Saturday, April 4, 2015

April Meal Plans

Several people asked me about my April meal plan so here are the links. Please, please, please don't expect it to be gourmet or remotely fancy! If it gives you some motivation or ideas, great! This meal plan included Easter, so it’s a bit more than usual.  These meals feed 5, including 2 teenage boys.  If they have friends over for dinner, I usually double the recipes.   My goals are to save as much money as possible on our food budget, while providing lots of fruits and vegetables.  I do not eat gluten or dairy, so when the rest of the family has bread I avoid it.  I use gluten free pasta and snacks when possible.  We also have a very busy schedule in the evenings with dance, choir rehearsals, instrument lessons, Justin’s job, and tons of I need to do easy EASY meals!! I repeat, nothing fancy here! I do most of my shopping at Aldi at the beginning of the month, but of course must go back weekly for little things like milk, bread, and fresh fruit/veggies. I honestly don't have time to coupon, but I use the Target Cartwheel app and my Target Red Card when shopping there. We certainly aren't poor but we choose to spend our money on music lessons and dance during this season, and having teens is just expensive anyway! We also choose to be consistent in giving to our church, our Compassion kids, and various community opportunities. Planning ahead just helps us afford what's important to us.

Breakfasts are usually overnight steel cut oatmeal with blueberries or frozen pancakes/waffles.  AND COFFEE!!!

We all pack our own lunches.  Justin takes turkey sandwiches on hawaiian bread with chips, fruit, carrots, and a granola bar.  Caleb takes almonds, blackberries, hummus, carrots, and celery.  Sarah takes PBJ, yogurt, fruit, and carrots.  Blake and I take leftovers.  We all use our water bottles.

shopping list =

recipes =

spread sheet of meals =

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday Thoughts

Today is, without a doubt, one of the most deeply meaningful days of the year to me! Don't get me wrong, Sunday will be joyful and full of celebration for me because the resurrection is proof of God's all encompassing, death defying power over sin...even my sin! However, today is proof of His willingness to do whatever it took to have a relationship with me, with humanity! Today is always dark to my soul, and I feel it. I am somber and sad and even somewhat embarrassed over what my sin caused. I need Good Friday to be like this because in my daily life sometimes I have the audacity to forget that it was my sin that required Jesus' heinous execution. 

As one of the most meaningful hymns to me says:
"It was MY sin that held Him there until it was accomplished. His dying breath has brought me life..."

So today I will be sad. I woke up sad. The rain and hail seemed appropriate. 

But I also found such sweet balm in a bit of reading that I often skip on Good Friday. I usually meditate on the gruesome verses about Jesus' beatings and executions, and believe me I will focus there much of today, but then I remembered a prayer of Jesus that He offered just prior to the arrest.

(Last year I had the opportunity to speak to a women's group in the KC area. They asked me to teach on John know the familiar vine and branches part? I discovered so much of what Jesus said and did RIGHT BEFORE the crucifixion while preparing for this teaching time, and I've been radically changed by it this year!)

Chapters 15,16, and 17 of John are Jesus' last words before the arrest, trial, beatings, and crucifixion all started. Tucked into those chapters is one long prayer! Guess who He prays for!

"Now I’m returning to you. I’m saying these things in the world’s hearing So my people can experience My joy completed in them. I gave them your word; The godless world hated them because of it, Because they didn’t join the world’s ways, Just as I didn’t join the world’s ways. I’m not asking that you take them out of the world But that you guard them from the Evil One. They are no more defined by the world Than I am defined by the world. Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth; Your word is consecrating truth. In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world. I’m consecrating myself for their sakes So they’ll be truth-consecrated in their mission." (John 17:13-19 MSG)

Just before Jesus gave Himself over to the authorities, He prayed for me...and you. 

Jesus prayed for His followers!! For me! For the very ones who would scatter and deny Him in just hours! I'm so struck by this that it will color my subdued spirit in a new way today! He prayed for my protection from the enemy. He prayed that I would be able to live in this sin laden world with His joy! That prayer is a game changer to me! 

Today as I reflect on what my sin required of Jesus, I will also be freshly encouraged and amazed that, not only did He die for me, He first prayed for my joy and protection! What kind of God is so tender? 

