Monday, November 30, 2015

Best Cyber Monday Deals for Moms!

The top three BEST Cyber Monday Deals...just for moms!

#1 Cyber Monday Shopping Tip: start your shopping by logging into Ebates. You'll get an additional percentage off of almost every shopping website, and it comes back to you as cash! There is also a $10 sign up bonus today, and you can earn up to $100 by referring three friends. 

Discount examples: - up to 10% back; Groupon - 10% back; Khols - 10% back.

The Post Institute: awesome organization to help you parent children with difficult behaviors. They have free training videos, online, CD, and DVD versions of their courses. They are highly recommended and I discovered them from a professional after she learned about the PTSD and associated behaviors my daughter has. Today, most everything is 50% off. This makes their Holiday course only a few dollars! Programs include:

  • Strategies for Severe Behaviors in Adoptive and Foster Children Including RAD, OD, ADHD, Aspergers, Autism and Others
  • Parenting Difficult Tweensand Teens
  • Parenting the Attachment Challenged Child 3
  • Healing Attachment Challenged Adults (addictive and angry behaviors)
  • Trauma, Brain & Helping Children Heal
  • Great Behavior Breakdown 13 CD Series
  • Stress Love & Your Baby
  • Parenting Home Study Course
  • From Fear to Love Book

View the details and order the program your family needs here:

It Works!: today ONLY, they are doing a buy-one-get-one-free promo on their new WOW (Wipe Out Wrinkles) product and also when you buy an Exfoliating Peel + Lip & Eye cream. This works out to be $23 per WOW or $32.50 per Exfoliating Peel + Lip & Eye...and that's not even including the wholesale membership fee waved, the free shipping after your third order, or the perks points of the Loyal Customer (wholesale) program which gives you an even better deal! NOTE: IW sold out of their essential oil holiday package quickly, so get this offer before it sells out, too. Order at

Inspired By Finn: we have used their Baltic amber and hazel wood jewelry for years and love it! It's the real deal, they have tons of choices (including other therapeutic jewelry and pieces for adults), and your entire order is discounted 33% when you use the code "CyberMon33" during checkout. Order here:

(contains some affiliate links)

Friday, November 13, 2015

Bringing the Sacrifice of Praise

Something I have learned over the last few years is the importance and power of praising God amidst very difficult circumstances. It is easy to praise in spirit and song when you have no life or death matters that invade your thoughts as you try to focus on the Father. It is easy to praise when you are on stage leading worship. It is easy to praise when you consider what God has done for you and the promises that you see being fulfilled in your life.

It is much more difficult to praise when you are fighting fear. It is much more difficult to praise when your thoughts go to begging God to save you and your family. It is much more difficult to praise when you don't know why God has not yet responded to your acts of obedience, has not answered your prayers, and when others have suggested that this apparent wilderness in your life is because you haven't prayed hard enough, fasted long enough, or that there must be something spiritually that is wrong in your life for God to not respond to your dire situation.

When your spirit is crushed, when you don't know how to go on, when you are confused and angry...that is when it is difficult to praise. And that is when praise becomes your sacrifice.

Unlike many other forms of spiritual warfare and different acts of worship, praise brings us full circle to where we began and why we were created. God didn't create us so that He could save us. He didn't create us so that we could need Him. He didn't create us so that we could go forth and bring more people to Him. His purpose of creating us was so that we could commune with, honor and love Him. 

For as a belt is bound around the waist, so I bound all the people of Israel and all the people of Judah to me,' declares the LORD, 'to be my people for my renown and praise and honor.' (Jeremiah 13:11)
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
When we bring a sacrifice of praise, we are praising Him for who He is. Not for anything He has done for us. Not for anything we are happy about. When brought as a sacrifice, praise moves from being an emotional response to an act of obedience. Biblically speaking, obedience is time and again upheld as our first responsibility to God, and the first thing we will do if we truly love Him. By bringing the sacrifice of praise, we are obeying Him with nothing for our own gain attached. It becomes simply about Him because of who He is.
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. (Hebrews 13:15)
When you normally praise, it is a sacrifice in the sense of bringing a gift to God. But when you bring the sacrifice of praise, it is out of your complete brokenness and is because you are choosing to bring it, not because you have an abundance of good feelings to shave the top of. It's when you have nothing. The beautiful thing about it is that it's beautiful to God.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:16-17)
It seems that in the beginning of a wilderness period, we cling to the promises and look forward with vigor and hope. As time goes on, though, and weeks turn into months, months into a year, and one year into multiple years, we grow weary. We grow unsure. We grow scared.
 “Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts?  And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’ ” (Malachai 3:13-15)

When it becomes the most unnatural to praise, let it be what you do. Let it be the sacrifice you bring. Esteem His name, for His response in Malachai is great.

Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name.  “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. (Malachai 3:16-17)

Choose to have your broken spirit be a vessel of praise, so that even when you are facing extreme circumstances, even when you have nothing left, even when you are confused or angry...even when your heart is far from can offer the sacrifice of praise before your King. Praise Him through the battle.
And the Lord said:“Because these people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me,and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder." (Isaiah 29:13-14)
There is power in the sacrifice of praise.

(image credit to Cecil Porter)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Reviving Life

 There are times when life gets crazy. You know the feeling. It might be bills, overbearing neighbors and people groups, job stressors, too many commitments...adjusting to life as a working mom, a stay at home mom, or a home schooling mom. Trying to balance an addition to the family. Dealing with an unruly pet. Figuring out how to not go crazy at home with the never ending cycles that come with being with small children all day. Figuring out how to not go crazy trying to balance working outside the home and meeting those small children's needs for mommy. Facebook addiction. Phone addiction. Pinning all the things instead of doing all the things. You get it.

