Stand firm

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Have you ever been listening to a song and found that you wanted to put it on repeat and just keep listening? Maybe it had a catchy tune or funny lyrics, but whatever the reason, you just wanted it on a running loop. Well that happens to me regularly and it’s normally due to lyrics the Lord is really wanting to use to penetrate my heart. Lately it’s been the song “I will not be moved.”

As I was listening to it for the umpteenth time, I was reminded of a section of the Bible a friend had read to me recently. Here it is:

Ephesians chapter 6 –
The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Do you see that? Do you see how often He said to STAND? I’m the type of person who likes to be constantly progressing. I make lists and take great pleasure if checking items off. I like to be productive, always moving forward, always producing. The concept of simply standing almost frustrates me to think about because it seems so…wasted…unproductive. But I know that my desire to strive for more isn’t always healthy or ideal so I want to be flexible to the instruction of my Father, my Lord.

I’m not sure why this message in particular has been on my heart lately. I’m not aware of any specific obstacles pressing against me at the moment but I know my Father prepares me with what I need because He knows what’s coming and He’s a good Father. He also allows me to be a conduit for His love and provision so I’m sharing with all of you out there in case anyone else needs encouragement to STAND. Maybe there isn’t even an obstacle pressing me, maybe it’s just that God knows I need to learn to rest. I guess stopping long enough to just stand is a good first start in sitting to rest.ūüôā

Is anyone else with me in thinking that resting and listening can be harder than just fighting through? I’d much rather work than listen (haha, who all knows me well and can attest to that?!) but I also know that’s a good strategy to wear yourself out. So, here’s to listening, resting, and growing in relationship with Him!

Why ask “Why”

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This past week was a trying one in our family. ¬†It started out routinely with work and school. ¬†I started my second Whole 30 on April 1st and all was well. ¬†I even have three people doing it with me this time so that’s extra encouraging. ¬†None of those three people are living in my household, but hey, I’ll take any support I can get. ¬†Anyway, back to the trying part. ¬†Tuesday night, my youngest son started coughing a little bit before bed. ¬†We didn’t think much of it since that’s pretty common for him. ¬†We gave him some zyrtec and sent him to bed. ¬†Normally when he starts coughing and it’s unresolved in a day, we start him back on Singulair but we were out of it so he didn’t get any that night. ¬†The next morning he was still coughing but that’s not all that unusual either. ¬†We gave him some more zyrtec and delysym and sent him off to school. ¬†When I picked up my son after school, I could tell that he wasn’t breathing normally and he had just woken up from a nap which was unusual for him. ¬†I needed to go to his doctor to get a refill of his Singulair and it was the closest medical facility anyway, so I left my other two kids with their grandparents and rushed off to the doctor. ¬†Once I got to the doctor and sat my son down on the counter, I could see just how labored his breathing was so I asked the staff to please see my son even though we didn’t have an appointment. ¬†They agreed to…probably because I was crying at that point and probably also because I said I’d leave with him to go to urgent care but I didn’t think it was safe.

My son’s oxygen levels were reading at about 85% and wouldn’t stay higher than that even after two breathing treatments and a steroid injection. ¬†So, we ended up at the Emergency Room where my son had three hour-long breathing treatments and IV magnesium to try to relax his muscles. ¬†Even after all of that, his oxygen was staying around 87% unless he was on oxygen. ¬†So, my son and I took a ride in an ambulance to the local children’s hospital where my son was admitted to ICU. ¬†Very long story slightly shortened, he was diagnosed with asthma and spent two nights in the hospital. ¬†It was very eye-opening to find out that the minor symptoms he’s had for so many years were actually signs of something more serious and that we could’ve been relieving his symptoms more efficiently all this time. ¬†He’s doing much better now although still recovering. ¬†We’re very grateful for his recovery and for the tools to prevent such a severe attack in the future but we are also left with questions and wonderings. ¬†This leads me to the point of the post…

Today in our church service we had a guest speaker who was speaking on avoiding offense. ¬†One of the portions of the Bible he referred to was the story of Gideon. ¬†The portion of the story he mentioned was one I wasn’t very familiar with. ¬†The story of Gideon is one of my two favorite stories (the other is the prodigal son) and God is continually revealing new things to me through them so I went home and decided to read it over again and pay attention to the verses the speaker had referenced. ¬†I started reading the story and didn’t even get to the part I was looking for before I saw this and my attention was drawn away from the original goal.

Judges 6: 12-14 (emphasis added)

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. ¬†Am I not sending you?”

When trying times come, it’s so easy to ask “WHY?!” ¬†It’s so easy to get confused about who God is and why bad things happen when your reality doesn’t line up with what you think it should be. ¬†It’s easy to be tempted to demand an explanation and refuse to be moved or use until you have it. ¬†Throughout our hospital stay, I was frustrated and the thoughts came to be angry and offended that this would happen to MY CHILD. ¬†However, alongside those thoughts was the truest thought that GOD IS GOOD! ¬†I don’t know why this happened to my son and I don’t know why even worse things happened to the other kids that we saw in the ICU but I do know that God’s word is true and that He doesn’t cause bad things to happen. ¬†I also know that God wastes nothing and this thing that the enemy would like to use to destroy my son and all of us in the process will actually be used against the thief¬†when we use this experience to help others and lead them to Christ.

Have you ever noticed how many times in the Bible that the people doubted or were scared and God pretty much ignored it and told them to move on?  One story was of Gideon but also look at the disciples when Jesus went to Heaven after the resurrection and return.

Matthew 28: 17-20 (emphasis added)

When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. ¬†And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. ¬†Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…”

The disciples had doubt but Jesus didn’t address the doubt. ¬†He didn’t soothe them and reassure them in who He was or what their calling was, He simply ignored the doubt and gave direction for moving forward. ¬†I’m sure there are many more stories just like this in the Bible but I’m not looking them up right now because I’m going to get back to reading about Gideon before dinner. ¬†:)

Remember this though, if God is in you, you are a new creation. ¬†Let’s not waste time trying to figure out why things happen when we could be out there just living for God. ¬†God does provide comfort, in fact he is called the Comforter, but He knows the best way to provide and sometimes an explanation just won’t do it. ¬†Let Him comfort you in His way but don’t let the wonderings and questioning keep you in a loop of no production. ¬†Don’t let the enemy deceive you into just spinning your wheels. ¬†If you are mad, tell God that and let Him help you through it. ¬†He knows how you feel anyway so no need to hide it. ¬†He is your Father and He loves you beyond measure. ¬†His answer may not be what you think, but that’s the case with earthly parents and children too. ¬†Sometimes I answer my kids and provide for them and limit them in ways they don’t understand but it is still for their best interest. ¬†Get the path forward and just go.

God is good!  The End!

Small victories, huge possibilities

I’ve been working on transitioning my children to a more Paleo-ish diet and it’s been slow going! ¬†None of them took bread in their lunch boxes all week so that was fairly huge but they did still take animal crackers and cheez-its (at least not all three). ¬†Baby steps people! ¬†Today while we were home on a snow day, I decided to make use of the very black bananas sitting on my counter and make a recipe I saw on Facebook recently. ¬†I’m still struggling to find a breakfast that I can make on the weekends to feed the kids all week and I was hoping this would be it. ¬†I’ve made pancakes and almond butter bread and omelets and bacon and sausage in the past. ¬†They love all of it the day I make it but then each morning they complain that there are no more protein bars (Zone or Clif) or cereal and it makes an already stressful time of day even worse. ¬†Well, today I made the Paleo Mom’s Paleo Monkey Bars¬†and they were a hit! ¬†In fact 2/3 of the pan is already eaten and the kids even requested them for dessert after dinner. ¬†They tasted like banana bread to me and they were the most moist Paleo bread I’ve ever eaten. ¬†I must admit that I had two entire pieces myself which doesn’t exactly fit in with the Whole 30 view of avoiding ‘food without brakes.’ ¬†I’m not still following Whole 30 exactly but I really like it and think that it’s a good way to eat as a matter of course with occasional and purposeful allowances for deviations (special occasions, special treats, family traditions, etc.).

