instead of gold it’s grey

IMG_0244I used to look at you but all I see now is pain, and it’s painted the world grey as though an artist has taken a large brush and I’ve got the King Midas touch but instead of gold it’s grey. Who cursed me this way?

They say our eyes are the windows to our soul, but what is there to see when your eyes are shut? Do our eyes become mirrors reflecting our insides back to us? What if I don’t want to spend my day staring into the grey and spending my night eyeing the broken pieces of my own heart wondering when they’ll be pieced back together like a puzzle I don’t have the answer to.

They say laughter is the best medicine unless your heart is snapped in pieces; it only numbs, it always comes back. I’m a prisoner to the pieces and I’m dying to escape, only to breathe the fresh air that isn’t contaminated by you. So I laugh to expel your love from my bones. Every day that I inhale, I’m breathing in a world without you and exhaling all of you that’s still in me.

They say grief comes in waves, but I have found myself drowning, will the tide ever change?

They say time heals all wounds so can we wind the clock forward? Does it need to move so slow? A day is a month and every month is a year without you here, except I’m moving on and it feels like I’m hiking through two feet of snow. I can’t get my legs up- every step is an effort- don’t make me take another. I know you want me to pick up and dust off, but the dust is clinging to me and no matter how hard I shake, I can’t be free of it. I can’t be free of you.

 

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Try Again.

I know I’m getting Anxious when breathing becomes a chore.

Breathe in.

Exhale.

That breath wasn’t deep enough.

What if-

Try again.

Big breath.

There. See? Still breathing. You’re okay, Liz.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming!

Thinking about my day and wondering when it won’t cost me so much to give. Cause see there’s a bank in my heart and my mind and I’m currently in debt. But I have no choice. I have to give.

And give.

And give.

And it’s never enough.

That breath wasn’t enough.

What if-

Try again. Big breath.

Yawn for oxygen.

There. See? Still breathing. You’re okay, Liz.

I know the debt collectors will come. Asking for payment. They always do. And I always give because I have to. I do not get to. I have to.

And that’s how I know it’s time to leave.

There are no more deposits being made.

I’m just paying the interest. The debt I owe to my splintered soul has not been touched. I can’t seem to keep up with the payments.

Breathe in.

Good.

It recedes when you acknowledge that it’s all a paper wall. Flimsy at best. Lined with lies that your brain believes for something to cling to.

It’s just that,

See here’s the thing.

I can’t afford my payments,

Because no one is paying me.

Well they are. But it isn’t enough.

By the time I’ve paid my man and my friends,

Breathe in.

I have so little left for me.

But my soul is crying out – I need to be paid!

And I find myself in mountains of debt. Worried I’ll never be free. Convinced I will always be a slave to the visiting Anxiety when I’ve had a day like today.

Where I give.

And give.

And give.

From an already depleted account.

Is there anything less than zero?

Breathe in.

Exhale.

Try again.

Yawn for oxygen.

Try again. Don’t panic.

Stretch. Yawn.

There. See? Still breathing. You’re okay, Liz.

secrets & stillness

I have a secret.

But since I’m feeling generous, I’ll share it with you, because Monday needs a little bit more happy, #amIright? And trust me, this secret will make you happy. But only if you’re a coffee drinker.

Two summers ago, I was in New Jersey (blegh) with my roommate and her friend at her friend’s Dad’s house. It was a beautiful house, and I experienced a nice taste of northern hospitality. Besides the beautiful beach we hung out on one of those days, one other event stands out from this trip. The coffee. Why? Because the people added cinnamon to their coffee grounds before they brewed them. My mind was completely blown. It was life changing! And delicious! My tastebuds were so happy! (I know I talk about my tastebuds a lot in this blog, but I feel like you can deal.)

And then I recently read this Buzzfeed article saying you should do a pinch of salt AND cinnamon and I said, “OKAY!” So today I tried that.

That’s it, people. That’s my secret for you: add a pinch of salt and some cinnamon to your coffee grounds.

I enjoyed my salt cinnamon coffee this morning in a quiet apartment. It’s usually quiet around here anyway, but it was my day off and I’ve been wrestling with a few thoughts lately, I decided to be intentional over my eggs and toast and grabbed my Jesus Calling devotional and my Bible.

My devotion struck me in all the places I needed it to today, and I needed to share part of it..

“I am pleased with your desire to create a quiet space where you and I can meet. Don’t be discouraged by the difficulty of achieving this goal. I monitor all your efforts and am blessed by each of your attempts to seek My Face.”

I am driven by order and perfection, and I rarely have grace for myself or even choose to acknowledge my efforts. I am an ‘end results’ girl and I have tunnel vision for a perfect ending. Here’s my brain: why nod at my pathetic attempts to reach or do anything when the true measure of success is the product you’ve delivered?

Nope.

Every step, every half step, is seen, acknowledged, and loved. He loves my effort. Not the end result, and not even just the effort, He sees and loves the desire. That tiny little seed of a thought in the back of my heart to spend time with my Father blesses Him. I haven’t even cracked my Bible or pressed play on my Spotify to fill the empty space of my apartment with praise & worship, but my heart whispered that’s what it wanted and God is smiling, pleased by desire to make it happen. There is Joy at every thought spent focusing on Him, but never disappointment if I don’t follow through.

