He sings…

 

pexels-photo-586415.jpegI recently came across this powerful quote by Oswald Chambers, which I have held onto over the past three weeks.  The quote is this:

“He does not give us overcoming life.

He gives us life to overcome.”

 Two of the past three weeks have been spent at the Hillcrest Hospital.  Our two-year-old Layah had viral meningitis, and last week Mila, who is six years old, was in hospital with a bacterial infection known as “chlamydia pneumonia”.  Please don’t be alarmed.  This form of pneumonia is by no means linked to the sexually transmitted disease.  Please don’t go and google this either…  I warned you. 

Anyway, Dylan has been sick for over a month and I was then bitten by a spider last week! But, the Cherry on the top, is that little Samuel has an enormous red boil… on his little four year old BUM!

Ok, I am aware that this was a complete “overshare”.  Sorry Mila and Samuel, hopefully they will never find out that I shared this information.  But the honest truth is that I have been going through a winter season- a season of stretching, a season of warfare against the enemy, a season of learning to overcome.

I was asked to speak at a woman’s conference at Rec Road Church in Toti on Saturday and as a result of the place I have been in lately, I prepared a message for these women that was more of a call for us to be strong, resilient “Warrior Women”.  I envisioned sharing about how we are called to grip tightly onto the sword of the spirit and thrust the word of God against the onslaught of the enemy, who the bible says is “like a thief that comes to rob, steel kill and destroy, a roaring Lion who constantly seeks whom he will devour.”

But on Friday evening, the first night of the conference, something incredible happened during our worship.  As we repeatedly sang about the “Beautiful Name of Jesus,” I realised that as our praises rose, something powerful was happening in the heavenly realm.

It became so clear to me that as we were singing about His Beautiful Name, He began to respond with songs about ours…

 In Zephaniah 3:17 it says this…
The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

On Friday night, as our voices merged with the voices of angels, declaring the magnificent beauty of our Jesus’ name, He responded with songs of delight.  Songs that echoed each one of our names.   Our Mighty Warrior triumphed our battles as He sung our names repeatedly.  He sang our names and rejoiced in the love we poured out to Him.  The Lord was pleased with His daughters, His chosen, beautiful ones.

Then as I drove home this scripture from Song of Songs 4:7 began to resound in my head.  The scripture reads:

“All beautiful you are my love, there is no flaw in you.”

As my Warrior King sang my name on Friday night, He sang the names of every woman in that room.  He sang songs of approval, songs calling us to more. He sang songs of destiny, songs of deliverance. He sang the words “all beautiful you are my darling, there is NO Flaw you.”

And so my message to these ladies changed completely. I sat up until 2am on Friday night, preparing a new message, a word derived from the song that I believe our Father sings over every one of us.  The song He is singing, day after day, month after month, year after year, struggle after struggle, victory after victory.

I have not written a blog post for over a year now, but as this revelation burned on my heart, I felt very strongly that this was something I needed to share.  I really believe that God wants us to become aware of the incredible depths of His love that make up the lyrics of His songs which He is singing over you and me.

I believe there are many types of songs that God sings over us, but there are three that I think are important for us to be aware of right now. 

He sings songs of approval

He sings your name

He sings songs that commission

  1. He sings songs of approval…

In John 15: 16 it says: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

I believe that the song on Gods heart for you at the moment is a song of approval.  So often we are driven by an unspoken need for the approval of man. Instagram is testament to this vain pursuit.  Farcical lives portrayed on the screen of a mobile device, lives that hanker after comments and likes that are no reflection of authenticity.  Man’s approval is a lie and cannot and will not ever sustain the soul. 

Social media aside, what about the way we were brought up?  What about the approval we sought to receive from our parents and teachers that altered the career decisions we made?  What about the approval you long for from your spouse, your children, your employers, your friends?  The approval of man is a vain pursuit.

God has a master plan for our lives and as we “double-tap” OUT of the need for human acceptance and stay still for a moment to hear the sound that resounds from heaven, you will hear the lyrics of a song He sings that say, “you are enough”. 

I remember hearing a story by Kayle Mumby about when he went into nature to wait on and hear God.  God spoke to Kayle about the call on his life and was beckoning him to make a commitment to a life of uncomfortable sacrifice, specifically when it came to his incredible prophetic gift.  Kayle believed God say to him that He would confirm His words to Kayle “like no man ever could”.  At that moment, an enormous owl flew out of nowhere and perched itself on Kayle’s head.  He completely freaked out and eventually the owl flew off. 

