My Happy Place

 

IMG_4188Wow!  The month of April flew by!  Life has been crazy here at the Bierman house.  I decided to resign from my job just in time to go with our youngest on a field trip to Disney with the middle school choir and band, got to go on an awesome women’s retreat with our church the very next weekend and began alterations on several costumes for the middle school musical right when I got back.  I have to tell you, my sewing machine was broken and the costumes were due for dress rehearsal 3 days after I got back from the retreat.  Thank goodness for good friends that sew and are willing to become part of your craziness for a while to help you get things done!  Throw in catching up on the laundry and cleaning the house because your mother is coming to see her grandchild and you can’t have a messy house!  The choir also had a citywide concert they sang in just 4 days after returning from Disney, so it has been crazy in the choir room at school, too.  Choir directors, as well as many students and parents all working to put together an amazing performance.  After school rehearsals every day, cooking dinner, helping with homework…the list has been endless.  Throw in some missing costumes, last-minute running to the fabric store for buttons and such and you don’t know whether you’re coming or going by the end of the day.   I have gone to bed exhausted pretty much every night these last few weeks,  but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.  I have found my happy place again.

Moming can be stressful, but it isn’t the kind of stress that leaves a bad taste in my mouth or an ache in my heart.  I don’t dread Monday mornings anymore.  This is what I have been missing the last 8 years while working outside of the home.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  If working outside of the home is what is best for you and works for your family, then you do you.  As for me, I love doing dishes.  I love getting the house back together (cause it has been a hot mess for a while now!).  I love being able to pick Michael up from school.  I love being able to volunteer again.  I love being able to cook breakfast and dinner for my family and eat at a decent time in the evening again.  I love it!  I let Michael sleep in this morning and checked him in.  He was SO tired after all that he has been involved in at school.  He has great grades and we don’t do that kind of thing all of the time.  Actually, we never do that, but I LOVE having the option now.

I have missed all of this so very much.  I decided since it is close to Mother’s Day, I would write about being a mom and these are the things that make me feel like a good mom.  I decided to go through pictures and I had this beautiful scene in my head of having pictures of me and our children at various times throughout their childhood…and you know what?  There aren’t any.  Ha!  No, seriously.  Well, maybe 1 or 2, but that’s it!  You see, I am also the photographer of the family, so I found lots of pictures of the kids separately, the kids together, the kids with my husband, the kids with their friends, the kids at soccer tournaments, birthday parties, Halloween, playing in the rain, with their cousins, with their grandparents, prom, Girl Scouts…and that’s alright by me.  I just pray that in the end, they remember me behind that camera lens and know that their mom was there.  She was  there to make the wheat, dairy, egg, nut free birthday cake.  She was there to stay up late and help them write the paper.  She was there to make the Halloween costume.  She was there to take them to the midnight premier of Twilight.  She was there to take them prom dress shopping.  She was there to cook them dinner.  She was there to give them a hug and ask them how their day was.  So, whether you are a stay at home mom, or a work outside the home mom, or a work part-time mom,  whatever kind of mom you are, I hope you have found your happy place that helps you be the best mom you can be.   As for me, I love to do All The Things from home and I hope and pray that my children will look back on All The Things we did together and it makes them smile.  Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

Oh!  I did find a picture of me and my sister when we were new moms and a few of my mom and Steve’s mom and my grandmother.

 

 

Yummy Chocolate Chip Cookies (wheat, dairy, egg, nut free)

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After several years of trying different mixes and recipes on line, we finally got to a taste that we like.  Enjoy!  (the all purpose flour recipe below, I think, is from a food allergy magazine or either a gluten free book I have used for years, not sure.)

 

Ingredients

2/3 c.      shortening

½ c.         light brown sugar

½ c.         granulated sugar

1 tsp.      alcohol free vanilla extract

1 3.9 oz. applesauce (snack cup size)

1 ¾ c.     all purpose flour

½ tsp.     baking soda

½ tsp.     salt

¾ – 1 c. mini dairy free chocolate chips (we use Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Use ungreased cookie sheet.  In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the shortening, brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla and applesauce.  In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt with a wire whisk.  Add to shortening mixture and combine until creamy.  Stir in chocolate chips and drop with a rounded teaspoon onto prepared baking sheet.

Bake 12-14 minutes or until lightly brown.  Cool slightly on baking sheet and serve.  Makes approximately 24 cookies.

 

All Purpose Flour Recipe  (makes 6 cups)

2 cups brown rice flour

2 cups white rice flour

1 1/3 cups potato starch

2/3 cup tapioca starch

 

Mix ingredients together.  Store in a tightly covered container.

