The binge

I’m so mad, so emotionally wrecked, that I’m binge-eating. Sweet, addictive, organic dried mango. I’m pretty sure I just consumed about four servings of the stuff, at 20 grams of natural sugar per serving. But at this point of the Daniel Fast, it’s all I can do to feign the real cravings for a waffle cone piled two scoops too high with local Sweet Peaks ice cream. Agony, let me tell you!

But it’s the other thing that makes me mad. I did it again. I hoped. I thought for sure I was pregnant. But it was all a guise, a horrible scam.

The hope. I don’t want it. I want to just move on, to forget that I ever wanted children. To not care. To not notice what my body is or isn’t doing. To not think about it or talk about it or even know about it. I want to be wiped clean, never to remember again what this hope is like, or this feeling of loss and sorrow perpetually spinning inside of me.

I’m supposed to hope, I know. I am supposed to have faith that moves mountains. It says in the Bible that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6), which basically means it is a sin to not believe. But that’s the thing. I do believe that God can do anything, and that He can make me pregnant. I just don’t know that he wants to. He is God; I believe He has the best plan. Which is why I am trying to loosen my grasp on this thing. I don’t want to want it. It’s too painful. Can’t I just accept my lot and be free?

I know my good friends may want to reach out to me and comfort me. Please don’t. Don’t say anything. Don’t make me cry. I’ve cried too many tears now, and I want to be free. Just pray for me; pray for us. We need your prayers. God bless you all. xoxo

Unhappy Honey Dude

Honey Dude is not a fan of the Daniel Fast. Let me rephrase. Honey Dude is not a fan of his new diet, as it relates to the Daniel Fast. We have both been blessed by the spiritual aspects of the fast, with more time dedicated to prayer and scripture, and more time listening to, and hearing from, God. For this alone is the purpose of the Daniel Fast.

But it is the way it affects our flesh that makes it so hard.

For Honey Dude, it is definitely hard. I mean, he is a serious meat-and-milk kinda guy. He can literally go through a gallon of milk in three days. Me, on the other hand? Loving it. (Minus my breakfast options.) I’m back to eating hummus daily and making quinoa bowls stacked with veggies, two things I oft did when I was single. But even though I enjoy the food, it pains me to know my husband is so unsatisfied. I realize now that I took great pride in providing for him meals made with love and affectionately praised. I didn’t realize how much I looked forward to those words of affirmation, proving daily that I was succeeding as Wifey.

Even though he wasn’t complaining (never does, in fact) and even substituted those glowing reviews with honest gratitude, it was the obvious lack of approval that bothered me. After all, half of my normal ingredients were off-limits. I needed some credit.

But that’s the thing with serving. You really can’t expect anything in return. You cannot expect praise or recognition or reciprocated treatment. Otherwise, the purpose of the gift is missed. Truly, a gift is best given cheerfully, with no strings attached. Oh, marriage can test you in that mindset, let me tell you. Yet a well-known verse comes to mind quite often these days, reminding me to gracefully serve my husband without expectation.

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7, ESV)

So instead of getting upset, I can use this time to support my husband as he adjusts to our new meal routine. That means not getting discouraged and routinely making bean burgers, Honey Dude’s single favorite discovery.   

Daniel Fast Breakfast Burritos

A few days ago we started the three-week Daniel Fast, and it didn’t take us long to tire of oatmeal, or “mush” as my mother-in-law terms it. (Which is the perfect word for it, btw.) I mean, I never liked oatmeal to begin with. Now, without any sweeteners allowed, it is even more disgusting. I’ve tried blueberries, walnuts, and flaked coconut (unsweetened)… nope. Still gross.

So taking on my classic Saturday breakfast challenge to wow Honey Dude with something yummy, I had few options. I couldn’t reach for the sausage or bacon. I couldn’t whip up some eggs or pancakes. I couldn’t even press a rich brew of coffee (worst of all!).

So out came the tofu.

I know what you are thinking. Tofu? Yes. Tofu! Believe it or not, this block of soy can be crumbled and sauteed over med-high heat for something somewhat resembling scrambled eggs. It’s not a perfect match. And it certainly did not wow Honey Dude. But I actually loved it. Especially when wrapped up with some garden fresh spinach and avocado. My only seasonings: salt and pepper, plus lots of minced garlic sauteed in olive oil. I think I will make this again!        