The next day, Kayle was speaking to a friend and he relayed the story.  In complete awe, the friend went silent and then began to explain to Kayle how his dad, a pastor at their church, had been preparing to speak that Sunday on how the owl is a sign of the next generation of prophets.

I believe God approves of us and that although we may not all have an angelic or owl encounter, God wants us to listen to the sound of heaven that resounds with the words “I have chosen you, you are enough”.  Press into God and be bold enough to ask him to give you an assurance of His approval through His word, through signs, wonders and spiritual gifts. 

In Galatians, it speaks about how our Faith is credited to us as righteousness, and so we have to believe that God approves of us, even when we don’t approve of ourselves. The reality is that God doesn’t need us to approve of ourselves in order for Him to approve of us.  We don’t influence God’s approval of us.  Your negative self-esteem does not stop Him approving.

But if you want change to happen and you desire to walk into the fullness of what God has called you to, your approval of yourself needs to align with His.  You need to see yourself the way He sees you. 

“All beautiful you are my darling, there is no flaw in you.”

He sings2. He sings your name…

I also believe that God sings your name, in Isaiah 45:2-3 it says:

“He will give you treasures hidden in the darkness- secret riches. He will do this so you may know that He is the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.”

When I was pregnant with Layah, before I knew that she was a girl, I prayed for God to tell me exactly what her name ought to be. I knew that He had her destiny marked out for her and that His plans for her would be far greater than what I could ever begin to imagine. Therefore, I did not want us to be the ones to name her. Dylan and I had no name, but we knew Her creator God had one. I was pondering this in the shower one evening and in my mind, I pictured the word “Layah” (I saw this exact spelling) and was intrigued, as I had never seen or heard this name before. I launched out of the shower, simultaneously grabbing my towel and phone so that I could Google the meaning of the name. The name meant “the first flowers of spring”. What was even more awesome was that the very next day was the 1st of September, the day that marks the beginning of Spring. My heart leapt with excitement, I was convinced I was pregnant with a girl. We discovered a few weeks later that she was a girl and so she was immediately named “Layah Joy”.

When Layah was born a friend of my mom’s told me that the ALMOND TREE in the Bible would always produce “the first flowers of spring”. The almond tree produces magnificent blossoms in winter, just before Spring comes and the leaves form. The flowers are white with a delicate pink tinge, soft and fragrant, they break through the bark and cut through a thick wooded seal. In the face of adversity, they break barriers, they push through… they bloom. When I think of this picture I smile, as only an awe-inspiring God, who formed this child in my womb and dreamed about how He wanted her character to be, before time began, knew that she would need to be a boundary breaker! And she is just that… even at the tender age of 2! She is our fire 🔥, our strong-willed child, our fierce one that puts the little boys to shame. She is called to be a flower that breaks through the bark of this world and blooms in a way that is tender, soft and graceful yet undeniably strong.

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God knows your name.

God sings your name.

God loves your name.

Do you know the meaning of your name?

If the meaning of your name is not a positive meaning, then don’t you worry… your name is not yours anyway. You see, if you have given your life to Jesus He adopts you as His own.  You belong to Him and therefore you are given a new name.  That name is “Christian” which means: “Little Christ”, “anointed one”.  Your name is His name.  His name is yours.  Your name is a beautiful name, there is no flaw in it.

3. He sings songs that commission…

I believe that God sings songs that commission us. In Isaiah 42:6-7 he says:

“I am the LORD; I have called youb in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
7to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.

As you close your eyes, hear the sound of heaven erupt as the Father sings songs that call and commission you to a life that is beyond yourself.  To a life that sings songs of deliverance over the depressed. To a life that shines bright as it sings of freedom-  not only personal freedom but freedom for the people you will set free as you walk in forgiveness. It is time to join with heaven and sing songs of deliverance over those that are unaware of the song God is singing over them.

It is time to sing songs on behalf of those that have lost their voices or who have not yet found them.  For the orphans, little children, the destitute, the broken.  May your life song respond to the song of God that declares that “there is no flaw in you” and commissions to catch the wind of his Holy Spirit and drive freedom and breakthrough for others. 

You may be full of flaws, riddled with self-esteem issues as a result of past hurts and lies believed by the enemy?  Maybe your emotional state is like the Cherry family’s past physical state?  Or maybe you are addicted to the dopamine high of social media, on a permanent Instagram search for mans approval?  Maybe it isn’t Instagram, maybe it’s the lengths you will go to be noticed by a man, or a woman, or your boss?  Maybe you have allowed self-hate or even pride to seep in like a meningeal virus or a chlamydia pneumonia?  Or you are holding onto offence; offences that are sitting like a boil on your bum and it’s hard to sit.

