Multitasking Mode – Unplugged

Today, I turned off the multitasking, must-be-as-productive-as-possible-mode of my brain and embraced the day off with my kids. The house was still cluttered and unorganized from a weekend play date with friends. (Six kids together will do that.) But, all is well… because we had some owls to make instead…

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:8-9.

And time with the family…with the hubby… with the kids… without phones… without distractions…without worry… is just that.

Be Who You Needed

From my experience, it’s very easy to form excuses as to …

 

Why we are the way we are?

Or why we do what we do?

Why we can’t do what we are called to do?

Who made us the way we are?

Who said something that affected us deeper than forgiveness can reach?

Why we can’t be happy until that change happens, that miracle comes, that person changes… etc.

 

Excuses can be for everything. Excuses to why we can’t defeat our anxiety, why our flaws continue to get the best of us, why we can’t be different than those before us, why we can’t use that talent, why we can’t forgive…

They protect us in a way from failure… from being vulnerable … from embarrassment… from life…

But excuses are just that: excuses. They hold us back from our full potential. They prevent us from using our God-given talents. They lie to us so that forgiveness is not allowed in … that cycles can’t break.

Those are all lies. For forgiveness is the key. Forgiveness is what we are all called to do. Forgiveness heals everyone involved especially the forgiver. Cycles of the past like addiction, anxiety, abuse or even deep unhappiness … they do break! But it takes prayer, perseverance, patience and ….. forgiveness.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:32 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/eph.4.32.niv

One of the greatest things I ever did was forgive some people, some very close to me and others I may never see again, for things of the past. It was not easy. I battled myself for years… (truthfully decades about it … )

But lucky for me, the cool thing about forgiveness is that it doesn’t always require us to tell the people directly. Sometimes, it just involves that huge step within our lives to forgive and let go… to lift it up and use those scars for good.

So even though I did not tell them directly that I had forgiven them, I finally did it. My stubborn ways tried so hard to hold on to the grudges and the pain as backup excuses for when I messed up. It’s so much easier to pass the buck to someone else than face our own flaws or mistakes.

But this forgiveness brought so much more…. it brought a peace I could never have had with all that baggage still piled up.

One of the best quote I read around the time when I decided to embrace forgiveness was this one by Prince Ea, which has now become one of my life mottos.

“Be who you needed when you were younger.” – Prince Ea

Prince Ea’s actual post and page

So think back…

Who did you need as a child…

Who did you need as a preteen...

 

Who did you need as a teen… young adult …

Who do you need now?

The moment I started to reflect on this is when I finally stopped sulking in the excuses and pains of the past… and saw the promises and possibilities awaiting me in my now. It’s when I took ownership on my present and my future… both blessings my past can no longer steal.

Being a mother and teacher gives me a platform for this for sure. However, we all have our own platforms to do this… to be this… to be who we needed … to be who we need… in everything we do and with every relationship.

So no matter what mess the past left you, every day is a new chance to forgive and be that person you too once needed.

It will change your life!

Blissful Banana Bread

Who doesn’t love a good baked bread especially when it involves bananas. Here is one of our simple favorites.

 

Ingredients:

First Bowl:

1.5 cups of flour

1.5 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of salt

Second Bowl:

2 mashed bananas

1/3 cup of applesauce

1/2 cups of sugar

1/4 cup cooking oil (We use melted coconut oil, but have used others.)

1/4 cup dairy free chocolate chips (optional but a favorite)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a loaf pan. We use Earth’s Balance.
  3. Mix in all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and make a well in the middle of it.
  4. Mix the second set of ingredients in a separate bowl or even directly into the well of the first bowl.
  5. Then mix together everything thoroughly.
  6. Add in dairy free chocolate chips.
  7. Pour mixture into the greased pan.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes.  Test with a toothpick.
  9. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • We prefer Pyrex but have learned (the hard way) to be careful when taking out glass from the oven.  Do not place directly from the oven onto the cool surface like the counter.  It can explode!

