Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Real - Food Thanksgiving (recipes from around the web)

I am putting the finishing touches on my Thanksgiving shopping list and getting ready to head out the door - so this post may be a little late in your planning schedule, but just in it is!

In my own personal journey of making better, healthier choices for myself and my family this year, I have been "devouring" (pun intended) several particular blogs that focus on gluten-free or real food preparation and is really the way I grew up eating in rural Iowa.  It was effortless was what we grew on the farm ourselves!

So, my menu this year isn't 100% real food, gluten-free...but I thought I would post some things that seemed mouth watering from my favorite blogs.  You might want to start following them, too, as the owners "keep it simple" and provide lots of help in making the changes your family will love!

Maybe by next year I'll be adding my own "tried and true" menu, but for now enjoy the hard work these women have already done!

 Rustic Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes - from #realfoodholiday

An entire menu WITH recipes!

Another entire menu for a FRUGAL and real-food Thanksgiving + a
stress-free cooking timeline...
Frugal Real Food Thanksgiving Menu {}

My Simple, European Style, Everyday Bread Recipe

Thursday, November 20, 2014

5 Important Ways to Get Emotionally Ready for the Holiday Season

One of the things I hear most often from clients is "I don't have time to _____________".  The blank is usually something like "fall apart", "deal with this", or "work on this".  There is a sense of an enormous tidal wave of emotion that will be experienced, and concern that, like tidal waves, clean-up will take years.  Even more so, NO ONE wants to open up that place where the emotional waves are surging during the holiday season!  (There is a kernel of wisdom behind this thought!)

But it is often the added activity of the holiday season that brings personal stress to the point that these emotions begin to spill over what ever mental "sand bags" have kept them in place.  Having a "mini plan of action" can help a person manage the holidays and actually build a strong internal framework that will aid the healing process AFTER the holiday season.

Could you have unresolved issues feeding your secret thoughts and heart issues?

Some evidence of this possibility is:

1.  A clinging sense of guilt, even with head knowledge that God has totally forgiven you and accepts you,
2.  A sense of lack of control or desire to control even when life is full of goodness and abundance,
3.  Not quite sure of what "normal" is so you are always second guessing your decisions, and
4.  No amount of prayer and/or Bible Study seems to move the heaviness and insecurity so you have this little nagging thought that you are too broken for God to fix, or this is just "your cross to bear" but the hopelessness is getting a little too heavy to bear.
5. You have forgiven the persons who hurt you, but you still sense that surge of emotion (you're not even sure what to call this emotion) when you think of or see the individual(s).  You wonder, "Have I really forgiven them?" 
6. You are VERY responsible, and the holidays are a time when your responsible creativity can shine as you make the perfect holiday, the one you always dreamed of as a child...and yet this dream of the "perfect holiday" is what is driving you a little crazy at the moment...

A Suggested "Plan of Action"

1. Make it a priority to spend some time with God daily.  Try for at least 15 minutes a day.  Every time, lay down your desire to make everything perfect at His feet.  Lay your plans down as well, and examine them with His gentle presence along side of you.  As Creator of the Universe, He is the master planner and organizer.  He will show you what to pick back up and aim for in preparations.  Leave the things He doesn't give back to you...last year He laid on my heart to go very simple with my Christmas decorations and preparations, and when I (trembling) presented the new plan with my family, they were 100% behind it, and the result was truly peace and joy!

2.  Take note of when you become irritable with those closest to you.  If the holidays are times to make family memories, you being angry isn't one of the memories you want to instill in your family!

Are you angry?
Try "shelving" it until you have some time to process it.  Then make it a point to find 30 minutes of private time to examine what was fueling the anger.  I have a 30 minute journaling exercise here that will help the processing...believe me, take that 30 minutes!  You will feel better and you can spend a lot more than 30 minutes picking up the "emotional" pieces of everyone around you after an temper explosion!

Sitting down to a cup of tea, apple slices and some peanut butter or cheese may be a fun little tradition to add into the holiday preparations - and can help "reset" everyone's emotions.

