Thursday, May 28, 2015

Never Go to the Grocery Store Again: Whole Foods Living Challenge & GIVEAWAY!

The Whole Foods Life Without Ever Going to the Grocery Store Again!

Challenge & Giveaway! Use the giveaway tools button at the bottom of the post to enter to win The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila Your email address is ONLY used to notify a winner. J

Never going to the grocery store again, now that’s a dream come true, but my family needs to eat. It’s not like growing my own food and relying on local farmers for sustenance is a valid option, right? Actually, it is, and one family is making it work rather well!

Say Hi to the Syner’s!
Hey guys! My name is Lisa Syner and I have been married to my wonderful husband, Cliff, for the past 12 years. I homeschool our 3 children on our small farm in Clarksville, Tennessee. I have a passion for the cultivation of the earth and the fruits of that labor, especially deep purple tomatoes and creamy Japanese sweet potatoes. Our family has chosen to follow Christ’s calling to love God and love others by stewarding this land and teaching others the beauty of tending, preserving and harvesting the bounty of His creation.

I had the great opportunity to hang out with Lisa and her family not long ago, see their farm, pick their brains, and soak up anything they wanted to teach me. They’ve taken a whole foods diet to a new level, and I’m intrigued.
Lisa and her family were stationed in Hawaii (whoop ,whoop for another Military family!). They saw firsthand fields of produce being mass produced, quickly grown, and sprayed with chemicals. She couldn’t shake the knowledge and concern of that food being shipped out and consumed by individuals who had no clue what gunk they were putting in their body, or where the food even came from.
Not many of us scan the isles of the grocery store looking for things that are harmful for us, well, sometimes I willingly purchase some sugary treat. For the most part, we buy things that seem healthy, or the box says it’s nutritional, so in the cart it goes.
Lisa says, “People are so disconnected from God’s creation. We don’t know how to eat.” I have to agree. We try to make the right choices, but we’re mis-informed. Before the Syner’s stopped going to the grocery store, they decided to only purchase and eat whole foods, meaning nothing from a box, and only organic, grass fed meats.

“Yes, it was expensive.” Lisa nodded with a grimace on her face. “We were spending $1300-1500 a month, easy.” I may have gasped or choked on my tongue at that moment.

And after the No Grocery Store Challenge?
“We eat the same quality of food, better actually, and we spend between $680-$740.”  Lisa smiled, and I’m sure her hubby is still smiling over those savings. “We used to have so much waste, but now, we use every bit.”

This lifestyle couldn’t have been easy?
“It’s been a learning process, but we base our meals on local, seasonal foods, and it’s healthier, and cheaper.” She also adds that there’s no pizza night to fall back on, so she’s got to be prepared.
It’s really just getting back the basics of how things used to be.
They “grow slow,” using heirloom seeds (organic, Non-GMO), and raise heritage animals that are able to adapt to their environment, making them stronger, less likely to get sick, and can forgo shots other animals raised for mass production require. Their chickens cluck about providing fresh eggs, and their sheep will provide much needed milk for homemade cheese, which Lisa is very excited about. A dairy sheep! How cool is that? Local farmers and farmers markets provide what they have not been able to produce.
“Everything is made from scratch.” And she’s not lying. Even mustard, and cream cheese! “If I don’t know how to make it, I look up a recipe.” I love that attitude. “If it’s not local, we don’t buy it.” Not lying their either.

Any concessions to this way of life? I had to ask that.
“Coffee is a concession.” Totally agreed with her. “Since there are no local coffee bean farmers, we buy the beans from locally owned coffee shops. We also eat out once a month, and if we’re at a friend’s house, we eat what we’re served.”
What about treats and sweets? No chocolate?
“No chocolate.” I’m kinda sweating over this. “Veggies are our snacks. Honey, homemade ice cream is a once in a great while treat when we have excess of milk, and local/seasonal fruit.”

Any health benefits you’ve noticed?
"I have so much more energy since beginning the challenge, and my seasonal allergies are much more controlled." Her eyes widened in a 'Thank the Lord' kind of way.

What have you loved most about this lifestyle?
“The anticipation.” Her eyes lit up. “Food is a gift, each season for a purpose. There’s also a freshness factor. Before doing this, I never stopped to appreciate these gifts from God.” Lisa sat on the couch with me, hand propped on her head. “I’ve also love the farmers. We’re building new relationships, connecting in new ways, face to face, and able to share the gospel.”

