FREE Essential Oils Webinar!

This year, I embarked on an essential oils journey that I was skeptical of. I wasn’t sure if they would work. Well, I was in for a big surprise because they have not only worked, but they have changed our lives tremendously. From pain relief, coping with lactose intolerance/gluten intolerance, allergies, eczema, and more, we’ve seen them work countless times. Its amazing.

FREE Essential Oils Webinar

So with back-to-school in full swing, colds and germs are unfortunately just right around the corner too. [We've already dealt with our own cold already!]I am teaching a FREE webinar that will show you how you can use essential oils in your home during this back-to-school season. Learn tips on keeping germs away, stopping a runny nose, halting a stomach bug in its tracks, and more! There will be a few GIVEAWAYS too! I am so excited!

The webinar is next Friday, August 29 at 6:30 pm (MST/AZ), all you have to do is register to get the webinar link and show up! Please share with your friends!

GO REGISTER!! Register HERE.

When Pursuing Simplicity Makes Things Harder

I was walking the aisles of Target…this is something I do often with two young children at home. [And all the moms collectively said, "YES!"] I’m a sucker for Target clearance. There is usually something I just must have on clearance. I think I have 14 empty journals because of this. But you know, who knows when I might have a writer’s inspiration and fill them all at once. You never know.

Anyway, I found this platter I wanted. It wasn’t on sale, but I loved it. I may need this for entertaining purposes. In my basket it went. Oh look, cloth napkins! I could save paper because they’re reusable! Tossed in the basket. Well, of course, the kids need new plastic straw cups. Look, this one has a dog with a crown on…oh! and that one has an airplane with a spike collar leash…obvs I need these. In the cart they went. And then the kids started whining they were hungry. So some Goldfish joined the spike collared airplane, along with some chips and a new book for me. And look! Kids summer clothing is on clearance! Lets buy three shirts and shorts for each kid because, lets be honest, I live in Arizona, so summer clothes are more like year round clothes. Valid investment.

And the basket gets filled with things I need, and I end up spending $124.89 on a bunch of stuff and my husband shakes his head in wonder at how I justify it all.

Sound familiar?

As I have been journeying towards a simpler life and what that looks like for me, these shopping trips have started to look different for me. More noble, you ask? Sloughing off the old consumer me and cheerfully putting on the new, more appreciative me? Nope. It can all be summed up in one word.

Painful.

You see, the ugly, Ineedallthethings me rears its ugly head and I stomp my hypothetical foot and whine that, “Why is something so good so hard?” I’ve wondered a lot in the past week or so: why is living simple feel not so simple?

I love doing dishes. I know, I’m weird. But the standing and doing one thing [you can't really multitask when you're up to your elbows in warm water and rainbow suds] is relaxing for me.  I enjoy it. Well, when we moved into our house in the city, I embraced the clothesline-instead-of-the-dryer, dishwasher-less, no garbage disposal, smaller square footage lifestyle. I craved it. But when we got here, after the honeymoon phase wore off… [Look honey! I've hung 86 loads of laundry on the line and its AMAZING!] …I started to resent having to do dishes 2-3 times a day. I started to avoid them.

And then today, I had another “zoom-in” moment. Going from having allthethings to actively pursuing less is hard. I realized that intentionally working to change your beliefs about something takes effort. Time. And often times is can be painful. Giving up stuff is usually painful. Pruning a bush is painful. You have to get rid of a lot of extra in order for it to thrive and produce even more stunning blooms.

And that’s us. You and me. Looking to make changes in your life for the better can often make things harder for a while. Is it worth it? Absolutely. But anything worth doing is going to often take more sacrifice, effort, and time. But the investment often yields more joy and peace.

So, just remind me of this when I am crying crocodile tears in the aisles of Target because I can’t buy another candle. It ain’t easy, y’all, but its so worth the journey.

