Archive for February, 2013

It’s Really Over

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

When I wrote this post almost two years ago, I thought that was the end of it.

I was in pain, but I was angry.

I didn’t want to ever see him again and I decided he was dead to me.

My focus was on taking care of mom. On making sure she knew we loved and supported her.

I couldn’t see past the present. Things were over but I couldn’t really picture what the future would look like.

I knew he wouldn’t be in it but it still seemed surreal.

After a while my anger faded into the background and I didn’t really think about any of it very much. I saw mom getting stronger and I focused on my life. My little family.

He would make half-assed attempts to reach out to me, but I knew he didn’t want us back. If he really loved and valued us, he would want to repent and get right with God. He would want to change everything and come back to us.

But he didn’t.

He doesn’t love anyone except himself.

I think he’s too sick to even know how to love.

But he sure as hell knows how to pursue his selfish desires and ambitions.

They are more important than we are.

So many promises were broken. A covenant was broken.

And it doesn’t even matter to him.

We are all left wounded in the wake of his choices. Left to lick our wounds while he “moves on” to some “new life”.

A life that he thinks will be better than the one he had with us.

As a little girl all I really wanted was to be loved, treasured, and adored by him. The drive to please him was overwhelming. It colored everything I did.

But it was never enough.

As a grown woman I’m still affected by it. The way I view the world. The insatiable need for love and affirmation. The perception that I have to work to earn people’s love.

Fortunately my Heavenly Father is mending my heart. He’s revealing His love to me in new ways and I’m understanding it for the first time.

But I still ache.

The choice he made two weeks ago ripped the scab off my wound.

I feel rejected all over again.

Our family will never be together again.

It’s really over.

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Monday, February 25th, 2013

YOU GUYS!

These cookies are SO. FREAKING. DELICIOUS.

For the most part, eating vegan has meant that we are consuming loads of fruits, vegetables and healthy grains, but it doesn’t mean we don’t get to have any treats.  It just means we have to go about them a little differently.

Andy’s parents came over for dessert on Thursday night and I wanted to make a dessert that we could eat, but also that they would enjoy.  These cookies were the result!

I found the cookie recipe on Pinterest and tweaked it a little which made it slightly “less healthy” but definitely “more tasty”.

The frosting was my own concoction and it totally made these cookies!

And you’d never believe it when you taste these cookies, but they contain a whole can of black beans!  Don’t let this secret ingredient freak you out… you don’t taste it one bit.  The cookies are moist, chewy and delicious while packing a protein punch from the beans.  It’s like magic.  Just take my word for it.

Without further ado, I give you Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies!

cookies

3.7 from 3 reviews
Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert/Vegan
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 15-ounce can black beans (or 1½ cups dry beans cooked and cooled)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • ½ cup honey (or maple syrup for strict vegans)
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour or rice flour, for gluten free
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • FOR THE FROSTING
  • ¼ cup Smart Balance spread
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1¼ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Rinse the beans and drain them
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, add the black beans, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 2 tablespoons milk, and ½ cup honey. Blend until smooth.
  4. Add 5 tablespoons cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons white sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and ¾ to 1 teaspoon kosher salt to the bean mixture and blend until smooth and the batter resembles a thick mousse.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spoon 16 evenly distributed dollops of batter.
  6. Bake for about 9 minutes (the cookies should still be a little soft when you remove them from the oven).
  7. Set aside a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. FOR THE FROSTING: cream the Smart Balance spread and peanut butter together then add the vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix until it's all incorporated. Add the almond milk to thin out the mixture, using more if necessary to achieve a good frosting consistency.

 

Family Fun Week!

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

I seriously could have blogged every single day this week because we’ve been up to so many fun things!

But because we were busy having so much fun, I didn’t have any time to sit down and blog about it :)

It started on Monday when my sister-in-law and her two kids came into town from Rhode Island.  They came by the house in the afternoon for a visit and to meet Miss Avery.  We had a great time catching up and Grace got to play with her cousin Adeline who she absolutely adores!

