Reclaming Abundance: So Much Quinoa. So Much Kale. (OR: Am I a Hipster Now?)

Ahhhh here we are! Here on the 11th day of this crazy Daniel Plan. And today-


I ordered a tall soy latte, because we're still not supposed to have sugar... And let me just say- YUM!! Who knew a plain soy latte would be that fabulous?!?!
I ordered a tall soy latte, because we’re still not supposed to have sugar… And let me just say- YUM!! Who knew a plain soy latte would be that fabulous?!?!

And you know what is just extra-wonderful? The guy in front of me paid for my order! I’ve never had that happen before. I just… I can’t even…

Anyway. I’ve been reflecting on these last ten days. On how different and good I feel. How surprisingly yummy most of the food has been. How big of a grouchy-pants I’ve been without any coffee or dark chocolate of any kind… But really, both my husband and I are loving it! We were talking with my parents on my mom’s birthday, when they came over to visit and allowed us to subject them to The Plan’s dinner for day 8, and we told them all those things, as well as answering their questions about whether or not we felt the expense was greater grocery-wise, whether the challenges outweighed the rewards so far.

So, if you’re wondering those same things? Let me just tell you. The expense is basically the same as our normal grocery costs. It may be a little higher, but I can’t express to you enough how cheaply and how much crap we’d been eating up until now.

Ryan pointed out that he feels significantly more energetic at work, his clothes fit more comfortably (he lost 10 lbs the first 10 days! I lost 5… go figure. Still- not complaining), and how in general the fact that we’re being intentional feels like we’re taking control. And it is. We’re taking our power back. I love Double Stuff Oreos, but I hate to think they’re the boss of me. (Not gonna lie, they kind of were…)

Now. What is my criticism of The Daniel Plan so far? Well, first of all, multiple times we went to prepare a recipe (or like, 3 at a time, which has been our norm), we found that it called for things that were most certainly NOT on the detox list. (THAT is when I feel most like being a grumppuccino. Come on, Rick Warren. It’s not called The Daniel Try-to-Make-Healthy-Food-but-Forget-the-Ingredients-Like-a-Flake.)

Like Stevia extract. Oh- did you catch that? Extract. Which is apparently NOT the same thing as Stevia the sweetener. And oh, by the way, it just happens to be the most obscure and expensive type of sweetener in creation… (But I confess, the moment I ate whatever it was that contained the Stevia extract I was like, “Praise Jesus, we finally get something resembling sugar!!!!”)

Other weird, expensive, and/or obscure foods we’ve eaten, you ask? They are as follows:

* quinoa- So. Much. Quinoa. However, people are right that you can do lots of stuff with it. But for people like us who hadn’t the foggiest how to prepare it, watch this video. My favorite quinoa dish, you ask? Obviously, the breakfast bar which we instructed to eat with a dollop of almond butter. (Which is DELICIOUS, people.) But I would like to ask all those quinoa aficionados out there- PLEASE stop telling people it’s “like rice.” Because it’s just not. Yes, you boil water and it’s a 2-1 ratio etc., but other than that- NOT like rice.

* kale- another trendy favorite among foodies and hipsters alike (is there a difference?) which I must say, in the right context, I really like.

* tempeh- I still don’t know what it is. Which seems weird that it would be on The Daniel Plan because of that fact. But apparently mysterious soy product is good for you? (That’s what it is… right?) I confess, it IS pretty good in stir fry, my friends.

* Tahini paste- I don’t remember what this is made from or what meal we ate it in. But we have it.

*Seeds- Just so many. Like, they take up an entire shelf in my pantry- which is NOT very big! Hemp, chia, pumpkin, sunflower, flax seed meal… Mostly, those go into smoothies or dressings. And I gotta say- I like them! (Most of the time.)

And now I feel like any day now, some emissary of hipsters wearing horn-rimmed glasses, a scarf, and a pretentious mustache will arrive in the dead of night to induct us into their secret society. (Ok, I’m sorry mustaches. You’re not all pretentious. Some of you are on Tom Selleck’s face. And you are FIERCE! Ain’t nobody messin with that mustache… Also, didn’t this word used to be spelled “moustache”?)

But unlike a diet product or system that you purchase, I love that this is just changing how you eat. And that’s not to say there aren’t some super great dieting products out there, and certainly everyone has a different situation. I just know my self-control would be so much more faulty (if that’s possible) if all I got to eat were bars and shakes and dinner was the only time I got to really eat food.

