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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Healing Chicken Soup Recipe (Paleo/Gluten Free)

As Dressember comes to a close, the cold and flu "season" fast approaches, and we have a newborn coming soon, this will be one of the most common things I make in our household over the next few months. I also try to take this to any friends who are sick, or if I sign up to bring a dish to a family with a new baby or something like that. It is a little time-consuming, but so delicious, healthy, and easy, I really enjoy making this for my family and others when I have the time.

I got most of this recipe/idea from the Mama Baby Love original e-cookbook, but then modified it some to fit our family.  She says that the healing properties are best with all organic ingredients (meats and veggies especially) and no added carbs (noodles/rice/potatoes), but if you are just eating it for fun/flavor you can add one of the carbs if you wish. I have rarely added any carbs to this because it is so healthy and filling as is. You need a large crockpot and about an hour of prep time, 4 hours of cook-time, and another half hour of prep time at the end.  Everything you discard from the chicken and the veggies can be saved to make easy crock-pot chicken broth the same or next day, and you are getting twice the 'mileage' out of the ingredients with a great homemade broth and almost no trash or waste!

Soup And Broth Ingredients:

1 Whole Chicken thawed (I prefer to use organic, and the flavor is actually a little more rich)
7 Carrots, sliced
3 celery stalks, roughly sliced (optional - I don't include this because my husband doesn't like celery)
1 Large Onion, finely chopped
1/2 Large bag of Kale or 1 fresh bunch of Kale (spinach adds a different flavor, but I have used it before and it was still pretty good, honestly the kale tastes better)
1 Can Chicken Broth (Check for Gluten-free on this if it is for a friend with Celiac)
4 Bay Leaves
4-6 Cups Filtered Water (straight out of the tap does not make this taste very good. I use a Brita filter pitcher, but any filtered water should taste fine).
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon basil (or fresh leaves)
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 tablespoon parsley (or fresh leaves)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Soup Instructions:

1. Rinse the chicken, cleaning out the neck bone/organs from body cavity and putting them aside in a medium to large bowl, which will become your broth ingredients as you add to it - the 'discard bowl.'  Place the whole chicken in the crockpot, doesn't matter which side up, and sprinkle generously with the salt. Turn crock pot on low.

2. Wash and separate the kale leaves from stems.  Save stems and a few leaves in discard bowl.  Rip remaining leaves up and add to crockpot.

3. Wash, peel, and chop the carrots.  Save the peelings and tops of the carrots and add to your discard bowl You can roughly chop one carrot without peeling for the discard bowl as well.

4. Wash and chop celery, add to crock pot.  Save ends and roughly chop one stalk for discard bowl.

5. Peel onion - I throw away the outermost thin papery skin, but put at least one or two outer layers roughly chopped in the discard bowl. I add another half or whole onion to the discard bowl, for flavor in the broth. Finely chop the interior of the onion and add to crockpot.

6. Add all seasonings and bay leaves to crock pot, and add same seasonings to discard bowl in same or slightly smaller amounts.

7. Pour the can of chicken broth in first. Then add filtered water until your crockpot is absolutely full, but will not spill out with the lid firmly in place.  Put foil or a lid on your discard bowl, and place it in the fridge.

8. Turn crock-pot to High once all ingredients are in, and cook just like that for 2 hours. Then you need to flip the chicken over (I use two forks, stick in both ends and carefully lift it up about half-way out of the crock-pot and then flip it). Stir the veggies up, making sure the carrots stay under the water, and cook that way for two more hours.

9. After at least 4 hours of total cook time (five hours is also fine), you need to have a separate empty bowl to place your chicken.  Get your discard bowl out of the fridge.  I use a fork and lift as much of the whole chicken as possible down into the clean bowl. Let it sit about 5 minutes to cool enough for you to pull it apart. This is a good time to use a slotted spoon to fish out the bay leaves from the crockpot and add them to the discard bowl.  Then begin pulling the meat off the bone in strips, tear it up, and put all of the meat back into the crock-pot. Put all of the chicken skin, fat, and bones into your discard bowl. When you get all the meat of the bones, and bones in your discard bowl, there will probably be some juice/water/broth and veggie pieces in the bottom of the bowl, which I pour back into the crockpot.  Put your discard bowl back in the fridge.

