8 Ways To Menu Plan With Happy Planner

8 Ways To Menu Plan With Happy Planner

Girl, Happy Planner makes menu planning fun. At the very least, you won’t mind doing it! Today I’m going to show you 8 Ways to Menu Plan with Happy Planner. You can thank me later.

8 ways to menu plan with happy planner

This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you. Your support helps me offset the costs incurred with this blog. Read my full disclosure policy here.

Hey there and welcome! Today we’re going to talk about menu planning. No wait, don’t go! I have good news. Happy Planner makes it fun. If you don’t know about Happy Planner, make sure you read my post How Happy Planner Changed My Life.

Now we aren’t going to get into how to create menu plans, as in how to choose which meals to rotate. I actually discuss that in another post. If you haven’t read my post, Easy Menu Planning, go read it. Go on, we’ll wait for you.

Today we’re just going to chat about how to record your menu plans. So I’m going to show you 8 ways to menu plan with your Happy Planner.

Ways to Menu Plan With Happy Planner

Menu Planner Half Sheets

Okay, you may even wonder why I bring this up. Chances are if you’ve been using Happy Planner ®, you’ve been using these forever. Well, I’m sharing it because there are still a bunch of newbs out there! Every day, Happy Planner converts more people into the obsessive, creative planning world. That’s right, come to the dark side…we have stickers! God knows I have converted more than 30 friends and acquaintances.

In all seriousness though, I’m writing this first idea for the planner newbie who isn’t sure about the basics. Happy Planner actually makes half sheets that are specifically for meal planning. On one side are the days of the week. The reverse side has a grocery list. Super. Easy.

Whether you are doing a online grocery order or heading out to a bricks and mortar store, this will save you time. A piece of advice: splurge on the Food Value Sticker Book. It will make menu planning extra fun!

ways to menu plan with happy planner

The Weekly Spread

This is probably one of the more popular ways. This is how I used to record my meal plans until I was more selective about my weekly planner space. It doesn’t matter what layout you have, there are stickers for every need and every space. Can I get a Hallelujah?!

Also, don’t rule out the power of the dash board. I love using it to write sticky notes to myself. Additionally, the Happy Planner came out with a meal planning coordinating pack and clear stamps.

Menu Plan Weekly Spread

Household Extension Pack

Back in the old days, one of the first extension packs was the Household Extension packs. I loved it and helped me keep my chores done so I could sip wine and have a bubble bath instead of folding clothes at the end of the day. #WINNING

Then, like always Happy Planner outdesigned themselves and came out with an updated version of the Household Extension Pack.

It includes:

  • Chores
  • Menu Planning
  • Budget
  • Projects

On the front you have all seven days of the week with a side-by-side grocery list. On the back, the grocery list continues as well as a planning section for snacks and quick bites. It also includes an area for meal prep or for a recipe. I love this section for writing down recipes so I don’t have to search for it on Pinterest when I’m trying to make it on a school night.

Menu Planning extension pack

Monthly Spread

Wait…the monthly spread? Hear me out, girl. I know planning a month at a time scares the bejeezus out of you. Let me tell you, you can actually save money by doing so. You can include staples over the month so things like Costco and Sam’s Club make sense. You can plan to actually use leftovers. I know what you’re thinking. What if my plans change?

Monthly spread menu planning

If you’re really freaked out by planning so far in advance, don’t. You can fill it in a week at a time. Also, don’t forget about those super cute Happy Planner post-its. Like the ones you’ve been stashing away in your craft cart? Come on, girl. Use them! Post its are great for things that you don’t want to memorialize (e.g. like concrete) in your planner. If plans change you can easily move it to another day. Also, if plans fall through completely, simply throw it away and you haven’t lost any prime real estate on your planner. I always use post its for plans that are tentative. You’re welcome.

Daily Half Sheets

My next suggestion is to use any weekly half sheet. What?? Like the ones that just have the days of the week on them? Yup, those! They can capture any schedule you choose, including your dining schedule! Again, it’s up to you if you plan on capturing all three meals or just dinner plans.

Below, is a picture of one of my actual menu schedules. As you can see, it’s very easy to use. Just don’t judge me for having Tuna on Rye twice. I love it.

Menu Planning with Daily Schedule

Sidebar

One of the simplest, yet best features in a Happy Planner is the sidebar. The sidebar can be used for so many things, but personally, I love using it for lists. Enter…menu planning. That’s right, girl. Just go ahead and park that sweet little menu plan in that parking spot. It makes it easy to refer to it all week! In fact, some value sticker books have heading stickers and list style sidebar stickers. However, the Household value sticker book contains weekly menu plan stickers that fit perfectly in the sidebar.

Menu plan sidebar

Fitness or Wellness Planner

Both the fitness and wellness planner can also be used to track menus. In fact, if you’re dieting, it really does help to write down what you eat because it makes you conscious of what you put in your mouth. Take it from someone who once lost 183 pounds.

There are two fitness planners: the classic fitness and Healthy Hero. Both allow for tracking meals. One thing I started doing this year, was merging my fitness into my wellness planner. If you aren’t familiar with the wellness planner, it’s a planner that focuses more on your body, mind, and soul as opposed to just your body or fitness. But you can certainly adapt it to include your menu or dieting plan.

