A simple anti-inflammatory stir fry that’s easy to make and filled with inflammation fighting foods!
If you’re looking for a go-to anti-inflammatory meal, this is mine. This simple stir fry is chock full of inflammation fighting foods, it’s easily customized and very versatile depending on what veggies you love in your stir fry. Also, it’s dairy-free, gluten free, sugar free and yet, it’s NOT taste-free!! 😉
There’s so many different ways to make this dish – and that’s what makes it my go-to weeknight meal that we don’t get tired of. You can swap out rice for rice noodles or even spaghetti squash as the base. You can utilize in-season vegetables along with tried-and-true veggies your family loves. I’ll also occasionally include chunks of pineapple or mango for a sweet surprise!
So, pick your family’s favorite veggies, throw them on the pan with some olive or coconut oil and stir fry away! You can easily make this a vegetarian dish or include shrimp, seared tuna or beef.
One way to make this dish even simpler is to purchase pre-chopped veggies in your produce department. Some stores even have a “stir fry” bag with fresh (not frozen) vegetables that are perfect for a weeknight stir fry. Alternatively, you could chop up your veggies in the morning or the night before so that you can throw them on the pan right when you get home. I’ve also been known to use kitchen shears to make my chopping and cutting even easier! 😉
So, what makes this stir fry “anti-inflammatory”?
It’s filled with tons of inflammation-fighting foods with tons of antioxidants such as broccoli, snap peas, garlic, onion, peppers and, of course, olive oil.
Today, we’re discussing something I’m trying to work on this year: caring less about what other people think. Now, you may ask: is that actually biblical? Aren’t we supposed to care about people? Of course! When we are enslaved by fear of what people think of us, we are not imitating Jesus. Jesus loved others deeply without being blown back and forth by other people’s opinions.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about The Dixie Chicks’ song from 1998, “Wide Open Spaces.” It’s a song about the need to get away from the life you’ve always known, so you can have room to make “big mistakes.”
It seems like in our society today, that’s the opposite of what we have.
Have you felt that?
The tight, confining spaces of today’s culture: to fit into a certain box, espouse specific opinions, raise your children in a defined way. People who stray from this are blasted on social media, castigated for their intolerant dogmatism.
Perhaps we say things we don’t really think or believe because we’ll be looked down on. I know I’ve done that plenty of times.
The problem with all of this is that we simply care too much about what other people think.
Without putting too much thought into it, we do what everyone else is doing because, if everyone else is doing it, it must be the right thing…right?
When I look at the scriptures, the people who truly made an impact, who have changed the course of my life as well as the course of history itself, are the ones who did not care at all what other people think.
No, they are not selfish.
In fact, these people tend to be the most selfless because they are not concerned about themselves, either! Imagine that.
Caring Less What Others Think: Consider Jesus.
Think about Jesus. He was countercultural in a way that would make us squirm. Can you imagine going into a church building with a whip, turning over tables and chairs, yelling at people about the way they were taking advantage of God’s house? If he did that today, we’d call him an extremist, a brute, or just simply insane. To make matters worse, he repeated his offense (John 2:18, Matthew 21:17-23).
Jesus broke the rules (John 4:9, Matthew 12:11-13). He touched the untouchable (Luke 5:12-16). Jesus frequently made scandalous statements (John 6:54, Mark 2:5). And He hung out with people the religious society stayed away from (Mark 2:16).
Even his enemies accused him of not caring what others think (Mark 12:14).
This year I’ve decided I want to care less about what other people think. I don’t want to make decisions based on what everyone else is doing. I want to make decisions based on God’s Word and what HE thinks above all.
This is much easier said than done. I don’t want to look stupid in the eyes of others. I don’t want to stand out as countercultural – I’d rather fly under the radar.
For me, Heaven is the shoreline at dawn, me atop a chestnut horse. Loose reins, galloping at the edge of the water. The ocean sprays up under his hooves, splashing us. The scent of saltwater fills my lungs and I breathe deeply. I am standing up in the stirrups, hands in my horse’s mane, urging him forward. We are going nowhere – simply running for the sake of it. The wind in my face, the rising sun warms my cheeks. My steed is surefooted and strong; we work as one across the terrain. I drop my reins and outstretch my arms as he gallops forward. I am free.
