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A Baby, A Book, And A Break

Oh Inspired Life Family where have you been? I guess the more accurate question is where have I been. I’ve missed you tremendously. It has always been a delight to meet you here is this sacred space. I thank you for receiving the words of grace that God pours out from His heart, to mine, to yours.

 

A BABY

 

Baby

The last 2 months have been filled with cuddles, snuggles & kisses. Throw in constant diaper changes and being milked like a cow, all the while entertaining my other children since school let out, it’s made for a non-stop flurry of activity. But even in all this, I’ve purposed to SLOW DOWN, to take my own words to heart and EMBRACE THE NOW MOMENT. So I’m savoring the sweetness that a newborn brings to the home and enjoying the raucous laughter that the older children bring. Then mix in some sweet sayings from an innocent 5 year old such as, “Mommy, you need that feet thing from off the TV to get all that white stuff off the back of your feet”, endless fun indeed. Even the 3 year old is giving me plenty to smile about with,

 

“Mommy when I’m a grown up and I have money I’m gonna buy you a lot of stuff.”

Me: “Like what?”

3 year old: “Candy.”

5 year old: “You know mommy doesn’t want candy. She only wants vegetables!”

 

Didn’t I tell you I’ve been entertained? The Lord had been impressing on my heart to laugh more and He has certainly been providing countless opportunities.   I don’t want you to miss out on any of the fun, so come visit me on INSTAGRAM.

 

A BOOK

 

A book & A Baby

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved to write. From poems to short stories to news articles, writing has always been in my blood. I’ve got a degree in Journalism. I’ve known for a very long time that I would one day write books. I’ve drafted plans for several books. I’ve got chapters of several different books living on hard drives and flash drives. Last year I began writing 2 books that I thought would come to fruition this year but the pregnancy last year threw me for a loop.

Early 2016 God told me to put those on hold and to resurrect something I began working on nearly 8 years ago. God has called those dry bones forward and is putting flesh on them. I ask friends that you pray for me as I crucify my flesh so that HIS words can flow freely out of me and onto the page. I feel so ill equipped to write THIS book. But I’m comforted to know God specializes in using ill equipped people.

It is said that a dream without a deadline is a fantasy. With that said, my accountability partners challenged me to “PICK A DATE ALREADY!’ So I’ve got a date to have the manuscript complete. And I’m hiding behind fear so I don’t even want to post the date here. See, this is why y’all gotta pray for me. I’ve been slow to obey with this.  And we know that slow to obey = disobedience.  I would be remiss if I did not point out that OBEDIENCE is one of the three pillar THIS ministry is built upon so I’ve got to take my own mission to heart.

 

A BREAK

 

A Break

Visiting you weekly is something I’ve always enjoyed doing. I never set out to take a a mini blogging break. Each week I pray for you and each week, in my mind, I’ve met you here in this space. I was quite surprised one day when I looked up and realized I hadn’t blogged in over a month. But the break has given me time to focus on my 1st ministry, HOME. But I feel you are family too, so I’ve missed you a great deal. In the event we don’t meet here in this space, I’d love for us to remain connected. You can find on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter. Though my goal is to still meet you here weekly to share from Jesus, to my heart, to yours.

 

So friends, bask in the sun, embrace the now moment and live your days fully inspired.

 

Until next time, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!
Happy to connect with these friends sharing the Good News Purposeful Faith, Titus 2 Tuesday, Grace & Truth

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Taste the Grainbow

With the wide world of grains we have access to, why have we by and large limited ourselves to rice? I invite you to join me as we experience the wonder world of grains. Rice is so yesterday, try a new grain today. Click To Tweet

 

Grains have been the central element, the star of the plate, for many cultures for innumerous years. From rice to quinoa, China to Peru, grains have nourished and sustained peoples all over the planet. If some of these are unfamiliar to you, I challenge you to try a new one this week. Many of these grains can be purchase at a health food store, food co-op, or even your commercial local grocery (though there may be a substantial markup in price). If you have access to a local food co-op, you’ll find these in the bulk bin section. If you’re nervous about trying something new, just purchase a small scoop and it will literally cost you about $2.00 or less. So let’s dive in to our wonderful world of grains.