No matter what the state of your life and heart is today, God does not look at your mess. Your sickness. Your boils.  When he looks on you he sees the sacrifice of Jesus and His blood shed on the cross to cleanse us from the mess.  He sees the finished work of Jesus Christ that makes you pure and blameless, flawless and beautiful, before the lover of your soul.

Song of Songs 4: 9 & 10 go onto say the following…

9You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes.
10How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!

 

Four ways to make a difference

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Pic by my late friend Andy Carrie (someone who helped inspire my vision).

 2017 is the year to shine, a year for taking no prisoners.  This is your year!

We are notoriously accustomed to entering January charged up and rearing to go.  Our resolutions and goals are noted and our dreams are alive – we intend to change but our plans often remain just that, good plans.  Our lack of “know how”, our feelings of inadequacy or our habits of comparing ourselves to others slowly start to erode our good intentions.  We are left with a sense of disillusionment when we look back, suddenly aware that four months have passed and we’ve become caught in the web of busyness, not having actually achieved much at all.

As a working mom of three little children (with one that still wakes up through the night to be breastfed. Don’t worry, it will stop soon, just haven’t had the strength to wean her!) this feeling is all too familiar.  But this year it is going to be different.

This year I am stirred with not only a dream but a vision.  Inspiring author, Andy Stanley, says: “Dreamers dream about things being different.  Visionaries envision themselves making a difference.” 

This statement for me was a catalyst for change.

The light was turned on when I realised the significance of a vision. The difference between who you are and what you want to be, is what you do, and a vision guides that “what you do”.  What you do to make a difference to not only your own life but the lives of those around you, is the very essence of what will put you in the place you dream of being. My mom has a beautiful saying that she truly lives by – she says “there is nothing more therapeutic to the human soul than to do something for someone else.” (Quote by Nadine Wright)

  1. Find out what dissatisfies you the most. Let this stir you from deep within.

I believe that a vision comes from a place of angst.  It may be injustice, people with unrealised potential, inequality, poor service in your industry, bad creative content, stupid ideas or over-complicated processes.  Whatever it is that dissatisfies you the most – herein lies the key to the vision that will cause you to rise up.

  1. Have a strategy, a detailed plan and a set of goals.

I believe that the recipe to achieving your vision is a combination of a clear strategy (which is a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim), great faith, great connections and a whole lot of passionate prayer.  If you don’t pray, maybe you should try!  Wonderful things always happen when I pray detailed and specific prayers.

  1. Fan your flame of passion

When one is fuelled by passion and driven by a clearly defined strategy one can walk confident, unperturbed by what others around might say.  Passion fuels perseverance, courage and character and these qualities are what you will need when life throws curve balls.

How does one stir up passion?

Surround yourself with passionate people.  Read passionate books.

My good friend of mine says “find ways to do what makes you come alive and make time to do these things, not only on the weekend or when on holiday, but every day.”

  1. Be generous with YOUR gifts

There is a scripture in the bible (Proverb 18v16) that says “a gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.”

Use the gifts you have been given as these are the very tools to unlock the God-given purposes in you.

If you are an accountant don’t dream of being an artist (unless you are gifted at both art and accounting – there are some of those).  Don’t compare and wish for the gifts of another, walk boldly in the talents and abilities that were given to you.

If you don’t know what these are then ask those closest to you to help identify them.  We all have gifts and they are meant to be “given”, not stored up but generously displayed for the world to see.

I think it’s time. Let’s change the world together…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three pleasures of the Upper Highway

We live in the Upper Highway area. The Upper Highway area is a region west of the city of Durban in KwaZulu-NatalSouth Africa and includes the main suburbs of Kloof and Hillcrest, as well as the smaller areas of Assagay, Botha’s Hill, Forest Hills, Gillitts, Waterfall and Winston Park.  The people in this area are generally perceived as being conservative and the area is known for it’s brilliant schools and value for money houses that have large, lush green gardens. With that comes the attraction of families with children.

I have lived in the Upper Highway area since I was about five years old and have watched the area thrive, from being a small village to a booming suburb with bustling developments springing up like weeds in fertile soil.  Whilst I love this area and it’s beautiful people, I have always longed to live in the Cape.  I wrestle with this desire regularly but know that here is where we are meant to be… for now at least.  This week I was reminded of how blessed I am to live here and so I would like to share three simple Highway area pleasures that Dylan and I came to discover for ourselves.

