God’s Guidance + Slowing Down

Friends, it’s been one of those days where one cup of coffee just didn’t cut it. Baby girl woke up multiple times during the night last night, which has been the norm the past few weeks. I’d gotten spoiled with a baby who started sleeping 8 hours through the night at 4 weeks old!! Well, no worries, I have now joined the ranks of the sleep-deprived mamas, even if I’m a tad late with my arrival.
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On the bright side, the little stinker wakes up SOOO happy every morning that it’s impossible to be grumpy at her for more than a second. The moment I walk into her line of vision (usually this is around 6:30am) she’s grinning up at me from her crib and jabbering on, always with one hand in her mouth, as if she’s got a lot to catch me up on since our 4:30am pow-wow. Couldn’t think of a better way to start my day, even if it’s a tad earlier than I would have preferred. 🙂

Since it was Tuesday, we headed off to BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) this morning! Rob and I used to be a part of the young adults BSF class here in St. Louis (we were both leaders when we were dating/engaged and then I was a leader again last school year too) but this year I’ve joined the all-women’s class so that Lydia can go to the little nursery there. The ladies in the nursery are so sweet  and shower Lydia with love. They sing Bible songs to the babies and tell them a Bible story while their mamas get to have some distraction-free time to study God’s Word together.

BSF is such a breath of fresh air to my heart every week. Fellowship with godly women who inspire me in my faith journey. Talking with other mamas and being reminded that I’m not alone in this motherhood thing. Studying God’s Word. Grace and life from that Word washing over my soul. 

Today, during the large-group teaching time (which follows the small-group discussion), one thought especially stood out to me from the message:

“Do you consult God before making plans, or do you make plans and then ask or expect God to bless them?” 

This was convicting for me as I thought about it and realized that most often I just make my own plans without really much prayer. Of course, Rob and I pray about big decisions like buying a house, applying for jobs, etc., but when it comes to those smaller, day-by-day decisions, I tend to think I can figure that stuff out without God’s input. I don’t do this consciously, but I unintentionally leave Him out of the decision-making process. 
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I was challenged by the message today to slow down enough in my day-to-day decisions and plans to ask God what would be best and ask Him to guide my steps. If someone had suggested this idea to me several years ago, I would have thought it was a little extreme to actually present these kinds of things to God or to even think that He cared about them. But the more I’ve learned about God and His character, the more I believe that He DOES care about even the littlest details of our lives. Not in an overbearing, control-freak kind of way. I don’t think He’s looking down from heaven and wanting to micro-manage every moment of every person’s day or take away their free will. But I think He’s like a loving father, who cares genuinely about his children, who wants to hear our desires, dreams, and longings. He wants to help us through the stressful parts of the day and the struggles we have with uncertainty about the future. He wants to be involved in even the most mundane parts of our lives because he truly cares that much about each of us. It blows my mind when I really stop and think about it. He loves each of us so much.

My goal for moving forward is to involve God more fully in my decisions, both big and small. Rob and I have been reading through 1 Samuel together and in 1 Samuel 3 is the story of Samuel learning to hear God’s voice. The priest tells Samuel, who is just a young boy at the time, that when he hears the voice calling to him, he should reply, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening!”  It’s such a beautiful picture of being open and eager to be led by God. So often I am too “busy” with the hectic speed of life to really slow down and be open to God’s guidance. Especially as we enter the holiday season – the most hurried and frenzied time of the year – I want to remember to slow down, be present in each moment, and be ready to follow God’s guidance every day. 

I’d love to hear from you!

Do you struggle with slowing down and being ready to listen to God? 

How can you be intentional this week to involve God in your decisions and plans?

On Black Friday, we eat cinnamon buns and stay in our pjs all day…

We had such a fun Thanksgiving, celebrating with our loved ones! Rob worked an overnight shift on Wednesday so he finally crashed into bed aound 7am when he got home. Lydia and I went on our own little turkey trot run with our friend Danielle at Creve Coeur Lake while he slept. 🙂 The rest of the morning was spent playing with Lydia, drinking coffee, and getting ready for the family 15252505_10210391183923649_3873663387622559765_ogatherings! We ate the big meal with the Varwig side around 2pm; it was delicious, as always! Around 5pm, we headed to my parents’ house to join them for dessert and a very competitive card game. 😉 So glad we got to see both our families; we’re really grateful to have them all here in town!

Rob and I toyed with the idea of trying to get a few things for our new home with the Black Friday sales today. We are in the market for a kitchen table and a TV. But in the end, neither of us really enjoys fighting crowds and decided we’d rather stay in and have some family time today. So, of course, I wanted to bake something special for breakfast.

I found this recipe for Gluten-Free Cinnamon Buns and had all the ingredients on hand which hardly ever happens. I love that you don’t need any yeast because, let’s be honest, it’s not like I keep yeast packets on hand in my pantry. Definitely not that domesticated. 😛

fullsizerender-2Lydia sat in her little sit-me-up chair and watched all the happenings in the kitchen. These were really not too complicated to make, and they turned out SO WELL. You never really know with healthy baked goods if they’re going to taste like the “real thing” but these definitely exceeded my expectations. We downed them warm out of the oven with glasses of milk and couldn’t stop talking about good they were. In fact, they’re so good that I’m eating my second one right now at 1 in the afternoon. Let’s call it a post-lunch snack. 

