Category Archives: Living Life

The Gro Bill

Recently a friend of mine posted this on Facebook…..

Lets just ponder this thought for a moment…I was at the grocery store and as I’m deciding what I’m going to buy I’m comparing products. You can buy regular cookies for $2 vs fat free cookies for $3. Candy for $3 vs grapes for $6. Regular white bread $1 vs whole grain wheat bread with essential vitamins an nutrients for $3.26. And the government wonders why people are unhealthy and obese!!! HELLO WHITE HOUSE IF YOU WILL DROP PRICES OF HEALTHY FOOD JUST A LITTLE MAYBE IT WILL BE EASIER AND MORE ECONOMICAL FOR PEOPLE TO CHOOSE TO BE HEALTHIER. Just my gripe for the day.

I have to say…. I have said the same thing millions of times.  It kills me the amount of cola you can purchase for the same amount in low fat milk.

My wallet has definitely felt the strain of purchasing the healthier choices.  And last week I successfully got my cost down to our budget number.  It has taken me a while to figure it out, but nevertheless, I did it.  And we are not starving!!

Change Your Thinking

My daughter has complained for a few days now that she wants “real food” again.  She said this as she forked her salad and roasted veggies.  I almost choked.  Real Food??  There isn’t more real than what was on her plate.  But I know what she meant.  She misses the chicken nuggets, french fries, etc.  Oh, and of course, the junk….. the sugary sweets she loves.

The sales ad, the posters, the HDTV ads along the aisle of the grocery store, and even the commercials scream….. “You need this!”  Ever notice in the sales ad that the “processed foods” take up the majority of the pages??  The raw fruits and veggies may be lucky to have a corner of the page.  The reason is that the manufacturers pay to run those “specials.”  The give a good deal for the stores to sell those particular items that week.

So before you even hit the market, you need to change your way of thinking.  We have been conditioned to think less is best.  The cheaper something is, the more affordable I feel it is, and therefore, must purchase not just one but a truck load because it is on sale right???

But what I have found in this endeavor, less is best.  I know what you may be thinking…. she’s lost her mind.  I have noticed that the raw foods I am eating fill me up faster and therefore I am not eating as much.  Same for the family….  I don’t have to purchase tons of cheap food to satisfy our needs.  Just a less amount of the good things.  So, purchase the fiber rich foods.  Here’s a list of high fiber foods from the Mayo Clinic.

So yes, less is best!

Plan, Plan, Plan

So now, I must continue to preach meal planning!  I have always been an advocate for meal planning.  It helps you to stay on track and to save money.  I have my meal planner hung on the dining room wall.  It helps the family know what to expect for dinner and it helps me to remember!!

Okay, now open your sales ad to the corner where the fresh foods are located.  Plan a meal(s) around those foods.  There is nothing wrong in saving a little change on this week’s fresh bargains!!

Stock up on cookbooks or create a bookmark with all your favorite online recipes.  Make them handy.  And use them.  If you notice on my menu board I add page numbers and an abbreviation of the cookbook title.  That way, when making my grocery list I can quickly get back to the recipe for the list of ingredients.


menu close up


Meal planning goes hand in hand with a grocery list.  Make a detailed list, only after you have checked your pantry and frig for any of the ingredients listed.  No need to spend money on extras!!

Become a Grocery Store Spelunker and Gymnast  

Okay, so you have your list and you have your thinking in check.  Now it is time to visit the store.  Skills like a spelunker and gymnast is now coming to play.

When I started on this adventure at the beginning of the year, I thought I had to only shop at Whole Foods.  Now, they are wonderful for some things but they are on the expensive side.  But since I have skills, I made my way into my local grocery store for the same foods.

Explore.  You must explore.  Take the time to really go through the aisles and find where the healthy foods are located.  For example, you can find soy milk in the dairy section or on the shelf (mine is located next to the snack foods).  Compare the prices and figure out which is more economical.  Mayo alternatives are down by the pickles.  You get the picture.

Read labels.  You must read those labels.  The other day, I needed to buy syrup for my guys.  I reached for the cheap syrup but then I turned over to the ingredients.  The only thing I recognized was “High Fructose Corn Syrup.”  Everything else was chemical Greek to me.  So I searched for a healthier option.  I found it. On the top shelf in the corner hiding beside Corn Syrup.  Real Maple Syrup.  I didn’t like the price but thought it would be a good way to teach smaller portions to the family.

The processed foods are always in front and center.  To find the No Sugar/Sugar Free/Sweetener Free products you have to bend and stretch a little more than usual.  They are well hidden.  Trust me.  I know.  But they are there.

And remember this is the “get what you need” attitude.  Stocking up may be good at times but it shouldn’t be the norm.

Less is best!!  Time is money well spent on healthy options.  If you make a quick run to the store you will have the grab it and run attitude which will probably lead you to the cheaper processed foods.

Canned? Frozen? Fresh?

Okay, here’s the thing.  We are busy.  I get that.  Not everyone has the time to make things from scratch.  You can make short cuts by using canned veggies or frozen veggies.  But again, read your labels.  You may find things added….. ahem….. like sugar.

