Embracing Imperfect http://embracingimperfect.com Thu, 02 Jul 2015 12:00:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Living in Joy While Standing in Crap http://embracingimperfect.com/christianity/christian-joy/ http://embracingimperfect.com/christianity/christian-joy/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 12:00:02 +0000 http://mom-blog.com/?p=11512   This post was originally published in January, 2014.  As we wrap 2013, I can’t help but admit it was a craptastic year. As a blogger and professional, things went well, but other than that? Financial crap hit us I don’t know how many times. And the kids? Oh man. I often feel like we are back to where we started. I have no hope

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This post was originally published in January, 2014. 

lightstock_214470_medium_gina_

As we wrap 2013, I can’t help but admit it was a craptastic year. As a blogger and professional, things went well, but other than that? Financial crap hit us I don’t know how many times. And the kids? Oh man. I often feel like we are back to where we started. I have no hope on some days, and please don’t even ask me about this school year. It’s been hard, challenging, painful. And there has been PLENTY of unpleasant poop to deal with too – figurative and literal poop.

And those are the things I can talk about; know that there is more.

But still, I feel…I don’t know. I feel GOOD, really good. I know that in my history I’ve had incidents where less than a fraction of the stuff we’ve been through in the last 12 months brought me nothing but agony. This year, though?

It’s ok. It’s all OK.

Then a friend shared this post about how God plans for some people NOT to have a wonderful life and it upset me. Not because there weren’t truthful aspects to this article about REAL Christian suffering – God’s plan for some of us to have to bear the visibly gut wrenching stuff – but because it was a dark and depressing take for believers who do suffer “things no one should have to.” It’s all about the painful part and how little  or no joy is meant in this life, but I disagree. I believe God means for  joy to be in our Earthly lives.

You’re thinking I’m an optimist.  Maybe I am now, but not naturally. I spent many years of my life courting and loving angst and darkness. I believed it made me a better writer. I’ve had LONG dark nights of the soul, I’ve battled all kinds of things in my innermost mind that I knew were off, even at the time. I’ve had depression, a brush with death, extreme fear, hypochondria. I’ve known listlessness and how pain can make you feel alive when you are dead inside. So calling me an “optimist” is way too easy.

I’ve come to understand things in 2013 that I would never have grasped in those earlier years. As I read that article about Christian suffering, I kept thinking about was the apostle Paul. This author of most of the New Testament letters never met Jesus while he was alive, only years after He’d left this Earth. Still, he had visions that were so profoundly moving that nothing could take him off the path of faith in Christ, nothing could stop him from talking about “joy” – not prison, not being severely and regularly beaten (2 Cor. 11:23), not being shipwrecked, nothing. And yes, he suffered. In 2 Cor 1:8, he writes, “…we despaired even of life.” Some of Paul’s writing took place in prison, one in particular that, as I understand, also had some nasty issues. Picture a 2000 year old prison with several inches of toilet waste around your feet.

Holy crap! I mean, oh joy?

Yes, Jesus did promise that if you are a Christian you will suffer in this life. Some will suffer what we think is more, some will seem to suffer less. Some people probably think I’m lucky, others probably pity me, and I can bounce between the two extremes myself on some days. But when the crap hits the fan around here, I know it’s for my good:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. -Roman 8:2

Christians should cling to God’s promise that ALL WILL BE WELL. And I don’t mean you’ll be cured, or terrible things won’t happen to your kids, or you won’t lose your home or job. That terrible earthly crap and more can and will happen. It will be more than you can handle, because God wants to make sure you are hanging onto HIM alone. But God’s promise to believers: that you are saved, that you can’t be lost and that the God who created EVERYTHING has something amazing waiting for you, is worth the joy of present suffering.

It’s sort of like autism poop. When I’m faced with the most toxic, smelly, rash-inducing crap from my darling daughter, I know that her system is detoxing. It’s awful and a bit frightening, but her body is cleansing itself from the bad stuff. Along with it might come nasty behaviors, too, but it’s cleansing the way for all good things ahead.

That’s bad enough, but the apostle Paul rejoiced while standing in other people’s crap. {shudder} Good grief, the stench! He must have been suffering other unpleasant stuff too. You’d get all kinds of nasty things standing in poop and piss from strangers all day: rashes, diarrhea, fleas. I see what Zoe gets from a little contact with poop – his skin must have been raw and nasty. He had that “thorn” in his side as well, some affliction – whatever that was, he struggled with it daily.

But the more you study his words, the more you can actually see him smiling when he writes of joy, because he knows this is God’s good will. He knows this will sharpen him into the man God wants him to be. He knows that when it’s all over, the suffering will end for all time and be forgotten in an eternity of joy.

It’s God’s will that my kids are where they are. That we’ve had this financial difficulty. That the school year has been challenging, to say the least. That we are still dealing with toxic poop. That, plus all that “other stuff” is going on is His will too. It’s my job to find God’s will and do it, with all my choices as a parent, a wife, a woman, a writer, a Christian.

And it’s my choice to do it all in joy, just like Paul, even when I’m, well, pooped!

Read more about Paul’s joy through crazy circumstances here.

 

Originally published Jan 1, 2014.

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Five summer getaways every special needs kid should have http://embracingimperfect.com/parenting/five-summer-getaways-every-special-needs-kid-should-have/ http://embracingimperfect.com/parenting/five-summer-getaways-every-special-needs-kid-should-have/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 12:00:50 +0000 http://mom-blog.com/?p=3565 I was compensated for this post by SocialMoms on behalf of Alamo; all opinions are my own. I’ll admit it, we are theme park people!  With 2 kids with learning disabilities who need extensive stimulation, what’s better?  When it’s time to get away for the summer, we go where kid activities are at a maximum.  Here are our 5 favorite summer getaways: Universal Studios, Orlando: I LOVE this

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I was compensated for this post by SocialMoms on behalf of Alamo; all opinions are my own.

