Never Gone a Day in My Life Without Sugar, Bread or Carbs….Count ‘Em: Five!

It is day five of the “Standard Process 21-Day Purification Program” and I have learned an abundance about myself.  First, I have discovered that if I invest in something, as I did with the purchase of this program, then I am much more successful, and much less likely to “jump off the wagon.”  So, if I had any advice to those of you who are struggling with weight loss or any other problem, “put your money where your mouth is,” and invest in yourself!  It will be worth it! Second, if I set my mind to something I can and will accomplishment it, with the help of God! Not too many years ago I was intimidated at the idea of embarking on new things. It made me uncomfortable and my fear of failure paralyzed me. I have now set out to prove to myself that experiencing unfamiliar things is essential in living life to the fullest!  Third, I do not NEED sugar or ketchup.  Up until five days ago I craved sugar and carbs  and ate them every, single day.  Furthermore, before even tasting my food, I would put ketchup on everything; meat, eggs, french fries, hamburgers, hot dogs, potatoes.  I love(d) ketchup.  However, due to the restrictions on this “cleanse” I am not able to eat sugar or ketchup, but guess what?  I haven’t died without either of them!  In fact, I have found myself wondering why I put both those items in/on my food in the first place.

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One of the most important parts of this cleanse is preparing and eating a fruit/vegetable smoothie, with two scoops of  SP Complete,  three times a day.  Prior to this experience, I would have never attempted to eat a fruit smoothie without sugar.  I would have never even “tasted”  it first to “see” if it needed any sugar.  Nope, I would just dump the sugar in.

By the grace of God, truly, I have discovered that I don’t need, nor do I miss the sugar in the smoothie.  Notice I did say “in the smoothie,” as I still crave dessert.  Fortunately, upon eating the smoothie, I am so stuffed, I have no desire to eat anything more. Additionally, we are allowed to eat fruit on this program which acts “like” a dessert.  Fourth, I tried two things that I have never tried before and LOVED them:

kale chips and rutabagas!!!

MMMMMMmmmmmmmm MMMMMmmmmmmm Good!

Every time I go to the store the cashier says, “what are these?”  It cracks me up, because until five days ago, I had  no idea what a rutabaga was either. My recipe of choice was to fry them up in some oil with peppers and onions. They taste very similar to fried potatoes!

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The kale chips are going to be my new go-to crunchy snack (no kidding)!  It is unfathomable how good kale chips are, and how easy they are to prepare.  Every picky eater on the planet should try these. You would be shocked how good they are.   Cut the stems out of the kale, cut them in to small pieces, add some oil, add salt and garlic salt, bake for 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven and “voilà,” you have the perfect crunchy, salty snack!

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So, how am I feeling?

I am so glad you asked (wink, wink).  I am feeling splendiferous!  I am sleeping astoundingly more soundly than I was five days ago, I am less hungry than I have ever been in my life, and every now and again I can feel a twinge of pain in my abdomen that confirms that this cleanse is, as promised, forcefully kicking those nasty, no-good toxins out of my body.  On Wednesday, I had a busy day at work so I was super tired and I had a headache most of the day, but I still didn’t feel the need to take a nap. My energy and focus is up, and I am excited to see my transformation at the end of twenty-one days.

Last, I have finally mastered taking pills. In my last post, I expressed the difficulty I was having taking them, but after five days of taking pills, I learned that I need to take my time: put a little water in my mouth first, then drop the pill, then drink more water and after a few pills, eat something.  I usually take a swallow of the smoothie or the lentil soup between every second or third pill and they miraculously go down!

This has been an incredibly moving experience for me.  Growing up I never really had fresh vegetables.  Besides an occasional salad with lots of dressing, I ate exclusively canned vegetables, that upon further review have lots of additives and salt.  I also never paid  attention to what was in the salad dressings I have used: french and ranch dressing.  I grieve the loss of my “red” (not orange) french dressing, and if I am able to make it homemade, I will most certainly try.

