this Christmas Eve, I am choosing joy. I choose to have hope, faith, love, and joy despite the imperfections of life. I am looking forward to Christmas dinner with my family. I have learned to bring side dishes and desserts I can eat. The chocolate avocado pudding is ready to go for tomorrow.

This  Christmas accept your imperfections and choose joy. Merry Christmas!

Choosing Joy

 

Bright Red Lips

Bright red lips. On my face. And no, I wasn’t sampling a new shade of lipstick. I was dealing with a horrible food reaction that inflamed my lips and caused the skin to flake and peel all around my mouth. I would have taken a photo, but I don’t really want to remember that horrible image. I almost wore a mask at work (I work in healthcare, so it would have been acceptable), but  I didn’t. Those bright red lips made me extremely self-conscious. It all seemed to start with my tuna reaction, then aggravated by a reaction to a new skin care product, and then further aggravated by excessive coffee intake and stress.

I sat in church last Sunday and decided to put on some lip balm, a natural brand. I wanted to fly out of that pew….the peppermint burned so intense. So, I mentally added peppermint skin products to the “Do Not Use” list. Fortunately, I have found another all natural lip product I like without peppermint oil from The Fresh Market.

Favorite Lip balm

I also tried a home remedy of avocado oil and beet sugar. It created a pretty, yellowish scrub for my lips which really seemed to help with the healing.

natural face maskThe bright red lips faded to my normal pink color by Tuesday, but a couple days later, the skin began to flake again. Frustrated. That’s how I felt. I don’t understand why I have to deal with food and skin issues. I am trying to be compliant with my diet restrictions. I recently visited my nutritionist, and I faithfully take my supplements. Yes, I realize it’s the holiday season which creates additional stress at work and home. And additional food temptations. All of these things affect how I feel.

On  Sunday, as I sat at church with the burning lips, I listened to the words of my pastor as he reminded me to learn to trust God daily. If God has helped me through some major crises in my life, surely He will help me through my bright red lip situation.  He uses the big and the small stuff. Maybe there is a lesson even in my bright red lips.

 

Perspective (and my Favorite Breakfast to go)

Perspective…what does that mean to you? Is the glass half full or half empty? Every moment of every day, I have the opportunity to choose how to react to what comes my way. I have stored away numerous quotes in the crevices of my mind to remind me of this very thing. One of my favorite…. I can’t control the actions of others, but  I can control how I react to the actions of others.

It’s Christmastime…what better time to reflect on my perspective of life around me. I  can choose to be wrapped up in the commercial aspect of Christmas, or I can choose to not allow the stress of excessive gift buying to overwhelm me and then send the message of commercialism to my children. I can pout inside when I see those around me indulging in Christmas goodies that I can not.

Instead, I can appreciate the things I am still able to enjoy. Like yesterday at work, a kind and thoughtful, also gluten-free, co-worker brought me a gluten-free Christmas cookie she had baked over the weekend. Living with food allergies and intolerances is a pain. It’s a pain to go out to eat. It’s a pain to go to a potluck whether it be at church or work. When I started my new job, it was a pain to explain to everyone why I couldn’t eat something they offered to me. Yes, those things are all a pain. Yet, if I choose to look at it with another perspective, I see things through different eyes…

I have learned a healthier eating lifestyle. I have witnessed the genuine love and concern of my husband and children as I went through my long ordeal and resulting food issues. I have met a friend through my nutritionist. I have grown closer to God by learning to trust Him deeper. I have been drawn back to writing and was also inspired to go back to school to get my Master’s degree. The entire experience allowed me to pause and examine my life.

Ahh…perspective. I believe God wants me to look at things through a Heavenly perspective and not an earthly perspective. Not always an easy thing to do, but I hold to this verse: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

And now, a little visual of perspective:

Are these over-ripened bananas or the perfect breakfast?

Pictures Fall 2013-Fall 2014 089I choose the second!

My favorite Paleo Banana Breakfast Bar to Go:

2 very ripe bananas

2 eggs

1/2 cup nut butter

1/3 cup coconut flour, sifted

1/4 cup almond milk

Chocolate chips (optional but good!)

Mix together in a food processor until smooth.

