Embracing Imperfect 2015-04-24T13:48:51Z http://embracingimperfect.com/feed/atom/ Gina <![CDATA[Embracing Imperfect Interview: Paul Antico of Allergy Eats]]> http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20175 2015-04-24T13:48:51Z 2015-04-24T10:53:09Z Recently, I got the opportunity to interview Paul Antico, Founder and CEO of AllergyEats. This popular app and website helps people with allergies and food sensitivities find restaurants they can safely eat in. Q: Paul, thank you for this interview. Tell us how and why you were inspired to create AllergyEats? I have 5 kids and 3 of them have food allergies. I didn’t realize what

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allergy eats

Recently, I got the opportunity to interview Paul Antico, Founder and CEO of AllergyEats. This popular app and website helps people with allergies and food sensitivities find restaurants they can safely eat in.

Q: Paul, thank you for this interview. Tell us how and why you were inspired to create AllergyEats?

I have 5 kids and 3 of them have food allergies. I didn’t realize what I didn’t know about allergies. One day, my wife was away and I took my 2 sons who have allergies out to eat on a Saturday night. After waiting an hour and a half, we realized the place was not allergy friendly. I was unsure where to go and who to ask, and we faced this problem everywhere we went. I thought, “I wish there was a guide.” At the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America,  I mentioned my idea and in February 2010, we launched our site.

Paul and his family

Q: How do you compile your list of allergy friendly restaurants? What did you do differently than other resources?

It had been tried before me with little success but I think my background of 17 years in finance helped me. We purchased a database of every restaurant in America and then we crowdsourced, like the way YELP does. Rather than call and ask the restaurant about its allergy policies, we got the community to help. We made it easy for people to find restaurants and rate them. We tried to make it as easy possible for people to use.

Q: Give us a quick tour of AllergyEats.

Just go to our app or site and type the zip code or address, and select the foods you or your family is sensitive to. We set these ratings up by overall allergy friendliness, rather than which allergies they cater to. We discovered that most restaurants who “get it” for one food allergy, “get it” for any food allergy. We have 100,000 restaurants on our site (although not all are rated yet), and 425,000 menus. We also link with Open Table so people can quickly make reservations.

Our rating system is different, too. We ask users 3 questions focused on food allergies, rather than a “1-5″ rating scale and put those responses into our algorithm. We feel this gives more accurate selection for our community.

Q: What are your plans to grow and refine AllergyEats?

We are redoing both our app and our site. We are relaunching this year with more features, more community and social engagement and new technology. We are going to offer information on dining in Disney World. Our blog will address more issues, tips and good restaurants.

Our allergy community is very important to us. We want AllergyEats to be for the community and by the community. We hope that our changes will make it easier to rate, sign in and even be rewarded by improving user experience. We want more people to come in, love it and come back more often. The allergy community should be encouraged to eat out. That’s my motivation: to help this community. I also want the restaurant business to shift into doing this. We want to help restaurants and chains serve diners with allergies.

Right now, we are up to over 230 allergies, including night shades. We want to expand to highlight particular allergies.

Q: What have you given up doing “perfectly” so that you can do your best for both your family and your business?

I wouldn’t say I’ve changed at all. Recently, I took my son with the most allergies on a trip to Vermont. We went to Subway – not the most allergy-friendly place, but my son’s favorite. We have to be vigilant and plan in advance. My kids never forget their Epi Pens. If they do, we won’t eat out.

Paul and his children with allergies

Paul dines out with his children who have allergies.

 

I also make sure this doesn’t define my kids. I don’t want them to feel sorry for themselves. I’ve told my kids that everybody in this world has “something”: allergies, diabetes, being in a wheel chair. It may be something you can see – or not. I’ve told my children with allergies that they are blessed because they have life-saving medicine. We live a normal life. We don’t keep allergy-filled foods out of the house – the rest of us don’t give up what we like. This is their “something” and it’s just part of life.

Q: Any last comments?

We are asking everyone to put 1 or 2 reviews on AllergyEats. The more reviews the more you are benefitting the whole community and gives them a more active voice, especially for restaurants that haven’t been reviewed yet. As we grow, we can partner with companies that focus on food allergies. We’re all in this together.

Thanks to Paul and AllergyEats for this interview! You can submit reviews at AllergyEats.com, or download AllergyEats for iPhone or Android.

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Gina <![CDATA[Third Day at Stabler Arena #ad]]> http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20171 2015-04-23T19:30:00Z 2015-04-22T18:36:50Z I received tickets to this concert in exchange for a later review. I’m so excited! This friday, April 24th, 2015, 7PM, Christian musicians Third Day will be appearing at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, PA. This is an intimate venue – some years back, I saw Casting Crowns on my birthday at Stabler, and it was amazing! It’s a small arena so you can see from wherever

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I received tickets to this concert in exchange for a later review.

I’m so excited! This friday, April 24th, 2015, 7PM, Christian musicians Third Day will be appearing at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, PA. This is an intimate venue – some years back, I saw Casting Crowns on my birthday at Stabler, and it was amazing! It’s a small arena so you can see from wherever you sit and here everything. Ticket prices start at $22.75, and I’ll be reviewing this concert next week! Check them out on Facebook.

Buy your tickets here.

 

Third Day is such an amazing band. One of my favorites by  them is Agnus Dei:

third-day

Click here to view the embedded video.

What’s YOUR favorite Third Day song?

