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Prayer Needs: The 2013 Lemonade International Bloggers’ Trip

Our sweet Mackenzie represents only a small portion of how wonderful Guatemala and its people are.

Our sweet Mackenzie represents only a small portion of how wonderful Guatemala and its people are.

Our family leaves for Guatemala Saturday, and we would appreciate your prayers. To put it simply, this trip is among my “what matters most” for 2013.

  • Safe travel for all of the bloggers
  • Unified group (I have a hunch we’ll be making some great friends in the short amount of time we’ll be gone.)
  • That we would honor the La Limonada community by the time we spend together and the blog posts you will see come out of our shared experiences.
  • For all of the La Limonada children to be sponsored next week (see their precious faces by clicking on the banner to the right.)
  • For health for us all (no food allergy reactions, migraines, or digestive issues)
  • That God’s favor and protection would surround our team
  • For each of us to become more like Jesus, changed by our time spent in the La Limonada community

This journey began in 1995, when I first knew I wanted to adopt a child. It continues as Chris and I seek opportunities to expand our kids’ global perspectives and dive into the awkwardness of spiritual and financial poverty with them. I truly pray the blog posts from this trip compel action resulting in all of the La Limonada children being sponsored, but I know even more can happen. I hope my desire for each of the La Limonada children to live in safety, have meals every day, receive an education, find employment, and live in a healthy community is something that grows even more deeply in my heart and is transplanted into the hearts of my children.

Oh, poo. Am I supposed to be happy crying about this trip before we even board the plane?

Simple Packing for International Travel

Packing for International Travel
Packing for International Travel

This week our family is packing for our first international travel as a family in 3 years. (We used to live in Europe and have been to South Africa and Latin America, too.) This weekend we leave for 8 days in Guatemala, spending about 4 days visiting Lemonade International’s amazing programs in the La Limonada area of Guatemala City and the rest of the time will be spent in the capital and in Antigua meeting with people we’ve connected to through various ministries. The most personal part of this journey will be introducing our daughter Mackenzie to her gorgeous birthplace and its people, from which she was adopted over 6 years ago.

Here’s what I am packing to keep it simple on our trip.


Short sleeve shirts – 5 *
Long pants – 2 **
Shorts x2
Closed-toe shoes


Earrings (no expensive jewelry)
My laptop and power cord (to blog about the trip)
Pajamas – 3 pairs
Anti-diarrheal medication
Gluten-Free snacks
A little cash
Passports (and copies of passports)
Reusable water bottle to fill with filtered water each day

* I have a few unnecessary t-shirts and plan to leave some of them behind to keep my minimalist closet in check.

**I hope to have the opportunity to wash our clothing and hang it to dry in the hotel on day 6 of our trip. 

WANT MORE? I have some other posts on packing and travel if you’d like additional help.

Minimalist Packing for Women (Travel) 

Low-Stress Travel

Dana ByersAbout the Blogger: Dana Byers and her family are passionate about adoption and online ministry, and they sold nearly all they owned in 2007 to live a mobile lifestyle overseas and expand online ministry practices globally. She’s the author of “The Art of Online Ministry” and lives in Oklahoma as the Community Pastor for Church Online. All opinions shared here are expressly her own.

Gluten Free International Travel

Packing: Gluten Free International Travel

Packing: Gluten Free International Travel

You probably know by now that our family leaves in 4 days to participate in the 2013 Lemonade International Bloggers Trip. I am eager to share with you how hope is rising among the largest slum in Central America. I can hardly wait to meet my fellow bloggers on this trip. And I am nearly speechless at the opportunity to reintroduce our daughter to her home country, of which she has nearly no memory.

But I admit I am hesitant. I’ve been gluten free two years this month, and being glutened (i.e. accidentally ingesting gluten) is not a fun experience for gluten-sensitive people like my son and me. Here in America, I’ve adapted to a lifestyle of carefully monitoring what goes into my mouth so I don’t become ill.

It is very fortunate that Bill, the founder of Lemonade International, reached out to me a few weeks ago to ask for a list of gluten-free foods I can consume so we may have them in the home in which we’ll stay. I will also carry with me some pre-packaged items (like the GoPicnic pictured above) should we find ourselves in a restaurant where they can’t confidently answer the question “¿Hay gluten en estos alimentos?” (Is there gluten in this food?).

I’ve eaten in several different countries, but not since I was diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity. How do you manage to find gluten free items when you travel abroad?

Easy Eggs

Easy Eggs

Easy Eggs

In a recent post I mentioned that on the weekend I like to do a little pre-preparation of basic foods for taking my weekday lunches to work.

I bake hard boiled eggs in the oven using a muffin tin. The lovely thing about this is it really isn’t a step by step recipe like some of my Gluten Free recipe posts. You simply put a dozen eggs in a muffin tin, place them in a pre-headed 325 degree oven, and cook them for about 30 minutes. The key to perfectly-peeling hard boiled (er…baked) eggs is to put them in a bowl of ice water for 10 minutes after they come out of the oven. (Note: Because the eggs become very hot, you might notice a brown spot or two after peeling them due to the high temperature of the shell touching the hot the pan. Not a big deal.)

