Saturday, April 27, 2013

"Confessions of a Sweet-aholic"

Hello, my name is Kristi Benenate and I. Love. Sweets.
My husband and I have now been married three months, and there's one thing he learned quite quickly - I love eating sugar!

It goes beyond addiction. It's more like "religious devotion". Every time I enjoy a delectable treat, I praise God for creating the ingredients that made it possible! It is now a regular part of my worship routine! ;)

I have had this highly developed appreciation for sweet things since I can remember. When I was quite young, I developed an allergy to sugar. Throughout my journey of having to go 4+ years without any refined white sugar, and then reintroducing it into my diet, I have learned some valuable things about sugar as we know it. I have learned that it is possible to have sweet things in my daily diet, while still keeping a close watch on my nutrition and getting twice as much energy out of my day!

Such good news MUST be shared! So here it is: gleanings from my experience!

First, let's talk about sugar. There is wisdom in that old saying "everything in moderation". The very reason I developed an allergy to sugar, is because of the large amounts of the stuff I consumed daily. Not just in the sweet things I adored, but as a "filler" ingredient in almost every food money could buy. The more I had, the more my system was addicted to it.

I learned that God equipped our bodies to absorb nutrients from our food and get rid of the toxins that our bodies don't need. However, when we have the same substance, like white sugar, in every meal of every day (easy to do in America) our bodies become overwhelmed, and are forced to store the extra as fat or quickly flush it out. To make matters worse, sugar has a tendency of spiking our blood sugar, giving us a "high" and then dropping us down in a "sugar-crash", just like some drugs (isn't that a comforting thought)! And just like drugs, sugar is extremely addicting! 
So what are sweet lovers like myself left to do?

Good news! There is an answer! 

So I stumbled upon these valuable answers by accident, and enjoyed their benefits unknowingly at first.

Step 1: Go off of sugar for a while.                                                                                                                                           
You don't have to go 4+ years like I did, you will notice changes in a week (depending on the rate of your metabolism)! And I did not cut out natural sugar, such as fruit, I just cut out the refined stuff. 

How long you go, depends on how determined you are. Cutting sugar out for a week will just barely get you past the cranky withdrawals and help your tongue adjust to a less-sweet diet. Both are great benefits. 

Cutting sugar out for a month will do much more for you. It takes a full 3 weeks for your body to completely flush sugar from your system, and if you go further than that, you will notice your metabolism will start to reset itself. You will start burning stored fat for energy instead of the all-too-available sugar highs you used to run on! 

Most of all, cutting out sugar will slowly enable your body to run on it's God-given energy sources. You will find that without your regular "sugar crash", you will have a more constant rate of energy from morning till night (especially if you drink plenty of water and use natural sources of sugar, like fresh apples or carrots). 

So does this mean you have to reject sugar forever in order to be healthy?! No. But there is wisdom in moderation. After you have purged your system, keep treats occasional - that is why they are called "treats".
         Step 2: Find some agreeable substitutions.
White sugar is not the only source of sweet! There are of course natural sweets like fruit (which will taste sweeter to you after you have been off white sugar for a while), but what about your morning coffee or tea?

I found that without my morning tradition of something hot and sweet to get me going for work, I would not have the will power to stick to my sugar purge. 

Some other sweetener options for beverages or baking are honey, agave nectar, cane sugar or Stevia (an herbal option). Experiment with these in your favorite drinks and recipes and give your will power a boost! Diversifying your sugars is a very healthy habit.

I do not recommend chemical substitutions such as Splenda or other processed sweeteners as they usually end up being worse for you than white sugar. I heard that a few of them never actually digest, but just hang out in your intestines. There is a reason why the sweets God made are better for you - stay natural as much as possible!

Remember: God gave us our bodies and told us to take care of them but He also made chocolate!

So please! Don't stress about how unhealthy your lifestyle is! Take control of what you can, and trust God with the rest (because stress is unhealthy too)!  
(Take a peek at our next post to view a recipe from Kristi.) 

Agave Blueberry Walnut Scones

Here is a great recipe from Kristie not only is it yummy it is healthy for you!

Agave Blueberry Walnut Scones
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups bran flour
2 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons Agave Nectar, plus additional for glazing
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup blueberries
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
3 large eggs
1/2 cup honey Greek yogurt
3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Knead in butter, using fingertips, until well incorporated and mixture starts to clump together, forming pea-sized lumps. Gently stir in blueberries and walnuts until combined. 
In a small bowl, whisk together 3 eggs, yogurt, Agave nectar and vanilla until combined; sprinkle into flour mixture and toss together gently. 