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Gina <![CDATA[Herban Lifestyle Mother’s Day for Special Needs Moms #herbanlifestyle #Ad]]> http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20105 2015-04-21T14:40:57Z 2015-04-21T13:00:57Z Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Green Sisterhood. I received products to review but was not compensated for publishing the review. Opinions are all my own. I’m going to give you a little secret: Moms who are raising kids stressful challenges, like medical issues, autism and developmental delays tend to forget about Mother’s Day. Sometimes their kids don’t know or can’t understand why this day is special or how

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Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Green Sisterhood. I received products to review but was not compensated for publishing the review. Opinions are all my own.

happy mother's day

I’m going to give you a little secret: Moms who are raising kids stressful challenges, like medical issues, autism and developmental delays tend to forget about Mother’s Day. Sometimes their kids don’t know or can’t understand why this day is special or how to make it special because of their disabilities. Rather than thinking of yourself this Mother’s Day, I want you to think about a mom who won’t get any gifts or special treatment this year because of her child’s special needs.

Help a Special Needs Mom on Mother’s Day

These moms have never gotten a present from their child – so step in do this for them! Arrange to watch her kids so she can get some “me time” or a date night. Take her out for a pre-Mother’s Day lunch while the kids are at school or respite. Better yet, buy her a nice gift. What could be more lovely than a basket full of non-toxic goodies just in time for Mother’s Day? Stumped on where to buy her clean, organic goodies? I have just the ticket. Herban Lifestyle carries safe, clean, organic bath and beauty products.

Started by owner Mary Kearns, Herban Lifestyle creates small batch bath and beauty products. These products do not contain artificial preservatives, fragrances or colors, petroleum-based ingredients or any other questionable substances. For Herban Life products are organic, fair trade and/or ethically crafted and tested, and the company embraces sustainability as a key practice that is important to them. They make good on that product by running a green business that is 100% wind powered and are a certified business member of Green America and certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny and PETA.

Not only can you make a mom smile, you can feel good that you have given her safe products that are Earth-friendly and cruelty free with an Herban Lifestyle Mother’s Day!

Review: Herban Lifestyle Products

I was offered a sample of their products, and I want to share with you my experience using them!

herban lifestyle products

Bamboo + Green Tea Facial Cleansing Grains

I loved washing with these! I simply poured these grains out and spritzed on my cleanser. They felt very gentle on my skin and thoroughly did the job. They are sold by the glass bottle (glass, of course) but in the near future, Herban Lifestyle will offer refillable grains so you don’t have to purchase the bottles all the time.

Lavender Vanilla Whipped Body Butter Made with Organic and Fair Trade Ingredients

I frequently suffer from very dry hands but can never find a product that moisturizes them without leaving a greasy residue. This lovely jar of Body Butter solves all those problems! It smoothed on, easily was absorbed as I rubbed it in and immediately started to soften my hands. I use this product whenever my hands feel too dry and right before bed every night, and yes, I can still open a paperback without getting it sticky! And the scent is so beautiful.

herban lifestyle products

Orange Ginger Shampoo Bar Made With Organic Fair Trade Vegetable Oils

I have lots of trouble finding a great shampoo that is safe for the kids but I feel confident using this on my girls. Their hair gets soft and shapely with this soap, and very clean. I would not overuse the soap – it can be a challenge to wash off if you use too much, but it does clean hair very well and is perfect for the whole family – as long as you tell your husband it’s shampoo and NOT soap. (Be honest – yours shampoos with soap, too, I bet!)

Organic Lime + Coconut Lip Creme

I tested the lip creme for myself and loved the way it felt so I decided to give it to Amelia. Again, I love that these products are so safe for my sensitive kids! She has a real problem with dry, cracked lips – and then she licks them and they get worse. So every morning and night, I let her use this lip creme. She now enjoys it and her lips are refreshed and soft when she leaves for school.

The best part? After using these products, my husband keeps complimenting me on how nice I smell! Organic, natural and full of clean and effective ingredients, I highly recommend Herban Lifestyle as the perfect gift source for the special needs mom in your life this Mother’s Day.

GIVEAWAY

Know what’s even better? You can win a $150 gift certificate to Herban Lifestyle today! That’s an awful lot of body butter, cleansing grains, lip cremes and other goodies to help a mom celebrate an Herban Lifestyle Mother’s Day! Hurry, this giveaway ends on 4/28/15 at 11:59PM EST.

Herban Lifestyle Giveaway prize

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Herban Lifestyle, Mother’s Day and special needs moms: the perfect combination to put a smile on a truly deserving face!

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Gina <![CDATA[How to Trust Your Inner Mama: Choosing Doctors]]> http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=19825 2015-04-20T17:30:29Z 2015-04-20T16:15:56Z As a new mom 12 years ago, I felt so intimidated by parenting that I read every expert I could find on the subject. When Amelia was born with both a developmental and medical disability, I read and consulted with doctors even more. My OB, who had safely shepherded me through a risky pregnancy, instructed me not to read outdated literature on raising a child with Down

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0420-innermama

As a new mom 12 years ago, I felt so intimidated by parenting that I read every expert I could find on the subject. When Amelia was born with both a developmental and medical disability, I read and consulted with doctors even more. My OB, who had safely shepherded me through a risky pregnancy, instructed me not to read outdated literature on raising a child with Down syndrome. She said this because she was fully aware of my tendency to research problems. In fact, she was so respectful that we often discussed the science of my own pregnancy during office visits.

