New Mercy Moments: Darkness Into Light

A friend and I walked through the woods on a crisp September day.  In the midst of deep conversation about painful childhood wounds, we came upon this spider’s web, shimmering in the sunlight.                                                                                                                                                           I snapped a photo and we walked on.

Job 12-22

I have thought a lot about that walk and that conversation and the

pain that can be forgiven and healed but not forgotten.  

Deep places in the past that were dark and scary and poison to the very soul.  I have talked to many women who have found themselves entangled in the same gnarly web of shame.

Oh, but when we allow the light to shine and God’s love to heal, when we choose forgiveness and grace…. There is a beauty that is revealed and the light dances and shines and makes lovely that which was unloveable.  I am so thankful, today, that God redeems the darkness and from it creates a story that brings light to others.

Job 12:22 He reveals mysteries from the darkness And brings the deep darkness into light.

New Mercy Moments: 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!

 

 

New Mercy Moments: 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.

 

In Celebration of Dessert: A Trim Healthy Mama Review in Pictures

I have always been a dessert loving girl!DSC_0348

When I was a little girl, my mom used to make extra large batches of whole wheat chocolate chip cookies… enough to fill a 5 gallon bucket at a time.  I can’t tell you how many times I would sneak to have extra after my allotted serving was consumed.

So began a life of sugar addiction.  

DSC_0046I always considered myself a healthy kind of person and most of my friends would say I had lots of
self control…. I am glad they couldn’t see me hiding in the closet to eat cookies that I didn’t want to share with my toddlers.  While I have usually been able to keep my weight within 10 to 20 lbs of my ideal number, the health issues that come with eating too many sweets were starting to creep up on me in not so subtle ways.

A year ago all that began to change.  A friend told me about this book called Trim Healthy Mama and I was intrigued at the idea of delicious healthy dessert that could feed my sweet tooth but not my yeast infections…. Sorry, just being real.

I asked for the 640 page book for my Birthday.

DSC_0004-001The first recipe I tried was called Skinny Chocolate and on the first bite of sweet, rich creamy flavor, I was hooked!  I have spent the last year eating delicious desserts and instead of hiding in the Closet of Shame, I excitedly share them with my family.

The sweetener used in most of the dessert recipes is Stevia, a natural sweetener that I have been using for 10 years but just didn’t know how to effectively use it to satisfy my craving for amazing desserts.  Well, the sisters over at THM have now taught thousands of us women how to use this amazing little sweet leaf to satisfy our love of all things delicious!  I have learned that all Stevia products are not created equal!  There is a wide variety of flavor and aftertaste that varies from brand to brand, so if you don’t like the first one you try, please don’t give up!  The folks over at Trim Healthy Mama have recently developed their own ine of sweeteners available for purchase on their web-store   They have a few different ones to choose from and after trying every Stevia option on the market, Believe me when I say that these are the best!

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In the last year I have had the awesome privilege of working with these talented Authors to provide photos of their delicious recipes.  Let me assure you that I am not in the habit of taking photos of food that doesn’t taste good, no matter how beautiful it might look.
If you already have this book with it’s vast wealth of information and recipes, I have provided
page numbers to help you find what you are looking for.

DSC_0152If not, you can purchase it here and you
won’t be sorry… It is so much more than yummy desserts.

The following photos are some of my favorite stand by recipes layered one on top of another.

This book provides a whole series of “Mug” recipes.  Cake in a Mug is one of my favorites.   Quick and easy to whip up for that afternoon chocolate craving but healthy enough to have for breakfast!DSC_0108

We Trim Healthy Mamas get to choose from lots of different frozen desserts and icy drinks as well as these Chunky Cream Pops for those hot summer days or to eat in front of the fire one a winter evening.2013-11-01

