Not learning History's lessons

I’m Afraid of Repeating History

Reading Galatians with my kids this morning I was struck at how little our world has changed, or learned, or progressed since the time of Jesus and Paul. All our various subjects seemed to align today with a message that I just feel pushed to share.

Paul writes that we must not allow ourselves to become “enslaved to so-called gods that have nothing of the divine about them….For that is exactly what you do when you are intimidated into scrupulously observing all the traditions, taboos and superstitions associated with special days and seasons and years.”  (Gal. 4:8,10 The Message)

A wide range of religions practiced in the past and today have these “scrupulous observance of traditions” do they not? Many government systems, many cultures, now and in the past have tied their people’s hands with tradition, so much so that they cannot see beyond them to the Christ-based truth.

Paul warns the Galatians that “These heretical teachers go to great lengths to flatter you, but their motives are rotten. They want to shut you out of the free world of God’s grace so that you will always depend on them for approval and direction, making them feel important.”

We discussed Communist Russia this week. Through our literature reading and culture studies, we again can see the fear mongering that becomes rampant in a society where suspicion is everywhere and one fears to speak against the political flow for fear they too will be arrested, persecuted or killed. We see a leader’s need for a dependent population, making the public feel that what is being done to them is in their own best interests, when clearly it is not.

Today, we often fear standing firm in our beliefs,  standing up for our right to disagree. We allow ourselves to be intimidated, stifled, silenced, shut down for fear of retaliation or retribution of some sort. I rarely post my political thoughts on social media, for fear of being attacked, laughed at, or beginning a heated debate between my liberal and conservative friends.

How is this living in the freedom Christ promises again and again? How is it living in faith that He protects His people?

I am not an overly political person, nor do I typically follow a  lot of current events. But this week has me scared. Scared for the future for my kids. Scared for the future for our country and our freedom. We cannot blind ourselves and think it is just a war across the ocean anymore; it is changing our lives, bit by bit, as fear creeps into our daily activities and actions, and into the actions of our political leaders.

We are afraid. Afraid to let our guards down and share our true thoughts. Afraid of being compassionate and helping a stranger on the street, or a refugee into the country.  Afraid of letting our kids walk to the bus stop without us. Afraid of leaving the house without a phone in case of emergency. Fear rules our daily choices, it governs our lives. They are winning. Like it or not, we are their slaves.

Paul tells the Galatians (Gal 5:1, 2, 4), Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery (or fear) on you. The moment any one of you submits to… any rule-keeping systems, at that same moment Christ’s hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace.”

Time has not changed this eternal, internal battle. Paul reminds us this by repeating the story of Abraham. One small act by a man tired of waiting for his personal promise from God to come true, still has consequences for my children today, as it has for all the generations from then until now.

The question is, while living in this modern age, an age of repeating history, and age of terrorism and fear, are we able to wait patiently in faith for the promises God has given to each of us? To not get impatient and force his hand by making rash choices and quick decisions? To stand firm in the faith that God has promised good to us, and that He will bring that promise to fruition?

Can our leaders, and all the leaders of the world, take time to think, to study, to learn, (to pray?) on what will be the right move? Can they allow themselves to not be harassed by the media into giving a quick sound bite answer, that they then feel bound to, for fear of looking dishonest? Can they make a choice today, and then confidently decide to change it tomorrow without being raked across the media’s coals? This is serious stuff!

We need to support the leaders, and pray for them, not do our best to tear them down. God sets rulers on the throne (or in the Oval Office). Our job is to support, uphold and pray fervently that they make wise decisions for us– both for right now and for future generations.

Fear gets us nowhere. Hate makes us bitter. The evil ones may have success for a time, but remember folks, we know the ending. It’s right there for all to read in Revelation (& Psalms & Isaiah & really, all over the Bible). 

In case you haven’t read it yet…God wins in the end. 

Can you live in faith, not fear, knowing the outcome? Can I? I believe He has promised good to me, but remembering that in the day-to-day decisions and moments of fear is tough. I work daily at living in faith and in the knowledge of His grace.

I encourage you to read Galatians 4 & 5 as a whole. There is much other to be gleaned from Paul’s words, that I cannot put into words. History repeats itself again and again. This is why we study it, or should. But when we are ignorant to the truth, miss the parallels, and refuse to see the comparisons, we only have ourselves to blame for the outcome.



repeating History




Look Straight Ahead

It’s been a bit of a rough week. We finished our second back to school week (after a long week & even some Saturday school), with more complaints and lectures than I would like for week 2. We haven’t settled into our schedule for this year yet, and its a rough transition from playing all day at the lake to sitting around doing spelling and math!

View East from Camp Skyland

Our Summertime Lakeside view

Week one went ok, but week two, ugh! Let’s just say I have high hopes for weeks 3 & 4! I’m looking forward to trying again, getting in the rhythm, and resetting after the bumpy week we just finished.

I am working hard at placing God in the forefront of our school. Beginning our day with Bible study time and stories has helped. We all start with some God time (and Mom gets a little mom time), and we just seem to start with a better frame of mind.

Honestly, we/I missed Bible time on Thursday because we decided to do a homeschool day at the local heritage museum somewhat last minute. Our day began a bit earlier than usual, and since we were in a rush, I didn’t take time to sit with God. Then I didn’t on Friday, or Saturday.

It makes a difference, y’all! 

I have felt a bit out of sorts. A bit lost. A bit unsure of where I was headed & why.

Now, to be fair it’s been a bit of a rough week emotionally. Friends of ours are watching their son fight through the last phase of an aggressive cancer. As a mom who has lost and grieves a child, my heart hurts. Hurts for them, for their other son, for their friends, for their son’s many many online followers. I hurt for their future, short term and long.

