Category Archives: uncategorized

Whole30, Take One

To be honest, a lot of my starting the Whole30 was a whim. I’m part of a group on Facebook that encourages each other toward health and fitness, and several of the girls in the group were planning to do Whole30 together. I had done some research on it before, but not too extensively. Just enough to know that it seemed pretty extreme, and cheesecake was going to be a non-option. For a really long time, that was enough to tell me that it wasn’t for me.

A few weeks before I found out my girls were going to be doing it together, I began encountering a problem I’ve never had before in my life. I started getting cystic acne underneath my arms. Huge welts, so painful that moving my arms at all made me want to cry. On several occasions, students would come up to hug me, squeezing my arms up against my torso, and I would literally have to concentrate on not pushing them off of me. 

I’ve never had acne problems, ever in my life, including during puberty. So for me, this was a red flag that all was not well with my body.

So when the opportunity to do Whole30 with accountability came up, I decided I didn’t have anything to lose. I jumped in head first, and Josh decided to jump with me.

If you’re not familiar with the program, it’s a month-long elimination diet that takes out food groups that commonly cause inflammation in the body. The biggest culprits are grains, legumes, dairy, sugar, and alcohol; Whole30 eliminates those food groups and some oils, and gives your body 30 days to heal any inflammation and resulting damage that may have been caused to your system. And then, after the 30 days, you reintroduce those food groups individually over the course of about ten days, watching for new symptoms as you reintroduce. This procedure gives you a chance to figure out exactly what foods, if any, are causing your issues. Any foods that don’t cause any symptoms can be safely incorporated into your diet, whereas any foods that cause problems can be either moderated or eliminated altogether.

So the long and short of it is that Josh and I spent 30 days eating a steady diet of meat, vegetables, fruit, and healthy fat sources. Despite the fact that we were eating the exact same thing, our experiences with the 30 days of the program were very different.

I felt good on day one. Day two, I ended up with a migraine-caliber headache about halfway through the day. My energy also crashed, since my body had become used to a steady diet of sugar and caffeine and refined carbohydrates as its main energy sources. Day three, I woke up feeling pretty good, and throughout the rest of the 30 days, I felt increasingly good.

I noticed several changes, health-wise. Some immediate, and some over the course of the month.

Immediately, my cystic acne began subsiding. I had one major outbreak right before I started Whole30, and it cleared up quickly, with no outbreaks to follow. By day three, I was no longer having energy crashes in the afternoons. Within about five days, I began noticing that bloating in my face, legs, and midsection was beginning to go down. Sometime in week two, I started noticing that I was falling asleep easier, sleeping more soundly, and waking up before my alarm. Overall, my energy just kept getting better and better.

One of the things I noticed the most, though, was the fact that food no longer consumed my mind. I have struggled for several years with binge eating tendencies, and I have never been in as good a mental place with food as I was during the Whole30. I didn’t restrict my calories, I ate a ton of delicious food, I wasn’t hungry, I didn’t feel deprived, I didn’t struggle with cravings often. Food just did not take up a big a space in my mind as it always has previously, because I knew exactly what I would and would not eat. It took all the decision making out of the equation. So I just mostly didn’t think about it.

Josh, however, had a slightly different experience. He didn’t notice a lot of the changes in how he was feeling until we started reintroducing. The biggest thing he noticed during the month itself was that his digestive system was a WRECK. For a solid three weeks, his body was slowly detoxifying himself, and his stomach was a mess. His cravings for sweets were also still very strong until about three weeks in. Somewhere around the last week, he started feeling a little bit better, and then a lot better.

Reintroduction, for both of us, has been a HUGE eye-opener, in different ways. Josh’s reactions to reintroduction were more extreme and much quicker than mine, 

About a week after we finished Whole30, Josh and I went to our favorite little breakfast place, where they make these incredible buttermilk pancakes. The first thing we noticed was that neither of us could finish our pancakes. They were too sweet, too heavy, too much. So we stopped eating about halfway through, paid, and left.

About halfway home from breakfast, Josh’s acid reflux recurred. When his acid reflux flares up, he has these burps that literally sound like they are incinerating his esophagus on the way out. They are awful. They used to happen all the time; literally, several times a day. He’s been taking OTC medication for acid reflux since we got married five years ago.

