Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Call to Cambodia

Well, the Tucker crew had an incredible Christmas with lots of presents, rest and food! But the most amazing gift of the season was the opportunity that presented itself all because of a divine appointment.

Over the last couple years, Brittany has developed a huge burden for the girls of Cambodia, specifically the ones involved in the sex trade industry. She has cried, dreamed and prayed for God to give her direction on the extent of her involvement concerning that issue. Pastor Kevin has even prophesied this same thing to her...twice. I have often gone upstairs to find her weeping after she has either watched a documentary or written a paper on the subject as one of her chosen assignments required in pursuit of her psychology degree. She recognized a very unique calling on her life and began the process of constructing a letter that she intended to send to Lisa Bevere and others with connections to the safe houses in Cambodia. But God had a better plan, a seemingly quicker plan.

While working at Lifetime Fitness a few weeks ago, she came across a member whom she had never seen before and has never seen since. He began to talk with her about religion and church, then somehow Cambodia. He said that he attends the Covenant Carrollton campus and mentioned that he heard something about our church being involved with Cambodia and that she should check it out. Talk about a divine appointment!

She called me, and I said that I had not heard anything about that. So, I contacted the McKinney campus, and they didn't know anything either. I was transferred to the Carrollton campus, then to the mission's pastor, Donna Holland...all in about 3 minutes. Pastor Donna explained that there was no missions trip scheduled but did say that there was a missionary by the name of Liney Chacko starting a safe house there whom she was getting ready to meet with in a few minutes. She said that she would have Liney call us back soon after.

Liney called and had lunch with me and Brittany last Thursday. This was the divine connection Brittany needed. Liney and Brittany hit it off very well and both share the same passion for that culture. Brittany shared her testimony and her heart; Liney shared their missionary efforts and heartbraking stories. We were saddened to hear about a 9 year old girl that had been sexually and physically abused. Her neck was tied with chains that left permanent scars, and she was drugged during the day to keep her quiet. At first glance, they assumed her to be 5 years old, but dental records proved otherwise. She had been sold by her family, then rescued by the Chacko's organization, Global Renewal, even before a safe house existed.

As we wept at the table, I sat in awe as the opportunity of a lifetime began to unfold for Brittany. To make a long story short, she will be going to Cambodia for about 3 months during the summer to support the Chacko's and help in any way that she can with the new safe house that overlooks the Gulf of Thailand. She will learn the culture, the language and see what the future holds concerning her long-term involvement. All of her room, board and food will be covered (divine provision, PTL!) and she will go through extensive training at the Carrollton campus over the next 5 months prior to her departure. There may even be a chance that she can obtain college credit toward her degree which she will continue to pursue as her schedule permits. The only thing that she will be required to pay for is her transportation there and back. She will also need to make sure that her expenses in the states are covered, but she is not worried because she has faith that God will provide even that.

Please keep her in your prayers as she embarks on this new endeavor. I have never seen her so full of purpose, so happy, so excited! Since she is relatable and compassionate, I know that she will be able to minister deeply to those little girls once they are rescued and brought to the safe house. There is already one waiting for her.

*To learn more about Global Renewal, please visit http://www.globalrenewal.org/

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Need a Hostess Gift Idea Under $25?

With so many Christmas parties and dinners to attend during the holidays, I often find it hard to come up with just the right hostess gift. I get tired of bringing the traditional bottle of wine or the overdone bouquet of flowers. Each of which can actually cause an inconvenience to the host. They may have already chosen a wine for the night, but may feel obligated to un-cork the one you brought instead. Additionally, with flowers, the host must then locate a vase, trim the ends and find a place to display them where it will not clash with the decore all in an effort to show the giver that they appreciate them.

So, here are a few ideas that I have come up with that are unique, personal and under $25!
  1. A Personalized Ornament - This is something that they will be able to display on their tree for years to come as a reminder of your special dinner together. Make sure you get one that matches their personality...not yours.
  2. A Rosemary Shrub - This is a great idea for the person that likes to cook. It is fragrant, practical and wrapped in a beautiful Christmas paper. I found them at Kroger for $9.99. Add a bow and you are good to go!
  3. Monogrammed Soaps or Candles - this would be excellent for someone who entertains alot. It is a nice addition to their guest bath and comes in neutral colors.
  4. A Movie Night - Party City has a large plastic "popcorn box" that you can fill with a DVD, some microwaveable popcorn and a few boxes of candy. Wrap it with some cellophane and you've got a great family gift!
  5. Wooden Tea Chest - If you know someone that loves tea, purchase a nice tea chest and add some specialty teas if it doesn't come stocked already. This would pair well with a nice tea cup as an added bonus.
  6. Hot Cocoa Basket - Almost everyone loves hot chocolate! Get creative. Buy a small basket, add a mug or two, some cocoa, marshmellows and a few candy canes.

If you are looking for something a bit more pricey and fun, I would buy "The Bucket List" DVD and pair it with some Kopi Luwak. This coffee is sure to get a good laugh and would make for some very interesting conversation. Make sure you google its history if you don't already know it. This gift would cost you about $50+ depending on the amount of coffee you order. Keep in mind that when ordering this coffee online, you will want to verify its authenticity and origin. I like http://www.animalcoffee.com/ and http://www.koracoffee.com/.

Well, I hope that you come away with some neat ideas; get creative and add your own personal touch. If you have any hostess gift favorites, let me know! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Edible Candy Sleigh

I LOVE Christmas! I love the decor, the spirit, the reason, the cooking, the giving, the songs and most of all, spending time with family.

