Finding Grace #70

I love giving God a shout out for what He has done. We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot.

I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

 Where did I find God’s love and favor—His abundant grace—this week?

This was an exciting week! In addition to work and our normal activities, I met with two amazing couples from church. We had great conversations related to the class I facilitate as a volunteer. It’s always fun to learn how God made us and how we “fit” with everyone else!

A friend posted online seeking help for a swarm of honeybees. I suggested she call a local beekeeper to come get them. Thankfully, the swarm was captured and found a new happy home. It reminded me of my beekeeping years (and also the hard work involved in managing several hives!).

Tuesday was Independence Day. Lydia and I enjoyed a relaxing day and later celebrated our freedoms with neighbors, dinner, s’mores, a campfire, and fireworks. We watched a beautiful sunset, made even more awesome by a storm passing through. The lightning made a great backdrop for the fireworks!

Now that Lydia is good at riding her bike, I want to take rides together. I haven’t ridden much for quite awhile, years really, since before she was born. My old bike was not a good fit, and it needed lots of work to make it rideable. So instead, I bought myself a new bike! It is a lot more comfortable and fits me well. Already, we’ve enjoyed several miles together! We’re ready for some great adventures!

As a foodie and Registered Dietitian, I always look for new foods to try. Today I enjoyed a farmer’s market and a new food co-op! I walked downtown Fargo this afternoon and enjoyed the warm, sunny day. I didn’t buy much, but did sample a few things. I did get a couple items for Lydia. At home, we tried a coconut-date roll (not bad) and an apple cider drink (it was interesting…but probably won’t buy again). Anyway, I am glad we tried something new! I also helped Lydia make strawberry-infused water. 🙂

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These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

Finding Grace #69

I love giving God a shout out for what He has done. We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot.

I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

 Where did I find God’s love and favor—His abundant grace—this week?

I saw God move in many ways this week. I’ve received a lot of encouragement and practical support over the years, and I know how much of a game-changer that can be. So, now I challenge myself to look ways to help others. Sometimes, that means just encouraging someone; other times, I’m able to help in a more tangible way. This week, I was able to do that with two different friends with different needs. I am excited to see what God is doing in them, with them, for them, and through them!

The Lord graciously provided friends to watch Lydia. I had a work meeting out of town and preferred not to send Lydia to daycare the entire day. Then, God lined up my schedule perfectly so it matched up with my friend’s availability. On another day, a different friend watched Lydia early in the morning before daycare opened so I could maximize my time to meet an deadline. That day, Lydia was able to sleep in and I was able to reach my goal.

I love sticky notes. I generally have a million of them around the house. I’ve tried to go electronic, but still prefer old-school pen and paper. I recently decided to actually use my planner as a list-keeper instead of just a time-manager. (Great idea, I know!) Wouldn’t you know, I have felt less stress lately because I can write a task or project one time instead of over and over on various notes. Now, I can focus on just enough tasks for each day and cross them off once, yet still see progress on what I’ve accomplished. (It’s the little things…!)

I enjoy long holiday weekends! Today started off chilly, but has turned out bright and sunny. I ran about five errands (and didn’t have to wait long in line!), mowed the grass, laid down mulch, made sun tea (unsweetened), and worked on a few projects. Lydia played inside for a bit and has been outside too. The perfect day!

As I am writing this, Lydia is eating dinner on the deck. I ate with her but finished before she did. She would have finished sooner, but she’s been “yelling” back and forth with the neighbor girl who is patiently waiting to play. From inside, I just heard: “Hold on! I’m just eating now because my mom made me. I have two more broccolis and one piece of pizza. I already ate my strawberries. They are really healthy. Did you know that my mom is a dietitian? It starts with “d” and she tells people if they are making healthy choices or not.” 🙂

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These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

Finding Grace #66

I love giving God a shout out for what He has done. We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot.

I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

 Where did I find God’s love and favorHis abundant gracethis week?