When the first burp popped out in the car, we just looked at each other with this blank stare. Neither of us had realized it until it started happening again, but he hadn’t had an acid reflux attack since we started Whole30. Hadn’t needed to take his medicine once.

That was the first of many shock and awe moments for us, following Whole30.

By the time we made it home, both Josh and I were ready to crash and take a nap. At 10am. We both felt lethargic and foggy, and I could feel a headache coming on.

Today, about three weeks after the challenge ended, we have fully reintroduced, and have basically gone back to our old diet.

And we are going back to Whole30 style eating. Because we both feel like crap. My acne is back, Josh’s acid reflux is back, he has pain in his joints again, another thing he didn’t realize had gone away until we reintroduced. We’re both back to struggling with fatigue and brain fog, digestive issues aplenty. The bloating that had so quickly disappeared for me is back, full force.

In all honesty? I wish we’d never reintroduced. It was a great experience in that it taught us in a very specific way how much better we feel when we’re eating whole foods, but I don’t want to waste more minutes of my life feeling like hell.

There are a lot of people who talk about how a lifestyle like this isn’t sustainable.

I beg to differ. I’ve reached the conclusion that,for me, what’s not sustainable is constantly feeling heavy, exhausted, and sick. That’s not the life I want to live. I want to live an abundant life, one I can enjoy and participate in fully.

So please. Please, let me encourage you. If that’s you, if you feel like you’re stuck in a cycle of feeling physically and mentally terrible? This is not normal. It’s common, but common and normal are two very different things. You CAN do better. You CAN feel better. And you CAN change your life. 

If you have questions or concerns or thoughts, contact me. Please. I will support you, I will encourage you, I will share our recipes and resources and tips. I can’t tell you how much I wish I could get everyone I know to try this whole thing, just for a month. Just to see what happens. Just to see how they feel. 

Because what if?

soul check [1]

Some days I know who I am and where I am and what I feel. Some days, life gives me the space to breathe and contemplate and think my thoughts all the way through, from beginning to end. Sometimes, I need sentence starters, things like I feel, I love, I remember. Sometimes I need practical ways to think my thoughts, and today is that day. Today is soul check day for me. Join me?

I feel like myself today. That isn’t always the case, particularly at work.

I crave wide open blocks of time during which there’s nothing urgent to be done, nothing with a deadline or expectation attached to it.

I love laughing with my students. I really, really love laughing with them.

I’m afraid of death, and the way it changes the living. I’m afraid of the grief process, of myself and the people I love coming out on the other side as completely different human beings, who have to learn how to love-in-action-in-real-time each other all over again.

I’m discovering that my best creative thinking happens at around 7:30 in the morning, usually during or after my commute. That feels a little inconvenient.

I’m bothered by the fact that sometimes it feels apparent that we’re more attached to the idea of quantifiable and correct theology than we are to the fragile hearts of the human beings with whom we disagree.

I’m encouraged by the fact that there are sixteen school days left before summer, and today, that doesn’t feel like much at all. It doesn’t feel overwhelming.

I’m remembering that all is grace, even the things that don’t feel like it. Maybe especially those things.

I’m listening to All Sons and Daughters on repeat these days.

I’m reading Emily’s latest blog, and reminding myself that it’s okay to just sit and be. That sometimes, that’s genuinely the best and most important thing we can do, even if it’s not the most urgent.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

a warm drink and few good reads

I am a little bit in love with the world of blogging.

Because, in my experience, it is the one place where it’s basically impossible to feel lonely for too long.  There are so many voices out there, people.  Beautiful voices who are saying really important things, things worth hearing.  There are people who are saying two very, very important words with their stories and their lives:

Me too.

They say it to me all the time, and if you look long and hard enough, I am certain that there are people out there saying it to you as well.  No matter who you are, where you are, or how long you’ve been feeling like you’re probably the only person who and where you are…you’re not.  Search the voices, and find your “me too” tribe.

Today, and probably a lot in the days to come, I will share a few of my favorite “me too” moments.  These kinds of stories, these kinds of voices, are the reasons I sit down as often as possible with a warm drink and an open heart and some time on my hands.  Some of them will be new, some will be old, but all of them will speak, if you have a moment to listen.

Please understand from the onset that I don’t edit the blogs I read for language.  If you’re looking for a person who values the idea that this messy, dirty, unfathomably broken world can or should always be expressed in pristine language, you’ve unfortunately got the wrong girl. However, it’s never been my intention to offend or disrespect those whose convictions run parallel to my own, so I like to put a disclaimer out there.

