Friday, March 30, 2012


Can I rewind my life exactly 12 weeks ago?

I want to open-mouth-and-insert-foot.  I want to not have professed such a desire because now what if I can't do it?  What if I don't want to do it?  Who will I disappoint? Can I still claim a life for Christ if that is not who I want to be? 

What if I want my stuff back?  My comfy couches and beautiful dining room table?  Why did I get rid of my nice pots and pans?  And let's not even get started on the bed. 

What if the life I really want is right here.  In this house.  Maybe it is too hard to sell so I just don't want to.  Perhaps I want to invest money right here, plant some grass, a few azaleas, definitely a hydrangea and a dogwood.  I want to build a pergola and a patio and buy a picnic table.  I want to paint the walls and update the kitchen counters. 

Am I still Christian?  Why do these material possessions plague me?  Have I lost sight of my purpose and my calling? 

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  Matthew 6:20

Excuse my melodrama today.  It's been a hard week.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tune into a new message

One of the lessons we teach at Girls on the Run is called "Tuning Into a New Message."  The objectives of this lesson are to help girls become aware of the negative ways in which the media portrays girls and women and to develop critical thinking skills when viewing advertisements or media images.  At Girls on the Run we want girls to take ownership and find what makes them unique as individuals.  Part of helping girls achieve that is to help them think critically about the messages that we face each day.

Who created the message? What is the purpose? What message does an ad give and what information are they leaving out?  Is this a healthy message for girls?  Advertisements can be misleading and make you believe something that isn't true so you will buy the product. 

When I opened this month's Better Homes and Gardens magazine, the Cover Girl advertisement featuring Sofia Vergara immediately caught my attention.  "Go out without my Cover Girl on- are you crazy?" This message reminded me of a social experiment created by Girls on the Run founder Molly Barker, and Operation Beautiful founder, Caitlin Boyle called The Naked Face Project.  Two women, sixty days, no makeup, no shaving, no primping.  Their mission was to discover the why behind their beauty rituals.  Is it learned from a society of makeup pushers?  Do they enjoy these beauty rituals?  How can they profess to young girls that it isn't important, unless they know for themselves that it truly isn't important? 

Earlier this week Molly mentioned that she was a little sad the project was coming to a close.  She has felt very liberated in this social experiment, finding that much of her worry about what she needs has been eliminated, and her skin has never been healthier.  On the other hand, she professes her excitement to shave again!  But overall, she has found and enjoyed a new love and acceptance of her body and the work it does to help her navigate life. 

Caitlin wrote, "For us, participation in The Naked Face Project has re-emphasized the fact that there are many ways for women (and men, too) to express their inherent awesomeness, and physical appearance is just one aspect of beauty."

So now, would a true "Girl on the Run" like Molly Barker or Caitlin Boyle announce, "Go out without my Cover Girl on- are you crazy?"  I don't think so.  I truly believe it is ok and even fun to wear make up, but that the expectation that we can't be seen in the world without it is not ok. 

So let's break this ad down Girls on the Run style:

Who is this ad created by?  Clearly Cover Girl.
What is the purpose? To convince me to buy their products, specifically their make up.
The message: That I would be crazy to venture out without make up on.  That if a woman as beautiful as Sofia Vergara wears make up all the time, perhaps I really need to as well.
Information left out: What's in the product? How much does it cost? Why can't I go out without make up on?  Is it personal, is it to impress others?
Is this a healthy message? I don't think so.  Girls shouldn't feel like they can't live without make up.  Part of accepting ourselves and our unique qualities, is to be natural and love ourselves exactly as we were created. 

The message today is not to curse the Cover Girl's of our society, but rather help each of us to be aware of the messages that enter our consciousness, or even sub-consciousness each and every day.  When I saw this ad I was immediately appalled.  But what if I hadn't been trained to question the messages I receive.  Perhaps I opened my magazine and truly thought that I am not good enough because I leave the house without make-up.  Many women in our society believe this.  Choose to question the how and why of your actions and stand up for what you believe in.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Road Trip

Please excuse the brief interruption in blogging.  Forbes and I took a spontaneous trip to Nashville on Saturday to see his sister who was in town for just the weekend.  And of course we went to see my beautiful sister too and stayed with her (for possibly the last time) in Nashville.

We didn't do much.  Just hung out with the family, clearly didn't snap any photos, enjoyed beautiful weather and then scurried home yesterday just in time for a meeting.  All-in-all, a most wonderful weekend and I will be sad we won't be visiting Nashville as often anymore.

Also sad, we will miss our church away from church!
Now back home and back to the a lot to catch up on with work after being terribly sick last week!  Hooray for gorgeous weather and a healthy body this week!  Happy Tuesday

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Favorites

It's late for a post, eh?  Today just sorta swept away from me.  Now I am sitting here, snacking on blueberries and watching the rain pour down outside.  I swear it's summer...what with these afternoon thunderstorms and temps in the 80s. 

Any big weekend plans?  Forbes and I are having another yard sale tomorrow.  Let's cross our fingers it is as wildly successful as last weekends.  Who knew yard sales could be such lucrative money makers!

Otherwise, if we can beat out the rain, perhaps we will get in a good hike.  That's all of our big plans.  Here's what I'm loving this week:

1. Skype.  Why have I never used this awesome technology before.  We decided to check it out with our family to make sure we are all in for when we move overseas.  So much fun to see my parents faces while we chat!

2. Naps.  This week started off with a little bout with the stomach flu.  I am still in recovery and naps are the only way to get through the day!

3. Planning vacations and trips!  This week we booked our Denver flights, as well as a trip home for me in April for a wedding.  We are also planning another trip to Missouri in June for my class reunion (10 years already) and hopefully a trip to the cabin in Banner Elk for Spring Break! Woo-hoo!

