A Toast To A True Hero

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Now if everyone will please raise your glass! We all know why we’re gathered here, but incase you’ve had too much to drink, we’re here to thank a true super-hero. No, not Batman nor Superman. We’re here to thank my uncle, Frank Phillips.

No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
2 Timothy 2:4

Being the youngest sibling in the family isn’t always easy; especially when you’re the only girl. I remember this one Thanksgiving my family from other states came to celebrate with us. My older cousins were all roller-blading up and down the street while my brothers and I were playing Fun-Air Scoop Ball with my uncles in the grass. Everyone was dominating on me. That’s until Frank picked up a yellow scooper and helped me out. I was no longer the loser little sister. Together, we beat all three of my competitive brothers and even my other uncle, John. From that moment on, he became a hero in my eyes. Once I grew older I realized, I’m not the only one who thinks of him as a hero. The rest of the world knows about his super powers, too. He is a hero to others for different reasons though.

When I say world, I mean he is respected and recognized globally as a great manager, an admired leader, and also for his intense security skills. Frank has accomplished so much that has contributed to the freedom that we live with today! He served an 18-year career as a Navy SEAL. After that, he established Golden Seal Enterprises. Yes, these two amazing things really stand out, but they aren’t his only accomplishments. Please don’t get me started with them, there are just so damn many . . .

Just to name a few: He was personally selected as a founding member of the Navy’s first SEAL Team Six and first Red Cell Team. He’s achieved many certifications and licenses such as Paramedic, Diver Medic, PADI Master Scuba Instructor, NRA Firearms Instructor, and so much more. He’s a good husband, father, grandfather, son, and friend. Like I said, don’t get me started!

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We always hear about how much our veterans do for us. We are always told to thank a vet the next time you see one. Well, I’m saying thank you. The next time you see a vet, give them your thanks. The next time you meet a vet, shake their hand and tell them thank you! They are extremely humble so you may not realize it, but they have gone that extra mile to give us what we have today. I love and admire you so much, Frank. For you will always be a super-hero to me!

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Deliciousness!!!

So I have been having a hard time with this lactose intolerant life style. Here I am finding myself teeter-tottering with dairy and non-dairy! Well, I am quiet the waffle master! I will make them, eat them, order them, whatever! One time, on a trip in Fiji, all I did was eat waffles. Literally, I ate at least 2 waffles a day! It was wonderful!

Well, a few weeks ago my waffle maker was tired of the over use and lit itself on fire. Talk about going out with a bang! So I’ve been making the next best thing of course… Pancakes! Since I’m as active as I am, I’ve been trying to add more protein to my meals.

Pancakes, that have more protein, and no milk… This includes chocolate! I avoid caffeine and sodium as much as I can with my heart like this. So I came up with the most amazing treat/meal!!

Banana, blue berry pancakes!!

1 banana
2 eggs
1 cup blue berries (I’ve also done raspberries)

I smash the bananas up so it’s one gooey consistency. Then I scramble in the two eggs. Once it’s all mixed together I pour the blue berries in! (This is a lot of berries, so use more or less to your likings.) Cook the mixture on a flat pan just like you’d do any pancakes. This batter takes a little longer than regular ones so be patient! Leave the flame low and just let it cook a little longer.

These are soo delicious! It gives you potassium so you don’t cramp up on your workouts and gives you protein to help you build that muscle! The other amazing thing about protein is it’ll keep you feeling full longer! So I like to eat these as a meal with some fresh melon and a tall glass of ice water! Yum!!

And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

Luke 12:19

You can also use chocolate chips instead and it’ll make a delicious dessert after dinner!! Sprinkle some powdered sugar on top and devour!!!

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Because I Can!

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The cold, dry air was burning my wet, dripping nose. The birds were starting to sing their morning songs. That weird lighting on the streets from the combination of the suns glow starting to shine and the street lights glow. I went for a 4 mile run this morning at 5:30am. I was determined to get out there and get back into running early mornings! I woke up and though, “I’m going to be skinny!”

Well, by the time I got about three-quarters of a mile my nose was running like Niagara Falls, my lungs were burning worse than my calves were, and I felt like my heart was in my throat. I was no longer determined and I just ran back home. My 4 mile run that used to be an easy warm up in the early morning was actually a mile and a half run in hell for me today. When I got home, I looked right at the shiny, red face in the mirror and thought to myself, what a disappointment! I beat myself up over it and then told my best friend about how down I felt.

She reminded me of why I’m even a runner to begin with! I run because I can. In high school I hated running! I hated running with a passion. You couldn’t even pay me to run without a soccer ball or softball around. To run track or cross country was such a miserable idea to me! Then, from age 18 to 20 I found myself having trouble with running. This trouble was no longer mental, it was physical this time around. If I tried to run, I’d get so light headed and weak and then pass out. I couldn’t even sing out loud in my car driving to school anymore without the fear of exhausting myself.

