Good One, God

I made $178.00 Monday night. That’s a great amount of money for a slow, easy shift. I was grateful.

Yesterday as I drove into work I prayed, “God, thank you so much for an awesome shift last night. If it pleases you, will you bless me even more tonight than you did yesterday?”

I was supposed to work on the patio last night but it’s been raining for four days straight here in Richmond. Another girl wasn’t feeling well so I offered to switch with her. 

Business was steady, and tips were decent. The last half hour I got to talk with a sweet couple named Casey and Aaron. She got a tiny Greek salad and couldn’t finish it, and when we joked about it she said she just got full so quickly these days. I asked what had changed, expecting with a small smile for her to say she was preggers, but when she told me why her appetite sucked my eyes widened and my heart sank. She has been undergoing chemo for a brain tumor. We talked for about twenty minutes after that and I was happy to hear she knows people at work who take the same fruit and veggie capsules I do. I gave her some resources to look at and told her to go to one of her work friends if she thought they could help (I didn’t want to be a creepy sales person, just wanted her to feel well!).  I asked if she minded if I was praying for her and she said “Please!” Her prognosis is good, but she has a long list of things, such as Hashimoto’s (a thyroid disease) and is a prime candidate to develop Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Please pray for her.

Anyways, back to the money. I had forgotten my prayer until I started counting my tips at the end of the night. Would I make more than 178? I started laughing as I got to the end. 

$179.00.

Funny, God. Real funny.

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A Weighty Dilemma

I feel like a drug dealer.

I work in a restaurant known for it’s 1,000+ calorie desserts. Most menu choices are over the daily recommended calorie intake..for one meal or one piece of cake! Gravy, cream sauce, extra cheese..you want it, we got it.

As I learn more about the obvious link between nutrition and disease, I find myself in an ethical dilemma. 

I won’t eat ninety percent of what we offer at my work. I’m even saying goodbye to the Truffle Grilled Cheese sticks as I wean myself off dairy. I wholeheartedly believe whole food, plant based nutrition is the prevention for most illnesses we face today, which is why I’m excited to be eating as healthfully as I can and why I’m getting on board with the Juice Plus company.

I don’t feel good about putting a plate in front of someone that will take them one meal closer to heart failure.

This is coming from someone who has struggled with weight and overeating her entire life..I lose the weight, get hot, and then start eating buffalo wings again. No more, though. I don’t choose to be sick! I want to feel as good as possible, and I want everyone I love there with me!

What would you do? 

P.S. I may be changing my blog name soon haha. But seriously..

Love,

Ang 

Also, fifteen pounds gone!!! 🙂

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Choosing Health


“My name is Angela, and I’m here for the muffins.”

That was my opening line.

I don’t even like muffins.

I was sitting uncomfortably in a room full of smiling strangers. Mostly women. We all had little plates of snacks, although this wasn’t the cheesy goodness I was used to from my Pampered Chef days. This was fruit, hummus, and muffins. Come to think of it, most of the people here looked like they worked out eight days a week.

We were taking turns introducing ourselves, and how we’d come to be there that Thursday night at a Juice Plus meeting. Obviously, I couldn’t say that my best friend Julie, who’d brought me, wouldn’t shut up about the stupid stuff with the stupid name and so I came to get her off my back. Hence the muffin comment. 

I liked the women I met afterwards as we awkwardly drank water and mingled, but this was the most boring product I’d ever heard of. There were no freebies, just juiced and dehydrated fruits and vegetables in capsule form. I am all about a plant-based diet, but it made no sense to me to buy it in a pill. “Shouldn’t people just eat healthy?” I asked. “They should, but most people don’t, or won’t. It’s really expensive to buy enough good produce to meet our nutritional needs, and Juice Plus fills the gap between what we need and what we actually eat.”

Meh. I wasn’t convinced. Julie raved about the fact that her kids had been taking it for free with the Children’s Health Study and hadn’t been sick all winter. They were even eating much healthier because their bodies were starting to crave the good nutrients.

Then she raved about all the peer-reviewed clinical research.Did I mention we live together? 

One study did capture my attention,  I will admit. They tested blood vessel constriction on people who’d eaten a fatty fast food meal and found that the arteries constricted about fifty percent for two to six hours afterwards. This, apparently, is the reason some people experience chest pain, heart attack, or stroke after a big meal (think holiday season). They did a double blind placebo test where some people received placebo sugar pill, some received the Orchard (fruit)  and Garden(veggie) blend Juice Plus, and the rest got the Trio: Orchard, Garden, and Vineyard (berry). They all took the capsules for twenty-eight days, and then came the true test. All participants ate the fast food meal and then thad their arteries measured. Those on the placebo pill had normal arterial constriction, but those on O &G had sixty percent LESS constriction in their blood vessels. Even more amazing was that the people who took the Juice Plus trio had ninety-nine percent less constriction: their blood vessels remained open, allowing normal blood flow.