Be mindful of portions.  One potato is one serving.  So if you cut one potato into fries you have yourself one serving of fresh and healthy.  So, if you put the cost per serving to the test, you don’t really spend that much more.  Plus, you can do so much more with a sack of potatoes versus a bag of french fries.

Breads.  Here’s where it kinda gets nerve wrecking.  There are so many options and prices that your head will literally spin.  But, here is an idea.  Go over to the bakery section and purchase bread.  There won’t be as many preservatives added and well at least you can recognize most of the ingredients listed.  And they tend to be cheaper than the high dollar healthy breads.

Cookies.  My friend talked about the price difference.  Here’s my advice.  If you are going to eat cookies make them at home.  You control the ingredients and you can add healthier alternatives.  But if you insist on purchasing cookies  like for example Oreo.  Turn the package over and read the label.  Calorie per calorie often enough the number is close to or exactly the same when it comes to fat-free/sugar free vs. regular.  In this case it is portion control that needs to be the driving factor.

Community Gardens and Neighborhood Fruit

Here’s an idea.  Visit a community garden and get yourself a little plot…… especially if you are like me and can’t grow a thing in my yard (soil is too sandy).  Grow your own veggies!  Then learn how to can or freeze your bounty.

This spring, our church is planting a community garden and guess who will be there learning from the green thumb experts??  Can’t wait.

Then there are websites like Neighborhood Fruit that list fruit trees in your area that you can visit and pick from.  For example, if I had an apple tree in my yard, I could list it and people are welcome to come and pick for themselves.  Neat idea.  Think I will be asking neighbors around here to add theirs.  I hate seeing all that fruit going to waste when I can serve it up or make jelly!


Hey, I am an advocate with the philosophy of “If there is a WILL, there is a WAY!”  Don’t give up good health for processed cheap food.  Get crafty and creative with fresh foods.  You will be surprised!

Like I said, last week, I succeeded in getting my grocery bill down to our budget number.  It required work though.  I know you can do it!!

Genesis 1:29

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.


Hard Answer to Swallow

So, like, if you have read my recent posts on my New Year’s goals, then you would know that Ezekiel 18:31 has been haunting me.  Especially the offensive part.

Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed and get a new heart and new spirit.

Well, yesterday, I thought it was about time I work on my part of the Bible study I will be leading in a couple of weeks.  The teacher has to be prepared right?? So any-whooo, I read Psalm 139.

I’m wonderfully made.

I’m beautiful in His eyes.

Then there is verses 23- 24:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

There is that haunting Ezekiel again….. offensive.  In Psalms, King David is asking God to point out those offensive ways.

Offensive. Ways.

I just had to ask…….. what are my offensive ways?

God?  What are my offensive ways?

I got a hard answer.  The harsh reality.  The truth.

I was reminded of how I reacted watching someone eat on a TV show.  The person was obese and shoved the food in the food.  Mounds of food being shoveled in fast and furious.

I swallowed the sting.

Me?  Really God?

Swallowed.  Hard.


Guess all those years of having 15 minutes to eat lunch has conditioned me to eat too fast.  Excuse #1

I’m so hungry when I sit down. I just inhale.  Excuse #2 (I’m not that hungry all the time)

Offensive. Way.

So later another thumping came to mind…….

If you look back up in verse 19 of Psalm 139, David whines, “If only you would slay the wicked, O God!”  Of course, he was talking about men being after him.  BUT, if I think of my “wicked” as my relationship with food…..

It dawned on me.

I have whined to God before.  “God, why won’t you make these thoughts stop?”  Those thoughts of food……those thoughts that turn into reality.

Another. Hard. Answer.

God will not fight my battles for me.  However, He will support me. Give me the tools and resources to battle.  I expect God to do it all.  Make it stop.  Then I will behave.

Offensive. Way.

I’m lazy.  I want Him to snap His heavenly fingers and resolve my issue for me.  I want the easy way out.  I don’t want to put forth the effort.


Swallowed. Hard.

I am sure God isn’t through with showing me my offensive ways……

Embrace, Regina, Give yourself away…… one pound at a time.  Give yourself away to God.

God bless…….

Serving Up the New Year

Black Eyed Peas



Mashed Potatoes

Chocolate Cake

Our normal New Year’s menu.  Complete with the “old wives’ tale” of leaving a few peas on your plate to insure wealth the following year.  Can’t sweep neither.  You sweep on New Year’s day, you’ll sweep folks right out of your life.  Or at least that is what Grandma used to say.

Here’s the thing.  This year is the year of giving.  I’ve been told the more you give the more you get in return.  But that isn’t my intent.  I want to rid myself of offense Ezekiel told about in chapter 18.  I want to gain a new heart and a new spirit.

Embrace giving, loving and helping….. those things that God has done for me.

So, Mark, the kids and I signed up to work at the soup kitchen in Little Rock. Giving up our holiday to serve those who live out the reality that poverty and homelessness doesn’t observe holidays.

