This Week’s Scripture Picture: Prayers For A New School Year

Sitting under the tree in the front yard, watching the light dance between the thinning leaves.  I know that soon they will turn and fall, with all the beauty and grace that Autumn brings.

2 Timothy 1-7

I am thinking about school and sending my kiddos off to the big building filled with concrete and Kids, hallways and hormones… It is still an odd place to find my heart.  We homeschooled until high school and then felt God calling us to send them to public school… Believe me, I questioned a lot.  Maybe we didn’t hear right.  Could this really be what God wants for my kids?  But now we are embarking on year 2 and seeing His Grace in it all.

But I am praying.  

Today I find myself praying about friends… asking God to bring divine appointments for new relationship.  Ones that will shape my kids for the better.  Friends that will feel safe…. Comfortable.  These are good prayers…Right?

Sure… But God nudges my heart… Don’t stop there

I still struggle with so much fear.

What if the friends He brings them are a little rough around the edges?… or what if their edges are broken?  What if these friends have no edges?  No Boundaries?  What then?

Day by day I am learning to trust Him with those who I hold the closest to my heart and day by day He has never failed us.  So I will pray that my kids are sent out to be light in the darkness, joy in the midst of sorrow, truth surrounded by lies.  That they will love the broken as well as the whole.  That they will not walk in fear but in POWER and LOVE and a SOUND MIND.  Will you join me in this prayer for all our kids?  And will you trust, with me, in the One who has called them by name and even now holds them in his strong hands?

Next week, I will pack lunches, write Notes, watch for busses and pray as if their lives depend on it!  And I will choose not to fear!

 

 

Have Autism, Will Travel & the Wonderful People of Delta Airlines

Clicking through the internet a few months ago, I stumbled upon a story about an Autistic girl who was kicked off a United Airlines flight.  I cringed!  You see, we were planning a trip that would involve 4 separate flights, each with a different crew and my very anxious, getting-bigger-than-his-mommy Autistic son.  It had been a while since we had flown, and I was hopeful that this time would be better than the last but after reading the story of what would be my worst nightmare, I wondered if the tolerance of the flying public had finally snapped.

There was nothing we could do but hope for the best and plan for the worst… And plan, we did!

As is true with many individuals with Autism, our son has an obsession.  The one topic that he can never get enough of…. and for him is is Delta Airlines….  Now, mind you, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is excited to get on an airplane.  He just thinks that if you do so, it should be on Delta!  For a few years now he has been collecting anything he can that says Delta on it.  Our wonderful friends and family always bring or send him whatever loot they can get off a flight, from wings to cookies… even napkins…  A flight attendant friend once sent him a box of goodies that kept him happy for weeks….

So of course we booked our flights with Delta.

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I need to stop this little tale for a second and tell you that, having been a part of the special needs community for most of my life, I have observed a few things.  And one of those things is this:

There is a lot of entitlement that goes on in the hearts and minds of some of us…. 

This belief that, because my life has this extraordinary challenge attached to it, I deserve my fair share of special treatment.  There is some truth in this… cause, I am not gonna lie…. We need a little extra help!  But that does not give us the right to be demanding or ungrateful for those who must go the extra mile on our behalf.

So we planned!   First I planned out all the food and special treats that Jonah would need over the course of those 4 flights… Nobody wants to sit next to a hungry kid!  We made sure there was toys, games & videos to help hold his interest.

Next we turned our attention to those who would be serving us on the flights.  We made up this little note card, attached it to a candy bar and passed them out to the entire crew on every flight.

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The response from this little act of appreciation was absolutely amazing!!!

I am happy to tell you that there are some amazing men and women jetting all over the skies and when you take a moment to truly appreciate their service, they will go above and beyond the call of duty!  Such was our experience.

We didn’t fly first class, but I felt like a celebrity on those flights.  Each person working the flight took the time to find us and thank us for the goodies.  They then proceeded to check on us on a regular basis to see if we needed anything.  Each of them took a moment to acknowledge Jonah and bring him special stuff to make his flight more fun.  On every flight, he was invited to the Cockpit by the Captain and on the last leg of our journey, Captain Tim Garvin finally succeeded in getting Jonah to agree.  You see, our kid was still a little nervous but the kindness of the flight crew won him over.

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Why am I sharing this story with you?  Because I want to share that there are really wonderful strangers in the world and when we treat them with kindness and appreciation, they will often respond in the most wonderful way.

A few weeks after we came home from our trip, the postman left a package on our doorstep.  I wasn’t expecting anything so I opened it with great curiosity.  In it, I found the most amazing gift for our Son.  Captain Garvin, who had already exceeded his duty in his kindness to Jonah, was not done yet.