 

Amaranth

At least 8,000 years ago, the Aztecs in Peru cultivated this tiny grain. Well, it’s actually not even a grain but a seed. It falls into the grain category because it is so nutritionally dense. It is a complete protein as it contains all the essential amino acids, giving it a higher protein content than most other grains, It’s a key source of vitamins and minerals and especially high in iron. Its even gluten free! You can enjoy it sweet or savory. Kick start your day by trying my breakfast preparation.

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Apples and Amaranth

 

Buckwheat

Here we find another seed commonly referred to as a grain. Studies conducted in population that consume a good deal of buckwheat have LOWER incidences of high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Buckwheat is a powerful antioxidant; it’s high in magnesium, manganese and copper in addition to being gluten free. I usually eat mine raw as in my recipe here.

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Raw Granola

 

Bulgur

This is a whole grain true to its name. We read time and again to eat WHOLE grains; well this one here is 100% whole wheat. A great source of soluble fiber, manganese and Vitamin B-6, this grain is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine. Tabbouleh anyone?

bulgur

 

Farro

I love the chewy nuttiness of this grain. While it’s recently been making it way to chic menus lately, this grain has been eaten around the globe for thousands of years. High in iron and fiber, it makes a great replacement for rice. It can be used in dishes from soups to chilled salad. Here’s my favorite way to enjoy farro.

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Farro Salad

 

Millet

If you’ve ever seen “bird seed” you’ve seen millet but this is not just for the birds. While it’s really a seed, again this one falls into the grain category. Used for thousands of years, its even cited in the bible as an ingredient in bread. Good for your heart and insulin levels, try my modern take on a vegetarian classic.

millet

Lentil Loaf

 

Quinoa

 In the last few years, quinoa has almost become a familiar household item. In my home it makes frequent appearances. From salad to soup, I cook up a big batch, then portion out and freeze for later use. Prepared sweet for breakfast or savory as a dinner side, we love it all the same. High in protein, iron, vitamins and minerals this one really lives up to its SUPERFOOD name.

quinoa

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Cornmeal Crusted Tempeh, Sesame Snow Peas & Quinoa w/ orange sauce

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

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Use Your Weakness

Unqualified

Inadequate

Incapable

Weak

 

Some days this is exactly how I feel.

 

In many areas of my life I feel strong and capable. In some areas I feel I can leap tall building in a single bound.

 

Marriage? CHECK

Health? CHECK

Ministry? CHECK

Friendship? CHECK

 

Parenting? WELL…..

 

That’s where it gets a little muddy. Some days I feel weak and inadequate as a parent. I read my bible. I’ve read some really great Christian parenting resources and even attending a few training sessions. In fact, I myself have written and taught an eight-week class on raising Godly children. Yet, in spite of that, I feel this is one area that keeps me clinging fiercely to the cross.

 

As I wrestle with the Lord on this, I wonder, why do I feel unqualified in this area? The answer to that becomes apparent. When I was a child, I had no consistent parenting. In my very early childhood years, my mother was present, loving and nurturing. Around age seven, she adopted some behaviors, which directly affected her ability to care for me. My parents, who had never been married split several years earlier and my father went on a quest to find himself so he wasn’t around. I was often in the care of my grandmother or cousins who cared for me but didn’t “mother” me. In my teens I did eventually move in with my father, but there was a gaping whole in my heart for MOMMY.

 

If I was not mothered, how can I effectively mother?

 

When the enemy of your soul sees a crack in your finish, he attempts to seep his poison in that space. Just last week he tried to play on my weakness. While I feel that one of my greatest areas of weakness is parenting, I KNOW that I KNOW that the Lord has and continues to divinely teach me to parent. There is no question about that. But here he comes spewing his venom. As I’m working on writing a parenting book, birthed out of that eight-week class I taught, this voice says, “Who are you to speak on this? You don’t know what you are doing. You mess up all the time”.

 

When people see me with my little flock and they say things like “Motherhood is your ministry” my flesh prickles like porcupine quills rising because the voice comes again saying, “Yeah but they didn’t see you roll eyes at your kid last night”. But again, I know the truth. I KNOW that the Lord has supernaturally taught me to love, nurture and lead this little flock.