I can’t quite grasp this, like a bar of wet soap, it slips out of my fingers because effort has never been enough for me, desire can’t satisfy my personal need for follow through and results. Thank you, Jesus, that our effort is enough for YOU. I’m captured and wooed by this concept. I gain strength from failing at this but knowing I am seen and loved, even in that failure.

Spaghetti Fangirl

I’ll go ahead and spoil what this entire post is about.

Me…. Fangirling over spaghetti sauce.

Fangirling – the reaction a fangirl has to any mention or sighting of the object of her “affection”. These reactions include shortness of breath, fainting, highpitched noises, shaking, fierce head shaking as if in the midst of a seizure, endless blog posts, etc.

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I realize this seems a tad extreme, but when you finally make the glorious trek through this recipe and get to the other side of this glorious red sauce, you too will use multiple Kristen Wiig emojis to describe your level of obsession with this sauce-of-gold.

Here’s a few things you need to know about this sauce:

  1. It will spoil you for all other red sauce. I dare you to eat this and try to eat any other red sauce again. I’m 100% sure I’m ruined for all spaghetti for the rest of my life.
  2. It will make you feel like a BA cook. Maybe you’re not awesome at cooking, but if you can read and follow instructions, you can make this. It doesn’t take any special skills, but you’ll feel like freaking Giada and you’ll probably start talking to invisible cameras while you’re making this.
  3. It is WEIRD putting little canned fish in your sauce. But they melt away and after smelling the sauce while it cooks and blessing your tastebuds once it’s done… you’ll forget all about the weird fishies.
  4. Chopping an entire onion will clear your sinuses.
  5. Your spouse will love the sauce and think that you’re the greatest cook that’s ever lived.
  6. Cooking with wine made me feel fancy. It might make you feel fancy too.
  7. When you’re squishing the whole tomatoes, I recommend placing the bowl in the sink, because otherwise occasionally and unexpectedly, the juices and little tomato chunks will squirt all over you and your kitchen and in your coffee filters sitting in your coffee basket.
  8. Calling this sauce “the best” is a gross understatement. Buzzfeed got it right calling this THE ULTIMATE SPAGHETTI WITH RED SAUCE. It deserves to be in all caps.
  9. Seriously. Go buy the ingredients and carve out some time and make this red liquid of love.
  10. Ten is a nice even number so I’ll stop here by saying YOUR TASTEBUDS WILL FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU.

Without further ado… 
http://www.buzzfeed.com/alisonroman/the-ultimate-spaghetti-with-red-sauce#.aj4WYzvNo

recommended reading & eating

This is a very different post from my last one because that was ‘current events’ and these are… less current events? So by ‘very’ I mean ‘not really’ but ‘a little bit.’

What is contained in this post tonight?

  1. What I ate for dinner and do I recommend this to you?
  2. The 3 books I always forget to recommend to people.

Since I started with reading last night, I’ll start with eating tonight.

This was my dinner:

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You might have seen it on my instagram because yes, I am one of those people who takes pictures of their food.

This is honey dijon garlic chicken: http://rasamalaysia.com/honey-dijon-garlic-chicken/2/
And ‘Strawberry Poppyseed & Chopped Kale Salad’: http://lecremedelacrumb.com/2016/02/strawberry-poppyseed-chopped-kale-salad.html
[Note: I did not have poppyseeds because who actually knows where to find those in a grocery store and I did use the greek yogurt because I ate like 5 brownie bites today that were just sitting in the kitchen at work so I wanted to balance it out]

SO! Do I recommend this dinner to you?

Chicken: YES! This is actually the second time I made it and I absolutely love it. Super quick, easy way to make chicken and it is so so yummy.
Salad: Another yes! I’m a sucker for a spinach-fruit-nut-stinky cheese-vinegar dressing type salad. This one was a home run for me.

Is this dinner husband recommended?

Chicken: Yes. Cause it’s very good. (I pressed for a more specific answer for my readers) …It gives the chicken a good flavor.
Salad: Nah. This is for people who likes things with a vinegar taste (I used a strong ACV, so the flavor DID come through a lot) and for People Who Like Kale. (emphasis added by me)
[Note: He did like the strawberries on the salad]

Awkward transition.

I don’t want to seem like a big deal, but people ask me for reading recommendations a lot. It probably has something to do with the fact that I’m obsessed with books and not very quiet about it. There are a few books I recommend to almost everyone who asks (I’ll make a post about that another day!), but there are always books that I forget to recommend to people but I loved them so much and when I see their titles I say, “Oh man, I loved that book!” and never do anything with that.

So this is me doing something with that.

  1. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

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Summary from Goodreads: “The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.”

I know, it sounds so sad and so unreal and it is both of those things. But it’s gripping and I dare you to pick it up and try to put it down.

TBH, this book surprised me. I think my mom let me borrow it, but I wasn’t thrilled about it. Probably because it’s a memoir and I always find the idea of those kind of weird (although I’ve read a few memoirs and really liked them, so I don’t know why I still think that.) and for some reason I got it in my head that this was a novel, just regular old fiction. And I had trouble shaking that because this reads like a novel. Once I started I couldn’t put it down. I wolfed it down. I read this on a plane. Which is huge, because I get terrible motion sickness, but for some odd reason, I was able to read this while flying. Fate. Let’s call it fate. I just couldn’t put this down. Seriously, it’s so captivating.

2. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

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Summary from Goodreads: “A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.”

This was recommended to me by a dear friend and she hit the nail on the head. I remember being mesmerized by this book. I’d never read this author before, but her story completely sucked me in. Her characters were so real to me, the story so alive, there was depth in this novel and authenticity and it was one of those books that I put down and I said, “Wow.” It’s hard to describe how beautiful this book was. You will not regret reading this.

3. Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy

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Summary from Goodreads: “In a Greek taverna, high over the small village of Aghia Anna, four people meet for the first time: Fiona, an Irish nurse, Thomas, a Californian academic; Elsa, a German television presenter; and David a shy English boy. Along with Andreas, the old man who runs the taverna, they become close to each other after witnessing a tragedy when a pleasure steamer catches fire in the harbour. NIGHTS OF RAIN AND STARS is the story of one summer when Fiona, Thomas, Elsa and David all have to face the particular life crisis which first made them leave their homes and end up in Greece. With the help of Vonni, a middle-aged Irish woman who lives in the village and is now a near-native, they each find a solution – although not necessarily the one they anticipated…”

I should say this straight out, I like Maeve Binchy A LOT. I’ve read a handful of her books and they’re just so pleasant to read. No major plot twists, nothing that will devastate you or rock your world, and no tears (I mean I haven’t cried yet, but I don’t cry super easy). She has characters that are believable, plot lines that keep you turning pages, and when you’re done reading, you just feel good. I’ve left some books feeling confused, disgusted, heartbroken, sad, etc… you name it, I’ve left a book feeling it.. but Maeve Binchy ALWAYS leaves me feeling content. This book is simply lovely. It’s a really delightful read. Of all her books, this was my first one of hers, and it’s still my favorite.

You got a picture about reading, so here’s a quote about cooking and I’ll say goodnight (or good day, depending on when you read this…) :

“No one is born a great cook. One learns by doing.” -Julia Child

Eating & Reading

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I listen to this great podcast called “What Should I Read Next?” because I’m just nerdy enough to love something like that. I love the structure of the podcast because the host asks her guest each week to name 3 books they love, 1 book they hate, and what they’re reading now. So obviously I’ve had fake conversations with the host answering those questions in my car. In my Mazda3 I am quite the radio personality.

I think I’ll save the “3 books I love and 1 book I hate” for another blog and do the “What Am I Reading Now?” with an addition… “What Am I Eating Now?” (Except, not what I’m eating this exact moment, because although I often eat in front of my computer, tonight I actually ate at the table with my husband.)

 

What I’m reading: 

  1. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

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Summary: Biography of Deitrich Bonhoeffer’s life. He was a Pastor and theologian in Germany before and during the rise and reign of Hitler. He joined in a conspiracy against Hitler, spoke out strongly in defense of the Jews, and lived a stunningly bold life for Jesus. He was executed in Buchenwald in 1945.

My thoughts: I read Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship a year or so ago and it was an incredibly challenging book. I’ve really enjoyed reading his biography as I love learning about WWII history, and I learned a lot of things I didn’t know about German history, which is one reason I’ve really enjoyed this book. But I will say, it’s taking me forever because it’s a long book and it is non-fiction so it’s hard for me to get excited about. I should be done soon. I think I started it almost 6 months ago. Woof.

  1. Ship of Brides by JoJo Moyes

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Summary: (Straight from Goodreads) “The year is 1946, and all over the world, young women are crossing the seas in the thousands en route to the men they married in wartime – and an unknown future. In Sydney, Australia, four women join 650 other brides on an extraordinary voyage to England, aboard the HMS Victoria, which also carries not just arms and aircraft but 1,000 naval officers and men. Rules of honour, duty, and separation are strictly enforced, from the aircraft carrier’s captain down to the lowliest young stoker. But the men and the brides will find their lives intertwined in ways the Navy could never have imagined.”

Thoughts: I JUST put this on my nook and I’ll be starting it tonight, so no ‘real’ thoughts yet, but I am very excited because I simply adore JoJo Moyes. (Author of Me Before You)

What I’m Eating (…ate)

  1. Lemon Pepper Chicken with Orzo & Green Beans

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Recipe Link: http://www.budgetbytes.com/2015/08/lemon-pepper-chicken-with-orzo/

Rating Scale  1 – 10 (1 being ‘this was a disrespectful to my tastebuds and I’m trashing the recipe immediately’ and 10 being ‘this made my tummy the happiest it’s ever been.’)

Liz rating: 6.5 (I didn’t have quite enough orzo to soak up the flavor of the chicken broth it simmered in, so the flavor was pretty strong)
Husband rating: 8 – “I just thought it was really good.” (He’s a man of few words)

That’s all for Eating & Reading! Fingers crossed that next time I post this I will be done reading that 500+ page biography…

wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas

IMG_7086.JPGI’ve said it a few times myself and I’ve heard it quite a bit this year, that it just “doesn’t feel like Christmas.” We’re two days out and I feel like there’s a general loss of the “Christmas spirit” -I think it’s safe to blame the weather but I have another theory.

One of my favorite Christmas movies has a song with lyrics that go like this, “it’s true wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas.”

