My Big Life Change!

Picture taken by Abby Austin of 1000 Miles on my own two feet.


To transform my life, with God's help of course, one step at a time.

1. Get healthy & honor God with my body

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

2.Become at least 50% sustainable with emphasis on doing our part to take care of God's planet.

3. Live life as an adventure, experiencing new places, things & people.
18 out of 150 bucket list goals accomplished

4. Become debt free & build security for my family, so we can then bless others financially also.

5. Continue to grow closer to God, building My family's faith & sharing the Gospel with those we meet, by using the talents and gifts God has provided us.

6.Continue to make money by creating and sharing my thoughts and beliefs through artistic expression: all the while hoping that my art will impact others. "Holly Kennedy

: All I know is, if you don't figure out this something, you'll just stay ordinary, and it doesn't matter if it's a work of art, or a taco, or a pair of socks! Just create something... new, and there it is, and it's you, out in the world, outside of you, and you can look at it, or hear it, or read it, or feel it... and you know a little more about... you. A little bit more than anyone else does... Does that make any sense at all?" Quote from PS I LOVE YOU

Monday, October 31, 2011


I once was in danger. Not my life, but my heart and my spiritual life. I was living a life that was not my own. I was living life how I thought it should be. Chasing the dollar, keeping up with the Jones, living in denial about my finances.

Did you know that discontentment is contagious? It is actually possible to be doing all of those things and not even know it. After all, I thought I was being humble. Giving my time and energy away, and some of my money away to volunteering in my church and helping teenagers. But I never realized how much of my life was focused on me and not God until I walked away from my American dream.

It was January 2010. I had just received the greatest gift from my Heavenly Father, my daughter. I never realized how much my life would change. As I struggled through the first few months of motherhood, I didn't realize the internal battle that was happening in my soul also. I was in such discontentment in my life. I assumed that this had to be my fault for not being able to be the mother I had dreamed being. But it wasn't about motherhood at all. My heart had grown so big in the last few months and I was finally thinking clearly for the first time in along time. God had given me my daughter at the perfect time. I had dreamed of having a child most of my life, but God waited till then to change me.

I had just gone through and amazing bible 12 step program (Celebrate Recovery) and gained victory over my past that the devil used to hold me in bondage. But the biggest thing I gained was the knowledge that God had created me as a perfect being in His Image. And not despite of, but because He let me go through these things I am in perfect condition to share His story. I had gained my voice! And I finally had confidence to share His story. By being so enlightened, I also had been given the sight to see how much of my life was off God's path.

My husband and I had lived most of our lives in search of the American dream! In 2004 we bought our first house. A house that I thought we would live in a long time. We spent countless hours and dollars trying to make that house a home. Filling it with things that took up space and gave us temporary joy. But it was never enough. I was always looking to my friends and there lives to find that one thing that would make me happy. Granted I knew that only God could fill me up, but I wasn't living that way. So I tried my darnedest to full up my soul with God by working off my wanting habits. But it never worked! The problem was I had surrounded myself with people and places that craved more. The nicest cars, the cutest Coach purses, the best looking houses and the funnest parties. The babies with the cutest bows and outfits. I felt lost! I couldn't keep up and I was tired of trying! John and I worked so hard to try and afford the things we thought we needed, that we ended up in so much debt. We couldn't afford the things we did really need. Like food and shelter and time with each other. My husband and I both felt guided that i should stay home with Joslyn, but we could barely hold everything together with both of us working. So we made one of the hardest decisions we had ever had to make. We walked away!

All those years putting money into a house that we couldn't keep together. Never seeing my husband because he was working himself to the bone to keep us afloat. Borrowing and begging to save something that we could never save. We had to do the most humbling thing ever and walk away from our home. I felt lost and confused! But also for the first time in awhile I felt free! Finally living without that huge commitment over our heads. And through the humility we had to rely on God to guide us on the right path. He did not fail! He led me to a place where amongst the most humble people, God was doing amazing things. People coming together to help others. Giving away their comfort and blessings to the unfortunate. Taking care of the widows and the orphans. Like the original disciples they were following Jesus, wherever He lead! And in this unassuming place I was sent to heal and learn my true purpose. I was taught how to use my voice for Him. I was gathering the strength I would need for the future. A future that would lead me back to the city. A city where the temptation of stuff and money is strong. But God has shown me such a gift of humility! He is guiding me to live with purpose. To let go of the things that are fake and teaching me to hold on to the gifts that bear fruit! Thank you Lord for my family and my friends. Thank you Lord for the opportunity to be a fisherman! To help others find their true purpose in You! Thank you for helping out of my denial and giving me the gift of humility. Please continue to break the chains that things have a hold on me and help my life to be an example to others and lead them to You!