 

TRUTH will always trump lies. And the truth says, where I am weak, I am strong. Click To Tweet

 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

 

Not only am I made strong when I am weak, but God wants to use me, and He wants to use YOU right in your place of weakness.

 

Just like He used Moses. Doubting Moses. Unqualified Moses. Fearful Moses.

 

Moses who was fearful and ran from his staff when it turned into a snake; God told him to PICK UP that very thing and use it as a sign. That very same thing that Moses ran from was the same instrument that would hit a rock to bring water to nourish the people and would part the waters so they could cross on dry land.

 

The very area you want to run in fear, is the very thing God will use to bring a miracle. Click To Tweet And not just for you but for those whom you’ve been called to lead. God wants to use your weakness. He wants to use what you’ve got right in your hand.

 

And along the journey, He will not leave nor forsake you. He’ll be walking with you, talking with you and teaching you along the way. I can vividly recall having a hard mommy day about 8 years ago. I felt the children weren’t listening and that they weren’t doing the things I’d been instructing them to do. The Holy Spirit stepped in and told me, “Go to your room and open your bible.” I obeyed. He said, “Turn to Isaiah 54:13.” I had NEVER read that verse before so I was curious as to where He was leading me. There have been very few instances in my entire Christian walk where He has lead me to a single, exact verse but here was one of those times and this is what it said,

 

All your children shall be taught by the Lord, And great shall be the peace of your children.” Isaiah 54:13

 

What a word of confirmation!

 

God used Moses’ weakness. God used Gideon’s weakness. And God wants to use mine too.

 

So I’m learning to be more compassionate with myself. I’m learning that my weaknesses aren’t flaws I need to magnify but are opportunities for God’s grace to be magnified. I’m learning not to condemn myself when I do make a mistake in parenting. The Holy Spirit is circumcising my heart and uncovering the root of the disease. I’ve tuned into the voice of my negative self-chatter and found its not even my voice but the voice of an imposter. It’s the voice of an overly critical, brutish aunt whose charge I was once under. Under God’s skillful loving hand, I’m learning to grant myself some grace, extend myself some love and nurture the me who is weak and vulnerable.

 

Being weak and making mistakes is part of the human experience. I give myself permission to experience the full range of emotions and partake of the depth and breadth of my personal experiences, knowing that perfect is an illusion.   And parenting is by far not a perfect process. I’m learning to see the beauty in the mess-ups when I take my eye off what I perceive to be my errors and put my eyes on Jesus. He is the best parent ever and loves me unconditionally. And though I have my parental weaknesses, in this He has an opportunity to rise up and show Himself mighty and strong.

 

Yup, in the parenting arena I may be weak but I’m learning that that’s okay. I’m learning that God wants to use my weakness. I’m learning that my weakness is the vehicle that makes me strong.

 

In what area to do you feel unqualified, weak, or inadequate?

 

I count you COURAGEOUS for even stepping up to the plate and being willing to take your turn at bat. You may not always hit a homerun, but you put on your uniform, took the long walk to plate, lifted your bat, and let it fly. Your arms may be weak, but in that very instance, HIS power is made perfect in your weakness.

 

I salute all the weak, inadequate, unqualified souls out there today. Let me leave you with this final thought….

 

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ~Theodore Roosevelt

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

 

Happy to connect with these friends sharing the Good News:

Mommy Moments, #LifeGivingLinkup, Purposeful Faith, Titus 2sdays, Grace & Truth

 

Photo Credit

 

Oh and one last thing, Pastor Steven Furtick has a new book out called Unqualified. In it, he highlights how God uses broken, inadequate people to do great things. Check it our by clicking on the title.

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Aloo Matar: My Childhood Fav

I love my Dad for many reasons. He is wise beyond his years, insightful, resourceful and smart. He’s deeply spiritual, good humored and youthful. One of the things I appreciate most about him is exposing me to many things at a young age. As a pre-teen I was reading the autobiographies of Angela Davis and Malcolm X, in my teens The Isis Paper and Aristotle. From my youth, he took me many places he went: adult business meetings, concerts, to the harbor to skip rocks. These were especially treasured moments because in my early youth, we didn’t live together so I eagerly anticipated him coming to pick me up and take me away for an exciting adventure beyond my housing project.

