thoughts on now

I've been reading through Jeremiah this month and man, the first half is brutal. Over and over, God tells the Isrealites how mad he is. And rightfully so.

But around the halfway point, the mood in the book shifts and you can read some foreshadowing about Jesus and what God plans to do in the future. Hope enters the picture.

But what has stuck out to me the most is what God asks of his people. God tell the Isrealites and the king of Judah that if they surrender to the Babylonians, they won't be killed. It will be shameful. It will seem like defeat, but they will propser again. God will rebuild Jerusalem.

But the king doesn't surrender. He's too afraid. It makes no logical sense to surrender.

. . . 

The older I get, the more I realize that God doesn't make a lot of logical sense. At least not earthly sense. Don't gossip about your co-workers? But it's so fun! It's so easy. God says no.

Give away my hard earned money? Donate to the church, take care of the bum on the street? God says yes.

All of this ties in to my experience with Whole30. I am constantly denying my body (and mind) things that it desires. Popcorn. M & Ms. Rolls. But now that I'm 23 days in, I am beginning to see the long-term benefits. My stomach is flat. My jeans fit loose. I feel good.

I feel good when I eat popcorn too, but this is a deeper good. A lasting good.

That's what the king of Judah didn't understand. He needed to deny himself - deny earthly logic for the lasting good. For Jerusalem. For his people.

Now that Whole30 is winding down, I'm afraid. I hear that most people are. I'm afraid that I won't know how to eat treats in moderation. That one or two bites won't be enough. One slice of cake won't be enough.

I just need to remember that it's all for the lasting good.


Eating: healthy, healthy, healthy.

Drinking: black coffee with homemade coconut milk creamer. It is a lot more satisfying than I thought it would be ... although I do miss sugar in my coffee. A dash of cinnamon always tricks me a bit.

Practicing: being kind and giving lots of grace.

Mastering: saying no to doughnuts.

Trying: to love veggies more than fruit.

Playing: this song ... along with every other teen in America. Such a dancy tune.

Reading: The Opposite of Loneliness. I should be finishing The Woman in White but this book is breathtaking. I sat down in the library to read the introduction and was swept away.

Remembering: the taste of pizza and beer on a Friday night...

Wearing: sleeveless and sandals, all summer long.

Cooking: roasted sweet potatoes almost every day. Paprika ... what a spice.

Wanting: to see a few more summer sunsets before school starts back up.

whole30: Days 1 - 10

Whole30 is tough, but rewarding.

That's what I keep thinking each day, each choice, each meal. Sometimes I focus a bit too much on the tough part, but I'm only in the first ten days. Apparently it gets better from here.

Tyler and I chose to do Whole30 for different reasons. We both want to be healthier, but I knew it was more for me. I needed to kick sugar. I needed to stop giving it power over my life. I needed to learn how to say no to the doughnuts in the office, no to the doughnuts in class on Sunday, and no to the ice cream every weekend night.

I had given all the power to my emotions, my whims, and my cravings. My mind wasn't ruling my body anymore, and it was time to put an end to it. Travel season is also in full swing during September and I knew I needed to get my sugar addiction under control before I hit the road. AKA Icees and mini Oreos for days.

But I've done it! I've said no for ten days. I've turned down doughnut holes, dessert at La Madeline, chips and salsa with coworkers, and candy at the front desk. I have never said no for so long. And it feels really really good. Saying no is empowering.

I've also learned how not healthy all those "healthy" things are. Guys, we've been tricked. We've been targeted. And I have fallen for it over and over and over. I eat granola because it's a healthy breakfast, right? Look at the cover of the bag! It says so!

But a deeper look and more knowledge has led to an eye opening experience - there really aren't that many healthy options in the grocery store. The pieces are there - the building blocks - but you have to go the extra mile. You have to combine it. You have to cook it.

It's hard. There are a LOT of dirty dishes. My cutting board gets a lot of action. I'm thankful we have really good knives. Some nights I come home and I just ... don't want to make the effort.

But you want to know a secret? The effort makes the food taste better. My food is worth more. And it is doing more for my body than any food ever has before.

A few tips from the Branhams:

- Splurge on healthy snacks. Lara Bars (frozen or heated up) are an absolute fave. I eat them like treats when I'm feeling totally deprived. The picture above is another treat - Kombucha. It's my end-of-the-week splurge.
- Banana ice cream works for special occasions and tastes so sweet! Tyler's birthday is this month and it's what I'm planning to make to spoil him a bit - Whole30 approved.
- Prep, prep, prep. We make a breakfast casserole each week to eat for breakfast. Such a time saver.
- Experiment with new veggies you don't love/know. I am so obsessed with sweet potato now.
- Indulge in the dips! The best part of Whole30 is getting to eat full fat dips. I love the paleo mayo and can make such delicious ranch dressing with it. I even whipped up a delicious compliant tarter sauce. I'm never going back to the store bought sauces! It is NUTS what crap they put in everything.
- MEAL PLAN. Take an hour, research recipes, make a list, and stick to it. It's such a time saver. And keeps me from going crazy.

Here's to the next 10 days!

she and he: july

They moved.

And it took a lot of work.

He studied.

She packed and unpacked.

They were pretty exhausted.

August, we are ready for you.