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Salt and Clay

…because life gets salty, and we're shaped as clay.

Brokenness Aside

Have you ever sat to listen to someone’s story? Not just the highlights and the gloss overs, but have you listened to the nitty gritty details that actually shape them into the person he or she really is? These are details that ultimately direct their decision making and thought processes.

There’s so much more to the angry attitude of the 34 year old woman working the fast food chain who goes home every evening to a verbally abusive husband. There’s so much more behind the peppy 30 year old who goes into work every day so excited to be there because just a month earlier she thought she might die, leaving behind her family and children because of the chronic disease she battles with every single day.

I’m willing to bet many of you haven’t even taken the time to really look at your own story to better understand why you make the decisions you make. I’ve especially found this to be true for myself as I seek to better understand my own Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Once I started exploring these concepts, I became more interested in what drives others to react the way they do in certain situations.

I was stumped on Sunday. I was presented with a story of a young family who delivered their second child born with a rare cancer for which there is no known treatment. The family is now living at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where this baby is undergoing experimental chemo and we’re asked to pray for a miracle. It broke me. As I prayed, I begged for God to give this family the best Christmas gift ever… then I felt selfish. He already had. That’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it? In my spirit, I felt a battle. But, God, how do you convince this mother that Jesus is enough when her baby may be dying? How do you usher in peace when I’m begging for a fight? How do we keep the faith even when you’re answer isn’t the one we want? What if you choose to take him? What if you do choose to heal? Would we be faithful to give you the glory? How will this family be shaped by this battle?

Why do I care so much? And now that I know I do, what will I do about it?

I challenge you this week, holiday season, and New Year, to think about the stories that move you. Figure out why, and do something about it. Maybe it’s raising money or volunteering. Maybe it’s a note of encouragement. Maybe it’s a random act of kindness or spending time listening more. Please share with this community what moves you and what you’re doing about it. If you’re stumped, I’m sure others would be glad to help you think of something.

Have courage! Make a difference. God takes the broken and makes it beautiful!

SDG

Not all Calories are Created Equal

Previously, we talked about your Basal Metabolic Rate, caloric need, and tools to track those delicious calories. Now, what is a calorie? What makes up calories? How do we use calories?

Calories are a form of energy derived from the foods or food-like substances we consume. This energy is what fuels our day-to-day functions as well as our workouts. Our foods are composed of macro (big) nutrients as well as micro (small) nutrients. Many people focus on tracking calories based on macronutrients. There are four major types of macronutirients: Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and alcohol.

Each macronutrient provides a different amount of energy. (It may help you to think of it like currency…) 1 gram of protein provides 4 calories. 1 gram of carbohydrate provides 4 calories. 1 gram of fat provides 9 calories, and 1 gram of alcohol provides 7 calories.

Using an electronic tracker such as My Macros will show you a breakdown of the food you ingest into your percentage of macros. Using your new found knowledge of macros and calories, you can adjust your food choices based on your goals. Just interested in losing weight? It’s simple. Calories in, calories out. Want to lose fat and be leaner? Decrease your fat intake. Want to build some muscle tone, shift your calorie allowance more toward choices higher in protein. Cutting any one specific macro (aside from alcohol) IS NOT HEALTHY on a long-term basis. Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates are not the enemy. Carbohydrates are brain power. Appropriate fats help to lubricate your joints and regulate your hormones. Proteins will help you build lean muscle which will ultimately rev up your metabolism.

What do we do with this?!

Ok, here’s what I do. Take what you will…

  1. Figure out your BMR and caloric NEED. (Mine is 1,418 calories/day)
  2. Set a goal. (I want to lose 10 pounds but still have energy to hammer out some pretty gnarly workouts. By the way, many super smart people say .5-1 pound weight loss/week is safe and reasonable, so I would like to lose 10 pounds by Wednesday, February 15, 2017.)
  3. Work a plan. So, 1 pound is 3500 calories. Therefore, I would need to decrease my weekly caloric intake by 3500 calories which would mean my daily intake would be 918 calories. What?!?! That’s crazy town. Remember, this is just to exist, not to workout. Therefore, I would need to be sure to increase my calories for my gnarly workouts. So, let’s say I planned on running 6 miles. I know I typically burn about 100 calories/mile. I need an extra 500-600 calories to help fuel that workout and still be on track for my weight loss plan.

This journey is not an easy one, but you’re not in it alone!

Set a goal. You’re worth it.

SDG

Guiding Light

The busyness of this time of year is when I really have to do a thorough heart examination to determine my motives for all of the goings on. Kids’ school parties, church events, tree lightnings, caroling, and all the other festivities are happening. Which do I attend? The gift list is getting long. At what point am I being a good steward of my money and resources? I look around and see some needs but I’m in a terrible hurry to do the things I want to do.

