Thursday, January 23, 2014

Green Smoothie Love

I'm gonna give it to you straight. I'm in love with a green smoothie.

Wait. Let me rewind.

If I had a food motto, it would be: "Give your body what it wants." Unless all your body wants is chocolate and ice cream. But typically, I think if your body is saying "I want a roast beef panini!" Or, "I want a spinach salad chalk full of fruit and turkey!" Or, "I want stir fry!" Or, "Give me an omelet!" Then alright! Give your body what it wants. I've found that I am a happier person if I eat what I actually feel like eating, instead of eating what I think I should be eating, like a salad or only one slice of pizza instead of two. If I eat what I don't want, or not enough of what I do want, I'll just be hungry later and then probably fill up on sweets and then I'll be cranky. NO ONE WANTS CRANKY. I've also been wanting chocolate recently, so I bought some chocolate chips at the store last night. And they were milk chocolate, not dark. Because that's what I want! Send me to the loony bin.

By the way, I do work out. I think that helps with the "Give your body what it wants" theory. It probably wouldn't work out so well if you didn't work out. At least it wouldn't for me.

So, alllll that to say, I wouldn't typically go for a green smoothie. In fact, when I saw my sis-in-law drinking (or eating? Do you drink or eat a smoothie?) a green smoothie in New York over Christmas, I was like "Lo, WHAT IS THAT. Girl, you cray cray." Just kidding. I don't say "cray cray." But I was like "Lo, WHAT IS THAT?" Lora has celiacs (translation: gluten-free) so she is really aware of nutrition. And both Lora and Alisha (my other sis-in-law) are super healthy. They juice. JUICE! They juice lots of things like carrots, celery, beets, lemons, swiss chard... you name it. I was rather skeptical of these healthy sisters until Lora made me try her green smoothie. And Alisha brought home some beet-red beet juice with lemon that I tried too.

And I'm a convert!! No lie! Green smoothie love. I love it. I love the beet juice too. Weirrrrd. In fact, I had a pretty bad headache the morning that I first tried the green smoothie and the beet juice. I think the sour/sharp juice knocked my headache away. And the green smoothie filled me up with love. So much love that it would be amiss not to share it. So here's the recipe. And then I'll tell you what all the ingredients do.

Lora's Green Smoothie (serves 1):
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (can add more milk if needed)
1 frozen banana (frozen is the key word here)
1 heaping tablespoon of peanut butter
1 generous handful of kale
1.5 scoops vanilla protein powder (we like the EAS Lean 15 kind)
1 teas. Maca powder
Small sprinkle of Spirulina powder
Drizzle of Chia seeds (about a tablespoon)
4 whole dates 
Garnish with dried mulberries

Put everything in a blender and mix away. Sprinkle a few mulberries on top, just for kicks.

Now, I know what you're thinking. WHAT THE HECK ARE MULBERRIES! Let me tell you what: I DON'T KNOW!

But I did some research on these little mysteries, and on everything else in that smoothie that you nor I have never heard of.

Mulberries: It's a Turkish superfruit. They are high in protein, and can help lower your blood sugar and protect your heart.

Maca powder: It's an Incan superfood, and the lady at Whole Foods also told Michael and I that it's good for getting your groove on... if you know what I mean. According to the package, Maca powder nourishes the endocrine system, increases stamina, boosts libido (like she said,) and combats fatigue.

Spirulina powder: It's a natural vitamin from Hawaii -- what's not to love! It supports cardiovascular
health, eye and brain health, and boosts your energy and immunity. It also smells terrible.

Chia seeds: It's an Aztec and Mayan superfood. Basically these little seeds pack a huge punch: they boost your energy, they keep you full, and they have more Omega-3 than salmon.

Peanut butter: Enough said.

Dates: They taste so good and are super high in fiber.

Kale: It promotes better bone health, a stronger immune system, and a better immune system... among SO MANY other good things. Kale is a winner. You don't taste it in the smoothie at all, by the way.

Almond milk: It's lactose and cholesterol free. You could probably do regular milk too.

