The Reality Is, We Can’t Do This Without God’s Help {31 Days of Real Food Reality, Day 1}

31 Days 300

I can share all of my greatest healthy eating tips, impart all of my real food wisdom, and encourage you until I fall out of my chair. But the reality is, if eating real food is important to you, and you want to make healthy changes for yourself and for your family – you are going to first need to take your desires to God.

Think God doesn’t have time to listen to your concerns about your picky kids or limited grocery budget? Feel silly asking God for help when it comes to choosing vegetables over potato chips? Figure there are bigger cares to take before the throne than your transition to whole grains and brown rice? Then let me ask you this:  How long have you been burdened by the desire to be healthier? How many times have you felt frustrated when you feel like you’ve failed, when your family hasn’t jumped on board with you, or when you’ve slipped back into unhealthy eating habits? God loves you no matter what, and sees you through His eyes of grace. But if you desire to make healthy changes, oh yes, He very much cares and will help you. He knows exactly what your limits are, and He knows exactly what you need. He’s got this!

Case in point:  Do you know how long I’ve tried to stop craving and eating too much sugar? (From about the time I turned 6.)  Do you know how hard I’ve worked to have self-control when it comes to chocolate? (I mean, it’s chocolate.)  Do you know how many times I’ve tried and failed to help my picky eaters make good choices? (Why won’t they just put the cauliflower into their tiny little mouths and chew?)

cauliflower

This is going to sound cliché, but what-ever, because it applies to all areas of life, including chocolate and cauliflower:  We can do nothing without God’s help.

If I’ve learned anything the past year, it is that on my own, I am weak and fall short. But when I give up my own control and accept God’s power to work through me, I am incredibly strong. Take it from a (recovering) chocolate, sugar, dessert addict who finally let God take over this weakness a few months ago. I’ve been trying on my own for years. My will power would carry me for a few days, then I’d slip back into my old chocolate-covered habits again. But I’m finally accepting God’s power to work in me with this, which is, without a doubt, so much more amazing than my own pitiful, sugar-coated will power.

Do you want to make healthy changes in your kitchen for yourself and for your family? Then confidently tell God your desires. And none of this worried kind of prayer either. “Oh God, I’m so scared that my kids are going to get scurvy because they won’t eat vegetables. Will you please help?” No, no. God already knows our desires and is our absolute helper.  Pray confidently! “God, you know how much I desire for our family to learn to like healthier foods. I know you can work this out for us. I trust You and am excited to see You do this for us!”  or  “Father, you know our resources are limited, and you also know how eager I am to honor you by staying healthy. I trust you to provide and to show me how to make this work!”

Pray, listen, and confidently accept His gift of peace in this area of your life.

Setting goals is good. Making plans is wise. Becoming excited about making healthy changes is wonderful. But don’t start this new year by making goals and trying to make changes. Start by asking God to do His work in you and in your family. It’s the first step you should take toward making real food a reality!

Obviously, this can be applied to anything you desire – not just a desire to become healthier.  Care to share some of your desires for this new year?

Gratituesday: The Wrestling Match

Wrestling matches with God aren’t very much fun. I’m not even sure why I choose to participate in the sport.  But every once in a while I find that He’s calling me to do something that I really, really don’t want to do. And so, the fight begins.

It’s funny that I would fight the One who has all the answers. It kind of seems pointless that I would consciously choose to go up against the Ultimate Champion. And yet, I know that God understands that it’s hard for me to go down without a fight. I believe that He’s okay with me having to meet him over and over again for a knock-down-drag-out. He’s strong enough to handle it. In fact, if God were  to talk smack to me, I’m pretty sure for the past few months He’d have been saying to me, “You want to fight? You want a piece of this? Bring it on, Sistah.”  :)

The time of wrestling, arguing, being stubborn, being fearful – that is when God can teach me the biggest lessons. How can I fully understand what He’s trying to do with me if I don’t question what He’s telling me and struggle against trying to grasp and accept His will for my life?

You know what I learned during my latest wrestling match with God? I learned that He will never call on me to do something without also completely preparing and equipping me. I learned that His ways are bigger than my ways. I learned that humbly seeking answers, letting friends in to help, and getting on my knees is the best way to stretch and find the truth.

I also learned that when you wrestle with God, surrender is sweet. God won this wrestling match, but I didn’t come out the loser. I came out with answers.

