This morning began like most mornings do. I sleepily got out of bed before my 5:30 alarm, since I’d technically been awake since 4:30 trying to wrangle in the “mind-spin”, then spent some time with the Lord, and lastly got my kiddos off to school. I pulled back into the driveway to see an anxiously awaiting double-doodle staring at me from the family room window. It was time for her walk and she wasn’t going to let me forget it.
Every morning I take Luna for a spin around the neighborhood and we almost always find our way into the university campus that resides close to our home. I love walking on the college grounds because the paths are winding and lined with trees and beautiful landscaping. I also enjoy seeing the students walking to class as the sun streams across the bluffs and lights up the walkways.
Being a creature of habit I tend to walk the same route and usually find myself passing a particular building that has many tall, rectangular, east facing windows. The building is situated in a way that the rising sun hits the windows and reflects into the path where I walk. Everytime I walk past these windows, I’m always struck by the periodic bursts of heat that hit my face. It literally feels like alternating laser beams that strike, and then are instantly gone when I pass areas of the building that aren’t reflecting the sun.
I’ve walked past this building MANY times, but for some reason something pretty profound struck me today. I got a strong sense that the Lord was showing me the power of reflection. And no, not the kind of reflection where you ponder those stupd things you did in college and realize there were probably plenty of reasons you should have gotten some professional therapy. No, the kind of reflection where a powerful light source hits a shiny surface and bounces the opposite way.
The Oxford Dictionary defines reflection as, “The throwing back of a body or surface of light, heat or sound, without absorbing it.” Hmmm.. let’s reflect on that a bit. (Did you see how I did that?)
Wow. Isn’t this what God calls us to do as believers? Doesn’t He call us to reflect Him?
He doesn’t ask us to BE the light source. That’s HIS job. He only wants us to REFLECT Him. So what does that look like? How do we reflect Jesus to every person we come in contact with? And yes, I said EVERY person. Even that guy that cut you off today in the Target parking lot because he was texting and flying in his souped up Honda Civic like a bat out of you know where!
Let’s ask ourselves, what was Jesus like? What characteristics did He exhibit when He walked the earth? If you’re a list checker like me, then let’s start with one of my favorite lists in the Bible, the fruits of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. When you want to flare at that offensive comment on Facebook, do you reflect love? How about patience? Or maybe most importantly, when your flesh wants to furiously type a rebuttal and virtually body slam that ignorant bleep bleep into the cyber ground, do you practice self-control? Ouch.
It can be hard. But showing EVERYONE love, letting them see your joy even in tough times, and being gentle in spirit when persecuted, is reflecting the light of Jesus to a hurting world.
And remember when I mentioned the heat I felt from the sun reflecting in those windows? You guys, seriously, it was HOT! Like I thought the skin was going to start peeling off the left side of my face. Just because you’re the reflection and not the “source” doesn’t mean you can’t pack some heat! We have power as followers of Jesus, and we can walk boldly knowing that when we make a genuine effort to be Christ’s reflection, He will bring intensity to your witness that you won’t have to work for. That’s the beauty of reflecting from a place of power. He will translate His unlimited energy through you to positively affect someone else’s life.
Reflection can be small, like those little prisms I used to hang in my window as a kid. Or it can be massive like in the valley town of Rjukan, Norway where mirrors were installed to reflect sunlight into the town’s square that is normally shadowed for half of the year. (Cool right?)
Both are good. Both are beautiful. Big or small, your reflection is bringing much needed light into a place riddled with darkness.
Where can you shine today?
Shine on, friend. Shine on.
Our love for smoothies began when I was in the thick of my cancer fight, and chemotherapy was kicking my patootie all over the place. To combat the occasional bouts of nausea, I found that keeping a small amount of food in my stomach at all times helped tremendously. But let’s be real. When you feel like you’ve been run over by a dump truck (twice), the last thing you want is a big juicy steak and a side of fries. Okay, I take that back, the fries actually hit the spot quite a bit, just saying.
I knew I needed to supply my body with the best nutrients I could to help fight the cancer and recover from the grueling treatments. But I also wanted to ENJOY said nutrients so my incredible husband dove headfirst into the art of the smoothie. Bless him.
Smoothies not only gave me the nutrition I desired, but they tasted darn good too! It was a treat to down one or two of these each day, and it became a good way to easily ingest multiple small meals daily.
I often get asked about the smoothie recipes we use so thought I would share some here. If you’re serious about upping your smoothie game, regardless if you’re going through cancer or not, I would HIGHLY recommend investing in a Vitamix blender. This machine was literally sent from heaven. In fact, I’m pretty sure angels use a Vitamix to make their own celestial concoctions. Just saying.
There are a lot of different models available, so choose which one is best for your needs and your budget. I’ll warn you, they are a bit of an investment, but they are SO worth it. Not only do they make killer smoothies, but you can make hot soups, salsas, baby foods, batters, nut butters, non-dairy milks, frozen desserts, and more. Yah. I know. Run, don’t walk people.