It was our nine year wedding anniversary on Thursday and Dylan made a reservation for us at the very popular  Quo restaurant, situated in a dingy shopping quarter in the heart of Gillitts.  It was here that we discovered pleasure number one- the incredible fresh cherry tomato, anchovy, caper, olive and feta pasta.  I cannot begin to describe (maybe I could but not going try), how delicious this pasta is.  It’s a culmination of fresh, simple ingredients bursting with wholesome, salty deliciousness.  I ordered their tender Pork Belly (which I believe they are famous for) and ended up eating Dylan’s pasta.  The Pork Belly was great but the pasta was exceptional.  Maybe we love it more than other’s would- it reminded us of the times we have been in Europe, particularly Florence, eating food that is fresh and true.

The second treasure I stumbled upon is literally a stones throw from my house.  My friend Des Dales couldn’t believe I didn’t know about the renowned Kloof Park, which is right around the corner from The Kloof High School.  This beautiful park reminded me of being in the English countryside.   There are jungle gyms for the kids, a delightful stream trickeling through as well as benches and tables scattered under the sheltering trees that have stood there for many years.   We visited the park on Friday afternoon, along with every breed of dog you can imagine- dragging their friendly faced owner’s in tow.  Here every dog is known by name, as if the canines and humans are all the same.  The dogs are socialised and approachable, very few are on leads.  Being in the park made me feel as if I had been transported to a place my heart has longed to be for a very long time.  I was so grateful to have met this enchanting little haven, so much so we decided to wake up early the next day and introduce Google (our Beagle) and Salty (our Corgie cross Collie) to some potential playmates.

Third pleasure, which I am sure all of my friends living in this area already know about, is the recently famed Lineage Coffee shop in Hillcrest.  The words “less is more” defines this wonderful coffee destination owned by Craig Charity.  I have known Craig for many years now and I don’t think I have ever met a more passionate man.  He is a man of deep conviction, not only in his faith but in everything he puts his hand to.  Craig loves God and loves coffee.  His commitment to both has resulted in him winning numerous awards and growing his Lineage brand from strength to strength.  As I sip the coffee I am transported back to Monmouth Coffee, which we visited in Borough market in London a few years ago.  This was the place where I tasted my first cup of “real” coffee and was automatically converted into a complete coffee snob.

To those living in The Upper Highway area, I hope that my three simple pleasures will be yours too and that you are inspired to find your own.  To those living elsewhere, may you be inspired to discover… as they say “the grass is not greener on the other side but only where you water it.”

 

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Why I chose no drugs in childbirth

225164_10150178607916891_2588327_nIn response to my previous blog post, a good friend of mine, who is an anaesthetist, asked what my reason behind not taking pain medication or having an epidural when giving birth was?

I have nothing against epidurals at all and in fact with Mila I asked for one.

What happened was, it failed dismally. It only worked on one half of my body and so I was left in agony, pinned to a bed, feeling as if I was being stabbed in the side. I had no ability to stand or control my pain as the midwife kept rolling me from side to side (whilst bringing me gas).  I remember looking at her with a venomous eye and saying, “will I be paying half price for this epidural, or the full price?”

After hours of pain the irritable anesthetist was then called back just before it was time for me to push.  He dosed me with so much anesthetic that when I did push… I couldn’t.  I felt as if I was pushing my eyes out of their sockets and my brain through the top of my head.  My floppy legs felt separated from my body and I had no control. I felt as if the epidural prolonged my labour (labour was 27 hours in total) and after the birth I had to wait most of day with a catheter attached before I could get up and walk.

This experience was what gave me a desire to try it without and to explore the more natural route.  I figured, if I had control over my pain and could walk and breath through contractions then it would be far better… and it was!  Not only that, I believe that the prolonging of the labour as a result of the epidural had a negative affect on Mila at birth as she was completely exhausted and therefore limp when she came out.  The doctor’s had to suction her nose and rub her ferociously in order to get her to cry.

With Sam I chose to go without an epidural and it was quick and seamless. Yes of coarse it was painful, but not nearly as painful as it was when is was localised to one half of me. I also knew that I had to control myself.  I didn’t want to complain or scream through the pain as I had chosen to go without the drugs- it was a decision I had made.  Screaming would ruin the experience for everyone around me and it would be a sign of me loosing control.  As soon as I had given birth, I held and breastfed Samuel for 2 hours with skin to skin contact and then got up and helped Dylan give him his first bath.