 

“Teachers- you’ve got a million parents behind you whispering together: ‘We don’t care about the damn standardized tests. We only care that you teach our children to be Brave and Kind. And we thank you. We thank you for saving lives.'”

I just recently found Momastery, and every word out of this woman’s mouth is a heart-stopping brand of gold to me.  I have long harbored the suspicion that in order to love messy people well, we have to live our own messiness out loud.  I have yet to find anyone who does that with the grace and audacity that Glennon Melton does.  Her words and her story and her heart are shocking and brave and beautiful, and she gives me hope that my own loud messiness can help others heal.

“For me, the process of rebuilding and redefining has taken time, and it’s something I continue to struggle with and work through. And looking back, there’s a million other ways I could have done it.

 

But I didn’t.

 

And Grace found me anyway.”

I just discovered Addie’s blog this week, and I cannot even start to put words to all of the me-too moments I’ve had in reading her story.  She is a questioner and a cynic who grew up in a very similar evangelical culture to my own, and she is a lovely example of what it means to be a questioner and a cynic who is caught in the arms of grace and Jesus.

“Then Sabo I say it brave, my voice refusing to shake as it stands in the truth: God looks at you and he looks at me and he sees exactly the same thing – the righteousness of Jesus. 

Sabo laughs a little, shaking his head. Truth be told, it’s a little bit of a hard pill for me to swallow too. How can we be the same when I’ve done so many GOOD things and he has done so many BAD? But the gospel stares me in the face, with deep brown eyes and a stubborn set to his jaw. Because ALL sins nailed at Golgotha. Not just mine, not just his. All of them. And the ground stands surprisingly level here at the foot of the cross.” 

I have never met Becca, but it took me about two of her blogs to understand that our hearts beat the same rhythms of grace for the same brand of kiddos, and that she knows how quickly that grace-beat can tear up your whole heart and your whole view of life and faith and grace.  

Tagged , , , , , , ,

on history and calling and messy faith

There’s so much I don’t remember about my spiritual journey, because it started the day I was born.  I was born into the arms of a gentle, soft-spoken woman and a loud, opinionated man.  That loud, opinionated man has been, for the entirety of my thirty years, a deacon at a small country church in southern Missouri, in the very arteries of the Bible belt.

So growing up, church was what I knew.  I knew the rules, I knew the expectations, I knew the people, I knew right, I knew wrong, I knew to expect truly phenomenal taco salad to appear at every single Free Will Baptist potluck gathering.

That was what I knew then.  What I know now is far messier.  And that doesn’t even touch what I now know that I don’t know.

Now, I feel in a lot of ways like I’m wandering.  Like I’m disconnected and connected at the same time, in a way that’s a little painful and a lot disorienting.

A good friend, a wise man who is a fellow lover of good questions, asked me today how teaching was going, how I was feeling about it.  And I told him the honest to God truth…I don’t really know.  I’m wrestling with my calling a lot these days, and to be honest, that’s not even a word I’m completely comfortable using for myself, to this day.  Because I’m a woman, and the word “calling” brings to mind the young men gathered around the altar at church camp, having been “called to preach,” which is still a concept I’m somewhat skeptical of.  Standing with bright red tear-streaked faces, turning to face an expectant gathering of people after forty-five minutes of prayer and frenzied conversation with one or two of the older men of our denomination.  Shaking hands grabbing a microphone, trembling voices announcing to the masses that they’d just accepted the call to preach.  That’s what a calling is to me.  It’s certainly not a word for me.

But I said that word today, when Andy asked how teaching was going.  Because teaching is many things to me.  Dependent on the day, teaching is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever had the privilege of doing, the worst mistake I’ve ever made, the thing that God’s using to shape and refine me, the thing that God is using to punish me for submitting to the American ideal of living life in a way that elicits descriptors like “safe” and “stable.”  I wish I was kidding when I say that there are days when I feel all four of those convictions plus at least six more, all within the span of approximately eight minutes.

But the one thing I can say with confidence that teaching is not? My calling.

