Friday, July 29, 2011

God will only give you


“God will only give you
what you would have asked for
if you knew everything He knows.”
- Tim Keller


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An answer, a timeline and a map

In previous posts I’ve mentioned Shauna Niequist and her book Bittersweet (which is getting mixed reviews from my friends and family so read at your own risk!). Shauna mentions in her book, that during a challenging season of her life she wanted an answer, a timeline and a map.

I want those too.

Badly.

But instead of getting an answer, a timeline or a map, we got a letter in the mail on Monday.

It was the one we had been waiting for. We knew it was coming…but still. I wanted to be the one to find it so I could gently break the news to my husband. But, I was not. I got a call at work Monday and my husband told me he had opened the mail and his last employment option was off the table.

This is absolutely one of those times when I want to ask God, “What are you DOING? I mean really Lord, what is your plan? What do you have in store? And when exactly will your plan be revealed? Can you at least throw us a lifeline? Send a note? Write in the sky? Give us some indication that you are still big, still in control and still working this thing out for your good and your glory?”

I mean I KNOW He is. But at the same time I REALLY want Him to give me something tangible that I can cling to right now.

Like say, an answer, a timeline and a map.

But if I had those items in my hand, I certainly wouldn’t be seeking the face of the Lord. And the reality is, I’m not gonna get those things anyway because that’s not how God works.

He won’t give me answers. He will give me Himself.

He won’t show me His timeline. He will show me the truth of Ecc 3:11.

He won’t point me to a map of my future. He will point me to His Word.

I want to take that letter and send it right back where it came from. I want to burn it. I want to run it out to the garbage can and toss it in so I can pretend it was never mailed to our home. It was the one job we had been waiting for. It was so perfect. They pursued Ryan. He didn’t pursue them.

But then I cool down, and remind myself of these three truths:

1. It was NOT the one we were waiting for. He is the only One we are waiting for.

2. Our God is pursuing Ryan as fervently and passionately as He has since Ryan drew his first breath.

3. I’ve got a love letter written to me that I can read, re-read, meditate upon, question, study and ponder. It’s not an answer, a timeline or a map, but it’s a letter written from His heart to mine and it’s waiting for me every day.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pro-what?

In the midst of bath time craziness last night the doorbell rang. I walked quickly to the front door only to realize too late that it was a gal, with a clipboard and an agenda.

And her agenda was not my agenda.

She quickly launched into her deep gratitude for the support of our neighborhood last year in getting all the funding they needed to continue to promote pro-choice for women and all of their reproductive rights.

I've had people stop at my door before with this agenda, but they had caught me off guard and I didn't say what was on my heart.

Last night I said it.

Thankfully a naked little Samuel had followed me to the front door. I reached down and tousled his hair before I looked at this pro-choice advocate straight in the eyes and said, "Our son is adopted. His mom had a choice and she chose life. It's because of her decision to choose life that we have our son today. We are absolutely pro-life."

She quickly mumbled, "Have a good night" and went on her way. It was very apparent that she did not want to have any sort of further discussion or debate with me.

Here's where I stand on this topic.

I'm actually pro-choice.

What?!

I really am.

Every single woman has a choice to have protected sex or unprotected sex (obviously I am not referring to those who are not given a choice).

That's where the choice lies.

The choice is not about what to do with the life that was conceived as a result of the first choice.

I have always been pro-choice AND pro-life.

You choose unprotected sex, then you choose life. And then your next choice is whether you choose to raise this child yourself, or choose an adoption plan.

I believe women should have rights too. I believe they deserve plenty of choices and lots of freedom. But none of those choices involve taking the life of an unborn baby.

And once again my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude at the choice Samuel's birth mom made. Because she chose life - and made an adoption plan - I have the gift and privilege of raising our son today.

So c'mon pro-choice advocates. Knock on my door, give me your clipboard and spout off all the reasons why women should have rights and choices.

I'll let my blue-eyed, blonde-haired miracle tell you why I won't ever support your agenda.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Don’t miss Sunday’s miracle


I am currently reading Cast of Characters by Max Lucado. I’ve read a few Lucado books. He has a unique writing style that I appreciate and a knowledge of Scripture that goes far beyond my meager understanding.

Cast of Characters profiles numerous Biblical characters. Max presents their stories and the lessons we can learn from their lives.