Snake Oil

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You know how different things come and go with your circle of friends and within your community, like shoulder pads, fidget spinners, low-fat foods, step aerobics.  Yes, I had a step.  It was green.  Don’t judge.  Some of the things worked, and well – some of them didn’t.  They just didn’t.  Some of these fads we try, and some we just observe and keep it movin’.  That is how I felt about the essential oil thing when it popped up everywhere.  I mean everywhere! Church, work, and boutiques I shopped at, the grocery stores.  More and more Facebook posts by friends talking about oils for scrapes and upset tummies,  better sleep, and anxiety.  I just didn’t believe in it and figured it was another fad that would come and then fade away as something else took its place.

Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong.  It’s funny how once you have exhausted all other options, you are more open to trying things you never thought you would be open to trying.  Our middle child has severe eczema and was in a very bad flare last year.  We have frequented the dermatologist over the years and have used oral medications, as well as all kinds of steroid creams to try, and get things under control.  I wasn’t aware, at the time, that stress can cause an awful flare.  It was her Senior year of high-school and she had a LOT going on.  She finally started to clear up, after 4 months of an anti-biotic and several refills of a steroid cream.  Of course, our concern was and still is the long-term effects of these strong medications she was taking.  That’s when we discovered a friend from church had been dealing with some eczema issues and was using Young Living essential oils and they were working.  We asked her if we could try what she was using and she graciously made us up a roller bottle of oils and we tried it…and it worked.  Lauren came up to me just a couple of days later and said she was out and needed more.  I was surprised 1. that it really did work and 2. that she had used it up so fast.  So, her friend made up another bottle of the oils and Lauren continued to see positive results.  Well, I knew we couldn’t just keep using up her friend’s oils, so I asked how we could buy them ourselves and that day we entered into a whole new world of health and wellness that we had never ventured into before.

We purchased a starter kit with 11 oils, a diffuser, and a couple of sample packets of a drink with oils infused into it.  We also purchased a couple of other oils that didn’t come in the starter kit, so that we could make up the roller bottle for Lauren to use.  That was the only reason I purchased this kit.  It’s not like we were going to do anything else with it, other than make up this one concoction we knew about.  Ha!  Little did I know the path God was taking us down.  Looking back now, I realize how many areas of our lives He was moving in.

I let that kit sit for 6 months.  I did get out the diffuser and diffused some lemon and peppermint in the morning, but that was about it.  It was April of last year and Springtime allergies had us all a little stuffy.  It seemed to help Michael’s stuffy nose.  He would be able to blow his nose and breathe better.  I liked the uplifting scent of the lemon.  Steve said the peppermint smelled like candy canes.  Soon, school was out and we were very glad because Michael’s 7th grade year was rough, to say the least.  I felt it was a miracle that I still had hair and spent the summer dreading the next school year.  You see, things had not gone very smoothly last year.  Homework was beyond a struggle and communication with the school had not gone well.  I had no idea how we were going to get through the 8th grade.

Summer rocked on and the beginning of the school year came.  Yep, more of the same.  I was in tears, he was frustrated and I just did not know what in the world we were going to do.  It was September, we were at church, and I ran into the mom of the girl with the oils.  I remembered her telling me about those two drink samples in my kit and how much benefit her family had received from incorporating it into their family’s lives.  She said they were good for boosting your immune system and reducing inflammation.  So, I asked her what to do with them.  She told me to put them in the fridge to chill, shake one up and then drink one during the day.  So, I took one to work and drank it after lunch that day.  I had good afternoon.  I was focused on my work and then went home at the end of the day.  I didn’t think much more about it.  I took the other pouch to work the next day.  I had a great numbers day.  Actually, both of the days I had the best numbers I had ever had at work.  I looked at Steve and said how I had felt laser focused and wondered if it was just a coincidence or if that little red drink actually helped…and if it had helped, would it help Michael.

We bought 4 more of those pouches and we started giving Michael half a pouch every morning before school.  We had also started him on some vitamin C and vitamin D, as his pediatrician had found that he was low vitamin D.  Now, you have to know Michael and his typical week.  Michael is autistic and it takes every ounce of energy he has to just get through the day at school.  So, by the end of the week, he is exhausted.  I usually find him laid out on the couch, either asleep or just staring into space.  Worn out.  When asked about his day, he is not able to tell you much of anything.  He tries to remember, but just can’t.  Well, I walked in the door from work that Friday night, and said hello.  I was walking through the kitchen when Michael met me and asked me how my day was.  He was up.  Walking around.  I was kind of surprised and said, fine and asked him how his day was, expecting the usual one word answer, fine.  He began to tell me everything he did at school that day.  How cool the science experiments were and what they sang in choir.  I looked at Steve.  He looked at me.  We went to pick his sister up from college to see us for the weekend.  She got in the car and I turned around and asked Michael to tell Lauren how his day was at school.  🙂  Same thing.  I looked at her and her jaw dropped.  No.  It definitely wasn’t our imagination.  He was better.  He had more energy.  He was focused.  He could remember.  That was six months ago.  We have incorporated that little red drink into our daily lives.  He has since told me that he sleeps better and feels better.