 

But some of my most vivid memories are of us dining at Indian Restaurants.

 

To this date, Indian food remains my favorite. Out of my love for Indian food, I’ve read COUNTLESS Indian cookbooks and even declare I have an Indian Aunty that taught me to cook breads (though we’ve never met. I highly recommend you visit my Aunty Manjula by CLICKING HERE).

 

This is the first Indian dish I taught myself to make. It is the second meal (after spaghetti) that I taught my daughter to make when she was nine years old.

 

Aloo means potato and matar peas. This is a kid fav because it is creamy, mild and a little sweet. Aloo Matar Click To Tweet

 

Based on regional differences, some make the gravy by blending the tomatoes; some add different creams such as yogurt, ground cashews or coconut milk. So here’s my take on Aloo Matar. This dish also won me a special place in my husband’s heart. It was one of the first meals I cooked for him and to date is his second favorite meal of all time. At the time he was a serious meat eater but with this good home cooking, he soon became a vegetarian.

 

Aloo Matar

 

16 oz green peas

12 oz potatoes bar boiled & diced (about 3 medium potatoes)

8 oz tomatoes diced

1 large onion diced

2 cloves garlic minced

1 tbsp grated ginger

8 oz coconut milk

½ cup water

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp coriander

½ tsp chili powder

 

Aloo Matar 4

 

Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger cook additional 2 minutes. Add spices and cook 1 minute. Add tomato and cook 2 minutes. Add potatoes, coconut milk and water. Cook about 5 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Lastly add green peas. Cook just a few minutes more. You want peas bright green and just tender so be careful not to overcook. The heat from the pot is really enough to cook the peas. Serve with basmati rice or naan or paratha.

 

Aloo Matar 5

 

Enjoy!

 

Aloo Matar 2

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!
Happy to connect and share with friends at Plant-Based Potluck

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Eating Clean in 2016!

As a foodie, I’m always on the hunt for new, exciting dishes to prepare. After cooking day in day out, 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year, the recipe roundup can get banal. To keep that from happening I challenge myself to make at least 2 new recipes per month. Even if it’s a familiar staple like carrots, I love learning new ways to prepare them. In my house we typically go a month without eating the same thing twice for dinner. That just works for me as to not get bored or discouraged with my commitment to eating clean. By no means am I suggesting you eat something different every night of the week, I’m simply stating keep it fun and tasty.

 

Some of the new recipe ideas go over well and are incorporated in our rotation. Others are scrapped not to be tried again; and those are usually not because of taste but because they are just too FUSSY or time consuming to prepare.

 

As a busy mom of 5, I like making dishes that tantalize the taste buds yet are accessible and give a good return on investment for the time and cost to prepare.

 

With that said, at the end of last year I began cooking through two new exciting Vegan cookbooks. While I do not ascribe to a particular dietary title (you can read more on that HERE), we do eat 85% plant-based foods in my home.

 

You ever pick up a cookbook whose cover is oh so inviting? Then you flip the glossy pages and the dishes cause you salivate? You proceed to bring the book home with lofty ideas of cooking ALL the dishes only to find that they are too fussy, too complicated, or require eccentric out of reach ingredients?

 

Well my friend that is NOT the case AT ALL with these two books.

 

If you’ve committed to starting your New Year focusing on your health, these plant-based recipes will not disappoint. They will delight your taste buds while nourishing and honoring your temple.

 

Here’s some of the fun I had cooking my way through Nom Yourself by Mary Mattern & Happy Healthy Vegan Kitchen by Kathy Patalsky

 

Nom Yourself

 

Nom Yourself

 

I started following Mary on Instagram a few months ago because her pictures were so inviting. With every picture I thought, “I would eat that”. So I had to go pick up the book and give the recipes a try. The #1 new dish in my home for 2015 came from this book, Sesame Tofu Tacos.

