Free Alert!

Friends! I’m in the middle of a new post on kitchen staples for your clean eating, but I have to break in real quick to let you know about this:

Head over to Stupid Easy Paleo to get five weeks’ worth of FREE paleo meal plans! These aren’t just any paleo meals, either. They’re designed to fill you up if you’re a gym rat (my husband) or just an especially hungry person (me). The plans are only free until March 29, so hurry over there and sign up!

Pit Stop: Ranch Dressing

This will be quick, but I had to share!

Have you heard of Planks, Love & Guacamole’s ranch dressing? It’s paleo, and friends, it’s wonderful. I dare say it’s better than actual ranch dressing. Go ahead and double or triple the recipe. Eat it on everything. Today I’m dipping my grilled chicken strips in it. Tomorrow it might dress my cucumbers.Make it. Then tell me what you dip it in/smother it on. Because I need to figure out a way to work this dressing into every meal of my life.

Make it.Then tell me what you dip it in/smother it on. Because I need to figure out a way to work this dressing into every meal of my life.

Then tell me what you dip it in/smother it on. Because I need to figure out a way to work this dressing into every meal of my life.

Oh PS, If you don’t have avocado oil (or don’t feel like buying it—I totes muh goats get it) grapeseed oil or olive oil works fine!

Scenic Route: First Things First

Breakfast. Oh, yummy breakfast. Other than a (blessedly) brief period of time in my life, I’ve always been a breakfast person. I was hangry before hangry was so hipster (but I’m definitely not a hipster. Am I?!). My mom said I insisted on eating the minute I woke up when I was growing up, or I was pretty unbearable. Bless my mom for all those years she put up with my nonsense.

So, breakfast. I shouldn’t have to say how important it is to not only eat breakfast, but eat extremely well at breakfast. You’re setting the stage for the rest of the day. If it’s mini muffins (read: sugar) and a bottle of OJ (read: sugar), guess what you’re going to crave all day? Yeah. Don’t do that. Eat tons of protein and healthy fats.

We’re exciting in a lot of ways at the Reed residence, but breakfast is not one of them. We eat bacon and eggs cooked in the bacon fat. Every. Day. About once a quarter I make Spence paleo pancakes. The rest of the time it’s bacon and eggs.
Side note: have you ever noticed how bacon and eggs is a phrase that sounds right no matter which order the words are in? Most things that come in pairs have one way you can say them without sounding like a communist. Who says jelly and peanut butter?? Um no. Cheese and ham? Nuh uh. But some people say bacon and eggs. Others say eggs and bacon. And everything is right with the world no matter what. I think that’s a sign about the supremacy of bacon and eggs. I’ll let you know the results of that very scientific study later.

Back to business. Bacon and eggs.

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Who doesn’t want that every morning?! It’s so worth setting the alarm just a tick earlier. And we have a pretty great process in place: wake up, turn on the shower, put the bacon on, shower, flip the bacon, dry off + robe, take the bacon off, scramble or fry the eggs, eat everything.

If I have time (about as often as I make pancakes), I make Bulletproof Coffee. Bulletproof Coffee and the dude who came up with it will make your head spin. It’s crazy. When I heard him say to add grass-fed butter to coffee, I wrinkled my nose. You did too, just now. Don’t lie. But it’s so. good. You just brew it, pour it in your blender, add a heaping teaspoon of butter, a splash of MCT oil (don’t do more than a splash at first; your tummy will not be pleased), then give it a whirl. It ends up looking like a frothy latte, but the taste is stupid. It’s super silky and pretty much the best thing you could ever drink in the morning (besides one of Clabe’s Bloody Marys, amiright?!).

Between the eggs and bacon (or bacon and eggs; whichever you prefer) and Bulletproof Coffee, your paleo mornings will set you up for amazing days. Try it for a couple of weeks, and I swear you’ll notice a huge difference in your focus and energy.

And don’t worry. I have a couple of breakfast alternatives I’ll share soon in case you’re way more exciting than us (highly likely).

 

Scenic Route: Paleoish

Hello, friends.

I feel like my last few posts have had to start with an apology for my prolonged absence. In the spirit of being original, I’m not going to make that apology this time—even though I haven’t posted in a coon’s age. (Just spent an entire week with Clabe. Give me a break.)