4. Walking!  Forget running.  Walking is my new favorite form of exercise.  Who's with me?!

5. God.  He is good!  All the time!  All the time He is good.

What are you loving this week?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Vegan Protein Sources

A common question any vegan is asked, is where do you get your protein?  In our American culture, protein is rivaled as the king of macronutrients and it is expected that we should all just wither and die without sufficient protein.  While this is true, it is also true that we need all macronutrients in order to survive, not to mention the vitamins and minerals--and therefore I wouldn't be too far off base if I turned around and asked my protein-inquisitive friends where they receive there Vitamin C and or A?  It is also well known that we as a people group do not eat nearly enough fruits and vegetables as we should. 

All smart-aleck comments aside, it is a pretty relevant question to wonder where exactly is my protein coming from.  I did a little google research today to answer that questions for you.

While the recommended daily protein intake is widely debated, for a vegan it is recommended that 10% of your daily calories come from protein.  For a woman my age and size I shoot for about 45-60 grams of protein a day.  Of course right now I am not following any rigorous training schedules and as an athlete you may want a little more, but you do not need to up this amount considerably.  source

*All of these points are based on my personal research as well as my opinion.  I am not a dietician or trained in anyway.  Please seek guidance from your doctor before changing or altering your eating styles*

It can be easy to find 45-60 grams of protein in plant-based sources.  Let's take a look at a table of common places to find protein.
                                                           serving        protein(g)   protein (g/100cal)

I like this table even better which shows us sample menus for the day.  Here you can achieve up to 80 grams of protein each day!

It also should be noted that plant-based proteins are in many ways better for you.  Less fat, no saturated fat, easier for your body to digest and the proteins are better absorbed into your body.  Almost all plant foods contain some protein and a vegan with a varied diet can easily achieve the recommended protein needed in a day.

As I mentioned, I am no expert, but I have been navigating this vegan lifestyle rather successfully for many years.  Sure there is a potential for protein-deficiency, but as long as you are not a vegan living off of bananas, white bread, hard candy and diet sodas, you should be fine with a varied diet!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Sometimes all it takes is my fellowship group to make me feel better!  I am so thankful to have amazing women in my life who I look up to, who can teach me, but also be my best friend.  Yesterday was a really rough day and so to end it with Shannon and Elizabeth and their families was the perfect end to a miserable day!

Some people tell me that they don't need to go to church to be a Christian.  I get that.  And I agree. No, you don't need to attend church on Sunday to believe in God.  And frankly, church attendance alone does not make you a Christian.  But I feel strongly that there is a difference between believing in God alone, and knowing Him.  And when we seek to know God, church attendance just sorta follows. 

God created us to be in a relationship with Him.  In other relationships in my life, it is important for me to show up, to grow and strengthen that relationship.  When I arrive at church on Sunday it is like visiting a dear friend.  It is giving of my time to show the other person in the relationship how much they mean to this case, how much God means to me! 

Fellowship groups are also a direct reflection of this relationship with Christ.  When you get to know a person (God) you want to know everything about that person.  What makes her, her, or him, him?  Well God wants us to know everything about Him, including getting to know His people.  I don't just go to church on Sunday to see God, but to see His people too.  To share, laugh, enjoy, worship and praise together.  Tuesday night fellowship group is the same for me.  I eagerly look forward to the opportunity to share with others who are like-minded, who love Jesus, and want to serve Him.  We build each other up, encourage one another and love on one another.  This was part of God's plan.  That we would be in a deep relationship with other followers of Christ.

This is why it is so important for me to attend church on Sundays, and why we make it a commitment.  This is why fellowship group is the highlight of my week.  God is good and it isn't that he wants to be a time-sucker, or just some sort of busy work.  But he wants to see us, He wants us to show him how much we care.  When I want to show Forbes how much I care, I show up.  I visit him at school, I take time out of my day to do something nice for him.  It is no different when we show God how much we care.  We give of our time and energy.  He doesn't want church to be a punishment or forced ritual, he just wants to know we care!

God loves you.  He cherishes you.  You are His child and just as you are so dearly loved by earthly parents and friends, He loves you 80,000 times that!  He wants to see you, so He can show you His love.  He wants to be near you, but He's already there, you have to take the next step.  Following God, attending church, and having Christ-driven friends is a blessing, not a forced religious ritual.  Take time today to show God you care.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring has Sprung

Oh wow!  Did you know it is the first day of Spring?  Thank goodness!  I am not a winter weather friend.  And although we hardly experienced any winter weather this year, I can now breathe a sigh of relief that it isn't just looming in the distance waiting to attack. 
While Autumn is my very favorite season, and even summer would probably come before Spring, this time of year is so full of life and adventure and joy it is hard to overlook.  And this spring we have so much to look forward to!  A visit home to Missouri in April, a trip to Denver in May, and maybe some really fun camping and biking over Spring Break in Virginia.  Of course the things I look forward to the most are always trips and vacations!

I had lunch with my dear friend Cindy yesterday at Fusion Bowl.  I cracked open my fortune cookie and was so disappointed by the message.  I think it went something like...Your lucky color is green next week.  Really?  That is a fortune.  Cindy pointed out that maybe there is money in my future.  Of course that is true, but that really doesn't excite me.  In fact, isn't there always money in our future?  Aren't we certain of that?  Even if it isn't much?  Money doesn't excite me.  So then she suggested it has something to do with Spring, and that excited me!  All around us things are turning green (except my really dead grass!) and life is popping up all around.  What a beautiful time of year!