Holidays can Be Trim and Tasty by combining the THM Basic Cheesecake and Pumpkin Treat recipes.  Brown your crust then add cheesecake batter and bake for 10 min.  Gently spoon on the Pumpkin Treat recipe and continue baking for 50 to 60 minutes.  Chill and serve.DSC_0311
My favorite layered dessert is the Brownie Cheesecake.  I make this almost weekly and I can often be found enjoying it for breakfast along side a steaming Trimmachino.  Just layer this recipe with the brownie first, bake for 10 min then add the cheesecake batter gently and return to the oven for another 30 min or until a knife comes out clean.DSC_0027-001

DSC_0213There are so many rich and delicious desserts in this plan that I could not possibly share them all.  Some may be perfect for you and others might  not interest you as much.  The greatest part is that I have also learned how to create my own recipes with these nourishing ingredients.  It is so fun to get an Idea and actually have the knowledge to create a dessert from scratch, Like my newest creation: Chocolate Praline Cake!  (you can also click on the photo to get the recipe!)

DSC_0035You will find your perfect sweet spot with the sweeteners but for some of you it will take a little time to figure out what that is.  Don’t give up.  I have learned that I like things slightly sweeter than most of the recipes are written.  Don’t be afraid to lick your batter for a taste test .  When I am trying any recipe for the first time,  I often half the recipe, especially if the ingredients are on the pricey side.  The little bit of effort that this learning curve DSC_0670requires is so worth it for my health and
my waistline.

In the beginning you might still feel the need to eat too much dessert.  It’s ok.  My body was still trying to get the sugar fix even though there was none to be had.  Over time you will adjust and learn to enjoy dessert just for the flavor and not because your body is telling you it needs it.  I still enjoy a DSC_0261traditional sugary dessert on occasion but I am able to enjoy a little without the temptation to binge.  I am no longer addicted to the results of eating sugar.  I have freedom to enjoy all kinds of foods and while the desserts offered are my true love, there are lots of great meal and snack options in the 200 page recipe section of the book.

I am having so much fun and freedom with the food I am eating…

Join me on Facebook for more great dessert ideas and find me over on Pinterest too!

Finding Hope When Autism Hurts

scan0006I have always been an optimist. A “glass half full, look on the bright side, nothing bad is going to happen”, kind of person.  So when our son was diagnosed with Autism at his second birthday, it was good friends and the hope for better days that got me through it.  You see, I was certain that God would heal him.  In fact, I told myself that Jonah would be healed by his third birthday.

We have had quite a few birthdays since then.

We have also had a lot of therapies, supplements, diets, exercises and conferences. All that promised to make a difference in his diagnoses.   None of those things are bad, but we had to quit chasing a cure.

Still, I hoped.  I heard that things could get easier as he got older.  I held on to this hope.  But “Hope differed makes the heart sick.” (Proverbs 13:12) and my heart is aching.

We have had some hard days of late.  As Jonah gets older we are seeing some unsettling behaviors increasing.  He is also getting bigger…. and stronger!  I recently got my first “Autism Bruise”.  Not the figurative kind.  The real life, black and blue, hurts like the dickens kind.  During an overreaction to being scratched by the kitty, Jonah flailed and screamed until I got kicked in the leg trying to comfort him.

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I can no longer put my hope in brighter days ahead.  In fact, it is a painful reality that things may get worse before they get better.

And then, the Great Comforter comes softly and whispers to my soul,

“I am your only HOPE”.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 43:5

You see, there never was any real hope outside of Him.   And my hope in Him is not for what he can do for me, though I believe very much in His power to heal.  My hope is that through Him, I can find strength for today.

Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you Psalm 33:22

It is His steadfast love that I need to walk in.

With that, what else could my soul need?

I know that there will still be days that my heart aches with the overwhelming task in front of me. I need to continually re-center my hope solely in Christ alone and the work he finished for me. I will need to ask for his grace as I fail to keep my eyes on the prize of His Glory alone.

But in this moment, I find my Hope is renewed and I have the strength for one more day.  That is all we are promised…. And that promise is enough for my aching heart.HopeClick on photo for purchasing options.

The Path

The Path

“I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go.”
Isaiah 78:17

If, Like me, you find yourself on an unfamiliar path… Trust in Him who promises to teach and direct us in every moment that we are willing to listen and learn.