It has been so funny this year to hear Javin and Kadi singing their rendition of Christmas songs. Kadi was singing, "Oh , ho, the mistletoe - one, two, three - I see." I let out a little chuckle as I said, "Ho, Ho the mistletoe. Hung where you can see." That lasted about 2 minutes before she forgot the words again. So cute, but it was Javin that had me rolling! He started singing, "Deck the halls with cows of jolly!" I lost it! I mean can you just picture robust cows hysterically laughing as they sing Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la?!? What a greeting that would be! ♪♫♪

Lately, I have been enjoying doing fun, edible creations with the kids. For Thanksgiving, we did a cute turkey with feathers of candy corn, so for Christmas, we decided to make a candy sleigh. We even invited a few of their friends over to join in the fun for what I called "Javin & Kadi's 1st Annual Christmas Social." I am glad it is only once a year because I will need at least that long to recover and wrap my head around the next one! The sleighs turned out so cute though, so if you decide to make one with your kids, here is what you will need:
  • 2 Candy Canes
  • Vanilla Icing
  • 1 Graham Cracker
  • Shredded Coconut
  • 1 Double Stuffed Oreo
  • 1 Candy Santa
  • 1 Red Fruit Roll-up
  • 8 Gumballs
  • 1 Twizzler Pull & Peel

First, you will want to get the two candy canes and put a heaping amount of icing, so that the graham cracker will stick. The icing will serve as your "glue". Be sure to allow about 10 minutes for it to dry a little.

Then you will want to ice the top of the graham cracker and sprinkle on your coconut. Now we have snow!

For Santa's seat, we will use an Oreo. Separate the halves to make your chair. You may actually want to add a bit of icing to the top to provide some extra stability for Santa. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, then add Santa.

Next, we will make the toy sack. Very carefully, unroll the fruit roll-up. It is best to cup it in your hand, so that it doesn't stick to the counter. Pour in the gumballs and bring all edges up to the middle to form a pouch. Stretch out the top a bit, so that you have ample room to tie your Twizzler's Pull & Peel bow. Add the toy sack to the sleigh, and you are done!

Simple, yet fun and the kids end up with a yummy snack! Bring on the sugar high! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Our Nine Year Anniversary

So, yes, I realize that it has been quite sometime since my last blog, but it has been one crazy, busy fall season! Now I am back in the saddle, so let's giddy-up because I have been wanting to write about my anniversary!

On December 1st, Jeremy and I celebrated 9 years of marriage. Wahoo! Years 4-6 were pretty rough with the idea of divorce looming overhead, but we learned important lessons, went to counseling and have continued to grow more in love each day. I am so stoked to be married to such an incredible man of God. I find such comfort in his embrace, warmth in his smile and a heart that is ever giving. Needless to say, we were excited to celebrate another year! For our special night, we had a lovely dinner planned, a wine tasting reserved and memories waiting to be made. Then the church called...

Our anniversary had fallen on a Wednesday night. So since it was First Fruits, we didn't have to lead worship. (Yea, a night off!) Then I got a call saying that they wanted us at service to "commission" us as leaders in front of the congregation. We decided to cancel our other plans and let them know that we would be there. I mean, we had spent other anniversaries at church; heck, we were married in a church, so this was fine...no big deal. It didn't necessarily seem any different. Oh, but it was.

In fact, just over 10 years ago during our dating tenure, I remember us sitting with Bro. Rod in Louisiana discussing some of our issues and fears about being married. We felt like our ministries would inevitably take us in opposite directions since we both shared different passions, and this fear terminated the relationship for about 6 months. What we did not realize was that our passions actually complimented each other perfectly. It took us a while to see that potential, but even longer to believe it. Now many years later, we are so grateful for our current Pastors' Mike and Debbie Gamble for pointing that out and reminding us again. They blessed us, believed in us and spoke life into our marriage during a time when we needed it most.

Our commissioning and their re-affirming ended up being extremely symbolic for Jeremy and I both. How awesome is it that the one thing we questioned so long ago was now being publicly confirmed (on our anniversary) as we stood in front of the Covenant McKinney congregation?!? It was amazing to see our destinies mirror each other and our passions sing in perfect harmony. ♫♪♫

I had forgotten all about that initial meeting with Bro. Rod until that night. I love it when God works full circle! And on top of that, someone who did not know us said that God told them to buy this (HUGE) diamond-like gemstone ornament and that they would know who it was for when they got to church that night. As the service went on, they knew it was for us and explained that it was to serve as a reminder of this night and that we are married to Him, etc.

Now it sits displayed on our tree and will be for many years to come. God knew what He was doing then, and He knows what He's doing now. Trust is a great thing. I cannot wait to see where our paths lead. I am just glad that we get to walk that road together. I could not imagine my life's journey with anyone else. ♥

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Got Margin?

A few years ago I heard a teaching on margin. Let’s picture a sheet of loose leaf paper. You know the column that you aren’t supposed to write in? Yes, the margin; it is what allows for rest and makes room for the unexpected happenings in our life whether it be financially, physically or spiritually. So many times, we tend to fill up the whole page leaving no room on the top, bottom or margin. We spend outside of our means, schedule things we have run out of time for and leave no place for God, family or rest. We may leave just enough space on the tattered corner of the page for ourselves, but is that all that our spiritual growth and maturity is worth? I can’t tell you how many times I have looked at that paper and thought just how much of a waste of space the margin seems to be. I never thought my high school English lesson could prove such a valid point in life.

