HoagieStyle Coffee

I can no longer hold in the secret to the most amazing coffee recipe ever! You may have heard other low-carbers talk about Bulletproof coffee – which is basically coffee mixed with various good for you fats. This has replaced my breakfast for the past few weeks and I’ve found that it leaves me satiated for several hours. Experiment based on your taste preferences and feel free to leave a comment on the recipes I’ve tried or share your own secret ingredient!

As I continue to experiment, I will post various recipes with my tasting notes. One thing to note – whatever recipe you chose – the taste is exponentially better when blended (e.g., using a Magic Bullet, because it gets a nice frothy topping). Kinda like a latte without the sugar! #winning

Almond Butter Bliss
260 calories / fat 29 g / carbs 4 g / protein 3 g

1 Tbsp almond butter
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp half & half
1 tsp MCT oil  (Smart Basics brand)
16 oz brewed coffee

Tasting notes: Can’t taste the almond butter. May need to increase that a tad or decrease the amount of coffee in order to notice the taste. Creaminess from the coconut oil coats the mouth between sips. Just lovely!! Added the half & half mostly for color and a little extra froth. The almond butter will settle, so the last few sips will be grainy. If you don’t like this texture element, omit the almond butter – but I see it as a last sip special treat.

butter & cocoa
150 calories / fat 18 g / carbs 1 g / protein 0 g

1 Tbsp unsalted butter (use grass-fed if available)
1 Tbsp half & half
1 tsp MCT oil  (Smart Basics brand)
1 tsp 100% cocoa powder
16 oz brewed coffee

Tasting notes: the first few sips are amazing! I think mostly due to the nice froth on top, which diminishes slowly with time. Butter isn’t as creamy tasting as is the version with coconut oil. The cocoa wasn’t overpowering, just a nice subtle hint. Either I should drink faster or skip the last few sips b/c didn’t like how the last sip had dregs of cocoa which left my teeth feeling gritty.

Remembering Jen

It is with an extremely heavy heart that I write today. Earlier today I received a text from my dear friend Lauren telling me that her sister Jennifer had gone to be with our good Lord. Jen’s 1.5 year battle with leukemia had finally ended. We mourn the loss of a loving daughter, sister, wife and friend; yet, we rejoice knowing that she is in heaven, that her pain and struggles are gone.

When I think about Jennifer’s life, I remember her laugh – such a wonderful, joyous laugh that made you ask, “What? Why are you laughing?” because you wanted to laugh, too. I remember how much she loved her family – how protective she was of her younger sisters. Proudly owning the role of oldest sibling, she was the responsible, motherly voice of reason for Lauren and Lindsey. She always went to bat for them – even if she didn’t condone their actions. I knew Jen was strong, but I had no idea how strong until this past year. She fought a good fight. She pressed on. She held firm to the faith.

As I sit her and celebrate her life through tear filled eyes, there are so many scriptures that come to my mind. Each one is so powerful, yet were I to write them all, I would surely be typing for days. The one message that I find most fitting with Christmas a mere 4 days away is how blessed we are to not have to say goodbye to Jennifer. By the grace of God, I can rejoice and say, “Jen, I will meet you in heaven. Oh, glorious day when all my tears are wiped away and we will together forever worship our Father.”

Dear Father,

In remembering Jen’s life, may we bring honor and glory to You – may we bow down and worship You – may we give thanks to You – may we praise You evermore – for You so loved – You sent a Savior to this earth – that we may be saved from the woes of this earth – that we may endure through our momentary troubles – that we may hope for our future. Praise be to You, oh gracious and mighty God. All thanks and praise be to You for this indescribable gift.

Marathon Racing vs. Training

It’s marathon week in Memphis! Although I will not be running the marathon, I am extremely excited for all of my friends who will be out there racing – many of whom will be doing their first marathon!! I love that!

To all you marathoners, take note of these words from Olympic marathoner Ryan Hall in his book Running with Joy (p. 177):

“Training for a marathon is the reverse of racing a marathon. You train the first ten weeks with your heart, pouring yourself into every workout, and then you run the last two weeks with your head, purposefully not allowing your heart to take your legs even close to the well. But when you race a marathon, run the first 20 miles with your head, keeping your emotions, excitement, and energy harnessed until the last 10k, when you let everything in your heart out.”