Even in this plan that I like so very much, for me, much of the struggle is mental. Like, 80% of it. Because I’m most attached to the experience of food. In the afternoon, I want to make coffee, get a couple cookies, arrange them prettily on something pretty, and have a moment. (Problem was, it ended up being more than a couple cookies… and more than once a day.) So, I keep having to correct my thinking. I tell myself- this will not bring me peace- and remember that He himself is our peace. And amazingly, this life already feels more abundant.

Merry Christmas

It’s amazing how clearing out makes room for life. Before, we were full of junk physically, and things were harder to do. We struggled to find breathing room. And now we’re realizing that when you make room, when you empty your life of the junk, there’s space to take a breath. Even in the moments where my habit was to create a Moment- an experience- through food, in order to reclaim some peace in the chaos, it rarely accomplished that goal. Now, the peaceful moments multiply, and show me that before I was filling with a “more” that turned out to be less.


Our hope with this change is to say- So Be It. We surrender our junk- our Less Than. We submit to one Master, and we will learn how not to try and serve any other. We will fast to slow. This is how we are clearing out and clearing up our minds, so we can be better listeners of God’s voice, better hearers of where he leads. So we can be- more abundantly- disciples.

Reclaiming Abundance: Making Room in 2015! (Or: Grumppuccinos)

A month. That’s how long it’s been, people. A month since my last post!! That’s crazypants. And while I’m probably the only person at this point who has noticed that, I still hate that I’m behind on my goal to post a new Abundance verse/project weekly.

[Insert pretentious pity-party here.]

Aaaand moving on!! I’m so glad to be moving on. To new years, new beginnings, new adventures. I’m nothing if not an eternal optimist. Or maybe a Disney princess. A lady at Panera last week told me I looked like,

That lady from ‘Enchanted’.”

As in, Amy Adams. And yes, it merited a block quote like it was really important. [Insert disbelieving dance party here!!! Poofy sleeves. Poofy hair. Fanciful frolicking and/or bursting into song and making clothes out of household textiles and whatnot. What’s not to love?]

And after a month of being sucked into the Christmas Vortex (yeah- that’s a thing), I think I finally got spat out of it into 2015… and then I stopped spinning and it was two weeks into January. So, Happy New Year, everybody!!! Huzza!!!!!! (So many exclamation points. You know I can’t resist them.)

Now. WHAT week are we supposed to be on in this Reclaiming Abundance Project??? How about let’s take out one week for Thanksgiving and two weeks for Christmas and that only makes me… 5-ish weeks behind. PEOPLE. (Bloggers all over the interwebs cringing and shaking their heads.) 

Here’s the deal. I originally thought this project was going to be a tangible drawing or doodle each and every week. But that wasn’t my actual goal. My goal was- is- to reclaim abundance in our life as a family, and in my own as an individual through being more deeply rooted in the Word of God, and especially through making it more visible in our house. And that has happened! But it didn’t always require doodling out a verse. What it does require is the Word, plus a set of ears to hear the message.

So, where does that leave us? Well, technically the last day of this project will be February 16, 2015 since the very first week’s post was August 16, 2014. But we’re just gonna let the failings of 2014 stay where they are. Let’s not sully 2015 with those things…

Instead, I want to share my word for 2015 as one great big doodle to sum up the last few weeks. And by word, I mean words. Because that’s how I roll. (Writing 10 page papers that really only had 5 pages worth of content was ma thang in those required college writing classes. You’re welcome Milligan.)

I will say it again that I think God seems to speak to me through themes… Or maybe I should say I hear God the most clearly through themes. (Big giant obvious ones. Like billboards. Because I’m so attuned to the Holy Spirit’s subtleties…) I think it’s because they’re repetitive and it takes a lot of that to break through the dense outer layer of my head. So, really, I should say these are Themes of 2015. Now, scroll back to the top and read all of them in the new banner photo!

I’ve heard lots of messages about growth, about surrender, being brave, being fruitful, about weeding out the stuff- both physical and otherwise- that just gets in the way. It gets in the way of being my best self, being someone through whom God can really work, someone who is not only available, but healthy.

So, that’s where we as a family as beginning this year- health. Specifically, I mean financial health and physical health. Obviously health in general is a goal, but these two areas in particular are extra- challenging for us. How do we exemplify being good stewards? Having kingdom finances? What does that even look like? How do we tackle the issue of physical health when time and money don’t seem to be in our favor?