Unfortunately, I tend to view rest like I do margin, and it is just recently that I have begun to realize its importance. God created everything in 6 days, and on the 7th day, He rested. Apparently, God understood the necessity. If God the Father needed rest, how much more do we?!? God has really been dealing with me alot on this issue. I tend to go and go, and then when something unexpected happens, I can’t understand why I come unglued! It’s because I have filled up my margin with busyness and things of the sort that I have no room to pencil in any additional notes. Margin allows room for blessings and growth and makes dealing with any curve balls a heck of alot easier!

Did you know that rest is an integral part of RESToration? When you restore something, you are bringing it back to a place of existence in a state that can be used again. Rest is a place of peace and freedom from anything that wearies, troubles or disturbs. Rest rejuvenates. Rest RESTores. It is intentional and purposeful. Let’s look at it from a different perspective.

I LOVE my ice cream truck. And while this may seem like an oxymoron for something that is consistently on the go, it was through “ice-creaming” that I realized just how fast everything else in life was. When you are driving an ice cream truck, you can’t go faster than 5mph. That’s hard for someone with a lead foot both in life and on the accelerator! Jeremy just laughs at me because it makes me so relaxed. So much for speeding through the neighborhood or just trying to get from point A to point B… If I did that, I would miss the opportunities that await. This business is about the journey and the stops in between. I LOVE that it makes me slow down and stop! It also makes the potential for profit so much greater! Just think, nothing can keep going and going. Eventually, the truck will run out of gas. Are you catching the metaphor here?

The same applies to our lives. Either you can stop or God will stop you, but eventually you WILL rest…after all, that is one of the commandments. We obey the others, so why not that one? Remember the Sabbath. REST. It is a vital part of us reaching our full potential. It is the gas in our tank.

Last night, we had our women’s ministry kickoff called BELOVED. Pastor Debbie shared from Deut. 33:12. Can you guess what the first line of that Scripture was? “Let the beloved of the Lord REST…”

OK, Lord! I hear you loud and clear. Can I get a shredder and a new piece of paper now? What does your margin look like?

Friday, July 9, 2010

I heart the FOG!

Sleep, eat, pee, sleep, eat, pee (mom will just mop it up again anyway)…now let’s add in play! That is all my little 5 week old pups do. They are so tiny, and they are starting to get into everything. I have caught them with Kadi’s underwear, my bra, Jeremy’s shoes, my slippers and anything else they are not supposed to have. The cute pups are contained in a bathroom, but as soon as you open a door, they dart past you. You put one back in and another gets out. Nonetheless, they are irresistible!

Yes, we have decided to keep one. His name is Beast. Jeremy caved. You’d think it would have been the other way around! He’s such a softy.

So, besides taking care of pups, we have been running ice cream routes in our spare time…I say that term loosely since I don’t technically think it exists. God has been so good! We have a few festivals and events coming up, but one was, no doubt, completely God’s favor! If you have ever heard of Third Monday Trade Days in McKinney, then you know it is one of the largest flea markets in Texas aside from Canton. Thousands upon thousands of people go through there! Anyway, there is usually a waiting list for vendor space. Just as the guy was getting ready to call me, along with all the other 80 vendors, Wednesday to let me know that they didn't have any spots available, he got a call. I know this because I called him right after. He told me what his intent was, but that he just had a soft serve ice cream vendor cancel because he couldn’t get the health permits in time for the event. I told him that I sold pre-packaged novelty ice cream and didn’t need a permit! He said that oddly enough, we may be able to work something out. I went met with him and we now have a booth for this month! Praise the Lord for favor. He can make a way where there is no way! What’s great is that he wanted to make sure we could turn the ice cream out fast because food vendor lines are always the longest, and last month’s ice cream guy ran out of inventory the 2nd day into the event. I assured him neither of those would be a problem! Now I just need a bistro set of sorts for the sitting area that he requested.

And that is just the latest blessing of God’s favor. (Don’t pinch me because I don’t want to wake up.) My dad calls it THE FOG..."the Favor of God". First, I got a raise effective July 1st! Then Jeremy began interviewing for a promotion which would be accompanied by a nice raise. All went well, and now we are just waiting on the official offer and effective date. Next, Brittany got a double raise and promotion at her job as well!!! Keep it coming, Lord! Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Along with favor, God’s timing is everything. I love the “new to us” house that He blessed us with, and had I not been on craigslist when it was posted, I may have missed it! I was the first one to respond to the ad (followed by a long list of other people). We had been looking for a larger home for a while, and I am so glad that we didn’t settle just for the sake of finding something sooner. Never grow weary in well doing. Our diligence had paid off and God had SAVED the perfect home for us. God even knew the little things that were important to me without me ever asking. I LOVE living on the golf course. It is so relaxing to me, so comfortable, so home. There is still a lot to unpack, but we are making progress slowly, but surely. Wahoo! Party at the Tucker crib!

Bring on more of those "foggy" conditions!

Friday, May 14, 2010

This Ain't No Mini-Van!

Tucker Treats is now in business! I said I would NEVER drive a mini-van, but I didn't say anything about an ice cream truck! We still need to make some adjustments to the van like repainting it, but here it is! It arrived on Wednesday while I was at work, and seemed to work fine according to Brittany who drove it around to the driveway in the back. Then I tried to start it up on Thursday, and it kept dying. I was freaking out! I was supposed to be taking it for the inspections!

I called the previous owner, and he reassured me that it was working fine before and should be working now. He told me to check all these little things, switches, wires, etc. I popped the hood, everything seemed OK...not that I would really know. I called Jeremy while trying to fight back the tears of disappointment. Then I called the guy back, and he determined that if it wouldn't start, then maybe it was the starter. He told me to try a little trick...still didn't work. I got nothing but strong gas fumes.

