Uncategorized, Whole30

Whole30 Week 1: a day-by-day analysis

OK, so seven days ago I got crazy and decided to do something called Whole30. Basically, it’s a clean-eating program designed to get your body back to square one and without sugar (but also dairy, grains, alcohol and legumes are out for 30 days, too). I kind of came to the decision after 1) being weighed at my doctor’s office and realizing I was a little, um, heavier than I had thought and 2) hearing raves from several friends who were in various stages of it. Hearing things like “my husband stopped snoring halfway through” and “I’ve never had this much energy or felt this GOOD” were motivating things to hear. Also, I had been feeling sluggish for weeks, and it was honestly starting to wear on me. I was ready for a hard reset.

After one eye-opening trip to Trader Joe’s (guys, SUGAR IS EVERYTHING! Seriously, look at your labels sometime and you’ll be amazed), I was ready. Without further ado, here’s a very real and honest breakdown of what each day of the past week has been like for me (links included for the food products I mention, btw):

Day 1 – Woo! This is awesome. Eating all dem healthy veggies and proteins. I had three hard boiled eggs in rapid succession (two for breakfast, one chopped up with my lunch salad), which might’ve been overdoing it. I went to a baby shower right after lunch and politely turned away an ENTIRE PLATE OF DESSERT (which looked amazing). I felt invincible after that, and the ladies at my table said they were so proud and I didn’t even know them before the shower. Fortunately, the shower was held at a tea house where we got to each choose a tea and had an entire teapot to ourselves for the afternoon, so I chugged that while enjoying a few pieces of fruit and passing off my adorable tea sandwiches to the gals around me. I felt pretty great and unstoppable all day. WHOLE30, HERE I COME.

Day 2 – Huh, I thought I was supposed to feel hungover or something today? Well, I feel GREAT! I drank black coffee from Starbucks this morning and didn’t die (after asking the barista a few dozen times “You didn’t put creamer in, right?”). I also didn’t experience my usual “I had a big lunch and now I’m feeling super sleepy” afternoon fatigue. I went shopping with my mom to gather spices, since I now have to, like, cook and stuff. I went home and prepped a few things — hard boiled some eggs, made some breakfast egg cups, and cooked up a pound of ground beef with some fajita seasoning I found at Penzeys. I wasn’t able to find any taco seasoning that was compliant, but desperate times called for desperate measures. The fajita seasoning is interesting with the ground beef, but whatever, at least my tongue has a new flavor to enjoy. I was in the kitchen for about two hours, which is a new record for me because I NEVER COOKED BEFORE. I mean, seriously. A typical dinner for me in the past is basically “let’s pull this frozen chicken patty out of the freezer and nuke it for a few minutes” with a side of chips. Anddddd that was pretty much it. SUPER HEALTHY STUFF. So, if nothing else, this Whole30 thing will force me to actually learn how to cook, I suppose.

Day 3 – Oh boy. The struggle became very real this day. I woke up and instantly felt “off.” Couldn’t convince myself to get out of bed for almost an hour because I just didn’t feel like it. I felt like crying for no reason at all as I drove to work, followed quickly by a bout of rage ( and this continued throughout the day, hooray!). I waited too long to eat lunch and had to battle a fuzzy head for awhile. I went home and had grand aspirations of prepping a bunch of food for upcoming meals, but no. It took me an hour just to cook dinner and pack my lunch and dinner for the next day (since I go straight to a Bible study on Tuesday nights after work). I was already getting pretty annoyed with this whole prep work thing. I went to bed and called it a day, because man, Day 3 was the wooooooorst.

