There are varying opinions about how to handle Halloween, but there’s one thing we can all agree on –there will be candy! Lots and lots of candy!
When my son turned two I sought the Lord about how to handle Halloween in our home. At that point he was toddling around with tiny steps and there was a huge part of me that really wanted to put him in some crazy cute get-up and show him off to all the neighbors! I had such fond memories of fall evenings running with friends from house to house on that night. Then, rushing home with excitement to revel in the bounty I’d collected. It was a good, pure memory for me and one I desired for my own kids.
I really needed the Lords guidance though to help set a precedent with our kids for Halloween. I don’t believe there is any one “right” way for everyone, but what the Lord showed me has been a blessing and is still the way we approach Halloween six years later. The kids know that their costume choices have to follow the Philippians 4:8 rule (whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.) and be “silly” in nature – nothing scary or “dark”. And, we are very, very careful to “guard our gates” (an awesome article about this here, http://sarahbessey.com/guard-gates/). In other words, we are very careful about what our little eyes see. We intentionally choose to get candy from homes where the “light is on” both literally and figuratively.
I had great peace about how we would handle Halloween, but in the early years of seeking more balance in my health, Halloween posed another source of stress and anxiety for me. The candy, oh the endless, endless candy! I simply did not want all that temptation, nor did I really feel that my kids should be eating that much candy for seemingly months on end. So, again, I sought the Lord and as always He was faithful with an answer that has blessed me ever since. I want to share it with you in hopes that it helps bring more peace and balance to you this year!
The kids collect as much candy as they want to, after all the collection is half the fun. We all sit down together and sort, and ooh and ahh over the amount, then we ALL pick our three favorite pieces to enjoy right then and there. I participated in this right from the get-go. I want to model balance for my kids and let them see that it’s ok to enjoy something like small amounts of candy once in a while without it leading to disordered eating. Then, they are given the choice to trade in their candy or keep it. They can “trade” their candy for an experience (I did toys the first year, but quickly realized that wasn’t the best option). They hand over the remainder of the candy, and in trade I give them an IOU for a trip to the museum, or the zoo, or the movies, any healthy experience they choose.
So you may be thinking, ok great Sarah, but what if they choose the candy!? I know! Admittedly, I still wait for their answers with bated breath hoping it’s never the candy. If they choose the candy, they get to keep as many additional pieces as they are in years (four pieces for my four year old, eight for my eight year old, etc.). Can I be honest though? They never have! I think there is almost a tiny, albeit, denied part of them that almost feels relieved to have that much abundance controlled for them – I think it’s overwhelming even for kids!
As for the rest of the candy, I either offer it to my dry cleaner to hand out throughout the year, or friends, I simply toss it. It’s ok. I’ve let go of the guilt. I really think it’s ok to just let that one go – guilt be gone in Jesus name! I pray this blesses you and your family and may THE light of the world shine on you this fall season!
What are the Benefits of Studying the Word of God?
Over the past few years, I have received a lot of questions and emails from people who asking how to study the Bible. I want to begin by saying that the great thing about spending time in the Word is that we get to spend time with our Father, and He wants to speak to us through His Word even more than we want to hear from Him! He loves us more than we could ever imagine, and His love letter to each one of us is the Bible!
I wanted to start by saying, because I truly think that if we go into studying the Word of God with the mindset that it is something that we ‘should’ or ‘have’ to do, it sucks the life right out of it! Instead, if we approach the Word as time to be with our Father and fellowship with the creator of the universe, we will see this time as a treasure, rather than a religious duty.
Not only is time spent in the Word a time to receive the Lord’s great love for us, but it is also the road map to our lives, guiding us and leading us into all truth and showing us the way to go. It also builds us up in our faith, gives us direction, renews our minds, lovingly corrects us, gives us wisdom, and brings true peace, joy, and fulfillment… and the list goes on. An important thing to remember is that the Word of God has the answer to every situation we will ever face in this life, and it will nourish and satisfy us like nothing on this earth ever could!
How do we Study the Word?
Now that I have laid a foundation for the benefits of spending time in the Word, the second thing I want to say about studying the Bible is that it is not a simple answer because the Word is Alive (Hebrews 4:12). It is different than any other book, because the Holy Spirit wrote it through people, and it is the Holy Spirit that brings each word on the page alive to each one of us as we study it. Therefore, the study of the Word and time spent with the Lord will look a little different for each person. It may look different each day and season of our lives because there may times/days when we really just need to spend time studying one passage or scripture for a period of time while asking the Lord to reveal it to us in a deeper way and bring it to life to us. There may be other times, however, when we read a whole chapter in one day and the Lord uses bits and pieces of it to speak different things to us. However, that being said, there are some truths that are constant and remain the same when it comes to believers reading the Word.
