Thanksgiving Thorns




“Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as she pushed against a November gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like a spring breeze. Then in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease.

During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose annual holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come. What’s worse, Sandra’s friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to a maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. Had her friend lost a child? No! “She has no idea what I’m feeling,” thought Sandra with a shudder.

“Thanksgiving? Thankful for what?” she wondered aloud. For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life but took that of her child?

“Good afternoon, can I help you?” The shop clerk’s approach startled her.

“I… I need an arrangement”, stammered Sandra. “For Thanksgiving.”

“Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the Thanksgiving Special?” Jenny saw Sandra’s curiosity and continued. “I’m convinced that flowers tell stories, that each arrangement insinuates a particular feeling. Are you looking for something that conveys ‘gratitude’ this Thanksgiving?”

“Not exactly!” Sandra blurted out. “In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.” Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when Jenny said, “I have the perfect arrangement for you.”

The shop door’s small bell rang. “Hi Barbara, let me get your order” Jenny said. She politely excused herself from Sandra and walked toward a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses. Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped…there were no flowers. “Want this in a box?” Jenny asked.

Sandra watched for the customer’s response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers!?! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed.

“Yes, please, it’s exquisite” Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. “You’d think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn’t be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again” she said as she gently tapped her chest.

Sandra stared. Why so normal a conversation about so strange an arrangement? she wondered. “Uhh,” stammered Sandra, “that lady just left with, uhh… she just left with no flowers!”

“Right… I cut off the flowers. That’s the Special… I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet.

“Oh, come on, you can’t tell me someone is willing to pay for that?” exclaimed Sandra.

In spite of herself, Jenny chuckled. “Do you really want to know why?”

“I couldn’t leave this shop without knowing. I’d think of nothing else!”

“That might be good,” mused Jenny. “Well,” she continued, “Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling very much like you feel today,” explained the clerk. “She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she was facing major surgery.”

“Ooooh!” murmured Sandra.

“That same year I had lost my husband,” Jenny went on, “and for the first time in my life, I had to spend the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel.

“So what did you do?” asked Sandra.

“I learned to be thankful for thorns.”

Sandra’s eyebrows lifted. “Thorns?”

“I’m a Christian, Sandra. I’ve always thanked God for good things in life and never thought to ask Him why those good things happened to me, but when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask! It took time for me to learn that dark times are important. I always enjoyed the ‘flowers’ of life, but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God’s comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others.

“Sandra sucked in her breath as she thought about the very thing her friend had tried to tell her. “I guess the truth is I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God. I don’t know if I can be thankful yet for the thorns in my life” Sandra said to Jenny. “It’s all too… fresh.”

“Well,” Jenny replied carefully, “my experience has shown me that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember, it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love. Don’t resent the thorns.”

Tears rolled down Sandra’s cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on resentment. “I’ll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please” she managed to choke out.

“I hoped you would,” said the clerk gently. “I’ll have them ready in a minute. Then, every time you see them, remember to appreciate both good and hard times. We grow through both.”

“Thank you. What do I owe you?” asked Sandra.

“Nothing; Nothing but a promise to allow our Lord to heal your heart. The first year’s arrangement is always on me.” Jenny smiled and handed a card to Sandra. “I’ll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you’d like to read it first.”

It read:

“Dear God, I have never thanked you for my thorns. I have thanked you a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to you along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of your rainbow look much more brilliant.”


Written by: George Matheson


Organic Fruits & Veggies for $11/week

I try to eat healthy.  I know the benefits it has and how much more fluidly our systems function when our body gets what it needs (digestion, nervous, reproductive, immune systems, etc…).  BUT when my husband and I sat down and recalled the number of fruits and veggies we had actually eaten the day before, we realized we weren’t getting the 5 of each that we should be.  

On days that we did, I noticed I was eating repeated things.. 2 apples, 2 spinach salads, etc.  I wasn’t getting a variety of nutrients.  When my good friend told me about Juice Plus and how the capsules were powders of 17 fruits and veggies that were organically grown and broken down with minimal heat, I was jealous.  Then I was scared that it’d be a million dollars and not worth the cost, but I was wrong.

