Unexpected Provision…

UnexpectedProvisions...

On Saturday, I made my weekly grocery run with the kids. Unfortunately, my grocery run typically includes at least 3 different stores which takes its toll on an adult, let alone a 3 year old and a 10 month old. That being said, they really are troopers and we made it to our final store, Ingles, without too many incidents.

My oldest had been walking with me around the store instead of riding in a cart. And, like any other 3 year old, he isn’t very aware of his surroundings, so he was constantly walking in front of buggies and other shoppers. He walked in front of a woman I recognized, but I didn’t know if she remembered me, so we kept moving. When I finally had all the items I needed, we headed for the checkout lines.

I usually would do self-checkout because waiting in a line is difficult with kids, but I was redeeming a WIC voucher. These are vouchers for specific foods offered to Woman, Infants, and Children below a certain income line. If you are pregnant, nursing, (up to a year), have an infant or child under 5, you could qualify (check here for more information). So, I needed to use a regular line.

The same lady I recognized from earlier comes and stands behind us in line. She does recognize me now and we chit-chat about my kids and her new flower business as the cashier takes care of my items. (We follow one another on Instagram.) She tells me that she has just picked up her flower bouquets that didn’t sell from a local produce stand. She says, “If it would be worth your time, if you wait for me to check-out, I’ll give you some flowers to take home.”

I, personally, feel that flowers are ALWAYS worth it. As in, I would have flowers on my dining table 365 days a year. I tell her, “Absolutely! That would be great!” We share where we parked. She told me I could go ahead and start loading my kiddos up, and that she would bring the flowers to my van. She did. They were beautiful…not because they were perfect, but because they were a blessing.

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You see, earlier in our grocery shopping trip, we had been at Trader Joe’s. There is a wonderful assortment of blooms there for a decent price. I stood in front of the flowers and looked at the prices. I just wasn’t sure if there was space in the budget for them. I moved on without any. Then, at Ingles, I ran into this sweet woman.

What I didn’t think I could afford, God chose to provide. Not because I needed it, but because my heart desired it. God doesn’t have to give us the desires of our heart, but sometimes He chooses to! That is the amazing, gracious, benevolent side of the God of the Universe. The Provider. We see it in Scripture as well.

22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

Luke 12:22-31

Here we see Jesus telling his followers that just as God cares for and provides for the birds in the air and the flowers in the field, how much more does He care for His beloved children! I actually have a ring with the phrase ‘consider the lilies’ on it to help me remember this truth. (I ordered this ring here from cinnamonsticks on Etsy.)

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So if God cares enough to provide me flowers, just when my heart wanted them, how much more will He provide me with food to feed my family, clothes to cover them, and supplies to care for them.

Let this bring joy and hope to you today!

XOXO,

Elise

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My Favorite Eczema Products…

My youngest son was born with the sweetest, smooth skin.

View More: http://rebeccafinley.pass.us/babyjoshua

But after a few months of life which included a bout of RSV and flu, his skin started breaking out on his cheeks and all over his body. He had eczema patches on his torso, back, arms, cheeks, and head.

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The doctor gave me some steroids to help with his cheeks. Initially, they worked. Since they are only recommended for short term use (2-3 days at a time), his cheeks would flare back up a few days later.

So, what has helped his eczema the most is two all natural products and diet change. I wanted to share with ya’ll what those products are and some food products and ideas that I have become familiar with since starting this journey.

First off…the two products that have really helped his skin.

The first is All Over Ointment from Tubby Todd Bath Co.

tubby todd aao.jpg

It isn’t greasy and absorbs into the skin really well. It doesn’t have a fake smelling fragrance and is made with sensitive skin in mind. Many moms use it to help with eczema, just like I have. It has “plant-based extracts like jojoba, beeswax, and honeysuckle naturally soothe sensitive skin.” If you are interested in this product or any of their other products, click here to get $10 off your first order. They have shampoo and body wash, conditioner, detangler, bath bombs and so much more. I want the hair and body wash for the kids next.

This has helped his skin become smooth again and heal the scabby eczema on his torso and face.