10. Stir the meat and veggies well, turn off crock pot, and let sit for about 15 minutes to soak up all the flavor. Serve piping hot!

My husband always adds hot sauce to his bowl of soup.  We didn't have hot sauce this time, and three good shakes of crushed red pepper did the trick. You can also add lemon juice if you enjoy that flavor.  Both hot sauce/red pepper and lemon together are great in this soup for busting up a cold/congestion.

My kids don't drink their broth well, so I mostly scoop their portions with just solid pieces, but they are happy to eat the chicken/carrots/kale like that.

Try to cook this on a day when you know most of your family will be able to consume a large portion of the soup, so that you can put remaining soup in a storage container, and then have the empty crockpot to make your broth.  You can also save your discard bowl for about 3-4 days in the fridge while you finish the soup out of the crock-pot, if you don't want to make your broth immediately.

The natural chicken fat will solidify in the fridge - so don't be alarmed at the solid yellow/greenish film on top of things.  Reheat it and it will melt back down - this is delicious and healthy, don't try to skim it off!

Broth Instructions:

1. You do not even need to wash the crock pot if you just took out the last of your soup! The juices hanging on from the soup are great for the broth.

2.  Dump everything from your discard bowl into the crockpot.

3. Add filtered water until crock pot is absolutely full again.

4. Cook on low for 12-24 hours.  Cook for at least 12 hours, no more than 24. Stir at least once while cooking.

5. Turn off crock pot and have a large colander over a large metal or glass bowl.  Scoop solid pieces out onto colander, and stir and shake to get the juices to fall down to the bowl beneath.  I do maybe 3 big ladle-fulls, and then dump the colander solids into the trash or compost. Repeat until all solids for the most part are out of the crockpot. Allow crockpot to cool enough to pick it up, and pour into the colander/bowl. Lift the colander, shake, and again dump solid pieces into trash.

6. The remaining liquid in the bowl is your homemade chicken broth! This golden goodness can be added to almost anything to add flavor and healthy vitamins and minerals.  Once cooled, I scoop it up and store in freezer quart-sized zip-lock bags in the freezer.  This is about 3-4 cups per bag.

I use this broth whenever I cook rice or quinoa, or make a soup. It is fine to drink it in a mug as well, and so good for colds/congestion. Hot sauce or crushed red pepper and lemon juice can also be added to help with congestion! If your kids are so congested they can't taste, they will drink this as a hot beverage and not even care. I can't get mine to drink it plain though, if they can taste it's not something sweet.

Happy chicken soup and broth making!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Praying for Your Family - 31. Holidays

On HOLIDAYS - All of them - any days you get to take off from work or school because it is a "Holiday" like Columbus Day or Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, President's Day, etc - pray specifically for your family's health: physical, mental, and emotional health. Holidays are the worst time of year for some people because they are missing a loved one.  What a better time than special days to remember to pray for the overall health of your family! Sickness, disease, viruses, and cancer are all ways our physical bodies can be attacked at any time, without much warning.  Anxiety and depression can also bring a lot of people down in their mental and emotional health, also without much warning, and have grievous effects if not noticed and treated. Pay attention to your family's health, and pray for them about it!

I recently heard Mark Lowry say that if David had Prozac, we would not have Psalms. ;) There are many examples of Biblical men and women who suffered from physical, mental, and emotional health issues.  Being saved by grace through faith, is not a stamp for perfect health this side of eternity.  It is the assurance that we will one day be perfectly healthy and with our Savior in heaven.  Until then, it's OK to ask the Lord for help with our family's health. Of course, we are greatly responsible for maintaining our health as much as we possibly can through mindfully focusing on making healthy choices with food, exercise, making time for adequate rest and stress release, avoidance of harmful substances, and sexual purity. It's hardly fair to ask God for complete healing from a disease we could have prevented through better choices.