Ways to Menu Plan with Happy Planner
Menu Planning with the Wellness Planner

Dry Erase Boards

Okay, now for the pièce de résistance…dry erase boards. Dry erase boards made their appearance with the late year / New year release. The dry erase boards were part of the Super Mom, Socialite, Faith Warrior, and Healthy Hero product lines.

I would make one small caution. The dry erase can sometimes smudge off if you are opening and closing your planner a lot. I don’t have that problem because I keep it open all the time on my desk or counter. However, if this becomes a problem for you, simply use wet erase and the problem is solved. I’ve put some of my favorite dry erase and wet erase supplies below.

ways to menu plan with happy planner

There you go, 8 ways to menu plan with Happy Planner! I hope I’ve made this humdrum chore a little easier!

If you currently use a Happy Planner to menu plan, I’d love to hear which is your favorite way to plan in the comments below.

Broccoli Slaw

This yummy blend of shredded broccoli, carrots and red cabbage is a new take on an old favorite. Learn how to make zesty, crunchy, Broccoli Slaw.

Broccoli Slaw

This post, Broccoli Slaw, may contain affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, a may receive a small percentage at no cost to you. I only link to things I love.

Yummy coleslaw! Who doesn’t love it? Well… me! Yup, you read that right. I was never a huge fan of it. As I’ve grown older, I certainly like it more than I used to.

But it’s a staple in the summer. You’ll find it at every BBQ and summer picnic or potluck. I don’t know if it’s regional, but here in the South, you’ll also find it often paired with fried catfish and other seafood.

Broccoli Slaw Ingredients

The Slaw

I’m a cheater! It’s true. I cheat a little with this recipe. My local store already has the basic broccoli slaw starter. It comes in a 14 oz bag and all you have to do is mix in your dressing. If you aren’t as lucky as me you’ll have to shred the raw broccoli, carrots and red cabbage.

That being said, I make my own dressing and it’s super easy. Honestly, I can’t believe they actually sell bottled coleslaw dressing. Because this whole salad takes less than five minutes to whip up if you already have the vegetables shredded.

The Dressing

Traditionally, coleslaw dressing is made up of white vinegar, lemon juice and granulated sugar mixed with mayonnaise . I hate vinegar, with balsamic as the exception. So I did a slightly different take. After all, I’m Hispanic, so I tend to cook with lime juice. That’s what makes this recipe different. I mix fresh cilantro with lime juice. I cut the sugar down by half the amount so it is more zesty than sweet. Then I add mayo and stir to a perfect creaminess!

Broccoli Slaw

Try this new take on an old favorite. This new recipe substitutes cabbage for broccoli and adds zesty lime juice and fresh cilantro.
Course: Salad
Keyword: broccoli, cabbage, coleslaw, lime juice, mayonnaise, picnic, potluck, salad, summer
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 Cup Lime Juice
  • ½ Cup Fresh Cilantro Shredded
  • 12-14 oz Broccoli Slaw Prepackaged
  • 1 Cup Mayo
  • 1 Tbsp White Sugar
  • Pepper To taste

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl add the broccoli slaw. 
  • Mix sugar in lime juice, then pour over broccoli slaw and toss well
  • Mix in shredded cilantro and toss well
  • Add mayonnaise and fold in until fully combined.
  • Add light pepper if desired.
Broccoli Slaw

I hope you’ve enjoyed the recipe, Broccoli Slaw. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments!

How To Make A War Binder

How To Make A War Binder

Maybe you’ve watched the hit Christian movie “War Room” based on the book “Fervent.” Today, I’m going to show you how to make a war binder – a mini war room from which to pray.

how to make a war binder

Supplies

  • Travelers Notebooks
  • A Travel Notebook Cover
  • Art Supplies (stickers, markers, highlighters, etc)
  • Washi Tape
  • Pens

A travelers notebook is a long notebook. It is typically a thin book and contains blank, lined, graph, or dot grid pages. A travelers notebook cover is just a cover designed to hold anywhere from one to six notebooks. Inside the cover are bands that hold the books in place like a spine. Travelers notebook covers can be found at Michaels craft store. However, I wanted something more personal. So I had someone make one for me on Etsy. It has a sewn cover and I chose an anchor theme because of all the sea and water references in scripture, but you choose whatever resonates with you. I’ve provided a few links below, but you can find them at other places both online and at craft stores.

War Binder
Elastic bands hold the books in place
how to make a war binder

War Binder Subjects

Honestly, this is totally up to you. This is how you personalize it and make it your own. Your war binder should reflect your personal relationship with Christ. But to give you idea of what sections you can create, I’m going to show you what I do. Hopefully it will spark your creativity. I have six books:

  • Scripture (memory verses, important scriptures, devotionals)
  • Prayer & Gratitude (prayer lists, answered prayers, blessings)
  • Book Notes
  • Bible Study
  • Sermon Notes
  • Miscellaneous (anything that doesn’t fit in the above categories)
How to Make a War Binder

The inside pages are where the magic happens. The photo below is a page from my Book Notes notebook. I’m always reading and it’s here that I write down the main takeaways. You decorate it as little or as much as you want. Don’t worry if you aren’t artistic, there are lots of ways to fake that (more on that in a minute). I got these notebooks from May Designs.

