Love Reminders: Why Voids Are Not To Be Avoided

I got a random question for you…

Have you ever wondered why it’s easier to accept your flaws as opposed to your voids?

Flaws = Weaknesses, imperfections, what you can control and change

Voids = Lacking a necessary good, what you can’t control and change

If so, I want to encourage you: No matter how vast, no matter how voluminous the void, God’s sovereignty is always greater to not only fill it, but overflow it.

Granted, this truth is clearer conceptually than applicably, not to mention I’m sure there are some who struggle less with voids than flaws; however, in case you’re sittin’ there thinking I get all this, I just don’t know how to get there, consider this post a joint dive in discovering fresh purpose in places you never thought possible.

‘Cause truth is, for many of us (myself included), we prefer bridging our voids as opposed to exploring them in depth. Even when we do take the plunge, we’re often not ready for what we may find be it ego, fears, and/or our infatuation with the past. As Richard Rohr states in his book, Immortal Diamond

Whether humans admit to or not, we’re all in love with the status quo and the past, even when it’s killing us. [For most], it’s easier to gather energy around death, pain and problems than joy. For some sad reason, it’s joy we hold lightly and victimhood we hold on to.”

This in mind, let’s go back to the initial question and rephrase it: When it comes to the holes in our lives, have you ever wondered why we put God behind the telescope and our voids under the microscope?

Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Or are we so content in idolizing what’s not working in our life, so content in finding identity in ego¹, we fail to see our voids as God’s love reminder. To quote Jamie George, senior pastor at Journey Church in Franklin, Tennessee, “The thing that’s not working [in your life] is your opportunity for salvation to be saved from your ego and remember who you are.”

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Accordingly, the reason we wrestle with our voids often ties to not knowing what God wants to reveal through them. On the surface, we admit God wants us to know the highest heights of His love in the darkest depths of our despair. Yet, deeper down, we fade God in light of false hopes telling our trust what to do. Before we know it, we’re lost in a search for meaning outside the only place we can find it desperate for breakthrough, but not necessarily for freedom.

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Perhaps this is why Jesus taught love as an invitation first (Psalm 91:14, Matthew 11:28-30, John 3:16, John 15:15, Romans 5:8, Romans 8:38-39, Revelation 3:20) and as an instruction second (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Matthew 22:37-40)…so we could see awe in the awful and life as not only richer than temporary troubles, but richer because of them! The inevitable hurdles we encounter, they are more than opportunities to be humbled, but lifelines we’re passionately loved and rescued through. Therefore, we must accept the fact voids are imperative in the narrative of our lives as they offer a chance to centralize Christ as our security, the redeemer of all things who takes our time traveling tendencies and morphs them into a desire to know God as perpetual presence.

Think of it this way: In this life, on this side of heaven, there are many people living apart from God. To them, fear in the face of chaos makes perfect sense. After all, they have nothing to rely on other than themselves, their hope a mere flatline on the cardiogram of circumstance. But to those who trust in God, they can fear² Him in disarray knowing the chasms created in trial also create the heart space we need to receive those aforementioned love reminders³. As I told a colleague at work today, an empty container is better than no container at all since only the former can be opened and poured into.

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Bottom line:  Whatever you did…whatever you’re going through…those experiences are never worth the fear we preserve keeping them close at heart. Remember your battle scars are more than checkpoints signifying where you got it right; they are altars pointing people in the direction of wonder and reference…the veins by which people can know God longs to commune with them. Ultimately, our voids help us adore God, abide in gratitude, and die to our need to make sense of it all.

Selah.

Footnotes

  1. The sum of self-reliance/independence (i.e. prioritizing reason over faith); sentence shout-out to Jamie George and his Awakening series
  2. Fear as in awe/adoration
  3. See Psalm 23:1-4
Cover photo creds: medium.com

🥗 4 Shortcuts to a Leaner Life 💪

For years, His Girl Fryday has been helping people discover confidence within their influence from navigating challenges at work to managing ministry on the go. 

Yet, while our content has historically centered on internal inventory, occasionally we like to spice things up and go against the grain1

Thus, for today, I want to talk about some practical ways we can improve our eating/exercise habits having recently reached a major weight loss milestone.

Now I admit…I’m not the savviest of nutritionists nor do I sport the chisel-est of bods; however, what I do have is discipline, resolve, and the patience to see them through.

Accordingly, it is my hope these four dietary tidbits, while more conducive to long-term results, can better your family dynamic and pursuit of a leaning life…

1. De-dairy your diet

When time turned 2014, my body was in rough shape2. Granted, I wasn’t obese or struggling with an eating disorder; however, with a weight only a pound or two off my all-time max (i.e. 207 lbs), the sluggishness was real.

Thankfully, after making a list of dietary resolutions, it wasn’t long before I realized what dietary changes I needed to make and in what order. 

The first step? De-dairy my diet.