Disclaimer: I do not approve of not paying your debts. Though we did walk away from the house we are still responsible for the debt and we are slowly finding ways to pay for all that we owe. You can not escape your past, but with God's help you can deal with it and He will use it for His glory!

Friday, October 21, 2011

God Breathed Adventure Lists

God-breathed Adventure Lists

The movie "The Bucket List" is a great movie that has inspired thousands if not millions of people to create their own bucket lists. Then they inspired others and so on! While many people I know have encouraged me to create an adventure list, my list was mostly inspired by God.

My life as a young person was designed around fear. Abandoned by my dad at the age of 11, I assumed the role of protector of my family. Risks were something I never took. Too much was riding on me, or so I thought. My younger brother and sister were constantly being chided by me to be careful and stay in the lines. I was trying to create my own safe place in a world full of chaos! But sooner or later my little world was going to crumble. It was a burden that was too heavy for me to carry. Instead of feeling comforted I felt trapped. My safe little box had become a prison!

One of the many things I grasped in Celebrate Recovery was no matter how safe or chaotic my world got, that God had everything in control! He knows my every move before it is thought up in my head. He guides and protects me, even when I step into danger. He holds my life in His hands! I cannot die unless it is His will! I no longer have to live in fear. I do not have to be afraid of what others think about me, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. I do not have to fear death, because God sent Jesus to die so that I can live forever with God in Heaven. Fear can cripple your life, but God gives us freedom over fear! Living without fear enables me to see God's will.
 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
My adventure list is comprised of many things that pull and tug at that box of fear I have created. Every adventure, whether silly or serious, is an extension of who I want to be and who God wants me to be. To see the many things I want to accomplish in my Adventure List click here. But I really want to challenge you to come up with your own! If you could live life without any fear, what would you do? Or think of it this way, what would you do if you lived like you were dying? How would it feel? What would it look like? Number 98 on my adventure list is to inspire 10 people to start their own lists. Will you be one of them?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I don't know about you but I have trouble coming up with meals for dinner. Too many cookbooks. Not enough items at home for any of them. And we like to buy our groceries once a paycheck. Not 4 or 5 times. I have trouble going to the store and only getting what is needed, so less trips to the grocery store is better for us. And finding a recipe that doesn't require too much time and money is difficult. I have a toddler, time is not something I have.

For a couple of years now I have heard Dave Ramsey promote E-Mealz on the radio. I never thought about it until John came home and looked it up. It is a website that provides dinner menu's for each week, and you only pay $5 dollars a month. Now I thought that it would be a waste of money, but the more i looked at it, the more I liked it. No more browsing through cookbooks and finding the perfect recipe only to find that I didn't have all the items and I didn't have money left in the budget. No more planning at all actually. Just sign on log in and print my weekly menu. 5 dollars is a steal for this kind of convenience.  The best part is that they have many different meal plan options for those on a diet. They carry gluten free, low-carb, low-fat, portion control and regular. The menus so far have been mostly items we will eat and they are easy to make. You don't have to be a good cook to use these recipes. In fact I don't think they are advanced enough for me, so I add too them and take away and have a blast cooking these meals. They have plans for 2-3 people or you can pick from 4-6 if you have a bigger family. We have made one meal so far and it was a good amount of food for 3 people. Joslyn didn't eat hers so seconds for daddy!! You can also pick your store you go to. Now there aren't that many selections for stores, but the two main ones in my area are Aldi and Walmart. The advantage of picking a store is that the menu plan is based upon the sale ads. So if Asparagus is on sale that week, you will probably have a meal with that in it. This works out well because the meals are very cost friendly. And of course you don't have to shop at those stores. You can spend time and research the cheapest options or add coupons to reduce the cost lower. I tried the couponing and could never keep up with the best deals. Or I would spend the 4 to 5 hours getting my coupons ready and go to the store with my daughter and all the good deals would be wiped out. But this couponing I can do. Just look at my grocery list, that they make up for you  and add what other items I need, like lunch and breakfast items. Then go through my coupon box and see if I have coupons for the items I need. That doesn't take half the time or energy as crazy couponing does.

