Thursday, February 26, 2015

Magic in the Misery

Let me give you a peek into some of my runs lately.

I'm super pleased with my paces this training round, but has been COLD!!!!!! I'm a cold weather runner, so I actually love it. However, it does get a little tiresome having to decide how many layers to wear every time I run.

(This was the first time EVER that I went out to run and ended up putting on MORE layers. I ran a mile warm up and then was doing hill repeats right by my house so I went in and added a vest and my heavy gloves!)

(Don't worry, the place I was actually running on was mostly clear of snow!)

(this was my "Why's it gotta be so windy EVERY TIME I have a tempo run?" face!!)

Then there was this run on Saturday. I had a 12 mile long run scheduled. It was supposed to snow all day Saturday and then I wasn't sure how the roads would be on Sunday. So, I tried to beat the snow Saturday morning - and failed. Miserably. At mile 1.8, it started snowing. I was running down this country road with fields on both sides, so the wind was whipping across and it was pretty awful. Then, I turned onto a road with woods on one side that blocked the wind and I started to feel better and thought "Snow running is beautiful, let's take a selfie" (the top 2 photos).

I kept running along and started bargaining with myself. At 3 miles, I decided to turn around and head towards home. At first I thought "6 miles is enough", but then I figured I was already cold and snowy so I should try to get at least 10 in. At about mile 6, as I wiped the ICICLES off of my eyelashes, I decided that 8 would be plenty. (I had 2 more miles to run to get home so I had to do at least 8).

But somewhere, in the cold, windy, icicled eyelash misery -- there's a little bit of magic. There's this just something special about pushing yourself to do more than you thought you could. As I'm out there, and the wind is blowing and I find myself thinking "WHY AM I OUT HERE?" - I remember my goals. I think about how it will feel in Ocean City (in warmer weather!) to cross the finish line knowing that I gave my all. I will remember the snow and the wind and the cold and the HARD WORK that I put into my training, and I will be proud - no matter what the clock says!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Grocery Adventures

While enjoying some delicious Thai food at a local restaurant a few weeks ago, my date and I were discussing whether we could make similar food at home for a lot cheaper. He had recently visited the Asian grocery store in the city, and thought they'd probably have the noodles there, so we went on a little adventure.

This place was noodles galore!! They had noodles made out of all kinds of fun things! The kind we were looking for, that they used at the restaurant, are made out of mung bean.  Of course, I couldn't JUST buy the mung bean noodles. There are so many kinds I want to try!

Since I was doing the Whole30 at the time, we chose these "purple sweet potato" noodles. The only ingredient is "purple sweet potatoes", so they are Whole30 compliant! We also picked up some red curry paste because I was out.

We picked up a bag of frozen stir fry veggies, some chicken, lemongrass paste, and coconut milk at the grocery store on our way home and planned some cooking the next night!
I basically just sauteed all of that stuff together and served it over the sweet potato noodles. The verdict was -- GOOD. I think next time I'd add a tablespoon or so of soy sauce. I didn't add any salt at all to the dish, and it needed a little bit. The noodles...well...they were alright. I'd eat them again, but they weren't fabulous. They were a little slimy. Not a favorite, but definitely a fun experiment!

On Valentine's Day, the guy cooked up another stir fry to top the mung bean noodles with. These noodles were so much better than the purple ones! I'd definitely use these again. For this stir fry, he did a seafood mix (mussels, clams, shrimp, etc) with another bag of stir fry veggies, some red curry paste, a little coconut milk, and some other spices. This was yummy too! 

If you have any kind of ethnic market in your area, you should check it out! It was definitely a fun adventure. We had a great time looking at all of the different things they had and coming up with something to cook together. Grocery store adventures make great date nights!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


"And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died." (1 Thes. 4:13-14)

Thank you, God, for the hope we have.

To read my thoughts from previous years - check out these posts: Year 1, Year 2, Year 3, Year 4.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Recipe Reviews

I cooked up a few yummy things this week that I spotted on blogs, and I wanted to share my reviews with you in case you're looking for some new recipes to try. These were all easy, healthy, and delicious!

