Daily Choices

“I could see myself doing this after the 30 days.”

Those are the words that actually came out of my mouth on Saturday (day 13)! This past week of eating a strict, clean Paleo diet has been surprisingly easy and enjoyable. We’ve been eating yummy food and focusing more on what we can eat rather than what we can’t eat.

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I won’t lie, though, I’ve had my cravings. Facebook & Pinterest have been my vices as it seems everyone is posting delicious sugar-packed desserts and I find myself drooling over the computer screen! Thankfully I have a husband who is all in on the challenge and won’t let me cave.

This weekend we lived our lives outside of our home a little more since we didn’t have a huge rummage sale to organize and run. I was a little nervous about how I would manage with illegal, yummy food staring me in the face. To say I was a little surprised at our resolve is an understatement.

Friday night, we went on a date to see the movie “42” (which was SPECTACULAR). My senses were instantly heightened as we walked into the theater and were hit with the butter-infused air. Jason and I literally walked side-ways as we passed the concessions stand! It was hard, but we did it. It also helped that we brought almonds and cashews with us to satisfy that salty, crunchy craving.

Saturday we spent our morning at a coffee shop where I would usually purchase a vanilla latte and a scone, but instead I chose to go with the smooth poor-over coffee and fully enjoyed it ALONE! Saturday night we went out with the Rev Up small group leaders to play video games (because that’s what leaders in student ministries do, right?)! There were chips and pretzels and soda, but thankfully we have a gracious student ministry pastor who brought us a veggie dish to munch on (thanks Jared!).

THEN on Sunday we went out for lunch with some friends after church and we both ate a whole30 approved salad (no cheese and only olive oil and balsamic vinegar for our dressing). One thing I’ve realized from this past weekend was that our social life doesn’t have to be stifled because of our diet. We just have to be aware and be prepared.

Here are some of our most asked questions:

What do you miss the most? I honestly thought I would miss chocolate or ice cream the most, but I’m actually missing a glass of wine with dinner or a bottle of wine shared with friends. There’s just something about that experience that I miss, but going 30 days without the wine hasn’t been hard.

How do you feel? I feel great! I did have an intense stomach issue over the weekend and we think that it may be because of something called FODMAPs but I also may have had a stomach bug. We are going to slowly integrate the FODMAP foods back into my diet over the next week to see if it is a digestive issue or I was just sick. I’m hoping that I was just sick because I don’t want to stop eating asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, avocado, apples, etc… But if it is this we will just work with it and limit those in my diet. Other than that bought, I’ve had energy all day. I’ve woken up before 6 am and have stayed up. My 2pm crash doesn’t happen anymore and I fall asleep instantly at night.

What have you been eating? Eggs, salads, beefalo, chicken, pork, sweet potatoes, nuts for snacks, fruit, every kind of vegetable and water…lots of water. Tonight we had a delicious meal of roasted zucchini and  California Style Chicken (chicken, balsamic vinegar, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic YUM)

Will you continue this after the 30 days? I will definitely keep limiting my dairy and sugar intake and completely stay away from grains, but I will probably include wine more regularly again.

Have you noticed any physical changes? I’m not supposed to step on the scale during this month, and my goal wasn’t to lose weight during this time, but I have noticed that my jeans slide on much easier… My husband has noticeably lost weight though! I wouldn’t be surprised it he loses close to 15 pounds by the end of the month!

We are over half way through April which means that we have only 13 more days left of our challenge! It’s hard to believe how fast this has gone and yet how much my mindset over food has changed. I don’t have the urge to eat whatever is in front of me anymore. I feel like I do have the choice to say no and be okay with it now more than I did three weeks ago. I’m learning that the daily practice of “sticking with it” really can change the attitude I have about longevity in the hard stuff.This discipline has also carried over into other parts of my life, such as waking up earlier and staying on task longer. It’s been a long time since I’ve stuck with something this long that would cause me to daily make “sacrifices” over the things that I want over the things that I need. It has been such a good lesson for me in that I can do something hard for 30 days and not feel like I’m being tortured the whole time! 🙂

I don’t know about you, but I’m interested to see how the next 13 days play out!

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Piecing our Family Together

When we said yes to adoption 7 months ago, we had no idea how God was going to provide the funds we needed to adopt but we knew that He would. We didn’t even think we would have been adopting two children from Africa!! God has revealed Himself to us in so many beautiful ways during our journey and we look forward to how He will continue to provide for our financial and emotional needs. Our international adoption of two children will be roughly $65,000 and in the past two months we have raised almost $15,000! We are blown away by the generosity of our family, community, and strangers! We have experienced the truth that God does provide for His children.