I'm awestruck. So today I will be sad, but I will also remember that He ask God to protect me from the evil one and fill me with HIS joy. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Bucket List

It's been a good Spring break, but I can tell it's time for school because I've had time to dream. Honestly that doesn't happen very often in the middle of raising 3 busy kids, so I guess it's a blessing. Honestly, years ago I assumed that I would have accomplished all my goals by this age, but somewhere along the way my goals must have changed! Here's the bucket list I developed tonight. Some things may seem so shallow but cut me some slack! 😜

1. Raise responsible and respectful kids who verbalize their gratitude, use manners, stand up for others, and use their talents to serve God. I'd really like to live to SEE these things!!!

2. Go to Hawaii.

3. Learn to sew.

4. Take a Master Gardener class.

5. Run the New York marathon.

6. Visit Paris.

7. Take Sarah to NYC!

8. Write an anonymous teen mom blog that's real and honest and helpful.

9. Go to seminary.

10. Have granite countertops.

11. Own a bridal consultant business...yes, I've watched too much "SYTTD" this week!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Isn't it ok to complain?

If you're reading this then you likely have already seen me post these verses on other social media today. They happen to be some of my favorite verses to quote to my kids but some of the hardest to practice myself! So very hard!

Don't I have every stinkin' right to argue, grumble, and complain when life is hard? Won't you cut me some slack when life is just so hard that nothing is going as I planned and I am seriously trying to do and be the right mom/wife/teacher?  Can I even help it if it just slips out? Everyone complains! Am I seriously supposed to do what these verses say?

We underestimate God's supernatural power and the indwelling Holy Spirit when we mistakingly think complaining, arguing, and grumbling are something we can't help doing! WE certainly can't be so selfless, but Christ always is.  He wants to help us be like Him.  We are His ambassadors, his representatives, the models of Him. Come to think of it, I can't remember a single story from The Gospels where Jesus complained about what His Father had sent Him to do. 

Bottom line: when I argue and complain and bicker and second guess then I misrepresent Christ. He simply isn't like that. 

Bottom line: sometimes you have to choose to overrule what you feel and behave differently. Sometimes you have to do the hard thing!

But why? 

I think it's because our most grand calling is to be "living proof" of God's redemptive power. Even when nothing's going my way, even if I'm devastated, even when my kids aren't perfect, even when there's more month than money, even when I have more to do than time to do it, even when every hormone in my house is out of control, even when the other person did the wrong thing, even when...

God still readily and cheerfully redeems, and my life should be living proof. Oh how I want all of life to be worth something so proof of redemption!

So it's time to do the hard everything cheerfully and readily, no bickering or second guessing allowed. Be the breath of fresh air in the squalid and polluted world.

You have my permission to call me on this! 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Conversation with a tiny dancer...

Saturday's are awesome. Saturday mornings are my favorite thing in the world! I love sleeping late and spending an hour alone with some coffee and my bible. It refocuses me after a busy week and before a busy Sunday.

Saturday's are also awesome because Sarah gets to dance for 2 hours. During this season, Saturday's are for lyrical rehearsal. Nothing beats watching sweet little girls in black leotards, pink tights, and ballet buns! The only thing better is watching them float across the floor to princess music! It's precious! More precious than puppies and cupcakes!

But getting to dance on Saturdays is never my favorite part of the day simply because I try to eek out as much down time as I can before we kick it into get ready mode! I honestly usually wait until the last possible moment to get into the shower, leaving Sarah to be solely responsible for getting herself dressed.

Let me insert here that my mantra has always been "If you are old enough to ___________, then you are old enough to dress yourself and carry all your equipment to ____________".

Just ask the boys how many times Mom dressed them for baseball, soccer, lacrosse, etc.  Ask them how I used to preach this mantra when, as every other mom and dad carried baseball bags at Oregon Park in Marietta, I made them carry their own bags. 

I believe Sarah is more than capable of dressing herself for dance.

So as I'm rushing out the door pushing her to hurry so we aren't late, I notice she has not dressed herself correctly. Actually she has not taken off everything before putting on her tights and it's very obvious. We had to run back upstairs, take everything off and start over! This prompted quite the lecture on the way to dance about being responsible and thinking about what you are doing!

