Frannie peaked her head around the corner, “Hello Ashley, I’ll be with you in a minute.” I noticed how cute and different her hair was so I commented, “Love your hair. Did you straighten it or let it grow?” She bounced around the corner smiling and perky: “Girl, thank you! You see………….my mom was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago and as the news settled she feared losing her hair. Not willing for her to walk this journey alone, I shaved mine first. She now see’s me ‘sassing around‘ and loving my wig and she’s no longer afraid.” Mouth open, tears streaming, and heart pounding -‐ “WOW”, I exclaimed, “That is amazing! I am so moved and encouraged. What an incredible testimony.” The love Frannie displayed for her mother was sacrificial and it covered her mother’s fears. Frannie was selflessly laying down her right to have hair and it reminded me of Christ laying down His rights for us to have life – life abundantly.
I shared my father’s illness with Frannie and how in our pain and lack of understanding God came into our weary hearts and poured out His peace, strength, and hope. She then shared this story with me:
“The month after my mothers diagnoses I was busy making bedroom furniture for my first grandson, soon to come. Sitting on the floor with a heavy soul and weary hands, I began questioning the Lord and praying for my mom. In that moment the Lord spoke to my wondering heart: ‘Frannie, just as you have worked diligently in preparing a place for your precious baby boy. I have also worked diligently and prepared a place for your precious beloved mom. Do not be afraid. She is my child.’ Peace flooded my heart and tears flooded my eyes.
I still don’t understand the disease but I no longer need too because, I understood the love of My King, and His perfect love cast out all my fears.” Those twenty minutes seemed surreal, and I was in awe – again – of our GREAT GOD! This divine encounter caused my heart to soar. May her story encourage you and fill your heart with hope.
Since I wrote this both Frannie’s mom and my father have gone home to live with Jesus. They are healed, whole, and free. I still don’t understand much of their suffering nor the suffering endured by the ones left behind. Many days I feel an empty ache in the deepest part of my soul. However, I do know no one escapes this life without great suffering and I am thankful to not suffer in vein. God uses our aches and struggles to bring about His glory. I also know one day Frannie and I will gaze upon the beauty of our loved ones faces, grab hold to strength of their hands, experince the warmth of their embrace, and dance to the joy of their laughter. Our God is faithful and Heaven is our home.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, May I drink in Your love and out of the overflow, enable me to make sacrifices for those dear to me. Lord, continue to pour your blessings on Frannie, me, others grieving, and our families. Be our strength, light, and hope. Wrap us daily in Your Mighty hands and be the lifter of our heads. As we walk into the unknown remind us of who You are. May our faith and testimony usher others into Your arms. In the name and the blood of Jesus I pray – Amen
The warm air approaches quickly and it is time to get ready for summer. I made a watermelon salad the other night and had leftover watermelon. I decided to throw some in my smoothie the next morning and oh my goodness — DELICIOUS! Here is what I did.
- 1 – 2 cups diced watermelon
- 2 tbsp fage plain yogurt
- 4 drops liquid stevia (organic)
- 1/2 avocado
- dash of cinnamon
- 2 scoops USANA vanilla protein powder
- 1 cup coconut water or coconut milk (if you want a creamer texture)
- 1 cup ice
- 1 tbsp local honey (optional)
Blend on high until its a smooth constancy and indulge.
I do not eat waffles very often any more, but when I do I treat myself to the best (in a healthy kind of way). After allot of searching and testing, I found this next recipe on the web and had to share —- again DELICIOUS (no need to recreate)!
Paleo Chocolate Waffles
1 cup applesauce
4 tbsp coconut flour
1 cup Superfine Blanched Almond Flour
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp sea salt
½ tsp vanilla
4 tbsp cocao powder
¼ cup dark chocolate chips (organic and no added sugar)
2 tbsp of coconut oil
¼ cup of dark chocolate chips (I personnaly added a few drops of liquid organic stevia to the chocolate sauce)
Combine all the ingredients for the waffles in a large mixing bowl and blend until well combined.
Turn on your waffle maker to high
Pour ¾ cup into your waffle maker and cook for 4 – 5 minutes. Remove and Repeat.
For the Chocolate Sauce place the coconut oil and dark chocolate chips in a small sauce pan and on low and melt the chocolate. Whisk to combine and pour over the waffles. Can top with shredded coconut and fresh strawberries if you like.