This week was good! I worked as usual, but also squeezed in an important (non-work) meeting in my car one day. I clocked out of work, drove around the block to find shade, and left my car running for the a/c while I made my phone call. I didn’t want to open my windows because the road construction nearby was stirring up a lot of dirt in the air. After my meeting, I drove back to work to finish out my day. I usually am home for that routine meeting, but didn’t have time to go home and come back. The things we do to make ends meet! Thankfully, no one really minded me talking for an hour in my car!

This week, Lydia attended Vacation Bible School. They talked about God making each of us for a purpose. Lydia enjoyed playing, singing, making art, and eating “really good” snacks. She had a great time and already has asked me to go again next year! 

I bought my first watermelon of the season this week. It was delicious, of course! One night at dinner, Lydia told me, “Mom, I’m feeling really loved because you’re giving me lots of watermelon.” I posted what she said on my social media page. A friend of mine hosts a morning radio talk show. She quoted Lydia, reminding us to savor the simple things of life. That was really cool! Later, I tossed some of the watermelon into a fruit salad with grapes, oranges, and strawberries. Yum!

Weather-wise, it’s been another warm week. Thankfully, the wind blew strong and it really didn’t feel too bad. We played with the neighbors on several days. Tonight, we ordered pizza with friends and ran outside to a local ice cream truck that was passing through our neighborhood. Always a fun treat!

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These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

Building Solid Habits

I heard a report this week saying that most people have already given up on their goals and resolutions for the year. Only three weeks in, old habits are creeping back in. I get it. I have been tempted to give up too!

For me, my only real goal was to get up earlier. And on a couple occasions, even that has been a struggle! 🙂 As such, I’ve also had to make a commitment to go to bed earlier…

One thing is clear: I can’t have a strong commitment without a strong conviction.

A few years ago, I joined a group called HelloMornings. I love the idea of waking up FOR your kids, instead of waking up TO your kids. Of course, even without kids, you can wake up early for other awesome reasons!

This year, I decided to step it up with the HelloMornings ‘3 Minute Morning’ challenge to help me rebuild my morning habit. I used to be good at this, but over time the habit, like many others, has fallen by the wayside.

I have been waking up early to get a few key things done before Lydia wakes up. I typically do light exercise while listening to the One Year Bible (via the YouVersion app on my phone). Then, I stretch or do yoga, followed by coffee with Jesus. I use that time to journal, read, pray, and power up my day.

Pretty simple, yet rewarding!

I enjoy each of these tasks and have done them successfully over the years. But, I haven’t done them in this order…or all in the morning! Still, I am finding my day goes much better when I do those things first.

Basically, I get as far along in that routine as I can before Lydia joins me. Then, I finish up and get her breakfast. It’s a work-in-progress, sure! And, it will have to be flexible enough to survive all the bumps of daily life.

But, I am enjoying the routine so far…and the quiet “thinking time” too! Eventually, I’d like to work on a few other goals as well before the day gets away from me. Though, if I try to start too many things up at once, I won’t be able to maintain any of them.

Yes, even rebuilding habits can be difficult at times. Maybe you have had a couple make-or-break moments, too. Remember, God is your Sustainer. He will help you fulfill all of His plans, if you seek Him first.

Many people set new goals for food or fitness in the new year. These types of goals can be difficult to maintain because it can take awhile to see results.

So, as a Registered Dietitian, I want to encourage you to keep it up!

Here are a few of my favorite websites to help with any nutrition goals you may have.

(FYI: There are no affiliate links…I don’t earn any money off these sites.)

I find it helpful to track the foods you eat on a daily basis. It’s like giving yourself credit for what you are doing right! Or, if you are making changes, it’s good to see the impact of your choices so you can self-correct. Check out MyFitnessPal and Nutrition Data.

For meal planning help, check out Plan to Eat and Eat Real America. (These are paid membership sites…though they do have great free trials).

If you are trying to eat more fruits and veggies, you gotta check out Inspiralized.com  and Fruits and Veggies More Matters (I can’t get enough of these two!)

If you have an Instant Pot, check out Pressure Cooking TodayHip Pressure Cooking, and This Old Gal. Lots of good recipes!

