Beautiful Maui…Beautiful world

IMG_0603 (2)When we vacationed in Maui in  for our 25th wedding anniversary this Summer, it was perfect.  Perfect for us anyway!  Weather like we ordered it, no schedule or responsibilities, and plenty of time to play and relax.  I found that I didn’t actually take that many pictures, I just wanted to experience each moment to the fullest free of distractions or encumbrances.  I was completely in awe of the incredible display of beauty I could see, hear, smell, and feel.  As I looked back through the pictures I did take, I was amazed yet again at our creator.  So creative!  So detailed!  So much variety! His power and control of the universe evident from every view and every crashing wave.  Isaiah 6:3 comes to mind: “…Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory”(NIV)

A while ago when I was going through a difficult season the Lord reminded me that he creates beauty.  He takes nothing and creates Maui!  He takes dust and creates man/woman.  He takes brokenness and creates hearts that reflect his image and love…beauty.  Each day the sunrise proclaims the dawning of a new day with color and grandeur whether we notice or not.  There are over 325 species of hummingbirds…why?  Because He is God.

So, if you are feeling overwhelmed and tired, maybe trust Him today.  He can manage the universe and keep track of the number of hairs on your head at the same time.  (“…but not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing about it. And the very hairs on your head are numbered.” Matt. 10: 29-30 NLT)  He loves details and doesn’t ever get weary.

Enjoy the pictures, breathe deeply and relax.  Take good care of yourselves peeps!

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I’d like to introduce…Quiet

flowers  Today I am blessed with an extra day.  How did that happen?  Not needed at work and put on-call, I now have time at home that was not expected.  An “extra  day”.  After I got the call, I laid in bed and was thankful to the Lord.  The past two weeks have been very busy and stressful and I gladly welcome unexpected  time to be quiet and at home.  My mind started to form a to-do list and organize all the tasks I could now accomplish…clean bathrooms, mop, dust, bathe the  dog…you know super fun stuff.  Then the voice  in my heart stopped me.  Quiet is what I told God I needed.  Quiet and time to be still is what I prayed for.  Time to recover physically and emotionally from the stress of the past couple weeks.  I faced a choice: carry on with the whole to-do list, task-oriented plan or accept the gift of refreshment from the Lord that came packaged in time to be still and quiet.

 “Be still and know that I am God”.  Psalms 46:10

Perhaps that seems ridiculous to you.  Maybe you are not familiar with the idea of a quiet day at home.  Maybe your life is crazy every waking moment.  Maybe you feel like you only can react and put out fires all day long. Maybe you believe that you don’t have time to plan or make choices.  Maybe the idea of having time without tasks frightens you.  Maybe you aren’t so good with “quiet”; maybe it makes you uncomfortable.  I can relate to all of those things.  This life can get packed full and be really hard.

So, let me introduce you to being still and quiet.  It isn’t so much about physically not moving as it is about mental quietness and environmental calm.  I am making choices today that provide my mind and spirit with rest and calm.  It isn’t about being lazy, it is about being intentional.  It isn’t about being irresponsible, it is about being present with each activity and doing one thing at a time.  It is about taking care of myself and doing what I know I need instead of just surviving the day.  It certainly isn’t about some new age thing or finding power within myself, it is about being in tune with my creator and leaning into his loving care.

Being outside is one way I still my mind and heart.  As I look around and see all that has been created without my input or control (or yours I might add) it is a great reminder that I am a small part of a huge story!  That brings peace and perspective. I began today by buying and planting flowers in my flower bed.  As I placed each one in the dirt, I was sure to notice the sunshine on my skin and the cool breeze.  God had brought another day without any help from me…and he wanted me to just enjoy it.   When we make decisions and face emotions from a quiet and still heart clarity and healing can come.  The enemy wants us to be frazzled and bombards us with distractions.  God offers us peace and rest.

So, at this point if you are a mom to small children you would probably like to ring my neck.  You may be thinking, “Of course you can have quiet and stillness, your kids are in college!” Here’s what I want you to hear.  Just as you can have mental unrest and chaos even if you have nothing on your to-do list; you can have a quiet and still mind and heart even when the day is busy.  I’ve experienced many a day off that was riddled with anxiety and unrest because my mind was not quiet.  Maybe you don’t have time to sit and journal for 30 minutes, but you do have time to take a deep breath, slow your brain down, and thank God for your day as you brush your teeth.  Be intentional…you have time.  Instead of listening to the radio in the car on the way to school, remind your kids of a family vacation and ask them to share what their favorite memory is from the trip.  Be intentional…you have time.  It doesn’t take very long to connect, still your heart, and remember  what you priorities are and in the process.

 “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” Psalms 23:2-3

I love to write.  I process emotions and thoughts as I share them with you.  This is calming to me.  The idea that maybe one of you will be encouraged as you read thrills my heart.  That blesses me.  I have learned over the years that my entire family benefits from me taking time to be still and quiet.  My husband fiercely protects my alone time, he has learned over the years how important it is for me and for us!  I am a much better help-mate to him when I take time to be still by the “quiet waters”.  I am much better prepared to respond to challenging circumstances when I am refreshed.  I have more energy to give at work and it is easier to serve the families at the hospital when I am peaceful and rested emotionally.  These things don’t just happen, we must be intentional.

