whitebible

The Daily Devotional Age

12th September 2016

whitebibleI’m sure you’ve been there – your quiet time hasn’t been very consistent, you’re not sure which book of the Bible to turn to next, and you keep thinking, “If I could just find a good daily devotional book, I would be a lot more disciplined.” If you’re like me, you may look around a bit, download a few apps, subscribe to some blogs, attempt to find a nice devotional book, and maybe even read it most days. But there’s a really big problem here I’m afraid we are missing.

Why is the pure word of God not enough for us?

I get it. I’m right there. Sometimes I don’t feel my brain has the capacity to wade through scripture I often don’t understand. I’d rather read a great devotional with two or three verses I can really cling to, followed by a solid word from a speaker or author I trust. Are these studies inherently wrong? I definitely don’t think so. There are a lot of men and women I trust who produce great devotional material; the problem lies when we are completely forsaking our Bibles in place of another study. Here are the real reasons we like devotionals so much: we live in a culture that boths caters to and feeds our desire to be merely entertained, and someone else has already done the work for us. Not only do we not have to narrow down a book of the Bible to go through, but we don’t even have to read an entire book of the Bible. We’re drawn to devotionals that include feel-good, encouraging verses, that hardly require us to exercise any deep thought. They’re short, they’re nicely worded, they’re maybe even funny, and we’d rather hear someone else’s thoughts on the Scriptures than put in the work to hear from the Lord ourselves. Truthfully, we’ve become so incredibly lazy that not only do we struggle deciding where to read, but we don’t really want to form our own thoughts on the subject, either. We are stuck in a day and age marked by a Christian cultural that does not truly know their Bibles, and we try instead to be filled by worship songs, fluffy devotionals, journaling, and if you’re like me, anything that can at least momentarily nourish the need for truth.

Trust me, I fully understand how difficult it can seem to decide where to read next, and then to actually follow through with that plan. I was the girl, who for the first several years of her faith, literally opened the Bible and read wherever it fell. I constructed my faith around verses that uplifted me and made me feel rejuvenated, and at the end of the day, I did not know the Word of God. I knew the pieces of an enormous puzzle that happened to strike me as pretty, because they said something about me as a person. I was reading Scripture not to learn more about an awe-inspiring, unmatched Creator, but to validate some sort of misplaced longing for identity – which was more in myself than Jesus. And this is, sadly, how we’re taught to interact with scripture – “how does this passage apply to my life?” is the question we’re told to ask, instead of, “what does the passage teach me about God’s character?” I’m going to be a bit cliche and use my personal favorite example, but here’s a common verse we use to pamper ourselves instead of being moved by the power of our Savior: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13. Tell me friend, do you know what Philippians 4:12 says? Do you know why Paul said these words? Believe it or not, he was not competing in an athletic event (forgive my snarkiness – I have to joke somewhere). While Paul wrote these words, he sat in prison for his faithfulness to Jesus. Prior to the ever-famous words in verse 13, he penned these: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” This is incredibly important. This passage is a prime example of how we pick and choose scripture to fit our ever-changing whims. Here, Paul is professing the source of his joy to be Christ, regardless of whether he is starving, naked, impoverished, or abundantly blessed, while we are slapping this mantra (often being as irreverent and selfish as simply quoting “I can do all things”) onto any task we feel we need some extra self-produced “oomph” to overcome. And we don’t just do it with this verse. We’re doing it all over Scripture because we have no comprehension of the overarching biblical narrative or the profound glory of God, because we’re too busy trying to make the scriptures “apply to us.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m ashamed of this. We wonder why the non-Christian world often sees us as silly, ignorant, passionless fools, and the answer lies in our embarrassing lack of Biblical knowledge. There is hope though, dear reader, because the same loving author who provided these words also beckons us to come learn about His majesty through them. Scripture reading is truly a discipline. There are simply passages that are easier to process, and it is a fight to possess the diligence to spend time in books that aren’t quite so catchy to us. It a worthy fight though, friends. Your favorite pastor is not your salvation. You most beloved author is not your glory and sanctification. Your journaling and coloring are not the source of your grace and mercy. There can be immense learning and conviction through avenues like podcasts, daily readings, worship through song and art, and online articles, and they can certainly have their place alongside a well-established Bible reading plan, but they should not serve as our main source of spiritual nourishment. We have been avoiding this topic too long in Christian circles and are becoming increasingly more blind to who Jesus is. What a sad thing it would be to stand before our Savior on the day of His return and feel as is you’d never learned anything about him.

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If you’re coming from a place of virtually never spending time in the Word, receive grace, friend. Start with something more palatable like one of Paul’s letters, and soak up their rich truth, but be aware of their context. Search first for what the words reveal about the character of the Father, then secondarily understand what that means for your daily life – we have too often completely avoided the former in search of the latter, but we cannot understand who we are without first seeking to understand who made us. Salvation is much too serious for us to keep neglecting our Bibles in search of something that is easier and makes us feel better. When the Holy Spirit is working in your heart during your time of reading, you may not end your time feeling more uplifted than you do convicted, and that’s a good thing. Never should you end your Bible study time feeling guilty and hopeless, for that is not the work of the Spirit, but we are too hungry for shallow encouragement and not longing deeply enough for the revelation of our own sin.