Maybe it doesn’t “feel” like Christmas because we are so inundated with fear and hate from the media and the news, I think this year more than any other year. Here we are at this beautiful season of the year weighed down by the upcoming election, race issues, sexism, the threat of ISIS, too many stories of mass shootings, police shootings, gun control, refugees.. the list goes on forever. We can’t blink without hearing about something heavy and heartbreaking. No wonder it doesn’t feel like Christmas. Where is the love?

Maybe you can make it feel more like Christmas by texting someone you haven’t messaged in a while and saying hi, asking how they are, and not settling for the typical “just fine thanks!” answer. Maybe call a relative and tell them how grateful you are for them. Hug someone. Smile at a stranger. Hold the door for someone. Say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” to your cashier – not worrying about “political correctness.” Buy a friend a coffee. I don’t know- do something that says “I love you” and maybe, just maybe, it’ll start to feel like Christmas.

a dream is a wish your heart makes

As far back as I remember, the biggest dream I had for my life was to be a wife and a mother.

It was not, however, the dream of my life to meet my future husband on eHarmony.

I didn’t even want to be on the site, truth be told. My parents suggested it, they wanted me to meet someone (I thought they just wanted grandkids ASAP) and they knew that my job made it tough to meet people, much less a single man. So after being slightly offended that my parents offered to get me started with internet dating, I signed up.

I went on two dates with a nice guy, but I just wasn’t feeling it. A few months later went on one date with a boy who talked about himself the entire time, suggested we ‘do this again’ and then I never heard from him again. And then nothing for 7 months. And then my subscription ended.

ACTUALLY, my account auto-renewed without me knowing. I thought I had an 18 month plan and it turns out it was only 12, so in February of this year when I looked at my bank account and I got charged for another 12 months of eHarmony, I was livid. I hated this site, why would I want another 12 months of rejection? So I called them and pitched a fit. They wouldn’t give me a full refund, but they gave me a partial one and said my account would expire in 3 months – May 2015.

And then Allen messaged me in April.

I wish I could say the rest was history, but I was pretty hesitant about this guy. After we messaged for 10 days, we went on our first date and what I expected to be maybe an hour or two (MAYBE – two would be really stretching) turned into almost three hours of pretty easy, but still a little awkward conversation. It helped that he was much cuter in person than he was in his pictures! (I think he would say the same about me..)

But I still wasn’t sure. I was sure I wanted to keep giving him a chance and I was willing to see him again. So I did. Our dates were FUN. He told me police stories, we asked each other a million questions, and we both kept deciding to give it a chance. He held my hand on the third date, I took him to a waterfall on our fourth date, He met my mom at a 5k that she and I raced. We went to Cabela’s and watched Lord of the Rings. We went on a run and cooked dinner together, and then at the end of June he asked me to be his girlfriend… which is when we started having conversations about marriage.

Maybe that sounds insane to you, and some days I guess I do think we’re a little crazy. But I’m wearing this beautiful ring on my left ring finger because God did something incredible.

You see, last July, a lady at church (Elizabeth is her name), encouraged me to start praying for the desires of my heart (a husband). I brushed her off, ignored her advice and went on suppressing the fact that I wanted to be married so badly it was overwhelming. But something shifted in November. I was going through a tough situation, and I went to Elizabeth for some wisdom. Among all the things she told me that day, she brought up asking for a husband. She said God WANTS us to ask for the desires of our hearts, he’s our Father and he longs to hear from us. So I decided to start asking every day from then on. It’s amazing what a vulnerable heart will open up to.

After two weeks of asking, I hit this wall. I couldn’t get around the idea that my asking for a husband meant that I wasn’t satisfied with Jesus. I had been told my whole life that I just need to fall in love with Jesus and be so consumed with him and when I’m least expecting it and when I don’t even want it, a man will come along. I heard so many stories of women who said, “When I stopped looking, God sent him to me,” and “I was so in love with Jesus I didn’t want anything to do with a boyfriend, much less a husband.” So I started believing that if I wanted a husband, I wouldn’t get one, and if I loved Jesus enough then I wouldn’t even have the desire to be in a relationship. So, I sat Elizabeth down and I said all that. I said, “I don’t understand how I can be content with Jesus AND want a husband. I thought that if I’m content with Jesus then I won’t even have that desire. And that if I do desire a husband it’s because I’m not content with Jesus. But I AM content with him, so why do I have this desire?” You can imagine what a mess my brain was.

But Elizabeth prayed for me, spoke Truth to me, and promised to continue praying for me. As I was leaving Chick-Fil-a where she and I had met for lunch that day, it started snowing. That may not sound like a big deal, but I love snow (in moderation) and earlier that week I had thought to myself, “I would love to see some snow this week, even just a light dusting.” I didn’t pray it, I didn’t ask for it, I just thought it. So a few days later, on December 11th, 2014, when I recommitted to asking God for a husband after meeting up with Elizabeth, when there was a light dusting of snow, I KNEW God was showing me that he cared about every single desire of my heart. The big ones and the small ones. The asked for and the unasked for. If he gave me snow when I didn’t even ask, what wouldn’t he give me if I just asked?