In addition to my "if you're old enough..." speech,  I'm often giving the reminders about being disciplined these days. It goes something like this:

"Sarah, dancers are disciplined. That means they do the hard things even when they don't want to. They rehearse when they would rather watch TV. They smile even when they are nervous. They joyfully and willingly dance their very best in the back even when they wish they had the solo! Discipline makes us smarter and stronger. You need to do the hard thing and just get dressed when I tell you to instead of playing til the last minute! You are a dancer so you must learn discipline!"

Yep, then it hit me right between the eyes! Wherever did she learn her "wait til the last minute" distracted ways? All too often I'm trying to do too many things at once and doing nothing well. All too often I'm trying to do what I think is fun rather than the more uncomfortable task to which God is calling me. I intend to follow Him, but just not immediately.

Gayla, you are an adult, so maybe it's time to grow up. You are a servant of The Living God. You need to be disciplined. You need to do the hard thing even when you don't want to. You will be so much happier when you obey joyfully and immediately! You need to choose the discipline of joy no matter what. You need to willingly do the hard thing especially when it's behind the scenes. You need to dance wherever He places you!

Sometimes God teaches Sarah, but usually He's teaching me so much more! 

"Help me to welcome whatever discipline You want to teach me, Lord. And thanks for giving me a tiny dancer as a teacher. Your merciful ways are always best! And also, thanks for Saturday's!"

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Help! I need some recipes for Lent!

Let's get something straight here: I am a Christian who has grown up in Baptist churches all my life. I don't especially think we Baptists have the market cornered on grace or joy or getting along, it's just how it's worked out for me. I do believe in many of the Baptist ideas, but honestly not all of them. (Please don't fire my husband!)

Most Baptists don't practice Lent. I try to. 

It probably started for me when I attended graduate school at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky- a fine Catholic school of which I'm quite proud! 

(As newlyweds, away from our families for the first time ever, we lived on the campus of Southern Baptist Seminary where Blake was a student. I worked in the daycare at the Presbyterian seminary across the street and was an intern at Jewish Hospital in Louisville while attending the Catholic university. Talk about ecumenical! I'm not your typical Baptist to say the least. That's a blog all its own!)

Growing up Baptist in a small rural community in south Arkansas, one really isn't exposed much to Lent or Ash Wednesday. Now mind you, south Arkansas is close to Louisiana so I knew about Mardi Gras but thought it was all about beads and King Cake. And my mother preached vehemently against going to New Orleans even though I'm pretty sure my big sister did!

So one particularly cold and rainy Wednesday I had no idea why I was the only student who was early to class. As I wandered down the hall of the dietetics building at Spalding, the building that connected to the Chapel, I saw that EVERYONE was in some sort of prayer service. Even the nuns were there! Being Baptist, as previously mentioned, I passed by and went on to sharpen my pencil before returning to class to wait patiently for the other students...who, by the way, were ALL Catholic. (You see where this is going, don't you?)

Strangely they all entered together looking, to me, as if I'd been the only one not invited to the chimney sweep party.

You guessed it!  I said, "Why do you all have black stuff on your foreheads?"  That was my initiation into Lent and Ash Wednesday, and I've learned from it ever since.  (I learned so many things from my peers during my time there, and I provided many other naively funny stories to them as well.  A totally different post sometime...)

So now I attempt to incorporate Lent into my spiritual journey.  It's traditionally about giving up something in order to remind yourself of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.  I love how the She Reads Truth app defines Lent:

"Lent is the season of repentance leading up to Easter in which the Church draws near to the cross of Christ, resting in the shadow of His sacrifice, glory, and forgiveness."

Remembering the cross, and why it was required...MY SIN! That's why I participate in Lent.

This year Caleb has asked me to participate with him. He usually just jokes about giving up something like ice skating or liver and onions, but this year he has seriously asked to give up meat. 

Yes, I said MEAT!

So I'm all in with him. Anytime my kids even attempt to learn more about Christ I'm in. I realize he/we will probably blow it at some point but even then we will learn more about grace.

Help! I need some vegetarian recipes that don't include gluten, dairy, or sugar! Thank God for hummus and quinoa and almonds!