 

Sesame Tofu Tacos

Sesame Tofu Tacos

Her Jambalaya, Tortilla Soup and Buffalo Cauliflower Mmm, mmm, good.
 

 

Happy Healthy Vegan Kitchen

 

Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen

 

1st of all, the burger on the cover just draws you in. My 11 year old exclaimed, “Mommy we HAVE to make that!”

 

I’ve been following Kathy for a few years now via her blog. Check it out HERE. Tons of great recipes. So as soon as the cookbook came out I knew I had to get my hands on it. I feel like Kathy is my cooking twin. The flavor profiles she conjures together are so similar to mine. I think our shared love for warm/cold salads is what virtually bonded me to her forever. I’m so proud of the work she’s doing in sharing her love of eating clean while keep in delectable and exciting.

 

From Spicy Peanut Soba Noodles (yay I keep most of these ingredients on hand daily) to Kale Salad to Gingerbread Bundt Cake this book is chock full of yum to help you maintain your clean eating goals in an exciting, tantalizing way. Oh and what I most wanted to make, the Peanut, Tofu, Kale Black Rice Bowl.  How I’d been waiting for a reason to cook this black rice that was just sitting in my pantry. No boring tasteless steamed broccoli here.

 

So what are your plans to ensure you’re eating clean in 2016? Click To Tweet Do tell. I’d love to hear it.

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

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This Christmas

“Duhn duhn dunna-na, shake a hand, shake a hand”.

 

This song does it to me every time. Donny Hathaway’s version of This Christmas is a holiday staple that can be heard in most African-American homes. But this song takes me back to ONE Christmas in particular. The year was 1990. I was 16 years old and it was the first Christmas that my Mother, my sister and myself were together again.

 

Finally.

 

Back together again.

 

After years of separation, years of pain, years of deep hurt, not only were we together but my mother was thriving. She was sustaining her sobriety, had regained full custody of my sister and was residing in a rooming house awaiting the rental of a townhome.

 

It was in this rooming house, in our one little 10×10 room that I had the best Christmas ever. This rooming house where we shared a kitchen and bathroom and all other common spaces, a rooming house filled with men, no other women and surely no other families but we were happy. In fact, my sister was so happy, she vomited. I can clearly remember her smile, the toothless grin full of cheer. I had just braided her hair the night before and she was oh so cute!

 

We had a tiny tabletop tree, soulful Christmas tunes played in the background and love permeated the atmosphere.

 

This Christmas.

 

This is the Christmas that I remember most.

 

These are the memories that I cherish and hold dear.

 

I don’t remember the gifts.

 

I don’t remember what we ate for dinner.

 

But I do remember the love that was shared.

 

The Christmas that followed was special too as it would be the last Christmas I’d ever have with my mother.

 

“And this Christmas will be a very special Christmas for me”.

 

It was a special one indeed.

 

Friends I pray that where ever today finds you that your heart will be filled with love joy, and cheer. I pray that you will be purposeful in embracing each moment, as we do not know what the future holds. Even if you are grieving, even if you are bitter, even if this year isn’t wrapping up as you envisioned, there is still reason to rejoice.

 

THIS moment finds you with your heart beating, with your pulse steady, with a measure of good health and with the never-ending, immeasurable love of Christ.

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

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Tips For Maintaining Weight Over The Holidays

Many reports suggest that people gain from 7-10 lbs during the holidays. How can you ensure that you don’t fall into that group? Simply follow the tips below. Honor yourself by honoring your body. Everything you consume either contributes to or detracts from your health. I encourage you to choose well. To help you in choosing well, here are some tips for maintaining your weight over the holidays.

 

First Things First

Schedule your exercise for the first part of your day so it doesn’t fall to the mercy of the extra holiday errands you’ll probably be running. Picking up food for the office party, a gift for the hostess, Christmas shopping; these extra errands can cut into your time and before you know it, the whole day is over and you haven’t exercised. Author and blogger Ann Voskamp says “Word In, Work Out, Work Your Plan” in that order.

 

Don’t Skip a Meal

Skipping breakfast and lunch so you can really throw down at dinner? No. Don’t self-sabotage. You need to adequately fuel your body for optimal energy and performance throughout the day.

