Christmas: a story of promise

christmas-promiseWith all the holiday jingle and jangle, it’s easy to get distracted by all the trimmings. But I don’t want to miss Christmas this year. I want to focus on what matters.

I want to read the Christmas story with fresh eyes and renewed perspective.

Will you join me?

Because right now, this is a hard season. I feel overwhelmed. My personal life feels out of control. A reminder of loss, of dreams unfulfilled.

Unfulfilled. Isn’t that how God’s people felt before the Messiah’s arrival?

Promises left unfulfilled. A long waiting period. 400 years of silence, to be exact. Four CENTURIES since the last word of hope that God would send a Savior.

Longing. The people were longing for change. They were desperately awaiting the coming of their King. The One who would change everything. The One who would restore them and fulfill the promises He had made to them.

Waiting. After waiting 400 years, did their hope dwindle? Did they start to wonder if He would ever come? Maybe they had misheard or misunderstood.

What about you? What longing do you have that continues to go unfulfilled? What hope are you still waiting to see fulfilled?

Long waiting periods can be confusing ones. Did God forget me? Will He fulfill His promises? Did I even hear Him right? Did God pass me by while He was busy blessing everyone else? Is He punishing me?

If you are experiencing this, you are not alone. Continue reading

Choose rest over stress this Christmas

Christmas RestI may just go insane. It’s December and I’m already starting to panic.

In a whirlwind, we blew in the door this week after a long Thanksgiving trip with family. Two days of laundry, unpacking, working, meal planning – just trying to catch back up with life. One holiday down, another to go. The clock is ticking and the to-do list is growing a mile long.

It’s December 1st and my house is still full of pumpkins and leaves. No decking the halls, no Christmas tree, no fa-la-la-la-la. The calendar is chock-full of Christmas parties to plan, cookies to bake, cards to order, gifts to wrap, lists to make, stockings to stuff and friends to see.

And what’s that I feel? A little tingling and scratch in the back of my throat?

Ok, my stress is official. How will I ever get the lights strung, the carols sung, or my shopping done if I am sick!?

As if I don’t already have enough to worry about, the guy in the checkout line asked me if I was ready for Christmas. Seriously? It’s the first week of December for crying out loud! But of course he is ready.

I found myself stressing all the way home. The Christmas season seems so short and the days so few. As I pulled into our neighborhood, I found myself suddenly admiring all the beautiful blues, reds, greens, and whites glistening around me. And just when I started to relax and enjoy the moment, I saw it.

My house.

Dark amid the Christmas cheer, sticking out like a sore thumb. With pumpkins on the porch. Another reminder and clear giveaway that I was way behind schedule. Bah humbug.

For some, Christmas may NOT be the most wonderful time of year. Overcrowded schedules, to-do lists, expectations, loss, financial hardship, loneliness, and family drama can make the stress seem insurmountable.

But whatever the situation, I believe we can choose rest instead of stress this season.

I recall with fondness past memories of falling snow, of hot cocoa and Christmas movies, of my husband and I making snow angels like kids in the back yard. Moments when time slowed down and I wasn’t so wrapped up in fulfilling the demands of lists and schedules. A time when less was more, when Christmas was my favorite time of year. Four weeks of magic and romance and good cheer towards men. A season of peace on earth and joy to the world simply because of the amazing gift of grace God gave us in Jesus.

So I want rest instead of stress for Christmas this year. And like all things in life, I believe rest is a choice. It’s not something we just stumble upon in the midst of our hustle and bustle. Rest is intentional. So here’s how I plan to have rest this year: Continue reading

5 Thanksgiving tips for the low fodmap and gluten free

Thanksgiving low fodmap gluten free

Food sensitivities got you down? Don’t let your diet restrict your holiday this season.

Here are 5 tips for planning a delicious Thanksgiving dinner without all the stress on your stomach!

Host for the Holiday

You’ll be surprised how enjoyable Thanksgiving can be when you host in your own home. Overseeing menu planning and cooking in your own kitchen eliminates a lot of food stress. Cooking at home means you can prepare every dish and know EXACTLY what’s in it, eliminating the morning after symptom surprise.🙂 Hosting gives you the opportunity to control the menu and manage how your food is prepared!

Bring Your Own Food

Hosting not an option? Volunteer to bring a few sides you know you can eat. Or if you know the host well, ask if they can make a few alterations to the main dishes. Most people are willing to accomodate if you speak up and inform them of your needs!

Know the Triggers

A holiday centered around food can become a nightmare for those of us on restrictive diets. But it doesn’t have to be stressful! You can avoid the frenzy by knowing which foods are naughty and nice.

For Low-Fodmap followers, here is a short list of popular Fall foods that will and won’t trigger symptoms: Continue reading

Why you must lose your leaves this season

An oldie but a goodie, brought to you from the old archives. Something I need to be reminded of again this Fall!

leaves4

It wasn’t until I moved north that Fall took on a whole new meaning. The charming season now warms a special place in my heart. The very word conjures up memories of apple picking, pumpkin carving, hot cider, and the delicious aroma of Grandma’s pie baking in the oven!

Every year I look forward to pulling out my weathered box from its nestled place in the basement, rediscovering the rustic decor that will soon adorn my home. This year, as I sat down to admire my handiwork, my eye caught a glimpse of the trees out back. Tall and proud, they line the yard with their fiery blaze of reds, oranges, and yellows announcing that summer is officially gone and winter is sure to come.

Soaking in the moment, I was suddenly struck by the irony of it all. The very leaves I admire are actually dying before my very eyes. The thought was…

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Awesome Berry Crisp: a low fodmap recipe

Low Fodmap Berry CrispLamenting the fact that you can’t have apple crisp or apple pie this year? Need to lose yourself in some comfort food after the election week?

While it may not seem very fallish, this crumble dessert takes the cake! I made this batch of low-fodmap berry crisp for myself and my family ended up eating it all. To my amazement, they chose this dessert over apple pie for Thanksgiving next week.

Below is what I came up with after making a few fodmap-friendly adjustments, Continue reading

Hearty No Bean Chili: low-fodmap and gluten free

No Bean ChiliToday, Captain America, Scooby Doo, and Superman visited my doorstep. Not gonna lie, when little miss bunch of grapes rang my doorbell, I about died.

I don’t know who is more giddy, me or the trick-or-treaters. But one thing is for sure. When you’re spending some serious time visiting the neighbors, you’ve got little time for much else.

Like dinner.

Since when did Trick-or-Treating expand to FOUR HOURS? That’s a serious stash of candy, my friends.

If you want more than candy for dinner this week but don’t want to put in the time, I’ve got you covered. We ended this year’s chilly Halloween with a hearty bowl of…you guessed it…weeknight Chili.

Throw it in the slow-cooker and forgetta bout it. Perfect for those busy Fall nights!

Did I mention it’s also Low-Fodmap & Gluten Free?

Usually chili is a no-no on the Low-FODMAP Diet due to heavy amounts of garlic, onions, and beans. But with a few adaptations, you CAN have a happy belly and eat your chili too! Continue reading