And we talked for awhile, Andy and my Joshua and I, about that idea of calling.  He asked if I’d ever sat down and really written out my spiritual journey, my story, my history.  And again, I told him the honest to God truth.  I’ve tried.  I really have.  But sometimes, when I begin to dig into my spiritual journey, to try to flesh it out and commit to paper how I got from the beginning to here, I hit all these walls.  Fear of what will follow if I put it out there, speak all of my doubts and questions out loud.  Guilt over the fact that portions of what I believe are a pretty far cry from the way my parents raised me; the feeling that I’m slapping them and their beliefs in the face when that’s not one iota of my intention.  My innate inability to paint anyone’s way of life in anything but the most gracious light, colliding with the fact that my experience with the church, if told honestly, might not make for the most flattering story for everyone involved.  Fear that my raising has always been right; that real faith involves faith without questioning and that I am simply broken.  There it is, really.  That’s the big part.  Fear that I am broken.

So I did my best today to put it in words for the first time, the why of me having never written down my spiritual journey, and our dear friend answered with an idea that was bold and blunt and just like him.

What if I’m not going to be able to work through the issue of my calling until I’ve worked through this issue of my history?

What if, instead of my calling being separate from my history, my calling can only be found in the sorting out of it? What if I have to ask all the questions and expose all the doubts and get to the heart of all the wonderings? What if I have to discover God on my own terms, when for thirty years I’ve been relying on what I’ve been told? What if God is deconstructing all my preconceived notions, all my baggage with the church, because my story, my ministry, my calling requires that?

What if it’s supposed to be messy and hard and a little scary? What if that’s faith?

Tagged , , , , , ,

to say less and hear more

I want to be a person who says less and hears more.  Who hears people without instinctively attempting to explain their own words and thoughts to them.  Who doesn’t interrupt or assume or deconstruct.  Who lets people tell their own story and walk their own journey, who is content to simply walk it with them and maybe ask a few good questions along the way.  Who doesn’t sit waiting, quite impatiently I might add, for the opportunity to throw in my opinion.  Who is comfortable in the silence of “I don’t know.”  Who feels no uncontrollable compulsion to require or offer explanations.

I am, by both nature and raising, a little opinionated and a lot loud.  And sometimes the opinions and the volume cancel out the listening, the hearing, the understanding, the side-by-side companionship.

I want to be a person who says less and hears more.

Tagged , ,

the raw ones

It’s this one word that keeps coming back to me, one word I can’t disconnect from.

One day a few months ago, I sat curled up in my bed on a Skype date with Aubrey.  Wrapping fingers around a ceramic mug of tea that was almost still hot, gripping it like a tangible shred of the last little bit of my control.  Control over myself, over life, over dreams, over fear.  Maybe over God, if I’m being completely honest.

And I could not meet her eyes, the sweet friend who was watching me from my computer screen.  Dallas and Lima in the same room, Dallas losing it and Lima holding on for them both.  I remember just sitting there for a second, wishing that distance wasn’t what it is and that we could just curl up in my bed and cry together.

See, this year has felt in many ways like dreams buried and dreams planted, and that day was the first that I ever spoke of it out loud.  That day was the first time I said actual words to an actual human, words articulating this nagging feeling that I was supposed to start saying no to being what I’ve always wanted to be–a musician–so that I can start saying yes to being what I’ve always been scared to be–a writer.

And the truth did what it always does, and tumbled out fast and terrifying.

Aub, I can’t write worth shit unless I write raw.

And it all closed in at the same time, and I ugly-cried while I tried to squeak out words, desperate to convey to another human being that sometimes you know what it is that divine hands are trying to drag out of you, but for the love of sanity, you just want it to stay in its place because if it escapes, God only knows what might hit the fan.

Singing, playing, performing, it all lives in this easy, comfortable place for me.  Because I’m comfortable with the fact that I’m pretty good at it.  I’m good at using a pretty voice to sing someone else’s song, tell someone else’s story.  A story that doesn’t really cost me anything, that doesn’t share too much or hit too close to home or leave me with that horrible and beautiful feeling that I just handed another human being my whole heart and gave them permission to eviscerate it.

I’ve spent so much of my life figuring out how to be pleasant and palatable, easy to be around, and lately it feels like that’s being wrenched from white-knuckled hands.  I feel as though I’m finally finding my voice as a writer, and some days I want to give it back and ask for a different one.  Because this voice I’m finding, it pokes and prods and challenges.  It rocks boats and doesn’t always sit comfortably.  It’s not for everyone.  Which feels impossible to me, because something inside me has always wrestled with this misplaced and irrational desire to be pleasing to everyone always.

