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Intentional Living

Intentional Living, Mission

Introducing The NEW True Good and Beautiful!

November 5, 2014

Welcome back to the new and improved True Good and Beautiful!

We are so very excited to introduce not only a new look but fresh content meant to help you thrive in what matters most.

It all began a few months back after realizing just how many people are hanging out with us in our corner of the inter-webs. We never started the blog to “draw a crowd”  but by God’s grace it’s been happening.

Many of you graciously reached out and expressed how much our blog means to you or has helped you through a difficult time. It’s truly been a privilege to share our lives with you and have you share your lives with us in return.We absolutely LOVE connecting with all you readers out there!

What will this new and improved blog bring?

  1. Content for Y-O-U. This blog will no longer be ramblings about our meandering through life. We will still share about our life but with a greater emphasis on serving our readers with a purpose to each post.
  2. Specific topics. Based on your feedback per our recent survey, you are most interested in Money, Marriage, and Mission and that is what we’re sticking to.
  3. Regular posting. We plan to give you some predictability to our posts. We will shoot for three posts per week – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
  4. Empowering. When we sat down to discuss what we want this blog to be about…the slogan “thrive in what matters most” captured how we wish to serve you. We desire to help you live an intentional life that brings you joy, peace, and contentment while giving glory to God.
  5. True, Good, and Beautiful. St. John Paul II said it well in Fides et Ratio, “It is faith which stirs reason to move beyond all isolation and willingly to run risks so that it may attain whatever is beautiful, good and true.” All our posts at their core will center on the these three transcendentals. Whatever is true, good, and/or beautiful is of God and that’s what we want to be about too.

Thanks for joining us here at True Good & Beautiful. Here’s hoping for many meaningful conversations between us over the passing months and years.

Intentional Living, Marriage, Money

Ready. Set. Save 30% on eMeals!

November 27, 2013

Save 30% with code Cyber

Last year many of you read my raving review of eMeals. We are still very happy users of eMeals. I love how simple meal planning, shopping, and cooking is with eMeals. It’s absolutely worth the few dollars we paid for it.

Not many of you know this but I am now gluten-free…a whole different story of how I discovered that. I was worried it would be difficult for us to cook tasty meals or I would accidentally poison myself without recognizing gluten in a recipe.

Lo and behold, eMeals had a Gluten Free plan! They also have a Paleo plan that works in a gluten free diet. I was relieved that I didn’t have to do all the research on recipes…eMeals sends me pre-designed recipes that fit the dietary restrictions I have. Thanks eMeals!

Are you interested in eMeals? This week you can save 30% by using the code: cyber 

Save 30% with code Cyber

Intentional Living, Marriage

Want to Cook Healthy Meals and Save Money?

January 23, 2013

Have I got a treat for YOU!

A year ago when I got married, I knew how to cook like three things. One of them being a grilled cheese sandwhich. Trust me, it was delicious. I  quickly learned that although I was content eating the same meal all the time for years on end, my husband was not as thrilled. But the reasons I cooked the same thing all the time were good ones!

1) Lack of Knowledge. I didn’t know how to cook and didn’t own a cook book.

2) Economics. I thought it was economical to eat the same cheap things all the time and food never got wasted.

3) It was easy! I was super busy and honestly didn’t have time to cook gourmet meals everyday of the week let alone shop for a variety of ingredients to make those meals.

All my reasons, though good, seemed lame after a while. Most people knew how to cook SOMETHING. There ought to be some program out there that will work for me….right? I tried Allrecipes.com, which was nice but I felt pressure to look up and organize 10 recipes for the week, compile a grocery list, and then head to the store after being wiped out by my prep work. Plus half the recipes get changed and don’t turn out all that consistently anyway. I tried Food Network’s website and was making Emeril dishes…that cost an arm and a leg to make plus 4 hours of my night to cook. We tried frozen bag meals for a week, which was easy, but I didn’t feel great about all the processed food and sodium. I tried cookbooks but I ended up destroying them quickly with flour, wine, oil, butter, water, garlic, you name it…somehow every ingredient ended up getting on the pages and warping them.