What is guiding my decision making? Am I making decisions based on selfish ambitions or vein conceits, or am I trying to love the lord and my neighbor the best way I know how? How do I determine which way to navigate? What If I am doing something for my own benefit? Who or what am I really trying to worship? How do I know if I’m truly walking out my salvation with fear and trembling?

This is a great time to remember to look to the cross as our compass. No, I’m not necessarily whipping out the whole old school W.W.J.D. But what I am doing is searching out the motives of my heart, spending time in the word, and seeking to walk in obedience to my Lord’s will.

Christmas lights are a big reminder that Christ came as a light into the darkness of this world; thus, he will be the illumination we need to navigate through not only this season, but all of life’s journeys.

This week, I challenge you to be mindful in how you spend your time, how you relate to others, words you say, and even the gifts you buy. What’s your motivation? What’s your next step and why? Who’s glory are you seeking?

SDG

Toasting to Traditions

I just love the holidays! People seem to be in an overall happier disposition, the weather cools off, lots of treats show up in the workplace… on and on and on. On the flip side, there are also a lot of people who dread this time of year because they’re forcing a celebration of gratitude when they’re hearts have been broken or the love of their life has been taken away. My granddad who was the other pea in my pod passed away around Thanksgiving. And it just so happened my youngest son was born the Sunday after Thanksgiving. This time of year really conducts a mixed bag of emotions that ultimately result in a heart of joy and a state of worship for all of the blessings generously poured out.

Life, much like the tide, ebbs and flows, but the one constant is God’s love. This season I am so thankful for my Granddad who constantly shared the gospel with me and literally begged God for my salvation as well as salvation for all the other members of my family. I specifically remember him begging for mercy on souls. With the burden of begging for salvation on lost souls, Grandpa didn’t have much tolerance for “foolishness”. Therefore, traditions around our homestead were treasured as they were purposeful and intentional. My grandparents never put up a tree, didn’t make a big deal about gifts, but they did spend time around the kitchen table visiting, laughing, praying, and wrapping the day up with a good nap.

Now that I have a family of my own, I’m trying to be mindful of the traditions I would like to instill in my kiddos… we don’t have any set traditions yet; except that we will be surrounded by family and we will end our day talking about the things we a most grateful for.

What are some of the traditions you partake in and why? What makes them meaningful for you? Post a few of the things you are most grateful for this holiday season.

Cheers!

SDG

Sweater Weather

Happy Sweater Weather to you!

Although we are finally hitting winter weather temps, we don’t want to pack our winter skin coats to hibernate. So, we’re going to equip ourselves with a plan for this winter eating season. Let’s start with the most basic element. Calories. Calories in, calories out. That’s the key to maintaining our waistline.

What is your baseline amount of calories just to exist? This is referred to as your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). There are many websites out there to help you calculate your BMR. I like to use the one from bodybuilding.com which you can find here. This will give you a baseline calorie target for an average day. This is NOT the same amount of caloric intake recommended for workout days. The goal here is to liberate you from the bondage of dieting this holiday feasting season. Enjoy all the foods; just aim to keep your caloric intake within your target to keep your weight stable.

How can you track all of these delicious calories? There are several tools out there to help. First, there’s good ole’ pen and paper. This is a great option if you have nutrition labels for everything. Second, there are several apps out there that keep a database of foods and allow you to track and trend your intake. My fitness pal is one of the most popular apps around. I use My Macros. Once we get past the feasting season, we’ll talk more about macronutrients and how not all calories are created equal. So, if you’re anticipating going on that journey with me, I recommend an app that will not only track your calories, but also break down your macronutrient intake.

Whatever you do, don’t let these numbers define you. These are intended to encourage you and give you boundaries should you need them. Not everyone struggles with moderation like I do. If you should feel burdened by these numbers or discouraged, let’s talk about that and dig a little deeper into why. Remember who you are. You are not defined by any number either on the scale or some BMR calculator or calorie tracker.

SDG

Manic Monday

Don’t surrender to yet another Manic Monday!! Having an awesome day is a choice whether it’s Monday or Friday.

So how do you handle your Mondays?

For me, I start the week with another new diet to try, back to work, back to the gym, commitment to cook dinner every night, re-commitment to quiet time… run over here, run over there… so, how do we cope? One choice at a time.

My heart will rejoice when the alarm sings my favorite worship song at 4:30am and I will get out of bed and shuffle myself to the kitchen where I will make my coffee and snuggle up in my favorite chair to have some quiet time. I will enjoy my new balanced breakfast of Brussel’s sprouts and chicken breast. Then I will inevitably lose track of time and scramble to the shower at 5:40 and be out the door to work by 6:10.

I will pull into my workplace, get to the locker room where I will change clothes and encourage Monday morning motivation to my colleagues, and we’re off to our 8 hour race to provide the best nursing care to some of the best patients working with the best surgeons. 3:00 hits and it’s off to the gym. 4:30 and I run to get the kiddos. 6:00 and we’re finally home where I will get dinner ready. 8:00 kiddo baths, story time, and bed.