I want you to walk away from this feeling empowered to spend time with Jesus, not shamed because you haven’t been doing so. But we have to fall reverently, hopelessly in love with the Word of God if we want to be molded and used by Him. Jen Wilkin says it this way, “the heart cannot love what the mind does not know” (from Women of the Word, pg 31 – a MUST read book, by the way). Better yet, the scriptures themselves say it this way, “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). We cannot worship a God we don’t know, and we cannot know God apart from his Word. Yes, the Lord can reveal himself through other people, through songs, through nature, through dreams, and frankly however he chooses, but the view we have of God must always be in line with who He says He is in His Word, or it is not true. I love the way my pastor often puts it – if I tell my spouse I am enamored with his gorgeous blonde hair and blue eyes, that would seem like a lovely compliment, but here’s the issue: my husband has dark hair and hazel eyes. We have to stop doing this to Jesus. He will not be reduced to mindless, false worship of a god we’d like him to be, rather than who He really is.

Get in the Word today, friends. Start with 5 minutes a day if you need. Busyness is not a valid excuse – there are Bible apps, and reading a passage of scripture will take you the same amount of time as reading a daily devotional chapter. Work up to spending lengthy times studying the Word if you have to, but begin practicing a reverent, purposeful time of Bible-meditating. I cannot express the difference in my own faith from making this switch, and while I have to rely on Jesus to pull me back to Himself daily, He does, and usually through Scripture. I heard a testimony recently, of a woman with a painful past and recently lost her husband, who professed that her time with Jesus was not optional. And it isn’t, friends. We cannot wait for tragedy to strike before we deem it necessary to pursue the Lord. What a beautiful thing it is to serve a Savior who longs for us. Rejoice in that love and abide in it, reader.

 

 

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lonely

You’ve Got an Autoimmune Disease, Now What?

29th August 2016

lonely

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with an Autoimmune Disorder, or if you’ve experienced chronic issues with no answers or relief, you may wonder what in the world to do next. It can feel extremely overwhelming to embark on a complete diet and lifestyle change when you have no idea where to start. I felt the same way when my journey began, and luckily I had great resources passed onto me, otherwise my healing process would have taken much longer. I’m guessing if you’re reading this, you’re sick. And you’re fed up with feeling bad all the time, with no assistance from the Western medical community. You’re tired of wasted doctors appointment, cancelled plans, sick days, unexplained, weird symptoms, and not feeling one hundred percent.

First, let me say there is healing available. Second, you are not alone in your struggles. There are people who have gone before you and found incredible relief. It’s not an easy change, but it is absolutely worth it. Don’t be afraid to pursue your body’s best – food, stress, and disease do not have to define you and you can live a full life. Without any more fluff, here is my step-by-step guide to getting started putting autoimmune disease into remission. I am not a doctor. As recommended in the steps below, please find a capable physician to assist you in your journey.