The next product is the Norwex Body Cloth.

norwex body cloth

My friend Amber graciously gave me one when I started on this journey to healing his skin. I starting using it to wipe off my baby’s face after eating or being held by other people, since other detergents seem to make his breakouts worse. It has been wonderful and I feel good using it on his face and body since I know it is wiping away any bacteria that may be on his skin. If you don’t have a consultant…I can get you connected with one!

Now…on to food. Your gut and your health are directly related. In fact a large portion of your immunity is in your gut. (Here is a John Hopkins article regarding this relationship.) As a breastfeeding mom, some things that I eat can show up in my milk and bother my baby. So, I started off dairy-free and gluten-free to help with reflux and excessive spit-up. A lactation consultant then suggested tree-nuts could be causing the eczema on his torso and face. I took tree nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, etc.) out of my diet. Sure enough his torso began clearing up and healing with daily applications of the Tubby Todd ointment. However, I still couldn’t get his cheeks healed. They would start looking good and then they would flare up again.

I decided to go to a chiropractor who also practices functional medicine because my conventional doctor (an M.D.) didn’t seem to acknowledge the connection between skin and gut health. It turns out histamine is a big issue for him right now. (For more information you can go here to read up on histamine intolerance.) He is sensitive/allergic to the three things I had already taken out-casein (a dairy protein), gluten, and tree nuts. Then we found two additional foods he is sensitive/allergic to-chocolate and egg yolk.

So, between aiming to eat a diet of low histamine food and avoiding all his sensitivities, finding foods that are filling and healthy is a job. Here are my favorite food products.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional, dietitian, nutritionist, or representative of any company mentioned below. If you have food allergies or sensitivities please do your own research to ensure you will be safe and healthy. I have included the links to each company website at the end of this post so you can look them up on your own.

Back to the fun stuff…

I have been using Bob’s Red Mill products since I took gluten out of my diet. Their 1-to-1 Baking Flour is fabulous! I also bought their Old Fashioned Rolled Oats to make sure that I am eliminating all gluten from my diet so that my little one won’t have any in his diet either.BRM 1to1 flour

When I took tree nuts out, I started using SunButter instead of almond butter. It took some getting used to since it was much saltier than other nut butters. But it is perfect because it is free from the top 8 allergens, four of which I am currently avoiding.

sunbutter

I also love all the products I have had from Enjoy Life. These two cookies look yummy-sugar crisp and vanilla honey graham. For all you guys who can still have chocolate, their chocolate chips are perfect!

enjoy life crunchy cookies

Up until I stopped eating tree nuts, I had been using almond milk. I switched to Good Karma Flax Milk which I really like. I also like that I am getting the good Omega-3’s that flax seeds have!

good karma milk

I also love So Delicious coconut milk yogurt and ice cream. They just came out with a new flavor, Blueberry Cardamom, that fits with my current dietary restrictions. I can’t wait to try it!

so delicious yogurtso delicious ice cream

In general, my meals have been stripped of many processed ingredients. This is really good for me, just not easy. Here are meal ideas I tend to gravitate towards.

Breakfast:
Oatmeal w/ brown sugar or fruit
Scrambled egg whites
Flax milk smoothie with pea protein powder, pumpkin, sweet potato, or carrot puree and cinnamon

Lunch and Dinner:
Turkey burger patty in lettuce or GF wrap
CFA grilled nuggets (if we are eating out)

I also will eat a rice/quinoa bowl…so I make different veggies, meat, and rice/quinoa. Then each meal I can assemble it and eat. Here are some bowl ideas:

Mexican Bowls-grilled chicken, rice, sauteed peppers and onions, avocado, cilantro, tomatoes, salsa, etc.

Asian Bowls-chicken or beef, rice, frozen veggie blend of carrots, broccoli, water chestnuts, cauliflower and snap peas, coconut aminos

Harvest Bowls-chicken or pork, quinoa, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, peas

I am also planning to make a few soups over the coming weeks that me and my little one can eat for lunch of dinner. I love this one with butternut squash and carrots!

Feel free to follow me on Pinterest…I have a few boards designated for allergy friendly cooking such as my Dairy-Free board and my Cooking: Gluten Free board.

What allergies do you deal with in your home? What is your favorite allergy free product?