Here’s why this matters to me: I had a TIA a few years ago at work, which is basically a mini-stroke. It was a really stressful time, and I’m sure my poor diet and weight didn’t help. That alone puts me at a one-in-three chance for a bigger one later in life. I thought it might not be a bad idea to take something that would help my blood to flow properly. 

 I had already recently begun cleaning up my act when it came to diet, but if taking extra fruits and vegetables could help keep my body as healthy as possible, it couldn’t hurt. It’s just food, after all. It comes with a nutrition label, not a supplement label. But still..I wasn’t convinced.

I decided to go to another potluck thing. I needed to hear people’s personal stories before I gave this thing actual credibility. Research is great, and I’m glad it’s there, but I’m relational. I want to know how it affected you or your mom, or your best friend. The potluck ended up being cancelled so we met two of the ladies at Panera. The fact that both Stephanie and Heather were women of faith helped to ease my mind, and listening to their personal stories of lifelong allergies, eczema and gut issues disappearing was encouraging. They also talked of people they’d met: cancer survivors healing without chemo, or choosing the chemo route but being able to ride a bike the same afternoon. One lady had a family of seven who were constantly in and out of the doctor’s office. After taking JP, they eventually came off seventeen medications between them. When they finally did go back to the doctor, he said he thought they’d moved because they hadn’t been in quite a  while. They told him no, they’d just been healthy, and he demanded to know what they were doing. Just Juice Plus, they said. The doctor started taking it and recommending it to other patients. 

I was becoming less skeptical. From what I was hearing, Juice Plus wasn’t claiming to be a magic pill. It wasn’t a pharmaceutical. It was just quality nutrition that helped your body do what it was supposed to do: be healthy. The people sharing it didn’t even seem to be in it for the money. They just genuinely believed this product could actually help people.

Afterwards, I felt more trusting of JP but it wasn’t until I listened to message after message in a recorded phone series where people shared of more cancer gone, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Lyme’s Disease symptoms greatly alleviated, fertility issues resolved, etc., etc.,etc. that I realized how much I want everyone I love to be taking this stuff.

It was starting to make sense. It’s just using what God gave us to give us a fighting chance. I can believe in that. When we pump our bodies full of garbage: processed food, animal products, sugar, and chemicals, of course things will start to go haywire! That’s a given! I know not everyone will be willing to give up meat or dairy or Sweet Frog. I get that it’s hard. I ate truffle oil grilled cheese sticks last night. It’s a process. 

The key is to get less bad and more good, and keep moving in that direction.If taking encapsulated fruits and veggies will kick start my journey to healthy, I’m all for it. I’d already noticed, just from eating better lately that my lower back pain (a possible sign of heart disease) had disappeared, along with my heartburn, sinus pressure, and bad cramps. I’m excited to see what adding thirty more fruits and veggies a day does for my energy level and future health.

So I guess I’m in. I’ve been taking it for a couple weeks now, I begged my dad to do it (he ordered some!), and I’m praying my mom will start. I want her body and brain to work as well as possible, and the anti-inflammatory, free-radical killing nutrition will do that! Aging doesn’t have to suck, not if we’re taking care of ourselves. I read enough nutrition books to know that’s true.

I signed up as a rep to get the discount,  but my heart is changing as I learn more and now I am excited  about helping others and I can’t wait to see people feel better!

Ang

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40:40 Day…40

 

Today will be the last post in my forty day series of commemorating God’s faithfulness and persisting in prayer.

I remember being on day eight and wondering how in the world I would come up with thirty-two more God moments to write about, but he brought more to mind as the days progressed and I am grateful to have these all written down. As much as I hope others have been encouraged by these stories of answered prayer and provision, I have to confess that I mostly wrote these down for me. 

When I next enter a dry season; when I can’t see God’s face or hear his voice and I feel alone, I have proof that I’m loved; proof that he is always with me and I never have to do this on my own. I can come here and remember how good he is, and know that as he has helped me before he will again. It’s my monument of stones testifying to real encounters with a living God.

My last 40:40 is the biggest miracle I have experienced so far: my own conversion. 

No one saw it coming, least of all me.

I had been to church and youth group hundreds of times, but my picture was next to the word “rebellious” on Wikipedia. I almost said dictionary but that’s so last century. I wanted to do bad things. Not to hurt people, but to please myself. Other people did  get hurt, though, and (surprise, surprise) so did I. I loved sin but it didn’t love me. By the time I was twenty-five I was tired of living this way, and against all my natural instincts I opened my heart to believe that I could find peace, love, and joy in Jesus. 