  1. Before you do anything else, it is imperative to eliminate gluten and dairy from your diet. (Why? Click here for gluten and here for dairy). If you feel the need to ease in and do one at a time, start with gluten. This post and this post are both amazing guides to getting started cutting gluten. Gluten and dairy issues have become so prevalent that most products will contain a certified gluten- or dairy-free stamp, but you should definitely educate yourself on where it is typically found. Here is my personal comprehensive guide to going dairy-free. At the end of the day, gluten and dairy are very easy to avoid and a much-needed start to your healing experience. It may seem overwhelming if you’re used to the SAD (Standard American Diet), but it is probably easier than you think to adjust to these dietary changes.
  2. Start a probiotic. If you’re not already taking a daily probiotic, you need to be! I use this brand and currently take one with every meal. Just be sure to find a brand without any potential allergens. Before you are able to consult with your physician on dosage, one per day is probably a good place to start. Probiotics help put good bacteria back in your stomach, contribute to leaky-gut healing (a phenomenon found in all AI disease), and aid in recovering from antibiotics (the over-use of which can be a huge factor in causing and flaring autoimmune disease). Read more about probiotics here.
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  3. Look for a functional medicine (or naturopath/holistic) doctor. While you can make great strides by mere diet and lifestyle changes, it’s beneficial to have a professional walking with you. Unfortunately, conventional medicine does not offer much help for chronic issues, and working with a holistic doctor is absolutely crucial. With that said, they are certainly more expensive, but the long-term benefits prove well worth it. Most people’s disease(s) require seeing several specialists, but the beauty of a holistic doctor is they’re just that- holistic. I went from having a PCP, a neurologist, and endocrinologist to just having one doctor; this definitely helps save money and limits the amount of time I spend in a doctor’s office. If you need to save cash and/or wait for an appointment, there is quite a bit you can do to get started in the meantime (starting with the above steps and working your way through the other tips!). Here is a great website to search for a certified functional medicine practitioner; here is another for a naturopath; here is one more for holistic doctors. If all else fails, take to googling your area for some variation of these medical titles. There are also countless doctors who offer Skype or phone consultations if you have difficulty finding someone local – Dr. Justin and The Paleo Mom are two well-known figures in the autoimmune world that offer online services.
  4. Arm yourself with the best resources. My favorite books are:
    • The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook by Mickey Trescott – provides the what, why, and how of the AIP diet along with delicious, healing recipes to get started.
    • The Healing Kitchen by Sarah Ballantyne – gives an amazingly detailed breakdown of micronutrients and how they play into your body’s function and healing, as well as 150+ drool-worthy recipes, combined into easy meal plans to suit individual needs (batch-cooking, minimal ingredients, busy lifestyle, etc).
    • The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne – this is a must-have. It is a detailed scientific look into autoimmunity, and while thorough, it can be a lifesaver. This book is actually how I discovered some hinderances to my own healing, as it provides a great troubleshooting section, checklists for optimal recovery, and an explanation of why a multi-faceted approach is crucial (getting enough sleep, reducing stress, eliminating triggers, etc). Especially if you’re somewhat skeptical to why all of these puzzle pieces are important, this is the book for you.
    • He Won’t Know It’s Paleo by Breanna Emmitt – this cookbook provides all your favorite recipes in autoimmune form and is the first AIP cookbook I recommend. Well worth the money to help you comfortably transition.
    •  My favorite blogs and podcasts are:
    • The Paleo Mom
    • Autoimmune-Paleo
    • Pheonix Helix (blog and podcast)
    • Beyond Wellness (podcast)
    • Grazed and Enthused
  5. Learn the common lies of the health industry. This was a big stumbling block for me at first. I grew up believing Splenda was comparatively good for you, red meat was typically bad, boneless and skinless chicken was the best meat to consume, fat was a no-no, and that whole grains and dairy were necessary for a balanced diet. None of this is true, and it takes some adjusting (read this article for a ranking of meat quality, this article on why good fats are your friend, and this one for an argument against grains for Autoimmuners). Whole foods need to be your focus, and the rest will fall into place. Avoid anything with additives or non-nutritive/refined sweeteners (for example, honey, molasses, and pure maple syrup are okay in moderation; artificial sweeteners and brown sugar are not). If you’re ready for the next dietary step, take out soy, all grains (including corn) and sugar.
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  6.  When you feel ready, dive into a Paleo diet, and eventually (or even immediately) into an Autoimmune Paleo diet. The Paleo diet eliminates grains (including corn), dairy, soy, legumes (including peanuts), refined and artificial sugar, processed foods, alcohol, and seed and vegetable oils. The AIP also cuts out eggs, nightshades, seeds, nuts, coffee, and chocolate (there is a lot of science behind the reasoning, here, which I won’t go into detail on. The gist is these foods can all contribute to inflammation and are the most common autoimmune triggers. Here’s one article on why you should cut out nuts and seeds in particular). The AIP diet is not meant to last forever – it is an elimination diet to help you discover what foods are bothering you; I, for example, have successfully reintroduced some coffee, chocolate, eggs, and some nuts and seeds, but with that said, you have to follow the diet to a tee in order to reap the benefits. Here is my guide to getting started with AIP. Pinterest is also a great resource for Paleo and AIP recipes and how-tos. You can find my profile here, if you’d like to check out the pins I’ve saved under my AIP and AIP Reintros/Paleo boards. Alternatively (or better yet, additionally), start keeping a food and symptom diary. It is very important to track what you eat and what sort of reactions you have to eventually piece together your trigger foods, especially if you’re not diving into full AIP to begin with. Whatever you decide, ensure that your diet is very nutrient-dense. This means focusing primarily on quality seafood, meats, and vegetables (with specific attention to fatty fish, bone broth and other offal sources, and leafy greens), supplemented with good fats like coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, etc and fruits. Personally, I have found adding 1-2 scoop of collegen peptides to a drink every day, eating a green veggie with every meal, and consuming bone broth 3+ times per week to be very beneficial. You can reference the above-mentioned blogs for more detailed info regarding the AIP.
  7. Consider working with an acupuncturist who practices NAET allergy treatment. This is hands-down the most efficient way to find your food sensitivities. Your practitioner can very quickly test for food intolerances and help you heal them as well. You can read more about the practice and process on their website; I can’t recommend it enough. I have watched my son lose several food sensitivities through this treatment, and while I am only about 4 treatments in, I have already been treated for and healed of my intolerance to eggs, as well as lost several other food sensitivities. There are several articles discussing the inefficiency of food sensitivity testing via bloodwork, which is another reason why NAET is a great option. If this option doesn’t suit you, stick to a food dairy and listen to your body. I’ve found I have deep intuition on foods that are harming me. Even if you do not wish to do NAET, acupuncture and chiropractic care can provide great pain relief.
  8. Address healing holistically. Diet is a fundamental starting point, but it is not the only area needing attention. Prioritizing sleep and adequate exercise (as well as avoiding over-exercising), along with actively working to reduce stressors are all essential for healing. I highly recommend implementing a pre-bedtime routine, if you do not already have one, that completely excludes technology and involves peaceful things like reading, having a quiet time, doing light yoga, coloring, journaling, praying, etc. A consistent and early bedtime has also made a huge difference in my personal healing. I find that even if I can sleep in, going to bed later than 10:30pm leaves me feeling miserable the next day. Make sure you’re also regularly working out and performing exercises you enjoy. Yoga has shown great benefits, especially to the AI community, but participate in what makes you feel good – if you like it, you’ll keep doing it. Sometimes, my workouts simply involve a 30 minute walk 4-5 times a week, while I learn my body’s physical limitations. As far as reducing stressors, find practical ways to ease your mind. If you’re over-committed, drop some obligations and don’t be afraid to say “no.” If you’re overwhelmed with housework, start a daily cleaning schedule to keep up with cleanliness without doing too much at one time. Obviously, stress can manifest itself in a myriad of ways – address your own causes and find ways to fix them. I also love Stress Away, Lavender, and Joy essential oils to add with epsom salt to a hot bath, diffuse, massage on, or simply smell. Getting outside every day is an ideal goal to have, as well – Vitamin D is a big component for healing!
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  9. Find support. Unfortunately, autoimmune disease is prevalent enough that you most likely know several other sufferers. If you can, find someone who can embark on this journey with you; if you can’t find anyone who is participating in an AIP or Paleo lifestyle, dive into what community you can find, in order to have friends to discuss your victories and defeats with. I cannot explain how joyful, challenged, and uplifted I have been by amazing, Godly community (you can read about my journey from loneliness to friendship here). We have been blessed with a wonderful community group through our church, and they fill my heart with endless joy. This healing is as much spiritual and emotional as it is physical.

