Five Fun Podcasts for Your Summer

Hi! Claire here. This year I’ve gotten really into podcasts, listening to them mostly as I’m sitting at my desk during the work week, but also listening in the car or while I’m doing the dishes in the evening. The podcasts I like range from fun to informative and I thought I’d share five I’m loving right now. Hoping that you may enjoy some of these as you sit by the pool or drive to your summer vacation spot. 

  1. Proof Podcast

I am obsessed with Proof. I love all cooking podcasts, like The Splendid Table (you can listen to all the old episodes online!) but when I want something a little funky I turn to Proof which describes itself as solving food mysteries, one story at a time. The Episode entitled Who Stole the Miracle Berry? had me fascinated but the latest about the probiotic craze made me stop and think. According to their research I’m not getting as much probiotic benefits from my expensive probiotic capsule as I would be from actual fermented foods. I’ve made sauerkraut before but I’m currently into Kimchi. Planning to make my own soon. One of my all time favorite episodes was about the history of celery (I know, right?)I had no idea celery used to be the most expensive thing on the menu. You’ll just have to listen to believe me.

Kid Friendly: Yes. My 8 year old enjoyed listening along. 

2) Harder to Kill Radio/ The Great Big Sober Secret

   The Harder to Kill podcast by Steph Gaudreau dives into all kinds of subjects from weight lifting to current events geared towards women. When I decided to give up alcohol several months ago I started listening to podcasts about the subject and this one caught my eye. Turns out there’s a whole movement of people deciding to live alcohol free, not because they feel they are an alcoholic but because it’s just no longer serving them. This episode debunks the myth I think I used to believe, that alcohol is the “key” to the land of fun and relaxing. It also bravely touches on the “Mommy Wine” culture which is rampant on social media these days. If you are wondering what life would be like without drinking or perfectly fine the way things are, this episode is a good conversation and will give you ideas on how to support your mocktail loving friends.

Kid Friendly: Get out the headphones for this one if children are around. Grown up subject matter. 

3)  Enneagram Series with Annie F Downs

   If you are at all into the Ennegream this podcast is going through all the numbers this summer, interviewing people who identify as each number by episode. It’s been really fun and eye-opening. Since I know what all my family members are I’ve gained some insight into their thought life, personality tendencies and what makes them feel loved. Annie F Down speaks from a spiritual perspective which I like. By the way, I’m a 4. That will air on Monday and I have to admit I’m nervous. 4’s always get a bad rap in my opinion. Doesn’t that sounds like something a 4 would say? Ha. Not sure what your number is? There are lots of quizzes to take, but here’s one to start with.

Kid Friendly: Yes. 

4) The Memory Palace

    I love history and this very short podcast highlights little known but super cool moments in history, like the teenager who struck out Babe Ruth (ever heard of that? I hadn’t!). Or the millionaire who spent $200,000 on one dinner in the early 1900’s complete with swans swimming in the middle of the table. But my favorite so far is about the girl who took over her father’s lighthouse and saved countless lives at the turn of the century. Proving everyone wrong that women weren’t delicate creatures but strong capable people who could do life changing things. These are only about 15-20 minutes an episode and the story telling is superb. 

Kid Friendly: Yes. Kids will love this podcast though you may want to double check some of the Halloween episodes which talk about legends of ghosts and such. 

5) Honestly Adoption Podcast

     This podcast covers all kinds of material relating to Foster Care, Adoption and parenting kids from hard places. I found many of them so informative. This podcast offers many different views on topics such as “How do I know if I’m called to adopt?” As well as “Will visiting with birth parents hurt my child in the long run?” and “How to deal with the holidays” as well as the question “Can you recover from childhood trauma?” It’s great if you are a foster or adoptive parent, or you just want to listen to great interviews with amazing people or if you know a foster and adoptive family and want to understand. 

Kid Friendly: Maybe not. Depends on the episode (can cover abuse, ect). 

I hope you find something to listen to this summer and enjoy! 

nature, Matrimony Creek, Gods creation,

Mountain Laurel and a Waterfall

What a beautiful week we’ve had here in North Carolina! The temperature at night has gotten down into the 40”s, while daytime temperatures are around 76. Springtime at its best!

I love exploring our beautiful country and it’s even more special when I discover something close to home. A new walking trail has been finished in Eden, just 15 minutes away. Nan and I walked on it Wednesday. It was so pretty, I brought Hart back that evening.

The trail is only one mile long, but it meanders along a creek, Matrimony Creek it’s called. Along the way we could hear roosters crowing and a peek through the bushes we could see sheep roaming in a pasture. On the other side of the trail were lots of beautiful mountain laurel. I’ve only seen mountain laurel in the mountains so it was a treat to discover it close to home.