When Your Babies Start Growing Up

It wasn’t that long ago. The tired, no-shower, baby-talk, endless diapers, “is that poop?” phase. Don’t get me wrong, most days even now, I am so tired I can’t remember if I took a shower or not [sorry husband]. But those bouncy chair days, those Baby Einstein days, those carry-baby-until-your-arms-resemble-a-body-builder days…those days are starting to be a bend in the road behind me that will soon be unseen.

I have a four year old girl and a two year old boy. I am in the thick of it. Probably the hardest season I’ve been through in my whole life. I even said to my husband the other day that I would trade the now for sleepless newborn nights in a heart beat. I know, I’m crazy. No sleep still, y’all.

First Day of School

Jael, my daughter, started school this week. As a matter of fact, she is in school right now as I type this. And I am sitting here, knot in my throat, trying to push the grief and sadness aside. I mean, I was praising the Lord that she could go to school, and I could have some time at home with only one child and maybe 50% of my sanity would return. [Still waiting...] But when I dropped her off on her first day, the tears started to fall. And they weren’t from her.

Growing Up Is Hard

I remember several moments in my adult life that I mourned the passing of my live-at-home, carefree days of youth. Those times at home, protected, safe, naive, unaware of the pain and violence of the world…those times felt like a safe haven when I felt threatened with adulthood. With reality. I grieved the passing of those years. Didn’t appreciate the gift of the no-bills life. Or my parents for doing all the things for me.

So as my children get older and those little baby rolls started to fade to muscles and steady feet, I started to feel that feeling again. I am losing something, and I can’t stop it. As my kids grow, I gain sweet kids who can talk and walk and come up to me and randomly say, “I wuv you, mama.” But I was also losing the carefree baby days…my kids crashed their way into “kid-hood” with their wobbly first steps of toddler-hood. The discovery of a new world, and I was a part of it. A glorious season of seeing my babies uncover the beautiful mysteries of this world.

First Day of School

Just like my growth from naive teenager into the life of an adult, my kids are leaving those days of safety at home and venturing like little turtles into a big, new world. And that scares me. There are days that I want these years to be over. You know those days…the ones where you can’t cut the crust off the right way and the apple slices look funny and everyone wants the same toy and no one wants to nap. Those are the days I pray silently, “Jesus, your second coming would be nice right about now.”

But then there are moments like this. Moments that I wish I could freeze time. Freeze those little cheeks and baby eye lashes and stompy legs and pudgy toddler belly and words said funny and hugs and kisses and all.the.things. The baby teeth and soft hair and sweet stories and lessons finally learned and heartfelt apologies and discovery. All of it. I wish I could wrap it all up gently and fold them into a box to be taken out and felt and seen again.

But in my heart, my grief whispers, “These days are short. Those soft baby cheeks are but a moment.” And my tears fall. And my heart breaks. And I hold my babies tight and remember the scene in The Family Man where Nicolas Cage is trying not to fall asleep because he knows when he wakes up, his life as he knows it will be gone.

Its just my mama heart today. I’m grieving and celebrating, mourning and dancing. I’m grasping at these little years that are slipping by while also waving my flag and banner for the days to come. One foot on each side. Not ready to move an inch.

Homemade Cashew Creamer

The other day, I posted on Instagram how I made homemade cashew creamer. It was a fun little discovery that started with making cashew milk and evolved into creamer. Its dairy free, but I don’t know if it would be considered Paleo because of the coconut sugar. I’m not a Paleo expert, but I think its a “use in moderation” type thing…but do your research please!

I started my food allergy journey a few years ago when I discovered that a lot of my health struggles were specifically listed on gluten intolerance symptom lists. After going gluten free for 6 weeks, I realized that my symptoms were gone! I felt so much better and couldn’t believe it. It was a season of grief as well because it was hard coming to terms that my body had a major food allergy and a lot of foods I loved were now off limits.