Heaven is a quiet walk with my Lord in a copse of live oak trees. It is a hidden place, one that no one knows about but me and Him. My fingers brush against the trunks of trees, the vines crisscrossing through the forest. My feet crunch the leaves below as the sun winks at us through the branches. The forest opens up to a river: pure water cascading down a waterfall, pooling into an inviting pond. Without a second thought, we run and jump into the water. It envelopes us. We swim freely, twirling and jumping like children in the water. We float on our backs, looking up at the brilliant blue sky. I realize that the pain that has so often pervaded my body is gone. Even as my subconscious reaches for it, this pain that has been an old friend, a dear enemy, I know it will never come back. My body is free, fluid, perfect. I am whole.
Heaven is a good book on a rainy day, curled up in an overstuffed chair with a soft blanket and a large cup of tea. The fireplace flickers beside me, giving just enough warmth and light for me to read. The story is an adventure, a tale of romance and bravery. I devour the pages, wondering what will come next. I cry, I laugh, I gasp. When the book ends, I realize it is never finished. I am part of the story, and the story is part of me. I am home.
Heaven is a throne room, filled with more people than I’ve ever imagined. A light fills the room – the most beautiful light we have ever experienced. The light is made of colors and sounds and textures I’ve never fathomed. It fills each one of us and tears of love, of hope, of relief stream down our faces as we clasp hands. I want to turn to the person next to me, to ask, Is this real? Are you seeing this, too? Because it feels too good to be true. And yet, I cannot look away from the light because it is too beautiful, too captivating, too lovely. And then, a voice sings out. A heavenly soprano sings in a language I don’t know, and yet I understand. One by one we join in song – it is a song we have never sung before, and yet we know all of the words. Everyone sings with full voice, no one holds back – we know our voices are beautiful to Him. The song takes form and lifts up into the light, joining with the light into a dance of love, freedom and joy. The room shakes with the power of the song, the floor trembling beneath our feet, and we sing louder. We are His.
Many of you know how much my son, Finn, loves outer space. Most days we spend A LOT of time learning about space, talking about space, pretending we’re in space or about to be in space. We read about space, watch videos about space, and when we sleep, we dream about space. Because of his obsession, I’ve inadvertently learned a ton about outer space. This has made me reflect on God, and myself, as I’ve considered His creation. I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned about God from studying outer space.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky displays what his hands have made.”
God is big, and I am small.
The Universe is gigantic in a way that is impossible to measure and grasp. Most scientists seem to agree that the universe is approximately 13.8 billion years old, and that space is constantly expanding. The only thing we know for sure, according to NASA is that the universe is “much larger than the volume we can directly observe.”
Some believe that the universe is currently 93 billion light years wide. Here’s what this means: light travels approximately 5.88 trillion miles in one year. So 93 billion light years is 5.88 trillion miles 93 billion times. That’s, like, a lot.
Our galaxy is approximately 100,000 light years wide (although a recent number put it at 200,000 light years wide). This means that if we were in a spacecraft traveling at 186,282 miles per second, it would take us 100,000 years to get from one end to the other. Or, it could take us 200,000 years!
And, our galaxy isn’t even the biggest. Our closest neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, is twice the size of our Milky Way home.
We used to think that Earth was unique in the universe – but it turns out there could be as many as tens of billions of other earth like planets in the universe.
Even if you’re like me and those numbers just get jumbled in your head and make no sense, this is the bottom line: our universe is massively gigantic. And the God who made each galaxy, each nebula, each supermassive black hole – He is capable. He is larger than anything we can fathom. And He is Our God.
Our church is going through a Bible reading plan together this year and right now we are reading the book of James. A passage in James 1 resonated with me and challenged me to my core about finding joy in trials. It led me to this Bible study on more verses about trials and hardships.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
When I read this verse, one question kept coming to my mind:
Why on earth would I consider it joy to go through hardships?!
One of the first things I did was look up exactly what this word ‘joy‘ means. In this verse, joy is the Greek word charan which can be translated joy, gladness, a source of joy. My favorite definition was “a calm delight.”
Again, I wondered, why would I be delightfully calm during hardships?! And…how?
Today I want to share with you what helps me get through extra difficult days with my chronic pain. If you’re suffering from chronic pain – whether physical, mental or emotional pain that is ongoing – this should be helpful for enduring those days when you just have to survive the day.
1. Accept help.
If you’re battling with chronic pain, you need to find a tribe of supportive people to surround you. Whether that’s your physical family, your church small group, or some friends and neighbors – find your tribe. Have your go-to people that you can text or call if you’re having a bad day. People who can pray with and for you, or who can come over to help distract your kiddos if you need a break.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Of course, if you want this type of friendship, you have to be this friend to others as well. Be intentional about your relationships. It’s not realistic to have 15 super close BFFs – but you can have 2-3 friends whom you would do anything for – and who also will understand if you have to change your night-on-the-town plans to a movie night in bed because you’re in pain.