(By: Kelley BeJelly)
There are many benefits to drinking this simple and amazing morning beverage. Here are 10 of them:
1) Aids Digestion. Lemon juice flushes out unwanted materials and toxins from the body. The digestive qualities of lemon juice help to relieve symptoms of indigestion, such as heartburn.
2) Cleanses Your System / is a Diuretic. Lemon juice helps flush out unwanted materials in part because lemons increase the rate of urination in the body.
3) Boosts Your Immune System. Lemons are high in vitamin C, which is great for fighting colds. They’re high in potassium, which stimulates brain and nerve function.
4) Balances pH Levels. Lemons are one of the most alkalizing foods for the body. Sure, they are acidic on their own, but inside our bodies they’re alkaline.
5) Clears Skin. Vitamin C is vital for healthy glowing skin while its alkaline nature kills some types of bacteria known to cause acne.
6) Energizes You and Enhances Your Mood. Lemon is one of the few foods that contain more negative charged ions, providing your body with more energy when it enters the digestive tract.
7) Promotes Healing. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), found in abundance in lemons, promotes wound healing, and is an essential nutrient in the maintenance of healthy bones, connective tissue, and cartilage.
8) Freshens Breath. Besides fresher breath, lemons have been known to help relieve tooth pain and gingivitis
9) Hydrates Your Lymph System. Warm water and lemon juice supports the immune system by hydrating and replacing fluids lost by your body.
10) Aids in Weight Loss. Lemons are high in pectin fiber, which helps fight hunger cravings.
One large free-range organic whole chicken. (Or free-range chicken breast, legs, and thighs)
Mix the Dry rub (black pepper, sea salt, chili powder, cayenne powder, ground cumin). I used about 2 teaspoon each of salt, pepper, cumin, and a tablespoon each of the chili powder and 1 tsp. cayenne .
2 generous handfuls of fresh cilantro.
4 cloves of garlic.
2 tbsp of olive oil.
Wash your chicken off under cold tap water and then dry with paper towels.
Dust your chicken with salt & pepper, and apply an even coating of chili powder, cayenne, and cumin to your taste. There is no magic amount or formula to use, yet do try to cover the whole bird with some spice.
In a blender or food processor, combine your lime juice, cilantro, garlic, and olive oil. Pulse until an even consistency is reached.
Take your extra lime and poke lots of holes into it with a fork. Now dust this lime with chili powder and stick it into the cavity of your chicken.
Find a ziplock bag or crock pot liner large enough to hold your whole bird. Place your bird/breast in the bag and pour your wet marinade over it. Use your hands to make sure the marinade is applied evenly around the chicken and under the skin, this is the important part. You can puncture the chicken breasts a few times with a knife for the marinade to seep into, yet this is not necessary. Making sure you get the marinade well applied and under the skin will do the trick.
Seal your bag tight so that the marinade is making contact with the chicken all over. I used a zip lock close it tightly and then stuffed that into another large ziplock bag.
Let your chicken marinade overnight. I know, you have to wait, but the morning will be true dump-and-go style cooking.
Place your chicken in your slow cooker along with any marinade left over in your bag.
Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. I would recommend closer to 6.
Active time: 15 minutes Total time: Overnight marinade, plus 6 cooking hours Serves 5
Serve with a delicious salad and warm veggies.
Ten years ago a church wide invitation to participate in a program “Seven Weeks to Health and Wellness” detoured my life forever. I needed change and desired peace in my home considering I prepared four different meals attempting to please my picky eaters and hungry husband. This craziness was causing friction with my man and running me ragged.
I signed up for the program, dove in, and intended to drag the family along.
My munchkins were five and seven and somewhat persuasive, but my husband deemed me “crazy.” I plunged ahead, “all or nothing”, and my steam ran out quickly. Reality check! I took one step back and discovered change is a process. Instead of dragging my family along, I wanted them to participate and be excited.
Stewing over God’s word, I was reminded of the starving Israelites when God sent them manna. They could have thrived on His manna; but they complained and wanted something else. God provided. Another truth surfaced. People are starving all over the world, and my kids were whining because one wanted pizza and the other wanted tacos. I had lost focus and control. Instead of being thankful for food, we are picky complainers. I had allowed this in my home, but things were about to change.