Boy, will I be looking forward to the resurrection! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Daniel Plan Week 4

Well here we are about half way into our Daniel Plan initiation and, if you're reading this, at least you are still somewhat interested.  Let me congratulate you on taking the time to, at least, LEARN what it would take for you to feel better, be healthier, and honor God with the body He created for you.  I hope, however, that you are DOing more than just reading.  My very real prayer is that you are making some wiser decisions that include spending time in His Word and presence every day as well as eating fresher, more nutritious foods.  Knowledge is not enough.  Obedience is key to being able to serve Him with a healthy temple.  Obedience is not easy, especially in the beginning, but it is worth it!

So I'm asking the hard question:  Are you making changes?

And I'm asking an exciting question:  Are you seeing a difference in how you feel?

If the answer to the first question is yes, then I'd almost guarantee that the second answer is also yes.  If the answer to the first question is no, then why not?

How many of you are participating in the 10 day detox?

This week we begin reading about fitness.  Fitness really is vital to becoming "Daniel strong"!  Keep in mind that we aren't necessarily talking about becoming a marathon runner or a body builder when we talk about being strong like Daniel.  I love this quote from the book:

"Daniel possessed strength of faith, courage, obedience, devotion, dedication, endurance and discipline in body, mind, and spirit.  "

Oh that God could say that of me!

I'll be totally honest with you about fitness from my perspective.  I am not an athlete.  I could talk about food all day long and thoroughly enjoy eating new things, but the fitness part has been very hard for me.  It's not that I don't enjoy being active, but I have to work awfully hard to make the time to move.  And again in all honesty, when I'm done with everything else that has to be done, falling into bed is much easier than lacing up my shoes and sweating.  That's why I've come to understand that being active is actually one of those things that I MUST do before the day starts.  If I wait until I'm completely done with everything else or until I feel the strong desire to exercise...well that just won't ever happen.  So I don't wait, and I don't ask myself IF I'm going to do it.  I schedule it early and do things I enjoy...then I relish in the way I feel after it's done.

It's also become apparent to me that I won't consisitently do something that I hate.  The best exercise is the one you'll do!  I LOVE running outside by clears my head and gives me time to work on scripture memory or listen to worship music.  What do you love to do?  What is fun for you?  Spend some time this week trying to remember what you enjoyed playing as a child or what you think looks like fun!  Work the fun stuff into your fitness routine!

This week's homework:
1. Begin reading the chapter on fitness. It will take us 2 weeks so don't rush through it!

2. Choose at least one fun way to move on a daily basis. Schedule ahead of time at least 30 minutes per day, then treat this like you would any other appointment. Don't ask yourself if you want to move, just move!

3. Particularly search for the part in the fitness chapter that talks about "sitting disease" and let that shock you! I'd love for you to comment on what this research motivates you to do.

4. Continue memorizing scripture and eating the DP way. 

5. Tell us if you are seeing any results! Are you feeling better, taking less medicine, losing weight, moving more? Let's celebrate God's faithfulness to us!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Daniel Plan Week 3

Please forgive me for being a day late posting this!  I had the opportunity to visit old friends and run a 5k in Atlanta this past weekend.  By the time I landed back in KC last night, I was one really tired gal who just couldn't make herself finish this post.  Quite honestly, I was also feeling kind of yucky because I didn't exactly stick to the Daniel Plan most of the weekend.  I am just going to admit that I lived by Nehemiah 8:10 which says,

"And Nehemiah continued, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared.  This day is holy to our Lord.  Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

Some reunions call for choice foods and sweet drinks (sweet tea that is!).  My dearest friends and I celebrated with all our southern favorites and then we ran a 5K.  Now, mind you, it was, and I'm not even making this up, the Hot Chocolate 5K.  When you finish, instead of a medal, you receive a glorious gift of chocolate fondue and hot chocolate.  I run for chocolate! Here's a photo of some of my friends getting ready to run!

Can you see that chocolate?

Confession over.  I'm claiming Romans 8:1 this week.

Hopefully you read a large portion of the chapter on food last week.  I'd be shocked if you didn't learn something!!  I'd love to get some comments of what stood out to you.

