Author Archives: stacynjeffries

About stacynjeffries

Life is a collection of our stories, a collection of moments. I love to tell stories! I think that through storytelling, we get to share glimpses of our lives with each other, to see the world in the other person’s eyes. Through the laughter and the tears our stories offer encouragement and hope to others. This space was created so that I could share my stories of healing, redemption, living fully alive, and finding my voice again. I hope my words encourage you wherever you are on the path. I hope you laugh. I hope you cry. I hope you feel and come alive again. I hope you find your own path to redemption and healing. I hope you find your own voice for telling your stories and sharing your heart with the world. God is with you. God is for you. God sees you and He hears your prayers, and He bends down to listen.

Whole30 Recap with Photos & Recipes

Standard

Happy Saturday, friends! I’m officially three weeks post-Whole30, and I have a lot to share with you, from overall experiences to crazy dreams and even recipes I think you’ll love!

Overall Experience

My initial concern with doing Whole30 was that I would not be able to complete it, or that I would feel so deprived during it that basically I would end up rolling around in carbs a week later.

2017-03-04-PHOTO-00001398

Yup kinda like that. But surprisingly enough, I made it through without the carb fest. YAY ME! I My overall experience with Whole30 was fantastic. Here are several observations about my experience. Survival tactics, if you will.

I was thinking about food and planning for food all the time. This is because I had to prep everything to make sure I excluded the non-compliant items from my meals. Even on my longest days, I was roasting veggies at 11 pm – otherwise I might be without food for the next few days.

Without working a plan, I would not survive. It helps if you have a plan in advance. So I planned meals for the week in advance, grocery shopping days (Fridays after work), and cooking days (Saturdays, Sundays, and during the week if needed).

I had to change where I shopped and it was difficult to find some foods that were Whole30 compliant. No shade to Safeway or Harris Teeter, but there were items that I could only find at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods (i.e. sugar free salad dressing, Coconut Aminos, etc.). Although further away from home, many items are cheaper at Trader Joe’s (um, hello eggs for 99 cents a dozen!); however even at TJ’s and Whole Foods I had to scrutinize labels for added ingredients. Meanwhile, I saw online that somewhere out there is Whole30 approved Salami. Well my quest ended empty handed so I determined that to be a lie…still salty about that one.

IMG_9347

I could play it safe, or I could enjoy my food and this experience. Who wants to eat roasted chicken and veggies every day for 30 days? Not this girl. In the past, I have done the Daniel Fast and not really planned my meals. The result? I was miserable, underfed, and frustrated by the time the fast ended. I wanted this program to be successful and result in lasting changes, so I followed @Whole30, @Whole30recipes, and others on Instagram for exciting recipes. I was very pleased, and found several recipes that will become staples in my meal planning. This proved to me that food could be healthy and fun too!

My cravings didn’t go away. Whoever told that lie, shame on you! Truthfully, I know that everyone’s body is different, so maybe this is true for some. While my “wanting” sugary items did not subside, I did not give into the urge to eat that doughnut. My goal and my commitment were stronger than my urge for the contraband items. Instead of eating a cookie, I had a piece of fruit, or a Larabar (made with 100% fruit).

I was fuller longer. This is a definite win. This is not a weight loss plan, and I didn’t weigh myself before starting; however, I noticed that my paints fit much looser by the end of the 30 days. WIN WIN!

I dreamed a dream of time gone by… Not really. But I did have two (not one but two) dreams about mayonnaise. In the first dream, I realized I was about to purchase mayo made from chickpeas (and chickpeas are off limits in Whole30 LOL). In the second dream, I dreamt that I was spreading mayo onto bread and realized it was not Whole30 approved mayo (um, neither is the bread!). I never had any conscious cravings for mayonnaise, but my subconscious made sure to remind that I was missing something. So weird! And stressful and funny all at the same time!

I think the Whole30 life is for me! While I have transitioned, I have noticed some foods no longer serve me well, so I plan to eliminate those. I plan to continue checking food labels and resuming Whole30 for a longer period of time, with hopes to see even more results!

Some of the meals I prepared for Whole30

Breakfast

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lunch/Dinner

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Whole30 Snacks and Beverages* 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

*During my Whole30, plantain chips, kale chips, and other pre-made chips were removed from the approved list, due to their becoming “food without breaks.” Also the plantain chips say roasted but in fact they are fried!

Recipes

As promised, here are a few of my fave Whole30 recipes! For more, check out @whole30recipes on Instagram!

Sweet & Sticky Wings

Baked Lemon Herb Tilapia

Apple Cider Braised Chicken & Collards

Basic Bolognese Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

 If you’ve tried Whole30, I’d love to hear how it went for you! Please share in the comments!

