Friday Recipe Roundup

YAAAAAAYYY! It’s Friday! Fridays are fabulous. This weekend Steven and I are spending Saturday in North Carolina, doing some apartment hunting. I am praying that we will have a little bit more clarity and perhaps some direction about where we will be living. We know the general area, but we just don’t have a place to move into yet and because of that we can’t set a move in date. So once we are able to narrow down our choices, we’ll be able to get the moving ball rolling a little bit more. I’m continuing to feel equal parts nervous and excited during this whole process, but I am praying big prayers, that God will keep fear out of my heart. He is a big God, I have seen His power before and I am believing that I will get to see it again!

My healthy lifestyle change is still going well. I have been attempting to go to the gym everyday, with my more intense days being Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. I have been loving this addition because the gym makes me feel like a million bucks. I am working hard and feeling good about my choices, which in turn causes me to like myself a little more. And I’m continuing to find healthier recipes that I really enjoy! I only have three for you this week, plus one delicious suggestion.

Recipe number one is a stuffed pepper soup. It was AMAZING. And it made so much that we had leftovers for lunches and dinner. Steve really liked this one too so it was a winner all the way around. Winter is the perfect time for soup, and this is a really tasty and hearty one. I love stuffed peppers… but I don’t know if I’ll have made them again now that I’ve tried the soup. YUMMMMM! Here is the recipe. I used ground turkey instead of ground beef because that’s just how we roll in the Combs house. I also used a little less than 3 cups of rice but it was still plenty. I’ll definitely be making this one again… probably this week in fact.

healthy-stuffed pepper soup-soup recipe

Recipe number two was crock pot chicken and rice bowls. Apparently I really like Mexican food. This was also really good. I put some organic light sour cream on and some lettuce and it was delish! I probably won’t make this a ton, simply because I try to not make rice too much, even when it’s brown rice. I wonder how this would taste with quinoa instead? Maybe I’ll have to try that. I also love crock pot meals because they give me the ability to have dinner ready right after work, even when I can’t be home. It’s so convenient. Here is the recipe.

Light-Crock-Pot-Fiesta-Chicken-Rice-Bowls

Recipe number three is a creamy chicken quinoa and broccoli casserole. I am actually going to be making this one tonight, but I’ve made it in the past. I LOVE quinoa and broccoli so this is a match made in heavy. I’m excited! Here is the recipe. This week’s dishes have been a little bit more heavy, but still filled with good things. Quinoa is a super food, and is extremely versatile. If you haven’t used it in your cooking before, I highly recommend giving it a try.

quinoa-casserole

My final tidbit for you is that you MUST try Bark Thins. They are pieces of dark chocolate bark, normally packed with delicious things. My favorite one is the dark chocolate with pretzel and sea salt. These pieces of deliciousness are fair trade and GMO free so I feel like I am making a solid choice for my health and for someone else in the world. Chocolate is one of the most important things to buy fair trade, as the people that work in this market are often times abused. They sell this brand on amazon, but it’s overpriced! I got mine from Fresh Market but they also sell them at my local Kroger. If you check out their website there is also a list of additional places this treat can be found.

bark thinsChanging my lifestyle has definitely pushed me in my cooking endeavors. Like making lasagna and noodles with zucchini and crust with cauliflower. It’s so fun to try new things and find healthier alternatives for the things I love! Happy and healthy cooking to you my friend!

 

Website I got these recipes from:

Six2Eleven

Pinch of Yum

Julia’s Eats and Treats

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Thankful Tuesday

Well folks, I’m bringing back Thankful Tuesday, or at least attempting to do so. This is a pretty crazy season and I have a feeling I will have a lot to write on each Tuesday. I’m excited to share with all of you the ways we see God move as we enter to this season of unknown.

