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Devotionals for Moms

What Do You Think of When You Think of Heaven?

January 11, 2021
what do you think of when you think of heaven

What do you think of when you think of Heaven?

What makes your heart sing?

What makes you feel whole?

Where are you when you are truly at home?

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. 

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17

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. 

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Revelation 21:4

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. 

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

Revelation 21:3

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. 

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 

Revelation 21:23-25

What do you think of when you think of Heaven?

Comment below!

Devotionals for Moms

Christmas Lessons from Mary the Mother of Jesus

December 9, 2020
Lesson from Mary

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.

Luke 2:19

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.

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Gift Guides

A Christmas Gift Guide for the Christian Family

December 6, 2020
Christmas gifts for Christians

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).

How about a personalized leather Bible cover case?! Like this one here on Etsy.

A custom leather journal like this one would be perfect for quiet time journaling or sermon notes.

View listing here

Faith-Based Apparel

I love the graphic t-shirts from Crazy Cool Threads – their Christmas ones are awesome, like this one:

View listing here

I think it’s challenging to find non-cheesy men’s Christian apparel, but this design by Etsy seller Christian Life Tee Co is timeless:

View listing here

I love their mommy-and-me designs, too!

View listing here

For a 2020 necessity, how about purchasing faith masks?! Like these on Etsy. I love this simple faith design here.

View listing here

Bible Games

View listing here

We love this Bible Bingo game from Bible Games Central. Not only is it fun, but it’s a great way to teach the kids about the books of the Bible. They also have a fun, Uno-esque game called Parable Parade and a Bible memory card game (the kind where you have to find matching pairs).

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Gift Guides

A Few of My Favorite Things: A Christmas Gift Guide for Toddlers

November 25, 2020
Christmas Gift Guide for Toddlers
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.

Check out my full list of gift guides here, including the perfect gifts to give to the Christian in your life.

Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table

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!

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Anti-Inflammatory Diet Recipes

Anti-Inflammatory Diet Holiday Side Dish Round Up

November 16, 2020
anti-inflammatory holiday meals

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:

  1. Start the day with fitness: consider getting the family outside for a touch football game or even a 5k walk or run.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Brussel Sprouts

GF, DF Cornbread with Paleo/Keto options

I’ll be making this fresh salad with kale, pears, cranberries, fresh beets, quinoa, goat cheese, walnuts:

Grain-free Paleo “Cornbread” Stuffing

Dairy-free Paleo Mashed Potatoes

Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary + Bacon

A friend sent this to me – this dish looks so beautiful! Had to share it here:

Paleo/Whole 30 Gravy Recipe

GF Turkey + Cranberry Sauce

GF, Dairy-free Mac & Cheese

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!

https://deliciouslittlebites.com/honey-garlic-green-beans/?utm_campaign=tailwind_tribes&utm_term=675591940_26753348_285899&utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest&utm_content=tribes

Anti-Inflammatory Diet Holiday Desserts:

AIP Baked Apples

Keto, Vegan, Paleo Pumpkin Pudding

AIP Keto/Paleo/Vegan Apple Pie Bars

I am absolutely planning on making these pumpkin pie truffles from fellow faith blogger Jenny at Wholesome Family Living: AIP/Vegan/Paleo Pumpkin Pie Truffles

GF Sweet Potato Pie w/Pecan Crust

I hope this is helpful to you as you are crafting your Holiday menus this year! Don’t forget to check out some of my favorite anti-inflammatory meals that the whole family can enjoy.

Happy Holidays!

If you’re looking for simple anti-inflammatory meals that you can make on a weeknight for the whole family, check out my 7-Day Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Plan & Guide!

how to get my kid to eat better
Activities & Crafts

Outer Space Activities for Your Future Astronaut

November 11, 2020
outer space activities for your future astronaut

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!

Also, don’t forget to check out this Astro-Mom’s Gift Guide for the Best Gifts to Buy on Amazon for Your Space Loving Kid as well as this week’s devotional on Lessons I’ve Learned About God From Space.

Space Activity #1: Marshmallow Constellations

Supplies: 

  • Mini marshmallows 
  • Toothpicks 
  • Black paper
  • Chalk
  • Scissors
  • Tape
Finn’s astronomical sign, Libra.

Instructions:

  • Find a constellation you want to re-create. Here’s a link with 15 simple constellations.
  • For younger children, you may want to trace the constellation first 
  • The marshmallows are each a star in the constellation and the toothpicks are the invisible lines that connect the stars to create the constellation
My attempt at my astronomical sign, Sagittarius.

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Devotionals for Moms

What I’ve Learned About God from Outer Space

November 11, 2020
What I've Learned About God from Outer Space

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.

lessons from outer space
My space-loving son, Finn (4)

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky displays what his hands have made.”

Psalm 19:1

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.

Our solar system is massive. Our sun alone can fit a million earths inside of it – and it is a relatively average-sized star!

Actual image of our sun, with Venus (which is roughly the same size as Earth) passing in front of the sun. Venus is the small black dot in the upper left corner of the sun. Photo courtesy of NASA/SDO

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.

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Gift Guides

Astro-Mom’s Gift Guide: Best Gifts to Buy on Amazon for Your Future Astronaut

October 26, 2020
gifts for your future astronaut

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.

It’s that time of the year when we’re starting to plan for Christmas! If you have a space-obsessed little one like me, I have TONS of gift ideas for you to save you time and energy so you don’t have to do all the searching and researching that I’ve already done. Here is this astro-mom’s gift guide to buying the best gifts for your future astronaut or budding astronomer!

For more gift guides, check out my list of gifts to give to the Christian in your life as well as a few of my favorite toddler gifts!

View the full list of recommendations on Amazon here.

Astronaut Suit + Helmet

What’s an astronaut without his/her suit?! This is a staple item in Finn’s wardrobe. There are weeks when I’ve had to wait for Finn to go to swim class to wash it because he wouldn’t take it off!

Recently, Finn learned that astronauts wear their orange suits for launches and landings – apparently, this makes them easier to spot if they have to make an emergency crash landing (yikes!). He’s informed me that he “needs” an orange astronaut suit in his wardrobe.

So, what does an astronaut wear when they’re just hanging out in the space station? Or when they’re back on earth, doing regular earthling things like eating breakfast or playing with their monster trucks? They gotta have their official NASA shirts, obviously.

Finn has several astronaut t-shirts, but his favorite is an Old Navy NASA tank top that was handed down to us by a friend. But here’s some super sweet tees for your space obsessed kiddos. I’m partial to the retro NASA t-shirt – if I had a daughter, I’d totally get the “Forget princess, I want to be an astronaut” shirt!

Space LEGOs

These are some of Finn’s favorites. If your kid loves space AND LEGOs, there are tons of options here. Finn loves his Mars Rover and Space Shuttle LEGO sets. If we had unlimited patience (and an unlimited budget) we would get the International Space Station and Saturn V rocket sets as well.

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Chronic Pain Tips

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 Tips Devotionals for Moms

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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