OK. So about two years ago, I began eating Paleo. I drank the Kool-Aid. I have a friend whose brother and sister-in-law were eating that way, and she said they both felt amazing. I didn’t really feel bad or feel the overwhelming need to change my diet. I was pretty conscious of what I ate. (I had to be. When you hit mid-20s [OK fine, late 20s] your body starts having a mind of its own. Amiright?!) But I was intrigued by the idea of paying close attention to the sorts of things I ate, namely as a way of preventative medicine. I didn’t understand the science behind it (and still don’t understand all of it), but the general idea made sense: Good input=good output.

Easy enough, right? But when you really start digging into what it means to ‘go Paleo’, it can get real overwhelming, real fast. U.S. News ranked the top diets of 2014 based on: 1) ease, 2) nutrition, 3) safety, 4) effectiveness for weight loss and 5) prevention of diabetes and heart disease. Paleo was dead last on the list. (At least it made it?). Ain’t nothing easy about not eating the crap we’ve been stuffing ourselves full of our entire lives. Ain’t nothing easy about shopping with a purpose instead of mindlessly. Ain’t nothing easy about cooking fresh food instead of popping a boxed meal in the microwave. If the main requirement for something to be at the top of a Top 10 list is how easy it is, Paleo will lose every time. It’s a commitment, for sure. It’s not for the person who wants to drop weight in a week and eventually go back to eating Burger King a couple times a week. The reasons given in the article for why Paleo didn’t score higher marks for nutrition, safety, and prevention of diabetes/heart disease sound scary. It sounds like there is this crazy movement of people eating only meat, veggies, fruit, eggs, nuts, seeds, healthy fats—and avoiding grains, dairy and processed sugar. Even that sentence, y’all. How is that bad?! How is it a bad thing that a buncha people are like I think I’ll eat more actual food instead of boxes of stuff with ingredients that may or may not be meant for ingesting. ?! One of the main arguments is that Paleo encourages followers to eat too much fat. And we all know eating too much fat makes you fat. Let’s just put that to rest, mmkay? If you haven’t seen Fed Up, just stop right now and do that. I’ll wait.

One of biggest eye-openers is when they show how your body digests 160 calories of soda versus 160 calories of almonds. Sugar nearly immediately turns to fat when it gets in your body. That’s because your body is an energy conserver, and when sugar hits your system, your system wants to save it for later (a.k.a. store it as fat). There’s nothing to digest, so the soda goes straight to your liver, which immediately converts it into fat (you know, to save for later…because you might need it. Spoiler alert: you won’t). Basically, sugar is like the awful crap your whole family can’t figure out why Grandma is hoarding. It’s ugly, no one likes it, no one wants to have to deal with it….but she just keeps bringing it home by the boatload. No.

The almonds, though, have lots of fiber. That slows digestion, keeps blood sugar from spiking—therefore, doesn’t immediately turn into fat. So enough with the whole ‘a calorie is a calorie is a calorie’ nonsense. I don’t buy it. And I will make the argument from my past two years of change that I’m way less hungry after a handful of almonds than after a soda. So I naturally eat fewer calories. Crazy how that works.

OK, enough with the technical stuff. Do your own research. Decide if Paleo scares you more or just makes sense. I obviously decided the latter. I was eating Whataburger at least once a week, and a very American low-fat diet the rest of the time. Eating more actual food was going to be healthier than what I was eating. It was a no-brainer for me.

If you decide it’s too much, it’s a little too hippie—I get it. It definitely isn’t for everyone. And there ain’t no shaming happening on this website. I believe it’s better for our bodies to eat this way, but I’m not God. I don’t have the absolute answers here. I’m just doing for my family what feels right and makes us feel good. So there’s no shame for my friends who aren’t feeling it. Do your thing!

But if this is intriguing to you, that excites me! I want this to be a place you can find new ideas, share frustrations and see that no one has it together 100% of the time. I’ll let you know when I flop and eat something I wasn’t supposed to. We’ll share recipes and stories about how food has changed our lives.

There’s so much more to tell about how I got here and how it looks and works in our house today. I can’t wait to share it all!