As many of you probably already know Steve and I are moving to North Carolina in 2ish months for him to start PA school at Campbell University. In exactly two months from today we will be done with our jobs and begin the process of packing and moving. I feel equal parts excited and nervous and sad. I’m excited for a new beginning, and a new adventure with Steven. I’m excited to live closer to a Trader Joes and have new places to explore. I’m nervous because we’re starting from scratch! New home, new friends, new church, new job. New new new new new. Lynchburg has been my home for the past 7ish years. I know her well. I know her best restaurants, I know her best walking trails. I know the places to frequent and the places to stay away from. This new town will be so unknown. Which is exciting and scary. I am sad because we will be leaving behind people that have become so dear to us and a house that has absolutely become our home. We are leaving behind a sister and brother, a boss who has become like family, and friends who encourage and support. Leaving all of that is definitely sad. So basically I’m feeling every emotion possible, at the exact same time. WELCOME TO MY LIFE PEOPLE.

All of that being said, this week this is what I am thankful for:

1. 11 pounds lost! HOORAY! I have been working very hard, and the power of God has gone before me, preparing a way for me to say NO to sweets and carbs and every other thing that typically tempts me.

2. A new hair cut and color. Yes I know that sounds vain, but my hair was driving me CRAZY! So a little bit of a short do, and some new fresh color to cover the botched mess that I caused last time, has me feeling like a new lady. Also, I’ve decided I quit using natural and organic shampoo and conditioner… I CAN ONLY BE SO CRUNCHY! I have realized my limit is my hair.

3. A husband who encourages and motivates me on this journey towards healthy living (and in everything else). He also doesn’t hate me when I go through my lady time… so needless to say he’s a keeper for sure.

4. The gym. I legit LOVE going to the gym. I’m not sure who I even am anymore, but I like it. I love the feeling after I have a really good workout. I feel like I can take over the world.

5. Green smoothies. They are another thing that makes me feel like I could take over the world.

6. Pinterest, because I feel like I have the recipe world at my fingertips. It’s so much easier to eat healthy and not get board when you have pinterest.

7. My dear dear friends. They are supportive and encouraging and challenge me in every way.

8. My essential oils. They are the best.

That’s all for this week! Please notice that coffee is nowhere on the list. I have been off caffeine for over a month now. I MISS IT! SO MUCH!

I love you all dearly. We can do hard things. Now it’s your turn, what are YOU thankful for??

Friday Recipe Roundup

HAPPY FRIDAY!! I hope that you have had an amazing week filled with victory. For me this week has felt a little long and there were moments where I felt more tempted to throw in the towel, but God kept giving me the strength and the grace I needed each day to be victorious. I read a quote this week by Lysa Terkeurst this week that perfectly fits what I’m talking about, “One good decision turns into two, turns into three, and eventually turns into victory!” So each choice I made this week, whether it was making healthy lunches at night, or prepping healthy snacks for the week, or going to the gym even when I didn’t feel like it, set me up to be victorious each day!

Ok, now onto the good stuffs. Without further ado…. here is this weeks {deliciously healthy} recipe round up.

Our first recipe is zucchini lasagna. I made this one when Steve and I had family over on Saturday, and it seemed to be a hit all the way around. It had a lot of flavor, and I really did not miss having noodles in it at all. Zucchini seems to just take on the flavor of whatever you pair it with. The recipe calls for ground beef but I used ground chicken because we are not fans of red meat. It was just an all around delicious dish and I would definitely make it again, especially when having company!

Skinnytaste-Zucchini-LasagnaOur next recipe is chicken sweet potato casserole. This one was very tasty, but next time I make it I will not cook the sweet potatoes as long as it calls to or I will cut larger pieces so that they don’t cook so quickly. I will also add more asparagus than what it calls for. Overall this was a tasty dish and I will definitely make it again. It has chicken, sweet potatoes, asparagus and turkey bacon, which was a delicious combination.

sweet-po-chicken-casseroleOn Wednesday I made turkey meatballs with quinoa pasta. I think a lot of the time people put bread crumbs in meatballs, but these are gluten free and used oats instead. They were a little dry because turkey meat is more lean and thus less juicy, but I thought they were still tasty! They were super easy to make and a low fat and low calorie option. If you decide to try using quinoa pasta, be warned! It sticks together. I put olive oil in the water, but it did not help. It was still tasty… just a little sticky. I also made a homemade marinara sauce but I don’t think I’d make it again. It wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t great so I’ll probably try another recipe in the near future.

