Chasing After Unseen Glories

I am a believer in Jesus Christ. I have claimed him as my Lord and Savior. So if I acknowledge this truth to the world, shouldn't it be shown ... a lot? Not just on those good days when things are running seamlessly. No. Every day. Every hour. Every minute. Goodness, it's hard, I can tell you. We live in a sinful, "me-centered world" and yet we're expected to be blameless? Well, yes.


The word "humility" has been a repeating thought in my mind. It is the opposite of pride. So many times pride is the origin of many sins. It makes me think about the first act of sin, Eve wanting to be like God (pride) so she acted on it. Isn't this exactly what we do in a sense? Disobey to satisfy? Dishonor Him for our honor? What are our actions portraying? Humility or pride?

Sin is satisfying our inner-most desires and wants. It can also be seen as using all our energy to pull the world's attention on ourselves or accomplishments more than directing them all to Christ. I am guilty of this. 

Humility is different. If we can just turn our attention on God, fully, we begin to shrink. And ultimately, if we continue in this pattern, our sin will shrink too. Where's your focus these days?

Humility sees God as our everything. 

Humility fills us up with the goodness of Christ until there is nothing left of me. 

Humility opens the door to the hearts of others and to the heart of God. 

Humility places God first and everything else in its proper place. 

Humility is the awareness of my complete brokenness. I have nothing to give and God has everything to offer. 

Humility is chasing after unseen and insurmountable glories of heaven instead of temporary accolades on earth. 

Humility is knowing I have nothing to prove to this world, but Christ crucified. 

My prayer for you and me is that humility defines us. Day in and out. Each moment. Each circumstance. Each tear, struggle, ache and wound will result in a beautiful act of humility through you and me. 

I want to change my little corner of the world. I want to make my life count for Him.

God blesses those who are humble,     
for they will inherit the whole earth.


My Job, Learning Curves and How I Almost Quit...

Recently I returned to work as a nurse after staying home for over a decade to raise our boys. My brain has been on constant "learning mode" the last several months as I have had to refresh my nursing skills and medical knowledge. "Learning curve" is a word I have used almost daily when I talk about my new job.

But ironically there is another job I'm working at lately. It's not a new one, but one with a learning curve that goes far beyond the nursing one. Many days I am frustrated and clueless of how it works... and I'm not catching on very well. A couple times I have just wanted to quit.

Today I stumbled on this quote from Francis Chan and it has broken me. Ultimately, I have allowed the stresses of life and even silly circumstances to dictate my behavior, in a negative way. Some days I could even say my love for others and God appears like it has dwindled down to not much of anything. This quote started as a blog post that was intended for my readers to get a "lesson"... but through many edits, tears and confessions... I know God placed this quote before me, for me.

       I am simply to love.

Love should illuminate from every word I speak, every action I take. And not just when the moment feels right or when things are going my way. Not just when bank accounts are full or when life is in perfect order... not only then. But in times of hurt and disorder and despair. When I'm completely lonely, misunderstood or wrongfully accused. When no one cares to think of me or when I'm the one left out and unnoticed. Yes, even then, I'm suppose to be about love. Showing and doing it.

It's a full time, divine occupation.

This job of loving needs to be done when it feels uncomfortable and messy inside. You may know what I'm talking about. When things aren't done our way, we start to get that weird feeling that we know isn't right, but something in us doesn't want to stop it's momentum and we end up saying what feels perfectly justified - to us - regardless who gets hurt. That's pride and selfishness winning. Not love.

Clocking-out shouldn't be a choice with this job. Signing up for a quick get-away and retirement aren't healthy options.

But I'm slowly learning. Slowly.

I'm learning that real love isn't dependent on the circumstances going on around it. It supernaturally rises above. It stays on track regardless of the turbulent winds whipping all around it.

And it goes even deeper.