Scenic Route: West Texas Sunrises

I (thankfully) am not one of those people who thinks the world begins and ends with Texas. Don’t get me wrong, I love living here. And I love a whole lotta the people who live here with me! I just don’t buy into the whole everything’s-better-in-Texas bit. Go eat some huevos rancheros at the La Fonda in Santa Fe. Then let’s talk about how “everything’s better in Texas.”

ANYWAY, the point of this…

Lubbock, TX | Jan. 2014

Lubbock, TX | Jan. 2014

Check out that sunrise, folks. Pretty hard to beat the ones in West Texas. I may not be an everything’s-better-in-Texas kind of person, but I’m gonna jump on the sunrises-are-prettier-in-West-Texas-than-any-other-part-of-Texas bandwagon.

The sunsets around here are equally impressive, so if even the thought of being awake this early makes you feel violent, maybe try to carve out an evening instead of a morning. Whatever tickles your fancy, folks.

“The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.” –Psalm 65:8

Scenic Route: Best Part of West Texas

Alpine. Marfa. Big Bend.

Music. To. My. Ears.

I LOVE this part of west Texas. Sometimes when I’m feeling blue about living so far from some of my closest friends (who are surrounded by lakes, rivers, trees, hills, etc.…jerks), I take a little trip two and a halfish hours southwest, and all is right with the world.

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How can you not love this?! This is a shot of Cathedral Mountain, taken about 20 miles outside of Alpine (courtesy of Hugh Macleod over at gapingvoid). Desert beauty, y’all. Soak it in.

OK, moving on. A few weekends ago, Spence and I treated my parents and sister to a weekend in Alpine while the Artwalk was going on. I know. Laugh it up. My dad at an “artwalk.” What’s even better about the whole deal, is that the trip was mainly for him. Spence and I were so overwhelmed by everything he and my mom did for our wedding, we wanted to do something for each of them to show our appreciation. Mom got an iPad mini. Dad got a trip to Alpine. He just really loves art, you guys. JK. He really doesn’t (at least not the kind(s) we encountered on this trip). The grande finale, both nights, was a concert. Night 1: Billy Joe Shaver. Night 2: Ray Wylie Hubbard. Now it all makes sense, right? Dad has wanted to see both of these guys play for several years. When the saster discovered they’d be in Alpine the same weekend, we knew it was exactly what we would do for him. Spence and I booked rooms and told the fam to pack their bags.

The day we left, a winter storm started to hit. So we hightailed it out of town immediately. We were not interested in being stuck in Midland when we had a weekend getaway to Alpine on the books. Nosireebob. I don’t actually have any pics of this because 1) who wants to go outside in an ice storm?! and 2) I just don’t. Sorry.

You know what I do have pics of, though?

This.

Anthony Ray Write Band

Best instrument EVER.

Best instrument EVER.

Oh yeah, then there’s this guy. Do you know him? No. Take a closer look.

Mr. Billy Joe Shaver, in the flesh

Mr. Billy Joe Shaver, in the flesh

He is old. He is a little batty. He is still arguably one of the best songwriters who’s ever walked the earth. He is Billy Joe Shaver. And he’s hilarious.

He just stands on stage, singing his clever songs, and manages to throw in some hilarious one-liners while he’s doing it.

Dad ate it up. I wanted to test out the photo-snapping capabilities of Alice’s new iPad mini, so I snuck this pic while Dad was craning to get a better look at BJS. As you can see,

Fun for everyone!

Fun for everyone!

everyone enjoyed the show.

It was a blast to sit and listen to him play and sing.

photo 3

Saturday began the art portion of the trip. Read: Dad sat in his truck while Alice, Jen, Spencer and me braved the ice to check out some hippie vendors. He said he heard us say at breakfast that we wanted him to drive us around town and show us all his old stomping grounds. To be fair, we did say that. But we also said we would like to check out the artwalk goodies first. He (apparently) did not catch that part, and ended up sitting in some parking lot while the rest of us slid around Main Street (Holland, actually) Alpine checking out the artists. I found some amazing jewelry, and Mom and Jen found a whole boatload of Pendleton blankets. Then, when we left the blankets behind [except for a few😉 ] and headed toward the truck, we found this dude.

!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!