So I prayed. A lot. I journaled, I asked out loud, I asked in my head, I poured out my heart. There were many times I asked just because I said I would. There were a few nights I was on my knees in my bedroom crying, begging, asking. I often felt like there was no way he was going to answer my prayer. Some times it felt impossible. Sometimes I felt silly. Sometimes I forgot to ask. Sometimes I felt confident. I often felt broken. I felt desperate asking as much as I did, but I was continually encouraged that God loves me and wants to hear my requests.

And then Allen messaged me 5 months later.

Quite a few other people saw it before me, and I’m grateful for the wisdom of people who saw what took me way too long to see: that Allen was the answer to my prayer.

Somewhere around early July, it just clicked. I received Allen as God’s provision and answer to my prayer, and this is the part where I say the rest is history. We both prayed before we met to meet, every single day that we dated we prayed and asked God if this was something he wanted for us, and we’re still praying, just about different things now.

Allen and I will be getting married on December 12th, 2015. A year and 24 hours after I committed to asking for God to fulfill the desires of my heart.

I wanted to write this blog to show that God did something amazing. But I believe God moved powerfully on mine and Allen’s behalf because we were diligent in prayer… because we ASKED. Maybe I’m alone here, maybe I’m the only one who ever believed that if I just focus on my relationship with Jesus and suppress and ignore the fact that I hated being single and that I wanted to be married that someone would just come along. I grew up in church, why didn’t anyone tell me to ask until I was 25 years old?

(I’d like to make a note here, that for a long time, I wanted a husband for selfish reasons. I thought it would cure my loneliness, and satisfy my own selfish whatever.. I believe God saw a shift in my heart, that I wanted a marriage to glorify HIM and to make the love of Jesus known, and that’s why he answered my prayer, because this relationship doesn’t just benefit me, this relationship benefits the Kingdom.)

So I don’t usually do this, but I feel strongly about saying this…

If there is a desire in your heart, it does not matter what it is, a husband, travel, a child, a wife, a job, a business, ANYTHING, ask for it. And ask until you see it… because 2 things:
1. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will satisfy the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)
2. When Jacob wrestled with the angel, at daybreak the angel said, “Let me go.” And Jacob said, “I will not let go until you bless me.” (Genesis 32:36)

Do not let go until he blesses you. 

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quote

The healing balm distilled from the garments of the enfolding Presence cures our ills before they become fatal. The knowledge that we are never alone calms the troubled sea of our lives and speaks peace to our souls.

AW Tozer

my Whole30 experience

It’s 7:58am on a Saturday morning and I am wide awake.

I blame Whole30.

I don’t even get up at this time during the week for work. I love sleeping as late as possible to wake up and have to get ready in 10 minutes only to show up 5 minutes late anyway. It’s kind of my superpower.

But here I am.. laying in my bed with my laptop.. WIDE. AWAKE.

Today is day 30 of my whole30 and I have so much natural energy, it makes me angry because I’m awake at (now) 8:01am on one of my days to sleep in. But the anger doesn’t last long.

For those of you reading who don’t know what whole30 is.. http://whole30.com/step-one/ ..read that. I’ll give you a minute.

Great! Now that you’re familiar with the program, you’ll understand the rest of this post.

A good friend of mine asked me a few months ago if I wanted to do whole30 with her. I like a good challenge, and our church wide fast was coming up in January, so I said yes. Our Church wide fast (not the kind where you eat nothing, just the kind where you choose your fast) only lasts 21 days, so I knew mine would need to start early and would end a little later. Spiritually, this has been an incredible month and a 30-day fast was perfect for the season I am with the Lord! It was also a good month for whole30 because I didn’t really have any ‘big’ celebrations that I would run into. (Whole30 people suggest you plan your whole30 around a time you wouldn’t have any big life celebrations). I’d eaten paleo before, so this wasn’t a massive stretch for me, and I’ll be honest, I was super excited about what this could mean for me in terms of weight loss.

Because can we all be honest with each other here for a minute? I’m not exactly the smallest girl around. I’m 5’2″ but my weight doesn’t match my height. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that.

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Mom and I in October after a 5k in Philly.

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New Years Eve Photo Booth with a couple of my girls.

As you can see, I did my best in my photos to hide my body, but kind of hard to hide it. And can I just be vulnerable with y’all?

Beyond the fact that I wasn’t an ideal size… I FELT gross. Like.. all the time. I felt like a fat girl. I don’t know how else to describe that, and it may not make sense to some of you readers, but I felt my size and I hated it. I’ve learned to love myself and love this temple, through years of loving Jesus and asking him to help me, but I knew there had to be something better than what I was experiencing. And whole30 was like, “Let us help you fix it!” So I was like, “Okay.”

One more note on the Jesus thing (for you non-spiritual folk, stick with me here): 1 Chronicles 28:10 says, “Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.” I read this in December some time and it occurred to me that pre-Jesus and pre-Holy Spirit, God’s people built a physical space for Him to reside. Now He resides in us. WE are the ones God chose to live in and that means 1 Chronicles 28:10 applies to me. “Be strong and do the work.” I realized that the Lord chose me to build THIS house (my body) as a sanctuary for God to live. And this temple, this dwelling place should be in it’s tip top condition for the only one who is worthy and it was time to whip my butt into gear and “be strong” and DO. THE. WORK”

Werk.