Photo Feb 20, 10 50 21 AM

They both look pretty “unsure” here, but it’s probably because it was the 15th picture that we took :)

That evening we went over to my Aunt’s house for the annual Pierogi Day.  It’s a tradition that my Grandma started years and years ago and a couple of my cousins are dedicated to keeping it alive.  They make hundreds of delicious pierogies every year and we all get together to feast on them.  Grace enjoyed her first pierogies, but even more than that she loved playing with her cousin (actually my cousin which I think makes it her second cousin) Micki.  They had a ball playing with Micki’s tablet, reading together and watching part of a movie together cuddled up on the floor.

Photo Feb 21, 12 17 58 AM

Hamming it up for the camera while enjoying her first pierogi!

Photo Feb 18, 7 45 51 PM

Cuddled up watching a movie and playing on the tablet :)

On Wednesday morning we met up with all the ladies on Andy’s side of the family for a fun coffee date at Morning Glory.  Boy is that place charming!  It’s a quaint little coffee and pastry shop nearby and it had such an ambient setting with a fireplace and beautiful breakfast offerings.  Grace enjoyed a chocolate milk from home along with her lemon poppyseed muffin and I had a soy chai tea.  We had fun chit chatting with all the girls and Grace loved playing with her cousins.  We took up the entire front section of the place!

girls

ALL the girl cousins!

After the coffee date, some of us made a trip out to Somerset Mall for the afternoon.  We loaded up with more coffee from Starbucks (after all, it had been several hours since our last coffee drinks! lol) and we browsed around, mainly spending time at the Lego store and Build-A-Bear since we had 7 kids in tow :)  Grace had a lot of fun playing in both stores, but Build-A-Bear was definitely her favorite.

Especially since I’m a total sucker for that place and would probably buy her a “bear” every dang day just because it’s so stinking adorable to watch how excited she gets to go through the whole process!

Photo Feb 20, 1 04 19 PM

Getting started…

Photo Feb 20, 1 07 08 PM

Getting stuffed…

Photo Feb 20, 1 08 43 PM

Getting the puppy’s heart all ready to be put inside him…

Photo Feb 20, 1 13 38 PM

Cheesy smile with finished puppy and the Cinderella dress that we HAD to get to go along with him :)

On our way home from the mall (after feeding Avery in the parking lot!) we stopped by my old office to visit TeeTee (my sister) and Uncle David.  Grace had fun running around the conference table and snacking on chocolate covered blueberries and Avery had fun being out of her carrier for the first time in hours since she slept the whole time we were at the mall.

We headed home with happy hearts and hungry bellies so I whipped up a vegan dinner for us (Zucchini Chickpea Tomato Curry over brown rice) and we collapsed into bed with smiles on our faces.

I wanted to be sure we saw my sister-in-law and the kids again before they left on Friday so Thursday morning we gathered for another coffee date.  I may be having a love affair with Starbucks Soy Toffee Nut Latte….wow is it good!

The Starbucks near us is really tiny and almost all of the tables were occupied so we all crammed around a two person table until the ladies beside us left and we could spread out.  It was so nice to see everyone again and we girls always end up laughing hysterically which is balm for the soul.  I joked with my local sister-in-law that we are turning into the “Fabulous Housewives of Harper Woods” with all of our leisurely coffee dates and shopping trips.  I wish my R.I. sister-in-law lived in Michigan so we could all get together regularly.  Spending time with family is one of my most favorite things to do.

My oldest niece texted us about going out for lunch, so we packed up our stuff and headed over to National Coney Island for lunch.  I’m so glad my girls are such troopers when it comes to being out and about.  Two separate people came over to tell us how well-behaved the kids were while we were visiting at Starbucks.  As a mom, those compliments totally make my day.

That evening after dinner, Andy’s parents came by for dessert.  I whipped up an incredible batch of vegan cookies (recipe coming tomorrow) and we sat around chatting while Grace entertained us.  She’s such a ham and loves to see her Mimi and Poppa.  We even talked about the possibility of a beach trip this spring or summer which has me all excited about visiting South Carolina!

On Friday afternoon we headed out to spend the night with my mom.  Grace LOVES going to visit Grandma (and her toys!) so she was happily running around the house Friday morning gathering things that we needed to pack.  She’s growing up so much and has become an excellent helper.

