Our Whole 30ish Experience

It all started with a bad idea, then Erica said she wanted to do it but not alone. I said “I’m in”, like a crazy person. The next thing you know, the Ortiz’s and the Vogt’s (Ray and Michael included) began the venture of clean eating, no grains, no dairy and no sugar for 30 days.

The best reaction was my co-worker who said she was going to journal her observations like I was some sort of animal being observed in it’s natural habitat. That’s basically the best idea anyone has ever had. I wish she had done it. 

No milk/creamer in my coffee? Not so bad. No bread? Could have been much worse. Sugar crashes? Non-existent. Afternoon need for caffeine? Gone. In between meal snacking? Practically none.

Now…this is an elimination diet for 30 days, getting rid of the junk and the cravings and seeing what else happens. The key word, “elimination”. In my expert opinion, do not tackled this alone or without some accountability. If not for the Vogt’s, I (we) would have made modifications by day 5 (cause day 5 actually had me in tears….turns out my swollen legs has zero to do with gluten/legumes/dairy/sugar and now we know). I may have secretly hoped since the beginning they would cave, then I could have followed their lead without the guilt. 

Another reason for the angst? Detailed planning. It’s summer and in the Ortiz home, that means there are nights we don’t stop for the day until the sun has given up.  I actually enjoy planning meals under most circumstances but this requires a lot of detail and planning. Lots of planning. The snacks that we could eat were limited so that wasn’t an issue. Reading labels isn’t a huge surprise and I have learned to love Trader Joe’s and Sprouts on a whole other level. But the planning…it does take time.

We are 22 days in and I figured I’d better post this before we totally fall off the wagon (Please note that I said “totally” fall off the wagon…we are not the poster family). Also, vacation is 9 days away and I am not about to risk digestive distress so re-introducing foods will happen a little sooner. 

The results cannot be argued. Way more energy, no crashing in the afternoons, rarely any need for between meal snacks (healthy fats make a huge difference), weight loss and loss of inches… All the things you are promised, delivered. Ray hasn’t had a hard time with his workouts. Basically, this is a strict paleo diet…the love of Crossfitters everywhere. I however, am a runner. This has made for some really sluggish morning runs and to run two days in a row felt like I was dragging my legs.

A couple of final thoughts:

  1. We will do shorter versions of this in the future. It’s a great healthy eating jump start.
  2. Riced cauliflower is not at all meant to mimic rice. Don’t even give me that crap.
  3. Sweet potatoes are not a replacement for everything.
  4. Strawberry lime vinaigrette, monkey salad and a list of other new meal ideas and additions are a total win. Zoodles are indeed delicious.
  5. While I am a believer, if anyone gives me a list as to why I don’t need gluten, I may fight you (keep your science to yourself and bring me the homemade pizza dough). I have no need to cut it out of my diet so while I have a list of new meal ideas and will certainly continue adding this many fruits and vegetables to our normal diet, I won’t be cutting out gluten.
  6. Last but not least – look at your calendar and know your schedule. What made this so hard was just plain summer.
  7. You can do it and I will not be judgmental if you say this is hard.
  8. Erica and Michael Vogt are stronger than I am. There. I said it. I have complained way more than they have.

Blank Space

Did the title alone have you singing Taylor Swift? You are welcome. I promise there is a point here…

I had the chance to attend the If Gathering this past February. A gathering of a ton of women and some of my favorite speakers, writers and leaders. It was far better than I could have imagined.

Why wait this long to write about it? It’s been a bit of a crazy few months but this has been on my mind and my heart since the conference.

During the last session, we walked in to find a domino piece at each seat. The idea was what can happen when we fall into each other. When each piece, playing it’s part falls into another and how that can change everything. We were encouraged to write on our piece what God was speaking to us that weekend. I wrote a few key words along the sides of my game piece. A few women got up and shared. A few just so happened to have a significant number of their game piece. What are the odds, right? The 6th grade teacher had 6, the mother of three had a 3, the leader of the non-profit had 12… you get the idea.