“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

 

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Known as “Breakfast Brownies” at my house, these are Tom’s favorite muffins.   I think your whole family will enjoy these and it is a great way to add vegetables into a picky eaters diet. Several years ago my 15 year old son had a friend over one night and he ate several of these.   Then he saw a piece of zucchini and said with disgust, “hey these have vegetables in them!”  I had to chuckle…got ya!  These can be heated up in a toaster oven and spread with peanut butter…Tom’s daily companion to his protein shake!  They can also be frozen. I know grabbing breakfast can be challenging, so make it easy on yourself; take the time to throw these together.  You’ll have a quick, power packed, yummy breakfast to grab and go.  Enjoy!

Breakfast Brownies

Ingredients:

3/4  cup Whole Wheat flour

1/4 cup flax seed meal (can use a whole cup of WW flour if you don’t have flax seed meal)

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup applesauce (no added sugar)

1 Tbsp Canola oil

3/4 cup Splenda or other no calorie sweetner

1/2 cup light brown sugar

4 egg whites or equivalent of 2 eggs in egg substitute

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups shredded raw zucchini (2 small, peeled)

3/4 cup semi sweet mini chocolate chips

Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl sift and mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl beat the oil, sugars, eggs, powdered milk, and vanilla extract until well blended (about 2 minutes) with electric mixer.
  4. Fold in the zucchini. Add the flour mixture, beating just until combined.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, make 18 muffins, and bake about 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from cups after about 10 minutes and cool on wire rack.  Yummy if toasted and served with spray butter (0 calories added, lots of taste!)

1 muffin = approx 160 cal/5 protein/2 fiber

Bean Dip!

This is a hit with my boys and their friends too.  Get more veggies into your diet with this awesome snack or side dish.  This is an easy and yummy dinner on a bed of lettuce as a salad, or as a side dish with chicken tacos! Remember portion size is key to a healthy diet, if you eat this with chips, portion out a single serving of chips and put the bag away so you don’t over indulge.  Can you have too much of a good thing?  Yes, the answer is yes.  Enjoy!

Jodi’s Bean Dip

Ingredients:

  • 3 cans black beans, drained, rinsed, and mashed
  • 1 Tbsp hot pepper sauce, or more to taste
  • 2 Tbsp green chili salsa, or more to taste
  • 1 cup plain lite sour cream
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup Monterey jack or 2% cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix all ingredients, saving out 1/2 cup of cheese.
  • Spread into shallow baking dish
  • Bake 30 min, then sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake an additional 10 minutes.
  • Serve with veggies or tortilla chips to dip.

Black Bean and Corn Salad

This is a crunchy, fresh, great tasting side dish that I had kind of forgotten about.  Sweet but with a kick…try it.  Make it as a side dish with grilled chicken or fish, or serve it as a main dish!  Temps are still getting up warm and this summer salad shouldn’t be passed up!  Enjoy!

Black Bean and Corn Salad 

Ingredients:

1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (16 oz.) bag frozen sweet white corn, thawed

8 green onions, diced

1 (4 oz.) can diced jalapeno, rinsed and drained

1 green pepper, diced

2 avocados, cubed

2 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, rinsed and drained

1 cup (or to taste) fresh cilantro, chopped

Dressing:

2 Tbsp. lime juice

4 Tbsp. vinegar

6 Tbsp. EVOO (Extra virgin olive oil)

3 Tbsp. Splenda

1 tsp. minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • In large mixing bowl gently combine beans, corn, onions, pepper, avocados,
    tomatoes, and cilantro.
  • In small mixing bowl mix dressing ingredients
  • Toss salad in dressing, chill for approx. 30 min, and serve.

14 (½ cup) servings, each has approx. 155 calories/ 3 grams protein/ 5.5 grams fiber

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Ok, here is a fun and easy dinner idea your kids will like too!  The beauty of this recipe is that it can be adapted for family very easily.   Just making dinner for two?  Absolutely easy-peasy.  Someone doesn’t like onions?  Fine, their pizza doesn’t get onions.  Someone just wants cheese?  No worries, they can just have cheese.  Don’t eat meat?  Ok, no chicken for you.  Add all the vegetables you want!  You put them on a cookie sheet and cook them all at the same time, and dinner is served.   If you are in a hurry and need to eat this quick, just cut in half and fold it over to make a “pizzawich”!   Healthy food, filling and quick, hot and delish.  Pair this pizza with a big, fresh, tossed salad…win/win!

BBQ Chicken Tortilla Pizza

Ingredients: (makes one pizza)

  • 100% whole wheat tortilla (I used Mission brand, medium size)
  • ¼ cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tbsp. BBQ sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. onion, diced
  • 2 oz. baked chicken breast, shredded
  • 1 tsp. EVOO

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Spread EVOO on one side of tortilla and place it, oil side down, on a cookie sheet
  3. Spread BBQ sauce on tortilla then top with onion, chicken, and cheese
  4. Bake for 10 min until cheese is melted and tortilla is crisp

1 pizza:  295 calories/23 grams protein/3 grams fiber

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