It comes out to $11/ week.  When you consider buying that and the TIME it would take to juice it with a juicer (to retain all the enzymes and phytonutrients that the capsules keep intact) it was such a steal of a deal that we ordered some ASAP.  It’s been my pre-natal ever since and my daughter Ella asks for her ‘bi-min’ (vitamin..her chewable) multiple times a day.

I love that it’s whole-food nutrition (not synthetic vitamins), that it’s researched and proven safe for pregnancy and for infants, and that the company has tons of research studies to back up how it improves your health. see research here Their protein powder is vegan, nutrient-dense, and is my best friend in the afternoons, when I’m starving and want chips and salsa and cheese, but instead can make a smoothie that fills me up and nourishes my growing baby.   (listen, some days I eat the salsa & cheese.. but at least it’s not every day)
Now, what about our babies?!… (even if they’re older children 😉 )
Am I the only mom that stresses about how poorly my child eats on some days??
Do I try to get as many fruits and veggies onto her tray as possible and ‘gently force’ her to put them in her mouth and swallow?  yes.
Are there days when she won’t touch a single thing bc she doesn’t feel like it but my pediatrician says “that’s just toddler eating for ya”? YES.

Kiddos get sick an average of 6-8 times a year.  Getting all the nutrients a child needs from healthy foods won’t prevent sickness completely, but it’s proven to help their bodies be better equipped to fight off infections or viruses.  Juice Plus does a Children’s Health Study and these are the current findings.  After taking chewables:

70% kids were eating less fast food & soft drinks, & drinking more water
66% were visiting the Dr less (because of stronger immune systems)
60% were eating more fruits and veggies (parent’s report they actual crave more)
60% were missing fewer days of school

My daughter isn’t old enough to be going to school or eating fast food, but I will say that when she (rarely) gets sick, she fights it quickly and it is always mild.  Before we started Juice Plus, that is something I had heard from several mom friends, who’s toddlers were on the  chewables: they saw a noticeable difference in how often they got sick and how much shorter the duration was when they did.    Lastly, but just as important, we love that there isn’t add junk in them:

Check out my website HERE for some additional info about the adult capsules, children’s gummies or protein powder and let me know if you have any specific questions about one of the best investments our family has ever made.

Baby #2!

Dear Ella,

You’re going to be a big sister!!!

I haven’t written {or done much of anything} in these last several months because of how sick & exhausted I’ve been.. but I wanted to write about finding out we were pregnant.. and how we told daddy & how we dressed you in your cute Big Sister shirt. 🙂  Such SWEET memories for me..  I love thinking back to it, even though it was only 4 months ago.

Wellllll, you were conceived in London {olympics 2012!!} & so we decided to keep the international tradition alive & your baby brother/sister was conceived in Croatia!!!    Just joking about the tradition.. we obviously had no control over that.. but God is funny for allowing it to happen that way & we are so grateful for His timing & plan for our family.

Daddy left Croatia a week and a half before us & I found out I was expecting after he left.  I kept it a secret until we saw him in person, in the Denver airport.   I put you in your Big sister shirt (that we had gotten in San Antonio) & I gave you a {cleaned} pregnancy test that I had taken that said ‘pregnant’ on it!   Daddy didn’t notice your shirt right away, but when I told you to ‘give daddy his present’ & you handed him the stick, he was so surprised! & ecstatic!  And then he noticed your shirt.  It was so sweet & exciting!!!

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About 2-3 weeks after that I started to get sooo nauseous, way more than I had been with you.  Your daddy was so gracious and selfless during the next few months because he was basically a single dad in the evenings & weekends.  He put up with lots of rotisserie chicken, frozen pizzas and sandwiches for dinner.. and he didn’t say a word about how messy our house got. I napped every single day when you would nap.  And some days still felt like I was hit by a train when you’d wake up.. so I’d prop up pillows for you in my bed and you’d watch Frozen or play games on my phone.  It was a season, I had to keep telling myself, and it was ok.  I was just thankful for a healthy pregnancy.