Paleo Monkey Bars

Image courtesy of http://www.thePaleoMom.com

I skipped the beautiful chocolate drizzle on these bars but I did include a couple of palms full of semi-sweet chocolate baking chips. ¬†Here’s hoping that the kids still want to eat these tomorrow so I don’t polish them off!

My second small victory was at dinner. ¬†I made Coconut Lime Chicken Soup and my five-year old ACTUALLY ATE IT! ¬†Ok, this is huge (did I say small victory, I meant huge). ¬†My youngest is one of those kids who thinks real food is pizza, nuggets, or biscuits. ¬†He doesn’t even waste his time with french fries (too close to veggies??). ¬†The only vegetables I’ve been able to get him to eat since he graduated from baby food are canned green beans. ¬†Yes, canned! ¬†He will not eat fresh saut√©ed green beans. ¬†The only fruit he will eat is cinnamon apple sauce. ¬†Thankfully I found some without HFCS because he wouldn’t eat my homemade version either. ¬†Let’s just say, he’s picky! ¬†:) ¬†Anyway, this soup mainly consisted of chicken and carrots and he ate the carrots without crying, without sliding onto the floor, and without gagging. ¬†He even said to add them to chicken noodle soup next time I make it. ¬†What?! ¬†I probably should’ve checked him for a fever but he was smiling and his cheeks weren’t rosy so I think we just crossed a major milestone! ¬†With this victory under our collective belts, I’m thinking ahead to what else I can slip past those five year old lips. ¬†:)

Image courtesy of www.bhg.com

Image courtesy of http://www.bhg.com

I doubled the recipe and we finished it all off. ¬†I couldn’t find a Thai seasoning blend in the store so I made my own from this recipe. ¬†I also couldn’t find dried lemongrass (no time to go to the Asian market downtown) or dried lime zest but I did add fresh lime zest to the soup. ¬†I also used some home-made chicken bone broth instead of water (made from the bone-in chicken breasts I cooked over the weekend for this meal), used coconut aminos instead of soy sauce, added salt, and only used the juice of one lime. ¬†That sounds like lots of changes but they were all normal subs for me so it didn’t seem like a big deal while I was doing it.

That was it for today but here’s a sneak peek into next week’s menu. ¬†One of the recipes I’m making next week that I’m really excited about is Plantain Nachos. ¬†I hope they turn out as excellent as they look!

Happy Thursday everyone! ¬†We have another snow day here tomorrow but I’m braving it to take all three kids grocery shopping. ¬†I’m not sure which needs more bravery…the drive or the shopping with three kids!ūüėČ

Hillary

Bourne or Born

Have any of you seen the Bourne movies? ¬†There’s something about those movies, and others like them, that tend to draw you in. ¬†Is it the ability of our minds to go into the movie and imagine that we are the super star with ability to out-think, out-muscle, and out-smart the bad guys? ¬†Is it the wondering if such programs could actually exist in our government? ¬†Is it just the fast action and excitement that most of our lives don’t contain? ¬†I don’t know, but they are intriguing and thought-provoking to me. ¬†I recently watched The Bourne Legacy and, somehow, thoughts of it crept into my head as I’m in a time of praise and worship and the Lord gave me this thought/question/comparison.

Bourne legacy

While singing a refrain of, “Praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead,” I thought…are we living a Bourne life or a Born life? ¬†Have I lost you? ¬†Well, let me explain.ūüôā ¬†You see, the Bourne movies are about a handful of people who were assumed dead by the world but were actually saved/rescued/taken in by a government agency who gave them a new identity and trained them to be assassins, presumably for a good cause. ¬†In the most recent movie, the government has decided to get rid of the program and cover it all up. ¬†Through this “cleaning” process, it is explained that these program participants have been taking two pills regularly during their time in the program…one blue and one green (they called them ‘chems’). ¬†The blue pills apparently where being used to increase their intelligence while the green pills were increasing their physical strength/ability. ¬†To get rid of the participants, their chems were replaced with one weekly yellow pill which ended up killing them.

Since these program participants are ‘created’ by the government and even enhanced by it, they are dependent on the program. ¬†They have to do what they are told or suffer the consequences. ¬†The world already thinks they are dead so if they don’t comply with orders, they are cut off from their supplies and/or killed. ¬†It’s a rock and hard place type of situation! ¬†The participants were dependent on the pills. ¬†They didn’t question their replacement with different ones and they paid with their lives.

So, it occurred to me that some people see God that way! ¬†While I agree that we are to be dependent on Him, He isn’t using us to better Himself to our detriment. ¬†He isn’t getting us ‘hooked’ on something that He would take away as punishment. ¬†He isn’t waiting to ‘take us out’ for disobeying. ¬†The Holy Spirit (our ‘chems’ if you will) will never be removed and replaced because God is done with us. ¬†We aren’t here to do God’s dirty work and He doesn’t see us as expendable.

We aren’t dirty rags, we are friends.¬† (John 15:15)

John 15:15 (Jesus speaking) I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. ¬†Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

We aren’t dirty ole sinners, we are new creations.

2 Corinthians 5:17 and 21 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here! God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

We aren’t made to just bear this world until we can be happy over there.¬†We are made to bring Heaven to earth.

Matthew 6:9-10 (Jesus speaking) This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’

We are His children! (Matthew 6:9; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6-7)

Romans 8:15¬†¬†The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Galatians 4: 6-7¬†¬†Because you are His sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”

We are made in His image! (Romans 8:29)

Romans 8:29  For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

We died to sin and were born again anew! (Romans 6:11, 2 Corin 5:17)

Romans 6:11  In the same way, count yourself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

We are guided, comforted, led, claimed, and loved by the One who formed this world and all of us!

While Hollywood can do a good job of grabbing our attention for two hours (or more) at a time, just remember that most of what we watch isn’t reality. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s a sin to watch movies or even read books that are fiction, I’m just saying that we all have to guard our hearts and minds. ¬†Most of the people I know who have the false beliefs listed above wouldn’t even dare to watch movies such as the Bourne movies anyway but yet they live with some of those same ideologies. ¬†Life with Christ isn’t about a list of ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts,’ it’s about relationship. ¬† It’s a beautiful dance with you and your Savior (if you’re a guy, it may be more like a masculine team building exercise)…trusting, following, learning, resting, doing, watching, ever learning. ¬†I think it’s pretty neat that God uses everything in our lives, even movies, to get closer with us. ¬†He wastes nothing, He loves us!!

You were never made to live your life trying to pay off a debt. ¬†Jesus paid a debt that you couldn’t and He didn’t do it just so you would spend your whole life paying Him back. ¬†He did it so He could spend eternity in relationship with you. ¬†Live your life Born again, not Bourne again. ¬†:)

Happy Tuesday everyone! ¬†Stay warm!!ūüôā

Whole 30 – week 4 recipes

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We’re going to make it! ¬†It’s week 4 of the whole 30 challenge and I’d guess that, even if you haven’t been perfect, you’ve made some great changes in your diet. ¬†Now that I’ve read It Starts with Food, I understand better why there are no cheats in this plan and even that some deviations could undermine your efforts. ¬†The strict requirements of the plan aren’t meant to be overwhelming just to challenge your willpower but rather they are meant to cause a type of reset in your body. ¬†The goal is to remove all of the common irritant type foods for a full 30 days and then reintroduce them one at a time to see how your body responds to them. ¬†So, if you indulged in pizza on day 7 (as I did) or had soy sauce and dairy on day 25 (like I did), you won’t fully be able to evaluate how your body reacts to a reintroduction to those foods starting on day 31.

