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This is Love

Did you know that the estimated total spending for Valentine's Day is $18.2 billion?  That is a whopping $136.57 per person.  Hmmm... I don't know which people they are counting, but it sure is NOT me.  This used to make me feel so unloved and unworthy and it would manifest itself in anger and resentment toward my husband.  My husband would come home with sad looking flowers that I was sure he bought from the street vendor.  Or chocolates from the supermarket.  I wanted Godiva, personally ordered from the store.  Then there was the time he finally just said, why don't you just get what you want? Where's the thought in that?  Where's the romance?

What I failed to understand was that my husband's love language was different from mine.  These days, we don't make a big deal out of Valentine's Day.  I've learned to embrace the surprises he would bring me on other days of the year.  Because that's how he is. It took a few years for me to accept this.  And even if he misses the mark.  Even if he really doesn't give a hoot about making me feel special for Valentine's Day, I'm ok with that, too.

Last week, I put out the Love Yourself Challenge in an effort to ease the feeling of loneliness or unworthiness that hit many women at this time of the year.  However, I could not shake off the conviction that there are MANY married women who are where I was a few years ago.  Married women who feel lonely and unloved by their husbands because they didn't get a piece of that $18.2 billion spent on Valentine's Day.  Here's the thing... gifts do not measure someone's love.  AND if your husband doesn't make you feel appreciate or loved, SOMEONE ELSE IS CRAZY AND MADLY IN LOVE WITH YOU.  HE HAS BEEN RIGHT THERE WITH YOU OFFERING YOU HIS LOVE.  It was HIS LOVE that helped me accept my husband's lack of romantic antics for Valentine's Day.  Because HIS LOVE isn't manufactured by Hollywood or the Hallmark Channel.  HIS LOVE is worth more than $136.57. This HE I am talking about is GOD.

The love described here is AGAPE love.  This is love that is sacrificial, unconditional, perfect and pure.  This is the kind of love that bled and hung on the cross for you. It is audacious love.  Love that has been extended to you without you having to do ANYTHING.  Love that will always be there for you in your ugly moments.  Love that stays even if you've gained weight.  Here's the thing, there is NOBODY on this planet that can love you with this AGAPE love.  Even the most devoted and romantic man cannot do this.   This love will never fail you.  Will you accept this love?

Love Yourself Challenge

Valentine's Day is 10 days away.  You can buy into the commercialism that it is, and maybe get disappointed by your better half's lack of romantic ability.  Or maybe become bitter about the fact that you have nobody to celebrate with.  OR you can throw all your expectations away and just show yourself some love.

I think that self-love isn't easy for a lot of women.  There are those who have been too busy taking care of others their whole lives and just don't have time to even think about themselves.  There are those who have repeatedly told they are unworthy and have come to believe this is true.  This causes these women to hate themselves.  There are also those who have been told that loving yourself is being selfish.  And then we have those on the other end of the spectrum that are border-line narcissistic.  I am in no way advocating selfishness or narcissism.  What I am saying is that need to be able to love ourselves.  We need to stop feeling guilty about taking time for ourselves.  There is a healthy balance between loving ourselves and STILL loving and caring for others.  This healthy balance comes when we see ourselves as God sees us.  In fact, I think that when we have a healthy love for ourselves, we can love and care for others even better.

Last week, in my Hope Prevails Bible Study group, we dug into Scripture to remind us how God sees us.  Here are some I would like to share with you to help you with this challenge:

You are beautiful. (Psalm 45:11)
You are loved. (Jeremiah 31:3)
You are the apple of His eye. (Zechariah 2:8)
You are holy and dearly loved. (Colossians 3:12).
You are valuable. (Matthew 6:26). 

If the God who created this amazing and complex universe loves you, how can you not love yourself?  So, I'd like to invite you to a Love Yourself Challenge. 