And this week, I’ve been led to read through Job, of all books. (Revisiting the themes of: Our days and months are determined, All life is in His hands, How do we even begin to ask for healing, and How does He destroy someone He has created?)  I’ve been a bit of an emotional mess, trying to maintain normalcy. That might have something to do with our rocky school week, I suppose. I guess maybe I need to have some grace days for mommy’s moods. Add in a few ‘Give myself a break and just feel’ days.

Cayden & Mom, Mother's Day 2005I just so miss my child, and hate for any other family to have to endure that burden. It weighs on my soul. This child is about the same age that Cayden would be if he were still with us. But this child was happy, healthy, normal… until the rare form of cancer attached itself to his neck. His parents have been fighting hard to keep his life more or less normal, to fight the good fight, but sometimes, God has other plans. Not that the end has been written for us to see yet, but it unfortunately seems that the cancer is winning.

From my perspective, I see that they have been blessed with time to share with their son. Time to say a long goodbye. Time to make and do a bucket list. Time to enjoy him one more day. Time that we were not given. It’s a two-sided sword, sudden vs. drawn-out ends.

At C's Balloon release, Miss Jackie shares the meaning of the Heaven Pillow

At C’s Balloon release, Miss Jackie shares the meaning of the Heaven Pillow

We were saved the choices, the mess, the seeing our child get sicker; we were given instead a sudden and unexpected end. No chance to say goodbye. No chance for a bucket list. No holding his hand at the end. Just an end.

Yes, read the bitterness in my voice. It plain out sucks. No one wants to outlive their child. To miss them day-to-day, everyday. I feel for them and their journey. It won’t be easy or smooth, that I know.

Still, I have chosen, in these past 8 years, in the day-to-day of missing my son, to make a  perspective change, and to look straight ahead. To look ahead to our Heavenly reunion, one that will last for an eternity. I hope to have a few more years before I get to that golden city, but that short wait will be nothing compared to the blessing of an eternity to spend with Cayden and our other children who are waiting there for us.

Straight Path in the woodsLooking straight ahead means keeping God’s words in the midst of my heart, for they are life to those who find them and health to all their body. (Prov. 4: 21-22).

Life and health I need, because grief can overwhelm. I know I still have a job to do here. I’m in the process of figuring it out what exactly it is, but the one thing I know is that I need to keep His Word in the forefront of my days, and in the midst of my heart.

Proverbs 4: 25 – 27 says,

Let your eyes look directly ahead

And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. 

Watch the path of your feet

And all your ways will be established;

Do not turn to the right nor to the left; 

Turn your foot from evil. 

Following the path

Looking straight ahead keeps us on the path God has established for us. To watch the path, to follow His ways, we can’t make a wrong turn.

He tells us in Proverbs 3:21-23 that if we

Keep sound wisdom & discretion, 

They will be life to your soul

And adornment to your neck. 

Then you will walk in your way securely

And your foot will not stumble. 

When you lie down, you will not be afraid;

When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. 

I’m writing this at 1:20 in the morning. I was not able to have sweet sleep tonight, and felt a pull to come and open my Bible, since I hadn’t this morning. This post is the result. When I’m walking in the way, my feet stay on the path of their own, His own, I should say, and I have a serenity I can’t explain. When I step off the path, I have rocky days, I stumble, I fall, I can’t sleep.

Keep the path. Look ahead, straight ahead. Eternity is not that far away. Make each day count, because you never know when will be the last day you have with someone you love. Make each day count for eternity’s sake.

Keep your eyes lifted to Him, straight ahead, to His heart.




As I wrote this post, my iTunes  was playing in the background. Somehow it was left on from when the kids were watching apple tv this afternoon. I couldn’t figure out how to turn it off, so I just left it playing. As I was typing Proverbs 4:25-27, this song began to play… Amy Grant, Straight Ahead

Straight ahead, I can see your light

Straight ahead, through the dark

Straight ahead, there’s no left or right

Straight ahead, to Your heart. 

Straight ahead. 

I think this is something God wants me to say!



(Sort-Of) Back-to-School

It’s (sort-of) Back to School Time! What does that mean? you ask. Well, it’s fall, so its full on Back-to-School sales (yay!). It’s back to fall sports (really? Soccer already?!!) It’s time to really be sure I have planned all our fall schoolwork. I’m mostly ready, but have a few things to finish and to account for what schoolwork we’ve done over the summer.

Wait a minute! Summer school? you ask. Yep! We had a super busy April-May and none of us felt like doing school any more. The kids had really mostly finished their math and spelling books, reading and writing were coming along and… well, everything else is in elementary school is just gravy, really, isn’t it?

Sky SwimSo I decided to try a summer school experiment this year, (with the kids’ fully on board). A bit of school here & there, (mostly in June & July). In between quite a few field trips and summer camps. Oh, and don’t forget our daily swim team practices.

Mainly we focused on beginning our history reading, keeping up with Devin’s Hooked on Phonics, working on fun math & some games.  It was light & mostly fluffy as we spent the month doing our unit on China. But, as usual for us, it dragged on beyond it’s scheduled 5-6 weeks, and we are still plodding along with one last reader, a few stories and folk tales, and half a read-aloud to go. Deadlines are hard to manage and stick to at God’s Path School, summer, fall OR winter!

I went with the summer school thing for a couple reasons. First, I just wanted to try it. To see if we could manage a year-round school experience. I found that the kids didn’t seem to mind too bad, as long as I didn’t ask too much of them. My goals were to at least do the first 6 weeks of history, so that during our regular school year we would be a bit less pressured to ‘fit it all in!’ (I’m sure none of you ever feel that pressure!)

