Monday, May 20, 2013

The skinny on GREEN smoothies!

Green smoothies.
It seems everywhere you look, these amazing drinks are popping up all over the place from the gym, pinterest and your local health food store.

So many recipes that I come across online for green smoothies almost always say something like this....    "1 cup berries, 1 cup liquid, handful of spinach..."



A handful?


The whole point of a green SMOOTHIE is to physically ingest as much greens as possible. We're blending them down to drink it up! If I wanted a handful I would throw it on my salad and be done with it.

So, let's go over some basics, shall we?

Step one. Stock up on your veggies! The above picture is a grocery haul from last week.
Every week I load up on organic (always!) spinach, kale, romaine, chard, dandelion greens and avocado. Once home, I rinse all my greens, dry them & then freeze them in
labeled, Ziploc bags. Freezing does absolutely nothing to the nutrients and it prevents them from browning in your fridge. There is nothing worse than throwing away precious produce! This also makes it super easy to throw right into your blender when you're ready for a smoothie. No excuses! They are already rinse, dried & chopped!

Now, step 2. THE CRUCIAL STEP! This will help you avoid that whole "handful of spinach" bit!
Stuff your cup/blender. Did you hear me?
2 cups! 3 cups! However much you can jam in it :)
Next, add your liquid. For this step, I usually just use 1/2 cup of filtered water. Others use almond milk, coconut water, juice. Whatever suits you!

VoilĂ !

Beautiful, condensed, green, nutrient-packed GREEN JUICE!

Feel free to add more at this point. It's really up to you and what your taste buds are accustomed to. I normally do 2-3 cups every day in my morning smoothie.

My go-to essentials for a green smoothie are almond milk & peanut butter.
Always organic, peeps.
I see so many people use non-organic almond milk.
Have you compared labels? There's a difference.
This peanut butter!  You can find both of these at Whole Foods. I am sure Trader Joe's and smaller organic shops carry different brands that you can find!

Some fun facts on greens:
Kale - The "Queen of Greens"- One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.

Spinach - Very low in calories and fats (100 g of raw leaves provide just 23 calories). It contains a good amount of soluble dietary fiber; Fresh 100 g of spinach contains about 25% of daily intake of iron; one of the richest among green leafy vegetables. This green leafy vegetable also contains good amounts of many B-complex vitamins such as vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin, folates and niacin. Folates help prevent neural tube defects in the offspring.

Dandelion greens - The DETOXIFIER! - Loaded With Antioxidants: Dandelion greens are high in vitamin A in the form of antioxidant carotenoid (beta-carotene) and vitamin C. Vitamin C also helps facilitate iron absorption. If your goal is detoxification and cleansing, dandelion greens should be the ones you use in green smoothies! They are said to help cleanse the liver and many detox recipes call for them.  Besides vitamin A as beta-carotene (186% RDA) and vitamin C (21% RDA), each cup of chopped dandelion greens are also good sources of vitamins B1 (9% RDA), B2 (11% RDA) and B6 (11% RDA), vitamin E (13% RDA) and especially abundant in vitamin K (357% RDA).

Amazing... right??? So, let's start jam packin' our smoothies with these wonderful greens that come right from the earth and supply our bodies with the nutrients we so desperately need to live a healthy, vibrant life.

My favorite monster green smoothie recipes is as follows:

Blend down 2-3 cups of greens in the above method.
Add 1 cup vanilla almond milk.
1 banana.
1 heaping scoop of peanut butter.
1 scoop of protein powder. (I currently am using Perfect Fit Protein from Tone It Up, my favorite workout gurus. Organic, Gluten-Free, Raw, Vegan, Non-GMO, Kosher, Non-Fat, Low in Sodium, and Free of Sugar, Dairy, Lactose, Cholesterol, Soy, Corn, Wheat and Allergens.)
3 ice cubes.
Enjoy...   and drink up!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What NOT To Say To Returning Missions Members

Perhaps you know someone who has returned from a missions trip. Or perhaps you know someone preparing or fundraising for one. After two intense trips of my own, I have a compiled a helpful list of five things NOT to say to the person upon re-entry into the United States.