These ingredients can cost a pretty penny, but you only need to buy the powders/seeds once every few months. You also don't technically have to had any of this stuff to make it taste SO GOOD. You really only taste the peanut butter, banana, and vanilla protein powder. Add the kale, dates, and the almond milk, and you are good to go.

I double-dog dare you to try this smoothie. You will be a new woman! Or man! We are human beings, not human doings!

And then go dance in front of your mirror to Beyonce's XO. Because you will feel that good.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lessons from FedEx

You know when people say something casually in conversation, but you never forget it? It's amazing the things that really can stick with you, and the speaker probably doesn't even remember saying it. It's a good reminder that our words have weight. So use them carefully. (I am working on this.) Well, when I was young, probably in middle school (which was 15 years ago -- yikes), my friend Allie pointed to a FedEx truck and told me about negative space. I'll never forget it. 

When looking at the FedEx logo, all you see at first is the words. But if you look between the E and the X, there's a white arrow (mind blowing!) This is negative space. It's using space for displaying meaning or beauty or just something that would otherwise be chalked up to nothing, just space. It's like those pictures when you think you are seeing one thing, like a flower vase, but then you take a step back and look at the vase with fresh eyes, and you realize that it's also two faces looking at each other (just Google "Negative Space" for tons of examples, and if you want to know more about how the FedEx logo came about, read this article.) 

I love seeing the FedEx logo (and I see it EVERYWHERE) because I always think of my friend Allie, and I now always see the arrow. I really can't not see it, truth be told.  I've been meaning to write about this for a good month or so, and when I see a FedEx truck at least five times a day rumbling through the streets of DC, it reminds me that I have literally no excuse for not getting my lazy butt in gear and getting these thoughts down on paper. 

So here's what I've been thinking about with the whole "negative space" concept -- Something out of nothing. "Something out of nothing" is what Michael and I say when we don't exactly have a dinner plan for the evening, but somehow, we create the greatest meal ever based solely on what we have in the pantry. It happens pretty often. "Something out of nothing!"we exclaim when we sit down to eat. And we are always surprised, regardless of how many times this wonder meal happens. Well, it's the same thing with how the Lord works. He uses what we don't think we have, or the "negative space" in our lives, and creates something beautiful out of it. When we see just a FedEx logo, God sees that hidden arrow in the negative space and delights in it! And he can't wait until we see it too. 

It says in Romans 4:17 that God "gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist." He's talking here about Abraham. Abraham -- the father of Israel. Abraham -- who was ancient old and whose wife Sarah was barren -- yet to whom God said would be the father of nations. God saw something out of what was apparently nothing in Abraham. God called into existence the things that did not exist for Abraham, namely a son, and therefore a lineage leading up to Christ. 

It's the same thing with me. I wait in long expectation for many things, and I really don't know how things are going to turn out so I immediately question God's faithfulness to me. I don't wait patiently for him to bring to life the things that do not exist in my life. More often than not, I forget that when things are hard and take forever and feel negative and annoying and sad, that this is actually when something new is being created. Something new is being formed that doesn't yet exist in my life -- whether it is literally something tangible (like knowing what medical specialty Michael will go into), or a character trait in me (like learning to be patient and still before the Lord.) It's just like the FedEx logo: I just see the regular words, but then God creates something altogether new that he then reveals to me when I'm ready -- the arrow. Whaaaat! And then I can't ever not see the arrow anymore. 

A bit further down in the Romans passage, it says that "No unbelief made [Abraham] waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he promised" (4:20-21). If you are waiting on something -- a new job, a new friend, a relationship, a sick friend to get better, a baby, a house, reconciliation in a friendship, you name it -- remember that God is creating something out of nothing. He is calling into existence things that right now do not exist. Be fully convinced that God can do what he says he can. It doesn't always mean that he will give you what you desire, but it does mean that he will nurture you and give you peace and give you a new heart and eyes to see how he is at work.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined what the Lord has prepared for those who love him. He is using whatever negative space you have and is creating meaning and beauty out of what you would have otherwise chalked up to nothing. I hope you will soon see this in your life if you haven't already. Lord knows that I need this lesson ALL THE TIME -- something out of nothing. Keep an eye out for those FedEx trucks rumbling through the streets. May it be a reminder of God giving life to things that do not yet exist.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Language of Flowers

Michael's grandmother says that when she doesn't have knitting in her hands, she doesn't know what to do with herself.

