Whole 30 – Final countdown

Only six more days and we’ll have completed our Whole 30. It’s been good. Although frustrating at times because it takes a little extra time for meal planning. But everything is fresh and seasoned well. Our energy levels are higher, Some of those pants that weren’t fitting so well are back to being comfortable. Yay!

So what’s next?

We’ve talked about that a lot and are trying to figure it out. We want to keep the momentum going. The Whole 30 program takes an additional week or so to slowly reintroduce food items to isolate and identify any that may cause problems. We’ll start with reintroducing dairy. Confession. We miss cheese. A lot. And it’ll feel so indulgent to have it again. Then add the lentils. But I’ll hold off on the starches. I occasionally miss a good flour tortilla but I’m surviving without the breads and pastas. And the sugar monster.  Oh the sugar monster. I definitely have to keep it in its place so it doesn’t rear it’s ugly head and take over again.

My husband talked about maybe keto to follow, but its diet is so restrictive and really not very healthy. Our goal is healthy eating along with reaching a healthy weight for both of us. I think after we reintroduce the food items, we’ll continue to make the whole 30 meals through the end of February. By doing so, maybe it will establish the food choices a bit more solidly in our meal planning.

One month at a time toward a healthy life.

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Becoming by Michelle Obama

If 2020 taught me anything, it was to listen. First, to press in with Jesus, ask questions and to listen for his answers. Second, to begin exploring and hearing the voices that are different than mine.

After participating in a reading group for the book Oneness Embraced by Tony Evans, one of the women encouraged me to read Becoming by Michelle Obama.

During the Obama administration, I didn’t pay too much attention his presidency (I’ve never had an activist heart or been too concerned with politics) but I must confess, the voices I did listen to told me how evil they were, or how unqualified they were, or how they were going to take away our christian freedoms, or how they were going to destroy America. That’s the way of it, isn’t it? Us and them?

But 2020 prepared me to question what I’d been told and start taking a look for myself. To be intentional in my search. It’s a lot of work and even as I write this, I’m overwhelmed by the amount and availability of information to digest. Intentionality becomes even more critical.

All this to say. I read Michelle Obama’s book and have been blown away. Like me, she grew up in the north (she on the shores of Lake Michigan, I on the shores of Lake Erie). Like me, she grew up in a blue collar family, working dad and a mom who mostly stayed at home to raise two children. I realized how much more like my story is her story when compared to the many voices I had been listening to. Unlike me, she grew up in the city; I grew up in the country. And off course we also have different skin color.

I’m still processing all the book has given me. But I definitely want to included it as one of my Featured Books and encourage you to read Becoming.

As you do, you’ll find yourself drawn into her story. A story she shares with honesty and transparency, a story filled with both her awkwardness and grace, a story capturing her journey from the neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago to the White House. She invites us along as she fights her way through college then law school, launches her professional career, falls in love with Barrack, is swept up in his passion and vision to make the world around him a better place, experience her feeling overwhelmed by the political stage she is thrust into, and then feel her awe and humility as she takes on the role of First Lady.

Regardless of your political affiliation, I think you’ll find her story inspiring and promising. Along with the other books I’m reading, and being encouraged by the same friend, I’m now picking up Kamala Harris’ book, The Truths We Hold.

 

 

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Whole 30 – Over Halfway There

When coconut milk tastes sweet, I realize the sugar dragon has been maimed. I can’t say slain, because it wouldn’t take much to revive it to rear its fiery head again. I use the coconut milk in my coffee. No sweetener. Just enough to take the bitter edge off (about a tablespoon). After eighteen days of Whole30, the cravings for sugar/sweets have subsided. And I can feel that my sugar levels have stabilized. I don’t have the crash between meals that I have from my typical eating habits. My meals stick with me longer. Which keeps my moods steadier as well.

Just one of the many benefits we’ve had so far.

I think Jon and I both agree, we don’t feel “cheated” or “deprived” in any way. Because we feel full and satisfied after a meal. The meals take a bit more planning. But in some ways they’re not as elaborate. Toss some protein on the grill, roast up some favorite veggies in the oven, toss a salad, and there’s dinner.

We’ve been experimenting and discovering some new keepers. Shepherds pie with sweet potatoes. Comfort food but without the heavy starches. And who knew chopped cabbage with a warm apple cider vinegar drizzle would make for a great side to pork ribs? I didn’t. But now I do. And I actually like it. Homemade mayonnaise with olive oil, eggs, and lemon juice is amazing. It doesn’t even compare to the product we buy in the stores. It tastes creamy, rich and a bit decadent.