Book Notes

Book Notes
Use stickers and washi tape to decorate pages

Sermon Notes

As you can see below, I’ve written down my sermon notes. These are really helpful as I try to implement what I learned on Sunday, throughout the week. Personally, I like to scribble notes in church and then come home and organize my thoughts in the war binder. Remember, no one is going to see your war binder unless you want them to. Make sure to make it your own instead of copying others. Making a war binder is all about inspiration.

Sermon Notes

Scripture

My scripture notebook is where I keep memory verses I want to remember. I turn to these during rough times or during my prayer for praise. Personally, I prefer to decorate the pages with something the scripture inspires within me. I did this page with colored pencils, but you can use any art supplies you want to decorate your pages, if that’s the way you want your war binder to look. Remember this is YOUR war binder. It doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s.

If you aren’t artistic there are other options. You can decorate with stickers and washi tape. Illustrated faith has lots of accessories like stickers and die cuts for those who don’t want to draw or need inspiration to get started. Washi tape is a Japanese masking tape. It is very colorful and comes in a variety of patters, colors and widths. It can immediately brighten up a page. Use it for creating borders and columns. You can cut it into shapes, ribbons and flags. Get creative!

Scripture

Prayer & Gratitude

In my prayer book, I have my gratitude on the opposite prayer page. Some people dedicate a separate book for gratitude. It’s up to you. Personally, I love writing down my blessings and answered prayers in my war binder and thanking God for them before I ask for more. Again, do what feels comfortable to you. I love writing down answered prayers. When I feel like God isn’t moving in my life, I open this up and look at all He has given me and how he has answered me so many times before. If you aren’t sure where to begin, read my Gratitude Journal Prompts.

Prayer & gratitude
Prayer & gratitude

Miscellaneous

Finally, I keep a miscellaneous notebook for anything that doesn’t quite fit in some of my other notebooks. These might include prayer cards that someone gives me, devotionals, book lists and other types of things.

War Binder Support

Lastly, if you need additional inspiration, Facebook is a great place to look. The main war binder group has over 35,000 members. There is also a sister prayer group and pen pal group.

In closing, I hope I’ve help you get started with your war binder. I’d love to hear what you put in yours in the comments below.

Gratitude Journal Prompts

Gratitude Journal Prompts

Get your mind off your problems and on the good things happening in your life with these gratitude journal prompts.

Gratitude Journal Prompts

This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you. Your support helps me offset the costs incurred with this blog.

Why Gratitude

Gratitude can totally change your perspective on life. Being mindful about the good things in your life help you focus on happier things instead of problems. The truth is everyone has problems and we face one problem after another. If you’re waiting for your problems to go away before you can be happy, you’ll be waiting your whole life.

Choose to be happy where you are, right now. There is always something for which to be grateful. Keeping a gratitude journal has show in studies to directly impact our happiness.

If you’re interested in additional journaling ideas, see my post 50 Journal Prompts. Here are just some of the benefits to keeping a gratitude journal.

  • Brings a feeling of calm
  • Helps relieve stress
  • Takes the focus off your negative problems
  • Helps you find what matters most to you
  • Learn more about yourself
  • Aids with depression
  • Makes you more mindful
  • Notice that small good things really are happening in your life

Today, I’m providing a list of gratitude journal prompts to help get you started.

Gratitude Journal Prompts
Courtesy of Unsplash

Gratitude Journal Prompts

  1. What are you grateful for financially?
  2. List things that have helped you get through hard times.
  3. What are you glad your parents taught you?
  4. Name 3 things you’re glad you learned in school.
  5. Describe a time you thought something wouldn’t work out, but did.
  6. List 3 things you love most about each of your children.
  7. Name a physical feature you love about yourself.
  8. What do you love most about your job? (If you’re at home, what do you love most about it?)
  9. If you could go back and thank someone from your past, who would it be and why?
  10. What do you love most about your spouse?
  11. Name something hard that ended up being good for you.
  12. For what talents are you most grateful?
  13. What has been your best experience this year?
  14. Describe a time you were grateful to be forgiven.
  15. List 5 things you love most about your personality.
  16. What do you think friends love most about you?
  17. Name 10 people you are grateful for.
  18. What was the best part of your day today?
  19. Write the last compliment you remember receiving.
  20. List things that make you feel comforted.
  21. Why are you grateful for your freedom?
  22. Which of the 5 senses are you most grateful to have?
  23. Describe a memory from your childhood that makes you happy.
  24. List ten things you take for granted.
  25. Why are you grateful for your family?

I hope these prompts help you realize you have reasons to be happy and content. In the comments below, I’d love to hear some of the things you are grateful for.

Goat Cheese Fondue

Goat Cheese Fondue

Goat Cheese Fondue is full of Mediterranean flavors like warm, bubbling goat cheese, fresh Rosemary, tomatoes, olive oil and Kalamata olives.