Holidays - Health

Lord God,

Thank you for this holiday. Please help my family to be healthy so we can serve you better.  Help me to prepare meals that nourish our bodies, instead of harm them.  Thank you for providing enough hours in the day for us to rest, please help us to use our time wisely on what will bring good health.  Help my husband and children to have physical bodies that function to the best of their ability, the way you created them. God, give us the ability to see when our mental and emotional health is not steady, and to seek help from you and others, instead of hiding or ignoring our problems. Protect us from cancer, diseases, and accidents that harm us, so that we may live long lives serving you. Thank you for our time on earth, and these bodies as earthly temples for you until we get to heaven.  Help us to honor you with our temples. In Jesus' Name I pray, 


This is the final post in a series on Praying for Your Family: a 31 Day Challenge.  You can go to the main 'landing page' and scroll to the bottom, for a list of all the days by clicking here:
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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Praying for Your Family - 30. Cooking

I know I did specific Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner prayers, but we can often eat those meals without ever having to cook. Cooking is a separate task from sitting down and eating! You can even cook and NOT eat! Therefore, I decided that cooking was another reasonable way to direct our minds back to prayer.

Sometimes cooking can take awhile, and we often cook while managing other tasks in the home. This can make it a little overwhelming for me at times, trying to mentally and physically prepare a meal that has protein, vegetables, and often a grain or starch (quinoa and potatoes are my go-to sides), while making sure the kids are not harming each other or destroying something. The combination of cooking and child-rearing, though common to most people I realize, results in me comparing my cooking abilities to other people and being sadly disappointed. I can't fry things well (chicken, okra, whatever, I can't make the stuff stay on), and my excuse is that it's not healthy anyways, so why spend a ton of time trying to figure out a technique my family doesn't really need?

At the heart of it, when I compare my cooking abilities to others, I fall super short. Cooking becomes even more intimidating to me, because I spend a lot of the time feeling inadequate. This is flat out ridiculous. As long as the food is reasonably healthy, and most of the humans in my house like it relatively well, why should I care that it's not gourmet, Paula Deen and 100% local and organic? This leads me to pray about the issue of comparing myself to others - in all aspects - not just cooking.  If I'm not as pretty as all the people on TV, or as smart as the super moms who manage to work in major medical fields and manage their homes, or as sweet and kind and soft-spoken as my friend down the road, why do I care? It's just one more way my flesh and the devil team up to work against my spirit. I think the opposite of comparing ourselves (when we feel lacking), is instead to find Confidence in exactly who God has created us to be as individuals.

I adored the 31 Day series that Alison Wren did on this specific topic, with lots of guest writers. If "Overcoming the Comparison Trap" is a struggle for you even a little bit, check out her series! Great, relatively short reads that provide a very fresh perspective on 'cultivating authenticity' and more!

Theodore Roosevelt Quote
Instead of Comparing - we need to have Confidence!

Cooking - Confidence Overcoming Comparisons

Dear God,

I'm sorry I compare myself to others when I know you created me to be exactly who you want me to be.  Help me to stop doing this, by being confident in you and your love, and what you are doing in my life.  Remind my husband to not compare himself with others. Help him to find confidence in the abilities you have blessed him with, and not feel lacking.  Give my children confidence in who you created them to be.  Help us as a family to fulfill your purpose for us with confidence, not comparing our family to others.  Help us to put all of our confidence in you, keeping our eyes on you, instead of ourselves.  In Jesus' Name I pray,


This is post thirty in a series on Praying for Your Family: a 31 Day Challenge.  You can go to the main 'landing page' and scroll to the bottom, for a list of all the days by clicking here:
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Monday, November 2, 2015

Praying for Your Family - 29. Waiting

No matter what you do, there is some point during most days you probably have to wait for someone or something.  Whether you are out and about, in a store line, or watching little ones and waiting for them to fall asleep at bedtime, most people I know have experienced plenty of waiting on a daily basis.