Let’s get to the good stuff. We have found many great recipes in multiple places. One of our favorite smoothie resources is Rich Roll’s Plantpower Meal Planner. My husband has this app and uses it religiously. Here are a few of our favorites:
But a couple of tips first:
Tip 1. Each of these recipes makes 2 servings. If you aren’t going to drink two servings, you can save the other in the fridge for an afternoon snack, or you could share it. Sharing is caring friends!
Tip 2. When a recipe calls for bananas, we recommend freezing them first. Peel them and put them in a zip lock bag in your freezer for easy access. Using frozen bananas makes your smoothie cold (if your other ingredients aren’t) and it also makes it thicker and not so watery. If the consistency isn’t thick enough, you can always add a few ice cubes.
Tip 3: We try to use organic ingredients as much as possible. If your budget allows for it, DO IT! Not only do you avoid potentially toxic pesticides, but I think they taste better too!
Avocado Lime Smoothie
Banana Berry Protein Smoothie
Creamy “Caramel” Banana Bread Smoothie
When I was going through treatment I chose to cut out all processed sugar to help my body fight inflammation. This was incredibly hard because I am a sugar lover! To help satisfy my screaming sweet tooth, I created a smoothie that hit the spot every time. Here it is. You’re welcome.
Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie
Another great resource for smoothies specific to breast cancer is a book by Daniella Chase called Breast Cancer Smoothies. What I like about this book is that it shares why each ingredient is good for fighting cancer, and certain recipes are created for specific breast cancer types. (ER, PR+, Triple -, etc.)
If you are one that struggles with keeping weight on and are looking to beef up your smoothies with some healthy fats, you can always add a scoop of avocado, or coconut oil to your recipes. Peanut butter, almond butter, and sunflower butters are also great choices for adding some much needed, healthy calories. It’s also important to get a lot of protein when you’re battling this disease so feel free to add a scoop of your favorite protein powder to each smoothie.
I hope this information has given you a little push to jump on the smoothie train. I’m so glad I did, and I think we will forever be hooked!
Let’s go! Get blending!
Everyday I am learning how to be a better parent to my girls. I admittedly make a gazillion mistakes daily so I’m no expert, but there is one thing that I think is super important. Give your children a DECREE. You may be thinking, “What the heck is a decree?” Don’t worry. I thought the same thing. I’ll get to that in a minute.
I actually stumbled upon this a few years ago when I was “Christmas shopping” in Hobby Lobby. (a.k.a. wandering around one of my favorite stores daydreaming about completely redecorating my house with ceramic pumpkins and dreamy L.E.D. candles). In my crafting, DIY, delusional haze I found myself in the aisle that had all of the “farmhouse chic” painted signs with inspirational sayings. I was immediately drawn to one particular sign and this is what it read:
I am the daughter of a King,
Who is not moved by the world.
For my God is with me,
And goes before me.
I do not fear,
Because I am His.
I felt that quiet voice in my spirit say, “This is for your daughters.” I reached out, pulled it off of the shelf, and quickly put it in my cart.
I hung it in my oldest daughter’s room, in a place where I knew it would be the first thing she saw when her eyes opened, and the last thing she’d see when she drifted off to sleep. I started reading it with her every night, and I had her repeat it out loud as part of our bedtime prayer routine.
On our way to school every morning I began having both of the girls repeat what we now call the “I am” statement, and sometimes I would change the words to decree it over them myself. When I do that, it sounds like this.
“YOU are the daughter of a King who is not moved by the world. For YOUR God is with YOU and goes before YOU. YOU do not fear because YOU are His!”
As the girls got a little older, I started to get the slight eye roll and the, “I know mom, I know. I’m the daughter of a King, blah blah blah.” But much to their chagrin, I keep doing it. And I’ll keep doing it as long as they live under my roof. (And you can bet your biscuits I’ll be calling them when they’re off to college someday leaving it on their voicemail when they’re screening my calls. You can’t get rid of me girls! Insert evil laugh…)
I think words of affirmation are so important, but I believe there is a difference between words of affirmation and a decree. Words of affirmation are words or phrases that uplift, encourage, and support someone. These are very helpful and can aid in positive thinking and self worth. Words of affirmation are awesome-sauce moms and dads, so if you currently shower your kids with them, keep rocking it.
However, words of affirmation are very different from a decree, specifically a Biblical decree. A decree is a legal term that is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “an official order issued by a legal authority.”
A Biblical decree comes from a place of God-given authority. Just as God spoke the earth into existence, He has given us authority with our words too. Luke 10:19 says, “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.”
Matthew 18:18 says, “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
A decree contains words that call down the truth of God’s WORD to be MANIFESTED on earth. There is power in the words you speak that align with what the Bible promises. Let’s break down how the decree my girls and I say, lines up with God’s word.