I’ll admit it, we are theme park people!  With 2 kids with learning disabilities who need extensive stimulation, what’s better?  When it’s time to get away for the summer, we go where kid activities are at a maximum.  Here are our 5 favorite summer getaways:

  1. Universal Studios, Orlando: I LOVE this park. Last time we were there, we had a A BLAST. Yes, we got gluten free food. Yes, we had meals with characters. Yes, we had early disability access to rides, disability parking and 3D rides. Go to BOTH IOA and Studios and eat at CityWalk. I can’t recommend it ENOUGH.
    0629-vacation
  2. Hershey, PA: Yes, I live in PA, so we did this visit about a year ago.  A great time was had! First, I recommend you go late summer because some of the hotels have outdoor pools and it’s a bit north of me, so it can be chilly. Totally swimmable, but you have to ease in.  Now, chocolate and dairy are off our menu, but back then it wasn’t.  If your kids are fans of chocolate, this is a fun place.  You can take the tour at Chocolate World and go to the theme park as well.  Hershey Park has a ton of rides for preschool aged kids, so it’s a great time for kids who want to ride but aren’t big enough to get on the big coasters.  There is also Hershey Gardens, which features an awesome Butterfly Garden, which the kids will love!  We’ve stayed at Hershey Lodge and off at the local hotels, but if you stay at the Hershey Hotel or Lodge, you get tickets included with the cost – and free chocolate! Grownups, don’t miss the chocolate martini menu.

    girl and giant hershey kiss

    She wishes it was the real thing.

  3. Indoor water park: As I recently blogged, Great Wolf Lodge has an awesome water park but the beauty of it is that it’s all indoors!  This was great because during our stay it rained ..and rained and rained.  We’ve also been to another park, Coco Beach, in New Jersey.  A water park is great for special needs kids, and an indoor one is even better: not only is inclement weather not a problem, but no one has to worry about sunburn!  These parks also come with other activities (arcades, and Magiquest at Great Wolf), so your entire vacation is in one place with no travel other than getting there. We love that!
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  4. A day at the aquarium: We’ve been to Tampa Aquarium, Sea World of course, many mini-acquariums in Florida, and we have tickets for Adventure Aquarium for this summer (courtesy of our Coco Beach stay).  What kids doesn’t love an aquarium?  Many exhibits are indoors, so there’s opportunity to take cool off breaks while you watch the trainers work with and talk about the larger sea animals.  I also recommend finding aquariums that support marine life, like recovery aquariums as they are doing good work and do not in any force their animals to perform.  Your kids will think they are just having fun as they sharpen their knowledge in marine life!
    Adventure Aquarium
  5. A day (or week!) at the beach: Once again, water sports are the way to go with special needs kids.  We used to do Clearwater/St. Pete’s in Florida, but we are worried about lasting damage from the spill.  Next year, we will be checking out North and South Carolina coastlines and I am looking forward to it!  Before last year, Zoe was terrified of sand, but something happened last summer as she looked down at the sand. It was this weird, new, cool substance (like moon sand or something), and we could barely get her to take more than 2 steps onto the beach because she sat down and played with it!  Collecting seashells, learning to jump in the waves, building sandcastles, and chasing away seabirds, watching the sun go down over the ocean, followed up by a shrimp dinner…what better way to relax and have fun with your kids this summer?  Just don’t forget the sunblock.

So those are my 5 “must do” getaways.  We are going back to Disney this year, but I’m looking forward to exploring new parks and coastlines in the Carolinas next summer.  As always, if you have special requirements for your children, call ahead and find out amenities, costs (if extra), and options for your family so you can have a great summer!

 

Originally posted on 5/23/2011.

 

 

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Best Vacation Ever #ad #TargetWedding http://embracingimperfect.com/just-for-mom/best-vacation-ever-target-card-giveaway/ http://embracingimperfect.com/just-for-mom/best-vacation-ever-target-card-giveaway/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 12:00:39 +0000 http://mom-blog.com/?p=13733 Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Target. All opinions are my own. This post was sponsored.   This summer was a little sad for us. Between household big ticket disasters and my hubby’s change of job, we weren’t able to take our annual week-long summer vacation. I think this is the first one we’ve missed since we were married! The great thing about vacations,

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Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Target. All opinions are my own. This post was sponsored.

BEST-VACATION-EVER

 

This summer was a little sad for us. Between household big ticket disasters and my hubby’s change of job, we weren’t able to take our annual week-long summer vacation. I think this is the first one we’ve missed since we were married! The great thing about vacations, though, is you have great memories to look back on and one of my favorite was our last vacation as non-parents (we were, however, parents-to-be).

On that trip, we went with our best friends on a weeklong cruise. It was INSANE because it was the last voyage of the actualLove Boat” – from the TV show. No, I’m not kidding! The “Love Boat” was filmed on a real cruise ship that was later purchased by the Princess cruise line.

Love, exciting and new 
Come Aboard. We’re expecting you.  

Click here to view the embedded video.

We and our friends cruised to Bermuda, because we were from New York and that’s the closest Caribbean place you can without flying. Who wants to fly when the port is a short train ride away? I was 5 months pregnant and none of the indigestion had hit nor did I have morning sickness. So you can IMAGINE how much I ate on a cruise, lol!

You may be expecting me, but I was expecting too!

If you know me, you know I don’t swim (terrible phobia and inner ear issues – though I’ve no idea which came first), so when we took our first shore excursion I was nervous – snorkeling? I’d been on my honeymoon – also in Bermuda – and had brushed too near the coral, which you’re not allowed to touch. i got yelled at and freaked out! I had nightmares I’d be dying of poison in a Bermudan prison after this trip.

