Friday, December 5, 2014

Understanding the Beatitudes and how it relates to Christian Life


I've been participating in a bible study this fall called Sermon on the Mount, and it has been intense and wonderful. The woman leading it, Sue from On the Ottoman, has such a gift for looking at all things with God as the center focus. In fact, all of the women in this group have this gift. It's quite entrancing to be among such Jesus devoted and self-proclaimed messes, and realize that we are all in this fight together.

The Beatitudes came from the mouth of Jesus himself. They were, and are still, an ever present reminder of the blessedness our lives hold, and the promise of those blessings to come.

The woman I spoke of earlier, Sue, was explaining how she did not see, or feel, that the traditional high-rise bell curve was appropriate of a Christian life. In fact, it's the opposite and proclaims that striving is the key to success as a Christian.

Think about it, the image painted with the use of the bell curve is damaging. Starting at the bottom of the left bell curve is considered a starting point for us, before we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. Then the climb is all the work and prayers we say, and whatever else one thinks will make them righteous in God's eyes.

Think of it related to the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee was praying to God and thanking him for not making him like the other people. He also boasted about his works and fasting.

Then there's the tax collector, who was so ashamed of who he is and what his life has become, that he stands far back and begs for forgiveness. He begs for forgiveness, for he knows he is a sinner.

This scenario represents the bell curve, if you ask me.

Now, to the really good news. Sue, amazingly talented and creative Sue, came up with the most beautiful and elegant image of what the bell curve should look like for a Christian. I just made it pretty and digital to share with you all!

If you have more questions, I am here! And so is Sue. We'd love to meet you on your Faith journey!





Sunday, October 19, 2014

Super Simple Mickey & Minnie Costumes



Can you see the pure, elated joy on their faces? 

That look, right there, is going to get me in trouble. 

You see, I am very anti-character anything....no real reason other than personal taste. And so, when our little guy BEGGED to be Mickey AND for his sister to be Minnie, I couldn't deny his happiness.

This is what resulted, given my strong aversion to store bought costumes I tried hard to make it original and classic...

Anyway, here are the pictures of how I did it. You can also check out the cutest Fireman and Dalmatian Duo from last year, and the Sweetest Scarecrow costume from Cannon's first Halloween.






































Friday, September 26, 2014

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread





I said I was going to find a recipe for my all time favorite fall treat, and here it is, adapted from Pamela's Website!

I hope you enjoy it and share it will all your Gluten-Free Lovies.

They'll love you for it.

I promise! :)

Cheers!

What's in it?

Dry:
1 3/4 cup Pamela's Baking Mix (you can use all purpose flour just make sure it has xanthum gum in it and use baking powder)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

Wet:
2 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 can pumpkin puree

Extras:
1 cup chocolate chips

Mix it all up!

In a medium sized bowl, mix together Pamela's Baking Mix (or flour combo), cinnamon and nutmeg. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs until frothy, add brown sugar and mix until creamy. Add vanilla, and pumpkin and mix well. Add the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until well mixed, scraping down the sides at least once. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spray or grease a 4 x 8" loaf pan well, pour in the batter and spread evenly in pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, the sides will be just starting to pull away from the pan (toothpick will be completely clean). Allow to rest in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Gluten-Free Organic Cinnamon Raisin Granola Bars


I've had a few requests to share the recipe I made from personal friends. So I decided to share it with everyone. I got the recipe from the wonderful Tessa on the Domestic Diva blog and I adapted it slightly to work for my family. It's also an egg-free recipe, if you choose (which I did).

My kids gobbled this first test batch up, so you know if my picky eaters will enjoy (and request) them, they're good. :)

Cheers to good health and delicious food!

P.s. I used honey from a local honey farm, the best option if you can get it.




What's in it?
2 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1 cup all purpose gluten-free flour (I used Pamela's baking mix for this batch)
⅓ cup organic cane sugar
¼ (heaping) cup quinoa
¼ cup flax meal
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup organic raisins
½ cup chocolate chips
1 flax 'egg' (1 tablespoon meal mixed with 3 tablespoons hot water, let set for a minute or more to gel)
⅔ cup melted organic coconut oil
½ cup organic honey
1 tablespoon vanilla

Put it all together.
Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13 pan with coconut cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. Pour in the wet ingredients one at a time and mix thoroughly so that all ingredients are moistened and mixed.
Press into the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes until just golden around the edges. Allow to cool completely so they set, otherwise you'll have a big mess on your hands.

I store mine in the fridge and they are delicious cold! 








Sunday, September 14, 2014

Thyroid and Hashimoto's Information.



I thought it would be a good idea to share the information I have found in my hashimoto's/hypothyroidism journey. It's long, but extremely informative (all links will open in a new window/tab, so you will not lose your place on this post).

Take the time to educate yourself, you're the only one who cares about your health the way you do.

My Background

If you're new to my page, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's in December 2013 and it was a long over due diagnosis. The details about my symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment can all be see in previous posts by clicking on the hyperlinks.