To make a long and rather embarrassing story short, Jeremy got home and started it right up. Because of the year of the van, off market fuel pump or something crazy like that, I didn't know you had put the key in and hold for a few seconds before starting it while "feathering" the gas gently at the same time. Eventually, they determined that I flooded the engine in my "inexperience". I didn't realize that "feathering" it was different than "flooring" it. I guess that makes me a stereotypical female in this regard. But, hey, I'll be a pro in no time! At least I figured out how to operate the nifty loud speaker. That thing is so cool; it plays 16 different songs!

Either way, we are rockin' now! Jeremy took it for the safety and emissions inspection today (it passed, whew!) and is getting the registration completed as we speak. I picked out most of the ice cream already; we get the freezer tonight, and we get to pick up our order tomorrow!

I did find out that it takes almost 30 days to get all of the permits for Allen, but the good news is that none are required for McKinney! Let the fun begin!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pistachio Cream Pie

Are you looking for something cool and delicious to serve at your next party, event, holiday or potluck? Need to impress some relatives?

With summer on the horizon, I thought I would share with you one of my new favorite recipes. I wanted to make something special for Brittany and Roman since Mother's Day was going to be a rough day for them. I knew they liked pistachios, so I created a Pistachio Cream Pie just for them. We have now decided that it will be our new Mother's Day tradition! Here is what you will need:
  • 2 Graham Cracker Pie Crusts
  • 1 Tub of Philadelphia Ready Made Cheesecake Filling
  • 2 packs of Pistachio Instant Pudding Mix
  • 3 cups of milk
  • 1/4 cu. of finely crushed pistachios (more or less)

Mix all of the ingredients in a big bowl and blend well. Pour into pie crusts, chill about 30 minutes and serve! Top with whipped cream and garnish with a few whole pistachios for that special added touch.

I actually like to split the recipe in half and make two different pies. Chocolate Chip Banana Cream is our other favorite...or Triple Chocolate Fudge...or Lemon Love... Hint: Just substitute with your favorite Jello pudding mix! It's so easy and doesn't require any baking. You can even add fresh fruit. Be creative. It's fun!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

What a crazy week for the Tuckers! We all ended up with some form of the stomach flu, some worse than others. Then there was the stress of trying to secure our new (to us) home in McKinney, the stress of still trying to get the ice cream truck shipped from FL, then reaching out to one teen in crisis mode that needed a place to stay, another stressed about finals and the other trying to squeeze in GED courses. All of this happened while Jeremy was out of town for three days! But Javin and Kadi getting dropped off at the wrong bus stop and walking ½ mile home by themselves topped the chart. It also caused me to realize the importance of being a mother, and I thought about how fitting it would be to blog about it since Mother’s Day is around the corner. So, let’s back up.

On Tuesday night, I had one of the most awful dreams that a Mother could have. I had a nightmare that my children were missing, namely Javin. His body couldn’t be located and I was told that I needed to file a missing person’s report. The emotional pain of the dream was unbearable. Even when I awoke, I was still trying to figure out where I needed to go to file the report. Then I noticed Javin was asleep in the bed next to me. I sobbed and hugged him hard as I breathed a sigh of relief. But unfortunately, it didn’t end there.

As they boarded the bus for school that morning, I prayed that God would have His angels protect over them and guide them through the day. I pleaded the blood of Jesus over them and kissed them goodbye. But, all day long I just had this very uneasy feeling, a mother’s intuition, that still small voice. I continued to pray for them throughout the course of the day and all the while trusting God that everything would be fine. Let’s not forget that I still had last night’s dream fresh on my mind. Whether that dream held any significance, I will never fully know, but I do know that it caused me to intercede harder than I normally would have.

Well, at 3:20pm, I get a text from Brittany asking if their bus was supposed to be late. They are normally home by 3:15pm and dropped off near the house. My stomach dropped. I called the school and they assured me that their bus was just running late. Britt texted me about 20 minutes later and said they were home. Oddly enough though, I was still not at peace because I sensed something wasn’t right.

When I got home at 4:30pm, I found out that since their bus was running late, the school and the transportation department boarded them on a different bus with a substitute driver. But they forgot to mention to the driver that my kids were the first stop. Instead, they get dropped off about ½ mile from the house on the other side of the neighborhood at about 3:15pm. After crossing intersections and alleyways, they made it home safely…20 some odd minutes later. Javin was able to figure out where he was and just happened to pick the right streets. Then “what-ifs” began to overwhelm me, and it was then that I realized that I had been praying for a specific reason. What if he would have made one wrong turn? Who would have known where they were?

By this point, I was extremely emotional. Both blood-boiling anger and an eternal gratefulness consumed me at the same time. I was so thankful for God’s protection. And as any loving mother would do, I made some phone calls…immediately. I think Roman saw a side of me that he had never seen before! By 6:30am the next morning, it had already been escalated to all department heads involved; a meeting was called, and new procedures were in place to prevent this from EVER happening again.

Now, here is the good part. I love it when God provides confirmation and peace. I was on my way to work the next day and enjoying my usual prayer time. I gave praise the One that I knew was in control and thanked Him once again. I decided to turn the radio on, and there was a song playing that brought me to tears. It’s called “Somebody’s Praying.” This was the first time I had ever heard it, and it was completely contrary to the style of music that was played on this certain station. Read the words, and you will understand it’s importance to me:
Somebody's prayin, I can feel it
Somebody's prayin' for me
Mighty hands are guiding me
To protect me from what I can't see
Lord I believe, Lord I believe
That somebody's prayin', for me.

Angels are watchin', I can feel it
Angels are watchin' over me
There's many miles ahead 'til I get home
Still I'm safely kept before your throne
'Cause Lord I believe, Lord I believe
Your angels are watchin' over me.