Victory doesn’t get any sweeter than that.

Share how God is working in your life on your blog, then come link up with us here. If you don’t have a blog, be sure to leave a comment letting us know what you’re grateful for!

If you are linking up a blog post for Gratituesday,
please copy and paste the following sentence into your post! Thanks!

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

 

Did You Know That Today is Gratituesday? – Share the Love

We’ve been celebrating Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers since January of 2008. That’s about three months after I began blogging – back when about four people read this regularly (and I was one them). I love how Gratituesday has grown since then. I love that now, many of you take special notice on Tuesdays and search your heart for something to be thankful for. Some days it’s easy, some days it isn’t – but when we truly look at all God has done for us, there is always something to be grateful for.

I was so tickled when I read my friend Jill’s Gratituesday post last week. It seems that she’s been taking the Gratituesday idea to the bank, to McDonalds – to wherever she happens to be going each Tuesday. She’ll say, “Hey, did you know today is Gratituesday?”  She may receive a questioning look initially, but after she’s finished explaining that Gratituesday is a day we pause and reflect on what we’re grateful for, she’s likely to have changed that person’s outlook on the day.

I felt challenged by this idea and wanted to share it with you. I’d love to see Gratituesday go beyond this blog (and yours when you link up!). Think of the grateful attitude that could spread through Facebook. And how about taking Gratituesday offline like my friend Jill has been doing? What if you took it to your workplace? Or to businesses as you run errands? How about sharing it with your family around the dinner table?  Or talk about what you’re grateful for on the car ride to gymnastics.

Being grateful is a huge part of stepping outside of ourselves and recognizing that God is truly at work among His people. Take time now to reflect, then share with us – either on your blog or by comment on this post. Then, take it one step further. Share with others beyond this blog. Ask your friends on Facebook to share what they are grateful for this Gratituesday. Talk it up amongst your “real life” friends. Focus on being grateful and encourage others to do the same. A little gratitude goes a long way.

Mentor Relationships

~Appreciate Your Spouse~Buoyancy in Marriage~Consult Your Partner~
~Dream Together Part One ~Dream Together Part Two~Empower Your Spouse~
~Have Fun With Your Spouse~Give to One Another~Honor Each Other~
~Be Intentional~Jubilee~Kingdom Focused~Listen

Mentor Relationships

What School are You Paying for? – Matt’s Thoughts

“How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!” (Proverbs 16:16)  I’ll Amen that.

“Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7)  Amen to that too.

Now, how do I get me some of that wisdom and understanding that I so desperately need?

Most of my life I’ve been enrolled at UHK (University of Hard Knocks). UHK has an amazing presence.  There are satellite campuses everywhere I go. But in my shining moments I’ve sought out a mentor and avoided the expense of UHK.

As Laura and I have aimed for a healthy marriage, we also have looked to some couples modeling a healthy marriage who are farther down the road in their marital journey. We have watched them from a distance and visited with them couple to couple. We’ve been encouraged from afar and challenged by their words. We’ve heard their regrets, taking them to heart so as to avoid UHK for ourselves, and we’ve taken mental notes regarding their victories so that we can attempt to gain the same outcome.

Why don’t we do this more often, rather than paying room, board, tuition and fees to UHK? Many times it’s because I’m chasing gold and silver rather than wisdom and understanding.

How can I get me some wisdom?

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.” (Proverbs 19:20)

Red Flag Relationships – Laura’s Thoughts

Most of us tend to gravitate toward those who are in the same stage of life we are in. Singles like to hang out with other singles. Young marrieds like to spend time with other young marrieds. Parents with babies like to get together with other parents of babies. And on it goes.  This is all great and truly – many of our best friendships are based on the fact that we have so much in common. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with spending time and enjoying others in your stage of life – unless those are the only people you spend time with.

We’ve seen marriages destroyed because couples were not willing to look beyond their 20 or 30-something age group for companionship, guidance and encouragement.   We’ve been heart-broken to see relationships crushed because young couples were spending too much time with other young couples. It’s dangerous – watch and be aware of how close you are becoming with other couples, especially if these relationships are purely for fun and hold little spiritual depth.  Let a red flag be raised and make changes in your couple-to-couple friendships if you begin to find yourself becoming too “comfortable” with your friend’s spouse.

