Day 693: Leaving Luxury (Celebrating Advent)

20131203-102122.jpg

Advent season is here!

{If you aren’t familiar with Advent, the word derives from “Coming” and it starts four Sundays before Christmas… this year it started this past Sunday, December 1st… and it is when Christians anticipate the coming of Christ’s birth!}

I feel like, finally, everyone else has caught up with me and they are ready to celebrate Christmas now that Thanksgiving is over! (We decorated on November 1st so we’ve been in this mode for a while now!)

In the previous years I’ve always gotten a book or an app or a reading plan to celebrate Advent, but this year I decided that I wanted to do my own! It’s mainly happening on my Facebook, twitter, and Google+ pages where I am posting throughout the day on a typical focus.

My personal focus this Advent is giving to Christ. I mean, He has given me SO MUCH and since He is the focus, then I want to give HIM gifts. But of course, unlike my 6 year old, God isn’t really interested in Lego’s Lion Chi Temple… but He is very interested in me. in my actions. in my attempts to honor Him.

So each day has a focus like the past few days have had:

Day 1: Give Him your service.
Day 2: Give Him your praise.
Day 3: Give Him your luxury.

And I’m afraid that already Day 3 is going to be the most sacrificial gift of all.

Because for Advent, I’m going to give God the gift of giving up a luxury.

Diet sodas. Tea. Coffee.

On hold for the remainder of Advent.

Water only here.

Oh. my.

Because not having those things, well, it is going to get my attention… and that is why I am doing it. Like I said on one of my social media posts, giving up a luxury is like making a mental speed bump. It makes you stop and think, “Wait. I’m used to having this… why can’t I have tea? Ohhhhh! Oh yes! Because I can use this moment to direct my mind to Christ!

And really that is exactly what I want to be happening all through Advent… I want to be looking to Christ! Anticipating Him! And getting ready to celebrate Him!

Because when I really think about it, all of this “luxury” is really just stuff.

He is truly what makes my life luxurious!

20131203-101515.jpg

 

Day 476: Smoothie Queen

20130429-131001.jpg

Several weeks ago, I was getting ready to go to Sam’s to get our monthly load of cashews, shredded cheese, almond milk, coffee, and diapers. Ya know, the necessities. Well my man walks up to me and hands me a hundy (a $100 bill… his Christmas money, I believe) and tells me to go get a Ninja blender.

I know, right?!?!? How awesome was THAT?

After he watched that documentary, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, we tried multiple times to juice but the clean up is so laborious that we only managed to last a few times. I started thinking that maybe the Ninja would be more along the lines of what would work for us since it is basically a “blend, rinse, go” kind of deal. And I thought that it would be a good birthday present for him (back in February) but alas, I figured that being such an avid musician he would probably prefer the iTrack that he asked for, like, two days before Christmas when I had already bought him all of his gifts. So, my parents got that for him for his birthday instead of a Ninja.

Perfect for him. {Sigh.} for me.

Anyway, I guess I couldn’t stop talking about it so he wanted to get one for me. But since we only have one car he wasn’t able to ever get out and surprise me. Every time he leaves I’m all Where ya going? Why? Cause we need more milk. Are you going to the store and can get some milk? Uhhhhh, sure.

Surprise… ruined. So, he figured it was just easier to let me go and get it and pick out just what I wanted.

So. sweet.
So. smart. (The whole “pick out whatcha want” thing!)

And I started making us smoothies in the morning. Truth be told, I’m not much of a breakfast eater.

Wait. Hold that. I’m a HUGE breakfast eater.

THAT’S the problem.

eggs. bacon. biscuits. pancakes. waffles. gravy. hash browns. parfait. sausage. fruit. cheesy grits. orange juice. sweet rolls. muffins. coffee.

It’s all golden. I love it. Love it ALL.

Not a good situation for a glutton.

So, breakfast is usually something kind of low-key for me… granola. fruit. yogurt. grits if I’m going crazy. oatmeal if I’m desperate.

BUT NOW… I’m the smoothie queen! I love the things! And I would love to post a bunch of recipes for you, but so far this is what all my recipes would be….

Lazy Woman’s Quick and Easy Breakfast Smoothie

Ingredients

  • Bag of mixed frozen fruit
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Water or Almond Milk

Instructions

  1. Dump some frozen fruit in a big cereal bowl and defrost just a bit in the microwave for 30-45 seconds on 30% power.
  2. Dump it in the Ninja with a little bit of water or almond milk.
  3. Blend.

It’s just good… tastes like getting a dessert for… BREAKFAST.

But instead it’s ACTUALLY like eating a bowl of fruit for breakfast… a big bowl.

AND since I prefer to put in water or almond milk instead of juice it keeps the calories or sugar or whatever lower (I’m assuming… since I don’t count or track any of that stuff!)

Win. WIN. WIN!

