When I woke up on the first day of 2019, a milestone in my life was reached. I had been living in Medford, Oregon for exactly one year. In the past 12 months I have journeyed through much change and grief, but God has been good to me. Now with an eager heart, I’m ready to start the new year with a clear vision of who I want to be, so I picked up my Bible in search of a theme scripture to live and breathe by in 2019. Here is the verse that speaks to my heart the most:
John 15:5 New International Version (NIV)
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Why this verse? Because this year I long to hear the voice of God more than trying to achieve a plan or dream that I think God has for me. I am not motivated to write down grand visions for my life that require goal setting exercises written in a fancy planner. This year I want to do something different, so as I look ahead to the twelve unlived months of 2019, I am replacing my usual practice of goal setting with a list of prayers.
I have found ten prayers in the Bible that I am claiming as my heart’s desire for 2019. I have written each one of them in my journal, and I’m praying through them each week. I believe these requests all have one thing in common: they are the prayers of the vine mentioned in John 15 where Jesus says, “You will bear much fruit, apart from you can do nothing.”
Galatians 5:22-23 lists the fruit of the spirit:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.
There are other types of fruit that the Bible talks about, and I will be sharing all that I have been learning in my study of John 15 in subsequent blog posts, and with each new post I’ll be introducing the next prayer on my list until all 10 of my prayers have been shared.
My first prayer in my list is from 3 John 1-2.
Before I show you how I personalize this prayer, below is how it reads in the New International Version (NIV):
1 The elder,
To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
2 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.
What strikes me about this prayer is that John, who is referred to as an elder, is praying for his friend Gaius, whom he loves, to enjoy good health and that all may go well with him even as his soul is getting along well. Then I thought about how much I spend time reading the Bible and going to church and doing the things that encourage my soul to get along well, but I don’t do the same with my health. So, I have decided to get along well with my health this year as much as my soul is getting along well.
Taking care of my health will produce the fruit of self-control and joy in my life.
I have revised this prayer to claim it as my own.
Jesus, I pray that I may enjoy good health and that all may go well with me, even as my soul is getting along well.
Now Let me explain how I will enjoy good health this year and how this will produce fruit from the spirit.
On December 22, 2018, I completed 21 days of radiation on my right breast to eradicate any possible microscopic cancer cells that may have been left in my breast after my lumpectomy surgery that was performed on October 3, 2018. Towards the end of my radiation treatments, my oncologist proposed that I take an estrogen inhibitor for 5 years because the cancer tissue that was removed from my breast is estrogen receptive. However, this inhibitor causes all kinds of side effects such as joint pain, bleeding, headaches and hot flashes to name a few. Since my body is currently cancer free, I told my oncologist that I did not want to take the inhibitor and I would rather change my diet. My doctor did not try to change my mind. He simply shrugged his shoulders and said, “ok.” Since my doctor didn’t suggest any alternative treatments , I have decided to self-prescribe my post cancer treatment.
The program I have chosen to follow is called Whole30. The goal is to cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. For this to happen I need to eliminate the following:
1. SUGAR – even natural sweeteners.
2. DIARY – anything from cow or goat such as cheese, yogurt, milk etc.
3. GRAINS – wheat, oats, barley, corn, rice, millet, buckwheat, quinoa. So no bread.
4. ALCOHOL – no brainer for me.
5. PEANUTS, BEANS and SOY
6. And of course, no processed foods.
My motivation is this: If I can show up for 21 days at a hospital to receive my radiation treatments, then I can show up for 30 days in my kitchen preparing meals from the Whole30 program.
This is what I have done thus far in response to saying the prayer from 3 John.
1. Bought a book called Whole30.
2. Read the book to understand what I can eat and what I can’t eat and why.
3. Cleared out my refrigerator and cabinets of all processed food, diary and breads.
4. Downloaded the Whole30 app on my iPhone.
5. Shopped for meals using the grocery list that was automatically created for me in the Whole30 app.
6. Stocked my fridge with the groceries I bought.
7. Created a Whole30 diary so that I can track my meals.
8. Stopped drinking coffee and started drinking tea with coconut milk.
I have been on this plan for almost a week. The first day I felt hungry all day because my body was craving my go-to breakfast that consisted of bread slathered with lots of butter and coffee filled with cream and sugar. But by the 4th day, my hunger subsided, and now I’m satisfied after every meal.
Below is one of my favorite smoothies. It is called an Apple Pie Shake. All natural wholefood ingredients that were blended at home: 1 pealed apple, 1 date, cashews, almond milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, ice. The mason jar and glass straw made it even more enjoyable.
I feel freedom rather than restriction with this diet even though I’m eliminating most of the foods that I crave and enjoy. Just knowing that I’m starving my cells of inflammatory foods is producing joy in my heart. The self-control that is required to stay on this diet is producing hope in my heart that I can have the kind of health that makes me confident and full of energy.
So here is to a year of enjoying good heath and getting along well.