My family was there. Really, we've been there for a few years. Our "crazy" has meant court battles, managing a child with PTSD episodes and other behaviors that are hard to manage, two years of not living in our own home, periods of joblessness, job changes, living in a small apartment with five people, me homeschooling and managing moving and the kids while my husband has been away more than he hasn't for his job the last year...but it's starting to break. Homeschooling is getting easier. My husband just came home after being gone for almost all of the last three months (even though he's gone again next week). My daughter is currently in an improved phase, and I found some REALLY promising resources for her in the location we're in now. Our family court appeal is going to be heard on October 28, and we currently don't have any other ongoing trials to deal with. And, we are finally closing on this beautiful log cabin home in the woods. Peace. Wow!

It's a long story, and it still continues. But God is faithful. He has so much love for us, and He has continued to provide even when our circumstances have literally been impossible. I am so thankful, so grateful, so humbled by it all. How great the Father's love for us.

So we're beginning. Continuing. Reviving ourselves as we near the end of the struggles we've been facing. Running as fast as we can toward the relief that we want to wash over us. Being silent, because we don't know what to say as we just breathe. It feels so good to finally breathe again, and not in hurried, panicked breathes that we choke on as we try to save ourselves. If I've learned anything, it's that we can't save ourselves. We can't save our children. We can't save anyone. We can only release ourselves. Release our children. Release others.

Today, we mark another step in reviving our life, and we are so ready.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Surviving Adult Chickenpox

I am thirty, and I have the chickenpox. Not shingles. Not a few red spots. Full blown-itching-my-brain-out-chickenpox. Google "adult chickenpox" and you won't find much about how to survive this. Maybe because you're supposed to have gotten this over and done with in childhood, or maybe because it's not survivable. I'll let you know which it is in about two weeks.

I was diagnosed yesterday, though I think my first "spot" showed up three days ago concealed by me thinking it was a bug bite. Like I thought the cluster of five that showed up on my arm were. Like I thought the next cluster on my foot were. It wasn't until I'd exhausted Dr. Google before dawn because I couldn't sleep due to the itching that I starting thinking it wasn't a normal bug. Silly me, I even thought it was quite possibly bed bugs and even woke up my sleeping husband to tell him so, until I went to the bathroom and saw The Rash on my legs. Like, all over my thighs legs. I watched the rash morph over the next few hours, telling myself that I would NOT be that person who went to the ER in the middle of a night for a non-life-threatening rash. Proudly, I made it until the closest doctor's office could fit me in yesterday.

Here's what happens when you're a chickenpox infected adult: other adults get scared. This is confusing to them. New territory. You are not only probably wrong about what you have, but you're also strange, and probably have something that's going to kill them, or at a minimum, should be on display (while quarantined) because now something that's only in textbooks has become a real life medical model. I witnessed this as I politely (and quietly) told the office receptionist that I think I may have the chickenpox, and could they put me in a separate waiting room or at least give me a mask so I don't infect anyone else if I'm contagious? I got The Look. The wide eyed, I have no idea what to say, I'm not sure I should hand you a pen or take your registration paperwork back before I spray it with bleach solution, look. Thankfully, the physician assistant knew what to do and told the panicking receptionist to "put her in room 5" (along with my paperwork).

When the female physician assistant was able to get in to see me, she offered a gown. When you're a chickenpox adult victim, you don't wear a gown. You just strip your clothes off as fast as you can so that the diagnosis can happen because you think that they must have a magic can of itch-stopping spray handy for cases like this, and you want that magic spray can. A whopping 30-seconds was needed for diagnosis, thanks to the various spots that now covered all of my limbs and back. She writes me a script for an antiviral that might offer relief though I'm bordering on the 24-hour start threshold (or possibly a day over it), I throw my shirt and pants back on, and then the door opens again because another young staff member has never seen chickenpox in real life. No problem, glad to be of assistance.

Society apologizes profusely for your plight, from the pharmacist to the cashier. Everyone except for your kids, who still demand you function at just the same level as before you were a walking red, itching mass. You didn't think to ask all of those apologetic people if they'd put their empathy to work by watching your kids for you, so you become a zombie chickenpox adult as you use Benadryl as your coping method. When I say "coping method", I'm really just referring to the trade you're making between itchiness and alertness. Since you can't nap or lay in bed all day, but you REALLY need that diphenhydramine, you are now a bumbling, fumbling, slow, foot dragging, red, itching mass...who, if she was with it enough, would be praying that her children don't see this as an opportunity to take advantage of.

Since Dr. Google isn't helpful enough to give you a list of what you need to know to survive the chickenpox as a mother, here is a summary of what I've learned:

a. It isn't fun. In fact, it's worse than the opposite of "fun", whatever that may be. It can be described as "the type of itchy that consumes all of your willpower and thoughts." You will be so itchy, in fact, that you will be nauseous. 

b. At least it isn't Scabies. Google that. You're welcome.

c. That oatmeal bath thing? Fiction.

d. Popsicles: skip it. Your throat hurting is easier to deal with than cleaning up the stickiness that is bound to occur when your children eat popsicles because they see you eating one. And you don't have the energy for sticky floors right now.  

e. Benadryl. Consider making it a family event.

f. People are going to tell you weird things. Weird remedies, weird memories, weird everything. Just move on. 

g. There is an antiviral specific to chickenpox/shingles/herpes. Who knows how well it really works, though. I don't know yet, but I'm taking four pills a day, anyway, just in case.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

4 Things To Know About Child Sexual Offenders + Resources for Parents of Juvenile Sexual Offenders

I wasn't going to write on this topic again, but alas, it appears that a post that covers juvenile sexual offenders would be helpful to the general public. I'm glad people are eager for this information, because there is a lot of misinformation going around right now. I hope that the information and resources here will put minds at rest and abate some fears, as well as bring hope for a future without abuse.