My brother came by to see us while we were there and mom and I had fun talking and gobbling up a big bowl of her homemade garlicky guacamole along with some chilled Pino Grigio.  Grace played with all of Grandma’s toys and Avery did her usual eat/play/sleep routine like a champ.

Photo Feb 23, 10 57 15 AM

Avery fast asleep in Grandma’s arms :)

We had oatmeal with raisins, coconut and cinnamon for breakfast and lounged around talking and playing on Grandma’s iPad.  Grace’s potty training is still coming along slowly but surely and she’s recently had a fear of going #2 in the potty, but after a bit of a battle (1.5 hours) and a good bribe (a chocolate chip cookie and watching Kipper on the iPad) she went #2 in the potty!  We were all very proud and I think she was proud of herself  too.  Too bad she went #2 in her pull up after church today instead of using the potty :(  I’m learning that this process is a few steps forward and then a few steps back, but she wants to keep at it so I’m following her lead and trusting that eventually it will all fall into place.

I hope you all had a great week too and have been enjoying your weekend!  I’ll be back tomorrow with an incredible vegan dessert recipe!

Sticking With It…

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Remember how I told you I was wearing a red scarf for 30 days to help raise awareness for human trafficking?

Well it’s day 17 and I’m getting kind of tired of it.

Isn’t that terrible?!

I’ve been faithfully wearing it everyday; even when I don’t go anywhere and it’s just layered over my yoga pants and t-shirt.  I’m committed to stick with it, but it’s getting old.

I bought a few new shirts, scarves and necklaces that I’m excited to wear, but layering my red scarf over them really clashes, so I’ve been holding off on wearing my new clothes.

It occurred to me today that I might be getting tired of wearing this red scarf for a measly 30 days, but the poor innocent girls and women who are victims of sex trafficking are subjected to unspeakable things EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

The VERY LEAST I can do is wear a red scarf for 30 days in a small attempt to bring awareness to this problem.

Every time I look down at my scarf and wish I didn’t “have” to wear it, I’m reminding myself of all of the precious young girls who need my prayers.

When I want to wear a new scarf or put together an outfit sans red scarf, I’m remembering to pray.  To pray fervently for all of the victims.  To pray justice will come to the men who enslave them.

I have 13 days left and I’m going to make them count.  I don’t care how much it clashes with my outfit or how many times I spill food on it, I’m going to rock this red scarf and pray my heart out about this issue!

  Photo Feb 20, 10 13 35 PM

Going Vegan…

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Andy and I have decided to go Vegan for the next 40 days.

Our church does a lenten fast and this is how we’re choosing to participate.

I fasted for lent last year and the year before.

In 2011, I really felt God speaking to me throughout the fast and it resulted in some pretty cool stuff happening in my heart and my life.

Last year it just made me grumpy.

This year I’m going into the fast without so many expectations.

Through my Bible study this year and my wonderful mentor, I’m learning that I place unfair expectations on myself and the people around me.

The more I’ve considered this and spent some time asking God to help me break away from it, the more I’ve realized just how far reaching this whole “expectations thing” really is.

Think about it for a little while…when you feel frustrated, hurt, angry, jealous, anxious, or anything else, it’s because reality is not meeting your expectations. This often results in you judging the person(s) who didn’t measure up to the expectation they didn’t even know you had for them!

This has been a profound realization for me, but I’m having trouble putting it into words which might mean it’s a revelation just for me for now.

Back to going Vegan!

Our church observes Lent from the Monday after Ash Wednesday until Good Friday night, so Andy and I got started yesterday morning.

That was nice because it allowed us to indulge in a delicious filet mignon dinner for Valentine’s Day :)

Nothing like feasting on a cow before swearing off animal products for 40 days! #HumanNatureIsWeird

Anyway, we have one day down and so far it’s going well.

Breakfasts are easy since many cereals are vegan and we can just swap regular milk for almond milk. I’ve also really enjoyed steel cut oatmeal in the mornings.

PicMonkey Collage

Left: Oats with pecans, honey and chia seeds Right: Oats with strawberries, honey and chia seeds.

I thought lunches might be tricky, but I did a quick Google search for “vegan lunches” and got a handful of recipes that are easy for Andy to pack with him to take to school.

