Monthly Archives: April 2013

There is no greater therapy than the love of a dog!

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I’ll first start out by thanking a good friend for bringing this to my attention.  At the very least, on my journey to find my purpose it has made those around me more aware of my passions  and interests and has opened up more “eyes” around to spot gems like this for me!

I’ve said before that I know God has placed a love for animals on my heart and to speak for those who cannot and I’m always looking for opportunities to put that to use.  Zevon is was a registered therapy dog (although I hate to admit not an employed one as my little people have taken precedence lately), but I am anxious to put her, or now maybe Baxter to work again as the babes get older.  As a therapy dog, she can go into nursing homes or hospitals to interact with the patients.  I won’t get too technical (I really don’t feel like making this a research project!) but interaction with dogs has proven be therapeutic in helping people maintain positive attitudes and providing physical contact that many people need.  There have been so many studies about how dogs have helped children with disabilities or autism, that I can’t help but truly believe that God has placed dogs on this earth for a deeper purpose than to just be simple pets (although that in itself is no small purpose!).0415_NWS_TDB-L-Dogs.LAX162.jpg

There is a program called PUP – Pets Unstressing People/Passengers at LAX.  The basic premise is having therapy dogs at airports to “destress” stressed passengers.  We’ve all seen them (been them)!  I know it won’t appeal to everyone – but just imagine coming home from a long trip, your flight being delayed, anxiety is at an all time high.  Everyone around you can sympathize, but no one really can do anything about it.  Or imagine on said delay you have a young child, you’re quickly running out of options to entertain them.  The situations are endless, but someone had the genius idea (seriously I wish I had thought of it) to introduce a dog into that situation.  I don’t want to offend anyone but dogs, like babies, have an innate ability to bring a smile to some of the most hardened faces (and hearts).  Watch this video:

You know I’m a crazy dog person when that video brings me to tears (or really for me it’s solidifying my purpose to bring the amazingness of dogs to people everywhere!)

Just another idea on my journey but I may have some more research ahead of me to find out how we can get something like this to ATL!

A few more articles if you are interested:

Pets Unstressing Passengers’ program aims to make the experience of air travel more pleasant

Now Arriving: Cuddly Volunteers to Help De-Stress LAX Fliers

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Sunday Musings; If God is for us – who can stop us?

Happy Sunday!  These past few weeks Pastor David, now of the New Church of Peachtree City (new name pending), has been preaching on seeing ourselves as God sees us.  His messages and related verses have really hit home as many of them are again related to finding our purpose, rather God’s purpose for us.  I thought I would share and maybe by writing it out I will have some big revelation for myself (most likely not but here’s hoping and at least maybe some slow progress and something to refer back to!)

1.  We are wonderfully made.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 
Psalm 139:14

2.  We are fully forgiven.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:12-17
(Side note – this sermon was on April 21st – our 6th anniversary AND this was the verse that was read at our wedding – so I can’t help but think of the timing!)

3.  We are showered with blessings.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:31-32
(I couldn’t get Our God by Chris Tomlin out of my head when hearing this verse!)

How awesome is our God?  He is so good to us.  I want and strive to live my life keeping these 3 things in my mind at all times.  When facing any battle or challenge I want to picture my ginormous God behind me cheering and pushing me to get through and to do my best.  With God in my corner, who can stop me!  (Realistically I want to say the world, nay-sayers, money, etc…but God will provide and prevail as long as I keep my heart and mind open to His lead.)

I’m going to leave you with the remainder of the Romans verses and one song, based on these verses, that really encouraged me this AM and I feel God has placed on my heart to meditate on this week.  (It warmed my heart when I was just playing the video and LL looks over to me and says “Mommy, I really like this song!”)

The Greatness of Our God
Hillsong LIVE

Give me eyes to see 
More of who You are 
May what I behold, 
still my anxious heart. 
Take what I have known 
And break it all apart 
For You my God, are greater still.

CHORUS
No sky contains,
No doubt restrains,
All You are,
The greatness of our God.
I spend my life to know,
And I’m far from close 
To all You are, 
The greatness of our God.

Verse 2: 
Give me grace to see 
Beyond this moment here. 
To believe that there 
Is nothing left to fear.

That You alone are high above it all.
For You my God, are greater still.

CHORUS 2x
No sky contains,
No doubt restrains,
All You are,
The greatness of our God.
I spend my life to know,
And I’m far from close 
To all You are, 
The greatness of our God.