Hopefully you also worked on a memory verse.  Again, I'd love to hear how His word is giving you strength.

This week:
1.  Finish the chapter on food.
2.  Begin incorporating it's principles.  I challenge you to the 10 day detox!  Do's not that hard and you'll feel incredible!  I'm starting 10 days of detox today after my weekend!
3. Watch this video and begin to read the labels on the foods in your pantry. What needs to be replaced?
4. Share a new DP appropriate recipe with us!

Questions, comments?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Daniel Plan Week 2

In week one of our online Daniel Plan group I asked you to read the first three chapters, and especially focus on putting extra effort into meeting with God in His word every day.  This is the most important thing you will ever do to become healthy, and even if you never change one thing about your eating and exercising this will change your life!  My prayer this week has honestly been that my DP friends would fall freshly for Jesus!  You can't spend time with Him without realizing that He's brilliant, eternally merciful, and worthy of any life change He's called us to make!  It's especially important that you maintain this "healthy habit" as you begin this week's study.

I told my face to face group this week that being on this journey is a bit different from your average Bible study and especially different from a typical "diet".  First of all, in a Bible study you usually have a week's worth of homework to do, but then you move on to something else.  This Daniel Plan journey is unique in that we aren't exactly learning the "rules" all up front and then making the changes.  At this early point in the journey, we are slowly learning some things that we will hopefully incorporate slowly but surely for a lifetime.  (Actually that's really what a Bible study should be too, though!)  We learn this way of life slowly because, honestly, it's so much information and we could easily become discouraged enough to just quit if we tried to digest it all immediately. It's not a typical "diet" because we are making changes in order to serve God and our families more effectively instead of just hoping to lose some weight.  I believe it's also different because when we make these changes we will feel so much better that we won't want to go back to our old ways!

So now for week 2...

We will actually take two weeks to talk about food, not because it's more important that faith but because most of you probably already spend time daily with God but need extra time to relearn how to eat and cook.

Your job this week:
1.  Continue spending time with God in His Word each day.  Choose a new memory verse and share it in the comments section.  I mean it...share it!  I also mean it...memorize!  I used to think that you might give up if I expected too much so I would just casually suggest this part, but I believe it's so important that I'm seriously going to tell you memorizing is a MUST!  You may say, "I'm not good at memorizing."  I don't want to hear that...try!  As legalistic and guilt-inducing as this sounds, quite honestly, if Jesus was willing to leave heaven and live in this world only to die and fight the demons in death for you, surely you can work on memorizing some scripture.  (There, I said it.) You can do this and it's so important and helpful when you'd really rather just have oreos!

2.  Begin reading chapter 4 on food.  As I said before, we will do this one in 2 weeks because it's so much information that may be new or even confusing.  As you read, highlight, highlight, highlight!  In the beginning, especially pay attention to "The Daniel Plan Perfect Plate" on page 79 and the "Top 10 Choices in Each Food Group" on page 80.

3. Start incorporating these foods in your meals!  Do not count calories, simply start using these foods.

4.  Drink at least 64 ounces of water every day.

5. Begin trying to cut out sugar and sugary foods, and DO NOT use the usual sugar substitutes.  If you need to sweeten use only raw honey, 100% natural maple syrup or whole leaf Stevia extract. This is a good one:

5.  Find and share with us one new Daniel Plan appropriate vegetable recipe!

That's enough for this week.  You will have questions, complaints, frustrations, and doubts about whether or not you can do this.  YOU CAN DO THIS!  And I absolutely guarantee that when you do make these changes you will feel so much better.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section.  If you have a question, it's likely that someone else will wonder the same thing and can learn from your question as well. Also remember to check out for extra resources!

Happy week 2!  I'm praying for you!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Starting The Daniel Plan

This time last year I was desperate for a change in my life. I have been following Christ since I was 6 years old and doing ministry for almost 25 years, but I had honestly never even contemplated that my physical body had anything to do with anything.  I assumed that if I was reading my bible and serving people that I was doing all He asked.  Last year I realized I was slowly becoming unable to do anything well because I was lazy and completely overweight. My health was affecting my ministry to my family, my church, everything!  And I tried every Monday morning to do better. But it NEVER worked. About Tuesday night I would give in and eat something I thought was "bad" and then I'd give up,..only to try again but not until the following Monday.  The cycle was pretty endless.  And in it all I would say to myself, "Well at least I am a good person who loves Jesus and follows Him. I may be unhealthy but my heart is right."