Improving Diet: “Not Worth It”

My second child was born a few years later and by age 2, we knew something was amiss. At 3, we brought Zoe to a pediatric specialist in our area. This wizened lady, with far too many degrees and residencies weighing down her walls, gave her the diagnosis I had dreaded: autism.”

I’ll never forget that day, sitting shell-shocked and helpless as the doctor shuffled paperwork into my hands, gave me some generic resources and wished us luck before sending us on our way. I knew this was a condition with unknown consequences and in my panic, I dug through my brain to find a light in the tunnel before us. “What about the autism diet? She waved her hand dismissively. “Not enough success to make it worth the effort.”

That was it? “Good luck”?

Things didn’t get any easier. Two years later, we were a family on the brink of our own meltdown. Zoe slept in 4 hour shifts, rising and jumping up and down on us to play. We all were cranky, edgy and snapping at one other. Something had to change.

The Change that Affected Everything

So I went back to my tried and true fallback: research. It turned out there were few conventional options: Nighttime routines. Barren bedroom walls. No food after 6pm. Increasing doses of melatonin.

Nothing worked. Then a friend asked if I had tried the autism diet. No, I said, after all, it’s too difficult. It doesn’t really work, right?

And then it struck me: I couldn’t? Why not? Because some doctor told me “it wasn’t worth it”?

You see, doctors often will not endorse anything without epidemiological research that has been peer-reviewed. When the doctor said, “not enough success,” that’s what she meant – she had not seen studies to support it.

But the key? She said, “not enough success”, which meant there had been some. If there was a tiny chance this diet could help, wouldn’t that be worth a shot?

Anything was worth a try at this point, so we did it. A month later, a funny thing happened.

My daughter regularly slept through the night.

There was more, though: Amelia also benefitted too. Not only did she improve in school, she stopped having sinus allergies – the same allergies that doctors for years had told me were just “part of Down syndrome.”

Everything changed for me once we saw that sleepless nights were no longer a part of our lives. I started reading medical literature. I was not intimidated by it since my experience with my OB had showed me I could do it. I learned how to investigate resources. I got back to reading, this time a whole new field of experts for whom autism was not the end of the story but a leg in a journey.

There was hope. Who knew? Maybe there could even be healing – for both my girls.

Doctors Aren’t Infallible

Doctors are not computers. They can only retain so much knowledge and they don’t know your child as well as you do.

This is not to say that there aren’t any good traditional doctors. See my first paragraph? Dr. B was amazing and old school. There are some things that require medical care from a qualified M.D. but to say that all doctors are always right, always caring and always operate from their patient’s best interest is short-sighted at best. No one is that perfect or accurate.

Choosing a Doctor

Here are some key tips that your doctor might not be the person you had hoped:

  • He or she answers your questions with disdain, as if you were foolish to ask them. Eye rolling is a dead giveaway that they do not respect you or your opinion.
  • Modern nutrition is foreign to them. They don’t understand concepts like gut balance, healthy bacteria, healing symptoms with food, healthy fats, they don’t question toxins like BPA or glyphosate, etc.
  • They answer everything as soon as you ask. There isn’t anything you haven’t stumped them with, nor is there anything that science has not completely and faithfully figured out yet.
  • They scold you for asking logical follow ups when their answers don’t satisfy you.
  • Their first solution to problems is medication, which they frequently prescribe without always explaining, in detail, side effects or consequences such as, “You can’t stop taking this medicine once you start.”
  • They have accepted a LOT of funding or “perks” from the pharmaceutical industry. You can find out how much at the public information site, Dollars for Docs.

Now, in of itself one or 2 of these things might not be all that bad. You have to weigh the good with the bad: your personal experience, whether or not they’ve helped you, whether you’ve done your own due diligence or are going on hearsay, the gut feeling you have about this person and their practice, etc. Are you asking informed questions or just spouting something you’ve heard on Facebook? Do they have a specialty in the area you need help in, and if you leave them, are there other choices? Have you wrongly assumed they were in the wrong before you even asked?

Selecting a doctor is not like choosing what’s for dinner. Recommendation from friends, research into their history and a look at their health grades are as important as whether or not they are on your health plan. It might not feel that way but when you encounter a serious health problem, your physician should be your ally in helping you navigate this issue for yourself and your family. To ensure that, you have to ask the question can you trust this person with your life? Some day, you may need to.

Trust Yourself

If you asked that woman standing with a newborn 12 years ago, if she’d trust her child’s medical care to her own knowledge, she would have said you were crazy. Standing here today, watching my kids’ progress, I can tell you that I am anything but crazy. How do I know? When you live with a child with disabilities, it is hard to see progress. Then you meet someone and they say, “Well, done. Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it. She’s doing great.”

And that’s how you learn to trust your inner mama. Never doubt her. Never take her for granted. Never let anyone bully her. Listen to her. She is your guide to helping your child thrive.

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Gina <![CDATA[Embracing Imperfect Interview: Andrea Donsky of Naturally Savvy]]> http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20127 2015-04-17T14:19:11Z 2015-04-17T10:00:20Z This month, I had the privilege to interview Andrea Donsky, in preparation for my Surf Sweets post. We had such an interesting conversation that I thought it would be a great idea to kick off my new interview series, talking with leaders in organic, natural health and allergy friendly products, tools, and resources about their businesses. Andrea is an author, Registered Holistic Nutritionist (R.H.N.) and the

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0417-andrea

This month, I had the privilege to interview Andrea Donsky, in preparation for my Surf Sweets post. We had such an interesting conversation that I thought it would be a great idea to kick off my new interview series, talking with leaders in organic, natural health and allergy friendly products, tools, and resources about their businesses. Andrea is an author, Registered Holistic Nutritionist (R.H.N.) and the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Healthy Shopper Inc. and Naturally Savvy Media. NaturallySavvy.com is dedicated to teaching readers about organic, whole foods and how to integrate nutrition into your life.