Be intentional about spending time with couples who will sharpen you, encourage you and make your marriage stronger. Seek out couples who have been married longer than you and who know more than you about maintaining a healthy marriage. Don’t be afraid of people who are older and wiser than you. Sit at their feet, ask questions, soak in what they have to say.

Your healthy marriage depends on it.

Ladies, we know you’re reading here more often than the guys. ;)  We’d love husbands to read this article as well. If you feel so inclined please send the link to your husbands, or if it’s easier, we’ve created a downloadable article for you to quickly print off and share. Healthy Marriage Tips A to Z – Mentors

Gratituesday: Short But Sweet Visit

My dad can rarely get away from his work (one draw-back of being self-employed and being a work-a-holic). ;)  As he and his wife are coming up on their fourth anniversary, he actually took a few days off to get away. I was so grateful to hear it. I was even more grateful to hear that they were going to spend part of their get away time with us! (Side note:  In case you aren’t aware, I lost my mom seven years ago and my dad remarried four years ago this month. You can read a little bit more about this here.)

“Papa” bought the special breakfast he likes to get to spoil the boys. Here are the leftovers.
Not pictured:  Chocolate Long John. Don’t ask me what happened to that one.

Dad and Tacy got to be here to watch our boys play in their soccer tournament over the weekend, then today, we visited and enjoyed down-time together. They watched the boys jump on the trampoline and do “their flips and tricks”. Tacy and I took a walk. We all just relaxed. Their visit was short but sweet and we treasured it all.

What are you thankful for this Gratituesday? Write about it on your blog, then come link up with us here.
If you don’t have a blog, be sure to leave a comment letting us know what you’re grateful for!

If you are linking up a blog post for Gratituesday,please copy and paste the following sentence into your post! Thanks!

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

 

Kingdom Focused

~Appreciate Your Spouse~Buoyancy in Marriage~Consult Your Partner~
~Dream Together Part One ~Dream Together Part Two~Empower Your Spouse~
~Have Fun With Your Spouse~Give to One Another~Honor Each Other~Be Intentional~Jubilee~

Dethroning King Dumb – Matt’s Thoughts

I’ve found that praying the same brief Biblical phrase for several weeks at a time works for me. It is similar to steeping tea. The longer the phrase stays in my head to “brew” the stronger an impact it makes on me. For a couple months now, I’ve been regularly praying the following phrase Jesus used when he taught how to pray: “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  My understanding is that I am to be his instrument in making this happen. I want to be a part of bringing God’s Kingdom to us, accomplishing His will on earth as it is being accomplished in heaven. I should live to please my King. My problem is King Dumb – that’s me – wants to do his own thing. King Dumb has his agenda. King Dumb builds his castle waving his prideful banner. King Dumb feeds his desires.  King Dumb cares for others when King Dumb benefits.

Living in our own little King Dumb, or Queen Dumb if that fits you better, is not beneficial to a marriage.  The healthiest marriages I have witnessed contain two people with one focus, one purpose, one Lord, one Kingdom. Their lives reverberate another of Jesus’ prayers, “Not my will but yours be done.”

Don’t Mess With My To-Do List – Laura’s Thoughts

My world is full of “to-dos”. I have writing to do, laundry to do, dishes to do, cooking to do, cleaning to do…a never ending list of to-dos. I get a lot of work done each day. Why? Because I’m driven and am very task oriented. I can knock out a long to-do list and then come back for more. Yes, I’m very good at accomplishing many tasks each day.

What about the kids? What about my husband? What about my church family, my neighbors, the people I run into at the store? What about them? Get out of my way – I have a to-do list.

This is me when I am not being Kingdom Focused.   Pretty, huh?

I’ve had to learn the hard way that life is not about me or my to-do lists. In fact, not only is life not about my to-do lists, it is instead very much about others. People. God’s people. When I pry my eyes and brain away from my tasks and look instead to the needs of the people God has put in my life, I find that suddenly that laundry pile has very little significance. The clothes still make their way into the washing machine, but my heart no longer dwells on the never ending list of to-dos. When I truly seek to live as Jesus wants me to live, when I stop and listen to what God wants me to do, when I begin to care more about loving others than loving my list…much can be accomplished for God’s Kingdom.

Today’s to-do list? Focus on God’s Kingdom.