What are you looking forward to this Spring?  What is your favorite season?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fast Lessons

Saturday night was a celebratory dinner event for Forbes and me.  My pick was Flat Iron Kitchen where I ordered the vegetable plate off of their new Vegetarian menu.  The meal combined cauliflower, mushrooms, roasted corn, green beans and much more in a very delicious way.  The flavor and texture were divine.  After the same 7 foods for weeks, my mouth partied a little bit on Saturday.
But here in lies the problem.  I came to a strong realization of the role food plays in my life while in the midst of this fast.  When my birthday rolled around and I just never got excited for the day it seemed something was entirely wrong with me.  Maybe after 28 years birthdays just aren't fun anymore.

Several more days into this fast and we received good news from our taxes and all I could think about was going out to eat and having a glass of wine.  I celebrate with food and drink.  That is what I do.  Then it occurred to me the enormity of this problem.  Is it impossible for me to celebrate without food and drink?  Is it simply the opposite of drowning your sorrows in food and drink?  Those who do that are usually considered "problems" but why is it ok then to experience other emotions, even positive ones in the same way.  I began to dissect my theory.  Is it possible that I only experience emotions through eating and drinking?  Is it possible for me to celebrate without?  My emotions are charged when I am sitting down to a great meal, or sipping a glass of wine.  I feel energized and excited.  But without either of those on my birthday I felt lackluster.  Perhaps I drown even my fun emotions by eating and drinking.

On our way to fellowship group that evening I presented my idea to Forbes.  He agreed, the theory was pretty legit.  So I posed it to my girls at fellowship.  Elizabeth forwarded me this blog post from a friend the next day that spoke exactly to how I was feeling.  She didn't reference who wrote it, so for now this is anonymous:

My body started talking to me.

You've got to trust me.

When I am hungry I will tell you.
You'll hear it in chambered echos, grumbles and moans.
DON'T FEED ME, until you hear my call.

When I am lonely I will tell you.
A lump will well up in your throat, like you've swallowed cotton and tears will form in your eyes.
DON'T FEED ME, try making a connection with the fine collection of friends you love.

When I am anxious I will tell you.
Your heart will beat fast, your breath will struggle to leave the lungs, and you might feel full of fire.
DON'T FEED ME, instead sit down and fight for those breaths, let the oxygen pour into you--clearing the veins and vessels, close your eyes, identify the fear that is squeezing you.

When I feel depressed I will tell you.
There will be a significant lack of energy, a slumpy reaction to bed-leaving, my mind will slow down and thoughts will become like black puffy clouds.
DON'T FEED ME, instead fill your head back up with new thoughts, ideas from books and discussions. Replace the dirty fuel in your mind with clean energy.

When I feel stressed I will tell you.
Like rubberbands squeezing around your cranium, your head throbbing, your stomach turning, your muscles tightening.
DON'T FEED ME, instead write it all out, everything you are feeling, look over the list and examine.

When I feel sick I will tell you.
Fevers, aches, pains and physical discomfort.
DON'T FEED ME, take care of me, bathe me, give me lots of water and put me to bed.

When I feel happy I will tell you.
Goosebumps infiltrate your skin, you will feel light and airy, propped up on energy, buzzing in your blood.
DON'T FEED ME, use the excess vivacity to spread your sentiments to someone else.

When I feel sensual I will tell you.
Your skin will turn pink and glow. Your mouth will involuntarily smile, your body will hum with awareness.
DON'T FEED ME, you know what to do.

When I need exercise I will tell you.
Your legs will ache to be walked, your back will beg to be stretched, your heart will ask to be throbbed.
DON'T FEED ME, walk me. And don't exercise me until I say so, please, or we will battle.

When I feel lazy, content, competitive, peaceful, overwhelmed, snippy, snappy, hot, cold, tired, frustrated, thirsty, full, beaming and bright I will tell you.
DON'T FEED ME, none of these sentiments require food. Excess surplus will have to be stored. I will have to make more of us--human shelves in rolls and lumps--to organize the overflow intake. Don't make me do that, please. There are babies to feed, children to squeeze, a husband to kiss. Right now, we don't have a lot of steam to become a storage facility as well.

But when I feel hungry I will send you a message of emptiness of stomach, dizziness of head, a sensation in your mouth extending into your throat that reads, I NEED FOOD, PLEASE DON'T STARVE ME.

Last night I finally had that spaghetti dinner I craved last week.  The fast is so totally over!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fast and Fitness

Let's start with the good, and then we will get to the bad and ugly.

I actually worked out this week!  Enough to tell y'all about it.  Remember those days of weekly recaps and Sunday through Saturday were all scribbled in with various exercises that would raise my heart rate?  Yeah, me neither...those days are long gone!  But finally this week I have something to show:

Sunday: 3 mile run
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 12 mile bike ride
Wednesday: 3 mile run/walk
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 4 mile walk
Saturday: 3 mile walk

Yup, not nearly as impressive as my marathon days...but this is a start.  Well we won't call it a start yet because I'm not sure I will be able to keep it up.  But it was enjoyable to make it happen this week.

On the food front, things haven't been so pretty.  The fast took a turn for the worse this weekend when every single one of my 7 foods elicited such a negative response that I completely quit eating.  Shannon and I both agreed we would rather fast by not eating than choke down another 7 foods meal.  I kept thinking that if I were hungry enough I would crave a sweet potato or an apple...right? 

Finally near lunch time on Saturday I dove into Forbes' plate of onion rings.  I stuck with just two.  Trying to stay on my best behavior.  During this time, I never even stopped to pray or give it up to God.  I just jumped forward on my own two feet.

The day went downhill from there, and even this morning I cannot stomach any foods on my 7 list.  It is a very odd food aversion.  But I guess that comes from eating nothing but the same things for 2 weeks straight.  Mad props to Jen Hatmaker who made it through the whole challenge. 