Here are the five things that should stay the same and apply to everyone in their time spent studying the Word:
1. Give God’s Word First Place. When we put God’s Word first place, everything in our lives will be built upon a firm foundation. John 8:31-32 tells us that if we abide in the Word, then we will be His disciples. We will know the truth and the truth will set us free. If we want to walk in the freedom that God has for us in every area of our life, we must make it our first priority to spend time with the Lord each day. If you feel that you don’t have time early in the morning, I would encourage you to try going to bed earlier so that you can set your alarm to wake up earlier! You can always study during your lunch break, at night, or any time throughout the day, but I personally have found that my whole day gets off to the right start when I make time to fellowship with Him first thing!
2. Go into Reading your Bible with Expectancy. When you spend time with the Lord, begin looking at it like getting to know your best friend. When you spend time with that person, they rub off on you a little more and soon you become like them. That is the way we should go into spending time with God. That takes away any tendency that someone might have to spend time with God out of ‘duty’ or obligation. When we expect to hear from Him, we are walking in faith that He will speak to us. This kind of attitude not only pleases Him (Hebrews 11:6), but it opens our hearts up to receive what He is speaking to us!
3. Pray Before you Read. Ask the Lord to bring the Word alive to you, to bring you revelation, and to give you eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to receive what He is saying to you. I always ask the Holy Spirit to give me insight and understanding when reading the Word. The Holy Spirit was sent to us to teach us, counsel us, and remind us of the truths of God’s Word. He is also the one who inspired the people who wrote the Word, so He is the best teacher of all! (John 14:26)
4. Seek and You will Find. If you have a question, something you are going through, or just want to know the Lord more, know that when you seek, you will find, and that the Word has the answer to everything we have need of in this life. (Matthew 7:7)
5. Meditate and Pray the Word. I personally love journaling while studying the Word. When I write down scriptures, it allows me to think about each word and think about how it applies to my own life. I also love praying the Word, because I know that I am praying God’s perfect will when I am praying in alignment with what He said! I also love writing and praying scripture based prayers, because it increases my faith in His promises and it allows me to look back and reflect on His faithfulness!
Where Should I Start Reading?
As far as where to start reading or what Bible to read, I would say that it is important to read both the Old and New Testament equally. However, if it is your first time reading the Bible, I would suggest starting with the New Testament because this is where you will find your identity about who you are in Jesus. The New Testament is composed of The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke John), which were written by the disciples, sharing their encounters with Jesus when He was on the earth.The Epistles – (Acts-Revelation) were written for the Christian church instructing us on how to live and carry out the ministry of Jesus today, while teaching us who we are in Christ. The New Testament is beneficial to us today because as Christians, we are saved by what Jesus did for us on the cross. For that reason, we are now under a new covenant with God, which means that we are no longer subject to the punishment of God and we don’t have to offer sacrifices for our sins. Jesus came as a sacrifice once and for all for all and carried our sins in His body so that we could be born again and have a personal relationship with God (1 Peter 2:24).
The Old Testament is also equally important because it is the foundation for the New Testament, teaching us about who God created us to be from the beginning. It also contains countless prophesies of things to come in the New Testament that could only be fully understood if you read the Old Testament. It has powerful life lessons that provide wisdom, insight, and understanding to our lives today.
What Version Should I Read?
I personally like the NKJV and the NLT. However, it is important that it is a version that you can understand. The NIV, NKJV, NLT, Amplified, and The Message are all versions I have studied in the past. I would say that it also helps to have a dictionary to help you understand certain words and/or a concordance to study the Greek or Hebrew root words and their meanings. Some other additional study guides that I have found helpful in learning my foundation of who I am in Christ are, The Believers Journey by Chris Palmer and The Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. I also wrote my devotional Devotions for a Healthier You in hopes to help women find their true fulfillment and identity in Christ based on what I have studied and learned over the years.
I hope this helps! This topic can go much deeper than one post can explain, but I hope this encourages you to explore and study the Word if you haven’t already started! I truly believe that God’s Word is the foundation for our lives, and it will be our rock- firm, steady, and never changing through all of life’s seasons…But most of all, it is God’s personal love letter to you! xo Katie
I wasn’t always someone who enjoyed working out early in the morning, but now I can’t imagine it any other way! Here are my top ten tips to getting in an early morning workout!