This, my friends, is a bonafide gypsy wagon. We spoke with the owner, who told us it’s a 40s model body (I don’t know proper vehicle terminology…muh bad) with a ’57(ish) motor/engine thingy. Translation: it’s awesome. And I want it. gw_hiney Inside that there door lies the coolest home-on-wheels you’ve ever seen. inside gw No, it’s not tricked out with a flat screen, nav system, etc., but it has a wood burning oven, a gas stove and some groovy floral curtains! Check out that interior! I immediately started having visions of weekend getaways to the Big Bend area, TX hill country…anywhere within driving distance that we could park, sleep, explore and be cool in our new g-wagon. photo 4-2Spence, was not quite as enthusiastic. (He actually checked the price tag before dreaming. Such is our relationship!) He eventually talked me out of it and we moved on.photo 1-3 This is my mom, my sister and me with some “Santa’s sleigh” contraption that had been rigged up for the parade (which was cancelled. Thanks, ice). It’s kinda funny, but then there’s that super creepy looking dude over my left shoulder. What is that?? I honestly didn’t notice him until just right now. Weird.

Moving on.

We spent the afternoon driving around with Dad, letting him show us a few of the dozens of places he and his buddies wreaked havoc during their glory days. One was the trailer house where he lived (which has been replaced by a newer, not-quite-so-updated trailer house), one was the old arena where they practiced and hosted the SRSU rodeo (also doesn’t exist any longer), another was the graveyard where two of his friends managed to hog tie him and leave him for dead (that actually still exists)…the stories of their shenanigans were every bit as hilarious and irreverent as I always imagined. Dad has never been one to show much (read: any) emotion. But the older we’ve grown, the mushier he’s become. I love it. It’s especially fun on trips like this, because you can actually see the happiness in his eyes and on his face when he thinks back to what are probably some of the most fun memories of his life (post my birth, of course). We drove around looking for “the best Mexican food place in town” (which, surprisingly and disappointingly, isn’t there anymore either), walked through the Museum of the Big Bend, and just enjoyed being together. We were also saving up our energy for that night. It was Ray Wylie time, after all.

These concerts were supposed to be outside on a big lawn, but again, Icetober hit, and everything that could be moved indoors, was. There is randomly an empty hardware building on the main drag in Alpine, called the Foxworth Building.foxworth It’s even more awesome on the inside than on the outside. You enter through the door under the “weathered” awning (see what I did there?), and it is literally, exactly what you would imagine when you think about stepping inside an old, empty hardware store. The floors are sawdusty, and they roped off a little cubby hole in the back to sell beer. They threw up a stage right in that front corner. I’m telling you, the artwalk people had to scramble to get everything rearranged after the ice storm hit, and they did a damn good job. I seriously think the concerts were cooler because of the ambiance of this building. It was loud, for sure. But it was awesome. Plus, it was an ideal floor for dancing. And dancing, there was.

Now I have some bad news.

Ray Wylie Hubbard didn’t happen <insert sad wails>. He flew into Midland sometime Saturday, but was stuck there because of dadgum Icetober. (Seriously so thankful we left when we did, or we would have missed ALL of this!) Of course, the organizers didn’t spread that word around until it was time for him to come on stage (this wasn’t their first rodeo). I felt bad for the guys who they asked to play in his place. The emcee got up and made the announcement and we all made that audible, so sad “awwwww.”
Then the emcee was like, “But give it up for these guys who already played yesterday!!”
Sigh. Jen, Spence and me had already seen RWH live last summer, but poor Daddio was pretty bummed. He was a good sport, though, and hung out to humor “the other guys.”

The next day (Sunday) we all woke up and packed to head home. Oh, but wait. It’s still Icetober. We ended being iced in, so we extended our rooms for another night and set out to see what Alpine is like on a Sunday. As you might imagine, it’s pretty dead. Sunday in Icetober equalled us eating lunch at the same Mexican food joint as everyone else in town, stopping at Alco for some essentials (undergarments and board games), then heading to The Holland Hotel. They were open for business (read: full bar, kitchen that makes snacks, heated), so we stopped in and spent the afternoon playing Farkle and cards. It was actually pretty awesome.