Wow, wow, wow! Oh, the duties of a mother. And the most important one of all is praying for our children. None of that was coincidence, but Divine in every aspect. I felt like this was the song being sung over my kids that day. There is no doubt that the angels were walking with them and guiding them all the way, thus preventing any alternate outcome or scenario. Praise the Lord God Almighty!

Anyway, it is quite an old song, but give it a listen…

Gosh, I love my children…each and every one of them.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Bucket

What is a bucket used for? It is for filling and pouring out. A process that you do again and again. So, this bucket list is about life, not death! I think it might be interesting to see how much my bucket will change over the years. I am blessed to have already accomplished so many things like go to college, get married, have kids, run my own company, photograph Paris, shop NYC and get a tat designed by Jeremy. Now I figure it’s time to fill up my bucket again and make a revised edition (in no particular order)!

1. Finish college and become a High School Creative Writing and English teacher. (Yes, I know I’m weird.)
2. Go skydiving at age 85. This way, if I die, at least it will be at a ripe old age and all my kids will be grown. My goal though is to skydive again at age 102 to beat the world record and make it into the Guinness book.
3. See Jeremy walk his daughter(s) down the aisle…and help plan the weddings!
4. Lead worship in a stadium. I have had this recurring vision for several years.
5. Say hello to Reba. I need to ask her what her next hairstyle will be, so that I can steer clear. We always end up with the same one.
6. Sing and hang out with Darlene Zschech. A mentor relationship would be nice!
7. Sell landscape portraits to fund my travel desires.
8. Learn to sew. I want to make and distribute luxury satin shower caps to boutiques as a hobby.
9. Record a praise and worship album.
10. Get laser hair removal, breast implants, teeth whitening and a face lift…Javin doesn’t want me to have wrinkles, ever.
11. Collectively run a high-profit family business that will leave a legacy.
12. Host a radio talk show.
13. Compile my written blogs over a lifetime into a hardbound book to be passed down to generations.
14. I would love to hear Javin fulfill the word that was spoken over him in the womb….“out of the mouth of babes”. I believe that he will prophesy to nations and great leaders. That is something I definitely want to live to see!
15. Lead worship as a family.
16. See all of my kids develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and live a blessed life that bears fruit.
17. See and chat with an angelic host in the physical realm.
18. Attend Brittany’s ribbon cutting ceremony for her non-profit organization.
19. Attend Roman’s college graduation. It will be interesting to see what he finally decides on!
20. Own a home big enough to meet our needs and satisfy our wants all without overextending our budget. It will be a safe haven full of love and everything needed to entertain and keep the kids coming back to visit.

Whew! That’s a lot to get done! I'm gonna need a bigger bucket.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Home Remedy Oddities and More

Here at the Tucker household we have had everything from sinus infections, viruses and seasonal allergies to strep throat, bronchitis/pneumonia and pink eye…all within the last 6-8 weeks! And I am pretty sure that we have tried every home remedy known to man given the many suggestions we were blessed with!

Have you ever heard of boiling peppercorns for sinus relief? Did you know that you can put Vicks on your feet to breathe easier? What about good ol’ whiskey for that cough? Got dry lips and no chapstick, so what can you do? Well, we have tested them all, and here is our top 10 to be deemed most effective:
1. Mucinex DM - Hands down, one of the best over-the-counter congestion meds on the planet at about $13-$15 per box. You cannot use the generic brand though because the percentage of the active ingredient is different. Highly recommended by my doctor…and my dad.
2. Vicks Vapor Rub – This is still my favorite home remedy year after year. Apply to your chest and back for immediate relief. It is even helpful if you put it on the bottoms of your feet with socks. (Thanks, mom for the reminder!) Vicks also makes tissues! Pair them together and you’ve got one happy marriage.
3. Neti Pot – I finally tried it, and I concur that while it may shorten the sinusitis, I believe it serves better as a method of prevention if you are going to use it on a regular basis. I did not find immediate relief, but I do think the product works. Word to the wise: Don’t use too many salt packets thinking it will expedite relief. You will only end up with a severe burning sensation in your sinus cavity and the taste of ocean water dripping down your throat for 2 days. One packet works fine.
4. Whiskey – I am 28 years old and just had my first taste of this beast. I mixed a shot of it with hot tea to which I later added honey. It was not as dreadful as I expected, nor did it perform as expected. As a short term or immediate solution to a nagging, unrelenting cough, it worked wonders in breaking the cycle. Unfortunately, after about 5-10 minutes, my cough came back, though noticeably more subdued. No, it did not make me sleep. So, after my one night stand, I ended up going back to my faithful friend, Nyquil.
5. Boiled Peppercorns – Boil about 3-4 whole peppercorns in a minimal amount of water and add honey, basil leaves and/or lemon to the mixture. It is supposed to clear your head out rather quickly. Maybe this will work for you, but we did not receive any legitimate benefit from it other than soothing a hoarse and over-tired throat. Now if you chew them after boiling, that’s a different story, but you might want to chase it with some milk! The health benefits are numerous and they aid in digestion and fat cell breakdown. I think I might start eating some each day! Google it. You’d be surprised.
6. Zyrtec – Javin would be miserable without it. His allergies get so bad that he can’t even function. After trying multiple allergy meds, this is a life-saver. I buy the generic brand, no difference but the price! What’s even better is that Zyrtec also makes eye drops. Praise the Lord!
7. Benadryl - The only downside to the 24hr Zyrtec is that it has usually worn off after about 12-15 hours, so we end up given Javin half of a Benadryl at night which is a nice compliment to his vaporizer. Brittany also uses Benadryl as a great sleep aid on occasion. It is proven to be safe and non-habit forming like some sleeping pills according to her doctor.
8. Pink Eye Relief – A cold, damp washcloth will provide relief to those suffering from pink eye. Remember to get a fresh cloth each time you lay it over your eyes and be sure to keep hand sanitizer around! Visine helps with the redness. You can stick it out if it’s viral, but you will need to get antibiotic drops if it’s bacterial.
9. Fresh Hot Salsa (from Manny’s, of course!) - Here is what Roman learned the hard way: Do NOT eat hot salsa if you have a bad case of strep. Nothing will help ease the pain by that point, so just go ahead and cry. You may as well just drink the Chloroseptic spray and hope for the best. Live and learn, baby! Fresh Salsa does, however, help to clear your sinuses and has even been proven to aid in the prevention of heart disease and multiple forms of cancer including colon and prostate! Eat up!
10. Chapped Lips – Can’t find the chapstick? Did the dog eat it again? Then try this. It may seem a little gross, but it works. Don’t lick your lips because that will only dry them out more. Instead, take your finger and rub it on the oily parts of your face (i.e. sides of nose, around mouth, behind ears, t-zone, etc…hopefully you are clean) and then rub it on your lips. That’s as natural as it gets!