2. Communicate your pain.
“A sorrow shared is a sorrow halved.”
If your friends and family members don’t know you’re in pain, it’s going to be impossible for them to know how to help you. So even if it’s hard, you have to share your pain. You don’t have to tell everyone – but be intentional with what you share. Don’t just say “I’m fine” when you know that’s not true. Be specific. Be real.
Have one or two people that you know you can shoot a text to on painful days. For me, I typically reach out to my sisters-in-law, Amanda and Andrea. Just a simple, “pray for me, I’m in a lot of pain today,” text can help take some of the burden off of me.
A note on getting help & communicating your chronic pain:
One question that I get a lot from friends or family members is: how can I help? This is a difficult one for me because I genuinely need help, but I don’t want to inconvenience people and I certainly don’t want to ask for something that’s more than they were willing to give. However, I think if someone is asking this question, they most likely really want to do something for you! My mom often reminds me that God can use my pain as an avenue for others to answer His calling to serve. I shouldn’t hinder that call by being too proud to ask for help. So, communicate specific ways that a friend can help. Perhaps they can bring a meal, watch your kids for an hour while you rest, pick up groceries or medicine for you, or just bring you a coffee.
Please don’t be hurt if people don’t “get it” when you’re in pain.
If you’ve never had a migraine before, it’s hard to grasp how debilitating one is. Oftentimes we feel like we’re falling apart on the inside, but to others we look just fine! This can make it much more difficult for them to connect with how we’re feeling. I’m always surprised after a group hangout if I mention that I was in pain and people reply, “I had no idea!” Don’t assume people know how you’re feeling and don’t be afraid to explain in detail what you’re experiencing. However, make sure to offer lots of grace when a friend or family member inevitably doesn’t quite understand. That’s OK!
If you’re battling with chronic pain or any kind of inflammatory issue, exercising regularly and eating an anti-inflammatory diet could help reduce the inflammation in your body. What we eat can either speed up or slow down the inflammatory processes throughout our bodies. That’s why I try to keep an anti-inflammatory diet regimen throughout the week – which can be tricky when you’re cooking for others, including a picky husband, a toddler and a one-year-old!
Don’t forget to download the Anti-inflammatory “Eat This Not That” List – you can post it on your fridge or use it for meal planning to help you get started with your inflammation-fighting meals.
I’ve spent a lot of time searching Pinterest for anti-inflammatory foods that I could consistently eat AND feed my family at the same time. It was tough to find! Most of the recipes I found were inaccessible, difficult to make on a regular basis or just wouldn’t appease my picky eaters. However, over the past several months I’ve accrued a collection of some of my favorite anti-inflammatory recipes and wanted to share them with you!
The point of an anti-inflammatory regimen is to cut out inflammation-causing foods and incorporate as many inflammation-fighting foods as possible. These foods are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols – which are protective compounds found in plants.
I’m a planner. Literally. My undergraduate degree was in Recreation, Parks & Tourism with a concentration in Event Planning. I enjoy planning things. In fact, one of my “hobbies” is planning vacations that I’ll (probably) never go on.
The older I get, the more I bump up against this problem with planning: oftentimes, my plans don’t coincide with God’s plan. And it’s frustrating, and, at times, painful.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
When God Had Different Plans for Me
At the beginning of 2013, I started to have debilitating pain in my joints. At the time, I was a riding instructor at a local horse farm. I would get home from teaching lessons at the end of the day and literally crawl up the stairs to our apartment because I was in so much pain. I started to see an orthopedic doctor and then a sports medicine doctor, and when neither helped, I went to a rheumatologist, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, a physical therapist… the list goes on. I got a knee brace, shoe insoles, a plethora of medications and side effects, and a myriad of injections in my joints. Instead of getting better, the pain only got worse.
With every new doctor, I would hope that this would be THE ONE. This would be the doctor who would know what was wrong with me. This would be the therapy to finally “fix” me. This medication would make it all go away. But it didn’t. I found the truth in this verse: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12).
Three years into my journey with pain, I was consistently walking with a cane and taking several medications daily just to function. The pain kept me up at night—I spent a lot of nights crying on the bathroom floor, praying to God, feeling so alone and defeated. I was unable to work, barely able to go to church. There were days when I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom without help from my husband. This obviously wasn’t part of my plans.
This is not your typical Bingo game – although if you’ve played Bingo before, you’ll know exactly how to play. Each player has a Bingo card and each square has a different book of the Bible along with an illustration from a story within that book. The Bingo squares, as well as the Bingo calling cards, are all color coordinated and labeled with not only the book of the Bible but the section that book is in.