At this moment, I am not sure where we go from here.  Do I jump back on track.  Try to make my way through the next 10 days?  I'm not sure.  But through this experience it has helped me to realize how I relate to food spiritually.   Just in the situation yesterday, food all too often comes between my relationship with Christ.  It became increasingly difficult to pray and talk to God yesterday while I was spiraling off of the fast.  I realized in the last two weeks I have been closer to God and desiring more of Him every day.  My prayer life has never been stronger and I would actually crave prayer several times a day. 

Additionally, it is more evident than ever that I need His almighty grace and mercy in my life.  I am able, only through him, to "fall off the wagon" (so to speak) and be able to pick up the pieces and be forgiven.  I realized this morning that I learned so much through this process.  I experienced His grace every moment and I feel mercy that I truly don't deserve. 

I am thankful for everything I have.  I am thankful for God in my life, my salvation through the sacrifice of Christ, and so thankful that the Holy Spirit dwells in me.  I don't want food to come between this relationship, and even if I no longer fast, I want to be fed first by God, and nourished through food only second. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Two weeks in, Two weeks to go

It's official.  Food is dead to me.  I don't want it, I don't want to look at it.  I certainly don't want to eat it.  If I never eat another apple in my life it will be all too soon.  And sweet potato...I'm looking at former best friend, you are now my enemy.  Even baked to perfection it is just too much to choke down.  I used to enjoy the flavors of almonds and now it makes me want to gag.  Another bowl of oatmeal--no thank you!  Avocado, go away and never come back.  And blast the bland and boring spinach.  Tofu, perhaps I can tolerate you.  After all, I really have only eaten you a handful of times.  You just take too much to prepare with the pressing and the baking and all that nonsense.  I'm tired of it all.

There I said it.  I needed to get it off my chest.  What I'd really like to eat right now is a cool and refreshing orange, followed by a tall glass of pulpy orange juice.

Oh yes, my craving this week is for a large bowl of spaghetti, drenched in red sauce with lots of steamed or roasted broccoli.

I need something crunchy.  Perhaps some carrots, or better yet a slice of toast.  Without any almond butter.  No thank you almond butter.  Stay away.

Berries.  Oh beautiful berries.  I want strawberries and blueberries and blackberries and raspberries.  No more apples please! 

And what I wouldn't give for sauce.  Ketchup, BBQ, hummus, nacho cheese, and many many more. 

Yup, two weeks in, two weeks to go.  I may waste away before March 28th!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mission Updates

Forbes and I applied for a "dream job" with Samaritan's Purse several weeks ago.  I kept my tongue tight about this opportunity because I was just too excited.  It was a good decision because the opportunity hasn't panned out, but it ignited a strong interest in me for a people group.  Prior to this mission opportunity I had no idea that I was interested in serving in Haiti.

Then came another opportunity in my inbox last night.  Months ago, Forbes and I sent out a letter to World Relief inquiring of opportunities for young couples.  We received an email last night that was inspiring and encouraging and once again a position in Haiti was made available to us.  My heart skipped a beat, but I waited until Forbes had finished the email and spoke his mind before I jumped in with my opinion.  If I've learned anything in this process it is that unity is of utmost importance and second, that his opinion is so important to me, I do not want to bias it with mine first.

The timeline is a bit quicker than what we had anticipated, so while we sent our resumes in, and scheduled a phone conversation with World Relief, we have really only opened this up to God for His provision.  If this is the right fit for us on the mission field so much would have to happen so quickly that it can only be in God's desire and timing.

That's all I am going to say about that for right now...because once again I am too excited.  The reassuring part is that even if this position doesn't work out, World Relief is always sending folks out, and many more opportunities will likely arise in time.  We are trusting God.

In the meantime we are still seeking Christian Associates.  We are set to visit in May to go through the final interview process.  We are excited about this organization and their mission and vision.  However, we are keeping our eyes open for ways God may be speaking to us through other opportunities.  All we are looking for is a good fit for our unique gifts and talents and an urging from God. 

Please be in constant prayer for us as we discern the next season in our lives!  I know I have asked this repeatedly but I continue to request prayer because I know how powerful it can be.  And while you are at it, Haiti is completely on my heart, so say a prayer for this nation who is devastated in poverty.  Amen.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

WIAW-- Another 7 day

Welcome to another installment of What I Ate Wednesday.  We are now officially 2 full weeks into 7.  Yup, 14 days...but nobody's counting.  I waxed philosophical about my fasting yesterday and here are some amazing responses I received from beautiful friends:

Sometimes His will is that we share what is in His heart. While you have been on this "fast" you have shared things in your heart that I would say are very near and dear to the heart of our precious Father. So I would not say that God isn't in control - for it just may be His desire that you share His heart, and while doing this you have shared it with others as well. Sometimes we over complicate things and miss what He is doing completely. You are encouraging and inspiring others around you...just keep doing what is in your heart to do, stay in the Word and keep your eyes on Him! (Thanks Aunt Catherine)

And from my dear friend Brandy:

Fasting is like rain... you know it is a good thing when it happens but the effects are always dramatic later when you can see what grew.

I am so blessed with wise council, especially in this season of my life!

So meals continue as usual.  Just 7 foods spun in different ways to keep you guessing.
Breakfast: Oatmeal cooked in almond milk.  Diced apples stirred in and a topping of almond butter.

Lunch: Spinach salad topped with almond slices, avocado and a roasted sweet potato followed quickly by an apple.

Snack #1: un-pictured handful of almonds.

Snack #2: last piece of the apple pie concoction from Monday night's potluck.

Dinner: Green smoothie made with silken tofu, apple juice, spinach, almond butter and oats.

Snack: Sweet potato chips dipped in mashed avocado (my version of guacamole).

