Sunday, November 20, 2016

Striving & Finding Rest



I'm writing tonight at the end of a day that has felt endless-- I woke up at 7:50 to brew my first cup of coffee, and I continued to drink coffee until just a few hours ago when I submitted an assignment I've been working on all day.  I told Scott that I just don't feel right today... something feels off.  I feel anxious and like I'm carrying around burdens that don't really know about or understand.  My heart is aching this week as I see talk of Thanksgiving and going home to see family-- I am so close but so far from seeing my own.  I'll be working this Thanksgiving and will be having a quiet Thanksgiving at home with Scott.  He'll fry a turkey and I'll have some easy-to-heat sides for him to toss in the oven while I'm working and he's studying.

I need rest, and not like sleep or days off from work or anything like that.  I need the deep rest that comes from Jesus, rest that comes from knowing my soul's worth and having confidence in Him.  I started doing an Advent study a little early this week, since I am rarely able to keep up with Advent studies during the actual season, and I noticed that on the days that I miss my time with God, I feel this way.  Like I'm restless, anxious, and striving throughout the whole day.  I can't quiet my mind or my body, and it feels like there's just always something else to do, something else to clean.

I watched this video the other day of some of my favorite Christian women discussing how to keep worshipping Jesus at the center of the holiday season, and I just keep coming back to watch it.  It's a good reminder for me that the season isn't about having the prettiest Christmas tree or giving the best presents (isn't that a funny change-- I now care more about the gifts I give other people than the ones I get myself?).  It's about celebrating a Savior who came to this Earth in a lowly manger to save us all from our sins.  It's about the Savior who is fully God yet fully man, who endured death on a cross for the sake of us all.  I'm getting teary writing those words because I have lived so far from those truths lately, and the Holy Spirit is reminding me that this is my worth, this is my calling.  To live in those promises and share those truths with those around me.

So I'm laying my striving at the foot of the cross tonight and praying for immense rest tonight-- I'm spending a little time tonight tidying up my house but the rest of my night immersed in Scripture and prayer.

Lord, please deliver me from this anxiety and this need to strive.  Help me rest in You.  Help me lean on you and fall into your peace tonight.  Lord, give me a heart to serve you in all that I say and do.  And lead me to the foot of your cross each day to lay my worries and fears aside. 

XO,
C.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Things I Would Rather Be Doing



I'm procrastinating.  I have like, 10,000 things to do today for school and I feel like climbing back into bed to avoid all of it.  I also feel like I've had too much coffee to drink and that this was a horrible mistake that is making me feel anxious about all I need to do.  So here's my attempt at destressing for a minute: making a list of things that sound way more fun and that maybe I will reward myself with after I finish everything.

  1. Hike with Doc
  2. Snuggle with Doc
  3. Take a shower (my mom would say I need to do this anyways)
  4. Take a nap
  5. Read books for fun
  6. Drink holiday drinks at Starbucks while chatting with a friend
  7. Put up my Christmas tree (I'm 14 days late.  I always put mine up November 1st.  Thanks a lot, grad school)
  8. Deck the house out for Christmas, while we're at the tree anyways
  9. Watch Christmas movies (The Holiday, Home Alone, The Polar Express, Elf, etc. All the movies)
  10. Watch non-Christmas movies (Something's Gotta Give, When Harry Met Sally, You've Got Mail)
  11. Wrap my Christmas presents
  12. Write letters to friends (handwritten, obviously)
  13. Design our Christmas card
  14. Clean the house (yes, I would actually LIKE to do this for once)
  15. Go to a bookstore to browse
  16. Rake leaves into piles and jump in them with Doc
  17. Practice calligraphy
  18. Run
  19. Walk on the Monon
  20. Bake pie (Angus Barn's Chocolate Chess pie, to be precise)
Hope you all have a good day. Do some of these things for me, won't you?? I'm back to burying myself in books.  Farewell for now! I'm putting on Christmas music and burning Christmas candles and pretending I'm in a winter wonderland!!

