Spring Cleaning: Day 2 & 3

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I am behind on updating on my 5 day juice cleanse. It has been a really hectic and busy week with my office move, among other things. But here I am at day 3 and happy to say that the juice cleanse is going well.

I can’t report having any side effects such as headaches, constipation, diarrhea etc. Besides slight hunger pangs, I feel good. Although it is odd that I only feel hunger pangs after I get home in the evening. It is as though my stomach knows as soon as I cross the threshold because it begins to do somersaults. However, I solve that problem by drinking water. But, I do have more energy (my colleagues have noticed an increase in my energy). And I feel lighter (which is to be expected when you do not eat any solid foods for a few days.

Here are a few pictures of the last 2 days

Day 1

I had to make another run to the grocery store. I didn’t realize how much celery I would use, and I picked up a few other goodies.

Day 2

I love juicing pineapples. Pineapple juice alone is so delicious. Add watermelon juice and my taste buds start break dancing. And the health benefits are notable such anti-inflammatory properties and boosts energy.

During the juice cleanse I have started my day with at least 16 ounces of celery juice. Celery juice is packed with vitamin C and K, as well as folate and potassium. Like pineapple juice, it reduces inflammation and can boosts cardiovascular health.

Yummy celery juice 🙂

Day 3 I found myself unprepared. I did not prep the night before so I woke up extra early.

Day 3

I added beets today. Beets, oranges, lemon, carrots and ginger combination is great for cleaning the liver.

Enjoying my beet juice. 🙂

Do you juice? What is your favorite juice?

Come back tomorrow for an update on day 4.

Hotep

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Spring Cleaning!

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Spring cleaning. It is a practice that occurs in nearly every home during springtime. Every nook and crevice is cleaned. Windows sparkle. Carpets and upholstery are shampooed. Closets are cleaned out and organized. And the list goes on and on. Spring cleaning is a ritual that households all over the world are preparing for. But what about spring cleaning the body? What about setting aside time to detox the body from the smorgasbord of foods that we indulge in on a daily basis? Just as spring cleaning of our homes is important, I would argue that spring cleaning of our bodies is even more important. Spring cleaning (detoxing) the body, eliminates toxins in the body, and can be the catalyst to healthier eating habits and an overall healthier lifestyle. Detoxing is also a way to give our often overworked organs a much needed break and keep them healthy and strong for many years to come. There are many benefits of detoxing. Check out this article on USA Today for more information.

For the next five days I, along with 50 other people, will be participating in a fresh juice/water cleanse. We will not consume any food other than the fruits and vegetables that we juice. I imagine my body being totally excited about the next five days. I imagine the spinach and the kale and other leafy green vegetables gently scrubbing my liver, kidneys, and other organs that are vital for optimal health. I imagine my bowels (sorry if that grosses you out) screaming out YES YES YES as the fiber from the fruits and vegetables gently massages my bowels, loosening the toxins that are trapped in my body, expelling them from my body. I imagine my skin becoming clear, as I have been battling a horrible case of acne because of menopause. I imagine my hormones which are all over the place, finding peace, harmony, and balance in my body so that I will no longer feel controlled by my emotions.

I am no stranger to juicing. I have been juicing now for a number of years. I realized I was not consuming enough vegetables and fruits and thought juicing would be a great way for me to do so. Plus its just something about eating (or drinking) vegetables in their raw state; filling my body with all of the amazing and wonderful nutrients that my body doesn’t get. I also watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and was so inspired by the testimony of Joe Cross, that I amped up my juicing lifestyle, and even introduced a few friends to juicing. Juicing is an amazing addition to our already healthy eating habits. Do your own research. Talk to your physician. Then love on your body by incorporating juicing into your lifestyle.

Juicers

There are many juicers on the market. Check out this Juicer Buying Guide. I currently have a Breville which is my favorite because it extracts more juice

Eat Colors

I love walking into the produce section of a grocery store. All of the colors are amazing and look so beautiful. Research says that we should eat a variety of colors because doing so provides nutrients that are known to protect the nervous system, promote eye health, and prevent heart diseases. They also play an important  role in maintaining skin health, boosting the immune system and helping build strong bones.