My kids use these eggs to prepare their own breakfast or to add to their packed lunch. I take them to work for lunch or peel and slice them over salads. Easy!

Because it’s important to give credit where it’s due, the original recipe and comments can be found here.

Related Posts:

Make Lunch Work for You: Determine Why (1 of 3)

Make Lunch Work for You: Choose Your Type (2 of 3)

Make Lunch Work for You: Simple Preparation (3 of 3)


Gluten Free Sugar Snap Peas Recipe

Gluten Free Sugar Snap Peas Recipe

Gluten Free Sugar Snap Peas Recipe

Here’s a tasty and quick new gluten free side dish I’ve made at home recently. Some of us even had seconds.  Shhh….


  • 1/2 pound sugar snap peas
  • 1 tsp olive oil (or coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • Sea salt to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Rinse the sugar snap peas and mix them in a bowl with all the ingredients.
  3. Pour the mixture out onto a baking sheet. (Cover sheet with aluminum foil first to save time on clean up!)
  4. Bake 6-8 minutes.

This recipe is a modified version of the original, which can be viewed here.

If you’d like more Gluten Free recipes or posts about the Gluten Free lifestyle, check out my Gluten Free Goodness page on Pinterest!


The Results: My Son’s Gluten Free Trial

Blake: My Gluten Free Son

Blake: My Gluten Free Son

Not long ago I wrote a blog post explaining how to help your child get started on the gluten free lifestyle. We’d entered into a trial period of helping  my son be gluten free as an effort to improve some digestion and growth issues he’s experienced for a long time.

Even though I’ve personally experienced great health improvement by living a gluten free lifestyle for nearly two years now, I admit I had my doubts that Blake would gain as much value as I have from making this shift in my eating habits. I’m thrilled to say I was wrong!

While packing his lunch was a big adjustment, he’s managed very well. We sent in a bag of gluten free goodies to school that Blake can enjoy when a fellow student brings in birthday cake. One of his grandmother send him gluten free Valentine’s Day treats in the mail, and the other keeps a few gluten free snacks for Blake in her pantry.

Every few days and weeks we saw improvements: Less than a week after removing gluten from his diet, the dark circles under Blake’s eyes disappeared. He’s filled out a little and his ribcage is now no longer as visible as it was before.  My son is not nearly as grumpy as he had been (presumably from the headaches or stomach cramps he was experiencing). The occasional red bumps that were appearing on his face and chest have not returned since the first week we removed gluten from his diet. After 6 weeks of being gluten free, Blake grew nearly 1/2″ in height! I was surprised when, after the trial period was over, Blake told me he would be staying gluten free before I even had the opportunity to suggest he do so. Clearly the results were enough to convince his 9 year self, too.

If you’ve helped your child adopt a gluten free lifestyle, what improvements have you seen?

Gluten Free Kids: How to Get Started

Gluten Free Kids: How To Get Started

Gluten Free Kids: How To Get Started

Two years ago I had a surgery that took an unexpected turn. After my recovery, I was referred to a naturopath who – through observation, questions, and treatment – helped me recognize food sensitivities to gluten and corn. Since I became gluten free in April 2011, I’ve never looked back.

My Son

Shortly after he was born, we discovered our son had some health issues. Blake is very healthy overall, but the combination of asthma, rashes, and digestion issues combined with a life-threatening illness at age 11 months meant he’s spent a lot of time in an out of specialists’ offices and taking medication.

Momma don’t like that.

We’ve tried a lot to relieve his symptoms over the years, but my suspicion that Blake has a gluten sensitivity has only grown since I found great relief living a gluten free lifestyle. He’s hardly gained weight in the past two years and is growing slowly in height. Blake had an inconclusive blood test to test for Celiac disease last year so the jury’s still out, but a sensitivity is still rather likely in my mind. When I read Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis, I decided I’d not wait any longer to help Blake determine whether he has a sensitivity to gluten or not.

How can I help my kids stop eating gluten?

To be fair, Blake is familiar with living a gluten free lifestyle already because most of the dinners I provide at home are gluten free.  He’s watched me make careful meal orders at restaurants and turn down an offer of food that has gluten in it since April 2011.

No one likes being told what they can’t do. But I can’t think of anyone who despises being told what they can do. So I sat down with my son and explained I’d like to help him do an experiment to see if some of his annoying health issues don’t improve over the weeks to come. His  main concern was that he wouldn’t have any good foods to take to school for lunch each day.

  • I wrote out a list of foods (pictured) he likes that he can eat any time without consuming gluten. 
  • We created a special drawer in our fridge and an area on a pantry shelf from which Blake knows he can choose food to eat.
  • My husband emailed Blake’s teacher to let her know we’re removing gluten from Blake’s diet for awhile to monitor for any improvement in symptoms. 
  • Blake has snacks he can enjoy at school when the other children bring in treats.