Gardening tips?
“We use a no till method.” The Syner’s lay cardboard on top of the ground garden area, then pile on their fall leaves, mulch, and compost. “Start this process around February.” By planting time they simply push the leaves aside and plant into the rich earth. They actually water less because of how well the mixture holds moisture.
“Fish fertilizer.” Okay, that stuff is disgusting, but, as Lisa pointed out, the Native Americans used fish in their farming, so even though it stinks, it works.

Take the Challenge!
What is your challenge for the readers out there, and any advice to help them meet that challenge?
“Try not going to the grocery store for 30 days by eating whole foods from local vendors.” Sounds sort of easy, but then again, we all know things are easier said than done. To help us stick to the challenge, Lisa says, “Be committed. Find your local farmers and artisans, and ask them questions about their produce. Plan and prep what you want to eat. Have fun.”
She ends with, “It’s not complicated, it’s commitment.”
How about it Dear Readers? Are we up to this challenge?
For More Info on Whole Foods Living & Resources, Connect with the Syner's @ 
Liberty Star Farms
Liberty Star Farms on Facebook
Community Resource Guide

Other Suggested Reading:

Remember to Enter to Win a The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila, one of Lisa's go-to resources.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Worth the Sacrifice: Lessons from Memorial Day Weekend

"But King David replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing." (2 Chronicles 21:24 NLT)

King David wanted to build an altar to God. Araunah owned the perfect place for an altar located on the summit of Mt. Moriah. Nice view I'm sure!

When David approached Araunah about purchasing this "threshing floor" (a flat, hard surface), Araunah offered it to David at no cost. Awesome! A prime piece of property for free! What a bargain, right?! But, David refused to take the property without it costing him something. Instead of saying, "Hey God, I'm building this great altar for you, AND I got it at no cost," David says, "I want to pay, and I want to pay A LOT for this place."

Sounds a bit backward in our 'something for nothing' culture, but David understood what we've seemed to have lost: the definition and value of sacrifice.

David understood that a sacrifice costs something. It hurts, but worth the pain, whether physical or emotional. We feel a sacrifice, and if we don't, it's not a's something much different.

David was telling God, "I wanna pay. You're worth it."

What's worth it for us?

What do we know of sacrifice? In a culture of abundance, credit cards, and self-indulging tendencies, what do we know of sacrifice? To give up something we value, perhaps even need, in order to benefit or honor someone else?

While we may be in short supply of sacrifice, it's still there, and worth every penny, every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears that we willingly pour out.

I can think of several people, and groups that are accustomed to sacrifice, but this Memorial Day weekend I want to acknowledge those who have served and sacrificed their lives for this country. They saw a need, heard a call, counted up the cost, and served anyway. They deemed us worth their lives. Humbling.

I am thankful for the Military families that sacrificed alongside their soldier, willingly setting their soldier free to serve, knowing the dangers at hand. You too are valued, and appreciated. A hug, and kind words do not begin to scratch the surface of our gratitude.

We learn several things about sacrifice from the example of our fallen Military men and women, as well as David.

1: We learn a sacrifice is not a sacrifice if it doesn't cost us something.
2: We learn a sacrifice is worth what we've given up.
3: We learn sacrifice is something we should do more of...setting ourselves aside for the benefit and honor of others whether with our time, money, or perhaps one day, our life.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Suggested Reading:
5 Ways to Be Blessed in the Stress: A Military Wife's Perspective
Loving My Soldier: The Hindsights and Insights of PTSD and TBI
Army Wife Tips

Friday, May 15, 2015

Meet Producer Michael Gier of Wounded Warrior's the Movie & Novel/Starbucks Giftcard Giveaway!

Welcome Dear Readers!
We have a special guest blogger with us today straight from Hollywood! I'm also giving away a signed copy of The Wounded Warrior's Wife & a $5 Starbucks Gift Card to one winner! Be sure to enter below using the Giveaway Tools function at the end of this post.
Now, please give a warm Tennessee welcome to Michael Gier!