  1. Being a sexual offender is not the same as being sexually curious or sexually acting out. Curiosity is normal, sexually acting out is a result of something else (it can even be a result of violence, other abuse or neglect, etc.), and sexually offending means you are repeatedly doing this, knowing that it's wrong (these aren't the scientific definitions--look them up to learn the differences).
  2. Children who offend are different than adults who offend. The police, courts, and programs understand this. You don't need to worry that by seeking out legal or professional help, that your child is going to be sent to prison. That's not how it works. (See "Understanding Juvenile Sexual Offending...")
  3. There are treatment programs available for child offenders to help them act safely in the community and at home. These aren't "jails". They are programs, and precautions are taken to make sure your child isn't going to "learn" from another offender. Again, this isn't prison. In fact, the research shows that a community/home based approach is effective (
  4. Many child sexual offenders will not continue to offend. Hallelujah! Again, they aren't little adults. (See "Understanding Juvenile Sexual Offending...")

If your child, or a child you know, is acting in a sexually abusive way towards others, you need to take action and get help for that child (and also the victims). Here are some resources to get you started:

  1. Understanding Juvenile Sexual Offending Behavior: Emerging Research, Treatment Approaches and Management Practices This article explains the characteristics, typology, treatment research, justice trends, intervention research and models, abuser assessment, treatment, and recommendations for practice (READ THE RECOMMENDATIONS).
  2. Sex Offender Treatment Services PASS Program: This is for youth, and is done while they are at home or in therapeutic foster care. It works with the youth, the families, and others involved. It's a treatment team approach, which all treatment is in these situations.
  3. The Marsh Foundation has an example of a inpatient treatment program for male child/teenage offenders. Even though the child stays on site for generally 6-12 months to complete the program, the family must take part in the program and completion is influenced by the home and family environment.
  4. Your local social service/law enforcement agency are who will have the resources you need. They are not going to look at your child with disgust, but instead will be compassionate and will understand your outcry for help. Your child has to be brave enough to receive treatment, and you have to be brave enough to get it for them. Check for local support groups for parents of juvenile sexual offenders, and check out this Handbook for Parents and Caregivers of juvenile sexual offenders. 
Above all else, remember that there is always, always hope. The best days are yet to come.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

For The Girls (a response to Josh Duggar's abuse scandal)

The media is blowing up right now. Facebook. News sites. Blogs. Twitter. Most of what I'm reading is about how we should all not judge Josh Duggar because we all made mistakes when we were 14, too, and that Jesus said that "he who is without sin should cast the first stone." The other 1/3 of what I see is about how Josh Duggar should lose everything and no be allowed around people and so on.

But did you notice something?

It's all about Josh Duggar.

Do I have thoughts about him? Yes. Do I think that the opinions that are carelessly using the Bible and disrespectfully implying that the heart of God loves forgiveness more than He hates sin are wrong? Yes. And am I going to let all of that go right now? Yes.

I'm letting it go because none of this should be about Josh Duggar. In our outrage, shock (or for some of us, not so much shock), and need to try to make sense of all of this, society has focused on Josh. And they shouldn't. Because Josh will reap the consequences of his own actions, as is normal and as he should. But there are at least five other people out there, plus all of his family, who will also suffer. And no one is talking about them. When did we become a society that became so moved by Hitler that we forgot about the Jews? An abuser is no one without his or her victims, and every time that you get into a discussion that leaves the victims out, you have become focused on the wrong person.

I get that we need to make sense of this. I get that everyone is clawing for a reason--what was missed? How could this have been prevented? Would the outcome or anything be different if it had been handled any differently? All of these questions should be considered, and it's important, oh so important, to understand that these things do happen and to understand how they should be handled (as if there is a one-size-fits-all answer to that). Except that to ask those questions right now puts the focus on me, and my need to somehow make this work in my head and my heart. But it's not about me. And it's not about you.

So this post, this blog, this lady whose heart wishes there were never stories like this, is for the girls.

Dear Girls,

I'm sorry. I'm sorry it happened. I'm sorry it was your brother. I'm sorry he had to continue living with you. I'm sorry that now instead of being who you are, society just sees you as a victim right now. I'm sorry that society is focused on him. I'm sorry that you have no voice right now.

I'm proud of you for telling. I'm proud of you for not being afraid. I'm proud of you for not forgetting. I'm proud of your for your willingness to forgive, though I hope that you have also been able to make peace with things and that you do truly understand what happened had nothing to do with you or your actions. I'm proud that you haven't let this define who you are.

I hope that you are able to experience your emotions and not just shut them down. I hope that you are able to say what you need to say, regardless of which spectrum it lies on. I hope that you have been able to, or will be able to, have correct and truthful thinking and understanding regarding sexuality, male roles, and what God really thinks about abuse.

You are worthy. Your identity has nothing to do with this. You will move on from this media outburst, it will get better, and you will be fine. Hold your head up, let yourself feel what you need to feel, do what you need to do, and know that your best days are still yet to come. You are enough, and our God is not a God who condones abuse. Ever. He didn't want that to happen to you, and He will be your Jehovah Nicci, your banner, as you shelter in the shadow of His wings.

I know that you know that you're going to be ok. I know that I don't know the details of your recovery or any of your thoughts on the matter. I just want you to know that it's ok to feel whatever you're feeling, and that you aren't forgotten.

You are not forgotten. I will not forget you, and I will stand for you.

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--> Please see our next post on 4 things to know about child sexual offenders & resources for parents of juvenile sexual offenders to better understand how you can help fight this within your own home. <-- font="">

Note: the original title of this article is changed because I realized after the fact that it was the same as another similar article posted here:!This-Ones-for-the-Girls-A-Duggar-Response/cupf/555f43a90cf23d0164b4313b . I had previously read that article and must have really resonated with the title of it, haha! Please also check out the article here that I just linked, as it's beautiful and needs to be read. So much love to her and the other many boys and girls who have been victims of sexual abuse.