If you love chocolate and other sweets (like me!!), but want to make healthier desserts, check out Chocolate Covered Katie. She has some main dishes too, as does Angela at Oh She Glows. (These ladies make some very creative vegan options…and I’m not even vegan!) 😉

If you want to get your kids cooking, check out these Kids in the Kitchen sites!

I also love just about anything by these dietitians: Zonya Foco or Dawn Jackson Blatner.

Clearly, I could spend all day perusing nutrition and foodie sites…the bright colors, recipes, and flavor combinations always capture my attention! 🙂 So this is certainly not an exhaustive list. But, hopefully it encourages you and helps you keep at your goals!

Let me know if I can help or pray for you!

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Father God, thank You for being my Sustainer. Thanks for Your strength as I make positive changes. Help me listen as You direct me. Give me courage as I walk this path with You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Do you have a nutrition-related goal? What is it? Do you have an early morning music playlist? (Please share…I could use some ideas!)

Tasks: Pray when tempted to stray off your new habit. Use a journal to record your thoughts and emotions…see if you can detect a pattern in relationship to your new habit. Ask a friend to keep you accountable.

Making Hungry Hearts Happy

Each week varies, but weekends at our house have become pretty relaxing. I complete a few routine tasks, preparing for the coming week. But, we also enjoy seeing friends or special events when they pop up.

Mostly, Lydia goes outside to play with the neighbors! At times, several kids will be in my garage or another one close by. It’s quite fascinating at times to watch them interact! I have learned so much about hospitality and life by watching these group dynamics.

chalk

Personally, I can get caught up on having things “just right” before someone comes to visit. The pressure to host Pinterest-perfect parties doesn’t help, does it?!

But, with kids, it’s much clearer.

Children don’t care about having the right foods, beverages, or atmosphere. They just want to have fun! If there is food involved, great! If not, they’ll make do with toys and friends (real or imagined). Kids create warmth and welcome with their own laughter and joy.

Kids don’t care if you cleaned or not. They easily overlook the fact their ‘playground’ is half a garage filled with balls, scooters and bikes, a wagon containing My Little Ponies, Barbies, and other toys.

Even my own ‘work’ table has become a place to color and build with play-doh… Yes, when given the opportunity, children will make themselves right at home! I don’t mind…

toy-mlp

Occasionally, I’ll coach a child (mine or otherwise) on including everyone or sharing. But, overall, everyone plays really well. Even little brothers join in on the fun!

Sometimes I offer light snacks… Thankfully, there are no food allergies! Popcorn, fruit, cheese sticks, and even popsicles have all made appearances. It’s pretty simple, really.

This past Sunday was especially fun… I had four little girls, including Lydia, in my garage and driveway playing “water buckets.” A few years ago, filling two five-gallon buckets with water was my solution for beating the heat. It’s been a hit ever since!

Sure, we could go swimming, play at the splash pad, or run through the sprinklers. But so far, water buckets seems to do the trick! On hot sunny days, the kids toss toys in the water and fish them out. The laughter mixed with splashing is well worth it!

I always enjoy hearing each child’s stories and funny perspectives. Talking with them is certainly a delight, but I also see it as an investment in building healthy relationships. I’m not sure who is learning more—me or them!

putty-789874_1920-2

On Sunday, the kids also went next door to play with an adorable puppy. When some of the girls went home for dinner, three boys came over for coloring and riding bikes. As I chatted with two of my friends, Lydia said she was hungry.

“Mom, can we please have a snack?”

Quickly, I considered the options. It was dinnertime… We could corral the kids and make them stop playing on a gorgeous day…. OR…I could feed the kids, avoid potential meltdowns, enjoy the weather and conversation with my friends… and head inside later.

After checking with the other moms, it was an easy choice!

romans-12_13

I ran inside to make a handful of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I cut them in half and sliced up a two apples. I headed back out to the garage, also armed with cups for water.

Feeling a little like a camp counselor, I set the food on a table and pulled up some chairs.

Voila!

These four hungry kids probably ate better because of positive peer pressure. It’s funny how something like a pb&j sandwich can pass for hospitality!