After a few times of passing out while hiking with my dog, Jolie, I decided to finally tell someone and get help. After many, many different doctors offices and seeing different specialist, I finally had the right medical tests done. Sitting in a cardiologists office, I was finally diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White. It was the answer to my many prayers and questions. I scheduled myself for surgery to fix the problem immediately.

16 Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship – a different kind of “sacrifice” – that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.
Hebrews 13:16 MSG

So today was just a rough morning. I’m about to go for a two mile jog (good or bad, doesn’t matter) and then sing my little lungs out on my way to work tonight!! Tomorrow morning I’ll give it another shot! Hope things go better!

TMI Amber, TMI…

So I love cheese! I mean, I loooooovvvee cheese! I remember, growing up, my best friend in high school was lactose intolerant and I just couldn’t understand how she lived without pizza, ice cream, cheese and grapes, cream cheese, cream in her coffee, milk, etc… Then I dated a guy in college who was, too. He limited his lactose intake but every now and then he’d make us killer quesadillas or homemade pizza… Well, dinner was nice but watching a movie on the couch alone while he sat on the pot was kind of lonesome.

I remember learning in school that humans are naturally lactose intolerant. That we are the only species that drinks another animals milk. Hmm, so interesting. The professors taught us that after a while the majority of us will become lactose intolerant. That our body just won’t be able to process that kind of food. I laughed. Not me! All the adults in my family drink a couple of glasses of milk a day.

The day is here… I am lactose intolerant. I am the only one in my family that is, too. I went for a 7.5 mile run last night and decided I was allowed to have some ice cream when I got home. Yes, I was the one sitting on the pot through the movie this time. There will come a day that you become lactose intolerant, too. So for the love of food, I’m going to focus on dairy free recipes this month!

Childlike tendencies with adult consequences… Well, this sucks!

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Goruck Challenge #1335

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So this was an amazing experience for me! This past weekend I became a GRT, which stands for Goruck Tough. The Goruck community is one that I’m proud to be apart of! Everyone is so loving and no one is ignored or left behind. Whether you like them or not, these people are your resources. I will never feel alone because I know that’s not possible when being a member of this community! I am in a subgroup called Jesus Freaks as well. They are like the church of Goruck. We have a facebook page that allows us to post about the good and the bad that we go through. We do this so we can pray for one another and be there for everyone. Like I said, you will never be alone once you’re a GRT. This event took place in Santa Monica, starting and ending at the pier. It was lead by Cadre Flash, with a little surprise visit from Cadre Big Daddy.

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Isaiah 41:10

When we got to the top of a near by trail that we hiked up, we were able to do a Q & A with Flash. It was a really awesome opportunity to ask whatever we wanted about his life and the special operations military branches. We also went around and shared why we chose to do Goruck. I didn’t share at the time because I hadn’t finished yet. Honestly, I didn’t want to jinx myself and not finish… Why I chose to do the Goruck Challenge…

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Phillippians 4:13

2 years ago I was diagnosed with a rare heart disease. Getting news like that is scary and somewhat lonesome. But what was really lonely was the fact that I couldn’t do any physical activity what so ever without passing out. I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and well, that just sucks. My goal was to not let these issues stop me from living. I’ve trained hard and worked closely with doctors to get me where I am today. I’m not just living, it’s good living!

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I decided to do Goruck because I wanted to be able to prove to myself that I can do this! I wanted to be there to support my teammates that are going through their own issues, and I wanted to feel the support from my class, even if I had just met them! After going through 12 hours of hell with each other, you’ll be supportive friends for sure. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of crazies!

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My body may have taken a beating, but yes, I do plan on doing it again! I prayed every hour during the event and I can honestly say that I felt the strength God gave to me. I will be doing more events for sure! I earned my grey patch, and now I have the need for a blue one! I do plan on keeping up on the work outs and eating right because without the 21 day fast, I would never have been prepared physically or mentally for this.

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The Right Pace

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So I have accomplished a very successful 21 days of doing the Daniel Fast. I will admit, I cheated once and ate a bite of my moms homemade pineapple upside down cake- it was delicious, but full of refined sugar. Other than that, my Lord and savior provided for me. He gave me the strength and courage to get through so much! A lot has been going on lately in my life personally, but with His grace, I’ve been just right! Here was my last devotional from the church for the fast…

“Day 21

Prayer direction:

Pray that God’s favor might be upon your family and our church as we continue to put Him first in all things.

From the Desk of Pastor Dawn Jackson…

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7 NIV

Long-distance runners know to make it over the long haul, you’ve got to have a steady pace. Run too fast, and you will burn out early and end up sidelined. Run too slow, and you minimize the potential within you. Running the right pace speeds you to the finish line and prevents injury and burnout.