After reviewing the list, he was surprisingly willing to go along without gluten and give it a try once and for all! So far, Blake’s doing a stellar job being gluten free.

If you’ve had to go gluten free or help your kids do so, what did you do to help make the adjustment?

Gluten Free Garlic Roasted Squash with Tomatoes

Gluten Free Roasted Squash with Tomatoes

Gluten Free Roasted Squash with Tomatoes

This is a simple new side dish recipe for gluten free garlic roasted squash we’ve tried in the Byers home recently. I’m especially excited to share it because I used ingredients I already had on hand and it took little time to prepare. The original recipe was found here by doing a Google search. I made a few modifications. Here it is!

Ingredients (to serve 4):

* 2 summer squash (yellow)
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 3 cloves minced garlic
* 1 tsp herb seasoning (I used Bragg Organic Sprinkle)
* 10 cherry tomatoes
* salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the ends off the squash and cut them in half. Cut each half into eighths so you have 16 spears from each squash. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Pour olive oil and minced garlic over the squash and tomatoes in a mixing bowl. Stir until all vegetables are covered. Pour vegetables in a shallow baking dish, then sprinkle salt, pepper, and seasoning of your choice on top. Roast the vegetable mix until the squash is browned, anywhere from 5-12 minutes. Keep an eye on the dish after 5 minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Make Lunch Work for You: Simple Preparation (3 of 3)

Make Lunch Work for You: Simple Preparation

Make Lunch Work for You: Simple Preparation (This is one of the lunches I prepared for myself recently.)

Since you know lunch will come every day, no matter whether you’re working outside the home (like I do now) or in your home (like I did the past 8 years), you can take action and be prepared.

  1. Get a grocery plan that works. Try one of the 2 solutions listed in this post if you need inspiration.
  2. On Sunday evening or a weeknight, block out 30 minutes of prep time to slice vegetables, rinse berries, boil eggs, and grill meat.
  3. Set up an assembly line to prep your lunches. (I reuse take-out containers from restaurants and Ziploc containers.)
  4. Prepare 3-5 lunches for the week, depending on how many days you’ll not be purchasing lunch out.

Here are some lunch tips that keep me going week after week:

*I keep a bottle of gluten-free salad dressing in the office cafe fridge.
* It’s a good idea to add lettuce to your meals in the morning on the day you plan to use it so it doesn’t wilt with the other items in the container.
* If you get bored of preparing a smorgasbord of items, consider making a simple crock pot soup you can take with you to add variety. Saving money on lunch doesn’t have to mean being frugal on taste. There are some simple recipes I use that you can try under the Gluten Free heading on this blog or my Gluten Free Pinterest page to get you started.
* Don’t forget that leftovers aren’t a bad thing. If you’re already cooking dinner, you might as well cook an extra chicken breast or some additional pasta to set aside for the next day’s lunch.

That settles it, friends! Now you’re all set to make lunch work for you. If you didn’t read all 3 posts in this series, here are the other 2 to fill you in:

Make Lunch Work for You: Determine Why

Make Lunch Work for You: Choose Your Type

Make Lunch Work for You: Determine Why (1 of 3)

Make Lunch Work for You: Determine Why

Make Lunch Work for You: Determine Why

Lunch happens every day, and it’s wise to make lunch work for you. If lunchtime is something that creeps up on you daily and you’re left spending $10 on an unhealthy meal, consider taking control to keep money in your pocket and have better energy and focus throughout the day.

First, size up your circumstances. In my case, it’s easily a 5-10 minute drive from my office to meet someone for lunch. I might do it once or twice a week, but it eats into my break time (sorry for that pun just now), uses up gas in my car, and usually costs more than bringing lunch.

Next, admit the truth. A few months ago when I took a serious look at my lunch circumstances, I came up with two realizations: 1) My favorite lunch place is about $8 a meal and a 10 minute drive from the office. 2) I would gladly save the money and time spent driving (you know how I long to return to my car-free life of years past in England) if I could make lunches to bring into work that are as tasty as the restaurant fare.

Let’s just say that looking at things from that perspective meant it was an easy challenge for me to accept and helps me stick to my weekday lunch plan.

Ask yourself these three questions to start your lunch plan wheels a-turnin’!

  1. What does my typical lunch cost?
  2. Do I have to drive to eat lunch?
  3. Can I prepare something just as tasty (and healthier) at home?

Now all you need to do is determine what motivates you to make a lunch plan. Maybe you’d like to save money? Perhaps avoiding the drive or having a quieter lunch experience is the payoff. Personally, I risk consuming gluten every time I eat out, and that can be difficult to manage. No matter what your WHY is, I challenge you to give it a try. Take control of lunch so it doesn’t ruin your health, time, or financial plans.

In the next 2 posts, we’ll discuss the use of your time during lunch and how to develop a plan to make your weekday lunch preparation simple. Enter your email address in the sidebar to get all my blog posts via email so you don’t miss out!





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