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Chronic Pain

3 Simple Tips for a Clean(er) Life

October 7, 2020

I’m very excited to share this guest post about clean living with you from my friend Leslie at Faithful Motherhood. For me, living with chronic pain made me desperate for solutions. One thing that has made a difference is watching what products come into my home and my body. After years of figuring out what works for me and my family, my food, cleaning products and skin care routine is simpler, cleaner and greener. However, this process can be overwhelming and paralyzing if you don’t know where to start. I’m thankful for Leslie walking us through some simple steps to take for a cleaner life! Leslie blogs at Faithful Motherhood, where she writes about faith, motherhood and clean living.

Leslie with her two kiddos: Leona (18mo) and Tobias (4mo)

If you’re a mom in the year 2020, chances are you’ve heard the term “clean.” As awareness grows, it seems like there are “clean” options all over the place — making us feel like the world is full of toxic chemicals and imploring us to buy a million extra over-priced products to ensure the health and safety of our families. 

We spiral down the rabbit hole and find ourselves with overwhelming choices, spending more money than we have, and being fearful of even washing our hands in public bathrooms… And then, because we are rational people with real lives, this usually lands us in a spot where we question whether all the extra effort is worth it and usually end up exclaiming, “My mom used all the toxic chemicals and we turned out OK, so what’s the big deal?!”

Here’s the thing. As a granola-ish mama, I’ll be the first to tell you that “clean living,” is, in fact, important. 

Since the chemical boom of the 1960’s, more than 80,000 new chemicals have entered the industry with very little testing for safety. In the personal care industry alone, the US bans a mere 30 harmful ingredients while the EU bans 1500 and Canada bans 600. These chemicals have proven impacts on our hormonal health, fertility, risk of cancer, and more. 

However, as a mother of two young babes, operating on a *very* limited income, I can also relate to the paralyzing feelings we get when the noise of the “clean” industry starts to crowd our anxiety and stretch our wallets. 

The good news is that I have found a way to be an informed consumer, make healthier choices for my family, and feel confident about the safety of the world I’m cultivating in my home without my husband coming home to find me hiding in the pantry rocking in the fetal position.

I’m here to share some insights I’ve learned in my journey to clean living so you don’t have to jump through all the hoops I did. I hope you’ll walk away empowered to make healthier choices without getting wrapped up in the overwhelming noise of the clean living world.

I have learned that despite the noise imploring you to complicate your life, one of the best things you can do on your journey to “clean” is actually to simplify.

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Chronic Pain Meditations

7 Scriptures for Finding Joy in Trials

October 5, 2020
Finding joy in difficulties

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.

James 1:2-6

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?

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Chronic Pain Recipes

Anti-Inflammatory Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

September 28, 2020
Anti-inflammatory pumpkin spice oatmeal

It’s officially fall! And here in Florida, it’s starting to feel like it, too. The mornings are a breezy 70 degrees, which means here in Tampa we’ve got our boots and scarves on!

Just kidding…

Sort of. 😉

For most of us, fall means all things pumpkin, maple and apple! I’m excited to share this delicious pumpkin steel cut oats recipe with you. Not only does it fulfill the need for pumpkin spice, it’s got a lot of inflammation fighting power, it’s filling and it’s super flavorful.

For more inflammation-fighting meals that the entire family can enjoy, check out Anti-Inflammatory Meals for the Whole Family.

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Chronic Pain Recipes

Simple Anti-Inflammatory Stir Fry

August 25, 2020
AID stir fry recipe

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!

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Chronic Pain Recipes

Easy Mexican Cauliflower Rice Bowl

August 5, 2020

Today I’m going to share with you one of my favorite anti-inflammatory diet meals: my Easy Mexican Cauliflower Rice Bowl. This is another crowd-pleaser in our house. The boys eat it up with a big spoon!

Reasons why I love this Easy Mexican Cauliflower Rice Bowl:

  • It’s sneakily healthy – swapping out cauliflower rice for white or even brown rice means that you’re eating lots of veggies in each bite…and you don’t even know it!
  • It’s a simple, quick weeknight recipe. I typically make a double (or even triple) batch of this during the week and it’ll take me less than 30 minutes from beginning to end. Cauliflower rice cooks so quickly and you can just throw all the ingredients together!
  • This is a low-carb, low-calorie option if you’re looking for go-to low-carb or low-cal recipes!
  • It’s versatile – I can easily make this meal with shredded chicken, ground beef or turkey, or vegetarian. I’ve also easily swapped cooked white rice for the cauliflower rice when making this for large groups (with people who may or may not like cauliflower rice!) and it’s so yum.
  • My boys love it – Tyler loves this recipe because it’s super filling while also being low-calorie. Both Finn and Justus will gobble this down as soon as I put it on their plates.
  • Toppings galore – this dish is easily personalized depending on what toppings you like. I love to put avocado, an extra squeeze of lime juice and more cilantro on mine. Tyler appreciates covering it in cheese and sour cream, and Finn does all of the above! Whatever your eaters like, this meal can offer it.

