I come from a multi-cultural different background. My father is from Pakistan and was baptized Muslim as a baby. Yes, my dad took my sister and I to church downtown, but it was not comfortable for us because we never spoke the language. But my parents divorced, and my grandmother was persistent in having us change our religion. She said we can choose to be Catholic or Greek Orthodox like my great-grandmother. We choose the Catholic route. So I went through the “crash course” program at the age of 15. I did want to learn more about God and Jesus, the Catholic church didn’t feel right for me.
I attended the Newman Center at my college and while I enjoyed the more upbeat music and fun teachings, I was still missing something. It wasn’t until I met my husband. He would go to church first on a Saturday night before picking me up for our dates. I was intrigued and was lead to learn more. I went to Willow Creek in South Barrington and attended seeker classes. I loved the environment, the music, the teachings and I was learning something. I got involved in a single women’s group in my condo building downtown and it wasn’t until I read the book, “If You Want To Walk On The Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat” by John Ortberg when I realized I did not have to be “perfect” to accept Jesus into my life. I was baptized in June 2003 and John Ortberg himself baptized me on stage. How cool was that? My husband and I are committed to raising a Christ-centered family. We now attend Soul City Church in our neighborhood and enjoy the teachings and the community there. I love reading the children’s Bible to my daughter because I am learning with her as I grow more in my faith.
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago this is my home and I love living in the city with my husband and two kids, Lilly and Luke. I feel blessed to get the opportunity to raise my kids in a unique setting where we have access to awesome city parks, museums and there is never a time to get bored, unless I get lazy and don’t feel like going out. My husband and I married in September 2004 and I love growing with him every day. He is my rock and keeps me grounded. My daughter, Lilly has a joyful spirit, is fun-loving, quick-witted and wise beyond her little years. She amazes me with the things she says. Socially outgoing, she loves to be the life of the party and we are always meeting new people because she introduces all of us. My son Luke, is a ham in front of the camera. He will smile with his cheeks and is quite the charmer. He also has a bad-temper and is testing my limits as a parent. Luke was diagnosed with a Sensory Processing Disorder and we are working with therapists to help him gain better control so he can process his environment better. This is my family and I am always learning and reading how I can be a better wife, mother and parent. It is constant continuing education. Or as I once heard, “everyday is a school day.”
I grew up an overweight child in a world when it was not so kind to “chubby” kids. My mother made fantastic homemade meals, but we were not a veggie family and I drank pop every day for dinner. The women in my family struggle with food and I have learned how to get over my own food issues. (I have a Greek grandma, do I need to say more?) But my love affair with cooking and baking also comes from the women in my family. I do believe food can heal you or harm you. It is our choices in life about the food we eat daily that can affect our overall health and wellbeing. I have a sensitivity to gluten/dairy/soy, which means all of my meals are free of those ingredients, but I do cook vegan and no stranger to allergy-free cooking. I know you will enjoy some of my own recipes as I share them with you. You will be amazed that something so good and tasty can also be good for you too!
Certified trainer and group fitness instructor I wasn’t exactly an athlete growing up. Being picked last in gym class reminded me of my weight and inability to perform physically. After my parents divorced, I lost quite a bit of weight with my mom’s help. I moved to a new high school and while I was nervous, I was excited to start fresh. I joined the dance team, played soccer and enjoyed being physically fit and active. When I went away to college, I gained the “freshman 15.” That second semester, I ate better and attended exercise classes and lost 20lbs. That was then I realized the importance of both eating healthy and exercising. I pursued a degree in Exercise Science because I wanted to help others achieve the same results I had experienced.
And to this day, I love helping people become healthier through good nutrition and exercise. During my second pregnancy, I taught a strength class until I was 8-months along, but had to stop due to the pelvic pain I was experiencing. I gained 10lbs less the second time around that I was pregnant because I was more active teaching and chasing my toddler at the time. Fitness makes me feel good. It is my natural anti-depressant. If I don’t work out for a period of days, I feel it in my mood and self-esteem. This is why fitness is such an important part of my life. My daughter even likes to exercise with my husband and me. However, even I fall into the pits of work/life balance and just being plain tired to work out. I am a certified trainer and group fitness instructor through the American Council of Exercise and a Master Trainer for Healthy Moms(R) Fitness.
I feel I have lived quite a life and while I still have much to live, I hope you will enjoy the journey I share with you.