Q: How did you get interested in serving your children clean foods?

I was raiding my children while I was in school to become a nutritionist. I had a “mom inclination” that neon colored and artificial foods were just “wrong.” Then I did some research and discovered that one of the biggest problems in kids’ foods is artificial food coloring.

Q: Why is that?

It comes down to how they act after they’ve eaten foods with artificial dyes. They would act out and I would see their eyes flicker when they were at the movies, for example, after eating these foods. My husband and I have both noticed this – we call their acting out “the crazies.” When I did the research, I discovered that artificial dyes were linked to hyperactivity. These dyes are made from petroleum. I can see that it’s doing something to them from a chemical standpoint.

Q: What do you do to safeguard your children?

I live in Canada, where companies don’t have disclose what’s in the color. They can simply write “color” on the label – you can’t tell what’s in it or whether the dye is artificial. So we look for options where we know how the colors are created – there are so many great options nowadays. Surf Sweets was one of the first candies we came across that are so clean. And their products taste good – some kids even think they taste better than brands that use artificial dyes.

Q: How do you help parents?

Books like ours, “Label Lessons” or my own “Unjunk Your Junk Food” are helpful tools, as is the NaturallySavvy.com website. They teach people what healthier options they can choose and what chemicals are in foods. Parents and kids can also retrain their taste buds. I had a friend give up Diet Coke. When she tried it again months later, she found it tasted like chemicals! It’s the same with candy and other foods full of artificial ingredients.

Q: How do the kids respond to these changes in their foods?

My son is 11 and is very in tune with his body. If he has cake at a party and eats too much icing, he may throw up – so now he’s leery of junk foods. He’s learning how food affects him. My younger daughter knows about this stuff but has not quite made the connection yet. It takes time but they’ll learn.

Q: I talk to a lot of parents and many of them think that feeding kids real, organic food is difficult. As a holistic nutritionist raising 3 children, what advice do you have for parents?

When people are just learning, baby steps are important. Don’t do everything at once. Ask yourself “What’s best for our children?” Learn by using resources that make it easy, like our books. It is hard, initially, but once you see improvements in your kids, you will catch on. Don’t give up – persevere! You just need patience.

Also, take an interest in educating yourself. Be proactive; don’t wait until it’s too late to make a change. Just switch out for healthier versions of things like candy.

Q: As founder and editor-in-chief of Naturally Savvy, book author, entrepreneur and mother, I’m sure you know it’s impossible to be perfect in all things. How do you embrace imperfection to live a good life?

Kids are not perfect. They will eat junk but they have to learn to make the decision to eat properly for themselves. We’re not perfect – that’s real -but we embrace this life because we have to and because of our kids. If people don’t want to change, it’s about getting to a place of “no judgment.” They can come to my site and ask questions but then it’s their choice.

At the end of the day, I love what I do. I’m not perfect, but we’re all here to make a difference.

naturally savvy

Thank you Andrea for a great interview! Check out Naturally Savvy to learn more about good nutrition and even how to make your own natural food coloring! Be sure to visit them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

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Gina <![CDATA[How to Heal (Not Fix) Broken Friendships]]> http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20115 2015-04-16T19:09:48Z 2015-04-16T19:01:44Z “I can fix this mess!” Do you say that a lot? Do you get nervous when you make a mistake or willfully do something that perhaps you never considered was wrong before? Do you just have to mend broken friendships right away? Well, I do. I can’t stand having someone angry at me. I’m learning to deal with this whole concept of “haters” because hardly anyone with a

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healing friendships

“I can fix this mess!”

Do you say that a lot? Do you get nervous when you make a mistake or willfully do something that perhaps you never considered was wrong before? Do you just have to mend broken friendships right away?

Well, I do. I can’t stand having someone angry at me. I’m learning to deal with this whole concept of “haters” because hardly anyone with a thoughtful opinion on anything seems immune, but when I cause trouble with someone I care about, my whole life goes out the window. I can actually get physically ill from it and want to fix it right away. Unfortunately, these situations often call for time and patience.

So what’s a fixer to do?

The most important thing you can do to heal broken friendships is to give them to God. Sounds great, right? Well, no, not so much to a fixer. It means that I am absolutely not in control and that I have to wait until God fixes this thing. But while you’re waiting, there are steps you can take when you’re in this kind of a bind.

1. Shut up.

You need to stop talking or doing or saying anything for at least a brief period with this person. Odds are high that you are going to “fix” yourself into a situation can no longer remedy, or you will do more damage than good. Just back away for a little while – they  might even feel relieved you are not “in their face” while they hopefully work on forgiving you (if you are in error). Instead, fill your mouth with different words…

2. Pray.

You need to pray for your eyes to be open to your part in the problem. Ask God to set your heart right. I didn’t find it beneficial to pray for the pain to go away, since it really felt too me-centered – and “me” was already the problem. You probably already know in your heart what you did wrong, you just didn’t see it that clearly. The light of day is a good thing! 1 John 6 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” We need to expose that thing to the light of our own eyes first. Naturally, pray for the person you are in conflict with as well. This can soften their heart. Meanwhile, remember take on only what you are responsible for and not practice false guilt.