I decided to stop letting the kids rule the dinner table. However, I valued their opinions and taste buds. After a family meeting, we began taking action steps – one-step (practical and doable) at a time. If something did not work, I let it go quickly and tried something different.
If this sound familiar to you, I recommend pick one or two action steps below and begin implementing. When you are ready, add another and then another. Each family is unique; what works for one may not work for another. Move forward at a feasible pace for you. Vibrant health is a journey and truly so much fun.
- Have a family meeting and let your children know you are taking the reins back over the kitchen. Express to them you need their help (this is a jewel) and reassure them their taste buds matter.
- Have each family member write down five favorite meals and five favorite snacks. Then make it a priority to come up with a healthy way to make their favorite things. This will take time so don’t wig out.
- CROWD OUT. When a bag of Doritos is empty throw it away, and start buying healthier alternatives (Garden of Eatin, Late July – two brands I like). Continue slowly “crowding out” processed foods and replacing with a healthier choice.
- Assign each family member a night to have their favorite meal and invite them to help you prepare it. It does not matter if the onions are perfectly diced; what matters is quality time with your family.
- On the night that is not their “favorite meal” let them pick one easy healthy side item.
- Begin making menus once a week for the nights you will be cooking dinner. Preparation sets you up for success.
One of my favorite websites is “100 Days of Real Food”. They have recipe indexes, free meal plans, great kids lunch ideas, and much more.
Check it out http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/
INFORMATION FOR THIS WILL BE COMING TO YOUR INBOX SOON! YAY!
Brussels Slaw with Coconut-Lime Dressing
Cooking time: 20 minutes
- 4 cups thinly shredded brussels
- 2 tbsp finely diced red onion
- 2 tbsp lime zest and juice of one lime (can add more if you like more zing)
- 1/2 reg. cup coconut milk
- 3-4 drops stevia
- 1 tbsp organic agave nectar (optional)
- pinch or two of himalayan or sea salt
- 1/2 cup raw macadamia nuts, roughly chopped (optionally: chopped cashews, chopped almonds, crumbled bacon, golden raisons)
Clean and thinly shred brussels (I use my food processor). In a large bowl combine both brussles, onion, and lime zest. Wisk together lime juice, coconut milk, agave, stevia and salt. Coat brussels mixture, tossing well, using part or all of the dressing as you may. Top with chopped macadamia nuts or toss them into the slaw.
Note: Brussels is most ideal if it isn’t really cold otherwise the coconut oils set up. Any chilled left overs are best if allowed to warm up a wee bit before serving for this same reason. This is a yummy dish alongside another salad, quiona pilaf or chipotle chicken. I enjoy it along side roasted veggies of almost any sort. You can even tuck this into a fish wrap.
Crockpot Cranberry Chicken with Barley
- 1 ½ cup pearled barley, soaked in cold water for 12-24 hours then drained and rinsed
- 1 onion diced
- 1 bunch of green onions diced
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- ¾ cup dried (no sugar added) cranberries or pomegrante seeds
- ¼ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- 3 cups free range chicken broth
- 2 tsp. dried thyme
- 2 tsp. fresh chopped basil
- 2 tsp. herbamare seasoning (from Fiesta or Whole foods)
- 2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 1 tsp. poultry seasoning
- sea salt to taste (2 tsp.)
- 4 free range boneless chicken breast (frozen)
- 3 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup snap peas chopped (optional)
Add the pre soaked and cleaned barley to crockpot along with all other ingredients and stir. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. When barley and chicken are cooked you can pull chicken breast out and shred and stir back in or serve chicken breast whole over the barley mixture.
Note: (Can add diced mango, snap peas chopped, or pomegranate seeds)
Serve with Brussels Slaw or a fresh Sliced Tomato and Avocado Salad.
My alarm clock blared; I overslept. I race to get dressed, make breakfast and lunch, and dart out the door. I dropped the kids off at school, and hurried to my 8:30am “spin class”. Then straight to a community prayer meeting, lunch with friends, and a meeting with our CPA. At 3;00pm, I pick up my son from school and take him to baseball practice. I go to the grocery store, Post Office, pick up my daughter from cheer practice, and then back to get my son. We go home. I start dinner and kids do homework. We eat dinner at 9:00pm. Finally we clean the kitchen, take baths, and say prayers. At 11:30pm I collapse into my bed with a heavy sigh.