In 1 John 4:18 it says... 
God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
When I do things opposite of love it is tied to fear. If I can get to the point of understanding where I stand in God's view -- I am His daughter and am completely loved by Him -- I have nothing to fear. Those things that brought me fear, then anger or pain are seen differently now because when I am in Christ, all fears are gone. And when I can grasp and grow from that, I can then shrug off my angst and start to be love and do love.

Practicing real love starts from truly knowing Jesus and what He is about. His character is grace, mercy and abiding love for us, his children. We need to let this truth steep long into our souls. Once we understand how much he loves us regardless of our messes and inadequacies, we can turn around and do the same to the world around us.

This job of loving is continuous and will always be a learning curve for me. I'm grateful for a God who not only erases my sins, but also helps me erase the fears that blind me to what real love is.

Do you have fears that are hindering you to truly love like Christ? Ask God to help you identify and confess them and then move to a place of grace, mercy, and pure love.


Pacific Beach Peanut Butter Review

I absolutely love peanut butter. Not only do I love the taste, but I love getting a nice amount of protein from a "non" animal source... LOVE!

So I was naturally overjoyed when I was asked to do a review on not one, but three kinds of peanut butter from Pacific Beach Peanut Butter company. I was asked to pick two "flavors" (yes, they have flavors!) of their 8 kinds of peanut butter and also was sent the organic unsalted to try as well. The two flavors I picked were a Touch of Caramel and White Chocolate.

{Organic, Unsalted}
This was not my favorite. It was nice and the texture was fine, but I do prefer salted peanut butter over unsalted... so that was my only issue with this particular peanut butter. And no artificial ingredients... that's always a plus! It spread nicely and wasn't too dry, but again, give me a little salt. Although I don't give this a great review, I do believe this particular one would be a great option for a recipe that calls for a nut butter or would absolutely fabulous in my Apple Pie Smoothie. 

{Touch of Caramel}
I love the idea of caramel married to peanuts. This flavor was my first, hands down pick. Caramel is one of my favorite flavors. But before I even tasted this, I peeked on the back for the list of ingredients and found the dreaded word... "artificial". BOO. I went ahead and tasted it and must say the beginning "notes" were nice, but my taste buds can usually detect artificial anything... and the end "notes" detected it. Maybe it was mental. I don't know, but I was a tad disappointed.

{White Chocolate}
Now this was fun! Everything I thought it could be. Creamy, sweet and definitely has a nice taste of white chocolate. I did enjoy this one. But again, I cringed when I saw more "artificial" stuff on the back *insert sad face*.

My advice? Choose the organic salted! It would be perfect on bananas, apples, swirled in Greek yogurt or with just a spoon. I love simple and natural ingredients and that's what this kind will have. If you want to use it in baking recipes or my preference, smoothies, go for the unsalted. The other flavors that I would also recommend and without artificial ingredients are:
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter
  • Chocolate Raspberry Peanut Butter
  • CinnaYum Peanut Butter

Pacific Beach would like to offer you, my readers, a chance to try their peanut butter for free when you purchase one. From now until 4/15 if you purchase a jar you get one free. Add your chosen FREE jar to the cart along with the rest of your order for the discount to apply. Use OFFER CODE: blogger03 at check out to redeem your special offer.



Natural Remedy for Croup {Plus an Easy Chest Rub Recipe}

I have been blessed with four, very healthy sons. Aside from the occasional, short-lived low-grade temp or common headache, my boys are rarely sick. Seriously... (knock-on-wood) we don't get the flu, strep or even the common cold. But there is one thing that all four of my children have gotten a time or two, usually at the change of seasons... CROUP.

For my kids, they can be completely fine and out of nowhere, the horrid barking sound comes in the wee hours of the night. It truly is a terrible thing to experience to see your child straining for a breath. Being a nurse still never prepares me for dealing with a croupy child.

In years past I did the "mainstream" treatments recommended by many. Take the child into a bathroom with hot shower running to breath in the moist air. If that doesn't work, take the child outside. If those don't work, a trip to the emergency room is usually needed. We've done that a time or two!