3. Sort out the guilt.

You’re going to feel guilty, and maybe you should. The problem is not the real guilt – the kind that convicts you of your wrong and helps you understand a flaw that God can help you work through. That’s the Holy Spirit guiding you. The problem is false guilt and this comes from the enemy. Feeling guilty for something you did not do is another way that fixers like us try to control the situation. It’s way of saying, “I can fix this too!” No, you can’t fix something you didn’t do wrong. (I frequently have this problem.) Read “What is False Guilt and How Can I Avoid It? for instruction on this problem. Once you’ve sorted this out, the real “fixer” work can begin.

4. Fix your own issues by reading God’s word.

Firstly, you can’t fix every single sin all at once. One thing at a time! If a friend called you out for a bunch of shortcomings and your self-examination proved them all true, you will probably lose it your mind trying to you them all at once. (Fixers always want everything to be perfect now.) Instead, ask God’s guidance in helping you to prioritize the issues in a way that you can handle. As “fixers,” we tend to want to tackle the biggest thing first. That may be the direction God is sending you – or He may know you don’t have strength to tackle that Goliath right now. This is why it’s really critical to pray and read Scripture together. You can continue studying whatever you had already been working on, like the sermon you heard on Sunday. It’s often been my experience that something is going to leap out at you and keep coming up – you’ll read a passage, for example, that “just happens” to come up at your next Bible study. Or, grab a concordance and look up the problems you think you have. Scripture will convict you and you’ll know what you have to tackle first. Remember, too, that God always gives us a way out (see 1 Corinthians 10:13). After fixing what you can, you can now move forward to forgive.

5. Forgive

I’ve always said forgiveness comes easy to me, but that’s not exactly true. The real truth is that I’ve been blessed to have had only a few broken friendships with people I really love – and all those times, forgiveness was painful. I’d even say that it took a while – and I’m quite ashamed to admit that. Not only that, but you might find that you are very angry with yourself. So while you work on your faults, remember to forgive yourself as well as those who hurt you. Often, I’m the last one I forgive and that is a short cut back to false guilt. Concerning others,  you have to forgive, true, but you have to have the heart for it – and continue to pray for that person when forgiveness is taking time. There are times you feel sucker-punched and have to work through it. This happened to me some years ago with one of the people I love best in the world and it turned out the whole situation was a miscommunication, which is why the next step is important.

6. Make it right.

When you are finally calm and feeling God-centered, when you have prayed it through and when the person you’re in conflict with is ready, you need to meet  – face to face, if possible – and make it right. Start by apologizing – without excuses. Somehow, I never learned this growing up. I only even got convicted of how much my apologies sucked a few years back. I always believed excuses go hand-in-hand with apologies so they know your reasons. (Don’t ask me where I got that from, I have no idea!) It’s important to apologize without excuses for what you did wrong only, even if what you did wrong was get pissed off for what they did to you. (Only righteous anger is Godly, and I’m willing to bet that if you thought he term “pissed off” was accurate, your anger was not righteous.) At this point, the discussion should, hopefully, flow. Let the other person speak and apologize if there is more that you did wrong. And by the way, “I’m sorry you felt that way” is not an apology – it’s a deflection. “I’m sorry that I upset you” is appropriate.

One Caveat

Finally it’s important to remember that you may never get to #6. Some people are just “done with you” or maybe they are just not in a forgiving space. Some broken friendships can’t be “fixed” because it takes two people to make it right again. Your inner fixer will hate this, but this too you must give to God by going back and praying on it and reading scripture again. Your pride will take a huge hit – and that’s ok! As Christians, we need less ego and we need to know that not everyone is going to love us. Friends can turn into haters and back-turners.

Jesus knew this all too well when he told Judas to do what he had to do at the Last Supper. It couldn’t have been easy, even for God Himself, to have trusted this man with the money and his closest confidence for 3 years and then let him leave to betray Him. But Jesus knew that He could not change Judas’ action or mind. Some friends may permanently make up their minds against you too. Just remember that God is never against his children, for we are “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved (Col 3:12).” Give Him the tools to fill that empty space by worshiping Him with all your might and He will be faithful to fill it with joy.

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Gina <![CDATA[How to Give Your Child with #Autism a Heart of Joy]]> http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20066 2015-04-16T15:00:51Z 2015-04-14T16:10:41Z Today I want to reflect on something: my beautiful child, Zoe. I want to share with you the joy I’ve had at seeing my daughter, consistently and frequently, displaying an emotion she simply did not – or barely – had as a child: JOY These last few weeks we have bonded: she and I, and she and her whole family, in a spirit of fun, happiness

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joyful child with autism

Today I want to reflect on something: my beautiful child, Zoe. I want to share with you the joy I’ve had at seeing my daughter, consistently and frequently, displaying an emotion she simply did not – or barely – had as a child:

JOY

These last few weeks we have bonded: she and I, and she and her whole family, in a spirit of fun, happiness and play, every night, as she requested certain “games” that bring squeals of delight and giggle. But it wasn’t always this easy.

girl with star

Over the years, we’ve taken steps toward healing that has come has gone a long way in making the little girl who spent hours crying, banging her heard or tantrumming a joyful, happy child.

girl with anna

And then, 9 years later, you have a nightly routine that involves few words, yes, but so much laughter, giggling and smiling that your heart is soaring above the heavens with the gratitude for this healing.