We are nearing the a phase in our adoption process where will need to have available a large sum of money to accept our referral (it’s coming!). In the next three to four months, Jason and I will be working hard to raise that money, apply for grants, and save to make the payment. We are trusting that God will continue to help us and provide the necessary funds to help bring home our children.

One of the fun fundraisers that we are doing over the next month is our puzzle fundraiser! I mentioned in a previous post that we would be kicking this off at our rummage sale and it was a huge success! It allowed us to talk more about our adoption and our heart for orphans.

My friend over at SheDoesJustice designed this adorable print for her daughter and allowed me to use it as well for our adoption. I have access to both the pink and blue print 🙂

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Here are the details!

1. Each piece of the puzzle is a $10 dollar donation. Our puzzle is 1008 pieces! When every piece has a name on the back, we will have raised $10,080!! That amount will be roughly 1/3 of our next payment!

2. For every piece of the puzzle that you purchase, I will put your name on the back of the piece. We will be purchasing a double-sided frame so that when all the pieces are put together our children will be able to see the names of the people who helped bring them home! We hope to hang this in their bedroom as a reminder of the God’s faithfulness in bringing them to our home.

3. To contribute to the puzzle fundraiser, use the PayPal link on the upper-right hand side of the blog or just click this link (a small processing fee is taken out of each donation). Or you can send a check directly to us. If you want to send a check, please email me at sarah.amelia.wood@gmail.com for our mailing address.

4. We would be so grateful if you would spread the word about this fundraiser! Below you will find a simple 140 character description of our fundraiser that you can copy and paste for your Facebook, Twitter account, or Blog!

Help piece together the Wood’s Adoption! With every $10 a puzzle piece will have your name on it! Go to http://wp.me/p1PdiA-aJ to donate!

This fundraiser will continue until May 31st! We thank you in advance for partnering with us!

Monday Afternoon Coffee Date

Mondays often feel a little off for me. Jason heads back to work and I attempt to get back into the routine of keeping up with the house and paperwork. Today I’m moving even slower than usual because of a stomach bug I’m fighting. So instead of writing the blog I planned, I thought I’d sit down with you over a cup of tea and share a little of what’s on my heart today.

This weekend Jason and I went out on a Saturday morning date to a fun, hipster coffee shop in downtown Tucson. It was just what we needed. We both sat back in comfy chairs and did what we both enjoy doing. Jason read and I wrote. Writing has become therapeutic during this stressful season. I’ve kept a journal to capture my thoughts and prayers since I was 12, but the past few months have been different. I’ve found that writing is helping me stay grounded to the present when my mind wants to fret over the future of our family. I wake up thinking about topics to write on and through that I’ve discovered new things about myself through the art of writing.

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Years ago, I labeled myself non-creative and boring. In high school, I never enjoyed art class and would choose a day of watching or playing football (or any sport) over going to a musical or a concert. So I thought that meant that I wasn’t “art-sty”. I didn’t think an athletic, sports fanatic like me could also be creative. So, I focused on what I knew I could do and stopped doing what I thought was didn’t fit in that category (drawing, writing, music, etc).

Back when I was a tiny elementary student, though, I used to tell people that when I grew up I wanted to be a writer. I would spend my free time reading books and writing my own stories. My mom even bought me a computer program that allowed me to make picture books (I wonder what happened to those stories, Mom). But then around 5th grade a friend told me that writers don’t make any money, so I changed my dream to becoming a nurse, then a teacher…something that was more practical. Looking back now, I should have kept that dream alive…

As I spent my time writing on Saturday morning, I realized that I needed more of this in my life. Not so that people can say that I can write well (which I don’t) or for more subscribers, I want to write so that I can see. Writing helps me see the beauty of what’s around me, even when it first appears mundane. I’m realizing more and more that there truly is beauty in everything. There’s beauty even in this quiet little house with sleeping dogs and a pile of laundry waiting to be folded. There’s grace in this moment.

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I still don’t enjoy going to art galleries or concerts (much to my husband’s misfortune). And that’s okay, I’ve finally found my creative outlet that brings me life. And who knows, maybe the more I embrace my creative self, the more I’ll enjoy those art galleries, honey 🙂

I downloaded a free book a few weeks ago called “On Becoming a Writer: What Every Blogger Needs to Know“. At the end of each chapter, she has you go through a writing exercise. I’m excited to start that this week and who know’s maybe some of that writing will end up here and maybe it will just stay in my journal. We will see.