Above all, I have been reminded that “nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)  NOTHING! I am thirty seven years old and I have NEVER gone a day in my life without sugar, bread or carbs (potato, pasta, rice).  I’m talking NEVER people.  As a child we had dessert every, single night.  Every night!  Yet, for five days I haven’t had any of those things and I don’t feel like I am dying.  I am a food addict.  It has to taste good or it is not going past the tip of my tongue. So believe me when I say that fruit smoothies (with no sugar), kale chips, lentil soup and rutabagas taste good, and aren’t just “tolerable.” They taste terrific, and don’t just take my word for it.  Try them yourself!

The Final Countdown…how much weight have I lost?

4 pounds

Bring on day six!

If You Like to Talk to Tomatoes…

So today marked the first day of my commitment to the  “Standard Process 21-Day Purification Program.”  I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I was anxious about it!  What I didn’t anticipate was the amount of time it took to prepare for this excursion, especially week one, which only allows one to eat vegetables, fruit and a wealth of natural supplements.  First, it took me most of the day yesterday to get the groceries. Why? Well, I was like I was tourist in a foreign country. No, really! I have not been accustomed to frequenting the produce aisles.  I think  I am more familiar with Bob the Tomato and Archibald Asparagus from Veggie Tales, than I am with most of the vegetables I met for the first time yesterday morning.  No sirree, I spend most of my time shopping in the meat, dairy, pasta and bread aisles.  Oh, and lest I forget the regular trips to the frozen food section.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook, but fresh vegetables are not something I am hugely familiar with.  This girl is a meat and potatoes gal, and unfortunately, I will have to succumb to eating salad, salad and more salad, with less than desirable dressing, fresh veggies without dip (no dairy products – this Wisconsin girl is weeping bitterly) and fruit smoothies with two scoops of SP Complete (supplements) for the next twenty-one days because in the scheme of things I believe my body needs a serious detox.  I’ve seen the reviews on this program and all of them are great!

So, as I walked through the produce aisle, I found myself captivated by the sheer number of vegetables and fruits to whom I had never been formally introduced.  I burst forth in song, in my head of course,  “If you like to talk to tomatoes (I love tomatoes, though I don’t usually talk to them), If a squash can make you smile (Ummmm, no, not so much). If you like to waltz with potatoes (Yes, I LOVE POTATOES! – Insert sad face here - Grievously, I cannot eat carbohydrates for 21 days, so “no, no” to potatoes.) up and down the produce aisle. Have we got a show for you” (1996-2013, UltimateVeggie.com).

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Well the show began that afternoon in my kitchen when I pulled out all that I had purchased (see above) and began to wash and cut the fruit and veggies to be sure I was fully prepared for the week ahead.  Four hours later, including five cuts to my phalanges, I had everything prepped!  In homage to the burial of my old eating habits, I chose this for supper…

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After all of the food prep, I couldn’t help myself and ended the day in pizza heaven! By the end of the day, I wouldn’t be consuming any more carbohydrates for at least twenty-one more days.

I woke up in the morning, made my first fruit smoothie (no sugar added) and thankfully downed the natural supplement capsules in record time, with about a gallon of water!!! Swallowing the pills is going to be the most challenging part of this cleanse, hands down.  Unfortunately, I have a very short gag reflex and pills don’t go down easily for me, so in light of the fact that I have to take 32 pills a day for the next six days I would say that was quite an accomplishment.

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Lunch time found me ravenous, because I forgot to bring snacks to work with me. I am learning quickly.  By the time I got home to eat, my stomach was growling like a bear, but thank heavens for – LENTIL SOUP!

