Whole30 2018

The word that I felt was going to define our 2018 is health. One of the biggest ways health is needed in our house is in our physical health. There are lots of reasons for this. One, I personally know what is right and do the opposite because sugar addiction is real. I will eat or drink things that I know will upset my body and every time the food proves me right. Two, most of 2017, I was pregnant! And we all know how much fun cooking is during the third trimester. Or not. I got out of the habit of cooking and then postpartum was a whirlwind. Which is so sad because it’s the time your body needs nutrition the most. It’s hard to put effort into cooking and clean up when you are just plain exhausted. Third, I’m seeing lots of health issues play out in my kids. God gave them to me to steward and teach them well and I want them to grow up with healthy rhythms and relationships with food. A food blogger I admire recently told me, “You are what you eat and the first five years of childhood are when the foundation of your tastes and eating habits are formed. I take this seriously and think of it as a gift I can give my children.” Amen. The swift encouragement that I needed. (Check her out at thefamilyfoodproject).

And what better way to put all of this into action than to start a Whole30?!

It is such a great reset to nutrition. I am planning to do the plan full on. D is out this time because his schedule is just too crazy. But, he is supportive in every way and will eat whatever crazy meal I concoct. As for the kiddos, I am also trying to get them to do it as best as I can. I’m sticking my guns 100% to sugar being cut out minus M’s birthday party which we already had planned. Whole30 can be expensive for a family of six, but I am brainstorming ways to make it work for all of us!

Here’s some things I’m hoping to see changed:

  • Decrease in headaches for me
  • Better sleep at night for all of us
  • Less mood swings/tantrums
  • Finishing our food
  • Less food waste
  • Slayed Sugar dragon

I’m excited and nervous for this journey. All good things take hard work. Hold me accountable! I’ll be blogging through our journey, not to document every single food we ate, but more as a journal for me to see our progress and hopefully as encouragement to you!


2018 Goals

Another year flew by. It is so crazy how fast time flies. A lot happened this year! We (and by we I mean Dan) remodeled the whole first floor of our house- tearing out walls, replacing flooring, putting in a bathroom, replacing every piece of trim, installing crown and built ins. The end result was well worth it, but being in the midst of a remodel with three kids in the middle of winter was no easy task. While this was happening, D ramped up remodels for his business which is so exciting!! He has talents given directly to him by God and I love having a front seat to watch them unfold. I learned things about him this year I never knew which makes marriage so fun! With owning a business, however, there is always hardships and there have plenty moments of growth for him as he learns his business better and for us as we navigate reallllly long hours some weeks. On the school front, the girls love homeschooling and Classical Conversations. It has certainly brought about growth for me as I have had to work hard to be diligent and graceful as I teach them. They are wonderful students! And, of course, we had a new baby!! C has been the best addition to our home. He is super laid back, easy to please, and full of big, gummy smiles. I feel overwhelmed with joy because God gave him to us. Having a baby in the house has caused for things to shift as mom is needed a little bit more. Other things have had to take a back burner as I seek to meet the needs of every member of our family.

All that to say, while 2017 was filled with an abundance of good things, it also felt like a whirlwind and a bit of survival mode oover here.

So as I have prayed over 2018, the word that comes to mind is health. Health in every sense: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Now that we are settled into our home and pretty well adjusted to family as six, I am eager to implement more things that bring health to our family and those around us.

Here are ways I hope to see that play out:

  • More healthy meals happening for our family.
  • Working to cut out sugar completely.
  • Regular use of supplements and herbs to boost our immune systems.
  • Me getting to run and work out.
  • A better bedtime routine.
  • Regular Date nights.
  • Regular times in the word. Both for me and D and for the kids.
  • More read alouds.
  • Less TV
  • Regular one on one time with our kiddos.
  • Organization within the home.
  • No more Facebook.
  • Actually, really becoming a doula this year. I have talked about this since M was born!!! But, the whirlwind of kiddos and sleepless nights just kept holding me back. This year it’s a must.
  • Listening to God on next steps for our family.
  • Loving our neighbors well.