Note #2: PLEASE feel free to leave your responses to this article here and not just on Facebook as it makes it circulations. This way, others who have been affected, and maybe even the girls it's written to may read it and be encouraged and embraced. I don't ever censor comments, but I do withhold the right to do so about this post as this is to be only a safe space concerning this issue. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Family Camping Packing Checklist *FREE DOWNLOAD*

We've put together a fantastic checklist of everything you'll need when camping with your family (and just by yourself, if that's a thing for you). Specific to tent camping, you can easily adapt this to RV camping or backpacking, and it includes space for you to add your own items, as well! It was written by combining my experience leading wilderness backpacking trips, camping across the US on road trips, and having three young children of my own now.

Best of's FREE!

Download the nice printable version from DropBox by clicking here

Family Tent Camping Equipment Checklist
Camp Setup
 Medical First Aid Kit
 Herbal First Aid Kit (including essential oils, herbs, and homeopathy)
 2-3 large tarps
 2 long, thin ropes (clothesline type)
 Clothespins
 Tent, fly, footprint
 Extra tent stakes
 Shammy (for wet tent)
 Hand floor brush and dustpan (small, for sweeping tent floor)
 Tent light
 Battery operated lantern
 Extra batteries
 Bear spray
 Dishwashing buckets- 2
 Biodegradable dish soap
 Water
 Food
 Cooking dishes
 Eating dishes, cups, and utensils (one mess kit per person)
 Camp stove
 Grill for fire
 Foil
 Ziploc bags
 Paper towels
 Day packs
 Playing cards, small games
 Guitar, instruments
 Duct Tape
 Pillows (because you’re car camping so you can!)
 Camping chairs (1 pp) (optional)
 Fold up table (optional, depending on campsite)
 Lightweight hammock (optional)
 Bear containers or the like (optional for car camping)

Survival Kit
 Compass
 Maps of area
 Flashlight (with extra batteries and bulb)
 Paper and pencil
 Extra waterproof matches
 All weather fire starter
 Whistle*
 Strong nylon cord
 Toilet paper
 Vaseline
 Salt Tablets
 Copper Wire
 Water purifier tablets
 Solar cell phone charger
 Emergency radio

Pocket necessities
 Leatherman
 Windproof/waterproof matches
 Compass
 Watch
 Refillable water bottle
 Carabineer

Toilet articles
 Toilet paper
 Biodegradable soap
 Small towel/washcloth
 Unscented lip balm*
 Unscented hand cream*
 Small shovel
 Garbage bag for pack out areas
 Tootbrush/paste*
 Contact solution and case/glasses*
 Feminine hygiene articles*
 Diapers and wipes for babies
 Hairbrush and hair ties*
 Solar water heater bag for showers

Pack necessities
 Sleeping bags
 Sleeping pads
 Headlamps
 Sunglasses
 Water bottles
 Clothing
 Swim suit
 Towel or Shammy
 Mirror
 Medications
 Map
 Compass
 Cash
 ID
 Sunscreen
 Sun hat
 Bug spray & itch cream
 Baby wipes
 Bandaids/hand sanitizer/etc.
 Raingear (for pack, as well)


*Designates something that you may prefer to put in your personal pack

The checklist conveniently divides everything you'll need for a successful camping trip into these categories: camp setup, pocket necessities, survival kit, pack necessities, and other. It's free for you and all of your friends to download and use, just please link back to this original page if you share it with anyone! Download your free copy today and enjoy the outdoors!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Family Camping Basics

Before children, I spent many summers backpacking, road tripping, and even leading high adventure wilderness trips in the Adirondack Mountains. The wilderness is a love of mine, and I have been patiently waiting until my children were old enough to share that love with me. That time has finally arrived, and though we won't be backpacking, we are planning our first car camping trip next weekend, and a few more over the rest of the summer!

Tent camping takes a lot of forethought to begin with, and more so when you have young children (one still in diapers, for us!) as well. While our first trip will be to a campground, we are planning some state forest camping this summer, as well. The biggest difference between the two are what you can leave out at night and what you need to put back in your car to avoid bear and animal infestation, as well as if you are able to throw your garbage out and get fresh water (at a campground)  or if you need to secure your garbage and pack in your water (forest). Either way should be completely doable with young children if you have the correct planning and, for us at least, plan to "car camp" (i.e. you can drive your vehicle into your campsite or at least very close, so you can bring more things with you instead of only what you can carry on your back).

Here are some general guidelines to help your family camping experience go smoothly:

  1. Use a packing checklist (get your free copy here)
  2. Use a food packing checklist (we'll be uploading one of those later this week, too!)
  3. Pack your camp supplies and food in 5-gallon buckets and a cooler. They'll double as seats, the lids will provide fire fanning tools, and the 5-gallon buckets are fairly secure.
  4. Label those buckets and always put things back where they were.
  5. Teach your kids wilderness, camp, and trail etiquette. Don't litter, follow pottying rules (100' away from a trail, 200' away from a water source; mix your waste with some dirt/leaves, cover, and leave a small stick standing up so others know not to use that spot!), walk in the center of trails, don't burn things that shouldn't be burnt, etc.
  6. Keep your shoes outside the tent. Trust me, you'll be thankful for a clean floor when you try to sleep.
  7.  Find a level tent spot--remove every twig you see, and roll around on the floor after the tent is up but before you finalize your spot. You may realize it's not level after all! Better to change now than in the middle of the night.
  8. Use a tent that you can reasonably put up considering your situation. Do you need two adults? If so, where will the kids be? We chose an easy-up family sized tent because then one adult can keep the kids safe while the other handles the tent.
  9. Always sign in to trails and give your itinerary to someone before you leave for your trip.
  10. Relax! The more organized and prepared you are, the easier it will be to focus on the purpose of your trip--new experiences, memory building, relaxation, and fun.
Good luck on your family camping endeavors! We'd love to hear about your experiences and other tips and tricks you've used to help things go smoothly. We can't WAIT to cook around a fire, snuggle up in a sleeping bag, and drink hot cocoa while watching the sun rise!