Day 4 – Woke up today and realized people and things were good again, and I no longer had the urge to punch things. However, I did wake up with a migraine. I have a prescription for those so I popped a pill, which thankfully took the edge off. I felt a little hazy on and off throughout the day but overall not too bad. I felt pretty bloated all day long, so I did a little research and saw that nuts can sometimes have that effect. I had been “enjoying” (yes, the quotes are there on purpose because raw nuts are still pretty boring in my world) almonds for a few days in a row, so I skipped those on Day 4 and felt much less bloated on Day 5. I changed my salad life FOREVER that night when I sprinkled on some Penzeys Fox Point seasoning on my salad. SO GOOD. Seasonings should definitely be a thing on salads, especially if you’re going to eat as many as I eat for the next 26 days. I went to Bible study that night and got home around 10, so I quickly threw together food together for the next day. I was browsing on my phone before bed, which is when my life forever charged. I FOUND COMPLAINT BACON, YOU GUYS. Also, compliant mayo, ranch and ketchup!, since I’m not yet at a point where I feel confident enough to attempt to make my own. WEEEEEE, can’t wait until these bad boys arrive in the mail. I might kiss them, who knows. *note: I only ended up ordering the Tessemae’s condiments for now — the bacon is $20 shipping.**cries* Maybe next paycheck…

Day 5 – Had my first food dream during the night: I went and ate one white chocolate-covered pretzels. I’m not sure why, but it was a vivid dream and I woke up CONVINCED I had ruined my Whole30. I almost started crying. But then I realized, phew, I hadn’t! All was right in the world still! Another day, another headache. Curse you, sugar and the hold you once had on my body. Also, I overslept and had to race out the door to make it to work on time. A friend, who finished Whole30 yesterday, messaged me and said she finally stepped on a scale after not going near one for 30 days (follow the rules, peeps!), and she lost 12 pounds! Without even exercising! That was exciting to hear. I was informed that I should be really blending my coffee with the coconut oil, not whisking it, so I guess I should get a blender? My hastily thrown together lunch from last night was actually a success: frozen broccoli that steams in the bag for 5 minutes in the microwave with some diced prosciutto I threw in. YUM. Also, the bag had 4 cups of broccoli in it. I. AM. STUFFED. Shortly after lunch, word spread quickly that there was a build-your-own taco bar downstairs. I wanted to cry. Also, I can’t stop thinking about potato chips. Like, seriously. The Applegate organic all-beef hot dogs are quickly becoming a favorite of mine — go ahead and judge. I looked forward to them all day just because I knew I had packed them for my dinner. Went to my Wednesday night Bible study and was satisfied sipping a cup of tea as everyone ate pretzels and cheese dip. Went home and decided to attempt to make kale chips, except the kale chips burned and the smoke detector started going off at 9:30 at night. Our landlords and their small children live above, so my stress level went through the roof as I’m fanning a beeping smoke detector. I threw together a lame salad, spent like an hour planning my grocery list for the next day, called it a freakin’ night.

Day 6 – Woke up crabby, muttering things like “Stupid grocery shopping” and “I hate cooking I hate cooking I hate cooking” over and over. My inner struggle is increasingly becoming more “I really freaking hate all this time spent in the kitchen/it’s taken me so long and I’m not getting enough sleep because I spent like an hour planning a grocery list last night.” I’m also hitting salad fatigue. Went grocery shopping after work and got pretty crabby in the process. I got sick of asking the deli guy “Can you tell me if there’s sugar in THIS meat?”, got sick of spending more money, got sick of staring at other people’s carts and wishing I had what they had in theirs. Went home, made a quick dinner of two Applegate hot dogs because I was starving, then I started another round of cooking. I made some more egg cups, kale chips (finally didn’t burn them…but I didn’t make them crispy enough 😦 ) and salmon cakes. The salmon cakes are delish! However, I was just frustrated all night. SO over all the work it takes to cook things from scratch. I fantasized about quitting Whole30 as I prepped and cooked, though I’m way too stubborn to actually quit. Went to bed crabby. Crabby day all around. The end.