Pour into a greased 8×8 glass baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow to cool and cut into about 4 bars. Breakfast to go!

Pictures Fall 2013-Fall 2014 105 Pictures Fall 2013-Fall 2014 108

The Comparison Trap

Do you ever find yourself in that trap…you know that comparison trap? I find myself there far too often. Someone is always prettier, thinner, smarter, has the better job, never seems to struggle. It’s not a good place to find myself, and I don’t think it’s a place God wants me to fall into.

It’s a dangerous place to be for so many reasons:

1. It undermines the unique person God created me to be.

2. I find myself feeling sorry for myself.

3. I focus on things that truly don’t matter and deserve my focus.

The truth is, I know things aren’t as they often seem. People are good at putting up facades. Sometimes the people who I think have it all together are fighting their own battles. For me…I can’t eat the stuff everyone else can. My skin isn’t as clear as I wish it was. I’m not where I want to be professionally in my career. My writing isn’t where I wish it was. And on and on.

On the radio the other day, I heard a reminder that God works while we are waiting. His plan for my life is uniquely mine. No one else is designed quite like me. Me with all my frustrating food issues, imperfect skin, voice that can’t carry a tune….He loves me. He created me to have a heart toward the elderly residents I serve, a gift to express myself in words, and the ability to emphasize with others who struggle with food issues.

How amazing to think that the God who created all the stars, no two snowflakes alike, the beautiful butterflies…created me, too. I need to keep my eyes and focus on Him.

Galatians verse

Letting Go…

I’ve been in a quandary over this for a little while. It seems like a simple decision, but it’s one that I am having some difficulty with. It involves letting go.

Let me digress….I’ve never been very athletic. When I was in 7th grade, I lost weight through diet and simple exercise. When I was in 8th grade, I ran track because my friend asked me to. (I ended up with a bloody knee during a practice, and I still have a faint scar to remember it by!) In high school, I played club soccer because another friend who had recently moved to the area missed soccer and wanted to start a team. We needed players, she recruited friends, and I played. I enjoy physical activity, but I am no athlete. Yet, a few years ago when I became ill (see my About post), I needed an outlet, something to relieve my frustration and fear. So, I began running. Running is not anything I ever did beyond the mile in track. But, I began running. I ran in all forms of weather. I enjoyed the solo runs-just me, my thoughts, and my Heavenly Father.

To be honest, if I look back, I know running was also a way to keep my weight down. When I was ill and battling through my issues, I teetered barely above 100 pounds. I wasn’t able to eat a lot, and when I did, I burned it off quickly due to the infection. Yet, running served as my sanity and release. I couldn’t control what was happening to my body, but I could control to a certain extent how I felt through running. It gave me a purpose to wake up early and hit the pavement. I loved to run. I ran multiple 5Ks. I’ve ran 10Ks. I loved to run.

On multiple visits to see my nutritionist, she has voiced that she would rather I walk due to everything my body has been through. I have always protested telling her how much I love running. Only, lately, I’m not so sure I do.

The other day, I was running. The cold air felt refreshing, but the way I felt running did not. Lately, it kind of feels like my body is being jarred out of place when I run. It’s hard to explain. I have chronic colitis, and the running seems to aggravate my symptoms at times.

So, I struggle….do I want to, should I, do I need to take a break from running, give it up all together? I have several friends who run. I have no issue with running. I am not here to debate the running versus walking debate. This is completely about me and what is best for me. So, why then is it so hard? Why not just take up walking?

I love to walk. In fact, before I began running, I walked regularly. What I think is the lesson for me here, is a lesson in letting go. I looked at running as a way to control what I could not control.I used it to control my weight. I used it to control my emotions. It was something I never thought I was able to do, yet I did it.

If I am truly going to submit to God’s will for my life and what is personally best for me, then I need to submit and let go of the things that are standing in the way between Him and me. I think my own steps are. I believe we have seasons in our lives. Running was a season.

running

My running shoes need a new name: my walking shoes. Trying to run to lose weight or look like someone I am not created to be is not what God wants for my life. I can no longer hide behind running. It’s time to let go.

Is there anything you need to let go of today?