As you get to the end of the trail the creek gets wider with small rapids and surprise! at the end is a waterfall. So pretty . And what a rare treat to find in the middle of the city.

The Psalmist said it well,

Let heaven celebrate! Let the earth rejoice!

Let the sea and everything in it roar!

Let the countryside and everything in it celebrate!

Then all the trees of the forest too

will shout out joyfully. Psalm 96:11-12.

Isn’t God good to surround us with the beauty of the earth ? Look around you and enjoy whatever God has put near you, whether it’s in your backyard or on your drive to work. You don’t have to go far. There’s always something to shout joyfully about!

Where do you go to get your nature fix?

Cheers, Nancy

Motherhood, mothers day, Uncategorized

Mamas and strawberry lemonade

My mom is genuinely my best friend. My husband jokes about the amount of time I spend with her…but I explained to him how she’s not like “most moms”. How she will stand with me in the pit at a concert drinking wine and dancing or go totally natural with our similar wavy hair or the way she chases adventure and gets me to teach her how to ride horses. I explained to him how she was just nice to be around, a kindred spirit now that I’m older and out of the house. We’re just enough different and just enough similar.

I’m an old soul and my mom and I share a love for antiques and nature. So we both enjoy reading the old timey magazine called Victoria magazine. I saw where I could send in a letter for Mother’s Day explaining what I loved about my mom. I saw this at 8 am and not even 20 minutes later I had written something to send in before work. It was so easy to write and recall all the ways she was a good mother. It got published in the magazine for the May/June issue along with many other women writing about their great mother’s. It was cool to see my mom’s attributes displayed in a magazine we both loved alongside so many other amazing tributes to women’s mother’s. It made me realize how powerful womanhood and motherhood is.

I thought I’d go ahead and share with you what I wrote in honor of Mother’s Day and in remembrance of all the amazing mothers out there who work so hard to cultivate lives full of joy and peace:

“As a child, I would always tiptoe down the stairs in the morning-greeted by the aroma of fresh coffee-to find my mother wrapped in one of her pink or floral robes. Before doing anything else, I would crawl onto her lap and rest my head on her chest. Planting a kiss on my forehead, she would ask me how I slept. She always smelled like peonies, and I think this was because she adored them. I believe that what you love, you in some way become.

Today, newly married, I have a painting hanging in my house of a woman with auburn hair smelling roses. Her eyes are closed, and her head is lifted, as if she is inhaling the best perfume in the world. This portrait reminds me of my mom because it captures her approach to motherhood: soaking it up for all it’s worth and savouring it completely. She cooked heavenly food, cultivated an inviting and orderly home, and loved us with grace and kindness. As I grow older, I realize what a job that was and how she took it on as her purpose.

She raised five women, all of whom have grown and are thriving but still dearly love their mom as a friend and confidant. I notice qualities my sisters inherited from our mother in the way Claire cooks, how Mary loves coffee and can brew the perfect pot, the way Lauren nurtured so tenderly, and how Cate loves to keep things homey and clean. And me? I love flowers. I pray everyday that when I have children, they will see things in me that make them feel safe and warm inside, just like we all feel with mom. But more than anything, I hope I will smell like flowers.”

Here’s a recipe to treat your special mom with a refreshing drink you can make on Mother’s Day. It’s a delicious strawberry lemonade that she will love.

Simply smash in a sieve 4 or 5 fresh, ripe strawberries or frozen, thawed, into a two cup measuring cup. Squeeze two lemons into the cup. Add three teaspoons of sugar or stevia ( I use Pyure) to taste. Fill with water and stir vigorously. Taste and adjust sugar and lemon to suit your taste. Pour into glasses, add ice and garnish with lemon slice and mint.

Serve immediately to your mom!

freedom, i am enough, made in God’s image, quit comparing, love


    I have a tendency to look at life through how can this be improved lenses. Some people might call that having goals or always trying to improve. And my husband is the same driven type. So contentment isn’t our strong suit. I found myself being especially hard on my body.

Even at my skinniest I was always trying to loose weight. I had a scale in college with a goal weight written on it. I had a bodpod scan done a few years ago which tells your muscle mass, bone mass and fat percentage. With no fat or muscles, my bones and skin would weigh that exact “goal weight”. I’ve been skinny, weighed as much as my husband and somewhere in the middle. I’ve been my fittest self and my weakest self. And through all of that one thing never changed, I was never enough. Always trying to improve.

Genesis tell us that God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27

I am made in God’s image. Yet in my eyes I am

Not enough?

We know the Bible says “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.”

I am wonderfully made but I’m not enough in my eyes?

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. -Psalm 139:13-16

God made me and only me to be me. In the body I am in. With the scars, stretch marks and cellulite. But I am not enough in my eyes?

1 Peter 2:9 says “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

I am chosen. By God. A part of His holy nation. But I am not enough in my eyes?