Thank you so much for reading, friends. I pray this helps you on your journey to healing and wellness. I am not a medical practitioner and I urge you to find one who can sincerely help and listen, but I do hope this provides a starting point. These are the measures that have helped me become 100% symptom free, as long as I stay away from trigger foods and manage sleep and stress well. Please feel free to reach out to me with questions!

 

 

 

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hash4

Sweet and Savory Comfort Hash

23rd August 2016

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It’s no secret I’m obsessed with hash. My favorite meals are those where you can mix each item together, so why not put an assortment of food in one bowl to begin with, right? Hash makes things like Paleo, AIP, and Whole 30 a bit easier to swallow (see what I did there..) since conventional breakfast options are not always an option.

This mouthwatering combination includes a bit of maple goodness, a touch of onion and garlic, and greens to pack a nutritional punch. It’s the perfect recipe for any morning (or afternoon, or evening..) and will guarantee your tastebuds are not left wanting. The flavor combination is everything you want in a comforting, hearty breakfast with sacrificing benefit to your body. I will be eating it every day for forever – don’t mind me.

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Ingredients Needed:

  • 1 lb of ground beef, preferably grass-fed
  • 2-2&1/2 cups  (or 2-3 oz) of aragula (can sub spinach)
  • 1 small to medium white or yellow onion
  • 3/4 cup of chopped pecans (exclude for AIP option)
  • 1/2 cup of dried, additive and sugar free raisins (or cranberries)
  • 1&1/2 tsps of garlic powder, divided
  • 1 tsps of onion powder
  • 2 tsps of salt, divided, ideally Himalayan pink or Celtic Sea Salt
  • 1&1/2 tbsps of pure maple syrup

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Instructions:

  1. Brown meat, seasoning with 1 tsp of garlic powder, onion powder, and salt
  2. While meat is cooking, dice onion and saute in olive oil (can also use coconut or avocado oil) in a separate pan until almost translucent. Season with remaining 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, and remaining tsp of salt
  3. Once onions are nearly cooked through, add aragula and stir until wilted.
  4. Combine ground beef with onions and greens and add the maple syrup, stir until combined
  5. Remove from heat and add chopped pecans (nix for AIP) and raisins.
  6. Enjoy!

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Confident

What’s Wrong With Being Confident?

8th August 2016

ConfidentYou may have heard this popular Demi Lovato song at some point – I remember the first time I did, I bumped along a little bit and then thought, “actually, I think there is something wrong with it.”

I know, you’re probably shocked and slightly mad at me, so let’s keep talking.

There’s been a love-yourself movement lately, which I don’t want to totally discount, but self-love and self-worth looks a lot different for the Christian. One of my favorite hymns says, “I will not boast in anything – no gifts, no power, no wisdom, but I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection.” Similarly, 1 Corinthians 1:31 says, “Let Him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” While we’d like to think that arrogant boasting and simple confidence are different – with only one being socially acceptable – I think Scripture would say otherwise.

Let’s look at what the Bible would say about the human condition – there’s the ever popular Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,”  and there’s Luke 18:19, “And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.’” These, I feel like we can wrap our minds around and still feel decent about ourselves (at least everyone sucks, right?), but it gets worse. Check out these verses:

  • Mark 7:21-23 – “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within.”
  • Psalm 5:9 – “For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.”
  • Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Trust me, this could go on. Scripture is chock-full of verses that point to our miserable lacking apart from Jesus. Personally, this Biblical description of my heart gives me nothing in which to be confident. Apart from the grace of Christ, I’m an enemy of God who always chooses my own desires over the good of others, plain and simple. This pride-hiding-behind-confidence movement we see today is culture trying to convince us that we’re really not that bad, because in all honesty, we’d like to believe deep down that humans are naturally good and not evil, but if you are a Christian, you know this logic is highly flawed (if you are a parent, you probably know this logic is the worst logic ever of all time..).

Here’s the other big issues with being confident in yourself and your own abilities: they don’t actually belong to us, we didn’t create them ourselves, and we change. The person you are finally comfortable being is most likely going to be gone in a few years, leaving you once again struggling to find pride in a flawed person – who now looks different, whose clothes fit differently, who has a new job and different friends. Not to mention the fact that most self-love supporting commercials, ads, products, etc. I see are based on outward beauty (which oddly enough, seems to be the thing they are fighting against finding identity in). I see story after story of companies promoting women of all shapes and sizes to love themselves, while blasting pictures of these different women wearing nothing but underwear. Does anyone else find this totally self-defeating? The media has shoved the need for confidence down our throats and left us feeling even worse when we can’t get on board. It is impossible for us live a life free from coveting what others have, which means that self-confidence will never be long-lasting, genuine, or sustainable. There will always be a better-looking person to remind us of that feature we don’t like. There will always be the more talented artist, speaker, writer, parent. There will always be the richer, more likable, more successful, funnier person, and we will never get away from wanting what others have. We are ridden with lust and covetousness and friends, that will never change. This is why the confidence found only in Jesus is so beautiful – we can have full confidence in a God who never changes, who is always the most powerful, who is always all-knowing, who is always the most tenderhearted, the most brilliant, the greatest Savior. I love that Scripture counter-culturally shows us we can go so far as to “boast in our weaknesses,” because God is magnified even more through our lacking. This is the confidence that sustains, dear reader. Not confidence in your face that will wrinkle, your personality that will change, your clothes that will tear, your family that will grow old, your job you could lose any moment.