Goodies From The Grocery Store

Preparation

My mornings are busy. I wake up at 430am and I run out of the door by 630am. There is no way I would be able to prep and prepare my fresh juice in the morning. So last night I washed and cut up the veggies I would be juicing today. I will do the same every night between now and Friday. Tonight, I will prepare the juice for tomorrow and store it in the refrigerator. It will save me a lot of time and stress.

Two bunches of celery for celery juice
Kale, cucumber, celery, green apple, lemon, and ginger
Parsnips, celery, pear, lemon, ginger

Last Meal (so to speak)

Spinach, orange, pineapple, banana, coconut water, chia seeds

Last night I was contemplating what to eat before my juice cleanse began. I thought of pizza (I love pizza) but I wanted pizza from Pizza Hut and unfortunately they do not deliver to me and sadly, I was too lazy to drive. I even thought I should have bought some ice cream when I made market. I love ice cream too (who doesn’t). But instead, I opted for this delicious smoothie. I figured it was the perfect backdrop to the start of my juice cleanse.

Day 1. I will be sharing my 5 day journey with you all. I’m a few hours into the first day and so far so good. I’ll check back in later.

Hotep

Celebrating Galentine’s Day

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Galentine’s Day. Have you heard of it? No? Well allow me to enlighten you. Galentine’s Day is all about celebrating our lady friends…..without husbands or boyfriends. Galentine’s Day became popular after an episode of Parks & Recreation, where Leslie, played by Amy Poehler, throws her annual Galentine’s Day party for her female friends. After the episode aired, news quickly spread and February 13th was deemed Galentine’s Day. I imagine women all over the country coming together to celebrate one another. While I didn’t have a party (quite possibly next year if I remember), I do want to celebrate a few of my lady friends…….no, Sisters.

Growing up I wished I had a sister. Instead I got a knucklehead brother (that’s another blog post) However, as I entered high school and beyond, I have been blessed to meet so many amazing women; some whom I have the privilege to call Sister. This post is all about them. It is my way of celebrating who they are in my life.

Each of the women represented here hold a special place in my heart. Each of them have touched me in ways that words can’t even adequately express. Each of them make me want to be a better woman. I see them and know that no matter what life throws my way, I can make it. Represented in each of these women is strength, intelligence, inspiration, beauty, passion, creativity, courage, faith, confidence, focus, wisdom, and determination. My sisters are wives, mothers, entrepreneurs, veterans, college graduates, and ministers. We have laughed and cried together. We have fought and made up. They check me when I’m wrong. And lift me up when I am down. They are everything I aspire to be.

Happy Galentine’s Day Sisters. Thank you for being part of my life.

“A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life.” ~ Isadora James

“Because there’s one thing stronger than magic: sisterhood.” 
~ Robin Benway

“A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves – a special kind of double.” ~Toni Morrison

“For there is no friend like a sister, in calm or stormy weather, to cheer one on the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to lift one if one totters down, to strengthen whilst one stands.” ~ Christina Rosetti 

Storm Sister–a friend who sticks close when storms hit her friend’s life. ~ Afton Rorvik

Time Is On Our Side

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Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:11

Let me begin by saying that I am not a theologian or a bible scholar. I am a sinner saved by the grace of God, striving every day to live a life that is pleasing to him. I fall, I fall some more, and I fall again. But I get up and keep moving, striving to be more like Jesus every day.

With that, in my blog post, Forgiveness Ø Reconciliation, I wrote about forgiveness and how forgiveness does not always lead to reconciliation. I shared how challenging that has been for me in the past, because in my mind, if forgiveness is present then so should be reconciliation. I introduced you to (or re-introduced you to) Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark in Acts 15. Paul and Barnabas were divinely brought together to do the work of the Lord, but they brought John Mark with them. After one assignment, John Mark decided he wasn’t about that life and he went on his own way. Later, Paul called Barnabas to travel with him to another city and Barnabas wanted to take John Mark. Paul said, heck no, and thus the tension and dissension between Paul and Barnabas was present. Two men, who God ordained to be apart of one another’s lives for His glory, are now no longer speaking; and Paul and John Mark are no longer speaking. It’s a mess of confusion and misunderstanding.