Now, let me try to get to that counter…

 

A Healthy, Happy Home

Creating a healthy home has always been one of my greatest goals.  Even before kids, I considered myself healthy. However, it wasn’t until after TJ’s diagnosis that I began to see past some of my old ways of health to an even more natural way. It really opened my eyes to a world that I was not seeing clearly beforehand.   I thought I was healthy before that: I worked out every day and ate a low fat, lean diet, splurging on the weekends of course.   (Yes, I had fallen terribly for the fat free fad….oh how I had been wrong!) So to say the least, it was a huge wake up call when I took on the elimination diet for TJ and started to read more about food system.  I learned about true health by following and listening to people like Robyn O’Brien.
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While I still have a ways to go, we have come far.

Once again, I am NOT a doctor. Just a mama, wife, teacher, friend, Jesus lover, writer trying to figure out how to embrace the mess… (See disclaimer below)

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Over the past years, we have learned some go-to tips to assist our family’s health, and propel it forward…
  1. Prayer – This may sound repetitive throughout my posts, but good! It should be! The power of prayer cannot be defined.   We have truly seen it transform our health and you can too! There is no special way, time, or place. Just pray
  2. Rest – There was a time I would have told you that the r in propelling your health was to run daily.  However, as much as I still love to run each morning, getting enough sleep and rest has proven to be much more beneficial.
  3. Oils – Aside from healthy cooking oils and those in our diet like olive and coconut, essential oils have empowered our house.  It took me many years and a thousand questions (Thanks Mary for your patience!) before I actually bought my first premium starter kit from Young Living.   It’s been three years now since then and oils are now part of our daily routines.  They helped us toss out our unhealthy candles, became a friend to our immune systems, and eliminated so many unnecessary chemicals that our house once carried.We diffuse them, roller ball them up, bathe with them, make lotion using them, and even clean with them! With oils, it is important to always find a high quality brand! (Want more information on oils? Send me an email to theartofamessyhouse@gmail.com or comment below. And stay tuned for future posts.)untitled design (34)
  4. Probiotics – We saw a lot of doctors after TJ had his first reaction.  Unless necessary, I would NOT recommend doing that. Seeing a lot of doctors leads to lots of conflicting advice and one crazed Mama…or Dada.   Anyways, one recommendation that every single doctor during that time suggested was to use a good probiotic.   We went with UltraFlora Balance by Metagenics after two of them suggested that one. TJ and Madison have both used it since before they were one years old just in a reduced form. It was also what I used throughout my pregnancy with Madison. Sometimes, I switch it up too for myself with good high quality, trusted brands.
  5. Elderberry – This is very new to me this year.   During flu season last year, I read a lot about elderberry and purchased an organic brand of it.   However, it was stored away until this past Christmas when TJ got the stomach bug the night before Christmas Eve! (One of my worst nightmares!) So, we tore open that bottle and have been using it since whenever someone in the family has a compromised immune system. Next up…to try to make our own.
  6. Love – All you need is a little TLC… tender loving care, they say.  But the reality is sometimes, people are hard to love.  Sometimes, it just feels good to vent about something or someone..to burn off that steam exploded inside.   It’s healthy too… but the healthiest I have ever felt was when I began to more easily let go up “the drama,” “the negativity,” and even the people who are just plan “mean” … and focus on love. Hug more, kiss those dirty cheeks more and say “I love you” out of routine. Stop fixating on what’s wrong; challenge yourself to see the good in the picture instead. Walk away from the hate; embrace the love.

 

In addition to these ways we PROPEL our health, I also chew a clove of garlic at the first sign of a sore throat.   (I had to add this today as I am feeling under the weather and needed a morning clove.) It is not for everyone and I am sure that I do not need to tell you, it does not have the greatest taste.. or smell.  I didn’t add it to our list because I am the only one who uses this as my kids are too young to force allium sativum on them, and Timmy is not a fan of the technique.  No kissing tonight hun!

So there’s my mnemonic device for health, PROPEL!  The ELA teacher in me at work…the believer at heart. It’s not cliche.  It’s real.