Inside the box was a real, honest to goodness, Delta Captain’s Hat!  The beaming joy that sprung to this boy’s face was priceless.

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So if you find that the world is not quite meeting your expectations when it comes to your child with Special Needs, try a different approach.  Kindness and Gratitude has given us much more than an entitled attitude ever has.

A very special THANK YOU to the wonderful people of Delta Airlines for their extraordinary service and understanding they showed to one little Autistic boy who will forever be their biggest fan!!!

Lunch Box Notes

DSC_0654Early every morning, with breakfast in their tummies and lunches packed, I send my 3 babies off to school.  Yes, I know they are nearly all teenagers and taller than their mama but still my babies.

School is a relatively new thing for us.  After over a decade of homeschooling, this is the first year that they are all attending school full time. It was a decision made with lots and lots of prayer and tears and discussion but we are finding God’s grace in it and so many valuable life lessons for all of us.

My sweet Girl is in 9th grade this year and it was her first time ever heading off to school, so on day one, I included an encouraging note in her lunch box so she would know I loved her and was praying for her.  Upon arriving home she thanked me for the note and said it made her day.  So started the tradition.

But you can only say, “I love you”, “have a great day” and “I am praying for you” so many times before they are just words on the napkin.  So I began to look for inspiring quotes and encouraging scripture to include in my daily doses of written love.

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Enter Pinterest!

I am not much of a Pinterest Pinner but I found that it was useful for collecting all these witty little pearls of wisdom I wanted to share.  I bought some index cards and every morning with my daily cup of coffee, I write a note.  Sometimes they are a fun quote from a beloved movie or book character, sometimes words from a song.  Often times it is wisdom from God’s word.  Paupers and Presidents alike have had profound words throughout the centuries that bear repeating.

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Sitting around the lunch table at our big public school she excitedly pulls out the note to see what it says today.  She smiles and friends ask what she is reading.  These words are now being read aloud daily or passed around quietly like a secret fortune cookie.  I pray for these kids, Many of whom don’t have Bible verses or words of wisdom spoken to them at home.  But because these notes include words from Taylor Swift and Bilbo Baggins as well as God, the Creator of the Universe, they pause for a moment to see what the Lunch Box Note says today.  It is my hope that these words will somehow may a difference in their day… even their Life!

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My daughter would often comment on her Lunch Box Note at the end of the day and Big Brother started to catch on to the fact that he wasn’t getting any such notes in his lunch.  The simple reason was that he leaves later, is a picky eater so he makes his own lunch and I wasn’t as involved in that process.  This semester his schedule changed so that he is leaving early and asked if I would start making his lunch.  “Of course,” I said.  Come to find out that the real reason was just that he wanted Lunch Box Notes too.

We will have 4 more years of High School and I hope to continue the tradition for as many years, though I am afraid I will run out of new things to write.  I suppose lots of words need to be heard many times in order to sink in so maybe I will start a note recycle program.  It is easy to find the old notes.  I find them pinned up all over my daughter’s room or stuck on the mirror in the bathroom.  When I started out with this idea, I never imagined that it would mean that much to them.  There have been a few days where I forgot or didn’t have time and I couldn’t believe the disappointment I heard at the end of the day. It means that much to them.

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So, I encourage you to start your own collection of words for your children.  Your’s may look very different than mine which you can find here on my Pinterest page)  but that is what will make it fun and unique to your little place in the world…  But someday, when they are old and grown with their own kids, there will be that conversation… you know the one.

“Hey, remember when mom used to put all those great notes in my lunch box?”

“Yeah, those were great…  I still have some of them”!

“I do them for my kids now too and they love it as much as I did”.

Do you have a quote you would like to share?  Maybe something said by your Great Grandmother or your 3rd grade teacher.  I would love for you to leave them in the comments so that I can add them to the inspiring words that shape my children’s lives.

You can also find me on Facebook and Pinterest.

Overflowing

 

The day starts early.  The sun has not even hinted to it’s arising when the alarm sounds in the darkness.  I head straight for the kitchen to plug in the coffee pot.  This amazing man who has joined his life to mine, he always has the Peculator filled and ready.  His day starts hours before mine but at the moment I plug in the machine and hear it start to breath and bubble, I thank God for my sweet husband and how he speaks my love language… Coffee!

