Sugar Free Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

Sugar Free Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

My sugar free column in the IHPA (Virginia Commonwealth University Inter Health Professional Alliance) Newsletter for November 2017:

IHPA Nov 2017 Newsletter

*Original article wording (newsletter has edited – for space – version and recipe):

Sugar Free Holidays?!?! Are You Serious?!?!

It is a week before Thanksgiving and I am on a drastic liquid only diet. Call me crazy, but I know I have to get a jump start on my diet before I go overboard during the holidays.  Thanksgiving is a time for family, counting your blessings … and eating way too much food!  So how do we have self-control and still celebrate?  I want to give you a couple tips on how to get through Thanksgiving without increasing your blood sugar, over-eating, and having to buy new pants because you ate too much:

  1. Eat a good breakfast with protein.
  • My family doesn’t eat until 1pm so I am really hungry when we finally sit down causing me to pile up my plate. If you eat breakfast then you won’t be starving later in the day.
  1. Don’t fix so much food.
  • Do you need 12 types of meat, 5 types of potatoes, and 72 types of vegetables? Limiting your menu will help with less temptation to over-eat, less dishes to clean, and less food that gets wasted.
  1. Stay away from bread.
  • Stuffing is a big deal for most families at Thanksgiving, but my family makes like 4 different kinds and then bakes rolls on top of that. The less bread you have, the less you will eat.
  1. Don’t “taste test” everything.
  • Of course you want to test the mashed potatoes to make sure there is enough salt in them… but that doesn’t mean you have to test it 4 times.
  1. Drink water.
  • You will already be getting enough calories and sugar that day, so sticking with water helps you stay full and healthy.
  1. Put half the amount of each food on your plate … or use a smaller plate.
  • You can always go back for seconds if you are still hungry. I feel like if I put it on my plate I have to eat it, so if it isn’t on my plate I won’t feel like I have to stuff myself.
  1. You don’t have to try everything.
  • Grandma Gertrude and Aunt Agnes won’t actually disown you if you don’t try their dish. You are an adult and can make decisions for your health.
  1. Only have one type of dessert or try sugar free options.
  • I know it may seem like blasphemy to ask you to not have pumpkin pie AND sweet potato casserole … but your body will thank you later!

I have already limited my menu for this year, and have substituted some desserts for sugar free options. Hopefully the recipe below will satisfy your traditional tastes with a little change toward the healthy side!  Have a great Thanksgiving and know that I am thankful for you.

For more tips visit Melissa’s website where you can read her blogs and connect with her social media accounts:


For more Sugar Free ideas check out my …




T3 Bible Study – Stewardship Notes

T3 Bible Study – Stewardship Notes


T3 bible Study #3 – June 16, 2016

T3 Facebook Link:

Blog about God’s Provision: (Melissa’s stewardship/giving testimony)


Define Stewardship in your own words:

(Group Responses: Responsibility, openness, sharing, thankfulness, achieving goals)

Stewardship (Dictionary):

  • the activity or job of protecting and being responsible for something, obligations
  • the conducting, supervising, or managing of something entrusted to one’s care


*Money is one of the most talked about subjects in the bible. (Why do you think that is?)   Money is not the root of all evil … how we approach the subject of money determines if it is an evil in our lives.  Having it isn’t bad, but the condition of your heart determines its importance in your life … weather or not it becomes an idol.

– Willing heart: Exodus 25:2 “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.” – Giving is a heart condition, not a wealth position!  Everything is His anyway (1 Chronicles 29:14), He is just giving us the opportunity to have a thankful heart.

– Giving ratio to receiving: Deuteronomy 16:17 “Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.” – God doesn’t expect more from those who have more … that’s why He gave us a tithe (a percentage of what we have rather than a flat fee that not everyone can obtain), Proverbs 3:9-10 “Honor the Lord with your substance, and with the first fruits of all your increase.  So your barns will be filled with plenty.”

*Reap what you sow:

  • 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
  • This principle teaches that the harvest is directly proportionate to the amount given bountifully … this is from the Greek word from which we get the word eulogy or blessing. When a generous believer gives by faith and trust in God, with a desire to produce a great blessing, he will receive that kind of harvest blessing in return. God gives a return on the amount one invests with Him.
  • Pamela Mentioned: if you sow corn you won’t get soy beans!

*Good stewardship isn’t just about money… but also about time, attitudes, kindness, etc.

