Another Life Adventure: A Week at Live215!

This past week was a new adventure!
I spent all of my waking hours driving to or being in Brandon, at a middle-sized church with 35ish teenagers (and a few college students and parents!)  Every day, I had the privilege of spending time with, getting to know, and leading some of the gals there.  When I wasn’t doing this, I got to sit in on some amazing speakers and work with some dear people to make this week happen.

So what in the world was I doing, and why?  I was helping out at the first Live215 conference/day camp, serving as a small group leader!

Live215 is a worldview conference developed by my friend, Steven Warren, to help equip teens to explore and defend what they believe.  The goal of this conference is to help teens ‘own’ their faith and not just ‘rent’ it from their parents.  This goal was accomplished through multiple in-depth sessions each day on different religions, media, social issues, politics, economics, the Christian walk, etc.  In addition, the group broke off into small groups to dig deeper and challenge each teen to take ownership of the information presented to them.  There was also community building activities and free time, to help the teens interact in a healthy, uplifting way and practice what they learned.

All of this information is just a teensy snapshot of what the conference really is, but to do it justice would take way more words than any of you would want to stick around for!  Trust me, I could ramble extensively about it!

It was an incredible week, during which I saw many of the teens grow spiritually and intellectually, from apathy to passion, and from muddied morals to established beliefs.  I had the blessing of facilitating and watching these changes take place in some wonderful young ladies who I got to spend quality time with each day.  I also had the blessing of working alongside some encouraging, fun, challenging, and loving people, and establish/develop closer relationships with them

That was the best part of the week: watching God work!  God blew me away with many unexpected little miracles this week in these teens’ lives and my own.  I came expecting to lead, challenge, and facilitate growth in these girls.  I not only did this, but was humbled, challenged, and grew in the process.  While I was hoping to help strengthen these gals’ faith, my own was incredibly strengthened and I fell more in love with my Redeemer!

There will be another week long conference this upcoming week, and I ask that ya’ll please be praying for those leading the camp and for the teens attending.  Please pray also for the teens from this past week, that they would carry what they learned into their lives, and continue growing closer to God.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to help with this next week due to work, which was disappointing.  But, I was so grateful to be a part of it this past week.
Now, how that was even able to work was another God thing for sure!  Normally I work around 20ish hours a week from home, so I wasn’t sure how that would coincide with doing the conference.  I decided to ask my employers to send me all of my work early so I could complete it ahead of time.  Well, this past week and the week before were the two lightest weeks of work I’ve ever had!  God blessed my efforts by giving me the gift of sanity!  He kept me from having an insanely crammed week before the conference by giving me a smaller workload!  What a loving, detail-oriented God I serve!

Well, I still rambled extensively after all, and still only scratched the surface!  Thanks for sticking in there, and I sincerely hope that you were encouraged by this testimony of God’s grandeur and goodness!

Below is the youtube link for a slidewshow of the week if you want to check it out!

Reflections of a Runner: For the Joy Set Before Us…

It seems that almost every time I run, I discover a new parallel between running and life and I no longer wonder why Paul likened christians to runners.  Every time God shows me another facet of the connection between running and my relationship with Him, I get so excited by the creative and incredible God we serve and the many ways He speaks to us.  Although none of these ‘discoveries’ are exactly revolutionary, I find them worth sharing to encourage ya’ll like they encouraged me.  So, as these parallels surface, I’ll do my best to share them with ya’ll.

While running the other evening, I caught myself looking at the ground a lot and feeling mentally weary of my run.  I then remembered a running tip I had heard; this tip advised that looking ahead while running instead of looking at the ground made running easier and more enjoyable by giving the runner a focal point and goal rather than just the narrow monotony of the ground in front of them.  Consequently, I began to look ahead of me and found that this advice was quite true; my run became twice as enjoyable and went by much faster.

As I was pondering why this was, I realized that life is much the same.  If we spend our whole lives never looking past what is directly in front of us, so wrapped up in our current struggles, we will lose our focus.  Although we need to glance down now and then to check our footsteps and keep from tripping, if we never look around us, we’ll never be able to soak in the beauty that God has surrounded us with.  Just like on my run, when we lift our eyes off of ourselves and our present situation, we begin to not only appreciate our surroundings, but are able to look ahead at the reason we are even running.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 2:2

If, as we run the race of life, we fix our eyes on Jesus, not only will our ‘run’ have a goal, but it will be more fulfilling.  Rather than getting bogged down in the details of life, I want to run for the joy set before me, knowing someday I will stand before my Creator and longing to hear Him say ‘well done, good and faithful servant.’

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” – Colossians 3:2

The 7 Day Juice F(e)ast Final Day: Mission Accomplished!

I came, I starved, I conquered!  Yes, I have eaten at last.  I do apologize for not updating ya’ll last night on this delightful new development but it completely slipped my addled mind.  Perhaps I was so overjoyed about filling my stomach that I forgot to let everyone know I was doing so.