This time, however, I flooded with whatever makes you happy when you’re pregnant (which honestly could have been chocolate. It was literally served at every meal.) I sported a 2 piece tankini…I was only showing a little and damn proud of my body. I mean, I was hosting life here! Not only that, but I was totally feeling safe and comfy on a catamaran…not really the boat of choice for those who fear the water, but I loved it. I was still nervous and this was one snorkeling trip I could not have a drink beforehand!  (Yup, they make them on the boat.) We took the boat out to the water. So I climbed into the water – that was ok – and they gave me the flippers. If you don’t swim, these can freak you OUT.

You want me to get horizontal?!

couple

There’s 3 of us there. My baby is a stowaway :)

My brother in law, God bless his soul, saw how impatient my husband was with my terror and calmed me down. Together they helped me get my legs up (yes, I am THAT clueless) and then the 2 of them escorted me out into the water with a noodle. My husband got distracted (typical!), but Dimas was determined to make sure I didn’t give into my fear and enjoyed the day. I did.

I had a FANTASTIC time. I even got to go under a wee bit and see fish. (Yes, I hate that too. Me + water mix like OIL and water!) I was so relaxed and know what? We went right to the edge of where we were allowed, and actually had to be CALLED back. (You know when they threaten to leave without you? Yea, they don’t do that, especially if you are pregnant, lol.)

LOVED IT!

Not only did I have the best time ever, those amazing waters were like a beautiful massage. I was super relaxed and I know a growing Amelia was peaceful inside me. It was a lovely feeling that I could reach back and remember any time I was anxious or uncomfortable during the rest of my pregnancy.

But that’s not the only awesome memory. One night, my husband and I stayed up super late and went on deck alone. Looking up, we saw a meteor shower — beautiful shooting stars to bless our new journey as parents. It was such a romantic and beautiful moment.

To make it a really memorable trip, we were blessed to go with some of the funnest people and had a BLAST! We even limbo’d – although I was eliminated early. And did I mention the nonstop eating?? Chris and I were carefree, snorkeling, hiking, dancing and partying (me, sans alcohol) and made lasting memories. Bermuda will always remind me of the early days of my marriage and our excitement as we waited for our new baby to arrive.

Romance & Fun – It really WAS the Love Boat!

It’s also such a beautiful place to visit! The cute little town of Hamilton is wonderfully picturesque, great for photos from the ship. But all this fun would be harder to remember if it weren’t for our camera – and a healthy dose of Throwback Thursdays!
What would have been perfect? A great new camera, like the Canon EOS Rebel T5I! Perfect gift for newlyweds, so they can document their honeymoom. (Our photos from that look a lot these, except no baby on board – and a few racy shots too :)

Bermudans, of course, speak English, but if you know a couple honeymooning overseas or backpacking through Europe, you might want to consider a copy of Rosetta Stone Spanish V4 Totale T or the SwissGear City Pack (make sure to buy two of those). Check out more great ideas for the happy couple at Target Wedding registry link.

 

This post originally created Aug 28, 2014.

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BGCA’s 3rd Annual Cyber Safe Futures – Keep Your Kids #CyberSafe http://embracingimperfect.com/parenting/bgcas-3rd-annual-cyber-safe-futures-keep-your-kids-cybersafe/ http://embracingimperfect.com/parenting/bgcas-3rd-annual-cyber-safe-futures-keep-your-kids-cybersafe/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 18:57:14 +0000 http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20635 I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence Central for BGCA. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating. My daughter made it through the first year of middle school and I’ve been wordering if it’s  time to consider if Amelia is mature enough for a simple smart phone as she enters grade 7. That idea truly has cybersafety on my mind! While my

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I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence Central for BGCA. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating.

cybersafety

My daughter made it through the first year of middle school and I’ve been wordering if it’s  time to consider if Amelia is mature enough for a simple smart phone as she enters grade 7.

That idea truly has cybersafety on my mind! While my girls are both tech savvy, they have not been on social media but the time is coming very soon,  I’m sure. In fact, on my last field trip with my former 3rd grader, she was the only one on the bus without a tablet or phone! That’s surprising to someone who was long out of college before cell phones were a thing.

And that leaves me with a host of questions on how to keep her safe! For example:

  • What should I know for first time phone owners who are tweens?
  • What is the most important thing to teach a 4th grader about to keep her safe when all her friends have tablets & phones?

Fortunately, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) is running their 3rd annual Cyber Safe Futures campaign, where you can find all the answers to any question you have like this from their cyber-savvy teen ambassadors! June is Internet Safety Awareness month, and BGCA and Sprint have teamed up to invite parents to submit their questions about keeping their kids safe online to these teens. Kids really do know better, right? I mean, maybe Amelia and Zoe’s teachers may know something about how she can stay safe around other kids’ tech, but these teen ambassadors will have first hand, up close experience on what it’s like to be a kid in today’s tech-heavy classrooms.

So who are the BGCA Cyber Safety Ambassadors? They include Boys and Girls Club teenagers who hail from all around the world. Many responses even feature short videos that answer questions so you can help your child navigate the world of cyberbullying, social networking, online privacy and mobile smarts safely. Online safety for kids is very important to BGCA and Sprint, which is why they have recruited to help your children get a cyber safe future! Our kids deserve it. Visit the BGCA Cyber Safety Ambassadors to learn more.

Share with us: What questions are you going to ask to help keep your kids safe online?

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Hillsong United Empires: A Bit Like Touching the Sky http://embracingimperfect.com/christianity/hillsong-united-empires-a-bit-like-touching-the-sky/ http://embracingimperfect.com/christianity/hillsong-united-empires-a-bit-like-touching-the-sky/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 12:26:30 +0000 http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20623 I have been compensated for this post by Family Christian. When I was went into labor with Amelia, there was this Enya CD I *had* to have in the delivery room. I played it over and over the 17 or so hours that my labor was induced, paused and induced again. My husband and my sister DETESTED that CD afterward, advising me to toss it out. I’ll

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I have been compensated for this post by Family Christian.