So I started January 2nd, and here I am 30 days later to tell you these things about my experience in no particular order:

1. My desire for dark chocolate and tortilla chips never went away. The CRAVING went away, but most people say by the time they got to day 30, they found they didn’t want any non-compliant foods. Not this girl. I’m really excited to eat chocolate. (I think some would say that means I should keep eating whole30 compliant til it goes away, but I’m going to pass on that one.. sorry whole30 police).

2. I did not realize how many things I cannot read on ingredient labels. I was trying to find beef broth for the most amazing chili recipe in the whole world that didn’t contain sugar or added MSG or whatever… I looked everywhere. (Except Whole Foods, because who has a budget for that place?) Okay so I looked everywhere I could afford. BEEF BROTH. It was madness. But mostly it’s kind of gross. All that crap and stuff I can’t pronounce going into my body? Kinda weirds me out. But it didn’t before. and it does now.

3. I learned that it is possible to eat healthy on a budget. Can I tell you what frustrates me? People saying they can’t eat healthy because they can’t afford it. If you want- I will lay out my grocery list for you and how much each item costs. Because I write those things down. I spend less than $70 every TWO WEEKS on groceries. I spend between $20-$35 a week on my groceries. Because I feed one person. And I believe in leftovers and getting the most bang for my buck. How do I do this? Easy.
A. Farmers markets -All my veggies and (sometimes other random items) I buy at a farmers market. Not one of those awesome, European style, outdoor markets that make you feel like you all fancy; but a really sketchy, some people have told me not to go there alone, one time someone started speaking to me in spanish, cheap, nearby farmers market. Anything else is highway robbery.
B. SALES – If pork isn’t on sale. Don’t buy it. If chicken drums are on sale this week, buy those and plan all your meals around it. I use about half my budget on veggies and the other half on meat and fruit. If you like strawberries, but they aren’t on sale, don’t buy them! Buy the kiwi and wait til next week! Also- don’t go to just one store. Yes it’s exhausting, but if you’re single, let’s be honest, what else do you have to do with your time!? I work a full time job, I have 2 small groups, I’m training for a half marathon, I have a regular babysitting gig, and I’m trying to maintain a social life. And I STILL find time to make it to like 3 or 4 grocery stores to find the best deal.

Don’t tell me you can’t afford to eat healthy. That is an excuse.

4. Speaking of excuses. For all you nay-sayers out there telling me you can’t give up bread because you love it so much and you ‘just can’t’

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Yes you can. “I can’t” is an excuse. One that I learned that I love to use. “I can’t resist this 2nd brownie because I LOVE BROWNIES. BROWNIE MONSTER” or “I can’t skip dessert! It’s the best part!” or “I can’t say no to the bread on the table.. I don’t wanna hurt it’s feelings.”

Turns out I can. Because I did. For 30 days. When you say “I can’t” you’re telling me you have no self control. And I didn’t. I used to not have any. But I learned A LOT of self-control over these last 30 days. And if that’s not something to celebrate, what is?

5. I believe ANYONE could do a whole30. With the right amount of planning, effort, thought, determination, etc… anyone could do whole30.

6. I really love cooking. I knew that before, but this really solidified it. And if I didn’t love cooking, this would be a good way to get into cooking.

7. Larabars are amazing. Sweet potatoes are my best friend. Avocados are a reflection of all that is right in the world. Chicken sausage makes my mouth happy. CASHEW BUTTER IS BAE.

8. If you’re going to do a whole30- search #whole30 on Instagram to keep yourself inspired and motivated.

9. My post-whole30 journey is mine. I’ve been beating myself up the last few days about how I’m going to eat as I go forward, and as much as I like the whole “meats, fruits, veggies” thing- I really enjoy a small handful of non-gluten grains (popcorn, tortilla chips, oatmeal) and I really hate legumes (beans) (except peanut butter, but seriously- cashew butter). I love dark chocolate, but I can live without all the other candy out there. Turns out I can live without potato chips too, and I don’t even miss them. On the fence about bread and dairy, I can live without it, but I like it occasionally. So I’ll be attempting to reintroduce a few things (but not all) and see how my body feels. I keep reading other people’s posts and feeling guilty that I want to add back in certain things. But it’s MY choice. It’s MY journey. It’s MY body. I call the shots on the food. I know I want to be healthy and I want to eat in a way that makes me feel amazing. I don’t feel like I have the answers on what exactly that means for me yet, but I intend to find them. I just have to keep reminding myself that discovery is okay.

10. I learned about something called a “non-scale” victory. Hadn’t heard of these before, but I like them a lot. Here are a few of mine:
I DROPPED A PANTS SIZE. – I have been the same size since I was a sophomore in college, and I am finally, finally, finally one down. It was my goal to be one size down before my birthday (March 1st), but it happened way sooner!!! This was my biggest and most favorite non-scale victory.
-All of my clothes just fit better. Or are so baggy it’s annoying. But I can deal with that annoyance.
-I have tons of energy without caffeine. I used to get so tired around 2pm that I was almost useless. I was sluggish and lethargic, and I have had so much energy from the time I wake up for 12+ hours. It’s pretty amazing. Although, it has really cut in on my sleeping in time. But I’ll get over that.
-My nails have been growing faster. Wasn’t expecting that. They’re probably a little stronger than they were too. But mostly I’m noticing how fast they grow.
-2nd biggest non-scale victory: I just don’t feel like that fat girl anymore. I know I still look big for my height, but you know what? I don’t FEEL it. I still have a long way to go and I know that, and I know this is a journey, this is a process. But I FEEL AMAZING. Seriously. I kind of don’t care about any of the other victories… because I just feel awesome. Whole30 helped me take the first step towards feeling this way and starting the process of being the healthiest me.

