Saturday, November 9, 2013

Our Food Journey

This may seem like a mixed message blog but I am just writing what I believe and what has been on my heart lately.

It all started on our honeymoon. My husband and I went into a bookstore and we found a book called ‘7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess’ by Jen Hatmaker. She is a Christian author who I had never heard of before but I am always trying new ways to live more simply because I truly believe that my relationship with God will flourish when I am living simply. Anyways, we found the book, bought it on my kindle, and read most of it. It started a crazy journey that we are now on, a journey that I love and kind of hate at the same time.

I like food. I love sweets. Doughnuts, candy, brownies, cake, cookies, ice cream. I could eat sweets all day and not get sick. I have a very high sweet tolerance J This has made the journey very hard. Eating makes me very happy!

I am also frugal with my finances. Extremely. I used to buy the great value version of almost anything. I wear clothes until they have holes in them. I haven’t had cable in 2 years, because it’s too much money. I am very cheap. Healthy food did not equal cheap in my head before this journey. Healthy food equaled lots of time, money and patience that I just didn’t have. I live a busy life and I needed my food to be easy and cheap.
I thought I was doing good health wise before reading this book and doing some other research. I rarely ate fast food, never bought chips (except for tortilla chips), hardly ever drank soda, and did not often buy extra unnecessary foods like the doughnuts and cakes I loved so much. I didn’t eat out of a vending machine much and I ate fruit and veggies often. Now, if there was free cake or potato chips or pizza somewhere, I would eat that. You don’t turn down free food! So other than these occasions, I felt I was pretty healthy.

Then I started looking at ingredient lists. I realized how some ‘healthy’ foods are filled with processed sugars and dextrins and all sorts of other ingredients that I could not pronounce and did not know what they were. I am not a scientist and I am not trying to judge others and the way they eat. But, from reading Jenn’s book and from doing a minimal amount of research, Tripp & I decided that we didn’t want to eat this way anymore.

We are not trying to eat in the American health food way. We are trying to eat natural food. No processed food! This does not mean no fat and no sugary substances. If it’s natural, we’re ok with eating it! This includes honey, olive oil, butter (certain types), eggs, etc. We have found some great recipes and ideas from other health conscience friends. We have not bought store made bread since July. We have eaten things like pizza and brownies but we have found recipes where we can make these things from scratch and using natural ingredients, and they still taste pretty good!

We are still struggling on weekends when we are out with others. We allow lots of splurges because we don’t want to be food snobs. I like what our parents cook, even it it’s not always all natural. And every once in awhile, I want a milkshake from Dairy Queen!

Another awesome thing we’ve learned is that eating this way (at least the way we’re doing it) is MUCH CHEAPER! Farmers markets have been awesome! Buying local and it’s cheaper. We have eaten less meat because we are trying to keep our meals veggie based (greens are best). We are NOT becoming vegetarians! I like meat! But, we are buying less meat at our meals, making salads or veggies the main course, and this has saved us a ton of money!

This is the part that might seem strange. The core of this natural eating journey is our yearning to be closer to God. I don’t think God wanted us to destroy the natural foods He blessed us with (He is the creator of all things that grow on this Earth after all). I don’t think He wanted us to manipulate and twist and process all of this great food that He gave us. I think He wants us to live simply so that we can focus on Him and live our lives benefiting what He has given us. I want to eat naturally not to be a hippie—I want to be closer to God and to show Him how much I love all that He has given us naturally. This may seem strange, that I put eating healthy as a step to growing closer to God. But I really do think my appreciation for the beautiful and delicious nature He has given us has grown since we’ve started this journey. This is for His glory, not for Tripp & I. I want to praise Him every day for giving me the food that I am eating, knowing that the food came from the ground and that God put it there.

Spending less money on food means I can spend more on giving. Spending more time making food means that I spend more time with my husband, I spend a little less time running around, ‘being busy’. I can take time while I cook to talk to God.

I am thrilled with the healthier feeling that I have. I am beginning to love some of our new natural dishes. And I LOVE buying local and saving money! Overall, I am happy with the journey. It is taking more time and, like I said, we still need a little work. But, I know what we’ve done is making a difference in our health and I am happy with our personal progress. Most of all, I am happy to be growing closer to my creator. I am happy to find a way to praise and glorify Him in eating, one of my favorite activities! 

--Nothing Without Him--
Jenny Lewis 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Wedding Part 2

I had some amazing friends help me throughout wedding planning! Two of them are Kandi Newkirk and Mindy Curtis.

These two were crucial in the planning; they provided tons of advice and tips about weddings and (more importantly) marriage itself; they allowed for their kids to be in my wedding and helped prepare them for the day. I am so blessed to call these inspirational women my friends!

(Found the 5K pic :) )

Well before the wedding, we went to a mall somewhere near Hickory where they encouraged me as I got a makeover. I don't like makeup. But the lady at the mall did a fantastic job!

Mindy was then willing to replicate this make up twice! Once for a practice session and once for real on the morning of the wedding!

I am beyond thankful that they are in my lives and helped me so with all wedding needs. I have learned so much from these ladies.

I also want to feature my amazing wedding luncheon in this blog! Another friend, Julie, put together an amazing luncheon for me, a few friends, and the wonderful women in my family the day before the wedding. This was beyond spectacular and I felt so spoiled! Mindy also helped greatly with this!

My beautiful chair holder!

 The food was divine!!! The dessert was amazing!!!

We even had a photo booth with chalk boards and floppy hats! I cannot wait to see the rest of the pictures from this luncheon! I felt so spoiled that day, being able to relax with my friends and family!

Here is a picture of the ring bearer and flower girl, who Mindy and Kandi graciously allowed to be in my wedding! They were perfect together!