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When I was went into labor with Amelia, there was this Enya CD I *had* to have in the delivery room. I played it over and over the 17 or so hours that my labor was induced, paused and induced again. My husband and my sister DETESTED that CD afterward, advising me to toss it out.

I’ll admit, I was kind of done with it, but it had the effect of calming and soothing me during my labor – which is exactly what you need especially in a challenging delivery. Not only that, but before I was even pregnant, that CD gave me a calmness and serenity that I rarely find in music.

When I popped in “Empires” by Hillsong United, it immediately brought to mind that old Enya disc – with the added blessing of being Christian music from one of my favorite bands in the genre.

But don’t get me wrong. When I say “Christian music,” I know you’re thinking about that pop-type stuff they churn out at your local station that you suddenly hear on Sunday mornings in church. And those songs are great too.

But “Empires” is not that kind of music at all.

“Empires” is flat out get-down-on-your-knees-and-surrender-worship-the-Lord music. These songs all come from a place of brokenness, from laying down our hearts in our unworthiness, and recognizing how small we are in the greatness of our Creator, and the amazing, stunning knowledge that

He.

Loves.

Us.

Anyway.

Now, these are not get-up-and-dance-like-David songs. These are slow, mellow songs. They are good for calming your angers and fears. Soothing your nerves. Finding your lost peace. Perfect when you feel lost in a worldly place.

In fact, “Empires” is the first CD in the decades since I lost that Enya CD that I can play while I write and work. Hillsong United is that kind of band. I got the chance to hear singer Taya Smith talk about the band a few weeks ago and I immediately knew these guys are the real deal. (Sadly that can’t be said for all Christian music bands.) They honestly put their Lord before their music, and as a young singer, they are guiding Taya to put God before her voice and to use her voice for God.

And every now and again, a lyric like this will strike me:

Your ways are higher
Your thoughts are wilder
Love came like madness
Poured out in blood – washed romance
It makes no sense but this is grace
And I know You’re with me in this place.

And I just have to stop working and lift my hands for a moment. It’s THAT kind of album.

Check out this video of “Heart Like Heaven.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

Beautiful

Peaceful

Reckless

With abandon

Just like the love of God.

If you want to pick up this CD, it’s available right now at Family Christian.

Better yet, enter my contest to win a $25 Gift Certificate to Family Christian so you can get the Cd – and maybe something else – for free! Please be aware of the rules (must be US resident and over age 18 to win) and GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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That Time I Messed Up Father’s Day… #NOWWellness http://embracingimperfect.com/allergen-free-lifestyle/that-time-i-messed-up-fathers-day/ http://embracingimperfect.com/allergen-free-lifestyle/that-time-i-messed-up-fathers-day/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 23:38:10 +0000 http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20613 This post was created as part of the #NOWWellness Blogger Ambassador Campaign in which I am a financially compensated blogger ambassador. The opinions are my own and based on my own experience. I’ve been trying to be a better person and let God turn me into one. But it seems no matter how far I go, I’m still locked into this thorny humanness that just

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This post was created as part of the #NOWWellness Blogger Ambassador Campaign in which I am a financially compensated blogger ambassador. The opinions are my own and based on my own experience.

0624-cupcakes

I’ve been trying to be a better person and let God turn me into one. But it seems no matter how far I go, I’m still locked into this thorny humanness that just steals my best intentions. I was having a bad day and rather than taking the high road, as this Christian wife *should* have, I settled into the bad and it rippled out to my family.

It’s also true that I didn’t really consult with God and His plans for my weekend. So when I rolled out of bed to get ready for church and saw a change of plans from someone I was truly rely on BEFORE I had my coffee, well, my heart completely got out of joint. Let’s just say it was really hard to be in the right place for church.

Let me just say now that everything that went kablooie either worked out or didn’t ruin things as I was sure it would. My “plan” lay in tatters, which just underscores the fact that I’m really, REALLY gifted to be spontaneous and plans are the death of me. (That God blessed me with kids who thrive on routine is proof positive that He has a sense of humor.) \

I wish I could say it ended there….

But First the Dinner…

This would be where many of the time-crunched, finger-burning and curse-inducing escapades happened to me and that was with my husband taking care of the meat. Don’t get me wrong, we did have a simply AMAZING dinner. Want to see? Here it is:

0624-steakdinner

  • Grilled Grass Fed Steak, seasoned in Chipotle Paprika and its own juices
  • Spring Mix Salad with Bacon, Organic Balsamic Vinegar and Ellyndale Non-GMO Avocado Oil
  • Organic Quinoa Salad

What’s to love about this menu? Ok, I’ll tell ya!

  • It’s 100% organic.
  • It’s allergen-free except for the feta cheese, which you can make the quinoa without.
  • It’s all Paleo.
  • I fried the bacon in Now Foods Organic Garlic Coconut Infusions, which is coconut oil infused with garlic and amazingly delicious! If you don’t like the taste of coconut in your dinners, this is perfect! It gives enough flavor to make your dish rock. I use it in the morning when I make sauteed spinach with an egg on top. It’s the perfect seasoning for any dish!
  • My family gobbled this dinner down. They can be picky so I was thrilled!

Organic Quinoa Salad Recipe

0624-quinoa

Prepare the quinoa as directed, making sure to rinse before you cook. Set it in a stainless steel bowl in the refrigerator for 15-20 to cool down. Finely chop the tomatoes, carrots and red onion and add to cooled quinoa. Top with feta cheese. Using 1/2 a lime, juice with a fork or zester. Mix ingredients well and refrigerate a little long.

This is a flexible dish, because you can replace any of the items with something else. I love making this with red pepper instead of carrots but my husband is not a fan and, after all, it was his day!

0625-coconutinfusions

Garlic infusions for all my savory meals. Honestly, it’s the bomb!