So, what did we do that, after many years, resulted in a child who went from predominantly crying and screaming to being happy, content and joyful most of the time? It has been a long term program but I believe every parent can take these steps to help their child. Here are our solutions:

  1. Solve the Sleep Issues.
    We got into this journey because Zoe could not sleep at night. Removing dairy proteins (casein) from her diet absolutely healed that issue, true, but think about: are you happy when you suffer bouts of insomnia? How about all those sleepless nights with a new baby? It makes you irritable and fussy. Same goes for kids with autism – and her family. Those crossed signals mess up a child’s sleep patterns, with an outcome of that lack of sleep is more sensitivity, exhaustion and less ability to cope with stress. Learn how you can help your family go dairy-free without losing your mind.
  2. Help Them Communicate.
    Many kids with autism cannot speak (at all or barely), can’t speak properly or do not speak on time. When a baby has sensory issues, the only way they can communicate their pain is with crying or tantrumming. As soon as you are able, give that child tools to work with! You can do a lot to help them improve speech. Here are 9 ways that can improve child’s ability to communicate.
    girl driving
  3. Homeopathy.
    Our experience with homeopathy is that it has helped Zoe’s autism behaviors, especially her gut issues. Many children with autism have either constipation, constant diarrhea, leaky stools, undigested poop or some combo of these. That can’t feel good-think of how miserable a stomach virus makes you feel. How can you get to joy when a very basic daily function is all screwed up? Homeopathy has completely improved this issue for my kids and has helped them overcome negative behaviors.
  4. Create a More Joyful Home Environment.
    One amazing thing about kids is they PICK UP on even the slightest detection of trouble or sorrow in the home. If your home is broken or breaking, if your marriage is struggling, if someone is waging war with mental illness or other psychological issues, addictions, financial woes, etc etc etc…you have to start to fix this. I can tell you that once that situation breaks and the healing starts, even when you are miles away from a full resolution, your kids will notice and it will change them – for the better. Kids are not equipped yet to live joyfully in a house of pain. It takes a whole lot of mature faith to do that and most adults can’t – and shouldn’t – either. Seek help to heal and begin creating joy in your home.
  5. Heal Their Pain.
    This is critical but it’s not going to be easy. Just last week I heard an autism mama proclaim her son thanked her, because he’d been in pain HIS WHOLE LIFE. He didn’t know it was even there, until it was gone, but even then, he felt better. I don’t think you can function properly in constant pain, even if you don’t know anything else, and I don’t think don’t believe this is what God intended for any of our children. You must take steps to heal your child’s medical issues, even if your doctor tells you there “aren’t any,” because this how you heal the pain they don’t even know they feel.
  6. Toxin Removal.
    Toxins do damage. Aluminum and MSG, for example, are known to harm neurons. Leaky gut causes pain. Out of balance brain chemistry blocks nutrient absorption. A child cannot be content, joyful or happy when their body is full of poisons that are doing damage. It’s up to you to find ways to clear out those toxins by changing your cooking habits, your health, beauty, lawn care products, by eating organic, etc., as well as the treatments that work for you, like how homeopathy has worked for us.
  7. Patience.
    I know this sounds like a ton of work. It is. And I know people who simply blow me away in how well they do this stuff for their kids but I’m not them. I’ve just got do my best for that day. This life is hard and the shortcuts are tempting, but they are not the best choice for me and my children. Yes, I fail…I’ve had failures on the GAPS diet we are doing. The good news is that this is polishing my dirt-covered heart into a precious stone. A friend – who has 4 kids – told me he couldn’t believe my patience. If you’d have told me at age 30 that anyone would accuse me of having patience, I’d have laughed! Today, I look at the baby steps of progress my girls make and take the long view of how far we’ve come in all these years. It’s been worth every struggle, especially when I see children their age who are as sad and as in pain as Zoe once was.
  8. Faith.
    Right now, I’m trying to teach my children about joy. This last week, that included Bible studies on why all good gifts come from God and how to be grateful. I honestly believe, too, that you can be joyful in every circumstance – Christianity has taught me that. But there’s the other kind of faith too – the faith  that your child can be healed. Keep working. Keep praying. Keep hoping. Don’t give up until your child has cracked a smile, has regularly had fun or has laughed in a way you never ever thought possible.

I believe this is possible for every child too. Years ago, I’d cry myself to sleep over how much Zoe suffered. I had 2 children, one that smiled the minute she could figure out how to flex those lip muscles in an upward curve, and one who had to go through years and years of frustration, pain and tears. They stood in sharp contrast to each other and it broke my heart. Amelia was such a content and happy baby that she helped heal my postpartum depression. Was there hope for my sad child?

girl dancing

Absolutely! And there is for your child too. Healing the mind, body and spirit of a child with autism is doable with food intervention, homeopathy, home stability, patience and an avalanche of prayer, faith and hope. Your child, too, can be happy and joyful!

So what are you waiting for? The sooner you start, the sooner you can help your child have the life you’ve always dreamed they would have.

 

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Gina <![CDATA[Fighting the Willful Sin: Worry]]> http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20050 2015-04-17T02:09:26Z 2015-04-09T20:23:08Z   Worry. It’s the backbone of the life of many parents raising kids with special needs. At times, it can help – a little worry can teach us important lessons in planning ahead, especially if you’re a spontaneous gal like I am. But the truth is that if you are a Christian, worry is a willful sin. I know, I know, it doesn’t feel like a

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gods got this

Worry. It’s the backbone of the life of many parents raising kids with special needs. At times, it can help – a little worry can teach us important lessons in planning ahead, especially if you’re a spontaneous gal like I am.