turkey meatballsMy last recipe for this week is DESSERT and is probably my favorite thing all week. Listen people, chocolate is necessary for a happy life, and this chocolate peanut butter banana milkshake is HEAVEN COME TO EARTH. I aint even lyin. Just ask Steven, and the 15 people I text the recipe to last night. They call it a milkshake, but it has all good things in it. Bananas, natural peanut butter, cocoa powder, organic maple syrup, almond milk, vanilla extract, a little pit of salt and ice cubes. It tasted like I was cheating… but I totally wasn’t. HEAVEN! Just so you know, I would use more milk than the recipe calls for because it was a little thick. Also, don’t leave out freezing the bananas, it makes this treat creamy and smooth and delish. What I made was enough for two people to enjoy. Now stop reading right now and go make this delicious “treat”.

SONY DSCHaving delicious foods like these in my food arsenal makes a lifestyle change so much more manageable. You can eat healthy thing and still eat food that you enjoy. The two things aren’t exclusive. Go forth my friends, and be victorious in all your cooking and lifestyle changing endeavors! 🙂

 

* The above recipes are from:

Mind Over Munch

The Detoxinsta

Skinny Taste

The Voices in My Head

For as long as I can remember I have heard voices in my head. I don’t mean literal voices, but more like the voice of myself and the voice of the Holy Spirit. The first one has always had mean things to say. “You’re fat, look at that stomach, do you see that cellulite.” or “You are a terrible friend and a worse person. You say you love people, but you sure don’t act like it.” or “you are so loud and talkative. Nobody likes opinionated people, you should learn to keep your mouth closed.” I have told myself more terrible lies than I could begin to count. I have defined myself by the ever changing opinions of other people, and I have allowed my self esteem to rise and fall with the number reflected back to me on the scale. When I burn dinner, I am the worst cook. Never mind all the other delicious meals I’ve made. When I say something I shouldn’t I am so inconsiderate. Never mind all the other times I have put my concern for others above my own needs. The extent to which I beat myself up when I fail is not equal to the amount that I love and appreciate myself on a normal basis. Not anymore friends. I’m putting my foot down. The tides are turning. Slowly but surely the mean words I have told myself are being transformed by the truth telling of the Holy Spirit.

I mess up, but I am not a mess up. I wrote those words in my journal and I had to pause to think about what I had just written down. I mess up, but I am not a mess up. What I do does not define or give worth to who I am, the bible tells me so. I am a child of the living God, there is nothing I can do to earn or achieve that. It is a gift freely given and it is where my main identity is found. All the other parts of my life come from the understanding that I belong to Him.  When I really and truly believe this, then my worth and emotions won’t change based on the opinions of people, or the amount I weigh, or whether or not I feel accepted or rejected by people. And it’s happening. I’m beginning to see the change. I’m beginning to speak more kindly to myself. I’m beginning to see that I have intrinsic worth based on the unchanging and unwavering love of an unchanging and unwavering God. I am able to look in the mirror and think, “hey there my old friend, you know you’re doing ok. You have room to grow and change but you’re doing the best you can and that is enough.” I see arms that cook and clean and lift weights and boxes and do hard work. I see legs that carry me to important places. I see each part of my body that used to drive me so crazy and I can say that it is good. It doesn’t always do good, but it is good. Because the bible tells me so. Because God made man and woman in His image and He said that it was good.

Working out has given me a newer perspective about my whole body. I have seen what I am capable of doing, that even my out of shape body with lumps and bumps and cellulite can work hard and push itself. My arms and legs and abs, and even my brain, work together and they do hard things. When I’m done with a good work out I feel like I could take over the world and I look at my body and I am so thankful. For perhaps the first time in my life I am thankful for the body I have right now, not hoping and praying for the possible body I could have some day. And then I get home from the gym, and I’m amazed again. My body whips up dinner, and makes some hummus and some healthy cookies. It chops up lettuce for lunches for the next day and it wipes down the counters. First it worked hard at the gym and then it did it all over again at home. It is a gosh darn miracle worker every day. This body I have, this gift from the one who made me and loves me. I’m typing and thinking and am in awe because HOLY SMOKES! I actually mean all of this. I actually mean that I love this body of mine. And each day that I intentionally choose to love it a little more the mean voice gets quieter and the loving voice gets louder and freedom feels closer and closer.