Unfortunately, I only got a few bites in before literally STOMPING my tongue with my teeth. It hurt so much I couldn’t understand where the blood was because surely I had bitten a hole clear through my tongue, right?

No, it was just one of those things to ruin my enjoyment of dinner. ARRRGH!

Then we had to take care of my nonsense, and the kids had to get haircuts (because that’s fun-NOT!). In fact, the kids were upset before we even left because I had no time to frost the dessert. Which brings me to…

The Dessert

I pulled my recipe from Nicole Hunn’s cookbook, “Gluten-Free on a Shoe String.” For some reason, I’d never made her Perfect Yellow Cupcakes. I love her books but they are not always adaptable for those of us who are dairy free.

And then it happened, the Father’s Day Miracle.

I don’t know if was the adaptations or I made some mistake or my cockamamie oven but they tasted less like perfect yellow cupcakes and more like, well, frankly?

Ring Dings.

Sweet, beautiful amazing Ring Dings of my youth, from back when they had silver wrappers and the Stepford Wives ate them with whiskey.

RING DINGS!! OK, they did not have the creamy center, but they were just right otherwise.

Fortunately, I was armed with Living Now All Purpose Flour, which is free of all 8 major allergens.

This is how I replaced Hunn’s recipe:

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance Soy Free Blend (sticks are best) instead of butter
  • A little less than 1 cup organic sugar. Nicole uses a whole cup, I think this is too much.
  • 2 large, grass fed organic eggs, room temperature. I sit them in lukewarm water for a little while if too cold.
  • 1-1/2  teaspoons organic vanilla extract
  • 1/2 box (1-1/2 cups) Living Now All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoons xantham gum
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons sea salt instead of kosher
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons Silk Unsweetened Almondmilk instead of cow’s milk

I encourage you to buy a copy of “Gluten Free on a Shoestring” for the full recipe – and lots of other great recipes too! We use it ALL the time. I frosted them with Paleo Chocolate Frosting recipe from Elana’s Kitchen, and cooled it a second time after frosting my cupcakes and ended up with that Ring Ding – like shell frosting. Combined with the density of the cupcake, I knew I hit classic recipe gold!

My family was SO jazzed they gobbled these up and I made more cupcakes the next day. This time I’d run out of coconut oil and split the difference with Earth Balance. I didn’t get a hard shell but a nice, soft rich frosting on top that reminded me of the kind Mom used to make when I was little. Either way, the Living Now flour pulled it all together for a petite but filling cupcake! Next time, I’m going to try to really replicate Ring Dings!

So that’s my story of how Now Foods helped saved Father’s Day from being a total disaster. And as for me, one little so-good-it’s-over-the-moon amazing organic snack got me through as well:

0624-NOW-FOODS-hempseeds

This post was created as part of the #NOWWellness Blogger Ambassador Campaign in which I am a financially compensated blogger ambassador. The opinions are my own and based on my own experience.

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Get Fit and Healthy Now! Get Your Report on Detoxing Your Home http://embracingimperfect.com/just-for-mom/get-fit-and-healthy-now-get-your-report-on-detoxing-your-home/ http://embracingimperfect.com/just-for-mom/get-fit-and-healthy-now-get-your-report-on-detoxing-your-home/#respond Mon, 22 Jun 2015 18:57:32 +0000 http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20601   As a full time freelance writer and influencer, a wife and the mother of 2 children on IEP, life moves pretty fast! It’s so easy to neglect taking care of yourself, but the truth is it’s necessary. Another truth is that it doesn’t have to be that hard to detox your life. As I learned through my own journey, small changes can and do

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speakers-gina-badalaty

As a full time freelance writer and influencer, a wife and the mother of 2 children on IEP, life moves pretty fast! It’s so easy to neglect taking care of yourself, but the truth is it’s necessary.

Another truth is that it doesn’t have to be that hard to detox your life. As I learned through my own journey, small changes can and do have quick benefits that you can see and feel. Last week, I shared with about staying young, fit and healthy with Now Foods products. This week, you can learn more about my story in detail at the Fit and Well NOW Summit, going on right now to find out what those quick changes were! This summit brings together health and fitness experts to share their tips.

What you will learn at my event:

  • Easier ways to achieve your health and fitness goals
  • More clarity on what to do
  • Daily action plans to rock your fitness
  • Free gifts from all the speakers

When you sign up, after my presentation you’ll receive my free, brand new report, “9 Easy Ways to Detox Your Home.” In this report, I share:

  • easy tips on getting started on detoxing your home
  • what you can buy as  you continue your journey
  • what you need to schedule to maintain a toxic-free home
  • recommended brands that I and green bloggers I trust use
  • how to get started detoxing areas of your home you never thought of, like mattresses and air fresheners

Don’t miss out on this report, which is available for a limited time only, but you must sign up for this free conference!

Register now to learn more about getting fit and healthy NOW!

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What to Do When Your Marriage is in Trouble http://embracingimperfect.com/christianity/what-to-do-when-your-marriage-is-in-trouble/ http://embracingimperfect.com/christianity/what-to-do-when-your-marriage-is-in-trouble/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 22:15:34 +0000 http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20570 I have been compensated for this post by Family Christian.   What do you do when you’re marriage is trouble? There are many answers and solution but there are some things you should never do: 7 Things You Should Never Do When Your Marriage is in Trouble: Keep your friends informed of your marital challenges – but not your spouse. Keep your feelings bottled up inside. Mistake “letting myself

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I have been compensated for this post by Family Christian.

0618-troublefreemarriage

On my honeymoon in Mexico, 1998. This is why I don’t do hats.

