On the Road: Life Update

What a wild few weeks it’s been since my last update!

Here’s the basic run down of our life on the road: We got a contract at the beginning of June for 10 weeks in Minneapolis, MN, just less than two weeks before our contract in Atlanta was due to expire. I could not have been happier to get a contract somewhere a little milder weather-wise and for the pay I had been praying for!

Turns out, though, that everyone in Minneapolis loves camping in RVs just as much as we do! This meant that every single campsite and RV Park in the area was booked solid for the summer! (Cue panic) Somehow, through the generosity of total strangers (with whom we have SO much in common and are quickly becoming friends!) we found a truly amazing parking spot in a residential area, right next to a park and a lake!

At this point I have no idea why I ever doubt God’s ability to provide abundantly for my life. Seriously. He knocked this one way out of the park (no pun intended!)! We are only 20 minutes from the hospital, ten minutes from an Anglican church, five minutes from the post office, gym, Massage Envy, Pho, health food store, etc.

Getting an amazing location wasn’t the last thing up God’s sleeve, though. Right as we were pulling into town we found out that we needed a Minnesota nursing license. Somehow we thought MN was a compact state (states that accept each other’s nursing credentials and don’t require a special license). Nope! Lots of panicky prayers, trips to get fingers prints scanned, and paperwork later we still had no license and it was looking like we were going to have to start a week late. One simple phone call on Friday to the right person and the temporary license was approved so we could start work Monday (today!). So many miracles!

Now that we are parked, I’m getting back into working on my classes for my Master Herbalist certification. God made so many plants with many incredible uses. I’m always blown away by the resources we have in the plant world! I’m learning so much and I can’t wait to use this new knowledge in my health coaching practice! Speaking of which, I’m hoping to start classes for my Health Coach certification this summer!

Any guesses where we’ll be in the fall? We sure don’t know! Feel free to lodge your predictions in the comments!

Bye, Bye Wheat!

I’ve been suspecting this day would come soon. The day when, once again, I bid farewell to wheat forever.

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I’ve been here before. Years ago I went completely “gluten free” after discovering that eating wheat made me go into these awful, can’t-breathe, going-to-die, coughing fits. After moving to Europe and doing a good deal of wheat cheating cough free, I realized my problem wasn’t with wheat but with the bleaching agents they add to wheat (America likes to add all manner of nasties to their wheat products. Europe got wise and realized that was foolish and just said ‘no’). Bleached wheat meant I would be pretty miserable for about five to ten minutes. Unbleached wheat meant uninhibited carb binging.

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After also cutting out diary, things started to really heal in my gut and I was able to eat bleached wheat no problem.

Until now.

Several weeks ago I started to notice some weird itchy skin on my back, face, and arms. Strange splotches started cropping up and my psoriasis was worse than it had ever been. I chalked this up to being stressed and didn’t really worry about it. Then I noticed inflammation in my joints whenever I woke up in the morning. My thinking was foggy which I blamed on poor sleep. Every time I ate wheat my skin would start itching. Then in the middle of church I got the old knock-down, drag-out coughing fits I used to have. I had to run out last week mid-sermon, tears streaming down my face from the coughing, gasping for air.

That’s when I knew: I have to quit wheat. I’ve got leaky gut and possibly an allergy to wheat. It didn’t matter if it was bleached or not, the itchy patches and coughing came up regardless of how “healthy” the source was.

There was no fanfare, no “just one last Chick-Fil-A biscuit” (my habit of cheating on my super-healthy life with CFA is honestly a huge reason why I’m in this mess), no last piece of sprouted grain toast. Just done. Tonight I had a wonton in some wonton soup. Just that one single wonton has been enough to make the skin all around my face and back itchy.

I’ve been down this road before. I know how hard it is. I know how frustrating eating out is going to be from now on. I know how hard it can be to explain to people when you’re at their house that you can’t eat their food. People look at you and think you’re just being picky. What you’re doing is watching your back.

Choosing health often means saying “no!” to something you really don’t want to say “no” to. But you know what? That’s what facing your demons looks like. That’s what discipline looks like. Choosing health can look like saying “Yes” to beautiful, healthful food, but also means giving up things that are literally making you sick. That’s where it’s hardest. I have NO problem stuffing down a forkful of kale or guzzling a glass of powdered greens

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(something a lot of people on a Standard American Diet would shudder at!). The hardest part now is going to be saying “NO!” when I need it most.

 

 

What are you needing to say “No!” to? What is getting in the way of you and a healthy body? What do you need to say “Yes!” to?image1

Travel Nursing: Surrendering to the Unknown

img_6936When my husband and I were engaged we went through premarital counseling with a priest at our church. This counseling involved a lengthy test we each had to take in order to see how well matched we were. When our results came in it noted that we were a very harmonious couple but that we were both highly rigid.

