Category Archives: Southern Belle Baptist

Plate: Full

I like to work myself to death. Well, I don’t like to do it, but I tend to. I pile up my plate until it’s overflowing- family, church, work, freelance work, side job, house work, meal planning and the list continues. Why do I do this stuff to myself?  I feel like “Oh, I can do all of that” in the moment, but then I realize what’s missing: free space. I’ve left no margin for quiet time, for reflection, for relaxation, for fun. I’ve scheduled myself into a corner.

How do I stop that?

By scheduling myself out of one.

I am now starting to make appointments with myself. How ridiculous does that sound? I know, but seriously, if it’s not on the calendar, did it even really happen? I schedule everything: times to pick up kids, appointments, meetings, small group, conference calls, etc. Why not add a little block that says “do something for yourself?”

So today, I am saying “yes” to a block of time for me and “no” to saying yes too often. I need time to breathe. I need time to be alone with God. I need white space.

I’ve forsaken that time I need to get into the Word, to pray, to seek. I can’t function that way. My focus begins to waver, my resolve drifts, my peace wanes. I need that peace. A life filled with joy and peace isn’t something that I can allow to be scheduled away- it isn’t worth it. So I’m going to take it back, take back some of my hours, some of that time and reset my focus.

There is going to be a me o’clock today.

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“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” -Psalm 62:1-2

 

It’s never simple.

Over the course of the past year, I’ve been having some health drama. I’m going to try to make this as brief as I possibly can, while still hitting the high points. Last summer, I decided I needed to find a chiropractor closer to my house. Mine is downtown (about 30 minutes away), so I tried a new one. BAD IDEA. Long story short, I ended up with a four-month headache. And I’m not talking a minor one- I mean one that would literally make you throw up it hurt so bad. I ended up going to the doctor after a month of trying to deal with it, and had every test known to man done on me. Multiple x-rays, a CT scan and two MRIs. Read: EXPENSIVE. After all of that, they still couldn’t find anything physically wrong with me. After being on muscle relaxers for four months, I finally decided to go back to my original chiropractor. I was scared to go back to anyone, but I am glad that I did- a few visits later and the pain was gone. Note to self: don’t shop for chiropractors based on proximity.

It still requires visits to the chiro about every two weeks this point to keep it at bay- I’ll feel the same head/neck pain creep back (right below the base of my skull on the right side of my neck) and know I need an adjustment. I hope that it will eventually stay in place on its own, but it was out of place for four months, so it may take some time.

Anyway, during that whole ordeal, my doctor ran a full panel of blood work on me, since they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. One of my blood tests came back with a positive ANA (anti nuclear antibodies), which can indicate an autoimmune disorder. So yeah, that was awesome. I’ve been having horrible dry eye and dry mouth since the initial chiro injury, which can be a symptom of Sjogren’s Syndrome (which my mom also has). My second round of blood work, however, showed no specific antibodies for that, or the several other things she tested me for. Because I have to keep life interesting like that. I’m not symptomatic, aside from those things, so I haven’t decided whether to go to a rheumatologist for further testing, yet. It’s never something simple, is it?

In researching, however, autoimmune diseases are only mildly terrifying (sarcasm- they actually really suck), so I have decided to be proactive. I’ve been researching like crazy, and have read a lot about the autoimmune diet protocol. It’s pretty stringent, and is basically paleo times ten. At this point, I am going to concentrate on doing a Paleo diet- a diet free of gluten and grains is supposed to reduce inflammation and thereby lessen the symptoms and problems that can come from an AI issue. I’m not being a crazy person about it, but I am sticking to it pretty well so far. Plus, I love steak, so yay. More steak. I’m still eating potatoes sometimes- grain-free is more my focus.

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I really enjoy carbs, so it’s not the most fun, but being on the Daniel Fast earlier this year taught me a lot about what I can handle as far as diet alteration goes! I made gluten-free brownies this weekend (with cocao powder and coconut sugar), and they were really pretty good for having no flour in them. I’m also using Frankincense oil daily, along with my other staples, which is apparently good for autoimmune stuff.

I’m still trying to figure out exactly what is going on just so I can know how to deal with it, but I am positive and not going to let it eat away at me while I wait (at least I am trying to do that). I know God is good all the time, and He has a great plan for me that does not include succumbing to physical illness or injury of any kind. I pray a lot and seek His presence through all of this craziness, and I know it will all work out. In the meantime, I’m eating my gluten-free brownies and blogging away the stress. I would appreciate prayers for good health and healing, though! Love you guys.

P.S. So far, my homemade deodorant is working out. People will still stand next directly next to me, and I haven’t run Trevor into the other room, yet- I’d call that a preliminary success.