 

Make it Count

If you’re consuming calories, make them count. Why waste a significant portion of your caloric intake for the day on empty beverages like alcohol, soda, cider and eggnog? I LOVE eggnog but I don’t love what it does to my body. Your average cup of eggnog has nearly 350 calories and 19 fat grams! So I have to exercise self-control and stay away from the stuff. I’ll save my calories for the small treat that I’ll allow myself to enjoy.

 

Portion Control

On most round dinner plates there is a ridge about 2 inches in from the edge. Your food should be contained within that inner circle. But most of us fill the plate to the very edge. To prevent overeating, we can exercise portion control by eating off of a salad plate instead.

 

 Be Selective

Does EVERY item present need to be on your plate? For Thanksgiving I’m going to be selective. I am indifferent when it comes to stuffing so I’m not even going to put it on my plate. Rice pilaf and mashed potatoes, well I could eat those anytime and they aren’t my favorites either so I’ll pass on those too. Again it’s about making those calories and fat grams count.

 

Beware Of The Sneaky

Oh the sneaky calories that can catch up on you when you aren’t paying attention. You are standing around chatting at a party and each time the hors d’oeuvres come past you grab some. Pretty little phyllo purses filled with goodness, fried little somethings, wrapped little somethings, cheese and crackers, all manner of spreads and dips…and before you know it, BAM! It isn’t even dinner and you’ve consumed enough fat and calories that equate to a dinner.

 

Wait Before Having Seconds

After eating it takes the brain 20 minutes to register that you’ve eaten. So before you go for that second plate, wait a while. There are also times we mistake thirst for hunger so while you’re waiting sip some water.

 

It is my prayer that by following these tips you’ll maintain your weight over the holidays and not feel the guilt or weight (no pun intended) of carry around those extra holidays pounds. If you remain steadfast, you can enter 2016 feeling great about your choices and perhaps won’t have to have the proverbial LOSE WEIGHT New Years Resolution.

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been inspired to live fully.

 

Photo CreditPhoto Credit

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Thanksgiving Menu

Greetings this Wellness Wednesday Inspired Life family. Have you finalized your Thanksgiving Menu? I thought I had mine complete then my sweet hubby added a few things so my list is growing. Thanksgiving is such an exciting day in my home. My children are uber excited at the thought of eating in the formal dining room and having some of their favorites that I make exclusively for Thanksgiving. They are all laughing and squealing with delight over the “BIG FEAST” as they call it.

 

Thanksgiving is the one time of year where I grant myself some leeway in the fat and calorie department. It’s the one time of year I use real butter and bake macaroni and cheese. Just the thought of it nearly has me salivating. So what’s on your menu? Are you making any secret family recipes? Please let me know in the comments. All of the recipes I’m making except for the Gingerbread Cake are from my head. A few I’ve jotted down and posted here on Inspired Life. For the others, I’m linking recipes that come close to what I’ll conjure up. One day I promise I’m going to write a cookbook. At least for my children’s sake, I need to move the recipes from my head to paper. One day…..

 

But for now, let the Feast begin. Oh by the way, did I mention this is a vegetarian menu?

 

Thanksgiving Menu 

 

Breakfast

 

Considering all the eating I’m planning to do later, I’m going to keep it tasty & satisfying yet light and filling all at the same time. My favorite smoothie will start the day the right way.

Apple Pie Smoothie

 

 

Lunch

 

Dinner will be around 5 but I won’t starve myself until then. Nor do I want to do too much grazing or nibbling on dinner before the actual dinner. Since I eat a salad nearly everyday for lunch, I’ll stick with my surefire routine.

Spinach Pear Salad

 

Dinner

Mmm…is all I can say. Will next Thursday please hurry and get here? The cooking will actually begin on Wednesday. Wednesday I’ll wash and chop all veggies. I’ll also make the Lentil Loaf, desserts and bake the cornbread for the dressing.

Lentil Loaf 

Macaroni & Cheese

Cornbread Dressing

My sweet Aunt Linda has entrusted me and only me with her secret recipe. I can’t divulge her secrets but here is a recipe that captures the general essence of her secret dish.