You’ve trained hard, now race smart!

Awestruck by the Spirit of Running

This morning, Heather, Melissa and I raced with Amanda. A shared joy for running had brought Heather, Melissa, and I together in the past few years. A shared love for the Lord had brought the three of us together with Amanda in our small group.  This morning, a combination of both those things brought us all four together for the race. We ran the MRC Recovery 5k at Overton Park.  We each took turns running with Amanda and finished the race together at around 30:15. It has been my favorite 5k to date.

As I think on the day now, I am awestruck by the spirit of running, but not running in the sense of the repetitious pounding of feet on the pavement. I think of Philippians 3:14, “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” I think of how Amanda, Heather, and Melissa run that race – and how each of them inspires me to run mine—boldly, confidently, with perseverance and with hope. I think of how God takes us each down different paths with different obstacles, how we run with endurance the race marked out for us, how we each run toward the same finish line and certainly want to get there first, but the Lord directs our steps and sets the pace so that we each get there at the perfect time and achieve a most coveted PR.

Philippians 3:14

Pressing on

Sharing the Spirit of Running

Today, I ran with Amanda. It was a perfect day! Just absolutely perfect. The weather was amazing, the air was clean and energetic, the trees swayed in their brilliant rainbow of colors, the people at the park were happy and spirited– especially Amanda. As her mom and I got her situated in the push stroller, Amanda could not stop smiling (which is usual, but today her smile was extra radiant). It took approximately 5 strides for me to realize this was not going to be a walk in the park. It took 200 meters for me to have a whole new respect Gene’s 3:22 marathon while pushing his friend Paul. And it took about 0.25 miles for my breathing to become labored. I almost felt like I was pushing a sled, because the fixed wheels didn’t make it easy to turn. This would be a whole new type of run workout.

My spirit was getting in some good training, too. I wasn’t there to time how fast I could lap the lake or make sure my Garmin stopped right at 6 miles. I was there to just run and to share the joy of running with a dear friend. Amanda was there to feel freedom—to break away from her wheelchair and glide on a new set of wheels. I loved seeing how excited she was. The grin on her face was huge! It was like a little kid seeing snow for the first time. As I pushed along with Amanda greeting the other runners, I thought, “Lord, thank you for this perfect moment.”

We ended up doing 3 laps around Patriot Lake (about 5 miles), greeting other walkers and runners along our way. My favorite person that we passed was a boy about 12 years old who was leisurely walking around with his younger siblings and mom. The first lap around, we didn’t notice him. The second time around, he said, “Now I’m impressed. You are going around 2 times!!?” That made Amanda and me laugh and we were pretty impressed ourselves. The third time around, the boy said, “Ok, now you’re just scaring me… Three times around!!?” We got the biggest kick out of that. I think a lot of people we passed were impressed, but I hope they didn’t notice me as we passed. I hope they noticed Amanda’s joy and energy.

A verse many runners cite for inspiration is Isaiah 40:31. It’s always been one of my favorites, too. But today, it speaks to me in a whole new way. Today, I’ve seen it. And expanding the context to include verses 29-31 (King James 2000 Bible), it greatly humbles me:

He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

I’m speechless in reverence. Mesmerized by these promises. Challenged to let go of my strength. Challenged to depend fully on God. To persevere. And to do so as Amanda does – without complaining.

I read these words from the Barnes Notes on the Bible, which comment so beautifully on this scripture: “Strength has been given to bear trial without complaining, to engage in arduous duty without fainting, to pursue the perilous and toilsome journey of life without exhaustion, and to rise above the world in hope and peace on the bed of death.”

How great is our God

Inspired by the Spirit of Running

This year, running has beautifully morphed from a mode of exercise into a meaningful relationship. I have come to see running as this majestic, marvelous thing that I respect. I don’t ever want to take this gift for granted. Running nourishes my spirit. It brings me joy, clarity, and peace. I marvel at the way I can forget I’m running and just feel God’s presence. I am so grateful for this change in perspective and wish I could package this joy and give it to others.