So to answer my friends question- I wouldn’t want to go the epidural route again.  The pain of the epidural was far worse than going without it and having control over my body and mind is far more appealing.  There was a sense of peace and calm that came over me as I contrmplated the fact that God made us to give birth this way. Also, if all of our mothers did it in a self- controlled manner then so can I.

My friend said something interesting and that is that she gets the feeling from some women, that their choice to go without pain medication is more of an emotional choice- where they almost want to be seen as a hero (and so they tell everyone and anyone repeatedly that they had no epidural.)  Perhaps someone in their life had placed this expectation on them, that in order to truly be a woman and “earn your motherhood stripes” as it were, they must go the 100% natural route?  Perhaps this is true for some? Who cares anyway?

There are others, who favour the natural route and would prefer to control the pain as apposed to not having control.  I am also lead to believe that epidurals can slow the process down and I really want nothing more than for it to go quickly for the sake of me and the baby.

There is so much pressure or  “mommy guilt” placed on women these days.  An unspoken pressure for one to do things a certain way, right from conception through to when your child is grown- there will always be many different schools of thought.  For mom’s who have caesar’s and epidurals I have enormous respect and admiration for you.  At the end of the day what is most important is that your baby is safe and that it is prevented from being starved of oxygen or placed under distress at birth, for whatever reason.

My belief is that one should go with ones gut. We are all different. What works for some may not work for others.  We are all in this road together and ought to support one another as apposed to judge.

 

Three things to do when waiting to give birth

There is noting that can quite compare to the feeling of utter suspense when waiting for the arrival of your unborn child.  Every cramp, tightening of the stomach and slight wince of pain immediately catapults you into a world of wonder.  Is it now? When will it be and how long will it take?  Was that wee or my waters breaking?  For those who know when the date is set, I can imagine the suspense is as intense as those who have natural birth.

In my current state of pre-natal tension (I am now 39 weeks pregnant with a slowly calcifying placenta), I thought I would offer some thoughts on what one can do to help curb the expectant anxiety of the moment as well as give one strength in the moment.  Perhaps these thoughts will be more helpful to first time mom’s, especially those wanting to have natural birth?  Having experienced giving natural birth twice before, one with an epidural that went wrong, and one without the pain medication, I feel that I am a lot more equipped for what is to come.  I think back to the first time I gave birth and I somehow wish I knew then what I know now.

My thoughts and advice…

  1. Rest now- mentally, physically and spiritually

The term “nesting” has been so real to me, especially now that I am having my third child and running a business at the same time.  It is almost to the point where I have become slightly obsessive and have needed to truly take a step back and “let go”.

I have re-decordated, re-arranged, re-planned.  I have become a drill sergeant when it comes to the routine that Mila and Sam are in and I have not stopped working.  In the past two weeks I have been to bed at 2am on two occasions in an attempt to complete all the work that I have on my plate prior to my little ones arrival.

I was convicted of this obsessive behaviour when my sister approached me with a scripture that rang true.  The scripture she had for me was from Psalm 127 and speaks of how those who “toil and labour, waking early and staying up late, do so in vain as the Lord is the master builder and he is the one who builds the house”.  It then goes on to speak about how “children are a reward from God, like arrows in the hands of a warrior, are children born in ones youth”.

I have realised that all of my attempts to control every detail of my business and life before this baby arrives are futile and that now is the time to step back and to let God “build this house”, as children are the greatest reward.  This baby is a blessing from heaven and whilst I sleep, God will take care of  and build “my house” for me.

After this revelation of the kindness and care of God toward me I am determined to rest.  He longs to bless us and to show himself strong on our behalf.

2.  Take your time

My labour with Mila lasted 27 hours in total.  I did not know what was going on with my body and what to expect.  Contractions seemed to start and then stop and then start again.  I was overcome with frustration and was left completely confused with regard to what was going to happen next.  I remember walking with Dylan to the ATM at 2am, then going for a brisk walk in the pouring rain later that morning, after having been sent home from the hospital because the contractions had stopped.  I timed contractions to the millisecond but as a result only become more and more anxious and exhausted.

With Sam I knew labour would take a while and so I took my time.  I had a sleep, took deep breaths, read my bible and watched the most magnificent sunrise whilst breathing through contractions in the comfort of my own home.  When it was time to go to the hospital I knew it was time as the pain was intense.  It was almost as if in a state of rest and peace I was able to hear what my body was saying.