A day's worth of eats using only 7 ingredients.  Can you believe I managed to create some semblance of apple pie out of just these ingredients?
Oats, almonds and apples...a touch of cinnamon and a bit of olive oil.  Combined to create dessert! 

Apple Pie

by Tanya Kummerow
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients (8 servings)
    For the Crust
    • 1/2 cup grated raw apple
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons chopped almonds
    • 1 cup rolled oats
    • 1/4 cup almond meal
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • apple juice if needed to hold it together
    For the filling
    • 5 medium sized granny smith apples
    • 1 cup apple juice
    • sliced almonds for garnish
    • 1/4 cup almond butter
    • 1 teaspoon almond extract
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    For the crust
    Grate your raw apple and mix with oil, nuts, oats, almond meal and salt. Add apple juice a teaspoon or tablespoon at a time until the crust is crumbly but holds together.
    Turn into greased pie plate and spread crust along bottom and sides until completely covered. The crust should be about 1/8th of an inch thick.
    Bake crust at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.
    For the filling
    While the crust is baking, peel, core, and slice your apples. Add to a medium pan with apple juice, almond butter, almond extract and cinnamon.
    Heat to boiling, stirring frequently until apples are soft and juices turn into a caramel texture. Reduce heat to low or off and let stand until crust is finished, the sauce will continue to thicken around the apples.
    Turn the filling into the baked pie crust and garnish with sliced almonds. Serve warm or cool. Would be delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
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    Tuesday, March 13, 2012


    I love my friend Elizabeth.  I love how she challenges me to be a better person and to be intentional with my decisions in life.  Sometimes her deep and interested questions leave me feeling like I have no answer good enough.  But then it pushes me to step outside my comfort zone and find out why I do things, feel things and think things.

    I love my friend Elizabeth because she has the gift of speaking truth into my life.  She is encouraging and inspiring yet she will tell it like it is.  When I build up walls or live with what we call good ole' "Christianeze" she will dig right around that and get real.  Last night we got real.

    I love my friend Elizabeth because it always starts with a question that should be very simple.  "How are you feeling about the fast?  Have you learned anything?  How has it impacted you spiritually?"  She doesn't hold back but jumps right to the heart of an issue.  Of course I should have answers to these questions.  It has been two full weeks! 

    How am I feeling?  Surprising good!  Oh, there are moments when all I can think about is the juicy-citrus-tang of an orange or the melt-in-your-mouth cupcakes that I was forced to freeze.  But overall I really enjoy the simplicity of 7. 

    Have I learned anything?  I am so shockingly aware of hunger and starvation around the globe.  I burn with anger for the injustice that I have been given everything and so many are starving to death at this very moment.  I have learned how truly blessed I am to even have 7 foods on my plate.  I have learned that eating more simply can ignite more passion for food, not less.  I really enjoy creating dishes that seem so impossible and finding new ways to eat my 7 foods. 

    How has it impacted you spiritually?  Oh right, this is a fast.  Hmmm...well, am I different.  Have I had moments with the Holy Spirit?  Do I feel different?  Has my faith grown?  My reliance on God?  I am afraid that while I have learned so much and am feeling so good, that I have mistakenly turned my fast away from the control of God.  Remember my rant about Lent?  A fast is meant to help us release control of certain areas of our life, allowing God to take the lead.  Have I allowed God to be in control, or am I still controlling this? 

    Not to be too hard on myself, I truly believe I have used this fast to grow closer to God and stronger in faith.  I have intentionally spent more time each day in the Word and praying.  It is helping me to eliminate excess with food, as well as many other areas of my life.  Last night's conversation is just a reminder of why I am in this.  To allow God to be in control of my life.  The focus should also be so much less about me, and so much more about Him, His glory, His grace, and His mercy. 

    Father have mercy on me for making this about me.  This is all about you, who you are, and what you have purposed for us.  Amen. 

    Monday, March 12, 2012

    Fully Rely on God

    Sometimes answers to prayers come in a very unexpected way.  My prayers this week have been for clarity in God's timing and the discernment of His will.  Let's be real, those are my prayers  I am a go-getter...once I get an idea I want to go!  I was worried that some of my most recent ideas aren't exactly in His timing.  Take for example the decision to sell most of our belongings even though we are still in the house. 
    God is this really what you had in mind for us?

    I had felt an urging to move forward after reading the George Muller book.  His story was so inspiring and I thought if I am to expect Great things from God just like George did, then I must act like I am living in expectation.  I am expecting God to help us sell this house, however, I wasn't acting like it was going to be sold anytime soon.  I was holding on to all of my possessions, not wanting to let go. 

    However, after selling the dining room table, the couches, the television, the bedroom set and much, much more I was beginning to have doubts.  Will the house sell if it isn't staged?  Where will we sleep?  How will we be able to entertain guests?  You know, the usual concerns.  As doubt sank in I really questioned my motives?  Was all of this really to watch God at work in our lives, or to exercise my own power. 

    Doubt was sinking in so fast I was allowing it to spiral, even causing an argument between Forbes and me.  On Sunday morning as I sat in church and listened to the message, I felt more encouraged than I had in weeks.  In the sermon, Doug suggested that when unity exists we can know that it is God's will.  During our spat the previous evening I was questioning whether Forbes and I had entered into our decision to sell belongings as a united front, or was it just my idea that he was dragging his feet through?  Forbes assured me that we were united in this decision and that comforted my doubts.

    Our scripture reading for Sunday was this:

    "After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

    All the believers were one in heart and mind.  No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.  With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.  There were no needy persons among them.  For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need."

    Luke 4:31-35

    We learn from the early church that the Holy Spirit generates unity.  Real unity is uncommon.  The early church was united with a common purpose, to bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus.  They were united by common devotion.  The passage says they were one in heart and mind.  Their desire and choices were the same.  And they were united by a common gift: grace.  Much grace was upon them all.  By our own efforts nothing can and will happen, but only by the grace of God. 