I was reading a chapter about John on the bus on my way home from work on Monday and was so glued to the words that I completely missed my bus stop. While I normally get off one house away from mine, I walked three blocks in nearly 100 degree heat (in dress clothes and heals no less) due to my distraction.

Anyway.

What I read in this chapter rocked my world. And I’m pretty sure God meant for me to read it right now. Ad maybe he means for you to read it to.

Chapter 9 (titled From Tragedy to Triumph) describes John as a close friend of Jesus who spent much time with him in the upper room, in the Garden of Gethsemane, at the crucifixion. Max references John 19 which is a chapter that describes John and others preparing for Jesus’ burial and how difficult this must have been for John. He didn’t want to believe or accept that Jesus was dead. But as they approach the tomb with linens to bury him, the reality of Friday’s tragedy – Jesus’ death on the cross – was devastating and heartbreaking.

Here’s the words that took my breath away:

“John didn’t know on that Friday what you and I now know. He didn’t know that Friday’s tragedy would be Sunday’s triumph. John would later confess that he “did not yet understand from the Scriptures that Jesus must rise from the dead” (John 20:9).

That’s why what he did on Saturday is so important.

We don’t know anything about this day; we have no passage to read, no knowledge to share. All we know is this: When Sunday came, John was still present.

Did he understand Jesus? No.

Was he glad Jesus did what he did? No.

But did he leave Jesus? No.

What about you? When you’re in John’s position, what do you do? When it’s Saturday in your life, how do you react? When you are somewhere between yesterday’s tragedy and tomorrow’s triumph, what do you do? Do you leave God – or do you linger near him?

John chose to linger. And because he lingered on Saturday, he was around on Sunday to see the miracle.”

Oh friends, do you understand this? Does it resonate with your heart? You may be living a Saturday right now. Today might be the day between your tragedy and your triumph.

When I think about my journey to parenthood, I didn’t know on Friday what Sunday held. Friday my scars were pronounced (both physical and emotional) and my heart was tender. My eyes were full of tears. My mind and body were exhausted.

My Friday tragedy was grieving the loss of my second baby in the womb.

But I didn’t know that Sunday’s miracle was just a day away.

Did I understand what Jesus was doing in my life? No.

Was I glad about what had happened? Certainly not.

Did I leave Jesus? Thankfully no.

And because I lingered on Saturday – in the midst of heartache and doubt and uncertainty – I got to experience Sunday’s miracle.

On Friday I didn’t know my son existed. On Sunday I was holding a miracle in my arms.

And today, during a long season of unemployment, I have to ask myself the questions that Max proposes to his readers:What about you? When you’re in John’s position, what do you do? When it’s Saturday in your life, how do you react? When you are somewhere between yesterday’s tragedy and tomorrow’s triumph, what do you do? Do you leave God – or do you linger near him?

Right now, it's a Saturday in my life. But I believe tomorrow’s triumph is coming. And I'm choosing to linger because I don’t want to miss Sunday’s miracle.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Waiting on God

We're still waiting to hear about Ryan's latest interview. They said they would either call or send a letter in the mail (if it was a no). Every day there is a bit of dread when we get the mail. For six days no letter came. But neither did a call, so at this point we're anticipating a letter. It's the waiting that's always the hardest. Once we get the news (good or bad) we can take the next step. We can move on.

But the waiting. Oh the waiting.

"Waiting on God isn't about the suspension of meaning and purpose. It's part of the meaning and purpose that God has brought into my life.  Waiting on God isn't to be viewed as an obstruction in the way of the plan. Waiting is an essential part of the plan. For the child of God, waiting isn't simply about what I'll receive at the end of my wait. No, waiting is much more purposeful, efficient, and practical than that. Waiting is fundamentally about what I'll become as I wait.  God is using the wait to do in and through me exactly what He's promised. Through the wait He's changing me. By means of the wait He's altering the fabric of my thoughts and desires. Through the wait He's causing me to see and experience new things about Him and His kingdom. And all of this sharpens me, enabling me to be a more useful tool in His redemptive hands."  Paul Tripp

Monday, July 11, 2011

A break from blogging

Good morning friends,
I just spent some sweet sweet time with the Lord...asking Him to move. Petitioning Him to hear our prayers. Seeking Him and His perfect, beautiful will for our family. Declaring our faith and trust in Him and His goodness. Stating our trust in His perfect plan.