But feeling amazing, healed, and full of energy trumped what I was giving up. Feeling sick all the time just wasn’t worth it [although the struggle still simmers beneath the surface]. Since becoming gluten free, I had a baby [whose pregnancy was far healthier and easier than my first, before becoming gluten free], moved several times, and started grad school. Now, three years and four months later, my body is beginning to struggle again. Not because I fudge the gluten diet, but I am suspecting that there is more under the surface that gluten intolerant individuals seem to collectively struggle with. Lactose intolerance.

I shudder even typing that. Give up more food?? I don’t know that I can take it. I love ice cream, cheese, and coffee creamer waaaay too much to give up dairy. But the symptoms this time around are a little bit worse than my gluten symptoms…like pain that doubles me over and leaves me lying on the couch. Luckily, I found relief by using my essential oils, but in my own curiosity and desire to feel good again, I started researching the Paleo diet.

That is why I started experimenting with cashew milk and creamer because I thought, surely I could give up milk-based ice cream if I could enjoy a creamy cup of coffee. The verdict is still out, and I haven’t quite committed to the Paleo diet yet, but this cashew creamer/milk is worth a try. Its thick, creamy, and buttery with a strong cashew flavor. I added vanilla to make it more creamer-like, but this recipe has a lot of flexibility if you want to mess around with the consistency and flavor. Enjoy! xo

homemade cashew creamer

Homemade Cashew Creamer

Ingredients:

2 cups roasted unsalted cashews

Water (amount will depend on the consistency you desire)

3/4 cup organic coconut sugar

1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Process:

Place cashews in a bowl and cover to about one inch above cashews with water. Cover and place in fridge overnight [or at least 6 hours].

Once soaked, drain cashews. Do not keep the water. Place a cup of cashews in a large food processor or blender [I used a blender because it made a large volume of creamer -- you can also do half at a time, just halve the ingredients to make two batches]. Add a cup of fresh cold water. Blend and add more cashews and water until you reach the desired consistency [mine was like a very watered down smoothie - so pretty thick still].

Once you reach your desired consistency, add 3/4 cup of coconut sugar and 1 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract and blend. Both of these ingredients are flexible. If you’d like more sweet, add a bit more sugar. If you’d like less, add only a 1/2 cup. If you want more vanilla, add by 1/2 tsp amounts. You could even add cinnamon, pure maple syrup, or honey to add different flavor to the creamer.

Blend well and place cream in an airtight container in the fridge for no more than one week. Done!

homemade cashew creamer

When You Have Nothing To Say

When you have nothing to say

You don’t say anything. And then you don’t worry about not saying anything. Sometimes silence is okay. Sometimes you’ll have moments where you have a lot to say and sometimes you’ll have moments where you listen to what others have to say.

And its okay.

5 Things I Need for My Quiet Time

5 Things I Need for My Time With Jesus

I don’t know about you, but if you’re anything like me, you have a hard time with your quiet time. Not in the sense of desire. I definitely have the desire to spend time with Jesus, but let’s face it…LIFE.

Right? I mean, so much is going on that even if you could get up before the kids, you’re just too dang tired to drag yourself out of bed. This is me. I LOVE the morning. The early morning. The sun-just-woke-up, dew on the grass, early morning. I used to be in the habit of getting up early, but got out of habit when late nights, puking kids, and grad school interrupted my sleep. Plus, after sleeping through the night for the past three years, my four year old daughter gets up in the middle of the night every night to pee (often more than once and often once 5 minutes before my morning alarm). So I don’t sleep all night anymore.

Its just hard.

Lately, I have been trying to get back in the habit again and I have 5 must-have things for my quiet time that I hope will encourage you in yours.

1. My Bible

Well, duh. This is a given, right? Okay, yes, but the type of Bible I use is really important to me. I’m a highlighter. A note taker. And my Bibles get all marked up with use. So when I found this journal Bible that has columns on the side margins for note taking, I quickly bought it. I love having spots to write clarification or references and this gives the space to do so. It also has a handy little band that wraps around the bible to hold it shut.