While the kids were happily filling their bellies, I got in some much needed time with my friends. Hopefully, these moms also left feeling encouraged and energized like I did!

Yes, on Sunday, the key to hospitality was making hungry hearts happy

Peanut butter and jelly for the win!

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Thank You, God, for great neighbors and hospitality! Thank you for simple joys like a child’s perspective, laughter, and pb&j sandwiches. Please guide each of us as we learn and grow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: What was your last funny topic of conversation with a child? Did their perspective change yours? What did you learn?

Gardens: Growing in Grace

Do you have a garden? I was considering the pros and cons of a garden this year. Though, after buying trees last week, routine car maintenance, and a few other expenses coming up, I decided to re-evaluate next spring. I could probably still do a small container garden, but the planting season is nearly over now.

But if I had a garden, I would plant leafy greens (such as kale, spinach, or lettuce), peppers, onions, and green beans, for sure! I could also grow zucchini and use it in my spiralizer. I love fresh garden tomatoes, but I haven’t had the best of luck in recent years!

tomatoes

There are many different kinds of gardens (vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers). Besides several flower gardens, my parents re-purposed some old tractor tires to make a raised garden for tomatoes. They also have large pots of basil, rosemary, and oregano. Like a colorful oasis, it always feels like a retreat to go back and visit!

Perhaps it’s good for me to wait a year and see what size garden is practical to maintain! In the past, I had a CSA membership… and I always enjoy visiting our local farmers’ markets. Last year, the grass in my yard needed help. This year, I’ll focus on my new trees. Maybe I just enjoy playing in the dirt, but I love how gardening connects us back to the earth!

grapes

From Eden to Gethsemane, it seems God has a special way with gardens.

He plants us in just the right “soil” environment so that we can grow. For each of us, those circumstances are different. You may be going through an exciting time of growth, or a personal trial to refine you. Whether in a lush garden or a desolate desert, stay rooted in the Lord. Don’t give up hope! Drink in the water of His Word. He is faithful.

Jesus promises if we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit. Having fruitful lives is inevitable—if we remain close to Jesus (see John 15:1-17). We cannot bear fruit on our own.

Pruning isn’t fun, but take heart. It’s a good indicator that God is indeed working! In the process, the dead is removed and new life begins. Let Him do the work He needs to do in your life. He is the Master Gardener.

Galatians 5_22-23 with peaches

As evident in the verses above, the Holy Spirit plants seeds in our lives. Though if you look again, GRACE is not listed as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Why is that?

Could it be grace is like His warm sunshine? Like sunshine, His grace is always present. Even when we cannot see it or understand it. Spiritual fruit grows in the midst of God’s grace. Growth is not easy, but is always for our good. So, rest in Him with quiet trust.

By yielding to the Holy Spirit’s process and receiving God’s grace, we are changed from the inside out!

vegetables

If you think about it, we also plant seeds in the lives of those around us. As we work together, we help each other grow and cultivate good fruit. What a blessing!

 If we are growing in grace, people around us should notice. “I can see the joy on your face!” or “I appreciated your patience with me.” or “That was so kind of you to help me.”

Life is difficult at times—but God’s grace empowers us to live victoriously. Let’s offer His support to one another. And, hold on tight for some “miracle growth!”

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Father God, thanks for Your grace that brings growth in our lives. Holy Spirit, work in us with Your power that we may bear fruit. Help us when the growth process is challenging. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: What are your favorite items to plant? Do you see increasing amounts of spiritual fruit in your life (Galatians 5:22-23)?

Let me know in the comments below!

In With the New

My mom and I were on the phone recently, and we had a great conversation. Always my biggest fan, I count on what she says. Mom mentioned how much I have changed these last few years. She said, “This may not be the right word, but you’re not as uptight now!”

I got a good laugh out of that…you know it’s true if you don’t even mind when someone says it! I couldn’t agree more. And, I am so glad my mom and others have noticed!

2 Corinthians 5_17

Later, after some self-reflection and prayer, I retook an online personality test.

You can take your own short test here—I’d love to know your results!

