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It's about that time - watermelons are now ripe!  I love blended watermelon as a juice base.  One of our favorite summertime juice blends consists of watermelon, strawberries, a couple tablespoons of homemade elderberry syrup, half a lemon, and a bit of honey.  Tastes like a Jolly Rancher minus the corn syrup, processed sugar, and artificial dyes.  So delicious and refreshing!

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FAITH: Failing to be Christ-Like

As a Christian, I failed hard this past week. It was a doozy. A you-call-yourself-a-Christian?- kind of doozy.

I was surprised by the kind of hideous, frightening, evil-inspired darkness that bubbled out of me. I had no idea it was there, let along capable of it.

If you're a Christian, I'm sure you've been here. Where your heart revealed something frighteningly dark even though you've been seeking Jesus' light for so long. When this happened, I'm sure the accuser was quick to point out how all other Christians aren't as bad as you. Here's the thing, though; even if the enemy is right that I'm the worst at following Jesus, I'd rather finish this race in last place than get sidelined away from God's perfect will and protection.

Hallelujah for the Lord's grace that it's sufficient enough to cover our dark depths!

More thoughts...
Sin is sin. It doesn't matter if it's a little fib or literal murder - it's sin in God's eyes…

CLEAN LIVING: Indoor House-Planting

Spring always gets me excited to try my hand at hosting live plants in my home (I usually end up killing them halfway through the summer. WAH!).  Perhaps getting a new planter will help me to fight harder for my plants' lives this year.  I'm looking for something under $50.  Do you have any favorites below?

I'm getting a Bamboo Palm and Snake Plant today.  I hear they're hardy and of course, great air purifiers.

Do you have any house plant advice for me?  Comment below!

Thank you for reading!
- Alyssa

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FAITH: Don't Lose Hope

Seasons change, money comes and goes, babies are born, cars stop working, the highs and lows of life are constantly fluctuating. When I’m going through a hard time, the Lord reminds me that it’s not going to be like this forever and then He asks me, “so what are you going to do on the meantime?”

The answer is don’t worry, trust in Him, remember that He is the God of Hope and that the consequences of having faith in Him are joy and peace. We can’t fret our circumstances away so until Jesus gets us through a storm, let’s keep our eyes on Him.

Thank you for reading!  Jesus loves YOU.

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CLEAN EATING: Easy 3 Ingredient Jelly (Without Processed Sugar)

Processed sugar hides out in so many items we get from the store. Unless everything you eat is homemade, there's a good chance you're eating more processed sugar than you realize.

Making homemade jelly is one of the ways my family avoids processed sugar and it's really simple to do.

I add frozen organic berries to a pot with a little spinach or shredded carrots (for added nutrition), along with honey. Simmer for an hour, then blend everything in the pot with an immersion blender. From there, I taste  the mixture and add more berries or honey if necessary and simmer longer. If I don't need to add anything, I'm all done!

There's so many things we make with this jelly. Put in a dehydrator for homemade fruit roll ups. Mix with gelatin and make fruit snacks. Mash with half a banana and have strawberry/banana oatmeal. And of course, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (just mix the jelly with chia seeds for extra nutrition and to thicken the jelly).

Today, I went wit…

FAITH: 1 Samuel 18:3

The contrast between Saul and his son, Jonathan is unmistakable. Jonathan's loyalty to the Lord and to his friend, David, makes him one of my favorite people mentioned in the Bible.

Jonathan gives up worldly things like his "right" to the throne as well as risks family strife (between he and his father) for the Lord's plan. It's obvious Jonathan loves God more than his earthly "rights." Jonathan is more concerned with his relationship with His Heavenly Father than his relationships with anyone else.

My prayer is that my desire to follow Jesus will overshadow everything else. That I would never be afraid to follow Him even when the path seems lonely, even when my loved ones disagree, even when the grass seems greener on the other side.

Click here to read the entire chapter of 1 Samuel 18.
Click here to select a different translation.

Thank you for reading.  Jesus loves YOU!

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CLEAN BEAUTY: MooGoo - Fresh Cream Deodorant

Back when I shared the contents of my medicine cabinet with you, I promised a review of MooGoo's Fresh Cream Deodorant.

I tried most natural deodorants out there.  Multiple times, I tried making my own.  I even tried going simple by simply swiping my underarms with rubbing alcohol throughout the day.  Of all the things I tried, swiping with homemade magnesium oil was the most effective... until, like with baking soda, my underarms said "no more!" by becoming itchy and inflamed.

At the very least, half a decade of no deodorant homeostasis had caused my body to sweat and smell less.  I could almost go undetected in a sniff test every 24 hours.  But I definitely needed a shower immediately after every workout.  No post yoga brunches for this smelly gal.

What was I to do?  Confirm to the holistic-suspicious that earth loving granolas like me are stinky?  I haven't used traditional deodorant with aluminum in almost five years and to be honest, there were times I consider…

FAITH: When I Chose Modesty

When I was in my teens and early 20s, I was extremely immodest. While I was getting ready to go out, my goal was to look as hot as possible and collect as much attention as possible. 

