Amazing grace, I made it to Friday! Wednesday and Thursday were really hard days for me, but I had armed myself with my “plan-ahead” weapons, so I made it!
To recap: Monday I began a two-week jump-start project which I am calling, “return-to-me”. For two weeks I am working on rehabbing my tired body, mind and spirit. For me this means more prayer, replacing breakfast and lunch with protein shakes, eating a healthy dinner, limiting alcohol and writing (because it feeds my spirit.)
I knew Wednesday and Thursday would be trigger days for me because they are the most stressful of each week. Wednesdays my hubs and I work until 1:00 PM and then we head into the kitchen of a local church, where we create, serve and clean up after their Fellowship Meal. Usually this meal serves about 100 people, but sometimes it can rise to 150. This week we served pork tenderloin.
So you get the idea, it’s laborious, but glorious. I always go home smiling when the people are full and they’ve loved the meal. (In case you are curious, the sides were wild rice and a veggie medley of carrots, broccoli and cauliflower with a three bean salad or coleslaw plus cake and brownies for dessert.) We aren’t playin’!
My Thursday afternoons from 1 until 4:30 are spent with my aging parents. While I am so grateful both of my parents are still here on earth for me to visit, it can be hard at times. (This is a story for another blog, though.) I usually arrive home emotionally drained in some form or fashion.
The problem for me on both of these days is that we have fallen into the habit of evening cocktails on these nights. Everything is so stressful, it’s a nice feeling to get home, change clothes, flop in our favorite chairs and sip on whatever it is that we’ve decided upon for that night-sometimes it’s wine; sometimes it’s vodka; sometimes other things. The bottom line is, this is what we’ve done for years, so it’s a habit that we equate with “reward”.
I knew this would be an issue at the beginning of the week so I intentionally prepared for it. Wednesday morning I woke to my usual prayers for strength and perseverance, then I wrote in my prayer journal. I planned to eat a meal at church just before going home so I would be full. Even with all of this, the drive home a battle raged inside my mind.
“Just one won’t hurt.”, said my ego.
“You made a commitment! And you’ve prayed to God, too! If you do this, it’s like you are quitting on God, ya know. You have to give Him a chance to work.”, said my heart.
“Drat! Blasted Heart! But still, you don’t have to do this all at once, ya know.”, said Ego.
“If not now, when? I’ve prayed over this and over it. God will help me fight you when I get home, now shut up.”, said Heart.
“Still”, Heart thought silently, “What if I fail yet again? Why can’t I just do this?”.
When we arrived home, I went straight upstairs opting for a long, hot bath, which has always been a source of comfort. While I was in there I prayed again for strength and I thought about just what I was asking for and why. (Aren’t I worthy of having the life I was intended to have? I am. It’s up to me to do the work in order to get back there. I’ve let things go for TOO long-taking care of everyone else. It’s time for ME. If not now, WHEN?)
So I went downstairs, had a banana, flopped on the couch and turned on a comedy show. Later, I went to bed happily thanking God for seeing me through the day.
Last night, having battled through Wednesday night, I knew what to expect out of that darned ego-talk. Even though I was prepared the same as the night before and EVEN though I knew Friday was slated to be “cheat night”, as far as dinner and cocktails are concerned, it was still THE hardest time I’ve had. I went to my parents per usual, then stopped at the grocery on the way home (my happy place) in order to select something I’d like to cook for dinner. (This is my way of tweaking the usual routine.) I even went so far as to go to a market I do not frequent. I selected some nice filets, fresh asparagus and I planned on serving the last of the fresh squash I’d made nights before. I even bought two tiny cheesecakes as a treat. Then, I stopped at Redbox and rented a funny movie as a non-food, non-alcoholic activity.
Still, when I arrived home the temptation to throw it all out the window, met me right at the front door. Blasted demon ego!