2. A journal

I like writing my prayers out. I don’t journal every time I read my Bible, but when I have something specific on my heart or something I just need to spill out, I grab my journal. I got this journal recently because it was a thick wire bound one and I wanted a journal that would last me a while [even though I am a journal hoarder...because #targetdoesitagain.].

I also recently ordered this prayer journal from Val Marie Paper on Etsy to keep track of the things I am praying for. I LOVE that it has different sections for different genres of prayers. Things like: the world, the nation, my loves, my family, my friends, hurts, personal, and extra blank sections for things you want to keep track of. I found myself feeling overwhelmed with all the hurt and needs I hear about and see and loved this solution for writing down prayer needs and praises that I could lift up.

3. Morning & Evening

I always have loved a good devotional book, and Morning & Evening by Charles Spurgeon is amazing. I LOVE this book. It has a reading for the morning and another for the evening every single day. And you guys, they are SO GOOD. They speak straight to my heart. And there is something about old English that just makes it so much richer. Definitely a must buy. [You can also get this for 99 cents on Kindle!]

4. Apps

There are so many amazing apps on the market that sometimes its hard to find just one that you love. Here are a few that enhance my Jesus time:

  • She Reads Truth App – This app was just recently released and its SO amazing! Its beautiful, contains devotionals, wallpapers to download, and a Bible to use. It really is a must have for your iPhone [soon to come to Android] and its FREE!
  • Morning & Evening App – This is the Morning & Evening devotional I mentioned above but in app form! It offers all the same reading material, a sharing feature, highlighting, saving a devotional for easy reference, and its also FREE!
  • Webster Dictionary App – This is simply a free dictionary app. Sometimes I don’t know all the words. I know. Suprising.

5. GRACE

I think the most important thing I have to have for my time with Jesus is grace. I have two kids, both under four and not in school [yet]. I could beat myself up over the fact that I am inconsistent and seem to value sleep over my relationship with God, but after doing that, I realize that this is just the enemy lying to me. Its not about works. I pray a LOT. And I really try. And I think that God honors that. He knows my season and my heart. So I try to give myself grace and work towards easy solutions when I hear the lies that I am not doing enough.

What are the things you need for your time with Jesus? What do you struggle with?

A Fresh Start

Have you ever had a zoom-in-on-the-main-character movie moment where you suddenly realize you are unhappy with the way things are? You know, those moments were the pretend rain is falling on the window of a red bricked New York apartment and the main character is sitting on the couch, may or may not be crying, and is pondering the meaning of life?

Okay, so my zoom-in moment wasn’t so dramatic [or trendy], but it came at the beginning of this year when I chose my word for 2014: #simplify.

I felt like there was so much want of more and things in my life that I started to feel icky inside. So I decided that I wanted to simplify. I wanted to take things out of my life that weren’t needed and cultivate an attitude of gratefulness and content.

simplify

I was starting to feel like there was so much going on, so many thoughts about what I wanted to do with everything. Add this. Add that. Ooh, what if I tried this?! I came to the point that I wanted to quit it all. Quit school. Quit Facebook. Quit blogging. Get rid of everything and move into a tent. lol, seriously! I was so grossed out by the “need” for things and my dreams of a bigger and better life. Everywhere I turned I saw blog posts and articles on increasing your blog following, making a life out of your dreams, and more along that theme.

I totally shout, “YES!” and wave my arms in the air for doing what you love and loving your life. But for so long, I had tried this path and pushed for what was next in my dreams that I was forgetting the now. Enjoying my day. Not having a list of a million things to do. I was trying so desperately to create a life that mattered that I was missing out on what already mattered.

Downsizing

In small ways, I started. Earlier this year, I stopped web designing. And back in March, I stopped blogging for an open ended amount of time. Around that time, I felt the tug on my heart to move into the city and out of the suburbs. My husband felt it too. We felt called to be closer to our church and to move into a home that would be a place of community.