It can be hard to step out of your comfort zone and try new meals. But we consider it an adventure. I don't normally endorse items on my blogs except for books, but this website has really helped me and I really look forward to making dinner and seeing my husbands reactions. So far so good! So if this sounds like something you would need then head over to E-Mealz and sign up. One more thing, if you do this, would you tell them you found out about it from John Ellifritt? We get a discount if we get enough people to sign up. And I can use all the help I can get. Remember only $5 dollars a month. I spend more than that at one trip to McDonalds!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Discovery Tuesdays - Colored Rice!

In our attempts to get ready for winter, my friend Amey suggested I make a rice box. A box full of rice that can be used kind of like sand. you give the kiddos sand toys and let them have at it. A rice box is  ideal for outdoors like a sand and water table but also can be used indoors. You will need....

Rice! And lots of it! We happen to have lots of rice because we shop at Sams Club. And believe it or not this big box of 25 lbs is only about 12 dollars! Now that is a steal!

 Hand sanitizer, a small bottle will do!
Food coloring, which ever colors you want!
Zipploc Bags, I used about 10 of the quart size ones. But I did more colors than most people.

 Sand toys! Buckets, funnels, rakes, molds. Any sand toys you have, or even small cups. These I found in storage so that is what I am using. I love free toys!

 A tote! I chose a flatter tote that was pretty wide. I wanted her to have plenty of room to play in. But too big and it will be hard to fill. Too small and the kids might dump the rice out by accident. I got one with a lid, so that it can be stored easily. This is the only item I had to buy! Everything else was in the house. This was a cheap project for me.

 So to start the project take the desired amount of rice and break it up into as many bags as you want different colors. I used a heaping cup full of rice in each bag. Add about 3 squirts of hand sanitizer in the bag and 3 drops of food coloring per bag. Shake and move around the rice until it is all colored. If it isn't dark enough then add more. if it isn't coating well, then add a little more sanitizer.

After it is coated pour it out onto a paper bag or paper towels to dry. It should take about 20 minutes or more. Make sure to spread it out so that it isn't clumped.

 Add to the box however you like! Then add the toys and have fun exploring! It will only look this good before the kiddos touch it! But that's okay!

Friday, October 14, 2011


Today I found them! I went to the storage and found the letters! The letters that John and I wrote to each other when we were dating! I thought they were lost forever! But hidden amongst a treasure trove of papers and pictures they were there. John's letters to me and my letters back to him. If you remember a while back I wrote about my love story with my husband and how we actually fell in love over letters. I won't rehash that story, but I did fear that the letters were lost. I want Joslyn to experience love like that! Pouring your heart and dreams on to the pages and getting responses in reply.

 I also found our wedding album! We didn't have a wedding photographer, so we had those little cameras people could take pictures with. This was back in the olden days when you still used film!!! So I looked over pictures of John and I as youngens. My face was white and my hands were shaking as I prepare to walk down the longest road of my life. I look at the familiar faces standing beside us, cheering us on! Some of them are past on and it is painful yet wonderful to see their faces again. The memories come flooding back.

From year 1996 to 1999 I worked as a chef at a girl scout camp. Four years and four different camps. I found my scrapbooks of those years. Pictures of friends that I was sure that I would have forever. Yet the years go by and we lost track. It was great looking at the pictures and the postcards. I had notes that I had saved from those years. Little notes of niceties and thanks for being my friend. So many memories!!! I am so blessed to have those memories that I can pass onto Joslyn. The best thing is to pass on the love of making memories and dreaming! She will cherish that forever! I know I do!
Some great friends 1999 Metamora, IL Camp Tapawingo

The Treehouse, my home away from home 1998 + 1999 Camp Tapawingo

1997 Peoria, IL

John and I in Chicago, IL 1999

1996 Meadow Mountain Ranch, Estes Park, CO

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A story of Freedom

Freedom is scary! No one I know wants to be locked in a cage. If you ask around, would you prefer to be free or locked up, what do you think they would say? Of course I say I want to be free too! But I wonder if that is really true?