This is not only a fun way to play Bingo, but it is also an enjoyable way to learn the books of the Bible and how the Bible is organized. We play this game as a family, but this would also be perfect for a youth group or another larger group. The game includes 24 double-sided Bingo cards so up to 24 people can play!
My 4-year-old, Finn, had a fun time playing this game – it was his first time playing Bingo and he had a blast. He laughed a lot while trying to pronounce some of the harder-to-say books of the Bible (“Deuteronomy” for example!).
My recommendation for playing this game is to read through the booklet beforehand – it gives a very succinct overview of each section of the Bible. This is helpful for being able to explain the books of the Bible as you play. The only thing that I would love to see added to this game is a one sentence summary of each book of the Bible! Which, I know, is easier said than done. I found myself trying to recap each book to Finn – which is simpler for books like Jonah or Esther, but harder for books like Lamentations or some of the books of history.
Playing this game, and telling Finn about the books of the Bible, is an inspiration for understanding the whole arc of the Scriptures.
It also made me wonder how much to tell Finn about some of the not-so-kid-friendly stories of the Bible. How do you explain Job to a four year old? This takes wisdom and discernment from parents and teachers.
This is a fan favorite in our house. I was pleasantly surprised that Finn was able to follow along with the rules and understand how to play! The focus of this game is the parables of Jesus. Each “parable card” is illustrated with a scene from one of Jesus’ parables and there are 4 cards in each parable set. I would compare this game to Uno – you take turns pulling cards from a draw pile and you try to match the parable cards with each other. There are “oopsie” cards, which function as skip cards as well as “kingdom” cards, which allow you to steal from another player.
What I love about this game is that it’s a fun way to teach biblical concepts. To assist with this, there are parable summary cards with a summary and explanation of each parable. The explanations are simple and easy to understand. There is also an optional addition at the end of the game for players to retell the parables in their own words using the cards and their illustrations as a reference point.
We did make some modifications to the game for my 4-year-old: I removed quite a few of the Kingdom cards and oopsie cards, and we took turns drawing one card at a time instead of drawing unlimitedly. We also started the game with 4 cards in our hands. This made it go a little faster for my little guy.
I highly recommend this game – it’s perfect to play as a family or in a Sunday school class, youth group, or other church setting.
This memory game is another great one for learning the books of the Bible. The game comes with A LOT of cards – which means you can make it as challenging as possible. Of course, for my little one, we only use a fraction of the cards. But it is fantastic for challenging your memory and learning the names of the books of the Bible. I was surprised by how quickly Finn got better at this game! We are increasing the difficulty more and more each time.
As he gets older, I foresee that we will add another biblical element to this game. For example, if a player matches two cards from the same book of the Bible, in order to “win” the cards, they have to recap a story from that particular book. If they can’t, the next player gets a turn to do it and possibly win the card set!
A final thought on playing games…
Games are SO great for kids to play, especially at home with family. It teaches them real world skills that they’ll need as they grow – but allows them to learn these in a safe setting. They learn about following rules, strategy, negotiation, sequential thinking, cooperating with others, healthy competition, and so much more. Playing these games inspired us to help Finn to grow more in his competitive nature – he was such a sore loser!! Since playing these games, we have started teaching him how to be encouraging to others even when he doesn’t win. This is a tough lesson!
Playing games is also a “sneaky” way to teach concepts that otherwise would be done through rote memorization – such as letters, books of the Bible, numbers, etc. I’m grateful that we live in a time when we can take advantage of games and activities such as these to teach our little ones about our awesome God!
During this Christmas season, as we’re going about our shopping, planning and traveling, let’s take a moment to consider the reason for the season: Jesus. Whenever you have a moment this month, I encourage you to read the story of Jesus’ birth in Luke chapters 1-2. I recently read through these passages and was inspired by Mary the mother of Jesus. Today, I thought I’d share with you three lessons I learned from Mary in the story of Jesus’ birth.
But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
Lesson from Mary #1: She chose her focus
As a virgin mother of the newborn Son of God, there was a lot Mary could have focused on. She could’ve been concerned with where her son would sleep, how she could recover from labor and delivery ( in a barn!), what God was going to do next, and so much more. For those of us who have recently had newborns, it’s easy to recall those early difficulties: the shocking pain of delivery, the hardships of learning to breastfeed, the doubts that your body will ever be functional again. I’m sure Mary had all of this and far more than we have today – plus, oh yeah, she was holding the Son of God, in a barn, with a bunch of stinky shepherds showing up wanting to see what was going on!