My mind was focussed and determined and I knew that all would be ok.  I knew that I needed to remain calm and take control.  I used the time to pray over my baby and to expectantly ask God to reassure me of his love and power.  In this state of mental peace my labour process was accelerated and I was able to give birth without drugs and without even a shriek (only a slap to Dylan’s hand when he attempted to massage my back) …and crazy gasps of gas from the gas machine just prior to the delivery.

For those of you who choose to have an epidural or a caesar- this would not be the case but my first experience of a failed epidural, when I had Mila, caused me to choose to go without one when I had Sam.

3.  Relish every moment.

I am overwhelmed at how fast time flies.  Mila will be 5 years old this year and it feels as if I was walking through the rain to quicken her labour last week!  The last five years are like a blur they have gone so fast.

In my longing for this baby to come I am reminded to capture every moment in my mind and heart and not to let time rush by in a haze.  Focussing my attention on the peripheral things of life- like bills that need to be paid and tasks that need to be completed will only rob from this precious, God ordained time.

To all the moms out there who are about to give birth.  I pray for peace over you.  May you rest knowing that it will be ok.  In a state of calm may you be given wisdom and guidance and a surreal knowledge of what it is you should do when the moment of giving birth comes.  May your birth moment be a powerful, awe-inspiring moment.  A moment of rest, joy and excitement, a moment of unprecedented strength and capacity.

Whether you are drugged up for the pain or not, you can do this!

 

 

 

 

 

The wonder of almond milk

About four months ago I became fed up with the way Samuel (my 22 month old son), was in a permanent state of “snottiness”.  He had become accustomed to living with two green stripes protruding from his nostrils and a chest that sounded like it was about to take off.  He had been to the doctor a number of times for an infected chest and at 18 months he was admitted to hospital with bronchial pneumonia and told that he had “chronic rhinitis” (an allergy to dust mites).

It is common knowledge that dairy products are mucous forming but I think that we have become so accustomed to eating dairy that the thought of removing it completely seems far too mammoth a task.  I decided that it was time and I have never looked back.

I have called this blog post “the wonder of almond milk” as I’ve discovered something that has literally performed wonders.  After only one day of taking Samuel off cows milk and placing him on the delicious home made almond milk, my little man is totally snot free.  The recipe (see below) is super easy and fuss free.  It is full of nutrients and digestive enzymes that help one digest the milk properly.  The most rewarding part is that he loves it as it is creamy and delicious.

Lactose intolerance occurs when your small intestine doesn’t produce enough of an enzyme (lactase) to digest milk sugar (lactose).  Normally, lactase turns milk sugar into two simple sugars — glucose and galactose — which are absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestinal lining.  If you’re lactase deficient, lactose in your food moves into the colon instead of being processed and absorbed. In the colon, normal bacteria interact with undigested lactose, causing the signs and symptoms” like the one’s Sam was experiencing.

One of my best friends has a little boy who is extremely lactose intolerant and would, as a result of his allergy, suffer from extreme stomach cramps.  She referred me to an amazing blog.  This tasteful and aesthetically appealing food blog is called “shades of cinnamon” and is where I found my almond milk answers.  I highly recommend that you follow this beautiful food blog!

The post that has helped me was a post called “a guide to soaking and activating nuts and seeds”.

Please see our newly adopted, delicious almond milk recipe below:

 

ALMOND RECIPE

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup of raw, unsalted almonds

5 cups of filtered water

A clean stocking or nut bag

A large jug and high speed blender

1 tsp of salt

1 tablespoon of raw honey (or more if you want a little more sweetness)

METHOD:

Soak one cup of rinsed almonds with the salt, overnight in a jug of water (4-5 cups will suffice).  In the morning blend the almonds with the water in a high speed blender.  Pour the blended almonds through a stocking into a large glass jug.  I place the stocking over the lip of the jug.  The milk left in the jug is your milk which you can sweeten with honey if you wish.  It is creamy and delicious and will last about 3-4 days in the fridge.

I take the pulp in the stocking and dehydrate it in the oven at 50 degrees for about two hours (it’s important not to go over 50 degrees as the nutrients will be destroyed).  I then take the dehydrated almond pulp and put it through my kenwood “mini mill” to make almond flour.  I have made some awesome almond flour pancakes with this flour but of coarse, the flour can be used for making breads, biscuits and more.

