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    #Whole30 Egg Roll Bowls

    We started on Whole 30 on Monday, feeling like we needed a food reset. I’m already totally gluten free, but admittedly, we’ve been eating way too much cheese and sugar lately! My dear husband is also *perhaps* addicted to ice cream (no judgement, it happens to the best of us, babe). So we decided to embark on the Whole 30 plan, which if you don’t know, is Paleo plus a few restrictions. So you’re eating only whole, unprocessed foods and NO sweeteners of any kind (even natural ones like honey).

    If you like getting new recipes, follow me on Instagram where I share almost-nightly videos in my story about what we’re eating and how I made it. I’m going to start sharing some quick and delicious recipes to get you started on your own Whole 30 (or, just a few clean eating options if you’re not about 30 days of it!).

    Last night, I made Egg Roll Bowls, which are exactly what they sound like: a bowl full of egg roll filling that makes you very happy. My general cooking philosophy is just to experiment until I get it right. So, I like to peruse Pinterest for ideas, I read through several recipes, then I take the pieces that I like, add my own flavors and combine them into my own concoction. This method has served me well!

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    Egg Roll Bowls (Whole 30|Paleo|Gluten-Free)

    Ingredients:

    1 lb ground pork (you could also use turkey or chicken)
    1 12oz bag fresh coleslaw mix (with cabbage and carrots)
    1/2 onion, diced
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    3 green onions, sliced (white and green portions)
    3 tbl coconut aminos (if you’re not doing Whole30 or Paleo, you can also use gluten free soy sauce)
    1 tsp rice wine vinegar
    1 tsp sesame oil
    1 tbl extra virgin olive oil
    1/2 tsp ground ginger
    salt and pepper to taste

    Directions

    1. Brown your ground pork in a large pan. Once it’s almost brown, add your olive oil, onion and garlic. Saute until your onion is translucent, about four minutes, over medium heat.
    2. Add your ground ginger, coconut aminos, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and your coleslaw mix. Mix it up and let this cook down for about five minutes or until your cabbage is tender.
    3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    4. Garnish with your green onion and enjoy!

    It really is that easy! This was so delicious, quick and filling. Totally satisfies the craving for an egg roll without the fried exterior. Enjoy!

     

    Loving PDX

    We got back from Portland on Monday, late, and I intended to blog about it way sooner, but vomiting happened. Lots of it. As we were getting ready to leave last Thursday night, Ford threw up. And threw up. And threw up. Three times total, but then slept through the night. I was doing the typical mother thing of “I’m not leaving this baby if he is sick, you cannot make me, I refuse!” Then, I realized that it was likely the stomach bug that was going around the church nursery, which is a 12 to 24 hour thing. Ford didn’t have a fever, he acted totally fine after that last time and I came to my senses. My in-laws assured me that he would be just fine with them, and I relented. We were off to the airport at 5 a.m. for our 7 a.m. flight to Atlanta. I was so nervous, y’all, I am shocked I didn’t throw up, myself (oh wait… give me a week <– spoiler alert). I haven’t flown in 12 years, and I am the biggest control freak in the universe. Read: I don’t like flying.

    Then, we had to sit and wait, which is great for the nerves. Leaving Ford at home was also hard on me, and I would tell you that I didn’t cry at all, but that would be a large lie. So, the first flight to Atlanta from Columbia was a super short and easy one, which eased my nervousness a good bit.
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    Once we arrived in Atlanta, we found our terminal then grabbed some food and coffee before boarding our LONG flight to PDX. That plane ride was fairly miserable. We were packed in there like sardines, it was HOT and long. Luckily, it was very smooth, which I was incredibly thankful for. I’m very subject to motion sickness, but wearing Sea Bands really helped. I still couldn’t look out of the window for too long without feeling gross, though. The flight there was about 5.5 hours- so I did what I had to do.

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    Also, this view is crazy to me, and it almost made me throw up.

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    I took a picture to show the boys then closed the window and proceeded to pray for the plane to stay in the air. Also, I cried in the airplane bathroom about leaving Ford, then I got ahold of myself and was pretty much fine for the rest of the trip. Mostly.