(I call it the ‘Git-er-done’ need. The check-the-box need. The must-complete-the-book compulsion. I’m trying to break myself of this feeling, but it is so HARD! I like that box checked, that list ticked off and getting smaller. It makes me feel so HAPPY and so accomplished! )

I digress. The kids didn’t really seem to mind school this summer, but man, this MOM did! I hated having to keep reminding them to do school work before play. To have to sit with them and work while I would much rather have been getting my I’ll-do-it-in-the-summer list accomplished. (Yep! there’s another list again!) I would have much rather been sitting at the pool relaxing while they played, than trying to motivate the kids to read, spell or do math.

It became the school year that never ended. NOT a good thing in my mind, and I’m not sure it was not healthy for Skylar and her distractible tendancy as well. She really struggled with choosing to do school, rather than wiling the days away with her dolls and legos. & I struggled with forcing them to work because it was distracting for me as well! (She doesn’t get the distractibility from a stranger, folks!).

The current state of our schoolroom. Of course the kids wanted to re-arrange again this year, and I'm still trying to finalize choices for curriculum, reorganize and clean!

The state of our schoolroom. Of course the kids wanted to re-arrange again this year, and I’m still trying to finalize choices for curriculum, clean and reorganize!

The main problem for me in trying to school this summer, is that in my changing over from last year’s curriculum, to this year’s stuff, my schoolroom and half my house became a DISASTER. Book piles everywhere, trying to get sorted and organized, to be put in the garage so I know what I have and where to find it for the next time around. Deciding what to sell knowing I won’t use it again, and sorting through all the awesome deals I found at the end of year curriculum sales, that won’t be used for a year or two.

Sorting books in the foyer... at least they are not in the school room, but not where they need to be either!

Sorting books in the foyer… at least they are not in the school room, but not where they need to be either!

My schoolroom is still a mess, but gaining. My foyer is still a book repository, my garage is insane. But we got some of a headstart on history. (hear the load of sarcasm there). I’m pretty sure it wasn’t worth it, but by next spring I may feel differently.

Koala at the zoo

Snoozing Koala at the zoo

But, summer school does have it’s advantages. I like the unstructured learning fun of trips and camps, the learning while doing, the family togetherness. We’ve had a lot of fun adventures even if my to-do list hasn’t gotten shorter. And really, what is life as a parent if you aren’t having adventures, enjoying time with your kids, and being silly?! Learning takes place all over, and though I know our school is not meant to be in the unschooling style all year, I do enjoy the unstructured learning we get in summer.

Holding up the Balancing Rock

Holding up the Balancing Rock

Along with a few books, God’s Path Summer School also consisted of Nature Camp, AHG Camp & Bible Camp, VBS, Trips to the Zoo and Science Centers, Hiking and Camping, and Swim Team. I think we had our fill of extracurriculars!

A few Swim Team Ribbons

A few Swim Team Ribbons

Now we’re taking a break, a mini-vacation of sorts, before the reality of our fall schedule kicks back in, in early September. I realize that keeping a set, more regimented schedule each day works better for my kids. They know what to expect, what comes next, can sit and work in a better mode if we are not trying to “squeeze in” some school. Distractions aside, school works better for us.

Muddy Day at Nature Camp

Muddy Day at Nature Camp

Summer school experiment: I rate it a 5 for getting ahead, a 10 for fun extra stuff. Not sure I like it, not sure I hate it. What do you think? Have you tried Summer School? How does it work for your family?


Creating Critters at Camp Wannacombac

Creating Critters at Camp Wannacombac

Singing at VBS

Singing at VBS

Trip to the Strawberry Farm

Trip to the Strawberry Farm

Cowan's Ford Swamp

Back to Nature, Back to God

My kids have been at nature camps all week. When I was planning this week in April I thought it would be a great time to get SO. MUCH. STUFF. DONE! A week of a quiet house with no kids! However, I didn’t take into account the travel time, the short day for my little one & how if I left & went home, that left me only 2 chunks of 2 hours each day. Really not much time to accomplish much of anything besides an empty gas tank.

Cowan's FordAs a result, I decided to have my own nature camp! I stay at the park, walk a while, sit in a quiet spot with my Bible & enjoy studying with the sounds of nature as my background music. Right now I’m hearing birds, wind in the trees, crickets (& some distant traffic & airplane noise to round it out). My to-do list really isn’t getting any shorter, but this time spent in nature has been a much needed repite from the hustle of my never-ending list of daily household and homeschool chores.

My mini nature camp has given me some much needed time to reassess my priorities & remember what I’m trying to do and why. To remember for whom I run ragged & what needs to be done to rebalance my life, renew my heart & refresh my reasons for being.

I’ve been spending some quality time in my Bible, wading through some things as I’ve been studying. I’ll eventually share what I’ve been learning with you, after I process it and focus it a bit more. But the main thing I’ve learned, or perhaps re-discovered, or maybe been reminded of, is simply to put God first. Not just first in my life… no idols, no one above Him… but more importantly to NOT make excuses, to NOT just give Him the leftovers at the end of the day by a quick sleepy nighttime prayer, or a short pre-packaged devotion.

Just as we are robbing God if we choose not to bring the tithe to the storehouse, we are robbing God when we place Him after everything else on our schedule. We are robbing Him of our time, and robbing ourselves of time spent with the Creator! What a waste!

We need to give Him the morning glory, the first fruits of our days, then do our chores or schooling or whatever else comes next.

Psalm 119:97-104 reminds us:

O how I love Your law!

It is my meditation all the day.

Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies,

For they are ever mine.

I have more insight than all my teachers,

For Your testimonies are my meditation.

I understand more than the aged,

Because I have observed Your precepts.

I have restrained my feet from every evil way,

That I may keep Your word

I have not turned aside from Your ordinances,

For You Yourself have taught me.

How sweet are Your words to my taste!

Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

From Your precepts I get understanding;

Therefore I hate every false way.