Okay, so I hate to say that I have zero spiritual connection for this one… I dunno, I guess I’ll just throw this one out there for ya as an extra.

Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. Colossians 1:10

20130429-131807.jpg

Day 457: Work With Me Here

Pros and Cons.

I love those little lists. I make tons of decisions off of pro and con lists. Have for years.

In fact, I could probably still find several of the pro/con lists that my best friend and I made in junior high. And, yes. They were typically about boys…

But as I got older they fused into more weighty topics. Choosing my major. Places to work in the summer. Auditioning for Julliard. Going to Costa Rica for Spanish immersion. Moving to a new school district. Picking out my first home to buy. Becoming a stay at home mom.

They help me to get all of the rambling thoughts and worries on to paper so that I can more logically make a decision. I mean, sometimes they are great because it’s almost like you can “blame” the decision on the pro and con list in the end… “Well, there were more cons than pros, so I decided to not to that.”

But there is one kind of pro and con list that doesn’t work.

The kind where it comes out totally, smack dab even.

Ugh! Those are so frustrating.

And even worse… it’s even AND both of your options are GOOD.

Double frustrating.

I mean… it’s an awesome place to be in: to have to choose between two good options. But in the land of pros and cons, it’s tough.

And that’s what I found myself facing. Two good options.

One: go to work part-time at an awesome job with awesome people with awesome pay.
or
Two: continue being a stay-at-home mom with awesome kids in my awesome house making awesome memories.

I was genuinely torn. And, for once in my life, I really started to pray about it. Because this wasn’t just a decision based on what we needed. We need money to pay bills and invest in my husband’s product, Chord Dice (which recently became an official Guitar Center product!!! Here’s the link just in case you want to buy a set and help me pay the electric bill! Ha!). And the decision wasn’t just based on what we wanted. I want to just stay home and be a mom.

And the more and more that I prayed, the more and more he whittled down that pro and con list until it boiled down to, not what was “right” or “wrong”, but what did God want me to do.

At this point, as much as I’ve seen Him work, and as beautiful as His Hand has been working in our lives, I really, truly wanted to do what He wanted me to do. I really, truly wanted to see Him receive glory. So, I changed my prayer a bit: God. Show me what you want me to do that would bring you the most glory.

No. answer.

For weeks, no answer. Not even a hint of an answer. And believe me, I was looking everywhere. I was trying to read into everything. I, literally… and I mean, literally, thought about getting an actual fleece (no, not the Old Navy kind… the Judges 6 kind) and trying out that method. But He was being completely, totally, and utterly silent about this.

So, I decided that when I went on my MomsAway retreat that He was going to show up.

Ha! Did you catch that? I decided… that HE was going to show up.

What a laugh. When will I learn!?!?!

Well, like I mentioned on Day 441: The Post Where I Don’t Tell You What God Said, He showed up all right. But He showed up and wouldn’t talk about work. All He would talk about was sugar.

Yeah, that put me in my place pretty quick.

So, we worked through my sugar issues (again), got that resolved a bit, and then on the last morning after I had my little sit in the big comfy leather chair, and after I drank what was going to be my last cup of coffee, I decided to make a little walk down to the lake to see if maybe Jesus was down there walking on the water or something.

Right before I walked out, my friend who had talked through all my sugar issues with me (Day 443: The Post Where I Sorta Tell You What God Said), came in from outside and I said I was going down there. She said, “Go for it. Jesus is down there.” I thought, Whoo hoo! Now I’m really going down there!

{Here I am… about to go see Jesus!}

20130411-140005.jpg

Turns out: it was freeeeeeeeeeeeeeezing.

And the wind was, like, hurricane DEFCON Level 1 type winds.

And yeahhhhhh, I don’t really “do” the whole cold weather thing. Like, I pretty much don’t go outside if it’s lower than 80°.

But she said that Jesus was down there… so I was going, hurricane or not!

I hoofed it down the 8,000 stairs, stood out on the dock for a bit and faced into that freeeeeeeeeeeeezing hurricane wind. I was just standing there…

waiting.

Then that got to be too much. I was literally afraid that I was going to get blown OFF of the dock into the water. Looking around, I spotted a little crevice in the rock where I could snuggle in and get some relief from the “hurricane”. So, I “hiked” over there in my cute little workout pants and Puma shoes and nestled into that little crevice that provided a bit of a respite. I looked out at the lake and asked again, God. Show me what you want me to do that would bring you the most glory.

And He answered. Through all of that roaring wind and rushing water. He answered. Pure and true and unmistakable.

Stay home. and write. and watch how I provide for you.

It was so beautiful. Even just writing those words brings tears to my eyes. Because… friends, let me tell you… when you HEAR the voice of God in your soul, it’s… beautiful. and awesome. and… and… beautiful.