1. Be Prepared- One of the most important steps for me to make my early morning workouts happen is to be prepared! I like to have my clothes laid out, my workout bottle filled and ready in the fridge, and my workouts written and ready to go! That way, I get to set my alarm with just enough time to wash my face, brush my teeth, and throw on my clothes. Being prepared means less things to think about when it’s early in the morning!
2. Find Workout Buddies- There is something so much more motivating about working out with a buddy or a group of friends! Not to mention, having someone at the gym to meet you makes it that much easier to jump out of bed knowing that someone is counting on you to be there at a certain time! My favorite workout buddy is my sister, Emily. We meet each other at the gym early a few times a week, (she is a teacher, so we have to meet at 5:30 am so she can get to school on time), but the great thing about our workouts are that they are done before I know it and then we have the rest of our day to enjoy! Click Here for a Circuit Partner Workout!
3. Go to Bed Earlier- Let’s face it… one of the most common reasons many people don’t like to workout early is that they feel too tired. If this sounds familiar, I have great news…This can be solved by getting to bed at a reasonable time! I find that if I get at least 7 hours of sleep, I feel great the rest of the day, despite how early I get up! For example, when I know I am waking up at 5 am to meet my sister, I try to be in bed by 10 pm. To me, that is not too unreasonable and it is totally worth it to me knowing I will feel great the next day after I have allowed my body to get enough rest!
4. Eat a Quick Pre-Workout Snack- I personally don’t like to have a lot of food in my stomach when I workout (it gives me stomach cramps), but often, I like to eat something really light before heading out the door. If you are someone that prefers to eat before a workout, I recommend something with carbohydrates and not too high in protein, unless you are able to eat at least 30-60 minutes before your workout. This gives your body time to digest it. I suggest anything from Dashing Dish muffins, overnight oatmeal, or some dry low sugar cereal. Again, this will vary from person to person, so I recommend experimenting with a few different options to see what works best for you. Also, be sure to always have a water bottle ready to go! Being hydrated is especially important before you’ve had anything to eat or drink for the day.
5. Get in the Mindset- I can honestly say that I enjoy working out early in the morning, but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, there was a time when I would cringe at the thought of rolling out of bed and working out. However, I have found over time that there are more pros than cons when it comes to getting it done first thing. Here are a few examples of the benefits: Working out in the morning means that I don’t have to think about it the rest of the day, I feel more energized the rest of my day, and I tend to want to take care of my body the rest of the day, knowing that I put in the time and effort to workout!
6. Find a Workout You Enjoy- This might come as a shock to some of you, but I firmly believe that you can and should enjoy your workouts. If you are currently doing something that you find to be boring or you are doing something you dread, I want to encourage you to find something you enjoy. Yes it is possible! With all the options available today, there is no reason that you can’t find something that you love and feel that you are good at, and it doesn’t even have to be done at a gym! Try going with some friends to a work out class, buy some workout DVDs, or sign up for a walk/run/biking event. Do whatever you can to get out of your comfort zone. You never know, you might try something once and look forward to working out the rest of your life! Click Here for Some Fun & Easy Workout Ideas!
7. Workout at Home- One of the greatest reasons for not working out early is that you simply don’t have time! For most of us, the morning can be one of the busiest times of all…But there is an answer! Working out at home is one of the best and easiest ways to get an early morning workout in, because it doesn’t require the extra time to drive to and from a gym. I have plenty of at home workouts that require only a few simple pieces of equipment (such as dumbbells), as well as some that don’t require anything except for your own body weight! Click Here for an At Home Total Body Circuit Workout!
8. Plan Out Your Workouts- Having a plan, especially when it’s early in the morning is key to getting a good workout in! I know that if I didn’t plan my workouts ahead of time on my early workout days, that I would most likely have a hard time pushing myself in the gym. I don’t know about you, but the last thing that I can get my brain to do at 5:30 am is plan out a workout, nor do we have time when I am meeting my sister, who has to leave the gym at 6:30 am. The best thing we ever did was buy a simple and cheap notebook from Target and write out all of our workouts every Sunday so that we know what we are doing for the whole week in advance! It is also more motivating to know what we are doing ahead of time and have an organized game plan.