By giving God the morning time, the open Bible at breakfast, we are actually giving ourselves a gift. It puts His word, His law, His commandments in our hearts where we can ponder it all day. How can we meditate on His word all day if we only open our Bibles in the evening? How can we truly understand it if we only think of it for a few minutes before we fall asleep?

If we only pray before a meal, we aren’t praying continuously. If we only read when we have a few spare quiet moments, we aren’t meditating, we aren’t gaining wisdom or insight or understanding that comes from thinking the Word throughout the day.

I have been motivated, inspired, and filled with a new hope and a new joy these days as I have fed myself God’s honey each morning. I’ve found a new direction that I truly believe is His plan for my future. I am full of anticipation and excitement as I start along this path, knowing it is where He wants me to go.


I hope you will join me as I eagerly take the next step,





A new vision of the son who went ahead…


As the years pass slowly by from the time of Cayden’s passing, my grief has begun to take on a different form. Well, perhaps not my grief, but my imaginings of my son.

Instead of imagining him as he was… wheelchair bound, deaf, and communicating with a computer, I now have lost that image in my mind somewhat.

Now, I see a healthy, tall, handsome, almost 12 year old boy, standing at the top of the stair steps that are my living children. Sometimes I feel his presence as we stand at church, and wish oh-so-much that I had a third hand to hold, a third blond head to pat (now almost as tall as me!) I understand now that the image of Cayden as he was… is slowly becoming Cayden as he is.

In Heaven we are promised perfect bodies. Not bodies that don’t work well. Not arms that twist funny because of mis-shapen elbows. Not ears that can’t hear with out cochlear implants, or a mouth that cannot speak because of muscular weakness.

In Heaven, we are promised perfect bodies. Strong healthy bodies. Bodies we cannot even imagine in their perfection. And if Cayden is in Heaven NOW, then NOW he has that perfect body. He IS that tall, handsome almost 12 year old boy. He IS that loving, gracious son I desperately miss. He IS singing praises to our creator, and hearing the angelic voices rise with his, at the actual foot of HIS throne.

Easter 2007So it makes perfect sense that my image of Cayden has changed. Morphed through time. I don’t imagine him at 12, curled in a wheelchair, with back and hip issues, eating through a tube, and possibly breathing through a trach, like so many of his 12 year old HPE friends. I cannot. That is not MY reality, nor is it Cayden’s reality.

I do remember him as he was… a bright, vivacious loving smiling four year old boy, just as I remember my daughter as she was… an adorable totally cute 2 year old girl, signing to her big brother. That is a lovely memory, but it is just that. A memory. A remembrance of how things were… not a reality of what they have become.

Instead, I have a complex daughter, who misses her big brother at times, and desperately wants him back. A daughter who was a sibling to a special needs child, (a tough job for sure), and has a vague recollection of that, but now she gets to see her mother grieve at strange and unexpected times, and feels it is her place to comfort me. I have a middle child, who was thrust into being the oldest against her will & her personality.

I also have a son, who is mad at the world that he didn’t get to meet his big brother. Who understands the story without a context, without really knowing what life was like back then. Who desperately wants to meet his big brother, but can’t begin to imagine what his life would be like if Cayden were still here.

Last Pics of CAnd I have a memory of a broken boy, who wanted so desperately to walk, to talk, and to run with his sister. Who is now running those fields of grace & streets of gold with the his miscarried siblings he alone gets to enjoy for now.

I look forward to our reunion. To hugging my first born son who is as tall and as strong as sons should be. A young man who is taller than his mom, and who looks after his siblings. God willing, that day will be here someday soon. Until then, I love on the kids I have with me, with so much love it hurts my heart at times.

My burden is sometimes hard to see, yet the image of Cayden is always there. The promise of a better place, a healing we cannot understand, and a future eternal with Christ and those we love.

2 Corinthians 5 :6-10, 17  teaches us that

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord,  for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

My imaginings are Biblical and they are real. They are the new reality I live within. That of missing my son daily, while each year changes the grief. It ebbs and fades, only to come crashing back at times like these. Tonight marks 7 years since I kissed him goodnight for the last time.



Super Fast & Easy Salads!

I love a nice fresh overloaded salad. And I don’t have a fully stocked salad bar in my home. So what’s a Trim Healthy Mom to do?! I found a way to always have fresh salad, without daily chopping, cutting & that time consuming preparation. It’s super fast, super easy & fairly inexpensive (it does not involve opening a pre-cut bag of salad either!)salad supplies for quick & easy salad

I shop at Aldi’s most of the time, so I will use them as an example. Buy a variety of packaged greens. I start with a  large container of Spring Mix, Baby Kale, Baby Arugula, Baby Spinach & 3 hearts of Romaine lettuce. Get whichever of these greens that you enjoy & can easily access. In a large re-sealable container, put a couple handfuls of each type of green in the bowl. Toss gently by hand.

chopped romaine makes a fast salad when mixed with spring mixNext, cut up one romaine heart (Cut it in about 3/4″ strips, then cut about 3x lengthwise to make nice bite-sized pieces.) Add more of each type of greens until your container is full without being packed. With the smaller containers shown, I used all the spring mix, about 1/3 of each of the other greens, and one chopped heart of romaine.

Cut up as much red or white onion as you like, several radishes & maybe some peppers. Add to the blend & mix gently again. Add other vegies if you like, (celery, carrots, green onions, shaved brussel sprouts), but don’t add things that spoil easily when cut like tomatoes, cucumbers, sprouts or mushrooms. This is your salad base. It’s great as is, and will stay fresh & crisp for several days.

Keep the remainder of the greens in their original containers. When the first bin is getting low, add a few more handfuls of each, and add another chopped up heart of romaine. Add a few more onion slices & some more radishes & you’re all set for several more days.