Michael is an actor, director, and producer who has been in the entertainment industry for over 35 years.  He owns and runs Silver Dove Productions, LLC and has produced/directed over 160 Film, TV Commercial, and corporate projects.
Michael is currently working on a movie that has themes very near and dear to my heart, but I'll let him tell you all about it. Thanks for being here today, Michael.  Fill us in on what's going on in your part of Hollywood.
There are millions suffering from PTSD with at least 22 Veterans a day taking their own lives; one every 65 minutes. Veterans are reluctant to acknowledge PTSD and get the help they need because of the negative stigma associated with it.  It’s a sad fact that over 50 percent of veterans suffering from PTSD go untreated.  To change that statistic, I am producing a film called Wounded Warriors to bring more awareness and understanding about PTSD. film is inspired by true stories and focuses on the reconciliation between two veterans, a father and a son. The son battles with PTSD, which actually began in childhood when his Vietnam War-traumatized father failed to deal with his own demons. The emotional abuse the boy suffers is intensified by later experiences in Afghanistan, and he turns to alcohol to deal with it. The film not only highlights the effects of PTSD on a young Veteran’s family, but also the courage it takes the entire family to overcome his difficult battles.
I have teamed up with experienced filmmakers including Screenwriter Bob Burris, Line Producer Patrick Ingram, and Associate Producer Teres Byrne, Vietnam War consultant Tom Matteo (recipient of six Purple Heart Medals), and songwriter Roger Stephens (who wrote the song “Wounded Warrior,” performed by Billy Dean). Our hope is that the movie will help audiences understand what our soldiers go through and instill in viewers a sense of gratitude for their service and the protection they offer. of the things I’m most excited about is that we are going to give back a huge chunk of the film's net profits.  Normally investors fund a film and receive 50% of the net profits, however for this project we are funding the film through individuals and corporate donations so that we will be able to donate that 50% to non-profit organizations that benefit veterans.

Not only can individuals and corporations make donations to the film, but the website also includes a page full of fundraising ideas for those who would like to go above and beyond.  It can be as simple as having a yard sale to sell items that are no longer wanted or listing those items for sale on craigslist/ebay.  It could be a group of people that get together to do a car wash or organize a large VIP event with entertainment, a silent auction, and more.  It can literally be anything that you can think of to raise money that will help get this film produced. 

I have received emails from all over the country from soldiers and family members expressing their gratitude for this movie. It’s a story that needs to be told and with the generous donations of Americans who believe in and support our military, this film will get made. What a powerful gift it will be from the people of America to our military and their families.
Go to the film’s website and watch the promo video, donate, and sign up to be in our email database to receive updates on the film’s progress,

How can we help Michael get the word out about this movie, and help to raise funds? I'm encouraging my readers to take the #BigTenChallenge. Share this movie info with 10 people via email and or social media, and donate $10 to its production.

Remember to enter to win a signed copy of The Wounded Warrior's Wife & a $5 Starbucks Gift Card using the giveaway share tools below!

Other Suggested Articles:
Postpartum Depression
5 Ways to be Blessed in the Stress
7 Verses That Can Rock Your World


Friday, May 1, 2015

Guest Reader & Author: Sara Turnquist on Postpartum Depression

Welcome, Dear Readers!

This year I've set out to get to know you better, hear your story, what God's done or doing in your life, lessons learned, trials, triumphs, recipes, and fun projects. I want to hear what you have to say, and so do a whole host of others. Sara!

I’m a stay-at-home mom in Clarksville, TN. But I do also work at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as an Educator seasonally. I have three beautiful children: Audrey, 5, Andrew, 4, and Aiden, 16 months, and one wonderfully supportive husband, Greg. I have been a “closet writer” for many years and my debut novel will be coming out this summer.

His Eye Is On The Sparrow: Postpartum Depression

Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29, 31

Why should I feel discouraged? Why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart feel lonely and long for heaven and home?
When Jesus is my portion, my constant friend is He
His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.
I sing because I'm happy
I sing because I'm free
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me.

I love this song. Maybe because my grandfather sang it often and it's a fond memory I have of him. But in the midst of my (post partum) depression, this song took on a whole new dimension (meaning) for me. This song proposes that with Jesus as our portion, we shouldn't feel discouraged and the shadows shouldn't come over us. You and I know that this is not true; that even with Jesus in our life, depression will come. It rains on the righteous and the unrighteous the same (Matthew 5:45). Depressive disorders fall on those who live with Christ in their lives and those who live without Him just the same. It doesn't seem right, it doesn't seem fair...but yet it is true. Scripture tells us that this is how it will be.