I hope these little tidbits help you out in this brutal cold and allergy season! Much love from the Tuckers! Let us know if you have any other great home remedy ideas. We’d love to give them a try!

Friday, January 29, 2010

My WHO DAT Rant. So, Sue Me!

This is my official rant. Why is WHO DAT so important? Why are Saints fans outraged? I am not a sports freak, so why are the Saints so special to me? Here is why.

Many often wonder about the bond between the Saints and their fans. To most other cities, their sports teams are nothing more than just that. But to New Orleans, the Saints inspire unity, perseverance and hope. Those are important factors in a city that has overcome devastation and begun major restoration. Not many teams can state that their quarterback gave a good portion of his salary to rebuilding a city, a home, a Who Dat Nation. The team went above and beyond to give back to the most dedicated species on the planet…a Who Dat, a Saint in itself.

The Superdome has been a symbol for a city that will never forget Katrina. It is an iconic structure that holds many emotions both happy and sad. But the greatest of all is the triumph that remains. To be able to look back and see how far New Orleans (as a city and a team) has come, softens even the hardest of hearts whether you are a sports fan or not. Going to a Saints game unifies the people of the city because of the gratefulness they feel deep in their soul. Your political preferences don’t matter, nor does your race or religious background. Everyone is there to support a city that supported them, and vice versa.

For me, it is not even necessarily about the game. Heck, outside of a touchdown, I forget the rules every season, and Jeremy is patient enough to explain it again. For me, it is about family time, unity. Growing up, that was the one thing that brought our family together without fail. And even though my family has gone different directions and is miles apart, it is STILL the one thing that brings us together. I love that modern technology has afforded us that opportunity. I can be calling my mom, texting my dad, cheering with the family and watching the game all at the same time. And while we may get a similar effect with Nascar, the Saints are personal because we have a history.

So when someone comes in to try to steal a term coined by the fans themselves, you can now understand the cause for revolt. When a Saints fan says, “Who Dat,” we say it with pride. To “cease and desist” would bring about a further devastation than the one we just recovered from. The NFL should be ashamed for trying to cash in on the ray of hope that has been with NOLA from the beginning. I wonder if “Cha-Ching” is next, or the brown paper bag for that matter.

So, in the spirit of Louisiana, I say “Who Dat? Who Dat? Who dat say dey gon’ beat dem Saints?” Good luck, NFL because you probably had no idea which “dat” you were messing with. And even though I don’t live in NOLA anymore, I know they are still a force to be reckoned with. Once a Saints fan, always a Saints fan.

Thank you, Saints, for creating many great family memories, and I look forward to more on February 7th. GEAUX SAINTS and congrats on the Superbowl!!! WHO DAT!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Crossing the Finish Line

It is amazing what 21 days of no food will do to you! I did break it slowly with fresh bell peppers, but by lunchtime on Sunday, I was ready for potroast! It’s crazy how your taste buds reset and everything is super sensitive. I could vividly taste each grain of pepper! This brings a whole new enjoyment to eating.

So, the 3-day water fast was the last leg of the journey. Let me just say that I hope I never have to do that again. The spiritual benefits were much needed, but the physical aspects were pretty taxing on the body. I definitely couldn’t have done the latter without the former.

By Thursday night, I had begun the deep detoxing. I became emotional and extremely tired. Headaches and dizziness were preceded by nausea, muscle stiffness and back pain. As years of toxins were released, my breath smelled like something died in it, and my mouth tasted like I ate a battery. I couldn’t get the metal taste out of my system for days! Then on Saturday, it felt like my face was excreting tingly, invisible bugs. I know that sounds disgusting, but I can’t think of any other way to describe it. I could literally FEEL the toxins leaving my body. I took at least two showers that day! Jeremy had a couple of the same symptoms, except he had extreme itching for about 12 hours straight. I lost a total of 11 pounds, and Jeremy lost 17! But, don’t worry; we each gained back 4 the second we started eating.

During this process, I remember soaking in a warm bath on Friday crying out to God because I had no strength, my speech was slurred and I wanted to give up. Then I had this peace just sweep over me. Immediately, God quickened to me Is. 40:31 which says, "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint." WOW! Talk about a word in season! I also began to see Phil. 4:13 in a whole different light…“I can do ALL things through Christ who STRENGTHENS me!” As I began to diligently seek His face, I could not believe the amount of supernatural strength that I had been given. I vowed to spend time worshiping Him regardless of how I was feeling. In return, I ended up with enough strength to clean the rabbit cage, sweep and mop the floor, straighten the house for company the next day and do major grocery shopping. And all without passing out!

