Monday, January 7, 2013

Provision, Confession, and Idolatry

I'm coming to you halfway into day two of our 21 day fast, and I am loving my deeper connection with Jesus.  It was awesome to wake up with a smile on my face on a dark Monday morning!  I've enjoyed the Daniel Fast so far as well.  Good thing I like veggies!!!  Yesterday, we ate my homemade oatmeal bars I showed in my last post for breakfast with some unsweetened peanut butter.  They are more delicious than I expected.

I had to work yesterday at a bridal show, so I loaded up some Daniel Fast approved snacks just in case I got hungry (which I did), but to my happiness, there was a whole display of fresh fruit and roasted veggies I got to eat for lunch.  God is so awesome in His provision!  It's been a while since I worked at the bridal shop, and I knew I had a check waiting for me, but when I went to work yesterday, I had two checks!  Remember how I prayed for provision for our massive grocery bill?....well there you go folks!!!  Last night, we made spaghetti squash and tomato sauce, which I am enjoying now on my lunch break.  Michael made black bean and butternut squash chili for tonight's dinner, and I made homemade salsa and hummus for some more snacks.  As you can see, you must enjoy cooking unless you want to eat fruit and carrot sticks for 21 days!

During my devotion time yesterday, I read about beginning the fast with humility and with a spirit of confession.  We cannot expect to grow closer to God with unconfessed sin.  He is waiting for us to confess so he can pour out his grace and mercy and renew us.  I admit this is hard for me to accept sometimes because it's difficult to examine my sins and faults, especially those that I commit over and over and over again.  I also struggle with guilt and find it hard to accept God's mercy and grace.  It's my  hope to become fully accepting of his love and understand that I cannot work for his mercy.  I already have his grace.

Today's devotion was equally moving.  Teaching on idolatry, I read the story in Genesis 22 when God asks Abraham to sacrifice His one and only son.  Can you imagine faithfully trusting God and loving Him to the point that you would sacrifice your son?  I don't think I could do it!  God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac so Abraham would not get to the point of loving Isaac more than God. Though there are people and things we love so much in this world, we are commanded to love God more.  This is a difficult lesson for me.  I know I idolize people and things.  We all do.  I love Michael, my family and friends, Scarlett, food, travel, shopping (the list goes on) so much that I would never want to give them up, but I am reminded that everything is His not ours.   These are not mine to covet.

Tonight, I start my yoga class with my friend Baylee.  I will munch on some carrots and homemade hummus to fuel me you really need that much fuel for yoga?  It's just an excuse to eat :)

I hope you all have a wonderful Monday!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

21 Days of Prayer

Twice a year, our church participates in 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting.  Tomorrow is the first day of the fast, and Michael and I will be eating from the Daniel Fast plan and getting up every morning for an hour of prayer.   Both of us feel we really need this time with God in our lives.  After a very busy holiday season, I know that I am looking forward to this fast and to getting closer to God.  I am excited to see what He has in store for us during this time.

The Daniel Fast is a very popular fast for the 21 Days.  It is a biblically based partial fast from the Book of Daniel in chapter 1 when Daniel asked to be strengthened by refraining from the king's choice foods.    For three weeks, Daniel ate only fruits, vegetables, nuts & seeds, legumes, whole grains, and water.  Simply put, Daniel ate a more restrictive diet than a vegan, but he was restored physically and spiritually by his diet.

Here is a brief food list:

Foods Allowed
All Fruits
All Vegetables
All Beans & Legumes
All Raw Nuts and Seeds, including unsweetened nut butters
Unprocessed Whole Grains
Quality Oils (not vegetable oil)
Water, Almond Milk, Soy

Foods to Avoid
Meat, Animal Products, and Dairy
Sugar and Natural Sweeteners (honey)
Leavened Bread and Yeast (no whole wheat bread)
Processed & Deep Fried Food
Solid Fats
Alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks

Michael and I are allowing ourselves a cheat item.  I will be enjoying one cup of coffee a day without my creamer, and he will be enjoying whole wheat tortillas.

Michael and I followed the fast for 7 of the 21 days last year, and because we didn't plan very well, it was a bit frustrating.  This year, we are going to complete 21 days; and therefore, have planned better with the hope of focusing more on God and less on the food.  In my opinion, there are lots of tasty options for this fast, but to make complete and tasty meals, it does take a lot of ingredients since there are no convenient foods allowed.  It's amazing what you cannot use in cooking once you read the ingredients.  More ingredients accounts for more time, more planning, and more money.  We shopped last night at Whole Foods and Wal-Mart for week one of our food, and I would be lying if I told you that we weren't overwhelmed with the cost of the groceries.  As we left the store, I asked God to keep me calm and to provide for our monthly food budget, which will no doubt be over this month.  I am believing this experience will be worth it!

