Saturday, January 23, 2010

Technology, Dickies, and Dallas Cowboys

Today, I spent the day in "learning mode."  Me + technology usually = disaster.  I traditionally choose to pass on things like instruction manuals, things written in tiny print, and technology related instruction.  And in sticking with tradition, today me + technology = hours of frustration. I love my husband.  Not just because he is a nice guy that insists on wearing Dickies coveralls around the house like a 75 year old man.  Or because he whispers sweet-nothings about these "three sizes too big" coveralls and lovingly says they are no different than wearing a "man's robe" around the house.

Or because in his post-playoff mourning he refuses to take off his Dallas Cowboy house shoes.



No, I love him because he loves technology.  Since Robb loves fancy little gadgets, I usually get to pass all my little high tech projects right on to him.  And thankfully, he's usually itching for a challenge.  But, today, the challenge was all mine.  Some new publishing tools were making me insane, but my "winging it" finally got the job done.  I should have could have called the   help number or done the training available online, but chose to be hard headed and refused to take the easy path of "instruction."  Hours later...the task was finally completed and the results of my hard work and frustration you can find HERE.  I know.  It looks so nice and clean and simple on the page doesn't it? Trust me when I yell  say that it was not as easy putting that together as one would imagine.  Oh well...live and learn.

Despite it all, tonight I noticed something else that Robb is useful for besides technology projects....


Yes, he folds well too!







Monday, January 18, 2010

Unfolding Purpose. Wouldn't life be boring if our purpose in life came all at once?  Sometimes I feel like I want to know all the details at once, but the truth is...that would be just plain boring.  God is the ultimate story-teller.  He is omniscient and His ability to orchestrate life from creation down to the itsy bitsy occurrences in my own personal life truly amazes me.  What is truly amazing is the fact that God cares about the details of my life and yours.  It's the entire reason my blog is titled, "In The Details."  I love watching God be God.  I love watching his plans for my life unfold.  When Robb and I found out we were having triplets, we had a dilemma.  We lived an hour 1/2 from family and had just bought a house.  Robb loved his job and not only was reluctant to leave our new house, but was very upset about the future of his career.  He had no desire to return to that area to pursue his coaching career.  Matter of fact, he told me there were only two schools in the entire area that he would consider.  This was a bit problematic because the Head Baseball coaches at both of those schools had been there for nearly a decade, were hometown boys, and did not seem to be budging.  But, when you are having triplets...you do what you have to do.  And for us, that meant moving home without a job. I wouldn't really call it a leap of faith.  It was a leap alright, but we were both really nervous.  I wanted Robb to enjoy his job.  I did not want him to resent me for forcing him to move.  But, at the same time I had to quit my job to go to bed.  I had not worked since January.  It was May.  And Robb was panicking, because he had a good job and we had just moved.  Despite that, there was another deadline driving our fear level up by the day.  He had until July 1st to sign a contract; either renewing his existing contract or signing something with a school district in our new town.  It was June 1st.  We had 30 days.  We had no idea how this was going to work.  Robb only wanted to work two places.  He had sacrificed a lot that year, and I wanted him to get a good job.  But, realistically, I was not sure how this would turn out in our favor.  But, God had a plan for us.  Not only for our family, but for Robb's career.  God did not forget about him; his dreams, his need to be content with his profession, and his happiness in a very stressful time.  By mid-June, both of the schools that Robb wanted to work for had job openings.  Robb has been a head baseball coach since his very first coaching job.  He had been very concerned about taking a lesser position as well.  But, these two job openings were both Head Baseball positions.  He got interviews with both schools and then he got to pick which place he wanted to go.  God completely had His hand in everything.  The details were worked out.  
Today, as I continue to pray for guidance for the future, God continually shows me that He is in charge of my details.  I prayed specifically today for God to be real in my circumstances, to show me in a real way if the direction I feel He is calling me in is right.  I specifically asked for a word from Him either through a conversation or something in my devotional.  Strangely enough, through a grocery sacker at the grocery store, God answered that prayer.  A heavenly ordained conversation.  A continual confirmation that God still cares about the details.  Sometimes our purpose unfolds.  One step at a time, God works through the details of our life.  He unfolds our life events and pieced together, they are evidence of the magnificent truth that God has been there all along.  I pray that my life brings Him glory and that I am a good steward of His love.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Changes