Joslyn, (my 21 month old) is experiencing some freedom issues right now. She can open doors! Oh how this scares mommy and daddy! We never knew how lucky we were when we could close the door and know she could not get out of her room. Or get into the bathroom. Or open the patio door! But now that she has experienced freedom, she wants more! And I can't help but be jealous of her. Life hasn't spoiled her child-like faith yet. Freedom is new, exciting, exhilarating, and not very scary yet. She hasn't gotten stuck in a cage and been told that freedom is impossible, yet. Everyday is still an adventure waiting to be discovered!

But eventually, life breaks our hearts and our spirit for freedom. The Devil uses lies and people to convince us that freedom again isn't possible. That living in the bondage is better and safer. That once we grow accustomed to our chains, that we will be happier on the other side. He teases us with temptations...

"Just look in the window of the room. Just open the door. See the pretty room that has toys that you have only dreamed of. Walk in, it will be fine, you can leave if you want. Just try on the bracelets once, you can take them back off if you want." He tempts you into the room, and eventually you spend all your time there. One day you go to leave and the door is locked. The pretty bracelets that once adorned your arms, turn to chains that rub your skin raw. The valuable toys turn to rubbish and filth. The pretty room is actually a prison with flowery wallpaper. The window is coated with sludge that is so thick you can't dream of looking out. You sit in the dark and pray for a miracle! "How did you get here? Why is this happening to you? What can you do to get out of here?"

Suddenly you hear someone calling your name! His voice is strong and confident! Nothing like the Evil voice that brought you here. A loving voice! It's Jesus! He hears your cries! You sob and say "I'm in here! I can't get out!" He calls to you, but you don't understand Him. He calls again, you start searching the room for the sound! You cry out again! "Jesus, come save me!" He calls again! You realize that you can hear Him better by the window. So you work tirelessly to rub clean the window. The years of filth and grime don't come off easily, but slowly you see improvement. Every swipe of dust lets a little more of His voice in. Every tug of your chains brings you a little bit closer to freedom. Every kick at the door, rusts the locks a little more.

Eventually, you can see out the window! Oh what a sight! People and places that are so beautiful! You see things that seem too good to be true! You almost can make out His voice, but you know that you won't understand Him completely until you get that little window open. Sure it's a small window, you would never be able to fit out of it. But if you could only hear Him, you know He will tell you what to do! He will tell you how to get out! You could call to Him for help! So you work on prying open the window! Slowly day by day you chip away the paint and the cement. You get visits from your captor daily and he showers you with lies. "You aren't worth being saved! You are ugly and unlovable! You are too dirty to be loved by Such a God!" But you have heard God's voice now and you have to open that window! You no longer relish time with your captor, you urn for time with your God! A chance to hear His lovely voice. So you keep chipping away at the window. One glorious day it opens a crack! Hallelujah! You hear His voice in full strength, it is sweet as honey! It almost hurts your lips to say His name but you do! "JESUS! JESUS! JESUS! Help me!"

The people, they hear your pleas! Some turn away because they don't want to see your dirty face. Some cover their ears because they can't stand to hear your painful cries. But others, a few they come over! They peek in the small crack. They say, "We can hear you! We are here!" "I can't get out!", you say. "The door is locked!" "We will help you!", they say. You can hear them tugging at the door handle! So you start kicking the door! Harder and harder til your feet start to bleed. You would give up like before but you hear Jesus calling to you and you hear the voices of the people on the other side trying to get you out. You wonder why they are helping you? They don't know you or what you have done? They won't like you when they can see you? But you keep going. The craving for freedom, out weighs the pain, the temptations, even the captor who is trying to keep you in. You have tasted it and it was good! "CRACK!!!" The door opens! You collapse onto the floor