I reflected on my crazy day and all I accomplished—– but where was God in all my activity? I woke up in a hurry and skipped my quite time. I never once stopped throughout the day to just “be” in His presence or invite Him into my craziness. Have I taken the bait again and been distracted from My King by non-stop “activity”? Have I been so busy doing “good things” that I missed Him?
Jesusʼ words are more precious than gold in Luke 10:42. This is key to our freedom and joy. In a world full of busyness, distractions, and activity around every corner, Jesus tells us: ONLY one thing matters, only one thing will last, only one thing will change your life forever —be still at My feet. In My presence you are made new, complete, and whole. In My presence you find rest, strength, courage, hope, joy, and peace… In My presence there is fellowship, relationship, and true love. You cannot work for what I offer; you can only receive My gift at My feet.
What does your day look like? Where is He in your activity? Are you captive of being active or do you take time to sit at HIS feet?
Prayer: Jesus, I come to sit at Your feet. I lay my day, my mistakes, my joys, my dreams, my longings, and my life down at Your feet. I invite You into every detail of my life. I desire Your presence more than breath. Come LORD! IN JESUS
Try this delicious easy and quick recipe
I am stuck inside again, due to ice and a little snow. This is crazy for me to say – living in Louisiana. However, being stuck indoors allows me more time to do what I love – COOK! On my menu today I am making these two gluten free, delicious, easy recipes. Get in your kitchen and cook with me. ENJOY
Almond Pancakes (GlutenFree)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
1/2 cup almonds, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups gf oat flour
1 1/2 cups almond or rice milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon non-aluminum baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
slice strawberries and top
- Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
- Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl, then pour into dry ingredients; combine.
- Cook on lightly oiled skillet until golden brown. Serve warm with maple syrup or honey.
Try substituting 1/2 cup of shredded coconut or 1/4 cup malt-sweetened chocolate chips for almonds.
Add lemon zest, the juice of one lemon (add a little less milk) and 1/2 cup poppy seeds for lemon poppy seed pancakes.
Winter Squash Stew
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
1 winter squash, seeded, peeled, chopped (butternut, acorn, pumpkin, delicata)
3 cloves garlic
veggie or chicken stock
3 teaspoons curry powder
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin
sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Sauté finely minced onion and minced garlic in a splash of olive oil.
- Place squash in a pot and fill with stock until just covered, then add spices, garlic and onion.
- Boil until tender.
- Mash or blend in blender until smooth and return to the pot to heat through.
You can add chopped, fresh cilantro or parsley, and/or toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish.
Have you ever looked at the front of a package and read the words “All-Natural” or “Heart-Healthy,” only to look at the ingredients list and find it is packed with salt, sugar, and chemicals you can’t even pronounce? The front of a food package has one purpose: to make you buy the product. It is not always fact-based and does not indicate the healthiness of the food inside. In order to know what you are truly buying, you need to understand how to read and properly interpret the ingredient list and nutrition information label on food packages. You may be shocked when you begin to discover what’s really in the food you buy! Yet learning this very simple task will help make you an informed consumer.
The key to remember is that ingredients are listed from highest to lowest proportions. That is, the first two or three ingredients are the majority of what the food contains. The last few ingredients make up very little of the product.
If you want to ensure that you are buying foods that are truly healthy – high-quality, nutritious, unprocessed – then follow the tips below.
Quick Overview: Rules for Reading Ingredient Lists
1. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it/don’t eat it.
2. Ingredients are listed in order of quantity, with the largest quantity of ingredients listed first.
3. Choose foods with less than five ingredients; this means they are minimally processed.
4. Avoid chemicals, preservatives, artificial flavors, and colors.
5. Avoid sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and trans fats
The Details: Choosing Healthy Foods by their Ingredient List
Whole Grains Particularly for cereals, crackers, pasta, and breads, the word “whole” should appear as the first or second ingredient, whether it is whole wheat, whole oats, whole rye, or another grain. One way to double-check is to look at the fiber content on the nutrition facts panel; whole-grain foods should deliver at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
Hidden Sugars Avoid foods with sugar listed in the first three ingredients, and be aware that “sugar” has many names, many of which add calories without boosting nutritional value, and others that can cause stomach distress and other symptoms. Ingredients that end in the word “ose” are all forms of sugar, such as fructose, sucrose and dextrose. Other sugar sources are honey and corn sweeteners, including high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). A recent study at the University of California/Davis found that these sweeteners had a similar metabolic effect as other forms of sugar. To know exactly how many grams of total sugar a product contains, check out the Nutrient Facts label. Four to five grams of sugar is the equivalent of one teaspoon.