Then I was listening to my favorite financial guru, Dave Ramsey, one afternoon and found eMeals.com and my entire life was all better! Not really my whole life, but it did take care of my kitchen, cooking, and budget woes with food though!

Look at what this FABULOUS website pulls together for you!

how it works

So this website would allow me to pick my healthy eating habits, sync up with local sales in my area, plan my meals and organize my shopping list by aisle, save me money, prevent waste, provide me with preparation and cooking instructions and all I had to do was PRINT? Yes please! Check out the plans!

the meal plans

Jonathan and I have been using eMeals for a few months now. We’ve experimented with the Paleo and Clean Eating plans. They have been phenomenal for us! I have found the recipes to be incredibly user friendly but also QUICK. I spend maybe 20-30 minutes cooking at the max, which is all I can really afford working full-time right now. God-willing I am a mother some day and stay home with my kiddos, I doubt I will have much more time to cook anyway!

I have cooked things I would NEVER have even purchased before, like parsnips, beets, quinoa, and salmon among so many other ingredients I was afraid of. There are plenty of “normal” ingredients included too but some plans are more exotic than others! Now I shop with confidence, knowing that eMeals will help me prepare delicious meals. I receive my meal plan in my inbox once a week. I click print, head to the store, and pick up my items that are organized by “produce” or “dairy” so I am not running from one side of the store to another and then back chasing forgotten items. I love how smart eMeals are. Ex: If I need half a cabbage in some recipe, it will automatically give me another recipe to use the other half so I don’t have any food go to waste!

It’s less than $5 a month to use eMeals but for that what do I save?????

1) Time – I never have to menu plan anymore or write up a grocery list. I also shop more efficiently. Hello 2-3 extra hours a week! 🙂

2) Money – I am not wasting food anymore. With a few eMeals plans it actually syncs up with local SALES in your area! I also have found that when Jonathan and I aimlessly bought food for the week, we spent about $75/week for the two of us. Using eMeals it’s been more like $60/week for groceries. That’s significant for us.

3) Health – Since being on the Paleo and Clean Eating plans, we have felt awesome! We’ve eaten so many veggies and since unhealthy items aren’t even on the shopping list, they aren’t in our house!

4) Energy – I am actually enjoying cooking more but still like keeping it to a minimum. eMeals thinks for me and all I have to do is follow the recipe, which is typically very simple and easy. I get a meal on the table in no time these days and it gives me more time to focus on activities that bring me energy, like reading or exercising. I am not trapped in the kitchen for 2 hours every night.

I don’t even know how to put a price tag all of those things but I am 100% sure it’s more than $5 a month. Below are sample photos of my weekly grocery list and menu.

sample ingredient

sample plan

When I love things, I feel the need to share them. So that is why I have written this post. I hope it will come as a blessing to all who read it! Happy Cooking!Click on the picture below to visit eMeals!

Just as we are affiliates with Amazon.com, we are also with eMeals, so if you end up wanting to use them, be sure to come back to this post and access their website by clicking on our links!

Intentional Living

How to make your New Year’s resolution last

December 31, 2012

Some of you may remember my New Year’s Day post one year ago about going sugar free.

How can I say no?

Remember these?


I strategically titled it “Sugar-Free Start to 2012,” since it was a start…at least that wasn’t a lie! 🙂

The intention was to actually carry that out as a lifestyle from that point forward…but even in writing it I knew that I may not be totally ready or even able to cut sugar from my life 100% since we don’t live in a perfect world. Dang. I am happy to say that Jonathan and I made a LOT of progress over the past year and a majority of the time when we are in the “swing of things” and a normal routine, we eat  paleo/gluten-free/sugar-free and are exercising 5-6 days per week. We don’t even buy groceries anymore that aren’t in the “no sugar” category unless it’s for a special occasion or day. We juice frequently and love how eating the right things gives us energy and tastes delicious. Who knew Brussel sprouts were so yummy???

