Here’s to Our Health: Vegan?

I have been eating vegan, plant-based for two years. The physical transformation and healing of my body have been unbelievable. But within the past couple of months, I have experienced increasing fatigue. Why? This week, I had an annual physical with a new primary care provider [I relocated to Florida]. Much to my surprise, she also specializes in weight loss, no surgical bariatric procedures. All of my lab work was normal, except for Vitamin D [found a vegan supplement].

As I relayed reaching a weight loss plateau and feeling more fatigued since relocating, my Dr. began to ask about my dietary intake. When I responded that I was vegan, plant-based, we explored my sources of protein. I eat legumes, nuts, my own recipes for veggie burgers, and nut-loafs. However, when looking up the nutritional value of the legumes and nuts, I was amazed at the low count of grams of protein in a serving.

The question, “What changes have you made this year in your diet? I gave up all prepared veggie meat substitutes…too high in sodium, and reading the last five or six ingredients, I am not interested in feeding my body with things that I cannot pronounce. Still, my protein intake was only 25% of what my body required.

And over time, a lack of protein can make you lose muscle mass, which in turn cuts your strength, makes it harder to keep your balance, and slows your metabolism. It can also lead to anemia when your cells don’t get enough oxygen, which makes you tired. WebMD.

Adding to the equation of increasing my protein intake is my pre-diabetes diagnosis. Nope, I did not care for my body for five decades, and now my pancreas will not secrete enough insulin for a carb overload.

Last year, through research of credible resources, I have changed my lifestyle to lose additional weight and develop discipline. I have incorporated daily intermittent fasting for the past year, which means I only eat two meals a day with a fruit snack. If I am not hungry, then I can’t eat. 

But my physician is impressive. She does not take the cookie-cutter approach with her patients. Instead, we developed a patient-focused life plan to increase my protein intake, eliminate fatigue, incorporate daily exercise, and facilitate further weight loss.

Goal: 100 grams of protein and limit carb intake to 100 grams daily. 

Plan: Incorporate a plant-based, no-whey protein shake 1-2 times a day made with almond milk. Choose legumes and nuts that have the lowest carb intake–still exploring my options. So far, almonds, avocados [she is a fruit], and black beans are at the top of the list. Also, use an app (Lose it) that identifies the nutritional value of the foods that you eat. 

Outcome: Within four days, I have lost four lbs, and I have my energy level back. Awakened, ready to take on the world and did an early morning walk. 

I have been asked the question, “What does one eat when following a plant-based diet?” There are endless possibilities. I can assure you that my food intake is not mundane. I never eat food prepared the same way. You do not have to have the skills of a chef, but you have to have an open mind and explore your creativity.

Love God, Love Others, Love Yourself 

©2021 Sonya Johnson

The Sadness of Her Soul

Today, I intentionally paid attention to the many people that were at the beach. The sun’s dancing rays highlighted the pale blue waves, still, there were no smiles or laughter even among the children playing. As I contemplated on the reason for the somber mood, our time watching the Atlantic’s waves by Patrick AFB was abruptly cut short. The sirens blared as a robotic voice gave warnings of a pending storm with severe activity including lightning strikes.

I folded my chair and walked slowly down the walkway when a young woman turned her head to the left. As our eyes met, the sadness of her soul was reflected in her eyes. Yes, the same brokenness that I saw in my patients on the Behavioral Health Unit was evidenced in another victim to their circumstances. I decided to interrupt the melancholy mood that was prevalent among the beachgoers packing up to leave. I stopped, looked at the ocean and said, “Isn’t she beautiful?” to which she replied, “Yes, and the breeze makes it perfect.”

We smiled. But, before we could continue our conversation, again the siren sounded loudly, ending all thoughts of watching the serene waves become angry and forceful. The young woman left quickly with tears streaming down her face, entered her vehicle, held the steering wheel with both hands, placing her head into her outstretched arms. As, my friends and I drove away, I whispered a prayer asking God to heal the stranger’s broken-heart.

We live in a time where advancements in technology have soared along with the statistics for suicide, depression, anxiety, and worries because love is running on empty. I invite you to look outside of yourself and speak to someone with eyes that reveal “all is not well.” Just a simple “How are you ?” may provide a calm moment in their stormy sea of mental, emotional, and spiritual anguish.

Prayer: God, we pray for the broken hearted, for the weary, and the individuals who feel life is not worth living. We ask you, Holy Spirit to provide comfort for those who are grieving, and provide a way of escape for the abused, and the neglected. Help us to pay attention to the people surrounding us that know nothing about your love. Jesus, fill our hearts with the love and compassion that you have for all of humanity. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.

Love God, Love Others, and Love Yourself

©2021 Sonya Johnson

How God Strengthens Our Heart

SHOUT the Cry of Victory 30 Days of Prayer Day 8

Yesterday, I read a beautiful story from a member of a FB crochet group. She posted a picture of her first arugami crochet animal, a teddy bear, and asked the group how to make the eyes symmetrical because they were crooked and one of the legs was a little larger than the other. But the following picture was of her granddaughter hugging the bear with a big smile as she said, “Thank you, Gran, he is beautiful, I will always love him.”

If only we viewed ourselves as children of God, our Heavenly Father, as the sinners that Jesus redeemed, and students of our teacher, the Holy Spirit, we would have faith and trust in God under all circumstances.