But the truth is that if you are a Christian, worry is a willful sin. I know, I know, it doesn’t feel like a sin. It feels like a natural response to complex situations that you cannot control. Or maybe, just maybe, you think CAN control them…you just haven’t figured out how yet. So you work it, obsess, read, investigate and pretty soon you have zero answers and many sleepless nights.

Sound familiar? Sure does for me.

The thing is, that worry – especially if it leads to believing you are in control of things you’re not -is a sin. Why? Because that’s like saying that God, the Creator of the universe is not big enough to handle this, or doesn’t know what’s coming, or can’t protect us when it does come. But if you are a Christian, God promises us in the Bible that He’s got your life in hands:

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. – Romans 8:28

That emphasis is the key: His purpose, not our ease, comfort or escape from calamity. In the Bible, the apostle Paul finds himself in prison many, many times and is ultimately killed for his faith – yet look at what amazing work came out of his trust in God.

So when the chessboard pieces of politics, school officials, medical laws, healthcare, unemployment, financial disasters, illness, disabilities, and all the other things that have no possibility of you knowing the final outcome with certainty, what you CAN determine is that God, who is ALWAYS faithful, has got your back, no matter what comes.

I mean it: NO MATTER WHAT. Crappy politicians. Broken hearts. Bullies, Betrayal. Closed schools. Losing favorite staff for your kids. Losing medical coverage. Losing your job. Broken cars and boilers. Unpaid bills. Cancer. Alzheimers. Autism.

A child who will never live independently in a world where there is no funding to support her.

God has it.

HE.

IS.

FAITHFUL.

ALWAYS.

This, then is the promise of Christianity. I have friends in other religions or who are agnostic or atheist, but I don’t hear os see this level of absolute security from them that I have in my faith; I don’t see unwavering trust that chases away all the uncertainty.

And I’m NOT saying that the unthinkable won’t happen. I don’t believe in any kind of “prosperity” theology or that God will keep you from hardship and pain that He believes will be for your good – or rather, for His good.

I am saying that when He does give you more than you can bear (and I promise you, He will), He will be there to help you, to hold you, to direct you, to grow you and put you exactly in the place He needs you. As I said, for Paul in the Bible that was often prison – and from all that “free time” in prison, he wrote most of the New Testament’s letters. I’m sure he also saved a good number of guard, fellow inmates and others.

All over the world, we are seeing this worked out here in the U.S., in 3rd world countries or places where Jesus “lost ground” decades ago. A girl is shot for faith in Jesus at Columbine and the story is remembered to this day. ISIS beheads 21 people, and the faithful turn it into a remembrance of love for God. Over 100 Kenyan students are killed for their faith, and Christians realize that Jesus had more people to celebrate Easter in heaven with this year. Every single one of those Christians knew they were stepping out of this life in to that promise of heaven, of an eternity worshiping God Almighty. To them, it was worth everything because they KNEW without a doubt that God is faithful.

Right now there is a lot going on that threatens parents like me who are raising kids with autism and other disabilities, living nontoxic lives and seeking alternative therapies. I’m on this path of healing my kids by the grace of God. Should those options be taken away, that, TOO, will be by the grace of God. I’m doing what I can, as far as I feel God leading to help these issues go the way I think they should, but I can’t see the future.

In fact, in raising kids with special needs is a path of “one day at a time”…and that’s ok. I’m making sure that each and every one of those days, I’m connecting with the beautiful family I live with and showing them my love for God as much as possible. I can’t worry about the future because Jesus tells me not to:

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. – Matthew 6:34

So stop worrying, dear reader, about laws and bills and money and support and your car and your home. Instead, consider the state of your heart in relation to God and how much you trust Him.

Why should you trust Him?

Because God created every single thing in the universe. So yes, He has control over all of it.

Because Jesus gave us this gift: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27). So yes, we Christians have peace.

Because Jesus sent to Holy Spirit to comfort us in times of worry and tribulation (John 14:16,17). So yes, we have comfort too.

My prayer is that you let not your hearts be troubled, but seek God with prayer and scriptures to calm your fears and learn to wholly and completely trust the God who loves you.

What are you worrying about today that God has in His Mighty Hands?

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Gina <![CDATA[Mom Wellness Review: Organic India Moringa Supplements and Teas]]> http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20040 2015-04-08T17:23:24Z 2015-04-08T17:03:04Z I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product. Nutrients can be tough for a mom on the go and

The post Mom Wellness Review: Organic India Moringa Supplements and Teas appeared first on Embracing Imperfect.

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I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product.

0408-moringa

Nutrients can be tough for a mom on the go and parents juggling those “extra” responsibilities for kids with special needs and on special diets. That means it’s easy to 1) put yourself last and 2) put your nutrition last.

In fact, I have a confession:

I did this to myself recently. It’s a lesson I KEEP needing to learn over and over. The problem with that is if you don’t take care of yourself, you CAN’T take of your kids – and all those extra details that help them to live a better life and blossom as they grow.