Then there are those times in life where it feels like we are stuck in a waiting room and we can't get out of that particular life stage - a constant time of waiting for something.  I have been there, too, friend! For our family, that time came when we were unemployed for 8 months. It was a long time of waiting for God to direct our path, but when He did, it all fell into place! Recently we moved again, and moved knowing John would need a second job, because this is a bi-vocational pastor position, but also knowing God would provide it in His timing.  So we have spent the last two months praying about and waiting on what/where that job would be. In typical AWESOME GOD fashion - today my husband got a job with benefits! Prayers of many have been answered, and ALL the glory goes to God! This will give our family enough financial stability to start saving/looking for a permanent home, and to pay all the other bills in the meantime, while hopefully allowing John enough time to still commit to our family and church/pastoring.

Whether your wait is infertility, or being single and longing for a mate, or also waiting for a job, or waiting for adoption to be finalized or any other major life waits for 2 months, or 8 months, or 5 years, or whatever, waiting gets very difficult the longer it lasts. If you are in a waiting time, I am truly sorry that you are experiencing difficulty, and I am not by any means comparing infertility to unemployment or being single for a decade of dreaming to 2 months of hoping for a second job. I know some of you warriors are experiencing a longer wait than I ever have, and I applaud and love you for it. I am hoping to provide just a little encouragement and truth in the midst of your wait.  During our last waiting time, God brought this verse to my attention specifically in different translations:

Psalm 27:14:

It was then that I realized waiting itself requires bravery, courage, strength, and patience.  Waiting seems dull, boring, and stressful. However, God uses times of waiting to make us grow - grow stronger, braver, more courageous, and more patient.  Growing pains hurt, and it's not always fun, but God never promised fun.  He promises hope, salvation, forgiveness, unconditional love and mercy, but not a life that will be 'easy' or 'fun' all of the time. Of course, we will have experiences of happiness, and fun, but those are a bonus, and can only really be enjoyed if we have waited long enough to truly appreciate them.  So when we encounter times of waiting - daily or long-term - let us pray that we (and our families) would be able to wait without worry.

Waiting - Without Worry

Lord Jesus,

I am sorry we become frustrated when we have to wait. Please help me to wait without worry in the small waiting and in the long waiting. Remind my husband of your faithful promises when doubt and worry creep in, so that he can maintain his faith and trust in you while he waits. Help my children to learn that we can wait for you for all that we need, and that you always have perfect timing. Give our family the courage and bravery to continue to take steps of faith that require waiting on you. Remind us in the waiting times that you have a purpose, a plan, and more love for us than we can imagine.  Remind us as we wait to give our burdens to you, and to remember that you have not forgotten us. In Your Holy Name I pray,


This is post twenty-nine in a series on Praying for Your Family: a 31 Day Challenge.  You can go to the main 'landing page' and scroll to the bottom, for a list of all the days by clicking here:
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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Praying for Your Family - 28. Road 'Rage'

If you live somewhere there's not much traffic, count yourself blessed.  Perhaps think of this when you are on the road, whether you feel angry or not. For the rest of us who drive on roads full of other imperfect, and sometimes downright crazy drivers, you have probably been in a driving situation where you felt some anger.  Commonly known as 'road rage,' and a totally pointless emotional outburst - because my anger at the driver I don't know, does nothing to change the driver's actions or habits - it's just a reaction, not a solution. If you are the kind of person who has already conquered this, then just let the thought of being on the 'road' drive you to pray in the same way.