This song does, however, hit on the very thing that separates a Christ follower who suffers from depression from an unbeliever who struggles in that same darkness: “Jesus is my portion, a constant friend is He...His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.” We have a constant friend and companion with us that walks with us through the whole thing. Even our spouses and closest friends cannot understand and may very well end up getting shut out in our attempts to escape from our lives, but we cannot escape from God. And, though it may feel like you can't see Him at times, that you can't feel Him (though we know feelings are deceitful, right?), He is there...every moment of every day. He is experiencing every agonizing moment of that darkness with you. He is watching over you as this verse and song says, but more than that, He is with you. Let Him be with you. Let His presence wash over you. Ask Him for that very thing. What part of your depression are you thankful He sees/experiences with you?
Wow, Sara, that was beautiful. Thank you. Could you share with us a favorite scripture and perhaps the reasoning?

For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
There is so much hope in this verse for those who live in fear and anxiety and for those who struggle with mental illness. During my depressive episodes, I truly felt as if I was losing my mind because of the intrusive thoughts (thoughts that were not my own that came into my mind urging me to…well, mostly to hurt myself). To not feel safe in your own skin is a, well, a very scary, very crazy feeling. But that is not who God made me to be. He did not give me a spirit of fear. He gave me a sound mind. And He gave me the power to defeat what Satan has in store for me (I’m NOT saying depression is from Satan…depression is, by and large, a chemical or hormonal imbalance…but believe you me, Satan will take every advantage he can get).
You're so right. You know, I love hearing how God has set people free, and I think you can relate. There’s so much more to freedom than patriotism. Would you share a time with us when you experienced God’s freedom?

I experienced a lot of freedom during the course of my recovery from depression. It was a hard place to be in for sure, but it was also a place of healing. In the depths of my depression, everything was dark, there was nothing there but this inescapable gloominess. I couldn’t even find God, though I cried out for Him. I knew He hadn’t abandoned me because His word says He never would, but I felt all alone. Where was He? Why couldn’t I see Him? But now, as I walk in freedom from that darkness, I look back and see, just as the poem “The Footprints in the Sand” proposes, one set of prints during that time. What? He was carrying me to be sure. And I now believe that I couldn’t see Him during that time because He was holding me so tightly that my face was pressed into His shoulder, blinding me. But how did I find that freedom? Through faith steps. I had to let go of the need to see the whole path. God only showed me the step in front of me, as a lamp unto my feet. And even at that, sometimes only dimly lit. I found that I would have to take that step in faith and then trust that He would provide enough light for the step after that.

There's nothing about what your describing that sounds easy, but totally worth every step you took in blind faith. We all struggle in our walk with God, what affected your walk the most through the depression?
The fact that I felt He wasn’t there. During my second episode of post partum depression, I struggled with why He would allow this to happen to me again. I struggle through verses like…”I am the Lord and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity. I am the Lord Who does all these.” Isaiah 45:6b-7  How do I deal with that? A kind, merciful, gracious God “creating calamity” in my life, “creating” this darkness that threatened to swallow me whole? But I had much to learn about being disciplined. About what lengths He would go through to draw me to Himself, to teach me, to mold me. (Again, not saying depression is a sign you are being “punished” by God. Quite the opposite…but I DO believe that God causes ALL things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

I have held on to that verse for years, Sara! It's given me strength in good times and in bad. For our readers out there who may be experiencing depression, what three things would you say to someone who is struggling?
1)      God is there – you may not believe it, you may not see Him, but He is there, in that darkness with you; He feels it, He cries for you, with you, over you; this is a time He can draw you close to Him, if you only let Him.; quiet yourself and let Him speak to you, dear soul; you would be amazed…the God who sings over you (Zephaniah 3:17) wants to speak into your heart in the silence if you’ll only let Him
2)      Take one step at a time – one step out of bed at a time; one faith step at a time…don’t try to see the whole road, just look for that one step in front of you.
3)      Don’t trust your feelings, trust His word – your heart is “more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9) It is not to be trusted. The Word of God is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12); our emotions are fallible; God’s Word is not; so when your feelings or when intrusive thoughts threaten to take you down the wrong path into negative thinking or something worse, turn to God’s word to find the truth
Sara, thank you for being here with us, and thank you for your transparency. It's been such a pleasure having you here today!
Connect with Sara:
Other Suggested Reading:
Be a Guest on My Blog :)
I love hearing from my readers and so does everyone else! Have a testimony to share? Something cool God has done for you? A recipe the world needs to know? What about a DIY project you'd like to teach us? Then I'd love to have you as a guest on my blog! Shoot me an email at to get started.