Here is the other miracle: I’m not dead yet. Because I have Addison’s disease of the pituitary, I take multiple daily cortisol supplements. Stopping them can send me into an Addisonian crisis which can be fatal. Without the pills, I shouldn’t even be able to have enough strength to get out of the bed. Well, I stopped taking them 10 days ago and I’m still kicking and fully functioning. I felt originally that this was the direction that the Holy Spirit was leading me with the hope that the strenuous fast would reset the pituitary gland in an effort to produce and release the cortisol on its own again. I still have bouts of tiredness as I try to recover from the fast, but I trust that my healing will only continue as my health begins to improve. I basically met God half way, and I expect Him to hold up His end of the bargain. History tells me that he will, so I am taking him at His Word which I know will not return void. And I know that I know this fast was a God-inspired thing.

Thank you for supporting me on this journey and helping me cross the finish line. I really appreciate all of the prayers and loving words of encouragement. Cheers!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!!!

I can almost see the finish line! I guess it’s comparable to a white flag on the final lap! (My Nascar friends will appreciate that metaphor.) This experience has been so rewarding and I am beginning to really understand God’s grace for the first time.

Last Thursday was a rough day as far as hunger and physical well-being, but yesterday was even worse. I started the juiced veggies and fruits, and although I wasn’t necessarily starving, I was dealing with a mental battle. The veggies (broccoli, asparagus, spinach, romaine lettuce, celery, carrot and cabbage) made me want to vomit. When you juice them all together it smells like you are drinking freshly cut grass. In my mind, I just wanted to give up. Taco Bell never sounded so good, a Lunchable never looked so good and a grilled cheese never smelled so good! I had definitely become “weary in well-doing”. Other than Thursday and Monday, things haven’t been so bad!

Sunday after church, a lady came up to me and said that God had given her a vision, or a dream, about me in the same outfit that I was wearing. She said that she was supposed to pray for me, but didn’t know what about. That was perfect timing since I was starting the third stage of my fast on Monday. She vowed to lift me up in prayer and support me! How awesome is that?!? And she doesn’t even really know me! I love that God is watching out for me and sending me the encouragement I need. It helped get me through Monday that’s for sure!

When I awoke this morning, it was like I had a cup of fresh grace! My mind was completely renewed and my spirit was well. I was completely shocked. The last few days, I feel that God has been teaching me about His grace. In fact, it overwhelms me that His grace is so sufficient. I know that I have tried fasts before and never made it past day 5, so this is totally a God thing…and the fact that I am physically doing it without having to be hospitalized is a miracle in itself! Goodness, one day fasts are hard enough and usually if I even skip a meal, my hypoglycemia kicks in. Well, I haven’t had ANY problems so far. Woo-hoo!

Have you ever noticed that when you have the grace to do something it seems possible, but when the grace lifts, it is near impossible? I believe that grace and peace go together. Once the grace is lifted and the peace disappears, then it’s time to move on to the next thing on God’s agenda. So often though I think we fail to recognize the gentle nudge and stay in situations or circumstances longer than He ever intended. Peace leads and grace will follow. I will say that I have never had such peace to do a 21 day fast as I have these past few weeks. But, I have a pretty strong feeling my “grace” for this fast will be gone by Sunday! ;)

I believe it pairs well with 1 Cor. 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” So, basically, God will never give us more than we can handle or ask us to do anything that he hasn’t done or wouldn’t do. When He asks you to do something, He will always provide the grace to do it; that’s why you can handle it. If there is no grace, then HE didn’t give it to you. Interesting food for thought…especially since food can ONLY be a thought right now! Ha, how ironic!

You know what is also ironic is that while the white flag symbolizes the final lap in a Nascar race, it is also a symbol of submission and surrender in times of battle. And at this point in my life, I can honestly say that “God, I surrender to you in everything, wholly and completely. I have seen the peace and joy it brings, and I never want to leave that place. Thank you for running this race with me. I can see the finish line ahead and I am so excited to see what is in store after the Winner’s Circle!” Bring on the Black and White checker!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I smell Blueberry Muffins!

Thanks for tuning in to my ongoing fasting saga. I am in the middle of week two, and I have to say that I am holding up well! I think…Yesterday, I walked into the house swearing that I could smell delicious blueberry muffins, but Britt said she hadn’t made any. Oddly enough, all Jeremy could smell yesterday was A-1 Steaksauce. Can you have a “smelling hallucination”? What else would you call that? Weird, especially since I never even think about muffins.

So, let’s recap the last few days. Last Friday, I caught my finger in the blender while trying to make my fruit smoothie for the evening. Saturday, I peed more than I ever have and am still continuing to do so. By Tuesday, I am smelling things that aren’t there. Ready for the positive?

Well, in week 2, God has been dealing with me on the quality of time that I spend with my children. This revelation was heartbreaking for me. Out of 168 hours in the week, I get to spend an average of 27 hours with my family after I take out work, church and sleep. That was shocking! Of those 27 hours, I still have to factor in time for grocery shopping, laundry, 3 pets, 2 kids, 2 teens and a hubby. By the time I add in “me” time, the quality of time that I spend with my kids is rushed and my hubby is pushed off. I began to realize that Javin and Kadi were STARVING for my attention. While I may have been doing it unintentionally, it was being done consciously. After all, I am the one that ultimately makes my own life’s schedule. So, I have decided to rearrange a few things in the effort that my children are not getting shoved off into the margin of my life instead of being the content. Thank you, Lord, for revealing that to me before any more time is lost.