Next: Family Camping Packing Checklist

Saturday, April 25, 2015

How the Sabbath Changed Me

I didn't always observe the Sabbath. In fact, I was convicted to keep it for years before actually beginning the practice of honoring Shabbat. I grew up with Sunday as our day of worship, and when I began to feel convicted about keeping the Sabbath--on the actual Sabbath as I believe the Bible commands, I heard the justifications from many Christians of how it doesn't matter when we keep the Sabbath as long as we have a "day of rest". The thing is, I've had the traditional Sunday-Day-Of-Rest experience for almost my entire life. That wasn't what I was convicted of, nor what I understood from my reading, of what I was to do.

So I talked to my husband about it. More than a few times. Verbalizing my struggle, verbalizing my questions, allowing myself to process the fact that I was feeling like this was a big deal and that I was uncomfortable with doing it, and with not doing it. Finally, I decided I was going to do it.

Observing the Sabbath has changed me. At first, it was a struggle. I didn't know how I was going to manage not doing my regular work (laundry, dishes, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, homeschool prep, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning). What would happen to the house? What would happen to my sanity that was questionable anyway? Why do I feel selfish? How do I deal with feeling lazy (feelings not based on truth, but feelings, nonetheless)?

I slowly transitioned. First, implementing that on the Sabbath, I would study some Biblical topic of interest. Next, rushing to get my work down prior to sundown on Friday. This was followed by looking into what the flow of the Sabbath meal/service was to be. I printed document after document, watched YouTube videos, and did everything I could to learn what the burning flame in my soul was being called to do.

And then recently, a few months into this, I realized something. I am no longer eager to study a Biblical topic just on the Sabbath--I'm instead doing it all week long. I'm eager to share Biblical scholarly lectures with my children on our car rides, and to read entire books of the Bible at a time, with completely new insight than I ever had before. I'm less depressed. Less frantic.

I've learned that having that 24 hours from Friday through Saturday to continue my mindless cycle of never ending housework doesn't actually help me get anything done. I was so fearful of being "behind" a day, only to find that that day never helped me get ahead or behind to begin with. In fact, the opposite has happened. Because I'm not doing my "normal" work on Shabbat, I'm getting all of the other things "done" that I never had time for before. Research. Beautifying my house. Getting rid of accumulated piles of papers. Making gifts for my children. So many important things that I never got to before because they were always at the bottom of my list.

I've seen it change my children. They are so peaceful having a whole day to rest. We have a special Shabbat Box with toys, books, and videos that are only to be used on Shabbat. They are eager to light the candles, blow the shofar, receive specific blessings, break the bread, and talk about Shabbat every week. The tradition, meaning, and experience is something they look forward to, and as my daughter said, they "wish every day could be the Sabbath!"

I did not change for the Sabbath. The Sabbath changed me.

Isaiah 58:13-14
“Keep the Sabbath day holy.
Don’t pursue your own interests on that day,
but enjoy the Sabbath
and speak of it with delight as the LORD’s holy day.
Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day,
and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.
Then the LORD will be your delight.
I will give you great honor
and satisfy you with the inheritance
 I promised to your ancestor Jacob.
I, the LORD, have spoken!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Dear It Works!, you don't determine my "sexy"

Dear It Works!,

There are some things you should know about our relationship. I began my partnership with you two and a half years ago (I think?), and was amazed by how I saw my body change with the first wrap I ever tried. I had no preconceived notions--no one where I lived had ever even heard of It Works! before and I had simply decided to try it out after I found you online and researched The Ultimate Body Applicator. worked. It literally showed me the results I had been working towards for quite a while. Results that I believe were probably due to finally being able to get toxins out of me even though I'd been doing INSANITY and even a medically supervised weight loss diet prior to finding you. The wraps were a tool, and it was such a relief for me to finally see what I'd already been working on. Thank you for that.

I can't tell you the number of people I've wrapped who cried when I took it off at the 45 minute mark. Women who told me stories of how they hadn't been able to be intimate with their husbands for a long time because of their self esteem problems since pregnancy. Women who told me stories of being fat shamed since childhood.

But here's where the problem lies: you are fat shaming women. And you are skinny shaming them, too. Because here's what happens. You suggest that distributors walk up to women who they don't know, and hand them a business type card that says "Get Your Sexy Back!" on it. You have distributors take before/after photos of people at parties and wrap groups of women at parties, and then the thinner women at those parties hear comments about how they're "too skinny already" and "oh my gosh, I can't believe you just got smaller after doing that wrap--that's sickening".

What happens to the woman bombarded by a distributor who is nervous and really wants a relationship with the unsuspecting woman, but instead holds her breath in hopes that she'll book a party and hands her a card, instead? And what does it say to a woman when your reply to how rude you think she just acted is "listen, I'm not saying you need it. I just know that everyone wants it." Now you have just told a woman that if she does want it, then she thinks she isn't sexy enough, and that if she doesn't want it, then she'll never be sexy enough.

Don't get me started on the women who don't see a result with their first wrap. Or the women who seemed to never get a result at all--which always puzzled me until recently when I found out that if you have a diastasis recti (pretty much EVERY woman who has been pregnant), you could EASILY have that "mommy pooch". Meaning, a wrap isn't going to put your muscles back together, so you will still have that "pooch" unless you do physical therapy for it. Did you know this? And if you did, why didn't you ever tell your distributors that?