Love,
C

Thursday, November 10, 2016

My one political post and manifesto: It has to stop.

image source: NBC News

The response to this presidential election has been... sad.  On all sides.  Democrats are speaking out, calling those who voted for Trump racists, bigots, supporters of sexual assault and sexual harassment.  Republicans are celebrating and saying that this is going to "make American great again," implying that it wasn't already.  Those who opposed Trump are rioting and protesting, burning American flags.  Democrats are blaming those who didn't vote and those who voted for 3rd parties for this outcome.  Republicans are speaking with pride and not being mindful of what they say or how they say it.  They are not realizing how tender and deep the wounds are for some people right now. And if I hear one more person call someone whose beliefs are simply different from their's "uneducated," I feel like I am going to lose it and educate that person myself on what it means to be "educated."

What a disgrace.  I am embarrassed by our country right now.  I'm embarrassed by my generation who is participating in and encouraging this.  I'm embarrassed by these adults who are acting like children, but who seem to forget an important rule that you learn in childhood: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

The saddest part of all of this to me is that it shows how twisted our culture has become, how twisted our world is, and how saviors are now found in people instead of the divine.  It reflects a world that seeks hope in men and not in Christ.  It reflects a generation who seeks hope in other people or things, and a generation who claims to be open-minded but isn't.  I'm tired of the hypocrisy.  We are a democracy, are we not?  Those who on Tuesday were posting photos of their "I voted!" stickers and encouraging people to "just get out there to vote!" are now the ones criticizing people for doing that very thing, but for voting for a candidate that wasn't the one they would have chosen.  I believe in voting for who you believe will do the best job in office, whose goals most align with your own and whose vision for where the country is going is most similar to what you believe in.

Are you shocked that in a bipartisan system, there isn't always a candidate who aligns well with your beliefs? I'm not.  I've been a critic of the bipartisan system for a long time.  My beliefs do not fall into one political party.  And yes, I do believe Americans have the right to vote for the third party candidate if they wish to.  I absolutely do not believe in shaming people for this.  I dream of the day when our country moves away from the bipartisan system, a system that only leaves room for division and hatred.

I do not believe in shaming people who think differently from you.  My generation shocks me.  I am truly embarrassed by my generation right now.  And not because of who they voted for or what they believe in.  I'm embarrassed for their behavior and their hypocrisy.  They claim to believe in diversity, but they do not promote diversity of opinions that are not in line with their own.  And the worst part is that pointing this out to them only adds fuel to the fire, or makes them think, "Oh, you have no idea what you're talking about."  How self-righteous and condescending, and how sad it is that you live in that mindset.

To all the women (AND men) who have tried to shame other women for not voting for Hilary, this is just not ok.  You talk about sexism and how abominable that is, yet you are telling someone to vote for someone because she is a woman? Oh my.  I can't even go down that road right now.  My brain can't handle unraveling that thought process.  Think long and hard about what you're asking of other women.  That's a tall order and not one that I think you have the right to request of other women.  I think our country is ready for a female president, but I don't believe in shaming people for not believing in the one who was running this election year.

No matter who you voted for or didn't vote for, no matter what you believe or don't believe, you have no right to shame people for who they voted for and what they believe in.  I want the self-righteousness to stop.  I want the shaming to stop.  I want the ugly words to stop. I want Americans to grow up.  Stop saying you're moving to Canada--you're not.  I have lived through 3 elections while I was simultaneously involved with Facebook and have seen these extravagant claims each time.  I haven't met a single person yet who actually followed through.  If you really want to leave, stop spending your time posting about it online and start researching what it actually takes to get a visa or become a citizen of another country.  It's not as easy as packing your bags and driving over the border. Also-- if you are saying that you are praying for our country and our leaders, I hope you earnestly, honestly are and that you aren't just saying that in a spiteful way to indicate that you think our country needs help.  It clearly does, and if you are reporting that you are "praying for our country," I honestly hope that you are sitting at the foot of the cross asking for God to shower endless mercy and grace on our country in the coming weeks, months, and years, and that He would give vision to our leaders for what is good and right and peace-seeking.