I've been a little, well, antsy lately.  Are you surprised?  Probably not.  I've been doing a lot of soul searching.  Praying through this "antsy-ness."  One of my personal goals for 2010 is to be more purposeful.   To clarify, I am trying to dig a little deeper in my relationships, my relationship with the Lord, my career, as well as spending more quality time with my family.  Sometimes we get really busy and it seems like we are puppets and activity is the Puppet Master pulling us to and fro despite what we want.  We volunteer, we commit, we try, and yet at the end of the day we can feel a little bit like a puppet on a string.

This year, I am going to read thru the Bible.  I read the Old Testament straight through in college, but have never read the New Testament straight through.  My habits always leave me loitering around Psalm, Isaiah, and Nehemiah...then someone presses the repeat button and I'm back in those books.  I love those books, I really do, but I think it's time to move on.  So, one of my goals is to read it all, cover to cover.  But, I know my tendency to  rush.  I do not want to just check that accomplishment off my list with little thought.  So, I am going to concentrate and not rush, to take in what I am reading, and allow God to speak through those passages.

This year, I am praying about my vocational purpose as well.  I actually really like to work.  I want to be in the career that God wants me in and therefore I am going to be praying hard in 2010 for direction in that department. I have some hunches and some ideas that are on my heart, but I am not going to jump into anything.  Expand, move on, tweak, switch my focus, get out completely; these are ALL on the table.

As far as my blog goes, I have divided things up a bit.  All of my gluten free posts can now be found on blog # 2.  You can find that HERE or you can click the link in my sidebar (look to the right :0).  This will allow me to keep my gluten free information separated from my personal blog.  This way, I can really focus on telling stories and being more "purposeful" with this blog.

Another change, is a new writing gig that I have.  I am now writing for The Examiner.  No need to look yet, my first article is not due until Friday.  I am one of Houston's Gluten Free Examiners that will be exploring the in's and out's of living the gluten free lifestyle.  These will compliment my new blog, but will usually be separate articles.  I am really excited about this new opportunity and cannot wait to get started.  God has been opening up doors for me in the writing department and I am very grateful.  I will hopefully attend my first writer's conference in the summer.  Proverbs 31 Ministries runs a pretty great one at the end of July that I hope to be a part of.  Our church is really working towards a women's ministry as of late.  Matter of fact, this weekend is our first ladies retreat to wrap up our Fall Bible study. P31 offers some classes for new writer's as well as some on leading women's ministry at your church.  Hopefully, I will get a chance to attend both types of classes. And of course a trip to North Carolina isn't a bad thought either!  I hope you will continue to hang around and check out the "details" of my site in 2010.  I am excited to see what God has in store.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 11, 2010

To Be G-Free or Not To Be G-Free



That is the question.

People are constantly asking me if eating gluten-free will make them healthier?
I have honestly not looked into the science behind that question, but do have some good advice based on my experience.
To Be G-Free or Not to Be G-Free....

First of all, if you truly cut gluten out of your diet, then by default you will be cutting out processed foods. Nutrition experts will tell you that cutting out processed foods is going to make you healthier.

I am G-Free by Default...gluten makes me sick (yes, even a speck).

Gluten is a protein of wheat. People often get confused about this idea thinking that gluten is just limited to breads, pastas, and fried foods. Although, all of those do contain gluten, it is also added to everything imaginable. So, if you really want to go G-Free, then be prepared to cook like grandma cooked! Be prepared to not buy: breads, pastas, soups, sauces, mixes, even some meats. Wheat is added to everything. You really start to get a perspective on the percentage of food you are consuming to the percentage of "filler" that was added to bulk up your "food." Take a can of chili for instance...bulked up by oats. If it is processed, it more than likely has wheat in it. It might not read "wheat," but it is probably in there.
So....