Day 7 – I woke up in a SIGNIFICANTLY better mood. It’s Friday! I made it to Day 7! WOOOO! Sure, I’m still a little stressed out about having to do MORE cooking this weekend, but hey, it’s Friday. Also, I’ve noticed I’ve been starting to sleep slightly better at night, or so I think. And maybe my stomach is a little less bloated? I’m telling myself that. People have been really awesome and supportive of me throughout this process, and that has really made a world of a difference on my down days. I’ve realizing this “journey” is far more emotional and mental than I had imagined. Physically, it really hasn’t been that bad — the mood swings have been mostly manageable (outwardly) and the headaches haven’t been all that bad. But I realized today that I think I’m so mad about all this meal prep/cooking stuff because I’m attached emotionally and mentally to the ease of fast food. On busy days, fast food is there for me…to make my life easier. It’s not so much about the food (at least I don’t think so); it’s about being very attached to the idea that fast food makes my life better because it’s easier. I’m working through that as we speak. I had three salmon cakes from last night for lunch NOM NOM NOM. Going to a friend’s house tonight, where packed salad will once again make another experience. But who cares! It’s Friday! And Whole30 is kind of making me become an adult even if I hate it at the moment! Also, I’m not eating junky stuff or quitting! Wins all around!

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My Next Mission Trip

When I came back from Costa Rica this past summer, I was sure I was going to go back again this summer, to return to a country and my dear Ticos. I had been in the community of Katira for two summers in a row, and as far as I knew, I was going back. I leave a piece of my heart there every time I go, and I know God has more for me in that country.

But then the Lord started to change my heart over the next few months. As media coverage of the refugee crisis in Europe started to pick up, I couldn’t stop reading. My heart was so heavily burdened, I felt like I couldn’t breathe at times. I couldn’t stop praying for and about the situation and people. I felt in my heart that I was supposed to do more, beyond sending money to a relief organization. I felt He was calling me to be His hands and feet in the midst of that situation.

I started praying and asking God if He was calling me away from Costa Rica this year and instead to Germany, a country which has been taking in many refugees over the past few months. Over time, He began to confirm it. Even though this is a totally new, (to be honest) slightly scary venture, I have peace that this is where He’s calling me next.

I completely understand that this may come as a shock to some. But please know this: I’m not going because of any political reasons; this is solely about an opportunity to reach people, to show them the love of Jesus, to share His hope. Who knows how long this window of opportunity will be open for, and I know that I don’t want to miss it.

Just like with my past two trips, I’ll be going on this trip with e3 Partner Ministries. I love going with this organization because they not only focus on building a lasting impact in communities and in individual lives–we’ll be working with a local church on this trip that has been really working with refugees–but also because of their focus on safety. The systems and guidelines they have in place make me feel very secure, whether in Costa Rica or Germany, so I can just focus on what God is doing and how He wants me to participate. e3 is well established in the area of Germany where this trip will be, too.

I read this article from Relevant Magazine, which really resonated with me:

“We have prayed for walls to crumble and gates to open. But what if God has chosen rather to bring people out—to turn them into the uprooted as a first step in making them His own?

What if it falls to Christians, more than countries, to welcome and serve these strangers—taking them in if this is permitted, or, if need be, sojourning with them in temporary camps, showing them the love that Christ has shown us? If we cannot go, what if it is our calling to adopt a displaced family, sending them personal words of encouragement as well as practical assistance, even if this offends some who accuse us of giving aid and comfort to our enemies?”

I’m excited to follow God leading up to and on this trip. I ask for your prayer support–for me and my teammates, for the people we’ll be meeting, for hearts to be open, for safety, etc.

Finally, if you’d like to support me financially (I’ll need to raise $2,985 total), you can donate online here! https://www.purecharity.com/help-send-molly-to-germany

Isaiah 6:8 – “Then I heard the Lord asking, ‘Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?’

I said, ‘Here I am. Send me.'”

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I needed to be saved (Happy Liver Day!)

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I needed to be saved before I ever knew it.

Today marks 25 years with my new-to-me liver. Twenty-five! Medical professionals still exclaim “Wow!” when they are reminded of that. This life post-transplant is all I’ve ever known, but the magnitude of 25 years definitely hit me this October. Thankful, thankful to have made it to the 25-year mark with an organ that wasn’t originally mine to begin with.

