Monday, October 15, 2018

A LETTER TO OUR LOWE SYNDROME FAMILY

This month I had the privilege of writing an article for the Lowe Syndrome Association Fall newsletter. This is my letter to all our Lowes families who also walk a similar journey. We are so thankful for you all!




Seven years ago when we raced to the hospital to welcome our 4th child into the world, my gut told me this time it would be different. Even as he was growing in my womb, I just knew something wasn’t the same this time around. 

You probably all have somewhat similar stories and emotions from when you received the life-changing diagnosis. Our Zachary saw his first specialist at 3 days old and it was almost 3 years and countless doctor visits before we received the diagnosis of Lowe Syndrome. I’ll never forget where I was that September afternoon when I received “the call” from the doctor that changed our world. I cried lots of silent tears on the phone while listening to the Genetics Counselor explain the test results and began to learn what was next with a diagnosis like this.

This journey you and I are on as we fight for the best life for our boys is hard. The appointments are endless, the fear of the future is terrifying, and I feel like it’s not going to get easier. Zachary has reached some huge milestones in the past year! He learned to walk around his 6th birthday, made it through a very tough double hip surgery, and is now walking better than ever before! We are so proud of his fight and determination.

While we celebrate the walking and the fact that his eyes and kidneys are currently stable, life seems to be getting harder in other ways. It’s the “other side” of parenting I didn’t understand until now. The language barrier with Zachary not being able to speak is so very hard. The ugly behaviors I’ve feared and known would come are showing up and countless behavior therapy appointments have been recommended. The feeding pump errors, beeps, and wakes me up throughout the night. Are you tired? I’m exhausted. 

But oh the amazing miracles we’ve witnessed in 7 years! Amidst all of the hard things we face, don’t you feel like as parents of a Lowe Syndrome boy that we’ve been given a gift? Who else gets to celebrate as big as we do when our son holds up his head or learns to sit and crawl? You and I get the opportunity to recognize the simple and celebrate the beautiful that parents of a typical child often miss.

Truthfully? I don’t know if I would change a thing. Absolutely, I would love for Zachary to live life the same as other 7 year olds - playing on the playground, reading and writing, having play dates with other kids his age, the list goes on and on. But the joys our son brings each day are massive, and our family of 6 wouldn’t be who we are today without our beautiful Lowe Syndrome boy. Which means I’m thankful for, yes, a difficult syndrome. 

I don’t think I could be as strong as I have been without all of you, our Lowe Syndrome family. With social media as the glue keeping us together, it’s a beautiful thing to have someone who understands just a click away. We pick each other up with a simple Facebook comment, share photos of our beautiful boys, and link arms when this life we live gets really really hard. I’m thankful for each and every one of you!


We’ll get through this. Together!
Friday, October 12, 2018

MY FAVORITE BIBLE STUDY TOOLS



We've all seen the beautifully staged photos with the perfect amount of sun peeking through the window onto an open Bible. There is usually a steaming hot cup of coffee, a vase full of soft pink flowers, and maybe a cozy white blanket nearby. Paints a picture of the perfect morning doesn't it?

If your reality is like mine, that image looks nothing like a typical morning. Even when I get out of bed as early as I wish to, the true reality is that I stumble into the kitchen with a greasy face, my old yet trusty glasses, major bed head, and trust me when I say there's nothing picture worthy over here. I do start the coffee immediately, but I find myself scrolling through Facebook while the coffee brews. I stumble to the overstuffed recliner fully expecting to start my quiet time right away but either my mind doesn't know where to start and I just give up, or I instantly get distracted on my phone and before I know it I need to start packing the kids' lunches and waking everyone for school.

I'm guessing I'm not the only one who has wrestled with the habit of rising early to meet Jesus regularly and wanted to share with you my favorite tools and apps for Bible study. These are my current favorites for stopping the scroll and defeating the "I don't know where to even start" struggle.


1. ABIDE APP


I LOVE this app. When I first downloaded the Abide app I wasn't quite sure. Trust me when I say this is nothing like I was expecting. I begin my morning moments by turning on this app and listening to someone reading/praying over me. The Abide app guides people in Bible truth and personal reflection. I found this app so valuable that I used my birthday money to subscribe.