This meant that we got along very well, always sought the peace, but hated going against a fixed schedule, anything unknown. We liked our plans, we liked knowing what was coming, and didn’t react well to sudden change of plans or having to be spontaneous. Our homework from our priest was to go on an unplanned date. We drove around for what felt like forever trying to decide where to eat and what to do. It stressed both us out considerably and we finally stopped and got some sushi.

God has a sense of humor, it seems, that He would take two (mostly me though, if I’m honest) rigid people and give them a really wild, adventurous life full of the unknown.

When we signed up to do travel nursing we were newly married and full of excitement at learning these new skills of flexibility and living three months at a time. I got pregnant two weeks into our first assignment, and pregnancy changed everything. Suddenly, it mattered very much to me which city we lived in and where we lived. I didn’t want to bring my baby home from the hospital to a hotel. I didn’t want to move my baby to new surroundings every time we moved. I knew babies and children do best when they have consistency and structure, and I wanted desperately to provide that for my child.

Thus began our passionate search for a tiny house that eventually led us to our current RV. Now, no matter where we go, we have a roof over our heads (and thankfully the same roof!). Our home is on wheels, and that is a great comfort to me!

We’ve been in the Charlotte area for almost a year now. Our daughter was just five weeks old when we moved north from Florida. Now, we are getting ready for her first birthday. We have stayed here so long because it’s been the best fit for us. Every time a new contract opens up it’s either filled quickly or not the right fit for us. So here we have stayed. But we don’t know if we can stay any longer. Whether we can renew our contract here is still unknown.

Our contract is finished in three weeks. I have no idea where we will be living in three weeks. That would stress most people out, especially women (especially moms), who crave security and predictability. But we have learned that where we live is not up to us; it’s up to God. God has brought us through some really tight scrapes as a family. He always provides a job for us, and He always provides a place to stay. He has been our Shepherd too many years for us to worry about it now. We aren’t really surrendering to the unknown. We are surrendering to God. While He never guarantees a safe, comfortable life, He is always faithful. He’s a much safer place to rest than simply the cold unknown.

I would say in the two years we have been married, we have learned a lot of flexibility. God’s assignment for our learning was a little more intense than that of our priest! We can rest in expectation that God will provide the very best for us.

You can, too!

 

Great Educational Resources for Mamas and Teachers

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“Are you going to homeschool?”  This is a question I get asked a lot!

The truth is, my husband and I haven’t really decided how we are going to educate our daughter. She’s only 11 months old and it’s early days yet. I’ve always said that I would wait to gauge her personality as she grew to determine which kind of schooling would work best for her (homeschooling, public schooling, private schooling). Each way has pros and cons and pretty big ramifications for our family. I truly believe that there is no “one size fits all” approach to education. Homeschooling works wonders for some kids and is a disaster for others. The same is true for public school or private education.

Either way, whether we choose to homeschool or not, as her mom I’m going to be taking a front seat in her learning. I want to help teach her to read and write before she goes to school, and I want to help her with her homework when she comes home. Many of you may know that I used to be a teacher. Even now I can say being a teacher was THE hardest job I’ve ever done. When I was a teacher, I spent a good deal of my own money on resources to help my students learn or to beef up my lesson plans. (I also had a lot of parents who didn’t care a lick about helping their struggling students at home! Good education starts at home regardless of the education platform!)

Oh how I wish I had found the resources over at education.com back then! So many free printables (who doesn’t love a free printable?), lesson plans, games and more! They make learning really fun with different themes that kids love.

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All aboard to practice letter formation, spelling and word recognition with this pirate ship word tracer! Be sure to sail over to Education.com for more learning resources. When the time comes to teach our little girl how to write, we will definitely be using these great resources!

Download this fun, free printable here! —> word tracer_sailing

 

 

So whether you’re a parent of preschoolers, a homeschooling mama, a teacher, or a parent of schooled kids looking to provide some support, this website is a great resource!

Minimalism is a Spectrum (and other things I learned from watching Marie Kondo)

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I’m taking a break from watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo because looking at this one couple’s clutter is stressing this minimalist out!

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I will say I’m enjoying this show so much. I still stand by what I’ve said in previous blog posts about my reservations with the KonMari Method. As a minimalist I find it a little squishy and in the end people still have way too much stuff. But the people she’s helping aren’t minimalists: they’re pack rats (hoarders?) who need help. At the end of the episode, whether they got rid of everything or just a lot, the couples she’s trying to help seem happier, lighter, and way more peaceful. Marriages get mended and parenting doesn’t seem as daunting. When I started my very first purge, I was still left with a whole lot of stuff. It took make ages to get to where I am now. These people aren’t at the end of their journey; they’re at the beginning.