That little bit of tea-time I mentioned above can provide a 15-20 minute break that will refresh you in the middle of the day.  But there is no substitute for a good night's rest.  If you have trouble going to sleep and staying asleep, high quality lavender essential oil rubbed on the feet is an in-expensive and powerful sleep aid - the hidden issues can cause sleep problems, so this one may take more effort to manage.

Feeling unloved (lonely).
This is the hardest one.  It is never a quick fix.  It can be rooted in perfectionism (i.e., if I am not "perfect" I do not deserve love).  It may be that you need to begin loving yourself as Jesus does!  And your family cannot provide what is needed here.  You must find your worth in what God says about you first.  So, since change here is a long process - begin right now!  This one area is where having access to the internet shines!  Make a pinboard with truth quotes, search for inspirational photos and words online, follow facebook business pages that are all about inspiring and encouraging people, make your own "comfort box" and collect these inspirations to have in the real world (I'll post a "how to and what to include and link it here, later).  Finally, reach out to someone and share with them.  Ask them to be an accountability partner, someone you can be vulnerable and honest with...someone that will accept you and all your self-perceived warts!  It will bless them, promise!  (Ask the Lord who He thinks will be a good person for this task)

Reset to love and grace, and let the performance fall by the wayside.  Remember the story of the loaves and fishes.  When we submit our meager offerings to Jesus, He multiplies it and everyone has what he or she needs and in abundance! 

3.  Let go of control and enjoy the mess that is bound to hold a message.  This is closely related to number 2.  Irritability and control have a tendency to go together.  You CAN control your emotions, your time (to some degree), your behavior...and order is to be desired.  But be flexible instead of rigid.  The world probably won't come to an end because things aren't going exactly as you had planned.  In fact, Jesus is STILL on the throne when things don't go as you planned!  And there is a chance that the resulting memories are even BETTER than your dreams.

4.  Make lists. 
a) You probably have your Thanksgiving menu all planned out - if not, as you gather your recipes this year, consider making a folder, online or in real life, of all the go-to recipes you use, all the ideas for decorating, and ideas for fostering a peaceful attitude through the holidays.  Being intentional like this might seem unnatural at first - but it will help create and maintain that peace you are longing for!

b)  Make a list of fun outdoor things to do before autumn is over - crunch through leaves, have marshmallows around a bonfire, maybe one last picnic, a nature walk to collect items for your Thanksgiving table decor (you can do that this weekend!), gather the supplies for a wonderful spicy stove top pot-pourri mix, and more! 

c)  But the list no one really talks about is this one (it doesn't have to be neat and orderly!) and you may want to keep it someplace private...a list of the people you are dreading being around during the holiday season!  I know, shocking!  But don't stop there.  Think about what is uncomfortable about them, and then make some plans of how you will handle the inevitable awkward interactions.   There is not enough space on the web to anticipate all the possibilities, but here are some ideas to give you a pattern of how to create your own list.  Planning ahead also gives you time to enlist the help of others if that is needed.

Situation 1 - a family member always gets drunk.  If you are at someone else's house, your plan might be that you will leave if that person becomes too mean or inappropriate.  If you are married with children, this leaving may need to be discussed in advance.  If it is at your house, you might find a time to let that person know in advance that he/she will be asked to leave if they become drunk or you can stipulate that there will be no alcohol consumed while at your house.  If you don't think you can do either one of these options, do you have a "safe" family member that you can be close to when things get uncomfortable, one that will give you encouragement and support?  Having this thought through ahead of time is empowering!

Situation 2 - There is that one family member who is always putting everyone else in the family down.  You feel like a child again yourself when this person is around.  And you know that criticism will be directed your way.  Options include: have encouragement prepared in advance to counteract the criticism...for yourself and others.  Quotes, verses from the Scripture, and armor of God (Ephesians 6) in place can be a help.  Know where your "safe" person is the find them quickly.  Depending on the words used, you can even "agree with your accuser" but add "thank you for pointing [that] out...and God isn't finished with me yet...".  The "thank you" has a way of disarming the critical person, and it knocks the "fiery dart" of the comment away from finding a bulls-eye in your heart.  Since the Holy Spirit is living inside of you, making constant intercession, your non-defensive response joins your spirit in the intercession as well, and you can have confidence that the situation has been lifted to heaven already (see Romans 8:26-30 and Philippians 4:6).

