Friday, December 19, 2014

Running from a Crazy Man

Lori Roeleveld
One of my favorite writers anywhere ever is Lori Roeleveld. I've had a writer crush on her since 2010, when I heard her share her story in a workshop at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference...and then listened as her name was called several times during the awards ceremony a few days later. 

I discovered her blog, Deeper With Jesus in Rhode Island, and found myself developing a love/hate relationship with her posts. They are beautifully written, funny, and provocative. They are also courageous, disturbing, and convicting. When I read her posts, I am often encouraged. I am also frequently annoyed. Annoyed that I can no longer sit cozy in my comfy chair and ignore the plight of suffering Christians, stay silent on unpopular issues, or pretend that I serve the kind of God I can explain in a tweet.

I'm thrilled to tell you that Lori has just released a new book, Running From A Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus)

Running from a Crazy Man
Here's what I had to say about it on Amazon: If you've discovered that following Jesus is more like traveling to Mordor than following the yellow brick road, then the wisdom found in these pages will encourage you when you fear, strengthen you when you falter, whisper peace in the dark, and kick your rear when you start thinking about calling it quits. Lori writes from a unique place. She writes as a poet warrior who rests in the certainty that the One leading us into battle is not only big enough to have already won the war, but is also loving enough to understand how afraid we become when swords start flying at our heads. Running from a Crazy Man is an honest look at what it means to follow Jesus - it's an adventure no one will want to miss.

Here's what I had to say about it on Facebook: Lori is one of my favorite writers and Running from a Crazy Man is the kind of book that will encourage you as you walk with the Lord. Of course, by encourage, I mean the way jumper cables "encourage" a car to start! Running from a Crazy Man isn't the kind of book you read and then close the pages and think, "well, that was nice." Running from a Crazy Man is the kind of book you read and then get out of your comfy chair and live the adventure Jesus is calling you to.

This weekend, you can grab the paperback copy for $8.96. And the Kindle version is only $1.99! I don't know how long these prices will last, but Running from a Crazy Man would make a great gift for anyone on your Christmas shopping list. It belongs on your nightstand as well, so go ahead and pick up two or three. 

I know sometimes we wonder if the people who write books about the Christian life are the real deal. Do they live their faith? Do they mean what they say? You don't need to worry about that with Lori. Since that conference in 2010, it has been my privilege to call Lori my friend. Over the past few years, Lori has prayed for me, encouraged me, listened to me whine, prodded me, celebrated with me, asked me hard questions, and extended lots of grace.

I can recommend Running from a Crazy Man without reservation. Get it. Read it. Just don't expect to walk away unchanged. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time

Lori Hatcher
Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and she is responsible for my very first print article (and the two articles that followed it). I've had the privilege of working with Lori as an editor and it's a delight to introduce her to you, not as an editor, but as the author of a wonderful devotional. 

I know many of you will find yourself in this description...

You want to connect with God, but in the craziness of life, it’s just not happening. Between the demands of work, relationships, activities, and everything else that crowds your days, you’re hungry for God, but starving for time. 

You want practical, biblical answers to situations you face every day, but you don’t have hours to pore over Scripture. You need a resource that answers the questions you’re afraid to ask out loud. Questions like:
  • ·       Is my situation hopeless?
  • ·       If God already knows what he’s going to do, why bother to pray?
  • ·       Why have you allowed this to happen to me?
  • ·       No one appreciates what I do. Why shouldn’t I quit?
Each devotion begins with a Facetime question and ends with a biblical answer wrapped in a modern day parable. Like a spiritual power bar, Hungry for God … Starving for Time is packed with enough scriptural nutrition to get you through the day.

Wherever you are—in break rooms, carpool lines, or wherever you can snatch five minutes of quiet reflection—Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women is for you.

Hungry for God ... Starving for Time
Here's a sample devotion from the book...Check it out. I know you'll want to pick up a copy of Hungry for God...Starving for Time. It would make a fantastic Christmas gift!