 

A Few of My Favorite Things: March

Standard
A Few of My Favorite Things: March

I love connecting people with resources to improve their lives. I’ve discovered some new favorites that inspire me, keep me organized, grow my faith, and are just plan fun. There’s so many that I couldn’t post them all at once, so periodically I will share cool new finds here. My #hope is that you too might find a new favorite!

NPR’S HOW I BUILT THIS PODCAST

hibt_podcast_tile_sq-8d9498b292dc7a759bf4b7fc776dfe0e4c09da68-s400-c85

As a lover of all things podcast, I learned about HIBT from one of my besties who also enjoys a great podcast. One listen and I was hooked! In one week’s time, I listened to seven interviews with Guy Raz. So far I’ve learned about the creation of Instagram, Airbnb, Radio One, Honest Tea, Atari & Chuck E. Cheese’s (both created by the same person) and more!

Guy Raz is an amazing storyteller/developer. I love how he gets the interviewees to open up about their idea development, funding, life philosophies and how they handled the curveballs when things didn’t go as planned. The well-timed music brings you into the story with them.

A good failure is good for your soul. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you are invincible and really cool and entitled…The cure? Getting out of your comfort zone. – Nolan Bushnell, Founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s

If you are an entrepreneur who is in the process of building something, this podcast is for you. It shares the ups and downs of how entrepreneurs and business leaders who seem “larger than life” got their start in building their empires. If they can do it, so can we!

Whether you’re a podcast beginner or connoisseur, I recommend you give How I Built This a try. #trypod  You can subscribe to How I Built this using the Podcast app on your smartphone, or here.

TOOLS OF TITANS by Tim Ferris

tools-of-titans

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Tim Ferris of The Tim Ferris Show, compiled this book of golden nuggets from the interviews he conducted on his show. Tools of Titans is divided into three sections: healthy, wealthy, and wise, with additional non-interview sections written by Tim.

I read that making your bed everyday begins a chain reaction of success for your day, and that you return to that at the end of the day. Since then, I have made my bed daily for the past three months, and it truly does make a difference in the starting and ending of my day. Hooray for that small but powerful changes!

I am still processing Paulo Coelho’s advice to “throw away the notebook and let the essential things remain.” Say what?! I am the Queen of Notetaking! However, I take notes now, I ask myself what’s most important to remember – and maybe that’s the essence behind Mr. Coelho’s advice.

If you aren’t a super fitness buff, the healthy section might throw you for a loop, as a lot of the advice seems to be advance level. Don’t let that stop you from reading this gem! It doesn’t have to be read the same way as a traditional book. I like to select interviews at random, then check off the completed chapters on the table of contents. Feel free to skip around at your pleasure – consider it a buffet of wisdom.

On a final note, this collection of interviews is massive, and therefore is not commuter friendly. I recommend this being an at-home read, which works for me. To learn more about Tools of Titans and where to buy it, please visit https://toolsoftitans.com/.

THE DAILY GRACE CO. BIBLE STUDY: HIS LOVE NEVER FAILS (HOSEA)

img_9149

God put it on my heart to study the book of Hosea, and I’m enjoying The Daily Grace Company’s study. Each week’s section begins with a full page scripture for memorization. Each day of the study shares a correlating scripture about God’s goodness and redeeming love.

There is a written devotional that correlates with each chapter of Hosea, and sometimes the chapter is broken down over multiple days for deeper study. A section for journaling thoughts and prayers is included. The verses of Hosea are written out, so make sure you have your Bible!

It is mind-blowing to read about God’s steadfast, unfailing love for His people, even when we reject Him and put others in His place. It is a beautiful story of God’s pursuit of us. The pages bring to the surface God’s emotions about his faithless people, but it also reveals love, #hope and redemption as God calls our hearts back to Him, the True Lover of our souls.

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. – Hosea 2:14-15, ESV

If you are in a season where you need refreshing or just a reminder of God’s goodness, mercy, and unfailing love, I recommend reading Hosea and this study. Find His Love Never Fails and other great Bible resources here.

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for the next My Favorite Things post! If you check out any of these resources, please share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Feature photo credit: CreateHER Stock

Observing Lent

Standard
Observing Lent

This year for Lent I will do the Whole30 Plan with a group of friends. What’s funny is that when I came across Whole30 at the beginning of the year, I saw all of the “restrictions” and said oh no, this is not for me. There’s no way I can give up “all the things.” Well as usual when I say I am not doing something, God simply says, “Oh really?  Well, we will see about that.”

I love God’s sense of humor.

Except when it involves me giving up carbs and all forms of sugar.

Fast forward a few weeks later, and I found myself at brunch with some friends, one of whom had just completed her third Whole30 and said she felt great. Everyone was curious about it so we asked her tons of questions about her process and any changes she noticed before and after. We were all so intrigued.