Friends, our bodies and our minds are capable of so many amazing things. They are good and precious creations. We don’t have to be ashamed anymore. We can tell the mean voice to stick it where the sun don’t shine. Whether we are bigger or smaller, louder or quieter, introverted or extroverted, tall or short, brown eyes or blue eyes, freckled or freckle free, we are gosh darn walking and talking miracles. We make messes but we are not a mess up. We might not always do good, but ooh how the Father sees that we are good.

Go forth friends, sister, brother. Go forth and live and love with abandon in the miracle that is your life.

 

I've been waiting my whole life for this

*photo borrowed from Momastery‘s instagram

The Friday Recipe Roundup

I have always enjoyed cooking, but normally I don’t like to take chances because I’m not actually a skilled chef… I just like food! But once I started this health journey I decided it was time to try some new things. There are some cool healthier alternatives to foods that are normally not so great for you. So I thought i might be fun for me to share my cooking  and experimenting escapades on Fridays. Maybe you’ll feel inspired and try some yourself! Because here’s the thing… if I can do it you DEFINITELY can do it.

Last Saturday I attempted cauliflower pizza crust. I didn’t 100 % know what I was doing, but I got a food processor for Christmas so I thought I’d give it a shot. The crust was pretty good, but didn’t get as crispy as I would have hoped. Also I put too much cheese on it so thus the cheese overwhelmed the cauliflower. So I thought I’d try again with a different recipe. Wednesday I went round two with this recipe, and it was really good. The crust was much crispier and I put on like half the cheese from the first round. Also that recipe made two crusts so it was nice to have left overs to bring for lunches and such.

cauliflower-pizza-crustNext I made cauliflower tortillas for crock pot chicken tacos. I was intrigued and a little skeptical of this recipe because… well… I mean cauliflower as a tortilla? Sounds weird. But I thought I’d give this flour free option a go. AND THEY WERE AMAZING! Seriously, so so great. I will definitely be making these again. And you could probably also use them with Indian food or for a breakfast burrito, really the sky’s the limit. Here is the recipe. You can thank me later.

Cauliflower-Tortillas-More than cooking, I love baking. I have a kitchen aid mixer which makes baking a breeze. But since I’ve been staying away from sugar and flour and such, I haven’t really done any of that. UNTIL I found this amazing healthy cookie recipe on Pinterest. It’s just oats, applesauce, ground nutmeg, bananas, peanut butter, vanilla, cinnamon, ground cloves, and nuts and chocolate chips if you so desire them. These cookies are just divine. They definitely taste healthy, but they are still the perfect way to curb a craving for sweets. I’m going to make more tonight for company we’re having tomorrow… and I also just because I love them. healthy cookiesAnd the final recipe for the week is actually a smoothie! I have one every morning with fruit and three cups of spinach. I saw this recipe a while back from on the Facebook page for Incredible Smoothies. It’s a healthy chocolate smoothie with mango and blueberries in it. Here is the recipe. I halved the amount of mango and blueberries and put in half a frozen banana. It was so delicious and it felt like I was drinking desert for breakfast. Cocoa powder doesn’t have any sugar in it, and very limited fat and calories. I found a fair trade/organic cocoa powder at Fresh Market so I was one happy chic. I love smoothies in the morning because I put a lot of spinach in it and it makes me feel like I am super charging my day from the very beginning.