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. “- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

My body is a temple. But yet, somehow, still I am not enough in my eyes.

1 John 3:1 says “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. ”

We are loved, children of God. And yet…

I decided this year the and yet had to change. I had enough. A little therapy, a lot of prayer and really trying hard to stop the self criticism. Looking in the mirror and saying hey good looking! Nice butt. To say you are enough. You’ve been through a lot. You’ve kept me alive. Safe. You’ve given me two beautiful kids. It’s been cut open three times. And recovered. My body lets me jump on the trampoline with my kids, run with them and swim with them. It’s extra squishy so they can snuggle right in.

For me, this is a work in progress. I still easily fall back into old habits. Little things will set me back. But I’m trying to give myself grace. Work to slowly replace the negative thoughts with positive ones. Being gentle.

So I’m here today to tell you that you are enough. Today. Right where you are. Go find a mirror and tell yourself how beautiful you are. You are chosen. Loved. Made in the image of the Highest God. Who also created you and had a plan for you. And for your body. So get outside, soak up some sunshine and breath in that you are enough you beautiful person. -Lauren


5 Simple Tips to Help with Stress at Work

I can remember staring at my bulletin board one afternoon at work feeling exhausted and anxious. Life at home as a working mom was so crazy and work was stressful and busy. With my head pounding and my eyelids dropping, I decided I had to do something different. If I couldn’t completely change my outward circumstances I had to find a way to change my response.

I decided to start with my energy levels so I did a second Whole30. I had completed one a year prior because I was struggling with really bad acid reflux. Eating mostly Paleo and eliminating certain foods made a huge difference in my acid reflux but I was miserable not eating my favorite snacks. I quickly jumped back into my old habits after the 30 days. This time around I was so desperate to feel better I didn’t even care if I had to give up my evening popcorn, chips, diet coke or wine. It was honestly a joy to eat foods that made me want to get up in the morning.

Almost 30 days later my evenings now look totally different than before. Where I used to crash on the couch often I’m going for a run with the stroller and my daughter on her bike or I’m working out after the kids are in bed. I’m able to get up at 5:30 every day to have my devotions and a moment of quiet before the rush to get out the door.

I had to make a big lifestyle change in my eating habits because that’s what I needed. But maybe you just need a few simple changes throughout the day that can reduce your stress levels. Along with my diet and exercise I started making these next five things a priority.

I can honestly say I feel more peace than I have in a long time. I’m so thankful for the knowledge that how we care for ourselves truly affects our mental health and quality of life.


When we are busy and focused, we often take short breaths. This leaves us with less oxygen in our bodies and brains making us feel stressed and tired. Deep breathing stops the stress hormone cortisol, which causes that anxious feeling.

An easy way to take a stress lowering deep breath is to feel your belly expand as well as your lungs and hold the breath in- then exhale very slowly. Three or four of these makes a huge difference.

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Get up and move.

It’s important to get out of our work environment for a few minutes. When we come back, our thoughts are clearer, our body calmer and we are more efficient at getting stuff done.

Don’t want to leave the office on your 15 minute break? Try legs on the wall, a restorative yoga move that involves lying on the floor with your legs propped against the wall for a few minutes. This move offers many benefits including helping lower back pain and promoting blood circulation back to the heart, helping you feel energized and calmer. Maybe put “break” on your door!

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Studies have shown that a cluttered desk leads to stress and makes us less productive. Finding ways to organize paperwork with trays or a shelf is a good place to start. Keeping a clear desk clears the mind, and gives you more room to spread out and work. A picture of family or friends or a past vacation can also make an office space feel happier. When decorating, colors like blue and purple are calming, while red or orange can promote stress.

I like to put up bible verses that I can look at and repeat when I feel anxious. Some of my favorites are Psalm 121 and John 14:27.

Plan for the day.

Packing healthy snacks to eat during the day and drinking plenty of water is so important. Nothing kills a good mood like being hungry and dehydrated come three o’clock. Snacks with protein like almonds or a protein bar keep blood sugar steady, staving off that “hangry” vibe.

Exercise and eating healthy promote hormone and body chemistry that affect our moods. Even just a walk on a break can calm those anxious stress hormones. Self-care really is not selfish- it makes us better caretakers.

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Give yourself some grace.

Accept help from co-workers and reach out if you need help. If you are truly struggling, let someone know. We all need support. No one should feel completely overwhelmed by stress. Check out a counseling service in your area. Talking to an outside person trained to help deal with pressure and stress can be a huge benefit. Above all, don’t give up and remember that life moves in seasons. This might be a hard one right now, but maybe your season of rest is right around the corner. And sometimes finding inner peace can give you a season of rest even if nothing else changes. That’s what I’ve found and that’s my prayer for you today.