Elise

Bob’s Red Mill
SunButter
Enjoy Life Foods
Good Karma Foods
So Delicious Dairy Free

 

The Worries of Motherhood

bake bread

As mothers, we fall into the trap of worry all too often. There are so many balls to keep in the air as moms-so many hats to wear. As I was reading in Luke this week, I ran across the account of Jesus staying behind in Jerusalem.

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
-Luke 2:41-51

As the story unfolds, we see Mary and Joseph searching high and low to find their son, just like any parents would in this situation. Mary reveals that she and Joseph had been “searching in great distress.” Wouldn’t you have been? I know that if I left my middle school boy in a different city and drove a day away from it, then had to drive a day back, I would be a bundle of nerves and worry. That’s a lot of time to come up with ‘What ifs’ and worst case scenarios.  The only difference is that Mary KNEW Jesus was the Son of God. So wouldn’t she have KNOWN that God would protect Him…that He would be safe? Why doesn’t she lean on God as she goes about this search for the Son God entrusted to her? But of course, Mary is just like every other mother on the planet-broken and human. Isn’t that freeing? The mother of Jesus struggled with worry and fear…and she was raising GOD! If we want to compare ourselves here, we only find an ally in our struggles as a mom.

It seems as though Mary is caught up in everyday life as a mother. I know I get caught up in the laundry, tantrums, back-talk, and potty-training. Maybe she has been consumed in this moment with her responsibilities instead of seeing herself as a partner with God to bring up Jesus. This is something I want to grasp, but don’t in the hard moments of the day. When my son tests my patience, I can ask God for help, but usually I don’t. When my children are sick, I can ask God for healing and endurance, but sometimes I forget. When my kids are disrespectful and mean, I can ask God for grace upon grace, but often I yell and back-talk, too. These tiny humans are made in God’s image for His purposes-they are HIS! I tend to put all the pressure of raising up godly boys on myself, which ultimately takes away from God’s divine work and presence. He wants to come along side us as parents.

Instead of trying to do this alone, I want to rest in the beautiful truth that Jesus has redeemed my soul, as well as my parenting! Praise God!

Elise

Photo by Josh Willink from Pexels
https://www.pexels.com/photo/landscape-sky-beach-love-69104/

An Adventurous Spirit

On Saturday, I went on a hike at Yellow Branch Falls with my two young boys and some families from our Community Group. It was a beautiful day. As we hiked, it was a blessing to see community at work in a tangible way. I was carrying my 6 month old in my Ergo Baby carrier, which limited what I could do for my 3 year old. Since my husband had to work, the other members in the group came along side my son to help him-adventuring at the falls with him, carrying him on the way back, and holding his hand. I am beyond thankful for this group of people I get the pleasure of doing life with during this season.

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When we got to the waterfall, I watched my son climbing on the rocks at the bottom, going further and further out all on his own. I  suddenly saw the adventurous spirit of God in my little boy. Sometimes I find my son’s need to explore frustrating, something slowing us down. But in that moment, it became something sacred, holy.

adventurers

In Genesis 12, we see God calling Abram away to go on an adventure with Him.

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him…

Genesis 12:1-4a

Personally, I am amazed at Abram’s willingness to bounce off into the unknown, leaving the life he knew behind. God put the spirit of adventure in man and woman, but sometimes we allow fear, worry, and perception squelch it.

My son, on the other hand, is almost always up for an adventure, be that roaming outside, or trying something new. This is part of God! We can see it when God asks us to do go on a new adventure with Him-a new job, a new place to live, a new friendship. What my son looks like as he explores on the rocks must be akin to what God looks like in heaven. Excited to be leading us, pushing us further out to try something new, to do something different…to follow him into the wild beautiful unknown.

What adventure has God been calling you to? What has been stopping you from running along behind Him?

Elise

 

 

The Love of a Parent

My two boys tested positive for flu B this week. UGH…will this winter of sickness EVER be over! As the sickness takes its course, I end up with two very tired, fussy boys by dinner time…and there just isn’t enough of me to go around. So I have to choose who to comfort, who to care for first. I hate that about having two kids. It seems so unfair to them. But I know one day they will love having a playmate, a constant friend, and a brother. For now, during this needy time of their life, they simply don’t understand why I am not taking care of them all the time.