Twenty-five years ago today, doctors wheeled tiny 2-year-old me into the operating room to give me a liver transplant. I remember nothing of that day or that general time period of my life, but from what my parents and other relatives have told me, it was a scary, stressful period of life, not knowing if I’d make it to my 3rd or 4th birthday. Also, my poor parents: My sister Amanda was only a few weeks old at the time of my diagnosis, so they had to balance and care for a very sick 2-year-old AND a newborn. Super parents.

Recently I realized: I needed to be saved before I ever knew it. Since I was two when diagnosed with tyrosinemia, I had no say over my medical treatment; it was all in the hands of my parents and doctors. I wasn’t able to make those life-saving decisions for myself.

I owe my second chance at life in them, in large part.

When thinking about all of that, I realized there’s a really cool parallel between that and my relationship with God.

I needed to be saved before I ever knew it.

God knew, well before I was born, that I needed a Savior. Someone who would see my sins, even the tiniest “white lie,” and be willing to take all of that, to die for my sins and everyone else’s, to rise from the dead, to defeat death once and for all.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5:8

I needed to be saved before I ever knew it, twice. Twice I was giving a new chance at this beautiful, crazy, bursting life that I’m blessed enough to live. And I don’t want to waste it ever, for a single second.

PS – If you’re not already a registered organ donor on your driver’s license, find out how to become on here. It’s important!

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The #1 thing I learned in Costa Rica…

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It’s been two weeks. Two weeks since I first stepped foot in Costa Rica for what possibly was the best week of my life.

It’s been one week. One week since I said my final goodbyes and boarded a plane back to America.

People have been so incredibly sweet in the past week, asking how my trip was, how was the weather, what did I eat, etc. I love talking about it, probably almost too much. 😉

But there’s a question that always semi-stumps me, making me go through the week all over again.

“What was the number one thing you got from the trip?”

It’s an almost impossible question to answer. God taught me SO MUCH. I experienced SO MUCH. God let me learn SO MUCH. Trying to narrow it down…

There are a lot of answers, but one answer comes to mind because of much it attests to the greatness of God.

God used me, in spite of me. 

If you had asked me before the trip what my biggest weaknesses were, I would have two answers that would’ve come to mind pretty quickly:

I’m not a good communicator, and I’m very bad at connecting emotionally to people at times.

I’m a writer by nature. I journal, I blog here, I write long-winded Facebook statuses. It’s how I feel most comfortable and best at expressing myself. I typically feel like I’m not very good at small talk, and striking up conversations with strangers is rather terrifying.

I also view myself as someone who struggles with reacting in emotional situations. When someone starts to cry, I typically freeze. I blame it on the German in me, but that’s probably just a cop-out.

God used my two biggest struggles and insecurities in Costa Rica. He used them in spite of me.

When we set off for the first day of going into the communities with our churches, I wasn’t scared, but I was nervous. I hadn’t been on a mission trip in nine years. Also, I knew ahead of time that my first two trips were very different–I had never been 1) on my own for a trip without a group from my church with me and 2) one-on-one with a translator, forcing me to not hide so much behind others and to actually HAVE CONVERSATIONS. I was used to sharing a translator with four or five other Americans, which often meant that we would take turns and I would often never be pushed fully out of my comfort zone.

But there I was, walking up to the first house with my wonderful translator and Costa Rican church member. And God removed all that fear, self doubt and worry from my mind. I sat down, shared my story about how I know Jesus and how He’s changed my life, talked with the woman about her life, then helped her pray to ask Christ to be her Lord and Savior.

No fear, no shakiness, nothing but pure joy. Because of Him. It was all because of Him.

Later on in the week, during a Bible study at the home of a woman who had just accepted Christ the day before and had asked us to come back the following day, I noticed the tears welling in her eyes. There was so much pain there. But I decided initially to just continue, not realizing what God was doing in that moment. I asked a Costa Rican church member with us to share her testimony, and the tears continue to build as she listened to the other woman talk.

I didn’t know what to do next, but I felt God urging me to not avoid the situation, not hide from whatever emotions were clearly coming forth here. I couldn’t ignore His prompting anymore.

“Are you OK?” I asked her via my translator, Stip.

