Thursday, February 27, 2014

Road Trip and Prayers

Yesterday morning I hugged my family and headed out the door to Bible Study, which is always really uplifting and encouraging. We dig deep and have great fellowship while we're at it. I feel so blessed after years of missing a consistent, weekly women's Bible study, to have the opportunity to meet with other women every week and feast on the bounty of God's Word together.

Yesterday was a packed day and a good one. I took a little road trip after Bible study, down to Children's Hospital. I am so glad I did! I spent the afternoon with my friend, Tracy, and her little China Doll, Kya. You can read about Kya's journey into her new family home here: http://nurturingtheheart.wordpress.com/?s=the+sacrifice+of+adoption and you can read updates on Kya's journey to health by clicking on the tab at the top of this blog: Prayers for Kya.

When I walked in the room, Kya was nestled comfortably in her Mama's arms and there were some cardiology folks chatting with them about Kya's condition. Kya gets upset when the medical personnel enter the room, so I was really blessed when she didn't get upset when I entered. I didn't really know what to expect, but I guess since she has met me twice and I didn't poke her or prod her or knock her out with drugs, she decided I am okay.

This is the scene I witnessed as I entered the room. Isn't it sweet?  Kya's tummy looks so much better than it did just a few days ago when we visited them. It really is shocking how much smaller it is.

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I got to hold Kya for Tracy so she could take a little break and it was exciting to me that she didn't fight me. She isn't very keen (no pun intended, Tracy) on letting strangers touch her, let alone hold her, but again, I suppose it's because we interacted with her in the comfort of her own home, that she decided maybe this strange, curly haired lady who laughs really loud....might be okay.

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When it was time for the evil nurse to do a little more poking and prodding, Tracy and I took the opportunity to head to the grocery store and buy some items for lunch. It was a beautiful, warm, day and it actually felt a little bit like spring might be around the corner. We headed back to the hospital where we were able to cook the food we bought and enjoy it at a little table in the parent's area. Tracy showed me these delicious, organic, gluten free burritos in the frozen section at Safeway. I had no idea they even made frozen burritos I could have. They were really good! We each enjoyed a burrito, an apple and some iced coffee, before heading back to the room.

Not long after we returned, the cardiologist arrived on the scene and I got to listen in as he explained the next step for Kya's recovery. I will post an update on the Prayer's For Kya page so you can read for yourself, what Kya and her family are facing in the coming months. Please continue to pray for this sweet little girl and her loving family. Pray for the medical team that is caring for her. Pray for Kya as it is difficult for her, emotionally, to go through so much in such a short time and at such a young age. Pray for strength for Tracy, who stays with her for weeks at a time, getting very little rest on a very small and extra firm pull out couch in the room. Pray for Carlton and the boys as they hold down the fort at home and for all the people who have generously loved on the boys, providing home school help for them, baby sitting, meals etc. and pray for the family as Carlton heads out on a work related trip in the very near future. God is answering prayers for this family and it is exciting to see His hand at work in their lives! Thanks so much, on behalf of this family, for all of your prayers and please keep them up!

I arrived home after a slow two hours in rush hour traffic last night, and I was exhausted. I came home to my family, a meal, and time to rest, relax and refresh in my own bed. I thought about the many sacrifices our friends are making to help their baby girl get well and how scared she is at times. It hit me just how good we have it when things are going well. Life is full of tough stuff and we all face those hard times, but what a blessing we can pray for each other, support and encourage one another and know that the God who created us all, will give us the grace and courage to face whatever is in store for us.

We are truly blessed.

Monday, February 24, 2014

How Exercise Can Strengthen Your Marriage

My husband is my best friend.

I was thinking about how much I enjoy his company and all the reasons why.

He makes me laugh. He laughs at my jokes. He challenges me to grow. He is humble and he values my opinion and appreciates my input on many things....some really important and some things that are seemingly insignificant. He is strong. He's a great leader and he's also good at following. He's a fantastic father. He is a hard worker, He has integrity, He is very responsible, supportive, kind, compassionate, caring, self controlled, good with finances (one of us has to be and he's definitely the "go to guy" in this department), He's an incredible teacher, has a scholarly mind....loves to learn and is always studying and learning new things. He loves God deeply and has a hunger to really know and understand His Word. Consequently he studies it constantly and I learn a lot from him. We love to sit side by side, reading, studying and exploring what we read together. He cares about what I care about and we enjoy many of the same activities.