But thankfully as I've grown in my knowledge of all-natural health and wellness, I now have discovered "the best" remedy for croup... finish reading here.


Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

Squash has never appealed to me. Summer, acorn, butternut. It just doesn't do it for me. Maybe it's from the mission's trip I took to Africa the summer of '95 where we at a huge squash casserole for dinner one night. I'm sure the goat's milk mixed in didn't help things, but still. Not a fan.


A friend of mine from college posted a picture on Instagram of a butternut squash soup... and it looked pretty good. She sent me the recipe and on to the weekly meal plan it went. In the produce section I tried to figure out which of the squashes looked best... well, actually all of the large, gangly nude-colored fruit didn't look the least bit attractive to me. But as I placed it in my cart, a feeling of pride rushed over me. Like, "Hey, look at me and my squash!"... "I'm making something really healthy this week." No one seemed to care.

The crazy fruit sat on my counter for a little while. I kept looking at it... sometimes touching it, but my excitement for the soup waned. I was intimidated by it. I had cooked with one before, but if I remember, it didn't turn out well. So I didn't have high hopes for this one either.

So the squash soup day came. I still wasn't excited. Even in fancy restaurants when the soup du jour is some kind of squash soup, I immediately dismiss trying it. But I was already committed so onward  I went.

Needless to say, I loved it! This soup is very earthy, sweet, yet salty... just nice. Hope you take a risk and try it too!

Butternut Squash & Carrot Soup
adapted from About.com's Savory Butternut Squash & Carrot Soup

2 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cup carrots, diced
1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced
5 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup almond milk, original (not sweetened)

1. Saute onions in olive oil for 5 minutes over medium-low heat. Add carrots and cook another 5 minutes. 

2. Add squash and broth and stir. Cover and let simmer for 25 minutes until squash is soft. 

3. With a large slotted spoon, gather the solid parts of the soup and add to food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. (You may add some of the broth if the mixture is too thick).

4. Pour pureed contents back into pot and add almond milk. Stir and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. 

Optional: add plain greek yogurt for extra flavor. 



How To Love Your Husband... Dirty Toilets and All

I remember that day so vividly. It was a day of revelation for me. I was pregnant, homeschooling our two sons with a toddler under toe and trying to keep our house tidy for the sporadic showings we had while our little ranch was for sale. Life was so busy and my temper was unpredictable. You know that phrase, "If Momma ain't happy..."?? You know the rest... that was me.

This day in particular, I was cleaning a mess my hubby made. OK, let me just be honest, it was his toilet. At the time, we had two separate bathrooms. As I was on my knees, working up a sweat with my big belly in the way, my thoughts started down that dangerous spiral: from accusation to anger and from anger to bitterness. If you could take a peek into my mind, it would not have been pretty.
Why am I cleaning his mess? Can't he just do this one little thing? Doesn't he understand all that I do? He is so selfish. I don't deserve this. This is so unfair. I am so unappreciated. 
And then out of the blue, like a gentle tap on the shoulder, I felt the unmistakable whisper of the Holy Spirit...

Finish reading here...


5 Easy Ways to Find Real Foods in Real Life

Eating real foods doesn't need to be complicated. Cooking meals from scratch is easily looked at as unusual nowadays. I think our society -- in terms of eating real foods -- has been swept over by the idea that food has to be fast and convenient. We should always try to make meal and food choices  that will benefit us in the long run.

photo credit
We take great care and attention to our yards, cars and even our Pinterest boards. So why don't we take extra care of our bodies that God has entrusted us with? Healthy can be easy. It can be convenient and fast. I think it's the preparation and buying choices at the store that need more attention.

For the most part we know that real foods are those things that greet us in the produce area of the grocery store... that's a given. Those vibrant colors stand out and we know that they exude nutrients and life to our cells. Then sometimes it gets tricky as we wander through the other aisles.