Bridge: 2x
And there is nothing
That can ever separate us.
There is nothing that can ever 
separate us from Your love.
No life, no death, of this I am convinced.
You my God, are greater still.

2x:
And no words can say, or song convey,
all You are the greatness of our God.
I spend my life to know,
And I’m far from close 
to all You are, 
the greatness of our God.

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future,nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:33:39

AMEN!  Have a blessed week!

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Book Review: Speculation

By Edmund Jorgensen

Downloaded Free on 4/12/13

Finish time: 12 nights (minus a few off).  This book was loaded.  The premise seemed simple, yet interesting.  A friend dies and leaves you a choice in his will; 10 million dollars or a sealed envelope.  The main character Andrew is faced with this exact choice after his long-time friend Sothum passes away.  In order to understand the difficulty of this decision for Andrew (and not for his wife!), we must go back and learn how these 2 (well 3, as we meet Buddy, the final member of the Three Wise Fools) met in college.  The three were philosophy students in Boston and spent many a night discussing, debating, and hashing out new and old theories.  Fun times.

The book goes back and forth between stories from the past and present time as Andrew dives head first into investigating the life of Sothum aka Stanley Riorden.  It deviates in all different directions and at times I wasn’t sure where I was or if I was fully understanding.  It caps off with a readme.txt file reminiscent of that never-ending chapter in Atlas Shrugged (if you read it you know what chapter I am talking about!) in which Sothum reveals a lot (we’ll leave it at that!) and helps to tie many things together at the end – which I very much needed.

The main philosophical topic in question is the existence of God (which a quick Google search revealed the philosopher in question was fictional).  That was not revealed until later in the book, but that alone would be a very interesting topic.  The book doesn’t get too specific on the details of that (as it does get very detailed on just about everything else).  But as Sothum’s life work – it is very interesting to see his progress and how he began on this topic and where he ends up.

So overall – I was confused, intrigued, challenged, and entertained.  I would recommend, but have some time and an open mind.  The conclusion was satisfying, not what I initially wanted, but you have no choice but to be okay with it and move on.  I enjoyed getting to know these characters, and I have to say after spending so much time with them – I may have to pick my next book carefully as this definitely broadened my mind!

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Clean Eating – Week One Update (and a few other things!)

It’s been an interesting, eye-opening week.  I’ve had ups, I’ve had downs.  I’ve felt encouraged, I’ve felt discouraged.  I’ve been praised and supported, and I’ve been criticized and put-down.  It’s amazing the mixed responses – but I am still encouraged for the most part and plan to keep going strong!  We’ve been far from perfect, especially trying to clear out reserves, but I’ve been more aware and I feel that is the first step.

After much research and recipe pinning, I decided to dive-in with some Clean Eating Chocolate Chip Muffins.  This is a breakfast staple for LL, and I’ve made my own many times (even using applesauce trying to be healthier), but this included many new ingredients I had never used before.  My first stop was Publix, my go-to weekly grocery store.  When that turned up empty (well maybe a few items), we tried Fresh Market where we found a few more ingredients.  Then when I still was missing my Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, Steven made one last trip to Kroger of all places and came up successful (thank you baby!)  Here is a picture of my first set of clean baking supplies:IMG_2681

Finally on Sunday night I made my muffins.  I used Agave Nectar instead of honey, safflower oil, and almond milk.  And I have not had success finding the grain sweetened chocolate chips yet, so that was my one “non-clean” ingredient (but I’m thinking chocolate may be an acceptable deviation!) .  The batter was darker and I was very skeptical – but the overall verdict is that they were good!  We all ate them for breakfast a few days this week, LL was little harder to convince but she ate them, and ofcourse my LM loved them.  Even Steven said they were better than my usual muffins!  Yay for a successful first recipe! (Many more to come as my Pinterest board is filling up!)