5.  Spend time in the Scripture, especially in areas that affirm what God says about His children.  In fact, reading and meditating on the entire chapter of Romans 8 will be a great way to mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepare for the holidays ahead!

I pray these steps help you through this holiday season - don't hesitate to contact me (leave a comment on facebook is the quickest)!

Till later, beloved...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

15 Ways of Thinking That God Wants to Transform in You

On Friday of last week I gave a "healing art prompt" on my facebook page - did you see it?  It was really a journaling (writing, not art journaling) assignment that I use frequently with clients.  You can find it at my "Paths of Healing" section on the navbar up above.  (Click the link or copy and past this address in your browser search bar:

That journaling exercise will help calm and move you through intense emotions...but it doesn't change your thinking.  It CAN help you identify thoughts, and then ultimate belief structures that drive those thoughts.  Of course the Lord is already working on the needed healing, but He won't do it without your partnership - He wants you to recognize the structures you have built in your mind that are not of Him.  If He just removed them instantly at salvation, you would keep repeating the same patterns with the same unhealthy results...this partnership in the healing process is part of what "transformation" means in Romans 12:2:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, 
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. 
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Distorted thinking is at the root of most relationship problems.  Distorted thinking usually is a result of a sense of shame.  We won't go indepth into this issue, but shame is NOT from God.  It is a sense of inadequacy, of being defective, bad, not enough.  It can create chaos in your inmost being, where you long for peace to reign!  Even though shame may seem an elusive foe to "lay hold of and defeat", it does show up in predictable ways of thinking.  And we CAN identify these ways of thinking!

I have included a worksheet titled "Fifteen Styles of Distorted Thinking" to guide you in uprooting a sense of shame. ( Click here to download it or copy this link in your browser:  And when you are done with that exercise, be sure to download the companion guide: Changing the Fifteen Styles. (Copy and paste this link:  Later this week we will look at different verses that talk about God's Identity in you, and how we can use that list to confront this distorted thinking as well. 

Come on over to my facebook page and let me know what you are discovering!

Take you time on this!  Deep emotions may get stirred...pause and do some self-care if needed.  Go through the first worksheet in one sitting.  Then follow the instructions there to go further.  Take a full week to let yourself understand how your particular styles are affecting your life.  True change takes at least 6 weeks - that long to develop new, healthier habits.  Get started now, but pace this process because "slow and steady wins".  Fast and furious burns out!  Consider creating some art in your art journal in response to what thoughts and feelings you are uncovering.

Here is the first portion...


Problems in relationships (even finding peace within your own heart) are often caused by faulty thinking – and generally, our own particular style of “faulty thinking” can be found in the following list.  Rate each of the following statements of a scale of 1 – 10, with 1 being “strongly disagree” and 10 being “strongly agree”.  Rate using 5 if the statement is true “some of the time”.  Rate 0 if the statement doesn’t apply at all.  At the end you will have identified your own personal style of distorted thinking – and once identified, you can begin to change it with the help of the Holy Spirit.  Take the top two or three problems areas and invite the Lord to help show you how these styles of thinking are in your life.  With this companion list of “Changing the 15 Styles of Distorted Thinking” (click here or copy and post this link into your browser: begin a daily practice of recognizing that particular thought pattern and then actively use the “Changing…” worksheet to partner with God in changing your thought life!

1.                  Filtering – You take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation.

2.                  Polarized Thinking – Things are black or white, good or bad.  You have to be perfect or you’re a failure.  There is no middle ground.

3.                  Overgeneralization – You come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence.  If something bad happens once, you expect it to happen over and over again.

4.                  Mind Reading – Without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they do.  In particular, you are able to divine how people are feeling toward you.

5.                  Catastrophizing – You expect disaster.  You notice or hear about a problem and start “what if’s”:  What if tragedy strikes?  What if it happens to you?

6.                  Personalization – Thinking that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to you.  You also compare yourself to others, trying to determine who’s smarter, better looking, etc.