– Psalm 50:23 “Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me, and to the blameless I will show my salvation”  Psalm 51:17 “My sacrifice oh God is a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart that you will not despise.” – we offer God our thanks, our character, our sinlessness as a sacrifice as well … those things do not come naturally so we must work toward giving God these things

– Acts 9:36-42 – Tabitha gave her time and talents to help others … because of this God blessed by not only giving her life but she was able to see many others come to the Lord through her miracle and her witness to others.  Would others opinion of us be enough to save us in our time of need?  The people she helped vouched for her character!

– Luke 3:11 “He that has two coats let him give one to the person who has none.”  We are commanded to give to those less fortunate…. But we are also commanded to give good things … Luke 6:38 “Give and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down and shaken together, running over. For with the same measure you give, it will be returned to you.” … how often do we donate new clothes to the homeless?  Is giving an afterthought or part of our commitment to God?


Good Deeds:

  • 1 Tim 6:17-19 “Command those who are richin this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.   In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
  • 1 Peter 4:7-11 “The end of all things is near.Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”


“Homework” (self-reflection questions)

Dave Ramsey Principles: (7 money controlling steps)

Questions to think about this week:

  • How can I give more to God?
  • What can I do for others? (Pick one person to be a servant to this week)
  • How can I save more? (1 less Starbucks lol)
  • What in my life is a want (not a need) that I can sacrifice to help someone else?

“Jehovah Jireh (my God provides)” – VS. – “You reap what you sow”

“Jehovah Jireh (my God provides)” – VS. – “You reap what you sow”

When God tells you to quit your second job to spend more time with your family … you listen! (Even if there is this tiny doubt in the back of your head about losing that income) We are by no means starving without the money, but it blows me away to see the big things God does for us in what we as humans consider little miracles.

One of the ministries God has put on my heart is feeding people.  I coupon and price match and get really great deals all the time.  We also do a garden and have chickens so we give a box of food away every couple of weeks to someone in need, and we are able to bless family members with our abundance.

I have been able to give away several boxes of food this month … and it just dawned on me that my family has eaten free ALL week! We had food in the fridge and didn’t “need” the free food, but God decided to bless us anyway.  On three different occasions this week I have gotten a call or had someone stop by my office to tell me they had food left over after a work event and to go “help myself”.  I was able to score gourmet sandwiches, salads, bbq, mac n’ cheese, and all kinds of other yummy stuff to take care of my family.  Now most people would think … “oh boxed lunches aren’t much of a blessing” – but it was actually just what we needed to be able to eat quickly on the days the kids had practice and also was an amazing treat to go eat outside on the nice weather days we had.  These “small” blessings enabled us to do exactly what God asked us to do … spend precious moments with our kids.  We were given back what we gave away and then some.  Blessings come in all shapes and sizes and this week mine came in the form of a turkey sandwich!

So when my husband texted me today to tell me they are reorganizing the company and we might need to be on alert … I didn’t worry.  We have followed the biblical principles of saving, not having debt, and tithing so we are in an ok spot if something happens.  Now believe me, I called all my prayer warriors just to cover things, but I didn’t go into a panic!

So in thinking about the title of this blog, we need to break it down a little.  I actually don’t think these two terms contradict each other in how we approach serving God and others, but somehow blend together in this beautiful mixture of relying on God to bless you so you can bless others.  We can’t worry about our next meal, but we can’t sit back and do nothing either!  For you it may be a double-edged sword or a peaceful balance, but either way it must be done.

Do Not Worry – Matthew 6:25-27

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

There are many who take this out of context and use it to be lazy because they think God will “magically” fulfil their desires. This text explains that God will fulfill your NEEDS … I don’t see any sparrows driving around in a Shelby GT Convertible lol.  If we are responsible with what God has given us, then He will come through if ever a time comes that we hit a rough patch.  And in the good times provide an abundance to help others.

Doing Good to All – Galatians 6:9 and 10

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

When we have laid down selfishness and elevate others needs before our wants then there is no limit to how many people we can serve.  A smile, a hug, a prayer, a meal … there are so many easy and even free things we can do to help others … imagine what we could do if we prepared our finances to help others as well.  We are on this earth to train for eternity.  I think I would rather skip that new car payment today and help others so I can walk on streets of gold and be wearing a crown of glory in heaven.

In the end I have learned that if you take care of God’s people … He will take care of you!  Yes God provides … but he also blesses those whom He finds worthy.  So keep loving and serving the Lord your God and loving your neighbor as yourself!  God loves a cheerful giver … but He also loves the grumpy ones too!  If we change our outlook to a heart of worship and service then our lives will change for the better… and we will be able to recognize the “little” blessings He provides.