Photo Feb 18, 1 08 35 PM

Lunch: asparagus, rainbow chard and avocado quinoa salad (recipe to come!)

Dinner didn’t have me worried because I’ve eaten vegan before and knew I’d have plenty of time for dinner prep now that I’m home full-time. Plus, I have a handful of vegan recipes already posted here on the blog!

I actually have more vegan-friendly recipes than I thought!

I won’t be turning the blog into a Vegan-palooza for the next month, but I will be posting Vegan recipes since that’s what I’ll be cooking :)

I’m also starting to track my calories to shed some of this baby weight before summer. I’m not resurrecting Weigh-In Wednesdays because that was a humiliating series that my sister and I laugh hysterically about every time it comes up!

In the midst of all this vegan food and calorie tracking I want to keep sight of the fast. I want to pray that God speaks to me and that I listen to him especially well over the next 40 days. I know I’ll get cravings and in those moments I want to open my heart to Him.

Do you participate in Lent? If so, what are you fasting from?

 

 

 

Folded Loaf {Bread stuffed with beef, broccoli & mozzarella}

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

I have to say that this recipe has the WORST. NAME. EVER.

Folded loaf reminds me more of something you’d see in the toilet than something you’d find on your dinner plate.

But it’s actually a really tasty meal!

I hope you’ve recovered from my potty humor, I’m not sure I have yet…

But anyway, this dinner is fairly quick and easy and makes for a pretty good weeknight meal.

You could be all Martha Stewart and make your own bread/pizza dough or you could just pick up some pre-made stuff in your grocery store freezer aisle (which is what I normally do).

Unfortunately my local Kroger didn’t have frozen bread dough in stock so I picked up a bag of dough from Trader Joe’s.  They carry white and whole wheat dough in their refrigerator section for only $1.99.  I’ve gotten the whole wheat before and although it’s very “wheaty” it’s pretty good and makes for some nice bread sticks.

My mom always made this meal with white dough so that’s what I wanted to use.  Unfortunately TJ’s was out of plain white dough, but they had this garlic and herb stuff, so out of desperation I grabbed it to make this dinner that night.

IMG_3878

It turns out it was a happy accident because the flavor of the dough was a nice addition to the meal.  Gotta love when that happens :)

I’m going to relay the recipe as my mom always made it, but you can easily sub a different veggie or meat or cheese to make this your own creation.  You won’t be disappointed to make the original version though…it’s hearty comfort food at its best.

Not only does this meal have a terrible name, but it’s very hard to make it look appetizing in pictures too.  I did what I could with my basic little camera, but don’t judge this book by its cover!

folded loaf

Folded Loaf {bread stuffed with beef, broccoli & mozzarella}
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 "loaf" frozen bread dough (thawed) or 1 bag of Trader Joe's pizza dough
  • 1 lb ground beef, cooked and drained
  • 1 10oz package frozen chopped broccoli
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (or a clove of fresh garlic minced)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder (or a quarter onion finely diced)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 jar marinara sauce for dipping (or homemade sauce if you have it)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*
  2. Brown ground beef over medium heat, adding the garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper when the meat is almost fully cooked. Drain fat and set aside.
  3. Cook Broccoli according to package directions, then drain and set aside.
  4. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil to prevent loaf from sticking.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll ½ of the dough out to form a long rectangle. Use the size of the baking sheet as a rough guide (so that your loaf isn't too long).
  6. Transfer your rectangle of dough to the baking sheet and prepare to add the filling.
  7. Sprinkle half of the cooked ground beef along the center of the dough (like you are making a burrito). Be sure to leave a couple of inches at the top and bottom of the loaf so that you can pinch the ends together without filling leaking out.
  8. Sprinkle half the cooked broccoli on top of the ground beef.
  9. Top the beef and broccoli with half of the shredded mozzarella.
  10. Starting in the middle of the loaf and working toward each end, gather the sides of the dough and pinch them together along the whole length of the loaf. If thin areas of dough start to tear apart and make holes, don't worry. We'll fix them later.
  11. Once the sides have been brought together and pinched "closed" all along the top, pinch the ends closed and tuck them gently under the loaf to finish the "seal".
  12. The ends tend to have more dough than you need, so take small pieces from the ends to patch any holes that may have formed when you were pinching the loaf across the top.
  13. Bake the loaf at 350* for 25-30 minutes or until it is golden on top and sounds hollow when you tap it.
  14. While the first loaf is baking, make your second loaf following steps 2-11 above.
  15. Heat the marinara sauce over medium heat and pour into small bowls.
  16. When the loaves have finished baking, slice them on a cutting board and serve with bowls of marinara for dipping.