My mom sent me this recipe the other day and I couldn't wait to try it! It's SO GOOD!!! It tastes like a soup I'd get in a restaurant. The only substitution I made was that the recipe calls for 4 cups of unsweetened SoDelicious coconut milk (the kind you find in the green carton in the refrigerated section) but I wanted more coconut flavor. That kind of milk doesn't have a coconut flavor. So I added a can of lite cooking coconut milk in place of part of the SoDelicious. I also forgot to buy the cabbage it calls for so I didn't include that, but I added rice instead.

Oh. My. Goodness. These are AMAZING. I'd never made chicken wings before, so this recipe was an adventure. I think this sauce would be awesome on some chicken thighs too. I did this one exactly as the recipe calls for (oh except I used low sodium soy sauce because I was out of coconut aminos). It's so, so, so good. Go make this. Right now.

These are paleo-ish - they contain protein powder, so the kind you use will affect how paleo this is. I can't believe how fluffy these are. Paleo baked goods can be kind of flat and heavy, but these came out great! I used Tera's Grass Fed Whey Powder in coffee flavor and pecans instead of almonds. I will definitely make this again...maybe I'll try muffins next time!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Blessing {sharing my current heart}

I am currently doing the "365 Days of Truth" reading plan with #SheReadsTruth (one of my favorite online communities!), and we just finished the book of Job last week.

I'm going to share something that has been on my heart for a long time, but I haven't really written about it yet because I needed to be on the other side of it...if that makes sense. 

If you aren't familiar with Job's story - let me give you the quick version. Job is super faithful. The first verses of the book of Job describe him as "blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil". Job is also mega-rich and has a pretty great life.

So, Satan challenges God -- suggesting that the only reason Job is so faithful to God is because God has protected and blessed Job. And God basically gives Satan permission to ruin Job's life -- God tells Satan: "everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself, do not lay a finger."

For the next 30+ chapters, Job's life falls apart. He loses EVERYTHING -- but yet he still doesn't curse God.

I'll be honest - this book is not an easy read. It had the potential to make me believe the lie that I'm not good enough, that my faith isn't strong like Job's.

But then you get to the end.
After years of devastation for Job, and chapters of reading about this sorrow...there's this:
"the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning" (Job 42:12)

I read this verse over and over this week and I cried.

Because, to tell you the truth...I've spend a lot of the past 5 years feeling a bit like Job. Clearly, my story is not as dramatic as his -- I did lose my husband, but I definitely did not lose everything. But, I have felt like I've done my best to remain faithful to God, to walk in His will, to seek Him and yet - this thing that I have prayed for over and over for 5 years has been denied. 

I wish I could tell you I have been just like Job in this - haven't cursed God or questioned or doubted, but I definitely have.

I've watched, over 5 years, friends fall in love and get engaged and get married and get divorced and get remarried. 
I've watched them have families and buy new houses and new cars and have more kids.
And I sometimes feel like I'm stuck.

Same job.
Same house.
Same car.
Same marital status. (I've called it "the scarlet W" before)

I feel like somehow, along the way, maybe I missed my chance. 
Maybe it's too late for my "happily ever after".

But then this.
"the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning"

Ok, so at 33, I'm not thinking my life is necessarily half over, but the idea of this verse that struck me is that God's blessing doesn't have a timeline. God's not like "Oh woops - I totally meant to give you that 2nd husband like 3 years you missed the chance."

You know what else chapter 42 says about God's blessing of Job? God didn't just bless Job a little bit.
"the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before!" (Job 42:10)

The phrase that continues to replay in my mind is: God blesses obedience.
I've walked in obedience for 5 years. Actually, I've walked in obedience for longer than that in regards to my relationship status. I know with absolute certainty that God called me to marry Isaac. I don't understand it. But I know that God blesses obedience. The past month of my life, I've seen evidence of this all over, in so many ways I couldn't even begin to blog about them. In my Bible study, my friendships, the new person I'm dating, the songs we have sung at church, my running...every area of my life this past month has spoken "God blesses obedience". 