Goat Cheese Fondue

This post, Goat Cheese Fondue, contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

I love fondue! I mean, come on, who doesn’t love a big bubbling pot of melted cheese? My husband and I make fondue at home quite a bit. Honestly, it’s a great date night at home if you can’t go out. We’ve got little ones and so it’s really rare if we get a date night out. We’re taking anniversaries only. So when the kids are in bed, we’ll often create a special evening together and that is where the magic of fondue happens!

This is a great appetizer, even for a weeknight meal or an intimate dinner party. I’m surprised at how much this upscale, yet easy appetizer wows dinner guests. As soon as you pair these ingredients together, people automatically feel like it’s a fancy dish.

Making Goat Cheese Fondue

I love traditional fondue (Swiss & fontina cheese and white wine), but recently, I decided to do a different take on the Swiss classic. This recipe combines a several Mediterranean flavors. Goat cheese, also called Chèvre is combined with Kalamata olives, fresh rosemary, tomatoes and extra-virgin olive oil. The flavor is like fireworks on your tongue. Seriously, it’s delicious. And best of all, you don’t need a fondue pot!

I love serving this dish with grilled baguette! To make it, just purchase a baguette from your local grocery store. After cutting into slices, brush extra-virgin olive oil on both sides of the bread. I use a cast iron grill pan, but any grill pan will work just fine. On medium heat, toast each side for 5 minutes or until grill lines appear.

Goat Cheese Fondue

I highly recommend serving this dish while still piping hot. Once, out of oven the cheese will start to solidify again as it cools down. After experimenting with the recipe, I don’t recommend adding wine or anything else to the cheese. I found the consistency isn’t good otherwise. So keep it simple and just melt the cheese as-is.

Goat Cheese Fondue

This delicious new take on fondue fuses Mediterranean flavors like Goat Cheese, Kalamata Olives, Fresh Rosemary, Olive Oil and Sweet Tomatoes
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Appetizer
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3-4 Small Sweet Tomatoes
  • 4 Oz Goat Cheese
  • 1 Tsp Fresh Rosemary
  • 6-8 Kalamata Olives Pitted

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • In a small dish, place goat cheese and place in the over for 5-10 mins until softened. 
  • While in the oven, pit olives (if not pre-pitted) and separate rosemary from stem.
  • Once goat cheese is semi soft take out of oven and spread the cheese to fully cover the bottom of the dish. 
  • Sprinkle fresh rosemary. Add 3-4 tomatoes and add olives
  • Turn broiler on low and place cheese in oven
  • Melt under broiler for approximately 5 mins. Pay close attention to the cheese as things can burn quickly under the broiler. 
  • Once melted, remove from oven. Drizzle olive oil on the top. Best served with warm bread.
Goat Cheese Fondue

I hope you love this appetizer as much as I do. I think it will become one of your favorites! If you try it, I’d love to hear what you think of it below in the comments. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for more easy recipes!

10 Things You Dont Know About Me

10 Things You Dont Know About Me

I’ve shared some deeply personal things on My Beautiful Mess. I’ve opened up about my bipolar illness, postpartum depression, even our journey with my son’s clubfoot. However, I thought it would be great for my readers to learn more about me. People that know me well, probably know these facts already. But for those who don’t, I’m going to share 10 things you don’t know about me.

1. I Was On TV

About a decade ago, I was working part time as an actress and model. I did some local theater and some low budget movies from local filmmakers. However, for a few years I worked as a specialty extra for NBC’s Friday Night Lights. If you squint really hard, you might see an out of focus side line reporter at one of the overnight football games – that was me. I was also an extra in NBA player Tony Parker’s music video Balance Toi. I did some commercials and some local modeling. It sounds glamorous, but it isn’t. It’s lots of standing around and repetition. It was fun though. I met some great people and made some extra cash.

Mary Lentz

2. I Was Married Before

This is harder to write about than I thought. I was married briefly in my early 20’s. I had met him in England and lived abroad for a number of years. We married on my 20th birthday (forever changing how I feel about my birthday). Looking back, I feel fairly certain he never really loved me. The relationship felt very one-sided. Ultimately, the marriage ended when he had an affair with another married woman. It was incredibly painful and it took me nearly a decade to recover from the rejection and hurt. Today, I’m married to a man so good, it feels like a fairytale. At the time, I felt like my life had ended. If only I knew the amazing man that was waiting for me ten years later.

3. I’m an Accomplished Artist

When I was living in Europe, I was a artist-in-residence. I worked as a full-time artist, curated works within the gallery and experimented in many different mediums. I had previously shown my work at galleries. In fact, at the age of 13, a figurative cubist piece I did was prominently displayed in an Indiana library. My favorite genres are cubism (both figurative and abstract), expressionism, and colorist work. I prefer working in oils or mixed media. But I’ve worked in just about every medium except for marble. These days, I sell things here on the blog and on my Etsy shop. It’s a great way to get out my artistic yearning. Your purchases help support the costs incurred with running this blog, so thank you!