 

The Calm After the Storm

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

It’s been a week since my last entry.

I was in a bad way when I spewed all of that emotion onto the page, but thankfully things have settled down.

And yes, Rochelle, I’m still alive :)

Now that I can look back on what led up to that day, I see how it was a culmination of things that caused me to be so irritable and short-tempered.

I’ve talked a little about the Bible study I’m in this year, and I honestly I can’t say enough about how amazing it has been. I’ve called myself a Christian for 25 years, and in all of that time I’ve seen God work in my life, but it hasn’t been until this Bible study that I’ve really realized how He has been writing a story for me. We recently wrote our “narratives” and have been sharing them with each other. Our narrative is simply our life story as it relates to God working through our circumstances to speak to us.

I started out writing it like I’d write a blog post. I was trying to capture as many of the “events” in my life as I could while also trying to figure out what God might have been doing. The result was that it was 12 pages long and it only got me through age 15. That may not sound too long, but the goal was to share our story in 30-45 minutes which is equivalent to about 10 typed pages.

My wonderful mentor helped me hone in on my story more than the chronological events I had been so stuck on. I prayed that I wouldn’t plow through it like I was just writing an assignment, but that God would write it through me to show me things about Himself and about me that I maybe hadn’t understood before.

Boy did he deliver!

The process was very healing for me and helped me to work through some painful parts of my past. The twists and turns my life has taken don’t seem so random and haphazard now. I can see how God knit together all of that “junk” to bring me to where I am today. And also to give me a clearer understanding of His love than I’ve ever had before.

I’m hopeful that I’ll see future “junk” as part of my story too and that I’ll seek to understand Him in the midst of it rather than when it’s all in my rear view.

All that to say that I’ve been dredging up a bunch of stuff that’s been laying low for a long time, so I think I was particularly vulnerable to my current circumstances.

Grace’s potty training drama isn’t what made me so upset. That was just the needle that broke the camel’s back.

I was actually struggling with some of my core “woundedness” which is the lie that I’m unimportant and not worth anyone’s trouble.

Andy has been really busy with school and happened to have a friend in from out of town for a long weekend. The effect of all of that is that we were “ships passing in the night” most of the time. This made me feel like other things were more important than me, even though I know that isn’t really true.

Then there was the potty training chaos which was really just things not going my way. The control that I try so hard to have over everything is a coping mechanism for when I feel hurt. So the apparent reversal of all the progress Grace and I had made caused my coping mechanism to fail me.

None of my external circumstances were to blame for my impatience and anger.

That’s why I was having a level 10 reaction to a level 2 problem.

It was about my heart.

God doesn’t want me to cling to my sweet husband’s time with me or my daughter’s successful potty training. He also doesn’t want me to buy into the lie that I’m not worth it.

He wants me to understand that I’m loved and cared for by Him. As abstract a concept as that can be, it’s the truth and the only thing that really satisfies our wounded hearts.

I’m happy to report that Andy and I talked and cleared up the misunderstanding. My patience made a comeback the day after the potty drama and I decided to let Grace approach this on her own terms. She’s doing really well and although she’s not fully trained, she’s on her way.

And most important, I’m not buying into the lies that plague me, but I’m turning to my Heavenly Father who continues to reveal His love for me.

Can I get an amen?!

 

Keepin’ It Real {eating a slice of humble pie}

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Remember when I bragged about how great potty training was going?

Yeah, well maybe I shouldn’t have jinxed myself because the last 48 hours have sucked.

Accidents right and left, tantrums about having to sit on the potty, requests to wear a diaper…

I’m so frustrated.

I’m normally a very patient parent.  It has honestly surprised me that I have such a high tolerance for toddler antics and general day to day crap.  I can usually navigate it all very calmly.