Aside from the nausea, it’s also been hard for me to not be exercising.  Thankfully, around 16-18 weeks I stared feeling less sick so now will start to work out again, gradually.  We visited San Antonio a few weeks ago and I got sore from walking up the stairs in their house.   So sad & horrible & embarrassing.  Haha

But YOU, my love bug, have been amazing.. so sweet, so good, no tantrums.. you’re just clingy/needy/sensitive, but I think that’s your personality.   I try to hold you extra and get on the floor with you lots and play with you whenever you want.  I know my time with only you is ticking by quickly & I want to look back & know I treasured it & loved on you the best I could.  {oh my gosh, that makes me emotional!!!! to type… I pray that Jesus doubles the size of my heart, so I don’t have to share my love over two babies}

back in August, playing at the park with daddy:  Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset IMG_1547 IMG_1545

The 8 week apt is one of the most wonderful times:  hearing a heartbeat & realizing that this is really happening.  Bless your heart, you were clueless about what all the excitement was about, but we were overwhelmed with joy & thankfulness:


Your B-day is 4-15-2013.. & this baby’s due date is 4-13-2015.  haha.. so it could be the exact numbers, just mixed up.. OR you could share a Bday with each other.  So crazy but awesome!!

We announced the pregnancy after my 12 week apt.  We had taken some fun pics when we went into the mountains to see all the leaves changing colors.  Colorado is so beautiful in the fall.

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You are going to be such an incredible big sister!!  I love how you’re already caring for & loving on your baby dolls… I can’t wait to see how the Lord equips you for your little brother or sister.

I love you, my Ella Bella…. you are my whole world,


5 Nutrition Guidelines We {try to} Live By

I grew up with parents that mixed Spirulina powder into my orange juice when I was in middle school.  I can still see it and taste it to this day:  a green, thick juice that tasted more like the earth than the sweet orange juice it was supposed to be.

My dad grew up being overweight until he was in his late 20s, when he began to learn more about nutrition and then dramatically changed his eating habits.  All this interest in nutrition got passed down to me because my parents would nicely explain why we could or couldn’t eat certain things as we were growing up.

Since then, I’ve loved learning about the human body and what helps it function best.  I studied Nutrition in college and made it my minor, just for the fun of it.  We’re not perfect by any means, but we do strive to nourish our bodies in the best ways we know how.  Below are some of the rules we try to follow:


1. Make Fruits & Veggies a Priority

We’re suppose to be eating 7-13 fruits and veggies a day.  There is no way I get close to that unless I make it a priority to eat those things first, in my snacks and my meals.  My dad always told us girls to eat fruits before our meals and to eat our salads or veggies before we started the meat & carbs part of our meals.  Why?  A)  More nutrients get absorbed when you eat them first, on an empty stomach & B) you make sure that you actually eat & finish those foods because you don’t run out of room in your stomach.



2.  Read Labels & Know What to Avoid

These are the items that we try to stay away from if we see them on a nutrition label.  I encourage you to research these ingredients and read up about the dangerous effects they have so you’re motivated to stay away from them too.   (some of the adverse effects include:  endocrine disorders, lowered immune system, behavioral disorders in kids, diabetes, oxidative stress to your cells, digestive problems, obesity, higher likelihood of cancer). High Fructose Corn Syrup,  Soybean Oil,  Partially Hydrogenated Oils, Carrageenan, Aspartame, Sodium Nitrate, Monosodium Glutamate.    ** for me, it’s important to pick my battles instead of get overwhelmed by it all.  For example,  I choose a coffee creamer & salad dressing without Carrageenan, but we get a low-fat ice cream that does have it. **


3.  Don’t Eat Fast Food.

Fast Food is easy & convenient but when I read about what they actually put into that food, it’s disgusting.  Knowing what’s in there, helps me to stay away from it.  (CLICK HERE to see how fast food gets digested in your stomach)  I am not saying I cook every night.  I’m just saying we don’t drive-through fast food places.   I get Amy’s or Kashi frozen pizzas or rotisserie chickens and salads… rotisseries are the best!!   There are lots of options for quick food you can ‘pick up’ from the store but that aren’t fast food.  (An additional motivator for us: save the money from eating out for family vacations!).