Finish reading here for discover 5 easy facts in your quest to finding real foods.


Only the BEST Chicken Salad...

When it comes to eating chicken salads, I tend to be quite picky. I'm a chicken-salad snob, you could say. I rarely ever eat it out because it just doesn't measure up... I know, I'm a snob. 

There are several things that make the perfect chicken salad for me and they are...

First, it has to be chunky. No shredded chicken for me! I love chewing into each bite of chicken and the chunkier, the better! Next, it can't be too wet with mayo. I don't want a soupy chicken salad on my hands... literally! Just enough to bring all the ingredients together is perfect-o! 

Last, but certainly not least... in a word: curry. It must have curry in it. Not the spicy green kind, but the sweet and mild yellow kind. My dear friend went to Uganda several years ago and had some meals prepared with a certain curry she loved. Time went by and she thought about how good that curry was and wished she could find what kind it was. {You could find us sitting in her kitchen talking for awhile about finding that curry, matter of fact.} Luckily for her AND me, she knew someone going back to Uganda and sure enough, they found the curry and brought her back some... pictured below. I now have a nice stash of it in my pantry and is by far my favorite spice on earth. 

 So without further adieu, my favorite chicken salad in the world... Curried Chicken Salad.
2 cups of cooked, roughly chopped chicken (breast, preferably)
2 stalks of celery (use fresh celery, by the way), sliced
3/4 cup Craisins
1/4 cup all natural, chopped walnuts
3 heaping tablespoons of mayo with olive oil
2 teaspoons of yellow curry powder
2 tablespoons of sweet pickle juice (no pickles, just the juice!)

Stir all together and serve on toast or over mixed greens. 

What does your chicken salad have to have in it??


Where to Go From Here: Post Raw Challenge

So the day has arrived. Day 10. I seriously didn't think this day would come, did you?

So how did you do? Did you survive? I hope so. But even more than that, I hope you thrived!

One thing I learned (from many things) during this challenge was how little food I actually need in a day. I do know that I go to food when I'm bored or stressed. It's definitely a comfort thing for me. But through this time, I realized how much life going on around me and during these 10 days I was more involved in life. Food was not my focus.

I am so happy with how my body responded to this challenge. Here are just a few things that changed over the last 10 days.
  • clearer skin
  • whiter sclera (white part of eye)
  • zero headaches (only on detox day!)
  • no brain fog; great ability to concentrate and finish tasks
  • zero moodiness 
  • slept like a baby
  • woke refreshed 
  • dropped some stubborn old pounds :) 
  • more energy
 So where do we go from here, my faithful raw foodies? Here are a few ideas for all of us.

1. Start slowly. Incorporate other foods in slowly very slowly. I can't stress this enough. For the first few days, keep raw foods in your diet. Maybe add in vegetable soup, salad with grilled chicken or yogurt with fresh fruit and granola on day one? I would not eat a lot of heavy foods (ie: high fat, sugary things... red meats, cakes, buttery things - I don't really recommend those at all, but particularly now). You digestive system will not respond well to junk, especially now. Seriously, we did this challenge to kick start us onto a better, vibrant you so don't throw that new you away! Your digestive system has been cleaned out more than likely during this challenge so don't dump garbage back into it!

2. Chew, chew chew! Digestion starts in the mouth. The more you chew the more nutrients will get absorbed before getting into your stomach. Make foods almost liquid before swallowing. This alleviates your body from working hard to digest and using energy you need for other things in your life. This is something all of us need to work on. We live in a super fast society. We need to learn to sit and slow down in many ways, eating is one!

3. Don't stop raw. Just because we're done does not mean we turn our backs on these glorious foods. They are full of life and nutrients and energy and so on. So try your best to keep them a constant thing in your daily lives. Even if it's an apple here, mango on a salad or a fun smoothie when you need a sweet thing.