I believe God is asking me to set aside my blogging for a time and dedicate those moments to Him instead. My husband is in desperate need of my prayers. He is weary from fighting this battle and I believe God is calling me to battle for him (ultimately the Lord has already won this battle, but I believe I can battle in prayer for Ryan). I believe it is my responsibility as his wife to lift Ryan high, pray for protection over his mind, to ask God to fill him with a peace and joy that can only come from the Lord. I feel strongly that I need to meditate on truth and to ask God to grant us determination, endurance and perseverance. For this road is long...and hard...and we are in need of our great God.

Our message at church yesterday was taken from Psalm 146. It is a gentle reminder that we should not put our trust in princes, in men. Our trust, our hope, our help needs to come from the God of Jacob, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Ryan had a second interview last week for a company that he is very very excited about. There are four candidates that are in these final stages of interviewing. We will hear from them this week if they want to bring Ryan in for one more final interview. I am asking God to say 'yes.' I am asking the Lord to let this be the one. Would you please pray that it would be so? Would you also please pay for protection over Ryan's mind as he faces a daily battle of choosing what to believe?

Until we hear from this company, I am going to take a short break from blogging. That may be just for today or it may be all week. 

As we walk this road my heart is encouraged as I think of all of you out there facing your own battles. Striving to trust God with your futures - health, family, finances, relationships. You inspire me. Together let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. Let us declare that this battle is His and His alone. And let us rest in that truth today.

I am in prayer for you and I am trusting my husband, my family and my future to the One who is faithful to ALL His promises.

With great love and admiration for you, my friends,
Stacy

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Homemade Graham Crackers

Growing up I loved Graham Crackers (still do!) and dipping them in milk for an after-school-snack was so delicious. But today's Graham Crackers are made with white flour rather than wheat flour and have high amounts of sugar (whether that's honey or high fructose corn syrup).

My mother-in-law introduced me to homemade Graham Crackers when she made them for the kids and then I found this recipe at Weelicious for Graham Crackers.

They are tasty. They are so easy to make. They are FUN! And best of all, they are made with healthy ingredients for little people! Samuel loves helping me make the dough and then roll them out and cut them into fun shapes. This is absolutely one of my favorite recipes that I have made for my kids.

Instead of passing out candy for a Valentine's treat, we cut these into hearts and shared them with our friends for Valentine's Day this past February. I think I might go make another batch right now....

Let me know if you try them and what you think!





P.S. While I was typing this Samuel was playing in the living room and Ryan was getting Lauren up from sleeping. Ryan came downstairs and found Samuel in the kitchen, underneath the table with a baggie filled with molasses cookies that my friend Jeri made. There was only one cookie left in the bag and crumbs all around Samuel's mouth. When we asked him how many he ate, he said, "2 1/2 cookies. But I only ate one at a time!" He didn't eat much cereal for breakfast, but he had 2 1/2 molasses cookies. There's only so much a mother can do....

Thursday, July 7, 2011

14 of our favorite foods!

Awhile back I took pictures of some of the foods that my kids eat on a daily basis or ingredients that I cook with regularly. And to be honest, outside of applesauce, five years ago I didn't know many of these items existed so I was definitely not eating them or cooking with them.

Here is a list of what you'll find in the pictures below (along with a few comments):
1. FAGE yogurt - highest levels of protein in any yogurt that I have found (I get mine at Costco but I am sure it's available in other stores as well). I cannot recommend enough looking at the sugar content in Yogurt. I do not buy regular yogurt for my children because one small container or small scoop can have 20-30 grams of sugar. I just looked online and one container of vanilla Yoplait has 28 grams of sugar and 7 g of protein. That is more than our kids need in an entire day! FAGE has 15g of protein and 7g of sugar. So instead I buy regular/plain yogurt and mix in fruit. Or if little eaters are used to the high sugar kind, mix it half and half with FAGE so they get more protein and less sugar. I'm just sayin'!

2.Sabra Hummus - Costco big container, but you can get small containers anywhere. This is made of chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) and is a great source of fiber and iron. It is made with olive oil which is a great fat for the kids to eat. I even make sandwiches out of it - spread on a tortilla with bananas or cucumbers and Samuel eats it up. Lauren, not so much :) We really like it with pita chips or cold veggies! It's the healthiest dip I offer.