So, what’s wrong with being confident? It leaves us empty, because we are truly not worth bragging about, but you know what is worth boasting over? How Jesus can claim a filthy sinner for His own and call her worthyredeemed, beautiful, and loved, not because of her own doing, but because of His sacrifice. This message goes completely against everything our culture teaches us, and I know some of you will walk away bothered by this. I urge you to evaluate what you’re confident in and how satisfying that is to your life.

I love these words from Jen Wilkin:
“Retreats, conferences, and topical Bible studies rush to assure us that we are redeemed and treasured, that our lives have purpose, that our actions carry eternal significance. If we just understood who we are — the message goes — we would turn from our sin patterns and our spiritual low self-esteem and experience the abundant life of which Jesus spoke…I believe it is because we have misdiagnosed our primary problem. As long as we keep the emphasis on us instead of on a higher vision, we will take small comfort from discussions of identity — and we will see little lasting change. Our primary problem as Christian women is not that we lack self-worth, not that we lack a sense of significance or purpose. It’s that we lack awe.”

Women, men – your body shape will fail you, your social skills will fail you, your ability to do the right thing will constantly fail you, but the confidence found in the work of Christ Jesus will never be obsolete. I urge you to search the Scriptures, to become so deeply wowed by the Creator that you have no room to think about whether you “feel good” in your own body, because you are so taken with the body that was broken for you. Be confident in the Lord today, friends, and be at peace knowing boasting over His work is all-satisfying.

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Dreamy Drinks to Help You Forget About Coffee

18th July 2016

imageWhether you want to cut back on caffeine, are starting something like the Autoimmune Protocol, or have found you have a coffee intolerance, giving up coffee can be rough. As someone who has been a coffee addict since the age of 16, worked as a barista for 2 years in college where I functioned solely off my {several} cups of joe, and is now a mom of two boys 18 months apart who have often been known to not sleep, coffee has been a total staple. Sadly, that changed recently, when I discovered my body was actually sensitive to it. For me, coffee causes stomach issues, light-headedness, headaches, joint paint, insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems. It varies from person to person, but a food sensitivity, to coffee or any other item, can manifest itself in many ways – including mood swings, depression, acne, eczema, migraines, asthma, autoimmune diseases, sinus issues, body aches, weight issues, and sleep problems, to name a few (if you have any of the symptoms and are more interested in food sensitivities, see these signs and this article).

Needless to say, coffee had to go. When it came down to choosing between feeling terrible every day or sacrificing my coffee, the answer was obvious. I’ve been coffee-free for about 4 months now, and finally feel less attached to coffee emotionally (which is a very surprising connection!). Giving up coffee made it necessary to find other drinks I could enjoy, and I’ve had great luck with incredibly nutrient-dense options! I believe it’s extremely helpful to have other go-to hot drinks to keep from succumbing to the Java temptation, so here are my favorites!

Green Tea

The beauty of green tea is that you can get a slight caffeine fix without also getting the nasty coffee side effects. It has antioxidants, fat burning properties, amino acids, and boasts of several other health benefits as well. You can steep it in hot water alone, or add a combination of honey, coconut milk, or coconut oil to give it a sweet and creamy taste. If you love green tea and want to take your drink to the next level, I recommend:

Matcha

Matcha is the powdered form of green tea and has a less bitter taste, but with the same wonderful benefits – aiding in weight loss, heart function, skin health, and more. Instead of steeping, the powder dissolves in your liquid. I use this brand of matcha from Thrive Market, and blend it with hot water, a bit of AIP sweetener (honey, molasses, or maple syrup), coconut oil, and collagen peptides, which makes it extra frothy. You can also add a dash of turmeric and ginger to amp up the flavor and add extra health benefits. This is a fun one – you can play with the combinations until you find one that suits you, or try something different every day! If you’d like something closer to a latte, use canned coconut milk instead of water (although I recommend a 1:1 ratio at least, as coconut milk can be very heavy on the stomach in large quantities).

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Dandelion Root Tea

Dandelion root tea is also chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and health benefits. It “improves digestion and aids weight loss,” “contains calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium, vitamins B and C,” and helps your liver detox (from mindbodygreen.com). This tea is available at most health food chains and online at Thrive market. Just like green tea, you can either steep this and drink it plain or blend the steeped water with coconut milk, honey, and even a bit of carob for a mocha flavor.

Chicory Root

This is my most recent discovery and by far the closest to coffee, and especially when you steep a dandelion root tea bag in the brewed chicory, it turns out very similar in taste. You can buy it in granule form and brew it just like you would coffee. You can prepare this drink just as you would your morning joe – my favorite is blended with a tablespoon of coconut oil – and it can be enjoyed any time of day, as it and dandelion root are caffeine free! Like the other drinks, chicory is loaded with antioxidants and can aid in digestive and liver health. I purchased mine here.

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Thanks for reading, friends! Good luck in your getting–rid-of–coffee journey!

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Look at these cute babies! Oh crap...I should have brought my kids hats, too..

Is Mom Guilt Ever Justified?