In the cold, dark kitchen, I fill my cup and sip in the quietness before the rest of the house has powered up.  Mornings are a new thing for me.  For many years I was a die-hard homeschool mom whose day started at a much more leisurely pace.  Coffee time could last until well into the day and getting dressed was optional.  Things are different now.  Life is busier and quieter all at the same time.  A new season… a path we have not walked before.DSC_0006-002

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trusting Him, So that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

This week, as the car broke down, the water quit running and the hours rush on with never enough of them in the day, I ask myself….. “Am I overflowing with Hope”?  Many are concerned about events in the world and what our lives will look like in the future.  Sometimes I can’t get beyond my own small life and the trials that sometimes seem larger than my strength.

And yet… there is a quiet hope.  Maybe not the overflowing kind that I seek, but still….

You see, I am so filled with love from my Savior.  Every day, he shows me in new ways how great is His love for me.  It is a steady knowing in the midst of the unknown.  He is a God who’s very nature is Hope and as I trust in Him I am truly filled with Joy and Peace… the kind that surpasses all understanding.

As I sit outside surrounded by the changing colors of Autumn,  I watch my sweet boy who is pulling the leaves off the trees just because he loves to watch them fall.  His life is full of uncertainty and trials and yet such a simple joy that if fills me with wonder as I watch him play.  His happy giggle rings in the crisp fall air and it warms my heart.  It also reminds me to cast my cares on the one who cares for me.  Then I find my own hope and joy rising to a point where is just might overflow.

DSC_0037Friends, if you find yourself in changing times that weigh heavy on your fragile heart, Trust in Him who is the God of Hope.  Cast your cares to the wind and watch them blow away with the turning leaves.  Sometimes it really has to be a choice.  Sometimes we must choose the peace that He offers.  Practice with me the art of letting go.  Choose peace and joy today when fear comes knocking.  Together we might find that place of overflowing hope that the world so desperately needs.  And we may find that those New Mercies are always right there for the taking.

 

Why I Will No Longer be Blogging THM Recipes…

I know… It’s been a little quiet from my neck of the woods lately and I just thought I would take a moment to let you know why.

DSC_1362As you know, I have blogged about a few different topics, not the least of which has been recipes that fit in with The Trim Healthy Mama health and nutrition plan.  It has been so much fun for me to share with you things that I am loving to eat and apparently, you have loved some of them too…. Peanut Butter Whip anyone?

I want to assure you that I still love the THM plan and more than ever, am committed to this delicious and for many, life changing way of eating.

For over a year, now, I have been working with the Sisters over at THM on providing, what I hope, has been mouthwatering encouragement in the way of Food Photographs.  So I have to tell you that I am honored, humbled and to be honest, slightly giddy at the opportunity that they have given me to continue working with them behind the scenes on existing and up coming recipes and projects.  I get the amazing opportunity to try some of the new recipes they have coming out, since, in order to photograph the food, I first have to make it.  And after the pictures are done… My family gets to enjoy all that yummy food. There are some great new recipes that will be coming out in the months to come and I know that your family will love them too.

But, because of my Dream Job coming true and my commitment to them, I am turning my attention away from blogging recipes of my own….  Pearl and Serene have graciously encouraged me to share any of my new food ideas with them, however, and I am excited at the feedback they have given.  As I have gotten to know them better, I need you to know that they are as wonderful in real life as they are on the pages of their Best Selling Book and the pages of Facebook.

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I know that I am not a fanciful or gifted writer and sometimes I struggle to make the words on the page reflect the passion I feel in my heart.  But I will still occasionally be writing my heart about Faith and our Journey with Autism as well as photographic art.  And since, I have been wanting to branch out my skills into restaurant photography, I thought I might attempt a series on eating out with Trim Healthy Mama.

So, I just thought is was only fair to let you know of the direction I am heading in.  In case you are one who is “only here for the food”, I want you to know that I won’t be offended if you don’t stop by as much.  All of my existing recipes will stay right where they are so check back anytime you need one.

I have so enjoyed all of your companionship in the journey and wish you all A Cup Overflowing, Strength for Today and New Mercies Every Morning.

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As always, it is fun to chat over on my Facebook Page as I sometimes check in there most often.

Celer-Berry Smoothie (low carb, sugar free, THM-FP)

This snazzy little drink started out as a way to incorporate more celery into my daily menu.  I had been reading about the anti-inflammatory properties of this crunchy little veggie and found  lots of other great info on it’s wide range of benefits.  I don’t mind the taste of celery but if you, like my husband, can’t stand the taste of it, this is a great way of including it without even noticing.

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Unlike some of the thick, Icy Frappas that I love to make, this one is thinner and easier to drink down in a hurry.  It is a great breakfast on busy mornings and keeps me fueled for hours.  The basic recipe is low in fat and carbs but you can easily add some MCT or Coconut oil or a different kind of fruit to change it up a bit.

