June 30, 2016

In My College Kitchen - Avocado, Apple, Celery Salad {:Paleo, Whole 30, AIP:}

{:Adapted from Paleo Leap:}

I started my journey on the Autoimmune Protocol {:a stricter version of the Whole 30 to eliminate foods that often trigger autoimmune diseases:} about two and a half weeks ago. My Hashimotos has been flaring up lately and with absolutely zero help from the doctor {:who actually Wikapedi-ed the prescription I used in the U.S. to find out more about it - I wish I was kidding:}, I decided to take matters into my own hands. After literally weeks of research and constant thoughts of "why didn't anyone tell me this?" I decided to give this whole AIP elimination diet a try. 

I am not going to lie, it is not a walk in Central Park. They don't call it an elimination diet for nothing! It eliminates a TON of foods. No processed food. No eggs. No nuts. No corn. No beans. No dairy. No grains {:not even brown rice, couscous, or quinoa:}. No tomatoes. No potatoes. No nightshades. No sugar. Yup, that about sums it up.

The first week I died because I hadn't done enough research about all the foods I could have and how to prepare them. I was only focusing on all that I couldn't have. I was grumpy when my housemates made apple cobbler and I was eating rabbit food for the 5th day in a row. 

I knew if I was going to stick to this diet for the next three months while I healed my gut and then slowly reintroduced foods to gauge my bodies reaction, I was going to have to come up with some more enjoyable recipes. 

Lunch is tough because I prefer things that do not need to be heated up. Finding that on the AIP is tricky, but not impossible. So I did my research. That is when I landed on this lunch time gem on Pinterest {:that's a link to my Pinterest AIP board if you're interested in following along:}.

Whether you are doing the Whole 30, Paleo, or AIP or not you will love this salad! It is perfect for a day by the pool or a quick fix lunch for work tomorrow. Try it out and check back here to let me know what you think.

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June 27, 2016

Inoculated with Rhetoric

As many of you reading this may know, I am currently on the other side of the world from my small hometown in West Virginia. Instead of enjoying summer poolside with strawberry and mint infused water and glistening skin from tanning oil I am currently curled up in a sweatshirt and sweatpants drinking my hot peppermint tea. {:It's winter here so soak up some extra rays for me okay?:}

The short answer to "how in the world did you find yourself living on the other side of the world?" is God. The longer answer is, well too long for this post, but you can read about it here or here. Basically, I am here at Hillsong Leadership College to learn about Jesus, myself, and ministry.

Which means I hear about the Bible, Jesus, and God's goodness and love, a lot. A LOT.

I was reading a book today, and it had the verse that even non-believers can quote on command within its pages. It was John 3:16.

You are all saying it in your head right now aren't you? And you are probably saying it in the same sing-song manner you learned it in, in Sunday school many moons ago. Am I right?

Maybe the fact that this is the world's most known and recited verse is actually divinely inspired, but our ears have become far to use to the religious rhetoric we hear week in and week out that we have become inoculated to the power of Truth.

Take a second and declutter your heart from anything you have ever heard about this verse - any message, any song, any Sunday school dance that went with it and open the eyes of you heart to read this phrase...

"For God so loved..."
God so, loves you! God doesn't feel about you the way you feel about yourself. His love for you doesn't wax and wane with whether you are wearing your "skinny" jeans or PMS jeans. He does not love you any more today when you totally fell of the healthy eating train than when you ran a tight, healthy, food ship yesterday. He won't love you tomorrow any more when you get the kids fed, bathed, and in bed at a proper time. God simply loves you. Period.

If we soaked in this truth at the outset of each day and chose to live a life from the stance of "I am loved" it could potentially change everything. It could change the way we treat others. It could change the way we treat ourselves. It could change the way we work and the way we serve. It could be the difference from living from approval and living for approval.

We told everyone how much we loved our tacos that we had at Mexican last night, but when was the last time you gushed about how much God loves you? It could change everything - maybe that's why it's the verse God has chosen to mark Christianity with.

What are you allowing to mark you today?

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June 11, 2016

'Unashamed' by Christine Caine - Book Review

The feeling of finishing another great book is one of those things that makes me really happy - almost as happy as an oversized bowl of peanut butter ice cream. 

My latest read was the newest book from Christine Caine - Unashamed

I have always loved sitting under Christine's teaching. The anointing, conviction, and passion she preaches with has always stirred something within me. However, I have tried to read multiple books she has previously released without success. I just wasn't able to get through them. It wasn't that the content was poor or the delivery was less than stellar. I actually cannot put my finger on why. But, the same did not ring true for me in this book. She had me at the title- Unashamed.

What does it look like to live a life free of shame?

In 'Unashamed' Christine is open and vulnerable in telling her own story. She speaks openly about how the enemy used shame to paralyze her in fear and block her from living the abundant life she longed for and knew she was called to. She has been set free and now she is passionate about seeing other women freed from fear as well. 

The journey from shame to freedom it is not an easy road or a one time and your done process, but it is a road worth traveling and a process worth enduring. A life that moves from shame to freedom happens "when you choose to focus more on what Jesus has done for you than what others have done or said to you."

If shame has ever reared it's ugly head in your life and paralyzed you from doing all your called to do or being all that you are meant to be then this is a must read. 

What should I read next? Any suggestions?

**Disclaimer: All opinions in this post are mine alone and are not reflective of the publisher or author. This is a post written with in conjunction with BookLook Bloggers in order to create an authentic review of the above text.**

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June 9, 2016

The Royal We

When I was in middle school my Mawmaw {:you know your family is from the south when you call your grandmother Mawmaw:} use to come and live with us in the fall. My grandmother was in a wheel chair and was at the point that it was no longer safe for her to live alone. So, my family all pitched in and  each took a few months to care for her.