3.Kirklands Organic Peanut Butter - you can only get this at Costco. It has 2 grams of sugar and 9g protein. And only peanuts and salt for ingredients. Do you know what is in regular peanut butter? The second ingredient is sugar and third is hydrogenated oils. And it has almost double the sodium of natural PB or Almond Butter.

4.Trader Joes Almond Butter - this is a great alternative to PB when your kids are too young to eat PB. You don't have to worry about a peanut allergy (unless they are allergic to all nuts). This has 2 g sugar and 8 g protein. But what sold me is that there are only two ingredients: almonds and sea salt. Almonds are so good for us!
5.Kirklands Organic Strawberry spread - great for PB and Jelly sandwiches and low in sugar. Also good to mix into plain yogurt.

6.Mott's natural applesauce - no sugar added. I often add protein powder to applesauce.

7.Herbalife vanilla protein powder - I can add this to just about anything! Smoothies, cereal, applesauce, yogurt, etc. Great addition to boost protein.

8.Tillamook Cheese - Costco - soooo tasty! My favorite cheese and the kids love it. 7 grams of protein in 1 oz. It's high in fat so I have to watch how much I eat, but good for my kiddos.

9.Mountain High Yogurt - good amount of protein but kind of high in sugar. It's cheaper than FAGE though so I often mix the two. It has 11g of protein and 16 sugars.

10.Trader Joes Pineapple tidbits - kids love frozen fruit. I have found some cheaper frozen fruit at TJ and when I run out of fresh I pull a handful out of the freezer. Or I throw some in when I'm making smoothies.

11.Coconut Water - I keep this on hand rather than Pedialyte which is what the medical doctors recommend for dehydration. This has more electrolytes and is natural. It's one of the best drinks to rehydrate our bodies.

12.Flaxseed - must be ground for our bodies to digest but has great nutritional value including good fat and fiber. One serving has 2400 mg of Omega-3. I toss it into just about anything!

13.Whole wheat flour - We love our whole wheat waffles! I often switch out recipes that call for all white flour with half whole wheat. Whole wheat flour is high in fiber and protein.

14.Almond flour - I make banana almond pancakes with this and will share that recipe in another post. Almond flour can be added to muffins or other recipes to increase nutritional value. It's a good source of protein, fiber, magnesium and Vitamin E.

These are some of the staple items that we buy. I have made changes to what I purchase throughout the past couple years. I still have a hard time with peanut butter because I grew up on the sugar-laden kind, but it's one small step at a time... The good news is, if we start our kids on these kinds of natural foods, they won't know any different! 

Do you have questions or favorite foods to share? I'd love to hear them! Please share.















Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Brain development before age 3

A study published in the British Medical Journal in February of this year discussed the importance of brain development before the age of 3. The study claimed that children's diets before the age of 3 have a strong potential of affecting their IQ.

The reason? The brain is growing at an accelerated rate during the first three years of life.  Developing brains need a diet filled with good fats and a variety of fruits and vegetables. They need less processed foods and more natural foods.

The study categorized three basic diets:
processed - which is packed with fats, sugar and convenience foods
traditional - which is filled with meats and vegetables
health conscious - which is plenty of fruit, vegetables, salads, rice and pasta.

What I've discovered in my reading about kids and nutrition, is that when children are fed foods high in sugar and salt, their palettes begin to crave sugar and salt rather than fruits and vegetables. I absolutely believe what I feed Samuel and Lauren today will impact their palette cravings later in life.

One day in April I took a picture of Samuel's lunch. Why? I have no idea. But it's a good example of two things:

1 - kids don't need a 'main dish' like adults often do. If we provide them with lots of healthy choices, they can pick and choose what they eat and they will fill their tummies with high-fat, protein-laden foods.

2 - how to include various fruits and vegetables in a meal. Samuel loves dipping (as most kids do) and at this meal I gave Samuel hummus and peanut butter for dipping.


McMama does a great job of explaining some of her thoughts about nutrition here. And she has five children. I only have two. So definitely read what she has to say! Unfortunately her link about 11 things doesn't seem to be working and that's where I first got the idea to feed my kiddos lots of small, healthy choices and let them eat what they want. Because truly it's all about the choices!

So as I'm striving to limit my children’s consumption of sweet and salty snacks, and processed foods, I am also working to offer a variety of fruits and veggies in their natural state. Some days are better than others. Currently the only veggie Lauren will eat is sweet potatoes. So I buy 5 a week. But I offer her a little bit of every vegetable I serve Samuel. Today she ate a carrot, spit it out and then put the carrot stick back in her mouth again. We'll get there. Eventually.