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I’ve also been on a mission to find some quick snacks (thank you to everyone for your suggestions too!).  I’m not sure anything will ever replace Goldfish my kids hearts and stomachs (and I probably won’t even try) – but I’ve found a few contenders and will update more later whether or not these will be staples.  Reading labels has been the most discouraging part of the week, but I feel if I invest the time now and get my “go-to” brands that like everything, it will get easier over time.  (And yes – those are Cheetos – and maybe someone can correct me – but the ingredient list actually looks good to my novice eyes!)  Then, as always, fresh fruit, smoothies and raisins/craisins.

photo.JPGI did sign up for eMeals – but haven’t tried any recipes yet, but I plan to this week.  There are many “new” ingredients that I either have never heard of or will probably spend some time trying to track down.  For instance, rice noodles, bulgar wheat, red pepper jelly, and jicama to name a few!  I’m also trying to clean up some of our other staples, like pizza by making my own pizza dough and sauce.

Now on a fun note – it is our 6th year anniversary on Sunday!  To celebrate – we are going to the Taste of Senoia.  I believe I mentioned before that we do love good food and trying new things so I feel good about being able to do that knowing that majority of the time we do (will!) be eating good at home.  Also I’m excited about a trip to the Peachtree City Farmer’s Market.  We always enjoy farmer’s markets, and go often, but armed with my new mission and information, I’m extra excited this week! (Especially for some good honey!)

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And lastly – prayers going out to Boston, Texas, and my in-laws this week.  It seems like April brings too much tragedy, as I am remembering 6 years ago this week, the VA Tech shootings too.  I’ll leave you with 2 verses today.

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isaiah 43:2

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.”

Psalm 136:1

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Book Review: A Mother’s Trial

By Nancy Wright

Downloaded free on  4/7/13

Finish time: 6 nights.  I debated over downloading this book for awhile.  The subject matter is tough and I will admit the first few nights, I lost a lot of sleep over it.  Once you get past the “fact-finding” it was easier to sleep, but still a very tough subject for all, especially mothers of young kids.

I’m not sure what it was that led me to this book, after a week off from reading.  I guess I thought I would dive into something of a different subject matter than I am used to (as I’m making some other changes in my life too!)  I do enjoy a book filled with suspense,  and this had plenty, but something about it being a true story never sat well with me.  The book goes through the life of Priscilla and Steve Phillips and the journey  of  their two adopted Korean baby girls.  Their first, Tia, was in and out of the hospital and eventually died, the doctors and hospitals never coming to a firm conclusion of COD.  Shortly after (9 months) they adopted Mindy who subsequently started exhibiting similar symptoms and was too, in and out of the hospital.  After awhile, suspicions rose and Mindy was removed from the Phillips, and Priscilla was charged with the death of Tia and endangerment of Mindy.

The book is INCREDIBLY detailed.  I had read that in other reviews and concur.  It’s not a bad thing, just makes for a long book.  And I think what is still not sitting well with me is that you, the reader, must come to your own conclusion.  The book is detailed of facts, conversations, and others opinions.  There is plenty of courtroom testimony, facts presented, speculation, and the final verdict and sentencing, yet what really happened is for you to decide.  I’m an accountant, I like firm answers and black and white, so I turned to Google for some additional research and came up empty.  Because of my background and experts not being able to come up with any explanation for the girls constant illnesses, in my heart I believe she is guilty, but still found myself wavering at different points of the book.  The book really does a great job of presenting all sides and I did not find leaning one way or the other.

I did find out that the original book was written in 1984, this was just a re-release.  At that time the syndrome that many diagnosed Priscilla with (but was never actually given the label of)  – Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy – was very new and not much research was published.  As I just learned – Munchausen causes a person, in this case the mother, to make her children ill in order to receive attention of others.  I would have loved to hear a more recent evaluation by a mental health expert as I’m sure there has been many more cases (sadly) and research over the last 20 years.  And maybe another update on the family would have been nice, as the book just ended at the present time (1984).

Well written, tough subject matter, so if you can handle it, it is very interesting and sparks thoughts and conversations you never may have had.

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Mommy Dilemma and My Action Plan!

Happy Friday!  This post has been a few weeks in the making, it may be a little choppy as there are a lot of things I wanted to cover, so bear with me.  It started as a “Mommy Rant”.  You’ve probably seen a few of them circulating lately.  Mainly centered around keeping up with the Pinterest Super Moms.  That doesn’t bother me so much, I dabble in Pinterest and don’t feel pressure (yet!) to be super crafty mom, or at least I feel I can hold my own in that respect.  My rant is more over the balance between being super coupon saving mom vs. being super healthy nutrition mom.  I’ve come to realize it will be a balance.  It doesn’t have to be one or the other, but it will be a compromise . I feel torn each day between trying to save the most, yet feed my family healthily.  The two do not always go hand in hand, so I feel I am failing in both respects.  And last week, that rut I described in my last post, was partly because of just information overload over what foods are good and bad these days and most has been bad (some very shocking).  I try hard to do what is best for my kids and my family, but I just can’t keep up, feel overwhelmed, and in response just want to shut down.  So I did for a few weeks.  (Don’t worry – I did still feed my kids and keep everyone happy and healthy – I just had to shut off my attention to these types of articles.)