 

What do you do when you’re marriage is trouble? There are many answers and solution but there are some things you should never do:

7 Things You Should Never Do When Your Marriage is in Trouble:

  1. Keep your friends informed of your marital challenges – but not your spouse.
  2. Keep your feelings bottled up inside.
  3. Mistake “letting myself get disrupter” for “trying to keep the peace.”
  4. Not confronting an issue that is damaging you, your spouse and your children.
  5. Lying to yourself that everything is “fine.”
  6. Comparing your marriage to others that “seem” happy.
  7. Thinking or fantasizing about separation or divorce before even having one discussion with your spouse about the problems.

If you and your spouse do not have pretty good balance in the areas of romance, friendship, sex, responsibilities, and communication, or your marriage is clearly on the rocks, you definitely want to avoid those seven items.

My husband and I have hit some rocky patches in the last few months. The reason for this is on both of us: we didn’t “stop the insanity” of what was going on and while we were spending lots of time together, we had stopped connecting a long time before.

These are just two of the secrets Kim Kimberling, PhD writes about in his new book, “7 Secrets to An Awesome Marriage.” Kimberling looks at marriage from the perspective of a professional Christian marriage counselor, with over 30 years of experience. Throughout the book, you meet all kinds of couples in troubles: newlyweds, those in long time marriages, those with small problems, those on the brink of divorce. As you read their stories, you become compelled in rooting for them to succeed and, you’ll recognize yourself or your spouse dealing or avoiding the struggles in your own marriage. I’d like to tell you these couples all end up together, and most do, but some, sadly, do not.

What advice does Kimberling have for married or engaged couples? He advises taking a pro-active, anti-divorce stand and figuring out what you CAN do to save or improve your marriage.

What You SHOULD Do When Your Marriage is in Trouble:

Kimberling defines 7 key “secrets” or steps you can take with your spouse to get on the road to recovery:

  1. Stop the insanity that holds you back as a couple.
  2. Start putting God first, spouse second.
  3. Connect with your spouse.
  4. Engage constructively rather than arguing.
  5. Balance your marriage with time for each other.
  6. Don’t give up on sex!
  7. Fight for your marriage.

The author coaches couples through all seven of these practice and gives concrete examples of how to do them – and how NOT to do them. For example, he gives his own life experience of not properly listening to his wife and teaches how to rekindle effective communication when you need to communicate.

Insight, Guidance and Relatable Stories

In addition, Kimberling gives wives some great insight into the mind of men, especially in the “sex” chapter. Yes, this is one of the better chapters, on how to really rekindle that flame and enjoy sex within marriage as a way to truly connect and honor God’s design from marriage – but you need to do the steps in order! That said, this book has lots of actionable items, level-headed advice and real world examples to help you on your journey to a better marriage.

The Downside

The only  complaint I had about this book is that it really is for a believing couple. Secret #2, which has some great tips on joining together as Christian believers in marriage, is a bit of a stretch if you are not married to a Christian. I wouldn’t be put off by that, though. I got a lot of wonderful tips and have shared them with my husband – many of which he agreed with or laughed along with me.

The Good

This book is an excellent guide to marriage, not just for married couples in trouble, for for any couple, married or engaged, that wants to improve their marriage or set up a firm foundation. It’s an easy read, too, and simple to share with your spouse.

“7 Secrets to An Awesome Marriage” will be available at FamilyChristian.com on 7/28/15 for $15.99, but you can preorder it now!

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of this book, FamilyChristian.com is giving one lucky reader a $10 gift certificate to their store or online shop. Please enter the Rafflecopter below to play:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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10 Ways to Stay Young #NOWWellness http://embracingimperfect.com/reviews/10-ways-to-stay-young-nowwellness/ http://embracingimperfect.com/reviews/10-ways-to-stay-young-nowwellness/#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2015 21:56:46 +0000 http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20536 This post was created as part of the #NOWWellness Blogger Ambassador Campaign in which I am a financially compensated blogger ambassador. The opinions are my own and based on my own experience. Ok, so this year I’m looking a big number: age 50. This big birthday is only 5 months away but I’m not scared! Or, I should say, I’m not scared anymore. I was

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This post was created as part of the #NOWWellness Blogger Ambassador Campaign in which I am a financially compensated blogger ambassador. The opinions are my own and based on my own experience.

Ways to Stay Young

Ok, so this year I’m looking a big number: age 50. This big birthday is only 5 months away but I’m not scared! Or, I should say, I’m not scared anymore. I was actually pretty terrified when I turned 49. At the time, a lot of things in my life were not working right and I found myself feeling ill a lot of the time -even when my eating seemed on track. What I was doing not only had me sick and weak, it aged me. While I don’t claim to have discovered a fountain of youth, what I did discover has helped me feel and look good. Maybe I still look like a 49 year old, but I have the energy and drive to enjoy my life and my family, in a way I never had the last few years. Here are 10 ways to stay young:

1. Address the problem.

Detox your life. Before you start on real health issues, I have to ask you to address “that problem.” You know which one I’m talking about. It’s the one that is sucking your soul, killing your self esteem, destroying your energy and honey, it IS aging you. It’s time to stop letting “that thing” wreck your life and get a hold of it. Whether it’s a big family issue or a “little” internal problem, you need to create to stop that problem that is holding your life hostage. This fall, I was sick all the time because I was stuck in a crisis I was SO close to I could not see all the ways it was hurting me. If you are sick without a medical or nutritional reason and cannot understand why, ask a trusted friend to help you find the root of your problem. If you find the courage and grace from God to take the steps to get it under control or out of your life, I promise you will feel better, stronger and more empowered – and take years off your body.

2. Make the better food choice.

Detox your food. There’s long been debate about which is more important, eating right or exercising. For me, it’s eating right – hands down. That’s because while I can avoid exercise, I can’t avoid eating. Every single time I eat, I’m making a choice that is good or bad. (I don’t think too many foods are neutral.) You can eating fats, but will you choose ones rich in Omega-3, like avocados, or rich in bad fats, like a box of cookies. Both taste good, the choice is up to you. You don’t have to eat garbage, or bland crap, but figure out the fruits and veggies you like, the fiber foods you want to embrace and make better choices for sweets.