What came next just broke my heart. Through the tears, she shared her story. It was a story full of real hurt, abandonment and lots of insecurities. She had been through so, so much, and hardly anyone was there for her.

“I just feel so alone,” she said, over and over.

I fought back tears, as I knew God was working in that moment and I was unafraid to be caught up in the emotions.

We prayed over her, showed her verses in the Bible to let her know that she is never alone now that she has Jesus in her life, prayed more, and I ended our time with her with a hug. I’m typically not much a hugger, but in those moments that we had our arms around each other, not speaking the same language, I was overwhelmed by the love I had for this woman I had only met 24 hours before, my new sister in Christ, and the unending love that God has for both of us.

We smiled at each other as I turned to walk out her door. Her eyes had held pain and hurt when we walked in, but I saw happiness and relief now.

God used me in spite of myself on this trip. I pray He will continue to in the future.

He gets all the glory for this, plain and simple. I am only honored and humbled that He chose to use me, and I forever will be.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” -Ephesians 3:20-21

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I read this post on December 31st about the #365grateful project, and I decided I would do exactly that for the next year: Take a photo every day of something that I’m grateful/thankful for. It’s been a really great thing and has already shown me in the past 31 days how many little things I have to be thankful for every day. Little things that I would’ve otherwise probably missed.

Here’s a review of what I was thankful for in January. I highly recommend jumping into the challenge, even if you didn’t start in January!

Jan. 1: Grateful for a whole new calendar for new memories. 2013 was AWESOME, and I have big hopes for 2014.

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Jan. 2. Grateful for the chance to go to my second Packers game ever/my first playoff game. Who cares if my eyeballs freeze permanently! But seriously, I’ve dreamed of this day for so long.2014-01-02_1388704866

Jan. 3. Grateful my car started this morning as it was -2 when I left for work.2014-01-03_1388792932

Jan. 4. It’ll hopefully prevent me from getting frostbite tomorrow.2014-01-04_1388872077

Jan. 5. Thankful for an awesome day (despite a Packers loss) with this lady. I love our friendship. But enough mushy stuff.2014-01-06_1388979245

Jan. 6. I have the best sister in the world–she offered to pack my lunch for work since I didn’t get back from Lambeau until midnight…and slipped in a surprise note!2014-01-06_1389028008

Jan. 7. This photo may be incredibly boring but let’s be real: It’s what we’re all thankful for during this arctic vortex or whatever the cool kids are calling it.2014-01-07_1389138440

Jan. 8. Got a package in the mail from e3 with some prep material for my upcoming mission trip to Costa Rica. Getting excited!2014-01-09_1389234797

Jan. 9. Thankful for wonderful coworkers and our occasional lunch dates. This sandwich is the bomb dot com.2014-01-10_1389313567

Jan. 10. Thankful to have made it safely home through the black ice/rainy commute home. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a hot date with my pajamas and Netflix.2014-01-10_1389397738

Jan. 11. Thankful for a wonderful Saturday of pre-birthday meals with friends. Brunch at Cafe Hollander, dinner at Safe House.2014-01-12_1389498738

Jan. 12. Thankful for group texts so I can “watch” the Golden Globes with my two pop culture enthusiasts from Texas!2014-01-13_1389576074

Jan. 13. Thankful for another year of life, so we celebrated with a delicious dinner.2014-01-14_1389664794

Jan. 14. Thankful for tea to hopefully make the ouchie feeling in my throat go away.2014-01-14_1389743334

Jan. 15. Thankful for my Bible study, the ladies in it, and hot caramel apple cider.2014-01-16_1389835239

Jan. 16: Thankful for the opportunity to renew this bad boy! I haven’t used it since 2005, and I’m excited to travel internationally again this year to Costa Rica for my mission trip. Side note: Apparently you’re not allowed to smile for passport photos anymore?! Must we be angry Americans? I felt so not myself in the photo when the Walgreens guy told me three times I’m not allowed to smile.2014-01-17_1389917930