Have an open mind.  Trust that God's hand is present.  Trust that people will surround our new President who will not let our country turn into one of hatred and violence.  And look in the mirror and see how your words and actions are leading us in that direction.  And realize that this "my side vs. your side" rhetoric won't help things in our country.  Viewing the other side as the enemy creates further division amongst our people.  Stop blaming people.  Stop shaming them. And for Republicans who feel victorious, stop speaking with so much pride and joy when there are clearly people around you hurting.  Quietly celebrate and take note of the feelings around you.  This was a tough election year and many feel that they were just choosing the lesser of two evils-- be mindful in how you speak and what you say.

There's a verse from Nehemiah that keeps playing in my head as I see everyone worrying, freaking out, calling each other names, etc.  Nehemiah is helping to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.  He is being asked to meet with some of the leaders who oppose the work he is doing to rebuild the wall.

"And I sent messengers to them, saying, 'I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.  Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?'" Nehemiah 6:3

I can't unpack this whole verse for you with how I see it relating to our country's circumstances, but I just find hope in it.  And more than ever, I find hope in the new creation that is coming.

"And he who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.' Also he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'" Revelation 21:5.

This is my manifesto.  From a woman who is tired of the unkind words, actions, pictures.  From a woman who wants to lift those around me up instead of tearing them down.  Won't you join me in this?

Love,
Cristina

Also: I hope I have not shared any insight into my own political opinions in this post, but rather, just personal opinions about behavior related to politics. If I have offended you, I deeply apologize and hope you can see that I never meant to be hurtful.  I want the meanness, the shaming, the ugliness, to stop.

Monday, November 7, 2016

My favorite time of day

Mama C's the morning after Christmas

My favorite time of day would have to be mornings.  Not necessarily work mornings because those can be a little wirey, but mornings when I don't have to be at the hospital are just dreamy.  I roll out of bed when my husband's alarm goes off; oddly, he doesn't.  He's one of those people who sets like 5 alarms that go off before he actually gets out of bed for the day.  I'm totally opposite-- on workdays I either wake up when my alarm goes off the first time or am awake before the alarm even has a chance to wake me up.  I let my feet hit the floor and can already hear Doc crying in the room next to us-- apparently Scott's alarm wakes him up, too.

I sneak into little Doc's room and let him jump all over me, a habit I just am not ready to break him of yet.  We walk through the living room and to the back door, where he sprints out into the leaf-covered yard.  While he is out there, I have just enough time to grind some coffee beans and turn on the coffeemaker before little Doc sits down to wait at the back door.  Sometimes he jumps on the door and peers in until I make eye contact with him, which I am careful not to do until the coffee has been set into motion.  He gives me a look as though to say, "Did you forget about me?"

He runs in and grabs his elephant or his dragon and starts shaking them around while I get his food ready.  The look of anticipation as I get ready to set his food down is something to cherish-- I tell Scott sometimes if he is awake at that time, "Get ready, Doc is about to start doing back flips for his food!"  While he eats, I start whisking together some eggs after pouring a steamy cup of coffee, the first of the day.  Nothing beats the first cup.  The proportions of coffee to almond milk are just right, the coffee is fresh and just the right temperature, and each sip is just heavenly as I feel the caffeine start to pull me into focus and into the day ahead of me.  Sometimes I dice up potatoes and make a Davis family favorite--breakfast potatoes.  A little seasoning salt, pepper, and parsley goes in the pan and they're good to go.

I sit at the table once breakfast is ready and eat with Scott.  Some days, he's in a hurry so I pack his breakfast up and send him out the door.  I leave our door open with the storm door shut, letting light peer in to warm up the house.  I slide back to the table and do some light reading as I drink coffee and finish breakfast.  By this time, I'm at least on my second cup, and I feel like my thoughts are sharper, more focused on what I need to do that day.  Doc goes outside again while I sip coffee, and I watch him doing puppy zoomies in the yard while the sun dances on his beautiful chocolate coat.

