Sunday, March 20, 2011


Saturdays are usually filled with chores, errands, Bubba's soccer or basketball games, and some procrastinating.  This Saturday was none of those things. (Well, maybe the procrastinating.)  There is much to do around here...and we had a whole Saturday to do it--but we didn't.  Guilt wants to creep in, but I won't let it.  We had a spontaneously fun day...and that is what we needed.

The morning started slowly, waking up leisurely, chatting and laughing long before our feet hit the floor.  Then we remembered that it was free-breakfast-day-at-Chick-Fil-A!  We hurried to wake up sleeping beauty and get dressed and ended up joining my sister and her fam and some friends for some chicken and visiting.

Pickle and I decided we wanted to attend an event at Focus on the Family where the Duggars (of TLC fame--19 kids and counting) were speaking and making an appearance that afternoon.  Pickle is a big fan and I figured there could be a lot worse choices of reality stars to meet, so why not indulge her?  We missed out on getting tickets to the event (I snoozed and lost--oops) so I agreed to buy Pickle their book so we could attend the book signing they were doing afterwards.

We had a great time.  They were all there (minus their youngest, Josie) and sat at a super long table, signing and greeting.  Pickle's first exciting moment was seeing the TLC crew filming and recognizing them from TV (from Jon and Kate plus 8 she thinks).  It got even better when they filmed her asking a question for the Duggars to answer on their show.  I had to sign a release for them to use the footage if they choose.  Then we spoke with and met almost all of the super-family, and they signed Pickle's book.  I especially enjoyed meeting Michelle Duggar, she exuded warmth and joy and genuineness.  And she looks fantastic for  a woman who has birthed and raised 19 kids.  It was a totally fun afternoon.

To top the day off, we got to visit with our friends who just had a baby.  Remember Becky and the shower I posted about?  Well, the little guy arrived on Wednesday and it was such a joy to meet him and hold him.  We shared an impromptu dinner together, played with his big sister (who is not quite two) and got to visit a good while.  He is precious.  There really is nothing like holding a new and tiny baby.

the only picture we took of baby Jackson
It was a lovely, unplanned, relaxing and fun Saturday.  My house remains a mess, but sometimes it's worth it.

What did you do this weekend?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

pickle's new "music video"

She is learning the guitar.  She loves to sing.  She loves Justin Bieber.  She's 14.

She wrote a simple song about him the other afternoon.  It is partly the way she feels about him, and partly teasing herself about her crush.  (I love that she can laugh at herself.)

She recorded herself last night.  She put it on youtube.  My girl--who never really lets anyone else hear her sing put herself out there.  She didn't doll herself up, or wait until she was an accomplished guitar player or had a few more voice lessons.  She just did it.  And she said I could share it here!

So I am.  Cause I am a fan.

Monday, March 14, 2011

One Thousand Gifts

I was thrilled when my mom gave me a copy of Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts.  I have been wanting to read it, and hadn't sprung for it yet.  I have read less than two chapters so far, and am purposely reading slowly.  Why?  Because I can tell already...this is a book to be savored.  Like a rich piece of dark chocolate you let melt slowly in your mouth, I want Ann's words to soak slowly into my soul.  This is a beautiful book that is destined to be a classic.

Now, I have a confession.  I joined Ann's online gratitude community many months ago--pledging to document 1000 gifts in my life.  I did it for a while and posted some of my gifts here on theGoodlife.  Then I let it go.  I'm not sure why.

My mother in law gave me this beautiful journal for Christmas, and I quickly decided it would be my new 1000 gifts journal.  I started again at #1 in January.  And then, before long,  it sat waiting for me again...

Ann's book, which makes a case for living fully and gratefully, has challenged me to pick up that journal and start documenting my daily gifts again.  I will try to do it nightly.  I will try to post gifts again here on Mondays as a form of accountability.

Here a few of the most recent gifts listed:

62.  the privilege of disciplining my daughter:  I know that sounds weird, but when her actions deserve consequences, it is a privilege to be part of training her to be the woman God has called her to be.  She knows that, and although doesn't like the consequences, she settles into them, secure.