Pray Your Face Off

It’s Thursday. Which means it’s almost Friday! Hallelujah, thank you, Jesus. I love the weekends, even though I also love my job. A few years ago, I loved the weekends because I hated my job, but it’s really just better when you like all of your days, you know? I’m so thankful that I’m somewhere I truly look forward to working every day. Guys, if you don’t like your job, do something about it. Just saying. If you feel stuck beyond the point where you can leave, pray about it. PRAY LIKE CRAZY. PRAY YOUR FACE OFF. I had no idea how it would ever work for me to leave my last job, but God made a way- it was Him alone that made it happen.

I remember feeling so stuck, financially, that I didn’t think I had any other options. I knew that I wanted to get out of the secular business world, but how in the world could I take that first step?? I started praying earnestly for God to change my situation. I was unappreciated and so unhappy. So I prayed. And prayed. And prayed. I had some awesome leads that came out of nowhere. I had a non-profit call me one day, out of the blue, that needed a new director (of the whole organization). I had been recommended to them by someone I did some work with at my then-current job. I was floored! This was surely my prayer being answered directly. The pay? EXACTLY the same as my current job. The organization was amazing- it was all animal rescue related, and I would essentially be my own boss. I would answer to a board of directors, but would have the freedom to do what I wanted, creatively. I had a phone interview. An in-person interview. Another meeting. Then nothing. Three months of radio silence. I did everything perfect. I aced those interviews, I knew that I did. I followed up appropriately. It was meant to be. Only it wasn’t. I could not figure it out, and I felt so defeated! Why would they not call me back??

During that waiting period, I read an article written in our church’s magazine (that I now design and edit… oh the awesome irony) that was written by the “Interim Communications Director.” Interim? That means they’ll be hiring a new one! I immediately contacted my friend, Maegan, that worked at church to grill her mercilessly about it. She didn’t know much aside from they’d be hiring at the beginning of the year. So I checked the church website every single day for three months. Not kidding, I was a church website stalker. I prayed over this job so much. I wanted it badly, just knowing that it was my dream job. I didn’t know a thing about the position, aside from that I wanted it!

During those months, another offer came out of the blue. A certain Christian Chicken franchisee needed a marketing director, and I was approached about it. I interviewed several times and did well- the rapport between the owner and I was amazing, and hello, Christian company, this was OBVIOUSLY my answered prayer. Only I couldn’t stop thinking about that non-available church job. So I tried to push that down while I continued pursing this new lead.

During this interview process, my website stalking paid off: the church communications job finally posted! I am confident that I was the very first application received, as I likely sent it in one second after the job was posted online. The caveat: this was a part-time job with no benefits. I needed full-time, and I needed benefits. I prayed for God to make a way, and that if this was His will, to make it happen. I was called a few weeks later for an interview. I normally know how an interview went right after, but I can say that I have never been less sure of something in my life after I left that one. I just didn’t know. They called again a few days later for some follow-up questions, we exchanged emails, I took tests, etc. but I still couldn’t tell what they were thinking.

Meanwhile, I was offered the Christian Chicken marketing job. I was offered a full-time position, with benefits, and bonus potential. I told them no. I know, crazy town. I counter-offered that I would work for them two days a week. Because there was this “church thing” I had to be open for. Looking back, I know this seems insane, because I had no guarantee whatsoever of the church job going through. Goodness knows, it wasn’t a “sure thing” by any means. But I felt it. That church job had my name all over, and God had put it in front of me when I was at my career low- a beacon of hope and change.

The next week, I was called for a second in-person interview at church. A second interview that ended with me signing an acceptance of their offer for a job as Communications Director. I had anticipated another full interview like the first, with more waiting involved, but they had made up their minds: They chose me! When I got home, Trevor opened the door and said “you got it!!” I said “how did you know?” and he replied “because I saw you pull up and you haven’t stopped smiling.” I was a little bit happy.

So I took a leap of faith and signed up for a part-time church gig, still having to work another part-time job to supplement my income, and paying for my own insurance. Because I knew it was right. I didn’t understand it, but I knew it would work out… It did. After about six months, I went full-time at church, leaving the old job behind and making my dream job even more of a dream. It took me a good year to adjust to the fact that this was work. It literally changed my entire life because I loved my job.

My life transformed when I took that leap of faith and did something uncomfortable. The safe move would have been to take the first job that was offered to me, but it is okay to wait for God’s best for you!! I knew that wasn’t His best, and it wasn’t. Oh, and about a week after I took the church job, the non-profit called. Delay much? I obviously turned them down, but I feel very strongly that God used that particular job-seeking process to keep me content during the wait until the real thing came around. I was so busy thinking about that one, I stopped seeking out other jobs while I was interviewing with them. He held me off until the time came to move forward with His plan for me. I see God’s signature all over every step in this story- He listens and He cares for us. He works all things together for our good.