And exciting. Because God has some kind of cool plan in store for us this next year that will call for His Provision. And that’s the part I think that got me the most excited. Not the answer: stay home. Not the directive: and write. (More on that in another post) But the rest of it: and watch how I provide for you. That was almost a “just you wait” kind of response… “just you wait and see what I do, how I work, and how amazing it’s gonna be.”

So, here I go… on another journey of faith, harder than the first, I think… cause now we are going back UP the hill. Because now I have to do a little bit of faith-waiting while I watch… just watch… how He provides.

{About to head back up… and yes, there were 8,000 steps}

20130411-140028.jpg

{See? But isn’t it kinda cool looking?}

20130411-140038.jpg

Day 452: God’s Little P.S.

coffeeless coffee pot

I promised in my post the other day that I would tell you about the other thing that God called me to give up over the next five years.

Honestly… I did NOT expect for Him to call me out on this one, buuuuuuuut, He did.

Coffee.

Oh yes, you heard me right… c.o.f.f.e.e.

I mean… how many times have I said that I couldn’t give up coffee? wouldn’t give up coffee? (Day 94: Oh! My! God! is a great example of that)

But there I was sitting in that comfy arm chair on my women’s retreat, looking out at the lake, praying to God, hearing from God. And, well, actually… there was more to the conversation than I said on Day 444: So. Worth. It. THIS was the entire conversation:

So, as I prayed, I distinctly heard: No sugar for 5 years… until your 40th Birthday. On your 40th Birthday, you can have cake.

Yes, God, Yes… I will do this… I will follow You.

… and coffee.

Uhhhhhhhhh, say what? Come again? Did you just say “And coffee?”

… and no coffee for five years.

{Lengthy Pause} Yes. God. If you say so.

Oooooo, I’m just gonna admit right now that my last response was, well, a little begrudging.

But, looking back (and being able to look back so easily is one of the big perks of this blog) I can see how he has been prepping me for this.

And, well, I’m back in agreement with myself again. Coffee… ain’t… all that and a bag of chips. or, a bag of grounds. or whatever.

But here’s what is interesting – I have only experienced POSITIVE things from being off of coffee. I have only missed it, like, a couple of times and it was only because there was no tea there when I wanted some (like at church on Wednesday morning and at Nanny’s house). Tea actually tastes better. I drink less tea than I did coffee because I am so satisfied by the taste from the beginning. I drink more water because I’m not dumping gallons of coffee down my gullet. I am not “addicted” to caffeine anymore. I actually eat a good breakfast because I’m not filling up on coffee and almond milk.

Let me praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for me. For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:8-9

Hold on to what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21

Day 142: Got Almond?

20120529-144011.jpg

I think that everyone has “those” foods that are areas of temptation, or weakness, or just plain old habit. Most people list things like sugar (cough, cough… chocolate) or salt. But a lot of people also have drinks as an issue… Route 44 Dr. Pepper is one I hear a lot, mocha frap from Starbucks, etc. For me… it’s milk. Good, fatty, whole milk. Back when I used to work out I would have a glass after a good run when most people would drink water. My best friend used to tease me about coming over and having a glad of milk and a handful of Hot Tamales candies. In fact, her mom kept them stocked with both for when I would come over… which was often.

So, when I made my covenant, I knew that milk would have to go as well. Even though I could have dairy… milk was just… well, almost a dessert to me. Certainly a treat, and definitely an avoidance to drinking water. (I know it’s weird, but water has never really been that “awesome” to me… maybe cause I was always drinking milk instead!)

Well, the other day I was in a bit of a daze as I was making my coffee (which is not entirely that odd seeing as how I am half-asleep when I make my coffee most mornings), and I poured whole milk into the mix instead of the almond milk that I have in my coffee every other morning. Once I realized it, I wasn’t going to pour out that precious milk (two young boys in the house… we go through a lot of milk) or the even more precious… coffee (two young boys in the house… need I say more?). So I drank the coffee with whole milk in it. No biggie.

It was actually kind of gross.

I mean… in comparison to my coffee with almond milk, which has like… flavor. It was kind of cool though how this life of sacrifice is actually better than my normal life. Again like I mentioned yesterday, I would have missed out on a lot of things, both spiritual and “earthly” if I had not done this covenant.

And honestly, I’m not sure of a scripture to put with this one (comment below if one comes to your mind). It just makes me think of how we just don’t see… the whole picture. And by that I mean, there I was for years thinking that whole milk was kind of the end all be all for drinking in coffee. But… it wasn’t. There was something better out there.

And I think that is what this covenant has shown me… there is so much about this world that I haven’t discovered, and might not ever discover… without God showing me. But it took me committing to Him, allowing Him to break down this wall inside of me… in order for me to see that the grass IS indeed greener on the other side if HE is the one that takes you there.

It just makes me want to covenant with Him about… everything! So that He can show me how lame my “whole milk life” is (that I thought was oh-so great)… and reveal to me how amazing an “almond milk” kind of life can be (which I don’t even know exists)!