63.  girl's night at becca's:  I was invited to spend the night with some dear girlfriends.  We ate yummy food--cheeses, jams, berries, olives, bread--talked about our food journeys, laughed and delved into an art project they planned.  God is challenging me in the area of faith--so I made this collage.

the girls:  Carly, Becky (several days overdue!), Cathy and Becca
65.  the freedom I have from God to let go:  I don't have to be in charge, to make things happen, to manage.  He's already doing that.  I'm often getting in the way.  What joy it is to let go.

66. pickle wrote her first song with her guitar:  how I love to hear her sing and play...even if her first song was a tribute to Justin Beiber.  Really.  {smile}

Enjoy your day, bloggies.  Look for the gifts in your day!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

on waiting...

As I woke this morning, some of my first thoughts were with my two friends about to give birth any day now.  Did either of them go into labor during the night?  A quick glance at my phone and computer confirmed that they were both still pregnant.

Becky's little boy was due on Tuesday.  She waits.  Lynette has had some preterm labor with her twins...and is on bedrest.  If they are able to make it another week or so, they shouldn't even require a stay in the NICU.  She waits.  Seemingly ready to explode, these two dear women are walking time bombs.  I remember the feeling well.

I reflect on waiting.  I am in a season of waiting as well.  Waiting for my husband's deliverance from the back pain that has rocked his world (and ours).  And I thought--well, at least they are waiting expectantly.  The waiting will come to an end, and the reward will be more than worth the wait.  And I envied that expectancy a little...

Then He gently spoke to my heart.  "You can wait expectantly too.  I am here.  I haven't forgotten.  My plan is in motion.  My Big-G-Good plan."  So in faith, I grab that expectancy, that even when there is temptation to despair--I know the Truth.  We are not consumed.  He who has begun a g(G)ood work in us will bring it to completion.  Even now He is acting.

I remember a small book by Henri Nouwen about waiting I read during a scary time of my life.  I don't remember much about it other than the important concept that waiting is active--not passive.  Waiting takes energy, it takes focus, it takes faith.  To actively wait on God is a choice.  A choice to call to my mind God's goodness, as Jeremiah did in Lamentations 3: 21-23.  (studied this in Bible Study this morning...)

Yet this I call to mind
   and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
   for his compassions never fail. 
They are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.

I don't know what waiting season you might be in...but will you join me in choosing to actively wait on God, expectantly knowing that what comes from His love is Good?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

you are what you eat--a journey

If you are what you eat, then I have often resembled a bag of peanut m and m's with a diet coke on the side.   (I call that my breakfast of champions.)

I have (obviously) not been one of  those "healthy" people.   I always thought those people were a little extreme and needed to relax a little.  Let your kid have a happy meal.  Eat the cupcake.  Don't obsess.  Stop drinking vegetables and seaweed and pretending you like it.

Well, life lately has me eating my words.  Something has happened over here in the food department since Christmas.  I didn't plan it, but we've totally altered the way we eat and think about food.  Let me see if I can describe the way a candy-as-a-food-group girl has changed her ways.  My boss likes to talk about "data points" that get filed are some of mine.

Years ago, Pickle was struggling with school, sleep and life.  We were at our wit's end, as was she.  Through the grace of God, and the strong influence of my mom, we consulted a nutritional/educational consultant.  This woman spent an entire day with us and came up with a plan for Pickle that included some therapy to help her "educational glitches" as well as many nutritional changes, including multiple supplements to treat low seratonin.  It was during this time that I started reading labels and realized how much sugar was in EVERYTHING.  Pickle was significantly helped by the regimen--and although we eventually fell off the no-sugar wagon--we were amazed to learn how food makes such a marked difference.  Data point.

Hubby has been frustrated with the many meds he takes to manage depression and ADD and we started researching natural ways to treat mental health issues.  We poured through tons of information, bought a book or two... and became overwhelmed.  Yet, we felt like we were on to something to explore in the future. Data point.