5th July 2016

Oh, mom guilt. I’m so thankful for the bloggers, writers, and speakers who call attention to it’s ridiculousness. I’ve been mulling over the silly situations that bring me mom guilt, which include but are not limited to, forgetting to brush the toddler’s teeth, feeling bad leaving the boys alone so I can brush my own teeth, not doing enough scholastic things with my 2 year old (a 2 year for goodness’ sake), taking either of my kids in public with a dirty shirt, having to do anything remotely productive while the boys are awake, driving around in the car when we can’t take another moment at-home, nursing my baby to sleep instead of trying harder to sleep train him, having a toddler/baby who doesn’t do (insert whatever stupid milestone that they will eventually pick up here), not getting dressed every day, not waking up before the kids..it doesn’t stop.
Look at these cute babies! Oh crap...I should have brought my kids hats, too..

Look at these cute babies! Oh crap…I should have brought my kids hats, too..

Now, does any of this sound even remotely important to you? Okay, so I’d like for all of our teeth to be brushed, but none of this is of much significance or eternal value. I’m not sure about you, momma friend, but I’d like to stop worrying about the nonsense that I guilt myself over and focus on the grace and redemption of Jesus. This is not a new concept, and I’m so thankful, but I’d like to propose a new question: is mom guilt ever justified?
If you’ve been a Christian longer than say, .2 seconds, you’ve probably heard that guilt is from the enemy and conviction is from the Holy Spirit, so let’s start by working off that basis. This means all guilt is useless, but I think conviction, on the other hand, often gets overlooked as mere guilt and ignored. Listen, momma, you’re not perfect, and neither am I, but there are things I catch myself doing that do not fall into mom guilt. They fall into selfish desires that I write off because I feel I “deserve” this, that or the other. Here’s some of my own examples: spending most of the day scrolling Instagram, forgetting to intentionally play with my kids, and getting irritated when they want something from me. Trying to take too many pictures throughout the day so I have some idealized portrait to blast on social media, even though our day was not as fun or exciting as it might look,especially since I watched the day behind a phone camera. Spending the day focused on the shows, errands, and tasks that I enjoy, instead of being sensitive to my children’s needs and wants. Using the internet as a break from my kids, which inevitably goes from a 2 minute distraction into a dangerously captivating idol. Getting angry at the boys when their needs interfere with my schedule. Consistently putting “good” things like housework, mom dates, and free play above my time with my children. Letting my physical and digital appearance take precedent over my babies.
Here’s the fun thing – I don’t feel guilt over these things. I feel motivated to love my children better because I serve a God who is the ultimate Father, but I would be blind to my own sinful and selfish nature if I wrote these off as “mom guilt” and never gave them a second thought. Be encouraged, momma, that you are both imperfect and completely capable, through the mercy and power of Jesus. Let’s throw away the useless guilt and let the Spirit move to convict and sanctify us, so that we may tend to the important and neglect the empty.
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brownie3

Healthy AIP Brownie Batter Fudge

29th June 2016

Let me preface by saying that I literally never read the written content accompanying a food post. So, if you are starting to read this, I commend you. I’d also like to cover my behind for any future readers by saying this is my first ever food post – so be easy on the picture quality and overall flow..

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I have always been a sweet queen. Sure, I am sweet and queenly (ha…ha), but I mean more in the can-eat-all-of-the-sweets-without-getting-sick type of way. In a former life, there was always room for dessert, especially chocolate-based dessert, even if I was already stuffed to the brim. Baking became a hobby of mine in college where my kitchen frequently served as a culinary laboratory of sorts (my roommate can attest that these attempts were not always successful), but since transitioning to the autoimmune protocol diet, baking is a much more difficult process (and let’s be honest… egg-free, sugar-free, frosting-free, funfetti- free, chocolate-free baked goods are just not nearly as fun to create, but my food-intolerance ridden body certainly thanks me for not using these ingredients). I’ve been working my tush off trying to re-create some of these flavors and textures as best I can!

Now, if you are a sugar freak who also happens to be a health freak, like me, you have got to check out The Big Man’s World. He has the absolute best no-fuss, Paleo, vegan, gluten-free, you-name-it desserts and sweet recipes. Being an AIP’er however, has led me to tweak some of these treats into something I can enjoy, which is the short birth story behind these no-bake, totally autoimmune friendly brownie batter fudge bites. Or bars, if you wish, because we both know probably neither of us will be eating them in bite form.brownie2

Behold, the majesty.

The rich majesty that is also loaded with gut-healing ingredients like collagen peptides and coconut products, with no guilt-inducing artificial or processed… well, crap. Not only did I want to make these AIP compliant, but also good for you! This is the first time I’ve tasted a carob dessert and thought it actually tasted like chocolate! And my husband, who despises most of my desserts, said, “hey, that’s pretty good!” A big win. Really.

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Ingredients:

For the brownie batter fudge:
-1/2 cup coconut flour
-1/2 cup carob powder (I use Bob’s Red Mill toasted version and it is amazing)
-1/2 cup honey or pure, grade B maple syrup
-1/2 cup coconut butter, heaping, for totally AIP, OR, 1/2 cup seed or nut butter as tolerated; I use 1/4 cup unsweetened sunflower seed butter and 1/4 heaping cup of coconut butter and it is DIVINE
-1/2 cup pumpkin
-Two scoops of Vital Proteins collagen peptides

For the “frosting”
-1/4 cup of melted coconut oil
-1/2 cup of carob powder
-1 to 2 tablespoons of honey or pure, grade B maple syrup
-One scoop of Vital Proteins collagen peptides

Step 1) Line an 8×8 (or smaller for thicker fudge) deep dish tray with parchment paper and set aside.
Step 2) Make the fudge – Mix together the coconut flour, carob powder, and collagen peptides. In a separate bowl, melt the nut, coconut, or seed butter and mix in the honey and pumpkin. Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
Step 3) Pour mixture into prepared dish and flatten. It should be very thick.
Step 4) Make the frosting – melt the coconut oil, then stir in the carob powder, honey, and peptides. Throw the mixture in a small blender (carob is a bit finicky and can clump easily if it is not blended)
Step 5) Scoop the frosting on top of the brownie batter fudge – it should be fairly thick – and spread evenly.
Step 6) Refrigerate for a couple of hours or freeze for 10 to 20 minutes. (There is a right and a wrong decision here, friends. Let’s just say I will never refrigerate my desserts)
Step 7) Slice into bites or bars, and try not to consume the entire pan in three days like I did the first time.