Sometimes God tells us specifics moving forward and sometimes He tells us to do the last thing He told us to do. Sometimes He tells us something profound. Sometimes He tells us to just keep swimming.

For a long time, anytime I would go to do something, I felt like God was telling me to start from scratch. That women’s community group? Start from scratch. What’s the next step? Start at the beginning. Just pray. I love the bigger picture. I do not like a glimpse of the bigger picture and that’s it.

I’ll be honest, it’s had it’s moments where it is more frustrating that encouraging. More praying about than obeying. More wanting and less action.

I know you are just dying to know.

What was on my game piece?

Glad you asked.



Surely this isn’t a surprise at this point.

Blank space.

A big ole blank space.

So what about it?

There is nothing sexy about being faithful. No one is writing books about how easy it is. Doing the next or the current right thing can be the hardest thing. People make up crap about God not giving you more than you can handle. Those people don’t know.

In your shoes, in your blank space, you know good and well that it is indeed more than you can handle. You also know that when God gives you a blank space, He will fill it.

When He gives the big picture, it’s best that we follow His lead.

When He gives a blank space and says to pray, it is not inaction but obedience.

When obedience and faithfulness in the seemingly small steps breaks your heart, know that it is not in vain.

This little game piece has permanent residence on my night stand. Sometimes I preach to myself and I do just about every time I see this.

Blank spaces… with dreams in my heart that won’t die, passion in my heart that won’t relent and a grace covered determination… When God gives a blank space, He will fill it.

Round and Round We Go…

Lets face it. It isn’t found where we want to find it. It’s not in that thing we can put our hands to, do more of, less of, add to or take out of our lifestyle. It’s not found in the checklists or the good intentions. In fact, all the things we want to find it in, leave us with the overwhelming reality that that is NOT where we find it. We aren’t clever enough to realize this fast enough. We get sucked into the game, a system of sorts that convinces us that since we can’t create it, we can’t find it. Since we can’t create it, we must keep striving until we do. This is the opposite of how it works.

On the days were we stop spinning our wheels long enough to realize the game we play…we stop, we find grace. We find the joy. We discover the peace. We find contentment. We find that all the spinning of our wheels, lists, intentions and so on and so on… What we search for is not something we can do our way into good standing with. In this case, we are in right standing, because we are. How simple, how beautiful. In the reality and complexity. Contentment is not something we earn, it is something we have. It is because of whose we are.

*On an overwhelming day, I have my moments where the very reminder of my state of mind can make me feel a bit sick. I got sucked in again. I tried to find it in a list. Those are the moments where I know I have allowed a thousand other things to get in the way. How very sneaky. Yet, God in his great mercy, draws me back in, reminds me where it is found and that it is already done.





Trust it

I’m gonna state the obvious. On occasion (cough cough) keeping perspective at the forefront of my thoughts and emotions is a big challenge. Said the female.

Yesterday was a tough one mentally. I blame having Monday off for Labor Day. I LOVE having holidays off…and blessed with a job that pays me to stay home on those days. This does mean that Tuesdays are ugly Mondays in disguise. This also means I had a free Monday to ponder what I would do with that 8-5 Monday – Friday time. Danger man! Danger!

Instead of pondering all day (cause work was…work), I decided to put on some old school Hillsong and go with it. Not my brightest idea (cause that NEVER stirs up anything. Said the liar.) but it was where the Lord reminded me of something’s. I needed it.

God is good at the constant reminders.
This is why we can get caught up on a few small words, clouds and a good cup of coffee w/friends. His reminders are as timely as His working.

1. His timing is divine. We are not required to understand it but called to rest in it.
2. If God is breaking something in me, I should let Him do it. This means not rushing His process and try to manipulate the specifics.
3. I’m not crazy. The song Solution really does turn me into a hot mess. I’m gonna let go and let God do that too.

I’ve learned to trust that…sometimes I simply need the reminder.

Outreaches and Anger Management

Easter is coming! Easter is coming!

Our church did an outreach on Saturday to get the word out. We did so with bottles of cold water and Easter baskets full of candy and of course, invite cards. The Easter baskets were door to door, the water bottles is what called for a blog post.