Now that I’ve read those details, I don’t feel like I can rightly say “I completed a Whole 30” on January 31st but I do feel like I’ve made some excellent changes in my diet and many of them I want to keep. ¬†I also feel like I’ve made some strides in my relationship with food (longing for sweets after every meal, wanting to eat greasy salty food when I’m stressed) in this journey but there is much more progress to be made in that area. ¬†After all, I formed habits over the course of years, I can’t expect to be healed of my habits and dependencies in 30 days. ¬†However, I think this may be the best ‘diet’ I’ve ever done. ¬†It wasn’t a quick fix, it wasn’t a fad, it wasn’t full of protein shakes and chemicals, and it wasn’t a bunch of food I can’t find, don’t want, and can’t afford. ¬†This has been a reprioritization…to vegetables, animal proteins, healthy fats, and fruit.

I may just extend my journey past day 30 so that I can do a proper reintroduction. ¬†Or, I may not.ūüėČ ¬†Part of this journey for me is learning not to beat myself up over food. ¬†If I indulge purposefully or if I eat something that I didn’t realize had a non-compliant ingredient, I just move on and get back on the program. ¬†Again, that doesn’t help with the reset process but it’s huge for me…a mental reset may just need to happen before a physical one. ¬†:) ¬†I’m guessing I’m not the only one in that boat.

Here’s my meal plan for this week. ¬†Enjoy!!

Sunday (today) – chicken salad with homemade mayo, lettuce leaf wraps and berries. ¬†I made my chicken salad with celery and purple grapes (just like my good friend Jessica made for me last week) plus my normal seasonings of onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. ¬†My husband’s was way more involved with cilantro, red onions, sweet relish (not Whole 30 compliant), green olives, minced spinach, homemade mayo, and seasonings. ¬†I tasted his before I realized the relish wasn’t on the plan. ¬†It was really good!! ¬†If I can find a sub for those sweet pickles that will work, I may make that again for me.ūüôā

Breakfast for the kids РAlmond butter cinnamon bread with homemade almond butter and sausage/bacon

Breakfast for me – mini egg pizzas and zucchini fritters. ¬†The fritters are softer than I’d like even after frying them in coconut oil. ¬†The flavor is good if you season them properly though and the color would make them perfect for a St. Patrick’s day meal.ūüôā

Snacks for kids – celery stick with nut butters, cucumbers, carrots, fudge babies, assorted nuts, coconut chips, cheese sticks, grapes, berries, oranges, bananas

Monday РKalua pig, coleslaw, and sautéed green beans

Tuesday – Brazilian chicken with coconut reduction over broccoli

Wednesday – leftovers or tuna/chicken salad or scrambled eggs…something easy

Thursday – Asian meatballs with spinach guacamole. ¬†I’m going to mince the veggies for the meatballs in my food processor so the kids won’t notice them as much and so they cook thoroughly. ¬†I also found some sugar-free tomato sauces to try out if we want a dip

Friday – Comfort noodles

Happy Sunday everyone. ¬†It’s going to be a great week!!

Going down the rabbit trail – Rules vs Relationship

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This morning as I was driving my daily 45-minute chauffeur route to drop my children off at their respective schools, I thought of a statement that I heard yesterday. ¬†The statement was something to the effect of, “I love the Hellfire and Brimstone preaching and that’s what I want to hear in church.” ***To the friend who made that statement, this post is in no way a knock to your statement, but it did get me thinking. ¬†Love you!!***

So, I’m thinking “Hellfire and Brimstone” which led to thinking about the song “Let it go” from Frozen which led to thinking about a mental picture I had once during a time of prayer. ¬†Does that all sound crazy? ¬†Is anyone else picturing Alice in Wonderland? ¬†That’s ok, it’s how my mind works and I’d venture a guess that most of your minds work the same way (remember those dreams you have where you’re in one location and then suddenly another and it all makes sense in the dream? ¬†Yep, we all get those!).ūüėČ ¬†Now, here’s the explanation of where the trail led.

When I was thinking of “Hellfire and Brimstone” preaching, I thought of how many people I know who grew up under that kind of preaching and how hard it is to let go of those beliefs. ¬†Thankfully, I did not grow up physically or spiritually under that type of teaching, but I know many many people who did and I’ve heard their stories over the years. ¬†The basis of that type of preaching, as best as I can tell, is to use the fear of going to Hell as a way to get people to act right (follow the rules, etc.). ¬†I remember years ago hearing another of my friends say that she felt more comfortable under the “Hellfire and Brimstone” teaching because it was what she always knew and it felt “safe” to her. ¬†In other words, she felt like she had control of her destiny…follow the rules, go to heaven; don’t follow the rules, go to hell. ¬†Simple, right?

So, as I was thinking of her words from the past I thought of the song “Let it go.” That could just be random but I don’t believe so. ¬†“Let it go” quickly sent my mind to this mental picture I received one time while in prayer. ¬†It was good and it was perfect for me so I wrote it down in my personal prayer journal, but I’m going to share it with you today.ūüôā

August 19, 2012

Sunday morning service during a call for ‘repentance’ I prayed to lay down the burdensome structure, order, planning in my life that goes too far. ¬†I saw a picture of a maze or labyrinth from above (meaning I was above the labyrinth looking down. ¬†I didn’t write that part in my journal but I can still see this picture just as vividly today as the day I received it. ¬†God is awesome!). I was standing in one corner and suddenly all the walls lifted and were gone. ¬†At first I could still see the markings on the ground where the walls had been but they faded quickly. ¬†I was left in a wide open space without a path or direction. ¬†I saw myself start to panic and thought I would scramble around frantically trying to find the way out, but then I felt God say, “I’ve got you. ¬†I’ll guide you. ¬†It’s ok.” ¬†***Looking back now, it’s kind of funny to think that I was frantic over navigating an empty space. ¬†Why wouldn’t I just walk straight to the other corner and exit? ¬†I don’t know, but at the time, I was in pure panic mode and God used this example because He knows me. ¬†I’m His daughter. ¬†:)

I still remember receiving that picture standing in Sunday morning service. ¬†I remember the actual physical reaction I felt in my body as I saw all the walls lift and I was left in this wide open space with no structure, no plan. ¬†My body had an actual ‘fight or flight’ type reaction from this picture. ¬†You see, I’m a rule follower! ¬†I’ve always been a very structured and planned individual. ¬†As a child I would dream that I forgot to do my homework and then couldn’t answer questions in school. ¬†I’d wake up in a panic. ¬†Once, as a reward for good grades, I was given an alarm clock. ¬†That may have been the worst present ever (sorry mom!) because I would wake up multiple times each night and look at the clock and count down how many hours I had left to sleep. ¬†One time I even got up in the middle of the night and thought I had overslept. ¬†I frantically started getting ready for school and ran into the living room crying because I WAS LATE! ¬†As it turns out, it was midnight and my parents were still up watching TV so they sent me back to bed (as if I could sleep at that point with my body full of adrenaline!). ¬†I tell you this background as a way to say that I like to be “right”…to do things perfectly…to never allow a notch in my armor. ¬†I like to be in control because it feels more secure. ¬†I like to move all the pieces of my life around like pieces on a chess board and know that each movement will lead to a better position for the next movement. ¬†I don’t like to be surprised or caught off guard. ¬†I don’t like to be inconvenienced (because of course that means that there was a problem in my plan). ¬†I don’t want to ever miss something or fail. ¬†I want perfection and that desire (which isn’t Godly I might add…there’s a difference in perfection and excellence) wants to infiltrate every aspect of my life which would ultimately lead to frustration and failure (or at least perception of failure).