2014-06-081Celer-Berry Smoothie

(Pin It)

Into a high powered blender add:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 cup water

1 stalk of Celery, washed 

1/2 cup frozen raspberries

3 to 4 frozen strawberries

1 scoop of unsweetened Protein Powder

4 Doonks THM pure stevia powder

1 tsp chia seeds

Blend on high for 30 seconds or until desired consistency is reached.  Serves One.

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While this might not be a beautiful, frilly, fancy dessert, I actually make this more than any other recipe I have on this site.  I hope that you, too will try it and love it!

For THMamas, this recipe is a FP but can be adjusted to any fuel type.

Nutritional Info:  5 grams of Fat, 9 net carbs & 23 grams of Protein.

Enjoy!

Zucchini Brownies with Cream Cheese Whip (Sugar Free, Low Carb, THM-S)

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Chocolaty, fudgy, sweet… with lots of nourishing ingredients… Now that is the way to eat a Brownie.  Here is a way to use up some of that Zucchini and enjoy your dessert at the same time!

The Zucchini adds a wonderful, moist texture without adding too much extra fat or eggs.  You see, I didn’t want chocolate flavored scrambled eggs… Even though I do like to eat these for breakfast!

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Zucchini Brownies (Pin it for later)

1 egg

1/4 cup butter (softened)

2 Tbls coconut oil

1/4 to 1/3  cup THM Sweet Blend (or your desired sweetener to taste)

(I like things really sweet but if you like it less so, use less sweetener)

2 tsp vanilla

1 and 1/2 cups grated zucchini

Blend above ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

Add:

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup unsweetened protein powder

1/4 cup coconut flour

1 tsp baking powder

Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated.

Add:

1 ounce (or about a 1/4 cup) of sugar free chocolate chip or 85% dark chocolate bar, chopped.

Mix and pour into well greased 8×8 pan.  Mixture will be quite thick but as the zucchini cooks, it will release it’s liquid and make a nice moist brownie.  Bake at 350* for 30 min.  Cool. Makes 9 servings

Topping:  Cream Cheese Whip

1/3 cup Heavy Whipping Cream

3 ounces of cream cheese (room temperature)

1 tsp vanilla

2 tablespoons of Sweet Blend (powdered)

In a bowl, beat cream until it is firm and fluffy but not yet turned to butter.  Add vanilla and sweetener and then then the cream cheese.  Blend just long enough to incorporate.  Add a dollop to each serving of brownie.  Save extra in a container in the fridge for later.DSC_2751

For Trim Healthy Mamas, This dessert needs to be served in an S setting.

Makes 9 servings

Nutritional Information For Brownies,  per serving:

Calories-137,  Net Carbohydrates-3,  Fat-11,  Protein-5.

Topping adds 1 carb and 7 grams of fat per serving.

 

 

 

Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Side Dish, THM, E)

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

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Sweet Potatoes are a sweet little gem of a root.  They are high in Vitamin A as well as many other nutrients.  They taste great and they are a perfect way for Trim Healthy Mama’s to their E meals going.  These little cubes work great as a side dish or added to salads and soups.  They are great right out of the oven but I usually store them in a container in the fridge to be added to anything that I want  some healthy, sweet tasting carbs added to.

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes:

(Pin it for later)

3 to 4 cups of cubed, peeled sweet potatoes

1 Tbls of Coconut Oil

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp Paprika, (I like the smoked one but regular will work too)

A sprinkle of Black or Cayenne Pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Cube Sweet Potatoes and put into a mixing bowl.  Add melted coconut oil (or other oil of your choice) and mix well with hands being sure to evenly coat the pieces.  Add spices and stir to distribute.  Pour onto a baking dish.  Bake at 375 for 30 min or until they are softened and slightly browned.  You may want to stir them once or twice during baking.  Sometimes at the end, I like to turn the broiler on to get them a little more browned and crispy on the outside.  This is optional but if you do it you will want to watch them very closely.

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These are going to have about 27 carbs per cup and 3 grams of fat.  I usually like to use about 1/2 of a cup added to salads, soups or brown rice dishes.  They always feel like such a treat, added to just about anything.

 

Mommy Tea (Sugar Free Cranberry Cocktail)

DSC_0790Mommy Tea…. It is a name that was affectionately given to this drink by my sweet little girl back when she was still little.  She has since grown to a lovely young lady but the name has endured and she still get’s excited when I make it for her.  When my children were little…. and especially when I had recently given birth, I would drink this sweet, fruity goodness all day long.  It was “mommy’s tea”…. hence the name.