Each day, for the next 10 days leading up to Valentine's Day, you will take a few minutes celebrating YOU.   Some of these may seem like simple activities, but if you're like me, you don't take the time for yourself. There’s laundry to be done. Cupcakes to be baked. Kids to be driven.  You know how it goes... For the ones that ask you to list or write something, you can share it on social media (#loveyourselfchallenge) or write it in your journal.This isn't meant to stress you out but to help you take some time to appreciate and love yourself. 

Day One: List at least 5 things you like about yourself.  Don't focus only your external features, but both your internal and external qualities.
Day Two: What is one thing you have to forgive yourself for?  Write yourself a letter of forgiveness.
Day Three: Take a photo of yourself laughing. Bonus: Post it on social media without doing a retake.
Day Four: What is one thing that makes you unique?
Day Five: It's FRIDAY!! Pamper yourself.  Get a mani/pedi and take a long bubble bath.  OR, if that isn't in your budget, but a new nail polish color.  At home, take a long bubble bath and give yourself a mani/pedi. 
Day Six:  ENJOY a cup of coffee or tea. REALLY sit down and savor that cup.
Day Seven: Create a playlist of your favorite songs.
Day Eight: Draw a heart on our wrist to remind yourself you are loved.
Day Nine: Take a photo of something that brings you joy.
Day Ten:  Whether you have Valentine or not, get dressed up with your favorite outfit. Write yourself a love letter.

So, will you join me in this challenge?  


Game Day Recipes (2018)

It’s that time of year again!  In less than two weeks, millions of Americans will be watching the biggest game of the year.  THE SUPER BOWL!!  I remember the first time I ever heard about the Super Bowl.  I was in 8th grade.  It was the Dallas Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills, and Michael Jackson on the half-time show.  I remember this because my parents held a Super Bowl party in our house.  My dad loved (and still loves) to cook and had a great spread for us.  I don’t remember what we had.  I just know there was a lot of food, and a lot of beer (for the grown ups), and we had a party ON A SUNDAY.
I have some friends that could care less about football, but are Super Bowl enthusiasts.  What’s not to love?  FOOD, FRIENDS, HYSTERICAL COMMERCIALS, AND A KICK BUTT, SOMETIMES JAW DROPPING, HALF-TIME SHOW.  Thanks to my husband, I enjoy watching football.  And on football season, you can count on finding us eating hot wings and maybe other game day food EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY.  It’s our thing.  I’ve been able to find healthier options.  With the power of GOOGLE, we really don’t have a reason not to try healthier options.

On Super Bowl Sunday this year, I will be on day 21 of the 80 Day Obsession, so I have to make sure I plan my meals accordingly even for Super Bowl Sunday.  I’ve rounded up some new game day recipes that you can perhaps try on Game Day, even if you’re not on doing 80 Day Obsession.

Shrimp Ceviche (not for me because I’m allergic to shrimp, but for my shrimp loving family)

Image Credit: BeachbodyonDemand.com

Image Credit: Skinnytaste.com

Pulled Chipotle Chicken with Cilantro Slaw
(this is delicious, but I made and used this adobo sauce)
Image Credit: BeachbodyonDemand.com

Slow Cooker Beef Chili (you can also sub the beef for venison)

And one of my FAVORITE dishes:
Loaded Plantain Nachos  *I make my own plantain chips (see recipe below).

3-5 Green Plantains (or more depending on how much you want to make), sliced into thin circles
3 tsp melted coconut oil or EEVOO (just enough to coat the plantains)
Sea Salt
1     Preheat oven to 350F.
        Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
        In a bowl, toss plantains with oil. Sprinkle with sea salt.
       Layout (single layer, don’t overlap) on your baking sheet.
    Bake for about 20 minutes.  You will need to repeat this process until you have baked all your plantains.
6       ENJOY!!!

      Will you be watching the game for the GAME or for the commercials?  I would also LOVE to get some more game day recipes, so please share your favorite HEALTHY game day recipes below!