Turn shaggy dough out onto a floured surface, lightly sprinkle top of lump with more flour and gently pat top until it comes flat, handling as little as possible. Form two (6-inch) rounds. Insides of the rounds should be thicker. Slice each round into 8 equal triangles and place on cookie sheets.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks until ready to glaze.

Makes 18 scones.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Corry's Journey

 For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.

 They are plans for good and not for disaster, to 

give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11. 

  My son Corry is pretty much amazing and the journey God has placed him on is  full of promise and hope.  When Corry was in kindergarten he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder (ADHD) and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).  When I first heard this I was not fearful, but yet relieved.  Since he was two years old he always seemed to struggle.  In fact so much that when we attended church I was constantly getting called out of service to come and take care of him.  I would find him either sitting on a chair outside waiting for me, or better yet hiding under a table looking overwhelmed. Then I would listen to his wrong doings by the teacher and my heart would just sink and I would try not to let the tears flow. I felt like a failure as a parent, because I could not get my kid to mind. What looked like disobedience was actually Corry's inability to process all the simulations his brain was trying to process.  The teachers never let me feel that way or gave me to cause to feel that way.  I would let doubt and condemnation come in I loved my church family and as a newly single mom I knew this is where I needed to be.
     We are blessed to have a Christian doctor and when I told her that I did not want Corry on medicine she fully supported my decision. She helped set up some occupational therapy, recommended for him to get some classroom modification for school and music therapy.  All these things really helped Corry and me with his ADHD/SPD.  As a parent I did everything I could to make his life better.  I loved seeing him come out of his frustrated shell and to be able to be in public without feeling overwhelmed.  I mean he still had his moments where if I did not have his favorite style of socks available a meltdown was sure to follow.  One day after a series of rough days, and daily phone calls from his teacher, we were at the store buying laundry soap.  I stopped what I was doing and watched my son.  He was going down the aisle and straightening all the boxes and jugs of laundry soap.  That crushed me, I got to see for the first a little bit what Corry struggled with.  That night I was crying out to God, begging him to take this burden away from him.  God very clearly spoke to me, " No, I gave this to him for a reason.  He will use it to help others like him".  My next plea was, Okay give me the tools to help him".  A peace came over me and I knew in that moment Corry would be fine. 

    It was not until he was in second grade did I talk about medicine with his doctor.  She told me, "I am glad you waited two years before putting him on medicine and we will start it slow and watch how he does with it".  That is exactly what we did and it has been a tool for him ever since.  A way to make it through the school day without melting down or not getting his work done, because he could not focus.  I had gone into prayer about it and God again spoke clearly to me, " If he had a cold, or any type of illness you would provide medicine for him".  It was a hard decision  but with the help of his doctor it was a successful one.  Quick disclaimer:  medicine is not for every kid and it to me should be treated as a case by case situation.  I am not in any way saying if you have a kid with ADHD should put your kid on medicine.  Do you research and if you are a praying person ask God for direction.

Corry and Skyler 

      Now Corry is ten years old full of life, and full of confidence.  He is here with his best friend doing what they do best have fun.  They were supposed to be raking up apples in Skyler's back yard...As you can see they devised a fun way to do this.  As I was driving Corry home from school today he was telling me about his day.  ( I love the fact he still does this!)  When I realized he was telling me something important I focused completely what he was saying. He used to have a friend who would bully him relentlessly so much that I requested that they not be in the same class the following year.  What Corry was telling me was that he was up getting some papers and "Tony" (name has been changed) came up to him and said, "You know Corry, all that bullying I am doing to you is going to affect you one day". ( apparently the two boys classes share certain reading times together.)  Corry responded with, "No it is not, because I am not going to let it".  The teacher noticed they were talking when it was supposed to be quiet time, she asked them about it.  Corry very calmly in front of the whole class told her about the conversation.  She then turned to Tony and said, "You know he is right and Corry I am proud of you".  when he told me all of this I told him how proud of him I was and how much I loved him.  I reminded him he still needed to show Tony grace and always be kind to him.  A year ago Corry would not have been able to do this.  He would have believed what Tony said and not told the teacher.  God has a plan for Corry and I am excited to watch him on this journey God has placed him on.  God has a plan for you and your kids.  If you are a parent with a special needs child just know that they are not disabled they are differently abled. God will give you the strength to endure and press in.  If you have any prayer request about your kiddo's Jennifer and I would love to join you in prayer.  Just leave a first name or initials in the comment box and we will pray for you and your family.
~ Blessings, 

