Thursday, August 30, 2012

7-Day Cleanse: My Thoughts and Results

Last week, I started a seven day cleanse.  Some of you may have followed along with my results on Facebook... I've received a lot of questions about my experience and thought it may be useful to put them in a post for you.

First off, I've been asked why I decided to do this?  Well, Grace started school last week so I'm trying to get back into the routine of getting to the gym regularly.  I thought the cleanse would be a good jump-start to working out 4-5 times a week.

Here's the guide that I used for last week - What do you think of the GM diet?   The link has the food schedule for Sunday - Saturday with a recipe for a special soup and then some other guidelines and things to consider.

So, onto my daily diet:
Sunday - all fruits except bananas
I loved the first day!  I ate a ton of melon, some grapes and two fruit smoothies - I love the Naked smoothies.  This day I drank over 90 ounces of water.
By the end of day one I was down exactly 3 pounds.

Monday - all vegetables
This was a hard day for me.  I started out with the recommended baked potato for breakfast - I put a tiny bit of butter and salt and pepper on top.  For lunch I grilled a mix of onions, garlic, mushrooms and tomatoes - a batch I ate throughout the day.  By about 4:00 I was extremely weak.  So I went out and got the ingredients for spaghetti squash marinara and felt much better after dinner.  I drank about 80 ounces of water and 2 cups of black coffee.

Tuesday - all fruits and vegetables
I had 2 more of the Naked fruit smoothies, and the leftovers of the spaghetti squash marinara and the grilled vegetables.  I drank about 80 ounces of water and 2 cups of black coffee.

Wednesday - bananas and milk
I started the day with 2 cups of coffee with a splash of 1% milk.  During the day I drank 3 glasses of 1% milk and ate about 4 large bananas.  I drank about 80 ounces of water and had 2 cups of black coffee.  Surprisingly I felt full and satisfied and noticed my cravings for salt and sweets start to fade.

Thursday - feast day - beef, tomatoes and lots of water
They call this feast day.  I think I would give it a different name!  By day four, I was ready for some protein, although I could not eat the amount of beef they recommended.  I made three hamburger patties made from ground sirloin, a little salt and pepper and some sun-dried tomatoes.  I ate 2 bowls of vegetable soup.  I had about 3 tomatoes with some onion salt on them and drank over 90 ounces of water.  I also had a glass of unsweetened iced green tea.

Friday - beef and vegetables
Again, not my favorite day.  Although I felt full, I remember wanting fruit on day 5.  On day 6 I sauteed some beef tips with salt and pepper and a tad of oil.  As for vegetables, I ate some more tomatoes, corn and green beans and also had a bowl of vegetable soup.  I drank over 90 ounces of water and had 1 cup of black coffee.

Saturday - brown rice, fruit juices and vegetables
I was excited about the last day!  On day 7 I made a batch of brown rice and had peas, carrots, mushroom, green beans and tomatoes.  I also had one Naked fruit smoothie.  I drank about 80 ounces of water and had 2 cups of black coffee.  That night, I slipped and had a McDonald's cheeseburger for dinner.

By Sunday morning, day 8, I was down a total of 8.6 pounds!

Some things I've noticed this week is that my cravings for sweets has really gone down.  I'm also drinking a whole lot more water than normal - trying to maintain about 80 ounces a day.  I may consider doing the cleanse again, but most likely will choose a few days a month to just eat fruits and vegetables.

On the link above, it gives a recipe for "special soup".  Nothing about it sounded good to me and I heard that it tasted horrible.  So my special soup consisted of vegetable broth, onions, carrots and tomatoes.  I put in some salt and pepper and a few bay leaves and let it come together for about 45 minutes.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tough Truth for Military Kids

Yesterday afternoon, Grace and I had this conversation in the car on the way home from school...