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I forgot to mention that I am allowed to eat 1/2 a cup of lentils or brown rice each day, so I opted to make lentil soup.  Previous to today, I had never had lentils, but the recipe they provided was truly heaven on earth!  The pills and the smoothie followed suit and back to work I went!  I returned home to end this inaugural day with another first, rutabagas!  I fried them up with onions, peppers and garlic and they were delicious.  Upon completion of the rutabagas and another salad, I had to take one more stab at downing the last of the supplements.  As anticipated, it wasn’t happening.  I struggled to get them down and have no other option but to tear open the pills and dump the insides into my shakes. At this point, I would rather eat a cockroach then have to swallow those 192 pills before Saturday, not that I am counting! (wink, wink) Simply put, “You have to pick your battles.”

So day one is in the books!

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How do I feel, you might be wondering? I feel a little bit sluggish, but I am full, plus I am 100% committed to following through with this cleanse.  Indeed, it is going to be one of the most grueling undertakings I have set out to accomplish. Remember, I am a food addict. But God’s infallible Word reminds, “And my God will meet ALL your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19)  God will get me through this challenge and those yet to come, that I am certain.  What I am equally confident of, is that no matter how you are being tested, God will provide you with everything you need to get through it.  As promised He will be with you every step of the way! So, go get ‘em!

My Next Adventure(s)

So, I began my quest a few weeks ago to participate in   “37 Adventures for My 37th Year of Life”  and I am so eager to participate in what God has planned! Adventure number two began with an impromptu invitation from friends to attend the county fair!  I was beyond excited because 1) I had never been to the County Fair 2) It was a surprise, last minute invitation, which I immediately accepted and I NEVER do that!

Confession: I am OCD and I plan everything (just about), so I was so aflutter and no one could wipe the smile off my face. Up until this experience, I had only encountered my hometown fair (for its 500 people) and the local festival in the town I presently live, which is big, but NOT this big – “GOLLY GEE WHILICKERS!” 

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If you are blessed to experience my charm in person, you know that it takes very little to get me excited or to keep me entertained.  I am pleased with the fact that even the most minute things bring me great joy!  Having said that, my adventures at the county fair led me to participate in a bucket load of adventures on my “bucket-list!”

Adventure #2 -  Attend the County Fair!

(I’ve lived here for 15 years and had never attended the fair, and FOR REAL, there was a Wisconsin Cheese Stand!)

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Adventure #3 – Eat a Pork-a-Bob (Yum!)

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Adventure #4 – Eat a Pistolette (Delish!)

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Adventure #5 - Touch a Stingray (It was so cool!)

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Adventure #6 – Ride “The Spider” (Can you say, “dizzy.”)

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Adventure #7 – Ride the “Crazy Mouse” (You MUST Watch THIS Video)April 14 022

 

Adventure #8- Ride the Ferris Wheel

(This Ferris Wheel was so high, it nearly touched the Heavens, and may I add that it broke down right before we went on, and I was  pretty much panic-stricken the entire time. You can ask my friends to confirm!)

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Adventure #9 – Ride a CAMEL (from St. Louis)! Yes, indeed, folks, there “really is water in them humps!”

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What an incredible beginning to my 37 Adventures for My 37th Year of Life!

Stay tuned to my blog for updates on the rest of my adventures, but I discourage you from living vicariously through me.  Our Heavenly Father says, “Have I not commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)  Get out there and experience adventures of your own and celebrate the life that God gave you!!

“And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11 ESV 

Thank you, Lord, for life, and may I live it to the full!

My Body is Broke and It Needs Fixin’