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Me looking all fly on day 26.
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Who doesn’t love a good bathroom selfie? Why did I take this picture like I was a 8th grade girl on day 27? Because neither those pants nor that shirt fit me a month ago. VICTORY.

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Me on day 28 in my “dropped size” pants with my great friend Shawn who celebrated my win with me!

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Me and some of the amazing people who serve at our church on day 29. I think what shocks me the most about this photo is how thin my face looks. Non-scale victory indeed.

So there it is. A few things I learned/experienced on the whole30.

Some of you might be curious about “the numbers” – I was too. I can’t say I’m confident enough to share my “day 1” numbers, but I thought I’d share my “day 30” numbers. I considered waiting til tomorrow to weigh myself and do measurements, but to each his own, right?

The Numbers: 
Pounds lost: 10
Inches lost on waist: 2.5″
Inches lost on hips: 2″
I sort of feel like the numbers don’t reflect what the pictures show. Which is amazing to me.

The end.

That’s my whole30 experience as best as I could sum it up. You know what’s crazy? I’m already planning my next one for June. You should let me know if you’re interested 😉 we could be whole30 buddies!

For those of you interested in what I ate while I was on whole30… please continue with this post. For those of you who just wanted to hear about my experience… there it is. Happy day 30 to me and happy normal day for you!

The Meals
By request, I’m posting everything I ate for 30 days.

Day 1
B – Breakfast salad + sausage [I made a whole bunch of small sausage patties from alb of ground turkey that I used throughout the week]
L – Mayo free tuna salad [it was gross] ( )+ Hard Boiled Egg
D – Spaghetti Squash [one of my comfort foods!]
The recipes:
http://stupideasypaleo.com/2013/07/05/easy-breakfast-salad/
http://cavegirlcuisine.com/2013/01/13/tuna-salad-mayo-free/

Day 2
B- Fried eggs + sausage
L – I have no idea- apparently I didn’t write it down. Good job, Liz.
D – Leftover Spaghetti squash
Post-workout: “Cereal” (raisins, cashews, bananas, almond milk)

Day 3
B- “Cereal” + sausage
L-  Leftover Spaghetti Squash
D – 2 sweet potatoes. (This seems unrealistic. I definitely ate more, I just didn’t write it down.)

Day 4
B – Fried eggs + sausage + fruit
L – Stuffed sweet potatoes [These were AMAZING]
D – Broccoli + Chicken w/ rosemary and oranges [This chicken was so so so yummy]
The recipes:
http://paleoleap.com/chicken-cranberry-sweet-potatoes/
http://meatified.com/chicken-with-roasted-oranges/
Picture of lunch: 

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Day 5
B – Sausage + Banana
L – Leftover stuffed sweet potatoes
D – Leftover spaghetti squash [this stuff seriously lasted forever and I loved every minute of it]

Day 6
B-Breakfast salad [see day 1]
L-Leftover rosemary chicken shredded into spinach salad with fruit/nuts [no dressing because I forgot it, but the strawberries were juicy enough to make it not too dry!]
D- Chicken salad [I made homemade mayo (see recipe below), shredded my leftover rosemary chicken, and added almonds, grapes and celery. It was yummy!] on a bed of lettuce
The recipes: 
http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/2010/06/03/the-secret-to-homemade-mayo-patience/

Day 7
B – “Cereal” [Almonds instead of cashews]
L – Leftover chicken salad on a bed of lettuce
D – Easy Weeknight Chicken [super delicious] + Carrots [frozen carrots sautéed in a pan with coconut oil and some salt and pepper]  + Grapes + Hard boiled egg
The recipes:
http://everclevermom.com/2014/05/easy-weeknight-paleo-chicken-best-drumstick-recipe-ever/

Day 8
B -Breakfast salad [Yes, it was still good from Day 1, and I added more fresh ingredients]
L- Leftover easy weeknight chicken + banana and almond butter + HBE
D – Tuna salad [homemade mayo, garlic powder, onion powder], half a sweet potato [cooked in the microwave until soft] + spinach salad [such a simple but satisfying meal!]
Picture of dinner:
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Day 9
B – Banana + sausage
L – Sweet potato puffs. [Not super delicious]
D – Leftover chicken + smoothie [Spinach, almond milk, 2 or 3 random fruits]
The recipes:
http://freshhabits.blogspot.com/2012/01/sweet-potato-puffs.html

Day 10
B – Sausage + leftover SP puffs
L- homemade burger [in a skillet] + SP [cut into chunks and roasted in a pan w/ coconut oil and sea salt – YUM] + avocado
D – Burger + smoothie [Spinach, almond milk, random fruit]

Day 11
B – banana
L – Whole Foods salad bar [So random, but the best choice I made on this salad was the pineapple I put on it. Surprising mix of flavors]
D – leftover Whole foods salad [sometimes it’s nice to let others cook for you]
Picture of lunch/dinner: 
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Day 12
B – Sausage
L – 1/2 burger + 1/2 avacado + 1/2 orange
D – Salmon + carrots + Sweet potato chunks