Thank you to Julie, Mindy, & Kandi for all you did to make my day so special!!! <3

--Nothing Without Him--

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Wedding Part 1

I have been so blessed in my life, and most especially in the past year.

As I posted previously, last year in August, Tripp & I got engaged! I was so excited and so incredibly busy with my first year of teaching! Planning a wedding seemed like it would be difficult. But it was actually one of the most fun things I have ever done, mostly because of all of the help I was given.

My mother was a huge source of help. She was at all dress fittings, helped give opinions when needed, and helped organize more than half of the wedding vendors! Her and my dad are absolutely amazing parents and gave me my dream wedding!

Pam & Dale were another huge source of help. They let us have the wedding on their beautiful property. This included many visits to the property before the wedding, their help in making the property even more beautiful by adding plants, new pathways, etc., making the property just perfect. Pam made me the most delicious breakfast the morning of the wedding and after months of hard work and all the preparation they did for our special day, they even gave us a gift! I cannot thank them enough for everything they did!

Ok, there are many more people I will be thanking, but I'm going to get on to the pictures and the sorting out of all we did for the wedding.

After finding the property, I needed to find a dress. I am not much of a shopper. Ok, I actually hate shopping. But I was really excited to go wedding dress shopping! I headed to Asheville with my mom, my sister, my maid of honor, and lots of friends (Becky, Mindy, Kandi, Valerie, Cassie, Polly, Olivia). I tried on many dresses!

 Some were not so good.....

 I think Holly & Becky had a good time :)

 I liked this one a lot but it wasn't white and I wanted white!

 This one was a contender (I was too short to get the full affect of the dress without standing on it).

And finally, I put on the first dress I tried on, this time adding a sash. It was a magic sash and transformed the dress into the dress I wanted to wear for me wedding!

I had a great time shopping for dresses and am so thankful to all of the help I had from my entourage :)

I don't have many pictures of the rest of wedding planning. My mom found an amazing caterer, my cousin offered to do my photography, my friend Anna offered to help with that too. We decided to make our own wedding invitations and I am very proud of how they turned out (since I am not a crafty person)!

The time flew by and wedding planning became a vacation away from work. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have enjoyed helping a few other friends with their weddings over the past year!

More to come on the wedding later!

--Nothing Without Him--

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Life Update

Wow, I have not posted a blog in a long time. I guess that means life has been good or I have been too busy. I think it’s a combo of both. Let’s recap since May 2012, when I graduated from college.
Summer of 2012 was wonderful. It was the first summer I did not have a steady job. I spent the summer babysitting when asked because I wanted to be able to do job interviews anytime I was called.
I went to the beach a lot! I went with a family I babysit for, and my friend Jenny D!

I went on another sort of babysitting trip with Cassie & our friends, the Newkirks! 

I went with my, at the time, boyfriend and his family!

Lastly, I went with my brother and Tripp to visit my Florida family!  And yes, this is the best picture I have of the two of them.

Tripp & I also went to several weddings. The Bence wedding, the Holster wedding, & the Marwitz wedding. All of them were so wonderful! It was so much fun going to so many weddings with my love!
In the midst of the beach and the weddings, I interviewed at 5 different schools. On one of my beach trips, I received a call that I was to be the new 4th grade teacher at Smokey Mountain Elementary! I was ecstatic! Thankfully, best roommate ever (aka Cassie Moore) was working very close to my school so were able to continue living together! We moved to the Villa, which was very nice and very expensive. But I am mostly glad we lived there.

From August to May, most of my life was taken up by school. Being a teacher is about 357 times hard than I thought it would be. The scary part is, I already thought It would be hard in the first place! I am so blessed to work with some amazing colleagues though! I learned so much and will probably need to post a whole blog simply on the joys and trials of teaching in America.

One last major life event happened. Tripp proposed to me on August 19th! It was beyond perfect and I am just so blessed to have him in my life!

So aside from teaching, I spent the year planning our wedding. My mom was such a huge help! My dad and her did so many amazing things that Tripp and I are so thankful for!! I had some help from many others too. More on this later, I think.

My friend Becca got married in December! I was so honored to be a part of her special day!!

In February, I became the interim children’s coordinator at First UMC of Sylva. This was a great experience and I am thankful I was able to work so much with the children of the church. I had to leave the job a few weeks ago, because it was too much to do with teaching and we are now living somewhere else.

Also in February, Cassie and I moved to a different apartment in preparation for Cassie-moving-to-Asheville L I was so so so so so blessed to get to live with Cassie for so long. I am incredibly thankful for her and will always look to her as one of my best friends! But with the wedding coming up and with Cassie’s job aspirations, it made sense that we not live together after I was married and she really wanted to be in Asheville. I am so glad she got a job there and I know she is going to be an amazing manager of the Grand Bohemian one day J Some Cassie pics because we take such good pics!

At some point in April, Tripp & I ran a 5K with some wonderful friends and my sister! We ran it in 34 minutes!!! It was my first!

In May, Tripp graduated college! Cassie was moving out! I was finishing up the school year! My dear friend Miranda was married and I am so honored to have been a part of her special day too! 

On June 15th, Tripp & were married. It was the best day of my life. I will write more about that later.
This summer, we both worked, we learned how to live together, and Tripp got a full time teaching job teaching choir in Andrews at a middle and high school. We moved to Bryson City, so he’d be a little closer to work, although he still has quite a commute.

Now these are all just highlights of the best year. Much, much more happened but I don’t have time to write about everything! I am starting my second year at SME in the same room and grade (YAY!) and Trippy is starting his job and God is still blessing us in so many ways! 

I will definitely be writing again soon!

--Nothing Without Him--

Jenny Lewis