The Slow Work of God

I was driving through the city the other day, and I noticed a church sign. The words really resonated with me: “Trust in the slow work of God.” Wow…those words hold so much truth. It’s never fun to endure suffering, to go through tough times like illness, financial issues, or uncertainty of any kind. It’s our human nature to want to be in control of our own destiny. We want to know what lies ahead. We want answers to our problems now, not next week. Waiting is not fun.

There’s a song by John Waller…”While I’m Waiting”…that talks about waiting on the Lord, being hopeful, waiting on God although it is painful. It’s a reflective ballad of the positive things that can come from waiting on the Lord. We learn patience. We learn to trust. We accept we are not in control. One line of the song states…”I’m waiting on You, Lord, and I’m peaceful.” Peaceful? Wow…I know that I did not always feel peace while waiting, but I have always learned something and grown.

Here are two stories of waiting in my life:

1. When our daughter was in kindergarten, we decided we wanted to have another child. My friends around me were expecting. I could not get pregnant….each month I waited for the anticipation of being pregnant. After deciding it was too painful to wait, we gave up. Fast forward a few years, God laid the desire to adopt on our hearts. We proceeded with the process, and then we waited. Waited to be accepted into the Philippines program. Waited for the referral of our child. Waited to travel.

One day during a quiet moment while everyone else was in bed, God revealed a moment of truth to me. During those difficult, painful months of trying to get pregnant, my prayers were being answered, just not as I was expecting. It was 2003…the year my son was born. Today,  I could not imagine life without my son. Praise God for His slow work in my life!

Slow Work of God

2. My health…my mystery illness that resulted in a 2 1/2 year battle with unexplained weight loss, GI bleeding and issues, chronic pain, and just feeling awful overall. In reference to the  song above, I did not feel peace in the waiting. I felt fear. I prayed every night that I would wake up in the morning. I cried my fair share of tears, but I learned to lean on others. I learned to pray fervently. I learned to trust.I learned to hope. I met an amazing Christian nutritionist and her chiropractic husband who taught me about my holistic health. Although the food issues and GI issues are now a part of my everyday life, I no longer have chronic pain or GI bleeding, and I am a healthy weight once again.

Yes, it is through difficult times that we learn to trust in the slow work of God. He loves us and cares for us.

Waiting verse

The Simple Things

Life can get so complicated and busy. I think it’s important to pause and reflect on the simple things. The simple things help me put my life in perspective, focus on what truly matters, and to demonstrate true gratitude.

So, what simple things do I mean?

A hot cup of tea and a stack of books I look forward to reading

Books

Really good dark chocolate

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Warm fuzzy socks

fuzzy socks

Waking up with a smile on my face when I remember it’s my day off work

Listening to my 11-year-old son sing along to the songs on K-Love

Listening to my 17-year-old daughter share her newest mission minded idea

Enjoying a delicious meal from Chipotle Mexican Grill (my favorite!)

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Pausing to reflect on the beauty around me

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The calm, quiet of morning

Coffee with a good friend

Coffee

Yes, the simple things are worth pausing to embrace. Don’t let the noise of the world drown out the joy of everyday moments.

Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Sometimes, these desires are wrapped up in the simple moments of every day life.

What are your simple things, your simple moments? Take time today to to embrace them.

A Relaxed Mind

It’s 4:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, and I am wide awake. Yes, I went to bed around 9 on a Friday night….I was tired from the week….but my biological clock has said, enough sleep, up for the day. So what to do at 4:30 on a Saturday morning? Enjoy the quiet. Write. Drink tea. Sounds like a good start to the weekend to me.

I was introduced to tea when I was in high school by my boyfriend’s (at the time) mother. I remember it was a lemon herbal tea, and I remember liking it. After that, I went to the store, bought a box of herbal tea, and have been a tea drinker ever since. I love coffee, too, as I have shared before, coffee tends to give me the jitters, give me headaches at times, and messes with the pH levels of my body. So, I have been drinking more tea lately.