4.  Portion control the ‘weakness’ foods or don’t even buy them

Ideally, sweets are a luxury and should be eaten on rare occasion.  But honesty, I usually eat a small dessert on most evenings after dinner.  What helps us is using mini bowls & only having a couple spoonfuls of low-fat ice cream.  And things that I can’t have self-control with (which is basically any other kind of dessert), I just try not to buy & bring into the house at all.



5.  “Supplement” to get what you don’t realistically get on a daily basis

Our family strives to eat healthy, but when we sat down and actually looked at our day’s intakes, we realized we weren’t getting the recommended amount of 7-13 fruits and vegetables.  Whaaaat?  Yes, sadly.  That’s when I heard about Juice Plus.  It’s a whole-food nutrition product: a capsule of powder that you swallow like you would a vitamin.  I don’t use the words multivitamin or supplement because Juice Plus isn’t synthetic vitamins in a hard pill form, it’s actual food.  And it actually gets absorbed by your body.

It is grown on the vine, broken down, dried at low temperatures (so it doesn’t lose the enzymes and phytonutrients that you get from real food) and put in a capsule.  There are 7 fruits in the Orchard blend and 10 veggies & grains in the Garden blend.  There is nothing like it that you can buy in a store.



I’m not easily sold on things.  What helped me ‘trust’ Juice Plus, if you will, was the amount of clinical research that has gone into it & actually proven its positive effects on the body (the same effects that eating fruits & vegetables has).  Also, I know how powerful what we put into our body is (say vs. a skin cream or an oil.  In my opinion, what you ingest has way more of an effect).   Juice Plus has been around for 20+ years, and reputable Doctors around the country are behind it.  Dr. Sears is one of them and it’s the only ‘supplement’ he himself takes and also recommends to all his patients.

Our family has loved Juice Plus and we especially are thankful to have it for Ella (they have Chewables for toddlers – which are proven to actually make them crave & eat more real vegetables… amazing).  If you want to read about the clinical studies they have done, CLICK HERE.  Or if you’d like to see the unique way Juice Plus is made, CLICK HERE to watch a short video.  And of course, let me know if you have any other questions I can answer for you!

All in all, every little step towards eating healthier and cleaner makes a difference.  I’d love to hear some ways you try to fuel your body well, that help you feel your best.  Happy eating!




**I’ve had a few questions, so I thought I’d clarify!   Yes, I distribute Juice Plus and if you’re interested, here is where you can get some product: 🙂 **

Ella – 14 months

My sweetest girl,

I haven’t written anything for about a month, so I have a lot of catching up to do!  Where do I start?.. Life with you has been glorious since you started walking.  Yes there are moments when I talk through my teeth to you & have to deal with my frustration or being on my last nerve, but overall I have been pleasantly surprised and thankful with how easy & enjoyable you are.  More & more of your personality has shown through & I love watching all the things you’re learning & expressing.

Some of my current favorites things that you are doing & that are new:

  • Walking. You started walking just before you turned 14 months.  It’s the absolute best.

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  • Needy/Loving/Cuddly.    You are a sensitive, cuddly, emotional human – just like your mama & daddy.  You love physical touch and make sure to let me know if I haven’t hugged you or cuddled with you enough that day:



  • Talking/Signing.  oh my word. precious.   You say:  Mama, Dada, ByeBye,  Baby (for your baby doll or your fav book Baby Belluga), MewMew (for milk), Nana, and you attempt to say Colorado.. but it’s a beautiful, jumbled mess.  For everything else you:  raise your highbrows, whine a really high-pitched whine and point to the object.  That whine never gets annoying. ; )  You sign ‘more’ & ‘all done’ & ‘please’.


  • Harmonica.  So, your dad plays the harmonica.  I know.. that’s the last thing people expect when they look at him, but it’s true.  You have loved watching and listening to him bust out Amazing Grace or other songs.  Then, out of nowhere… you picked it up and started playing yourself.  You walk around blowing out and in and making beautiful (to me) music.