Ladies, we know you’re reading here more often than the guys. ;)  We’d love husbands to read this article as well. If you feel so inclined please send the link to your husbands, or if it’s easier, we’ve created a downloadable article for you to quickly print off and share.   Healthy Marriage Tips A to Z – Kingdom Focused

Your Spouse is Not Your Enemy

helpmeet

One of the statements that stuck out to me the most when Matt and I attended the Weekend to Remember marriage conference is this:

Your spouse is not your enemy.

When your spouse does something to hurt you or upset you; when your spouse is thoughtless or inconsiderate; when your spouse forgets to do something you asked him or her to do; when your spouse makes you mad or causes you pain; when your spouse doesn’t seem to be on your side…

You need to remember that your spouse is not your enemy.

The enemy is your enemy. Satan is the enemy.  The enemy doesn’t want your marriage to survive. The enemy doesn’t want your marriage to be strong. The enemy doesn’t want your marriage to make an impact for God’s Kingdom.

Your spouse is your teammate in this war against the enemy. The enemy wants to tear your marriage apart. You and your spouse are in this marriage together and you are not enemies. You may not always see everything the same way, you may not always agree in every situation. You may feel like your spouse is choosing to be your enemy. But no, that isn’t true. Your spouse is not your enemy.

No matter how tough your struggles, no matter how terrible your pain, no matter what your spouse does or doesn’t do…you must remember that your spouse is not your enemy.

Recognize the enemy when he tries to attack the teamwork of your marriage. Do not focus your thoughts around your spouse when you are hurt or upset, thinking that your spouse is the enemy. This will get you nowhere, except to keep you hurt and upset.

Instead, focus on prayer to the One who is holy and righteous, and much more powerful than the enemy. Focus your prayers on asking God to preserve your marriage, to strengthen your marriage and above all, to defeat the enemy.

May you be blessed as you and your spouse work together, letting God strengthen and protect your marriage against the enemy. Praise God for His unfailing power and for the hope He brings to your life and to your marriage!

I wanted to remind you that we’ve set up a Heavenly Homemakers Group, which enables you and your spouse to attend the Weekend to Remember conference for HALF PRICE!!   The normal price per couple is $318, which means that by signing up with the Heavenly Homemakers Group, you and your spouse can attend for only $159!

By signing up under the Heavenly Homemakers Group, you can attend the conference at any time or location that works for you. We don’t all have to “go as a group”. This is just a nice group rate option Family Life offers to encourage more people to attend. Feel free to share this information and link with your friends!

Gratituesday: Prayer for Healing

When my friends are hurt, I hurt. 

Last week, one of my friends became very ill. I’ve watched my church family rally around her family, helping with the kids, taking meals…and I’ve been so thankful to be a part of a body of believers that cares for one another.

I’ve been fighting a head cold myself, so it wasn’t wise for me to head over to her house to offer any help. But I’m doing much better now so finally tonight I got to go for a short visit. 

I didn’t do much. I delivered milk to her door and made a Wal-mart list of things they needed since I was on my way to the store. That was it.

But I got to hug my friend’s neck…and more importantly…I got to do what I’d been longing to do since I heard she’d become sick:  I got to pray with her.

Prayer is so powerful. When I feel helpless to do something to “make everything better” when truly, there’s not much I can do to help her body heal…I am so thankful that I can fall to my knees, take my friend’s hands, and pray.

It was beautiful, and I’m not sure but that she may have felt just a little bit better when I left. 

I know I sure did.

What are you thankful for this Gratituesday? Write about it on your blog, then come link up with us here. If you don’t have a blog, be sure to leave a comment letting us know what you’re grateful for!

If you are linking up a blog post for Gratituesday,
please copy and paste the following sentence into your post! Thanks!


Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

It Happens in a Blink

Some of you have asked me to share more about what led us to our decision for Matt to resign from his job to work at home with our family. You’d like to know more about what we’re planning to do and what our “new life” will look like.

I can’t share much yet about what our new life will look like as it hasn’t actually started yet. Incidentally, it will start on Thursday the 16th at precisely 3:01 pm, at which time you WILL hear me shouting and banging on pots and pans in celebration. 

We’re setting goals and making plans and praying. Once we settle into January, I’ll be able to share more with you about what we’re doing with our time and how the new plan is working with our family.