One of my favorite tea brands is Yogi. I love Yogi tea because it’s like a fortune cookie (which I can no longer enjoy….not complaining, really I’m not). Each Yogi tea bag contains a thought-provoking, inspirational thought. The one that really resonated with me was this one: A relaxed mind is a creative mind.

yogi tea2

There is a lot of truth to that simple expression. When I am stressed, tired, or overwhelmed, my entire existence feels emotionally and creatively drained. I do my best writing in the early morning hours. I am most motivated in the morning. In the morning, the weight of the day’s demands have not yet demanded anything from me beyond a chocolate lab needing to go outside. In the morning, it is calm and quiet.

Yet, I belive I can take away more from that simple expression. I need to learn to control the level of stress in my life. Easier said than done. I have learned a few helpful things…sleep, exercise, morning yoga, writing, praying, talking to a good friend, and being mindful of my emotions. For instance, yesterday at work, someone snapped at me. It offended me but not on a mad level, more on an emotional level. I wanted to react, but I did not. I realized this person was stressed and was not snapping at me personally but because she was overwhelmed. So, a later while later, I approached her and simply said, “‘I’m sorry today has been so stressful.”

The mind is a powerful thing. It’s important to keep it clear and focused on the things that matter in life. When my mind is clear, I can keep my perspective on the things that truly matter. Food issues become trivial. Work drama can stay at work and not travel home with me in my mind. So, today I am choosing to focus my mind on what matters most to me.

peaceful mind

Tea….a new favorite find

Tea…there is something comforting in the cold of winter about a warm cup of tea. I like variety, and I have my tea supply stocked up with green teas, white teas, herbal teas, black teas, and a new favorite: yerba mate.

Unlike coffee, tea doesn’t have the acidic effects on my body. It isn’t as caffeinated so it doesn’t give me the jitters like coffee. And…tea is loaded with antioxidants to boost immunity and protect against cancers and other diseases.

I have discovered a new favorite…Double Dark Chocolate Mate by The Republic of Tea. It’s a combination of organic, natural dark cocoa powder blended with organic, roasted yerba mate leaves. It’s gluten-free which I appreciate because many roasted yerba mate teas are not. I like it plain or with a little Stevia and a splash of almond milk. Yerba mate tea naturally contains some caffeine for a little energy boost in the morning.

tea

Tea…enjoy a cup today!

Over-thinking Food

There’s a term for being obsessed with healthy eating. It’s orthorexia. While I don’t think I fit the criteria for that diagnosis, I do think I have teetered on food obsession. When I was in high school, I struggled with this yo-yo cycle of overeating then having days not eating much to make up for it. I’m not sure why weight and food have to be such an issue for people. Why do we put so much value on how we look? The world is screaming at us with the “perfect” self-image. Stand in line at the grocery store and scan the covers of the glossy magazines…weight loss foods and diets, new exercises to try, and models in skimpy clothing.

I tried a pretzel and Diet Mountain Dew diet while in high school because my friend wanted to lose weight. We both lost weight, but of course, our nutritional intakes weren’t that great. As an adult, I have tried to eat healthy, but I ate a pretty typical American diet high in carbs, sugar, pizza, soda pop, and fast food. Illness has a way of changing life habits and perspectives, though.

Since I first became ill in 2010 with my GI issues, I have been on numerous diets. Some have been at my own discretion while others have been at the discretion of a nutritionist. I have been on the GAPS diet and the Paleo diet. I remain on a gluten-free diet. I have several food intolerances. It’s aggravating. Sometimes, I just want to eat peanut butter. Sometimes, I do. Sometimes I have reactions, sometimes I don’t. It’s strange…I can eat quinoa one day, no issue. I can eat it another day and have achy shoulders. I ate tuna salad one day from my favorite organic, gluten-free bakery and eatery…no reaction. I made tuna patties at home…raging reaction with congestion, inflamed lips, and skin that peeled around my mouth for a whole week.

I have kept food diaries and logs. I have used My Fitness Pal. I have done smoothies for breakfast. I have juiced. I have done no chocolate diets. I have restricted caffeine. I have done no sugar diets. I think I think about food way too much.