The temps started to rise overnight, and by the time we woke up Monday morning, the ice was melted and we could head home (sad face). The trip was such a success. Even though one of our main attractions didn’t pan out, we still got to experience a little taste of Dad’s college life (I’m positive a little taste is all we could handle), eat some amazing food, sit in the most totally awesome gypsy wagon I’ve ever seen, and spend days together as a family. It was the perfect way to thank my sweet daddy for everything he did to make our wedding the most perfect day of my life.

No matter where you live, I encourage you to visit the Big Bend area. Marfa, Alpine, Fort Davis, Terlingua — they all have their own, distinct charm. No matter the personalities in your family, there is something to make everyone happy in this little piece of the world!

Pit Stop: Street Pizza

Guys. I love pizza. A lot. Like, I could eat it every day. I’m not exaggerating, either. Sometimes Spence will ask me what I feel like eating, and I always suggest different places, but they’re places I know have awesome pizza. So it sounds like I’m suggesting a lot of different kinds of food…”Yeah, Schlotzsky’s sounds delish. But so does Luigi’s. Ugh, I don’t know–you pick.”…but really, I’m picking places where I know I can get a legit pizza. I don’t think he has caught on to me yet, mainly because I had to take a brief hiatus while I was prepping for the wedding.

So today, while I was running errands at lunch, the stars aligned and I saw this

*imagine the sound movies make when the heavens open*

*imagine the sound movies make when the heavens open*

Holy Street Pizza, Batman! I have seen hot dog carts. I have seen taco trucks. I have NEVER seen a pizzamobile in Midland!

Never mind that I am trying desperately to get back to my pre-wedding/honeymoon diet. I was on my way to Smiling Moose for my guilt-free Greek(ish) salad when I turned out of the post office parking lot and saw her. I knew immediately my good eating for the day was shot. Guys. This was a street vendor making PIZZA. On the sidewalk. Listening to Kings of Leon. Tell me you wouldn’t drop everything (including, apparently, all self-discipline and will power) and go order one of her pizzas. Of course you would! And that’s what I did.

street pizza prep

It was amazing to watch her. She keeps the dough in individual resealable plastic bags in her portable cooler. She just whips one out when you’re finally able to decide what kind of pizza you want. She loads it up with toppings, then sticks it in that there PORTABLE brick oven for a few minutes.

can you see it in there, getting all crispy and delicious?!

can you see it in there, getting all crispy and delicious?!

When it comes out, it is a gooey, delicious masterpiece.

Clearly I couldn’t wait to get into it, because I was halfway through the first piece

aaaahhhh sooooooo gooooooood!

aaaahhhh sooooooo gooooooood!

before I remembered I needed to take an “after” pic to show you guys how beautiful it was. Sorry not sorry. My appetite comes before MAPsQuest. That is just something you’ll have to learn to live with.

You can find the pie queen here, or like her on Facebook! She posts her location every day, that way you can find her. Now go get your pizza on! And tell her ‘thank you’ for helping make Midland a bit more fun (and yummy)!

Pit Stop: Kentucky Appreciation Weekend

I love Kentucky. I went to school at Western and those three years were easily three of the most important of my life. The people I met are some of my favorite in the whole world. Kentucky is maybe my favorite state….don’t tell New Mexico!

Anyway, I recently (and accidentally) experienced my first ever Kentucky Appreciation Weekend. It started with plans for my friend Joey’s and my 2nd Kentucky Derby party here in Midland.

Derby Party Hosts

We had so much fun planning and coming up with ways to beat what we did last year–which wasn’t terribly difficult since last year we were in a tiny venue with an even tinier budget.

First Ever Kentucky Derby Party – 2011

But before I get to this year’s party, I think it’s essential to know what kicked off the weekend of Kentucky…

Fourth & Last Annual Kentucky Chili Derby

Fourth & Last Annual Kentucky Chili Derby

Back in the ’80’s, my boss–who was a landman at the time–organized a chili cook-off the same weekend as the Kentucky Derby for three years in a row. He called them the First/Second/Third & Last Annual Kentucky Chili Derbies. This year–26 years later–he put together the 4th & Last Annual Kentucky Chili Derby and six teams from our office competed for the title. The pictures above are of Team White Lightening. We dressed up in our best Kentucky Hillbilly garb, drank homemade moonshine hooch out of mason jars and made bourbon chili. We didn’t win anything except the pie-eating contest, but we had a dang good time! All the other teams told us our chili was easily the best, but alas, the judges didn’t agree. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.