My prayer is when life gets tough for my daughters that this decree will bubble up inside of them and they will remember who they are. They’re not a dancer, not a basketball player, and not a rocket scientist (come on, I’m their mom, I can’t help it). Those are all things they enjoy and may potentially DO someday, but it’s not WHO they are. They ARE the daughter of a King. Careers and talents come and go, but that identity never will.
Also, when they say this decree they are calling down the blessings, each of these words contain, from Heaven to manifest over their lives. Does it mean that they will never have trouble? Hardly. But they can be confident that they will have a heavenly inheritance, the strength to stand firm through trials, the knowledge that they are never alone, the security of a Creator who is moving and clearing paths before them, and the peace that they have nothing to be afraid of because they are His children.
Don’t we want all children to feel this way? That’s what I thought. Amen, sister.
Don’t just say it. DECREE IT!
Calling all married folks! Yep, this one’s for you.
Last week my husband and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary. Fourteen years of absolute, perfect, wedded bliss. Okay, just kidding. “Perfect” would definitely not be a word that either of us would use to describe our marriage. Fulfilling, challenging, stretching, loving, growing, hard, forgiving, and a lot of WORK would all be a much more realistic way to describe this union we entered into years ago.
I love being married. I honestly admit that I have had my share of “relationship practice runs” as a dating single. As strange as it may sound, I’m grateful for those past dating experiences because they prepared me for the incredible man God had waiting for me. (Uh, by the way God, you could have brought Prince Charming into the picture a little sooner and saved me a bunch of headaches, you know. A few less nightmares about being a single, weird, cat lady knitting socks for my friends’ kids for the rest of my life would have been nice. But I get it. You’re God. So I’ll let you off the hook this time.)
On that incredible day that my husband proposed, one of the amazing things he did after slipping on THE ring was hand me a single long stemmed red rose. Then he proceeded to recite the most beautiful words I’d ever heard a man say to me.
He said, “Jamie, this is a Devotion Rose. I will be giving you a rose every week until the day we are married to signify my love, commitment, and devotion to you as my wife and to our marriage.” Say what?! Cue the waterworks and the fleeting thought of, “Is this guy for real?” Well, he was, and he remained true to his word. He presented me with a rose while repeating the same words he said on our engagement night, every. single. week.
There were weeks when he had to get a bit creative which was fun. At one point, he was traveling in Alaska, sleeping on a glacier in a tent with no cell service, and doing helicopter ski trips on the mountains during the day. I know, I know. I had the same thought. I think I’m marrying a crazy person. But during that time when he was as far away as the Western world is from Siberia, he asked his FATHER to show up at my workplace with the Devotion Rose. My soon to be father-in-law walked into my office and repeated those same words, inserting his own little twist of committing to be the best father-in-law he can be. Yep. You guessed it. Not only was I crying, but so were all of my fellow female co-workers who witnessed it all. One big, obnoxious, blubber-fest.
Over the course of the nine months between the night we got engaged until our wedding day there were 38 weeks, and 38 red roses. Andrew and I decided that we wanted to incorporate what had become a tradition each week into our marriage ceremony. We had our florist create a beautiful bouquet of 38 red roses that would be placed at the altar throughout the entire ceremony. During the ceremony we placed one, white rose in the center of the arrangement. We wanted this final rose to represent God in our marriage and the importance of centering our entire relationship on Him. We also chose white because it represents purity, love, loyalty, and new beginnings. It was a very powerful moment for us and one we will treasure forever.
What’s the point of this story? Every year on our wedding anniversary Andrew gives me 38 red roses and a single white one as a reminder of the commitment we made to each other and the important role that God plays in our marriage. (We would be a HOT MESS if Jesus wasn’t at the helm of this marriage boat!)
When I received my bouquet this year I realized how much I appreciate this tradition. Not only do I appreciate the thoughtfulness of the gesture, but every year it takes me back to the foundation of what our union was established on. Our love for each other, our commitment to relishing the beautiful moments and persevering through the challenging ones, and most importantly our faith.
I believe traditions are so important because they keep us grounded in past truths and keep our roots firmly planted. Is there a tradition that you have with your spouse that is special to you? Or is there one that you used to have that has been unintentionally shelved and needs a little dusting off?
If you don’t have a tradition, that’s okay! There’s no better time to start than NOW! It doesn’t have to be extravagant. It could be simply writing a love letter to each other on your anniversary. Or revisiting the place where you met or were engaged, and reminiscing about the dreams, hopes, and visions you had for your future life together. If you’re really hard up for ideas, just play Tony! Toni! Tone!’s song, “Anniversary” from 1993 and dance around in your living room. Scratch that. We want you to STAY married.
Whatever it is that you decide to do, make it special and unique to you. Use it as an opportunity to take you back to those butterfly feelings you had when you realized you were going to spend the rest of your life with your very best friend. Let it be an opportunity to keep your marriage fresh and grounded in the beautiful things that keep you strong as a couple.
Remember the love, and find your tradition.