Yesterday that was NOT the case.

It’s comical to me that it happened to be yesterday that I was on the verge of my own tantrum all day.  The few days before yesterday had been SO GREAT.

Avery has been eating well and sleeping great.  Grace has been really well behaved and was using the potty like a champ.  I have been able to coordinate the girls’ afternoon naps to give me time to do laundry, clean the house, make banana bread, blog and even take naps of my own.  I’ve even gotten out of the house with them both in tow which has allowed me to run errands and grocery shop.

I may have been giving myself a giant pat on the back for being so awesome ;)

Hahahahahahahahaha!

I spent all day yesterday choking on a big fat piece of humble pie.

Just when we think we have it all together things tend to fall apart, don’t they?

It started when I asked Grace to try sitting on the potty and she cried in protest.  I assumed she didn’t have to go, so I sat down to feed Avery.  Right in the middle of the feeding I heard Grace run out of her room crying.

She peed her pants.

Then she tracked it out of her room and all the way down the hall.

I had JUST asked her if she had to go and she threw a fit about sitting on the potty, but then she walked into her room and peed her pants.

What the heck?!

I literally stood in the hall and prayed out loud that God would give me patience and help me not to explode.

Meanwhile Grace was standing in the bathroom sobbing.  I made her take off her wet underwear and sit on her potty which of course infuriated her.

I still had Avery latched onto me and I had to figure out what to do first.  Clean Grace up?  Clean up the giant puddle and trail of pee?

I just kept praying over and over that God would calm me down.  It seemed like I was having a level 10 reaction to a level 2 problem.

That’s never a good sign.

I decided to unlatch poor Avery mid-feed and lay her down while I cleaned up the pee and then cleaned up Grace.

I was still so angry.

Any patience I had for Grace or the potty training process had completely vanished and I was an irritable, short-tempered mess.

For the sake of my sanity, I put Grace in a pull-up after I got her cleaned up.

But I was still angry.

We had to run errands in the afternoon and even though we got everything done that needed to be done, we ran out of time to go to the mall for me to shop for a few things I wanted.

I was on a mission and I had zero tolerance for any push-back from Grace.  I lost my temper when she cried about her car seat straps bugging her (which she does every.single.time. she gets in the car).  I didn’t want to play when we got home and I was so frustrated with everything that I withdrew emotionally and barely survived until my sister came to babysit last night.

I’ve been trying to make sense of it all and I’m coming to realize that God wants me to lean on Him for my strength.  I’m an independent person who almost always thinks I can do everything on my own.  If things get out of hand, I just try harder and I can usually get back in control.

That’s not  how God wants me to live.

He wants me to lean on Him and turn to Him for strength, patience and grace.  To be the parent I want to be requires that I seek Him when things get tough.  It does NOT mean that I dig my heels in and try harder on my own.

I must believe deep down that God doesn’t really care about the mundane problems of a stay at home mom, but that’s simply not true.

He says that His grace is sufficient for me and that His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

We are promised that our God will supply all our need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

  • His grace is sufficient
  • His power is made perfect in my weakness
  • He will supply all my need

How easy it is to forget all of that.

How stubborn I am that I always want to do it my way.

How great is my God who loves me anyway.

30-Day Red Scarf Initiative {raising awareness for human trafficking}

Monday, February 4th, 2013

I love my church.

I’ve talked about it before, but I seriously love the place more and more each week.

A team of people from our congregation visited New Delhi, India, at the end of last year. They went to support the efforts of Courage Homes, a ministry that promotes healing, transformation and wholeness for girls affected by trafficking and prostitution.

Having two sweet girls of my own, I’m overwhelmed when I think of these precious little ones being the victims of such horrific acts. I begin to feel hopeless; like there is nothing I can do to help.

But then, small opportunities like this one arise, and I know that every little bit helps…

Photo Feb 04, 12 26 48 PM

My church ordered a huge batch of red scarves from WAR International (Women At Risk). These scarves are made by rescued women in India. The purchase of this scarf not only helps WAR International, but our church is sending the proceeds from our sales to Courage Homes where the funds will be used to support their ministry too.

We were challenged to buy a scarf and wear it every day for 30 days to raise awareness and educate others about this horrific epidemic.