9. Have a Workout Playlist Ready- I don’t know about you, but having an awesome workout playlist gets me in the mood to workout! Don’t have any idea where to start with a ‘clean’ and uplifting playlist!? No problem! One of my current favorites is Hillsong Young & Free! Click Here for a Awesome Workout Playlist!
10. Re-Fuel with a Healthy Post-Workout Breakfast- If you do make the time and effort to start your day off with a workout, be sure to fuel your body properly throughout the rest of the day! As important as working out is, nutrition really is the most important component when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle! If you are worried that you don’t have time to workout and prep a healthy breakfast in the morning, no worries! I have tons of healthy breakfast options on Dashing Dish that are super speedy to make and can even be made the night before. I personally like to re-fuel with something that is higher in protein and complex carbohydrates. My personal favorite is one of my Dashing Dish protein shakes! Click Here for a List of 20 Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas.
This year, I tried a new “strategy” to tackle school lunches. It’s worked so well I thought I’d share it with you. My son is in second grade, so I felt like he was ready to start taking over his own lunch packing. I knew though that in order for it to be a positive and joyful experience for both of us, I needed to have a plan that we could stick to. I wanted it to be easy, quick, fun and healthy. Not only was this a chance to hand over an age appropriate responsibility, but also an opportunity to begin teaching him early how important it is to make food choices that nourish and fuel his body well – train up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it!
Here are a few tips that I find help make this successful:
1. Designate a place in the pantry and refrigerator just lunch items. I’ve found that this eliminates any need for me to “monitor” his choices, makes it easy for him, and helps the prepared lunch choices to last longer since no one else is using it for grab n’ go.
2. Prepare and stock up ahead of time! I need to restock the lunch choices every two weeks or so. Some foods last longer than others, but for the most part about an hour of work in preparation lasts nearly two weeks.
3. Buy in bulk and split into small portions. I purchase many of our lunch items from Costco in large quantities, and then on food prep day, I split them into snack size portions, and freeze additional items for the following month.
4. Freeze! The freezer is such an asset to help prevent wasted food and to cut down on prep time. You can freeze so many things! One of the things I do that has been super helpful is to make a couple dozen nut butter and jelly/or honey sandwiches, portioned into sandwich bags and kept frozen. They freeze beautifully and by lunch time it’s perfect for eating. I also do this with muffins, homemade granola bars, and most any of Katie’s baked goods.
5. The rules? Because I’ve pre-prepared a selection of healthy choices, I can really be hands-off and he loves that! I’ve found that he really enjoys the freedom to choose what he wants to eat each day and totally loves that responsibility! The only rule is that he has to include one vegetable selection, the rest is up to him!
Here are a few ideas of the foods I’ve offered to help get you started:
|Main Dish||Side Dish||Healthy Treat|
|Mini Mexican Pizzas||Baked Sweet Potato Wedges||S'Mores Granola|
|Easy Cheesy Burritos||Easy Cheesy Broccoli Soup||Chocolate Chunk Muffins|
|Ham & Cheese Quesadilla||Mini Cauliflower Pizza Bites||Banana Bread Muffins|
|Bacon Chicken Salad||Creamy Tomato Soup||Almond Joy Granola|
|Turkey Apple Quesadilla||Skinny Easy Mac||Skinny Puppy Chow|
|Parmesan Chicken Wrap||Honey Parmesan Chickpeas||Chocolate Fruit Dip|
|Black Bean & Corn Quesadilla||Zucchini Chips||Healthy Rice Crispy Treats|
|Mini Deep Dish Pizzas||Green Bean Fries||Grain Free Donuts|
|Honey Parmesan Chicken Poppers||Baked Pita Snackers||Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies|
|Store Bought Meals:|
-PB&J on Whole Grain Bread
-Hard Boil Eggs
-Turkey Hummus Wrap
-Soup with Chicken
-Grilled Chicken Strips
|Store Bought Sides:|
-Fresh Fruit & Veggies
-String Cheese or Cheese Shapes
-Baby Carrots w/Hummus
|Store Bought Treats:
-No Sugar Added Granola Bars
-Homemade Trail Mix
If you are gearing up to get your kids back into a back-to-school routine, then chances are you have thought about quick and easy ways to get them fed on those busy mornings! If that sounds familiar, I have just the recipes for you! All of these recipes are quick, easy to make, and healthy. I categorized them into “Make Ahead” and “5-10 Minute Prep” so you can choose if you want to plan ahead so you can grab and go, or make a warm fresh breakfast in just 5-10 minutes on the day of. Enjoy!