If you are in that place where you feel stuck and hopeless, you aren’t. You just need a little bit of help to move forward. Seek Him earnestly, pray intensely and He’ll show you the way. It may not occur on your time, but it will in His. There is hope.

The Fast

Beginning January 1, our church started the Daniel Fast as a congregation. I work on staff at our church, so I’ve had a while to think about and prepare for this. I’ve been pinning recipes, creating meal plans, researching, doing everything I could think to do. However, I was not prepared for how hard it actually is to fast! The Daniel Fast is based on Daniel’s fast from the Bible where he basically tells the king that he and his men will eat nothing but vegetables and water for 21 days to show that God would sustain them. And not only sustain them, but sustain them as well as the king and his men, who ate rich and pleasant food. Traditionally, fasts are used in order to grow closer to the Lord while we deny our flesh and try to live more in the Spirit.

The guidelines for this fast are pretty stringent- we cannot consume any animals products (Vegan), plus we can’t have any sweeteners, fried food, processed food, leavened bread (yeast, baking powder or soda), preservatives, etc. All grains must be whole grains (no white flour). We can also drink only water. This means no coffee. Let that sink in for a minute. NO COFFEE, PEOPLE. Have you read the title of my blog? We like coffee here.

Right now, we are about two weeks into this fast, and it’s been tough. Food-wise, the first few days were the worst. I had already weaned myself off of coffee by the week before because I had no desire to die of caffeine withdrawal while starving to death. In all fairness, I was actually pretty excited to start, not only for the spiritual aspect, but because this felt like a bit of a culinary challenge for me. I love cooking (and food), and I am glad that I do because, man alive, I have never spent more time in the kitchen out of pure necessity. The fact that we can’t have processed food or preservatives, plus the added bonus of no yeast and no sweeteners has removed almost every single convenience food from our diet. I’ve made everything from scratch imaginable: Indian Naan bread, hummus, whole wheat tortillas,  Vegan “Alfredo” sauce, and the list continues. It is safe to say that I have never used my food processor so often as I have in the past ten days. Here’s some of what we’ve been eating (and recipe links…always assume that I leave out the ingredients I can’t have, like sugar):

One Pot Mexican Quinoa (this stuff is off the chain, seriously. I’d eat it even if I could eat meat)

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Indian Naan Bread and Homemade Hummus (why am I even saying “homemade”- assume everything is homemade after this because it is)

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Veggie LoMein using whole wheat pasta

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Whole wheat tortillas. Y’all. Surprisingly simple and very good.

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Bean burritos (using said tortillas) with “refried” beans inside and topped with a red sauce and cilantro (good, but needs queso SO badly)

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Our new nightly snack- a bowl of fruit

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Veggie Burgers- I just made these up (refried beans, pinto beans, black beans, corn, rice, oats, whole wheat flour, seasonings)

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This is the face Brody made when he asked for a taste of my burger:

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Vegan Alfredo with Roasted Asparagus (shockingly good considering the sauce is made from cashews):

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Apple Pan Cake (uses dates and apples to sweeten, bananas instead of eggs)- it’s Daniel Fast-tastic.

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This is my go-to Daniel Fast lunch of a baked potato, salad with balsamic and olive oil and some sliced avocado (inspired by my friend, Karie, who made this for me on our weekly lunch date):

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Before you ask, yes, I have lost weight- between five and eight pounds, I think, but that’s not the point of this. It’s not a diet, it’s a fast. It’s hard to remember that sometimes during this process!

One preconceived notion that I had was that fasting was somehow going to make it easier to pray and devote time to God. Well. Let’s just squash that thought right now, shall we? There is ALWAYS something to take your time away from God. Always. You can count on it. Fasting has not changed that at all. It requires extreme diligence and intentionality to really take 21 days of a fast seriously. I haven’t done a stellar job, either. The first few days, I really did set aside more time to read, pray and sit alone with the Lord. Then, the hungrier I got, I kind of fell off the devotional wagon. I have tried to pray a lot during the day, regardless of what I am doing. The past few days, I’ve really kicked myself in the butt and tried to read some more devotional material and get into the Word more during the day. I just keep praying for revelation and a hunger for the Bible (to replace my physical hunger for some cheese!).

Our prayer focus during the fast is Knox. We’re praying for some other things, too, but our main focus is him. We are praying that God would remove the struggle of Autism from Knox’s life. We’re praying for clarity of mind, ease of speech and joyfulness of Spirit. We’re praying that Knox would desire to have friends, to communicate and to follow directions. A big part of the issues Knox has (the ones that are keeping him from being “mainstreamed” in school) stem from his incredible stubbornness and independent streak (I don’t want to hear it, I know EXACTLY where he gets that). When he wants to do well, he does. A huge part of this struggle is aligning his will with our will- and that is all about helping Knox succeed!