  The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him! Exodus 15:2

Corry and one of his many ways sleeping.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Foundations of Marriage

     Every little girl loves to play dress up. I can remember my friends and I pretending to walk down the aisle when I was no more than four or five years of age and as teenagers dreaming and sharing about whom we secretly admired. Long before I knew who I was going to marry I had my whole wedding planned out. Once our prince enters our life we think only of how wonderful it will be to finally be married and live happily ever after. As a newly engaged woman I would hear people say, “Just wait until the honeymoon stage is over, then reality will hit…”, but in my mind I thought it would always be wonderful and full of romance. After four years of marriage and having two sweet babies I’m pretty sure we are not in the honeymoon stage. My husband is still my best friend and I can confidently say that I love him now more than I did the day we married. We have definitely gone through many trials and disagreements, not to mention that we were complete opposites! The one thing that we did have that was the same was our love for the Lord and for people. Recently we read a book that completely changed and challenged our marriage. The theme alone gave us a totally different understanding of the purpose of marriage. In Gary Thomas’ book “Sacred Marriage” he poses this powerful concept, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?... Wow! I couldn't get through a chapter without seeing how selfish I had been and how critical I had been towards him. I had to stop continuously and ask Brent to forgive me, but it has been a valuable tool to building a stronger marriage. I didn't want our marriage to fail like so many others I had watched crumble. No marriage is immune and safe from failure, but needs special care and protection. Marriage isn't supposed to be easy, just as life is not meant to be easy. Having a successful marriage is hard work, but like anything worth fighting for it has great value and great reward!

     My grandparents were married for 60 years before my grandpa passed away. They had many happy moments throughout their marriage, watching their children grow and become successful in what they enjoyed doing, having grandchildren and great grandchildren. Throughout the years they enjoyed serving in their church family faithfully, helping with summer camps throughout their years, helping those in need, and welcoming others warmly into our family. They worked together in every circumstance and clung to the Lord during the challenges. The Lord is who sustained them and made them so influential as a couple. When I was about ten years old my grandma was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia and at that time they planned on going through three rounds of chemo and hope for the best, but the doctor said with her age and severity of the cancer we would still need a miracle. They prayed for healing and my grandpa faithfully stood by her side diligently serving her in her darkest hour. My grandma’s one request was that she could see her grandchildren grow up, and the One who is our Healer gave her more than what she asked for. She has now seen them all grow up and is now watching her great grandchildren grow. My grandparents were people of faith, who would not give up, and hand in hand walked with the Lord. Someone once told my husband, “A good experience with a bad attitude is failure, but a bad experience with a good attitude is success.”They didn't allow the difficulties they experienced to leave them bitter or hard, but thanked the Lord for all that he did do in them and through them. There is not a single marriage that doesn't go through the struggles of life, but in those times, the Lord uses those struggles to help us grow closer to Him and to our spouse. There is no growth in hiding from or avoiding conflict, but facing it together as this couple can attest to.

   Forgiveness and humility are powerful keys to a thriving marriage. The enemy of our soul is out to destroy our marriage and opening the door of unforgiveness and pride destroys the whole family. As a family, we are to have unconditional love that covers a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8) and chooses to believe the best (1 Corinthians 13). This does not by any means say that we are to let things slide or go

     undealt with, but it does mean that as Christians we deal with the issues that arise and make sure that our relationship with our husband, or wife, is restored. Many couples bail out of marriages so easily in our culture today, whether it be from tragedy, unfaithfulness, financial crisis, “falling out of love”, etc. Recently I read a statistic that forty to sixty percent of first time marriages end in divorce, twenty percent of which are ended in the first five years of marriage! This broke my heart! These things that are most precious and rewarding in life are worth working hard for. In 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, the Lord tells us to, “Watch, steadfast in the faith, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.” We lock our doors, lock our cars, and in many homes have a security system to protect what is valuable. We are to protect our marriages with the same passion. I challenge you today to be watchful and do all that you can to guard your marriage and to not allow your unconditional love for your spouse to grow cold. Stoke that fire! Keep it going and throw those logs into it to keep it strong!