So let's try to instead pray for Rest. Resting in Christ, resting in our identity in Him, resting from too much work, resting from too much TV, too much social media, whatever you feel you should pray about in regards to resting from that does not call your soul closer to Jesus when it is there in excess.  Many things in life are good, but we spend too much time on them instead of on rest.  Think about what God is saying instead, "Come to me. Rest from that." My husband actually preached on this topic a few weeks ago, and you listen in on the podcast here if you like. Let's turn road rage into prayers for rest!

Road Rage - Rest

Father God,

Help my family to rest. Help me to rest from all my striving and just come to you. Help my husband to rest in you and all of your promises.  Help my kids to rest physically through good sleep. Help my husband and I to know when we need to turn off distractions and rest, so we can be the people you created us to be, not half-zombie, stressed-out versions of ourselves. Help us as parents to know when we need to help our children to rest, and when we need to take a break from our parenting and have a date night. Help us to know where and how we find you, to become refreshed by you in the best possible way to rest.  Help us to rest from screens, and from constant going, and take some time to just enjoy each other at home as a family.  Thank you God, for ordaining rest by giving us the example of you resting on the 7th day from creation.  Help us to make time to rest, at least once a week. We love you, Lord. In Jesus' Name I pray, 


This is post twenty-eight in a series on Praying for Your Family: a 31 Day Challenge.  You can go to the main 'landing page' and scroll to the bottom, for a list of all the days by clicking here:
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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Praying for Your Family - 27. Television

Does your family ever watch TV?

Are you laughing?

Did you maybe think that you could limit your kids' screen time to exactly ten minutes per their age in years? (Like a two year old gets 20 minutes maximum, and absolutely no other screen time.) How's that working out for ya?  Yeah.  Unless you are that 5 percent of the population who has managed to get rid of TV in their home (and I envy you), it's probably on for someone, at some point in the day for more than twenty minutes.  I go through seasons of needing the TV more or less to help with keeping the kids' attention.  First trimester of baby #3 - LOTS of movie time for my kids, because I was more exhausted and nauseous than I ever imagined possible. Now it's dialed back a bit to letting them watch a video for as long as it takes me to get through my morning Bible study, then when I'm done, we all get up and go outside (if possible).  They watch TV at other times, too, though, and in this transition season of needing to pack/unpack/clean I am letting go of trying to be the perfect mom who comes up with plenty of educational activities instead of videos.  I can only accomplish so many things at one time, and I'm okay with that.  My kids' newest favorites are old (the ones on sale) Dora and Diego episodes with 4 shows on one DVD, the Land Before Time series (they haven't seen the first 2, but by George - we've got the next 7 on two cheap DVDs), Thomas  movies and episodes on PBS, and Curious George. We have a ton of movies and educational DVDs, that are in storage.  So we are really getting to know these few shows we have for now.

Husband watch TV? Are you laughing again? Yeah, we are not in charge of his screen time, so we can just pray for him, too. ;) I used to be far more organized about my own time, and opted out of TV for several years in college, and did not miss it. I exercised more, read more books, and went out with friends more often.  Eventually, I'd like to get back to that place. Until that is possible, I usually keep myself busy doing something else while my people watch TV.

Anyway - when your spouse or kids watch that television screen, think about praying for their Time Management skills in life.  Television is one of the biggest ways I find we waste our time, so it also makes sense to be the time I pray about us spending our time more wisely.

TV - Time Management Skills

Dear Lord,

Please help me and my family to spend our time wisely for you. Help us to see when we are wasting time and when we are investing time in efforts that will produce fruit.  Help us to seek you first in our time, before all other things in our day.  Show me how to teach my children to spend their days wisely, but not wasting my own time.  Help us to accomplish the work that needs to be done today and each day, without becoming consumed by the work itself.  Help us to also enjoy our time together doing fun activities as a family.  God, give my husband wisdom on how to use his time to glorify you the most in his life's work as a husband, father, pastor, and everything else. Give us an eternal perspective on what matters the most as we spend our days here on earth.  Help us to remember that we are created for 'such a time as this,' and we can be useful in the exact situation you have already placed us. In Jesus' Name I pray,


This is post twenty-seven in a series on Praying for Your Family: a 31 Day Challenge.  You can go to the main 'landing page' and scroll to the bottom, for a list of all the days by clicking here:
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Monday, October 26, 2015

Praying for Your Family - 26. Seat Belts

The remainder of the prayer posts in this series will center around things we see or do commonly in our day-to day life that may not necessarily fit into another category, but can certainly remind us to pray.