Healthy-Chocolate-Smoothie

That’s all for this week! I hope maybe you’ll give one of these recipes a try and be pleasantly surprised like I have been, that healthy eating doesn’t have to taste bad! In fact it can be fun and super delicious! May the healthy food force be with you! 🙂

 

**In order to properly give credit to the creators of these delicious recipes, I found them all at

http://www.incrediblesmoothies.com/

www.recipegirl.com/

http://www.jocooks.com/

and http://fancylauren.blogspot.com/

 

 

#healthyme2015

Last month I had a self esteem break down. I had steadily been gaining more and more weight since the summer, and the person I saw in the mirror looked more and more uncomfortable in her own skin. I was mad at myself for not having better self control, and frustrated that excess weight always seemed to be my cross to bear. I felt frumpy and unattractive and out of control of even my ability to monitor the food I put in my body. I was beginning to reach a breaking point, I could feel it coming. I sat in Whitney’s office (my counselor), and I just word vomited all my frustrations and sadness and pain. Whitney explained to me that there is a change cycle, which is basically the steps that one takes to change. The first step is pre-contemplation, and this is where there is no intention of changing behavior. Next is contemplation, and this is where we become aware that there is a problem, but we still aren’t committing to changing it. Next is preparation, where you are intent upon taking action and prepare to do so. Then there is the action step, where are you are actively changing your behaviors. Next is maintenance, where there is a sustained change in your behavior. And finally there is relapse, where you fall back into old patterns of behavior. Whitney asked me where I thought I was. I said contemplation. I was fully aware there was a problem, but I wasn’t confident that I was willing to give up what was required for change to happen.

That night I went home and downloaded a book by Lysa Terkeurst called “Made to Crave”. My friend Leigh had raved about it, and so I decided to give it a shot. Y’all, if you are a female, who struggles with food or your relationship with it, YOU NEED TO READ IT! Seriously, it rocked my world and woke me up. That night I moved to the preparation step. I decided that change needed to happen, and that Jesus would give me the strength and power I needed to make that happen. I decided that after Steve and I got home from our anniversary trip I would make some major changes.

Then we went to NY to visit our family for Christmas. My “in laws” are such fabulous and loving and kind people and I was really excited for our trip and to spend some time with some of my favorite people. I was trying to be more conscious of what I was eating… but it was Christmas. Diet and Christmas are enemies, don’t you know? So all of my in laws are rather trim and healthy, and on Christmas morning we were taking photos together and I looked at one of those photos and instantly felt filled with shame. Not because of my family, but because I just felt huge in comparison. My inner dialogue isn’t always very kind, sometimes I am very mean to myself. And that morning was one of those moments. I went into the room Steve and I were staying in to get changed, and Steven was there and I just broke down. “I am fat babe”. Of course he tried to comfort and assure me that I was not fat, and that I was planning on making changes soon, and that he loved me very much. But that moment was the breaking point that I knew was coming my way. I just knew that I knew that I couldn’t keep feeling the way I was feeling, so I decided that when we returned home from NY I was going to make the changes rather than wait until the after our vacation. It needed to happen. And I knew that I needed to understand that this wasn’t going to be a temporary diet, but instead, in a lot of ways a permanent change.

It’s been about 3 weeks and a half weeks since I started this health journey. I have cut out coffee, added sugar and most carbs. I recently added dark chocolate back in, but outside of that the only sugar I consume is what is found in fruit. I have also added 4 days of exercise at the gym, and it’s the strangest thing… I’m actually enjoying it. I’ve made cookies that are added sugar free, dairy free, egg free, oil free, and flour free… and they were actually quite delicious. I made cauliflower pizza crust… and then put too much sauce and cheese on it… but that’s besides the point! 😉 I am learning how to make changes in my life that are manageable the for long term, healthy, AND delicious. Honestly, I haven’t lost a ton of weight at this point in the game, and when I quit coffee and sugar I had such awful headaches and body aches that I felt like I had the flu. But now I feel so much better. I know that I am doing good things for my body and I think that is reflected in the energy levels I’ve been experiencing. I’ve literally never enjoyed the gym before in my life. But right now I actually have been looking forward to those days. I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO I AM ANYMORE!

My goal for this journey is not to be consumed with changing my appearance and losing weight, but instead to honor the Lord by putting healthy food in my body, by exercising so I am in good shape, and to love myself more and better through the act of loving my body more and better. There are some days where it has been very difficult. Those days when I smell magic juice (coffee) brewing in the cubicle across from me, or when I smell delicious fresh baked cookies. But there was a part in Made to Crave that sticks with me, she talks about how the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us to conquer and be victorious! Anytime I want to reach for a brownie over my carrot sticks I have to think “NO! The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to me to choose that carrot stick!” and it might sound silly to you, but for me it works!