Day 13
B – Grapes + HBE
Snack: Apples + almond butter
L – Spaghetti Squash [someone else made lunch for me on this day! Thank you, Marisol!]
D – Chicken Sausage [I got Applegate brand from Whole Foods] + mashed potatoes [I did my own spin, but it was inspired by the recipe below — another one of my comfort foods!! SO DELICIOUS]
The recipes:
http://paleoonabudget.com/2014/04/03/mashed-sweet-potato-mix/

Day 14
B – Banana + “cereal” [almonds, fruit, almond milk]
L – Leftover mashed SP + chicken sausage
D – Cracklin’ chicken [this felt like cheating. it was AMAZING] + broccoli
The recipes:
http://nomnompaleo.com/post/74180911762/cracklin-chicken

Day 15
B – Banana + “cereal”
L – Moes [I was as compliant as I could be!]
D – Chicken Sausage + fried egg + Smoothie [spinach, almond milk, fruit]

Day 16
B – SP hash [made up my own recipe]
L – Chicken Sausage + SP chunks + bell pepper
D – Chicken w/ avocado cream sauce
The recipes:
http://justenjoyfood.com/2013/07/chicken-basil-avocado-cream-sauce/

Day 17
B – SP hash leftovers
L- Leftover chicken w/ avocado cream sauce + 1/2 sweet potato + spinach salad [spinach, nuts, balsamic vinegar]
D – 2 red potatoes, fried egg, assortment of fruits and veggies

Day 18
B- Banana + Larabar
L – SP Chili [BEST. CHILI. EVER]
D – Dinner at Don Pablos. [Fajita salad w/ steak]
The recipes:
http://www.tastesoflizzyt.com/2014/09/24/paleo-sweet-potato-chili/
Picture:

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Day 19
B – Breakfast potatoes


L – Simple rainbow slaw + ginger chicken
D – chili leftovers
The recipes:
http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2013/08/best-breakfast-potatoes-ever/
http://stupideasypaleo.com/2013/10/21/simple-rainbow-slaw/
http://www.agirlworthsaving.net/2012/06/ginger-chicken-recipe.html

Day 20
B – Breakfast potatoes
L – chili leftovers [seriously, this stuff was life changing]
D – Paleo turkey stuffed peppers + butternut squash [first time trying it- it wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t my favorite!] [I didn’t have nutmeg for the recipe- but it was good with the cinnamon and pepper]
The recipes: 
http://www.thebewitchinkitchen.com/2012/10/paleo-turkey-stuffed-peppers.html
http://www.makewithyourhands.com/2013/01/cinnamon-roasted-butternut-squash.html
Pictures of dinner: 
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Day 21
B- leftover breakfast potatoes
L – Leftover stuffed pepper + leftover squash + rainbow slaw
D – Trader Joes Turkey Burger + TJ’s french green beans + red potato

Day 22
B – Fruit + larabar
L – leftover ginger chicken + red potato
D – Same as day 21 [haha it was yummy!]

Day 23
B – Twice baked SP [attempted, but didn’t have tons of time so I modified]
L – Didn’t write it down.
D- Balsamic chicken + Balsamic carrots
The recipes: 
http://www.plaidandpaleo.com/2014/04/paleo-twice-baked-breakfast-sweet-potatoes.html
http://wholefoodhalfass.com/post/20790588849/recipe-balsamic-carrots-ingredients-1-pound-of
http://paleofresh.blogspot.com/2013/01/fresh-balsamic-crockpot-chicken.html

Day 24
B- Sweet potato [microwaved until soft] + trader joe’s fruit bar [it was only apple and mango]
L – leftover balsamic chicken
D – Spaghetti squash [I told you I love this stuff]

Day 25
B- Larabar
L – leftover spaghetti squash
D – SP chili over squash noodles
Picture: [I made a big batch of the chili to last me all week for lunch]
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Day 26
B- Larabar + HBE [These last few days, I haven’t been super hungry in the morning and my stomach doesn’t feel great, so a larabar/egg is all I can seem to eat]
L- SP chili over squash noodles
D – TJ’s turkey burger + sp fries + smoothie [spinach, almond milk, random fruit]

Day 27
B -HBE + fruit + lunch meat [Complaint / from TJ’s]
L – SP chili
D – Turkey Burger + green beans + broccoli + 2 red potatoes [I was really hungry –I had just come back from a workout]

Day 28
B – HBE + fruit + lunch meat
L – SP chili over squash noodles
D – Chipotle [Steak, lettuce, salsa and guac]

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Roomie celebrating with me by counting down!

Day 29
B – Lunch meat
L – Aidell’s chicken apple sausage + red potato chunks (sautéed in coconut oil)
D – Chicken + kale salad mix + green beans [we had our Dream Team appreciation party- food might have been non-complaint but unfortunately I didn’t cook so I don’t know. I did avoid the rice and bread though!]

Day 30 [on the menu]
B – chicken apple sausage + SP chunks
L – Cheesecake factory (steak and veggies?)
D – whatever I’m in the mood for/is in my fridge 😉

Happy eating!