Chef salad: THM SBefore serving, I typically add several slices of cucumbers, some cherry tomatoes or tomato wedges, and possibly some mushrooms. For an S salad, I always add shredded cheese. For a dinner or lunch salad I might add some hard-boiled eggs (pre-boil 6-8 eggs when you have a few minutes one day) along with my lean protein (baked or grilled chicken leftovers, salmon, or deli meats like ham, turkey, roast beef.). I also will add left over steak, barbecue or any other meat that is cooked & in my fridge for a super fast dinner.

Another great satisfying meal is taco meat over salad. Then I’ll add avocado & tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream. Chipotle Ranch dressing makes it YUM! Wonderfully satisfying S meal! When I do this, I often make the tacos for the kids, & giant salads for myself & my husband. We all eat basically the same thing & everyone is happy!

IMG_6601Here’s my other big tip for an AWESOME salad. Keep a container full of plan approved salad toppings in a small tote. We have sunflower seeds, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp hearts, bacon bits, craisins and  croutons in a bin. Then on salad days, we just put that bin on the table & everybody tops as their little heart desires. We added lots of yummy goodness by this one simple tip, as we would always forget some of these goodies, or spend half the meal getting up and down chasing after sunflower seeds, or hemp hearts.

IMG_6604Another thing you MUST do! Learn which dressings go with which meal type. I urge you to not spend precious time wondering which salad dressing you can use. Find a few you like & stick to them! If you need to, get a sharpie and put a big E or S or FP on the front of the dressing or the cap so you don’t have to think about it! Then, stock up! I usually use Ranch (chipotle or regular) for S meals & and Olive Garden Light Italian for E meals. My husband likes blue cheese or thousand island for S. If I’m really feeling risky, I’ll use my Ken’s Honey Mustard (but that has sugar so I only occasionally splurge.) Oil & vinegar, or homemade balsamic are great too, but watch the oil, or just call them an S. I have the Walden Farms Ranch, but I find it so thin & tangy that I only use it for FP salad days.

Fast & easy Salad baseThese are my salad making tips. Aren’t they easy?!  The kids like the salads too, especially now that they can quickly throw on the bacon and croutons! Devin actually just likes the toppings (no lettuce yet) particularly cucumbers, carrots, cheese, croutons & sunflower seeds.

I hope this helps you find success in eating more fresh greens & delicious toppings! This really takes the drudgery out of making a salad & I I find that since I have begun this easy process, my salad consumption has gone way up. I eat salad several days for lunch, just grab a few handfuls of the base, add my meat of choice, toppings & dressing & it’s ready in a few minutes. We regularly have side salads for dinner & now I don’t have to spend 30 minutes every night chopping and mixing & prepping! Yay!

Taste & See that the Lord is Good! 



Baked Spaghetti – THM Style

Who doesn’t love spaghetti. Or baked ziti? Or lasagna? I think it is a universally loved taste. Everybody likes that gooey, cheesy, meaty, tomato-ey goodness, in any shape or form.

I bet you think you can’t have it now that you are eating the THM way! You are wrong! You can have that yummy lasagna or baked spaghetti… with absolutely no guilt & even less blood sugar spiking! How? Let me tell you….

Spaghetti SquashSpaghetti squash is the key. You maybe have looked at it many times in the store & never known what it is. It looks a bit like a yellow football. Long, oval, light-lemon-y yellow. You want to pick a large one, especially if you have a large family. If you’re a family of only one or two, you may still want a large one, this dish is THAT good. (This is so good, the last time I made it, my 9yo daughter ate it for breakfast instead of her typical creamcicle smoothie. She loves it that much!).

Sauce IngredientsCreate your meat sauce as you typically would. I use a large can of crushed tomatoes, 2-3 medium sized cans of tomato sauce, a can of tomato paste & equal part water. Sometimes I will add some marsala wine in there for flavor. (Be certain that your canned tomatoes do NOT have added sugar. I buy the organic kind from ALDI, or just check ingredients before you commit. This is key to keeping this meal on plan).

doTerra Basil

If you do use Basil essential oil, even one drop can be too much! Dip a toothpick into the oil & swirl it into the sauce for a great, bright basil flavor.

I simmer my sauce with some typical italian seasonings… salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil, oregano, thyme (lately I use my basil, oregano & thyme doTerra oils).  You could skip this step & just use jar sauce if you are short on time, get 2 jars of pre-made spaghetti sauce, flavor of choice. Just be sure it has no added sugar! Read those labels!

Browned SausageAfter your sauce has simmered for a bit, add your browned meat of choice. I typically use grass-fed lean ground beef, or for a bit of a different flavor, one of those sausage rolls crumbled. Add a pound or two of meat, depending on your preference for meat-i-ness, the size of your family & your hunger!

Spaghetti Squash microwaved

This Squash was much wetter than my normal variety, & it cooked a little too long. It shouldn’t deflate like this!

While your sauce is simmering, cook your spaghetti squash. HOW? you ask. I stick mine whole in the microwave & cook on high in 5 minute increments until it is soft. Flip it over each time you add another 5 minutes. The skin will darken & possibly crack when its good and soft. CAREFULLY take this out of the microwave (use a towel or oven mitt please! It will be very hot!). Allow to cool for several minutes.

When the squash is cool enough to touch, cut it lengthwise in half. Scoop out the seeds & any of the slimy strings with a spoon. Then get a fork and scrape the insides out into a large lasagna sized or casserole sized dish (something around 9×13). The strings will be about 6-8″ long which is a nice size for spaghetti. Break them up as much as you can without breaking the strands.

Spag. squash with meat & ricottaMix in the meat and ricotta cheese if you are using that. (Today I didn’t put the sausage in the sauce because my sauce pan was too full!) Mix in the sauce mixture, a little at a time. Be gentle here, folks, the squash is somewhat delicate. Mix until your spaghetti is well coated with sauce. Not enough sauce? Add some more!