So, I say all of the above to kind of share what’s been going on in my heart/mind/life, but also because I think I’m going to blog about this a little more often, because I doubt I’m the only person that struggles with weight and food. I’ll share the good and the bad and maybe some tasty recipes I discover!

Thanks for reading friends… and sorry this post was so long! But I hope maybe you’ve been able to relate to it in some ways. You are loved… repeat that over and over to yourself.

Love,

Sarah

 

I've been waiting my whole life for thisProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

I CAN DO HARD THINGS

Today Steve and I celebrated faux Christmas. We will be in NY with family on the actual day of Christmas, so we decided to open our gifts to each other today. I have a very sweet and generous husband, and he gave me many wonderful gifts, but perhaps the most meaningful one was my new giving key with my word for this upcoming year. I’ve written before that my word for this past year has been thankful. I keep a daily gratitude journal and wear the word on a key around my neck. As I intentionally practiced being thankful this year, I noticed my attitude begin to change. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect in this practice, I still see the ungrateful monster rear his ugly head in many a situation. But at the same time, I have truly began to see my perspective change.

For example, a few weeks ago I was taking my husband’s car to work. I put the key in the ignition and turned… and then… NOTHING HAPPENED. This wasn’t the first time this had occurred… the first time I was in a turning lane at a stop light. I was put my foot on the gas to go and then the car shut off. So during the second time around my initial reaction was, “WHAT THE HECK?! This stupid car, I’m going to kick it.” But then after a few minutes I thought… “Lord, thank you for letting this god forsaken vehicle break down in the driveway instead of on the road. Thank you for keeping me safe. Thank you for a kind and wonderful boss who will go out of her way to pick me up.” And then we found out that the part that was broken was actually the same one we had just replaced. And that part was under warranty, so we were able to get a new one for free and the company even paid for some of the labor. So I said, “Thank you Lord that this is an inexpensive fix! Thank you for the money to pay for it!” It’s in these moments that I really see the way my thinking has changed. Cultivating a grateful heart has also cultivated more joy and forgiveness and grace. The practice of thanksgiving isn’t always easy or natural, but my life is so much richer when I remember to GIVE THANKS!

So, because of this I decided I would continue with having a word for the year. I thought for a few weeks about what it should be. What area in my heart and life needs some extra attention this year? As I thought about the adventures awaiting Steve and I, I realized what I’m really going to need a lot of is courage. Courage to move to a new town where I don’t know anyone. Courage to change the way I eat and see food. Courage to put myself out there in meeting new people. Courage to begin to pursue dreams. I NEED LOTS OF COURAGE! But I also know there is no magic wand that will just make me suddenly be courageous. I know that just like thanksgiving, courage is something that must be developed and grown intentionally. My hope is that when I am in hard and scary situations where I want to turn around and run in the opposite direction,that I will hear in my head, “Be courageous Sarah! Do not be afraid!” and that I will face my fears head on. I need to remember that I can do hard things that require great bravery, and I can do those things because not only with God give me the courage to do them, but He will be with me throughout it all. So, here’s to a year filled with courage. Ironically enough I approach that thought with trembling and a little bit of fear, because when you ask God to give you situations to grow courage (or thanksgiving), He is faithful to do it.. and honestly that’s a little scary. But I don’t want to allow fear to hold me back from anything. Fear, I’m takin you DOWN!

Authentic Hospitality in a Pinterest Perfect World

In a pinterest world of hospitality, I am learning how to live authentically, not perfectly. I see pictures online of friends gathering together, and there are perfect place settings, with matching plates and crafty centerpieces. And I’m just chillin over here with my mismatched plates, and lack of craft ability and I start to wonder if maybe I’m falling short in my hospitality gifting. I love people, I love welcoming them to my home, and I especially love sharing a meal with them. I think magic happens at the table. For some reason people seem to be more vulnerable with a full stomach. But when I compare my gatherings to other people’s I start to wonder if maybe I’m not doing it right.