What I can share though is a little more about what led us to this decision. I mentioned previously that Matt didn’t want to have regrets about how he spent the time God’s given him on earth. Our boys are growing quickly…and they need the guidance of their daddy. Our marriage is strong and we’d like to keep it that way. We have ministry ideas that we’d like to explore.  Matt’s current job situation hasn’t allowed us to do for our family what we feel called to do.

Ultimately, we had to ask ourselves the questions:  What are we doing for the Kingdom? Is our life in balance with what God wants us to be doing for Him?

We did some evaluating and knew something needed to give.  (Later I’ll share a formula we came up with to evaluate the balance of each important area of our lives.)  We asked God to show us how to create a more balanced life, while still providing for our family.

The following song, Blink, by Revive pretty much sums up our thoughts. I’d really like you to listen and read the words as it plays because it’s quite convicting. 

It happens in a blink…what are you doing with your life?

For the record, we are definitely not advocating that everyone should turn in their two weeks notice tomorrow. That family you love so much does need to eat and have shoes. :)  We are just sharing what we’ve felt called to do for our family. We had a financial plan in place before making this leap and have spent many months praying about this decision. We simply want to encourage each person to examine how they spend their time and feel like we should all ask ourselves:  Am I making the most of every moment God’s given me?

Reaching Out to Others…Where to Start

Several of you have mentioned to me that you love the idea of using Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve with your children…but the idea of reaching out and doing that many acts of service for people is a bit out of your comfort zone. Or, what if you’re new to the area and don’t really know a lot of people? You’ve asked for advice, so I’ve been brainstorming some ideas to make it (hopefully) a little easier for you and your family to cook “Soup for someone who is Sick” on Ss week, or take a new “Book to B________” on Bb week. 

learnyourletters

The following ideas are simply offered as a way to get you going. To help ease you out of your fears. To gently get you and your family used to visiting others and putting smiles on their faces! 

  • Utilize extended family members, even if it means you have to send something through the mail. Family (hopefully) will feel safe to you and will be an easy beginning to getting your family in the mode of making something to give to someone. Plus, I’m pretty sure if your child sends something homemade to a grandparent or aunt…the appreciation and feedback they’ll receive will be pretty huge. Family members LOVE your kids an awful lot. :)
  • Pull out your church directory if you have one. Looking through the directory together may help give you new ideas of people you could serve.
  • Do some of the acts of kindness anonymously. Don’t rely on this one too much, because you will receive such a wonderful blessing when you deliver something to someone and are able to see the smile on their face. But there is something to be said about the gift of surprising someone by leaving it on their porch for them to find when they come home. (I will caution you though that if someone left a homemade goody on my porch and didn’t tell me who it was from…I may not want to eat it. I’m just sayin’. You might want to reserve the anonymous act of service to be something more inedible.)
  • Visit a local rest home to carry out some of your service. Sometimes it’s easier to visit with a complete stranger, knowing that your visit will make their day, than to visit with someone who is, say an acquaintance from church. 
  • Pick some of your children’s good friends. It’s awesome to reach out to people you don’t know as well…and to people in other generations…but WOW it’s fun to knock on your best buddy’s door to deliver a Jar of Jelly beans on Jj week! 
  • Make it a team effort. Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve is meant to be a project for the whole family anyway. Piling in the car all together and visiting your recipient all together is so much easier than going alone with just one child. 
  • Ah, who am I kidding? Your kids are so cute, the person you’re serving will ooh and ahhh over your child and the fact that he/she came to do something kind…and that in and of itself with be a huge buffer in your comfort level. Seriously, if you’re worried about what you’ll talk about when you’re visiting someone…just visit about your project and other things your kids are doing. People love that.
  • On the other hand…be sure to ask the other person questions…especially if they are sick or have been going through any kind of struggle.
  • Don’t feel like you have to stay and visit with someone for three hours. Have your child hand over the goodies (whatever they are that week!), explain your project and maybe tell why your family chose them and then if the timing seems right, you can then be on your way.

Just think of the blessing you are giving your child! By starting them on the journey of service now, as they get older…thinking of others and serving them will become a natural part of who they are.

And I promise (because I speak from experience!) the more you serve with your children…the easier it will be for you too! God does amazing things when he “stretches us” beyond our comfort level a little bit. You know what you alone are capable of, right? So when you do something for someone that pushes you past your comfort zone, you KNOW that you’re doing it only because of the awesome power of God. It’s an incredible feeling.

God is so good. You can do this!