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This week I have decided I need to take action.  I cannot tackle everything at once, so I made a list and started my research.  (My Type A personality coming out in full force!)

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phillipians 4:13

Now where does this fit into my blog and finding my calling you ask!?  Here is what I’ve figured out thus far.  To be my best and live up my potential, I need to feel good (see verse above).  I need to feel good physically and feel good about the choices I make for my family.  I know they will be far from perfect, but if I am trying with an open heart, that is a step in the right direction.   We are all “healthy”, but the more I read about changing up diets, removing processed food, the more I am convinced it will be beneficial in the long run.  This has not been an easy conclusion to come to.  I (like a lot of Americans) are all about instant gratification.  If I don’t “hurt” right away from eating X, Y, & Z, what’s the big deal? Or this is only $1, so I’d rather save the $x and eat/buy this because does it really matter?  This is a really hard thing to get over, when so much of the information I get from super coupon saver moms is you need to save money!  But the super healthy nutritional moms are creeping into my head saying, yes it may be cheaper, but in 5,10,20 years you’ll be feeling the effects.  Or maybe even sooner, as I’m curious to see if eliminating some things from our diets will help us feel better and have more energy right now (something I could really use!)

That all being said, where do I start?  One of my biggest pet peeves is people who complain, but have no solution (which was me last week!) So I have made the decision to start phasing into Clean Eating.  I’ve done some research, found a few blogs, talked to a few other moms (thank you Joy!), and am going to start here.  The reason I say phasing in, is that I am not going to go through my house and purge and I will have a few (maybe more) exceptions (at least at first).  I’m way too conscience of the money I have already spent to throw away perfectly good (albeit maybe not healthy food).  We don’t have a ton, but I’ve bought my share of Mac & Cheese and boxed food when they were on BOGO.  I’ve only recently gotten to a point where my menu planning has consistently saved me 30%+ each week, so the budget side will be an adjustment, although I still plan on only buying what is in-season. I have just returned from my first (eye-opening) outing to Publix after making this decision.  It is amazing how many things that I thought were healthy have many of the ingredients that Clean Eating says to avoid (or how many ingredients are in what seems to be a simple products i.e. grated cheese or bread).  I think the hardest will be white flour (pastas, breads, rice…), and convenient, pre-packaged, quick foods/snacks.  Also soda – I will be using my beloved SodaStream for naturally flavored carbonated water ONLY.  And we enjoy eating out, so for now I may try and be more conscience of what I order but not to the extreme of asking for a list of ingredients – everyone needs a break sometime – right!?

As mentioned, I made my first list (see a portion below) and will gradually phase these in over time.  I don’t expect to be perfect, or anywhere close, but if I can aim for 4-5 days a week (or maybe even just dinners to start) and allow myself room to grow, I’m hoping I can do this.  Again, it’s all about balance.  I can see how one could easily spend a lot of their time menu planning (doing research on what is good v. bad), clipping coupons to go with it, but then not have time for much else.  My kids are my priority and if every once in awhile (or more) I break out a boxed meal in order to spend that extra hour playing outside – don’t judge me.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

I’d love to hear your thoughts, experience, and/or any resources or blogs you have found on this topic.  I’m no where near an expert and as with everything – I need help and support!

Resources: (I don’t get anything in return for any of these references – I just found them helpful!)

My to do list:  No soda, no hot dogs, no lunchables, no box/convenience food.  Start making own mac and cheese, muffins, pizza dough, quick freezer grab items.  Cut down on pastas/bread.  Phase in natural shampoos/soaps/lotions (no fragrance)

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Green Smoothies today for lunch were a success!! (One BIG challenge will be getting these little picky people on board!)