Many books of the bible later, in 2 Timothy 4, we find Paul on his deathbed. Paul writes Timothy, his son in the faith, providing him with very clear instructions on continuing their commitment to God and the way they should do God’s work. But he also requested that Timothy bring John Mark to him. This is the same John Mark who years ago Paul had a serious disagreement with, and who was the cause of Paul and Barnabas having a major falling out and never speaking again. Yet now, on his deathbed, Paul is requesting to see John Mark. Why? Time. Which brings me to the point of this blog, “You can’t rush reconciliation; sometimes it takes time.”

I am sure you have heard the saying, “Time heals all wounds.” Merriam-Webster’s definition of this idiom is “feelings of sadness, disappointment, etc., gradually go away as time passes.” Time gave Paul space to heal from the disappointment that he felt towards John Mark. But the unfortunate reality of life is that not every relationship will be reconciled; and those that can be reconciled require time.

Healing takes time. If you have ever experienced heartbreak then you know that time is your friend; “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). When an offense occurs, I want to fix it and fix it immediately. I try to follow God’s instructions in Matthew 18: 15-17, on what to do when your brother (or sister) sins against you. Unfortunately, I am not always afforded this opportunity. So what I have learned from my own experiences is that trying to fix it in that moment may not always be the best thing. The best thing for me is to either (1) forgive the person who offended me, or if I am the offender; (2) ask God to forgive me for offending my brother or sister, and then forgive myself. (future blog post….maybe?)

As I ponder relationships in my own life that have not been reconciled, I am reminded of my reconciliation to God, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Through God’s gift of salvation, the relationship between God and myself has been restored. Because Jesus was offered as a living sacrifice on Calvary, I experienced the greatest level of reconciliation I will ever know. Reconciliation between myself and my God took time as well. God constantly and consistently pursued me, never giving up on me. And for that I am forever grateful.

Maybe there are relationships in our lives that will never experience reconciliation. I pray that God’s grace will cover any pain that new reality may cause us. But I also pray, that we will thank God for the impact those person’s made in our lives. I pray that we will remember the good times and hold on to those memories. I pray that if forgiveness is needed, then we will forgive those that offended us.

Have you experienced reconciliation after an offense? Please encourage me with your story.

Hotep

Forgiveness Ø Reconciliation

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My church has what is called Village. A Village is a small group of people who meet during the week to have discussion about Sunday’s sermon. I know for me, there are a lot of times after hearing a really good word or a challenging word, that I want to talk about it. The Village provides that opportunity.

I had my first meeting with my Village last week; and this week will be our first biblical group discussion. And what pray tell is the topic of discussion? Forgiveness. Now, if you know me or follow my posts at all, then you know forgiveness is a major part of my testimony. Forgiveness is what I wrote about in the book I co-authored, Wounds Healed, Scars Revealed. Forgiveness is what I speak about. Forgiveness and the act thereof has been a game changer for me. So I’m excited about having this discussion over the next few weeks. However, if you have been walking with God any length of time then you know that sometimes what you think is a “refresher message” is actually God trying to tell you something. God has a sense of humor like that.

The first part of the 4-Part Series is titled “Forgiving What You Can’t Forget,” and takes a look at how Paul and Barnabas became divided over John Mark in Acts 15:36-40. And the very first point, the one that surprisingly has been challenging for me is, “after an offense some relationships cannot be reconciled.”’ After you have hurt someone or someone has hurt you, there is a huge probability that the relationship will not be reconciled….even if forgiveness is present.