One of our passions as a couple is fitness and nutrition.  We workout together several times a week and it's really fun. We challenge each other, keep each other accountable and we celebrate our victories together. When one of us doesn't "feel like it," the other one motivates. We both love to help other people in this capacity as well. We enjoy seeing others reach their fitness and nutrition goals and to help them get motivated.

The other night our son grabbed the camera while we were doing P90X3 together and snapped a few pictures.

We don't have perfect bodies. We aren't in our twenties anymore. We don't do it all perfectly, but we are excited at the progress we have made in the past three years. Cardiovascularly speaking, he is in the best shape he has been in for years, and I'm in the best shape I've ever been in. For the first time in my life I have endurance. I can run and enjoy it. I can do push ups, burpees, and many other things I couldn't do even when I was younger. We started out slowly. We have been consistent and my mind has been open to trying new things instead of getting frustrated and giving up like I did in the past. Rich's constant support, encouragement, accountability and belief in me have been an amazing gift.

For whatever it's worth, here are a few pictures of a couple of "Old Fogies" doing P90X3 together.

Getting ready to start

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Stretching

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Regular push ups from plank

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My favorite....weights...

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Push ups with one leg in the air. I have to go with the improvisation on these due to a weak shoulder, but Rich demonstrates the full meal deal. It's effective either way and great for your core.

 

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Setting up for chin ups. I use the bands and he uses the chin up bar.

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More of my favorites. Love me some good strength training with weights.

 

 

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Rich doing staggered push ups and plyo push ups

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Working various upper body muscles with weights

 

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Working upper body and lower body with weights

 

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Setting up for pull ups

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Working the triceps going to table top with one leg in the air

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Another successful workout.....love my workout partner!

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Working out together has strengthened our relationship. It brings another aspect to our marriage that is exciting, fun and binds us together even more strongly as a couple. We have a great time picking out each new workout program when we're ready for one. We enjoy getting strong and healthy at home, but we also love hiking, swimming, and other outdoor activities as a family because one of the perks of daily workouts is that we are able to keep up with our very active kids and grandkids.

Exercise really can help strengthen a marriage if you can find something you can enjoy doing together.  Don' take my word for it though, give it a try for yourself! After our workouts we often replenish our muscles with our favorite meal of the day.

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Check out www.janataft.com for some great workout programs and nutritional products. If you aren't married, grab an accountability partner for motivation and camaraderie. If you are married, but your spouse isn't on board, give yourself the gift of good health anyway. Maybe your spouse will see the results and energy you display as you get healthier, and decide to join you. Either way, you won't regret doing something good for your health.

 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Friends, Food and Surgery

This week-end has been full of precious moments with dear friends.

On Friday night we had our dear friends, Dave and Tracy over for dinner.  Natalie made delicious pesto and sundried tomato chicken breasts, and I made dairy free garlic mashed potatoes and The Best Broccoli Ever for dinner. Tracy brought a delicious gluten free hot lava cake for dessert and we enjoyed some freshly brewed dark organic coffee along with it. It was a delicious meal and the visit with dear friends was priceless. I forgot to take a picture of our dessert.

Pesto and Sundried Tomato Chicken Breasts: Four Chicken Breasts, cooked in a skillet until tender, juicy and no longer pink. While they are cooking, in a separate pan, combine 1/3 cup organic chicken broth, a dash of salt, pesto and sundried tomatoes to taste. Heat thoroughly. When chicken is fully cooked, transfer to platter and pour sauce over the top. Add fresh grated parmesan cheese and serve.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes:

One cube butter (I used grass fed), coconut, almond or rice milk and fully cooked potatoes. Mash potatoes with a potato masher, add butter, (Himalayan) salt, minced garlic and beat with mixer until desired texture. Add milk as needed to desired consistency.