 

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Even though we still get hit by viruses, we breath easier knowing that we have resources that help propel our health past the always lingering season of germs and mess.

Disclaimer: This blog is a personal blog and used as a way of sharing and connecting with other readers. The posts, articles, and stories shared on the site are meant as a source of encouragement. In this challenging world of food allergies, motherhood, and life, I have found reaching out to other parents and people in my shoes to be extremely resourceful and inspiring. Therefore, I want to give back and do the same. I am not a doctor; therefore, the information on my blog is not intended as medical advice so as always, please consult with your doctor.

Some Days Just Stink

Every January people ring in the New Year with high hopes of it being the break-through year of dreams taking off and miracles happening. And this past January 1st was just the same. I believed the great blessings that this year would bring as soon as the clock struck midnight. While I had tried to stay awake, I had only made it to 11:41 pm.

Hmmm… maybe my lack of endurance had been to blame for what soon happened…

Anyways, I woke up that first day with anything but a restored attitude. Instead, every ounce of my body struggled to get out of bed as I woke up with a massive headache. We had been with our friends and their kids the night before so maybe the two drinks I had gave me a headache? How could I be hung over? Wow, maybe my age was really catching up to me.

Still, I pressed on as parents do… cooking and straightening up, packing and prepping for the upcoming school week after being off for winter break. It was brutal. I told myself I would watch my former student and his Kentucky football team in the Citrus Bowl as I wrote and prepared this blog. However, I found myself freezing under covers watching the game with a heating pad along my spine and my eyes fighting to stay awake.

Soon enough, when the aches began, the thermometer told me different story, a 101 fever! Great! It was the first day of the year …the first day for a restored attitude …

and I could not work out because I felt so terrible…

I could not write (I always started mornings off by praying and writing)…

I could not spend time with my kids…

could not have a romantic evening with my husband…

I could not even eat…

I was not productive…

I just laid around and waited for bedtime.

The virus passed quickly as usual since I had worked hard in building up my immune system after having the kids. Now, I was back at school still not feeling like myself, but functioning and sweating actually more than I would like to admit. I was trying not to feel discouraged. We had so much to look forward to…

My husband had a potential new job offer much closer to home…

My daughter was finally getting to try straight cow’s milk with our allergist the following week …

TJ’s annual blood work for allergy levels would be back soon and for the past two years they had dropped significantly for eggs and dairy…

So much to look forward to! So much to praise God for… just around the corner…

If we could just get to the corner, everything would be okay…

Then the next week came and my husband Timmy took our daughter to try cow’s milk with her doctor. I had it planned out; since I was working until late we would go to church the following day to go to the alter and praise God for the outgrown allergy, a tradition we had done for all of the other food challenges TJ and Madison had passed and allergies they had outgrown. I mean she already ate chicken francaise, Hersey kisses, pizza, baked products, a bunch of items with cow’s milk in it, there was no doubt in our minds that she wouldn’t pass…

until that exact thing happened.

She didn’t pass….

…after just one drop, her mouth got red and itchy. We would have to try again in August…

Then, TJ’s annual results got back and they had stayed pretty much the same. The same!?! I believed… we believed they would drop drastically again…

To make matters worse, Timmy still had no news on the job offer that was given over a month ago.   They had been negotiating back and forth … until finally it fell through …

Jen, breath, it’s all just around the corner.  Just not yet….

 

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And then I read TJ’s report card: “He has a kind heart. Sometimes, he gets frustrated because his friends don’t understand him. I love his art work!”

WHAT!?!?!? Great sandwiching of the comments … but why was this the first time I was hearing about this. Sure, we noticed certain sounds were lacking like tr and k but he was our first, we had no idea what was typical and what wasn’t. As a special education teacher, I tried my hardest to not overanalyze and diagnose my own children.  Maybe, I was wrong…maybe I should have asked…

Guilt and frustration were having a field day…

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So I lost it. 2019, what were you trying to do to me? It had only been a week, but bad news after bad news plus the pile up of responsibilities on my plate at school, built up for a meltdown.