Grace:  Do we still use canons?
Me: I don't know.  That's a daddy-question.
Grace:  Do they have canons at Daddy's work?
Me:  I don't think so.  But they have bombs.
Grace:  Bombs?  Like Fruit Ninja?
Me:  Exactly

Tonight during dinner, out of the blue Grace asks me this question...

Grace:  When will Daddy have to go back to Iraq?
Me:  Iraq?  I hope never again.  The war there is over for us.
Grace:  There aren't more wars?
Me:  Well, yes there are still wars going on.  But Daddy doesn't have to go right now to fight in those.
Grace:  Daddy goes there to fight for us, right?
Me:  Yep!  Daddy wants us all to be safe.
Grace:  I wish there weren't wars.  Aren't you glad Daddy didn't die when he was away?
Me:  Oh my gosh, yes.  I'm so happy Daddy came home to us.

These are such hard conversations.  These topics don't come up often.  Joel's been home now 1 1/2 years - the longest stretch since Grace has been born.  So topics like war, soldiers dying and people being killed overseas don't come up in our house too often.  For the past 1 1/2 years, life here has seemed normal.  Not quite civilian-life normal, but still pretty quiet.

I just pray that God would grant me wisdom for these hard conversations.  These aren't things I would have ever dreamed to talk about with my 6 year old.

Do any of you military moms have advice for how to handle these hard topics?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Vertical Church: Chapter 3 Glory

to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus
throughout all generations, 
forever and ever.  Amen.  Ephesians 3:21

In February, I sat in a hotel conference room with about 40 other people.  We were all there to find out one thing - to find out more about this church plant we all had heard about.  We all came from various churches all around our area - God drew us together that night.  As our pastor was speaking and sharing about the vision for this new church, one word stood out to me - glory.  Now, glory is something we Christians hear about often and say and sing about frequently.  But there was something about the way our pastor spoke about glory that made me think.  Why is he so passionate about bringing God's glory to this town?  Isn't that what every church ultimately works for?

James MacDonald sums-up this big God-word in chapter 3:  Remember that glory is any manifestation of God, glory is evidence for God, it is proof of God's existence.  Glory is when we see something that could not be by itself, which is everything our eyes fall upon.  And while the creation is whispering His glory and the saved are singing His glory, the gospel of the Son is heralding the message:  there's a God, there's a God, there's a God! (pg. 99)

So, glory is a God word.  It's a church word.  We use it a lot.  We say we're doing it in the church. But are we really glorifying the Almighty?  Church has become a horizontal pursuit - proclaiming truth while ignoring grace, avoiding truth while teaching an ubiblical view of grace, clinging to personal comfort in worship, allowing preaching on the pastor's thoughts and experiences rather than proclaiming God's word... these are all part of the horizontal church (John 1:14, John 7:18, Mark 12:30).  But God never intended the church to be horizontal.  It is supposed to be Vertical - man seeking God's glory and God displaying His manifest presence.

Let's stop making church about me.  Let's put an end to seeking out our comfort zones within the church walls.  Let's stop using church to pursue our own desires, our ambitions.  Let's start proclaiming God's glory.  Let's start seeking it.

Show us your glory, Lord!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Our Summer in Photos

Since I've been a very naughty blogger, I haven't shared a lot about our summer.  So, I thought I'd give you a glimpse into our full and very fun summer in pictures.  Hope you had a wonderful few months!

Lots of time at our zoo

1st ride on a train in New Hampshire
A unusual smile from el Hub

End of a great 5K

1st trip to the ocean for the girls

Love lighthouses & this one was perfect

Many trips to the dairy farm in New Hampshire for yummy milk and eggs

Visiting my best friend from college & her awesomely patient husband. Love Seattle!

Did you know Bison & Buffalo are different???

God's awesome creation - Mt Rainier

Yummy Oreo martinis

Grace's 1st riding lessons

Our sweet friends and their new little one

4-wheeling with my best friend

Celebrating 9 years of marriage - and he even (kinda) smiled

Autumn sorting toys - love it!