What does any of this have to do with “Hellfire and Brimstone” you may be wondering. ¬†Well, I’ll tell you.ūüėČ ¬†My desire to be in control and always do the right things would make it easy for me to lean toward a spiritual path that has structure and a clearly defined plan. ¬†It would be so much easier if all I had to do was follow the rules and know the outcome…so it seems. ¬†However, none of us are capable of following the rules that were given in the Old Testament. ¬†In fact, did you know that the rules were actually given to expose sin, not get rid of it?

Romans 7:4-8 (AMP) Emphasis added.

Likewise (previous comparison to a woman being freed from marriage if her husband dies), my brethren, you have undergone death as to the Law through the [crucified] body of Christ, so that now you may belong to Another, to Him Who was raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God.  When we were living in the flesh (mere physical lives), the sinful passions that were awakened and aroused up by [what] the Law [makes sin] were constantly operating in our natural powers (in our bodily organs, in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh), so that we bore fruit for death.  But now we are discharged from the Law and have terminated all intercourse with it, having died to what once restrained and held us captive.  So now we serve not under [obedience to] the old code of written regulations, but [under obedience to the promptings] of the Spirit in newness [of life].  What then do we conclude?  Is the Law identical with sin? Certainly not!  Nevertheless, if it had not been for the Law, I should not have recognized sin or have known its meaning.  [For instance] I would not have known about covetousness [would have had no consciousness of sin or sense of guilt] if the Law had not [repeatedly] said, You shall not covet and have an evil desire [for one thing and another]. But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment [to express itself], got a hold on me and aroused and stimulated all kinds of forbidden desires (lust, covetousness).  For without the Law sin is dead [the sense of it is inactive and a lifeless thing].

So, in layman’s terms, if there wasn’t a law/rule against something I was doing, I wouldn’t have known it was wrong. ¬†But, since there are laws/rules, if I go against any of them I am very aware of my transgression and my thoughts can become consumed with it. ¬†Have you ever gone on a diet and told yourself you weren’t going to eat dessert? ¬†Did you find that the more you thought about skipping dessert, the more you wanted it? ¬†That is the concept that these verses are referring to. ¬†Make sense?

WE WERE NEVER MADE TO LIVE OUR LIVES BOUND TO THE RULES.  WE WERE MADE FOR RELATIONSHIP!!!

In the Old Testament, Jesus had not come to Earth yet and the Holy Spirit had not been given to us. ¬†Rules were given as a guidance of how to live and they made sin stick out like a sore thumb. ¬†All of a sudden, people¬†were very aware of just how much they made mistakes…and there were consequences. ¬†God dealt with people very differently in the Old Testament than He did in the New Testament. ¬†In the Old Testament, fire actually did come down from the sky several times to consume people or offerings. ¬†People made annual sacrifices for forgiveness of their sins which forced them to relive those sins (guilt, shame, etc.). ¬†People were killed for murmuring and complaining (how many people do you know that would be taken out for that alone…myself included!). ¬†As a whole, the Old Testament times were tough, and not just because of the lack of running water, electricity, and smart phones. ¬†People were constantly striving yet falling short. ¬†Despite their best efforts, they were still punished for their shortcomings. ¬†For someone who wants a well lined out plan, like me, it doesn’t seem like just following the rules will be a good plan in this situation. ¬†How are we supposed to get to heaven under the “Hellfire and Brimstone” teaching if we aren’t able to follow the rules perfectly? ¬†In my picture, how will I navigate that large space to get to the other corner once the walls that formed the path have been lifted? ¬†It seemed like a no-win situation. ¬† ¬†¬†

But, help was coming.  God had a rescue plan!! Yea God!!

In Matthew 5, Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to do away with or undo the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to do away with or undo but to complete and fulfill them.” Then He proceeded to up the ante from behavior control (do not kill) to heart control (do not be angry or harbor malice).

Are you confused? ¬†We already established that the rules in the Old Testament just lead us to be aware of our failures and continue in them. ¬†Now we see that Jesus upped the ante by requiring more than outward compliance. ¬†What gives?! How are we supposed to follow the rules perfectly and like it? ¬†(Have you ever heard a parent say that? ¬†You’re going to do such and such and you’re going to like it. ¬†Haha, yeah right! ¬†Not on our own accord.) ¬†Well, the key lies in the statement above that Jesus came to fulfill the law.

***I’m getting ready to quote much scripture but quoting a whole book would likely lose you in this post so I’m going to tell you to read Galatians. ¬†Even if you just read it today, read it again and read it with a mindset of ‘freedom from law.’ ¬†Trust me…you need to do this. ¬†:)

Galatians 2:16

Yet we know that a man is justified or reckoned righteous and in right standing with God not by works of the Law, but [only] through faith and [absolute] reliance on and adherence to and trust in Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).  [Therefore] even we [ourselves] have believed on Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law [for we cannot be justified by any observance of the ritual of the Law given by Moses], because by keeping legal rituals and by works no human being can ever be justified (declared righteous and put in right standing with God).

Galatians 2:21

I do not set aside and invalidate and frustrate and nullify the grace (unmerited favor) of God.  For if justification (righteousness, acquittal from guilt) comes through [observing the ritual of] the Law, then Christ (the Messiah) died groundlessly and to no purpose and in vain. [His death was then wholly superfluous.]

Galatians 3:2-3;5

Let me ask you this one question: ¬†Did you receive the [Holy] Spirit as the result of obeying the Law and doing its works, or was it by hearing [the message of the Gospel] and believing [it]? ¬†[Was it from observing a law of rituals or from a message of faith?] ¬†Are you so foolish and so senseless and so silly? ¬†Having begun [your new life spiritually] with the [Holy] Spirit, are you now reaching perfection [by dependence] on the flesh? … Then does He Who supplies you with His marvelous [Holy] Spirit and works powerfully and miraculously among you do so on [the grounds of your doing] what the Law demands, or because of your believing in and adhering to and trusting in and relying on the message that you heard?

Galatians 3:9-13

So then, those who are people of faith are blessed and made happy and favored by God [as partners in fellowship] with the believing and trusting Abraham.  And all who depend on the Law [who are seeking to be justified by obedience to the Law of rituals] are under a curse and doomed to disappointment and destruction, for it is written in the Scriptures, Cursed (accursed, devoted to destruction, doomed to eternal punishment) be everyone who does not continue to abide (live and remain) by all the precepts and commands written in the Book of the Law and to practice them.  Now it is evident that no person is justified (declared righteous and brought into right standing with God) through the Law, for the Scripture says, The man in right standing with God [the just, the righteous] shall live by and out of faith and he who through and by faith is declared righteous and in right standing with God shall live.  But the Law does not rest on faith [does not require faith, has nothing to do with faith], for it itself says, He who does them [the things prescribed by the Law] shall live by them [not by faith].  Christ purchased our freedom [redeeming us] from the curse (doom) of the Law [and its condemnation] by [Himself] becoming a curse for us, for it is written [in the Scriptures], Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree (is crucified);

Galatians 3:16-29

Now the promises (covenants, agreements) were decreed and made to Abraham and his Seed…The Law, which began 430 years after the covenant [concerning the coming Messiah] does not and cannot annul the covenant previously established (ratified) by God, so as to abolish the promise and make it void. ¬†For if the inheritance [of the promise depends on observing] the Law [as these false teachers would like you to believe], it no longer [depends] on the promise; however God gave it to Abraham [as a free gift solely] by virtue of His promise. What then was the purpose of the Law? ¬†It was added [later on, after the promise, to disclose and expose to men their guilt] because of transgression and [to make men more conscious of the sinfulness] of sin; and it was intended to be in effect until the Seed (the Descendent, the Heir) should come, to and concerning Whom the promise had been made…Is the Law contrary and opposed to the promises of God? ¬†Of course not! For if a Law had been given which could confer [spiritual] life, then righteousness and right standing with God would certainly have come by Law. But the Scriptures [picture all mankind as sinners] shut up and imprisoned by sin, so that [the inheritance, blessing] which was promised through faith in Jesus Christ (the Messiah) might be given (released, delivered, and committed) to [all] those who believe [who adhere to and trust in and rely on Him]. ¬†Now before faith came, we were perpetually guarded under the Law, kept in custody in preparation for the faith that was destined to be revealed (unveiled, disclosed), so that the Law served [to us Jews] as our trainer [our guardian, our guide to Christ, to lead us] until Christ [came], that we might be justified (declared righteous, put in right standing with God) by and through faith. ¬†But now that faith has come we are no longer under a trainer (the guardian of our childhood). ¬†For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. ¬†For as many [of you] as were baptized into Christ [into a spiritual union and communion with Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah] have put on (clothed yourselves with) Christ.