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Don’t be fooled by it’s fun colors and sweet taste, it is actually quite nourishing for Mother’s and children and the last pitcher I made, my daughter suggested that we hide it from Daddy because he drinks it ALL!

Here’s What’s in it:

Mommy Tea

3 bags Tazo Passion Tea, (steeped in 2 cups of boiling water and then cooled)

1/4 tsp THM Pure Stevia Powder (or sweetener of choice)

1 tsp Vitamin C Crystals (optional for a vitamin boost)

1/2 Cup Pure Unsweetened Cranberry Juice

More Water

Steep tea and allow to cool.  Add remaining ingredients, adding water at the end to make 2 quarts.  Chill and serve.

 Pin it for later!

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Trim Healthy Mamas: This recipe makes 4 (2 cup servings) and each serving contains about 2 grams of Carbohydrates from the cranberry juice.  Juice in any form is not recommended for weight loss.   You may choose to leave it out or sub it for lemon juice or just make it for your kids or as an occasional treat for yourself.  It is not officially part of the THM plan.

Here is a photo of the ingredients in case you need help with what to look for:

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Chocolate Chip Cookies (Sugar free, THM S dessert)

I have been working for months on a yummy, chewy, chocolatey chip cookie that is also low carb but still taste and feels like a real cookie.  I have finally created one that is perfect for me!  But let me tell you that I learned long ago that one Man’s perfect cookie is another’s failed recipe. DSC_2064

Years ago, we hosted a weekly Bible Study at our home and a wonderful woman would sometimes bring a homemade batch of cookies that my Husband would just rave about.  He never raved about the cookies I made.  I thought my cookies were amazing but he would hardly eat any.  I didn’t understand.  After making inquiries, I was shocked to learn that not everyone likes chewy, soft cookies.  Those dry, crispy ones that I thought were burnt are actually the ones that my husband LOVES… Go figure.

So, if you already have a cookie recipe that you love and is working for your dietary goals then feel free to move along.  Such was not the case for me… Until Now!DSC_2149

I wanted buttery and soft but not Cakey.  I wanted them to taste like brown sugar and flour without actually having any of those ingredients.  While there is no actually substitute for brown sugar and white flour taste… I think I have come pretty close.

I chose ingredients that I usually have on hand.  I know some of you will ask about substitutions and you certainly can try different things but after trying lots of different combinations, this recipe is how I like them.DSC_2154

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

In a mixing bowl combine and blend:

1/2 cup butter

3 egg yolks

1 tsp molasses

2 tsp vanilla extract

4 TBLS THM Sweet Blend (or sweetener of your choice)

Add:

2 Tbls Oat Fiber (not the same as oat flour, I get it here)

2 Tbls Protein Powder (I use this one)

2 Tbls coconut flour

5 Tbls almond flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

Mixed until well combined.  Then stir in:

1/4 cup walnuts or pecans (optional)

1/3 cup sugar free chocolate chips or 85% dark chocolate bar chopped.

Drop onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.  Makes one dozen cookies.DSC_2049

Notes:

~Oat fiber is not the same as oat flour so you will want to make sure that you have the right thing.  You can substitute with coconut flour but I didn’t find the texture to be what I liked that way.

~After trying it different way, I decided to go with just the egg yolks for this recipe.  You can use 2 whole eggs, or one whole egg and 2 egg yolks if you must but I found them to be more of a cake-like consistency with the whole eggs and I really wanted cookies.  I save my whites in a jar in the fridge for making my Apple Oat Cake or the Rockin’ Roll Cake from Home With A Purpose.

~The protein powder was a way of adding more flour without them getting too heavy.  You can leave it out, if you need to but you will need to add some extra almond flour to make up for it.

~Molasses? Yes, technically it acts like a sugar and some of you will have concerns about this ingredient.  It is a concession that I am willing to make as that 1 tsp spread over a dozen cookies doesn’t add up to many carbs (5 for the whole recipe) but sure does add a lot of flavor.  If you are uncomfortable with using it, you could add caramel or maple extract or just leave it out.

~ I have always bought the Aldi 85% dark chocolate bars and chop up two of them for this recipe.  If you have a good chocolate chip that you like, they will taste great.  I would recommend one that is on the natural side and sweetened with stevia.  But since these are harder to find, I usually just  chop up the bars to be more economical for me.  (The bar option does add a tiny amount of sugar)

~ You can make the dairy free by substituting palm shortening or Earth Balance natural buttery spread.

~ For Trim Healthy Mama’s, The is an S dessert and I would keep the serving size to 2 or 3 cookies.  ( each cookie has 11 grams of fat and 1 net carb with 3 grams of protein).

You can Pin this recipe here

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