5. We have problems of our own here in the States. We need to help our own first.

Seriously. Please. Next time you see a child picking through a landfill for something to eat in the United States, call the press. Call the authorities. Then call me....   Because I have never seen/heard of it. Do we have problems in the United States? Of course. I do believe we are called, as believers, to help and love our neighbors whenever we see or hear of a need. (overseas or down the street) Food pantries, visiting an elderly neighbor, ministering to a family afflicted with sickness... all very important things which I often advocate. But, I do believe we are called to go further. Deeper. More self-sacrifical. Jesus got his hands dirty with some of the most unlovable characters in the Bible. Are we not expected to follow in His footsteps? Matthew 4:19-25

4. Can't they fix their own problems?

Do yourself a favor. Find out which country they visited and then read up on the history BEFORE asking this question. Things like civil war, corrupt governments, natural disasters, etc all may be things you'll be looking for as to reasons why the nation is struggling. After brushing up on some history, you likely can skip this question.

3. Well, you did your good deed. Let's get back to normal life.

The United States is not 'normal life'. We live in a Disneyland type of bubble. Here's an idea. Pack up your suitcase, travel to a developing country and walk through a dirty hospital that you likely would never allow your dog to be treated in. I'd like to think a mission trip is only the beginning of our realization that we are blessed beyond measure just by being born within American borders. Perhaps we are blessed so we can be a blessing to others.

2. I hope you handed out birth control.

Yes, that's working out so well for China, isn't it?
This is too broad of a topic for one paragraph. Detailed blog coming shortly.

1. Was it fun?

You've never been on an intense missions trip to destitute areas, have you?

Keep in mind that YOU live in Disneyland and the majority of developing countries basically live in the dumpsters behind it. Give people time to process their thoughts and feelings upon their return. Expect them to randomly cry. Expect that a simple act like grocery shopping will rip their heart in two as they remember children who were sucking on chicken bones, desperate for nutrients. Truthfully, we're struggling with the fact that we get to wander air-conditioned buildings, picking from thousands of food items....satisfying all of our heart's desires. We begin to think back to the mother who was so grateful to receive a simple bag of rice and beans.
Be gentle and patient and remember that you do not have the answers to solve the world's problems. As believers, we are called to serve people right where they are at. And a lot of places, where they are at, are some of the most difficult sights to take in. If that's hard for you to understand, hurry. Sign up for the next intense missions trip you hear of.
You'll never be the same.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ozzy Osbourne, Jesus & Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Some people associate peanut butter & jelly sandwiches & bike rides with their youth.
Me? It would be Ozzy Osbourne.

Long, long ago (1998) MTV performed a nationwide search interviewing thousands of people & accepting video testimonies of just how dedicated & crazy of an Ozzy fan people were. I JUMPED at the opportunity. I had been an Ozzy fan for a few years and it had turned into a fun, slightly unhealthy, obsession. I knew every song. Make that lyric. I watched anything and everything that I could get my hands on that contained footage of the Ozz man. Back in the 90's there were a handful of Ozzy web sites and I ran one - Waiting for Darkness - that ended up winning awards for the amount of content and design that it displayed. I would sleep in parking lots, waiting for the ticket terminals to open for the upcoming concert. I blew entire month's paychecks on scalped tickets to see the action from the front row. Metal Edge magazines? I owned them all and wallpapered my bedroom with every single picture I could find. And truly... I had a hole in my heart and Ozzy seemingly filled that for me. His songs, videos, the fun & the craziness filled a void and I owned it. Needless to say, the producers took notice when I entered the nationwide search. And I won. Here it is ...... In all my glory, meeting my idol.