    Forbes and I stand as a united front.  When we make any decision we always consult each other.  And if we need to, we hash it out until it is decided that yes in deed we are in agreement.  Our decision to sell our belongings was made by both of us, and my doubts were a result of the comforts of home being taken away.  

    We also learned from this reading that the Holy Spirit generates loyalty and generosity.   Loyalty to Jesus, but also to the leaders God has appointed within the church and elsewhere, and of course loyalty to each other.  This scripture tells us there were no needy persons among the early church.  What a beautiful example of how to live Christ-like.  Of course without generosity that would not have been possible.  No one claimed their possessions as their own.  It is in our nature to hold tightly to what "belongs" to us.  Letting go of my furniture took me for an emotional roller coaster ride.  It calls for a radical attitude shift to believe that all your possessions are for others to share.  Only the Holy Spirit can ignite this lifestyle change.
    Where do we go from here?  We are trusting God.  We don't have a next plan.  My prayer is that in His timing he will show us our next step.  And when He does we will act swiftly on it because that is what he expects of us.  My faith continues to grow daily and with the help of the Holy Spirit I am learning to fully rely on God!

    Friday, March 9, 2012

    Kony 2012

    By now I am not sure how you could have escaped the news of Kony 2012.  As I saw all the facebook posts and shares and the tweets I was curious, albeit a little skeptical.

    How did you first hear about Kony 2012?

    Finally when my entire timeline was full of Kony 2012 I clicked on a link and was instantly captivated by the video.  I am amazed at the dedication and lifetime commitment to this cause that has been taken on by just a normal person.  It really brings home the concept "Be the change you want to see in the world."  If one man can make this big of an impact...what can you and I do?

    I struggle so much feeling just one tiny little person and feeling as though I don't make a difference.  I don't have much to give so I won't give at all.  I can't commit long term so I won't even show up just this once. 

    Kony 2012 is showing us that even in a small way we can make a difference.  Even if it means sharing a video on Facebook or "liking" a status.  Even educating ourselves on issues is making a difference.  Today I will stuff BBQ pork sandwiches into styrofoam to-go containers to raise money for a pastor in Mwandi.  It is a small task (and one that I'm not very keen on) but the money that can be raised can change a life.  Rather than see myself as just one tiny little person...I am a piece, a piece to a bigger puzzle.  The puzzle cannot be finished without each piece no matter how big or small each one is.  What piece will you play today?

    Thursday, March 8, 2012


    Read. Read. Read. Read. Read.

    I feel like a bookaholic as of late!  In the best way possible.  As a child I enjoyed reading so much but lost my zest for books somewhere in high school or college.  Occasionally over the last few years I would find myself enthralled in a book, unwilling to move until every page had been turned...but those occasions were few and far between.  Last I can remember, was the summer before I married Forbes when I read the entire Harry Potter series straight through.

    Lately I have found that I have a little more free time in my life.  I am not sure if I am managing my time better, or perhaps I have taken so much excess out of my life that I now have room for my long lost passion.  Either way, I now have time to read and am enjoying it so much!

    I picked up this book last summer before heading to Africa, yet never got around to starting until early fall.  At some point I found myself lost in work and responsibilities and set it down less than half way through and didn't pick it back up until sometime early this year.  Finally I finished The Poisonwood Bible and I am so confused how I ever set it down.  This is a dramatic story about a family uprooted to become missionaries in the Congo.  Great perspective.  I think my dad originally recommended the book to deter me from becoming a missionary...or well to make me aware of the negative effects when we believe we can solve all the world's problems "the American way."  This book opened my eyes to the importance of teaching others about the Gospel in a way that serves the culture and individuals.
    After finishing The Poisonwood Bible I picked up Forgotten God from the library.  I read Francis Chan's Crazy Love and I continue to enjoy his teaching.  This man is wise.  I feel that I have a great understanding of God, I know Jesus as my Savior, but the Holy Spirit is still a mystery to me.  This book helped to uncover the role of the Comforter, and how we are supposed to worship Him as part of the trinity.  This book taught me how to allow the Holy Spirit to work in my life and already I am changed!
    For a little fun I finally read Water for Elephants.  I borrowed this book from a friend at church months ago.  (note to friends, don't let me borrow books!) It is so amazing!  I highly recommend this book for a captivating read.  It took my less than a week, I was so enthralled!  Despite how many people told me the movie does not live up to the book, I am still desperate to watch!
    Forbes and I have been reading Radical together, and after a couple months we have finally finished.  This book has single-handedly changed me.  I feel like I have completed a 360.  My life is no longer about me.  If I am not making a difference in the world than I am not fulfilling my purpose in God's will.  Not everyone needs to drop everything and move Internationally, being Radical in your faith can be represented anywhere in the world, even right here in America.  However, if I am not being Radical, I am not following the commands of Jesus in the New Testament. 
    Lastly, I just finished this short little book about George Muller in just two days.  This man was a man of God, who had such an amazing and strong faith.  I am impressed by his trust and am eager to find that kind of faith.  I pray that I would have faith like George Muller.  He did many wonderful things but one story that sticks out in my mind is a morning at the orphanage he started.  There was no money for food and in the morning the hundreds of children came down to eat.  One of the matrons of the orphanage ran to Mr. Muller and informed him there was no food.  Calmly, he walked into the room full of children, and asked them to bow their head in prayer.  He blessed the food they were about to receive.  Although there was no food in the house for them to eat, he knew that God would provide.  As the children pushed back their chairs to sit down to empty plates there was a knock on the door.  A local baker delivered loads of bread that he baked the night before.  He couldn't rest and felt that he was supposed to bake for the orphans.  Minutes later the milk man came to the door asking them to take some milk off his hands.  His cart had broke and he could not fix it with all the milk loaded.  If they helped him to unload they could have the milk.  God provided enough bread and milk for each child to eat!  And George knew that God would provide.  He had no doubt!
    Of course I have also been reading 7 An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, but am taking my time.  I want to read each chapter when I approach that month, so I have only finished the first one about eliminating food.  Jen is witty and sarcastic and!  It is hard not to read straight through the whole book, but I know it will mean more if I read it when I am on the topic. 