4. I’ve Written For Years

Gee, where do I start? The first time I was published I was about 12 or 13. My poetry was published in a national chapbook of poetry. Over my teenage years, I wrote for lots of small media outlets and small press publications. In my twenties, I continued to write as a freelance writer and I was also the editor-in-chief of my own magazine, SWAG (Southwest Actors Guild). I started this blog when I first got married, but never really took it seriously. I can’t tell you how much I regret that decision. When I think of where I could be today if I had just kept going, I could slap myself. Take a lesson from my life – don’t wait for tomorrow.

5. I’m a Perfectionist

Hi, I’m Mary and I’m a perfectionist! It’s true. I have a deeply rooted problem with perfectionism. Perfectionism is a sign that you are out of control on this inside, so therefore you have the need to control external circumstances. However, perfectionism and control are just an illusion. The truth is, no one is ever in control. I have a bad habit of getting my self worth from accomplishments. As a second child, I always felt overshadowed by my older brother. In fact, as a child, I only remember receiving positive attention when I had accomplished something good. I became addicted to praise. I needed it in order to feel loved. The bad part is that we can start applying perfectionism to other people. I’m working on my perfectionism. I’ve not arrived, but I’m a work in progress.

6. I Love Horror

It’s true. Now, this isn’t to be confused with a love of the occult. I’m opposed to that. However, I do love a good horror movie for fun, in particular ghosts and supernatural stuff. But I also love some good zombie flicks. I know, I’m weird. But I get weirder. I also love true crime. I love to watch Investigation Discovery channel. You can keep your CSI shows! I love watching true crime shows. Everyone knows about my love for Joe Kenda! My husband affectionately calls it “Murder Porn” because most of the shows are about murder and it’s so addictive to watch. I know, it’s terrible. Don’t care.

7. I’m Obsessed With Happy Planner

I don’t care how ridiculous it sounds, but I have an obsession with Happy Planner ®. If you haven’t heard about how much I love it, you need to read the post, How Happy Planner Changed My Life. You might say I’m addicted. I’m embarrassed to say this isn’t even my whole stash. I use one to run this blog, one for fitness / wellness. I have one I use as my regular daily planner and teacher planner for my homeschooling. I don’t always have time for artwork, so being able to decorate my planners, really helps get out my desire to be artistic.

Happy Planner

8. I Once Lost 183 Pounds

Early in my 20’s I was over 300 pounds. After my first husband left me, I was determined to get the weight off. I did Weight Watchers and it took me 18 months to get from 325 to 140 lbs. I kept it off for eight years without gaining. But I started to regain weight after 2014. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve regained a lot of the weight back. In fact, I feel a lot of judgement from people because of it. I’m utterly disappointed in myself and for the last few years I have felt completely defeated by it. But since I did it once, I remind myself I can do it again.

9. I Was Born With My Hip Dislocated

As strange as that sounds, it it’s true. When I was born my hip was out of the socket. So for the first year of my life I wore a harness. My parents jokingly called it my “parachute” because that is what it looked like. It was a fabric brace that held up my leg into the socket and was leveraged by shoulder straps, hence the parachute look. It didn’t stop me from walking or crawling. I was walking by the age of one. But the really odd thing is that it is hereditary. My dad was also born with his hip dislocated! True story.

10. I Was An Insurance Professional

I worked for 15 years in the insurance industry. I held a variety of jobs within the same insurance company. However, I worked the longest as a property adjuster. Obviously, people close to me know this. But I handled large property claims like fire and water damage. It was a very demanding job. It had long hours, coupled almost impossible deadlines. Additionally, the job was naturally combative and argumentative. Hurting people lash out and hate insurance companies. The job was so stressful at one point, I had a full-on nervous breakdown. They called me the human dumpster because I would fix the awful claims that had gone sideways. I was planning to quit after giving birth. But a manager insisted I work a fire while I was pregnant, so I ended up quitting before I expected. Let me tell you, I don’t miss that job one bit.

Your Story

Someone once told me, “your life sounds so exciting, it makes mine feel boring.” I was never sure how to answer something like that. First, it’s a compliment wrapped in an insult. I don’t see my life as exciting. I’ve just decided to try passions of mine and see if it leads to something.

Let’s be clear. No one’s life is boring. Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes you are up and other days you are down and out. The truth is my life has been filled with depression, suicide attempts and hardship. Everyone’s life is a unique story and one that deserves to be told.

Never compare your life to someone else’s. We’re all on our own path, trying to do our best and figure out life. Jealousy is hatred and love at the same time. Don’t worry about people who aren’t happy with you. They likely aren’t happy with themselves either. Go out and be the person you were made to be!

In the comments below, I’d love to hear an interesting fact about your life.


April Scripture Reading: Depression & Grief

April Scripture Reading: Depression & Grief

Overcome depression, sorrow, and grief with these powerful scriptures. Speak truth into your life with the Holy living word of God. Join me for April Scripture Reading: Depression and Grief

SCRIPTURE READING: depression and grief

A Season of Sadness

I live with depression. I know well the feeling of complete hopelessness. Depression and grief has a way of stopping time. The moment can feel endless. You may find it hard to believe that situations or feelings will ever change or improve. I promise you friend, it will. It’s a season – and seasons don’t last. Read what the book of Ecclesiastes (3:1-8) says:

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—

A time to give birth and a time to die;
            A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.

A time to kill and a time to heal;
            A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to weep and a time to laugh;
            A time to mourn and a time to dance.