   As women who love and serve the Lord we are given a special enabling grace to serve and love our husbands and family. We have been created to have an incredible strength. Whether we have husbands who serve the Lord with us or those who do not serve the Lord, we are called to be a powerful influence in their life and to help him to be all that God has called our husbands to be. In 1 Peter 3:1-3 it says, “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the Word they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives. When they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.” If you are struggling in your marriage or even just want to have a better marriage pray and search out scriptures to strengthen your trust in the Lord. Ask for help from the Lord and other women who sincerely love the Lord too. It is not our husbands job to make us feel loved or fulfilled ( I know this goes completely against the feminist view in our culture, but the culture’s way is obviously not working!!). We can only be fulfilled and have what we need by turning our lives to the One who created us. We should ask the Lord how we can improve to be a more honorable wife. Please allow the Lord to reveal to you where you can change in your heart toward your husband. Every time I personally do this I realize that I've fallen into the critical thoughts that eat at me….“Why did he leave his wet towel on the floor again?!” or “He didn't load the dishes the way I like them… Grrr.” In the beginning of our marriage I really would say these things to myself and now still have to stop these thoughts before the party gets going. You know these thoughts have a way at stirring up more thoughts. Just tell them to GO…A..WAY! They aren't good for you and deadly to your marriage. As I give the Lord my heart and let him work on me, He helps me to be thankful that my husband DID the dishes, the laundry, and took a shower. If you lose your righteousness, peace and your joy, turn your heart to the Lord and ask him to forgive you for letting those things go and opening the door to sin. According to Philippians 4:13, “we can do all things through Christ”. Even when our marriage comes into trials or hardships, the Lord is there to help you and your husband. He promises to never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). Your marriage will be successful and joyful when you make the Lord the center of your relationship. It will last when you do this. Today I challenge you (whether your marriage is flourishing or struggling to survive) take great care of your marriage and fight for it because every relationship we have needs to be focused on and growing in the Lord. He will show you the way and give you the hope, love and faith to keep going. There is always hope when you trust in the Lord and let Him shape you into the man or woman you were called to be.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Join us on Facebook

Hello Friends and Family, Jennifer and I want to invite you to join us on Facebook.  Our page is called Walking with Him.  This is where you will see updates on the goals that Jenn and I have put in place.  In addition, you will find encouragement and support.  We also would love it if you left us any comments or suggestions.  Blessings to your day. ~Missie

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Overcoming "The Daily's"

     Have you ever gone to bed with your mind still reeling from the busyness of the day and realize you forgot about something important?
     What about waking up and dreading the day because of the "To Do" list that never seems to end?
     Let's not forget about the "Mommy moments" you wish you could do over...

     Can I be humbly honest and say I've experienced each of these, and many more scenarios like them? During this last season, I've been on a journey where I purposely set out to overcome the daily's. You know, those tasks which consume your every waking moment... from dishes, and working a full-time job, Church services, to kids activities, grocery shopping, and Dr. appointments, birthday parties, and ahhhhhh...LAUNDRY! Let me assure you that progress hasn't been overnight, but victory over the daily's happens one day at a time.

     Many of us are familiar with the story of the rocks in the mason jar. The jar representing our time and the rocks represent the things that fill the day.

     I love the visual this story provides with  prioritizing what's important and necessary in each day.
Through this lesson I learned that utilizing my early morning hours was vital, it actually means the difference  between going at the day in my own strength, and trading my wild day for His burden which is light. Matthew 11:30 As I began to get this message in my heart I clung to theses verses:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord, each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.
Psalm 5:3
The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease, Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin a fresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23

   So be encouraged, though you will still have an opportunity to realize you've taken on too much, and those mommy moments will occasionally still occur; by setting out each day determined not to go it alone, your list of daily's will have to "run the gauntlet" for your time!
     Finally, a good friend once shared with me this picture: As you get up each day, Jesus is waiting for you on the couch. He's there, smiling kindly offering to help relieve anything you haven't given to Him already. You get your cup of coffee and smile back, "just a second Lord". Then you remember your days clothes are in the washer, and as you turn on the dryer, you hear the baby awake. You pass by the couch again, Jesus says, "I have something for you today, will you sit with me a few moments"? "Yes, I'll be right back" you say.  After getting the baby and changing the bedding, the phone rings, and the other kiddos are now asking for breakfast. Each time you pass the couch, Jesus is still there...waiting. "I have something for you today" you hear Him say as you scurry around trying to get everything calm so you can join Him. After each task is complete, another presents itself. Will you leave Jesus on the couch? Or will you refuse to let your day begin as Martin Luther said, " I have so many things to do today, I dare not ignore my time with God".