The no Facebook goal I have thought about a lot. It’s a pull for me because lots of good things happen on it! It’s a fantastic resource to keep in touch and show family that lives far away things about our kids. I love to read encouraging articles on health and child rearing. But, the negative side is weighing heavier right now. I struggle with anxiety and sometimes being bombarded with every single news event, diseases that are being passed around, and arguments that are being had. And then of course is the comparison game. More than ever in motherhood, I have found myself comparing myself in negative ways or wanting to prove myself! Not good. So, for a year, no Facebook for me. Instagram will stay because I learn a lot of nutrition information, it seems to be happier snippets and encouragement, and it forms an awesome scrapbook for me! After C was born, I was very emotional about how fast the girls were growing and feeling like I missed it (hello postpartum hormones!) and it was so good for me to be able to scroll all the way back to M as a baby and see all the ways we lived life. For this reason, I love Instagram.

My hope is to pick back up with blogging this year as a means of updating family and as a resource to scroll back on in future years! So keep checking in here to see what’s up with us!

I’m really looking forward to 2018. There is a subtle anticipation in my soul. I can’t wait to see all that God teaches us!!

Meal Planning Winter 2018

One of my big goals for before C came was to have this meal plan done. I️ started it but never finished! We have been blessed with meals since he was born three nights a week. Anyone else struggle with cooking in the newborn season? While I️ am so grateful D is more than willing to go out, as in whenever I call him and ask what we should do for dinner his answer is always “go out!,” I am ready to take our nutrition back. We just went through a two week period of sickness and every time we are sick it reminds me of how important taking care of our bodies is. So, in comes this meal plan. I made a plan based on themed nights of the week, found recipes from my favorite bloggers, and then compiled them into a list! That way every week I can simply click on a link, write down the ingredients, and head to the store. Most of the meals on here are paleo and Whole30 Compliant- minus pizza night. This has become a fun night of the week for us to do pizza and a movie. The breakfasts and lunches will be rotated and I am hoping to add one fun recipe a week- just in time for Christmas cookie season. 😊

I wanted to share in case you may be in a rut with cooking, too in hopes that it would encourage you and make life easier for you. I would love to hear your favorite go-to healthy meals!

Monday- Stir Frys





Tuesday- Crockpot/Instant Pot







Wednesday- Soups, Chilis














Friday- Pizza

Saturday- Out- Date Night or Family Night

Sunday- Comfort Food



◦ Roasted Chicken and Veggies






◦ Oatmeal

◦ Eggs and Bacon/Chicken Sausage







Lunch Ideas

◦ PB and J



2017 Goals

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When I reflect on my goals for last year, I have to laugh. The word I felt the Lord laid on my heart was “rhythm.”

I started 2016 with the best of intentions, looking forward to getting our home of five into a well-functioning routine. Then, the year took a turn that threw us out of anything rhythm orientated. It was not bad and was probably the Lord working to grow me in other areas.

A recap of 2016:

  • In March, we decided to move in with Dan’s parents. Our time here was full of fun memories!
  • We made trips to VA Beach and to the Outer Banks.
  • We dealt with major business decisions.
  • We spent almost two weeks at the hospital trying to care for my Papa and to soak up every moment with him before he passed. This was probably the most difficult part of our year.
  • In November, we moved into my mom’s house as she decided to move out, and did some major home projects.

As I look back, I see all the blessings that we were given in the midst of what felt like a whirlwind. Most of our year seemed to be either unpacking or packing or organizing. To be honest, I hope that 2017 holds a bit more of a slower pace. But I know that no matter what comes our way this year, the Lord is good and He cares for us.

Present. When I prayed for a word for this year, this is the one that kept coming to mind. I want to grow in being present. Being fully there and fully engaged. I know this will take a lot of dying to myself as I am task oriented and have a hard time being still if everything is not the way I want it to look. I want that to change! I want to soak up moments. I want to really listen. I want to be all there wherever I am.

With this comes specific goals I have for 2017.