How do I use it? 
Abide has a new daily meditation/study each day on the home page. While I often will listen to these later, during my morning quiet time I head straight to TOPICS -> MORNING, and I'll select the STREAMING option and listen to a few prayers. There are SO many categories in the topics section to choose from but this is just where I always choose to start and it completely sets my mind and heart to be ready to start my quiet time.

Want to go a little more in-depth on this app? They have GUIDES that are like a daily short study to listen too. I've loved the 30 Day Prayer Challenge guide.

Side note - this doesn't relate to my mornings, but the SLEEP option is amazing. Abide has several Bible stories that are read to you quietly. I love turning these on for my kids when they are falling asleep at night.

2. BIBLE APP + A CHEAP NOTEBOOK



Pretty much everyone knows about the YouVersion Bible app. In fact, I'm sure most of you have it installed on your phone right now. The daily verses, reading plans, and options to open different Bible versions with a single click are amazing.

This is the second part of my morning quiet time. Once I've listened to a couple prayers and set my mind on Christ, I open my study plan and my cheap spiral notebook. I have grown to really love writing out Scripture. If it seems overwhelming, start with a small book like Philippians or Ephesians. I like to use the LOVE GOD GREATLY plans as they have reading plans that take about a month to go through an entire book of the Bible. I write down the verses for the day in my notebook and use the accompanying devotions. This is a super easy way to get started when you don't know where to begin.


Give Scripture writing a try. I'm pretty sure you won't regret it!

3. ECHO PRAYER APP



Prayer is so critical to our walk with the Lord and staying connected to Him. The Echo prayer app has been an essential addition to my morning routine. This app will help you keep track of your prayers, gives you the ability to set reminders to pray throughout the day, and even has a way to share prayers with others. I often cut and paste prayers from the Scripture I'm writing or from devotionals I'm working through - prayers that I want to pray over myself or my family. I like to end my God time scrolling through the prayers and lists of people to pray for that I've saved in my app. Of course, this app isn't for just morning - how awesome that we take our phones with us everywhere we go, which means we have our Bible and prayer app with us at all times to open and use!


I filmed a Facebook Live video this week where I shared more about these Bible study tools and how I use them. You can watch it HERE. If you're curious about Hello Mornings, which is where this whole getting up early and spending time with Jesus got real for me, visit their website. You'll be glad you did!

What are your favorite tools for studying God's Word? I'd love to hear.

Jess
Friday, October 5, 2018

PUMPKIN SPICE OATMEAL


Here's the thing...my husband has hidden talents you may not know about. Peter is amazing in the kitchen and has mad dishwashing skills. He's frequently offering to do the dishes and clean up the kitchen while I take care of Zachary or do other household chores. Yes, I know I lucked out with that guy. 😍 While I could continue to gush about Peter for plenty of paragraphs, instead I'm here to share the most recent Fall recipe that he has been working on perfecting. Peter and I have oatmeal literally every other morning for breakfast. With the Pumpkin spice craze right now, we wanted to make a good breakfast twist on a Fall favorite.


Let me introduce you to Peter's Perfect Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal! 


Yep - we had to get his name in the title. Here's why. Peter said it's finally time to redeem his name. 

For instance - have you seen the Peter Potty at your store? Yep. HAHA! It's a flushable toddler urinal! :) 

Or our most recent discovery that our kids thought was hilarious? 
The new game on Amazon or at your local Walmart - Pimple Pete

So to redeem his name - here is Peter's most AMAZING oatmeal that is PERFECT FOR FALL.

Peter's Perfect Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

"Peter Peter pumpkin eater..."

Shopping List
(Makes 2 servings)
1 3/4 cup water
Large pinch of salt
1 cup oats
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree

Bring water and salt to a boil. Once boiling - add oats, turn down to medium heat and cook for 5 minutes.
While cooking, add spices. With 1-2 minutes left, stir in pumpkin.

Here's our favorite oatmeal toppings:
Nonfat plain greek yogurt
A sprinkle of brown sugar or sweetener of choice 
(Peter prefers brown sugar, I use this sweetener from Trim Healthy Mama)
Nuts of your choice (pecans would be especially tasty!)

Enjoy! And feel free to share this recipe so my husband can have his name remembered for an amazing 
Fall recipe and not toilets or pimples! :) 

Happy Fall, 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Hello July!

