Category Archives: Southern Belle Baptist

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

Merry Christmas

I pray that each and every one of you has a wonderfully blessed Christmas this year, full of joy, laughter and happiness with your family and friends. We had a great weekend, full of Santa visits, time spent together and dreams of our future house. We are so looking forward to what this week will bring.

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(I guess Santa was hot because they had a huge fan blowing on him… hence the wind-blown look!)IMG_9785

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“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

‘Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!'”

(Luke 2:8-14)

Merry Christmas, my friends!

 

 

I’m a mess

I work in a church, and as part of my job, I craft a weekly email devotional. Some weeks, I get super into it and feel so inspired to write. I’ll look back at my computer screen and think “Man, that is really good! Where did that come from?!” Other times, I throw something together at the last minute (because I totally forgot to write it the day before) and think “Man, that’s lame. I’ll probably get fired tomorrow.” (Okay, not really, but still).

You know what? I usually get more positive comments and “thank you” emails on the days where I think it’s lame.

That tells me something important: that God works through me, even when I don’t feel like being a vessel for His work.

Whether I’m “in the mood” to witness and encourage doesn’t mean much to Him. If I’m willing, He is able. Thank goodness for that! I’m not perfect. In fact, I’m a great big mess- my hamper is overflowing, I have horrible road rage and I’m pretty sure I’m not on time to anything ever, but I am trying to live my life for Him and that’s what really matters. Some days are hard and some days are easy, but every day offers up a choice: a chance to say “yes.” Our pastor says that a huge part of belief is choice. You have to choose to believe, and you have to choose to follow the will of God. I’m so thankful that God has an amazing (sometimes confusing and crazy, but always amazing) plan for my life, and I am more than ready to see where it takes me. I say “yes” every day, even when it doesn’t make any sense.

I look at myself some days and wonder how such a mess of a person wound up with this amazing career in a leadership role at a church, and then it hits me: because that is where God wants me to be. This is so far outside the realm of things I could have made happen on my own- it is all God.

God is known for using messy people to do His work… makes you kind of glad to be a mess, doesn’t it?

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It’s getting real.

That whole taking my kid to work thing? Yeah. About that. It’s getting pretty real around here… as in, I am losing my mind. I can no longer use a desk chair at work. Yes, that’s right. Picture me, sitting kneeling at my desk, sans chair. Why? Because my child is part spider monkey and climbs up my legs, then falls down. Then cries. And whines. And cries. And whines. One thousand times per day. He wants to be held. So I pick him up. He wants to eat staples. I put him down. He cries. He wants to be held. So I pick him up. He arches his back in fury because I dared to pick him up. So I put him down. He screams. He wants to be held. So I pick him up. He presses “delete” and erases everything I just typed. Rinse and repeat. See my dilemma?

The good news is that my second interview went fantastic this week, and it looks like I’ll be getting an offer here in the next few days, according to my interviewer. I am so, so excited about this! Also, next week, I have an interview with my church for a communications position (both are part time… though the first offered me full-time if I want it). In a perfect world, I’d get both of these part time jobs and life would be just dandy. The church job is one that I have been seeking out and praying over for months, now, and it just feels right. The other job came like a whirlwind and feels equally amazing, so I think this may have been the point of the months of stress and job anxiety. God’s plan is coming into view, and let me just say, that I am pumped! His design is a thousand times better than I could have done on my own. Faith is a beautiful thing, guys. Praying that everything comes to fruition in the next few weeks. Then, my spider monkey will be staying at home with his big brother and Daddy… I give that a week, tops, before Trevor commits himself and we have to find alternative child care for our children! The combination of these two boys is akin to a whirling dervish of destruction and chaos. Ah, little boys… they’re the cutest little messes you could ever hope for having.

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