From a weight-loss perspective, gluten free can be beneficial.
Think about the way a supermarket is set up. If you shop around the outer edge of the supermarket, you will be buying mostly fresh, nutrient dense foods. When you shop in the middle aisles, you are buying packaged, processed foods. This is a general rule. Where do you spend most of your time? The cereal aisle or the vegetable department? When you are allergic to gluten, by default, you are probably spending most of your time on the outer edge.

So...

From experience, gluten free eating is more pure.
Take out all the chemicals and filler and you have a "living food" versus one that has been processed to death so it can live on the shelf and basically make more money for the manufacturer.

Now...
Since I have been eating G-free, I have also been low in folic acid and anemic. Anemia is something I deal with a lot, but has been further exasperated by my new diet. Now, I have no choice, but to follow this diet, so I have to supplement with a Folic Acid pill and Iron. Wheat is a great source for folic acid and I cannot consume it. So, there are some health benefits to eating "whole grains" that I have to fix in a different way.

Also...
I CAN have rice, potatoes, and corn products. It is a slippery slope. When you have all of those "can't have's" then you tend to substitute. Recently, I have had to really monitor my carb intake because it seems all I eat now is carbs (rice, potatoes and corn). A high carb diet makes me actually gain weight, as it does most others as well. So, if you cut out processed foods, but become a carb junkie, then you probably will not see the scale drop any. If you are diabetic, then I do not know if eating G-Free is best, but I do know that you cannot go wrong cutting out processed foods. Carb overload is something I have to balance. I am kind of a picky eater, so I don't exactly crave vegetables everyday. Probably my biggest addiction since the switch is chips. What do I eat with Tuna? Chips instead of bread. What do I eat for a snack? Chips and Dip usually. So, as part of my New Year's Resolution, I am knocking the chocolate and I am lowering my chip intake. Carb or not, this is what I had for dinner...Gluten Free Lasagna (I didn't say fat free either...and boy was it good)!

(P.S. Don't mind the mess on the side of my dish...this isn't Paula Deen's Kitchen just yet. But, if Santa ever sends me that elf I asked for at Christmas, maybe we can upload some more "presentable" pictures). :)

So...

To Be G-Free or Not To Be G-Free...

You decide.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Gluten Free in Houston

I must be in Gluten-Free heaven.


I must be dreaming because I never remember the gluten-free options being so readily available even as near as a month ago. Have our cries been heard? Have our requests to Santa been answered? Has our desire for a pre-packaged dinner and safe out-to-eat options been delivered to the CEO's of fast food chains and gluten free manufacturers? Wheat may be dead to us, but our taste buds are still alive and very vividly remember the days of old. Our taste buds remember the days of white bread, pastries, and fried foods. Or at least mine do!

Although, the gluten free options are still few and far between...things are getting better. Each time I go to the grocery store I find a new product or two that beckons to be consumed. "Try me! I don't taste like tree bark anymore! I have been refined and tested by real, human taste buds and have been labeled as "decent." So, here are a few new discoveries that have brought a smile to my face and warmed my belly:

Nate's All Natural Taquitos (Cheese and Chunky Vegetable are available). Found at Super-HEB. *I have tasted the cheese and they were excellent. I give them an A+ for taste and ease of prep (they were in the freezer section).

John Soules Foods Fajita Meat (Beef or Chicken). *These pre-cut strips of fajita meat are gluten free and serve 4 per bag. Also, very tasty. Great for tacos or traditional quesadillas.

Conte's Pasta Co's Margherita Pizza with Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil....best gluten/wheat free frozen pizza I have found to date. This tasted as close to normal frozen pizza as I have found. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Texas Traditions Sausage ...many different flavors although Jalapeno & Cheddar is my favorite (can be found at Wal-Mart).

Applegate Farms Uncured Hot Dogs (Beef or Turkey). I am not much of a hot dog eater myself but my picky toddlers seem to love them. No nitrites, no preservatives. Gluten and casein free.

Blue Diamond Nut-Thins - Although I don't crave these plain, these nut crackers make an excellent lunchable. Smokehouse flavor is what I prefer. My mom and sister do like them plain, however, so maybe I am just picky.