The Day I Missed a Miracle
Facetime: God, this is hopeless. Why should I even bother to pray?

She was a lovely lady with a voice that was sweet, winsome, and compelling. Of all the soloists at our church, she was my favorite. When she sang, the joy of God was so evident on her face that the song on her lips was merely an echo of what was in her heart.

My heart broke for her when our pastor announced she had been diagnosed with a cancer so rare no oncologist on the East Coast would treat her. Her only hope was a clinic in Texas, he explained, and she was leaving immediately. He invited us to join him in praying that God would do a miracle and spare her life.

When I heard his words, my heart sank. I knew she was going to die. The hopeless diagnosis and confirmation from the oncologists who wouldn't treat her sealed the inevitable in my heart.

Two years later she stood before our congregation cancer free and once again singing to the God who had healed her. She thanked everyone who had prayed for her. She was a living miracle.

And I had no part in it.

I missed being a part of her miracle because I had not prayed in faith for her healing. Instead of believing the God who asked Jeremiah, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:27), I believed the doctors when they said there was no hope.

Instead of believing the God who said, If you have the faith of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, be removed, (Matthew 17:20), I believed statistics that said her cancer was too advanced.

Instead of believing the God who said, Call unto me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you do not know, (Jeremiah 33:3), I believed the reports that said she was beyond healing.

Was God able to heal this sister in Christ without my prayers? Obviously. My lack of faith did not hinder him in the least. God was more than able to fulfill his purpose for her without my help. This precious lady was not harmed in any way by my prayerlessness.

Of all the people involved in this scenario, I was the only loser. I had missed the chance to be part of a miracle. While I rejoiced in her healing and praised the God who had brought it about, I had no share in the victory because I had not believed.

I learned several powerful lessons that day.  

I learned that nothing is impossible for God. That he delights in working through the faith-filled prayers of His children. That nothing is sweeter than the victory that comes after doing battle on our knees. That when we unite our hearts in prayer around a common goal, God's incredible power is unleashed. And I learned that every prayer victory makes it easier to believe the next time.

I missed out on the chance to be part of a miracle that day, but I purposed in my heart that it would never happen again. Now, when someone invites me to pray, I say "Yes!" with all my heart. Never again will I miss being part of a miracle.

I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27

Lori Hatcher is an author, blogger, and women’s ministry speaker. She shares an empty nest in Columbia, South Carolina, with her ministry and marriage partner, David, and best dog ever, Winston. Her latest book, Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women, helps women connect to God in the craziness of life. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time  (

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Top 10 Ways to Prep for Whole30

Top 10 Ways to Prep for Whole30.

So, you’re thinking about doing a Whole30 in January? Great! Here are my top 10 things you should be doing now - yes, now! - to get ready. 

(You can read about my health journey and how Whole30 has played a big part in it here).

1. Learn the program. If you can read It Starts With Food before January, great. But if not, get over to and learn what you can and cannot eat. 

2. Try out some recipes. A quick Whole30 search on Google or Pinterest will return thousands of Whole30 compliant recipes. (You can follow my Whole30 Pinterest board to see what I’ve found so far). December is the time to experiment. There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a Whole30 and trying a new recipe that flops. 

3. Invest in a new cookbook (or three).  Just because it’s “paleo” doesn’t mean it’s Whole30. But paleo cookbooks are a great place to start. My personal favorite Whole30 cookbooks are Well Fed and Well Fed 2

Olives are an awesome source of fat!
4. Prep your pantry. Stock up on Whole30 staples. Whole30 compliant coconut milk, coconut oil, ghee, light olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, diced tomatoes, tuna, olives, nuts and seeds. If you buy all of it on January 1st, your budget is going to feel it. Once you start searching, you may discover that it’s difficult to source some things. Can you even find compliant coconut milk where you live? You might need to order it online. If you have an Amazon prime membership, online shopping might make your life a lot easier (it does mine).