That was Friday. Cutoff shirts, boots, overalls with no shirts, moonshine hooch.

This was Saturday.

That’s better!

Snazzy

      

Don’t we clean up well?! We rented out a lounge and set up a backdrop…

…and all the girls adorned fancy hats and dress; the guys sported seersucker suits and suspenders. We served Kentucky Hot Browns and mint julep punch (I’m sad I didn’t get any pictures of that!).

  

We had a wonderful day. My horse won (I stupidly didn’t bet any money on him, but I picked him nonetheless!) and I had a wonderful time celebrating the most fun event of the year and my favorite state (commonwealth, really) in the Union.

Cheers to My Old Kentucky Home!

The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home,
‘Tis summer, the people are gay;
The corn-top’s ripe and the meadow’s in the bloom,
While the birds make music all the day.
The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,
All merry, all happy and bright;
By ‘n’ by Hard Times comes a-knocking at the door,
Then my old Kentucky home, goodnight.
 
Weep no more my lady
Oh! weep no more today!
We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home,
For the Old Kentucky Home far away.

Pit Stop: Faith & Wisdom Sermon Notes

Faith & Wisdom, James Pt. 3

Review:
I.      Faith is not a matter of more or less but rather a matter of a sufficient object.

II.     Faith is my place of trust, confidence and identity because of the object of my faith rather than the quantity.

III.    Wisdom is a God-centered view of life, my identity, circumstances and situation, born out of a secure faith relationship with God through Christ, that leads me to God-centered gratitude, understanding, response and reaction.

The reality of wisdom for the follower of Jesus:
I.      Wisdom is fully accessible (Proverbs 8:1-5; 9:1-6)
II.     Wisdom is the source of leadership, greater ideals, goals, ambitions and even creativity (Proverbs 8:6, 14-16, 22-30)
III.    Wisdom is truth and clarity (Proverbs 8:7-9)
IV.     Wisdom holds greater value than “silver / gold” or any material possession (Proverbs 8:10-11, 18-19)
V.      Wisdom directs its rejoicing and praise towards God the Father (Proverbs 8:30-31)
VI.     Wisdom is blessing, life and favor (Proverbs 8:32-35; 9:10-12)
VII.    To ignore wisdom is a very dangerous choice (Proverbs 8:36; 9:13-18)

Ultimately, wisdom is the understanding, application, and living out of more of Jesus and less of me in every sphere of life
(John 3:30; 1 Corinthians 1:22-24, 30, 2:7; Colossians 2:1-3)

What now?
1.      Pray (Ephesians 1:17; I John 5:14)
2.      Pursue (Colossians 3:16; 2 Timothy 3:15)
3.      Press on (Colossians 4:5; James 3:13-18; Philippians 3:12ff.)

As Christians, we realize that our “doing” things never gains God’s favor, but it is a joyful response empowered by the Holy Spirit of all that God has done for each of us in the Gospel.

My notes:
Scriptures never say to ask for more faith.
We struggle because we pray and pray and pray, and God doesn’t do what we ask. But we’re praying for faith and not paying attn. to what God is doing for us. We have all the faith we need. He wants us to know that if our foundation is on Him, that’s enough. Trials strip away the other things we’ve put our faith in. You’re told to pray for wisdom. Wisdom is seeing things the way his sees them as responding accordingly.
What defines you is what you trust in the most.

Stop: Wisdom

2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Those who doubt should not think they will receive anything from the Lord; 8 they are double-minded and unstable in all they do. 9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation–since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. 12 Blessed are those who are under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each of you is tempted when you are dragged away by your own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” —James 1:2-18, TNIV