Stuffing

My 1st born who is now 11 discovered this recipe 2 years ago and she’s been making them for Thanksgiving ever since.

Maple Brussels Sprouts

Everyone in the house likes Brussels sprouts. In fact, we had Brussels for dinner last night. We just change them up a bit for Thanksgiving my adding maple and walnuts.

Orange Glazed Green Beans

Sauteed Kale

Sweet Potatoes

Whipped Butternut Squash

Cranberry Sauce

Dinner Rolls

 

Dessert

Apple Crisp

Vegan Gingerbread Bundt Cake

Every year I make one new thing. This is the 2015 new item. I’ve been happily cooking my way through Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen. I wanted to make this cake sooner but decided to save it for this special occasion. I know it will have the house smelling divine. Now to be able to restrain everyone from eating it before Thursday will be the challenge.

 

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

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My Favorite Post: The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done

As I’m celebrating my 1st Blogiversary, I’ve spent this week reflecting.  I started the week with What I’ve Learned In A Year Of Blogging.  I’ve revisited the most popular post of the year, which was a surprise to me, I Have Faith Issues. So now I’d like to share with you my personal FAVORITE post of the year.  This is one that is extremely close to my heart.  It is the thing that has me in the trenches daily.  It is the thing that keeps me fiercely clinging to the Cross.  And before I stepped into that arena, I would have never imagined it would have been so challenging.

 

Parenting.

 

So here is a peek into my heart, my mama heart, as I candidly share on The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done.

 

Recently I got a phone call that took me by surprise.

Someone dear to me is pregnant, expecting her 1st baby. She’s experiencing many of the typical 1st trimester symptoms: fatigue, nausea, heightened emotions and the like. It was an honor for me to share words of wisdom from my personal experiences, having walked that road a few times now.

 

Kiss Baby

 

I am the mother of 5 fantastic children. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10. Yup those are their ages; every year for the last 11 years I’ve been pregnant or nursing a baby. 2014 was the year that broke my baby streak (actually I did have a baby in 2014, just not one from my body. On October 25th of this year, my business Inspired Life was born).

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Five children.

 

I never imagined I’d be the mother of 5. Kingsland Party of Five as my cousin calls them. When I was a child, I had typical childhood fantasies of having a fine husband, driving a nice car and living in a big house. My parents were never married and of the families in my neighborhood finding a MARRIED couple was like finding the mate to that sock you’ve been looking for, for 2 years now. My vision of this perfect family included 2 kids, a boy and a girl of course. I don’t even know where that boy/girl thing began and the fact that it still lingers today is even more ridiculous as well meaning family, friends, coworkers and even strangers commented after I had 1st a daughter, then a son, “Well you’ve got your girl and your boy, so you’re done right?” People say interesting things they don’t really ‘think’ about. They just repeat what they’ve heard.

 

While being a parent is proving to be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences I’ve ever had, it is is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Siblings Reading

For some, work may prove to be one of the most difficult things they’ve ever faced. I feel like, with a clear set of performance expectations coupled with my talent, knowledge, skill and ability, I can meet and even exceed an employer’s expectation. Work, I can handle that.

 

For some marriage may prove to be one of the most difficult things they’ve ever had to face. Joining forces with a person who may have had a different upbringing, values, cares, likes, and interests can evoke trouble. Even something as simple as how your spouse squeezes up the toothpaste to hanging their towel (or lack thereof); differences in marriage are not always easy to navigate. My husband and I met when we were freshmen in college so essentially we’ve grown up together. Through constant communication we have been able to create a beautiful union and I look forward to growing old together. So in marriage, I feel like when the expectations are clearly defined and both parties have committed to executing their duties, marriage works.

 

For others it may be dealing with a relative, an overbearing mother or an absent father. These familial relationships can bring about their own drama causing one to feel like being a relative is the hardest thing they’ve ever done.

 

Employee. Wife. Relative. I feel like those roles I can execute with a pretty certain degree of success.