Also, this show made me realize I’ve been folding clothes wrong my whole life and I now need to refold everything!giphy-1

It also got me thinking that minimalism is a process, and kind of a spectrum. Someone at the beginning of the decluttering process will look a lot different than someone who’s been at it for years and years. It doesn’t make that person’s experience less important. It takes courage to let go of things you’ve held onto that are weighing you down and taking up space. I get messages from people all the time who are excitedly taking a load of stuff to the thrift store or recycling center because they finally took the plunge and rethought their ownership. They’re proud of themselves, as they should be!

I’ve also learned that minimalism can be cyclical. You go through times where you’re on a purge marathon, getting rid of EVERYTHING. Other times you find yourself slipping into old habits, buying things because it feels good and then regretting it (and believe me, if you live in an RV and you buy something you regret that item will have no where to hide until you deal with it!). Even now there are times when I fall prey to the sentimental trap, reluctant to give up certain items (sometimes really stupid items) just because I have a lot of great memories associated with them. But if I give into that, I will quickly get snowed over with possessions and be right back where I started! I just took two small bags of stuff to the thrift store.

Living in an RV has forced me to learn that a tiny amount of possessions in a teeny tiny space can still feel cluttered! If we moved our possessions into a normal sized house, it would seem bare and VERY minimalist. In our RV, it feels like we might have too much! It doesn’t take much to make a mess!

It also got me comparing the KonMari method to other notable minimalists that I follow. Indulge me, if you will, as I humorously rank them in order of intensity and level of ownership.

Level One: Marie Kondo.

Does the possession spark joy? Then by all means keep it, even if you never use it, it doesn’t fit, it has holes in it and you already have five. At the end of the process you’ll have less stuff, but you might still have a lot more than you need, use (or actually want!). Level one focuses mainly on tidying up possessions, but might not focus quite so much on digging deeper emotionally or mentally.

Level Two: Joshua Becker

De-own! And don’t just let go of your possessions, let go of guilt, debt, and unhealthy relationships! Level two is all about enjoying life instead of reorganizing it. Give experiences instead of gifts. Get out of debt. Get rid of the things you don’t use, want, or need (not just the things that don’t spark joy!).

Level Three: The Minimalists

The Zen masters of the Minimalism world. All you need in life is a toothbrush and a black outfit and an openness to let go of your identity and all preconceived ideas about what you’re capable of. Rethink everything, including yourself. Level three is basically minimalist Nirvana, no one ever really gets there.

This is probably an unfair generalization of all three groups. As you might guess, I fall pretty soundly in the Joshua Becker camp. A minimalist home doesn’t have to be a cold, lifeless one. If you want your life to include hospitality, then by all means keep a stack of plates (instead of just two or four).   But minimalism should also be about more than simple ownership. It should be about saying “No” to unhealthy cultural expectations and “Yes!” to margins and meaningful experiences.

Where are you in your journey? Still at the start, covered in clutter? At the beginning, with your joyless items in a bag destined for a thrift store? Or a few years down the road, enjoying the freedom of a capsule wardrobe and working on getting out of debt? I’m four years down the road, still learning and changing things to fit the life I want to have. Where are you?

Sinking into Advent when you just don’t feel like it

Yesterday I had something of a Charlie Brown moment. In the brief space of time I was afforded to breathe during my daughter’s nap, I allowed a slow moment for my emotions to catch up to my brain and become thoughts. They sounded something like this:

“It doesn’t feel like Christmas. I was so looking forward to Christmastime, and now that it’s here I just feel drained.”

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Every year, more and more, Christmas becomes a to-do list that I rush through in hopes of finishing early so I can put my feet up, bake some cookies (which I don’t even eat any more, who am I kidding?), and somehow feel Christmasy. This is my first Christmas season with a child and I’m learning that the relentless nature of motherhood does not slow down or cease as holidays approach. There is no Christmas vacation for moms. If anything, I feel squeezed even harder as nap times and evenings are spent writing Christmas cards, wrapping gifts, and making sure every family member is accounted for. (Not that I don’t delight in gift giving. There are a few gifts this year I’m counting down the days to give, I’m so excited about them.)

The highlight of my merriment comes when I turn on our Christmas tree lights and my increasingly vocal daughter Ooo’s and Ah’s and Wow’s with wide eyed wonder at the glittering spectacle before her. This is her first Christmas and for her it has no meaning beyond visual sensory pleasure.