What I want to share with you today is how to get answers and a diagnosis if you think you might be suffering from thyroid problems or Hashimoto's - an autoimmune disease that causes your body to attack your thyroid.

Link between diet and thyroid disease

The first thing to note is that there is a big difference in hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's (Hashi's). As I mentioned above, Hashi's is an autoimmune disease, which means your body is having an abnormal response to a substance. It has been discussed and shared that some of the triggers of Hashi's can be caused from gluten and products with refined (white table) sugar.

See the following studies for supporting research based evidence:

Autoimmune thyroid disorders and coeliac disease

The presence of the antigliadin antibodies in autoimmune thyroid diseases


Even more evidence regarding the sensitivity of gluten in thyroid deficient people. Chris Kessler (2010) wrote about the connection. Kessler shares,  it’s a case of mistaken identity. The molecular structure of gliadin, the protein portion of gluten, closely resembles that of the thyroid gland. When gliadin breaches the protective barrier of the gut, and enters the bloodstream, the immune system tags it for destruction. These antibodies to gliadin also cause the body to attack thyroid tissue. This means if you have AITD and you eat foods containing gluten, your immune system will attack your thyroid. Even worse, the immune response to gluten can last up to 6 months each time you eat it. This explains why it is critical to eliminate gluten completely from your diet if you have AITD. There’s no “80/20″ rule when it comes to gluten. Being “mostly” gluten-free isn’t going to cut it. If you’re gluten intolerant, you have to be 100% gluten-free to prevent immune destruction of your thyroid.

I am, at the present time, mostly gluten free and I have noticed a great difference in my feeling of wellness when I take in gluten. I was feeling so good after removing all gluten that I decided to add some back in to my diet. After all, "bad food" in moderation is okay, right?

Wrong.

I have learned through personal experience and tracking my own reactions that I need to eliminate it completely from my diet. I am having a hard time accepting this because I love to bake. I loath cooking, but love to bake. Of course flour is a staple for baking, and gluten free flour just isn't the exact same, especially with respect to baking goods.

However, as I sit here feeling exhausted and worn out, after consuming gluten for the past few days and at every meal and getting normal sleep, I am able to tell myself it isn't worth it. I'd rather not eat horribly delicious foods in order to feel normal.

So with that said, I want to share with you all the basics of figuring out if you could have a thyroid problem.

What to do now?

Most doctors only test for the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) when checking to see if patients have a thyroid problem. Unfortunately, this is an outdated way of confirming there is a problem with the thyroid function for several reasons.

The range in which is considered normal can be vast, and varies from one lab to the next. In the fall of 2002, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) changed the suggested range of the TSH levels to reflect 0.3 - 3.0. This change, unfortunately, has not been accepted harmoniously and therefore is not representative of the united affect that was intended. Thus, leaving patients responsible for being their own advocates. 

Here is an excerpt from the AACE, I suggest you take the time to read this and educate yourself of the affects of TSH, T3, T4, Free T3, Free T4 and the thyroid antibodies have on one another, and what they mean for you.

"Although there is a consensus that the lower limit of the euthyroid reference interval for TSH should be 0.2–0.4 mIU/L, experts disagree about the appropriate upper limit. In 2002, researchers published an analysis of thyroid function test results from a large survey of individuals representative of the U.S. population (3). The study revealed that within a small standard error the mean TSH level in the general population is approximately 1.5 mIU/L. This finding prompted organizations to call for lowering the upper limit of the normal TSH reference range. The National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry recommended 4 mIU/L, while the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists set the upper limit at 3 mIU/L, and other groups went as low as 2.5 mIU/L. Many clinicians resisted these new limits, because they worried that a significant number of patients would be unnecessarily labeled as having thyroid dysfunction, especially given the fact that there was no evidence that treatment of these individuals would provide any benefit."

Thyroid tests to ask your doctor for.

You need the following:

TSH - Thyroid Stimulating Hormone - range is 0.3 - 3.0 - optimal range is lower end of the range.
T3
T4 - The hormone your body produces and sends to your thyroid to be "processed".
Free T4
Free T3 - The hormone your thyroid converts the T4 into. This is the hormone that your body actually absorbs.Read all about T3 and the importance of it here, The Thyroid World’s Queen T3.
Thyroid antibodies - This is the test that tells your if you have Hashimoto's, an auto immune disease that attacks your thyroid and gives you symptoms of hypothyroidism.

At minimum you should have the TSH, Free T3 and the Thyroid Antibodies. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Synthroid and it's generic version, Levothyroxine, are only T4 correcting medications. If your Free T3 is not optimal these medicines will not be helpful in ridding your symptoms. You would need to discuss another medicine with your doctor that contains a T3 component. Some examples would be Armour Thyroid (desiccated thyroid hormone) and Nature Thyroid. I am not a doctor, and it is important that you only use the information I share as a guide to figure out a plan with your own doctor. If your doctor isn't listening to you, fire them. You are their boss.