3. Get your nutrients and heal your gut.

biotin probiotic

Detox your gut. You need to get your nutrients absorbed properly into your body, but poor gut health can make that a problem. Restore your gut and get high quality nutrients that create a solid foundation first. I’m using NOW Foods Biotin 5000 mcg Vcaps, which promotes immunity, skin health and provides a regulatory function as well as aiding in the metabolism of some amino acids. For gut health, NOW Foods Probiotic-10TM is a great, easy to drink probiotic that you can throw right into your drink. It has no taste and, let me tell you, it’s immediately effective! It’s also dairy, wheat and gluten free.

4. Move enough every day.

Detox your routine. Some people love exercise. I don’t but I do love going outside daily with my husband or my family. When I do that, I don’t even realize I’m exercising until I feel the burn later on. Use what works for you – a step tracker, a hiking trail, a local step hill and get moving. I was so sedentary for so long that I was terrified of doing this but as soon as I started walking daily, I became used to it. Within 2 weeks, I was looking for a challenge. Within 3, I was looking better! What’s helped me was to enlist the people I love and work out together. Quality time + exercise = a fun way to get fit!

5. Get outside.

Detox your body. This was a long, harsh winter. This year, I was very sensitive to the cold so I avoided going out as much as possible. Big mistake. By March, I was totally depressed when I should have been happy. Fortunately the sun came out in a big way (we had very little spring rain). I’m out there daily because it only took a few days before my mood completely changed.

6. Take care of your skin.

Detox your skin. By that, I mean ALL your skin. Not only should you get outside and expose it for 15 minutes of Vitamin D, you then should use do a good, clean organic sunblock to protect your skin, nontoxic products for your hair, face and body care. Finally, protect against fleas and ticks with clean sprays. Clean is the name of the game, here. Remember that your skin is your largest organ and skin cancer is one of the deadliest cancers.

7. Get the toxins out of your home.

Detox your home. I’ve been doing this for years, but this year we have really stepped up, by throwing out more of our old plastics, buying LED lights and hiring an organic lawn care company. I’ve just gotten seeds to plant bee friendly flowers as well, so in addition to keeping my backyard chemical-free, I can also help the local bee community thrive!

8. Limit or eliminate alcohol.

Detox your liver. I know that nobody likes this one, but truthfully alcohol is really not good for you. I’m not even talking about the addictive end of it, or the way it’s so easy to have “too much.” It usually contains sugar, sometimes glutens, sometimes fat, sometimes sulfates and it’s often an allergen. It has zero health benefits, in my opinion. I think we’d all like to believe red wine is healthy, but I believe the downside outweighs the up. Now, I’m not saying that everyone has to eliminate it but drink it in moderation. I did this and have never felt better. Trust me, it’s far more enjoyable when you save it for occasions and celebrations!

9. Make healthy drink choices.

Slender SticksDetox your liquids. Rehydration is so important but sometimes basic, filtered water is so boring! That said, make smart drink choices. Smoothies are a great choice over a traditional snack, and adding good flavor to water is far more fun than boring water. Lay off the sugar loaded drinks (which are everywhere this time of year) and make your beverages count. I’m a fan of Acai Lemonade Slender Sticks. They are sugar free (they use BetterStevia to sweeten), No-GMO and contain 10 super fruits for a blast of nutrients, including LOTS of Vitamin B-12. Definitely my summer go-to choice!

10. Be grateful every day.

Detox your mindset. If you are reading this, here are 3 things to be grateful for: your ability to read, your ability to see, your access to the Internet. It does not take much to be grateful every day. I swear, 5 minutes on Facebook usually makes me think, “there but for the grace of God go I”! What is your tiny thing that you are grateful for? Write it down. Write another tomorrow. Switch up your perspective to focus on what you have rather than what you don’t and it will make a difference!

Of these, the first and last are most important. We need to become our best and time and faith can help us do that, but we also need to take care of our one and only body. This is 49 for me, and I love it! You can start them at any time – you don’t have to be approaching 50!

Here are TWO delicious smoothie recipes that combine a healthy snack, a better beverage and your nutrients, one chocolate and one vanilla.

Chocolate Power Up Protein Smoothie

  • 1 tablespoon NOW Foods Chocolate Sprouted Brown Rice Protein
  • 6-10 ounces almond milk
  • 1/2 cup of organic kale or baby spinach or mix
  • 1/2 cup fresh cut pineapple (include some juice)
  • 1/4 cup organic frozen strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1-2 teaspoon hemp, flax or chia seeds
  • add your supplement of choice

NOW protein shake

Tropical Delight Vanilla Smoothie

  • 1 tablespoon NOW Foods Plant Protein Complex, Creamy Vanilla
  • 6-10 ounces coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh cut pineapple (include some juice)
  • 1 orange peeled
  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 crushed ice ice
  • 1-2 teaspoon hemp, flax or chia seeds
  • add your supplement of choice

Blend them up – delicious and you’re powered up to go. Now are you ready to take these 10 ways to stay young. What do you do to stay young?

This post was created as part of the #NOWWellness Blogger Ambassador Campaign in which I am a financially compensated blogger ambassador. The opinions are my own and based on my own experience.

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Calling All Christian Warrior Moms: You Can Do This Too http://embracingimperfect.com/christianity/5-characteristichristian-warrior-mom/ http://embracingimperfect.com/christianity/5-characteristichristian-warrior-mom/#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 17:25:15 +0000 http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20511 Ever feel like you need encouragement to be a strong mom? In today’s world, there are a lot of issues where the right to raise our children as we see fit is being taken away and given to authorities, who don’t know our kids nor have their best interests in mind. We should all work to safeguard children from abuse, molestation, bullying and other forms of violence

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christian warrior moms

Ever feel like you need encouragement to be a strong mom? In today’s world, there are a lot of issues where the right to raise our children as we see fit is being taken away and given to authorities, who don’t know our kids nor have their best interests in mind. We should all work to safeguard children from abuse, molestation, bullying and other forms of violence and neglect, but there is a fine line between what’s truly right and what is someone’s opinion of “right.” In this day and age, moms cannot afford to sit by the sidelines and hand the reigns over to someone who does not have our values in mind.