I get this. Especially because she taught me how to knit over Christmas.

But for me, it would be: When I don't have a good book to read that I'm sort of always thinking about and sort of always dying to get home to pick up where I left off, I don't know what to do with myself.

I feel like a ship lost at sea.

Like a flower with no roots.

Like a kite with no wind.

Like a orphan with no parents.

Mmmm that last one may be a touch extreme. But I mean, not really! And it's actually the subject of my new favorite book: an orphan with no parents. (My old favorite book is and forever will be The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.)

My new favorite book is The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Not only did I seriously love the story and the writing (mother/daughter love, loneliness, learning to love, friendship, new births), but I have a new interest: FLOWERS. Did you know that in the Victorian era, flowers had deep and significant meanings hidden in the bouquets that a friend or lover would give? Purple Hyacinth means forgiveness. Tulips mean first declaration of love. Freesia means lasting friendship. Dahlias and Magnolias both mean dignity. Stock means You will always be beautiful to me. Peach blossom means I am your captive (Hey-o!) And my personal favorite: Ranunculus means You are radiant with charms.

Of course, flowers can have negative meanings as well. Peonies mean anger. Sunflowers mean false riches. Aloe means grief. Rhododendron means beware. Tansies mean I declare war against you. (Watch out for those...)

Based on the bouquets shown at the top of this blog, I conveyed the following message at my wedding: Grace (pink rose), innocence (daisy), cheerfulness (Gerber daisy), infidelity (yellow rose), false riches (sunflower), justice (Black-eyed Susans), overcoming depression (hypericum berries... although I had to Google this one), my destiny is in your hands (Camellia), fascination (orange rose), and dispassion (hydrangea).

Oh good grief.

Anyway, thanks to reading The Language of Flowers, when I go to the grocery, I now find myself spending more and more time in the flower section. I then race home to look up the flower in the glossary in the back of the book to see what it means. Who knew this old dog could learn new tricks??

So if you need a good read to get you longing for spring, you won't be disappointed in this book. And if you ever get flowers from me, don't forget to look up the meanings. I could be declaring my love, or I could be declaring war.... you just never know.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Best Daily Devos: A Roundup

I know I'm a few days late, but with it being the New Year and a time for new beginnings, I wanted to do a roundup of the best daily devotionals that I know of. (And here is a picture from my drive home of the frozen Potomac River from the Key Bridge.)

If you're reading this and don't know what a daily devotional is, well, I'll tell you. It's a daily reading, everyday of the year. And it's called a "devotional" because it's about Jesus, and the daily devos help Oh We of Little Faith be devoted to him. He's the man with a plan, and it's good to be reminded of this daily.

A lot of people just read their daily devos and say "that's that," but I've found that it's important not to neglect reading the actual Bible. If you have time to really, truly only read one spiritual something everyday, then make it the Bible. It's how God chooses to speak to us, soooo.... I mean.... if I had the choice.... I'd go with the B-I-B-L-E. Because that's the word for me.

But anyway, daily devos sure do refresh the soul. So here's the list of my favorite devos in no particular order:

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in his Presence by Sarah Young -- easy to read, easy on the eyes, easy to absorb, and just all around soothing to the soul. I resisted reading Jesus Calling for way too long because I thought it was the typical girly devo that would be fluffy and light. I was entirely wrong.

Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman -- my mom's favorite devotional. She loves it so much that my dad got her a new copy for Christmas because her old copy was in tatters. There are several versions of Streams in the Desert, from the original publication to ones with updated language.

Morning and Evening: Daily Readings by C.H. Spurgeon -- simply a classic! This devo is for the go-getter since it has two (what?!?) readings a day. You guessed it -- in the morning and evening. Michael just started this devo and really loves it so far.

Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith by Scotty Smith -- prayers for those who can't pray for themselves. No, I'm kidding -- that's not true at all. This new(ish) devo looks so great. I actually gave a copy to each of my sister-in-laws for Christmas. I'm still debating getting one for myself as my prayer life could always use a boost (that is topic for another post altogether.)