Jan. 17: Thankful for my sister, AKA the birthday girl today! Over the years we’ve gone from hating the fact that people thought we were twins to spending pretty much all our free time together ON PURPOSE. She’s my BFF by birth AND by choice. Happy 24th, Manda Moo. Xo.2014-01-17_1389962542

Jan. 18. Thankful to be reunited with my old friend! It’s been way too long…2014-01-18_1390077789

Jan. 19. Thankful for this kid. He goes back to college for his final semester tomorrow, but sad face regardless! (Don’t tell him I took a secret creeper photo.)2014-01-19_1390164307

Jan. 20. Thankful for a day off and lunch with my mom. I swear she wasn’t asleep when I took this photo. 😉2014-01-20_1390254644

Jan. 21. Thankful for the crazy thing called the Internet and how it can bring complete strangers together. I’m swapping clothes with girls from all over the US now. It’s awesome.2014-01-22_1390360001

Jan. 22. Thankful for Starbucks. Because it’s Starbucks.2014-01-22_1390434382

Jan. 23. Thankful that even though it’s starting to feel like winter will never end, it’s now still light outside when I leave work.#mywindshieldisreallydirty2014-01-23_1390520323

Jan. 24. Thankful for a lazy Friday at home watching TLC shows with my mom and sister.2014-01-25_1390611832

Jan. 25. Thankful for a relaxing Saturday at home with Starbucks, a bagel with cream cheese and, of course, the Dowager Countess.2014-01-25_1390684311

Jan. 26. Thankful for the opportunity to serve in children’s ministry at my church every week…even if it does end in me being covered in toothpaste this week. 😉 But the kids loved it!2014-01-26_1390762060

Jan. 27. Thankful that this AMAZING sweater came in the mail from Allison today, just in time to keep me warm during -35 wind chills tomorrow!2014-01-28_1390869853

Jan. 28. Thankful for warm clothes, coats, hats and scarves today. The end.2014-01-28_1390952512

Jan. 29. Thankful for a home-cooked dinner every Wednesday when I visit my parents. Because I think we all know I barely know how to cook.2014-01-30_1391041065

Jan. 30. It’s kind of weird, but thankful oil changes only happen every few months. It’s one of my least favorite things to do for some odd reason.2014-01-30_1391125770

Jan. 31. Thankful for good German fish fry nights with apple strudel for dessert. Mmmm…Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 9.58.24 PM

#365grateful: January

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What I’ve Learned From “True Love Dates”

I’ve shared on my blog before how I’ve loved helping out behind-the-scenes on truelovedates.com for a few months now. In addition, I’ve been reading through the book True Loves Dates by Debra Fileta. It’s such a joy to communicate via email with her to start with, but this book is SO GOOD.

Seriously, if you’re single (or if you even KNOW a single person, AKA everyone), stop what you’re doing and start reading this book.

It’s really been eye-opening (I’m almost done with it!). The book is divided into three portions: Dating Inward (all about getting to know yourself and figuring out who you are as a human being before you decide to get involved with another human being), Dating Outward (this section covers basically everything you’ve ever wondered about relationships in general), and Dating Upward (focusing on your relationship with God and how it pertains to your relationships).

Just a few quotes from the book that have really jumped out at me:

  • “God wants you to get to know him with at least the same passion with which you desire to get to know your future mate.” (page 165)
  • “Something has gone terribly wrong when young Christians believe that their main purpose in life is to find marital love. This dangerous belief robs us of joy and true purpose.” (page 136)
  • “As we learn to love God, it’s crucial to remember that love is more than a feeling. It’s a choice.” (page 139)
  • “When your heart is focused on the eternal, the temporal world takes on new shape and meaning. Your relationship status and your desire to be married may never disappear, but they stop controlling your life.” (page 128)

And this is probably my favorite:

“You will never feel whole in the presence of your mate if you don’t feel whole standing alone.” (page 135)

I’ve chronicled on here frequently how being single for all these years has made me the person I am today. Between all God has taught me personally during this time and reading Debra’s book, I totally feel like I am much more prepared for a future relationship now than I would have been a few years or even months ago. 

So, seriously, go check it out, no matter your relationship status!

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