    What are you reading these days?

    My goal is to read the Bible.  Taking George Muller's lead and following David Platt's advice to read more of the words of God and less about the words of God, I feel motivated to read my Bible more often.  I don't want to stop reading about God as well, but want read His words more!

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    What I Ate Wednesday--7 foods

    Are you ready for this?  I can hardly believe I have been surviving off 7 foods for 7 days!  Now, only approximately 3 more weeks to go!
    7 foods:
    Sweet Potatoes

    Additional notes: I allow light salt on my food, and heavy cinnamon.  In the book, An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, Jen allowed salt and pepper.  Given the foods I am eating, I thought cinnamon a much more appropriate fit.  I have also allowed lemon on one or two occasions and olive oil in small doses is ok.

    Cheats? There have been a few.  On the way to church on Sunday I popped a mint.  Whoops!  I also took a small bite of a vegan cupcake my bestie Melis made me yesterday.  The rest are in the freezer.  I couldn't be rude after all. 

    So how am I faring?  Am I getting creative?  Above pictured is steamed spinach topped with a tofu patty, mashed avocado and sweet potato chips.  Second is an Apple Green Monster, and of course my staple, apples and almond butter. 

    So clearly I have created variations on many of my 7 foods.
    Almonds have become almond milk and almond butter, almond slices and almond meal.
    Homemade Almond Milk

    by Tanya Kummerow
    Prep Time: overnight + 20 minutes
    Keywords: blender beverage vegan gluten-free almonds

    Ingredients (4 cups)
    • 2 cups raw almonds
    • water
    Measure 1 cup of almonds and cover completely with water. Soak overnight or up to 24 hours.
    Drain almonds and place in blender (any blender will do). Add 4 cups of water and blend until the liquid is a consistent white color. There will be almond pulp still in the liquid.
    Using cheesecloth and your best method, pour almond milk into container straining out any pulp through the cheesecloth. I used two containers and did this several times to eliminate most of the pulp.
    After the liquid drained through the cheesecloth, I squeezed out all remaining liquid until I was left with very dry almond pulp. I then smoothed the pulp onto parchment paper on a cookie sheet and baked until it was a cracker consistency. Very good!
    Store almond milk in fridge for 5-7 days, stirring before use.
    Powered by Recipage

    Sweet potatoes are being cut into fries and chips and hashbrowns and simply baked.
    Oats have turned into oatmeal, overnight oats, and granola and cereal!
    My favorite creation by far has been the granola!

    Apple Cinnamon Granola

    by Tanya Kummerow
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 35 minutes
    Keywords: bake dessert snack gluten-free sugar-free vegan oats

    Ingredients (3 cups)
    • 1/2 cup fresh apple juice (or organic apple juice with no other ingredients added)
    • 1 tablespoon almond butter
    • 2 cups rolled oats
    • 1/2 cup dried apples, diced
    • 1/4 sliced almonds
    • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
    note: all the ingredients I used had no added ingredients if pre-packaged and not fresh
      In small sauce pan bring apple juice to a boil. Add in almond butter and cinnamon and simmer for 5 minutes constantly stirring. Your mixture will begin to caramelize and thicken. Remove from heat.
      Mix together oats, almond slices and dried apples in a large bowl. With wooden spoon or spatula stir in apple juice mixture until completely coated.
      Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly oil. Spread oats onto baking sheet in a very thin layer.
      Bake for 15 minutes. Use a turner to flip oats on tray and bake an additional 15 minutes until crunchy and golden brown.
      Powered by Recipage

      There was also a sad attempt at a tortilla...which turned more into a cracker but still satiated my desire for bread.  I used almond meal and oat flour with water and a dab of olive oil.  After I fried it on the pan I topped it with mashed avocado or almond butter and it was perfect!  Not pretty, but it works!
      It is possible to eat only 7 foods.  It has actually been enjoyable.  Creating recipes out of such a small ingredient list is challenging but fun.  Eating only 7 foods has been simple and as expected has opened my eyes to the excess in my life.  Especially in the food category.  I feel so blessed to be able to choose my 7 foods, to create new recipes every day with those 7 foods, to have the kitchen equipment necessary to chop, grind, melt and bake things to perfection.
      At the Royal School in Uganda the hundreds of children line up each day for their meal.  On their plate are usually two things...beans and posho (a cornmeal substance).  The next day: beans and posho.  And again the next.  They don't get bean burgers, and bean dip and bean tacos and bean chili.  Nor do they get fresh corn and corn on the cob and polenta and roasted corn and corn salsa.  They get beans and posho.

      How lucky am I then that I got to choose 7 foods and then make them into a hundred different foods?  So many have commented on how little choices I have, and I would have agreed.  But now I feel like I have an infinite of choices and am so blessed!  Oh, and they don't get salt on their corn and let me tell you it isn't fun to eat without!

      Tuesday, March 6, 2012

      Tanya Day

      I gotta say, Facebook is my favorite!  So many birthday wishes yesterday!  I feel so blessed. 

      "Tanya Day" (as one friend coined it) was quite a pleasant day, although not the usual Kummerow-style celebration we usually partake in.  Perhaps it is the simplicity of my diet that is creating a more simple life in other areas, but yesterday I just felt like being simple. 