Now is the fun. For the simplest version, sprinkle some low fat mozzarella cheese on top, throw in the oven for 20-30 minutes to melt the cheese & heat the sauce up to bubbling, & serve.

For a bit more OOMPH, add a cup or two of ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, steamed spinach, and/or more mozzarella into the mix. Maybe your family likes diced peppers.. add some in! or mushrooms, or onions. Make it your own! Add your favorites, mix them in gently, then sprinkle your cheese on top & warm in the oven. If you’re really in a hurry, the additional baking is not necessary if everything is hot & ready. Just serve it like spaghetti & plop it on the plate! 

You can make this ahead, just like a lasagna, & just reheat when you want to eat it. I have not frozen it, and probably wouldn’t recommend that, because I think the wetness of the squash would create a bit of a mess when frozen. But make it in the morning for dinner, or for the next day would work fine.

Baked spaghetti SquashMy family devours this main dish. I make a huge salad to go along side (choose your dressings carefully!). It actually can range from a FP to an S, depending on what add-ins you use, how lean your meat is, & how much you eat! My diabetic husband eats a plate or two full of it an has no noticeable blood sugar spike. That is amazing for him!

It’s easy, delicious & a super replacement for everybody’s go-to meal. Even the picky eating kids don’t mind the texture, LOVE the taste & beg for me to make it more often. Get that funny yellow football squash off your counter & into your bellies! You will thank me for this one!

Taste & see that the Lord is Good! 



Depending on your meat & how much cheese you add, this meal can be either an S (with sausage, and lots of cheese) or a FP (with lean drained beef and a light hand of low fat mozzarella.) Just don’t eat too much or your FP will spill over into the E category from the carbs in the tomato sauce.

Tomorrow, I’ll share my super quick way to always have fresh salad on hand… without chopping lettuce for every meal!


Eleven Heavenly Smoothies!

Sorry for the cliffhanger yesterday, but I had to put ALL this Smoothie goodness into it’s own special post. It’s much better after a bit of suspense, anyway, right? Our THM smoothie of choice is a  Kickin’ Kefir Elixir/Big Boy Smoothie Combo. We typically have home fermented Kefir on hand so we use that as the base of our smoothie. If we don’t, I will substitute cottage cheese for the kefir, or just lean towards the Fat Stripping Frappa & use water. It takes about 5 minutes to make, tops, once you memorize the vanilla recipe. Then the variations are up to you! (Actually, I had my daughter write it out on an index card that is on the cupboard above the blender. That way she can get them started without the… “MOM! what’s next?” litany we were having daily!)

Standard Vanilla SmoothieIMG_6573

1 C. home-cultured 2% or skim milk Kefir

1 C. unsweetened Almond Milk

1-2 big cups crushed ice (I’m talking 4-5 measured cups)

2-3 shakes stevia blend

dash vanilla (or almond)

dash sea salt (couple grinds on the salt grinder)

dash or 2 glucomannan (I have transferred my gluc into an old spice container with a shaker top, so I just shake a little out instead of measuring this… faster!)

1 big scoop protein powder (1/2 if its a single for the kids, or heaping if its for all 3 of us!)



Blend well. This makes a LARGE blenderful and is usually enough for at least 2 of us. Add a little more of everything if you can fit more in your blender & you have more kids! You can also add a Tablespoon of coconut oil like it says in the book, but my kids balk at the texture of those little oil globs, so we typically make our smoothies E or FP.


IMG_6572If you don’t have fresh kefir, you can use a cup or so of cottage cheese. Be sure to properly choose your fat content in the cottage cheese depending on your desired E/S/FP. It does make the smoothie a little gritty sometimes so blend well. I suppose you could also substitute greek yogurt for the kefir as well.

If you haven’t tried fresh kefir, I say… do it! It’s super easy to do, is awesome for your digestive flora & adds a nice texture to the smoothie. It can be used in many recipes in place of cream, sour cream, milk or buttermilk. Ask around and see if a friend can split a grain, they grow quickly & you want to get rid of the babies! Or you can purchase the seeds online too! 


For other Smoothie flavors, we will add one of these options to the blended vanilla smoothie: 

adding peppermint oilCreamcicle: 3-5 drops wild orange oil (for the full mix. use 1 drop for a single serve!)

Peppermint: 1-2 drops peppermint oil (for the full mix. use 1 drop for a single serve!)

Peppermint Patty: 1-2 drops peppermint oil, use Chocolate Protein Powder instead of vanilla, and add a rough Tbsp  of cocoa before blending. (might need extra stevia as well to counter the bitterness of the cocoa).

IMG_5636Chocolate Peanut Butter: use Chocolate Protein Powder instead of vanilla, add a generous shake or two of PB2, add some cocoa to taste.

Chocolate: swap the chocolate protein powder for vanilla, add a spoonful of cocoa, maybe a bit more salt & sweetener

Raspberry/Strawberry: Add a handful of fresh or frozen raspberries or strawberries after the initial blend. SOO good!

Pumpkin Pie: add about 1/3 can of canned pumpkin, 1 drop spice blend oil, dash cinnamon, dash nutmeg, dash ginger, 1 TB or so of ground flax seeds gives a nice ‘crust’ texture if you like that too!

Key Lime: splash of Key Lime juice or 1-2 drops lime oil, 1T or so of ground flax seeds

Banana Pudding: add 1/2-1 soft banana, 1T ground flax seeds. You can also add a drop or two of sugar free maple syrup to this… so delicious, but definitely an E (or worse).

Birthday Cake: add a dash of butter flavoring to the mix, swap cottage cheese for Kefir


These are our top ten add-ins to our favorite vanilla smoothie. It gets my kids moving in the morning, they can think straight, they aren’t full of sugar & they love to pick their blend for the day. I’ve served this to lots of their friends & everybody says they’re a hit!