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I am of the belief that one should experiment with ones health, in order to find answers that work.  We are all completely unique and so what works for one may not work for another.  It’s about finding what works for you.  If you, or your children are battling with sinus problems and chest infections, why not give this a try?  There’s nothing to loose.

If for some reason you have run out of almond milk and need it before your almonds have soaked overnight, I can recommend a product called “Koko”.  It’s a delicious coconut milk drink found at Dischem and is naturally sweetened.  It is quite pricey and so I only resort to this, or woolies oat milk in emergency situations.  Be warned -the almond milk from woolworths is expensive and tastes horrendous!  It also only contains a minuscule amount of “almond pulp” and a bunch of other nonsense ingredients.

To read more on the health benefits of almonds, click here.  You will be amazed at the incredible health benefits of this “wonder” food.

Enjoy!

A delicious green smoothie recipe, for two (and a half)…

I’ve been asked by a few people to help when it comes to information on healthy eating as a result of the journey I’ve been on, as well as the “searching” I have done.  In response, I’ve decided to share some of the little healthy lifestyle choices I have adopted, on this blog.  To those who have asked, I have a long way to go in terms of being really healthy but anyway, hopefully I can help?

I was recently given the privilege to work on the development of an exciting new health brand, know as Harmonie (which in German means “balance”).  Working with this client has been inspirational.  They have taught me an enormous amount, especially in our time spent unpacking the meaning, purpose and vision of their business in preparation for establishing a name and identity.

In one of our meetings, I asked the question “what do you eat for breakfast?”.  With eloquence and grace, Liesel rattled off a list of green smoothie ingredients that she thought was perhaps “over the top” in terms of quantity but highly beneficial in terms of nutrient value.  This is the kind of smoothie she “throws” together for her family in the mornings.

I retained the information and quickly ran home to give the recipe a try… it was delicious!  I have now adopted this smoothie recipe, along with a few other favourite smoothie recipe’s (I will share them soon), as a part of my morning routine.

After having this smoothie I am left full and satisfied.  I also know that I am giving my growing baby girl (I’m 21 weeks pregnant) all of the nutrients she needs as well.  Oh, and Mila ( four years old) and Samuel (two years old) both love this smoothie too.

In a high-speed blender mix together the following ingredients.  I will mention the benefits of each of these ingredients below the recipe.

SUPER GREEN SMOOTHIE RECIPE

(Serves two – in my case it’s two and a half)

1 teaspoon of barley grass powder

1 tablespoon of coconut oil

2 bananas

1 Avocado

3 dates

1 teaspoon of raw honey

1 kiwi fruit

1 handful of spinach ( mine is freshly picked from my herb garden)

roughly half a cup of filtered water or coconut water (great for adding electrolytes)

Ice (as much as you like)

 

 

THE BENEFITS:

  • Dates: Dates are a good source of various vitamins and minerals. It’s a good source of energy, sugar and fiber. Essential minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and zinc are found in dates. It also contains vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin A and vitamin K.  (taken from Organic Facts Blog).
  • Raw Honey: Has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. It promotes body and digestive health, is a powerful antioxidant, strengthens the immune system, eliminates allergies, and is an excellent remedy for skin wounds and all types of infections.
  • Fresh, raw spinach:   A super food loaded with tons of nutrients. Dark leafy greens like spinach are important for skin and hair, bone health, and provide protein, iron, vitamins and minerals.
  • Coconut oil: The Lauric acid in coconut oil can kill bacteria, viruses and fungi, helping to stave off infection.  Coconut oil can increase your energy expenditure, helping you to burn more fat.  The fatty acids in coconut oil can boost brain function in alzheimer’s patients.  Coconut oil is known to curb hunger and help you lose weight.
  • Avocado: Avocado’s are incredibly nutritious; they contain high levels of potassium; they are loaded with heart-healthy fats and can lower ones cholesterol; they have loads of fibre;  the fat in the avocado helps one to absorb nutrients from plant foods, they contain powerful antioxidants and are a force against cancer.  Believe it or not, they can also aid in weight loss.
  • Banana’s: An amazing source of vitamins, minerals as well as fibre.  They are rich in potassium and great for those doing sport.
  • Kiwi Fruit:  Kiwifruit is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K as well as a very good source of copper and dietary fibre. It is also a good source of vitamin E, potassium, folate, and manganese.
  • Coconut water (or filtered water) Naturally refreshing, coconut water has a sweet, nutty taste. It contains easily digested carbohydrate in the form of sugar and electrolytes (taken from Web MD blog).