Galatians 5:18

But if you are guided (led) by the [Holy] Spirit, you are not subject to the Law.

That was a lot, I know. ¬†Let’s summarize:

  1. The Law was given to the Jews, not the Gentiles (which most of us are);
  2. The Law was added because of transgression and was meant to be a keeper until Jesus came;
  3. All who depend on the Law are doomed to disappointment;
  4. Christ purchased us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us;
  5. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under a trainer (the Law);
  6. We are in right standing with God through faith; and
  7. We are led by the Holy Spirit therefore we do not need the Law to guide us.

So, for all of us looking for the perfectly laid out game plan with dates and occurrences we can check off our list to assure we never miss a step, we will have to step our of our comfort zone.

God wants a relationship with you. ¬†When Jesus walked the Earth, He gave guidance and comfort to those He was around but He couldn’t be everywhere at one time. ¬†When He left, He sent the Holy Spirit to live in each and every one of us so that we can all have that Comfort, Guidance, and Direction. ¬†The reason we don’t need to know and follow all the rules is that we have the Word living in us and He can’t operate against Himself. ¬†So, if we’re listening and following, we will be fulfilling the rules without even trying!

Why does “Hellfire and Brimstone” preaching miss the mark? ¬†Because it misses the heart of the Father. ¬†It misses the Love…God is Love. ¬†It tries to control people through fear so that their outward actions conform to a standard without consideration of their hearts.

But wait, I can hear some genuine souls wondering, “What about II Timothy 4:3? ¬†What about those in the end times who will forsake sound doctrine for that which fulfills their own desires? What if I let go of some of the structure in my life and I “fall away”?” ¬†Well, first I’d like to say that following the leading of the Holy Spirit isn’t always easy. ¬†It requires you to trust and lean and sometimes be the only one stepping out onto a thin limb (have you heard of Noah’s ark?). ¬†Preferring to rest in God instead of strictly follow the Law is not opposed to God and it isn’t forsaking sound doctrine. ¬†In fact, it’s the exact thing that Jesus said the Pharisees needed to work on. ¬†So, I’m not concerned that I’m “falling away” or being led astray and I truly believe that my loving Father would not allow me to be deceived to damnation while my heart is truly seeking Him. ¬†Call me crazy, but I trust Him!

For those of you who haven’t seen it, here’s the song. ¬†Let’s all take a deep breath in an out and just Let it Go!

Happy Tuesday everybody!!

Whole 30 – Week 3 Recipes

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Have you tried any of the recipes from my previous Whole 30 post? ¬†What did you love, what needed some tweeking? ¬†I’m thoroughly enjoying reading “It Starts with Food” and have even given up artificial sweeteners the last couple days after the explanation as to why it is recommended.

I don’t know about you guys but I’m doing this Whole 30 alone. ¬†My family eats what I make but they always add to it (rice, chips, cheese, etc.). ¬†My friends all seem to think this is yet another fad diet and that I’ve gone off the deep end again for something that won’t last. ¬†Well, not that I’m saying I’ll go from Whole 30 to Whole 365 but I have felt much more satisfied as a whole and I like that. ¬†It used to be that I always wanted sweets and then the consumption of sweets led to consumption of salty foods. ¬†It was an endless cycle…never satisfied…always wanting more. ¬†I haven’t felt that way lately though. ¬†I eat my meal and I’m full and stay that way for a while. ¬†I do still want to have sweets, especially after dinner, but I don’t give in and those cravings go away while I’m distracted. ¬†Also I’ve noticed I haven’t been waking up with hunger sickness. ¬†Does anyone else get that? ¬†Eat too late at night or even just eat dessert and then wake up the next morning feeling like you must eat immediately or you may get sick. ¬†I’ve had regular occurrences of that ever since highschool with the worst cases during my pregnancies, but not lately! ¬†Anyway, so the journey continues.

Here’s my meal plan for week 3. ¬†I hope you find it inspiring.

Today: ¬†chicken salad with homemade mayo and pecans, cucumber slices, and fresh fruit (this meal was provided by a friend of mine who isn’t interested in Whole 30 at all but supports me anyway. ¬†Woohoo for good friends!); comfort noodles and fried plantains

Saturday: leftovers or tuna cakes or something else easy

Sunday: burgers with avocado slices and sautéed green beans

Monday: 40 clove garlic chicken and brussels spouts

Tuesday: Machacado with eggs and avocado. ¬†This one is from the Well Fed cookbook but I couldn’t find it online so I can’t share this one. ¬†I couldn’t actually find Machacado so I’m using just plain dried beef. ¬†Here’s a similar recipe online though.

Wednesday: Waldorf tuna salad with cucumber coins.¬†This one is from the Well Fed cookbook but I couldn’t find it online so I can’t share this one either. ¬†Here’s a similar recipe online though.

Thursday:  Thai coconut chicken soup

Coffee creamer for the week:  full fat coconut milk, coconut oil, raw egg, cocoa powder, and alcohol free maple extract (skip the honey)

Happy cooking!

The journey that begins all others

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If you follow my blog then you know that my family and I made a major change in 2013…we changed churches. ¬†This may not seem like a big deal to everyone, depending on your own background and experiences, but to me it was a big deal. ¬†You see, the church we had been attending is the only church I’ve ever attended regularly and it is the church I was attending when I truly learned what salvation was and that I HAD IT! ¬†It’s also the church where I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, where I was joined in matrimony to my husband, where I had two of my three children, where I developed many amazing friendships, where I was blessed with opportunities to speak and teach and pray for others, where I was trusted by the Pastor to take the stage at the leading of the Spirit and deliver a Word to the congregation. ¬†I loved, and still love, my church. ¬†So you might be wondering why we left and that is a good question indeed.

I started this post with intentions of writing about a whole other subject (relationship with God…we’ll get there though) but as the letters flow from my keyboard, I feel that the Lord is leading this in a different direction and I’m ready to follow!!