A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
            A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.

A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
            A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
            A time to be silent and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate;
            A time for war and a time for peace.

Depression, sorrow, grief is for an appointed time. We have seasons of abundance and seasons of loss. I love what the Psalmist says: “Weeping may endure the night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) The good news is this: this season of your life is temporary. One day, it won’t hurt like this. One day this will be over. God will bring you out of the pit (Psalm 103:4).

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

A Time to Cry

When calamity strikes, it is our nature to wonder why. We want answers, no – we demand them. Our humanness wants explanations in order to process loss. But sometimes there are no answers. There are no reasons, at least not earthly ones.

In times like these, we must remember that all things that happen in our lives are designed to draw us closer to Him. And our trials? What about our hurt, pain and suffering? Yes, that too. He wants us to fervently seek Him. Secondly, our weakness, our tears, our hardships all exist to magnify His glory. In order to be our Savior, we must first need saving. See what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians:

That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10

Not convinced? Read what the Psalmist writes in 50:15:

“Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”

Simply put, God uses our pain to show non-believers how He saves.

Death

Maybe you are struggling with a loved one who has passed on. I encourage you to comfort yourself with the living word of God. He has promised that we will be reunited with those we love. We will see them again. Therefore, death is not the end.

I have learned that grief comes in waves. Like the ebb and flow of an ocean, grief subsides allowing you to catch your breath for a moment, then it seems to overcome you again all at once. One minute you think you’re doing better. Then a reminder or a memory will surface and the thought of having to live the rest of your life without them seems unbearable.

Perhaps it is not the physical death of a person you are grieving, but the death of something else. Your dream, health, a job, a friendship, a marriage. Maybe you are so overcome by disappointment you can’t see a happy future. There is one. He has promised it.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

despair
Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash

Battling Feelings of Grief

Remember Who God Is

Compassionate

I count at least 20 times in scripture where God and Jesus are described as compassionate. Paul writes in Hebrews, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” Jesus understands our suffering. He empathizes with us. He is compassionate towards our troubles.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.

Psalm 145:8-9

Unchanging

The character of God is unchanging. “I am the Lord. I change not.” (Malachi 3:6). Everything is subject to change except for God. Read that again. God does not change. Therefore neither do His promises. I love an easily overlooked verse in Psalm 11. “When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (v. 3). In other words, when the floor beneath you gives way, what should we do? The answer can be found in the next verse. “The Lord is in His holy temple. The Lord sits on his throne in Heaven.” This declaration reminds us: when all that is good falls apart, God is still in control. He is still on his throne. He is not shaken by our troubles. God does not change.

Put Your Hope In God

The Psalms are a wonderful comfort in times of trouble. The Psalms demonstrate the cry of someone in need of help and refuge. They echo our troubled hearts. They also model how we should pray (adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication). But Psalm 42 also describes what we should do when we are sorrowful and disturbed.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Psalm 42:5

The Psalmist tells us to put our hope in the Lord. Hope is the happy anticipation of good. It is the belief that God is a good God and He has good things in store for us (Jer 29:11) . We get hope by praising God in the midst of our sorrow and by comforting ourselves with His promises.

praying over him

Give Up Your Ashes

One of my favorite verses in the bible is Isaiah 61:3. It is the messianic prophesy of why Christ came and died for us. This lone scripture has brought me so much peace when I’ve been overcome with depression and grief. Here is the truth:

to provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, a mantle of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” “Then people will call them “Oaks of Righteousness”, “The Planting of the LORD”, in order to display his splendor.

Isaiah 61:3

Beauty instead of ashes. Ashes represent what is left over after something has burned away. The leftovers. The broken pieces. But here is the rub. An exchange has to take place. Note that scripture says, “instead of.” Some translations say “for.” You must give your ashes to God. Give Him the brokenness and remains. Give Him the ashes and He’ll give you restoration.

Remain Thankful

Another way to pull ourselves out of sadness is to try and get the focus off ourselves and on our creator. You can do this by praising God through thanksgiving. It is hard to be downtrodden when you are remembering all the good God has already done for you. This is why Paul says to “set your mind on the higher things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Scripture Reading: Depression & Grief

Thank you for joining me for April Scripture Reading: Depression & Grief. In the comments below, I’d love to hear how I can pray for you. In case you missed it, see also March Scripture Reading: Fear & Anxiety.

Cajun Bean Soup

Cajun Bean Soup

This easy slow cooker Cajun Bean Soup is delicious on cold days. A blend of 15 different beans it has diced country ham and andouille sausage.

Cajun Bean Soup

There is just something about cold wintery days that make me want a hot, steaming bowl of soup! Come on, I know I’m not the only one. So today, I’m sharing my recipe for Cajun Bean Soup. Admittedly, it’s my own take on Cajun Bean Soup.

My husband is a professed “bean hater.” For someone like me who is Hispanic, the thought is incomprehensible! Haha. But this soup wins my husband over every time. It’s full of juicy ham and sausage which adds a lot of flavor to every bite!