You can't sell a product by shaming women. And yes, you are shaming them by implying that they have lost their "sexy." Here's what's happening, It Works!. People are having pretty strong negative feelings about these marketing tactics. Marketing psychology will tell you that the classical conditioning happening with those negative feelings and your slogans will soon become negative feelings associated with your black and green bling instead. Tools that I really do like and really do help people aren't going to be used anymore, because they aren't tools--they're "fix it quick because you suck the way you are" products.

Forget the diabetics I've seen who got their blood sugars points lower after every meal by taking Fat Fighter. Forget the people with adrenal fatigue who felt better on Confianza. Forget that I actually don't see a change with your wraps anymore (baby #3, and a diastasis recti for sure now!), but that I lose weight without even trying when I faithfully take the Greens and It's Vital. Forget all of that, because I can't even tell people that anymore!

I want to tell people about all of the good things I see in you, but I really don't want to be associated with a company who tells women that they're not enough. I know that makeup and any product that alters your physical appearance can be considered that...but I don't sell those (and there's a reason for that!). I'm ok with people wanting to change their appearance (have you ever seen someone judge another person because they dyed their hair? Not so much.), but I'm not ok with telling them they aren't sexy. That there is something wrong with them. That they aren't beautiful the way they are.

You see, It Works!, I don't know if we can continue our relationship or not. Because I want a relationship with people. I want them to know that while there are things that can help all of us physically, mentally, socially, monetarily, spiritually...that they don't need any of those helpful things to give them worth. You see, women are already worthy. And tighter skin or firmer bellies doesn't increase that worth. If they want to change their bodies, that's fine, but you need to stay out of determining who is worthy and who is not, and you need to stop associating how a person looks with their worth or sexiness. Having saggy skin or a soft belly doesn't take away your sexiness, but shaming women does.

So It Works!, I suggest that you get your sexy back, because you are losing it, and I only want to be in the business of building people up.

an embarrassed distributor

*Note: the comments in here are my opinion only. They aren't affiliated with the company, are not approved of by the FDA, and I am not making claims, promises, or even associations between products and medical conditions or anything else here. The ONLY claims about these products that can be made are listed on the ItWorks! website, in their marketing materials, and on the products themselves.*

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Kid Friendly Passover Seder Resources

We're always on the hunt to make Biblical holidays the most memorable experience possible, which means incorporating as many hands-on and fun activities as possible for young children! Here are our very favorite Passover and Seder resources that we are using this year:

Messianic Haggadah and Seder Instructions from
A great resource that quickly outlines the basics of Passover and how-to of doing a Seder. The Haggadah is the "instruction book" for families during the Seder, and he has a free printable one that you can copy off for your family. It's in color, easy to follow, and you can just change things to accommodate anything different that you want to do for your family.

10 Plagues Finger Puppets -- FREE printable over at 
There's also a coloring version of these available. Just print on cardstock, cut, tape, and go! Use these as a teaching resource before the Seder, or use during the Seder to keep hands busy and to aid the kids in acting out the 10 plagues when you get to that part of the ceremony.

Kid's Passover Seder Set -- made by KidKraft
We use this in the two weeks leading up to Passover to introduce the elements of the Seder, to let the kids have a special "toy" to play with around the holiday, and to have a chance to have dramatic play of Pesach.

Preschool Pesach Printable Activities -- FREE from
Just scroll down to the Pesach section. Our favorites right now are the activity book and "Pesach, Pesach, What do you see?". I laminated the activity book and put it in a 3-ring binder so it can be reused. For the puzzle pieces, I printed two copies, cut one into actual pieces, and adhered velcro to the original and the pieces so that you can "match" the pieces to the puzzle. We use the KidKraft set in conjunction with "Pesach, Pesach, What do you see?" to talk about the different parts of the Seder. 

Other Things:
- Various "Sunday School" printables about the life of Moses and the Exodus
- Reading Exodus from the Bible
- Watching "The Prince of Egypt" (on Netflix)
- Watching The Greatest Story Ever Told's "Easter Story" episode (cartoon I watched as a kid and loved--available on YouTube!)
- Various "Sunday School" printables about the death and resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus)

The kids have a BLAST and are eager to learn and experience the Seder and Passover, and can't wait until Friday to start everything! It is such an honor to teach my children and experience for myself the Feasts of God. Every single time, I learn new things and discover deeper heart truths! Have a blessed and awesome Pesach!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Before You Buy Or Blend A Postpartum Depression Tea...

With so much information on the Internet, it's easy to find recipes for herbal tea blends or to find already prepared tea mixes. Many moms are interested in natural or holistic ways to help support their mood and thoughts postpartum, which makes herbal teas for postpartum depression a welcome option. The problem, though, is that many recipes and blends online don't always take everything into consideration that you need to. While having good intentions, those sharing their recipes on blogs and forums may not understand medicinal interactions, the pharmacokinetics or pharmacodynamics of the herbs, or how they affect other things. It's easy to be distracted by the fact that a particular herb can help depression and to not realize it can decrease milk supply, for instance. How many mother's could get thrown into a deeper depression by choosing an herb that isn't appropriate for them? And how many could run into physical problems by choosing herbs that interact with prescribed medications in a negative way? When chosen and used correctly, herbs are a safe and effective way of helping support a mother through postpartum depression and changes, so it's worth knowing what you need to know! Here are seven things to consider before buying or blending a postpartum depression tea:

  1. How the herb interacts with medications (including MOA inhibitors or tricyclic anti-depressants)
  2. How the herb affects milk supply
  3. What the herb does if you take it long term
  4. How long you'll need to take that herb before seeing a result
  5. If an herb counteracts another herb in the blend (this can be a positive thing, too, like in the milk decrease/increase scenario)
  6. If an herb works synergistically with another herb in the bled
  7. If the herbs chosen are targeting a symptom or the root problem, and if that is what you are looking for
Happy tea drinking!