    Once we got to Portland, it was smooth sailing. The nicest people in the universe work at the PDX airport, and everyone was so sweet to us two clueless Southerners. We picked up our rental car and got a complimentary upgrade to an SUV (thanks, Enterprise guy!). Then it was off to our AirBnB which was ADORABLE. We stayed in a studio apartment behind someone’s house in the Sellwood area of Portland, and it was perfect for us. We walked everywhere, and we loved the community’s vibe.

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    The reason for the trip was to really experience the Portland area, Sellwood-Moreland in particular, because our friends are moving there in July to plant a church. We want to be as much of a help as we can be, and we figured seeing the area was a good start if we’re going to be good advocates for them here at home. It was a great thing for us to do, and we did lots of praying as we walked the streets and saw the sights. Downtown Portland was like a different universe. We saw a lot we’d never experienced here, including an absolutely huge homeless population and a great deal of what I can only describe as a heaviness that couldn’t be put into words. Just certain places you’d walk through, the looks on the faces of the people would hurt your heart. We did the tourist-y things like eat at Blue Star Donuts and visit Powell’s Books, but we also people-watched a lot and just observed.

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    Totally gluten-free bakery. I could have lived there.

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    It didn’t take long to understand why the Lotts chose Sellwood. It was wonderful. It had such a small town vibe, which you wouldn’t expect as a part of such a massive metropolitan area. Kids rode their bikes together down the streets, there were dogs tied up outside of local coffee shops, shop owners greeted patrons by name. It was sweet and authentic. I didn’t really know what to expect, coming from the super conservative Bible belt into a much more liberal and religiously unaffiliated area, but I can tell you this much: if my job as a believer is to show the love of Jesus to others in order to bring them to faith, I don’t think I’m doing as good of a job as the people of Sellwood in loving my neighbor. The kindness and generosity they show to one another is beautiful. The truly love and care about one another. They support local businesses because they support their friends– instead of buying a board game on Amazon they walk down the street to buy one from the local board game store (yes, there was one) for a dollar more because they know the owner and their family. They buy a cup of coffee from the coffee shop around the corner because it benefits the neighborhood (and your mouth, holy moly, best coffee of my life). They fight for equality for everyone because they love their neighbors who are diverse and worth standing up for.fullsizeoutput_22e7

    Y’all, I get it. I don’t think I did before, but even though I may not agree with every bit of the politics or values I saw, I do agree that we need to be loving each other better because that’s what Jesus wants us to do. How am I going to bring people to know a loving God if I’m not showing them that same love? We don’t have to agree to be kind. We don’t have to be the same to love. We do have be the hands and feet of Jesus in a world screaming for a change.

    For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

    – Galatians 5:13-14

    This trip changed a lot in my heart, and I’m so thankful for that. Yes, it was fun, we ate amazing food, drank great coffee and slept through the night (praise Jesus, You are good!). More than those things, we opened our eyes a little wider and saw in a new way. I’m sure I’ll blog again about where we went and what we ate (because food is my happy place), but for now, I just want y’all to know that Portland is amazing and its people deserve our prayers. We can’t wait to see what God does through East Bridge Church in the coming years as they invest in and love the community there.

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    Coming home at midnight and having the boys run into our room the next day while it was still dark was just perfect. Until they infected us with the stomach virus and we spent the weekend throwing up. Welcome home!

    Portland.

    It’s been forever since I’ve written here. Namely because I’ve been pouring myself out each morning in my time spent in Scripture and journaling- I have had nothing left to share with anyone else. The Lord has been working on me in some amazing ways the past few months. Breaking me of my selfish ambition and filling me with the desires of His heart. It’s been a process of pruning and refining, and while I’m still in need of quite a bit more of that, I feel like some fruit is already starting to grow here. A season of quiet is needed sometimes when big things are happening inside of our spirits.