As you might have remembered from my previous blogs, I have been struggling with illness. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to shake this sickness, and in the process I have been unable to exercise – for over TWO MONTHS. Furthermore, I have gotten little to no sleep.  I can honestly say that I have even been grieving the loss of exercise. What I wouldn’t do to just go for a jog? My poor running buddy, “B,” must think I deserted her, but this is certainly not the case.  My body has simply been forcing me to refrain. No visions of sugarplums for this girl. Nope, I’ve been dreaming of a sweat-soaked run and a “wind in my hair” bike ride. To boot, I have come to terms with the reality, that due to my frequent illness and a brief knee injury, I must pull myself out of the next two races I signed up for.  The dual-thon in April and my first half-marathon (Biggest Loser) in May will, grievously, not be part of my 37 Adventures in My 37th Year of Life.  Furthermore, two weeks and six weeks, respectively, are not enough time to train and prepare for either of these races.  With that said, I have been encouraged by one of my doctors to change up my usual routine and start taking natural supplements (ie: ProSynbiotic and Total VR-X). I have successfully done so for three weeks, which is a marvel, as I despise taking pills.  The addition of these natural supplements along with a “heaven-sent” cough medicine prescription from the ER doctor, has finally relieved my persistent bark, which was the source of many sleepless nights, and terminated my six-month long Upper Respiratory Infection (URI), finally moving me on the road to recovery!  

Conclusively, I am coming to terms with the fact that my health will not improve if I continue to do the “same thing that I have always done.”  I need to do something divergent, and that is why I have decided to take part in the “Standard Process 21-Day Purification Program.” 

 

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This is a detox/body cleanse regimen which “combines a generous menu of whole foods with supplements that support the body’s ability to remove naturally occurring toxins” (2014 Standard Process Inc.). The age-old saying goes, “If its not broke, don’t fix it.” Well, my body is definitely broke, and it needs some serious fixin’. Nothing I have done to “get well” in the last six months has worked, and I continue to fall victim to my “old ways.”  I desperately want to resume running, biking and training for races, and I want to believe that being a player in this program will move me on my way. There is no better season to start, as it is advised to engage only in light exercise while taking part in this program.  I am enlivened about the weeks to come! I know this experience will be grueling and my body will cry out, “stop.”  I am a food addict.  Pain should be expected when taking such drastic measures, but I am completely determined to see this through to the end!  Stay tuned to my blog for updates on my journey.  Any and all prayers would be appreciated!

A Minor Set-back for a Major Come-back!

Admittedly, it has been too long since I have last written, but it was not intentional.  Life happened.  Work happened. Events happened.  Illness happened and continues to happen.  Training and even simple exercise has ceased to exist.  Just months ago,  I was perfectly at peace with my new healthy lifestyle: regular exercise, eating healthy, and limited stress.  I was well on my way to celebrating my 37th birthday with new-found optimism!!  However, on this Monday evening, I find myself quarantined to the couch, again due to yet another diagnosis of an upper respiratory infection.  This is the fifth URI  in the past five months and my high hopes of participating in 37 awesome adventures in my 37th year of life seem to be fading quickly.  How does a 30-something, active, optimistic woman come to terms with the reality that her body is tired, her immune system is low and her body can’t do what it used to be able to do?   Apparently I need to rest. My body continues to chant, “slow down,” but my mind weeps and grieves the loss of my healthy routine of diet and exercise?  It seems that even a regular day wipes me completely out. This is not normal and I am working with doctors to figure out why, but I am really struggling.  Furthermore, as part of my 37 adventures in my 37th Year, I had signed up to participate in a dualthon in April and my first half-marathon in May! I was beyond excited to work hard to accomplish these goals, that I once would have never dared to dream.  However, I have not been able to do any exercise in the past two months and I don’t believe it would be safe for me to run those races, with such limited training. I wonder if this isn’t what others wrestle with when they are diagnosed with a disease, lose their identity, or they are no longer able to participate in something they love to do?  They loose hope.

Thoughts, feelings, anger, emotions and moments of hopelessness flood through my body, and I have come to a crossroads. We’ve all been here before.  We can choose to simply give up, or, in the words of my running buddy, “B,” we can choose to see this adversity as “minor set-back for a major come back!”  Her words weighed on me like a ton of bricks. What an incredible truth?  As much as we would like always stay on the “mountain top” that is not a reality. There will be times  in life when we are forced deep down into the valley and even worse, the abyss.  But rather than drown ourselves in sorrow, we must soar on wings like eagles.  Our Heavenly Father provides us with a promise in Isaiah 40:28:31:

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

How timely are these words tonight? I truly needed to hear them, and more than that, I need to trust them completely!  At present I am feeling weak and tired and worn.  I will stumble and fall, but our amazing God promises that He will “increase the power of the weak” and will “renew our strength.”  Thank you, Lord, Jesus for that promise!  What blessed assurance for those who are feeling overcome by adversity.