To tell you the truth, I felt the best on the GAPS diet. My skin was awesome and clear, but I was also sleeping a lot during this period and had a relatively low stress period in my life, so that could definitely contribute to my overall health. I felt relatively good on the Paleo diet if I steered clear of too many coconut and almond flour based items and Paleo treats.

But honestly, I’m tired of all these restrictions. I continue to remain gluten-free. I let my guard down around the holidays and when on vacation. I’ll eat gluten-free goodies and drink chai tea lattes with almond milk. And, then my skin breaks out. My stomach hurts. I have brain fog. And I’m grouchy.

I can whine and complain. I wish that I was a little thinner like I was just a few years ago. I wish I could eat anything I wanted like my friends. Then one day, the lyrics from the Casting Crowns song “All I’ve Ever Wanted”…really spoke to me…it was like I was being convicted… “I was chasing healing when I’d been made well. I was fighting battles when You conquered Hell.” WOW…these lyrics immediately spoke to me.

What am I chasing? I don’t want to be focused on food all the time. I don’t want it to consume me so much. It’s exhausting. I want to be healthy. To feel good holistically…physically, spiritually, mentally…everything. Besides, I am so much healthier than I was just a few years ago.

I realize that I am over thinking food. I make things so complicated at times. I know the basics of good health, and I know the basics of what makes my body feel good. These things are ….drink lots of water, eat chicken, eat lots of veggies (preferably cooked), eat a good breakfast, control portions, limit sugar to very little, don’t drink coffee (whining at this one…), sleep enough, take time to pray, to exercise, to write, to laugh, to learn, to dream….To be confident and determined that I can overcome these issues. To trust the one who holds my hand.

The Lord is my portion

Lesson Learned: Fats are a Good Thing

For years, I thought that eating a low-fat diet was the healthy, right thing to do. I thought I knew a lot about nutrition and healthy eating. My favorite chocolate cookies were good for me because they were labeled as low-fat, right? I never once looked at the sugar content which is often high in order to make low-fat processed food taste better.

And then, I became ill with GI issues, and I met Nancy, my nutritionist who taught me something totally opposite of what I had always believed. Fats are actually a good thing. Fats are not to be feared. Coconut oil. Nuts and nut butter. Avocado. Fat is not a bad thing. Our brains need fat. Our skin and hair is healthier with healthy fat.

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It’s a change in mindset for a society that is so focused on thin. Of course, all things in moderation…eating an entire jar of almond butter in one sitting is not a good idea (I could with some dark chocolate), but there is a huge difference in healthy fat from whole foods versus the fat from a take-out pizza or fast food burger and French fry meal.

I make an effort to eat a variety of healthy fats every day. I have learned to absolutely love avocados. I know there are a million variations of the chocolate avocado pudding/mousse recipes out there, but here is my favorite:

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

3 ripe small avocados

1 ripe banana

1/2 cup carob powder or cocoa powder

2 packets of Stevia

1/4 cup almond milk

Puree together in the food processor. Chill in refrigerator. Serves 2-4. I love it for breakfast! It’s very filling.

chocolate avocado pudding

Lesson learned: Fats are a good thing!

The Calm Quiet of Morning

MorningQuiet. Calm. Still. This is why I love mornings. I don’t mind willing myself to crawl out from under those warm blankets on a cold winter morning because I know I will be rewarded with the quiet, the calm, the still. For me, there is something peaceful in knowing my children are sleeping soundly upstairs, my dog is snoring contentedly beside me, and I can relish in the calmest moments of my entire day.

Mornings are when I like to spend quiet moments with God, to pour myself into writing projects, to exercise (before I can talk myself out of it), to savor and enjoy breakfast, and to appreciate the gift of another day.

In a world where we are constantly bombarded with noise and by noise, I don’t mean just audible noise. I mean the distraction of social media. I mean people asking us to take on just one more obligation. I mean the stack of bills and my children’s school papers that need reviewed and signed, amongst crumbs on the table from last night’s dinner that no one has wiped up yet. That is noise to my soul. It can be overwhelming.

For my health and for my sanity, I need my mornings. I need my calm. I need this quiet. I need this moment in time when all is still.

When is your moment of calm?