Anyway, the soft boiled egg was the yummiest I have ever eaten, and the plum… and cucumber… and spinach… and banana almond smoothie… and salmon… and broccoli… and sweet potatoes… Okay, so my appetite did not suffer through this fast.  I may have eaten smaller portions of all these foods but I did indeed consume some amount of each!

Although our rashes/hives have not left entirely, I do feel perhaps a bit healthier, and mama and I lost 9 and 5 lbs respectively by the time we finished.  I will have to see what the lasting effects of this fast will be.

Well, much to everyone’s relief, this little adventure is over and I’m on to whatever the next may be!  Don’t worry, as I said, all of my posts won’t be this crazy!  = )

The 7 Day Juice F(e)ast Day 6: So Close I Can Taste It…

A disclaimer here: this blog post may or may not make any sense to you as my brain is a pile of mush.  But, I’m almost there!  Just hours away from a beautiful soft-boiled egg…
This whole fast really made me realize how much I need/enjoy food and how much I take it for granted.  It certainly has given me a whole new sympathy for people who are truly hungry and really can’t eat enough or at all.  It’s sobering to realize that I’m melting down because I’ve been relegated to juice for a week, when there are people with hardly anything to eat indefinitely.
Anyway, it’s the end of day 6 and I’m still alive; looks like I’m going to survive after all.

Unfortunately, this fast really has impaired my cognitive and somewhat my social capabilities, which I have definitely noticed over the past few days.  I have backspaced and retyped more words and sentence in this post than I can possibly remember (which isn’t saying much I guess, considering the state of my memory, but you get the idea…)  Not only have I been switching out unrelated words, but I’ve been drawing complete blanks and feeling like my mind is stuffed with cotton.  It makes me a wonderful conversationalist… when talking with a 4 year old… or someone in need of amusement at another person’s expense.  Hopefully no one else observed this too extraordinarily, but I certainly felt a difference in my typically fairly resilient temperament.  I never realized how much affect what I consume has on my mind.  It’s kinda scary, actually.  Of course, what I’ve been consuming has been highly beneficial; I think the issue is that my body just wants/needs MORE.

Well, until tomorrow then!  Only one more post of juicing madness before ya’ll are liberated from my insane ramblings (at least about juice!)

The 7 Day Juice F(e)ast Day 5: Trudging On…

I’m. Sick. Of. Juice.  There, I’ve said it!  At this point, my problem isn’t as much a craving for real food, (although that desire is definitely still there) but just being plain sick of drinking the juice.  Today I sat there, starving but grumpily glaring at the juicer, refusing to drink its spewings.  Needless to say, the juicer won that stare-down, forcing a delightful concoction of carrots, beets, and celery down my throat.

After some research and the deduction that I am sadly protein deprived, I will supplement tonight with a vegetable-based protein powder, which I shall drink with tears of joy.  Pathetic, I know, but when a girl’s gone 5 days without her protein, she starts to crave it crazy bad.

On another note, my mother has lost 8 1/2 pounds and I’ve lost 4 pounds so far.  This wasn’t my motivation for doing the fast, since I’m pretty fit, but I figure that any weight lost while on this fast was probably healthy weight to lose.

Oh, and apparently, when on a fast, the body takes 2-3 days to use up all of the food in the digestive tract, and another 2 days to use what is stored in the liver.  Consequently, this means my ‘real’ fast just started today.  Fascinating, huh?  I was pretty sure on the first day that my body was already fasting, but apparently not.

Anyway, hopefully these next 2 days fly by.  The good news is that when this is over, not only do I get to eat, but ya’ll get to quit hearing about me NOT eating!

All of my future posts won’t be this… um, radically healthy.  I promise!

The 7 Day Juice F(e)ast Day 4: We’re Gettin’ There!

I’m posting earlier today because I probably won’t be home until quite late tonight and probably would forget to do so.  We’re off to the beach for the afternoon and evening, which, as always, makes me super duper happy.

However, this time it also means that we have to juice enough for 4 ‘meals’ AND pack and keep it all fresh alongside our Whole Foods’ salmon plunder.  The most we’ve ever had to juice for was 2 ‘meals’ so this could be interesting.  I have a feeling chaos is about to creep into our kitchen very shortly.

Just to give ya’ll an idea of the volume of produce not only going through our kitchen, but also into our bodies, check out the pictures!  These were from our Whole Foods trip Monday and lasted us only a few days before we had to restock at least a good part of our stash.  For example, it takes 2 cucumbers, 8 celery stalks, 4 apples, 1 lemon, 12-16 leaves of kale, and 1 tsp ginger to make 30 ounces of ‘Mean Green’ juice.  And that’s just 1 ‘meal’ for 2 people out of 6 ‘meals’ for the day.  Crazy stuff!ImageImageImageImageImage

The 7 Day Juice F(e)ast Day 3: Pressing Onward…

Well, nothing groundbreaking happened in juicing land today, except for a new blend of butternut squash, apple, and cinnamon juice, which was pretty exciting… for juice.  Unfortunately, mama’s stomach didn’t agree, so it looks like I’ll be left to finish off the colossal squash on my own.  Seriously, that thing was HUGE.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a squash that big in my life; it was as big, if not bigger, than a newborn baby.  I’m pretty sure I burned off more cutting it up than I consumed while drinking its juice.  However, despite my long struggle with Mr. Squash, let it be known that I did indeed win in the end.