After nine years of attending our previous church (longer for my husband), which I’ll refer to as my ‘home church’ moving forward, my husband and I were led to begin attendance at a neighboring church. ¬†At the time of this move, we were involved in leadership at our home church. ¬†We attended Sunday School and morning service regularly and we even taught a Sunday night class with a group of amazing people. ¬†We were not ‘at odds’ with the church or the leadership or the people. ¬†We weren’t “church hoppers” always looking for a congregation that soothes our itching ears. ¬†We didn’t leave because we didn’t like the people or the Pastor. ¬†We didn’t leave for any negative reason. ¬†I think it’s important to stress the reasons we didn’t leave because I know there have been many who have wondered. ¬†:)ūüôā

So, why did we leave? ¬†Well, it’s as simple as to say that God led us to, and for reasons I am still discovering as we walk this out. ¬†Now, my husband likely has a very different perspective as to why we left and what he is discovering in the process but this is my blog post so I will only speak from my perspective. ¬†If you know him though, feel free to ask for his views. ¬†;) ¬†At the time that we changed churches I was very excited. ¬†You know, something new! ¬†Also, I had been listening to the messages of the Pastor who we now sit under for at least a year so I knew that I loved the Word and I was looking forward to getting to hear it first hand. ¬†The first day we visited our new church, my husband knew it was where we were supposed to be and I was right there supporting his decision because I had wanted to visit for so long. ¬†So, we prayed about it and we stepped down from leadership at our home church (which was the hardest part of the whole journey so far…like leaving family!) to begin attendance at our new church. ¬†It wasn’t long before I began to think over all the things I missed from my home church and wonder if we had made the right decision. ¬†Afterall, the new church doesn’t have Sunday School or a Wednesday night service for adults. ¬†There are Connect Groups but no child care. ¬†We had gone from major involvement in our home church to only one weekly service and no fellowship. ¬†It was a huge shock to my system and it left me wanting more. ¬†On top of that, I didn’t jump right into the new church with an open mind about meeting new people. ¬†I was honestly scared that if I got to know new people and like them that I might forget about my friends at my home church (out of sight, out of mind…busyness…you know) so I kept to myself and didn’t engage with others much. ¬†***For those of you who know how much I like to talk, you know this was very out-of-place for me!***

Well, that only lasted so long because my daughter heard of an opportunity to join a dance group at the church and she wanted to be involved. ¬†So, there I was every Wednesday afternoon sitting in the auditorium with a bunch of moms I didn’t know while we all watched our daughters practice. ¬†I kept to myself at first until one day I accidentally volunteered to be the one who helps the girls memorize their scripture. ¬†No hiding now…I had 20 or so girls lining up at the end of each practice to recite a verse to me and then pick their treat from a bag that I held. ¬†At first, I didn’t want to do it…it was taking me away from my hiding. ¬†But, as the weeks went on, I really enjoyed seeing the girls and all their personalities shine through. ¬†Plus, I got a small glimpse of the joy of teaching again. ¬†I also ended up talking to the other moms at bit more as a result, which is good. ¬†I’m sure God was chuckling from above as He watched me flounder is this position that necessitated a crawl out from my shell. ¬†:)

During this same time period, my husband and I started attending a Sunday morning Connect Group. ¬†The subject matter was good and the people were nice but it straddled the first service so that our kids ended up having to attend almost two full services on Sunday mornings. ¬†Since there is no Sunday School, they were sitting through the same message twice and not loving that. ¬†Yes, we could’ve laid down the law and just told them to deal with it, but we ended up missing a couple of classes anyway and the teaching is from a CD so we just stopped going. ¬†During one of the classes we did attend, I had opportunity to speak from my heart to the group about the topic at hand and everyone seemed to really be touched by what I had to say. ¬†That fleeting moment made me miss our old Sunday School and Connect Group all the more.

After all that and six months of attendance, I found myself really missing the relational part of our home church. ¬†I was asking God why we were there and what we were doing. ¬†I was feeling alone and confused and frustrated but God is good and He’s always there in my time of need. ¬†I was starting to get an idea as to the purpose of this journey but I was also being a bit impatient in wanting to see the full picture. ¬†So, I finally reached out to a friend and mentor of mine who also used to attend my home church and who has experience in making more than one church ‘home.’ ¬†After some correspondence with her, I felt even more sure of some of what God was wanting to show me in this season and I have a whole new perspective on this journey. ¬†I’m still not sure of all the ins and outs or how things will go moving forward but here is what I do know.

  1. The ‘church’ spans beyond¬†the boundaries of buildings.
  2. The ‘church’ can’t be cornered into the confines of any one denomination or age group (I’m sure I have more lessons on that one to come.)
  3. Leaving a church building does not mean you have to leave the ‘church’ (the people who occupy that building).
  4. Sowing into another part of the church body does not lessen my ability to sow into another part.
  5. Meeting and liking new people does not take away from how much I care for people I already know (any more than having my second and third children took love away from my first and second children).
  6. There are assignments for me outside of the confines of my comfort zone.
  7. Unfamiliar people, faces, and places only stay that way as long as you let them.
  8. You can always go back home but you shouldn’t stay unless God said so.ūüôā

I’m sure there is more but I think you get the picture. ¬†I’m just getting started on this journey but I’m grateful for the opportunity to expand my horizons (physically, emotionally, and spiritually). ¬†I’m excited for what God has in store for me and my family and I know that I’ll need the ability to ‘drop and roll’ for the assignments ahead. ¬†The Lord has definitely blessed me with some amazing friends and mentors and the perfect husband for me. ¬†Without all of them, I’m not sure I’d have a healthy perspective on all of this so I sure am glad to have them. ¬†It’s so interesting to reflect on past events and be able to see how God knew what was coming and placed all the dominoes in the right place and order so that they’d fall into a beautiful picture. ¬†Yea God!!

Now, if you ever find yourself on a path that leads you to wonder if you took a wrong turn, take heart! ¬†It could be that God is just wanting you to follow Him one step at a time and trust His leading. ¬†It could be that there’s a lesson to learn to prepare you for the next journey. ¬†It could be that you’re about to take the journey that begins all others!!

***Common sense warning: ¬†I’m referring to a safe path, of course. ¬†I would never advocate going on a journey that is harmful or against God’s leading. ¬†Be led!***

I hope this post touches the hearts of others feeling ‘in the middle’ but, even if not, I feel better having typed it. ¬†Have a great Thursday everyone!

Whole 30: The book is inspiring!

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I have started reading through “It Starts with Food” and I’m loving it so far. ¬†I’ve always been a nerd when it comes to nutrition (and chemistry and math) so I already know much of what I’m reading but I really enjoy the way the authors break it down for easier understanding and even throw in some humor. ¬†I think that many people who are interested in trying the Whole 30 plan will simply read through some of the documents on the website and skip the book feeling that they are ‘equipped enough’ for the journey (as I have done so far) and even more people will skip the book and the meal plan altogether. ¬†So, in an attempt to inspire you to really look into it (read the book;)), I’m posting an excerpt that I really liked below. ¬†If it peaks your interest, get the book and read more.ūüôā

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If we were hunting and foraging our food in nature, our bodies would need some way to signal to us that we’d found something useful. ¬†For example, bitter tastes signify toxic foods while sweet tastes signify a safer choice. ¬†Thanks to nature and our biology, our brains have been hardwired to appreciate three basic tastes: sweet (a safe source of energy), fatty (a dense source of calories), and salty (a means of conserving fluid). ¬†When we came across these flavors, neurotransmitters in our brain would help us remember that these foods were good choices by sending us signals of pleasure and reward, reinforcing the experience in our memories. ¬†These important signals from nature helped us select the foods best suited to our health.

But there is one very important point to keep in mind with respect to these signals from nature. ¬†They weren’t designed to tell us which foods were delicious – they were designed to tell us which foods were nutritious.

In nature, pleasure and reward signals led us to vital nutrition.

The trouble is that in today’s world, the ancient signals persist – but the foods that relay them are anything but good sources of nutrition. ¬†And that creates a major disruption in our bodies and in our brains.

Over the last fifty years, the makeup of our foods has dramatically changed.  Our grocery stores and health food markets are packed with shelves of processed, refined food-like products Рwhich no longer look anything like the plant or animal from which they were derived.

Food scientists caught on to the fact that our brains respond strongly to specific flavors (such as the aforementioned sweet, fatty, and salty), and armed with this knowledge, they began to modify our whole foods.  They sucked out the water, the fiber, and the nutrients, and replaced them with ingredients like corn syrup, MSG, seed oils, and artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors.  All of this with the specific intention of inducing cravings, overconsumption and bigger profits for food manufacturers.

They’ve turned real food into Franken-food.