Written from our Blessed Mama Services side of things, which is a holistic business specializing in traditional postpartum care. We exist to support mothers as they strengthen their families. and on Facebook at

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Dear Mom Like Me

Dear mom who is run down, looks like a hot mess, feels like she can't remember who she is, is sure she is failing, feels guilty because she is secretly angry inside, is convinced her life is a hamster wheel, but somehow loves being with these amazing little people even more than she is frustrated by all of the "other" things that come along with them:

You know that you're enough, so I'm not going to tell you that. You know that this too shall pass, and you probably feel like you have no right to even tell anyone how you're feeling because you don't want someone to be confused and think that you aren't grateful for your children or that by feeling this way that you somehow take your children or your moments with them for granted.

I know you don't take the kids for granted. I know you don't take the moments for granted. I know you are grateful. But I also know that you miss yourself. I know that you struggle with being depressed and happy at the same time and man, it's so confusing. I know that you want to scream at doing 400 dishes a day, that Mt. Laundry might as well be called Mt. Never Ending Treadmill and that you just wish you could be a "normal" person (i.e. showering more than once a week) again.

Dear mama, this is what you need to know. This is what I need to know. And this is what we need to remember, and remind each other of daily:

  • Your children think you're beautiful.
  • No one else knows how messy your house is.
  • Your kids don't care how messy your house is. (oh, the irony)
  • If you're like me, you just can't accept the fact that your house is going to be messy while you have young children. Instead, work on accepting the fact that you're just going to feel crappy about how the house is while you have you have young children.
  • You still have the same smile that your husband fell in love with.
  • You can own your new "mom" identity. 
  • You don't have to let go of who you used to be. Just because you haven't ran a marathon in 2 years, played piano in 6 months, aced a college exam in 10 years, or learned a new skill that didn't involve your offspring in...a long time..., doesn't mean that those things aren't still a part of who you are. There are seasons, and just because the corn isn't being harvested now, doesn't mean it isn't growing or that it won't be planted again. And if you decide to grow squash next time instead of corn, it's ok. Your entire life makes up you, not just the present.
  • It's ok to rest. 
  • It's ok to have a bad day.
  • It's ok to love and hate what you're doing, where you're at, and to be frustrated by the fact that you can't change it.
  • And it's ok to admit that none of these things mean that you don't love your kids more than all the other moms in the world. In fact, they have no effect on the fact that you are a rockstar mom or that your kids are going to grow up, call you blessed, and talk about the awesome memories they have of childhood--because they are going to have them. 
Maybe motherhood of young children is like childbirth; it's excruciatingly difficult at moments, but after it's done, you somehow become oblivious to the difficulties you went through and just remember the amazingness of it instead. Because let's face it, it is amazing hearing a person read for the first time. To see them discover their toes. To hear them say "I love you". The fact that we know what our baby needs by the way she cries. To be the one he needs in the middle of the night. That they want to tell us EVERYTHING. That is amazing.

And you, mama, are amazing, too. Keep your eyes above the waves. You're gonna make it, and you're gonna do great.

<3 div="">

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Plexus Slim Drink Ingredients: what they do, and what the research says

Plexus Slim, the "pink drink" is hitting everyone's social media news feed and radar right now, and everyone's wondering if it really works. My bottom line guess is that yes, it will probably work, simply because of its effects on blood sugar. I also think that you could probably get a much cheaper version of it by having your Doctor prescribe Metformin for you if you are looking to lose weight or combat blood sugar by taking a supplement. Some people may be attracted to Plexus because it's often toted as being an "all natural supplement that is a tool which just gives you things that your body needs" (paraphrase from what I've heard multiple distributors say; the Plexus website refers to Plexus Slim as "the most-natural way to lose weight"...which means???). I thought that sounded pretty good, too, so I spent some time looking into each ingredient as listed on their website at: While I still haven't had time to gather research to point you to on a few of the non proprietary ingredients, you can see what information I have gotten together below. As for me, I have decided to not use this product. Feel free to post other research you've found, especially if you've had time to look through peer reviewed journals!

Plexus Slim "Pink Drink" Ingredients

Green Coffee/Chlorogenic Acid:
What it is: a phenolic compound formed by the esterification of cinnamic acids. Green coffee is a major source of CGA in nature.

What it does: studies demonstrate lowering blood pressure, inhibiting fat accumulation and body weight, modulation of glucose metabolism, and improvement in vasoreactivity. It’s also shown that CGA from Green Coffee Extract is highly bioavailable to humans.

Negatives: caffeine can have negative effects, though Plexus says there’s only 2% caffeine involved. I also did find a study that claims no difference in body mass index between the control and experimental groups using this.

Bottom Line: this looks really good, but considering what it does and that it hasn’t been studied for breastfeeding or pregnant mothers, I think it ought to be avoided while pregnant or nursing.

Garcinia Cambogia        
What it is: a tropical fruit; the active ingredient is in the skin of the fruit Hydrooxycitric Acid (HCA)

What it does: possibly increases your level of satiety (satisfaction you receive from food) thus making it easier to eat less (it’s been suggested that this is linked to an increase in the precursor to serotonin, and studies show elevated serotonin levels in subjects taking HCA, but research is not clear on this link yet)

Problems: it is best absorbed when the hydroxycitrate in it is bound to both calcium and potassium, and human studies show inconsistent and weak (or no) correlations between Garcinia Cambogia and weight loss.

Alpha Lipoic Acid
What it is: a synthetic antioxidant

What it does: appears to help increase insulin sensitivity, works with other antioxidants to help neutralize free radicals and reduce cellular damage

What it is: Polydextrose is a water-soluble dietary fiber made from corn. Made by mixing glucose and sorbitol and then adding citric acid, it is a very safe dietary fiber that is not broken down by human digestive enzymes.