Creativity is a God-given trait that we all carry with us. As you drink your proverbial afternoon coffee, think about how you can embrace creativity this week. Do you enjoy photography? Take a 30 minute break with your camera and see what images you can capture. Do you enjoy drawing? Keep a pad of paper by your side as you finish your bills. If you’re not sure what sparks your creativity, hop on Pinterest for a few minutes (good luck!) and see what catches your eye. I’m looking forward to embracing the beauty and grace that God has blessed me with and putting that to paper more often.

Our God Satisfies…not food

I didn’t want to write a post today, but I had committed to blogging about Whole30 on Wednesday. And it’s Wednesday and we are 10 days into our Whole30 program. I would be lying if I said that this was easy. It’s been hard, but hard in ways I didn’t expect. Black coffee-no problem! No pastries-no biggie! Wine-eh a little harder! The rest of this post will speak into a little of our eating over the week, but mainly how God satisfied our souls in the midst of pain and struggle.

Last Tuesday (note-one day into our month-long challenge) I received a call from our agency regarding our adoption. I can’t go into details, but I can say that the bottom dropped out from underneath me. The plans that Jason and I were making about our future family came to a complete stop and changed course that day. I was broken. I was hurting and I was confused. I remember attempting to read the scripture passage from my #shereadstruth study for the day and fought God in the words that King David was saying. 1 Chronicles 16:34 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” It was hard to believe those words for my life at that moment because I didn’t see the good in what had happened.

But I knew that in God’s sovereignty, He had given me that text for that very day to remind me that His love endures and that He is always good, even so my heart struggled to believe it. But I knew that the only One who could handle my devastation and brokenness was my Abba Father. He was near and He did care. I knew that going to my crutches of food and tv were not going to heal my heart. So I spent all day crying out to Him, the one who “puts my tears in His bottle (psalm 56)”. The next day I sent out an email to our friends and family who knew our situation and asked them to pray for healing, for understanding and for just plain, old energy to organize and run the massive rummage sale we were having on Saturday.

Thursday morning we both woke up with a peace that passed any of our own understanding. We knew that God was using the prayers of our community to hold us together. We were still bone-tired and hurting, but we had hope. We had hope that God would use what happened in our adoption story for His glory and for our good. God began to gently turn my face towards His grace and mercy and reminded me that He did not leave me alone in this and that He was not surprised. My prayer began to be that this hurdle would be a testimony of God’s faithfulness in our lives and that I would be quick to point to Jesus in our story.

The day of our rummage sale was a miracle day. God used that day to do a great work on my heart in showing me how Great of a God he is. We had so many friends come to our house at 6 am to help start moving the piles and piles of “stuff” in our house. (And they were all gracious towards me as I had a minor meltdown at 7 am! Thankfully that was my only one) By 7:30 we had buyers in the parking lot and for the next 9 hours we had a steady stream of people rummaging through our items. So many of our church friends came out to help and to donate. I realized even more that day how blessed Jason and I are to be a part of the Revolution church community.

What blew me away was the generosity of strangers! If their total came to be $5 they would give $10 or $20 extra! Some people didn’t want to buy anything but they gave us $20 anyway. Strangers were interested in our story and were encouraged by what God was doing in our lives. It’s hard for me to put into words how I felt that day and for the days after. We know that God moved mightily on Saturday because when we totaled up our sales, we had brought in over $3000! At church on Sunday a friend told me that could only be a God thing because people don’t make $3K at garage sales! I agreed.

The last few days have been a bit of a fog as I’m still tired from the sale and the clean up from the weekend. I was journaling this morning and began to think about all the things God has revealed to me about Himself in these past 10 days. These are my top Three:

1. Our God Satisfies… Nothing and No one  could have met me in the pain that I experienced as intimately and uniquely as the comfort that Jesus gave me those first few days. His comfort and His love never ceases to fill my heart. Food only satisfies for a brief moment and then guilt comes. There is no guilt in the satisfaction of God.

2. Jesus dwells in my story. At church on Sunday, Josh laid out how Jesus entered into history to save us and to meet us where we are. He knew this would happen and He knows how my story will end. I can trust Him.

3. When trouble happens in life, you have to seek out community. If I would have kept what happened from our closest friends and family I think my heart would still be broken and the sin of bitterness would have crept in. By asking people to pray for us, it allowed others to intercede for us when we didn’t have the strength or the words.

I know this post is a little longer than normal, so thanks for hanging with me on this one! If you were wondering, we were able to eat on the Whole30 program the entire time with only one minor hiccup because of poor planning. God’s grace was sufficient.

Our Huge Rummage Sale…

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Our GINORMOUS, HUGE rummage sale is this weekend! To say that we are a little overwhelmed is an understatement! Our house has been overrun by clothes, toys, books, household items, baby stuff, furniture (we have a futon, baby bassinet, oversized chair and bike in our living room), and everything else you can think of! We are SO thankful though! The donations that we have received have blown us away! Our community is so generous to us and we are forever grateful for the items they donated and the time they are putting in to help make this Saturday happen!