I was taught from an early age that every time I sat in the car, I immediately should buckle up. Whenever you fasten your seat belt, or strap your kids into theirs, it can naturally lead you to pray for safety.  If you do not wear your seat belt, then PLEASE start wearing it all the time! Seat belts really do save lives, as this easy read from the CDC confirms.  Strapping your babies and children into their carseats is equally important, and can continue with the prayers for safety. This is a good article on carseat do's and don't's and my favorite pictures from it:

We can pray for safe travels while in the car, but also for safety in the daily lives of our families, to be protected from evil, accidents, and poor decisions which could lead to great pain or death.  This is not meant to increase your worries, or lessen your faith, but to cover your family in prayer for their safety and protection.

Seat Belts - Safety

Dear Lord,

Thank you for this vehicle and these safety belts. Please keep my family safe in this car today and always, on every road we cross, and even after we get out of the car.  Keep my husband and children away from harm and evil, so they can continue to glorify you with their lives. Please be faithful to keep us strong and safe from the devil's schemes.  God, I know we can take shelter and refuge in you, so please remind us to run to you in prayer and listen to the Holy Spirit to stay safe from all harm.  Keep my family safe from violence, weapons, and evil. Guard us in Jesus' Name,


This is post twenty-six in a series on Praying for Your Family: a 31 Day Challenge.  You can go to the main 'landing page' and scroll to the bottom, for a list of all the days by clicking here:
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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Praying for Your Family - 25. Snow Days

SNOW! I grew up across the globe, and from South Dakota's blizzard on Halloween one year to England's light wet dusting of snow, to southern Idaho's thick, dry powdery stuff, and the occasional snow here in the southern states (Alabama and Tennessee) that is fun and usually very short-lived, I have experienced many different types of snow. I love the way it falls and how it slowly covers everything in sight with such a fresh, bright white, sparkly blanket. As a teacher, I loved the extra days off! A fresh snow fall makes me take deep breaths and slow down a little (usually where we live, most of the world is closed so we can't go anywhere either, but I would still want to mostly stay home and enjoy it).  The snowfall prompts a natural stillness. When you experience snow this year, pray for your family to be still before God.

Snow is so rare in the south, and people mostly do not have 4 wheel drive or other road-safety measures, that these memes are sadly true:

Now, some of you may not get a whole lot of snow days depending on which part of the globe you live.  However, I'm sure you see television shows with snow, or watch some holiday programing that involves Winter weather, or your kids watch "Frozen" and that is when your mind can also be prompted to pray for Stillness - the ability for your family to literally "Be STILL and know that I am God."

Snow Days - Stillness

Father God,

Thank you for this beautiful snow, and the creative way you have made so many different types of weather and forms of water, that even these tiny crystals can amount to something this lovely. Help us to be still and rest in knowing you.  Help me to slow down and notice your presence more in my life, so that I can direct my children back to you. Help my husband to be still and know that you are God, no matter the circumstances. Being still can be difficult in our fast-paced world, so Lord, help us to be as still as the snow from time to time so that we can focus all of our heart, mind, strength, and soul on loving you.  Help us to know when it is not time to move or fight, but to be still and let you do it all for us.  Teach us to embrace the stillness. In Jesus' Name I pray, 


This is post twenty-five in a series on Praying for Your Family: a 31 Day Challenge.  You can go to the main 'landing page' and scroll to the bottom, for a list of all the days by clicking here:
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