Now when we travel or end up in a foreign situation…it’s a whole different story. We haven’t mastered that yet. It’s tough being at the mercy of flights, other people’s food choices, holiday cookies we have emotional connections with, and lack of a schedule. I am sure a year from now we will be even better in handling those scenarios but I am pleased with the progress we’ve made. Not perfect but definitely reasonable and several steps forward.

So, what have I learned in this past year that I want to pass on to all of you doing your New Year’s Resolutions? Some tid-bits that will help you understand how to move through the processes of change and what to anticipate as you travel from the varying stages successfully. Knowing how most people experience change will but you ahead of the game so you can keep plugging along when resistance hits.

Five Stages of Change



Stage One: Pre-Contemplation


If you are in this stage you aren’t even considering a change in your life. This is a comfortable place. You don’t know what you don’t know and ignorance can be bliss at times. People in this stage aren’t seeking new things out and certainly don’t care to know about any bad lifestyle choices they are making…you are in denial that there is any other way to live than the current way things are. Can’t do a whole lot other than wait for something to spark you in this stage to begin contemplating a different life.

Stage Two: Contemplation


I hate this stage. The bomb of truth has been dropped on you(exercise is actually good for you, smoking kills you, a daily prayer life is essential etc.) and there is no going back. Now you know that you know what’s right but you become keenly aware of the cost of change (time, money, no more Hot N Ready pizzas, less sleep so they can make it to the gym or chapel, etc.) This is the stage where you have to grapple with your own humanity and struggle to accept the benefits of change while weighing them against perceived or even actual losses.

Do a LOT of research during this stage. Seek truth out and find people who are nailing what you want to be doing and ask them how they created that certain habit in their life. Read books at the library, watch documentaries, find reasons that support why change is a good thing. Dream about what your life would be like if you made this change…a year from now? five years from now? How would your life be better? Search your heart and write down your own reasons for why this change is desirable.

Stage Three: Preparation

change ahead

This is a stage of low commitment but definite flirting with change is going on (buying a Stevia sweetener, going on a run once to see how it goes, reading a chapter in a book without a plan to finish, etc.) The decision that change is a good thing is made but now it’s a matter of getting around to it and this stage allows a “slow” start-up as the person starts checking things out and firm up how specific they desire to change.

You have a lot of freedom in this stage since you aren’t technically locked into anything yet. Enjoy this stage and don’t rush it. Experiment with things and continue to research but start trying your new activity on occasion. For example, if you desire to get in shape, before signing up for that half-marathon, go for a run or two…figure out if you even like running. Maybe you end up being into swimming instead but unless you prepare well and look around, you may be missing something.

Stage Four: Action


Change has been decided upon. Ideas have been tossed around. Now it’s time to get a SMART goal drawn up. Many New Year’s Resolutions fail because the steps leading up to this stage are glossed over. People don’t need to become experts in their area of change/growth but they at least need to have a basic foundation and have put in the “prep” work getting familiar with the sacrifices the change will bring. Jumping straight into action is a set-up for failure and disillusionment once a hard day hits. Without having internalized the reasons for change…there won’t be enough energy to keep it going.

The first week or two in the action stage will likely be a bit painful…you are doing something new and it’s going to feel awkward. It’s not a habit and some changes will actually bring some suffering to a certain degree. Maybe you are getting a little less sleep with the new workout/prayer schedule. Or everyone at work is going out for pizza but you have to say “no” and eat your lettuce wraps instead. That’s tough. Journaling about the difficulties can help and also reviewing your reasons you wrote down when you were getting started will give you motivation to keep putting in the hard work.

Stage Five: Maintenance

Female hand wiping dining table

I’ve heard it said that it takes 30 days to create a habit. This is the goal of any New Year’s resolution. I think it takes a bit longer in all reality though – more like 3 months. That way you have a holiday, a birthday, a season/weather change, and other variables to work the kinks out of the schedule. You are  progressively but surely beginning to see this foreign activity as a day in and day out activity. You are creating a habit!

There have been good days and bad days but you have been triumphant in carrying out the new routine. Reward yourself during this stage as you are hitting your goals continuously. This will create increased incentive to keep with it, strengthening your habit.