The Daniel Fast

The Daniel Fast is not a diet. It’s a fast, which is referenced many times in the Bible as a time of restricted eating and focused prayer, as a time to reconnect with God and loosen our grasp on worldly weights. Unlike fasts that exclude all food and drink except water, the Daniel Fast hails a limited food list structured around a certain passage of scripture in which Daniel mourned and “ate no delicacies” for three full weeks (Daniel 10:3, ESV).

Somewhere along the line, someone decided that these delicacies included caffeine, sugar/sweeteners, dairy products, leaved breads, alcohol and meat. Basically everything delicious.

When I first learned about this fast, I was fresh off my month-long cleanse in 2012 and the idea of pulling my coffee plug – yet again – seemed torturous and cruel. You would understand if you saw me tote my mega-sized thermos of heavenly, french-pressed, organic goodness into work each morn. We’re talking about a lifestyle here. Major.

So yes, it has taken me three years to touch the Daniel Fast. But somewhere in the midst of heavy eating and the demands of my 8-to-5, I realized I wasn’t where I wanted to be. My body was quickly becoming a foreign blob. And even more troubling, my spiritual life was lacking zeal. I was wiped out, completely worn. I didn’t have energy for people, or for God.

Well that right there was a warning sign. I realized there is no time like now to get things right and refocus my eyes away from worldly worries and onto the gift of grace. So for the next three weeks, I’ll be enduring some serious torture as I come before the Lord to fall in love all over again. Stay tuned for the details of the battle, the recipes that saved me, and the gift of God’s grace through it all.

Moving towards adoption

It’s been many months unsaid, but yes, we are still carrying the burden of barrenness, such an ugly word. But it is a worse reality. We have been trying, without success, to bring a little baby into this world for more than two years now. That is 24 months of agony. Twenty-four months of built-up hope and dashed dreams. “Emotional miscarriages,” I have termed them. You can easily convince yourself that you’re pregnant. Yes, you’ll say, I definitely have an increased sense of smell. Is that little, bitty tummy-ache the start of morning sickness? Yep, for sure.

It’s awful what your brain will do to you, how your heart will betray you. And it’s a lonely road. Because no one understands. No one hears those incessant thoughts like you do or hopes strong like you do. No one hears the silent prayers that run through your head day after day after day. Like you do.

I can speak freely of it now because I have hovered in the safety zone for some time now. I can easily recover from the hope/loss cycle, because it’s A) familiar, and B) the norm. There is still hope, but it wanes more and more each passing month.

My hope has transitioned. It’s more in God’s plan for our lives than in my plan for my life. I remind myself daily that there has to be a reason. Maybe it’s because God wants us to serve others instead of serving our children. Maybe it’s because it’s simply not the best time. Maybe it’s because God has a child out there who needs loving parents like us.

I have the joy of sharing this burden with my incredibly loving husband. He has held me in my tears, caressed my back, and shared God’s heart with me. Recently, he took the initiative to call a local adoption agency and get the ball rolling on what could be our journey into parenthood. I am fortunate to have this Honey Dude of mine take the lead on this stuff, but both of us have values for adoption running decades deep. We know there is need out there, and we are both willing. So it seems very like God to take advantage of our willingness with something so close to His heart.

Let’s just see what happens next. Your prayers, as always, are welcome.

Retreat Menu Madness

I’ve been excitedly preparing for the upcoming “Peace, Love & Paper Crafts” retreat, from the spiritual theme to the craft projects to the menu. This last part has not been easy. Because I’m a foodie, you see. A true lover of fine foods. Even my mother- and sister-in-law noticed that right away and have since given me cookbooks on most gift-giving occasions to date. (Thank you!!) There are so many pretty pictures in these cookbooks that I will often just curl up on the couch with one and drool slash plan when I’m going to make each lovely recipe I find. Because that’s my other obsession: planning.