I know. Crazy, right? It really was one of the most exhilarating days of my life, thus far. Ozzy (and his wife, Sharon) were so amazing and accommodating to me. After the interview was long over, we sat and chatted. They invited me on the tour bus. I was given backstage passes for the rest of the tour and met up again with them twice in Florida. And would you believe during the show in my hometown, Ozzy grabbed me on the side of the stage during my favorite song (Mr. Crowley) and planted a big kiss on my cheek...something he had remembered during the interview. (It took me about 5 minutes to be able to stand up afterwards!) Over the course of the next couple years I was sent passes for the local, and not local, shows. Ozzy is truly a class act - a gentleman in every sense of the word. And his wife, Sharon? Just as lovely of a person as you could imagine. They treated me like family.
But, I have to tell you something. I came to a realization after my FANatic experience that forever changed me. Ozzy was just a person. An amazingly talented, smart & fun individual. But, a person. Not a god. Not an idol. But.... a person. Ozzy even said to me himself...  He hoped he "hadn't disappointment me" because he knew that about himself, too. He's just a man... living his dream, making a living and entertaining the masses. And actually, realizing he is a person....not an idol....made me love him more. I was not disappointed, but I did come to some conclusions. People tend to set such high expectations on musicians and celebrities when in reality, they are the same as us. They are people with flaws and voids in their owns lives and they lack the capability of truly filling the voids in their fans. Along my journey in this life, I have come to find out who and what exactly fills that void & need we are all born with. I believe I was meant to meet Ozzy that set me out on this journey of discovery.

A lot has changed since that day.
Ozzy cross tattooed on my
back + the wedding dress

Am I still a fan? YES. I can honestly say after 18 years, I still enjoy popping in an old favorite (The Ultimate Sin or No More Tears... and always some classic Sabbath) rolling my windows down and blasting my speakers. Some of my children are even big fans. My little girls leans towards Ozzmosis as her favorite album  (:

Children. That's right. Since meeting Ozzy I became a mother and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. It was shortly thereafter that I encountered my Savior, Jesus Christ, in a whole new way. I then married the love of my life and had three more treasured children. Yes, in that order.

2000, 2005, 2007, 2010

Motherhood changes you. (At least it should)

Pure and simple.

After I gave birth to my daughter I suddenly had two innocent eyes staring back at me. Eyes that needed every part of my being. Eyes that would one day ask me life's biggest questions. And at 20 years old, I grew up overnight.

It's been in this journey of motherhood, marriage & life that I have come to know my Creator in a personal way. It is Who I depend on. It's Who I seek for answers. It's where I go to for help. He never let's me down. He is truly the One who fills me up so much that I overflow. (Psalm 23)

Ozzfest '98. Best seat in the house.
And you know what's funny? I do believe even Ozzy himself is on this journey of discovery and fulfillment. Ozzy has been mistaken a lot in the past as a Satanist and demon worshipping rock star. When in reality, his music is filled with questions on the afterlife, God and the meaning of life itself. In my interview, he mentions how he "hopes after all these trials and errors we don't just end up in the floor. I hope there's something better than this." We were discussing his song "See You on the Other Side"... a song well worth listening to. At the time, I was not prepared to answer his questioning. I'm ready now.... I know the answer for myself. I truly hope Ozzy continues seeking out his own questions in the meaning of life. I will say, I was so encouraged watching the documentary God Bless Ozzy Osbourne ( Check it at 1:30:00 into the movie, pretty much the end. I literally CRIED when I saw it.

I still am the same crazy girl at heart that I was back in 1998. Ozzy's cross is tattooed on my back (an 18th birthday present) & I do believe it has a new representation in it's meaning for me. I will still be at the concerts, raising my lighter and singing along. I'll continue to spin the records, thinking back on all the fun that is wrapped up in so many of the songs of my youth. Why? Because it's rock 'n roll and that's what we do. But, beyond that, my hope lies in Jesus as the One that I go to for fulfillment.

And Ozzy, if you're reading, let's do lunch when you come back to West Palm Beach. We can eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and catch up.

My life now.