Stage Six: Relapse


In the relapse stage it’s easy to become discouraged. Often this occurs when you breach your normal routine (traveling, sickness, holidays, busy season at work, babies are born, that “time of the month” arrives, etc.) These events will occur, so just be prepared for them. You will likely derail on the first few encounters. That’s OK. That is where I see myself at with giving up sugar…I’ve derailed for various seasons over the past year for good and bad reasons. I’ve learned my lessons and see myself getting stronger and my desires are internally changing to reflect the strength in my will. I am becoming harder to derail. There may always be an occasional relapse (at least for me with sugar) and I’m OK with that, knowing that internally I am beginning to prefer NOT eating it compared to eating it. Eventually it won’t really be a big deal for me anymore, so having some cookies at Christmas will “breach” my plan but won’t cause a total derail in my health.

Now if you aren’t feeling the internal change and breaching your plan will actually cause a total derail…it’s time to go back to earlier stages (do some research, remind yourself why you are changing, etc.) and fight to stick to the plan. Remember, if you stray from your change too early on before it becomes a habit, you are at risk for abandonment since your committment is still very new.

Now you know what to expect in the different stages as you embark on your New Year’s resolution changes!! Work your way through the stages one by one and be patient with yourself…no one is perfect!

What changes do you plan to make in 2013?


Intentional Living

2012 Goals: Making a List

January 19, 2012

This is part 1 of a series of posts about turning hopes and dreams into mission accomplished.

The new year is upon us, and with it, our New Year’s resolutions. Let’s be honest, we’re almost three weeks into the year:
Who’s broken their New Year’s resolution?
Who’s given up on it?
Who hasn’t started yet?

On one hand, I love New Year’s Resolutions. On the other, I can’t stand them. I love how everybody gets into the mood to look at their lives and want to change for the better. I can’t stand that this happens only once a year. If we fail, we’re apt to wait until the next year instead of the next day. Spoiler Alert: there’s nothing special about New Year’s. Every day is a chance for renewal. Of course, time is divided into days, and weeks, and years, etc. So yes, the beginning of the year is a great time to start something new. No matter when it is, let’s do it!

This year, I made a list of things I’d like to happen in 2012. Not necessarily resolutions, but hopes. As I look at my list, it’s a mix of tasks, ideas, projects, hopes, and dreams. Some items could be considered a part of my 2012 “bucket list” (make a ukulele case, build something, etc.). Some are specific (compete in a 5K), while others are generic (read more). One is a big goal (be debt-free).

It doesn’t matter how specific the goals are right now. The important part is thinking them up and writing them down. We’ll get to specifics later. Step 1 is making a list. Here’s my list (in no particular order):

  1. Keep in better contact with my family
  2. Be debt-free
  3. Build something
  4. Figure out pizza crust
  5. Read more
  6. Compete in a 5K
  7. Pray better
  8. Write letters
  9. Play more ukulele
  10. Make a ukulele case
  11. Have needed conversations
  12. Run a half marathon
  13. Write more
  14. Record old stories

Will all these things happen in 2012? Let’s hope so. If they don’t, it’s not a big deal. The next step will be looking at goals and making plans.

Even if you have/had New Year’s resolutions, I encourage you to make a goal list. Write it down. And look forward to a post about how to get specific and start making things happen.

Intentional Living

Sugar-Free Start to 2012

January 1, 2012

This decision to go “sugar-free” (no processed or refined grains or any added sugars) is a long time coming… It is actually a pure coincidence that the choice is now being firmly made upon the brink of a New Year. I am not one to make “New Year’s resolutions” since I typically am a very driven and disciplined person who enjoys trying and starting challenges all throughout the year. Sugar has been my Achilles tendon though and I’ve struggled to say goodbye to my long-time love affair with it, despite the fact I have a degree in Nursing and know exactly what I am up against genetically. I first read the book “Sugar Shock” by Connie Bennett about two years ago. I then read the book “Suicide by Sugar” by Nancy Appleton. I’ve researched thoroughly on this topic and found a great website http://olsonnd.com/30-sugar-free-days/ about doing a 30-Day Sugar Free Challenge. I have poured over the research, attempted my own brief sugar-free stints, and gotten hyped to finally pull the plug and CUT SUGAR!