For a long time I lived under the lens that forgiveness meant we were cool and moving forward. But unfortunately I’ve learned in a very hard way that is not the case. And if I can be transparent for a moment, in my own arrogance, I have forgiven but denied reconciliation, while looking for reconciliation after asking for forgiveness. Don’t miss that. I have forgiven someone who hurt me but decided that I no longer wanted to be part of their life, then turned right around and hurt someone, looked for forgiveness and reconciliation, only to be denied reconciliation. #Ouch

Now, that doesn’t mean that either situation was wrong. Meaning, I was very well within my right to deny reconciliation and the other person was very well within their right to deny me reconciliation. No where in the Bible does God command reconciliation. He does, however, command us to forgive. But my own issue with relationships ending has kept me stuck in thinking reconciliation should follow forgiveness.

Maybe I’m not alone. So how do we move forward? First, I would say that forgiveness needs to happen regardless of whether not reconciliation does. Forgiveness is never about the other person but always about us. Forgiveness frees us and allows us to live our lives free of bitterness, hate, anger, or revenge. Forgiveness serves notice to the enemy that we will not allow the offender to live rent free in our mind; nor will we just allow the enemy to run amuck in our life, controlling us and dangling this stench over us preventing us from moving forward.

Second, and this was one of my pastor’s points, maybe I(we) need to understand that “sometimes God orchestrates and allows an offense to break up a relationship he never ordained for us in the first place.” #OuchOuch In the past I have been guilty of having everyone in my life in my inner circle. Then one day my pastor in Philadelphia, Reverend Doctor Alyn E. Waller, Pastor of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church did an exercise where he had us draw five circles within one another. He then had us label each circle (colleagues, business partners associates, etc). Then we looked at the people in our life and regrouped them in the appropriate circle. That exercise was so freeing to me. My inner circle (as it had been in my mind) shrunk from 500 to 4. Ok, those numbers are exaggerated. But the point was and still is, “just because it looks good on paper does not mean it’s ordained by God.” There are two categories of people in our lives, (1) those God has ordained; and (2) those we have allowed. And sometimes God has to break up some stuff and he does this with an offense. We see this in Acts 13:2. The Holy Spirit requested Paul and Barnabas. Paul and Barnabas also took John Mark. But the Holy Spirit didn’t request John Mark. Point: “you can’t force in partnership what God hasn’t created in Providence.” God had a great work for Paul and Barnabas and they wanted to include their friend Mark. Along the way (actually after only the first assignment) Mark decided that wasn’t the life for him; he wasn’t living his best life tagging along with Paul and Barnabas doing the work of the Lord, and he bounced. Fast forward to Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas are preparing for another assignment and Barnabas wants to take John Mark. Paul says, heck no! And thus the contention and division between Paul and Barnabas ends the relationship between the two. Paul never reconciles with Barnabas. But before he dies, he writes a letter to Timothy, requesting Timothy to come see him…..and to bring Mark. Why? I’ll share that tomorrow. The second point of this sermon that challenged me.

My prayer is that if there is someone that you need to forgive, that God will give you the wisdom to know that forgiveness is for you and the courage and grace to forgive. Not looking for reconciliation. But to be freed from the weight of unforgiveness.

Hotep

Never Alone

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At any given moment, we will find ourselves surrounded by people. At work we are surrounded by our coworkers. At school we are surrounded by other students and teachers. At home, we are surrounded by our spouse and/or children. And even when we are not in close proximity of people, there is still text, email, telephone, social media, and let’s not forget FaceTime. But even with all of this connection, the number of people who feel alone is staggering.

One of my favorite songs (I’ve dubbed it in my personal mantra), “Pieces of Me” by Ledisi, has a line that says, “I’m lonely even with people all around.” I wrestle with how that is even possible; even when I personally know it to be true. But what I’ve learned, and quite honestly still learning is that, “Loneliness has nothing to do with the number of friends a person has or even with how many social interactions fill a calendar. Researchers have discovered that loneliness stems from a disconnection between a person’s expectations for how relationships are to be and the reality of those relationships.” Expectations are the root of disappointment.