5. Organize your fridge. Before we start a Whole30, we read labels and move all the non-compliant food to one side. Think ketchup, maple syrup, and barbecue sauce. Then we put the foods that are Whole30 approved on the other side. Buy some compliant pickles and olives. Get the good bacon (no sugar added). Check your mustards and curries. Some will be okay, some won’t. 

Homemade Mayo - A must have!
6. Learn to make mayo. I know. I know. But trust me. Whole30 approved mayo will make your life so much easier. It’s not that hard. You just need some patience and a food processor or blender. And you need to follow the instructions here. The sauces, salad dressings, chicken salads, and tuna salads you’ll be able to enjoy are totally worth the effort.

7. Find Whole30 compliant restaurants in your area. The best way to stay completely compliant is to make your own food. But do you really want to make all 90 meals? I don’t. So ask questions now. Are the eggs cooked in butter? Can you get the chicken cooked in olive oil? Can you get a salad that will work? Does the steak have a rub or can you get it plain? In our area, Tropical Chicken Grille has a couple of Whole30 compliant options. We eat there at least once a week. The Chicken Fresco chop over lettuce with a side of guacamole keeps me sane. Especially around Day 23 when I start thinking if I have to cook another meal I’ll throw my cast iron skillet out the window.

8. Freeze a few favorites. I have Chocolate Chili, Spaghetti Sauce, and Breakfast Sausage (I double the crushed red pepper, skip the brown sugar) in the freezer. There’s nothing like having your day run off the rails and then being faced with having to cook a meal. When you're exhausted (or you have a recipe fail), you can thaw some chocolate chili, dice up some onion and avocado while it’s reheating, and you’ve got supper in ten minutes flat. 

9. Try some new beverages. Your beverage choices will be somewhat limited on Whole30. Coffee? Sure, as long as it’s black. Tea? Go for it. Unsweetened. Juice? Nope. Smoothies. Nada. Water? As much as you can handle, bro! But flat water can get boring, so this month, give sparkling waters a shot. 

LaCroix in Pamplemousse - Love it!
I HATED LaCroix the first time I tried it. By Day 15 of my first Whole30, I’d decided they weren’t awful. Six months later, I actually crave them. Our favorite LaCroix flavor is pamplemousse (grapefruit). We also like the White Rock brand (which we buy at Whole Foods) in pomegranate blueberry. 

If you’re panicked about the coffee situation, I feel your pain. I was a wreck about it. Chameleon Cold Brew Coffee (black) saved the day. (A huge shout out to our coaches at Five Forks CrossFit for stocking it for us while we searched for a local source!) It’s sold refrigerated and concentrated. You mix it with water and it’s good cold or hot. It’s very smooth and not at all bitter. I drank it iced for the first 10 days. By then, I was able to handle my regular coffee black. 

Another option…try your coffee with coconut oil instead of cream. My husband drinks his this way every day. You can buy a mini-aererator like this one (we picked it up at Bed, Bath and Beyond with a coupon for $15) and get a nice frothy, creamy feel to your coffee.

Pistachios make me happy.
10. Find some compliant emergency foods you actually like. Stash them in your car, purse, desk drawer, etc. No, a lunch comprised of beef jerky and a Lara bar isn’t ideal, but it can keep you in compliance until you can get to a salad bar. My emergency stash includes nuts (check what kind of oils are in there), dried fruit (check for added sugar), Lara bars (watch the ingredients), and beef jerky (choose carefully). 

That’s my Top 10 Ways to Prep for your Whole30 list

If you've completed a Whole30, what would you add? Do you have any questions about Whole30 you'd like me to answer in a post? Tell me about it in the comments!

My next Whole30 post (coming next week) will include my favorite Whole30 foods. I’ll be talking brand names and where to buy/order, so check it out. 