Through a series of events, we were brought to our current home. We reduced the size of our living space by moving into a 1300 sq.ft. home. This house doesn’t have a dishwasher or garbage disposal. I haven’t used our clothes dryer since moving in because I’ve been hanging our clothes out on the line outside. We cancelled cable. Sold toys and extra household stuff at a yard sale. We donated TONS of clothes. And I began to pray and ask the Lord how we could further simplify our lives.

Our new home has a room built onto the back of the house that is what we would call an Arizona room [but since I live in Arizona, wouldn't it just be called a room?]. We turned this room into an office/play room and the kids rush in every morning to play. We watch less TV. We started juicing again. Eating simpler. Clean. Healthy.

And in many ways, we started downsizing our lives. Taking out little things here and there to make room for the things we love. And I let go of the idea of a new car, bigger house, new furniture, etc., and traded it for the idea of enjoying my surroundings. For me, this meant so much more than decluttering, it meant clearing out my heart and making room for joy. Peace. Love. And consequently, it made room for passion and dreaming.

What next?

When I look at our journey so far to simplifying our lives, I know there is so much more we can cut out. But right now, I am enjoying the fact that the Lord has answered so many prayers for downsizing for us. He has shown us what is GOOD for us right now. He has washed over our frantic scribbles in the sand and made for a fresh and simple start.

I do have some plans for the next few months which includes starting a vegetable garden, blogging more, and transitioning our lives to a more Paleo diet. But now, before I decide to put anything on the to-do list, I try and discern if this is bringing simplicity to my life or excess. If adding something is adding more than I need right now, then it gets on the “someday” list. Because, as cliche as it sounds, less really is more.

Fun Event with Whole Foods Market!

If you are local to Arizona, I have a fun event that is going on with Whole Foods Market that you should attend!

Whole Foods Market Tempe event

Whole Foods Market’s Tempe store partnered with an independent record label River Jones Music and now carries vinyl records and CD’s from over twenty local and regional bands!! To kick off the partnership and celebrate local music, the Tempe store is hosting local Phoenix band Ruca. Proceeds benefit the Whole Planet Foundation. How fun! The event will be this Saturday, March 8th from 4-7pm. Click here for a map to the Whole Foods Market Tempe location.

I don’t know about you, but I am always looking to find local events. There will be live music, sales, and fun all around. If you go listen to a preview of Ruca’s music, its pretty awesome!

Here are some featured deals for the day:Whole Foods Market Tempe event

  • All Arizona Cheese Company Cheese Curds will be 20% off
  • Local Arizona beer growler refills – $4 off of large growlers
  • Local Arizona Mariya Salsa on sale – by one get one free $3.99 each *sampling taking place at event
  • CD’s from local Arizona bands (13 bands)  – 20% off
  • Select local suppliers will be doing demos throughout the store:
  • —–Empanadas and tamales in prepared foods
  • —–Create your own custom guacamole
  • —–Whoopie pies decorated like vinyl records
  • —–And more!

Now, I LOVE me some tamales and guacamole!! But whoopie pies that look like vinyl records? That is just plain awesome. I hope if you are a Phoenix local that you will be able to make it! Its going to be fun stuff :)

You can visit Whole Foods Market’s Facebook and Twitter pages to keep up to date on the event and other awesome stuff! This post was sponsored for Whole Foods Market Tempe.

#simplify // where have I been?

#simplify

You may have wondered why I post in fits and starts. I get inspired. I write. I get busy. I don’t write.

Its the natural ebb and flow of life, really. We have busy times and slow times. And right now for me, its a busy one. As you know, I am in seminary and this term has been a doosy. It has been the heaviest load of schoolwork thus far: 15 papers in 12 weeks, hundreds of pages of reading, a presentation, and more intense subjects. I have two weeks left of this term.