I thought that if I could be the hottest woman in the room, I would be able to capture attention and it would be mine for as long as I wanted. It didn't occur to me that the kind of attention I was seeking is a fleeting kind. In other words, it didn't matter if I was the most beautiful woman that guy had ever seen. The kind of guy who appreciated my immodesty had zero standards whatsoever. He'd hang on my every word until someone else's skin flashed by. He'd flirt with me and then turn around and flirt with every other girl as well. This guy didn't care about whose makeup was better, who was witty, who had better legs, who was nicest, etc. The kind of guy who is attracted to immodesty is only interested in one thing and that's not your heart. This dude has no other standards an…


I posted Bliss Bites (peanut butter cups) on my Instagram a couple months ago, but they're definitely worth mentioning here on the blog as well.

My boys and I often make A Couple Cooks' Bliss Bites. How can something that's 100% plant based and processed sugar-free taste so amazing and be so easy to make?!  We finished the entire batch within ten min.  They're even vegan-suspicious spouse approved πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ˜‹πŸ˜ Also, I love that this recipe called for the ingredients to be heated in a sauce pan rather than a microwave. #NoToNuking

The only thing I did different was add half a teaspoon of chia seeds and half a teaspoon of hemp hearts into the chocolate mixture for added nutrition and protein.  Also, I use cacao instead of the cocoa they called for.  Cacao is the raw form of cocoa but they were still amazing.

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FAITH: 1 Samuel 4

Regarding the Israelites foolishly taking the ark into battle without reverence to God.

It's so easy for our flesh to want religion - a formula.  This means, as long as we keep up the formula, we don't have to surrender to the living God, because we performed the "routine."  This routine/formula/religion looks like superstition and quickly becomes bondage.  The etymology of "religion" breaks down to, "return to bind," or "return to bondage."  Today's study points out that the Israelites put their trust in the ark instead of the Lord.  We may not be putting our trust in the ark, but perhaps we're putting our trust in specifically worded prayers that are on repeat, word-for-word?  Perhaps we're putting our trust in the act of going to church every Sunday rather than in worshiping Jesus with our lives?  Perhaps we're counting on proxy to godly people to make us holy?  This is a great chapter that's getting me to check m…

FAITH: Judges 19

Click here to read the entire chapter of Judges 19
Click here to select a different translation
Read the First5 study on Judges 19

There are so many lessons in this chapter. First, the concubine/wife was unfaithful to her husband. Other translations say she played the "harlot."  Second, she ran to her father, its suggested that he had been allowing her wild ways for a long time because she knew she could run back to him and he would accept her instead of urging her to make things work with her husband, back at home.

The fact that her husband traveled to her to forgive her and woo her back shows that he's at least a decent man and that he doesn't intend for her to be punished over her marital transgressions like the law would allow.

The Levite was at first, trying to do the decent thing. At first, he chose to forgive his wife and keep her from an adulteress' punishment of death but in Gibeah, he went forth with her punishment not because he wanted her to be punished…

FAITH: Video - Stop Saying "No" to God's Gifts

Below, is the script from today's video...

The Lord provides His children with opportunities to bring Him glory as well as draw others to Jesus. The job is going to get done no matter what, but we have the choice on how we're going to play our part.

God can still use us to advance His kingdom even if we're only interested in living for ourselves. We see this with Samson. Even though Samson was only interested in fulfilling his fleshly desires like lust and pride, we see that the Lord still uses him to take out the enemy.  However, as we see in judges, that Samson brought destruction and humiliation upon himself.  The Lord uses Samson in great ways despite Samson's disobedience. As a result, God was still given all the glory, Samson, however, died with humiliation and disgrace.

Remember, no matter what, God will always be glorified.

Sometimes the Lord will use us despite our resistance like we see with Samson and other times, the Lord will allow us to choose to pass up …

CLEAN BEAUTY: What's in My Medicine Cabinet?

Here's my medicine cabinet.  As you can see, I'm a big advocate of clean beauty care.  Not pictured is my beloved apple cider vinegar which I use for facial toner and hair conditioner.  I keep a jar of Bragg's out on the bathroom counter so I forgot to include.  You can get read my blog post on ACV here.

Check out what's in my medicine cabinet below...
1.  Rachel's Plan Bee Facial Oil - My favorite skin care expert, Rachel, from Rachel's Plan Bee, sent over some of her delicious minis. Read the blog post here.
2. MSC Lavender & Spearmint Nourishing Lip Cream - I received this chapstick in my Petit Vourbox.  It does the job and perhaps one day I'd repurchase...after I use up all my other chapsticks.
3. We Love Eyes Tea Tree Eyelid & Eyelash Makeup Remover Oil - I use this to remove eye makeup.  Check out my detailed review here.
4. MooGoo Deodorant - I haven't worn the dangerous, aluminum stuff in almost five years.  Review is definitely coming…

FAITH: Philippians 1:10

"For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return." Philippians 1:10 (NLT) 
As Christians, a big part of our walk is trying to figure out what matters. It's easy for our flesh to swing from laziness to legalism. So for Paul to wish us a clear focus is extremely sensible and necessary.