Keep all your supplies right near where you keep your blender & you’ll save lots of steps in the morning. Make one big one, or split the ingredients in the smaller cups. Or, just make the vanilla, then split, then add in the flavor of the day! Super easy!

I hope these help make your mornings a little easier & your kids a little less grumpy.

Taste & see that the Lord is good!



If the creamcicle and peppermint smoothies sound good (trust me, they are!), and you are interested in learning more about essential oils, or how to purchase them, I can help you out! The oils I use are certified pure & taste great in all kinds of cooking. PLEASE be sure that the oils you are using in recipes and cooking are safe to ingest. To learn my choice of food safe oils, message me & I will share which company I choose. Comment on this post (use the little talk bubble at the top of the post to chat) if you have questions, or contact me through my website if you are curious about the oils.


BTW… you can usually find extra fat smoothie straws at Big Lots or IKEA!



5 Fast & Easy THM Breakfasts

It’s the most important meal of the day, right? And usually the most crazy! Since we homeschool, I don’t have that gotta-get-out-the-door stress that many moms do, but it’s gotta-get-the-day-started just the same. My kids would love to linger over pancakes, tv, and games, but then our school day is ridiculously slow and long. A quick breakfast, moves toward an early start, and a smoother moving day for us for sure!

I have found that THM style meals do benefit my entire family. My kids do so much better at their school work with a healthy, low carb, high protein breakfast. And I am the teacher being tormented if they are hyper, so why do that to myself? These ideas work for them as well as me! YAY!

IMG_6568#1. Fried Eggs & Sausage Patties (S) 

Super easy, right? I do two eggs for myself, one or two sausage patties (I get the Aldi kind). If I have a few minutes to spare, I will heat up my pan with the patties in them, then cook the eggs in the sausage grease. If I’m more rushed, I microwave those bad boys! Eggs only take a couple minutes in a small pan. (Yes, I’ve even saved some bacon grease to use to fry my eggs with! I’m that girl!) Some days I add a thin slice of sprouted bread (Target brand) but usually not. It has 14 net carb in 2 slices, so 7 carbs in one. Technically, its over the 6 carb limit for a S meal, so have half a slice, or use it only occasionally.  Bread is a craving creator for me for sure, so I typically avoid on S days.

Target Sprouted bread

This thin sliced sprouted bread is found in the deli area at Target.

#2. Scrambled Eggs with Cottage Cheese (bacon or sausage optional) (S)

We are IN LOVE with scrambled eggs & cottage cheese. Have you tried this yet? If not, you must… tomorrow! Scramble your 2 eggs as usual. Add a couple big spoonfuls of full fat cottage cheese. I do this after the eggs have set a little in cooking, my hubby does it before cooking, either way is fine. Keep the eggs moving as you cook them, they won’t get dry at all, but cook until the eggs look solid. The cottage cheese gives them a light, buttery, cheesy, fluffy goodness… you have to try it! Add in some bacon bits or sausage crumbles to add a bit more flavor & fat if you like. Or do some minced veggies with it. But veggies aren’t in my morning schedule or palate, so I stick to the plain jane stuff, not that THESE eggs are plain!


 #3. Scrambled Eggs with shredded Cheddar (maybe in a mini pita pocket) (S)

Farm fresh eggs!

Again, the eggs. We now have a source for farm fresh eggs, so we can’t get enough of those lovely brown & blue shells. So delicious & just right in the morning. Scramble up a pile for the family, salt & pepper to taste, throw them in a warm pan & stir until cooked as desired. I like mine well cooked but not dry, so just before finishing, I throw on a couple handfuls of shredded cheddar cheese, mix some more until the cheese is melted. If we’re really hungry, we’ll have these on a mini Joseph’s pita pocket, like a mini taco. But most days it’s plain jane again, just pile ’em on the plate. Add a sausage patty  on the side, or add bacon or sausage crumbles to the mix when cooking). If you can actually pre-cook bacon & have it last in your home, this is excellent to have with cheesy eggs. Bacon vanishes around here, and school days just aren’t the time to fry up some more. So packaged bacon bits, or pre-cooked sausage crumbles have to work for me.

skinny syrups#3.5. Coffee and cream (S) I have to admit… I am a coffee addict. I can’t really function or think before I get at least a half a cup in. And I like my coffee with half & half or cream. So I tend to stick to S breakfasts most days, so I can have creamy coffee. I’ve also found this delectable stuff called Skinny Syrups that has 0 cal, 0 sugar, but tastes like caramel. It’s a former Caramel Creamer gal’s newest addiction! (again… this is probably NOT for the purist! There are definitely some big words in the ingredients list that do NOT come from nature. BUT I am NOT a purist, and this is a lifestyle change, NOT a diet, so I choose to enjoy!) I sip coffee in my huge mug all morning, so S breakfasts really are the way I lean. However… for those fuel cycles or (agh!) when we’re out of eggs, I’ll share my other regular choices.


#4. Oatmeal Deluxe (E)

My husband has been eating oatmeal for years. I have not. I just didn’t see the pleasure in eating a bowl full of brown mushy oats. But, to be fair, I have been trying. It really is a quick, easy option for breakfast, and doesn’t take much more effort than the eggs. If you’re an oatmeal newbie… try it this way. And yes… you have to do your coffee with almond milk or black on these E days! (or with the skinny syrup!)

Get standard Quaker Oatmeal. Put 1/2 cup into a bowl with 1/2 +/- cup water to desired wetness. Microwave 1 minute on high. quick stir. I then add 1/2 scoop protein powder, dash cinnamon, dash vanilla, dash truvia & big splash of almond milk. Mix it all up & BAM! deliciousness! A little sweetness, a little flavor, a little more protein to hold you over longer. If I have fresh fruit I will also add blueberries or raspberries as well. Sometimes walnuts, sometimes kefir instead of almond milk. This is a great stick-to-your-ribs breakfast for a cold, damp day.