Quotes like these inspire me to continue on this road to healthy eating:

"The diet they become comfortable eating during these early years will help them to develop optimally and avoid the many diseases that plaque adults throughout life." - British Medical Journal

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Talkin' about food

This week, in lieu of deeper, more thought-provoking topics, I'm talkin' about food.

As a mom, I think long and hard every week about my meal plans, my grocery lists, how to be creative in food presentation, and how to get veggies from the fridge/freezer to their mouths. Much thought is given every week to figuring out ways to increase the fruits, veggies and protein in my children's diets, while lowering the sugar and salt intake.

I love baking, I enjoy cooking and my kitchen is a place where I spend a lot of time these days. So I'd thought I spend a week (or maybe two.....we'll see), sharing some of the things I've learned in the last couple years about health and nutrition and how I'm trying to incorporate those things into our meals on a regular basis.

Today I want to share two things:

A web site
My absolute all-time favorite web site since becoming a mom: http://weelicious.com/
I'm not sure where or how I came across this site, but it's by a mom who is dedicated to creating healthy recipes for her kids. She has remade a lot of typical foods with lower-sugar or found creative ways to add veggies into recipes. The dishes are kid-friendly and fun to make. I'll share some of my favorite recipes that I've made from Weelicious, but there are so many great ones and she adds new recipes every week!

My conviction
The older I get the more I am developing an awareness for my personal convictions and philosophies about such things as finances, health, family, parenting, etc. When it comes to my kids I have parenting convictions and philosophies about sleep, discipline, finances, healthy living and food. The more books and articles I read, the more research I do, the more I study labels, the greater my conviction about what I put in my children's mouths. Because here's where my conviction lies: the Lord has determined that I am the best one to raise my two children. He has blessed me with the honor and privilege of raising them. It is my responsibility to teach them about so many topics in life and to model good behavior.

I feel a strong conviction about feeding natural, healthy, low-sugar foods to Samuel and Lauren. I feel it is my responsibility to read food labels and know what I am putting in their mouths. Their little bodies need good fat, lots of protein, and a variety of fruits and veggies to grow strong. This isn't every mom's conviction. This is mine. I'm not here to judge or demand others do what I'm doing.

We do eat processed foods, but I try to limit (or at least be aware of!) how much processed foods they eat. I'm not opposed to feeding my children treats on special occasions. But treats (candy, desserts, sugar-laden baked goods) are not a regular part of their meals at home nor their daily diets.

So this week I will share pictures and recipes and my thoughts about food. And I'd love your thoughts and feedback and favorite kid-friendly recipes as well!

Friday, July 1, 2011

A roller coaster of emotions

It's been a fairly exhausting week emotionally. A roller coaster of emotions to be honest.

Ryan had three hours of interviews on Wednesday and another hour interview yesterday. By 7 p.m. Wednesday night one company emailed and said they were pursuing another candidate.

It was a tough night.

The hope-followed-by-disappointment cycle that continues to happen is tough to take. It was hard when we were trying to conceive and it's hard now when we're trying to secure a job.

I almost posted on Wednesday night, but today I'm grateful I didn't. It wouldn't have been pretty. I was at a very raw point emotionally and seeing my husband deal with rejection to the degree that he has, put me over the top Wednesday night.

This trial is a reminder to me again that I have to repeatedly make choices. I can choose anger or I can choose patience. I can choose bitterness or I can choose peace. I can choose pride or I choose to humbly trust. I can choose to harden my heart toward the Lord or I can choose to walk another day in faith.

A year ago I posted this about having a heart at peace. Here I am, a year later....in fact three years after I wrote the original post, still struggling with bitter roots. Because bitter roots don't just grow once. They continually try to find dark places in your heart, take root and eventually take over. Striving for a heart at peace will be a life-long endeavor for me.

Ug.

It's a daily choice. Sometimes hourly. Sometimes the choice involves tearful surrendering and other times it includes purposeful decisions about what I'm going to think and choose to believe.

This morning Ryan faced another day of applying for jobs and trying to make sense of all that is happening. And he has his own choices to make: he has to choose joy over depression and determination over laziness. And this morning there was a pretty tough mental battle taking place.

So here we go....getting on the roller coaster again, strapping on our seat belts, and hoping the next ride has a different ending.