Out on the town:

Last week, I ate at P.F. Changs for the first time in several years. Hats off to P.F. Changs for being considerate of those of us who are gluten-sensitive. I have to admit, going in, I wasn't expecting much. I had heard rumors of a "gluten free" menu, but have been disappointed by other claims to G-free menus in the past. They had a very LONG list of gluten free options to choose from. Now, that I live gluten-free I realize that most restaurants could easily offer gluten free options with a few changes in sauces and the way they prepare their food. It would not be that hard, but some restaurants must see the conversion as too complicated or just don't care to convert because it doesn't affect them directly. Obviously, some things just can't be converted to gluten free and still be good to consume. However, a lot of things can be with relative ease if the research were done! Thank you P.F. Changs for taking the time to do so. I had the "Street Noodles" from their extensive gluten free menu. It was rice noodles prepared with gluten free soy sauce, chicken, and shrimp. I have no idea how something so good was gluten free, but it was. It was so nice to have peace of mind while eating out. I am anxious to go back and try their other gluten free options. Street Noodles rock!

Chipotle: I had read in Elizabeth Hasselback's book on G-Free living that she enjoyed their bowls. I second that! I had a bowl with chicken, corn, rice, guacamole, and salsa. Matter of fact, from their allergen warning page information, everything at Chipotle is safe except the flour tortilla. There is soy in most everything, so if you are sensitive to that ...buyer beware!

Jessica

Friday, January 1, 2010

Re-planting My Mustard Seeds

Confusion.


I struggle with it.

I loathe it.

I despise the way it makes me feel.

I am weary of it's burden on my heart.

I even hate the way it makes me act when I have allowed it to have a foothold in my mind.

Maybe it's partially my personality or my inability to sit still in life. I have never been decisive and this year's list of New Year's Resolutions leaves my mind fluttering with just how I will accomplish my goals. I've got plans. I've got dreams; spiritual, personal, and educational dreams. Notice the common denominator there is the "I" word. But, "I" has a family to think about. "I" has the God factor to consider as well. "I" can make resolutions until I'm blue in the face and it will only get me so far. Any time I begin to make "plans" I remember what Proverbs 16:9 says:

"Man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps."

But, then confusion always begins it's work. How far am I suppose to plan? Is the Lord working with me? Am I going the right direction? What about that last time when I failed and I seriously thought I was on the right path then? Maybe I should just freeze. Freezing feels safe sometimes. Sometimes we are suppose to freeze. Sometimes freezing saves our lives and sometimes it takes our lives.

My Goals.

Some readily attainable, others that live under the prayer "if it's your will, Lord." It's the ones that fall into that category that give me the most trouble. These "goals" depend only a little on me and a lot on God's will, His grace, His provision, and divine appointment. These are the resolutions that often breed my foes Confusion, Fear, and Doubt. Who wants to be the "doubting Thomas" of their own life? Shouldn't I at least believe my New Year's resolutions can be accomplished even as I write them down. I mean if I struggle to believe them on January 1st I can only imagine what those mustard seeds will look like by 2011. Maybe I should not try to imagine. And just as I pulled up my computer tonight to put all my frustrations down to a post, my friend Karen had this story published. Go ahead and check it out. I will wait.

I can empathize with the squirrel in her story. Have you ever watched a squirrel as you sped towards it on the highway? Left, right, forward, back darting back and forth unsure of which way to run towards safety. I've witnessed many miracles driving over those things, waiting to feel the bump only to look in the rear view mirror to realize that the lucky little thing made it! Resilient little squirrels, fiercely escaping death and more specifically the pain of my speeding tires

I've also killed a few. Their indecision just got the best of them. And I screamed in horror as I felt the bump and the pain of their imminent demise. Poor squirrels. Some live and some die. Confusion tells me that my goals will end up roadkill. Confusion sends my brain into overload and absorbs all my mental energy. Confusion strategically can keep me from moving forward.

I don't know all the answers. But, I do know that Confusion is not from the Lord. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. And this New Year's, all pending decisions aside, I will re-plant my mustard seeds once again. I will pray over them and wait for God to grow something beautiful.

For more inspiration from my friend Karen you can check out one of her personal blogs here.