I previously took this same test a year or so before Dave died. Some results were accurate, but others left me with questions I couldn’t resolve. This time, I was able to think of specific instances for each question. Some areas scored the same as before, validating my strengths. Just as I suspected, I received a completely different score for the final area.

I’m cautious to place too much value on “results.” But God showed me so much about myself! My doubts were cleared up when I realized the new results were a much better fit.

Now I have explanations for traits I wanted to overlook. I didn’t fully understand them before and considered them weaknesses. Now I can acknowledge them and use that information more effectively. What a relief as I switched my perspective. 

Psalm 139_14

At first, I didn’t know if I should laugh with joy or cry with gratitude at the new results. I love seeing myself in a fresh way. I think I was always meant to be this way because it feels so natural! It just took me a long time to get to a place where I could appreciate it.

Looking back, I think part of the tension from over-planning and perfectionism came from pushing myself to function in ways that were never my strengths. Wow.

Over the last few years, I have planned less and ‘flowed’ more. My stress levels have decreased as I have put less pressure on myself to do things ‘just so.’ I have learned to set better boundaries, say ‘no,’ and schedule downtime to avoid burnout.

Sometimes we need a shift in our thinking. Sometimes we need to do things differently. Sometimes we need to do both!

For example, I love cooking and trying new foods. However, I can easily get stuck making the same things. Even as a dietitian, it can be challenging to regularly think of innovative food options. With fresh summer produce just around the corner, let me tell you about one of my favorite foodie findsa spiralizer. It has brought new life to my cooking routine!

spiralizer

A spiralizer makes spiral cuts on your favorite fruits and veggies. It can make noodles or other shapes and is a lot of fun! I use this one (pictured) from Amazon. No affiliate links. I’m not earning any money off this postI just really like my spiralizer! 🙂

I have enjoyed making new dishes since I bought mine last year. My creativity flows while cooking and I enjoy the freedom that comes with God’s grace!

My favorite items to spiralize include apples, beets, carrots and zucchini noodles.

The first time I used my spiralizer, it was early afternoon and we had not eaten lunch yet. Excitedly, I spiralized some apples. Lydia started shoving them in her mouth! Realizing she was over-hungry, I melted some peanut butter on top and Lydia devoured them.

I love beets, though I recommend using gloves when handling them. I often purchase them already cooked. After spiralizing the cooked beets, I add a balsamic vinegar reduction, goat or feta cheese, and few chopped walnuts. Yum!

Carrot Noodles

Carrots (above) are so pretty when spiralized! I’ve added Alfredo sauce to Lydia’s carrot noodles and chicken with peanut sauce to mine. I have thrown them in with other dishes to jazz up leftovers during the week, too.

Zucchini is a great all-around vegetable. It’s versatile and can be used instead of pasta noodles. Or, you can chop the “noodles” to make something else, like muffins.

If you’re interested, Ali at Inspiralized.com has a great website. She has tons of recipes and tutorials for your favorite veggies. She used the same spiralizer from Amazon until she decided to design her own. I have not tried that one, but you might check it out!

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God, You are so patient and wise. You have made us wonderfully complex! Thanks for Your grace and love as You work in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Have you ever taken a personality test? What is your favorite kitchen gadget? Let me know in the comments section!

On Honeybees and Hope

Honeybees are fascinating creatures. Many years ago, I chose beekeeping as an FFA project in high school. Yes, through high school and part of college, I was a beekeeper!

Worldwide, honeybee survival is a serious issue (one I dealt with too). There are many factors involved, yet, honeybees are vital; they pollinate most of our crops!

bee on white flower

Believe it or not, after ordering them, my honeybees arrived in the mail! They were packed in a small, wooden container covered with mesh screen. There was enough sugar water for the trip, and they clustered inside around the queen.

Every year, at 6 am, on the second Tuesday in April, I would get a phone call from someone at the post office. “Come and get your bees!!” One of the post office workers was allergic to bees and obviously wanted to avoid getting stung.