Before our group of friends and us loaded ourselves up in our church van, we held hands in prayer.  We prayed for eyes to be opened, hearts to be touched, and lives to be changed.  Soft words spoken.  Prayers floated upward.  I was about to embark on my first real act of giving myself away.

I am giving away the traditions, those silly old wives’ tales, and time spent in front of the television watching football.  Selfish thoughts anchored at the pit of my stomach. Did I really want to give up my day?

Where were my praying hands? Those words I heard and acknowledged with my quiet “Amen.”  An offense indeed. Selfish thoughts.

Where the sidewalk meets the pavement, a sign stands.  Bold red letters scream silently the reason I was there.  God’s little warning that my selfish thoughts will need to be left along the sidewalk.

Stone soup saved a village.  Today, this service may save me.   The creak of the old door of the 1920 building welcomes me.  The hallow sound of the basement kitchen deafens my selfishness.

There a simple lady of elder stands before me. Her face calm and weathered by time.  30 year veteran to serving the needy.  Her eyes remind me of Mother Theresa.  There’s love behind those eyes.

Without much introduction, I am put to work.  Along side of youthful hands my mind wonders…… How many broken hearts and crumbled lives will we serve?

Will this meal cut through to their hearts?  Will addictions fade? Will sorrow be cut down?  Emotions stirred?

Will the living water pour over their hurting souls?  Will they understand that the bread of life we offer isn’t made with yeast and flour?


Will a miracle happen today? Like the water Jesus turned into wine…..  will someone today understand His power to be sufficient?

Will the young hearts that prepared this meal understand that Jesus fed multitudes with 2 fish and 5 loaves?  But it was more than food He served. Will they understand?  They serve His love.


Will I understand that many will enter with physical emptiness and leave content?  Will I recognize my spiritual emptiness and my need for content?

I left full.  I saw a new side to my kids. My son patiently took charge and worked harder than I could ever imagine.  My daughter modeled love and compassion. Mark gained a new friend or two, locals who visit the soup kitchen for a warm meal.

My selfish thoughts melted away and never returned.  A wonderful beginning to a year of giving.

God bless……


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Regina, Give Yourself Away

Last week, I examined my 2011 goals for the new year.  Ahem, I was successful in some ways and well……let’s just say….. if anyone lost a pound last year, I found it. Right here around my middle, posterior, thighs and my chin.



Mark and I sat down and budgeted.  We discovered something.  Or at least I did.  I have been over indulging in many areas.  Numbers don’t lie.



Ezekiel 18:31 haunted me.  Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed and get a new heart and a new spirit.



Ahem…..treat your body as a temple.  Ouch….. do not conform to this world.



Romans 12:1 seeped into my thoughts.  So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. 

Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.

He gives.

He helps.

He loves.

Embrace it.

The tune, “Give yourself away” echoed and stalked me.  I heard it on the radio constantly.





Give. Help. Love.

Embrace it.

Prayer found a solution….. or a resolution, you might say.  A year, in which, I give myself away.

Give Myself Away Weight-loss Challenge

My jeans do not lie.  The dryer has been on the fritz so I can not blame all of the shrinkage on it.  Like I said before, I have discovered a whole lot of extra on me.  I needed accountability and a goal.  So, I am going to give myself away…..literally. One pound at a time.

Here’s how……

Our church has a food pantry.  Lately, the amount of food needed to supply to meet the needs of our community has doubled, tripled, and possibly quadrupled over the past year.  I have decided to embrace giving and helping.  For each pound I lose, I will donate 1 pound of food to our church’s pantry.  For accountability, I went to my Sunday School class and presented my idea.  For every pound I lose each week, three couples will match the food donation. One couple even said they would consider joining in on the weight-loss challenge.

Tears filled my eyes.  Not that I was touched……( I was ) but because, I have to put the plan in action.  They expect a number each week.  Ahem…. numbers don’t lie.  That scares the living daylights out of me.  Accountability!

So today, I climbed on the scale.  Shock.  Disappointment. The Truth.  Numbers don’t lie.





Give Yourself Away Exercise Program

I am not stupid.  I know in order to lose pounds, exercise must become the norm.  Again, accountability comes into play.  This time, I have enlisted three drill Sargents accountability partners: Mark and the kids.  Together as a family we are going to “Walk Across America.”

Please understand, I have not lost my mind.  We won’t actually be walking across this great nation.  We will tally our mileage on pedometers.  At the end of the week we will see how far along our plotted map route we have gone.  According to Wikipedia, the greatest distance between any two points within the contiguous 48 states is from West Quoddy Head, Maine to Point Arena, California at 2,892 miles as the crow flies ….. that would be 3,385 walking miles.

On the last day of the month, we will look on our route and find the closest destination city, town, or community.  Team Dettra will research a charity, church, or organization in that area and make a $10 donation.




And this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I will be sharing other ideas in the near future.  Oh, by the way, yesterday, Team Dettra walked over 8 miles.  Yay!!

Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.

Oh, May God bless you today.  Embrace, my dear friends.  Embrace what God does for you.