Five years ago I was diagnosed with a “pre-diabetic” condition and placed on the drug Metformin to keep my blood sugar levels normalized, so I did not develop full blow Type 2  diabetes. I don’t fit the typical profile for a Type 2 diabetic…since it’s not caused by the normal triggers. I have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) which can mess my hormones up and since insulin is a hormone that breaks down sugar, mine was not working properly. I wanted off the drug eventually but if nothing changed in my lifestyle, I would have to take it FOR LIFE! I know that even on the drug, unless I cut sugar, eventually (years down the road), I will likely develop Type 2 diabetes unless I do something different NOW!

 Well, for all the times I got close to the decision of finally going sugar-free and a couple good weeks, I would get weak (duh! I shouldn’t be surprised by this…) and fall prey to sugar laced goodies and carbs in any existing form I could find. See, I am what they would call a “sugar addict”. I’ve read some research that sugar is about as addictive as cocaine to some people…I fall into that category. I don’t even like candy…I am a pastries, corn chips, potato chips, cookies, cakes, rolls, breads, pizzas, pastas kind of girl. Heavy refined and even at times complex carbohydrates that act like sugar on my body are my largest weakness. But I have had enough. I am sick of feeling sick all the time because of the damage sugar is doing to my body.

How can I say no to these?!?!?!

If you haven’t read any of the research of the effect of sugar on our bodies, check out the 141 reasons sugar is killing us – http://nancyappleton.com/141-reasons-sugar-ruins-your-health/ . The cutting edge research is saying that sugar is the new cigarette. Just like nobody knew cigs were bad for their health and in old movies even doctors smoked in their offices, nobody knows now what sugar is doing to our bodies. It’s a silent and slow killer. Just like the Tobacco industry used to be major lobbyists and yield heavy influence in food and drug policies, it’s the Sugar Industry now holding that power. Looking at sugar research that is coming onto the health scene by Doctors, I predict Sugar will finally be declared an enemy to our health within the next 20 years. We’ve finally gotten to a place where kids being born today have a lower life length expectancy than their own parents, since in their generation, kids are expected to develop Type 2 Diabetes more than any generation before. What’s killing Americans? Mostly it’s heart disease and cancers – two diseases oftentimes preventable by our lifestyle choices (mainly diet and exercise). Type 2 Diabetes can also contribute to developing heart disease.

I’ve watched sugar hurt my own health and I am watching it hurt people around me. I don’t think sugar in moderation would cause so much harm but since the average person is eating nearly half a pound of sugar a day and not even knowing it, I would say moderation has long been thrown out the window. I am filled with a desire to honor God with my body and my health. I want to bring Him glory by feeding my body with foods that will truly nourish it, not simply taste good and make me feel good, ultimately damaging my body slowly and likely more addicted to it. This blog is devoted to any true, good, and beautiful things in the world…and the truth is that sugar does more harm on our bodies that anyone likely knows since it’s damage is seen slowly over time. God is the one who designed our nature. With the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, St. Paul says our bodies are “temples”. The temple in the bible is known to be a sacred place, to be revered. With His grace to help me in my weaknesses, I want to make this change here on earth and offer it to Him. I DO NOT think every single person on earth must do “sugar-free” since some people aren’t as susceptible to it. I am not that extreme! HOWEVER, I think sugar consumption is way above a moderate level for anyone out there in America, so hopefully this inspires everyone to rethink about how we are fueling ourselves and taking care of the body given to us. I am confident that if there is food in Heaven, Jesus will have the best tasting cookies, chips, muffins, pastries, cakes, pizzas and pastas awaiting me, and they won’t even hurt me then! 🙂 For now, with the limitations I have in my body, I will accept them and go SUGAR FREE! Here’s to a New Year and hopes for change.