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(photo borrowed from www.youignite.me)

On a Quest to Find This Little Girl…

By the grace of God, I have already begun participating in my first of 37 Adventures!  As I stated in my earlier blog “37 Adventures for My 37th Year of Life” I set a goal to ride the tilt-a-whirl 100 times during spring break. I  was only able to ride 22 times.  The purpose  for riding the tilt–a-whirl 100 times was completely selfish on my part. I love the tilt-a-whirl and I wanted to have fun riding it.  However, unbeknownst to me, God had a different plan and purpose!

My first discovery at the festival was that many children actually ride the rides by themselves.  I was completely dumfounded by this.  I fully expected to be begging my students and others to ride the rides with me, but oddly enough, I found the exact opposite to be true.  As I had hoped, I did get the opportunity to ride the tilt-a-whirl with some of my students, and I had a blast!

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Be that as it may, I had no idea that God intended to carve a special little place in my heart for to two incredible little girls whom I had not yet been introduced.

Let me first present “Leigh.”   “Leigh” is a sweet middle school student.  Her and her cousin blessed me with their company on a number of rides throughout Spring break!  “Leigh” is a precious little girl who just moved to our area a few weeks ago.  She knew very few students, and immediately when I asked to ride with her, she claimed me as her “riding buddy!” We had a delightful time getting to know each other and I had the privilege of  meeting her mother and grandmother.

The second girl I would like you to meet is “Ann.”  We met each other in line for the tilt-a-whirl when, with her sparkling brown-eyes, she boldly asked, “are you riding by yourself?”  “Yes,” I immediately replied, and she quickly countered, “can I ride with you?”

I have never, in my life, been so instantaneously connected to a person, as I was with “Ann.”  I have always had a passion for children and youth. I felt God’s call to serve as a youth director when I was a child, but there was “something” incredible about this young lady that immediately stole my heart.   She was such a joy! And then I asked “the question” that would change everything.  You see when I first met “Ann” in the tilt-a-whirl line, she was with her grandmother who was unable to ride the rides.  Her granny gave me permission to be her riding buddy, and quickly “Ann” claimed me as “her best friend.”  As we whirled around and squealed with joy,  I couldn’t help but wonder,  “where was her mom and dad?” My heart would stop when I finally inquired.  Without delay, she  responded, “I don’t know…ummm, I really don’t know where my mom is, and my daddy is in jail.”  (SILENCE)

I have had my heart broken a time or two, in my lifetime, but I am quite sure it has never shattered like this.  I have no doubt that God placed “Ann” in my life for a reason, and I refuse to believe it was just for those few hours to ride the tilt-a-whirl.  Before parting ways I asked Ann’s grandmother if I could take my picture with Ann.  She obliged, and now I have this precious memory!

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I fully expected to see “Ann” and her grandmother during the rest of spring break, unfortunately, I never did.  I waited by the tilt-a-whirl countless hours in hopes of seeing them again, but I did not.

I am now on a quest to find this little girl!

I feel God’s ever-present nudge to find her.  I want to tell “Ann” about Jesus, who has called her by name, and who has claimed her as His own.  I want to remind “Ann” that she is loved and forgiven.  And, I desire to be a “big sister” in her life, if that is something she is in need of.  After all, “Ann” did say, we were best friends!

In Matthew 18:11-12 we learn the parable of the lost sheep.  “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?  I have always been drawn to finding the “lost sheep.”  I believe that is one of the gifts that God has especially given to me.  As a youth director, I was and am called to serve my church and feed them, but I also believe we are each called to search for the lost.  I lost “Ann” and her grandmother, but it is my prayer that I will find them.