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Hope you enjoy, friends! I’d love feedback from other sweet teeth!

This recipe is adapted from these Healthy No-Bake Breakfast Brownies from The Big Man’s World – go check him out! 

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anxiety

What You Might Not Know About Anxiety, Depression, and Autoimmune Disease

21st June 2016

TMULMQLOPW

I’ve felt like (and been called) a hypochondriac for as long as I can remember. It seems like I was always the one who felt crummy, whose illnesses were worse than other’s, whose chest pain and anxiety always convinced me I had something very seriously wrong. I have taken more CareNow visits for tingling in my face or head, thrown back more tylenol for joint pain, and complained of more head and stomach aches than a “healthy” twenty-something should. I have been plagued by deep and paralyzing anxiety since I was a teenager, which is why I always convinced myself that it was my fear getting the best of my physical state, and that nothing was actually wrong. I always secretly thought one day I would find out I in fact did have something going on underneath the surface, and partially hoped for it, so I could finally justify all the times I drove myself crazy feeling like something was askew.

Heart palpitations, chest pain, tingling. Frequent stomach aches, recurring headaches, insomnia. Crippling anxiety and crazy mood swings, inflamed knees, elbows, and fingers. Inability to breathe. Memory loss, foggy brain, endless tears. Times where I thought I was on the verge of insanity.

I think back to my college years, that I now realize were so much more complex than a girl who simply “worried too much”or didn’t “trust the Lord enough”. I think back to sleepless nights where I was convinced somebody or something from this world or another was going to creep into my apartment at night. I think back to the nights spent shaking uncontrollably because I could not manage the anxiety in my soul. I think back to the hours passed listening to worship music, reading scripture, breathing deeply – doing everything in my power to calm my nervousness that would not vanish and feeling defeated that I could not rest in the promises of Jesus enough to overcome my fear. Turns out, He was going to use more than just spiritual healing to bring peace to my soul. He would bring physical healing, too.

And now, years later, I am being freed. I am free. 

I am so thankful for the way the medical community has begun approaching psychological issues like anxiety and depression. It’s not just worry. It’s not just sadness. There’s something deeper going on. But I think the naturopath-minded sector of the autoimmune community has something to offer than even the supportive psychological disorder realm cannot.

Did you know that anxiety and depression can often be linked to an autoimmune disease, but that most doctors will not actually pair the two? Did you know that my disease in particular, Hashimoto’s, is often misdiagnosed as a mental disorder and that most other autoimmune diseases are often written off as hypochondria?

Read this staggering statistic: “The Thyroid Federation International estimates there are up to 300 million thyroid sufferers worldwide, but over HALF are presumed to be unaware of their condition. That means over 150 million thyroid sufferers worldwide have no idea they suffer from a thyroid condition.” (from hypothyroidmom.com)

150 million people likely struggling with mental issues, fatigue, pain, exhaustion, inability to concentrate, weight fluctuations, migraines, and any number of other symptoms who don’t know what’s going on under the surface. And a very good chunk of diagnosed sufferers whose doctors have never done anything for them besides prescribe medication and left them to wrestle with their symptoms forever. Chances are, a handful of people in each of those categories are going to stumble across this post. I was one of those people until this year.

I am convinced the Lord is going to use autoimmune disease healing and awareness in my life, and I have already seen that start to unfold. If you’re reading this, and my story or symptoms sound familiar, please, don’t sit idly by. If you’re tired of seeing doctor after doctor who can’t diagnose or treat you and you know there is more going on, if you have suffered from anxiety and depression, feel handicapped by it and are willing to try something new, or if you resonate with any of the chronic symptoms I’ve discussed, I can’t encourage you enough to find a functional medicine practitioner and to fight for your health. Frequent headaches, recurring stomach issues, anxiety, joint pain, sleeplessness, the list goes on – these things are not normal, friends. They don’t just happen because you got unlucky, and I truly believe you can be healed from them. I am a walking testimony to the power of healing through food and natural medicine, and I am continually astounded at the number of people who can say the same. I have not had any anxiety since I began the Autoimmune Protocol several months ago. I sleep at night. I can enjoy my surroundings without fear. Don’t you want this, dear friend? If you’re reading this and know it’s for you, I pray you find healing. I ask that you go seek healing. While it may be too early in autoimmune research and potentially ignorant to argue that all cases of anxiety and depression are linked to autoimmunity, the naturopath community knows that a lot of it is. And I can promise you that a few diet and lifestyle changes are more than worth being able to live life.