It’s been a bumpy road, I’ll admit, but guess what? I don’t love sin anymore. I love God, and that’s a miracle. Who knows what the years hold ahead, but I know my future is secure because nothing and no one can stand against my God or keep me from his love (Romans 8:28).

Thanks for reading and sharing this journey with me. I hope it has blessed someone else as it has blessed me.

Ang

Prayer: One more time. Please take a second to pray for miraculous healing for my friend J. God, we know you are able! 

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40:40 Day 39

Wow. Just one more day to go in this series. 

God has showed up so many times in so many ways.

Sometimes he answers even dumb prayers, just because he can.

A few months ago I was waiting on an a sweet older couple at the restaurant, and out of nowhere a thought popped into my head and I thought it would be fun to pray for them to leave me a twenty dollar tip.

Their bill was only fifty dollars, and that was only because they’d gotten a bunch of desserts to go. 

I smiled and thanked them as they left, and then when I picked up the check book my jaw dropped. A twenty dollar tip.

Now, as nice as that was,  twenty bucks not a crazy, extravagant amount of money. I had an awesome lady come in last night and leave me the same on a thirty dollar check (thanks, Cheryl!!!). The fact is, people don’t normally leave double the regular tip amount for no reason. God must have prompted them, just so that my faith would be strengthened. It certainly worked.

Prayer:

For God’s people to see him at work around them today, starting with me!

*For J’s back to be healed miraculously from mysterious growths. Today would be good.

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40:40 Day 38

God’s provision doesn’t always look miraculous.

Sometimes he lets us know he’s there with us in the work-week monotony, in busyness and routine, especially when we ask. Just because it’s an ordinary day doesn’t mean he’s not awesome and powerful and willing to work in our lives.

Cut to Thursday.

I don’t mind food running at work because it’s a break from waiting tables, but it’s usually less money because you have to tip share with someone else.

Last Thursday I had a food running shift. I was also scheduled to work a dumb section in the morning which I was not looking forward to. I would rather have Friday off to spend time with a friend who needed it. I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask.

“God, can you get rid of my second food runner so I can make all the money and take tomorrow off?”

I’ve probably prayed this prayer twenty times in the past (not for a day off but when I’ve been short on money), and I’m not joking when I say it has a pretty high success rate. One time I prayed and even though they had three extra patio people and it was raining, they sent the patio servers home and moved my second food runner to  a section. So, I waited to see how God would do it this time.

I went in to work at five and immediately my manager told me their curbside had called out and they’d have to use my second food runner. I just smiled and said that was fine.

It was busy because of spring break, so I was working at double speed and I’d say I got a decent workout in the process. At the end of the night I had a respectable amount of money and was able to release the dreaded Bar 3 morning shift. Someone picked it up right away (we have an online scheduling system) and I got to spend Friday with my friend instead.

Prayer: For God to lead his people to where we are serving others effectively and joyfully and using our unique gifts.

*For J’s back to be miraculously healed and for God to get the praise!

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40:40 Day 37

Danielle and I became friends while arguing on Facebook.

A guy friend we had in common had put up a post about God, and Danielle, being a science-minded college student, was pushing back against each faith- based comment.

She and I got into it, respectfully, and we went in circles. Finally, I just said, “Hey, if you want to get together and talk about this stuff, I’d be down!”

She did, and we met in person for the first time on a Superbowl Sunday. We ditched the game and instead walked around Byrd Park, sharing our stories and comparing ideas, ideologies, and experiences.

I really liked her, and we hung out several times in the next few weeks. She even reluctantly came to our Community Group a couple times. She still wasn’t sold on the “God thing”,  but we loved getting to know her and being able to share who God was to us through our testimonies. 

One morning, out of the blue, Alicia called me and said she felt like God was laying it heavily on her heart to pray for Danielle, and she asked me to pray, too. Of course I agreed, but I was a bit mystified.

As I told y’all yesterday, my friend Alicia has a crazy connection with God, and when he tells her to pray, she takes it seriously, so I knew not to doubt her discernment.

That night, I got another phone call. It was Danielle. “Can you come over?”,she asked. “My fiance just broke off our engagement and I don’t know what to do. I’m so depressed!” 

I immediately drove to her house, and spent the next few hours just being there with her. She mentioned, in between sobs, that her period was four days late. I told her it was probably just irregular, or stress related. I’ve been known to be wrong.

A couple days later Danielle came out of the Starbucks bathroom with wide eyes. Rebekah and I were sitting with our beverages, waiting nervously for the news, and she showed us, trying not to let everyone and their mom see. Two sticks, both positive. She was definitely pregnant.