Resources

Patient Recommended Doctors

Hashimoto's Institute shares information on how to figure out triggers that are causing the autoimmune disease, Hashimoto's, and put is into remission. There are many experts that have come together to share the information they have learned from studies and experiences.

Article regarding testing and T3 Hormone: The Thyroid World’s Queen T3. She shares a great deal of information and specifics on the T3 hormone and the importance it has on body function.

Dr. Rouzier shares how inaccurate the TSH test is alone.




Thursday, September 4, 2014

Preschool. Can it be?

Well, he is officially a preschooler. And since his birthday is just before school starts I didn't have to make a preschool sign. :)

We are enjoying our time, but we are slightly lost at what to do with all the quiet. We will walk this road and embrace the journey, just as we have every other milestone in our lives.

Happy back to school!











Saturday, August 16, 2014

Broken Trust


There are two types of trust. First, there is the trust you put into your family, friends, neighbors, and mentors. Then, there's the trust in Faith and "The Plan" for each of us.

Accordingly, if you are a believer in God and His plan then you know that the shear mention of the word trust, can make you question every decision you make. Fearing that each choice could alter your destined path. This fear can be encouraging and, at the same time, it can be debilitating.

Now, hear me out, friends. There is a difference in judgment and discernment that is directly aligned with trust. Make wise decisions and use the challenging moments in life as teachable moments for yourself, your kids, or those around you. People are watching Christians and waiting for the moment that they can exclaim that it's all a hoax. Our actions speak so loudly and we must remember that is how the Word is truly preached.

When we trust in God's plan and follow the signs we are given, sometimes we are lead to places that cause us a lot of pain and create countless questions. Every experience I've had that has resulted in situations where I am hurt and uncomfortable, or when I have hurt and made others uncomfortable, I have learned a great deal.

I've learned about the people involved and about myself. As I get older and as I stand firm in my commitment to move closer and lean in to my Faith, through the Word of God, the more challenges and obstacles I am presented with. The very heartaches we experience, I believe, are like spiritual strength training and conditioning.

The ability to remove yourself emotionally from a situation and make a sound decision in all daily life and big events, is irrevocably indispensable. I believe that God truly uses us all to complete His master plan.

Think of it this way, as a young adult I was a mischievous and strayed soul. Others were not my main focus and their feelings certainly weren't on my radar. Am I proud of this? No. But, I think it was meant to happen. If it weren't for my actions during those encounters with others, their lives could have been completely different. One single action or behavior or word could have been the push they needed to move closer to their Faith.

In retrospect we all have probably affected many others' decisions in their Faith journey, both positively and negatively.

I imagine it as The Life Cycle of Faith. As the cycle of life goes, so does the cycle of Faith. We are each components to the puzzle of this life. This life was meant to be a punishment (see the Book of Genesis). There's no doubt about that in my mind. However, when God sent Jesus to this world we were given a chance to redeem ourselves and make it right. He also offered us Grace and forgiveness. Those who choose it and truly embrace their inevitable imperfections are rewarded with the promise of eternal life in Heaven and a happy life here on earth.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says this, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

Trust is something that is given, free of charge and with no strings attached, to those close to us. When that trust is broken it can be months, years, even decades before that trust damage is repaired, if ever in a lifetime.

Just remember, before you revoke your trust, or put your walls up, trust is the key to Faith. Trusting faithfully will help us to trust wholly in life. So let down the barriers and forgive. Give back the key to your trust. And pray, pray, pray.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

A smile that just won't fade!

I have been walking around all day with a smile that just won't fade, and for good reasons.

Today, as a family, we experienced a day full of so much fun that our hearts almost exploded with excitement and joy!

Cannon participated in his first ever competition, a bike race.

I know it doesn't seem like much, but I invite you to take a look from our view.

When Charlie died at 14 months (June 2011), we were pregnant (28 weeks) with Cannon. We went from just emerging from the baby stages to catapulting right back into them. So in a way it was almost three years straight of baby months. Three. Long. Years.

Subsequently, we watched from what felt like the shadows, as our friends with kids the same age as Charlie progressed into the toddler and preschool years, longing for those moments we lost.

Without doubt, today was a victory in a multitude of ways.

Another step in grief.
A step of acceptance and excitement for the future....something that doesn't come easy for us.
A fulfillment of our desire to see our children happy.
And...a victory for Cannon.

We went there with one, very clear, expectation for Cannon. To have fun! And fun is what the boy had. I've never seen such excitement, joy and a smile so huge on his face.

To our surprise, he took first place out of all the 2 year olds.

Practicing before the big race!





Big kiss for mommy before the big race! 


And some typical Cannon silliness....



Getting ready to go in the first round...



I was too busy watching him race to take pics during, but I got some videos of his finishes. :)



He was so proud and excited!








An amazing, fun day of JOY! 

Thank you God, for filling the hole in our hearts 
with your Love and Grace and for restoring our happiness 
in this temporary world. 

We can smile again through the tears 
because we know and we believe Your Word!

Amen.