7.                  Control Fallacies – If you feel externally controlled, you see yourself as helpless, a victim of fate.  The fallacy of internal control has you responsible for the pain and happiness of everyone around you.

8.                  Fallacy of Fairness – You feel resentful because you think you know what’s fair but other people won’t agree with you.

9.                  Blaming – You hold other people responsible for your pain, or take the other tack and blame yourself for every problem or reversal.

10.              Shoulds – You have a list of ironclad rules about how you and other people should act.  People who break the rules anger you and you feel guilty if you violate the rules.

11.              Emotional Reasoning – You believe that what you feel must be true – automatically.  If you feel stupid and boring, then you must be stupid and boring.

12.              Fallacy of Change – You expect that other people will change to suit you if you just pressure or cajole them enough.  You need to change people because you hopes for happiness seem to depend entirely on them.

13.              Global Labeling – You generalize one or two qualities into a negative global judgment.

14.              Being Right – You are continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct.  Being wrong is unthinkable and you will go to any length to demonstrate your rightness.

15.              Heaven’s Reward Fallacy – You expect all your sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if there were someone keeping score.  You feel bitter when the reward doesn’t come (according to your expectation).


Saturday, October 25, 2014

“Writing the Vision”, the Law of Attraction and God’s Incredible Design

"Then the LORD answered me and said,
    "Record the vision

And inscribe it on tablets,
That the one who reads it may run."
Habakkuk 2:2

Vision is specific. It is goal-oriented and undeniably tenacious. Vision investigates and delineates what is currently practiced and seeks to tweak it to produce qualitative results. Vision personified walks in the Spirit of Excellence, aggravates the status quo, and frustrates any attempt to perpetuate mediocre performance.                                Marcus Mason

             Type these words into your favorite search engine - “Creating a Vision Board” – and top returns will invariably have references to the mysterious “Law of Attraction”.  Even Psychology Today has published articles about this trend (and I recommend this article for the serious research it contains) and cites where the idea got its recent momentum:

                Vision or Dream boards have achieved notoriety in the past few years with the release of
the book, The Secret. An endorsement from Oprah also didn’t hurt. Vision boards are based
on the Law of Attraction. The idea that your mode of thinking directly affects what the
universe gives you. If you put positive mental energy into the universe, you’ll be the
recipient of positive outcomes.1

The idea of the vision board is to get very specific with what you want to accomplish: whether it is in your life as a whole, or a particular project for work, or even something more personal like “I want to learn a foreign language” or “I want to lose twenty pounds”.  Making that goal statement is just the beginning…you need to get very specific.  Let’s use the “losing weight” statement as our example.  What additional “vision elements” do you need to add to your board to realize your goal/vision?  You need to:

       a)   set a realistic time frame to reach the goal,
b)   think through the steps you need to implement to move you in the direction of the goal:
*stop eating sugar
* eat more raw foods
* exercise at least 20 minutes 5 days a week
c)    note when I crave “comfort foods”
d)    make a list of alternatives to eating when I feel sad, upset, lonely, etc.

Do you see how being very specific will challenge old patterns of behavior as you develop new habits rather than being general and vague?     

             Counselors and life coaches know that “getting specific” plays an important role in people being successful in achieving their goals.   It helps us to understand the many small steps needed to reach that larger goal.  “Vision Boarders” say it is due to the “Law of Attraction”.   However, research in the field of neuro-science leads us to a less nebulous yet no less amazing reality.

God's Design for Focus
The reticular activating system ( or RAS) is the portal through which most information enters the brain.  It also filters the information, selecting what to pay attention to, how emotional you will be about the information, and what information is going to be simply swept into your subconscious awareness. The RAS helps us consciously focus attention on something and dampens down the effect of repeated stimuli such as loud noises, thereby preventing the senses from being overloaded.2  Simply stated, each of us has this RAS, and it functions as a type of radar – zeroing in on information that is assessed as important and actively placing unimportant information where it won’t clutter up our thinking.  In our example, getting specific with the steps to achieve the goal of losing twenty pounds gives importance to those activities, resulting in a sort of “calibrating” of the RAS.  We have in effect, programmed our mind to pay particular attention to those actions and to disregard anything that doesn’t line up with those goals.  God’s design within our mind is simply incredible!