Joy and Strength by Mary Wilder Tileston -- a devo for the beautifully minded. This devo has a verse or two from Scripture, then a line or two of poetry, and then a quotation from someone like Thomas A Kempis or Harriet Beecher Stowe. I did this devo in college and then it got lost in the back of my car for three years before it surfaced (that says a lot about the back of my car.) I cherish this little book!

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers -- you know it's gonna be good coming from a man named Oswald. This is another Christian classic, and it happens to be what George W. read everyday of his presidency. (That may not be a ringing endorsement for some, but I promise this devo is worth your time.)

So that's the list, take it or leave it.

One word of encouragement: Don't kick yourself if you fall behind on reading a daily devotional. The worst feeling is when you finally sit down to read today's devo and you realize that you are 5 days (weeks, months, YEARS...) behind. Just start with today and go from there.

Because here's the thing: your righteousness isn't dependent on what you do (or how up-to-date you are with your daily devos,) but on what Jesus already did.

And that, right there, is good news.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Texan in New York: A Video Series

What in the world.


This is the life and times of Rochester, NY.

Human life exists.

We are surviving.

The end.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Year in Review - 2013

Fee fi fo fum
The year is over --
Here's what we've done!

We hung at Montrose,
The park is our jam;
We love walking here year round,
And I can work on my tan :)

There was quite a lot of sleeping,
Especially at the beginning of the year;
Michael was still a student --
The classroom was causing some fear.

But there was still room for some fun,
and lots of friends to laugh with us,
We loved to sit on Liz and Mark's porch
Before they up and moved to Tex-uss.


But I won't let it get me down,
These people who keep movin' west;
In fact, I ran a half-marathon,
I think I gave it my best!

Oh wait, hark! Lest I forget!
This really fun weekend that I don't regret:

We gathered at the ranch,
Just the girls, and no boys;
We talked and drank margs,
It was the greatest of joys.

Fine fine fine,
Later we did include the men;
It was another April weekend,
This time to celebrate our friend:

New babies are sweet;
They need to be showered,
So we gathered in Nashville,
Where new memories flowered.

This little bambino  (not ours!) is who we celebrated in Nashville while she was still in the womb.

But something still loomed,
This thing called: MED SCHOOL;
Dr. Catalino, here he is --
I think he's pretty cool :)

And finally, it came!
That thing they call the Boards;
Michael took that test with finesse,
And then we headed to the shore.

A break, it was needed!
And Bermuda was calling,
We celebrated two years of marriage,
In love we continue falling.

Oh and then I traveled east!
With my church did I go;
We loved those people in Turkey;
Jesus loves them, this I know.

Of course, Michael had school,
Rotations started with lots of trust;
Only two more years of med school...
Let's graduate or bust!

Rotations are pretty hard but fun;
With patients, Michael likes to converse;
Sometimes I get funny texts from him --
Isn't he the worst??

We still like to attend parties,
Although I'm afraid I'm an old soul;
Here we are as Daisy and Gatsby --
In touch with legends of old.

We made a trip down to Duke
To watch Michael go on the field;
I'm so proud of my hubby,
To him my love is definitely sealed.

We are still loving DC
Of which we've really made a home;
But who says you can't play tourist,
And leave Lincoln all alone??

Now it's time for the holiday season,
We started out with some laughs;
We went to see my brother in New York City,
A happy Thanksgiving we did have.

And then with Advent upon us
That blessed time of year
We traveled home to Dallas!
Oh what happy, winter cheer.

From there we flew up north
To a land all snowy and white;
A white New Year we are having
In Rochester, it is so bright.

Goodness this poem
is getting quite long;
I need to wrap it up,
it's longer than a bad rap song!

Alas, 2014 is here,
And what will await??
Michael's starting surgery in January,
We think it will be great!

I also made a big decision,
A leap of faith is in store:
I've decided to leave my job --
It's time to get out and explore!

And now, a new year before us!
It's full of wonders untold;
We can't wait to see
What this new year will hold.

Happy new year to you!