As if this crazy week hadn’t been tumultuous enough, as soon as Danielle told her family and the father of her baby, all help broke loose. Everyone, and I mean everyone, told her the only sensible thing to do was get an abortion. They said she’d be a fool to have a baby, and that she’d be ruining her life.

Our little circle was her only source of support, and man, were we praying and trying everything we knew how to encourage her to keep it. Our hearts would rise and fall as she went back and forth, with one little life hanging in the balance.

Against all odds, she made the decision to have her baby girl, and that ex-fiance married her five days later. They now have three children, and though life hasn’t always been easy, they are fantastic and loving parents.

I still can’t fathom any other explanation for how Alicia knew that Danielle needed prayer so badly that week. 

God spoke, and she listened, and love won out over fear and doubt. I find it absolutely amazing and awe-inspiring that God intervenes like that, and I’m so thankful that he does.

Prayer: For women who find themselves pregnant and alone to have a support system and love surrounding them.

*Miraculous and complete healing for J

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40:40 Day 36


My friend Alicia has the gifts of prayer and contagious laughter. Both equally important.

I knew she would set an alarm for some weird time, like 5:37 a.m., each morning and she would pray for Cyprus or whatever God was laying on her heart, and then go back to sleep. I really admired her dedication to prayer, but maybe thought she was going just a tad overboard sometimes.

Enter Roy. Roy was a homeless alcoholic man in his forties who started coming to our Sunday morning service at Aletheia. He ended up living with one of the college students from our church and growing in his relationship with the Lord, but every now and then would have a relapse.

One morning, out of the blue, Alicia texted me. “We need to be praying for Roy.” She wasn’t sure why, but God had clearly laid this burden on her heart.

A few days later we found out that Roy was missing. He turned up a week later at a hospital in Virginia Beach, badly beaten. He had been on a bender and ran into the wrong people. But, he was alive.

How did Alicia know???

The only explanation is that God told her, and that he uses prayer to move in our lives. It’s just how he works, and it’s pretty awesome.

Tomorrow, I will be sharing another Alicia prayer story, and it’s one that still fills me with joy and awe because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God cares deeply about us and all the stuff we face in this life. Each one is precious to him. Don’t miss it!
Prayer: For us to see God moving and answering prayer in mighty ways today!

*Complete healing for J and the mysterious knots in her back!

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40:40 Day 35

I’m telling you, I think God really shows up in my life in regards to car repair.

When I was living on my own my bills were overwhelming, so when the mechanic told me I needed an eighty dollar brake change, I cringed. It wasn’t necessary to pass inspection, but it was necessary none the less. “That’s fine,” I said, even though it wasn’t. 

I spent the next hour wandering around Barnes and Noble waiting for them to finish, hoping they wouldn’t take too long because I had to work that evening.

I called, they said it wasn’t quite ready yet. After another hour I was getting worried about the time so I called again. They said unfortunately they hadn’t been able to get to the brakes, but if I was in a hurry I couldn’t bring it back in the morning. 

I went back over to the auto shop, paid for my sixteen dollar inspection, and drove away. A few minutes later I got a phone call.

Apparently there has been some miscommunication, because one of the mechanics indeed had fixed my brakes. The man on the phone teased me, saying the police were going to come after me since I didn’t pay for it, but then good-naturedly told me that this one was on the house since it had been their mistake. 

Worked for me. I smiled and knew God had my back.

Prayer: For Christians to see God’s very real provision and presence in their life today,starting with me!

*Complete, miraculous healing for J 

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40:40 Day 34

Sometimes it’s the little things that let us know God is always there, always providing.
As you might know, my one and a half year old kitty Bentley has issues because he was hit by a car as a tiny kitten. We do squirty medicine every morning and night with a syringe.

His newest bottle came with a stopper that allowed me to tip the bottle upside down with the syringe inserted in the middle, but the very first time I tried to use it, it pushed down through the neck opening and now floats like a buoy in the orange, sticky goop. Super helpful.

I worked with it, tilting the bottle and not making too much if a mess, but the syringe was always sticky and gross. It was getting more and more difficult as the medicine got lower.

Just a week ago, I was going up to my room and I noticed a white cylinder on the floor in the hallway. I looked closer, and to my surprise it was another bottle stopper. I picked it up, rinsed it off and decided to see if it would fit in Bentley’s bottle. It was perfect.

I knew the pharmacy hadn’t given me an extra one, and the family I live with hadn’t had any out recently. I asked.

God knew what I needed, even something so small, and he provided. I love that!

Prayer:For God’s people to be shaken out of lives of apathy, starting with me!

*Complete healing for J and the knots in her back..praise..she is feeling much more energetic than she has been!

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