Here’s something else: Have you ever noticed that when you’re fasting, the creative juices seem to flow more freely? Maybe it’s just me...like my blueberry muffins or something. Anyway, I wrote this song on my way to work. I mean, I sing new songs to my Creator all the time, but this one just seemed to flow out of me faster than I could sing it! It’s quite catchy; now I just need to pound out some chords for it. Fun!!!

Lastly, I can actually feel the prayers of the people that are supporting me. This is definitely a supernatural thing going on! Thanks!

Well, that’s all for now. Tune in next time for the third leg of my journey as I begin preparations for the Juice portion.

Friday, January 8, 2010

And the Journey Begins!

Many churches across America are taking part in a 21-day fast usually modeled after the Daniel fast referenced in chapter 10. Of course, any individual can fast whatever God lays on their heart whether it be certain types of food, media or technology. Covenant McKinney began on January 4th, and we were also asked to keep a journal throughout the fast. I had originally decided to fast from sweets and caffeine…so, I thought…well, God has a sense of humor, and since I appear to be the butt of His jokes lately, the following seemed rather fitting.

On Day one while driving to work, I began to thank God for who He is all the while decreeing and declaring things for 2010, praying for the church leadership, explaining to Him why I am fasting and what I am believing for, etc. Then I got to the part where I said, “God, I trust you completely in everything.” Immediately, I heard, “Then why do you complain about it?” Wow, talk about eye-opening. Then, I felt like God was telling me to fast from complaining as well. Not happy. So of course, the first thing out my mouth literally was, “Are you kidding me? That is too hard!” …and there it is again! So, needless to say, I will not be complaining for 21 days. Remember, He always has the last laugh.

Later that day, I began to research fasting from a spiritual perspective so that I could better understand the sacrifice, the benefits and the “why’s” surrounding this 21-day attempt. My mom was able to offer some amazing insight from her pastor at Grace Covenant Church in Charlotte, NC. Here are a couple tidbits:
*Fasting is a spiritual atomic bomb; a new key to unlock doors that couldn't be opened.
*The discipline of fasting releases the anointing, the favor and the blessing of God in the life of a Christian. ~ Jentezen Franklin
*It is not dieting, not a proof of spiritual superiority, not a way to manipulate God, not a religious mandate, but a humbling of yourself before God; an open invitation.
*The spiritual discipline of fasting is to be a normal routine of our relationship with God. (Matt 9:15)
*When we fast, our motive should be to fast unto the Lord, not for the praise of people. (Matt 6:16-18)
*Fasting is a means of dying to ourselves so that God might reign in a greater way in our lives. I Cor 15:31, Eph 4:22-24.
*The spiritual discipline of fasting, partnered with prayer, is not a means to impress God and earn His acceptance, but it can bring breakthrough in our lives.

One of the breakthroughs that I am believing for is in reference to my health. Here is the back-story in a nutshell. After getting mono in May of 2008, my immune system went haywire. Over the last 18 months I have been diagnosed with several autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (underactive thyroid), Addison’s disease (low cortisol), Ankylosing Spondilitis (type of arthritis in my back/joints), Osteopenia…and the list goes on. In Jan/Feb of last year, my doctor was convinced that I had Lymphoma due to nodules on my thyroid and some test results that had come back. Long story short, I went to an oncologist, had several tests run and they couldn’t find whatever my endocrinologist saw. Praise the Lord on that one! Anyway, in the summer of last year, Pastor Kevin prophesied over me saying the God was going to give me a new central nervous system, that He was going to heal the pain in my hips (I was having trouble walking), etc, etc. I am going somewhere with all this, I promise.

So, on Day 2 and somehow by accident, I came across the benefits of Therapeutic Fasting (http://www.falconblanco.com/health/fasting.htmfor) health reasons. If this is how God wants to heal me, then so be it! I could not believe the stuff I was reading. Though the results stem from an extended juice and water fast, your digestive system basically goes into hibernation while the rest of your body is going through a strenuous process of ridding your body of toxins, dead cells, tumors, etc. It also “resets” damaged organs and is highly beneficial to those with autoimmune disorders. I would love to just be healed instantaneously, that would be a miracle. But God promised to “heal” me, and healing is a process. Google it! So, I have prayed for wisdom and direction and this is where I am being led. (Oh, sidenote, I also accidentally licked an OREO that day trying to get it to stick to someone’s car as a birthday prank. I think the jury is still out on whether that constitutes actually breaking a fast or not. I’m going with the latter.)

Back on track: On Day 3, Wednesday, I made up my mind to start prepping my body for the 2nd part of the process which I anticipated to begin on Friday with the end goal of working towards a water fast. So, I started eating less in an effort to shrink my stomach…and my appetite!

On Thursday, I called my doctor and received his full approval and support…which I had not expected. That gave me the peace I needed to start my graduated fast.

Today is Friday and the first day of my liquid fast. So far so good. This is now the 2nd leg of the voyage. I will be doing strained soups and liquids until the 18th. At that time, I will switch strictly to 4 days of clear juices followed by the final 3 days of water only. I have been told that for a person with my conditions, this is next to impossible to do unless you are secluded in a stress-free environment under constant medical care. I am ready for the challenge, and I have a great support system! Jeremy has even offered to do it with me. And don’t forget, this must all be done with no complaining! Whew!
So, lucky for me! I get a fast with a two-fold purpose: spiritual and physical! This is only Day 5, and I have already received so much revelation! Bring on the growth! (Prayer is greatly appreciated.)