Our plan is to make seven dinners, including soups, Italian and Mexican inspired dishes, which will be used as leftovers for lunch.  For us, the more difficult task is finding breakfast and snack items that work since no eggs, dairy, sugar, or baked goods are allowed.  So today, I made two pans of "breakfast bars" we can eat all week along with fruit smoothies. I made a large pan of baked oatmeal from The Ultimate Daniel Fast, and I made a smaller pan of Coconut Bars from the same site.  These bars contain no sugar, eggs, or oil.  They are sweetened with sugar free dried fruit and unsweetened applesauce and coconut.  I also made Date Honey by boiling and simmering medjool dates and water then pureeing them to the consistency of apple butter.  Oh my gosh is this stuff good!!!  We will use it as a treat for spreading on apples or adding to smoothies.  I am impressed with how all of these recipes turned out, and it is unbelievable how good they are for us without any sugar.

BakedOatmeal2_zps93e731c7 Yummy Baked Oatmeal Bars

DSC_0264_zps92a9947e Coconut Bars...with a bite missing in the corner :)

I plan to share our experience during the next 21 days, and I pray that it will be a wonderful and nourishing experience for our bodies and our spirits.  I look forward to the days ahead!

A great resource for this fast is The Ultimate Daniel Fast web site that I have linked to above.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

To Find Joy Daily

As a New Year's Resolution, I made a promise to myself to find joy in every single day.  I have been coping with anxiety and panic for five years, and often the worst attacks are a result of my thoughts about the future and the catastrophe that awaits me in my head.  Newsflash: these catastrophes don't happen like my mind leads me to believe; however, I continually get right back on the panic train to nowhere time and time again.

I am proud to report that I'm taking steps to go beyond struggling and coping in order to enter a place of joy every day.  Whether it's going to therapy, getting fresh air, finding a new hobby, exercising more, laughing, and seeking God more deeply, I am excited to be taking these steps.

Yesterday, I found the greatest joy in seeing Scarlett act like her old self again.  She herniated a disc in her back last week, and she has been very unhappy since.  We also had our family and Scarlett's dog cousin Dolly visiting, and I think it threw her off.  For a few days, she ignored me and barely wagged her tail.  Cuddling was off limits!  Yesterday, when I came home, she wagged her tail so hard and licked my face as I came in the door.  She followed me around and even cuddled with me last night.  I was so happy!

Today, I signed up for a 6-week hatha yoga class with my friend Baylee.  I am so excited to try yoga again and hope it helps relax and balance me.  I am thankful I have a friend to go with me.  Better yet, because we signed up together, we got a good discount on the class.  Talk about JOY!!!

I'm feeling better already...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hello 2013!

Michael, Scarlett, and I are celebrating the first day of 2013 by watching lots of football and cuddling on the couch!  It has not stopped raining, which gives us a great opportunity to rest from a very busy December.  We kicked off the holidays with a trip to New York City to see the Christmas lights and to eat lots of good food!  Well...that's not the only reason we went to New York.  It was a business trip for me, but fortunately Michael got to join me, and we got to fit in some sightseeing and eating ;)!  We started the trip with a visit to the famous Katz Deli.  This place was crazy crowded and crazy good!


After our first meal of the day, we went to the Chelsea Market then to Midtown to Rockefeller Center and Times Square.


After Rockefeller, we were hungry again, so we took the Subway to Lombardi's, the oldest pizza place in New York City!


On our last full day of the trip, we started out in Chinatown.  After, another big meal, we went uptown to Central Park then down 5th Avenue.  I loved being able to go back to Central Park and walk down 5th Avenue at Christmas.




I loved the Christmas windows at the department stores on 5th Avenue!

After a few days in NYC, we came back to Birmingham for two days then traveled to South Carolina to visit Michael's family for Christmas.  This Christmas may have been the most relaxed one ever, which is what I really needed!  We did not get to see Michael's brother Sean and his wife Caroline for Christmas, so they came to Birmingham this past Friday to spend New Year's with us.  We had a great time seeing them and their sweet girl Dolly.

We decided to stay in last night and enjoy a low key New Year's Eve with our girls.


2012 was a great year for us.  We have been blessed with so much, and I pray that 2013 will be even better.  I know that in 2013, I hope to help others more and to find joy in each day rather than worrying so much about the next.  I am still struggling with anxiety from time to time, and I hope to learn how to appreciate the blessings I have rather than focusing on the trials that some times get in my way.

Happy New Year!