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When I start to ponder on the powerful effects of food on our bodies, I cannot help but want to make adjustments to include more goodness in my diet.  The pace of life as a working mother makes it really hard though and so I slip up as a result of poor planning.  I find when I plan well, I eat well and therefore feel well.  I’m sure most people feel the same way?

 

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”- Hypocrites

The easiest cup cakes ever

It was a late Friday afternoon and Mila was begging me to bake a cake.  I decided, in my rather frazzled state, that baking cupcakes would be the quickest and simplest option.  I have a recipe for the easiest cupcakes ever (outside of the pre-mix bought from the shop).

Here it is…

Ingredients: (You’re most likely to have all of these ingredients in your cupboard)

2 Cups of flour

3 t baking powder

125g butter

1t vanilla essence

1 cup sugar

1/2 t salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

Method:

Sift all dry ingredients together. Add the we ingredients. Beat well for 3 minutes with an electric mixer.  Pour into cup cake cups (I didn’t have any so I went without).  Bake at 200 C for 10-15 minutes. Cool and decorate.

 

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I believe that baking and cooking with my kids should be a priority as they learn so much by being allowed to “get stuck in”.  It’s always a huge mess, but who cares I guess…

May you enjoy amazing moments of discovery with your children as you spend time together in the kitchen, loving, sharing and imparting knowledge.

One day we will look back and say “we never knew we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun”…

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Pregnant with swine flu, pneumonia and an insurmountable work-load…

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This was the state I was in two months ago, I was “knocked up” and down (both at the same time)!  This is the reason it has been two months since I have had the strength and capacity to write.

It’s incredible what being so sick, never mind pregnant and unable to medicate myself with anything other than panado (does nothing), can do to ones energy and frame of mind.  It’s taken me over a month to recover but I’m pleased to say that I’m back!  I would like to share my thoughts on what my “winter season” has taught me and hopefully inspire you acknowledge the season you are in without allowing your physical and emotional state to govern your actions and life-decisions.

At this time I felt weak, emotional, self-absorbed and downright pitiful, in spite of the fact that I had just received the most incredible news of a miracle growing inside of me.  I began to question where I was at in terms of running my business as well as my capacity as a mother who longed for rest.  I felt overwhelmed with the responsibilities I had to face with a husband who is not around at the moment (studying an MBA).  I was on the brink of complete burn out when all I needed to do was lift my eyes to heaven and “weather the storm”.

Four things I learnt that I should and should not do in “winter”:

1.  I should avoid making life-altering decisions that could drastically change my coarse- the fog of my emotions can lead me off course.

2. Avoid “venting” and complaining, it causes distress and confusion for myself and those around me.

3. Cover myself in a blanket of prayer.

4. I should make time for rest (something I am terrible at doing), after all it’s great to “sleep in” when the wind is howling outside.

As I look back I am reminded of Psalm 84: 5-6 that speaks about “passing through the Valley of Baka”.  The Valley of Baka is the valley of tears.  It’s the valley we go through that is characterised by fear, doubt, depression and weakness, this scripture gives a new perspective on what we should do when in this place.

5What joy for those whose strength comes from the LORD,

who have set their minds on a journey with God.

6When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,b

it will become a place of refreshing springs.

The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.

7They will continue to grow stronger,

and each of them will appear before God.

In John 16:33 it says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  

The reality for me is that when I look to myself as apposed to God I become disillusioned, I lose perspective and all contentment disappears in my futile striving for something “better”.  It’s in these seasons that we see people let go of their marriages, start adopting self-destructive habits in attempt to gain momentary pleasure, let go of God-given gifts and talents as well as opportunities.  It’s when we allow the winter season to overcome us that we live for the now without the understanding that “this too shall pass” and that summer will come.  We attempt to take control, to “fix the problem” rather that merely surrender to a God who loves us and longs to take us by the hand and reassure us that He overcame it all for us.

There’s a story in Matthew 8:26 that applies to this very state we get ourselves into: verse 23 “Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping (what the heck?). 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”(I can relate to this fear of drowning) 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid ?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.  (Jesus is the one who made it calm)

Im pleased to say that my winter has now passed and life is good.  I have a protruding belly and bum (they get really big the third time around), a holiday booked in December, a great business, a loving marriage and two beautiful children.  I have never felt so full of contentment and vigour.  When I close my eyes and think of Jesus, I see his smile.  The storm did pass and I am stronger for it.

May your valley’s become a refreshing spring and may you be strong.

He is good.

Peace…