 

Parenting on the other hand…well, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

 

The role of a parent is vital to the health and success of our world. The parent is the child’s… Click To Tweet It is the parent’s responsibility to steer, direct and lead their children. In the infancy stages, though fraught with sleepless nights and sometimes unexplainable cries, meeting the needs of the baby are pretty straightforward: fed in a timely manner, kept warmed and comforted, nurtured, kept dry, and soothed, baby will generally be well.

Pond discovery

Parenting with purpose to raise children that are responsible for positively contributing to making this planet a better place to live is a tremendous undertaking. Then stir the pot mixing in different gender, personality, proclivities, likes, dislikes, and temperaments and the stew is then indeed a mixed bag. But just as my African Peanut Stew I had for dinner last night was a mélange of vegetables, spices, beans and more, it came together to create magic on the tongue, my children will stir up their gifts to make this nation a better place.

 

And it is in being purposeful and intentional in learning each individual child and ministering to the heart of the child that the hard work ensues. It is in discovering that my 3rd born needs words of affirmation and my 4th born physical touch in order for them to truly feel loved is where it gets hard because those things didn’t readily show themselves. They didn’t carry a banner or poster or verbally tell me “Mommy, this is what I need”. It took careful observation and listening to discover.

 

It’s the hardest thing when your child is rejected by peers at school and part of you wants to go to the school seeking vengeance saying to yourself “See, this is exactly why I always considered homeschooling”. Part of you may remember what it was like to be rejected as a child and you may even still be crippled by that thing and as a result unable to even help your child move through that issue.

 

It’s the hardest thing when you know you’ve consistently taught them values such as caring, respect and honor then a child who came out of your body acts in a way completely opposite of what you know you’ve taught. You may feel ashamed, embarrassed. It’s hard.

 

But in the midst of the hard stands tall and erect: TRUTH

 

And the truth says:

 

~Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
 
~For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
 
~These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9
 
~All your children shall be taught by the Lord, And great shall be the peace of your children. Isaiah 54:13

 

Mommy of 5

 

So be encouraged fellow parents. While it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, it is also the best decision I ever made. In my 1st pregnancy a male hairdresser shared a nugget of wisdom that has stuck with me all these years. He told me, when you give birth to a baby, you are giving birth to your authentic self.

 

It is through having my children and parenting with purpose that I’ve come face to face with myself. All of my strengths as well as my shortcomings have floated to the surface and must be addressed if I am to parent from a place of wholeness.

 

BTW, my childhood fantasy came true. I’ve got me a fine husband, a nice car (if you call a minivan with 220,000 miles on it a nice car) and a nice size house AND my girl and my boy plus another girl and another 2 boys. Blessed beyond measure and that makes the hardest thing I’ve ever done worth it.

 

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates. Psalm 127:3-5

 

P.S. When my future leaders grow up to take their rightful place in society, my husband and I will take the opportunity to fulfill some of the items on our bucket list: Bora Bora, Greece, Tahiti, San Tropez…Can you tell we like the beach? Maybe I should say I like the beach.

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Praying you joy filled days of parenting with purpose.

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

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Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

It’s that time of year.  Leaves changing, chill mornings and frost on the grass.  So it’s only fitting to bring on the pumpkin recipes.  These are a staple in our home.  Not to mention I always have the ingredients on hand.  Bring the smell of warmth, fall and the holidays into your home by whipping up a batch of these Vegan Pumpkin Muffins.

 

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

 

2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

1 Tbsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

1 cup Turbinado (or other unrefined sugar)

1/2 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1/2 tsp. Nutmeg

1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger

1/1 tsp. Cloves

1 1/4 cups Puréed Pumpkin

1 chia egg*

1/2 cup Nondairy Milk (I use almond milk)

1/3 cup Neutral flavor Oil (I use Coconut)

2 Tbsp. Molasses

1/3 cup Golden Raisins (optional)

1/3 cup Chopped Walnuts (optional)

 

*chia egg=1 tsp ground chia seeds + 3 tbsp water whisked together

Preheat oven to 375°F and lightly grease a muffin pan.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, and spices. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, chia egg, milk, oil, and molasses. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix. Spoon the batter into the muffin pan, filling each cup to the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

(P.S. We ate the muffins so quickly I couldn’t even get a picture 🙂

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!