    A family in our church is moving to Portland, Oregon, in July to plant a church. It’s a story that I’ve grown increasingly more invested in over time. It started with a natural interest as I worked with them to create a church logo and some print material. I loved hearing the heart behind the mission: they desire to share the gospel in Portland because it is the most religiously unaffiliated city in the United States, with 42% self-professing to be not religious. Listening to them talk about their trips into the city and how amazing the people of Portland are. The kindness, the passion, the interest they share so willingly, even with people that seem different. How refreshing that openness looks today when so many are so closed off. The more I heard, the more I needed to hear.

    I guess I’ve always thought of missionaries as being so different from me, so to see the Lott family, a couple my own age with four young children making such a huge move was really fascinating. I felt something when I heard them share, and the more I learned, the more I wanted to be a part of it. When I first mentioned it to Trevor, he agreed that we needed to do something. We’ve committed to giving and praying, but how can we really be a part of this at a deeper level?

    I’m not a crier. I’m just not one of those girls that wears their emotions at surface level, and it takes a lot to bring me to tears. So when I sat in church, tears pouring down my face, as our pastor talked about what it means to be sent as a disciple, I knew my spirit was connecting to something much deeper than a missional sermon series. Evangelism scares the pants off of me. I think we all get an image of street preachers hollering and condemning passersby, but that is absolutely not how I want to share the hope and the freedom found in Jesus. It’s about living life as a disciple. Being different. Being kind. Loving people well. Trying to live like Christ in order to show people His love before ever mentioning His name.

    “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

    That’s the kind of disciple that I want to be, and that’s exactly what the Lotts are doing in Portland. I’m learning that all of us are called to go. That going may look different for each one of us, but going isn’t just for a career missionary. It’s for moms and dads. Students. Grandparents. Kids. If you love Jesus, part of that relationship is to tell other people about it. Use your gifts and your talents to serve in a way that’s unique to you- it’s not about doing things like everyone else or emulating someone. God equips each one of us in a specific way, and we are to use those gifts for His glory.

    Friday, we are flying out to Portland. Me, terrified of airplanes and being not in control, is willingly boarding a plane for a 5.5 hour flight—that in itself is a testament that God is in this! Trevor and I are praying about how we can be actively involved. We love a city we’ve never even seen—how does that work? We figured we need to do some seeing. As we walk the streets and pray together, we hope God will reveal His plan for us and just how we can be a part of this amazing wave of goodness for a city that He loves, too.

    Follow the story of East Bridge Church and the Lott family as they prepare to move here (AND… please pray that I don’t have a nervous breakdown when I leave my still-nursing one year-old for the first time and get into a tin can with wings… because the likelihood is high).

    Sometimes, you just have to show up.

    Sometimes, you just have to show up. Have you ever felt like God was about to do something, but you had no idea what it was? I’ve felt that way for months, and it’s been driving me crazy. I’ve had this restless sense in my spirit and just could not figure out what it meant. I’ve been a part of an amazing group of ladies for the past six months, and we meet weekly to study Scripture together (and laugh. And talk. And laugh.). I’ve talked about it with them, they’ve prayed for me about it, and it wasn’t until just over the past two weeks that I have started to gain some clarity.

    I work at a church. An awesome church that I adore being a part of, and I have a great job as a communications director. Seriously, I am blessed beyond reason with this job. Being around ministry every day is so great, and having my work go toward supporting the Kingdom is so fulfilling. Even so, I had this feeling of “I’m supposed to be doing something more” that I didn’t understand and couldn’t shake. I knew it wasn’t discontent with my job… so what was it?? Now I know.

    Our women’s ministry at church needed new leadership, and I have been feeling drawn toward women’s ministry. I love blogging, interacting with you ladies and being involved with the women at my church, and I feel so strongly about empowering women, so I knew it would be something I enjoyed. So myself and two other sweet friends, Karie and Elizabeth, took on this ministry and got to work. We prayed, we planned and we prayed some more as we dug in and sought God’s will for the women at our church. Yesterday was our launch event, and God was all over it.