“Look, you made it past Wednesday! Isn’t THAT enough? You are stressed and sad. You can make up for this later. Next week you can tackle Thursday over! Have a drink. If it makes you feel better, you can skip dinner!”, Ego quipped as if it were nothing.
This time my heart was silent. Instead, I thought of what I’d written in my journals to God. I thought about what I really want. I thought about why I started this in the first place. I thought of starting over and over and over again, never making it over the hump.
“Darn it. This is ridiculous. I am worth MORE than sitting on the stupid couch with a stupid cocktail.”, said Heart.
Just then, I remembered I’d ordered a special herbal bath potion to soak in. Walking to the mailbox I told myself if it was there, I’d use that as my reward. It was.
Determined, I went back into the house, made a nice salad, and sat down and ate it so I would not be hungry while I prepared dinner. After dinner, I headed up the stairs and took a glorious, “I DID IT” soak!
And so here I am today. It’s Friday. (Tonight, I get to have wine and homemade pizza and it doesn’t even feel important any more.)
As I reflect back on the work-week, I am reminded of what I have always known: when I suit up and show up and do the work with God in front, miracles happen. God isn’t just for the big stuff, He’s here for us for all things and He responds in all sorts of wonderful ways. There is something to be said for journaling thoughts, hopes, dreams, prayers etc. to God. (I think it cements things in the heart more securely.) Is it necessary to do so in order to communicate with God? Absolutely not. (In fact, I’m sure there are some people out there who will be offended that this is one of the ways I choose to be connected. Oh well.)
Having said all of this, I am fully aware that after tonight, I still have to go through Saturday and Sunday in order to truly say I had a successful week. (This is a Holiday weekend so I know it will be a little harder.) These days I really am trying to keep focused on the day at hand. While I do plan ahead,the object is to keep my emotions and my determination centered on “one-day-at-a-time”.
So color me grateful. I know God sees me and I like to think He’s happy with my tiny bit of progress. I am feeling joyful beyond measure! The bonus factor that I knew when I began this is that I’m feeling closer to God than before. Lest you think all I do is pray about getting through these two weeks, among other things, I also pray that my relationship with all things spiritual, especially God, continue to strengthen. It’s working.
NOTE: Although I missed a couple of days blogging, I am still here, and I am not going anywhere. Admittedly, this is a lot of harder to do than my blogs of days-gone-by where I had a set routine and outline to follow each day. I WILL persist!
So you have a visual, here is a photo of the tiny journal I keep in my purse. I pull it out and write in it whenever and I have something on my heart. (The first page I always use for my favorite verses.) When I get home later, I’ll photograph the book I use there. It’s similar but large. The one below is about five 1/2 inches by 3 and 3/4″. It fits perfectly inside my purse.
BTW, if I talk about food, I will always leave the recipe here:
Roasted Pork Tenderloin
- (2) 1/2 lb Tenderloins (1 package of tenderloin has two 1/2 lb tenderloins inside)
- 4 tablespoons
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Any seasoning blend you like. I used a prepared one that had garlic, lemon, oregano, chili pepper etc.) You can even use prepared rubs OR just make your own with whatever you like–you want enough to coat the Tenderloin all over.
- 1/2 c. honey
- 1/4 c. brown sugar
- 1 c. balsamic vinegar
- Fresh ground pepper (to taste)
- Kosher salt (to taste)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- On a baking sheet, sprinkle each tenderloin with the balsamic vinegar. Rub it into all sides.
- Drizzle olive oil and rub into all sides.
- Coat with your seasonings (or prepared rub)
- Let the pork sit for up to 20 minutes prior to cooking.
- Roast in hot oven for 20 minutes. If it still gives a lot to the touch, flip it and let it go for 6-8 minutes.
While the pork is cooking, to a sauce pan add the following:
- 1 c. balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 c. brown sugar
- 1/2 c. honey
Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Let the sauce reduce by half until it will coat a spoon. When your pork comes out, drizzle it over the top prior to serving.