How to Make Cajun Bean Soup

I add ham and andouille to the mix. If you’ve never had andouille, it’s delicious Cajun double smoked sausage. It is originally from France and was brought over to the New World by French immigrants. Today, it is a staple in Creole cooking.

Jump to Recipe

Hurst’s HamBeens 15 Bean Soup includes the following beans:

  • Northern
  • Pinto
  • Lima
  • Blackeye
  • Garbanzo
  • Baby Lima
  • Green Split
  • Kidney
  • Cranberry
  • Small white
  • Pink
  • Small Red
  • Yellow Split
  • Lentil
  • Navy
  • White Kidney
  • Black
  • Yellow Eye
Cajun Bean Soup

If you aren’t accustomed to cooking with dry beans, they can take a very long time to cook. Typically, if you are stove-top cooking them, you either soak them overnight or slowly cook them for many hours on low heat. I highly recommend using a slow cooker. It makes life a lot easier. Additionally, you could probably use an Insta-pot or Pressure Cooker, though cooking times vary.

Serving & Storing

Once cooked, bean soup is hardy, especially if you add meat. I love to serve Cajun Bean Soup with either sweet cornbread or buttermilk biscuits. Hey, I’m from the South! We love our scratch breads.

I have found that bean soup stores well in an air tight container for 2 days in the fridge. After that, I would discard any left overs.

Cajun Bean Soup

This easy slow cooker Cajun Bean Soup is delicious on cold days. A blend of 15 different beans it has diced country ham and andouille sausage.
Course: Main Course
Keyword: andouille, beans, crockpot, ham, jimmy dean sausage, kidney beans, pinto beans, slowcooker, soup, split pea, white beans
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 32 oz Chicken Broth
  • 2 cups water warm
  • 16 oz Cubed Ham
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tbsp Cajun Seasoning
  • 1-2 Cloves Garlic Minced
  • 14 oz Andouille Sausage Sliced
  • 16 oz Hurst’s HamBeens 15 Bean Soup

Instructions

  • On a low setting, add 2 cups of warm water and the chicken broth
  • Slice sausage and ham, add to slow cooker 
  • Add 1 package of Hurst’s HamBeens 15-Bean Soup. No need to soak if you’re using a crockpot.
  • Add garlic, lemon juice and cajun seasoning. Give a quick stir and let it cook on low for 7-8 hours.

10 Books to Read as a New Mom

10 Books to Read as a New Mom

Becoming a new mom can be overwhelming. There are so many questions to answer and problems to solve as you try to find your feet. Here are 10 Books to Read as a New Mom to get your through those tough first years.

This page contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of the links I provide, I may receive a small purchase at no cost to you. This helps me offset the costs of this blog. I only recommend things I absolutely love or use myself.


Keeping little humans alive is no joke! Some days just keeping them alive is the best we can do – and that’s okay. So today, I’m sharing 10 Books to read as a new mom. These books brought me peace, answered tough questions and guided me through really difficult circumstances. They helped me understand my little one better and reassured me that I was on the right path. I truly hope they help you as much as they helped me.

1. What To Expect: The First Year

They say children don’t come with an instruction manual. I beg to differ. If ever there was such a thing, this is definitely it. This book was a lifesaver to me. It answered so many of my questions. From nursing, to introducing solids, to sleep regression and illnesses, this was my go-to book. It will save you lots of questions to your mom, doctors, and friends. It’s the best resource for a clueless mom, and girl, we’re all clueless at the beginning of motherhood!

2. The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvey Karp M.D. 

This was such a helpful book. Let’s just be real for a second – a crying baby can take a toll on you. If you have a sick, colicky, or reflux baby that cries even more than other babies, it can drive you to a point of frustration you didn’t even know existed. Dr. Karp explains the physiology of a crying baby and introduces 5 methods to soothe your little one. 

3. Baby-Led Weaning, by Gill Rapley

This is a must-have guide when introducing solids to your baby. Feeding baby purees is a relatively modern parenting technique. Before electric blenders, parents did exactly what Rapley suggests, giving your baby cooked, soft whole foods. They learn to have a healthy relationship with food right from the start. Babies also develop fine motor skills by grasping and pinching. This book will show you the no-fuss way of doing it so your baby can join you at the dinner table.

4.

4. The Magic of Motherhood, Ashlee Gadd

Fellow mom blogger Ashlee Gadd from blog Coffee + Crumbs, shares how there is no singular right way to be a mom. In her book, she shares how to find your new identity and how to accept yourself as a mom, faults included. The book, full of both laughter and tears, are honest, vulnerable and I promise you’ll identify with it. Be sure to follow her blog too…you know after My Beautiful Mess, of course!

5. What to Expect: The Second Year

This book is very similar to the What to Expect: The First Year. This book, however, focuses on 12 to 24 month toddler development and it is extremely helpful! It covers everything from picky eaters, to sleeping issues, and how to correct behavioral issues like biting and hitting and of course the big one – potty training. The one thing I really found useful was the chapters dedicated to illness, pain, and allergies. As you know, mamas worry and this answered my “should I worry?” questions.

6. Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting, Dr. Laura Markham

Can we be honest for a second? As soon as you have to start repeating yourself over and over as a parent, you’ll be tempted to yell. It’s true. We all have moments where our patience is pushed to a point where yelling seems like the only option to make your point. This book, written by a clinical psychologist, gives insightful tips on how to reach your child without resorting to yelling and other bad parenting behavior. The key is to reach your child on an emotional level so there is lasting, not just temporary change. This book really helped our terrible twos! The threes have become a breeze because of this book.

7. The Five Love Languages for Children: The Secret to Loving Your Child Effectively, Gary Chapman

If you’ve ever read the 5 Love Languages which is dedicated to wedded couples, you’re in for a real treat. This book teaches you how to discover your child’s love language. Almost like a decoding manual, it helps you translate the subtle cues and hints that your child sends on how they desire to be loved. I found this book very insightful. It helped me become a more intuitive, gentler parent. Side note: this book is Christian themed, but still powerful in translating emotional behaviors

8. Parenting With Love & Logic, Foster Cline & Jim Fay

One thing I loved about this book is that it teaches you to embrace your mistakes as learning opportunities. The book is designed to foster a life long relationship with your child based on respect, love, empathy and appreciation. It teaches you how to develop a child that is morally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy.

9. Latch: A Handbook for Breastfeeding With Confidence At Every Stage, Robin Kaplan

Breastfeeding can be a huge stressor when you first have a baby. It seems like the most natural things in the world, yet most nursing mothers will tell you it takes a while for both you and baby to get the hang of it. This no-judgement manual, is great to help you with nursing and nursing problems at every milestone. Written by an experienced lactation consultant, it’s like having her bedside all the time. A must read book for nursing moms!

10. Potty Training in 3 Days, Brandi Brucks

If you are struggling to potty train or simply have no idea where to start, I highly recommend this book. The book shares practical advice and steps on how to ditch diapers and get your little one interested in using the potty. The results speak for themselves. Many parents swear by the results and credit their success to this book.


I sincerely hope that this post, 10 Books to Read as a New Mom, helps you navigate those early years. Hang in there. You’re doing a great job mama. Remember, this is just advice. Ultimately, you’ll find your own way through motherhood. If you’re looking for other book lists, read the post 10 Books That Will Strengthen Your Marriage.

In the comments below, I’d love to hear about books that have changed your motherhood experience!

The Ultimate Spring Bucket List

The Ultimate Spring Bucket List

Butterflies, flowers and Winter melting away. Enjoy Spring this year by doing seasonal related activities by using The Ultimate Spring Bucket List

The Ultimate Spring bucket list

This post, The Ultimate Spring Bucket List, contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

Ah, primavera! Who doesn’t love Spring? After bleak, winter days the Spring is a welcome visitor. Virgin vegetation, budding flowers, and cool breezy days seem to embody the beauty of Spring. And the baby animals? Seriously, there isn’t a baby animal that isn’t cute.

There is only one thing I dislike about Spring. In Texas, we have Texas Live Oak, an indigenous species of Oak that sheds its leaves in March. So just when you think you’ve cleaned up all the fall and winter leaves, the Oak drops buckets of leaves in your yard. But what makes it really awful is all the yellow pollen it drops. It’s like a slow death by allergies. Aside from that I really enjoy Spring.

Planning Your Bucket List

One thing I love to do is embrace every season. That’s why I’ve previously posted on The Ultimate Fall Bucket List and the Ultimate Christmas Bucket List. Come on, did you really think I wouldn’t also do it for Spring?

Ultimately, your bucket list should reflect you and what you enjoy. I’m always inspired by the newness of Spring. Spring makes me want to clean out my house and get organized. It makes me want to be outside before the summer heat gets here. Frankly, Spring invigorates me to try new things and explore nature. Mostly, it encourages me to be outside.

Ask yourself what inspires you. You may feel differently than I do. That’s okay. Make it your own. However, if you are struggling to find things to add to your list, that’s where I come in to help. Below is a list of Spring-inspired activities.

Courtesy of Pexels

The Ultimate Spring Bucket List

  • Buy and plant Tulips
  • Do a Spring Cleaning Challenge
  • Color Easter Eggs
  • Have a picnic
  • Eat al fresco
  • Hunt for 4 Leaf Clovers
  • Bake carrot cake
  • Make an Easter / Spring wreath
  • Have a glow-in-the-dark egg hunt
  • Plan an Easter brunch
  • Bake cupcakes
  • Go for a hike
  • Go bird spotting
  • Make a bird feeder (or put on outside)
  • Visit a park
  • Take wildflower pictures
  • Go to a museum
  • Spot a lady bug
  • Read about the Resurrection in the Bible
  • Take pictures with the Easter Bunny
  • Hang windchimes
  • Do a Spring Craft
  • Go berry picking
  • Host a tea party
  • Make a suncatcher
  • Decorate for Easter
  • Go camping
  • Visit a butterfly exhibit
  • Make a “Happy” music playlist
  • Plant a lemon or lime tree
  • Arrange some flowers
  • Eat some Peeps or Cadbury Eggs

DON’T FORGET TO PIN THIS FOR LATER

The Ultimate Spring Bucket List

I hope that gives you a few ideas on how to enjoy Spring! In the comments below, I’d love to hear what you enjoy doing most in the Spring.