This scripture is one that just keeps coming up. It’s casually mentioned in conversation, stumbled upon in study and taught from the pulpit on the days I can stomach church. This scripture is all up in my business. It’s in my face. IT WILL NOT GO AWAY, haha. The first time it came up was more than a year ago. I endured a sort of trial and I “passed.” I did the honorable thing. But the situation needed to be revealed to someone. And I was worried about what that someone would think. As I drove home, tears streaming down my face, I prayed and asked God to give me the strength to tell what needed to be told, even though I had done right. Let me pause for a sec and say that I haven’t ever heard from God. He’s not like, “Hey, Mags–say ‘this’.” I feel urgings and read things in study that direct me, but never have I audibly heard the voice of God (which is totally fine, because that would completely freak me out. Plus, I’m not sure if I think God really has an audible voice…but that’s another blog post altogether!) <– rambling again…
However, on this day, God gave me James 1:12. It popped in my head and I knew it was God calming my heart.
That’s where I made my mistake–I thought I had it figured it out. It was so easy! I could just ask, and *boom* there it was! A little more than a year later, I would learn there’s more to it.

My first few steps out of the wreckage were more like angry stomps. I was just plain pissed at God. I saw the drunk-driving debacle coming; well, not the entirety of it, but I saw early signs. As soon as I did, I started praying:
“Take these feelings away. They’re not cool or okay or what I want. Get them out of here.”
Then I waited. Feelings didn’t go anywhere. They stayed about the same, so it wasn’t getting worse, but it also wasn’t getting better. I kept praying, because “Blessed are those who are under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life…” But it wasn’t working. No matter what I asked for, things weren’t changing. So I started looking for physical ways out. I applied for tons of jobs. Finally, I got an interview in one of my most favorite places in the world–Nashville. Things started falling into place a bit. I really hit it off with the hiring manager and soon I was flying out for an interview; and they were paying the tab, so I felt like my chances were pretty good. But I didn’t get it. I was disappointed, but more so, I was worried. I needed to get out. At this point, I wasn’t praying about it much. I was just looking for a way out. I threw myself into the job search, landed another interview with the Nashville bunch, and didn’t get it, either. Now I was mad. Had I not prayed? Had I not asked for the feelings to go away? Had I not made efforts to get out? Then the whole thing spiraled out of control; the conversation(s), the confessions, the “drunken driving” fiasco. By the time we’d cratered into the bar ditch, I was flat-out livid. I lived livid for some time. Sometimes I’m still there. But I’m coming out of it because of this particular scripture. There’s a preacher in town who’s been preaching on it, and the last time I went, this is what he said (these are sermon notes, along with some of my own that day. I urge y’all to look it all up yourselves).

Remember when I said I trusted him so completely that I jumped in the passenger seat and continued along the bumpy ride, despite my head’s earlier advice? Yeah. That is the most real example I have of placing complete faith in something/someone. I, myself, talked to others (long before all of this) about things/people in which their faith was placed. I cautioned against it; said those things/people could not handle that faith-weight. I warned them those things would eventually crumble before them, because the only thing designed to hold that much faith-weight is God. But there I went, putting complete faith in someone who could not bear that weight.

Now I know what happens when that crumbles. It usually drags you down along with it. A willing participant in the drunken driving, everything crumbled around me and I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I just sat, lifeless and numb, as my life caved in and my heart ripped into millions of pieces. I’ve mentioned my “first responders” in other posts. They surrounded me with love and grace, and carried me when I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other. They were my God-sent miracle workers. I will spend another post telling you how wonderful they are; for now, just know they were the first to start pulling me up and helping me find this lesson.

I should never have quit praying about it when I wasn’t getting the answers I wanted and expected (1 Thessalonians 5:16-24). My faith in God taking care of me was smaller than my faith in this person. I let myself falsely believe I was on my own. It was absolutely bigger than me, though. Because the second I let myself believe that, was when my feelings took over and ruled against the truth. The truth was (and still is, I suppose) that this was not for me. This was not what I’d been waiting for. I became convinced it was, because I was trying to fight evil all by myself. I had shut God out; I was mad and didn’t need his help (there’s that whole independent/don’t need anyone’s help thing). And clearly, I lost. It overtook me — us.

I’m still in the middle of the lesson. I’m not even close to knowing what all I need to know from all of this. I’m trying, though, and I feel like wisdom is a relevant place to start. If nothing else, I now know how to keep myself from falling into a dangerous “ride” again. For now, that’s enough. I’m welcoming the lessons, and praying they come with far less bruising and scars.

As always, thanks for taking this journey with me.