Thursday, July 21, 2016

A New Normal: Life After Loss

Death is a part of life, yes, we know, but when death takes a family member…we wish it wasn’t a part of life.

We’ve known friends who’ve passed, soldiers who gave their lives, and even young children who left this world too soon. Our hearts have ached for them, the magnitude of such a loss, and for their family…their parents, their spouse, their children.  But this time, death was closer.

My mother in law, Pam, passed away on July 1st after a hard fought battle with cancer days before her 55th birthday.  Pam was a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, grandmother, niece, and friend. Many have been impacted by her passing. 

Even after laying her to rest, we can’t believe she’s gone. It doesn’t make sense how someone so full of life, smiles, and witty stories could simply pass away seven months after a diagnosis. If anyone could beat cancer, it would’ve been Pam. But now…we have to find a new normal—a life without Pam, but with the hope of seeing her one day in heaven. 

Pam & My Husband
This hope is great, and fills us with joy, but does not diminish the pain we are feeling. Simply put, we hurt.  It hurts to watch my husband, a man who’s known untold loss in his life as a soldier, struggle to deal with the death of his mother. It hurts to watch my children grasp at the reality that Memaw is no longer with them. 

It’s okay to hurt, to grieve, and cry. There’s permission to be angry, and to question God. He’s big enough to handle our pain, and our doubts.

But right now, we’re not doubting. We’re not asking “Why Pam?” or “Why our family?” as if to push this pain on some other family. We are, however, asking “What now?” “How do we move on?” “When will we find a new normal?”

In the quietness of my morning prayers I hear God’s voice telling me to feel all of it…all of the pain and grief. To embrace it, and push through it with Him not matter how much it hurts. And that’s when I realized, I don’t need to know ‘what’, ‘how’, or ‘when,’ but WHO. WHO will show us what’s next? WHO will show us how to move on? And WHO will place us in a new normal? 

It’s God. God is the answer. And if I know who, then the rest really doesn’t matter. There’s something quite freeing in this realization.

So here’s to pushing through the pain with the One who knows all, and mourns even more over the loss of a loved one. And here’s to pushing through the pain with the One who knows the way to a new normal, and to the One who gives us hope and eternal life through Jesus Christ for anyone who chooses to believe. 


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Gluten Free Taco Frito Pie & Spanish Rice From Our Table To Yours!

Our family has been gluten free now for nearly two years. Perfectly gluten free, no; we have “pass” days here and there, but the majority of time is strictly Gluten Free. 

My oldest child exhibited symptoms of severe asthma that landed him in the hospital twice for respiratory failure. Terrifying experience, and the doctors really couldn’t help us other than keeping our son on two daily “preventative” medications. Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen on my watch…I wanted a cure, not a pill.

We ousted all chemicals in our home and switched to all natural, non-toxic cleaners, and added nutritional supplements to our diet (Totally recommend Shaklee cleaning and health products). Great changes, and his eczema began to clear up, but his breathing was still an issue. I came across an article about symptoms of gluten intolerance and asthma was on the list! So was eczema! I couldn’t believe it! After getting him in to a Holistic Doctor to be tested, our son’s gluten intolerance was confirmed, and we finally had a cure—a gluten free remedy! And it worked, immediately. No more breathing issues! The dark circles left  It’s like some kind of a miracle. 

He is still a kid, and after about a year and a half of a strict diet, I’ve tried to be a bit more lenient on letting him have some gluten when we’re on vacation, or when he’s with his buddies, or grandparents. But, he knows that he doesn’t feel well when he eats that way, so now he does a very good job of avoiding those foods on his own. I'm a proud Momma!

Was the transition to Gluten Free difficult? At first, yes. It was overwhelming because gluten is literally everywhere! However, we got the hang of it, and honestly, it’s been a healthier way for our family to eat. Lots of fruits, veggies, lean meats…good stuff! Pinterest also made this transition a bit more enjoyable…there are TONS of gluten free recipes out there. Check out my Gluten Free Pinterest Board HERE!

One of those delicious recipes is Tacos & Spanish Rice. It’s become a weekly staple in our house, and we hope you love it too! Recipes below!

Gluten Free Frito Taco Pie
The Conway Family Version

1 pound of ground turkey or beef
½ cup of finely diced onion
1 Tblsp of Oil (Canola, Olive, Grapeseed, whatever you have on hand)
2 cups of shredded cheese of choice. We use Colby Jack.
1 pkg of Gluten Free Taco Mix or make your own by mixing sea salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, & paprika to taste
1 Pkg of Goya Seasoning
½ Cup of Gluten Free Biscuick Mix
1 Cup of milk
2 eggs
Bag of Frito chips
9 inch pie plate, or pan

1: Preheat oven to 400. Spray pie plate or pan with cooking spray. In a large enough skillet, heat the oil to a medium heat and Sautee the onion and garlic for about 1 minute. Add in the ground meat, stirring as needed until it is browned. Drain, and add the Taco Seasoning, and Goya packet. Stir, adding a bit of water if needed to distribute the spices. Remove from heat and let sit.
2: Add about 1-2 cups of Frito’s to the bottom of the pie pan. Spoon meat over top of the Frito’s. Set aside.
3: In a small bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, and Bisquick until blended. Pour into the pie pan over top the meat. Doesn’t have to be perfect, just try to cover what you can.
4: Bake for 25 minutes or so. Remove, add the cheese, throw on a few more Frito chips on top for fun, and bake for an additional 2-3 minutes. Let stand a few minutes before serving, and then serve with salsa, lettuce, cilantro, sour cream, black beans, or our favorite—Spanish Rice!!

Spanish Rice
Passed down to me from my Momma

4 Tblsp oil of choice
2 Cups of Long grain GLUTEN FREE rice (We use Jasmine or Basmati which is naturally gluten free)
4 Cups of Chicken Broth (Veggie broth works too)
1 bunch of green onions chopped or 1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves minced/crushed garlic
1 pkg of Goya seasoning
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 pkg of frozen peas or veggies of your liking (We omit the veggies here and add them to the taco toppings)

1: In a skillet, warm up oil on medium heat. Saute rice for 3 minuntes. Add onion and garlic. Saute 3 more minutes. Add broth, Goya, salt & pepper and stir together. Bring to a rapid boil, then turn down to a med-low heat. Add veggies at this time. Cover pan, and cook until the liquid has been absorbed (about 15-20 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool off for a few minutes, then enjoy!


A Message for Moms
Service, Love & A Cold Fighting Soup (Gluten Free): Living Like Jesus
Pumpkin Flavored What? 5 Gluten Free Ways to Add Pumpkin to Family Meals

Hannah Conway is a military wife, mother of two, and speaker. Her novels are a deployment experience of their own, threaded with faith, and filled with twists and turns sure to thrill, and encourage. Hannah is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and My book Therapy. She and her family live in Tennessee

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