These foods light up pleasure and reward centers in the brain for a different reason than nature intended Рnot because they provide vital nutrition but because they are scientifically designed to stimulate our taste buds.  The effect is a total disconnection between pleasurable, rewarding tastes (sweet, fatty, and salty) and the nutrition that always accompanies them in nature.

In nature, sweet tastes usually came from seasonal raw fruit, rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutritents. ¬†Today, sweet flavors come from artificial sweeteners, refined sugars, and high fructose corn syrup. ¬†In nature, fatty tastes usually came from meats, especially nutrient-packed organ meats. ¬†In modern times, fats come from a deep-fryer or a tub of “spread.” ¬†In nature, precious electrolytes like sodium came from sea life, or from the animals we ate. ¬†In modern times, salt comes from a shaker.

Do you see the problem with this?

Modern technology has stripped the nutrition from these foods, replacing it with empty calories and synthetic chemicals that fool our bodies into giving us the same powerful biological signals to keep eating.

This means we are eating more calories with less nutrition.

Persistent biological signals lead us to overeat sweet, fatty, salty foods while keeping us malnourished.

These Franken-foods are ridiculously cheap to produce.

They unnaturally electrify our taste buds.

They contain little, if any, nutrition.

And they mess with our brains in a major way.

You may be thinking, “If these foods taste so good that I can’t stop eating them, maybe I should just stop eating foods that taste good.” ¬†But that just sounds miserable to us – and flavor restrictions would probably be just as unsuccessful long-term as caloric restriction! Thankfully, this strategy is wholly unnecessary. ¬†The problem isn’t that these foods are delicious.

The problem is that these foods are supernormally stimulating in the absence of nutrition and satiety.

They are the essence of empty calories – foods with no brakes.

For additional excerpts, check out the book on Amazon.  Ready to read the whole thing?  BUY A COPY TODAY!!

I hope this has inspired you a little bit. ¬†Leave me a message letting me know what you think. ¬†By the way, the Pad Thai¬†that was on the menu for this past Sunday was a hit!! I wasn’t sure how my family would receive it due to all the vegetables in it but everyone ate it. ¬†Ok, my five-year old who thinks food only consists of Continue reading

Hello 2014! Whole 30: Food and more

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Time has flown since my last post! ¬†School started and along with that came soccer games for both boys, dance lessons for my daughter, and after-school tutoring to catch up to what the public schools have been doing without us. ¬†:) ¬†Add to that my part-time work, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and ‘stare off into space with exhaustion’ time and it’s been a whirl wind! ¬†All that being said, the end of 2013 was amazing. ¬†School has gone well for all three children. ¬†It was fun to watch the kids in soccer and dance but I was very glad to get my evenings and weekends back when it was over. ¬†My job is the best of the best. ¬†I get to use my skills, help out a friend, get paid, and go home without the stress of ever-looming deadlines and demands. ¬†The best part of the end of 2013, though, was the very last part. ¬†My whole family had a week and a half off together at Christmas. ¬†My husband took off work, my kids were out of school, and we were all home together. ¬†We ate lots of food, visited with family, played family games, watched TV. ¬†It was awesome!! It was a rare occasion where my husband wasn’t on-call (which he has been 24/7 for several years now) so we all just got to relax. ¬†I can’t remember a better Christmas ever before. ¬†In fact, after how much we enjoyed just hanging out and playing games, I’ve found myself looking forward to staying home on the weekends so we can relive those moments in smaller doses!!

Now it’s 2014!!! ¬†It’s a new year and new years tend to bring new resolutions for most people. ¬†I have never been a New Year’s Resolutionist (I may have made that word up but you know what I mean ;)) because it just seems like a set-up for failure to me and because I’m continually thinking through and evaluating the need to change, improvement, continue on a path, etc. ¬†However, with all the changes that our family went through in 2013 (took on more leadership at church, I quit my job, said goodbye to our kids’ private school, stepped down from leadership at church and changed churches, moved our kids to public school,¬†I started working part-time, changed diet from vegan to Paleo-ish, started selling products in two MLM businesses), I found myself imagining what will be in store for 2014. ¬†There are so many aspects of my life…spiritual, marital, physical, maternal, professional, friendshipal (haha, just kidding about that last word ;))…and lately I’ve been thinking through each of them. ¬†It’s interesting the way they work together and even the happenings of the past that have led to the status of the present. ¬†I can’t help but wonder what current occurences I will look back on later and say, “Ah ha! ¬†That’s why that happened!” ¬†Anyway, much interesting introspection for another day. ¬†:)

Today, I want to talk about Whole 30. ¬†Have you heard of it? ¬†It’s a 30 day eating plan (yes, I could say ‘diet’ but that word has such negative connotation with so many that I’ll just steer clear thank you very much) that is meant to help you get back to square one, so to speak. ¬†It’s an elimination plan…not like an all juice or any other extreme type of elimination plan but rather a plan to get rid of many common irritants in your diet. ¬†Many people who follow a Whole 30 do so in order to discover certain food allergies or sensitivities but that’s not so much my goal (although if cleaner eating gets rid of my recently acquired knuckle pain, I’ll take it!!). ¬†I tried the Whole 30 plan for 9 days before Christmas and I could see a difference in how my clothes fit even from that short time so I decided to do a full 30 at the beginning of the year. ¬†I figure it’s a good way to get back on track after all the holiday eating even if my clothes don’t get looser (which they haven’t so far). ¬†The eating plan is fully laid out in the book “It Starts with Food” which I haven’t read yet but I did receive in the mail today. ¬†I’ve read through much of the website (http://whole30.com/)¬†though so I know enough of the basics to give it a go. ¬†Hopefully the book with help me eliminate some of the allowances I’ve justified though.

So let’s break it down: ¬†for 30 days the plan is to eat without

  1. Any added sugars, real or artificial
  2. Alcohol in any form, even in cooking
  3. Grains
  4. Legumes (except green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas which are mainly pod)
  5. White potatoes
  6. Carrageenan, sulfites, or MSG
  7. Paleo-fied goodies

Also, you will eat enough during your three meals per day (five if you exercise) that you won’t need any snacks. ¬†I did pretty well with this part during my first attempt at Whole 30 before Christmas but this past week, I didn’t eat enough at my meals to keep me satiated. ¬†It just takes some working through but it’s achievable.

“What CAN you eat?!” you may be asking. ¬†Well, actually, lots of foods! ¬†I was already eating a mostly Paleo diet when I took on this endeavor so it hasn’t been a complete shock to my system but if you’re eating a Standard American Diet (SAD), this might make you feel completely lost. ¬†However, it was with that thought in mind that I wanted to type up this post. ¬†I figure there are others out there who might give this a shot (or at least clean up their diet a bit) if they had a meal plan lined out for them. ¬†You can find many recipes online (go ahead, google ‘whole 30’) but sometimes it’s intimidating to make your own plan. ¬†So, I hope this helps. ¬†Below is my list of meals for last week and next week.