And we cringe when Aunt Bertha doesn’t sanitize up to the elbows when she picks up our newborn!
Yet…that’s not what Mary was focused on.
In this simple line, I see how Mary was quiet. I’m reminded of the verse in Psalm 131:2 where the psalmist says, “I have calmed and quieted my soul.” Mary could have let her mind go a million miles an hour, but instead she quieted herself and was able to be present enough to take in what was going on around her.
Mamas, this is something we should take note of. Sometimes we are so caught up in all of our concerns and worries that we’re missing what’s going on in that moment.
Mary could have made note of all the ‘negative’ things going on – but she didn’t. She treasured up the incredible experience she was living.
We should follow her example.
Let’s be honest, some of us could find flaws in Mother Theresa. We’d be discontent no matter where we were or what we were doing.
If you were holding the Savior in your arms, what would your attitude be? Would it be one of faultfinding, dissatisfaction, restlessness – or would it be one of quiet contentment?
Here’s the thing, mamas: if you are a Christian with the Holy Spirit living inside of you, you do have the Savior. You are holding Him inside of you, taking Him with you wherever you go.
Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission when you buy through the links on this page.
As you’re making your lists and checking them twice for Christmas gifts this year, perhaps you’re wondering what to get for your Christian friend or family member. Here are a few of my personal favorites as well as recommendations from my Christian friends and family members! There are gift ideas for the whole family: dad, mom, kids, grandparents & more. When possible, I’ve chosen small businesses for you to support.
Custom Bibles & Notebooks
A custom engraved Bible would be a beautiful gift for your Christian friend or family member. For something a bit different, consider choosing a different version, such as the English Standard Version (ESV) or New Living Translation (NLT).
Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission when you buy through the links on this page.
I cannot believe it’s already time for Christmas shopping! With Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming up, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite things for boys & girls ages 1-3 years old. These are toys we have used and loved that are perfect Christmas gifts for your toddler. Check out the full list on Amazon here. If you’ve got an older kiddo, check out my space-themed Christmas gift guide here.
I have this as #1 on this list because this is the BEST gift for a toddler. Not all water tables are created equal – we’ve experienced that the hard way. We purchased this for Justus’s 1 year birthday after A LOT of research and an earlier “fail.” This water table is endless fun and, unlike other water tables, it is sturdy and has lots of options to keep everyone entertained. Our 16-month-old AND 4-year-old enjoy this table a lot!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas music, sparkling lights, exchanging gifts, reflections on Jesus and His birth. It’s a beautiful time. However, if you’re trying to eat healthy or manage a chronic illness, it can be difficult to navigate the holiday season that so strongly revolves around food – particularly, sweets. So, how do you find balance this holiday season?
Luckily, I have some tips for us from my friend and dietitian, Betsy Britt of GroWell Nutrition! She has three recommendations for us:
Start the day with fitness: consider getting the family outside for a touch football game or even a 5k walk or run.
Eat a good breakfast: don’t skip breakfast to ‘save room’ for the afternoon feast. This may lead to binge eating less healthy foods later in the day.
Skip the seconds: enjoy your first plate of food and wait 20 minutes before deciding whether you are still hungry for more.
Personally, I’m choosing to be intentional about what to eat – and where to splurge – for the holidays. I’m swapping out the typical green bean casserole for this delicious, and much healthier, roasted honey garlic green bean dish. I’m also looking forward to sharing my favorite kale salad with everyone!
I plan to splurge on my mom’s sweet potato casserole (the kind with the roasted mini marshmallows on top – yum!). I’m allergic to apples, but every year I have a slice of my mother-in-law’s award winning apple pie.
If you’re looking for anti-inflammatory-approved side dishes to ‘upgrade’ your typical holiday fare, here are some excellent options:
I’ve made this recipe a few times – Tyler and the kids LOVE it so I plan to make it for Thanksgiving as well. Instead of sautéing the green beans, I throw all of the ingredients together on a pan and roast the green beans at 425* for about 15 minutes. I like to throw some sliced almonds on there, too!
If you’ve followed the blog at all, you know just how obsessed my 4 year old son, Finn, is with outer space. He wears his astronaut costume ALL. THE. TIME. In fact, when we were trick-or-treating this year for Halloween, we overheard a neighbor we didn’t know point to Finn and say, “I see that astronaut in the neighborhood all the time!” Yep, that’s my son. So, if you have a similarly space-loving kid, here’s some fun outer space activities and experiments to do with them!