How to cook cauliflower rice

There are three options for making cauliflower rice:

  • Buy cauliflower heads, chop them and put them in a food processor to make the “rice.” This is the most time-intensive option.
  • Buy a pre-chopped cauliflower head. With this option, the cauliflower is already “riced” for you. Typically you can find this in the produce section where you would find other bags of pre-chopped vegetables. This is the simplest, quickest option.
  • Buy frozen cauliflower rice. This option allows you to save the cauliflower rice for longer – I usually buy a large bag from Costco so I can use it whenever I want to. However, it takes slightly longer to cook all the way through (about 10 minutes instead of 5).

Any of these options work – obviously if you want to rice the cauliflower yourself, it will take longer. Also, if you purchase fresh cauliflower (either a whole cauliflower head or a bag of fresh cauliflower rice) it will cook quicker than the frozen cauliflower rice.

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Chronic Pain

10 Tips for Chronic Pain Survival Days

July 29, 2020
chronic pain survival days

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.

Proverbs 17:17
chronic pain survival days inspirational quote

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!

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Chronic Pain Recipes

Anti-Inflammatory Butternut Squash Thai Curry

July 28, 2020

This is one of my favorite anti-inflammatory diet meals! This butternut squash Thai curry is so incredibly flavorful and versatile. It packs an immune-building punch with all of the inflammation-fighting foods in this recipe. This meal is one that I love to make for company or if I’m bringing a meal to someone – it’s unique and delicious.

Butternut squash is an incredible food – packed with vitamin A and vitamin C, which help with immune function and are powerful antioxidants. It also happens to be relatively low in calories, which is a double win!

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 baby!

My husband (a picky eater) and my kids (not-so-picky eaters) LOVE this meal. Even my one-year-old shovels this curry into his mouth. I typically add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt to cool the curry a bit for them.

This recipe is versatile. It can easily be made vegetarian/vegan if you omit the chicken. The vegetables in here (butternut squash, sweet potato) can readily be swapped out with one another. For example, you could use 4 cups of sweet potato OR 4 cups of butternut squash if you only want one over the other. You could also substitute carrots or other squash in place of one of the vegetables.

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Chronic Pain Meditations

When You Need God’s Strength

July 27, 2020
when you need God's strength

We’ve all had those days: the ones that seem to drag on endlessly, where we wonder what else could go wrong. You’re exhausted, the house is a mess, your children are whining, your husband still isn’t home from work and dinner burned. Or maybe you’re dealing with a deeper trial where you really need God to carry you through. It’s on these days when we need God’s strength the most. 

God put these verses on my heart to share with you, and it seems like the more I searched for scriptures on God’s strength, the more there were! There are so many precious Bible verses about God’s strength at work within us. Download these printable memory verse cards that you can post around the house for those weary days.

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    Paul gives us a great example of someone who went through hardships and trials (2 Corinthians 11:24-29) yet was strengthened again and again. Here’s a powerful verse displaying God’s strength:

    At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

    2 Timothy 4:16-18

    In this passage, Paul was going through one of the most challenging times: he was imprisoned, on trial, facing the end of his life, and he was alone. It seems that when he went to court to defend himself, none of his friends showed up. Despite all of this, he kept his faith. He believed that God would carry him through – and He did. None of his earthly friends may have stood beside Paul, but the Lord did. He was not truly alone, because he had Jesus beside him. The same is true for us. 

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    Chronic Pain Meditations

    When You Need Comfort…

    July 13, 2020
    when you need comfort

    Are you in need of some comfort today, mama? I don’t know about you, but I woke up this morning in need of encouragement. And God sent it to me, by way of a beautiful sunrise, a pack of wild pigs, and this Bible verse…

    Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

    2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

    In case you needed the reminder: God loves you 

    How has God shown you His love? For me, I see His love in my family and in nature. I get little “I love you’s” from God through Tyler every day. And I constantly am in awe of God’s love for me when I think about how much I love my kids. If I love my kids this much, and I’m a sinful human being, how much more does God love me?! (Matthew 7:11)

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    Chronic Pain Meditations

    Cast All Your Anxiety: When Your Emotions are Too Much

    June 8, 2020
    cast your anxieties

    For today’s meditation, we’re going to discuss what to do when our anxiety is threatening to overwhelm us. God calls us to cast all our anxiety onto Him – because He cares.

    There’s been a lot going on these days. It seems like the moment we turn around, 2020 is like, “But wait, there’s more!” 

    I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s felt overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, heartbroken, and all sorts of other unidentifiable emotions. 

    I have to be honest: it’s tempting for me to just stick my head in the sand and pretend it’s all not happening. To not watch the news or social media, to detach and shut down. 

    Of course, there’s a place for boundaries and taking care of your mental/emotional/spiritual wellbeing, but that’s not what I’m talking about. 

    I believe Jesus wants us to deal with the emotions – the deep, roiling, burdening emotions. He wants us to be honest about them with Him, and then He wants us to cast them onto Him. 

    Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

    Psalm 55:22

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