Pace is also important in life. We often overestimate what we can accomplish in a short amount of time and underestimate what we can accomplish in a long amount of time. We live in a fast-paced world. Many people rush to and from exhausted at the end of each day, with nothing left to give to those closest to them. This results in shallow relationships and regret. Of course, on the other side of the spectrum are those who spin their wheels, never seeming to move forward, aimlessly distracted by insignificant pursuits.

Think also about the pace in which you live your life. With 21 days coming to an end, now would be a good time to make the necessary adjustments so that you might truly finish the race he has called you to run. Consider the following acronym as a guide in developing your pace:

Prioritize. Focus on what is most important.

Assign times of work and rest.

Consistency: doing what you say you are going to do.

Enjoy the journey.

God desires for us to have a full, abundant life, filled with meaningful relationships and the satisfaction of accomplishing purposes which honor his name. A healthy pace will empower you to both accomplish your tasks and build solid relationships.

The Lord is my pace setter…I shall not rush.

He makes me stop for quiet intervals.
He provides me with images of stillness which restore my serenity.
He leads me in the way of efficiency through calmness of mind and his guidance is peace.
Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day, I will not fret, for his presence is here.
His timelessness, his all importance will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity by anointing my mind with his oils of tranquility.
My cup of joyous energy overflows.
Truly harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours for I shall walk in the Pace of my Lord and dwell in his house for ever.
A Japanese version of the 23rd Psalm by Tokio Megashio.”

Even now that it is over, I still eat healthy (but not as healthy..) and I am still keeping my faith clear of distractions. Nothing processed about my faith! Living and loving life, with a purpose!

Not-So-Far, So Good

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I know it’s only the fourteenth day into the new year, but week two of fifty-two has gone great! This year is looking good so far! I’m sticking to my fasting diet, working out everyday, and last two Mondays I’ve taken food for the homeless with me on my run with my friends running team. I’ve gone from being the worlds bottomless pit for food to a vegan, practically! Working out everyday is already kind of my normal so that hasn’t been much of a challenge. But carrying 20+ extra pounds on my back while running through LA was interesting.

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I’m half way through with my fast and already feeling stronger in my faith. This fast has really helped me clear away all distractions from my sight and really see what God wants me to do! I am much more confident that I am living the life He has set for me! This bumpy road of a path is bearable knowing He’s the one paving the way! I’m making clearer decisions and feeling good about them. Doing this fast, I’ve learned a lot about myself! Things like how much I love seafood, and cheese with my fruit! Ha! No, but really. I can already feel the stronger relationship I’ve built with God these past 10 days have been glorious!

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

James 2:14-17

I’ve also realized that my journey isn’t about me. I was put on this earth to love others. I have stuck with it and fed the homeless on my last two Monday night runs through Los Angeles. The team is running through Hollywood this month and it been quite beautiful! To see someone struggle during these runs isn’t something that makes you proud to be doing better, but something that slows you down so you can run with them, lift their spirits, and encourage your teammates to continue pushing! Runners do it for me and I’ve done it for them.

Although it’s only been two weeks into the new year, I’ve already grown this far, and have learned so much! I hope I have inspired more people to live their life with healthier habits and also let The Lord live through them! We can all help ourselves while helping others!

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Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!

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When taking away bad habits, no matter what they are nor the reason, it’s difficult. Your good habits might not stick unless you really want them too. What better way to do so than having a good time with them! Laissez les bons temps rouler!” is a Cajun expression meaning, “Let the good times roll!”

My family is not from Louisiana, nor are we from any of the surrounding states. Even with that said, we do have quite the New Orleans culture in us! Gumbo, Jambalaya, Big Band jazz, Blues, that’s all good stuff that you’ll find in our house hold. Some of my favorite things to eat are fried okra, I love fried pickles, too! Actually, I love everything and anything fried… It’s one of my bad habits. Oh, and my mom makes a killer bread pudding with praline liquor! Oh my goodness!

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

Anyways, doing this fast from processed food and all meats and dairy, I’ve found that it’s very difficult to say no to these delicious meals! Just yesterday my dad made chicken and sausage jambalaya. Oh man, did I want some!! While he prepared his ingredients, so did I, for veggie jambalaya! Pretty good!
Try it for yourself!

1 small sweet onion (diced)
1 large bell pepper (diced)
3 sticks of celery (diced)
1 small diced tomato
1 teaspoon thyme
1 skinny yellow squash (half inch slices)
5 dense baby Bella mushrooms (large slices)
3 cloves of garlic (smashed and minced)
1 jalapeño (cut to your liking)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Chachere’s Bold Creole seasoning (to taste)
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water

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In a deep pan, with a lid, put your oil, onions, bell pepper, celery, tomato and thyme. Sauté the veggies on high heat until they are cooked how you like. Then, bring it down to a low fire, throw in your squash, mushrooms, garlic, and jalapeño. Mix everything together and add your creole seasoning.