Best Broccoli of Your Life: Spread broccoli out on a cookie sheet.  Add dabs of coconut oil to the garlic until there is coconut oil evenly distributed on the broccoli. Grind Himalayan salt and some pepper, evenly over the entire pan of broccoli.  Mince three or four cloves of garlic and distribute evenly as well.  Mix well with a large spoon and place the cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven for about fifteen minutes or until the edges are a little crispy. Remove from oven and add basil to taste, the juice of one lemon and the zest from it as well. Mix thoroughly. You can also add pine nuts or walnuts and some grated parmesan cheese if you wish. Place back in oven for about five minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!

 

Best Garlic of Your Life Pesto and Sundried Tomato Chicken Breasts Pesto chicken

Yesterday we visited with some other friends. We live about forty-five minutes apart, but the road between our houses is short because the trip is so worth it. We had such a sweet visit with Carlton and Tracy and their four lovely children.  They have three little boys and recently added a little girl from China to their family. You can read about their adoption story here: http://nurturingtheheart.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/the-sacrifice-of-adoption/

I got to meet little Kya over a month ago, but the rest of our family met her for the first time last night.  She made her way into our hearts immediately with her sweet little round cheeks and beautiful brown eyes that study each person she meets, intensely.

She was wearing this cute little tutu and making her way around the house in her walker.

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Christine couldn't wait to visit with Kya and get acquainted. She has a huge heart full of love for little babies and children. Her arms were itching to hold Kya, but she patiently spent time kneeling down on Kya's level, talking to her and allowing her time to feel comfortable with her first.

It didn't take long for Kya to feel comfortable with Chrissie. Pretty soon her tiny little hand reached out to touch Christine's hand.

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While Chrissie and Kya were getting acquainted, Tracy and I got busy in the kitchen putting together several gluten free pizzas for dinner and eventually Christine gave Natalie a chance to get to know Kya while she whipped up some gluten free cake donuts for dessert, following a recipe Tracy supplied her with.

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The pizzas were incredible.  These are two that I made. The one on the left is a sausage (natural, nitrate free), olive, red and orange pepper, and natural cheddar cheese (Kerrygold) from Ireland and traditional pizza sauce.  The one on the right is a pesto chicken pizza with organic oven dried tomatoes, mixed organic greens, artichoke hearts, olives and mushrooms.  They were delicious and I used a different brand of gluten free dough mix than I used in the past. We liked it much better. If you want a good GF pizza dough, I recommend Glutino. Tracy made a barbecue chicken pizza that is delicious!

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Rich, Carlton, Levi and Tim played a few good natured rounds of "Trouble" while Noah, Colton, Grantham and Jackson played upstairs.

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I enjoyed snapping a few pictures of Chrissie, Tracy and her cute little tutu girl.

 

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Natalie had no problem making friends with Kya. All she had to do was pull out her favorite books and her baby doll and Kya was perfectly content to sit on Natalie's lap and "read."

 

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 Kya has a serious heart condition, as well as digestive issues and tummy issues. Tomorrow morning she is going in for surgery to hopefully fix the tummy and digestive issues and then have a heart catheterization done.  The hope is that all goes very well and she can have her heart repaired after she recovers from tomorrow's procedures. Please keep Kya in your prayers and her family, as they walk through this with her.

You can see in these pictures that her tummy is very round.

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Tracy put Kya in the "tub" and she was so cute playing with her little cup and splashing softly in the water.

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The doughnuts turned out great and Tracy made some delicious French pressed coffee to go with them.

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Did I mention that Kya warmed up to Christine rapidly?  Christine had a great time packing Kya around and Kya appeared to enjoy it just as much as Chrissie did.

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Kya smiling on her Daddy's lap.  Levi, as you can see here, was very enthralled with her.

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 We watched a few "Messy Monday" clips and some "Kid Snippets."

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It was a really sweet week-end and we wrapped it up today with a day full of Sunday School, an incredible sermon at church and a relaxing afternoon as a family, watching the snow fall while we snuggled up in our living room by the wood stove and watched a movie together.

I will be praying for our friends tomorrow and if the weather is decent and it all works out, I may even surprise Tracy and join her down at Children's Hospital. She will be taking Kya down there by herself while her hubby holds down the fort with all the boys. I know they covet all the prayer coverage possible.

Blessings to you all and thanks in advance for all the prayers for our dear friends.