It seems like a small thing, but if it helps even one woman or girl it’s totally worth it.

I’ve often doubted that raising “awareness” really makes any difference, but our pastor shared a story with us that changed my mind…

A girl attending the University of Michigan was being courted by an African man who had convinced her that he was a prince. She was falling for him and he was encouraging her to move across the world with him. When she heard about the human trafficking epidemic and how churches are working to raise awareness and funds to help out, it got her thinking about her own situation. Turns out this man was courting several girls from other colleges too and while we don’t know for sure how things may have ended up, the girl broke things off with him and spared herself from a potentially tragic fate.

Trafficking isn’t just a problem in other countries. It’s happening here in the United States too.

Photo Feb 04, 2 10 39 PM

You can search FBI.gov for “human trafficking” and also check out Polarisproject.org to learn more about the problem and how to help. The National Human Trafficking Hotline 888.3737.888 is also a resource.

Even though I’m just one woman who feels overwhelmed by this issue, I’m doing what I can by praying often for these precious girls and by wearing my red scarf every day for 30 days (no matter what outfit I’m wearing!). When people ask me about the scarf I’ll be spreading the word and encouraging others to support efforts to help these girls.

Consider visiting warinternational.org to purchase a scarf and wear it for 30 days! You can also donate directly to Courage Homes.

And, if you do nothing else, remember these sweet girls in your prayers.

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Here I am this morning: no shower, ponytail, college t-shirt and trafficking awareness scarf!

Things I’m Loving Lately….

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Avery turned one month old yesterday and she’s doing great! Breastfeeding is going well (I’m so glad she’s a better eater than Grace was) and she’s really porking up quite nicely :)

Photo Feb 01, 1 54 43 PM

There are a few things I’ve been especially loving lately, so I thought I’d take a second to share them with you!

Lansinoh Breast Pads

500 I don’t think I have to say much about why I’m loving these since it’s pretty obvious that no one wants me to inadvertently shoot them in the eye with breast milk when I get {ahem} full. Nuff said.

eos Lip Balm (Strawberry Sorbet)

Photo Feb 01, 3 33 45 PM

I’m a lip balm ADDICT. Despite the fact that I drink lots of water everyday and have generally oily skin, I cannot seem to keep my lips from being dry so I make sure I have lip balm on hand at all times. This stuff comes in a fun little “egg” shape, smells great and has wholesome ingredients (no petroleum here!). I recently picked this up at Target and it’s a keeper :)

My Tervis Water Bottle

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This was one of my Christmas gifts from Andy this year and I LOVE IT SO MUCH! I’m a big fan of Tervis because they’re BPA-free, double layered to prevent “sweating” and they are just plain cute. We are huge fans of the state of South Carolina (which happens to be our annual vacation spot) so when I saw this water bottle in a gift shop last year I should have snatched it up, but I didn’t. When I opened it on Christmas morning I squealed. Literally. This thing has been my regular companion ever since. One of my favorite features is the “loop” at the top. I didn’t give it any thought originally, but when my hands are full with the baby and any number of other things, I can loop this bottle around my pinky finger to take it to my next location without having to set down whatever is in my hands. That my friends is a game changer.

My Breast Friend

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This is a snap-on breastfeeding pillow that makes the whole process so much more comfortable. Sometimes I’m too lazy to grab it before feeding Avery, but then I find myself constantly adjusting to keep us both comfortable and in a good position. This thing makes all of that unnecessary. I just snap it around my waist, get her into position and we are both comfy for the duration of the feeding. Thanks to my sister for getting this for me when I had Grace :)

Monogrammed Tuff Stuff iPhone Case

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Also a Christmas gift from Andy, this iPhone case is one of my very favorite things! As I’ve mentioned probably a gazillion times before, I love my iPhone and I’m also a sucker for anything monogrammed. This case is durable and super cute and makes me smile every time I look at my phone :) It’s not cheap, but as a person who drops my phone multiple times EACH DAY, I can say that this case is durable and keeps my phone safe.

So that’s what I’m into lately. What about you?? Any products you’re loving lately?

*You can find my other “Things I’m Loving Lately” posts here and here.

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