4. Listen to your body. When you are satisfied NOT FULL, then stop. Who came up with the idea that we should stop eating when we're full? Can't we just be satisfied? Portions are one of my downfalls. I may be eating great things, but if I over indulge, what's the point? So eat to satisfy not to fill you up. Use small plates. Stop going back for more and don't use food as a crutch.

5. Don't beat yourself up if fall off the wagon! We are human. We have weaknesses and temptations. If you fall off the wagon, brush yourself off and start over and keep your goals in mind. Remember how great you felt during this challenge and move forward! Hey, if you survived this challenge, I know you have it in you!!!

6. Remember I'm here! That's why I started this blog, to encourage others to eat and live well. I'd love to help you figure out more of where to go from here if you need help! I'm just an email away!!

You did! I'm so proud of you! Thank you for taking this exciting journey with me. And meet me back, same place, same time next year!!!

I'd love to hear how your challenge went! Please leave me a comment with how this challenge was a help or positive thing for you! This will also help me as I prepare for another one next year :)


Apple Pie Smoothie

So today is Day 5 of my raw food challenge. I am amazed that I've made it this far. It hasn't been easy, but knowing I'm not alone makes this journey much easier. I love getting texts and messages from all of you. You have encouraged me and I couldn't have done this without all of you!!!

So this evening, I was going to make this yummy carrot and sweet potato soup... but when I opened my container of sweet potatoes, they were yucky. I was bummed so next on tap was to experiment with this smoothie and it worked... thankfully!!

This was quite filling with the almond butter and flax seeds.

Apple Pie Smoothie

2 large apples, any kind (I used my favorite, gala)
1 ripe banana
1 T almond butter
1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
1-2 T ground flax seeds
3 Medjool (pitted) dates
2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or any plant-based milk)
large glass of ice cubes
handful of spinach (optional)

Blend until smooth.


Raw Food Recipe Links...

Here is a list of recipe indexes from different sites. I hope this helps you while on the challenge.

The Rawtarian

This Rawsome Vegan Life

Julie's Raw Ambition

The Best of Raw Food

Really Raw Food

The Raw Chef

Ani Pyho

Sweetly Raw

Young on Raw Food


Raw Desserts by Karolina Eleonora

Raw Detox :: Ugh!

If you are joining me for the raw food challenge, we are now on day 2. Which means our bodies are just now figuring out what is going on. It's not getting that huge cup of coffee with left-over Christmas creamers and lots of sugar. For me, it's not getting my usual egg fried in coconut oil and gluten-free cinnamon raisin bread. Boo!

Detox happens when you stop giving something to your body that it's use to. Then a process occurs of toxins and bacteria getting pulled out of cells and dumped into the bloodstream. Usually symptoms are different for each body. If you eat a fairly healthy diet, your symptoms may not be as severe as someone who is hopping in the drive-thru lanes a few times a week.

So today on day 2 your body may be achy. Headaches may be on tap. You also may have low energy levels. There is a possibility you may have a slight fever and chills. But don't fret because this is actually normal and good. It is a sign that what you did yesterday is effective and the good is taking over the bad. This will probably only last a day and then you will start to feel incredible which amazing energy, clear thoughts and a great mood.

So in the mean time, here's what you need to do.
  • Drink plenty of water to further the process of your body detoxifying itself. Aim for at least 2 quarts. The more you drink, the more you will speed up the detoxification process.
  • If you're a coffee drinker like me, switch to a lot of warm herbal teas to help get your water intake while giving you a little something sweet (stevia) at the same time.
  • Continue to eat raw foods. You may not feel hungry today, but keep aiding the process of putting in good. Soon your body will soon recognize what you're up to and get with the program too. 
  • Rest when possible. Your body is going through quite a process. So if you can, lay low and rest. Doing activity won't hurt you, but listen to your body's signals and if you need to rest then do it!
  • Take a epsom salt bath. Magnesium sulfate is the main ingredient in epsom salt and there is research that proves that epsom salt bath's actually aid in the detoxification process. According to Discovery Fit and Health... Magnesium helps keep your bodily functions running smoothly, including some of the pathways that lead toxins right out of your body. Sulfate helps to strengthen the walls of your digestive tract so that it's easier to release toxins. As a compound, magnesium sulfate also raises the amount of digestive enzymes in the pancreas. The compound also helps in purifying and detoxifying your body of heavy metals. You can read more here
So keep doing what you are doing. Don't give up. Today might be a hard day, but once you get past it, we will start to feel amazing! Hang in there, good things are on their way!