God Bless you all!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Guatemala on the.. er...el cerebro

With my upcoming Guatemala trip with World Help looming overhead (9 weeks and counting…) I have been inclined to get back into the Guatemalan spirit.
In our home, we are now using what little Spanish we know with each other (Adios, hola, and gracias….). Current new app on the phone…. Learn Spanish. And in the car? We’re rocking out to the Spanish station. (hey, we have several to choose from here in South Florida)
My first night in the country I’ll be actually staying in Guatemala City, which is different than my last trip when we we’re taken directly to Hope of Life. I’m looking forward to experiencing a little more of the culture while we are there and hopefully will be able to take in some of the sights and sounds of the capital.
A small glimpse of city life that I enjoyed. Check it out:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Getting Ahead In Life

Bills.Stress.Kids.No Sleep.Crying.Bills.No Sleep.Flat Tires.Crying kids.Stress.

You know those days. We all have them. Some of us, more than days. More like months and years.

We have been having these months...a lot....  especially lately.
Summer is tough for us - We have 95+ degree weather with 100% humidity. That's rough on my hubby who works OUTSIDE. I don't know how he does it {he's pretty much amazing} But, he does and we pray for the cool weather to set in....(fast). Owning our own business also means we eat, sleep and breath it. Pile on school beginning, family issues & flat tires ..... We are feeling the squeeeeze of life. High gas bills. Bigger grocery bills. We are left wondering...   Will we ever GET AHEAD?

This morning I just had to get out.
Clear my head, think straight...
So, we did. Just me and the two littles packed it up and hit the park & beach (4 minutes away!)
And I just sat .......and watched.

Then my heart burst.

Watching my children be just that....   children...   was overwhelming. I paid careful attention to the story line of their pretending. All of a sudden the park turned into a gigantic ship and they were out to sea... sailing the ocean blue. Without a care in the world, they set about playing, thrilled that I would chime in...   in 'character' mode.

I texted my husband the picture of these two with the caption, "This is why you work as hard as you do." He called me right after receiving the text... and with relief in his voice, thanked me for reminding him.

It's so easy to do, isn't it? Lose sight of what's important?

The world tells us we need the large, 2-story home with 2 luxury cars parked out front. Nevermind that may mean both parents continually work and the kids are constantly in someone else's care, right? The world says "This IS how you get ahead!" Nevermind that the marriage relationship could be strained. Nevermind that the relationship bonds within the family may grow thin and tense without the mother being home. The world tells us to sacrifice these important factors for our family in the name of status... personal belongings... 401k's.... and the neighborhood you live in.

Let me clarify right here to understand me a little better and where I am coming from.

I live in Palm.Beach. Yep, that's right. The land of mercedes, massive boats, sprawling mansions, and almost every kid wearing a private school uniform.
The "Jones" here...    ha. Good luck keeping up with them!

It can wear on you.

Then I watched her.

My little girl. The middle child.

Smart. Observant.

She came running to me with a creature in between her fingers and she was beaming from ear to ear.

This was the first bug she had ever braved at picking up!

The poor lovebug, I'm sure, was squeezed to death while she examined every inch...    but, watching the excitement on her face...
I was there. I saw it all. I wouldn't trade this for any job or salary in the world.

I have the WORLD'S best job!
I am a stay at home mom and I am proud of it.
My family makes sacrifices for these moments.
We relish in the fact that I am here 24/7 for their every need, as much as I can.
We take comfort knowing I will serve every meal to them, kiss every scrape & answer all their little life's questions.

If you're finding yourself in the same position, hold fast.
Tune the world out and tune the Word in.
Let God direct your path and lead you where He wants you to serve your family.

In the end all these worldly things will soon pass away.
I have just these moments...    just these tiny glimpses... to impress onto my children's hearts the love that their parents have for them and the love that the Father has for them,
as well.

I want to make each moment count.

THIS, my friends, is getting ahead in life.

Make your moments count.