Frustrated by the situation I am in every night, I reflected on God as a parent. God had one Son, but then decided to expand His family to include the WHOLE WORLD if they will have Him. That makes my nights of two fussy boys seem like a walk in the park. God has a whole world of needy, tired, weary, broken sons and daughters who are constantly in desperate need of Him.

john 3 16

Thankfully, He is omnipresent (everywhere at once) and omnipotent (all knowing) so He can handle each person’s needs and brokenness at the same time perfectly.
How amazing…

I am unable to parent this way…at best I only think about myself sometimes when it comes to making decisions about how to parent. At worst, I make parenting decisions based on how I feel, what I want, and what I think I need, while sweeping my children’s needs under the rug.

This reflection has brought me hope…hope for my parenting. Because when Jesus came into my heart, He began REDEEMING all the broken parts of me-how I love others, my parenting, my thoughts, etc. That means that my parenting can and is being redeemed! My mistakes can be redeemed for His glory. My successes are because Jesus has redeemed my heart!

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. -Galatians 4:4-7

Wow…when we receive Jesus into our heart, we are adopted by God and made heirs of his kingdom! I love how Paul highlights that when we experience this change, the Spirit comes into our lives, calling out to the Father on our behalf.

How many times a day do your children call for you? How many times in a row do they say, sometimes yell, your name? Often I get frustrated when this happens, but I believe God is delighted when we call His name whether it’s the first or the hundredth time!

Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” -Luke 18:15-17

Jesus welcomed these little children with open arms. I imagine that they ran to Him like your kids run to you after being gone all day. That they desired His full attention and affection-and He was willing to give it to them.

even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. -Eph. 2:5-7

Here is a beautiful passage. We were dead; then, through Christ, we are made alive. When we received the grace He offered, we were raised from our life of death (sin) and seated in the ‘heavenly places’ in Jesus. This is in the past tense-‘seated’-which means it has ALREADY taken place. So, where ever we are, if we are in Christ, we are in the throne room of God. We have that intimate access to the King of the world. The access a prince or princess would have to their father’s throne room. This is what our relationship with our kids is like too. They have access to our love, provision, and presence, just like we have access to God’s love, God’s provision, and God’s presence!

childrend of God

Praise God for His redeeming presence and love! Relish in His lavish love today!Praying for you and your kids today!

Elise

Baby Blueberry – The Countdown is On

Well…we are almost there! My due date is in approximately a week and a half.

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Soon, Phillip and I will be parents of a living, breathing, hold-able, snugly newborn.

I know that we are parents already, but it still seems surreal somehow…like maybe I’m imagining it all.

I have dreamed of being a mom for so long, ever since I was a child. I long for the hard work of raising children in this broken world. The unending sacrifice of valuing someone else’s life as more than your own. The most important work of bringing up tomorrow’s workers, leaders, parents, spouses, and teachers. I have no expectations that this work is simply or easy. That it is cut and dry. That it will not cause stress, worry, strain, or frustration. That it limits me and my freedom. But I am sure that despite these things, it will be the most important work and an unbelievably satisfying adventure to walk.C.S. Lewis quote - children are the most important work

So, as I look forward to holding my little man, I wanted to share our maternity pictures Phillip and I had taken a week and a half ago by a friend of mine. Her name is Rebecca Finley. You can find her on Facebook. She has always taken fabulous pictures and captured some wonderful moments for us. Thanks Rebecca! (She’ll be doing newborn photos as well after Joseph is born.)

I started with my absolute favorite.

It captures the joy and excitement we have for each other and for meeting this new little one!

View More: http://finleyphotography.pass.us/gilmorematernity

View More: http://finleyphotography.pass.us/gilmorematernity View More: http://finleyphotography.pass.us/gilmorematernity View More: http://finleyphotography.pass.us/gilmorematernity View More: http://finleyphotography.pass.us/gilmorematernity View More: http://finleyphotography.pass.us/gilmorematernity View More: http://finleyphotography.pass.us/gilmorematernity View More: http://finleyphotography.pass.us/gilmorematernity View More: http://finleyphotography.pass.us/gilmorematernity View More: http://finleyphotography.pass.us/gilmorematernity

I hope you have enjoyed these pictures and seeing a bit into my thoughts regarding motherhood and why it is so important!

Love,

Elise