I am thinking even of how often the Scripture tells us to meditate on the Word of God, to set our minds on the things that are above and not on the things of the earth, and to guard our thoughts.  These things help us to live a life of peace and blessing because they help to “calibrate” the RAS to focus on God’s ways!

 "Write the Vision" as the Best Calibration

Similarly, the Biblical instruction to “Write the Vision” acts as a “calibration” of our minds (the RAS).  But that isn’t the only way that “writing the vision” leads to better outcomes than the “Law of Attraction” (as it is presently promoted).  Following Habakkuk’s plan takes into consideration the reality that goals, vision, promises and prophecies don’t always come to pass in some fixed time frame that fits our typical 6-month, 2-year, and 5-year goal strategies.  What happens if it takes more than 25 years for God’s plan to come to pass as in the case of Abraham receiving the promise of his own child?  If you subscribe to the “Attraction” theory, you are to blame by not having positive enough thoughts or by not wanting these dreams enough.  You might even decide that “the Universe” is against you.  This sounds so much like some Christians who might believe God is against them because He isn’t answering their prayers the way they want or because they aren’t “good enough”.  This is faulty thinking no matter if you are trusting “the Universe” or trusting (your mistaken concept of) God !

Secondly, The Law of Attraction emphasizes thinking about the items placed in or on the Vision Board.  God’s command to “Write the Vision” includes a “call to action”…things are written so that the reader can “run”.  That word “run” means to escort, run to meet, run as messenger, guard, and even (in a figurative sense) the activity of a prophet!  I LOVE that in a sense, we are prophesying to ourselves by escorting, running to meet, guarding, and keeping the message!  

Finally, HOPE permeates every aspect of God’s vision for us.  In Habakkuk, He declares that “even though it tarries, wait for it, it will certainly come.”  In another spot of Scripture we are promised that “His Word doesn’t return empty, but accomplishes that which it was sent to do” (Isaiah 55:10-11).  I want this hope.  I want my mind to be set on the vision that God has for me, because THAT is what He is championing and working towards in my life.  And if I set my mind on those things, then that God-given radar of the reticular activating system will help weed out distractions and help me focus on activity, thoughts, words and deeds that will move me along on the path of this purpose and vision.  

This, coupled with the Holy Spirit’s power working in and through me, is a truly dynamic and powerful combination!  This is just one of the ways that I can “do all things through Him who strengthens me.”


Other articles in the series can be found here:
 What the Bible Says About Creating Vision Boards + Healing Art Prompt

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Don't Go Yet! God's Heart Cry for Us -

I just can't wait to post this!
Nothing that God does is by accident. I know you know that, but I just HAD to say it...

For all those who still carry the feeling that God is mad at them, that they might just do that last, final thing that will make His anger roar against them...THIS is the Holy Day He made to take away that fear...

You know how we are in the season of the new year in the Jewish Calendar?  Well, at the end of the  seven-day celebration of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) we are to add an extra day (see Leviticus 23:39). While this eighth day is designated as an "assembly," it may also be translated as "abiding or waiting."  
"You may compare it to a king who had a festival for seven days and invited all the nations of the world to the seven days of feasting. When the seven days were over and the guests had gone, he said to his friend (Israel), 'Let us now have a small meal together, just you and I.'" (Bamidbar Rabbah 21, Sukkah 55b)
 Today, for the year 2014 in our calendar, is the EIGHTH Day of these feast period...

It is as if, even after all the wonderful fall Holy Days, God himself is pleading with his people to stay in his presence just a little longer...such is the purpose of Shemini Atzeret (the name of the day after the Feast of Tabernacles).

Our incredible God prepares such a 
wonderful, abundant life for us!  
He desires to speak with us, to be a part of our lives, 
to lavish His great love on us...
He finds us desirable...

Hear His heart for you, 
Before we have entered into His presence, 
He invites us to "Come!"

After we have spent some quiet moments with Him, 
He invites us to "Stay!"

He said to them
"Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."  
Mark 6:31