IMG_6565#5. The Smoothie.

I like the smoothie. The kids LOVE the smoothie. To them, it’s like having ice cream for breakfast & what kid wouldn’t want that?! I’ve gotten pretty quick at making them, and try to make a big batch for all of us to share. But the Ninja single serve cups to make them easy to customize & just make a few at once if no one can agree on flavors.

I actually have SO much love for the smoothie, that I am going to write another whole post on our favorite smoothie & the 11 quick flavor varieties you can get from one easy-to-learn recipe! Tune in tomorrow! (While you eat your eggs maybe?!)

Taste & see that the Lord is Good! 





Our Journey to Wellness

Do you ever feel like you just NEVER are truly healthy? That no matter what you try or do, someone in your house is always sick? Or maybe you’re always tired & just can’t lose weight? You can’t get things done, you’re turning in circles, life is on repeat?

Wow, I did. I do. I have.

This spring I was finally & truly fed up. I vowed to make some changes. I needed to lose weight, to finally get those pesky baby pounds off my back! It’s not that I was obese. Honestly, I just had not been able to lose the baby weight from my last child. He’s 5. I was frustrated.


I want to say, I have been fed up long before now. But with 2 small children, homeschooling, doing my various volunteer work, housekeeping, cooking, etc., personal time has evaded me for years. I’d do the Wii Fit, then the small boy child would climb all over me while I tried to balance on one foot. or the larger girl child would join in, get too close, & get punched during my faux-tennis match, then cry hysterically until I stopped. Exercising at home obviously wasn’t in the cards for me. (and a Y or gym membership wasn’t in the budget!) Every time I would get on an evening ‘me-time’ walking or jogging streak, it would rain for days on end or the schedules would go against me, thus killing my streak & effectively my exercise habit.

triathlon day!I needed to exercise more, but most things I enjoy I couldn’t do because of my worn-out knee. I began swimming more regularly this summer, doing laps & really making an effort. I even did a mini-triathlon for my daughter’s swim team. But did I lose weight? NO!

I thought I had just hit that magical age of 40-something when the weight becomes very stubborn to leave. I was at the point of “Do I just succumb and admit that I will be a “well-padded” mom like my grandma was,” or do I find something entirely new. I went for the entirely new.

I had already begun using essential oils to optimize my health. (Read more about that part of the journey here!) I needed to add the component of diet to the mix.

I have not been able to really ‘diet’ for years. When I reduce caloric consumption I become grouchy. VERY GROUCHY.  Like “you-don’t-want-to-be-around-me” grouchy. Then there’s the fearsome “I’m-much-too-mean-to-my-kids, especially-during-the-homeschool-day” grouchy. So a standard “diet” did not work for me. My husband is diabetic. My daughter verges on ADD. My son eats PB &J for almost every meal. We needed a food style change.

We didn’t eat horribly. We were pretty healthy overall. We had veggies at almost every meal, salads frequently, lean protein, not lots of junk. We usually eat in. But still we have these issues! I wasn’t losing weight, but I wasn’t gaining either. The kids are healthy, but Joey really wanted a way to take less insulin, since the costs are through the roof.

This summer, a friend invited me to an info session for Trim Healthy Mama. I had heard vaguely of this plan on FB, didn’t have a clue what it was, but her timing was perfect. A group of homeschool moms who all want to lose weight, I figured at least there will be accountability!  What did I have to lose, besides weight? or a little cash?  The meeting was led by a THM successful friend who was going to try to explain her weight loss secrets to us all. I had not even laid eyes on the book yet, so S, E, FP was a big mystery to me & I asked a LOT of questions. It sounded interesting, real food based, “You can bake, you can eat cheese, you can eat steak!” Sounded good to me.

I jumped in, about a month later, after my book came & I had time to read it. I’ve been mostly on the downhill trend since then. A few small bobbles here and there, adjustments as we go, and even over the holidays.. no gain!

IMG_6324Finally, I feel like I have found something that has worked!

Since I have found success, (30 pounds gone from Aug-Jan!) I want to be able to give back a little to the THM community. I would say I fall in between the drive-thru-Sue and the Crunchy Granola but I am definitely NOT a purist. I do quick and easy, and sometimes I get it right. Sometimes I don’t, (and I don’t even know it). But I don’t stress over it, I mostly freestyle within my comfort zone. If you’re new… you have no comfort zone, I realize, so I’ll try to share my success with some tips.

Next I’ll share my 13 easy steps to menu planning THM-style! & as the week goes by, I’ll share my favorite go-to recipes. THM doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to break the bank. You do have to trust the plan & love yourself enough not to cheat. The cheats matter.

God doesn’t want us to be unhealthy. He shows us the way, continually, if we just allow him to. Had I turned my back on my friend’s invite, only God knows where I would be. But I didn’t. I trusted the still small voice saying.. “Just go!” and went. & then the voice said “Just try!” and I did. & here we are.

Psalm 18: 20-28  summarizes Our Journey to Wellness (so far) perfectly.

God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. When I got my act together, He gave me a fresh start. Now I’m alert to God’s ways; I don’t take God for granted. Every day I review the ways He works; I try not to miss a trick. I feel put back together, and I’m watching my step. God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to His eyes.

The good people taste your goodness, The whole people taste your health, The true people taste your truth, The bad ones can’t figure you out. You take the side of the down-and-out, But the stuck-up you take down a peg.

Suddenly, God, you floodlight my life; I’m blazing with glory, God’s glory!

I hope and pray that you too, can blaze with all the glory God intended for you! Place your life’s pieces before Him, & allow him to lead you each step of the way. Taste His goodness, & the goodness of His earth! Enjoy eating & lose weight!

God Bless!


shi selfie