      One highlight of my day was my scheduled massage.  My chiropractor recommended a massage as part of my therapy from the car accident.  Who am I to decline?  So purposely I scheduled it on my birthday!

      It was pretty rough and tough, but still felt oh-so-good (or should I say it hurt-so-good!). 

      The rest of the day was business as usual.  Simple meals from 7 simple ingredients.
      Steamed spinach, Tofu patty, mashed avocado, and sweet potato chips. 

      After dinner I ate my weight in home made granola that fits all criteria for 7.  Hey, it was my birthday.

      Just a few quick notes about 7.  I want to update every Wednesday when I do a What I Ate Wednesday post, but seeing as today has been exactly one week, here are some preliminary thoughts:

      I LOVE 7!  Honestly.  I think there is something to this.  This morning I realized I woke up with NO FOOD GUILT!  Usually on Monday nights I drink half a bottle of wine and eat dairy ice cream with my bestie Jill while watching the Bachelor.  And while I have no worries about it at the time, I always wake up in the morning with Food Guilt, a nasty little effect from years of disordered eating.  I am able to push it out of my brain immediately...but it still exists in small ways. 

      Eating only 7 foods is simple.  There are many ways to cook those 7 foods, but you only have to worry about 7.  Think about how excess in other areas of life creates chaos.  Perhaps the excess of options has created chaos in my food life?!  In this past week I felt free of food rules and restrictions.  You would think it would be quite the opposite considering how many restrictions are on my plate at the moment.  I think about it like this...the ten commandments are restrictions that set us free.  Many scoff at the "rules" of being a Christian, but the Law was in place to keep us safe and within those boundaries we can feel free.  Maybe I am finding that same sort of joy in my 7 foods.  Maybe I won't ever want to go back to the world of chaos! 

      I will share more details about what I am eating tomorrow!  See y'all then!

      Monday, March 5, 2012

      Good Morning Birthday Day!

      I voted for a morning date today to celebrate my birthday.  For starters, morning dates are just too romantic and cute, and of course breakfast is the only meal that I can reasonably eat out.  Just a plain bowl of oats for me please...and yes, I would like to pay $4 for those oats just so I can eat out on my birthday instead of eat the free ones at home with all my glorious toppings.
      Of course, in a moment of weakness I decided to order the fried apples alongside.  I mean, it sorta fits into the 7, right?  Well, luckily I came to my senses just two bites in.  Forgive me for those two bites, but it is my birthday!

      There is a lesson in all this.  Remember when I talked about fasting last week and the irony that fasting is about relinquishing all control to God, yet, so many times we use a fast as a means to exercise control over our own lives instead.  Yup, I've been doing that. 

      But today is hard.  Today is my birthday and my way of celebrating is through food and drink.  That's how I do it.  Today I wanted to eat that muffin that came with the oats.  Today I wanted to scoop up Forbes' hashbrowns right from under his nose.  But today I rely on God.  After all, fasting is supposed to teach us that above all else we need Him.  Above food I need God.  I need faith in a risen Savior and I need the comforting power of the Holy Spirit. 

      Have you ever read the 5 Love Languages?  My love languages are touch and gifts.  Well, I should say gifts and touch.  Because I definitely speak and read love through gifts.  That makes this year doubly hard.  No celebration with food, and to my preference, no celebration with gifts.  It just doesn't seem right to accept gifts when I am in the process of getting rid of all my belongings.  Sure I really wanted the new Chef Chloe Cookbook which conveniently comes out tomorrow, and a Vitamix is high on the priority list.  But how can I justify those items when I just gave away all my vegan cookbooks and most of my small kitchen appliances. 

      Forbes is keen on what I need right now, and realized that a great act of service would be the perfect gift.  Which is why last night he spent 2 solid hours dying my hair for me! 
      Hard to see clearly, but I am now rocking the "soft black."  I love it! 

      So Happy Birthday to me today!  And if you really want to give me a gift we are accepting donations for missions or you could just buy our house

      Saturday, March 3, 2012

      Birthday 5k With Mom

      Welcome my mom to the 5k club!  She is the newest member, along with many others who ran their first 5k at this morning's Coolbreeze Multisport Challenge race. I am so proud of my mom!  We had such a good time.

      Also along for the ride were some of my very best friends!
      Elizabeth, Shannon and Melis (whose real birthday was today...mine isn't until Monday!)

      Elizabeth ran with me last year on my birthday and it is so amazing to see her exactly a year and two babies later (she had twins back in December) and I couldn't be more proud of her.  Elizabeth is a serious mentor and hero for me!

      And let's not forget Melis, who completed this 5k on her birthday, 8 months pregnant!  Love that girl, so inspiring. 

      And Shannon, who is even crazier than me, because she was the one who first decided to do the 7 fast.  This is our second 5k we have done together!
      And now I'm leaving out one very important person...
      Of course Forbes was there, and of course he rocked this 5k with a PR!
      We all had such a great time! 
      Forbes and I got to show off our new running shoes from Charlotte Running Company.  We both decided that they were seriously comfortable to run in as well. 
      Oh, I forgot, mom and I had another running buddy, MyKing, her sheltie.  He is a good motivator.  With his help we finished strong!
      Unfortunately right near the end, he tripped us up just a bit and mom took a bit of a stumble.
      Not to worry, we picked right back up and that didn't stop us one bit!
      Straight to the finish:
      Such a great morning!  The weather held off and we enjoyed mild temps and cloudy skies.  Straight away we headed to Starbucks where we met up with more friends and then off to lunch. 
      Favorite sign ever.  Must use for next time I get to be a cheerleader at a race! 

      Now it is Siesta time in the Kummerow home.  Have a wonderful weekend!