I gained weight.  Weight has not been a major issue for me (aside from the eat-to-stay-awake college years) and so it came by surprise when 15 pounds arrived and my normal "eat a few less m and m's" plan didn't touch it.  Hello middle age.  Blech.  After lamenting a bit, I followed the weight watchers plan that has worked for my mom and sis.   Guess what?  I was reading labels again.  I was choosing higher fiber, higher protein foods and way less sugar.  And, I lost the weight.   More importantly, I felt a ton better.  More energy.  I wasn't riding the sugar roller coaster every afternoon.  I felt more satisfied. point.

Then we watched a few documentaries on Netflix.  Supersize Me--so disturbing.  Food, Inc. left us absolutely disgusted with the food industry.  Food Matters was very, very interesting--regarding supplying our bodies what we need to heal rather than just popping pills.  Data point.  Data point.  Data point.

Our good friends began juicing--and it has made a huge difference for them to get all of those nutrients every day.  They have lost weight and have noticed a enormous gain in energy.  Data point.

We were past the point of no return on this food journey.  We decided we needed to change the way we eat.  Considering that three out of the four of us are on daily medication for our brain chemistry, and my hubby's back continues to confound medical solutions, and we already KNOW food makes a difference for our family--it was obvious.  Change was necessary.

We came to the conclusion that our convenience based way of eating was not best for us.  We ate too much fast food, too much processed food, too little vegetables and fruits, and were getting way too little of the nutrients we need to be healthy.  Basically, from a health perspective, we were falling apart.  So, I started reading like crazy--books, blogs, etc.

And then I panicked.  I work outside the home.  Hubby being laid up often left me without his usual help around the house or in driving kids around.  I already needed a personal assistant or a housewife or something to survive--and now I need to rethink the way I cook, shop and feed my family?  And I knew I didn't know half of what I needed to know.  AAAH!

Deep breaths, Dawn.  If this is where I feel God is leading us as a family (and I do for many reasons not even mentioned) then He will provide and grant wisdom.  One way He has provided has been through my mom and sister, who are on this same journey.  We compare notes, and they have a bit more time to do research, scout stores, etc.  They have been a huge  help to me.  Another way He has guided is by providing perspective (this recovering perfectionist needs Divine help when it comes to perspective!).  I don't have to get it all right from the beginning.  Any changes we make in the right direction will help our family.  One step at a time.

So where are we on this journey now?  We are focusing on eating "real food".  Some call it "eating clean".  We have tried to eliminate processed foods.  I try to cook everything from basic ingredients.  We are trying to get to the point where we only eat meat from sources where the animals are fed the diet they were meant to eat, and where they aren't pumped up with hormones and other artificial stuff.  We already were a mostly whole grains family--I haven't bought white bread or crackers or regular pasta or white rice in a long time--but or resolve has increased.  Now we are making sure our treats are also whole grain, and without much sugar.  We are trying to eat more fruits and vegetables.  I am learning about oils and which are best to use and which I need to dispose of.  And I'm becoming interested in things like GMO's (google it) and the benefits of fermented foods.  Wow--who am I??  Pass me a diet coke!

We also decided that at this point we were going to focus on controlling what we eat at home, and the food we prepare here.  We are trying to do this about 80% of the time.  We are cutting way down on eating out, cause it's hard to find places where you can eat real food, prepared well.  However, when with friends who eat differently, we will too.  We are not going to force our convictions on everyone.  My kids can eat junk at birthday parties and friends's homes.  We allow ourselves to eat outside of our guidelines a little, and don't freak out about it.  We absolutely do not judge what others eat or the choices they make.

And, while I'm trying to cut way down, you may have gathered, I still drink diet coke.  I know--hypocritical.  However, I can imagine the day where it's gone or mostly gone.  It's coming.  You wait...

So that's where we are.  On a journey.  Doing the best we can.  We have lots to learn.

If any of this interests you--you may enjoy reading blogs of folks who have had their own food journey:  Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Heavenly Homemakers, Musings of a Housewife, and Nourish MD.  You may also enjoy this short, easy read:  Food Rules by Michael Pollan (your library should have it).  Feel free to send any resources that have helped you my way--I'll have my mom read them and tell me what they say!  {heehee}

And if you are looking for me today, I hopefully will resemble a bowl of oatmeal instead of a bag of peanut m and m's.  And maybe a diet coke...

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