I think this is the beginning of a new Black Friday tradition for us: homemade cinnamon rolls and pajamas all day. Oh and listening to Christmas music, of course. I’m finally willing to fully embrace the Christmas music, now that Thanksgiving is over. 😉

If you’re looking for an amazing baked good (that’s just a bit healthier) to enjoy this holiday season, try these out!! Recipe is here: Gluten-Free Cinnamon Buns. ENJOY!

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3 (At-Home) Ab Exercises for a Strong Core

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my two favorite people 🙂

Happy Friday!! I hope you’ve had a good week. My husband has a 3-day weekend so we are relaxing this afternoon, listening to Christmas music while the little one naps. I used to be so firm about no Christmas music in the house til after Thanksgiving, but Rob turns on the Christmas music in his car as soon as Halloween is over, and he’s slowly converting me to his side of this debate… 😛

Today, I wanted to talk about abs. During my pregnancy, I stopped doing specific ab exercises after the first trimester because I didn’t want to risk separating my abs (diastasis recti) which happens to approximately two-thirds of pregnant women! For my second and third trimesters, I just focused on compound exercises that use the core and engaging the abs during things like overhead shoulder presses and lat pull-downs. But now that I’ve passed the 3-month recovery mark for allowing the abs to heal and pull back together after my delivery, I’m ready to get my core back in shape!! 

Abs are something that I tend to put off because I don’t really enjoy working abs as much as other muscle groups in the legs and arms. So I’ve been challenging myself to do just 7-10 minutes of ab exercises at the end of my workouts a few times a week. Some weeks have been better than others, but I’m slowly getting back into the routine.

Here are 3 of my favorite ab exercises that I wanted to share with you today!

1) Planks. You can never do too many planks. 😛 Planks are a great exercise for conditioning the core and they engage all of the major abdominal muscles, so you get a lot of bang for your buck with these! There are so many plank variations, too, so you’ll never get bored. 🙂 Start with a basic plank and once you can hold that for 30 seconds, you can begin adding in variations like the leg lift, arm reach, or using a BOSU ball for an extra stability challenge! There are so, so many plank variations out there, so check out this article with 47 different plank variations if you get bored and need some new ideas!

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Plank with leg raise {source}
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Plank with arm raise {source}
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Plank on BOSU ball {source}

2) Suitcase Pass! Random name, but an awesome exercise for toning those abs!! All you need is a stability ball for this. You’ll lay on your back and pass the stability ball back and forth between your feet and hands. This is a TOUGH exercise so you may only be able to do 5 at a time, but you can slowly increase your reps every week until you’re able to complete 15 in a row!

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Suitcase Pass {source}

3) Scissor Kicks. You can do these horizontally or vertically, and both are great for working those abs! Try for 30 seconds and then increase by 10 second intervals as you get stronger. 

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Scissor Kicks Vertically {source}
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Scissor Legs Horizontally {source}

Last, but arguably the most important thing when it comes to achieving good abs: DIET. You can’t outrun (or out-crunch) a bad diet. Just because you’re working out your abs doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed good results if you’re still eating horribly. Personal trainers love to say, “Good abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym,” and it’s very true. Diet and exercise go hand in hand!

And don’t forget, as with ANY exercise, you need to be CONSISTENT with these to see results. 🙂 A good ab workout would ideally be done 3 times a week for 10-15 minutes at a time. You do not need to work out your abs every day! Rest is necessary for strengthening and building any muscle in the body, including the core.

Adding these exercises in to your workout routine will not only give you better abs, but also build a stronger overall core, give you better posture, better balance, and a higher metabolism! What are you waiting for?  🙂

Have a great weekend!! 

What We Ate Last Week!

Good nutrition plays such a huge role in a healthy body and mind. And my job revolves largely around helping my clients promote good health in their lives through things like meal planning, learning to read nutritional labels, choosing healthy foods at the grocery store, making healthy choices at restaurants, knowing which ingredients to avoid, the list goes on and on.

During sessions with my clients, I’m frequently asked, “So, what do YOU eat? What kinds of meals do you cook at home?” I love giving my clients ideas for simple, healthy meals that can be prepped in 30 minutes or less. Even though I love to cook and relish the idea of having hours in the kitchen to make everything from scratch and present a 4-course meal to my husband every night, the reality is that I don’t have time for that. And neither do most of my clients and friends. We need meals that are easily prepped, quickly prepared, and ready to be served ASAP. Most of us have busy, hectic schedules and dinner needs to be simple and easy.

healthy-eating-ecardAlthough the ideal is that everything would be homemade, with no prepackaged foods, and only organic, locally grown produce, the reality is that most people don’t have the time – or the money – for that. Sometimes heating up a bag of frozen green beans is the only way we’ll get our veggies in at dinner. I’ve learned over several years of being a Holistic Health Coach that if I give my clients complicated recipes that call for weird ingredients and take an hour to pull together, they’ll just end up driving through McDonald’s instead.  😛

For most people to invest in cooking healthy meals, they need to be as healthy as possible while still being as SIMPLE as possible, which is where I come in. 🙂 My goal is to provide my clients with recipes that are as healthy as possible, while also ensuring that they (and their kids, which is often the real challenge) will be willing to eat the foods involved.