I recently shared with a friend that I am challenged by and struggle with the seemingly accepted societal norm that days, weeks, and even months can go by without people talking to loved ones and that is ok. The rationale, which I completely get, is that we are all so busy with life that we just don’t have the time to reach out and touch people like we use too. But even though we do not speak on a regular basis, when we do speak, it’s as though we never missed a beat. That, apparently, is the measure of a solid friendship. And yet, I struggle with it, and have had to adjust myself around it. My friend told me it’s because my deepest desire is to be connected. I pondered that for a moment. I think my friend is right. Even though I’m a loner in a lot of ways, as the years roll on, that desire for connection is so intense that it…..hurts. But why? Because I fear growing old alone. As another birthday approaches, and I inch closer to 55 and 60, I see my window of opportunity for love and a healthy marriage dwindling. I also see me growing old…..alone…..with no one. Damn I should have had a kid! I’m joking! But seriously, that’s my heart.

But in the depths of my soul I hear God telling me that I am not alone; I am never alone. He has been with me from the moment I made my debut in this world, and he will be with me the moment I transition from this world. I hear God telling me that while He understands my heart, and sympathizes with how I’m feeling, and is concerned about all that concerns me, the very real reality is this: there is not a person, place, or thing; no amount of shopping, traveling or sex; and no substance or food, that can fill a void like the amazing, abundant, beautiful, compassionate, everlasting, freeing, and sacrificial, love of Jesus! There is absolutely NOTHING that can or will ever do what only Jesus can do for me. While I believe that God has designed us to be relational, he did not design us to be relational without first having a relationship with Him. And I hear his voice whispering softly (while slowly growing to a crescendo), Beloved, I’m right here. Everything you need is right here with me. And my response…..the only response……

Fill this void, and emptiness

Shine Your light, on my darkness

Satisfy, and restore my soul

I long for You, make me whole

Come quench thirsting

Lord I am ready

Here I am waiting, come fill my heart

You are the only, one who can fill me

Here I am waiting, come fill my heart.”

If you are feeling lonely and trying to fill that void with excessive shopping, alcohol, drugs, sex, etc., my prayer is that you will cry out to God, invite him in, and ask him to fill that void inside of you.

Hotep

Day 35: A (Brief)Reprieve?

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Day 35 of what will go down in history as the longest federal government shutdown; and at 1:30pm today notification came that a deal was reached to temporarily open the government until February 15th. Hmmmmm……while that should be fantastic news, I choose to remain cautiously optimistic. This has been a STRESSFUL 35 days. I personally do not want to go through this again. I would have rather seen a long term deal be reached so that federal workers would not be faced with the same stressors and struggles that we have faced for more than a month. The optimistic side of me says, “Well, at least federal workers will be able to receive retroactive pay so that we can pay rent/mortgage and other bills, and get on with our lives.” However, the pessimistic (or as a friend said negative) side of me says, “For 35 days federal workers have been used as pawns because of a campaign promise for a wall. A promise that the president was adamant that he was not budging on and now, all of a sudden, he is willing to sign a temporary bill so that federal workers can return to work. Why? What gives? If a deal can not be reached before February 15th will the president shut the government down again and then 35 days turns into 70 or more? And what are the cons of the president declaring a national emergency to obtain funds for this wall? How will that affect Americans as a whole?” So many unanswered questions…at least for me. But for now, I praise God for this victory and pray that a long term deal will be reached.

When the news broke that a deal had been reached to end the partial federal government shutdown, myself and approximately 100 other furloughed government workers were standing in line at a local supermarket waiting to receive gift cards from Washington Wizards Point Guard John Wall. I must admit, I had no idea who John Wall was. I am not a basketball fan (my days of watching basketball ended when Michael Jordan retired). But I appreciate John Wall and others for their generosity.

Wizards Point Guard John Wall

Finally, Mr. Wilbur Ross, a member of the president’s cabin, and who is worth $700 million, said he doesn’t understand why furloughed workers are using food banks during the shutdown. Mr. Ross, I pray you never have to know.

Hotep