How in the world is it July 2018 already? 
For our family, July is filled to the brim with doctor appointments, surgery prep, big decisions with Zachary, major travel for Kaylee and Travis, and I'm sure many hours of fun in the pool! I've kept pretty quiet here and on social media for the past few months not sharing much about our lives - partly because some things have gotten harder and I haven't know if, how, or when I wanted to share. God has also been making it VERY evident that He wants me to get back to writing and sharing, yet I haven't know where to start. I've logged in, opened up the "create post" page, and stared at the blank screen many times without words coming out to fill the page. The video camera that once recorded our days has sat in the same spot on our counter for months. 

All that to say, much more to come. I'm ready to open up a bit again and share the tough stuff, the family fun, the big God moments as we experience them, and hopefully be an encouragement as we walk though the months ahead.


But first, lets set our hearts aright as you and I begin a new month, a blank canvas.

It is the Lord who goes before you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you. Do not fear or be dismayed. - Deuteronomy 31:8
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:7
You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you! - Isaiah 26:3

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. - 1 Peter 5:8-9
You are my refuge and my shield;
I have put my hope in your word. - Psalm 119:114



Saturday, April 21, 2018

Vegan Vampire Juice



I have no idea where that silly quote originated from, but it definitely paints a vivid picture in my mind! My husband Peter and I have been diving deep into educating ourselves on our guts and how gut health affects everything about the rest of our bodies. While I have spent time lately learning from library books and blog posts from doctors and professionals, I have been ultimately reminded that GOD made our bodies complex, intricate, and so very efficient. 

Nutrition, cleaning up our eating habits, and thinking more about what exactly we're putting into our bodies has been our focus lately. We're eliminating sugar, carefully choosing grains, drinking our Pink Drink, taking probiotics and vitamins, daily drinking our Taco Tea, and last week we re-entered the world of juicing!

I would like to take this moment to introduce you to the newest member of our morning routine - Vampire Vegan Juice! (Affectionately named by Peter after it's beautiful blood red color.) Technically our new juice recipe is called Prime Juice and it's taken from one of our new favorite books The Prime but I think I like our name better!

As you can see, we're packing this glass of juice full of veggies and fruits I would definitely not usually get in a single day.




VEGAN VAMPIRE JUICE

Makes 1 serving

1 cucumber
1 apple
1 handful fresh spinach
1/4 head purple cabbage
1 carrot
1 beet
1 lemon
1 inch peeled fresh ginger

Chop the veggies to fit your juicer and drink immediately.

EAT GOOD, FEEL GOOD


Thursday, December 7, 2017

I've Got Some Big News!




We've made a change around here and I'm ready to let you in on a little secret. Honestly, I've been waffling about this change for a while now. Not because I'm not confident it's what we need to pursue, but because of what others may think. I've felt scared and have spent literally months praying and somewhat dragging my feet with making this announcement public. But after MUCH prayer I'm excited to share my news!

The big news! 


Can I backtrack for just a minute? As many of you know, a few years ago I joined Beachbody and began working a side gig selling workout programs and Shakeology. We love the Beachbody products. Love them. And still use them. 

Unfortunately when Beachbody changed their format for selling their programs, it quickly became apparent it wasn't as easy a way to make money the way it had been. I definitely need a side gig that's not only a company we can stand behind with confidence but I also need one that will help us make some money. (Just being honest here.) 

Enter the new health and wellness supplements we started taking. Peter and I immediately fell in love with the vitamins and probiotics and Peter especially started seeing instant results in his health. Consistent health issues he dealt with were pretty much gone right away. We both have amazing energy and sleep incredibly well. We have done our research and are confident these are the best of the best when it comes to probiotics, prebiotics, vitamins, etc.

So here we are. I'm ready to share with you that I'm starting a NEW side hustle and I'm super excited about it. 

What is Plexus exactly? 


Plexus is a health and wellness company with products that focus on balancing the body from the inside out. Once you get your gut health in check, your immune system starts working properly, and your body will thrive! You may have seen people promoting that weight loss is often a "side effect" of Plexus. I'll be the first to say you still need to be eating right and exercising. But when your systems are functioning properly, often people notice:


- better sleep
- improved state of mind
- sustained energy
- stomach/digestive issues diminish
- unhealthy cravings are reduced
- body discomfort diminishes or goes away
- increased willpower over food... and the list goes on!