“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.” John 17:9

With all of our imperfections, selfish desires, and failure to rely on God, Jesus still serves as our Heavenly Intercessor. What does that mean? Jesus is in heaven praying to God, our Father, pleading for the body of believers. God gave His only Son, Jesus for sinful humanity. Our prayers of confession, repentance, thankfulness, and intercession for others are heard by our Spiritual team, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Yet, it is Jesus who presents us as faultless to God. 

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Jesus told us that our journey with Him would be challenging. But if we rely on Him through steadfast faith, Jesus also promised to bring us through every trial, sorrow, and heartache. Are you enjoying the peace that Jesus promises us when we stay connected to Him? If not, put all of your faith [belief] and trust in God who gave His Son to suffer, bleed, and die for the Redemption of our sins.

Human Effort + Divine Intervention = A Victorious Outcome

We owed a debt that we could never repay, and our debt is forgiven. Now is the time for us to make a covenant [relationship] with God and do our part to be faithful until Jesus comes again. Only those who are faithful and obedient will receive the reward of immortality and live in a perfect New Heaven and New Earth. We have been liberated from the chains of sin. Praise God!

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid. John 14:27

Bible study: John 14

Prayer: God, I pray an intercessory prayer for the believers who are at the point of giving up because of their hardships. Help us see through children’s eyes that you are our Father. May we understand the purpose of our stormy difficulties and the seasons of darkness necessary to change our characters. Please give us your blessings of peace and the courage to remain faithful as we continue in our journey. I ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen. 

God’s Plan for Something New

Have you experienced loss within the past sixteen months? What are some recent or lingering changes or losses [death and dying are the exceptions]you are still facing? Two losses, which really hit hard during the pandemic are the loss of our jobs and relationships. And yes, our reaction to grief is huge and rightly so because we face financial instability and/or the abrupt change in the status of “us” becoming “me.”

We may view our loss as the end of our dreams or as new beginnings. Our perception of the change determines whether or not we will move forward to pursue new and exciting opportunities for growth. If we view ourselves as having great potential, then we may cry, but we will take baby steps [some individuals can take giant leaps] to pursue another path. Still, we cannot utilize a cookie-cutter approach to rebuilding our lives. Every situation is unique, along with various factors that determine the strategies to move forward.

Identify your resources:

  1. God: Always approach Our Heavenly Father–Jehovah Jireh when the “Restart” button is pushed. Daily we must pray, God, not my will, but Your will be done. When we give God permission to initiate His plans for us, remember that we may endure hardships at any point in our lives. Because God knows the beginning to the end, we must trust His process. Admit in your prayers that you are not feeling your best, yet, you fully trust Him.
  2. Study the biblical stories of victory: When defeat appears to be our only option, trust that God has you in His hands. God delivered the Israelites from enslavement in Egypt, opened and closed the Red Sea, destroying Pharoah and his army [Exodus 14], David, a shepherd boy, took Goliath down with a slingshot [1 Samuel 17], and Joshua marched around Jericho [Joshua 6]. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6
  3. Spiritual Support: Speaking to your pastor, a prayer warrior, community resources leader, or even joining a support group is vital to prevent depression or hopelessness.
  4. Family and friends: Identify the friends and family who you can trust to provide emotional and/or financial support during the transitional period. Do not isolate. Satan can present our challenges as overwhelming or cause us to see ourselves as victims. Often the break-up or unemployment is not our fault. Someone else made the choice that would change our lives. Still, we must not harbor or allow negative emotions to overtake us, or we will never move forward. Live one day at a time.
  5. Pray for God to reveal your spiritual gifts, talents, and develop hobbies.
  6. Research and identify your community resources.

There is another scenario that I must mention: What if you are without friends or family you can present your situation too, or you do not have a church home? Seek God in prayer, and thank Him for sustaining you. Establish a daily schedule. Get out of the bed or off the sofa. Go outside at least once a day for a walk. We may live alone, but God is always near.

Whether we are the only person in our home, have children, or extended family members living with us, never forget, our Father cares. God says He knows the number of hairs on our head. It is our trials and sorrows that build our faith. No, it does not feel good. Even so, God knows our circumstances before they happen. Trust Him to see you through.

Bible study: Matthew 6

Prayer: God, we are not feeling our best right now and we pray that you will comfort us and reveal your plans for our lives. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

©2021 Sonya Johnson

God took Action!

When we decide to serve God, we make a covenant vow to serve Him by putting God first. Often our desires get in the way and we focus on people, places, and things. We fail to put God first. It is then that He begins house-cleaning. The relationship that prevented you from obeying God, He removed the person from your life, God did it for His glory and your good.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Prayer: God, thank you for your divine intervention to remove obstacles from our lives. Please help us to always put you first. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

©2021 Sonya Johnson

Sorry, You are Not Dressed Properly

SHOUT the Cry of Victory 30 Days of Prayer Day 6

You Mortals, the Lord has told you what is good. This is what the LORD requires from you: to do what is right, to love mercy and to live humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 GWT

Prayer: God, please give us the courage to change our clothes and put on the clothing of a servant, as Jesus did. We ask for forgiveness of the sins of pride, selfish desires, and disobedience. We desire to live a purpose-driven life, full of faith and trust in you. We ask this prayer in the Worthy name of Jesus. Amen.

The Servant’s Daily Attire