    You can spend lots of time planning for something, but sometimes, things don’t come together. Then there are the other times, where lots of time and effort come together with God’s favor and everything goes smoothly, but more than that–it goes better than you could have ever hoped it would go. That was yesterday.

    Our goal was for true multigenerational community, and we got it in droves. Women, of all ages and stages, worshiping and fellowshipping together, and it was awesome. When I got up on stage to address these precious women, it clicked for me: this is what I want to do. Authentic community for women is sorely needed- there’s so much fake out there for us, but what we need, and what God wants for us, is to be real with one another. Being a facilitator of that was just beyond wonderful.

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    Our guest speaker was Jess Connolly, and she was perfect. Debbie Hopper of Seacoast Women’s Ministry was planning to be there, as well, but her flight back from Africa was changed, so she was present with us in video form—Debbie is Jess’ mom, which is a hilarious story, because I had zero idea of that when I first talked to Debbie to seek some of her boundless wisdom about women’s ministry. Jess delivered a heartfelt word that resonated so deeply with our women. Then, we had fun and bonded by being creative and learning new things together. One woman after another came up to us, thanking us for the day, and we just kept telling them that we were just doing what God led us to do, and that it was His hand on the day that made it what it was. We showed up, listened to His prompting and He did the rest.

    There’s a verse in Acts that I was reading this week that hit home for me:

    “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.” – Acts 20:7-12

    Paul was doing what he felt led to do, and he kept preaching into the wee hours because he intended to leave the next day. Well, God intended to do a little more than old Paul had planned. Poor Eutychus couldn’t keep his eyes open and passed out, then fell to his death—not exactly what you expect during a Bible study! But God. Paul went down to the man, and through God’s power in him, raised the young man back to life. It wasn’t any power of Paul’s that performed this miracle, but because Paul showed up and was obedient to the call, God did more than he could have ever imagined through him. Sometimes, you just have to show up.

    That’s what I want for us, ladies. I want for us to show up for one another and do God’s will- to grow in community, to grow together and to serve together, because if we’re faithful to that call God is going to move big time through us. Let’s be ready and willing to move into whatever God is calling us to do because he that promised is faithful. Every single time.

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    Elizabeth, Jess, Me and Karie

    Learning to say “yes”

    One day, I will learn not to take all three of my kids to Target alone. Maybe.

    It was a Friday morning, that fateful day. I needed a few things, and I had a hankering to peruse the home aisles of my local Target. You know, to relax and imagine a world where children don’t actually destroy everything nice I own. It started off fine. Knox and Brody were in the front of the monstrous family buggy, and Ford was in the Ergo carrier. We made it all the way to the back corner of the store, as you do, before the crying began. Ford was done shopping at Target. Like, furiously done. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but wearing an angry baby is UNACCEPTABLE and is in no way, shape or form an allowable alternative to holding said baby. So, I took him out of the carrier, which now dangled around my waist and held him. Still, no dice. His angry “I hate Target” cry quickly turned into a “feed me, woman” cry. So, we pushed our cart as quickly as possible to the front of the store, where I pushed everything and everyone into the family restroom, ignoring the “no merchandise in the restroom” sign. Sorry, Target.

    I quickly nursed Ford while Knox and Brody tried to free themselves from the buggy and destroy the bathroom. I mangled to wrangle them one-handed back into their seats with only minor threatening, which I considered a success. Once Ford was finished, I foolishly thought “that was easy enough, now let’s shop some more.” FATAL ERROR, JESSICA. FATAL ERROR.