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Put your rice in, mix the pot so everything is mixed well, then poor the two cups of water over it. Place the lid on and leave it for about 45 minutes. Do not remove the lid or you’ll release all the steam. After 45 minutes, take off the lid, mix very little and taste. Add more seasoning, salt or pepper if needed. If the rice isn’t done put the lid on for a little longer more until tender. Remove the lid and enjoy!

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Black Bean Burgers

Mix black beans and these 10 yummy ingredients in a food processor and you’ll have the best fake burger you’ll ever eat! Haha! I’m not a vegetarian, so yes, black bean patties are fake burgers to me! Delicious fake burgers that is! Doing the Daniel Fast for 21 days this month is difficult for me, but with the support of my church members, and delicious veggie foods like this, I know I’m going to finish as a changed woman! Hah! Try out this bean patty, prepare it just like you would any other burger, and I’m sure you’ll love it, too! I eat mine protein style!

But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink.

Daniel 1:8-20

So for this recipe, you can either start with fresh homemade black beans or you can use a can of pre-made black beans.

Homemade black beans…

Ingredients:
1 (16 oz) bag of dry black beans
2 bay leaves
4 cups of vegetable broth
1 tbsp of oil
Cold water

Directions:
Take the beans and let them soak in the cold water over night. Put the beans in a large pot on the stove and fill it 2 inches over the beans. They will soak up the water and be more tender. Drain (if there’s anything to drain) and rinse. Put the beans, 2 bay leaves, 1 tbsp of oil, and 4 cups of broth in the pot and cook on medium for about an hour and 20 minutes, or until beans are tender. The oil is optional, it just helps prevents foam during the boil. When all the beans are tender, take the 2 bay leaves out and strain any excess broth.

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To make the burger deliciousness…

Ingredients:

Cooked black beans
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
1 diced garlic clove
1 large chopped jalapeño (leave seeds and veins in if you want spice)
1 small lime
1 egg (optional)
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup bread crumbs (whole wheat)

Deliciousness directions:

In a food processor, put the beans, cilantro, garlic, jalapeño, and onions and mix! Then add the egg (optional), salt, pepper, and cumin. Mix in the food processor until all is one consistency. Add the bread crumbs 1 table spoon at a time until the mixture becomes a thick paste-like consistency.

Pour the extra breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl to coat your patties in. Grab a handful size of your now made bean paste and shape into a patty. Lay the patty in the bread crumbs to coat both sides. Place your finished patties on wax paper and put them in the fridge for 20 minutes or until ready to cook. The colder, the better to work with. You can cook them just like a regular burger in a flat pan on the stove top for about 7 minutes each side, or in the oven on 350 for 5 minutes each side. Brown the patties and enjoy just like any other burger.

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I like to eat mine wrapped in lettuce, with mustard, tomato, pickles, and onion. I’ve also had it on a whole grain hamburger bun with all my fixings. So delicious!

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The Best Is Yet To Come

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Happy New Year! My first day of the year started with, “Hey! Will you take a look at this? Does it supposed to look like that?!” My patient was showing me her stinky toilet full of poop! Out with the old, in with the new! This is the time of year that everyone reflects on the past year and sets new goals for the new year. Colleagues and clients kept asking me what my new year resolutions are, which got me to thinking and reflecting…

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

2 Corinthians 5:17

2014 was quite a year for me. So much happened, and so much didn’t happen, that I don’t even want to reflect on it much more. It was a blessed year and that’s all that really matters. I started last year off with 21 days of doing the Daniel Fast with my church. I loved it so much that I am going to do it again. I also had a lot of doctor appointments medically clearing and diagnosing me. Just last week I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. So another plan for 2015 is to stay active and live with this pain.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Romans 8:18

Starting on January 4th, the following 21 days are going to be tough. With the strength given to me through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit I will get through it. I’ll be participating in the Daniel Fast which removes all processed foods, including dairy, meats and breads from my diet. This diet is spiritually symbolic of moving past a processed faith. These next three weeks are more than just changing my diet; It is a time of prayer, expressing my love to God through worship, and hearing from God in new ways.

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Because of my health, I will be upping my game with my work outs. Right now I’m just a runner. I stopped weight training and cycling due to the excruciating pain I’ve been in, but knowing it’s fibromyalgia, I will be pushing past the pain. Professionals do not know what causes fibro, but they do know that exercise and medications help to reduce the pain and make it tolerable.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

I always tell my friends if they don’t like the life they have, change it! Those are my two major plans for this new year and I’m excited to see what the it hold in store for me! As my senior pastor says, “The best is yet to come!” What do you plan to do with your new year?