These are mornings in our little house on Crittenden, the mornings that I have come to love and cherish so very much.  I love mornings no matter where I am, but they're especially lovely here.  I have a favorite memory of a particular morning in North Carolina that I hold very dear to my heart-- it's the morning that the above picture was taken.  It was the day after Christmas and all of the grandchildren had spent the night at Mama C's house.  The men were going hunting and the women were tucked into their warm beds for a little extra sleep.  Not me, of course.  When Scott's alarm went off, I hopped out of bed, grabbed my book, and went into the kitchen.  Uncle T and TJ had already started some coffee before they headed out to hunt, so I poured a cup and kissed Scott as he went off to hunt.  I sat on Mama C's screened in back porch devouring Pride & Prejudice for the umpteenth time.  When the sun started to come up, I could see a beautiful fog over the pond behind her house.  I got up and started walking around, with a blanket still draped around me.  I took in the beauty of God's creation and this favorite place of mine that I was in.  Everything was slower here, I had more time to breathe and take in the beauty around me.  I watched my breath in front of me as I looked at the world around me waking up for the day.  The sun started to bring everything into focus, and I thought that there must surely be a spot in heaven that looks just like this.

I don't know if you're a morning person or not, or if you're reading this thinking that I am surely psychotic and need to just take something to help me sleep longer in the mornings.  But I don't want to sleep any longer.  I look forward to mornings so very much, even when they're quiet and just for me.  Even when everyone else wants to stay tucked into their warm beds or heads off for busy work days.  Mornings are just a space I love to dwell in, and I hope this always remains.

Love,
C.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Fad Diets & Treating Your Body Well

Here's the post where I talk about where I've been and where I'm going with regard to treating my body well.  If you've followed me on social media at all, you've probably seen pictures ad nauseum of my Whole 30 experience over the past month.  I apologize if the quantity was overwhelming--I posted a picture a day for a while and then trimmed it down at the end.  Truthfully, I needed it for accountability.  So many friends at work helped me on days when I wanted the free donuts or when I wanted to buy the yogurt-covered pretzels or when a soft drink just sounded so good.  I had such a lovely support system around me who wouldn't let me fail, and for that I am so thankful.

I'm not into fad diets.  I don't believe in them really at all.  But Whole 30 was different.  It wasn't supposed to be a cute, fad diet.  It was supposed to be a game changer-- a way to change my taste buds and change my life.  As a nurse, I tell people all the time that they need to watch what they eat and that they need to lose weight, exercise more, etc.  Yet I usually do that after I've downed some french fries in the break room during lunch, or after I just set down my Dr. Pepper at the nurse's station.  I have a great fear that I will one day pay for how I have mistreated my body in my first 26 years of living.  I hope, instead, that this wake up call during my quarter-life crisis changes me to my core and makes me want to do good to my body.

So far, it has.  Here's what Whole30 is.  It's a lifestyle change that you embark on for about 30 days.  Some people do it longer, and some people who have already completed a Whole30 do shorter stints of it to refresh their mindset on healthy eating a few times a year.  Here's the basic rules:

  • No dairy.  No milk, butter, ice cream, cream, cheese, half and half, etc.
  • No grains.  This includes whole grains, wheat, quinoa, rice, bread, flour.  
  • No added sugar.  This includes "fake sugar" or artificial sweeteners. So no stevia, Splenda, Equal, Sweet 'n' low, honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, molasses, etc.  Nothing that doesn't have naturally occurring sugar such as a fruit or vegetable.  
  • No legumes.  This includes beans, chickpeas, hummus, peanuts.  
  • No alcohol (this means no vanilla--vanilla extract has small amounts of alcohol)
  • No carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites. 
  • No recreating baked goods or treats with "approved" ingredients.  No paleo pancakes.  No almond flour cookies.  None of that.
Here's what I found on Whole30:
  • I slept SO GOOD and so hard. I fell asleep when my head hit the pillow each night and I slept until my alarm went off in the morning. Actually, most mornings, I woke up before my alarm clock.
  • I felt a constant level of energy throughout my day.  I didn't feel like I was in a slump after lunch and didn't feel like I needed an afternoon cup of coffee.  
  • I lost weight.  I lost 14.5 pounds, most of that within the first 14 days.  My clothes fit better, my scrubs are almost too big now.
  • I didn't feel bloated once during the whole process. 
  • I started to be more mindful about what I was eating and why I was eating it.  Someone would have pizza and I would think, "OH that smells amazing. Maybe I'll cheat and have pizza." But instead, I would think about what pizza tasted like, enjoy the thought in my head, and then dismiss it and let it float away as I munched on cauliflower.  
  • I learned to crave and love fruits and vegetables.  I actually love the taste and flavor and crave them hardcore. 
Here's some embarrassing photos of my Whole 30 results.  My before pictures are what are completely embarrassing-- I look miserable.  Truthfully, I think I was.  I didn't realize how big I had gotten and how uncomfortable I was in my own skin because of how I was treating my body.  Don't get me wrong--I'm not necessarily saying that I was unhappy because I was overweight-- but I was unhappy about why I was overweight and how I had gotten to that point.  I was unhappy that I was an emotional eater who celebrated every life event and life events of friends with food and sweet treats.  