Click here to read the entire chapter.  Click here to select a different translation.

Thank you for reading!  Jesus LOVES you!

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CLEAN BEAUTY: Rachel's Plan Bee - The Mini Collection

My love of Rachel's Plan Bee is no secret.  So when Rachel sent me some samples from her Mini Collection, I was more than happy to test some pieces I hadn't yet tried.

Rachel created a Heavenly-scented facial oil with simple and clean ingredients like apricot, olive, grape seed, and sweet orange oil.  I love the simplicity, I love the smell.  Throughout the day, I'll gently rub two drops onto my face and enjoy not only the moisture benefits, but the fact that it makes me smell like vanilla, my absolute favorite.

Body care tip - when rubbing anything onto your face, always make sure you're using gentle, upward motions.  My grandmother, who is Japanese, passed this trick on to my mom.  Both women have beautiful skin and I believe it's partially attributed to all those years of gently easing their skin against gravity when applying oils and creams.

With the same fragrance, Rachel's Original Bee Cream moisturizes the spots that need extra attention.  The Original B…

FAITH: Let's Keep Our Eyes on the Lord

Aaron and I were watching the last movie in The Hobbit trilogy the other night. One scene struck a chord in me; the scene where Smaug, the evil dragon was facing off against Bard, the archer and Bain, his teenage son. Smaug, was smack-talking and trying to strike fear. He asked Bard, “is this your child? You cannot save him from the fire. He will burn!” On that last word, he lunged forward, open mouthed, ready to consume. At the same time, Bard was steadying the arrow on Bain’s shoulder, because the bow was broken. Bain was facing his father but he turned to see Smaug descending on them. Just then, Bard calmly said, “Bain, keep your eyes on me.” Bain did so and his dad hit his mark and the dragon died.
I love this scene because it reminds me of what God desires from us. When the enemy is thrashing about, threatening, accusing, trying to spread pain and fear, the Lord tells us to keep our eyes on Him. God is always in control and not only will we be spared from worrying when we keep o…

CLEAN BEAUTY: Odacite - A Summer in Hossegor

In case you’re not using facial oils, get on it! They’re so good for you and for so many reasons. One of my favorite oils is by a company called Odacite.  Odacite uses high quality, organic ingredients. Below, I’m pictured with my beloved A Summer in Hossegor oil. Not only does it smell amazing and feel luxurious on, but I’m certain it’s the reason why my skin is smooth and line-free. Concentrated with Vitamins A, C, and E,  I’m assured my skin is receiving everything it needs.

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FAITH: Video - Moving Forward with Forgiveness

Below, is the script from today's video...

If we feel like we're entitled to our unforgiveness, then, not will we need recover from our pain, but we will continue to spread that pain onto others.  I'm sure you've heard that saying, "hurt people hurt people."  And it's true.

My dad has gone through a pretty terrible childhood.  He was abandoned, he was abused.  There were quite a number of people who were purposefully cruel to him.  It wasn't until I was a child that my father came to know the Lord.  Prior to that, he was dealing with a lot of pain from his past.  Because he didn't have Jesus in his heart, he didn't know what to do with all this pain.  Remember, like I said, hurt people will hurt other people.  So there was definitely a trickle effect where I felt like I was pained because of what he had gone through.

I developed a bitter hatred toward these people.  If they hadn't hurt my dad, my dad would have been a lot more okay for m…

CLEAN BEAUTY: We Love Eyes Tea Tree Eyelid & Eyelash Makeup Remover Oil

I make no secret of the fact that I wear false eyelashes often (they save the step of eyeliner, curling, and mascara).  The mink eyelashes I use are reusable - as long as they're properly cared for.  This reason as well as the fact that I hate unnecessary tugging at my eyelids (it accelerates aging) is why I use We Love Eyes Tea Tree Eyelid & Eyelash Makeup Remover Oil at the base of my false lashes (where the glue meets my lid).  I also use this oil to remove the eyeliner under my bottom lashes.

This makeup removing oil works well.  As well as my coconut oil, however, the reason I like the We Love Eyes oil is because of the dropper.  It makes for easier application to my fingertips without having to dig into my coconut oil jar.

I appreciate that the ingredients in this oil are simple and straightforward.  I also like that it comes in a dark tinted glass bottle (staves off oxidation as much as possible).

I received this oil in my Petit Vour box and have happily used it ever…

FAITH: Video - Five Things Women Need to do Before Marriage

Below, is the script from today's video...

Today, we are talking about five things women need to do before they get married.

1. Enjoy the single season.  This is your opportunity to learn independence.  In my opinion, I believe that women and men need to learn how to be comfortable with just themselves.  Because if you don't like being alone with you, why would you expect someone else to enjoy being alone with you?  You might marry someone who needs some quiet time or needs to take a walk alone in order to think or meditate on the Lord and if you're not okay with just being still, being silent by yourself, there's a good chance you're going to drive him nuts.  Learn some independence right now.  It'll help.  It'll pay off.

2. Make a list.  Make a list of things you want to do before you get married.  Like a bucket list before you tie the knot - so, like a "knot list."  Make a list of new things you want to learn and experience before you get married…