Tweet: Planning a #Whole30 in January? Here's what you can be doing now! Top 10 Ways to Prep for Whole30. Planning a #Whole30 in January? Here's what you can be doing now! Top 10 Ways to Prep for Whole30.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


I lay on my son’s bed, his little head on his pillow, his little hand clasping my bicep. His fresh from a bath scent filled the air. A more peaceful and idyllic scene you’d be hard pressed to imagine.

Except … I was weary.

Not sleepy.


I lay there, berating myself for wanting to run from the room. For wanting just a few minutes for myself. For not appreciating the gift snuggled up to me. 

Then these words popped into my head.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. (Isaiah 40:28 - ESV)

He does not grow weary?

I’ve heard this verse a hundred times. Apparently, I have it memorized. (Thanks to AWANA, years of Christian school and a mom who had no reason to believe her 18-month-old couldn’t memorize Scripture). 

But I’ve never thought about it this way. I’ve always thought about it in terms of physical fatigue or of sleep.

We teach our kids that God never sleeps. That He’s always on the job. That He’s always in control. All true. All good.

Tonight, I’m wondering if we should also teach them that unlike their frail, earthly parents, their Heavenly Father never grows weary.

He never pulls away.
He never shrugs us off.
He never rolls His eyes.
He never huffs.
He never holds us in His arms while secretly wishing He could go have a bowl of ice cream and watch a rerun of Doctor Who.

He never grows weary.

He is always there. Not just spiritually present, but emotionally and mentally engaged.
He always wants us around.


Thank about that! Can you honestly say there is anyone - even one person - that you ALWAYS want around? 

God wants you that much. Always. All the time. 
So much so that He sent His only Son to come. To be Emmanuel. God with us. To make a way for us to be with Him.


Even though we run from Him, ignore Him, and in some cases, flat-out despise Him, He never grows weary. He loves us with a love that cannot be explained and can barely be imagined. 

As Sally Lloyd-Jones puts it in The Jesus Storybook Bible, He loves us with a 

Never Stopping
Never Ending
Never Giving Up,
Always and Forever Love.

I don’t know about you, but being loved like that?
That’s rest for a weary soul.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Whole30 and My Health Journey

What You Eat on Whole30
Did you catch Dr. Oz on Thursday?

I don’t watch him often, but I set the DVR because of the segment on Whole30. I’ve done two Whole30s in the past six months and the results have been pretty awesome.

So awesome that I’ve started getting a lot of questions about my health journey.

I’ve hit the point where I’ve lost enough weight that people aren’t afraid to ask me about it. 

They don’t say, “Have you lost weight?” That’s what you ask when you think someone might have lost weight. 

The people who are asking want specifics.
They want to know how much. And they want to know how.
So I’m going to answer that question here. 

In some ways, the answer is B-O-R-I-N-G. In others, it’s A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

I’m eating clean and training hard.

I’ve lost 30 pounds by eating paleo (and occasionally kicking it up a notch with a Whole30) and doing CrossFit. I’ve written a few blog posts about CrossFit, but I haven’t written much about how I eat. 

Partly because I don’t have any interest in writing a food blog. Partly because I don’t want to bore people.

Mostly because I know that once you start writing about something—fitness, food, faith, fiction—anything you SAY you are passionate about, there comes with that a sense of accountability. 

It’s kind of like the stickers on the back of my car. The ones that tell people in my community where I worship and where I workout…the kind of stickers that make me think twice before giving in to road rage or pulling through the Krispy Kreme drive thru. 

Despite my fear of being busted with a half-eaten sleeve of Thin Mints, I’ve decided to start writing about how I eat and how I exercise because they have become big components of how I do life. 

I’ll still be writing about faith and fiction, but I’ll be adding in posts on food and fitness from time to time. 

While I make no apology for my faith or the fact that I would love to see everyone come to know Jesus as their personal Savior, that’s not how I feel about the way I eat or exercise. I promise I’m not going to try to convert you to paleo or beg you to join a CrossFit—although if you want to, I’ll be happy to help!