For me, this time means far more than cozying in to my hygge RV, looking even more Scandinavian these days now that the white paint is dry and the Christmas greens have been hung. Advent has always been a season of slow, steady contemplation, anticipation, of waiting for Christ.

Maybe this year more than most, the waiting means more. I’m weary this Advent season, just as the Jews were waiting for their Messiah when He graced them with his tiny presence two Millennia ago. Theirs was not a merry waiting, filled with eggnog, greenery, and lights. Theirs was a hungry waiting, oppressed and tired, but still a waiting filled with hope. Hope doesn’t need to be filled with energy and smiles to stay in tact. Hope is determined choice.  Its clothes are tattered and eyes have bags but its knuckles are white with determination.

I need that hope as the injustice of the world makes me feel drunk with anguish and the weariness of my life stretches me thin.  This year I need to sink into Advent, even though I don’t feel like it. My flesh feels like tuning out and binge watching cooking shows on Netflix while my daughter sleeps. My soul needs to breathe in the waiting hope of Advent. To sit in stillness, listening to the grace-filled whispers of the Holy Spirit reminding me that Christ is coming again and that coming is one of justice. I need to soak in the Scriptures that preach peace and joy and freedom to my soul. I need to gaze at a crèche and contemplate how incredibly inaccurate most of them are (let’s be real: that hay would have been covered in blood and Mary would have been asleep when the shepherds arrived. I’d love to see a probably-way-closer-to-real-life manger scene).   It’s my first Christmas after having a baby and Mary’s act of sacrifice and pain to bring us our Savior is now one that brings me to tears and slight cynicism at nearly every single Nativity scene.

If the only thing I get out of Christmas this year is a few minutes of communion with the Savior whom we celebrate and contemplation on His coming, then I can count it a success. In the immortal words of Linus, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”thats-what-christmas-is-all-about-1024x512

Fall Favorites: Delicious Root Bisque

I’ve been making variations on this soup since I was a dirt-poor missionary in Germany and root vegetables were the only things my sad little budget could afford. It’s cheap to make, and it makes a decent sized pot full!

The key to root soup is celery root, which can be hard to find in the US. I scored some at my local Earth Fare last week and quickly started planning to make another batch of root soup. Celery root, also known as celeriac, is pretty hideous, but oh so tasty! (It tastes nothing like celery) It’s rich in fiber and B vitamins, and has a more sponge-like texture than potato. It requires a bit of preparation before you can cook it, but I’ll cover that below. Combine it with antioxidant rich beets and inflammation fighting turmeric in this soup and you’ve got yourself a veritable tonic!

I got the ingredients for this soup without really realizing that Hurricane Florence would be barreling toward us. When we made the decision for me and the baby to leave and stay with my parents while my husband stayed behind and manned the RV, I didn’t really want to leave without cooking up as much as I could so he would have some meals when he came home after a long shift.

I don’t know how else to describe the flavor of this soup other than amazing, creamy, comforting, and smooth! I brought a mason jar of it to my parent’s house and my mom was hooked!

If you manage to find a bulb of this delicious but hideous veggie, be sure to pick some up and try this recipe!

Root Bisque

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

3 T butter
3 T coconut oil
1 medium sized celery root (skinned with head and root bits removed)
1 large Yukon gold potato (leave skin on)
½ small beet (skinned)
3 medium sized parsnips (skinned)
3-4 medium sized carrots
½ small white onion
small thumb of turmeric (skinned)
small thumb of ginger (skinned)
1 bay leaf
½ t. dried rosemary
3 sprigs of fresh parsley
1 t. salt
pepper to taste
2 cans organic coconut milk (Thai Kitchen is my go-to brand)
½ cup PLAIN coconut milk yogurt (So delicious is the best brand for this)
1 ½ Cups vegetable stock

Cut all your veggies into small, half inch pieces, skinning the celery root (use a knife, not a peeler), the parsnips, the beet, the turmeric, and the ginger. Celery root is seriously “rooty” and you may find yourself cutting a lot of the bottom off so you’re not eating literal dirt.

In a large skillet, heat butter and coconut oil. Ordinarily I’d say to just do coconut oil, but there’s something about the way butter and celery root play together that’s a little too magical to ignore. Add half of your salt, pepper, and all the rosemary and parsley.

Add ALL your roots (celeriac, potato, beet, parsnip, carrot, ginger, turmeric, onion). Sauté on high heat, stirring constantly until soft (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat.

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Transfer the contents of the skillet to a large pot on medium heat and add vegetable stock, coconut milk, bay leaf, and the rest of your salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and remove the bay leaf. Add coconut milk yogurt then blend with an immersion blender until all the vegetables have been just blended.

Serve hot and enjoy!

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