On Chocodiles & Meal Planning.

If you missed my last post, you didn’t read that I have a weakness for chocolate covered twinkie delights formerly known as Chocodiles.  I actually forgot about them for many years. When Hostess went out of business and everyone lost their minds buying up every last HoHo, SuzieQ, and Ding Dong, selling Twinkies on Ebay for ridiculous sums of money, I wasn’t expecting for the company to somehow come back to life with limited products? So when I saw the Chocodile on a gas station shelf again, I was instantly transported back to my childhood and mornings with Dad when he would run my brother and I by the Hostess Shop on our way to school.

Note:  He grew up around the corner from a bakery. We think the sweet tooth is genetic.

So, my childhood was certainly not devoid of sugar by any means, and looking back maybe it was part of the reason I had strep throat more times than I can count since sugar decimates the immune system.  Although my mom was a fantastic cook, we also led busy lives with ministry, school, traveling, and we ate our fair share of meals in restaurants, airports, and the like.  For the most part, we were healthy and I suppose genetics/metabolism offset the bad stuff we consumed.

Fast forward to married life with a couple kids and we entered a time where we made many changes to diet and health. I will post more about that at a later date, but a mix of knowledge, information, prayer, experience, science, and history all contributed to making small, medium, and large changes to lifestyle over a long season. We continue to make adjustments as we go today.  And we occasionally fall off the health wagon and have to get back on it. More details to come.

But I say all that to say, once you have knowledge and information about something, you are responsible for it.  If the Bible instructs us that our bodies are a temple for God and we are to take care of them so that we may glorify Him, then what will we do about that?

One major thing that my family tries to adhere to as a rule is “If it’s not in the house, then we can’t consume it.” So if we don’t buy it, then it’s not in the house.  With occasional exceptions to this rule, it means we don’t buy soda and keep it in the house…or Chocodiles.  By and large, we avoid most of the inner aisles of the grocery store where cookies, sugary items and such beckon to the sweet tooth. The “treats” we allow are mostly a have-to-leave-the-house-to-get-it type thing.

So meal planning has become very important to keep us on track, to make sure we eat at home as much as possible, and also to KEEP THE FOOD CRAZIES to a minimum with my children. Lord, help me, sometimes food is such a battle! Either we “have nothing to eat” despite the full fridge/pantry, or they “don’t like it” even thought they ate it just fine last week, or something is “unfair” because one person got something someone else didn’t, or just because they had expectations that were not met.  I looked into meal planning memberships, or even free plans found online, but so often they are either not healthy or on the opposite end of the spectrum into “all we eat is leaves and berries” land, which does not fly with kids very well.  We would need to change those and it would become more time-consuming to customize/edit or re-figure for a family of 7.

meal-plan-half-sheetEnter in, my Weekly Meal Plan sheet.  I googled that phrase looking for one that someone else might have already put together (because why re-invent the wheel?), but nothing seems to fit the exact specs I was looking for.  So I took part of an image I found and customized my own sheet using photoshop.  We wanted a place for the date, for three meals and one snack for each day, a grocery list area with shopping categories, and a place for special notes.  This sheet is 1/2 page so it’s big enough to stick on the fridge with magnets and for everyone to be able read, but not so big that we waste paper/ink.

Y’all, it has changed our life.  We mostly plan on Friday or Saturday, shop on the weekend so everything is good to go for Monday, and are able to get mostly fresh food that really only last for a week anyway.  Everyone knows exactly what is happening so I don’t have to answer a billion questions about what’s for dinner. Each day, lunch is already planned and the kids make their own lunch accordingly.  Breakfast is a no brainer with no arguments because hey, “It’s on the sheet. The sheet is King.” And snacktime…SO much better! If you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it, but there are no negotiations or mom wandering around to figure out what we have.

Now, it’s not completely perfect and has not eliminated ALL the Food Crazies, but it has helped a ton.  We’ve also had opportunity to have many conversations about choices (or lack there of), planning, thankfulness, budgets, etc as we have submitted to the plan.  I thought I would share in case any readers need or could utilize it. If you’d like a copy, you can click the image to download. It is two of them on one full sheet so you can print and then just cut in half.  Happy meal planning!  And may you avoid the Hostess aisle!

meal-plan-template-master-copy

On Beautiful Feet.