Thankfully, I know Ann’s  real name and for her safety I have changed it for this blog.  I know the name of her grandmother, who cares for her.  I know the name of the school she attends, and I know that Ann loves the color blue!  Won’t you please join me in prayer as I continue this quest to find her?

When was the last time a vacation truly changed you?

When was the last time a vacation truly changed you? 

Hmmmm? Do you know?

As of 4pm this afternoon parents, grandparents, children and teachers alike were purely mad, because spring break had finally commenced! Hundreds already had their bags “packed and ready to go” to the beach, to the lake, to the local fair, or even simpler yet, to the comfort of their living room couch.  

But when was the last time a vacation truly changed you?

Sadly the answer to this valid and invaluable question for me, personally, is NEVER.  Indeed, I have shared in countless mission trips throughout my tenure as a youth minister, each experience moving me in one way or another, and I pray, changing lives. However, I have never been privileged, nor courageous enough to participate in a “personal” mission.  I have always envied those individuals who, like Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love,  just took off to a foreign country to experience life anew. It has never been possible for me, but that will change in 2015, in view of the fact that, this naive, small town, thirty-something girl will finally be flying across the sea to visit the two beautiful girls, whom I sponsor, from Rwanda, Africa.  I don’t know exactly how, nor do I know the details, but after much prayer and soul-searching, I have come to the conclusion that it is finally time to take a vacation that will renew my spirit! Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Aside from crossing the border and traveling a few miles into Mexico, I have never traveled to another country (unless of course you consider the moment I moved to Texas from the frozen tundra, lol. Now that was a trip!). However, in one year and seven months, through Compassion International, I have decided it is time!!!   

I’m going to RWANDA, AFRICA in October 2015!

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I’m going to Rwanda in 575 days (or so), but who is counting, right?

 “Many children in need wonder if they matter. Poverty tells them that they are nothing.” (compassion.org) Throughout the duration of these next 575 days I will be envisioning that sincere moment in time, when we finally meet face to face!  Our faces will no longer be one dimensional. We will be blessed to touch and hold one another, play games together, meet family, personally express our love, and finally pray.   Ahhhh, to pray!  If you know me, you recognize how much I value physically holding a person’s hand in prayer. The Bible says, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Mathew 18:20).  

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How powerful it will be to have their precious hands in mine in Christ’s name!  

Please pray for Uwineza and Mukademari, their families and myself as we begin preparing for this life-changing journey!

Uwineza           Mukademari

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While I am talking about Compassion International, let me introduce you to Alvaro Chura!

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Alvaro is a precious eight year old little boy from Bolivia, South America.  His birthday is December 28, 2005 and he enjoys playing ball games and running.  He lives with his mother, father, and seven other siblings in Bolivia. His father is sadly not always employed and his mother maintains the home and takes care of her eight children. Yes, indeed.  Alvaro is one of EIGHT CHILDREN in the family!   

As a sponsor of two of my own children through Compassion, I can promise you, becoming a sponsor will be an absolute blessing to you and your family. I never imagined how my life would change, how two little girls across the ocean would transform my existence and give it purpose.  Furthermore, I never imagined that I would be able to financially support not only one, but two children from another country.  Proof that God always provides!

Won’t you please prayerfully consider sponsoring Alvaro?  

He has been waiting for over six months to be sponsored. Your love and support of only $38 a month will help him to receive the assistance he needs to grow and develop.  At the very least won’t you keep him in your prayers?

If you would like to sponsor Alvaro, please contact me by leaving a “comment” with your contact information. Your information will not post publicly because I have to “okay” comments before they post. I will then contact you directly to get the information to “officially” sponsor Alvaro through Compassion International!

Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults” (compassion.com).

If you would like to consider sponsoring a different child, one with your birthday, one with your name, one the same age as your child, etc., please go to the following link to do so: http://www.compassion.com/sponsor_a_child/default.htm?referer=135158

Thank you and God bless!