But I’m figuring out that in truth, that’s not a way to live.

Maybe life is a lot like writing for me.  Maybe to be worth something, it has to exist in unedited abandon.  Unfinished, unrefined, untamed and wild.

I want to be okay with the fact that my voice isn’t for everyone.  I want to be able to love people well, regardless of whether they connect with my heart and my story.

But I also want to find the people my voice IS for.  The ones who mate for life.  The ones who think All of the Big Thoughts and feel All of the Big Feelings.  The ones who have spent life trying to play small and conventional, absolutely terrified of being too much for the people around them.  The ones who live with doubt and chase wild hope.  The ones with dirty hands and gritty stories full of truthful loose ends that haven’t ever tied themselves up.  The ones who experience each of the things at every end of all the spectrums in brilliant technicolor.

I want to find the raw ones.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

i don’t know

I feel completely disconnected from the church.

Sometimes you just have to start by saying the hard thing.  That thing that sometimes feels like it’s stuck to the roof of your mouth, like you couldn’t wrench it out if your life depended on it.  That thing that at other times feels as though it’s going to waterfall out, spill at the least appropriate time, flood the grounds of sacred places with sacrilege.

It’s the kind of thing that catches you by surprise when it first rolls into the white space in your mind.  And something in your spirit settles, like that moment when you finally confess an ugly secret to a friend.  And then reality sets in, that the difficult truth is known, and all that’s left is the anxiety of, “Well, now what?”

Hard things are both impossible and freeing once said.

But the freedom is addictive, so you say it again and it slides out a little easier this time, a little less like the end of the world.

I feel completely disconnected from the church.

And I’ve been afraid of saying that for so long, because I don’t know how to explain it, to dig to the root of it, to put words to fleeting feelings in the pit of my stomach.  I consider myself an artist, words my medium, and so when I can’t tie things down with the bonds of the English language, I panic.  I love the end product, but the process scrapes at the walls of my soul.

Because I know how this blog ends, already.  I know it ends with three words that I’ve never been completely comfortable with.

I don’t know.

When we say the Lord’s prayer, the apostles’ creed, I feel connected.  At the table, with the bread and the wine, I feel connected.  The weight of thousands of years and all the believers who passed through those years. The belonging of knowing that Jesus is my provider and my provision, my sustainer and my sustenance.  Connected.

And then I sit back down and it hits, that feeling that this has been a hard year, the hardest in nearing a decade, and no one in this room knows it.  And I realize that there’s a really good chance that someone else in the room feels exactly the same way. Like it’s possible to show up every Sunday, feeling like you’re drowning, and for no one to know it.  And I feel the weight of bitterness over the fact that no one has really made an effort to get to know me, and I feel the weight of shame over the fact that I haven’t really made an effort to get to know them.

And there’s a breakthrough moment when it hits me that my heart aches for the broken.  It always has.  Probably because I’m one of them.  Broken and messy and completely flawed, with a Jacob spirit that’s always wrestling the angel.

And it swells up in my soul that sometimes, I don’t feel like the North American concept of church is a place for the broken.  Particularly in the just-the-right-side-of-wealthy suburbs, sometimes it feels like it’s a place for the people who have got themselves and their lives together, or at very least have figured out how to act like it.

I don’t and I haven’t.  There’s no having anything together to be boasted of with this one.  And the older I get, the less desire I have to figure out how to act like I do.  But therein lies the problem.  The more I unapologetically embrace my own messiness, the less I feel connected within the church.

And then there are the creeds, the liturgy, the bread and wine.  And I feel the spirit of Jacob wrestle within me, the heart of David who knew how to both rejoice and lament with truly startling honesty, Rahab who was all the wrong things at exactly the right time.  And I feel my soul connect to something, connect to God, connect to people who related to Him in the unpolished way I do.  And hope rises and I am sustained.  I breathe.

How do I create that here? How do I find the others who long for connection they’re not finding? How do I make space for that here, to know and be known and love and be loved, for real time with real people who have real lives and real joys and real heartaches? How do you facilitate that in an environment where the default answer to most any personal question is “busy?” How do I pause the record that replays in my head when I crave community and time, the one that says that their life is busy enough as it is…they don’t need or want me to add to it.

Ah, the three words that I’ve never been completely comfortable with.

I don’t know.

Tagged , , , , ,