Seeing the Stanley Cup

Hair cuts before school starts

One last "hoorah" this summer at a baseball game

1st Grade

Grace started 1st grade on Monday.  Each year, from preschool to now, I'm surprised that it's possible that she's old enough for school.  Why is my baby growing up???  It's a hard thing for me, as I'm gathering from all your Twitter and Facebook posts, is a hard thing for most of you, too.

Grace and I packed her school bag weeks ago - carefully reading and re-reading her list, labeling her name on about a thousand different items and packing and re-packing, until her bag was just right.  Her clothes have been washed and hung up in her closet.  Shoes have been bought and put aside so they aren't marked up until the last-possible minute.  All of this planning and organizing, and you would think that I would have remembered earlier than a week before school that I planned to work on her spelling and math with her this summer.  I bought a workbook the first week in June to go over with her... and now school has started, and we haven't even begun her "summer" workbook.  Oh, well.  We had fun at the pool, the park and New Hampshire... and fun is what summer is about anyway.

It was a good first day.  She goes to a very small school, so all but two of the students this year were in her Kindergarten class.  Grace seems to love her new teacher and is loving being in a school routine again.  That girl THRIVES on routine.

Can't wait to see how much she learns and grows this school year.  I can't wait to see her continue to grow in confidence.

And since her first day of school was a great success, I thought she deserved a treat...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Vertical Church: Chapter 2 Manifest Presence

"Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory." Psalm 115:1

Last week, I wrote about Chapter 1 - God's transcendence... that yearning inside of all of us for the eternal.

This week the topic isn't any lighter.  God's glory and manifest presence.  I'll be honest, this chapter has a lot of weight to it.  I've read it several times now and my pages are covered in highlighter ink.  As I've read the pages again and again, I've come to realize how important these truths are and how central they are to the church.

As I've thought about His manifest presence and glory, I've come to realize how necessary both are to the church and in our daily walk with the Lord.  Let me share with you one example of God's manifest presence in my life...

In February of 2007, Joel left for his first tour in Iraq.  This was our first deployment as a couple, and my jaded understanding that being married to a military man was all fun and romantic quickly shifted.  I didn't know how I was going to cope as a "single mom" while he was away at war, let alone how I was going to deal with the gravity of what Joel was about to do while deployed.  My emotions were up, down and completely unpredictable.  The weight of all of the unknowns was almost too much to bear.

D-day came.  The day us military wives dread.  I cried on and off all day, but tried to keep things as positive as I could for Joel and our then 11 month old Grace.  Soon, Joel's best friend came to the house to bring Joel to the base.  We said our goodbyes, I shed a few tears and soon he was out of the house, down the driveway, and gone from sight.  

I remember Grace standing in the middle of our living room floor in her footie pajamas, like it was just another night.  As she giggled and played, I fell to pieces.  Before long, I was balled-up in the middle of our living room, on the floor, weeping.  I still can feel how my whole body shook - as I thought about the man I loved on his way to many, many months of unknowns.  In those few moments, I felt alone, afraid and without strength.

I called out to God.  Please Lord, help me.  I need You.  I can't do this without You.  Be with me.

For those of you who know God's manifest presence - who've felt it - it won't surprise you to know that in that moment of complete weakness and helplessness, God's presence fell on me.  He was near.

In the few hours that followed, God was with me as I talked with Gracie.  He was with me as I loved on her, read to her and tucked her into bed.  His presence was with me and before me as I carried on those many months.  He carried me through.  He was near.

Sometime, in the middle of that deployment, I came across a sign at a local store that summed up my prayer... my prayer for that deployment, the two that came after that one, and for all the times in between.  It hangs in my kitchen, and is a constant reminder of my yearning for God's presence in my life, His nearness.