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  • Stairs/Steps.  You love climbing them and going down them.  Thank the Lord we were able to teach you how to go down (you turn around and put one leg down and then lower yourself) so that I don’t have to be by your side helping you every.single.time.   Also, thankfully.. you have only had one fall, which wasn’t as horrible as I had imagined..

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  • Forks.  You have not been a good eater until recently.  And I have the fork to thank.  You didn’t like using your fingers as much as other babies, but you would whine for our fork.. so I let you play with it & showed you how to use it.  Then I got you a baby fork and thank God, you’re eating more and better.  Jabbing at food and then putting it in your mouth is like a game to you..


  • speaking of food, Fruit:  you eat the most of it when you’re walking around.  outside.  I love it..

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  • Pool/Water.  We are so lucky to have a great pool on the property where we are leasing.  (It’s not at our house, but at the Main house)  You love the water and thankfully have adapted so well.  We have tried to expose you a lot before our Croatia trip, so hopefully you will love the Adriatic sea just as much as the pool.

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  • Greeting Daddy.  So, until recently you wouldn’t always respond the same when daddy came home.  When you were little, you’d crawl to him and smile.. but then you went through phases and were just like “Meh.. sup, Dad?”.  Since walking.. you get EXCITED and breathe in huge, dramatic sighs of excitement and you head straight to him.  He then picks you up and you look at me and wave and say ‘ByeBye’.  You’re over me.  You want him all to yourself.  We laugh. Then I come to kiss daddy hello and attempt a group hug, but you push me away.  It’s hilarious. 


  • Cautious.   I love it and would rather you get hurt less and be more careful than be crazy.  Here are some of the first few times you went down a slide at the park.  Your face says it all:

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  • Playing/Interacting:  I try to get on the floor a couple times a day and just play with you.  Even if I’m sitting on the floor just stretching or something, you get ecstatic and come over and climb on me.  Or you back up your tush into me & snuggle down in my lap (facing out & forward).  I die from happiness.

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 presetAnother favorite of yours is peekaboo.  You will stand behind me with your hands on my back and freeze.. waiting quietly.  Then I will turn to one side quickly to scare you & I yell ‘Peekaboo!!”  You jump and get scared but then laugh so hard and love it.  Then we play that game over and over.


A little bit about sleeping:  Before you started walking, I weened you from nursing and you loved whole milk.  Whole milk in turn seemed to keep you fuller and you started sleeping so well at night.  (you did have some periods of all-nighters before).  Putting you down for bedtime had been fine but since walking you seemed too excited, wanting to play and explore.  You threw FITS at bedtime.  You were stubborn and didn’t want to go down.  You would sign ‘more’ and say your word for milk and just point to any and everything to try to get to stay up a little longer.

We tried to hold you and sing to you and ‘help’ you to sleep, but soon we were exhausted and frustrated and realized you were being a little manipulative.  Your daddy helped me to trust that if we left you to cry for a little bit, you would learn that you couldn’t be held to sleep or get anything that you asked for.  Instead you needed to put your head down and go to bed – because mommy and daddy said so.  The first night or 2 you cried for about 10-15 min, with gradually increased intensity and with taking breaks to put your head down because you were so tired.  You quickly learned (yet again – because we had done this several times before with you..) that playtime was over and it was night night time.  Now we have been putting you down around 7:30 or 8 and the routine & everything only takes like 10-15 min.  It’s heavenly.  We don’t know what to do with ourselves with so much time in the evening.. we just sit on the couch and stare at each other.  kidding.


I am so blessed to be able to stay home with you and spend so much time with you.  I love you, my baby girl,


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Motherhood – Mothers Day 2014

” Motherhood is loving someone more than I ever thought possible.   It’s something I couldn’t have imagined or dreamt of before we had our beautiful daughter.   Every time she looks at me with her bright eyes, or wraps her arms around my neck and lays her head on my shoulder, my heart explodes with love.  A mother’s love for her baby is indescribable.  
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