Grain Free Peanut Butter Muffins
I hope this helps you and your family prepare a healthy breakfast, even on the busiest of mornings!
Putting an End to Secret Eating
By Sarah Shaffer
Several years ago when the Lord really began opening my eyes to His truth to change my thoughts toward disordered eating habits, he used my kids to teach me a life-changing lesson. In our house we have a saying, “sneaking is the same as lying.” I teach my kids that if you have to sneak something, you need to pause and question, is what I’m about to choose permissible AND beneficial? If not, that choice could easily lead down a difficult path. You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequences of that choice.
Even now, it makes me smile to think about how the Lord uses the lessons we strive to teach our kids in our own lives. One day, I caught my little girl hiding in her closet with a number of her older brother’s “off limits” toys. She’d made a very purposeful decision to sneak something she knew wasn’t in her best interest. Minutes later, literally just moments after talking with her about why her sneaking would result in a consequence, I found myself in the kitchen. Specifically, in the pantry – light on, door closed – elbow deep in a bag of chips, very intent on stuffing in as many as I could before I was discovered. BAM!!!! My hypocrisy hit me like a ton of bricks. The Lord used that perfectly timed experience with my daughter to reveal a life-changing lesson to me. How could I lead my children into truth when this was the example I was setting for them?
The Lord used that moment and two verses in particular to change my heart toward “sneak” eating. Psalm 25:21 says, “May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in you.” And, Psalm 32:1-2 declares, “Oh, what joy for those whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!”
Just as I encourage my children to make blameless choices, choices that they can be proud of no matter who’s watching, the Lord desires the same for you and me. Not because He is watching, waiting for us to “mess up”, or doesn’t trust us, but because He desires that things go well for us. He wants us to make choices that lead to blessed, peaceful paths. That day, I committed that particular area of my disordered eating to Him and laid sneak eating at the foot of the cross.
If you struggle in this area, let me just encourage you that the Lord is faithful to his beloved children. If you hand this over to the Lord, He will make you free. He will lead you along the right path and show you which way to turn. My prayer for you today is this – Lord, you tell us that where your spirit is there is freedom. We ask you now to send your Holy Spirit to gently direct us away from choices to sneak what may be permissible but not beneficial in our lives. We commit to you now to live our lives in the light, shield us with your love. In Jesus name, amen.”
Eating healthy does not have to mean expensive grocery bills. Here are some of my favorite tips for eating healthy on a budget!
1. Plan Ahead- Make a grocery list and stick to it. The best way to avoid impulse buying is to plan what you need before you get to the store. That way you are not tempted to buy things that you don’t need.
2. Be Prepared- Pack your lunches, snacks, and eat before you go out. When you pack your own food you prevent yourself from over eating, you always know what is in your food, and you save time and money!
3. Buy in Bulk- There are times when it is smart to buy in bulk. One example is discounted meat. If you look for discounts on meat and buy it in big batches, you can store it in your freezer until you are ready to use it. It is also smart to buy products in bulk that you use a lot. For example, if you use a lot of lettuce, look for one large bag, and compare the price to two smaller bags. Chances are, buying more of something that you will use will save you money in the long run.
4. Buy Frozen- If you think you won’t be able to use something up before it spoils such as fruit or vegetables, buy them frozen. Not only will this save you money, but it will prevent you from throwing money away on spoiled groceries.
5. Buy In-Season Produce- Food grown in season is not only more affordable, but it also tastes better. Look for root vegetables in the winter, apples, potatoes, and squash in the fall, and broccoli and berries in the summer. Farmers markets may also have a better deal on produce than grocery stores.
6. Buy Generic- Name brands often have increased prices due to the packaging and advertising costs.
7. Clip Coupons- Sign up for newsletters about sales and deals at the stores you frequently shop at. Investing a few minutes clipping and/or printing coupons each week can save you a lot of money on groceries.
8. Get the Customer Card- Many grocery stores hold sales and specials for customer card holders only. Signing up for these costumer cards are often free and only take a few moments.
9. Buy a Reusable Water Bottle- Don’t spend money on soft drinks, juices, or bottled water. Instead invest in a few nice water bottles and refill them. Not only will this save you money, but it will save you tons of sugar and calories!
10. Get Creative with Leftovers- If you happen to have leftovers of some of your ingredients, don’t throw them away. Instead, put them to good use and get creative by putting them into a different recipe, or freeze them if possible.