As parents, we want our children to grow up, have families and really be a light for the Lord in whatever they choose to do. A verse I pray for both of my boys often is Proverbs 3:4 “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” In a nutshell, that is what I want for my children, so that’s what I am fervently praying for during these 21 days.

It has been amazing to see the notes, emails and comments pouring in over the past week-and-a-half about the change in Knox. You guys, I can’t explain to his teachers and therapists in any other way aside from “I’m praying really hard for him.” He’s been more attentive, more talkative, more compliant. I have no doubt that prayer works, but I have to say, it still blows my mind when I am literally watching it work before my eyes. I just pray that this great progress continues. It’s just really amazing to hear stories of God’s faithfulness and watch Him work.

I know that Knox may never be totally free of the struggle in this life, but it is a comfort to know that God has a plan for him- and it’s a really good one. While I continue to pray and hope that Knox is able to overcome the hard things that Autism brings to his life, I know that we’ll be okay, regardless. We love both of our boys unconditionally, and while sometimes I wish more than I can stand that I would be able to just converse with Knox and hear it, I know he loves us back in the same way.

So I’m looking forward to this last week of the Daniel Fast, and I have high expectations for what God is going to continue to do for Knox and our family. He is good, all the time.

 

A life un-Pinteresting

I struggle with comparisons, and I would venture a guess and say that most women have compared themselves with another at some point in the past week… maybe even the last hour. Social media is a huge perpetrator in the comparison game- we’re bombarded with pictures of “perfection” anywhere we look. We have to realize, though, that a picture is just that: a snapshot of what we’re expected to see.

Being surrounded with images of everyone else’s picture-perfect lives can be a real soul-crusher. Why don’t my nightly dinners look like that? Why isn’t my living room filled with DIY wonders and beautiful “found” treasures? Why doesn’t my blog have as many followers as that one? Why doesn’t my hair look that way? Why haven’t I made homemade play-doh for my children? Why can’t my kid recite the alphabet in French or Spanish or whatever other language preschoolers are learning these days? Why didn’t I think of that? Why doesn’t my life hold up to theirs? Why aren’t I worthy of approval and acceptance? Why am I left lacking? Why am I always lacking?

You’re not. There is so much more to life than a Pinteresting existence. Jesus wants more for us that to compare ourselves to other people. Our focus should be on the Cross, not on worldly things. It’s too easy to get wrapped up in the insignificant- that’s the battle we fight daily. We’re supposed to be living out our lives in a way that would glorify Him- are you glorifying God with your life? I’m not sure I am. Every twinge of jealousy or envy I feel is like telling Him that I don’t believe He has a better plan for me. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 says it as plainly as possible: God has a plan for YOU. And it’s a really, really good one. If you believe that God is who He says He is and that His word is infallible, then guess what? You have to believe that He has a plan for your life that is yours and yours alone. And that plan is the best one for you. Despite what you may think you want, God knows you better, and He thinks you’re worthy of the ultimate gift: His son. What else do you need to know?

Maybe He didn’t gift you with the same talents as someone else. That is OKAY! It’s okay if we’re not all great bakers, seamstresses, hostesses or crafty artists. You have strengths, even if you can’t recognize them for yourself. Seek it out, pray over it, ask God to reveal your strengths to you and then dwell in those. Honor Him through those- serve Him through those. Realize that you were created for a unique purpose- and you were perfectly formed for your life.

Don’t get me wrong- it’s totally okay to look to other people for inspiration. But it’s not okay to beat yourself up for not being “as good” as someone else. Your journey is not their journey. I’m having to come to terms with the fact that my perfect may not be your perfect, but it doesn’t matter! We’re all different, so what is beautiful and lovely to me may not be all that great to you. My life is beautiful to me, and my focus to make sure that it’s beautiful to God, too.

As much as I love to seek ideas and inspiration from Pinterest and blogs, there’s a part of me that rates myself next to every beautiful image and blog post. Where am I lacking? There and there and there. Check, check, check. No more. This comparison culture is sucking the joy out of so many of us that feel like we will never measure up. But guess what? You DO measure up- God loves you and created you perfectly just as you are, and I’d rather be beautiful and interesting to Him than Pinteresting to someone else.

I’m praying this verse over my life today, “Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” (1 Peter 3:3-4, ESV). My greatest desire is for a gentle and quiet spirit. Because that is what is beautiful and precious in the sight of God- and it’s imperishable! We aren’t called to be enviable or good at everything- what matters to God is what’s within you and how you love and serve Him. That’s all. You may not be able to Pin that, but you can surely live it.

let your adorning

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