The light that comes pouring in is blinding! You cannot see anything! But slowly your eyes adjust till you can see the shadows coming to your rescue. Some of them start to work on removing your chains. Some of them bring water and food to your malnourished body. Some of them start to clean and bandage your wounds. But ones that help the most are those that speak to you of Truth. They know that the Captor is yelling at you lies and they sit by your side , trying to drown out his voice. They speak the Words of the Almighty and tell you stories of how they were once like you. "Can it be?, You were once like me?" When your healthy enough to move, they carefully walk you out of the prison. You talk with Jesus daily now and love your time with Him. You relish walking with Him one day. But for now, you get better everyday! Those strangers who helped you escape are now your dearest friends and confidants. They walk with you and talk with you and love you as they are loved by God! The Captor comes around once and a while and he tries to tempt you to going back. But you look down at the scars that slowly heal and at your friends hands which are splintered from the wood of the door. You feel the love of your Savior and you know there is no way you would ever go back. "Get thee away Satan! I am loved, I am worth it, I am perfect in His sight!" And one day you hear a voice! "Help me!" And you smile and run towards the broken voice in the crack....

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Recovery is a process! That is a phrase I hear every week at CR, but for some reason I felt it would be different with my body. After all I have had a C-section, and I recovered from that surgery fast! Why should gallbladder surgery be any different? But it is!

When I groggily opened my eyes after the surgery I was being told, "Teresa, breathe deeply." I would take a few deep breaths and then pass back out and wake up to the nurse saying the same thing. I don't know what kind of anesthesia I was on, but my body loved it so much that it didn't want to wake up! Lol, or maybe I am a mom that doesn't get enough sleep, so I was enjoying the rest! Either way I was trying to stay asleep. When I was awake enough to bring to the secondary recovery room, I was dizzy and nauseous and so very sleepy!

I ended up staying in the room for 4 hours trying to wake my body up organ by organ. The nurses kept trying to get me to drink soda, which would help the gas built up in my body but soda was the last thing I wanted.  I couldn't seem to get rid of that nauseous feeling. So after my bladder woke up I was insistent upon going home. So as they wheeled me out I realized how helpful those throw up bags I grabbed were!

The ride home was awful, but we stopped and got Chick-Fil-A for later and I went home and went to bed. My first few meals were hard to get down and some came back up too easily, but all in all I slept most of the time.

After 4 days though I expect to be back up and running, but no dice! I am still dealing with clogged pipes and nauseousness, dizzyiness and hurting ears. I think this is another test from God. So patiently I wait and watch the world spin!                                                                            

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book review- The Baker's Wife by Erin Healy

The Baker's Wife will have you turning pages so fast that you will count it as speed reading! The plot is riveting and super exciting! Two families in a small town are constantly thrown together in undesirable ways. One family uses God given gifts to help others and the other uses God's Word to destroy.

 Audrey and her husband Geoff run a bakery in the small town where they are known for scandal. Originally a pastor, Geoff was forced out of the church because of a scandal involving his son Ed and Miralee, the daughter of Jack and Julie Mansfield. Jack Mansfield is the town's lead police detective and his hate for that family grows stronger when Audrey runs over Julie's scooter. The mangled scooter is also covered in her blood, but where is Julie? Jack is convinced that Audrey has taken her wife and he sets out to prove it by any means necessarily.  When her family's lives are threatened; Audrey and a Diane, a newcomer with a haunting past, strive to find Julie before Jack goes over the edge.

I really loved the way the writer expounded on spiritual gifts. She made me feel as if it were something that I could feel also. She also made such unique characters, especially in Jack. They way he thought that about the Bible and how it was his own personal weapon, reminds me of others. There is a great balance of good and evil in this book. But the best lesson of all is about forgiveness! Erin Healy really captures the damage a heart can have and how God's love shown through others can heal and restore! I really enjoyed reading every chapter of this book and I can not wait to read more of her work.

I review for BookSneeze®

I was provided a copy of this book for the purpose of a review. All opinions are mine and are real thoughts of mine. If this book sounds like something you would want to read click here.