Friends, I should have known that Papa was up to something.

But I was too busy enjoying my Star of Africa tea (ahem, with honey, not allowed on Whole30) and my amazing Greek dish (with feta cheese, also not allowed on Whole30) to notice what was happening.

I am sure you can guess what happened next. Somewhere in the midst of conversation we all decided that we would do the Whole30 together beginning March 6 (after our girl’s birthday of course, no one is giving up sugar and dairy on their birthday!).

I said yes…with excitement. What had happened to me? Where was my resolve that I would not give up all the things? Friends, it is probably floating in the Jamaican waters along with my resolve to not go snorkeling with my mission team…which I ended up doing haha! You can read about that experience here. So much for my resolve.

 

Photos courtesy of whole30.com

But truthfully I was excited. I was excited to try a new challenge for Lent, and knowing that I wasn’t alone made me more excited for the journey. Life was truly meant to be done in community. I found resources to help me with meal planning, along with It Starts with Food, the book that explains the science behind the Whole30 plan. And thanks to Instagram, I’ve found some recipes that are Whole30 compliant. YAY!

Part of tackling the scary things is equipping yourself with resources and support. I’ve since shared my plan with three other friends and now they are on board too! From March 6 – April 6 I commit to a Whole30 eating plan, as well as sustaining my fitness plan (currently at the end of a 21 day fitness challenge woot woot!).

I asked myself what do I hope to learn, and how do I hope to grow through this process? As I sacrifice these things, I want to grow in intimacy with Christ. Grower closer to God is always the desire regardless of what I am fasting. I anticipate that God will give me new eyes to see the abundance of good, healthy choices I have instead of focusing on what I think I am missing. I anticipate noticing changes in the way my body runs based on the “fuel” that I give it. It’s my hope that I will also make some long term changes for the better after this process is done. These are just a few things I am praying will happen as I am on this journey.

I look forward to sharing snippets of the journey here with you.

So in a few days, I must bid my new favorite bagel place and beloved cups of honey-laced tea adieu. Excited about how I will learn, grow, and be challenged to leave my comfort zone. And thanking God that I can still have BACON.

Do you have a special way of honoring the Lenten season?

How can you incorporate community this season?

Start Now: The Endless Possibilities of Dreaming

Standard
Start Now: The Endless Possibilities of Dreaming

I am excited to announce that I am a new member of the God Sized Dreams writing team! Not familiar with God Sized Dreams? It is an incredible blog shared twice a week dedicated to encouraging anyone who has a dream on their heart, and is looking for a supportive community! No dream is to too big or too small. Needless to say, I am honored to be one of the newest writers for this community that has encouraged me for so long.

Today on the blog I am sharing about starting your dream. For the past few months life has definitely taught me about new beginnings. While in Ghana, I even learned that Ashesi, the name of the university I visited, means beginning. So cool! Beginnings  can be so challenging, yet so freeing at the same time. When we see the door opening for our dream, we have to prayerfully walk through it.

Except we allow things to hold us back. Our thoughts are filled with doubts, we listen to others who try to hold us back, or we feel that we want to wait for a better time – the perfect time.

I learned that there is no better time than today. So we must start now. Where we are. Which is why I love the above quote so much!

Join me at God Sized Dreams for the full post.

To New Beginnings,

Stacy

One Word 365: 2017 Edition

Standard
One Word 365: 2017 Edition

img_8223

Yesterday I shared about some of my 2016 experiences of being more #bold! Today I am sharing my #oneword365 for 2017!

While home visiting with my family for the holidays, I talked with a friend about our one words and how we chose them. At the time, I hadn’t settled on a word but several come to mind that I liked in my own eyes. After a year of strength building and overcoming, I thought FUN. Yes FUN would be a great word, Jesus, so let’s do that! While I do believe that God wants me to have some fun experiences this year where I enjoy life and His creation, FUN wasn’t to be my main word for the year.

In the same conversation I shared a word that I thought was probably it. After that chat I saw three different messages that all talked about that same one word. I love how Jesus will confirm things so quickly – okay JESUS – I am listening. So it was settled within the hour that my 2017 Guiding Word for the Year is HOPE. 

img_8233

It made perfect sense. This past year, I felt like my hopes in everything had been dashed against the rocks. My business was growing by God’s grace, but I felt as if every other area of my life was either under attack or in the refiner’s fire. However it was through those situations that God showed me that my hope is ALWAYS and ONLY IN HIM. As in Romans 15:13, I believe that the God of Hope wants to fill me with ALL Joy and Peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, I will abound in hope. Not just a tiny spark, not just a mustard seed or a faint glimmer that is unsustainable. But to have great hope in a large quantity. YES PLEASE!