On a different note, my soul and mind are dying to go for a run, but I have a feeling that if I tried it, my body would not like (or let) me.  I did get to exercise today though, even if it was only a brisk walk in the lovely evening air.  And, on the up side, my rashes seem to be improving, so this f(e)ast appears to be accomplishing its goal thus far.

Oh, and happiest of all, Whole Foods seems to be reading my blog, or at least my mind.  Last night I expressed my intense craving for salmon, and today they sent an email saying it would be on sale tomorrow.  Needless to say, I’m super happy about this and will be stocking up on Wild Alaskan Salmon tomorrow on the way to the beach.  Not that I’ll get to have any yet, but it’s something to longingly look forward to.  Yes, it’s the little things in life…

The 7 Day Juice F(e)ast Day 2: I Will Survive!

So what’s the worst thing to do while on a juice f(e)ast?  Hmmm… go to Olive Garden!  Yes, I pushed my self-control to its limits tonight as I sat in a booth there, savoring the smells of my friends’ decadent dishes and pitifully sipping my juice.  As they bit into spaghetti, calamari, and ravioli, I zipped open my little cooler and broke out the juice.   Never mind that I was drinking odd colored liquid from a plastic container in the middle of a nice restaurant.  Anyway, I must say, it wasn’t as bad as I feared and I was able to actually enjoy my juice and the company, filling my stomach on the savory smells surrounding me.

Despite my Olive Garden trial, today was much better than yesterday as far as hunger goes.  I felt less ravenous and actually felt full after each juice ‘meal.’ Unfortunately, I am now craving seafood.  No idea why, but I am… salmon, rainbow trout, flounder…

As for my speaking capabilities… well, they’re even worse than usual. I found myself unable to think of commonplace words, or, even more amusingly, replacing them with completely unrelated ones.  On the upside, it has been entertaining for everyone else…

Here’s hoping a good night’s sleep will aid me in regaining control of my speech!  = )

The 7 Day Juice F(e)ast Day 1: I think I can… I think I can… I think I can!

So, it’s about midnight on the first day of this new quest and I’m not (quite) starving.  All day, it’s been all we could do to keep enough juice in my rumbly tummy!  Five juicing sessions later, our tastebuds have explored everything from a delightful sweet potato blend to a not-so-delightful juice ‘supper’ of tomato, beet, carrot, lime, and broccoli.  Let’s just say we wrote the last one off as a learning experience and just hoped it was extra good for us or something.

Surprisingly, I still have managed to keep up my energy and even went roller skating tonight without really noticing a difference in stamina.  Altogether I’m not doing too bad, minus the temper tantrums my stomach keeps throwing.  Despite these annoyances, I do believe we can conquer these last 6 days!

Well, my bed is calling my name and perhaps I shall dream of steaks and avocados… until tomorrow world!

The 7 Day Juice F(e)ast Prep Day of Madness!

Okay, just a disclaimer for those of you panicking as you read my title that reeks of health-foodiness: I don’t plan to make this a health blog by any means, this just happens to be what I’m doing right now.  So, if you are disinterested, disgusted, or disturbed by numerous posts regarding mass consumption of fruits and vegetables, come back in 7 days when I’m done starvi-I mean, f(e)asting.  By then, my posts should have returned to the realm of the half-way sane and omnivorous world once more.

But, I digress. So today, my dear mother and I made the official decision (after watching the documentary, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead) to consume nothing but the fresh juice of organic fruits and vegetables for 7 days.  We chose to do this for, what I would consider, good reasons.  I have dealt with skin rashes and allergies for years, she has dealt with allergies her whole life, and since November she has struggled with chronic hives.  The man in the documentary had dealt with similar skin issues, which is what led him on his quest for health.  Because of his incredible turnaround, we are now going out on a little limb and trying the same technique.

This new adventure began with a colossal trip to Whole Foods, which we finally left with 2 loaded carts amidst many stares, bags and bags of fruit and veggies, and a chat about juice fasts with the friendly cashier.

I mistakenly thought the challenge had ended when we got home.  However, I failed to take into account the new obstacle that involved fitting it all in the fridge.  Thankfully, after much strategical stuffing and an organized inventory list, those 2 carts worth of produce were shoved in.

Now, as I sit here typing, I am running on a glass of Mean Green juice, consisting of cucumber, celery, lemon, and apple juice, along with a blend of apple, carrot, and peach juice for dessert.  Crazily enough, I am satisfied and not starving!  Let’s see if I’m saying the same tomorrow night.

Well, enough of these ramblings… until tomorrow m’dears!