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New Beginnings

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
Closing Time
Semisonic

I’ve been in a rut.  No better way to put it.  My blog has been neglected, as well as some other parts of my life.  I started a post titled “Mommy Rant” last week, but it was overall too negative, that I have decided it needs some polishing before posting!  And everything else that I had thought about posting, just didn’t feel right.  So I took a break.  Even from reading too, so you won’t see any book reviews for a little while either (don’t worry though – I started a new one last night!)  It may be that I am overwhelmed, with life and such, but also with all the change that is going on.  I know change is inevitable and makes us stronger and all of that.  But change is also unknown, scary, uncomfortable, and as I said overwhelming, especially when it seems to come all at once.  It is a time for new beginnings though and that is exciting, a clean slate, and full of opportunity.  I was thinking about all the new beginnings yesterday at our NEW church (see more below) and decided that was a perfect post for today.

Here are my new beginnings and a few thoughts on each:

  1. Spring!  I love to take one of the rare quiet seconds I have to look around at all that God brings us with spring.  New growth; trees, flowers, gardens, baby animals, longer days.  It is a very refreshing time of year.  More opportunity to be outside enjoying God’s creations (if you can bear the pollen that is – which with the help of some drugs, I try to!)  And as I thought about posting last week for Easter, a time to declare “HE IS RISEN” and be thankful for all that Jesus gave for us.
  2. New Church.  I could do a whole post or two about this topic.  It’s been heavy on my heart as well as many others.  Our previous church home of 3.5 years, First Presbyterian Church of Peachtree City is no longer our church home.  Without going into too many details, 1st Pres is a member of the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), recently the denomination has changed their doctrines on their authority to scripture and ordination standards, and Pastor David and the session made the difficult decision to seek “gracious separation” from PCUSA as they did not agree with these changes.  After a long, difficult, emotional process, Pastor David announced his retirement and those that did not wish to remain part of PCUSA were (for lack of a better term) kicked out of 1st Pres.  One of the big issues in this process was the building.  Sounds silly typing it out sometimes, but the building was symbolic for many church members who helped found the church, build it up, raise their children there, and so many other things.  I know I hold a little attachment as it being where both my kids were baptized.  But what ultimately it comes down to, as it always does, is the people.
    Easter Sunday marked the first Sunday as the New Church of Peachtree City aka ECO Presbyterian Church of Peachtree City (they are working on a new name).  At a bright and early 9am service, 426 people showed up (along with the Holy Spirit) and you could just feel the energy in the room.  After a long process, this was the new beginning so many were craving.  Again lots of unknowns at this point, but lots of enthusiasm and a renewed faith that this is exactly what was supposed to happen.  It may be a bit bumpy to get started, but it’s a clean slate (the song I posted about last week keeps coming back to mind…He washed it white as snow) and as always God will prevail!
  3. New House for Grandma & Granddad.  It was their home for 12 years.  Not where I was raised, but where my kids have always gone to visit their grandparents.  Where they have spent many of their first holidays and achieved many milestones.  My folks have decided with all the kids gone, it was time to downsize.  They have been cleaning house, hosted a big moving sale this past weekend, and are getting ready for their new beginning (luckily it’s just down the road!)  Again, it’s not the house, it’s the people, but it is change.   It will be an opportunity for them to start fresh and build a home exactly how they want it and maybe even free up resources to achieve some other things.
  4. Big Life Changes for others.  It just seems like many close to me are making career changes, big moves (as mentioned above), or maybe even expecting a new family member.   Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had our fair share of change the last few years, but lately (not including Baxter), we have settled into a routine and are content and stationary for the first time in awhile.  With kids things are always changing and I’m not craving big change, I’m just trying to have a better attitude about watching others go through change while being content with what we have (which is more than I could have ever dreamed us – we truly are blessed!)
  5. And lastly, our latest new beginning over here – our Little Man (LM) took his first steps!  Since I have been on the receiving end of those steps – I don’t have a video – but here is a picture of him pushing his big sister (a new favorite activity over here!)  Yes – he is a little late to the game, but as I’ve learned over the last 16 months more than ever, every child is so unique and there is no use in comparing – doing things earlier is not always the best and nothing should be a competition.   He is so proud of himself and we are happy for him!IMG_2626

As we enter into all these new beginnings, I am trying to keep an open heart and mind and keep meditating over my life verse:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

God is in control, He has a plan for me (and everything around me), and even if it does not go as hoped or planned (by us), He will be there to get me through.  Thanks for stopping by and I pray that you too can be encouraged by your new beginnings this spring!

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