  1. Major Pullback on Social Media. Social Media is so fun! And it can make us feel much less lonely as a mom. I love learning from others and gaining new ideas for our home. All in all, it’s not a bad thing! But, the comparison game as been strong lately for me. And I do not want to be focused on “capturing” the moment. I want to be IN the moment. I am not 100% sure what this is going to look like yet, but I am excited!
  2. Growing in the Presence of God. I have a goal to inductively study every book of the Bible, knowing full well this will take many years. I started in the book of Galatians at the end of the year and will begin on Micah when that is done. I would love to have you join me! Contact me if you are interested.
  3. Growing in Presence with others. This looks like growing as a friend, digging deep with my mom’s group, loving our neighbors, and choosing a place to serve for our family.
  4. Growing in Presence with Family. We desire to get back to consistent date nights (I think this is a goal every year!), date our children, and enact Sabbath for our family.
  5. Dig into my passions!! For YEARS now, I have desired to become a doula. So, this year I will start the certification process. Ask me! Hold me accountable to doing this. 🙂

I love having goals to bring into vision what I feel like the Lord is calling me to this year. I am excited to dig in and learn what presence looks like. I know God will be faithful to teach me! Here’s to 2017!



Choosing Joy Revisited

Fun Fact: I have believed for many years now that May is the middle of the year. I told D the other day- can you believe we are already halfway through 2016? His reply: “You know that July 1st is technically the halfway mark, right?” And then we both burst into laughter…

Either way, I cannot believe it is May! Like usual, time flies.

I have been wanting to write for awhile. It has been since February. But, I simply did not know what to write about. Truthfully, this has been a hard few months. There have been a lot of changes in our lives. Moving has brought up a gamut of issues I thought I had under “control.” Anxiety and perfectionism have once again reared their ugly heads. While I’m grateful to wrestle with these things yet again because I know it means the Lord is still healing things in me, the depths of the struggles have been deeper than they have ever been.

One week in particular, the darkness seemed to persist. I had anxiety in ways I have not experienced before. My face literally turned numb. When we went to have it evaluated, their diagnosis was stress and anxiety. My body was physically displaying issues that were going on internally. After doing some research and talking to a family Dr, he told us that yes, this did sound like stress and that Vitamin B levels dropping could also contribute to this. He recommended some supplements which I took faithfully (thanks to my family and D reminding me!) and the weight has slowly begun to be lifted.

First, let me say- if you struggle with anxiety, I am so sorry. Truly. It is exhausting in every way. It is hard for others to understand you. It is painful to push through when you have a family to take care of when all you want to do is crawl in bed and sleep. It is frustrating when you do everything you can think of to help ease it and nothing seems to help. As I fought through these moments, I prayed for you. For those that struggle with anxiety and want rest and joy and hope.

Second, through all of this I have been processing many, many things. What does self-love look like? Self-care? I knew that through the trial, I NEEDED to choose joy. I’m not even saying that in a cliche way because its the name of my blog. I knew that the Lord is ALWAYS good. I know that my life is FULL of things to be joyful about.

In a book I’m reading, the Gifts of Imperfection, she quotes another book, The Soul of Money. In this book, she addresses the myth of scarcity.  A concept I have never thought about before but have been consistently thinking on since reading this quote:

“For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of…We don’t have exercise. We don’t have enough work. We don’t have enough profits. We don’t have enough power. We don’t have enough wilderness. We don’t have enough weekends. Of course, we don’t have enough money-ever…Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds race with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by these thoughts and wake up to the reverie of lack…What begins as a simple expression of the hurried life, or even the challenged life, grows into the great justification for an unfulfilled life.”

Whoa. This mindset was driving a TON of my anxiety. Truthfully, our circumstances have been trying. There have been things out of our control that have wounded me and D. Other things, however, were driven by this “not enough”mindset. Not enough order. Not enough time. Not enough money. Not enough sleep. So, what does this author suggest?