Several years ago I had a little, no-name blog that was mostly updates on my family, a place to post scrapbooking pages and recipes, and eventually a place I just shared about my life, what God was doing in and around me, and various encouragements.  That was during a time period when I had two and then three kids and stayed home almost exclusively.  As time marched on, I grew too busy for the blog, worked off and on in communications/creative departments at the church my hubs and I pastor, carted kids around to homeschool or extracurricular functions, and had more face-to-face interactions with people.

Then…life.  We had another kid, started a journey of revolutionizing our health, sold a house, built a house, went from one to three location of our franchise business, moved 35 minutes from church/social arenas, experienced tweenagers and now teenagers, and had yet another baby (among many other happenings).  With so many experiences and life events under my belt, I find myself tethered to home much more again now.

I recently was with a group of women at a DoTerra oil convention and they began asking about who I was and what I do.  As I talked, they seemed fascinated and told me I should blog–that I should share about wearing different hats and walking in various roles all the while juggling the ins and outs and ups and downs of life. My first thought was a bit of…Who am I that anyone would care? There are so many bloggers and writers and the internet/social media is saturated with voices these days.  Flashes of the people that message, text, or call seeking advice about many areas of life began dancing through my mind.  But I also felt a nudge from something inside and a reminder of certain scriptures that led me to dust off the blogging keyboard and begin to share more publicly again.

First, I want beautiful feet.

beautiful feet.jpgIsaiah 52:7 says, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” {ESV}
I want to be a part of publishing good news and peace and salvation. Because there is blessing in it.  Because Jesus is worthy of all glory that comes from walking us through every valley and up every mountain in life.  Because this world needs peace.  Because God, unapologetic, reigns over all of heaven and earth despite what any news outlet or disastrous political campaign might lead us to believe.  Salvation is never far off. His saving arm is never too short.  Funny parenting stories, poignant ponderings, health & wellness ideas, meal recipes, pictures from marriage anniversary trips, chronicles of our past and present…are all vehicles in which ride the good news as we are working out our salvation daily.  This blog also acts, in part, as a publishing of my family’s history–a way to journal the working of God so that the generations after me hear of His goodness and remember a family legacy of faith.

Second, I am one of the “older women.”

I keep waiting for the day when I will actually and mentally “feel” my age. Like, I’m quickly nearing 40 and still sometimes feel like a young person. But when I take in the landscape of my life, I see that I am indeed entering the time of what Titus 2 describes as older women–those who instruct, share with, encourage, and exhort younger women as they marry, parent, work, and do good.  I’m now 17 years married and five kids deep into this circus, so whatever nuggets of truth or practical help that I have, I offer freely, so that those around me might learn both what to do and what not to do as we navigate these 80+ years in this skin on this earth.  And in this modern day, when face-to-face interaction is many times difficult, I am grateful we can all be somewhat connected via the internet.

Finally, I want to stay humble.

If there is anything the train wreck of reality TV has taught us, it is that being under a microscope (even if producers tweak it for ratings) shows all the fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots on the proverbial face of the heart.  Truthfully chronicling life–even the ugly, sad, struggling parts–brings humility and perspective and makes us all realize we are human and in need of a gracious Savior to free us from ourselves.  I will not pretend that I have it all together, or that my family isn’t messy sometimes, or that being a pastor isn’t difficult on good days and gutwrenching on bad ones, or that occasionally I don’t stop at a gas station to eat Chocodiles (sorry, Dr. Nick!).  I will protect the identity of people close to me in the chronicling process, but I want to be honest about my life stories, heartaches, adventures, mundane days, and lessons learned.  If anyone is to “follow me as I follow Christ” like Paul says in 1 Corinthians, it must be with the understanding that I am an imperfect, weak person who is only whole, strong, and able to love through the power of Christ in me.  My goal is that these beautiful feet of mine can ascend the hill of the Lord because I have chosen to know God and allow Him, through whatever refining or vehicle He uses, to give me clean hands and a pure heart.

So, thanks for reading all of this.  If you don’t really know me, you can stay for a minute and check out the other pages on my blog, including descriptions of my kids and the Princess character aliases I gave them.

Blessings,

Jess