To do this, I narrowed the goal down to three phases:

  1. I replaced cow milk with almond milk – an unpopular move for my palate initially, but one I adjusted to3 after a month or so.
  2. I eliminated processed cheese from my diet – a minor correction, but a necessary one given my acid reflux history. 
  3. I reduced my intake of frozen dairy – easily, the toughest out, but conquerable once I a) allowed it to be a novelty and b) embraced dairy-free ice creams like Halo Top.

At first, physical changes were subtle; however, the more I established this rhythm, the better I felt overall on a daily basis.

Nowadays, if I’m ever craving cereal, a burger, and/or ice cream…check out the built-in savings…

  • Honey Nut Cheerios (1.5 cups) with almond milk – 210 calories
  • Honey Nut Cheerios (1.5 cups) with 2% milk – 255 calories
  • Difference: -30 
  • Burger King Whopper with no cheese/mayo + steak sauce – 550 calories
  • Burger King Whopper with cheese and mayo – 770 calories
  • Difference: -220
  • Halo Top chocolate ice cream (1 pint) – 320 calories
  • Ben & Jerry’s chocolate ice cream (1 pint) – 1000 calories
  • Difference: -680

Yeah, yeah…I know these examples may seem insignificant, but trust me: as you’ll soon see, they add up well with time…

2. Bun Voyage

If reducing dairy was the footing, cutting carbs was the foundation. After an August 2014 biometric screening revealed high amounts of triglycerides in my system, I realized I had to cut carbs and after weighing (pun intended) my options, I determined the best place to start was to make every sandwich an ‘open face’.

After all, the best part of a sandwich/burger is what lies in the middle. Why not cut out the redundancy?

At any rate, after three years later of de-breading/de-bunning my sandwiches/burgers …not to mention all the pizza crust thrown to my dog…the results speak for themselves.

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3. Walk the Plank

If you’re like me in the sense you have strong cardio discipline (~ 3-4 workouts a week), you likely have some sense of what foods will help you exercise more effectively; however, while tracking protein and complex carbs is ideal for better workouts, if you’re losing weight, it’s important to define what you trim.

For instance, I do a 3-5 minute variety plank routine and/or 40+4 push-ups before each run. Certainly, not a ‘have to’…but highly encouraged if you want a short and sweet road to transition fat to muscle within your core.

As I like to think, if an apple a day keeps the doctor away, a plank a day can only further the distance5.

By the way, this is not how you plank…

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4. Select Fasting

No question, my biggest dietary weakness is caffeine. It’s a drug for the day, a muse in the morning…whether you’re talking iced tea/cold brew/bottled soda on a hot, summer day or a roasty expresso on a cold, midwinter morning, the temptation is often tough to pass up.

However, as I discovered in a recent week-long fast, taking a break from fluids not named water, while old-school, is arguably the best way to detox your system. In my case, when fasting, I like to replace coffee and soda with sparkling peach-flavored water and green tea. Of course, there are many more options to choose from. The key here is not so much the substitution as it is giving your system time to be shocked. 

If liquid fasts aren’t your thing, consider fasting chips (or a similar salty guilty pleasure) one week, desserts another. Personally, I like capping my calories categorically (i.e. chips to 250, soda/dessert – 400 (on the few days I consume them), meals, in general, to 800), especially through liquid fasts since most of my empty calories come fluidly.

Another method you might try is ‘going green’ where 75/80%+ of lunches/dinners have the color in the meal. In our house, with dinner, we aim for steamed veggies and/or salads as sides 4-5 times/week; with lunch, we’ll often replace meat with cucumbers and heartier toppings with kale or spinach on wraps/bowls. Even snacks, we’ll munch on carrots or multi-grain crackers with avocado, hummus, black bean spread if we need a tie over. Again, not ground-breaking, rocket science strategies as much as tactical frameworks we can eat between.

Ultimately, the key with select fasting is identifying  your weak points, targeting them as voids, and filling them in with healthier alternatives6.

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So there you have it. Not the most inventive guide to a fuller, fitter life, but a workable template if your goal is to gradually lower those pant sizes, circumferences, and cholesterol levels. I know for some of you, going the keto way (or something similar) probably sounds more enticing, but if you prefer simple short cuts with long-term potential, consider these suggestions.

As always, feel free to leave a comment below if you want to share any additional advice or testimony.

If not, know we’re cheering you on as you pursue a healthier, happier you…

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Footnotes

  1. Foreshadowing alert
  2. Gaining ten pounds of stress weight leading up to my wedding day in April 2013 that I hadn’t fully recovered from
  3. One could say I started finding it utterly delicious 😉
  4. My push-up count isn’t a set # as much as it is whatever my physical limit is for that day
  5. Speaking of distance, consider basing your cardio workouts on calories burned as opposed to miles. For me, I cut my runs off at 400 calories, unless I have more time/energy to burn.
  6. Specifically, ones that meet a nutritional need (i.e. vitamin ‘x’) as opposed to a habitual hankering
Cover photo creds: Wallpaper Studio 10