The day after Whole 30 ended, Scott and I met some friends at Boogie Burger for a burger and fries.  This is against the Whole 30 reintroduction period, but we wanted to celebrate.  Scott, in addition to his burger and fries, consumed 2 milkshakes.  I had 1/4 of one of them throughout the night.  And I felt sick and bloated after.  The next day, at work, there was Halloween candy EVERYWHERE.  I ate some.  And I ate some cookies that were in the break room.  I woke up the next morning with a RAGING headache.  I was bloated, had stomach pain, felt drained of energy, and felt like I had a hangover.  I immediately recognized that this was related to my eating.  I hadn't slept well that night and had issues falling asleep at bedtime.  It was terrible.  So I did what I thought I had to do and declared that I was going back on Whole30.  And I did.

Except now.  Now, Scott and I have discussed things more in depth and have decided that we don't necessarily need to do another Whole30 right now.  What we need is to be able to enjoy foods in moderation and to have self control that is needed to walk away from foods that aren't good for us.  After careful consideration, the plan that we have is that we will eat a Whole30 diet during the week (especially when I am working which is when I struggle the most with eating well--I tend to stress eat a lot), and we will give ourselves grace on weekends. This doesn't mean that we'll eat whole tubs of cookie dough and eat out for every meal.  Honestly, I crave healthier foods more than ever before, so for our "cheat day" today, we ate a Whole30 breakfast and lunch, had a couple of snack-sized Kit Kats in the afternoon, drank Whole30 approved coffee (almond milk latte) while out to study, and had a mostly Whole30 dinner that only consisted of Greek Yogurt as a splurge.  We each had 2 cookies for dessert while we watched a movie.  All in all, I don't think that's a bad day.  Tomorrow, though it is Sunday, I will treat the day like a weekday and will eat a Whole30 breakfast and lunch, and will possibly make a dinner time exception depending on what Scott wants to eat for dinner. 

Our goal was to add exercise into our healthy eating this month.  Scott won't be able to do that easily because of boards, and I have not exercised yet this month beyond walking Doc.  I plan to on my next day off, Monday.  The weather is cooling down and it just makes me want to get outside.  

Here are some photos from Whole30.  Some are way embarrassing, but I hope you see that eating well works. Treating your body well is important.  I didn't understand this for most of my life growing up.  I ate what I wanted when I wanted.  I loved fast food (still love a good Chick-fil-a meal every now and then!), carbs, cheese, sugar. Now, I don't want those things as much as I once did.  I crave fresh veggies and whole foods.  I want things that will give me energy to get through my days and hope for long, healthy life loving my family and further God's kingdom.  



If you have any questions about the process or anything, feel free to reach out.  I'm by no means an expert but believe in this process more than I can tell you.  It's not just a "fad diet," it's a lifestyle change, and one that I want to pursue for the rest of my life in an effort to be healthy.  As part of my one word this year, "nurture," I commit wholely to this and to feeding my body things that are good for me.  If I can get by with 80% healthy, 20% not so healthy in my diet, I think I'll be doing MUCH better than I was prior to Whole30.  How do you treat your body well? What do you do to take care of it? I would love to hear from friends who are on a journey to health.  

Love you all dearly and hope you have a great rest of your weekend!
Cristina