Monday, September 22, 2014

A Learning Circle

We are about to enter my favorite season of the year. FALL.

Really, I love all the seasons. I love the change, the newness, the hope that is easier to feel, the weather, etc. You could say I am adaptable, and I am, but there is a predictability to the change because I expect it and want it. I think I just need change sometimes. It gets me out of a rut and moves me into the more that I desire.

But there is something about fall. The crisp mornings and warm afternoons. The bright blue sky. The crunch of leaves under my feet. Apples. Pumpkins. Mums, oh how I love mums. Decorating for the season. Baking lovely smelling loaves and muffins that fill me with joy. It is a generous season, one that people are thinking about others a little more. Or at least that is the way I want to live in this season.


But, this time last year was one of the hardest seasons. You can read about it here. It was hard. And a year later, it is hard to avoid the thoughts of "what could have been". It was a hard Fall season. But there were good things in it, too. My sweet class of 16 four year olds that greeted me every day made it a lot easier. Our church family, boy do I love them, and they have loved us fiercely through it all.

And now, this fall season does not seem any easier than last fall. Actually, it is hard to see the hope some days. And not just with infertility, though that is always there, every day. My health has been something of concern this summer. What I thought was just a pinched nerve or inflamed muscles in my back that was causing my hands and arms to be numb...well, that has turned out to look more like MS (Multiple Sclerosis). My doctor has not diagnosed me yet, but he is testing for it in every way possible. I feel like a lab rat most days. I have 3 more weeks of testing and labs before the final diagnosis will take place. And y'all, the waiting is so hard. The unknown is terrible. And reading about it on the internet....well, you can just forget feeling normal after all of that mess! I feel ok most days, I feel like I can do this and can live a somewhat normal life through this. Right now the only symptom I have is numbness in my hands, which is not debilitating right now and I can do just about everything I could do before July (when the symptoms started). Some days are harder than others. Some days I am really tired. I am longing for some good news, y'all. Something that will make this season a little lighter, a little less hard, a little more joyful.

Our pastor has us thinking about a few things this week. He challenged all of us in our small group (or we call it a Huddle) to think about how we process things. So I decided to share how I am processing all of this here. He gave us this diagram called a Learning Circle (from 3DM ministry):


A kairos is a moment in time appointed by God. A moment where you know God is speaking and moving us to action. So, the learning circle is a way to process a kairos moment. We have been asked to process something in our life through the learning circle. So, my kairos moment is deciphering what God is saying through all of this. But also knowing I have to TALK to people about it. I have to share what is going on in my life. I cannot just act like everything is ok, but I have to share how I am really doing.

Observe: What is happening? How am I responding? What am I feeling?
I am being tested for MS. This is hard. I don't know what to think or feel some days. I feel like running away from my life sometimes...but that seems too dramatic. I am responding by going through the motions, by doing what I am supposed to do. I am listening to the doctors, to people who have been through the same testing process, to people who have MS. I am waiting. I am feeling scared. I have some hope in there, too, though. My sweet husband is holding out on hope, and that makes me hope a little more. He prayed the other night about God being able to stop all of this with just ONE word. God is that powerful. He spoke the world into being. He made Adam from dust. He can make all of this go away. I am holding on to this truth right now. And that feels a little lighter than holding onto this disease-burden. I also know that by sharing this news with others, I am not carrying the burden on my own. I am allowing others to carry it with me. And that helps a lot.

Reflect: What is God saying to me about this? What has Jesus done about this? Who am I in light of what God has done, and in light of what God says?
I have not heard one way or another from the Lord about the MS, but I know He has asked me to share about it. I know Him to be good and faithful and true through all things. He has specifically asked me to tell certain people, and that has been hard. Mostly because I am a caretaker. I take care of other people and to have those roles reversed seems foreign. I know these truths from God's Word:

1.     Psalm 68:19 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.
2.    Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Discuss: How does God bring a new perspective? What is God calling me to respond to Him?
I think the new perspective has come by sharing the things in my mind out loud--they become more real, but a little less scary. Saying I may have MS has a weight to it, but somehow when the words are out of my head and out of my mouth, there is a weight that is lifted off me. In sharing about it, I am less alone. I am more in communion with others. I am where I am supposed to be. I am NOT alone. He is calling me to draw close to Him, share my life with others, be vulnerable and real. And it all goes back to being INTENTIONAL. Funny how things circle back around.

Plan: How will I respond?
I have been called to share my life with others. Through discipleship, through relationships. I do not have to be afraid of sharing my weaknesses. When I am weak, He makes me strong. I will share with  people (even people here on my blog), because sharing life is important. It is what makes us real, human, accountable. I need other people, too. I really need people to surround me, give me encouragement, and listen to me. I can receive from others. I will receive from others. 
So, this week, if my Bible study girls have not already read this and know, I will share with them. I will let them know what the past few months have been like. I knew I was supposed to say something last week and I chickened out. I don't even know why. 
When people ask, I am going to tell them how I really feel. I will not dance around it. I will share. I will be open. I will be vulnerable. I am not alone in this. 

Accountability: Who is going to ask me if I follow through with my plan?
I know the Engineer will ask me. And I know my huddle folks will ask me next week.

Act: Just do it!
It takes courage for me to share these things. It takes courage to be vulnerable. I can sometimes do it behind a screen a lot easier than in front of people. I will do the things God has called me to do. And I know He will deepen relationships, establish new friendships and make a way for me. This is more than healing for my body, it is a healing for my heart, too. I will share my progress on the blog more often. I will let people know how I am really feeling.