But as I think about it more, I start to think that maybe there isn’t one size fits all hospitality. Maybe it isn’t about the state of your house, but instead the state of your heart. Maybe it does’t matter if your plates match or if you’ve cleaned every nook and cranny in your home. In fact I’m beginning to think that actually, messy hospitality is fertile ground for vulnerability. Maybe my lack of spotless floor boards and my full sink put you at ease. Maybe authenticity doesn’t begin in words, but in deeds… or lack of deeds in the case of my floor boards. Maybe it starts with, “Hey, welcome to my life. It’s a mess, but there is a space for you in it!” Maybe it begins with inviting people in, without pretending that we have it together more than we really do. Because I think we’re all big ol’ messes on the inside, barely keeping it together, ya know? And I think when we see that someone else is just living, and inviting us to live life with them in all it’s messiness, it lets us live a little more freely. We look at their  life and we breathe a big sigh of relief and say, “You too? Hallelujah!” I think real hospitality is not about perfection, but instead it’s about community.

My house is a mess. But come on over anyway! I don’t have a perfect meal planned… in fact we’re eating frozen pizza. But it’s Freschetta, so come on over anyway! My sauces are store bought, and if I can burn it… I probably will. Also, sometimes I accidentally put chili powder in chicken noodle soup. Don’t say I haven’t warned you. But come on over anyway! Because to be honest, I’ve tried to fake that whole “host who has it all together” bit, and can I just say it’s literally impossible for me. But I need you to know that there is a seat for you at our table. And I’m saving a spot just for you on our comfiest couch. And we will eat yummy desserts, because that is one thing I can do well, and we will laugh, and we will talk about deep things because small talk isn’t really my thing. Aint nobody got time for that. I want to know you, who you really are. Welcome to my table. You can be yourself here… we all can. Also, try not to hold my mismatched plates against me.

pinterest fail

I Go to Counseling (Day 16)

I go to counseling. This is something I am very open about. I think there is an unnecessary and unhealthy stigma attached to mental health and I think that needs to end. I think that that begins with us being honest and vulnerable. I’m not really sure where this stigma even came from. I don’t get why people willingly to take care of their physical health, like taking antibiotics and pain medication, but they refuse to treat or address their mental health. To me this makes absolutely no sense, at all. Mental health and physical  health are both important. So this is why I go to a counselor. I go to grow and learn and change and love better. I go because my mental health is just as important as my physical health. I go every single week, and when I leave I like myself a little more. And I’m about to say something that might offend you, but I think you should probably go too.

One of my favorite catch phrases is, “we’re all a little crazy”, because well… we are. You might be thinking, “well speak for yourself Sarah” and I’d say, I am …. and I’m also speaking to you. We’re allllll a little crazy (some more than others). Craziness isn’t bad, it is evil, it doesn’t mean we should be locked up with the key thrown away. It just means that we’re human, and we live in a world where entropy exists. In other words, we live in a broken world that is falling apart a little more each day. We live in a world with mean bullies, and flawed parents, and teachers that are apathetic, and bosses who kick you when you’re down. Because of this fact, we each carry around a suitcase filled with baggage. In fact, some of carry around a few suitcases. Life doesn’t always deal kindly with us, but the beauty in that is that we don’t have to go at it alone. There is freedom found in speaking your baggage out loud. My friend’s counselor (who also happens to be my counselor) told her that we’re only as sick as our secrets. That is wisdom right there. Our baggage is only as heavy as what we choose to carry alone. When we share the burden with someone else, preferably someone who is trained to give you helpful wisdom, the burden becomes lighter and we can live freer!

So, because we’re all a little crazy, I think we could all use a season (or a few seasons) of counseling. I bet you think you don’t. You might even be annoyed that I’m telling you that you do. But counseling is not something to be ashamed of. It is not a punishment because you did something bad. It is something that is for your good! I think that God uses counselors to help us unlock our true potential. He has used mine to help me figure out who I am, whose I am, and who I can be. The first step is always the hardest step. But you can do it. I did it, and I never looked back.

How do you feel about counseling? Have you ever been to a counselor before?