If you are looking for guidance and encouragement as a warrior mom, there’s no better example of one in the Bible than Deborah. There is no mention of her own children but she was a motherly figure to her people:

Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. – Judges 4:4-5

Deborah was fulfilling God’s call on her life when He revealed to her that he wanted to attack the king’s army and promised to deliver their commander, Sisera. She called for a man named Barak to deploy troops, but he wouldn’t do it unless Deborah herself went.

Well, imagine that! What would you do if you called on some strong men you to go fight for your rights but they wouldn’t go without you? You would do exactly what Deborah did: you’d go but you’d probably make a few things clear, like Deborah did. She told Barak: “I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” As the story goes, Sisera hid for safety with the Jael, wife of an ally, but she took his life. In doing so, “God subdued Jabin king of Canaan in the presence of the children of Israel. And the hand of the children of Israel grew stronger and stronger against Jabin king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.” (Jud. 4; 23-24). Read the full story in Judges 4-5.

What can we as mothers take away from the life of Deborah? Here are 5 traits that the successful Christian Warrior Mom should demonstrate:

1. Christian warrior moms study and apply scripture.

There’s simply no way God would have appointed Deborah as a judge and handed down this story of Israel’s only female leader if she had not been reading scripture and applying it to her charges when she would judge, nor would God have appointed her as a prophetess. In taking action, she states, “Has not God said…”, meaning she was praying and seeking deeply into His word to learn what to do next and how to do it. As for me, I have not felt any confidence in fighting for a cause until my studies have shown me that my heart and judgment is aligned with His will.

2. Christian warrior moms wait on the Lord.

It was only after being a judge for the people that Deborah called on Barak to fight. It was only after he forced her hand that she went to battle too. There are fights I participate in, like the battle to support GMO labeling, and battles I do not at this time feel called to fight. It doesn’t mean I won’t some day, but if I invest my energy into a stressful battle that God has not asked me to get involved in, I am doing no good for myself or my family or serving the Lord properly. That’s true even if it is an issue that can harm my family. My trust is in God totally and COMPLETELY, especially for the scary stuff. If you feel upset about an injustice, your first course of action should be to bring it before God and discover His plan for how you are going to handle it. Your next step, if you are to proceed, should be to tell the truth.

3. Christian warrior moms speak the truth.

Deborah was a prophet and mother to Israel. Old Testament prophets were not just charged with telling the future; they also told the people the laws and the consequences of breaking them, as well as God’s promises for keeping them. She was charged with telling God’s truth, whether it was to help judge disputes and issues for the people of Israel, or to fulfill God’s promise to deliver the enemy, or to tell Barak that he was not going to get the glory because he didn’t stand up and do what he was called to on his own. If there is a situation in your home or life that is hurting your or children or is suppressing the Word of God in your home, it’s time to speak the truth and air the issue out. Being married to a nonbeliever, this was an issue that had to be resolved since my husband did not want to hear or know about my faith for a period of time. This lead to very painful suppression of my faith and difficulty in sharing it with my children. I spoke up and we resolved the issue. Now we speak about Jesus every single day in my home. Remember that as Christians, we are called to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), so be careful that your words and tone are Godly. If you have spoken the truth, it may be time for action.

4. Christian warrior moms don’t wait on men but do respect authority.

While Deborah did not wait on Barak’s lead, she did give him the chance to lead first. If you are married to a Barak (“Ok, sure, if you do it, I will”) or someone even more passive (“Your call, honey” – I’m sure you’ve heard that one before), and you feel this is a fight God is calling you to do, it may be time to take the matter into your hands but not before clearing it with your husband or co-parent if it involves the kids. Be respectful and honest about what a fight may mean to your family – the good and the bad. Don’t shirk from your duty because you fear confrontation; you may be the sole fighter for your rights, your child’s rights, and your family’s safety and values. Not everyone will be called to fight the same fight, and not every “fight” means coming to blows. It might just be the term for standing up to a class bully, an unfair IEP, or a corrupt principal. It may be something bigger, though, like bringing your child before Congress to make a stand for parental rights. Or it can be something subtle, too, like changing the way you approach your child’s needs or stepping outside the box of failed medicine or traditional schooling.

5. Christian warrior moms give the glory to God.

Judges 5 is a follow up to the results of the battle against the evil king: it’s a 30-verse poem of praise that Deborah wrote. She spares no details in telling the story and yet gives all the praise for what she did, for what Barak did, and for what Jael did, to God. And while Deborah’s story ends in victory, yours may not end with the victory you wanted. Unfair laws may pass. Bullies are let slide. IEP’s need to be taken to the “next level” to get the best results for your child. God knows this too and has it in hand. Give Him the glory for that, too. This is the time to fully trust His guidance and understand what you needed to learn from this experience. Perhaps that battle is not done yet. Perhaps it’s time to make a drastic change for your child or family. Perhaps something awaits down the road that is better but you’re not there yet. Wait on God to tell you what to do next, praising Him as you do.

Christian warrior moms don’t need to tear themselves apart with worry but they do need to understand what God wants to be their place on the battlefield. Maybe you’ll be called to go to D.C. or the state capital, or maybe you need to stand up to something in your church, or maybe it’s right at home in front of your family. God is bigger then all those things and God can and will use you to swing the battle His way – whatever that may be.

What issue do you feel compelled to fight for?
What battles has God helped you with?
Share your story to encourage other moms!

 

Read more encouraging Christian posts at:

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