 So, there it is. How I am really dealing. I don't want to be dealing with this, but it is part of life right now. I am so thankful for the family and friends how have supported me in this season. The cards in the mail and the sweet text messages brighten my day. I know the more I share, the more healing will happen. Healing for my heart and prayerfully for my body, as well. I am praying for restored hope in this season. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

(GIVEAWAY) Meaningful Entertaining...Made Simple

Many of us love decorating, cooking, making crafty things...if not all of these, then we at least enjoy one of these things! I know I love all of these things. I love having people over to my home, as well. It has become part of my life and a definite part of my heart to open my home to anyone and everyone that needs a place to be. Just BE.


I love hospitality. I believe I was made for it. But more than that, I desire to really love people the way the Jesus loves us. I want people to feel loved and at peace in my home. I pray that I can help women be able to open their homes, without worrying about perfection. Just being hospitable to their families, friends, neighbors, coworkers. I pray that through the use of these products, women can feel confident in their ability to entertain, to serve, and enjoy having people enter their homes. To love your neighbor as yourself.

Mary & Martha is my new company and they make products that give women the confidence to have people in their homes without the worry and fuss of "Is everything perfect??" "Do I have it all right?""Is everything in its place?", etc. I love these products, the message and purpose behind them, and the beauty they create when added to your home.

I am currently reading The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to be Beautiful by Myquillin Smith "The Nester" and it is so great at covering the topic of having your home be a place of ministry, a retreat space for you and your family, but also for your neighbors, friends, coworkers, etc. I actually found Mary & Martha through The Nester's blog and emailed a lady in the Atlanta area about being a consultant and 4 days later, I was signing up to sell the products myself! It has been 2 weeks and I am loving it!



The Engineer and I have been praying about what I should do during my "free" time right now. I am not going back to teaching the fall, but will stay home and "hopefully" have a foster child in our home soon. So, in all the praying, I knew I would want to stay close to home but also help to contribute financially to our household. And that same week was when I read about Mary & Martha! God knows what we need, exactly when we need it!

So, I am telling all of you about this because it matters to me. It matters to me that you would want to have people in your home. It matters to me that you wouldn't shy away from inviting people in. It matters to me that your home become a place of rest, peace and love for your family. It matters to me because I believe Jesus wants us to have that--no matter the size of our home, the amount of "stuff" we have, etc. He wants us to invite people in, share life with them, share Him with them, and love people right where they are. Jesus, himself, got to experience this in the home of Mary and Martha many times, the Bible tells us. He taught them, and He received hospitality from them. I love that.

I would love to help you. I would love to help you feel comfortable with having people come into your home! Visit my website, check out our products, let me know what you think by leaving a comment below with your favorite product! You will be entered to win this fabulous item: Mary & Martha's Medium Nested Market Basket! (This is one of my favorite pieces and a $46 value!!!)


If you would like to know more about the company, Mary & Martha, or would like to host your own gathering and earn FREE products, please contact me and me know! I would love to help you feel great about having people in your home! It is easier than ever to start your own business, as well! Business kits are being offered at 50% off right now through the end of this week!




Wednesday, June 25, 2014

On the menu tonight: Italian Sausage and Broccoli Pasta

I have been saving a few recipes, creating new ones and trying to live a healthier lifestyle this year. Well, since February. I have been on the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) Plan and it is definitely working for me! I could see myself living and eating this way forever! Here is a link to a few of their Featured Recipes!

Most of the recipes from now on will be healthier, trimmer, and made with a lot less sugar or carbs! The wonderful part of this plan is I never feel deprived, hungry or like I am missing out on things. I love eating this way and I especially love the way I feel! And just reading the testimonies every day online are so encouraging and keep me going! I am not just in this to lose weight (I have lost 24 lbs as of today! Slow and steady, but it's working!) but I am in this to be healthy! I am so thankful to have more energy and overall feel really great! My hormones are more in balance and my skin is clear!

I am also able to take recipes that I love, make a few tweaks and it works for THM! Here's what I am making tonight! This is an S meal if you're following THM. That means, it is a meal with low carbs (less than 6 grams digestible carbs) and high fat and protein.

Pasta is full of carbohydrates...and I love it soo much! But, there is a brand called Dreamfields out there that makes a low carb pasta that is amazing! I have never been able to tell a difference in the way it tastes! So, I used Dreamfields for this recipe. You can find it in the regular pasta aisle, in a black box.



Italian Sausage and Broccoli Pasta, S

1 lb package Dreamfields pasta, cooked (Rigatoni, Fusili, or Elbows)
4-5 sweet Italian sausage links, casings removed
1-2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint container grape tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups broccoli (steamed or blanched)
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
Red Pepper flakes, optional

Fry sausage in Olive oil until brown over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Throw in half of the grape tomatoes and let them cook down (4-5 minutes). Throw in second half grape tomatoes and all of broccoli. Add 1 tbsp Olive Oil, or more if you'd like, and toss everything around for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Toss sausage mixture with cooked pasta and add cheese! Enjoy this yummy dish without any guilt :)


*Variation: add more green veggies like zucchini or spinach to the dish!

Here is my Pinterest board of Trim Healthy Mama recipes! Hope this helps some of you!
Follow April's board Trim Healthy Mama on Pinterest.
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