My dad or I would go pick up the containers, each filled with nearly 12,000 honeybees. I usually had three hives, but at one point, I had five. I didn’t get stung often, but once I got stung nine times—even through my bee suit! I must’ve been tinkering too long!

With my smoker and hive tool, I removed beeswax-covered frames from the hives. Then, I extracted the honey by hand in a ‘spinner’ (using centrifugal force). I sold the resulting jars of honey around my hometown. I also sold chunk honey and comb honey, too, both of which come with some of the beeswax.

The first time I tried my wildflower honey, I thought it was the sweetest thing I had ever tasted. I did a side-by-side comparison with the store-bought honey from the kitchen cupboard. It was awful—like cough syrup!

bees-on-frame

Honeybee Facts

A typical honeybee colony has around 60,000-80,000 workers during its active season (summer). Worker honeybees take on many specialized roles during their brief six-week lifespan. Some ‘jobs’ only last for a couple days.

These include cleaning the hive, feeding larvae to form new honeybees, and tending to the queen. Older honeybee tasks include hive ventilation, defending the hive from intruders, and foraging for nectar and pollen. Cue the famous ‘waggle dance’ (see cool video here)!

Honeybees live longer in the cold months, so they can maintain the hive until spring. Still, the temperature in the hive remains around 93 degrees at all times. In winter, honeybees form a cluster inside the hive to stay warm and conserve energy.

Honeybees never sleep!

bee colony

A colony of honeybees consumes about 60 pounds of honey during winter, but they make much more (up to 400 pounds of honey!). Beekeepers harvest the excess.

A single honeybee can travel several miles from the hive to collect nectar, which eventually becomes honey. They can fly at speeds of 15 mph (pretty slow for an insect) and their wings beat about 200 beats per second!

A honeybee can visit ten flowers a minute, up to two hundred flowers on an average foraging journey. Yet, a single honeybee will only produce 1/12 teaspoon of honey in her lifetime. Thus, it takes 768 honeybees visiting approximately two million flowers to make one pound of honey.

It would take about 1 ounce of honey to fuel a honeybee’s flight around the world.

Honey never spoils. The color of the honey varies depends on the plants where the nectar was collected. Honey contains vitamins, antibacterial enzymes, and is about 20% water.

Sources: http://www2.phy.ilstu.edu/~wenning/HIBA/bkcourse/amazing.pdf

http://www.honey.com/  http://northdakotahoney.com/honeyvalue.htm

chunk honey

A hive in action is amazing to watch—tens of thousands of honeybees working toward a common goal. Like the inner workings of a beehive, Life is better when we work together.

Seasons change, and our roles do too. We may not always fathom our contribution in God’s larger plan. But don’t let that stop you. Take heart. Trust God and keep serving others. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

Like little honeybees, we have a lot of work to do each day. As we move from one task or person to the next, let’s encourage one another. Sometimes Life stings! But, gracious words are like honey and bring messages of hope, sweet to the soul (Proverbs 16:24).

How refreshing!

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God, thanks for honeybees and honey! Thanks for the sweet grace and hope You bring. Help us remain patient and steadfast in difficult seasons. Give us joy as we trust in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: If you eat honey, what is your favorite way to eat it? Have you ever been stung by a honeybee? How can you encourage someone today?

Tacos and TLC

What (or Who) comes to your mind when you think about love?

For me, of course I think of Dave because he was my husband, friend, and partner. He always treated me so well. And when I think of Dave…I think of tacos!

Tacos were one of Dave’s favorite meals, so we ate them often. He would do all the chopping—we added a ton of vegetables—and I would prepare the other items. He prepped the lettuce, onions, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, etc. so well I am convinced he was better at it than me. It’s true!

Taco Nachos

What started off as a simple act of service (a favor to save me time one night) became an act of love. I will always remember Dave’s servant heart because it carried over to everything he did!

Sometimes we think ‘love’ has to be flashy…this might include being serenaded with a sappy song, a dozen red roses, or gigantic boxes of chocolate. But for me, love is in the simple things. Dave put TLC into chopping vegetables because it was important to me.

 “Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (Ephesians 6:7, NLT).