Let's Raw'k n' Roll!

You will never achieve optimum health unless a portion of your diet comes from real, unadulterated food!

Today is the day! Are you ready to raw'k n' roll?

I enjoyed some ice cream and a pizza casserole (gluten-free, mind you) last night as my "last supper". My stomach's churning as I type... it's like it knows I'm about to embark on something better than what just entered it. 

I am so happy you decided to join me on this challenge. Let me just remind you of what you are about to do to your body or not going to be doing to your body during these next ten days. It's going to love you for it! 
  • Cooking food causes chemical changes that create acidic toxins, including the carcinogens, mutagens and free-radicals associated with diseases like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and cancer. Cooking also destroys the live enzymes that aid in digestion and health. 
  •  Enzymes are the power of life. They are living forces that conduct and direct every activity in your body. Enzymes digest or break down raw foods. Eating an enzyme-rich diet is thought to increase vitality and slow the aging process. Enzymes can even help repair our DNA.
  • One of the most important benefits of a raw food diet is that it is "alkaline forming." The standard American Diet (SAD) is an "acid-forming" diet, which leads to disease. Your body is actually sort of an alkaline battery, running on electrons. All life-giving chemical reactions only happen when electrons or energy flows between atoms. Raw foods contribute electrons/energy, and are called alkalizing.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables will increase the vitamins and micronutrients in your diet and you'll feel the difference immediately.
  • When you eat raw fruits and vegetables, you’re getting the benefits of their high water content, which helps to suppress appetite. People who switch to eating mostly raw foods often have an easier time controlling their weight.

Example shopping list for stocking a raw food kitchen: 

1. Seeds - Such as pumpkin, sunflower, or chia seeds (seeds are more affordable than nuts)
2. Basic nuts -  Such as almonds, walnuts or pecans (can usually substitute these for one another)
3. Creamy nuts - Such as cashews or macadamia nuts (creamy nuts are more expensive and should be used sparingly if you're on a budget)
4. Sea salt
5. Spices - Cinnamon, Italian spices, Cumin, Cayenne pepper, Curry powder (buy as needed)
6. Olive oil - Or another oil
7. Apple cider vinegar
8. Garlic
9. Flax seeds - Used as binding agents in many recipes to hold food together
10. A concentrated natural sweetener - Such as agave nectar or stevia
11. Nori rolls - Sheets of seaweed to make sushi-type rolls
12. Dates - Medjool are best, be sure to remove the pits (dates are used as natural sweeteners)
13. Bananas - Add creaminess and sweetness
14. Apples
15. Avocados
16. Lettuce
17. Tomatoes
18. Cucumbers
19. Onions
20. Your favourite fruits or vegetables - Such as fresh pineapple, kalamata olives, celery, kale, strawberries and/or grapes or whatever you like!

Ideas/recipes & videos:

Pineapple Strawberry Sorbet 

How to make a green smoothie with any blender

Blackberry Lime Sorbet

Carrot and Ginger Dressing

Raw Food Salad Dressings

5 Easy Raw Salad Dressing Recipes 

Fully Raw Kristina

What does it mean to be fully raw? FAQ

Enjoy this first day of the challenge. Don't let negative thoughts enter your mind. Don't let that little voice creep in and say, "You can't do this". You can do this even when your mind is saying you can't. It's a challenge because it's something that doesn't come natural. But I know you can do it, and down deep, you know you can do it too!

  "Every disciplined effort is met with multiple reward."