So, how do we repent from the dreaded Manic Monday? My magic bullet is an Epsom salt bath with either a good book or Pandora. After physically relaxing, it’s very helpful to relax the mind by journaling—journaling allows your mind to let go of the stressful experiences and you inevitably learn new coping mechanisms for the stressful encounters you had.

Journaling can be anything you want it to be. Just grab a pen and some paper and go. It can be senseless ramblings, art, or poetry. Some people save their journals for ever and ever, others shred or burn them (apparently that’s part of the therapy as well, depending on what you journal about). I enjoy journaling about things I am thankful for or prayers that have been answered.

So, not to add some other to-do to your Monday, but I strongly encourage you to try journaling daily. Are you up for the challenge? I would love to hear about your experiences with journaling and how you de-manic your Monday. Share here or with Salt and Clay Wellness on Facebook and Instagram.

Happy Monday!

SDG

Gourdeous

Oh the long forgotten gourd… A long-stay, nutritious carb which is not on our hotlist of go-to grub. I want to issue a weekend challenge to grab a gourd and make something delicious.

Butternut squash is one of my favorite gourds. There are so many recipes out there these days, you should not be lacking for any kind of direction. The first major decision to make is sweet or savory? If you’re trying to steer clear of sugar, Diane Sanfilippo has an amazing Butternut Squash Soup recipe on her blog at Balancedbites.com.

You might be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to make a sweet treat from this surprisingly scrumptious squash. One of my favorite go-to desserts is to toss cubed butternut squash in melted coconut oil, pumpkin pie spice, and coconut sugar and roast it in the oven until it’s developed a roasted char. Game changer! There are so many recipes out there on the Google, feel free to conduct a recipe hunt of your own. Here are a few more recipe options.

So, finding a butternut squash is not hard. You could head out to your local farmer’s market, or local grocery store. I have found pre-cut butternut squash at Costco and Publix. Let me tell you, that was a game- changer for me. But, if you should choose the full experience of preparing your gourd, by all means! Danielle Walker has a great how-to article here.

Anyway, I’m super interested in what you decided to try!! Leave a comment and/or a pic! If you follow Salt and Clay on Facebook and Instagram, take a pic of your endeavors and use #gourdeous. Happy Friday, y’all!

SDG

A Letter to Donald Trump

Congratulations! You now bear the burden of leading the greatest nation in the world. No pressure. Fortunately, there have been many leaders before you who have set examples of how to lead well and well, how not to lead.

Many Christians have been praying for you. I would also like for you to know, I firmly believe God’s Word to be true when He says that he has established the leader to the role. Therefore, I will honor you and respect you within the bounds of God’s law.

The greatest leader I would ask you to look to when trying to establish your own leadership style in the White House would be that of Jesus, the ultimate servant leader. He is our only hope for life, eternal life and a life of peace while we reside in the world. His first and greatest command is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your mind, and with all your soul. The second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Matthew 22:37-40)

Although you do now carry a large burden, you do not bear it alone. You can always cast it onto the one who established you to the role as Commander and Chief. Congratulations, Sir.

SDG

Seasons’ Eatings

Oh my gosh… I’m so not ready for the holidays! By ready for the holidays, I mean mentally and emotionally prepared for the internal battles that will ensue when I am invited here and there to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas around table after table of grub. And you know it’s probably going to be all the good stuff, too. Homemade pies, birds stuffed with more birds stuffed with stuffing, every kind of vegetable smothered in some sort of creamy, cheesy something something. Ladies, let me just say, the struggle IS REAL.

I’m going to go ahead and air some dirty laundry. I’m a binge eater. There, I’ve said it. When I’m on a binge in full swing, if there’s food before me, it will be consumed. No food is safe. I’m an equal opportunity eater. Although, I prefer the baked sweet stuff.

In addition to binge eating, I have the privilege of battling body dysmorphia. Oh yeah, and I have Lupus that I TRY to control via diet…rrrriiiiiggghhttt. (I can almost hear my Rheumatologist rolling her eyes.)

So, I have a lot of mental prep work to do to gear up for this holiday season. So, here’s my plan…

  1. Cast my burden on to Jesus. After all, he created me and understands all of these diseases far better than I.
  2. Make one decision at a time. I can only deal with the here and now. Therefore, I will not worry about tomorrow.
  3. Meal prep. Setting myself up for success in #2… meal prepping makes a good food choice SSSOOOO much easier.
  4. Usher self-forgiveness when I make a less than stellar decision.
  5. Stay OFF of the scale. I mean, it’s deceiving. Besides, I’m more than a number.
  6. Be consistent in the gym. I mean, it’s hard to make really poor food choices when you’ve worked out REALLY hard for the last three days…
  7. Express gratitude daily.

SDG

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