Safety: FDA says it’s safe but can cause diarrhea, flatulence, and other similar problems

Bottom Line: this is a synthetic fiber. It revs up your GI tract, but at a fraction of the level of wheat bran, which is a natural fiber. While we know that dietary (naturally occurring) fibers are linked to lower risks of heart disease, we have no evidence that polydextrose does this, or that it has any health benefits. In fact, we just really don’t understand its effects on humans, period.

Positives: has fewer calories than sugar, has some prebiotic like effect (alters gut flora)

Why it’s usually added: adds a sweeter taste, bulks up the volume of the food, and manufacturers can claim on their food labels that the products have dietary fiber value.

Alternatives: real fiber, prebiotics


Citric Acid:
What it is: an acid found in citrus fruits

What it does: gives a sour (acidic) taste to foods and is a natural preservative

Conclusion: this is approved by the FDA, and I found no controversial evidence about it that was backed up by research

Beetroot Extract:
What it is: extract from the beetroot. :-p

What it does: it’s actually linked to improved blood flow, stamina, lower blood pressure, as a treatment for fever, constipation, wounds, skin problems, and as an aphrodisiac. It also contains potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamins A, B6, and C, folic acid, carbohydrates, protein, antioxidants, and soluble fiber. I could go on to tell you the other benefits I found, including anti-cancer properties, detoxification support, evidence against dementia, and so on, but it would really take all day. Some of these claims have been proved in trials, whereas other claims haven’t been looked at yet and so can’t be “proved”.

Safety: The only thing really known about safety is that, while not contraindicated, “excessive consumption is not advised in patients with hemochromatosis or Wilson disease” (

Bottom Line: what a great health ingredient! It’s just too bad they say it’s for “color” of the Pink Drink, which leads me to think that the amount included is so minuscule, you won’t be gaining any benefits. We think you should throw out the rest of the ingredients and serve the Beetroot Pink Drink, Plexus!

Stevia Leaf Extract: need to research this still (feel free to do it for me and leave your links below)

Luo Han Guo Extract:
What it is: a Chinese fruit.

What it does: It’s generally used as a no-caloric sweetener. In China, it’s considered a “longevity aid” and to balance chi (heat life force) build up in the body. It can also be used for lung congestion, coughs, respiratory ailments, and constipation.

Everything else: unknown. This particular fruit hasn’t been studied.

What it is: a trace mineral that humans need in trace amounts.

What it does: studies show that it lowers blood sugar levels in the body. However, there is not enough evidence showing that it can benefit diabetes or similar diseases, and the studies done about chromium and weight loss don’t show that it helps people lose weight.

Positives: may help lower blood sugar, may help lower cholesterol, may help with depression and PCOS due to its effects on insulin.

Negatives: no safety risks, but it can interact with a variety of medications including antacids and some pain relievers. It’s also still under study and debate, and levels in drinking water have limits. There are also two types of chromium (-3 and -6), with -3 thought to be the safer one. In water and the human body, these types can change back and forth. It is known that people can develop contact dermatitis after years of exposure to water with high chromium levels.

Conclusion: there’s not enough evidence to say that this will help anyone lose weight. The good news is that Plexus Slim contains such a small amount of chromium that even if we discover a health risk at some point, there probably isn’t enough of it in the drink to become a problem to a humans. By the same token, there probably isn’t enough of this in Plexus Slim to give any benefits, either.

Alternatives: get your chromium from the many vegetables, fruits, meats, grains, and yeast that contain it.


Guar Gum: 

What it is: a component of the guar or cluster bean plant--mainly, glalactomannam gum, which comprises 20-40% of the guar seed.

What it does: when mixed with water, it forms a thick gel, and expands up to 20 times its original size. It's used for processed foods, to stabilize, thicken, and improve texture. It is also sometimes added to foods to increase the fiber content. 

Positives: Has a laxative effect since it bulks up the stool with a gel to pass through the colon. It can also prevent blood sugar spikes, and helps reduce cholesterol because it's a soluble fiber.

Negatives: it is known to cause choking and must NEVER be taken alone as a weight loss supplement (guar gum weight loss pills were banned in the US in 1992). The amount in food is considered to be safe for the general consumer. Basically, don't let your kids or pets get a hold of the powdered Plexus Slim bag, and don't try to eat it dry. In large doses, it's known to block the absorption of minerals and medications, and if consumed with a meal, "significantly reduces the absorption of antioxidant carotenoids." 

Conclusion: It's fine in the small amount that is here. You're probably eating guar gum more than you realize, anyway, because it's in a lot of processed foods. As long as it's mixed with the appropriate amount of water, you should be golden.

Alternatives: don't prepackage your food. Buy your Pink Drink ingredients yourself, mix them up or take them separately, and you won't need the guar gum to begin with.


Silicon Dioxide: 

What it is: a mineral

What it does: keeps the product from sticking to itself and acts to keep processed foods "fresh". It is needed by the body in trace amounts and can be found in all sorts of fruits, vegetables, seeds, and even water. 

Positives & Negatives: it doesn't appear to cause any problems for people, but hasn't been studied for breastfeeding or pregnant women, so is recommended to be avoided for them. It is thought to even be beneficial for hair, skin, nails, and the FDA limits it to 2% of a product's total weight. It is filtered by the kidneys, so could be related to problems on that end of things.

Conclusion: meh. Again, there's such a small amount, that it should be fine. Who knows, maybe the extra boost will even give you nicer hair.

Alternatives: don't prepackage your food. Eat your normal fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and mineral water (i.e. not distilled), and you're already getting the amount of this mineral that you need.