We have exceptional multi-vitamins, probiotics, omega supplements, as well as nerve health and pain relief products. The testimonies of customers finding relief from a variety of symptoms are endless! Plexus products are PLANT BASED, gluten free, non-GMO, dye free, and free from artificial sweeteners.

I'm literally going to be shaking when I click "publish" on this post. There's been a lot of prayer and wrestling to make the best choice. But here we are!

If you are needing some best of the best supplements to help you be your healthiest from the inside out, I'd love to help you find what would work best for you! I'm just an email or Facebook message away! 

And if you want to see what all the excitement is about, check out my brand new health and wellness website!


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Affordable Gift Ideas for Her

It's the most wonderful time of the year...so they say. Anyone else overwhelmed that Christmas is 3 weeks away? Friends, I haven't even started making lists of names and gift ideas yet. And we haven't set up a Christmas tree! Ahhh! If you have a special person or friend in your life and need a creative, not so ordinary gift, here are some of my top picks for you!




I still drool over this hat on Amazon. Actually don't you think one that says Special Needs #momlife would be awesome? Someone make that for me. Okay?! :) 



This book is so good. I've had the privilege of meeting Kat a few times and have helped with her Hello Mornings online ministry for several years. Kat is simply tremendous and I know you'll love this book. 

In Hello Mornings, Kat introduces a simple yet powerful three-minute morning routine that integrates Bible study, planning, and fitness into a foundational morning habit that fits into every schedule. This would be a GREAT gift idea for any and every woman on your list. 



Okay, this may sound a little strange, but I LOVED doing this foot peel. I rarely ever have time to go to get a pedicure and this honestly was almost better. No, not as great as sitting with nothing to do but get your feet rubbed, scrubbed, and polished, but the end product was just as good or even better.  

Gift one of these foot peel kits and throw in a pair of super soft socks with maybe a book or a candle. Just what the busy and tired mom ordered!



Isn't this necklace gorgeous? I met my friend Tiffany online. She is a mom who has a son with Lowe Syndrome just like Zachary does. Tiffany sells Premier Designs Jewelry and when she posted this photo today, I fell in love and knew I just had to let you all see it too. Isn't it lovely? Check out the necklace and other beautiful jewelry Tiffany sells HERE.



Work with me here. I know this may not seem like the typical gift. But as a mom who puts any extra dollar it seems into sock or shoes or school fees for my kiddos, I would LOVE if someone gave me some health and wellness products. I have no problem with practical gifts I'll definitely use. These are our new favorite vitamins we take every morning.

Make a gift basket with a bundle of vitamins, supplements and throw in a cute water bottle!



With the dawn of the New Year brings the hope of a fresh start. Many people re-think their fitness goals for the new year but another area I love to re-think is the expectancy of a new year in God's Word. I've been drooling over this Write the Word Journal from Lara Casey.

Read this description and I have a feeling you'll fall in love and put it on your wish list too.

"The Write the Word Bible journal is unique. It is a simple way to spend time in scripture. Each journal was created to meet you in the season you're in. Whether you want to Cultivate, Faith, Renewal, Joy, Gratitude, or Hope, each journal comes with a selection of verses that help you grow closer to God in pursuit of each of those things. On each page, you'll get a selection of key verses to write out, along with space to write your thoughts, prayers, or whatever God places on your heart. Use your Write the Word Bible journal in whatever ways you wish! These journals are all about grace and digging into God's life-giving truth."

How about that bright yellow leather cover? Wouldn't this be a beautiful book to gift?!



Okay ladies, have you jumped on the charcoal mask craze? How many of you have watched those crazy videos on Facebook of people trying to peel of a mask and screaming in pain? 

Well...let me tell you! I have fallen in LOVE with this charcoal mask. It has done wonders for my skin, I noticed a difference after one use, and IT WASHES OFF! No terrifying peeling.

My friend Doriann sells it - you should totally give it a try and gift one to a friend. I think it's a perfect present.



So the other day Peter and I were in the car and he said, a little scoffing I might add, "Are you wearing fake eyelashes?" Ha! I immediately laughed and said I wasn't. My eyelashes are actually growing like weeds due to this amazing Esteem Lash Serum a friend I met online sent me. 

Ladies, this stuff is legit! There's no way I'd ever put on fake eyelashes. But my own lashes looking longer and fuller? Yes please!



Happy shopping! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Season with your family and friends!

-Jess



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