That’s what I had in mind when I began to think of a way to run with Amanda. Amanda is one of the sweetest spirits I’ve ever known. Her body is handicapped and confines her to a wheelchair. While she has displayed gracious endurance in countless ways, the one I think about now is how she has endured listening to stories about running. As part of a bible study with mostly runners, she has quietly listened to (and prayed for) our races, marathons, run-cations, and running injuries. The worst of my training days would be a miracle to her. That thought alone is enough to make me press on.

On Monday morning’s run I thought about Amanda. As I breathed in the beauty of the trails and with it the crisp autumn air, I thought about Amanda and how much she would love being here. That night at bible study, I told Amanda how I ran for her that morning and how much she inspired me to be a better runner. With a face radiant with joy, she thanked me. I wish I could somehow thank her for how much she inspires me. Aside from being a better runner, she has inspired me to be a better person, a better Christian, more than she will ever know. Amanda praises God so beautifully. I see and feel Jesus when she comes into the room. She is always smiling. Always. She will eternally be the worst critic as her glass is always half full. In three years, I’ve never heard her complain. Never. Not once. My absolute favorite thing about her is her spontaneous laughter. I’m not talking a brief episode of a few quick chuckles. This is a fighting to stay quiet (and failing), chest convulsing laughter. It is so contagious; I wish it could spread across the world like the plague.

Later that same Monday night, she sent me a message telling me how much my words had touched her. I was immediately encapsulated in an essence of humility and became heart-set on finding a way to share the joy of running with Amanda.

Three emails. That’s all it took to land a runner wheelchair to use. One – email to Jessica at Breakaway. Two – email from Jessica to John at Breakaway. Three – email from John to Gene. Done. Runners helping runners share the joy of running. It was so magical. I could write a whole post about Gene (and maybe I will). That man’s spirit is incredible. Here I am – some stranger – asking for a favor. But, he was fully on board—no questions asked.  A few days later, I met Gene at Shelby Farms to pick up the wheelchair. A few hours later, Amanda went on her first run.

Feeling the Spirit of Running

Ever since Chicago (about 6 weeks now) I have not worn my Garmin – have not cared how fast or how far I’ve run – have not had a training schedule – and it has been awesome!  I have run when I felt like it – as far and as fast as I’ve wanted – have run fast, slow, on trails, on pavement, before sunrise, during lunch, after dark with a headlamp, at dusk without a headlamp – have run with new people on new routes – and have loved every minute and every mile.

Monday morning, Olivia, Kendra and I met at Shelby Farms to run Tour d’Wolf. As we arrived, the sun was rising, setting the sky ablaze in gorgeous flames. You could smell the crispness in the air. It was a perfect morning. About 2 miles in we saw more treats from God: five deer leaping through the meadow area. They seemed to not mind our intrusion as they gazed at us and then calmly leaped away. It was almost like they were playing with us. What a wonderful way to start the week! Each of us agreed that the day was perfect.

Friday morning’s run wasn’t all rainbows. Against better judgment, I met Kendra at 5:00 AM to run 8 miles in midtown. I was excited to meet new people and had a feeling they would be a good bit faster than me… but dang! we were hoofing! I was noticeably breathing hard by mile 3. It was awesome! I don’t know what our splits were, but hallelujah, because I probably would have freaked out! The group was very kind to welcome me and they were all glad I had joined them, but man were they fast! Kendra was so sweet, when I told her I couldn’t possibly keep up 4 more miles, she decided to slow down to stay with me. She could have clearly kept up with the group, but sacrificed any pacing strategy she had to hang back with me.

I love that the love for running came back to me after the marathon. I was worried about burn out, but it has in fact been just the opposite. I have loved running more than ever before. I have also started to view it differently. The more I run, the more I see that it’s not about me. It’s not about fast times (ok, it’s sometimes about fast times). It’s about why you run and what running does. This week in particular, running has been like a spirit that binds–a spirit of community that brings strangers together at 5:00 AM–a spirit of selflessness when friends slow down to run with you–a spirit alive, aware, and appreciative of God’s gifts in nature. I am hopeful that this perspective will stick with me for a good while.