“We each have the choice in any setting to step back and let go of the mindset of scarcity. Once we let go…we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency. Sufficiency resides inside of each of us, and we can call it forward. It is a consciousness, an attention, an intentional choosing of the way we think about our circumstances.”

After discussing this concept, the author of the Gifts of Imperfection, delves into how gratitude translates into joy. It is a real, studied concept. She does not tell us to negate what is actually going on. She talks about being real with ourselves and our emotions, but then meeting that with gratitude, allowing this to turn ordinary moments into moments of joy. So, this is what I have been doing. Working to speak out loud (I’ve tried to make lists, but with three children, by the time I get to the pen and paper…it just doesn’t happen) things I am grateful for.

This week:

  • I am deeply grateful for the community of women that surround me. For the encouraging texts of “I’m praying for you!” to checking in on me to watching my children so I can have room to breathe to bringing me meals even when I hesitate to accept to long hugs because you know I need one. Thank you, friends, for loving me well.
  • My sweet, gracious husband. I know at times these past few weeks, he has felt lost, not knowing what I needed. But he fought to love me even when it was not easy. Then, he set up a lunch with a couple we really look up to, knowing that we needed to process with others, and they spoke life into us in ways we did not even know we needed. Which parlays into my next one…
  • Couples that we can turn to and they will speak truth about our situation all while encouraging and praying for us.
  • My sweet, sweet children. They are so gracious with me and bring joy in ways I did not even know they could. They are the epitome of joy- finding pleasures in the ordinary simplicity of life.
  • The Lord’s faithfulness to show me and to teach me and to heal me.

Lastly, if you are still reading, here is what I’ve been clinging to and praying over our family. I hope it can be of encouragement to you as well.

Psalm 2:12: Blessed are those who take refuge in Him.

Luke 1:49: “For He who is Mighty has done GREAT things for me and holy is his name.” 

He HAS and will do great things, and when I can’t see that, I pray I would take refuge in Him, CHOOSING JOY and thankfulness for what is right in front of me.

Thoughts on Hospitality

A book I stumbled upon recently, Mudhouse Sabbath: An Invitation to a Life of Spiritual Discipline, is a memoir written by Lauren Winner that details what she has learned from the “traditions and spiritual practices of Judaism.” Winner became a Christian later on there life and she explains how Christians could learn from some of the Jewish practices. She looks at concepts such as sabbath, mourning, fasting, and candle lighting.

The chapter that struck me the most was her chapter on hospitality. She talks about how important hospitality is to the Jewish faith. Because they were once “strangers in the land of Egypt,” Jewish communities take inviting people into their homes seriously. In the words of one rabbi, “everything God created is a manifestation of His kindness. The world is one big hospitality inn.” Not only does God’s creation encourage us to invite people into our homes because He created our homes, but as Christians we also believe in the Trinity. The Trinity causes us to not only invite people into our homes, but into our lives because we were created to be in relationship just as God is in relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Here are her words that have had my brain spinning for the past few weeks:

“We are not meant simply to invite people into our homes, but also invite them into our lives. Having guests and visitors, if we do it right, is not an imposition, because we are not meant to rearrange our lives for our guests- we are meant to invite our guests to enter into our lives as they are. It is this forging of relationships that transforms entertaining (i.e. deadly dull cocktail parties at the country club) into hospitality (i.e. a simple pizza on my floor). As writer Karen Burton Mains puts it, “Visitors may be more than guests in our home. If they like, they may be friends.” …. At its core, I think, cultivating an intimacy in which people can know and be known requires being honest- practicing the other Christian discipline of telling the truth about where we live and how we got there. Often, I’d rather just dissemble. Often, just as I’d rather welcome guests into a cozy and cute apartment worthy of Southern Living, I’d rather show them a Lauren who is perfect and put-together and serene.”

For some reason, these words have pushed me to let go of my perfectionism when it comes to my home. Yes, I want it to be cozy and yes, I want it to be orderly. But, I do not need to sweat it when people drop by or when they come over on an “off” day and my house is not exactly the way I’d like it to be. Because like Winner is talking about, I don’t want to just invite people into my home and portray a life that isn’t my own, I want to invite people into my actual life.