Mawmaw's body may have been failing her, but her mind wasn't - and neither was her appetite.

I remember coming home from middle school, walking in the door and hearing statements much like this one: "Hey Angie, do you know what we should make for dinner tonight?"

There was no "we" about it. The only parts she was going to play in this we process was the suggestion and the digestion.

We still laugh about Mawmaw's royal we.

I was thinking about this the other day and I realized there is also a royal we when we live a life with Christ. The only difference is, He is the one calling us to do things for His Kingdom...but we can't actually do them -only he can. Yet, he chooses to partner with us and empower us. It's the Kingdom 'royal we,' if you will.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:5

 "You did not choose Me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will remain." - John 15:16 
How amazing is the God that we serve?
We have a God who speaks and things become. 

We have a God breathes and life goes forth.

We have a God who touches and a life is healed.

We have a God who hears our cries for help and rescues us.
Yet, this all powerful, all consuming God chooses to use us. 

He chooses to operate in the "royal we". 

He doesn't need us to see His Kingdom come, but He chooses to use us. He doesn't need us to lay hands on the sick so that they may be well. But, he chooses to allow His power to flow through us. He doesn't need us to write books, sing songs, or preach messages, but He chooses to place gifts within us, and partner with us through His Spirit, to see people welcomed home to His glorious family. 
He doesn't need us, but he chooses to bestow on us the royal we. How incredible is this? He let's us in on His plan to bring His Kingdom to earth. This royal we is so much better than the one we talk about here on earth.
The Father is extending his Royal We to us - will we accept his offer?
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June 6, 2016

Who Told You That? - Verse of the Week

I was reading in Genesis this morning in my devotional time. {:I love Monday's because it means lingering a little bit longer than other days in my quiet time - side note...has nothing to do with today, but hey we are friends so why not?....now back to our previously scheduled Jesus post.:} 

I do my devotions in two parts. Part one, after I read, is journaling any thoughts or feelings I have in regards to what I read or anything I feel God spoke to me. Part two is where I study a passage of scripture or an entire chapter - looking at its historical context, who wrote it, why it was written, and all that nerdy stuff that I love.

This morning during the first part, my heart was stirred when I read this in Genesis 3:11...

And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?

My heart broke for myself and all those around me as I felt Holy Spirit ask me the same question in regards to my own insecurities: Who told you?

When you look at this story in its entirety Adam and Eve were told not to eat from one specific tree. All the other trees were fair game. But this one tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, was off limits. He didn't want them receiving their truth or knowledge from anywhere but himself.

We can all hate Eve because she is the one that makes child birth painful and she is the reason why x, y, and z happen, but in all reality we aren't that different from her really.

We are given absolute Truth in the Word of God. We are told not to lean on our own understanding of things but to seek Him {:Proverbs 3:5:}. Yet, we often get our information about what is and isn't true from a different source - the world.

We are told that we are not of this world, yet we choose to place our identity and set due north of our "truth compass" to what the world says.

He says we are all together lovely. {:Song of Solomon 4:7:}

     The world says our nose is too big and our hips too wide.

He says you are more that a conquer. {:Romans 8:37:}

     The world says you have tried this before and always come up short.

He says He who began a good work in you will bring it to a glorious completion. {:Philippians 1:6:}

     The world says: "How long have you had that dream? Don't you think it might be time to throw in       the towel?"

Who told you lovely? What lies are you believing that negate what the Word of God, the Truth, says about you and your life?

Why did the serpent come, whisper in Ever's ear and place a question mark where God put a period? - "Did God really say...?" {:Genesis 3:1:}

The serpent knew the truth and knew he would lose all power and control in humanity if Eve believed the Word of the Lord God. Their potential would be limitless.

The enemy still does the same thing today. He replaces truth in your life with a question mark. "Did he really say?" He did it to Jesus in the wilderness, and he does it to you today. He does it for the same reason today as he did at the beginning of time - he is afraid of your potential if you actually believed the truth - the Word of God.

Wouldn't it be a shame if the enemy believed more in our potential than we did?
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June 2, 2016

What is the purpose of your body?

We spend more time that we would like to admit scrolling through our social media accounts. These feeds are filled with toned bikini bodies, perfectly styled outfits, gourmet meals that make our current diner look pathetic, and hair to die for. All the while, as we are scrolling, we are taking mental note to workout more, eat less, try harder, do more, be better.

Now, anyone who knows me knows I am all about improving yourself and making the me I am today better than the me I was yesterday, but that's not really what I am getting at here. That is a different topic for a different day. What I am talking about is the toxic thoughts that enter our minds and mold our way of thinking without us even knowing it.

"Your bodies main purpose is not to attract others to it."

I read this quote yesterday from an article in Relevant Magazine and it stopped me in my tracks.

I had never actually thought about this: What is the purpose of my body? In my mind I have been beating myself up over the parts of my body based on how attractive it was, which isn't its main intention when given to us by Christ to steward. I am in effect judging my body by a standard it was never created to uphold. My standard for my body was the Instagram post, how it would look in clothes to myself and others, how toned and not dimply my legs were, how long my bat wings continued to wave long after my hand had stopped. But that has very little to do with its actual purpose.

Our bodies are purposed to bring glory to God. 

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers {:aha:: sisters:}, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” - Romans 12:1

I am not suggesting that we all now dress in paper sacks, never wear make-up, and unplug from all of our curling irons and straighteners. But I think the purpose of something defines how you think about it and use it. So the next time you scroll through your social media feed be a bit more on guard with the standards this may be setting in your mind and take a moment to remind your longing self that your bodies purpose was never meant to attract other to it, but rather to eminent praise to the one who created it. It could change everything and it may just be the mind shift you need to break past that weight plateau.
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