Partially Hydrogenated Oils Partially hydrogenated oils are the primary source of trans fats, which have been shown to be even more harmful to arteries than saturated fat. Foods can call themselves “trans-fat free” even if they contain up to half a gram of trans fats per serving. Look on the ingredients list. If a food contains partially hydrogenated oils, it contains trans fats.
Artificial Sweeteners, as in Sucralose, Saccharin, Aspartame, Acesulfame I tell all my clients (and everyone I know) to AVOID artificial sweeteners — they can actually increase your craving for sweets, are loaded with chemicals, and are often the source of bloating, diarrhea, and other symptoms. The Center for Science in the Public Interest warns that some artificial sweeteners can be dangerous in large quantities. A few diet sodas every day may be considered “large quantities” over the years!
Sodium Nitrite Used as a preservative in meats, some research indicates that sodium nitrate may pose a cancer risk; another recent study suggested that nitrites and nitrates could interact with medications to damage DNA and increase the risk of cancer. The Center for Science in the Public Interest recommends limiting the amount you consume by choosing nitrite-free products whenever possible.
Artificial Colorings in Food Research suggests that some colorings may pose health dangers, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Artificial colorings are found in cereals, candy, soda, snack food –on and on, particularly those designed for children. They are listed on the ingredients label by their color name, such as Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 40, Red 3, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, and Orange B.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a salty flavor and companies/restaurants add it to food to enhance flavor (at the expense of your health!) Some people experience “MSG symptom complex,” with reactions such as headache, flushing, sweating, fluttering heartbeat, and shortness of breath.
Remember this is your health journey, and you are worth it! If you don’t take care of your body where are you going to live? One life. One body. One step at a time.
Stay warm! Ashley
“Your love, O LORD reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies.” In spite of our sinful nature God reaches from heaven and pours unconditional love on His children. He is love and He is faithful —period. Heaven is naturally “unreachable” and the depth of His love is unexplainable. God’s love cannot be measured according to man’s tools or standards. We must know that God uses every hard thing and hurt for a greater plan.
Sitting on my back porch early one morning, I watched the beautiful sunrise. I was in awe of His amazing creation as the sun tipped over the treetops painting the morning sky. The colors were inviting, beautiful, lovely, and full of glory as a reflection of my Creator. I basked in His presence and worshipped Him. The breath of God blew across my face and consumed my thoughts with His love and faithfulness. With my eyes closed I felt a gentle “tap-tap” on my shoulder. I turned and locked eyes with my handsome eleven-year-old son standing in his boxers with messy morning hair. I stretched out my arms inviting him to sit with me, and he accepted. I covered him with the warmth of the blanket enveloping him with all that I had. As he rested his head on my chest my heart was full. I thought to myself, “If only I could keep him resting in my lap and under the shelter of my arms I would protect, defend, and embrace him forever. Yes, I would take “it all” for him.”
In that moment a revelation of truth pricked my heart and warm tears flowed gently down my checks. ABBA FATHER in heaven whispered these words as He is whispering them to you right now. Listen………..
“I know how you feel to the core of who you are! As your heart longs for your children, My heart longs for you. I long to:
- REACH YOU WITH MY LOVE
- DEFINE YOU WITH MY FAITHFULNESS
- LEAD YOU WITH MY LIGHT
- COVER YOU WITH MY GRACE
- TEACH YOU WITH MY WORD
- DEFEND YOU WITH MY RIGHTEOUSNESS
I have already taken “it all” for you! Hard times will come, but I am with you my precious child. Trust Me, and rest in My love and faithfulness.”
PRAYER: Abba Father, forgive me for attempting to raise my children without You. They are a precious gift, and I am grateful. I entrust my life and the lives of my children to You. Daily be our compass, and cover us with Your presence. I trust You. In the name and faithfulness of Jesus I pray – Amen