I started to think …
What a “great” year this is going to be?
Now what… will this year bring?
Can we restart?

And even something I totally had wrong:

What had I done wrong?

Then, as I stopped myself to pray. These words spoke to my heart…

“Be present and stay patient in prayer.”

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9

It was the time to start declaring the year was going to be one of blessings.  It was not time to be fooled by a bad day, week, month or season. It was certainly not the time to stand around and wait to enjoy “the right now.”

The whole time when I was waiting for the perfect news to praise God and to declare how blessed we were, I had it all wrong.

It’s not about waiting for the thunder to pass …

it’s not about waiting for the good news…

it’s not about waiting for the prayer to be answered ….

the allergy to be cured … the money to come…

It’s about seeing the beauty of the storm itself.

It’s about accepting that some days, some weeks, some seasons just stink, and

that. is. okay.

But what is not okay is believing that those days and storms will always be. Instead, it was believing and knowing that they all have their purpose. That they do transform us into who we are called to be… into our best selves … and for that we can genuinely smile through it, knowing storms do eventually run out of rain.

So get those rain boots on and walk proudly through those puddles. Find laughter through all seasons. Embrace the storm as you learn to dance in the rain, even if it tracks in some mud along the way. 

 

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To 2019… even though we got off on the wrong foot, every day is new chance to start over and for that … we are just getting started!

“And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm...” – Mark 4:39

The Missing Ingredient

 

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I have always loved to bake, and try out new recipes of all types. After TJ’s anaphylactic reaction, I put that on hold for awhile out of fear and trying to process it all. That was until I realized that that was not the solution. Instead, together we started to create a whole new cookbook, pushing the old ones aside… for now.

Our allergy-free cookbook is filled with delicious meals and desserts from these past four years. And as we continue to add to our collection and experiment with our creations, we are always searching for the correct ingredients and amounts.

But if these years have taught me anything, it is about a crucial ingredient, that is often missing…

Prayer!

stuffing (dairy, egg & peanut free)Where do I even start?

With prayer!

Now, this is an area that I consider… a work in progress. However, its importance is one to share even before it is perfected. Is it ever really perfected?

Everything can cause us anxiety. The news, our food system, food allergies, irrational workloads, sicknesses, hectic days, hectic lives … to even the enjoyable aspects of life like trips and parties … they all have the ability to stress us out and steal our peace. There was a period of my life, (okay who am I fooling) …for most of my life, I handled the anxiety the same way:

Let it pile up…internalize it… let it pile up some more… try to do it all by myself… try to vent to someone about… let it pile up even more … fear the worst…explode …then repeat.

What is the saying accredited to Albert Einstein again? “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Maybe we aren’t insane, but we are overworked and over-worried, and missing one element (or at least I was), one important ingredient to the recipe of life, prayer!

So how does it work? It works everywhere and for everything.

To start, before each meal, pray over the food quietly or with your family and friends.

Thank You God for this food, blessing our bodies with it and for the hands that prepared it. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Worried about that allergy or doctor appointment coming up for your child or yourself?

Thank you God for healing his body from allergies. Thank you for protecting him and the good news You will provide.

Or

Thank You God for healing and restoring my body. Thank You for the great news I will receive at this appointment and the beauty that you will create from my pain. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Anxious about whether or not you should take the new job or do the new diet?

Pray over it. Thank You God for the blessing that this job … this diet … etc … will bring my life and my ability to do Your will through it.

Is your kid acting like they lost their mind in the car as you commute to work and school? (The Lord knows I’ve screamed back a time or fifty …)

Pray over them.

But it’s not just the missing ingredients from our needs, it is also the key part of even the moments of grace.

Is your heart beating a mile a minute as you just somehow avoided getting in a major accident with your two kids in the car? Pray and thank God for getting you out of that lane before the car behind you crashed into the one ahead. Pray for the people who did get hit every time you see an accident even if the accident is the reason you are late to work. Don’t curse and don’t stress. Pray, pray, pray.