Stand at the corner of a really busy intersection, with free water signs, in Austin, and see what happens. It gets interesting, entertaining and kind of awesome.

People don’t like to look at people who are standing on the street corner. We decided to make them uncomfortable by yelling “free water” at anyone who would give us a glance.

We went through about 350 bottles of water in about two hours.

I realized somethings….

1. Some people don’t want free water (looking at you “there is lithium in that” guy).

2. Some people are curious.

3. Some are grateful

4. Some people have a huge stigma that the church is a group of people who just plain like to be offended (looking at you “we smoke pot everyday” guy and “we are on our way to a titty bar” jeep full of college students…who poured out the water to prove…I don’t know).

This is without even giving much mention to the fact that Starbucks hating marriage blew up my facebook feed for approximately 20min yesterday.

The stigma is we like to be mad.

Number 4 is the reason for this post. I shrugged my shoulders at weed boy and made sure all four guys had water. Every body needs water. Probably more so if you are smoking pot. I should have given them extra. Erica told titty bar chick “ok, drink water”. I’m sure there was some slight disappoint at our lack of look of dismay. I was only offended that they thought they were offending me. I didn’t even care that it was on purpose.

I’m not saying don’t have your convictions, standards and choose wisely where you spend your money (drink fair trade…woot). I am saying, if our stigma is “we like to be mad”, somewhere, we have seriously missed it.



Fear – Throwing a Book At It

As a women’s community group, we have been going through What Women Fear by Angie Smith.


How very broad. It is everywhere and seems to come from everything. What we experience, what we don’t, what we have, what we lack, what we see, what we don’t see, the past, present, future…it seems to have a hand in a lot of our thought processes.

This has made me rather reflective. I was a big chicken as a child. I don’t fear the same things I did then but it was a big enough part of my life for it to bring up a lot of bold memories.

One thing in particular has been a constant my whole life regarding fear.

How my momma handled it.

The first verse I ever remember being required to memorize was 2 Timothy 1:7. Nothing about obeying your parents or about women being silent. Mom was cool like that. My Mom refused to coddle my fear and knew that she couldn’t do it for me. After all, I would freak when she prayed “for the Lord to send angels to encamp around about us”. My Mom is a praying one…and she knew she couldn’t do this for me. Instead, she equipped me. She handed me to the tools and left the light on. Baby steps folks.

I looked up on my bookshelf to see an old friend circa 1992.

I chuckle a little bit. Walk with me through my childhood.

This was a gift. Merry Christmas 1992.


The name…mine. The tattered pages…due to excessive use.

The highlighting was my handy work. An issue with fear much?


I stayed up at night with the light on praying these scriptures. I fell asleep holding these pages and their promises.


Momma knew where to direct me and I’m glad she did.

Snarky Political Tweets…and things of that nature

There is nothing like a huge election year to bring out the best in people’s opinion expression.

I realized that Ray and I didn’t post anything political this year. It’s not because we don’t care. We do. Facebook wins elections as much as our complaining about the outcome will insure Jesus’ return by the end of 2012.

Please note my sarcasm. I’m done now.

Some were ridiculous, some civil, some mad, some glad…some predicted the end of the world and proclaimed that we as a people were screwed. I get that we CAN boldly post our opinions and outcome reaction. It is by far the most interesting thing about social media. It’s people watching without the mall, airport or local farmers market (fact – I love to watch social media during awards shows…music ones are the best).

We are a passionate melting pot of culture, opinions and convictions…and we have to work together. We are better together.

One thing struck me on November 6th (ok, a lot did…). Regardless of what our government does or does not do, keep in mind we are a free people. We are a very blessed people. We have a lot of work to do. The hope of our nation…and the rest of the world is not a political party or agenda. Our hope is Christ and in Christ alone. Salvation comes through Him…and Him alone. His plan A is His church. The world is hurting, hungry and broken. Lets get to work.

Work continues. Maybe the church needs to step up and let the government take notice. We aren’t waiting on them. Lets be the solution…because we have the solution.