Because I know I have this tendency to forget about myself, I need solutions that can really help. So I was excited when I was selected for this sampling program to review Organic India products. Let me share my experience with you:

The VERY Good – and Why You’ll Love Moringa

All the products I tested were either Project Non-GMO Verified or USDA Organic – or both. You know I’m already in love, right? :) Most of the products I received contained Moringa, which is organically grown on organic farms in India (USDA Organic Certified). It’s considered “one of the most complete, nutrient dense plants on Earth.” Why is that? Because it has over 90 nutrients, 46 antioxidants and is rich in both important and trace minerals, and complex amino acids. Want an example of how full of nutrition this plant is? According to the website, “Gram for gram, Moringa contains more B12 than steak, more vitamin A than eggs, and more calcium than milk.” WOW! This superfood has a long and ancient history and is used to fight malnutrition in impoverished countries. Learn more about Moringa Tea with Herbal University training video (full name and email required).

(NOTE: Organic India recommends that women who are pregnant, attempting to conceive, or lactating consult their healthcare practitioner before consuming Moringa.)

Organic India Capsules

I received samples of:

  • Organic India Joy: Contains herbs that can help replenish and nourish the nervous system. Non-GMO Project Verified. Gluten free, vegan, Kosher & Halal certified, made with USDA organic herbs.
  • Organic India Tumeric Formula: supports healthy joint function, improves digestion. Non-GMO Project Verified and Fair Trade certified. Gluten free, vegan, Kosher & Halalcertified, made with USDA organic herbs.
  • Organic India Moringa Capsules: alkalizing essential nutrition. Non-GMO Project Verified and Fair Trade certified. Gluten free, vegan, Kosher & Halalcertified, made with USDA organic herbs.

I thought they all were great, energizing me and setting off my day right, but the real miracle is that my husband took them! He liked them so much that he finished off most of the Moringa Capsules! Then he moved on to Joy, so I’ll have to hide them :)

Organic India Tulsi Teas

0408-moringateac

  • Original: Non-GMO Project Verified and UDSA Organic and Fair Trade certified. Caffeine and gluten free. Kosher & Halal certified.
  • Moringa: Non-GMO Project Verified and UDSA Organic certified. Kosher & Halal certified.
  • Cinnamon Rose: Non-GMO Project Verified and UDSA Organic certified. Caffeine and gluten free. Kosher & Halal certified.
  • Green Tea: Non-GMO Project Verified. UDSA Organic and Fair Trade certified. Gluten free. Kosher & Halal certified.

I’m a CONFIRMED coffee drinker but I crave something warm at night – especially with this long and exhausting winter we’ve had. Coffee and hot chocolate are simply NOT a choice for my nights, so I was thrilled to add teas to my routine! My favorite here is the Cinnamon Rose, but these were all good. A nice relaxing cup of tea at the end of the night, I found I felt warm and relaxed after drinking them, rather than “knocked out” like some other teas! These are tea bag teas, not loose powder by the way.

Organic India Moringa Essential Nutrition Leaf Powder

OrganicIndia-MoringaWe were talking about easy, right? Well, I absolutely LOVED this powder. Also USDA organic, the Moringa was a huge slice of easy supplement. You only need a little – 1/2 teaspoon – to add to your smoothies or, better yet, your bulletproof coffee!! It was so awesome. I did not notice any flavor to the powder, just the rich flavors of my other ingredients. Worth the price – you get a whopping 225 servings in every 8 ounce container!

Mom Wellness Verdict:

I love these products! Easy to use, good or mild tasting, easy to take, Organic India has made me a happy camper, especially the Essential Nutrition Leaf Powder. (The hubby doesn’t do smoothies or bullet proof coffee, so that baby is ALL mine. Or maybe I can share with the kids??) I also recommend the powder if you are super busy and often neglect your nutrition, and the tea if you are looking for something to relax you or replace coffee. My only complaint is the Moringa Capsules required 4 per day – and if there two of you taking them, you’ll fly through 90-count bottle. All the other supplements were 1 per day.

Check out Organic India on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks to both Organic India and MomsMeet for this incredible example – and the beautiful stainless steel Thermos, so I can bring my tea to bible study!

 

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Gina <![CDATA[Giveaway: Sahara Sam’s Tickets!]]> http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20033 2015-04-17T02:11:08Z 2015-04-07T16:47:21Z It’s happening again: Special Needs Night at Sahara Sam’s in West Berlin, NJ is all set for Friday, May 1, 2015, from 6-9 PM EST. We absolutely had a BLAST at Special Needs Night last November, and I totally recommend it. Embracing Imperfect is giving away a 4-pack of tickets to the event, saving you $17.95 per ticket!   This event features: Quiet rooms should the

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Sahara Sam's Special Needs Night

It’s happening again: Special Needs Night at Sahara Sam’s in West Berlin, NJ is all set for Friday, May 1, 2015, from 6-9 PM EST. We absolutely had a BLAST at Special Needs Night last November, and I totally recommend it. Embracing Imperfect is giving away a 4-pack of tickets to the event, saving you $17.95 per ticket!

 

This event features:

  • Quiet rooms should the event become overwhelming for your child
  • Modified lighting and sound throughout the water park
  • Options to bring your own snack of those of you on special diets or to dine from full service cafe
  • Limited ticket sales so that the park does not become too crowded

We had such a great time that night, from meeting the fire dog…

girl with fire dog

to playing “Where’s Sam”…

me and sahara sam

to just being a safe, nonjudgmental place with our awesome community.

special needs night at sahara sams

If you’re looking for a fun, night out that your kids can enjoy, enter now to win tickets to Sahara Sam’s Special Needs Night!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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