The life where there may be several laundry baskets on my living room floor.

The life where my children may be crabby because they did not get enough sleep or they are just…crabby.

The life where a teething baby needs to be constantly held.

The life where crumbs abound.

The life where I am not put together nor do I have it all together.

The life where I am constantly learning to be more gentle and gracious with those around me.

But the life where Jesus is seen and felt, where peace is seen and felt, where love is seen and felt. Because I know that He has me and I trust what He is doing in my life. Because I am grateful for my home and the mess that it holds. Because I can choose joy for all of the blessings and trials my family has and endures. Because He is good.

This is what I want to invite people into.

It is so freeing to view hospitality in a deeper way. Not a “put together and serene” hospitality, but a nitty gritty, come into my life and let’s walk this journey together hospitality.


Well, I had every intention of writing this post weeks ago, but for some reason, time slips away from me 🙂

Each year I pray about a word that is going to define my year. A word that will shape me, a concept that I feel like the Lord wants to work with me on. This year the word that kept coming to mind was rhythm. After each child, things get a little crazy around here. I’m sure you mommas understand. The first three months are pure survival. Feed, eat, change clothes, make sure everyone feels loved, and try to sleep. I knew this would be the case with adding the third child, but the knowledge did not necessarily make it easier for me. Being type A, I desire to have things in order at all times. So, there were a lot of times of surrender and release of perceived control as I just let things happen. I am thankful that the Lord has really worked on me in this area. Children certainly do teach us how to sacrifice and work towards being selfless.

All this to say, I felt like it was time for us to reestablish what a rhythm would look like for us this year. Some of the main rhythms I wanted to work towards were:

-Morning Rhythm

-Evening Rhythm

-Weekly Rhythms

-Rhythms of being diligent with drinking water and taking our herbs

-Quiet Time Rhythms

-Serving Together as a Family Rhythm

-Cleaning Rhythms

-Rhythms of Rest

-Grocery Shopping Rhythms

To me, the process of streamlining our home meant that we are able to function in a healthier way and to better steward our resources.

The first area I felt we needed to tackle was our morning and evening rhythms. Over the summer we let go of bedtimes and it really began to affect the dynamic of our evenings. Sleep was not happening! And the mornings were just chaotic as each child woke up at different times and I felt like I could never keep up once the morning got away from me. So, I made these handy sheets to hang on the girls door. Though they are not perfect and we have had to adjust already, they are loving them! They love to read what comes next and have started to know what the rhythm is without referencing them.


We have seen HUGE growth in our evenings. Each night we have worked to be more intentional with settling down and easing into bedtime rather than just hurriedly throwing them in our beds which is what we are used to doing. So, we have been making Chamomile Tea, eating toast and butter (load them up with good fats), reading a story by candlelight, praying, blowing the candle out, and going to bed. Falling asleep is not taking nearly as long and they are staying in their bed for the most part. It’s been wonderful for all parties. Not every night is perfect, but we have definitely seen a positive change in our girls with the rhythm being enacted.

I think that has been the most beneficial part of this for me: seeing what works for our family and then seeing our girls thrive. They are high energy girls who need lots of time to wind down, and instead of meeting those needs before, we grew frustrated and exasperated. It has brought me joy to support them in the ways that they desire but cannot necessarily express.

Mornings have become easier as well. The biggest change in mindset for me was having granola or trail mix for them to snack on before I can get to making breakfast. They typically wake up at separate times and I was feeling exhausted trying to keep up with each of them and myself and not wanting to cook breakfast until everyone was awake but continually hearing “I’m hungry!” This has worked well in curbing their appetite until I have it together enough to cook breakfast.

Another chart I made was for my cleaning routine and drinking water! Clean Mama is a great resource for printables for this area. This rhythm is not coming naturally yet, but I am thankful to have a platform to work from.


I am truly excited for growth in our rhythms this year. What rhythms do you have that works for you?