If you’d like to find a functional medicine doctor who can help you, there are plenty of resources available. Here’s a great site to start with. Please reach out to me with questions; I will do my best to answer or direct you somewhere. In the meantime, please consider beginning the Autoimmune Protocol Diet (how-to here and my experience here), a Whole 30, a Paleo diet or simply cutting out gluten and dairy and start diving into the world of healing autoimmunity. Check out blogs like the Paleo Mom and Autoimmune-Paleo and arm yourself with resources that promote restoration. You don’t have to suffer! Praise Jesus for this science and for those paving the way for disease remission; it is my deep passion to see many added to that number, to see my friends, family, and readers freed from anxiety, depression, and other chronic health issues, and to promote the glory of Jesus through this holistic healing.

 

 

 

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fallondanae

May 13, 2016

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“There are few things more damning to the Christian life than wanting to be perceived as more than we are.”

This is from my pastor several months ago now, but it hasn’t left my mind. I could probably dedicate an entire post on the ways we try to appear “better” and more put together than we truly are, but one my pastor dove into is having no deep friendships. Think about it – if you have surface-level relationships with enough people, you can allow them to see your pretty, all-in-order top layer while still making yourself feel as if you’re fulfilling your need for community, even though no one is allowed to see your messy, struggling soul.

I’m bad about this. Ok, really bad. I’m often guilty of wanting to search for new friendships instead of investing in the people I already know. I think we often trick ourselves into believing every relationship will magically, immediately bloom, and that the only friendships worth pursuing are when you basically meet yourself in another form. Or, we’ve somehow convinced ourselves we don’t really need friendships that go any deeper than small talk, so we’re not forced to expose our ugly to the world. It’s leaving us pitifully lonely.

The biggest common denominator for an amazing friendship is simply this: you both LOVE JESUS. And it helps to live close to each other. That’s really it. Would I love for every friendship of mine to be a young mom with two kids close in age who has all the same interests and hobbies as I do? In all honesty, kinda! But, I think the Lord knows that would not grow me the same way as having a diverse group of friends. I believe the Lord has given me people to confide in who have a lot to offer, regardless of their life stage. It is undoubtedly beneficial to have the counsel of those who relate to what you’re walking through, but be careful about disregarding a friendship just because someone’s life doesn’t look exactly like yours.

Few people know the depth of my loneliness the past couple of years, but Jesus has finally pulled me out of that pit, so I want to share it in more detail. For the first year and a half to two years of being an at-home mom, I felt completely isolated and alone. I would often cry to my husband about not feeling truly loved or known by anyone but him, and I was genuinely convinced every other mom or woman my age had her friend group lined up and set in stone, with no room for me. I would meet women I admired, but never really go out of my way to hang out with them, OR, I would meet someone who wasn’t my spitting image, so I wouldn’t pursue that relationship very fervently. I was digging myself further into my lonely hole. We were not consistent or intentional with community, and I was not pouring my sins, my victories, or my convictions out to anyone other than my husband, and it was not a good place to be. While stay-at-home-moms have a tendency to be a bit more isolated, I don’t want to rule out the rest of you. Human interaction at work, etc. can be fulfilling, but that’s not always a given. Being around people is not the same as being known by those around you, and we finally came to terms with that. A little over a year ago, we joined a new community group through our church. My husband and I have always had trouble being consistent in groups like these, but the Lord was good to give us a deep desire and connection to this one. That group has morphed into one of my absolute favorite things. I love to be around these people. Do I know every detail of their lives? No… (I’m not a stalker…well, maybe on Facebook just a little bit..). Do we sit around and paint each other’s nails every weekend while we have pillow talk? Maybe someday..? (I apologize if you don’t know my personality. Please don’t take me seriously very often.) The thing that draws me to this community is their love for Jesus. People who are genuinely, deeply in love with Jesus are my favorite to be around, and it’s made me sad to realize the fullness that I missed out on in years passed. Internet community – there is nothing like having real-life community. It’s so easy to slip into an online-only mentality when our culture is so centered around it. Connecting with people on social media can be great, but don’t let that be the end of your relationships. It can’t fill your deep need for loving people like a friend up the road can. It took me too long to learn that.

It seems painfully obvious in retrospect, but our pastor made a great point during the sermon the above quote is from – Jesus had 3 men he was extremely close with, and 12 he was pretty close with. That’s not very many. Fewer and deeper. If Christ did it, shouldn’t Christians probably consider it? We are so busy trying to make everyone know and love us that we often don’t have anyone that knows or loves us. Sure, people may like a skin-deep misconception of you, but loving someone is when you’ve seen their dirt and their shame and you still seek to know them. Loving someone is sharing hard truths, asking difficult questions, and knowing your own sin is not less than theirs; I would trade that for lackluster friendships any day! I spent too much time seeking social media approval and blasting every moment of my waking life onto Instagram instead of praying for the women that I know.

This is a challenge to myself. To pursue and love people better. To never wallow in loneliness and assume that nobody else is right there, too. To stop trying to be a one-woman-faith-act and love my community. Jesus never intended for this life to be lived alone! Let me blunty say, if you are only going to a church service on the weekends and don’t have a community that truly knows you, that is not enough. Jesus has so much more in store for you! If you sometimes feel an odd emptiness in the midst of an otherwise full and beautiful life, you probably need deeper relationships. Contrary to what we might hope and think, they don’t just happen. You have to intentionally find them (and by the way, your spouse is wonderful if you have one, but they should not be the only person that knows your struggles).

To myself, and to my readers: Pour your heart out to someone. Stop avoiding the people you already know in hopes that someone more like you will come along. Be bold enough to initiate a conversation that actually matters. Stop making excuses for not pursuing people – they may need a friendship more than you think.

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