Hot Mess Shout Out

The last few weeks have echoed many things. I am grateful for those echoes. The resounding joy, peace and encouragement in the midst of the day to day and in the amazing glimpses of what is to come. The seemingly mundane moments are far from it. They are laced, they are covered with the grace to dream, believe and know. Only grace and love can allow such things with conviction behind them. It is truth.

I am woman. Hear my hot mess roar.

There is joy in leaning on the sufficiency that is found in Christ alone. I am not…He is.

I want to encourage you to do something. Take a moment. Know.


Read Proverbs 31.

Don’t stop reading this post…keep going, I’m getting somewhere.

Read it backwards.

*For all of my overly ridiculously sarcastic friends…I mean verse by verse backwards…not the words. I know some of you. I couldn’t imagine life without you.

We are the hot mess that keeps this crazy train moving. Alone, we are nuts. Together, we form this thing that God has brought together. We are as imperfect as the day is long. We are found in Him complete, whole, loved and fought for. We find differences in each other that speak boldly of His creativity and the necessity of unity among believers (this means with other women…fear not).

It all comes down to “a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised”. When I don’t add up in my own head, I know there is one thing for me to do. Praise.

To quote my friend Tracy, “when God is on His throne everything else falls under”.


All the impossible falls under Him, where it belongs and where it becomes the possible. Where the unexpected dreams start to find feet and joy is found in places never imagined.

The dreams, the hopes, the uncertainty, the weakness, the overwhelming inadequacies…they ALL fall under.

So shout out to you my friend, the hot mess. You are in excellent company. You are clothed with dignity and strength. May we see ourselves as such.

7yr Old Questions and the Simply Profound

It has been a couple of weeks full of the simply profound.

I thought it would be fun to share such wisdom. I give credit where credit is due. One of those people I have to thank is my 7yr old. He’s quite the smarty. He’s also asked questions like “when was Rosa Parks president?”. We are working on the attention to details. He asks a lot of profound questions on that three quarter mile drive (or walk) to school.

Cephas has been asking a lot of questions as of lately. In the last two weeks, he has done a walk for Stop Child Trafficking Now and the CASA Superhero Run (his first race and he did awesome). He wanted to know why. There was also the homeless man who came right up to our car window in a parking lot. I didn’t ignore the man. This had both kids talking. He sees them on the corner and under the bridge. He asks questions…real questions. He’s still talking about last years Christmas morning backpack outreach. Answering questions about child trafficking and abused kids who are now in the foster system is no light topic for anyone. I have keep it simple enough for a 7yr old to understand and not lose the weight of importance. Sometimes the best way to answer a question is to remember that the why behind our actions to help or prevent is simple…because it is.

He gets it. He is learning what it means to “love your neighbor as yourself”. Some people need help, some people need love, some need a break, some need rescue, they all need good news…and we do everything that we can.

I’ve learned a lot with questions thrown at me by Revive Church’s younger crowd.

It’s kind of like the one Sunday morning when Danica asked what the communion table was for. She’s one smart cookie. Most 4yr olds don’t ask questions referencing the Passover. She did. The answer is simple. Our kids are watching, they are asking and our answers matter.

I went to a Visalus Challenge party last week. For more info on that, you can go here. I was riding in my friend’s car with a lady who does extremely well in this company. She asked if we had any questions. I asked one and her response was slightly profound. She said, “It’s simple. We work really hard but it really is simple”. Oh how we can complicate the simple.

We do a lot, we work really hard. We act based on what we believe, what we give our whole heart and life to. The reason why…it’s simple. We complicate it.

My kid gets it…he’ll continue to ask questions. May we continue to set the example and answer boldly and honestly. The why is simple. It may be really, really hard work…but at the same time, it’s simple.




20 Questions

Maybe not 20 questions…but one that I hope gets some dialogue going…


What do you think this looks like?

John 14:12

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also;

and greater works than these he will do, because I go to my Father.

I’ve had quite a few thoughts swirling around in my head and would love to hear from you…