Over halfway there.

 

 

 

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A New Year’s Retreat: Lake Somerville State Park

We all need to get away now and then and starting out the new year with a prayer retreat has always been a favorite of mine.

Given the challenges of gathering and praying with other believers, combined with the desire to get away for a bit, Jon and I reserved (as one must now do) an RV site at Lake Somerville State Park.  We had never been there before and being only a two-hour drive, it was close enough to go and still be back home for other obligations and commitments.

Neither of us knew what to expect but it definitely exceeded our expectations. We were on the Birch Creek side and when we first arrived, we were the only ones on our camping cul-de-sac. I guess that’s the benefit of visiting a lake campground in January. You pretty much have the place to yourself. Even when a few more campers showed up later in the week, each campsite has enough trees and space to provide some privacy and seclusion. However, come summer, I bet the place is packed with boaters, kayakers, hikers and swimmers and splashers.

The lake has thirteen miles of trail plus shorter trails and loops. We hiked two and a half miles (and back) of the long trail and several of the shorter trails. The campground is set up to bring horses and ride the long trail as well. It could be a place we bring our bikes when we visit again.

We didn’t think to bring firewood because we were more interested in looking at the stars. One of the nights we wish we had. It would have been nice to sit out in the cold air next to a fire in the ring the campground provides. But the stargazing is phenomenal. It’s far away enough from big towns and cities to provide mostly dark skies and the campground itself doesn’t have the annoying street lights and camping site lights so many have. The only thing missing was a meteor shower.

Lake Somerville is definitely worth the visit, but I bet reservations fill up quickly in the summer.

We’d go back again for sure. But in the near future, we hope to explore other state parks Texas has to offer.

(Side note, we originally planned to reserve a site at Lost Maples State Natural Area after visiting it with friends in November and finding out it also had RV camping, but it was booked over the days we wanted.)

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This is my Church

I walked through the wood on a winter day. A pleasant day. A pleasant path. Hints of green winter grass poked up amongst the brown. Some of the trees sported bare branches. Some did not. Some trees designed to keep their leaves. Some not, instead waiting for the new growth of spring.

 

I noticed some hints of trouble as I walked. Broken trees. Fallen trees. Amidst the many whole. Curious. How strange, I thought. I wonder why.

 

 

And I came upon a field. A field peppered with tree stumps. Some with just the branches broken off. Some with much broken off. Some entirely toppled. Some cut down. Some still standing. Some younger new growth. But mostly I saw twisted, broken, dead.

 

I paused and pondered. Maybe a fire. Or a windstorm. Maybe a disease in their roots. Or possibly a drought.

So I asked. Jesus, what happened here?

This, he said. Is my church.

I paused. Your church, I asked? Is this what you see, Jesus?

He let me move from pause and return to pondering.

Is this what we have wrought, I thought? I this what we are doing to our people? His people? We’ve created a field of brokenness?

In the summer, it probably looks different. Leaves covering the broken, save for the severely damaged. But now, in the winter season, the broken are all too easily seen.

Is this true of your church, Jesus?

In times of prosperity, when things are going well, we don’t see the broken people, the hurting people, save for the severely damaged. But when difficulty comes, when times are hard, the truth is all too evident.

Is this what we do with our wounded, Jesus?

Some of the damaged trees were covered in vines. Do we try to pretty up broken people with other leaves on the outside, rather than cultivating life and healing within?

 

 

Some of the damaged trees still stood tall next to healthy trees. Do our wounded try to stand tall, to put on a brave front, to look like they’re fine?

 

In the storms, during the difficult seasons, have we have let the weak and vulnerable become more broken?

 

 

Like new growth growing among the broken, have we kept our focus there, delighting in the new life, but forgetting about the hurting?

 

Have we, like one with a chainsaw, cut down the ones we thought unworthy or broken or dead and left them to rot away?

 

 

I continued walking and came to another place. A place where young live oaks grew and flourished.

There are places, Jesus said. Where my church takes care of the broken, the needy, the hurting, the outcast. Other nations where my church grows and is filled with life because it gives life.

But not here, I asked?

No, not here, he said.

Jesus, forgive us.

So, I’m going to camp here for a bit, too.

Because my heart, like the trees, is breaking for what we have wrought.

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