I’m not an expert and can only write from my own personal experience. I have a long way to go, but I am convinced that taking care of my body matters for the Kingdom. God has good works for me to do, and if I’m lethargic and exhausted all the time because I’m filling my body and clouding my brain with junk food, then I can’t do what I was put here to do.

There are any number of ways to eliminate junk from your diet. You can count calories, cut out sugar, only eat vegetables, only eat organic. I have friends who’ve gone those routes and have had great success. What’s worked for me is eating paleo, so in general the recipes and tips I’ll be sharing will fit with a paleo lifestyle. 

So what is paleo?

The term “paleo” is shorthand for paleolithic nutrition and gets its basis in the idea that man did not evolve to eat the way modern man eats and that we need to eliminate foods that were unavailable to prehistoric man including grains, dairy, sugar, and chemicals.

Please don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater here. Just because the idea of “eating paleo” is based in evolutionary biology doesn’t mean it’s a crock of dino dung.

For the record, I am a creationist. 

I cannot fathom how anyone can appreciate the intricacy of the world around them and honestly believe all of that came about by chance.

But you don’t have to believe in evolution to know that most of us consume way too much. Too much sugar, too many chemicals, too many calories. Too much stuff that God never intended to go into our bodies.

For me, paleo is the framework for eliminating the junk and cleaning up my diet. It’s worked great! When I eat this way, I’m not hungry. I have a ton of energy. And my body composition is slowly but surely changing.

I’m doing another Whole30 in January, so over the next few weeks I’ll be posting some tips and tricks that I’ve learned from my previous Whole30 experiences, as well as sharing some of my favorite recipes. I’m looking forward to sharing this part of my story with all of you!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Six Things To Do BEFORE You Sign Your First Book Contract

Today's post is for the writer's out there...

You’ve been writing for a while now. 

You’ve got a book or two written. You’ve entered a few contests, pitched to a few agents, even attended a few conferences. 

You’ve been doing this writing thing long enough to know you want to keep doing it. You know you want to see your name on a book. But what do you do while you’re waiting for that first sale?

Here are my suggestions.

Six Things You Should Do BEFORE You Sign Your First Book Contract


I'm guest posting today over at The Write Conversation. Pop on over to read The Six Things You Should Do BEFORE You Sign Your First Book Contract!

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Coming In Last

Coming in last.

I hate it.
Really hate it.

Maybe you do, too?

Have you ever thought about why you hate it?
I have and I’ve boiled it down to a simple statement.

I’m afraid.


It’s safer to say that we hate to come in last. It doesn’t sound quite as pitiful as admitting that we’re all grown up and we’re still shaking in our boots.

Afraid we will fail. 
Afraid people will think less of us. 
Afraid we’ll make an idiot out of ourselves. 
Afraid we’ll blow it so badly that others will be able to see our weakness.

For the past year, I’ve faced this fear every single time I walk into Five Forks CrossFit

For the first three months, I was so nervous that my stomach would do somersaults from the time I woke up until the WOD was over. In my mind, I had no business joining a CrossFit. I was out of shape, overweight, and not in possession of any particular athletic prowess. 

Truth be told, in the first few weeks, there were multiple events that tempted me to turn tail and run.
  • My first week, I fell off a box and messed up my wrist. I came in last.
  • For the first month, if the WOD (workout of the day) included burpees, my coach automatically cut the number in half for me. I still came in last.
  • As new people joined our box, I watched as they went from not having a clue to killing the WODs. All while I continued to come in last.
  • Particularly frustrating were the women, the pregnant and/or brand new moms with 6-week-old babies at home, who lifted more, ran faster, jumped higher, and finished way before me. The girl who finishes last.

Guess what? It’s been a year and I'M STILL COMING IN LAST! Not every time, but a lot of the time. 

But guess what else?