Since then, we have diffused other oils and tried new ones.  We have learned so many amazing things about the lifeblood of the plants that God has given us and the many benefits they have.  That little red drink is called Ningxia Red.  The wolfberry is the main ingredient along with many super fruit juices and infused essential oils.  It has been a game changer for us.  Michael finishes much more of his work at school.  As a result, he has less homework, and what he does have, he is able to get through easier.  Now granted, he still has some rough days, but this year has gone much more smoothly.  Lauren decided to purchase her own kit this past December and is experimenting with different oils.  She loves grapefruit to help with the occasional blemish, as does Michael. Lavender really is good for supporting sleep, as well as, Cedarwood.  I love that there are no long-term negative side effects and our wellness is being supported in a natural and healthy way.  So much for my snake oil theory.  If it is just a placebo effect,  I’ll just keep on believing all the things about these oils and keep reaping the benefits.

 

 

 

Allergy Brownies (wheat, dairy, egg, nut free)

29093211_213350742732839_3183915116869451776_nIngredients:

1 small avocado

1/2 cooked sweet potato

1/2 cup Sunbutter

2 tbsp raw honey

1/4 cup coconut milk

3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips

 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease baking dish with coconut oil or spray.  Combine all ingredients, except for the chocolate chips, into a blender and blend.  Then, add chocolate chips to mixture.  Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes. Let sit to cool and then cut into sixteen small square pieces.   Enjoy!

The Power of Our Thoughts

jad-limcaco-256487-unsplash“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right either way.”  Henry Ford

Lately, I have been studying conscious language and the power of what we say to ourselves.  Actually, I didn’t set out to study this.  The subject just keeps finding its way into every article I read, devotional I do, video I watch, radio program I listen to.  You think God is trying to tell me something?

Well, I do.

You see, I struggle with depression.  Deep, dark, ugly depression…and when I say struggle, I mean fighting it tooth and nail most days, feeling like it has won.  What I have learned about this state of mind is that it doesn’t just stay on the inside.  It oozes out and seeps into every tiny crevice of my life.  Why do I mind?  Why should I care?  It’s just how I feel. Right?  Wrong.  Thinking negatively turns into speaking negatively, which then shapes those within my sphere of influence – my children, my husband, my friends, my coworkers.  It shapes how I feel, how I look, how I perceive everything and how others perceive me.  Soon, what happens?  My words create my world, whether I intended that or not.

So, what do I do with this world that I’ve created?   What a mess!  How do I turn the ship around?   I have found that a negative thought pattern that is ingrained in the brain is a terrible place to be, however, there is hope.  There are physical things we can do and there are spiritual things that we can do to flip the switch, so to speak.  I don’t think it is easy for anyone who struggles with this, but I do believe it is possible.  For with God, ALL THINGS are possible.  Matthew 19:26.  Living an intentional life is just that. Intentional.  If I wake up grumpy and filled with anger and frustration, I will reap anger and frustration if that is all that I sow.  If I continue to think about, mull over and fuss about that which upsets me, then, my attitude will be negative and I am going to have a bad day.  If I step out of the shower and say His mercies are new EVERY morning, this is the day that the Lord has made, I WILL rejoice and be glad in it, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever can be admired, if there is anything excellent or praiseworthy, think on such things – then I have chosen to change my thinking and I can pray that the Lord will honor His word and bless me with a good day.  For He is faithful to watch over His word to perform it.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I KNOW that it is not easy and there are days where, nope, my day still stunk.  I deal with chronic pain from degenerative discs and exhaustion from adrenal fatigue and I have two special needs children.  LIFE is not easy.  So, what else can I do?  Rest is important.   Vitamins and supplements to support my health are important.  Exercise is important.  (Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.  Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.  They just don’t.)   Ha ha.  It is true that exercise does make me feel better and I absolutely believe in the power of proper nutrition and vitamin supplementation.

When I fail miserably and give in to the anger and irritability, and sadness, it feels terrible.  Isaiah 55:6-7 says: Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.  Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts.  Let them turn unto the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.  I ask forgiveness for my stinkin’ thinkin’ and I try again.  Life is God’s gift to me.  What I do with it is my gift to him.  So, tomorrow is a new day.