It will help you breath better. It will help you think better. It will help you react better. It will help you understand better. It will help you love better. It will help you live better.

Do. It. For. Everything.

I’m not saying it will make your washer that broke restart or finally get money to grow from that tree in your backyard. Although sometimes God touches down in those situations too… (well maybe not the money-growing spruce…)

But what will it hurt? It can’t hurt. It can only bring you peace in places and times anxiety wants to steal just that.

Prayer is the ingredient I was missing for way too long. And even though we may have moments we feel like life in unfair…. What are these allergies even for? Why my kids? Why didn’t I get that job? That promotion? Or the other millions of questions that our days through at us?prayer is needed.

For we are called to pray for the blessings that these challenges will bring… the blessings that we cannot even comprehend that are waiting for us just around the corner.

So while our allergy safe cookbook may only be half written and stored away in our anything but organized cabinet, we are learning to pray through our mess… believing for more.

 

Shake Up Your Morning

It was in September that I saw my OBGYN about intense ovulation and menstrual pain. It had been several months of this so I wanted answers. I started to assume it was the endometriosis my mom may have so “kindly” passed down to me.

After an ultrasound, I received a phone call from another doctor telling me that I had a cyst on my ovary the size of a baseball!

A BASEBALL! I freaked out… ain’t gonna lie… especially when they then instructed me that I should have blood work done to double check…cancer levels… That was it! I quickly lost it!

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Then, the doctor went right into talking about having to monitor it for a few months and then discussed going on the pill or even surgery.  That was not a good night for me or my husband to say the least. (It was also the night I found out he would be traveling to Paris for business without me….double whammy!!)

After I gathered myself again, I turned to prayer, believing everything would be okay.  Instead, of my typical reaction of panic, panic and more panic.   I consciously chose to train my brain to believe that: I. WOULD. BE. TOTALLY. OKAY. AND. HEALTHY.

A week later, the blood work came back with the wonderful news that my inflammation number was in the normal range.   So now it was just waiting game until I would be rechecked in a couple months. Therefore, I reached out to a holistic doctor about what I could do. She gave some supplements to help decrease estrogen levels and also suggested lots of cruciferous vegetables and as many greens as possible. Sadly, she also recommended that I cut out alcohol and dairy for 30 days. Noooo not the wine!

So, I loaded up on broccoli and cauliflower in my lunches and dinners.  Riced cauliflower was my best friend in my stir frys, salads, and even soups. I already wasn’t eating dairy during the week, only on the weekends with pizza.  With liquor, I stopped the random glass of wine during the week, only a glass or two on the weekends.  But as far as the other greens…. how many greens could I actually eat? That is when I decided to play around with morning shakes, finding my favorite green one.

I called it my morning “Shake Up” or as my daughter calls it, a green “milk shake.”

And here it is… with some variations. I like to vary it up too.  My husband turned me into a creature of habit, or maybe I always was one.  Regardless, variety is important so I try my hardest to vary it up.

SHAKE IT UP RECIPE #1

  1. ice cubes (a couple handfuls)
  2. 2 Tablespoons almond butter
  3. 1 cup almond milk or Silk’s Protein Milk (almond, cashew, pea)
  4. 2 dates (You can add up to 4.  I keep it light for sugar purposes)
  5. 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
  6. 1 Tablespoon flax seeds
  7. 1 Tablespoon – a good sourced Cacao powder (optional)
  8. A teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)
  9. a cup of spinach or kale (I usually stick to spinach although lately I’m on a kale kick)
  10. 1-2 stalks of celery or even cucumber
  11. Maca powder (optional)
  12. Organic protein powder (optional)

Directions:  Combine and blend well. We use a Vitamix to blend. (It was by far one of my best purchases as far as kitchen items.)

Two months later, when I was retested, the cyst was almost completely undetectable.  Thank you God! Thank you for shakin’ it up and making my faith grow even more.  Thank you for those morning shakes that kick start my days right, even as we rush out of the house with the Vitamix still dirty in the sink.