    Once again, we managed to get back to the same corner of the store (school supplies, no less), when Ford promptly lost his cool. All the way lost. Of course, by this point, the section is crawling with quiet families, happily shopping for pencils and dry erase markers. All of which, by the way, are pointedly glaring at me. So, I took Ford out of the carrier again, and tried to jiggle him around. Jiggling really pisses off babies that are tired, FYI. We are nearing nap time, but I just needed to get a new notebook for Bible study. Just one, tiny notebook. “Jesus wants me to have this notebook,” I think. I need it. It’s for holy purposes. Certainly I can just grab one really quickly. Nope. The sight of notebooks is enraging to Ford. I reach out to grab one. I am throwing it in my cart when I see “wide ruled” emblazoned on the cover. WHY DO THEY EVEN MAKE WIDE-RULED NOTEBOOKS???? College-ruled or bust. I frantically start scanning the mountains of notebooks for something with thin-lines. Ford’s screaming is reaching a fever pitch. The eyes of Target people are boring into the back of my head, and I start sweating. Notebook Gate 2016 is becoming a real thing. For the love of all of the things, WHERE IS THE COLLEGE-RULED SECTION?!!! Frantic, I just pushed the cart out of the section, my wailing baby serenading us all the way. As we move to the front of the store, Ford gets quiet. I look down and see the totally red face of a baby that has let loose into silent cry. You know the one. They are so pissed that their cry has lost it’s sound, which only means that in approximately .467 seconds, the loudest cry possible will emerge out of their mouth.

    S.O.S.

    I knew what needed to happen. This baby needed to nurse IMMEDIATELY. I was still halfway to the checkout section. There was no way I could make it back to the family bathroom in time. I looked around and saw it: the empty furniture aisle. I shoved the cart down the aisle just as Ford started to hysterically scream. All I could think about at that moment was that crazy video where the man at Target starts berating the women for breastfeeding her baby without a cover, and I could not be the newest viral breastfeeding story: “Mom beats man senseless when he tells her to cover up, story at 11.” Because of course, I had left my cover somewhere, so I did what I had to do:

    I went into the shelf.

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    There, between a barstool and a side table, I scootched all the way back, shielding myself with a cart of children (who at this point were beating each other, gladiator-style, with boxes of Legos) and nursed the baby. Peace (except for the gladiator children). I was hot and sweating and praying no crazy breastfeeding-haters would stumble upon our shelf spot. Once it looked like Ford was asleep, I got up and practically ran to the checkout. Well. All the running woke the baby, who once again realized that he was in Target.

    You can guess what happened next.

    Every checkout lane had a line. BECAUSE OF COURSE THEY DID. So I had no choice but to wait. Sandwiched between a blonde lady, about my age (with no children because she was probably smart and got a babysitter), and a lady around the age of my mom, I stood holding a baby that was irate and screaming at the top of his voice. By the way, that’s really loud. My two biggest are asking for Kit Kats and Push Pops and all of the processed foods, and at this point I am like “GET WHATEVER YOU WANT, HEALTH IS STUPID” and pathetically trying to load the conveyor belt with one hand. The blonde woman keeps looking at me, and finally, she can’t help herself…

    “Would you like some help?”

    I opened my mouth immediately to offer a sweet “no thanks, I am fine,” but instead what came tumbling out was “yes. Yes I would.” So she and the woman behind me jumped into action, unloading my cart and then, taking it a step further, talking sweetly to my angry baby, who promptly stopped crying and smiled at all of the grandma-like attention he was getting from the woman behind us.

    It hit me then as I stood there with happy kids piling candy onto the belt- why don’t we say “yes” to help when we need it? I always feel like I have to fake control and make people believe that I have it all together. Let me tell you something right now: I DO NOT HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER. And sometimes, I need some help. I need a nice blonde lady to unload my cart and someone else’s grandma to sweet-talk my baby because I can’t do everything perfectly, all the time.  I don’t know about you, but faking it for someone else’s sake doesn’t actually make anything happen for me aside from filling me with anxiety and making me a little sweaty. Let’s be honest with ourselves and with other people: motherhood (and being a woman, in general) is messy, and it’s hard. God designed us to live in community- to build each other up and pour into one another. Sometimes we are the ones pouring out, and sometimes we’re the ones getting filled up. It’s an ebb and flow, and it is okay to accept the filling. It doesn’t make you weak; it makes you human. I am thankful today for two women in Target that showed me kindness and taught me that it’s okay to say “yes.”

    “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” -1 Peter 3:8

    P.S. I got  home and realized: I forgot the notebook.