We need His manifest presence.  It should be our desire as a church to have His presence, His nearness on us and with us each Sunday.  That's what I want in a church, and He wants that, too.  In Exodus 33, we see a glimpse of a conversation between God and Moses.  Moses was a great man of God, a great man of faith.  But in these verses we see that Moses didn't want to go anywhere that God wasn't.  God continued to remind Moses, to calm him by saying My presence will go with you.

I don't want to take one step in my life without the presence of God with me and before me.  I don't want to go to a church where God doesn't show up.  I need Him with me.  I want His weight on me.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Vertical Church: Chapter 1

In high school, while at a Christian youth conference, I sat in an auditorium surrounded by kids my age.  Most of us in that room had heard of Christ before.  Most of us knew what salvation was and I would imagine, most of us had accepted Christ as a young child.  So there I sat, a teenager secure in her salvation - going on about 10 years as a "Christian".  We sang songs together, listened to a message... some of us took notes.  At the end of that night, the speaker prayed the "sinner's prayer".  You know the one...

If you are tired of living a life apart from God... 
If you realize that you are a sinner in need of Divine grace...  
If you want to accept Christ's free gift and follow Him...
 pray this prayer with me...

It was a prayer I heard so often as a young Christian who went to church every week with my family.  I knew the prayer.  I knew the Gospel.

But something happened at that moment.  While the speaker was asking us to accept Christ, my world shifted.  In that moment, my soul yearned for something greater - greater than my mediocre, lazy Christian life.  I knew of Him, but I didn't know Him.  I loved Him, but my love for Him was shallow.  The life that I lead as a Christian girl was dull.

At that moment my heart hurt.  I wanted more.  I wanted more of Him.  I wanted to know Him better.  To serve Him better.  To love Him with all that I had.

A few minutes later, I found myself sitting between my sister and my youth group leader, weeping.  I  was literally crying out to God.  I wanted the God of the universe, the Almighty, to fall on me, take over my life and rule my heart.

My life was forever changed at that moment.  Although I had many times of falling back into a lazy Christian life - when I became content in the knowledge of God and not His heart - when I was satisfied with living half for Him...  But God always took a hold of me.  Whether it was during times witnessing to Joel before he got saved, or when an initial positive result for cancer came back negative the next day... or the moment I held my daughters for the first time, or even last spring, when God started peeling away the layers of my heart.  I yearn for God's transcendence, for eternity.  You do, too.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that "he has put eternity into man's heart".  It's in all of us - we long for a God that cannot be measured.

James MacDonald discusses this further in chapter one, and perfectly sums up where my struggles have been with my relationship with God:
The dilemma of the human race is not that we are unaware of God but that when push comes to shove, we value ourselves more highly than we value God.  The core of humanity's sin problem is not a horizontal behavior to be corrected, but a Vertical relationship to be restored... All are aware of a God, but most do not acknowledge His rightful place.  (pg. 56)

When I struggle with how I see God, my relationship with Him shifts.  And always for the worse.

A Longing in Our Church
The thing I'm most excited for with our new church is seeing lives changed.  I can't wait to see what happens when our Eternal God changes the hearts of men, women and children in our church.

When God shows up, lives are changed.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Vertical Church: The Very Beginning

First Things First
Over the years, I've been in many churches.  Churches of various denominations, beliefs and worship styles.  So, let me be clear about this - as I blog my way through Vertical Church, my thoughts are merely my own and not some hidden criticism of any church that I've been to or have been actively involved in.  I am also not saying that there is one way to do church. My only desire if for God's glory in the church - and that's why I'm so excited about this book.

You should also know that Joel I and attend a Harvest Bible Chapel.  We are actually helping to plant a Harvest Bible Chapel and have been incredibly blessed by the process.  James MacDonald, who wrote Vertical Church, is the founding pastor of Harvest and we love his direct, clear, practical teaching.  So, I've already experienced some of the truths that James lays-out in the book.

So, Let's Get Started
Yesterday, Vertical Church finally arrived... I ordered a few books and a CD.  As I sit on my bed and flipped through the book, my heart was instantly gripped by the message.  Tears came to my eyes.  And I know this won't be the last time.