Here's the problem, my heart wasn't right.  I was NOT letting Him be Lord of my body.  I wasn't taking care of the physical place where His Spirit lives.  I honestly thought He didn't really care about my body.  And just to make myself less depressed about how I felt and looked, I reasoned that people who did care were shallow and didn't care about their relationship with God.

Then my husband had the audacity to preach a sermon about surrendering your physical body to Christ.  He even had the audacity to ask me to lead a follow up small group focusing on diet and exercise.

One year later I've lost 30 pounds and feel so much better.  I recently ran a half marathon...last year I couldn't run for 13 minutes much less 13 miles.  I have relationships with sweet friends at church that I would never have come to know because we journeyed together on this Daniel Plan ride, and they love me unconditionally but hold me accountable.

My life is very different because I obediently did some really hard things to practice letting Him control ALL of me.  My life is so VERY far from perfect, but I can better handle the struggles that are inevitable in this world because I know that He is even more faithful than chocolate, ice cream, sugar, and every other earthly craving!

Do you want this?  Do you want to be healthier? Do you want to be able to serve Him more effectively as you love your family, your friends and coworkers/clients, your church?

Let's do this together!

I'm leading a Daniel Plan (DP) group at our church, but many are unable to meet with us because of distance or time. We can do this online I think.  I'd love to give it a try and see what happens!  Now remember that you will do better with someone you can actually see and touch, so do your best to enlist a friend or family member who is also committed to it or at least committed to you!

For this first week take these steps:

1.  Buy or borrow The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life.  There are several items that go with it, but I think this one is the only one you need to start. Later you may want the cookbook.  Our church group uses the DVDs, which are fairly inexpensive, and the study guide.  You decide how much you want to spend, but definitely get the main trade book.

2.  Read the first 3 chapters, focusing on the third chapter regarding faith.  As you read, underline every bible verse that is quoted. Think about how faith affects the decesions you make about what to eat and when you are active.

3.  Choose one verse to memorize this week.  Write it on an index card, put in on your phone, make it visible and accessible all week.  Memorize it.  Yes, I said memorize it.  Don't use the excuse that you can't memorize things because you can.  And please don't make me every say this again, but if Christ can live and die for you, I believe the least you can do is memorize some of His works.  In fact, for accountability, tell us in the comments below what verse you are memorizing.

4.  Start doing one healthy thing.  Maybe you want to commit to drinking 64 ounces of water every day. Maybe you want to cut out caffeine or added sugar.  Maybe you want to do something active every day this week.  It won't always be easy, but when you are tempted to not do it, repeat your memory very 5 times...or 50 times!  God can give you His power to overcome!  Do the hard thing to show that obedience to Him and taking care of His temple is important enough to deny yourself. With each small step, He will bless and empower you.  Next week we will begin the chapter on food, and many of you will jump ahead because you want to see how to do this "diet".  Feel free, but don't skip the faith part.  It's the absolute most important thing you'll ever do!

5.  Do one thing to take the next step in your relationship with Christ.  If you don't already spend time in His Word, make a way to read it everyday.  Maybe you need to start a devotion book, or join a bible study, or start reading a book of the bible.  I have been doing those things, but I needed to begin memorizing scripture!  Maybe that's you too. Do something that's one step more to your part of your relationship with Him.  Yes, that takes time, but it's the most important thing you can do.  What makes DP different is the faith factor, so we focus on it first.  When we put Him first, it's amazing how much we come to trust that He really does know best and want the best for us.  We are much more willing to say "NO" to some less than healthy habits and cravings.  You'd be amazed at how much His power can equip you to do/eat the better thing.

6.  Peruse the website.  They have great videos and articles that help.  Here are 2 great ones:

That's it for week 1 and getting started. I think it is important to commit to this and let me know you're with us.  Please comment below with your name and memory verse ASAP.  If you have trouble commenting, feel free to FB message me or even email me at to let me know you are all in.