I don't know what God has in store for the future. But I do know that I will keep walking in His truth. I will keep doing the best I can to remain obedient to what He calls me to...because it's worth it. He is worth it.

So maybe you're feeling a bit like Job right now too. Or like an Israelite, wandering the desert (currently reading Exodus in my devotions). Maybe you've been praying for something for a long, long time...and you've watched God bless others with it and you've wondered if He will ever bless you. Keep walking. Keep being obedient. 
"If you obey God, can you expect His blessings? Yes. But remember that His choice of blessing may be different from yours. Perhaps He will use suffering to draw you closer to Himself. Or He may use it to remove from your life those things that hinder fruitfulness for Him. No matter what, if you walk in His will, He will bless you in surprising ways." (source)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The #Whole30 is over -- now get me a cupcake...

Guess what today is??? 
The first day AFTER the Whole30!!!! 
I did it. 
No sugar, no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no sweeteners, no alcohol, no processed foods...for 30 solid days. 

And to be honest? 
It wasn't that bad. 
The things I missed the most were: Nuun, peanut butter, and alcohol. HA!

But really -- if you do the research, and plan carefully, this is such a manageable plan. Seriously -- I even went on dates and stuck to it. I went on a FIRST date and was able to stick to it. Luckily, my date was someone who was completely understanding of my food situation, and only made fun of me a little bit when I busted out my bottle of coconut aminos at the sushi restaurant. (no soy on the Whole30!)

So, what now? I joked with some people that I planned on having wine for breakfast today. Don't worry, I didn't.  I had some gluten free oats! 

The Whole30 program suggests reintroducing the food groups back into your diet one at a time. This way, you can have a better gauge on what food items are really affecting you. Say, if I introduce non-gluten containing grains, and start breaking out or getting headaches, I can pinpoint the reaction to that particular food.

My plan for reintroduction is this:
Day 1-3: Nuun and non-gluten grains.
Day 4-5: Legumes (peanuts/beans)
Day 6-7: Dairy...though to be honest, I don't eat much dairy really.

Oh and alcohol will be reintroduced there somewhere...probably in the form of a glass of wine. Yay!

Confessions though...
I wasn't perfect.
  • My bacon was the best bacon I could find. Did it have sugar in the curing process? Yes. 
  • Once, I ate out at Panera Bread and I think it wasn't totally compliant. I got the Mediterranean Power Salad -- chicken, bacon, spinach, served with olive oil and lemon for dressing. (The chicken has some sugar in the ingredients)
  • Last week, we went for sushi somewhat spontaneously and I didn't have my coconut aminos so I dipped my fish in soy sauce.
Here's the thing -- the goal of the Whole30 is to change your relationship with food. I was still meeting that goal, even by having my imperfect bacon and my soy sauce. I mean, I brought an entire bottle of coconut aminos on a first date for crying out loud!! I was committed.

So, that's my Whole30 experience. It was hard at times, but I had some great friends doing it alongside me and we helped each other get through the cravings.  Overall, I think the Whole30 is a worthwhile plan. It helped me bust through a food rut, lose 10 pounds, and significantly clean up my diet.

(Side note: Local friends -- Essan Thai in downtown York is super at accommodating Whole30!! I ate their twice. So, if you're doing a Whole30 and are in York, definitely visit. Just don't look at the gelato case on the way in!)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

In February

This weekend, as the clock struck midnight and the calendar slipped from January to February...I was wished a "happy February". 

A few hours before, I stood in my church and sang the song that has been the cry of my heart since the first time I heard it.

...the song about the COUNTLESS second chances we've been given at the cross.

...the song about God crafting preciousness from dust.

God redeems.
God restores.
God gives countless second chances.

I stood, singing my heart out, with a huge smile on face...and for the first time in 5 years, I'm looking forward to February.

(read my original "Dear February" post here)