And probably for the first time in like, ever, we awesomely have two extremely convenient and (hopefully) powerful tools to utilize in our investigation of these questions.

1) First, our church is offering a series called “Balanced” created by Andy Stanley, which is all about this question of kingdom finances, which our small group decided to attend together.

2) And secondly, the hubs and I embarked 9 days ago on The Daniel Plan written by Rick Warren and some other doctor guys. If you aren’t familiar with it, the mission of the The Daniel Plan is to provide a healthy lifestyle encompassing “faith, food, focus, fitness, and friends” as it says in that link above. (Rick Warren likes alliteration just as much as I do.) 

So, for the next month or two, I’ll be sharing some of our journey to health as we endeavor to surrender what we’ve got in the hopes that God will create something better out of it for his glory. It has been crazy how God has interwoven these themes into our story already, as well as the stories of those around us. Just wait til I tell you about the stuff we’ve got cookin over at If Then Move this year!!! [Insert bursting excitement and more exclamation points here!!!!]

Just briefly (you hope), let me give you the low down on our first 9 days. Fyi, the first ten days of the plan are a detox (one of the most ominous words in the English vernacular) in which- wait for it- you can’t have any coffee. Did you hear me? NO COFFEE. Like, at all. Ok, there’s a lot of other stuff you can’t have either, but THAT is the most important one. Following by a close second is chocolate, then bread, then cheese. And more importantly, I have complied.  Yep, you heard right. I’m currently on my 9th day of having no coffee AT ALL. And I’ve got to say, I thought I was being pretty amiable about this whole thing. In my mind I’ve been totally on board with it and so excited to see how God changes us through the process. I thought I was downright cheerful…

However. My husband tells a different story. Which was revealed to me on Saturday (day 7), as we were sitting drinking our ridiculously healthy breakfast smoothies (consisting mostly of chia, hemp, and pumpkin seeds, plus a banana). We were watching “Fixer Upper” with Chip and Joanna Gaines (which is proof that reno-shows don’t have to be unnecesarily dramatic or annoying), and a commercial came on about Haylie Duff and her show (which I had never heard of) called “The Real Girl’s Kitchen.” (Don’t ask me what part about it is real… After watching it, I still don’t know.) And because she spells her name the same way I do, Ryan was like- “Hey it’s you! It’s your cooking show,” which he proposed would feature quotes like the following:

“I just want some dark chocolate and coffee.” [said through tears on Day 4]
“I love having a spice cabinet where everything falls out of it onto the stove where I’m cooking.” [Day 6, while attempting to make stir-fry with something called tempeh. Stop nodding your heads, condescendingly, hipsters. Yeah, I see you.]
“I accidentally put in double the amount of curry.” [declared woefully on Day something-or-other, while making a thai-shrimp thing]
“Here’s your smoothie; I forgot the blueberries.” [grumbled about an hour prior to this conversation] 

So, while I thought I had this attitude:


I was *allegedly* more like this:


An utter Grumppuccino. Which we stumbled upon at the grocery store:


(And I reeeeeeeeeally wanted it.)

Luckily for my husband, it was funny by then. Actually, we were crying from laughing so hard about it. So, I told him for the bajillionth time that I loved him and thank you for putting up with me, and also making 75% of our meals so far… (Seriously, from the handful of meals and/or snack I’ve done so far, you’d think vegetables and/or anything requiring the reading of directions had caused some sort of traumatic experience in my childhood.) 

Still- here we are! *Almost* emerging from the detox period- and in 3 days, I CAN HAVE COFFEE AGAIN!!!! [Insert choruses of jubilation here] But I’m so glad we’re doing this. For the first time in probably our entire marriage, we are actually putting forth effort to prepare and eat healthy meals, and already it is changing us. In spite of my moments of grumpiness (which all seem to occur when Ryan is around…poor guy), I feel so different. I find myself immensely thankful that we are able to do this, and to begin this clearing out- preparing Him room- with our bodies. Getting rid of the junk, so we can breathe, move, live again.

How are you preparing Him room this year? Embarking on any hipsterific quinoa-filled health adventures? Changing how you view and manage finances? Organizing your house?? (If you’re doing that, you should definitely leave tips in the comments!)

Happy New Year!