Here is what our house looks like and it’s getting fuller by the hour!! Please come!!

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If you live in Tucson-head on down to Fellowship Bible Church anytime between 9am and 4pm. We would love to see you and for you to share in our adoption journey! I’m sure that you will find something you’d want to take home with you! Here are the details a little more succinctly:

Where: Fellowship Bible Church (6700 E. Broadway Blvd.)

When: 9 am-4 pm (or until most everything is gone!)

If you don’t live in Tucson-pray for our rummage sale! We are not only wanting to raise funds for our adoption, but also raise awareness of God’s heart for adoption. We hope that everyone that wanders in to our sale will leave feeling encouraged!

We will also be kicking off our puzzle fundraiser at the rummage sale! We bought a 1000 piece puzzle with a picture on it that will be hung up in our children’s room as a reminder of those that have helped “piece our family together”. Each piece of the puzzle is $5 and we will write your name on the back of the piece. The frame we will put the puzzle in will be double-sided so we can show our little kiddos all of your names.

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We’d love to see you there!

Confessions + Commitments + Grace

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Today marks the day that I am committing to eating pure paleo for 30 days…gulp…

First, let me explain what Whole30 is. In a nutshell it is: Eating REAL FOOD-meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds.

What we will not be eating processed foods, dairy, sugars (of any kind-including maple syrup and honey), alcohol, grains, legumes, MSG, sulfates, white potatoes, and did I mention sugar?

I have a confession-I am terrible at self-discipline in regard to food and drink. Tell me to go to the gym or to read my Bible every day and I can do it, but with food-that’s a different story. Let’s just go back to last year when Jason and I decided to do a 21 day purification diet recommended to us by our chiropractor. I was eating a scone from Starbucks the second night…by myself…so no one would know. I would stop at a gas station to buy peanut butter m & m’s…you get the story.

I have an unhealthy relationship with food. It’s what I go to when I’m nervous, bored, sad, or even really happy (let’s celebrate with ice cream!). I know this needs to change and I want it to change. Food is a gift from God. It’s meant to be enjoyed and shared, but to me it’s become something else…something unhealthy…

We came across the whole30 program a few weeks ago. I was intrigued. I had started to notice that it was  crazy, hard chore to wake up in the morning before 6:45 and I was monster truck-crashing in the afternoons. The long and short of it is that I haven’t been feeling myself. It was after I read It Starts with Food (the creators of Whole30) that I knew it was time for a change. I felt like I was reading my own journey with food when Melissa Hartwig shared a little of her transformation:

I’d always had an unhealthy relationship with food. Food was my best friend and my worst enemy. It was punishment or reward, control or powerlessness. I went through stages of extreme dieting and extreme exercise. But after just thirty days on this new plan, my relationship with food was different. For the first time in my life, food made me feel good. (And not just the quick-and-dirty “good” that comes with the first few bites of ice cream…). My energy levels skyrocketed-and stablized. I felt as peppy at 6 a.m. as I did at noon as I did at 6 p.m. I started losing body fat without even trying. My performance in the gym, which had plateaued, suddenly started improving again…

I read that and I knew that my sugar addiction and my unhealthy relationship with food was the culprit. But I also realized something else…food had become an idol in my life. I had been turning to food as a way to control the uncertainty that I have been facing with the future of this year. I had not been turning to the One who promises peace and the One who holds the whole world in His hands.

This month will be much more than a 30 days  to “get more healthy” challenge for me. I do hope it will happen, but my hope is to turn to Jesus and lay my burdens at His feet rather than turn to the fridge for a cheap fix.

I’m sharing this with my small readership because I’m asking if you would consider finding the idols in your life that you turn to rather than to God, the One who has graciously given us all things (Romans 8:32).

After coming off an Easter weekend and being deeply reminded of the gravity of our sin and the immeasurable love of God, spend some time considering where in life you are finding your heart turn to when you’re bored, hurting, or happy. And join me for the next thirty days in finding your peace and comfort in the only One who truly satisfies the cravings of your heart.

Follow me on twitter and facebook to see how my progression changes throughout these 30 days! Every Wednesday for the month of April I plan on giving a recap here on the blog of the previous week, so if you haven’t already-click the subscribe button on the top right hand side of this page to get this blog sent to your email every time I post something (you can also keep up to date with our adoption that way too!).

I’m nervous about this first week. I know I will have headaches and my mood will not be pleasant, but I’m hoping that by trusting in the grace and strength of God there will be small victories and sweet times with the Lord.

Join me???