Before we get to that though, here’s my confession of not being perfect. ¬†I’m going to be real…I have not been completely compliant with the plan. ¬†Maybe I shouldn’t even claim to be on the plan since it doesn’t allow for any cheats. ¬†However, I’m happy with the accomplishments I have had on the plan so far (mainly mental) and I may keep at it until I do actually eat ‘Whole 30’ but, even if I don’t, I’ll be happy with my progress. ¬†Let’s look at the steps above and I’ll tell you where I’m missing it. ¬†Hopefully you won’t struggle in these areas, but if you do, you’ll be in good company. ¬†;)

  1. No added sugar, real or artificial. ¬†I’ve done a pretty good job at checking all condiments and making my own as needed. ¬†I’ve avoided ketchup, liquid smoke, BBQ sauce, and even made my own mayo. ¬†I haven’t purposefully added any sweetener to anything…except my coffee. ¬†I know that part of the plan is to give up the sweets, especially in coffee, but I’m not having crazy sugar cravings from one stevia packet a day so I’m allowing it. ¬†I’m also still taking Zeal Wellness which has stevia in it. ¬†I went without for the 9 day trial before Christmas and I felt fine but then I ended up getting sick so I figured I’d rather have some stevia than some antibiotics. ¬†To each his own!
  2. No alcohol. ¬†This is generally not a problem since I don’t drink and I only cook a small number of recipes with wine. ¬†However, the homemade coffee creamer I have discovered that I like uses extracts for flavor and some of those have alcohol. ¬†According to the plan, even that isn’t allowed. ¬†Again, I figure it’s trivial so I’ve allowed it.
  3. No grains. ¬†This one I have complied with except for one meal. ¬†This one isn’t too hard for me in general but there was one day this past weekend that we lost our water at home. ¬†My hair was covered in shampoo, my sink was full of dishes, and my laundry baskets were all too full when this happened so I was STRESSED. ¬†Hello, my name is Hillary and I’m a stress eater. ¬†Hey, acknowledging it is the first step to correction right? ¬†Anyway, on that day, I couldn’t cook so I made frozen pizza for the family. ¬†Yes, there were some leftovers in the fridge that I could have eaten but instead I ate three pieces of pizza and two cookies. ¬†I didn’t feel guilty about it but I did have trouble keeping my eyes open a couple of hours later. ¬†Can we say sugar crash? ¬†Anyway, it was against the plan but I got right back on track that evening once our water was on and I could cook/clean. ¬†I will say it is tough to each chili with only avocado while your family crunches on corn chips but it’s just food so I have and will make it.
  4. No legumes. ¬†These aren’t really a big part of my diet since I stopped the vegan diet so this hasn’t been an issue.
  5. No white potatoes. ¬†I can make it without these too. ¬†However, I already had some butternut squash soup and some sweet potato/white potato hash made up when I started the plan and I wasn’t going to let those go to waste so I did eat some white potatoes the first week.
  6. No carrageenan, sulfites, and MSG.¬† Carrageenan is typically found in store-bought almond, coconut, and soy milks. ¬†It’s a thickener. ¬†I haven’t been buying those since I haven’t been making protein shakes so that’s not a problem. ¬†I don’t think I’ve been having any MSG but I honestly haven’t been checking labels for that too much. ¬†Sulfites…now that’s a little different. ¬†I’m not a lunch meat fan so that isn’t a problem but I do like bacon (which also has added sugar unless you special order it). ¬†I haven’t eaten it too much but I have had some in an attempt to dodge cookies a couple of times. ¬†***As a side note, two of my kids had birthdays and cakes in the first week of my Whole 30 and I didn’t have any of their treats.***
  7. No Paleo-fied goodies. ¬†This would include coconut/almond flour pancakes, muffins, etc. ¬†While I would love to have these things, they weren’t a daily part of my life before so I haven’t had to completely re-strategize to go without.

I will say that, even on day 11, it is a struggle meal to meal on some days. ¬†I made my kids cinnamon pancakes with cream cheese cinnamon roll drizzle this morning and I didn’t touch a bite. ¬†I didn’t even lick the dollop of glaze that landed on my finger. ¬†It was tough. ¬†I was hungry and it took me an hour to make their meal and I still had to clean up. ¬†I had sausage and bacon cooking too so after I cooked and cleaned it all, I certainly didn’t want to cook again for myself. ¬†So, I had a couple of slices of bacon, a banana, and coffee then went for a run. ¬†Of course, I was much hungrier after that and had to find more food, but at least I got my mind off of the sweet treats lurking in my refrigerator. ¬†While it was tough to resist at the time, I’d be bummed if I gave up the 11 day effort over some little pancakes. ¬†So, I didn’t!

Ok, so here’s the good part, recipes!

January 1st: Beef fajitas, homemade salsa and guacamole. ¬†For the fajitas, leave out the sugar. ¬†I did use the Worcestershire in this one but I’m sure there are good subs that I just couldn’t think of on day 1. ¬†Use the guacamole and there’s no need for cheese or sour cream. ¬†Wrap it in a lettuce leaf or eat it as is.

2nd: Shepherd’s pie and Brussels Sprouts with pecans and pomegranate arils. ¬†I actually had some white potatoes that needed to be used so I used those instead of a cauliflower mash. ¬†However, instead of milk and butter I used the water the potatoes boiled in, chicken broth, and some coconut butter/cream. ¬†They were great. ¬†For the Brussels, I topped mine with pomegranate arils instead of mixing in dried cranberries.

3rd: Guacamole chicken salad on cucumber slices and/or lettuce wraps

4th:  Leftovers

5th:  Pizza (remember no water stress eating?)

On the 5th, I also prepared a breakfast casserole to eat throughout the next week. Instead of sausage, I used ground pork with my own seasoning in the breakfast casserole.

6th: Pork chops in creamy turmeric sauce with roasted cauliflower.  Instead of ricing the cauliflower, I cut it into florets and roast it.  It saves time and cleanup.

7th: Beef stroganoff with saut√©ed greenbeans. ¬†The stroganoff recipe had to be edited to use coconut oil instead of butter and coconut cream (from the top of a can of coconut milk) instead of the cream. ¬†It wasn’t as decadent as the original recipe but it was still good. ¬†I cooked the greenbeans in coconut oil until they started to brown a bit then added chicken stock (check the ingredients – Swanson’s stock, not broth, is whole) and let them simmer covered until they were crisp tender. ¬†Then I added salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. ¬†Delish!

8th: Leftovers

9th: Zuppo Toscana.  I used canned full fat coconut milk instead of almond milk.

10th: Burgers with jicama home fries and avocados. ¬†The burgers were ground beef, tomato paste, ground mustard, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, and onion powder. ¬†I didn’t get enough of a head start with boiling the jicama so those weren’t as tender as I wanted but I may try again another day. ¬†I hear that jicama is a great potato substitute.

11th (today): Leftovers

12th: Pad Thai and Dijon pork breakfast skillet for next week

13th: Bora bora fireballs with sunshine sauce and roasted cauliflower. ¬†I couldn’t find sugar-free sunbutter and I’m out of homemade almond butter at the moment so I used tahini. ¬†I haven’t tasted it yet but my husband approved.ūüôā

14th: Ginger chicken and Brussels sprouts with bacon

15th: Leftovers

16th: Mexican chicken lime soup with homemade adobo sauce

That’s all I have so far although I do have some loose plans for the rest of the month. ¬†Hopefully I’ll get those posted too in another week or so. ¬†:) ¬†For snacks, if needed, I’ve been eating pistachios with dried blueberries and coconut chips or compliant Larabars (peanut butter or blueberry). ¬†For coffee creamer, I’ve been using a blend of one raw egg, two tsp of melted coconut oil, and one can of full fat coconut creamer. ¬†Blend together (start with the egg) and then add any flavorings you want. ¬†I’ve tried it with cinnamon extract and with vanilla extract and cocoa powder. ¬†I bought some alcohol-free maple extract recently though so I think I’ll try that in my next batch.

If you decide to give Whole 30 a whirl or even make some positive changes as inspiration from this post, let me know. ¬†Also, I’d love any feed back on the recipes or new ideas or compliant substitutes for Worcestershire. ¬†One final note…I am not condoning any of the cheats I’ve done on Whole 30. ¬†I encourage you to do the program and do it completely. ¬†However if you find yourself slipping, I hope my transparency gives you encouragement to keep on trudging.

This post is already pretty long so I’ll wrap it up here. ¬†However, the thought of Whole 30 leads me to some spiritual applications (how could it not?) so I’ll get to those in a separate post. ¬†To be continued…