But to #simplify sometimes means giving yourself breathing room. So I am still here. Promise. Hope to create more of an editorial calendar soon so that I don’t have to come up with interesting topics to write about on the fly. I really want to share more of life with you!

Here is a little list of things that have happened recently or is happening soon:

  • Jael turned FOUR in early February. Gosh, time sure flies!
  • Speaking of which, Elijah turns TWO in about 6 weeks. Pinch me.
  • Like I said before, I am two weeks away from finishing my second term of grad school. Thuper ek-thited.
  • The Lord has surely blessed me this term with endurance. I have managed to stay up-to-date with all my assignments and reading. Which is nothing short of a miracle with the amount we’re working with.
  • We’re moving in a little less than four weeks. Still searching for that perfect-for-us house that will further allow us to #simplify our lives by: starting a raised-bed vegetable garden and bringing community into our home.
  • We also hope to adopt a dog. Maybe that isn’t simplifying…I’m not sure yet. ;)

Here is to a happy and healthy and LOVELY March! xo

The Good Enough Mom

Early on in my studies in graduate school, I learned about a concept that hit home for me. Without over-intellectualizing the concept, were simply learning about the “true self” and “false self” in the research of Donald Winnicott. Basically the true self is the “un-forced” part of you — the creative, alive, and true. The false self is the part of you that conforms to the desires of others — sort of a defense mechanism in times of self-consciousness or insecurity.

The Good Enough Mom

The concept of the good enough mother came from Winnicott and his research in the true and false selves. [Are you still following? I hope so.] The true self is developed during infancy and childhood. The way that a child develops a healthy true self that is not dominated by a false self is based on the relationship with their caregiver [in this sense, the mother].

What he found was that all a child needed to develop this true self is a welcoming and assuring mother. If mom provides this warm and safe environment, the child develops confidence and a sense that her feelings are safe — that she is a real and valuable human being.

This hit home for me because his research didn’t say a child who never watches tv, a child who always has a balanced meal served at precise times every day, a child whose mother never raises her voice, etc. He simply said a warm and reassuring environment is what helped a child to thrive. And that the mother who is “ordinarily devoted” or “good enough” is all a child needs to develop and feel secure. Not the mom who is crazy overwhelmed with providing envy-worthy crafts, a Pinterest-pinnable home, GQ fashionable clothing for her kids, etc. Its the mom who is good-enough.

I feel like as a society we have created this motherhood monster where we are striving for this Pinterest super-mom status. Where we are feeding our kids all organic, play on the floor with them every free second, never yelling, always kind, perfect from scratch dinner…yada-yada. And then on the other hand, we are feeling insecure because we don’t do all the things, all the time, and we are feeling like we need to justify our level of parenting.

At least I do this. Or at least I don’t do that. And in our minds and hearts, we justify where we are because we don’t feel like we’ve reached that super-mom par. We feel like our “mom-ness” isn’t good enough, so we have to give reason why we missed the mark.

Can I just be honest for a sec? Mama, you’re good. This concept of good enough?? That’s us. The glorious mundane. The divine “I did my best.” When I read about this concept of the good enough mom and realistically what my children need from me to be secure, emotionally healthy individuals, I wanted to cry in class. My daughter doesn’t need me to sacrifice my sanity to be on point every second of every day. My son doesn’t need organic everything if that isn’t what I can afford. I am doing my best. We all are. And that is simply all our kids need.

They need our love, support, and assurance that they are valued individuals. They need a mom who knows she is loved, supported, and valued. They don’t need to see a harried mom in pursuit of the best impression. Don’t teach them that the bar is set by others. Teach them the bar the Lord sets for us…which our sweet Jesus hung on so that we didn’t have to strive so hard anymore. Teach your babies to be confident in themselves…even if their singing voices are way off-key and their fashion sense is non-existent. Let them sing loud and wear their plastic princess heels and jewelry to the store. Teach them to love well — themselves and others.

That, my dear friend, is good enough.