I thought it’d be fun to do a weekly post on here about the meals that my hubby and I are eating each week! Hopefully it’ll provide some inspiration for those who are looking for healthy meal ideas.

I haven’t done my meal plan for this week yet, so here’s a look at what we ate last week, instead:

WHAT WE ATE LAST WEEK:

Monday: leftovers from the weekend!
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Tuesday:
Crock Pot Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings
– this is one of Rob’s favorite recipes that I make, so we eat this pretty often! 🙂 I always use drumsticks instead of wings, though (our personal preference).
– I made a pot of rice with this and some sauteed green beans for our veggie!

Wednesday: Trader Joe’s Shitake Mushroom Chicken
– about once a week we have a night where we need a super quick meal and I don’t have time to cook much of anything. Our go-to for those nights is Trader Joe’s frozen section! This was our first time trying this particular entree and it was delicious! We had leftover rice from the night before and ate that with the stir-fry.

Thursday: leftovers!lemon-chicken-veggies-1

Friday: Lemon Chicken with Veggies
– first time trying this recipe too, and it was delicious!
– I didn’t have room in my pan for everything, so I roasted the potatoes in a separate pan with just some olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder (our favorite way to eat potatoes!)

Saturday: out for dinner (at a friend’s adorable gender-reveal party with a Pasta House buffet!)

I’ll be back soon with a post sharing my favorite resources for healthy, easy recipes!
Time to get a meal plan going for this new week! Enjoy your Sunday, friends! 🙂

Lessons from the First 4 Months of Motherhood

Motherhood is sure stretching and growing me in many ways. I’m only 4.5 months in, so I’m a total newbie still, but if there’s one lesson that stands out in my mind so far, it would be this:

You are not in control.

Ha. Any mom who is reading this right now is probably chuckling and nodding her head.  I sat next to a really sweet lady at church a few weeks ago and we got chatting about our kids. Hers were several years older than mine and she asked how I was adjusting to life with a baby. I said, “Well, it’s definitely teaching me that I’m really not in control!” She laughed and said, “Honey, control is an illusion. None of us are ever in control.”

So. True.
But before having a baby, I definitely lived under that illusion at times. Okay, most of the time.
My life was so orderly, running like a well-oiled machine (for the most part). And there’s nothing like having a baby to teach a Type-A, schedule-loving, extremely organized person that life will be so much betterimg_2379 if you just let go of trying to be in control!

You realize as a mom that everything is flexible. I used to hate that word!! 😛 Now it is my lifesaver and my mantra.

Want to meet for coffee? Ok, I’ll be there around 10:30. Oops, baby had a diaper blowout…be there at 11!  Need to run to the grocery store? Wait, she’s falling asleep so I think we’ll just go after nap-time. Babies are great at helping us crazy Type-As learn to just go with the flow. 🙂 It wasn’t an easy transition for me, but I’m slowly getting more used to it and becoming more…dare I say it, flexible.  😉  let-go-of-control

Because I’ve always been a timely person who hardly ever cancels on anyone and hates to make changes to the original plan, I feel horrible when I have to reschedule or arrive late to a coffee date with a friend. It doesn’t happen too often any more (I’ve learned to build in a 20 minute buffer to get out the door, haha!) but when it does I always apologize profusely and struggle not to feel like an awful person for keeping someone waiting. Did I mention I also have a perfectionist side? I’ve also been learning a lot about being okay with imperfection in my life. (Not that I ever thought I was perfect, but I definitely tried to be.)  I think I need to re-read the book The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. My counselor recommended that to me during my recovery from anorexia, and it was very instrumental in my healing. Anorexics are notorious for being perfectionists, and I was definitely not the exception.

Speaking of imperfection, motherhood has helped me be okay with an imperfect house too! While I still maintain a pretty clean home and keep up with the dishes and laundry for the most part, I’ve loosened the reigns a lot when it comes to dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning the bathrooms. I realized one day that my friends would still love me and come over to hang out even if my coffee table was dusty and my bathroom hadn’t seen Windex in a couple weeks time. Imagine that.

All of this to say, I’m really grateful for these lessons that motherhood is teaching me so far. I’ve got a long ways to go, but my other favorite mantra in this stage of life is “one day at a time” so I’m just going to keep chugging along. 🙂

Not only is this little cutie an amazing joy and blessing, but she’s teaching me so much every single day. I’m really thankful for this mama life.  <3