I especially realized these things last week, when a colleague asked me what I do for fun. I am sad to say that I paused, panicked. I didn’t know. My first thought was, “Well, I’m married. ‘Nuf said.” (I mean this in the best way. Honey Dude brings so much joy to my life; it doesn’t matter what we do). But in the next second, I thought: Eat. I like to eat. Followed by: Plan. Yes, as in checklists and coordination. Of anything really. I could plan the week’s menu, plan a party, or plan a trip. It’s all the same: Fun. Isn’t that horrendous? I used to like exercising and getting outside. [Which is why I made immediate plans with a friend to go on a big hike this weekend. I must enjoy fall before the snow comes!]

So back to the retreat menu. I haven’t gotten it all figured out. But I have some ideas. The first is inspired by the Aussie brunch, which I luckily experienced most days during my visit this past summer. I fell in love with this meal; just loved it!

Amazing Aussie staple at hipster brunch spots in Melbourne

Amazing Aussie staple at hipster brunch spots in Melbourne

I mean LOVED it. Amy and I both got one. (Isn’t she adorable?)

My adorable friend from Melbourne ("mel-bun")

My adorable friend from Melbourne (“mel-bun”)

So this recipe involves five elements:

  • Corn, pea, feta fritter (or something similar)
  • Smoked salmon lox
  • Greens
  • Smashed avocado
  • Dill creme fraiche

It seems pretty easy to replicate. But I accidentally picked up a plain smoked salmon instead of lox. Oops. I’m sure it’s just as good… right??! Oh gosh, please don’t make me return to Costco. And I’ll have to try to make those fritters this week to test ’em out. I love tests. So does Honey Dude.

Along the breakie route, I also made these amazing pastries recently, recipe taken from a new cookbook gifted to me by my sister-in-law, natch. These mini berry galettes were such a pain to make that I actually screamed: I hate baking! But then I changed my mind when I tasted them. Best pastry of my life. No joke.

Buy this book. It's good. And adorable.

Buy this book. It’s good. And adorable.

Pastry perfect: flaky and well balanced flavors

Pastry perfect: flaky and well balanced flavors

Then there is the egg frittata and sweet potato hash, my standby brunch combo, served with biscuits, of course. But all of this just covers breakfast. There are still two dinners and one lunch to plan. Plus all the snacking between meals. And the welcome appetizers and mock-tails. And dessert. Oh mercy, the dessert. Too many options there! I have to excuse myself now… there is planning to be done here, folks.

If you have any suggestions on gourmet, minimal fuss dinners to feed a small flock, please comment! xo

Scholarships are coming in!

God is so good. Within this last week, two people have contacted me to sponsor a gal to come on the Women’s Faith Retreat in late October. This is so exciting! Because many people in my region cannot afford to go on a retreat like this. Yet many need it.

I’m convinced that retreats are healing and holistic. Gather a group of Godly women and there is bound to be fun and laughter. There is bound to be good food and hugs to help the tears. Because there is bound to be pain of the heart there, too.

Just because we are Christians does not mean we have it all together. No, oh no. It just means that we recognize our need for Christ. We know who we should put our hope in. But if you’re anything like me, the “should” doesn’t always lead to action. I start to put my hope in me, in what I can do to make a situation better. When I start to shift that power back into God’s hands, when I actually surrender it, I am repeatedly amazed by what comes next. Peace. Wisdom. Direction. I allow God to put the pieces into place, instead of haphazardly trying to duct tape it all together in my limited understanding. After all, He has a big picture that we don’t understand. Why do we even try to figure it out and control it??

Sometimes you just need to get away, like Jesus did when he routinely went up into the mountains to pray. Why did he escape? Probably because there is a better vantage point from afar. There is a change in perspective. Instead of looking inwardly with resentment and anxiety, we begin to look outwardly at the people in our lives who need love, too. And we begin to see that God has it all in His capable, trusting hands.

“Peace, Love & Paper Crafts” retreat is about refreshing our spirit in the Lord. It’s about renewing our heart to love and surrendering our ugly stuff for lasting peace. It also incorporates some fancy card projects for us to take home, plus plenty of pampering, rest and renewal. I have a lovely log home rented with beautiful log beds for as many as 12 women. The fun begins with Happy Hour on Friday, October 24th at 4 PM and doesn’t end until Sunday, October 26th at 10:30 AM. If you know anyone who would like to go, please tell them about it! And consider paying for them as a gift.

Scholarships still welcome. God bless you!