This book - the idea really of a Vertical Church - stirs my heart.  How powerful would it be if Christians today would move away from the horizontal experience of church, and instead set their eyes, minds and hearts above?

I don't know where you're at with church... Do you attend?  Do you quickly rush to your car as soon as the service is over?  Are you involved?  Do you want to be involved, but can't get connected?  Do you feel ministered to?  Do you feel loved?  Does the sermon leave you confused or bored?  Does the sermon grip your heart?  Is the gospel proclaimed?  Are you growing in your faith?  Are you held accountable?  Does your church fear change?  Does your church change after every cultural shift?

Many today leave church feeling unsatisfied, even frustrated or grieved by their experience (pg. 22).  And what happens when people feel that way?  They leave their church, hoping to find another one that will meet their heart-needs.

Right away, James MacDonald gets to the crux and says that once we seek to honor God, God Himself shows up and builds.  Brokenness is being mended, sickness is being healed, the lost are being found, and families that were floundering are finding fulfillment in a weekly encounter with God Himself, who is the unmistakable constant of a Vertical Church. (pg. 23)

So, I have to ask then, is your church Vertical?

For Leaders & Church-Goers
Vertical Church isn't just for church leaders.  It's for every single Christian today.  Something isn't working in most churches.  You know it.  I know it.  We all need to desire a church that is for God, about God, through God, and to the glory of His great Son. (pg. 27)

From Here on Out
There are 8 chapters total in Vertical Church.  The first four deal with the theology behind going Vertical. The remaining four chapters deal with the "how" of a Vertical Church.

Each week I will take a chapter and share my thoughts with you.  I hope that you'll pick up a copy and join me.  I'd love to know your thoughts, excitements and experiences!

Let's do this!

Today, I'll leave you with this - think about it, meditate upon it and ask God to open your heart...

Deep within we long for the Father of all galaxies
 to fall on us weekly and take us to the mat with His full weight.
Is that happening in your church?  
When was the last time you were gripped by the greatness of God?  (pg. 20)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Going Vertical

I've been a Christian since I was 5 years old.  As a young child, sitting on the counter in a church kitchen at an AWANA program, I asked Jesus to be my savior and told Him I would follow Him.  In the 25+ years as a follower of Christ, I have gone through times of incredible growth, times of struggle and times in the desert.  In the 25+ years as a follower of Christ, I have been in many churches - all types of denominations, theological-leanings, worship styles and beliefs.  God was praised in some, man was glorified in others.

The Church today is not perfect.  You know that.  Whether you're a believer in Jesus or not, you know that the Church is imperfect. As long as man is at the wheel, the Church will fail.  It may have failed you. But what happens when we put aside our own interests, or own comforts, our own agenda and seek to glorify Him alone - seek to glorify God above all else?  What happens then?

If you know Joel and I well, you know that this past spring we decided to do something crazy.  I mean really crazy.  I mean something I never, ever thought I would be a part of.  We are part of a church plant.  Crazy, right?

When I thought of church plants before, I either thought of missionaries planting a church in a far-away country or some crazy people trying to set-up church in a movie theater in the States.  But here we are, part of a church plant.  Seven months ago, we left what was comfortable to follow in obedience...

In these seven months, we have developed great friendships. We have people in our lives who love us, want to know us and want to do life with us.  I have friends in this church who push me constantly toward a better, truer, richer relationship with Christ.  We have a pastor who knows us.  He understands our unique military life and has committed to stand beside us, no matter what life may bring.

Above all, our church is dedicated to bring God's glory.  So what does that mean?  What does it look like for a church to stop being man-focused, and instead set its sight on Him and Him alone?  Well, that's what I'm excited to blog about this month.  A church that goes Vertical.

Next week, I'll start blogging my way through Vertical Church, a book by James MacDonald.  I hope you'll join me, and together we can learn about what is means to go vertical.