The moment I said YES to HOPE, I heard the gentle whisper of one of my favorite poems, written by Emily Dickinson.

“Hope” is the Thing with Feathers – by Emily Dickinson
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me
My outlook on 2017 drastically changed that day. My hope began to grow even then, that God has something amazing in store for me. I love that God sent further confirmation today during church. My pastor spoke HOPE over us as she described how God brings us HOPE through His presence, His character, and more. SO GOOD! I was reminded that it’s not only about me receiving hope, but it’s about me sharing that hope with others. I can’t wait for the adventures of renewed hope in 2017!
What’s your One Word 365?

A Bold New World: #OneWord365 Review

Standard
A Bold New World: #OneWord365 Review

For 2016, my #oneword365 was #BOLD. I felt God calling me to grow in my identity, pursue the dreams within my heart, and to trust Him with it all. 365 days later I see the strength and, indeed, boldness, that has grown within me as I overcame challenges, let go of things hindering me, delved deeper into His character, and celebrated the good. Strength within me that I never thought possible but was always there.

img_8227

 

I led a Girl Scout troop for a year! I transitioned from a job in education to one where I get to love on families when they need it most. I went vegan for Lent…and relapsed (#bacon!)…but I’m planning to make a comeback! On July 5, I learned that it is SURELY AND ONLY God’s breath in my lungs that keeps me going. God’s mercies are new every day!

img_7556

 

On October 4, I took a bold step and I launched Mama’s Southern Love on Etsy. It took months of preparation and lots of courage to say YES to the desire in my heart, but I am so glad I did! In December I completed my first Holiday Market interacting live with customers. I’ve learned so much on this journey to entrepreneurship, and I look forward to learning more in 2017.

Later that month I completed my first international solo travel to Ghana where God opened my eyes to more of His beautiful world, and my life was forever changed. I formed new friendships, tried new things, and discovered it is possible to fall in love with a country. I can’t wait to go back!

Super blessed and grateful for all that my blessings from 2016! I am excited for what God has in store for 2017! Stay tuned tomorrow for my one word for 2017! ☺️

#2016 #yearinreview #bold #refinersfire #GodsMercyIsNeverCeasing #mamassouthernlove #ghana #travel #AshesiMeansBeginning #reflection #nye

Christ in the Midst of Our Mess

Standard

After talking with a friend this morning about the weight and pressures that can come with the holiday season, I spent some time in prayer, for myself and so many of my loved ones. Many of us are hurting and dealing with difficult life situations right now, and Christmas isn’t as bright and shiny as we would hope. What exactly is it about Christmas that makes us want to put on a happy face?

Sometimes we have plans of how we envision our Christmas to be. Everyone happy (or at least playing along!). A clean house. Well-behaved children. House smelling deliciously of dinner and sweets, just the right gift that we asked for…everything flowing smoothly with no hiccups.

These are all good things to want, but sometimes…LIFE, y’all. We are moving, we are sick, or someone close to us is sick. We are broken and grieving multiple losses. We are in a tough time, we are struggling with work, or looking for work, wondering how ends will meet. And that doesn’t even mention dealing with interpersonal relationships. 2016 knocked us on butts and we are just struggling with our faith and trying to hold on to hope. We are waiting, wondering if what we waited for will ever come to pass.  We are DONE.

As I prayed and sought God’s wisdom, I was reminded of the truth. THE MESS is where Christ comes and meets us. He is Immanuel, Christ with us. He is with us when life is flowing, but we often forget that He is with us when life is falling apart at the seams. He came to us in a barn because there was no room at the Inn, which was probably nicer, cleaner, and if it’s anything like The DoubleTree Hotel, offered fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. But that’s not where he came. He came to us in real life situations to let us know that we are not alone. He put on flesh to show us just how much he loves us, friend.

When the shepherds returned home, their problems, families, and messy dogs (sheep?) were still there. Their circumstances may not have changed, but their hearts had. They were so excited to have met their Savior, their Hope had come! He was The Gift they were waiting for! And because their Hope had come, it gave them the strength to continue on. Just like the wise men and shepherds, God came to change our hearts in the midst of the mess. He is indeed our Joy and Hope in our pleasant times and difficult times. And I praise Him that I don’t have to fake fine with Him, on Christmas Day or any other day. Because we know that God is with us through it all, we can draw on His strength to continue on.

Friend, whatever is happening in your world, be reminded that GOD IS WITH YOU through it all. He has never left you, and He never will. Your joy doesn’t depend on those around you, or in your problems being fixed. Your Hope is in Immanuel. I pray that you will lean into him in the difficult moments of this Christmas weekend. You are loved beyond measure! Be encouraged.