Since he died, tacos just aren’t the same! I still enjoy the same foods, but miss Dave’s enthusiasm for chopping vegetables. I have added meal preparation to the list of things I do differently now, which also includes household chores and shopping.

Note: Eating tacos someone else makes is another story!

Black Bean and Corn Salsa Recipe

Instead of regular tacos, I now make a variation on them, like taco salad or fajitas. Or I make “taco nachos” serving the same ingredients over a few tortilla chips. 🙂 I add a little plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream for a protein and calcium boost. Most of the time, I skip the cheese because my plate is already full enough!

When cooking, I enjoy mixing and matching colors, textures and flavors! Above you’ll find my recipe for Black Bean and Corn Salsa (click on it to make it bigger). It is basic, but delicious. In fact, Lydia requests it often and will eat it plain, with just a spoon!

We use this Black Bean and Corn Salsa as a base for other dishes too. We add it to salads, pizza, and chili. Let me know how you like it!

spoon, fork, knife

We all have the opportunity to show love every day. It doesn’t have to be flashy or expensive. Often, the most simple acts, done with love, speak the loudest. A little TLC goes a long way…and can impact us for a long time afterward.

Whether or not you have a Valentine this year, remember you are loved! Since many of us take care of everyone else first, go ahead and treat yourself! You deserve some TLC too.

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Thank You, God, for Your TLC. Thank You for showing us love each and every day. Give us eyes to see all the wonderful things You do for us. Help us walk in grace as we depend on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: Do you have any Valentine’s Day traditions? Do you have a favorite “goes with anything” recipe?

 

Peaches, Sno-Cones, and Unexpected Grace

Peaches are loaded with nutrients, like potassium, and Vitamins A and C. They are also a good source of fiber. And sno-cones? Ummm…Not so much! They are comprised of sugary syrup, and other not-so-great ingredients…

Now, I am not going to bash sno-cones, but as a dietitian I certainly don’t promote or recommend them. In fact, no real nutritional comparison can be made! So, why link them together with peaches? Because of grace.

 Peaches in a Basket

Peaches remind me of the grace that comes with hospitality. My neighbor, Melissa, lives across the street. She recently brought us some amazing, “juice-dripping-down-your-face” fresh peaches. Melissa had some extras, and didn’t want to waste them. So, she graciously shared them with us. It was totally unexpected, but so appreciated!

I could have made something out of the peaches, though we ended up eating them in all their fuzzy glory. They didn’t last long enough! Yum!

We’ve had great “neighbor-friends” over the years. To start, we’ve shared meals and good stories. Neighbors have helped with yard work and snow removal from time to time. Some have hung pictures or changed light bulbs around the house. They’ve watered my plants; checked the front door for packages; and kept an eye on the house when we travel. A few have even watched Lydia for me in a pinch.

I am so thankful for the help!

Sno-Cone

A few days after the peaches, Lydia and I came across a local park event. It was an outdoor craft fair with many family-friendly events. We enjoyed a horse and carriage ride, music in the park, and perusing the booths. And yes, Lydia had her first sno-cone.

Lydia was excited to be at the park, as it was a last minute decision after our original plans fell through. It was an impromptu event for us, but I realized something. Many of the best times we have are the unplanned, in-the-moment ones.

Part of the definition of grace is that it is undeserved. There is an element of surprise as well—like an unexpected bonus that yields something good that would have otherwise been missed. Grace is in the simple things we so often overlook.

Back to the sno-cone. Lydia didn’t do anything special to deserve it. I was savoring God’s goodness, and enjoying the unexpectedly beautiful and unhurried day. Buying the sno-cone was merely an extension of that.

(For the record, Lydia really wanted to slurp up the leftover liquid (not juice!) at the bottom of the sno-cone cup. But, I declined since she was wearing a white shirt, and I knew would make a mess… And of course, she didn’t need it anyway!) 🙂

Thank You, God, for unexpected grace. Thanks for wonderful neighbors and friends, delicious peaches, and even sno-cones to remind me of the beauty and joy You provide. Help me slow down and notice. In Jesus’ Name, Amen