Our beach find.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

guatemala: Rescuing Kevin

Walking into the hut, I wasn't sure what I would see. In my gut, I knew it wasn't going to be good.

I had seen the baby rescue clips on World Help's web site. So, I did realize we were walking into a dire circumstance. Just like when you call 911 when you need emergency help, that is what this is - these baby rescues are their 911. It's the only help that is coming for them.

As we stepped inside the small, dark hut, I was immediately greeted by the face of a child in pain. Severe pain. His chubby cheeks were not of sign of healthful eating. No - it was a sign of something much different.

Kevin's mother told us he had been diagnosed with cancer and became swollen 8 days prior. My mother, an RN, asked her some more questions and the outlook began to look even more grim. This particular rescue soon turned into more of a Hospice case - this boy needed help and comfort to pass on. He was in organ failure. I do believe in miracles and DO believe God can heal a person all the way until the very end - but, I also understand that sometimes that it not the answer. Sometimes God says yes to our prayers and heals the sick. And then there are times that God answers yes, takes them home & they receive their eternal healing.

Kevin's brother rode next to me on the bus back to Hope of Life. I placed myself in his shoes and it all felt so surreal - What was he thinking? What was he feeling? How would I feel to be in such a desperate situation? I really could only imagine. One thing I knew for sure - this family loved Kevin.

Arriving at the rescue center.

The World Help team:
Vernon Brewer, Noel Brewer Yeatts, Tom Thompson & Sal Vargas (Hope of Life)

We received word that Kevin passed away just 5 days after this picture was taken.

I wish I could say there was a miraculous healing that took place but that just isn't Kevin's story. Kevin's life is a story all too familiar in these countries - No proper medical care is available for these families. There is no St. Jude's Hospital to take them to. No fundraisers to be had for the medical expenses even if there was a facility that could treat him. Clean water and adequate food..? The answer is also no. These basic ammenities that you an I take for granted each day are just a distant idea for so many suffering in this world. What can we do to make any kind of difference?

Consider a donation - big or small - to Hope of Life today. Hope of Life was the love of Jesus to this little boy in his last days. Kevin was not only surrounded by his family during his passing, but also by a slew of people who fervanly prayed for him. Kevin touched us all.

May his story not be in vain. May his life be used to rescue more babies in desperate whose stories are still being told.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

guatemala: "Welcome home"

Crying. Pleading.
Desperation. Wailing.
Praying. Hoping.

November 2010 is a time our family will never forget. Kelly Loveland Gourley, my beautiful cousin, was waging a futile battle against the cancer that was ravaging her body. With each passing day, more hopeless news was delivered. Our family began to transfer our mindset from the process of treatment and remission to trusting and praying for a miracle. We placed Kelly in the Lord's hands and believed He still may heal her at the very end.

Gathered in Kelly's front yard on the night of November 1st, more than 300 friends and family lit candles, sang and prayed together for Kelly's miracle. I believe God heard our cries that night. He heard the pain. He heard the pleas. He hears it all.Kelly went home to be with the Lord on November 10, 2010. We know Kelly did not lose her fight against cancer. Cancer lost it's grip on Kelly. God heard our pleas.

During the dedication of the special needs center in memory of Kelly this past Friday, July 27, 2012, I couldn't help but remember our candlelit gathering. There was crying at this event, too. Sprinkled throughout speeches from Vernon Brewer, the President of World Help, Carlos Vargas of Hope of Life, the Minister of Health of Guatemala and David Loveland, Kelly's father...   there was crying. But these cries were different. These cries were coming from the children. The children. God hears their cries.

Pain. Abandonment.
Hopelessness. Hunger.
Waiting. Needing.

The cries emerging from the row of strollers was the sweetest sound a person could hear. These cries were about to be answered. At the moment the ribbon was cut, the Lord wrapped His arms around these children and said, "Welcome home".

We believe God did the same for our cries. The moment Kelly took her last breath, He was there, too, and said the same to Kelly.
"Welcome home".

See more from the dedication here: