A Page From Mary Lu's World

Sharing Life With Others

Continuing to succeed!

This will be a shorter post due to the fact that I have a mountain of school work to attend to.  For those of you who don’t know, I went back to school to obtain a Bachelors degree and I’m in the last 5 classes.  Whoo-hoo!

The Daniel Plan continues to work.  I am very pleased to report that when I returned from a short trip out of town that I am down 10 pounds.  I don’t want to think about how many times I’ve lost and found that 10 pounds.  Adios to what is the equivalent weight of 2 bags of flour.  I had someone say to me today that they could see a difference.  I can’t say that my clothes are terribly looser but I have noticed a little extra space here or there.

I still struggle with finding time to walk.  Walking is the exercise I love most and I know I need to diversify but for now if I just keep doing it that is the important part.  I use the RunKeeper app to log my mileage.  My husband and I have joined a 100 mile challenge that goes on for the next few months.  I am SO BEHIND this week because I haven’t walked at all.  This hundred mile challenge means you have to walk/run 7 miles a week.  I guess I’ll be hitting the pavement pretty hard this weekend.

In future posts I hope to share a Find of the Week with you.  This week is how incredibly yummy whipped coconut milk fat is.  I learned this at my mom’s house.  Her massage therapist had been exclaiming the virtues of this fluffy creation and how it was better than real whipped cream.  IT IS!  And it is incredibly simple.  Put a can of coconut milk in your fridge.  When it is chilled you whip what rises to the top of the can.  Mom says that it doesn’t take any time at all.  An is it sinful and delicious…um YES! I’m going to pick some up at the store this weekend.  Perhaps I’ll create some sort of yummy dessert for the big game on Sunday.

I thank God that I am staying on the path to good health.  He has opened my eyes to new opportunities and possibilities.

I’d love to hear about your food adventures and where are your favorite places to shop.

Blessings to you,

Mary Lu


1 Comment »

Week Two…not too bad

Week two on The Daniel Plan was better because I could plan and shop.   Thank goodness I did because it really helped toward the end of the week when I wasn’t feeling well.  I am convinced that things weren’t worse because I had lots of vitamins in my system from all the whole foods I’ve been eating.

I’ve become quite the master of the Nutribullet.  I make some sort of a smoothie almost every evening and through it in the refrigerator so all I have to do is grab it and go.  I don’t have to hesitate…will I make an English muffin (an Ezekiel version) or stop at a drive thru?? NO!  Those days are over. I love having the smoothie because every day you can make it with different things.  The key is being prepared.  I’m loaded down with frozen fruit, almond or coconut milk, nuts, and greens.  Some days I’ll through a tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter in it.  The Nutribullet makes it fun because it is so fast and the clean up is easy. nutribullet

Look it’s tomorrow’s smoothie all ready to go——————————————————–>

Another great find are local greens!  We scooped up some great lettuce from Tyger River Smart Farms.  Our friends at The Grain Loft had a tasting day Saturday where you could sample all sorts of yummy local meats, bread, raw milk, and the most tender lettuce I have ever had. ( I hope they do this again!)  YUM!  You can’t find this in your local store this is super fresh and local.


Last week I told you I set a goal of walking 10 miles.  I didn’t meet that goal due to the bubonic plague that hit me but I’m working on achieving it this week.  Of course, I may have to talk to a certain Christy Henderson that I work with who seems to have ordered up some wacky, cold weather for this week.  No worries, I was out walking when it was in the teens!

Something great did happen in this past week.  I lost FOUR pounds!  So that makes a total of five so far.  I was pretty excited about that.  I’m not sure that I will have that dramatic a weight loss each week but it goes to show you that if you don’t have junk in the house it won’t find its way into your stomach!

Our treat for the week was to make peanut butter cookies with little pieces of very dark chocolate in them.  The recipe was one that called for a little whole wheat and a lot of white flour.  I flipped things around.  A very good cookie.  If you are interested in the recipe leave me a comment and I’ll send it to you.cookie


This week we are adding a little bread and dairy back in the diet. The only thing I’ve missed is cheese…welcome back!

Thanks for taking time to read this.  If you have any questions, comments, or advice please let me know!

Have a great week,

Mary Lu

1 Comment »

Week 1….Slow and Low

My first week on the Daniel Plan was a limited success.  I like to reflect using BBQ terms…it was slow and low.  It was a crazy week to say the least.  Sunday was a good day to kick it off but then we had those pesky winter storms lurking about.

As the Assignment Manager at WSPA-TV this is one of my least favorite times of the year because it means that I have to go into work at 4 a.m.  I help the morning crew gather information, patch telephone interviewees through to be on-air, and keep the website updated.

Monday and Tuesday turned into 12 hour days.  Even though they were long days I made my breakfast and hubby’s the night before and carried along something for snacks and lunch.  Wednesday I was planning to travel to Virginia for a visit with my parents and stay through Saturday.

Coping with the plan while I was gone

My first game plan was to make sure my husband, Dale was set while I was away.  I assembled some neat little turkey wraps for him.  Three slices nitrate-free turkey, spread with homemade artichoke hummus, and a romaine leaf.  I made two of those.  Then I made upside down salads.  Have you seen those swirling about on Facebook?  You take a jar (I used a pint and a half mason jar) put a little bit of salad dressing (I used the Daniel Plan version) and stack veggies on top of each other.  By keeping the dressing at the bottom you can make several ahead.  Sunday through Tuesday I had made a few Daniel Plan dinners already and saved portions for him to have for the rest of the week.  I labeled all the containers so he knew which was lunch, dinner, etc.  We had snacks all bagged up.

My parents eat a very healthy diet so I made a slight deviation from the Daniel Plan.  I was going to concentrate on having protein and lots of veggies.  I was not going to succumb to bread and dessert.  I would exercise while away.  Sounds like an easy plan.  Well…not so much.

Temptation lurks around every bend in the road

While I spent 5 hours in the car alone traveling to Virginia, my mind started thinking about fast food and a nagging voice telling me just one little treat wouldn’t hurt.  Then I remembered one of the main points of the Daniel Plan is FOCUS!  Focus on what you can have.  I was already drinking cold tea which necessitated several stops to find a restroom.  I did allow myself a little Starbucks Chocolate Chai Tea Latte…later realizing that the latte part incorporates milk.  In the first phase of the Daniel Plan NO DAIRY Mary Lu!  But I enjoyed it!

Eating wasn’t too bad I focused on staying away from bread.  Actually we went out to eat several times.  One evening I had the most beautiful salad at a restaurant called Montano’s (my favorite in Roanoke, VA) and they ironically had just won the Most Beautiful Salad award that day.  Mom and I felt proud as we ate our salad with salmon creation.  Guess who forgot to take a picture of it?  Trust me it was a thing of beauty and so tasty!

Exercising is part of the plan

Unfortunately, I only had one day of walking but this one was great.  The Roanoke/Salem areas have the most gorgeous greenways and I thought mom and I needed to try out a portion of the Salem end.  The weather was perfect and the view of the river was superb. We enjoyed a 2.5 mile walk!  So easy when you have good company and a beautiful view. Yes, I remembered a picture this time!

Roanoke River

Reentry at home

I came home thinking I had done so well.  I stepped on the scale Sunday morning and I’d only lost one pound!  What?!?  This is not a failure.  Several friends and my husband told me to stop beating myself up..remember I still lost a pound.  My husband lost about 4 pounds in the first week.

I did notice this week while paying closer attention and getting more exercise that I’ve dropped some weight.  We’ll wait until Sunday for weigh-in day but it should be good.

Lessons learned in week one

The first ten days to two weeks on this program is to detoxify you.  Then you can add some things back in.  I realized I DON’T MISS SODA.  I haven’t had a Diet Pepsi in at least two weeks and even though there are two sitting in the fridge…I don’t want them.  I’ve become really fond of a brand of tea by the STASH company.  Raspberry Hibiscus and Lemon Ginger make tasty iced tea.  You can find it at Ingles.  I’ve also become a Chai tea fan too.

I love to cook but there is more work involved in preparing so much healthy food. It started to wear me out. If you plan ahead a make multiples things are so much easier.  Also, after trying out my mom’s Nutribullet I decided we needed one.  I now make a smoothie to take to work everyday.  I’ve found by adding a little peanut or almond butter to fruit and spinach or kale that it is mighty tasty. (Thanks Ken Kirkley for the peanut butter tip!) I’ve never been a big blender fan so the Nutribullet works out great.  (If anyone wants a blender let me know…it’s free to a good home.)

I set a goal for this week to walk 10 miles.  It is Tuesday and I’m half way to the goal!  I’m using the Runkeeper app to track my walking.  While it looks like this app is for running it accommodates all sorts of physical activities.  I don’t think I’ll try downhill skiing anytime soon.

Thanks for taking time to read about my journey.  I would love to hear from any of you that are on a whole foods journey and what you are doing to keep yourself and your families healthier.


Mary Lu


Here we go…

Today is Day 1 of The Daniel Plan for me and my husband.  I won’t be blogging every day about this because there are so many other topics to talk about.  I wanted to tell you a little about the preparation that we’ve been going through, especially in the last 24 hours.  I am writing now because I suddenly wanted something to eat.  Nothing says you are already on a collision course to disaster when you want something you can’t have. I keep reminding myself this is a choice I am making for me, to improve myself for the others that depend on me, and most importantly to be what God wants me to be WHOLE AND HEALTHY!

It is all in the preparation

I’ve been trying to finish up reading “The Daniel Plan” book….I still have a chapter to go.  I thought it was really important not to jump to the food part without understanding why this is going to be a winning plan.  I’ve also watched numerous videos on their website which as served to inspire me along with giving me some great information.

Last week I made dinners using Daniel Plan recipes.   Some were from the 2 week detox menu and others were part of the regular plan.  The book has lots of recipes and the there will be a cookbook in hardback and e-book coming out in March. Pre-orders are being taking pre-orders now.   I love cookbooks so this will be a must for me.

Ready for the food emergency

In addition to trying out the recipes,  I made small snack bags of nuts to get us used to eating more plain nuts. The plan really stresses being prepared to a “food emergency.” You need to have things with you so you aren’t tempted by the vending machine in the break room at work or wanting to cruise into your favorite drive-thru because you think you can’t wait until you get home. I’ve also prepared cinnamon dusted almonds and crunchy chick pea snacks that are part of the detox menu for snacks.  This would be something fun to do with children…so easy.    I will confess that I don’t know that I’m totally sold on the crunchy chick peas but it think it will grow on me.

Food field trip

Yesterday we had a food field trip.  My husband Dale and I met a good food buddy, Mike McCormick at a place we’d been wanting to check out in Greer called The Grain Loft.   JacqueCo-owner Jacque Schaaf greeted us and spent time telling us about the store and the mission that she and her husband Pat share.  She was also interested to learn about us…imagine that a store owner that wanted to get to know you? Very refreshing!

The Grain Loft has all sorts of beans, dried fruit, flours, some small appliances and things you can’t find at your The Grain Loft displaylocal store.  They also have lots of local products: eggs, cheese, raw milk, honey, soaps, and wooden cooking tools.  We hear that local meat may be coming soon.  We loaded up on beans, coconut oil, hemp seeds, and some other items. Jacque ordered some protein powder for us as well.  She spent time explaining the choices.  They place orders once a month and we were there a day before their deadline. Yay!  Stop by and see what is going on at The Grain Loft.  They also have an array of classes that look pretty interesting.  I need to get those in my schedule.

Meals on the first day

This morning called for a Dr. Hyman’s whole food protein shake.  I threw all the ingredients including frozen blueberries, a bunch of different types of nuts and seeds along with a banana and the other ingredients in the blender.  I tasted it and thought it needed to be colder.  Throwing some ice cubes in did the trick.  It was great for a quick meal before church.

When we got home I realized that we should have our snack but it was around 11am.  I didn’t know if we should have it or go straight into lunch.   I looked at the lunch menu which was 1/2 cup of quinoa with steamed broccoli and carrots topped with a special salad dressing.  And I didn’t know if lunch would be enough.  So I prepared the snack (homemade artichoke hummus with carrots, celery and cucumbers) and lunch.  My husband told me that he couldn’t eat it all and wanted to save it for later.  I realized I was full too.   I believe a lot of this is going to be retraining my brain.  Realize “Mary Lu you are full you don’t have to clean your plate!”

Snack I’m writing to you with a bowl of carrots, celery and homemade hummus beside me.  This was leftover from the  morning snack that I tried to pile in with our lunch.

Tonight will be a stir fry with coconut rice.  I’m looking forward to that!

What else is going on in the kitchen?

Right now I’m cooking some garbanzo beans using a method I found online. And I will work a little later on preparing the ingredients for a crock pot meal that I will serve to guests tomorrow night that are interested in learning more about the plan.

All of this requires a little organization.   When we came home from our shopping yesterday at The Grain Loft, Trader Joe’s in Greenville, and a few other stops I made sure that we got rid of things that weren’t part of the plan.  We were able to donate two bags of food to The Carpenter’s Table ministry through our church.  Joy Lutheran makes it so handy by having a grocery cart in the gathering place.

Our food cabinets and fridge are stocked up and ready to go.  ShelfI can’t remember when my refrigerator has been so stuffed!

The journey

Thank you for taking time for reading about this journey.  As I mentioned, I will be writing regularly about things are going on The Daniel Plan.  We have some friends that are planning on joining us on the journey once the DVDs for the group study come in.  Community is a big part of this.  Finding people who want to share this time with you which is rooted in the Bible.  I’m going to try to get a walk in today.  The forecast isn’t looking great for the next couple of days.  I’m looking forward to all of this coming together.

I have heard from a lot of friends on Facebook and those of you who have signed up to follow my blog.  I’d love to keep that conversation going.  Send me a note in the box below.

Blessings on your week to come!

Mary Lu

Leave a comment »

The New Year Choice

This is the time of year when most people come up with one or two things that they want to accomplish in the new year. Losing weight, saving money, simplifying life and spending more time with family are usually at the top of people’s agendas.

There is always a lot of discussion about whether resolutions work.  Gyms are full in January of good intentioned folks but by February the numbers start dropping.  Weight Watchers classes see the same results (yes, I’ve been in those too.) Sometimes, life just gets in the way.

This year I’m making a choice

I’m going to try “The Daniel Plan.” Have you heard about it? Pastor Rick Warren assembled medical experts to help his church combat the growing problem of obesity.  I’ve begun reading the book and the idea is that you combine faith, food, fitness, focus, and friends into a lifestyle.

God gave a body to each of us

I haven’t done a good job of taking care of mine.  I love to cook and bake.  I love sharing food with others.  I have tried Weight Watchers several times.  Sometimes it worked better than others.  I don’t have all the answers why it didn’t work in a long-lasting way. Except that I wasn’t devoted to it long-term.  I have no great excuses because I am blessed with a great support system.  My husband is on board with any changes I make and cheers me on.  My parents send me their support.  I’ve had co-workers that have been really super in lending support.

***2014 is the year that I claim this for me! ***

Things I like about what I have read so far

This plan starts with God.  For me, this is the key.  Secondly, you are eating real food not packaged things.  Third, and this one is probably the most impactful the book is full of real stories of people like you and me.  This is all about one pound at a time.

What is it that makes you want to change?

I think you get to a point where you finally want the excess weight to go away.  I wish I could snap my fingers and make it happen.  Guess what?  This didn’t happen overnight and it isn’t going to go away overnight.  Right now, I am going to embrace this challenge and look forward to seeing what it is all about.

The motto or slogan of this plan is pretty savvy: God’s Prescription For Your Health.  God has written this down for me on HIS prescription pad.

I’ve been all through the website for The Daniel Plan and I think this video sums it all up.   Take a look at the treasure trove of information and ways to make changes that aren’t that difficult.

Yep, Mom is right

While reading and researching this plan I realized that someone I care so much about has been on this train for years.  My mom!  She has been cooking with whole foods as well as cutting back on salt and all the bad stuff for years.  That is why she looks amazing.  Dad is healthier too and as a cancer survivor I give her a lot of credit for keeping him that way.  I’ve got the example to learn from…now it is time to get to it!

Dale and I are starting this officially Sunday.  So appropriate that it is God’s day to begin.  If you would like to join in please let us know.  I’ve ordered the DVD set for small group study.  We’d love to have people join us.  Send me a note!

I wish all of you the very best for 2014.  What will your choices/resolutions be?  I’d love to hear from you.


Mary Lu

1 Comment »


While on a recent visit with my parents in Virginia I was struck by how much I missed something.  That something is being able to hug my mom tight.

I come from a long line of huggers.  My parents always give me the best hugs.  All of my grandparents were huggers too.   Hugs could be for celebratory occasions or for ones filled with heartache. My husband is quite the expert in this field too.  I have lots of friends that are great huggers.  In fact in the newsroom where I work one of our anchors, Gordon Dill is a big hug proponent!

I like to give hugs too.  I think it is pretty cool that my 21-year-old son still likes a hug from his mom…he never grew out of that.  Good thing because I would still do it!

My precious mom has osteoporosis and has experienced fractures in her vertebrae and is struggling right now with a fractured SI joint.  The hugs still happen but we won’t be doing any “extreme hugging” because we don’t want to damage what healing is taking place.

Have you ever thought of how important touching is?

There are other things that can take the place of those hugs.  Touch.  I realized this when out shopping with my mom. I grabbed her hand in a parking lot (I thought a driver was going to run her down) and we didn’t let go until we got in the store.  This reminded me of very sweet times when I was a little girl and mom would walk down to the bus stop to get me and we’d hold hands on the way home.  Or when mom and dad would take me places and all three of us would hold hands.  I love holding my husband’s hand.

Touching in biblical times

When Jesus was on earth people walked for days in hopes of having the opportunity to be touched by him or to touch his clothes. They believed that being touched would cure them from diseases or would fix their problems.  People were raised from the dead and the blind were made to see. His touch was not limited to the wealthy.  Jesus would go to those who were ostracized and afflicted.  We see time and time again that he had a mission to take care of so many who were suffering.

Our challenge

As a positive thinker, I want to challenge everyone to hug someone or touch someone today.  There are many people in our communities that could use a hug, a pat on the back, or someone to hold their hand.

I would also ask you to pray for my mom as we figure out what the next steps are for her.

Thank you for taking time to read this blog.  As always, I would love to start some discussion about these topics and hear from you!


Mary Lu


“Spirited” Giving All Year Long

This is the time of year when we feel a little more giving.  We are more likely to open up our wallet or dig for some change to put in the Salvation Army kettle when we hear the familiar bell.  Perhaps we pick up a toy for Toys for Tots. Or donate food for the hungry.  And I think most of us have wondered what would happen if this “attitude of sharing” were to continue all year long?

Sharing as a sermon

Sunday my pastor Lane Bembenek used giving and sharing as the theme of his sermon at Joy Lutheran Church. He started with the children and asked them what they knew about John the Baptist.  Responses like “he ate bugs” and “he had his head cut off” were offered up.

Joy Lutheran Church

Pastor Lane Bembenek

All were correct but Pastor Lane explained that another thing John the Baptist was known for was to encourage others to share what they had.  The children were shown coats on the altar that the congregation were giving to those who are without.

The sermon transitioned back to the adults and Pastor Lane shared an idea he had for a Christmas card and wondered what we would think if we received it.

John the Baptist image

The card read “Happy Advent You Brood of Vipers! Now Repent! Of course we all laughed but when we settled down the message was being driven home.  Here is this hairy, scary looking guy and guess what? He taught people to give.

Getting the vision

We’ve read stories about Jesus multiplying small amounts of food to feed many. What are some ways we can replicate this idea to help others?

  1. None of us have magic wands and unlimited sources of income but we do have our minds. There is power in people working together. Get together a group of friends and find out what the real need is for an organization.  They may need money rather than things.   Asking is always a good first step.
  2. A close friend chose to honor us with a gift in our name to the local animal shelter.  We love animals.  This was a sweet way to help an organization that works hard to find homes for animals and made us feel good in the process.
  3. Take a little time out before Christmas and pick out some things that you can donate.  You can keep someone warm with clothing.  Extra kitchen items can help a family who has moved into a new home with very little.  Toys are welcome for children who may have been uprooted from all they know. I’ve been particularly distressed to hear that hundreds of “angels” in our area weren’t taken off Salvation Army tree. Translated hundreds of children will be without presents on Christmas.
  4. Many agencies in our area help families out with their bills.  An extra $10 or $20 could make the difference to a family that is about to lose their power.

Check out the list of resources at the end of the blog for more ways to help.

You get the idea.  Think a little bit and do something meaningful.  You will be blessed as you bless others.

I love the line from this Ghanian folk tune: “Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love, show us how to serve the neighbors we have from you.” 

Thank you for taking time to read this.  Let’s start a YEAR-ROUND trend!  Share your ideas here on ways to keep that “giving” spirit flowing.

Blessings to each of you,

Mary Lu


Organizations like the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and the United Way have local offices in every community across the country and need help and money to help take care of those who need a hand.

Here are some Upstate specific non-profits that do so much to help to help those in our neighborhoods:

The Carpenter’s Table, Moore

Upstate Family Resource Center, Boiling Springs

Spartanburg Interfaith Hospitality Network (SPIHN), Spartanburg

Greer Relief, Greer

Harvest Hope Food Bank, Greenville

Anderson Interfaith Ministries, Anderson

Leave a comment »

Kitty treats

I was reading a Christmas article in a magazine recently and saw recipes for doggie treats to give as gifts.  And I thought…hey how about kitties???

So I went to Google and began my search. Surprise, surprise I wasn’t the first to think of this.

I found 3 recipes:

Joy the Baker’s Chewy Cat Treats

Make your own cat treats from Readers Digest

Offbeat Home and Life’s Make your own tasty treats for your cat friends

After consulting the treat experts in the house we selected #1.  Actually, Samuel and Coco didn’t care at all and frankly are a little scared to try “mom’s new idea.”

The R&D team

The R&D team

I went with the recipe from Joy The Baker because it didn’t seem difficult and the ingredients weren’t too hard to come by.  The assembly went well.  I realized while baking them that these were chewy cat treats.  My “kids” like crunchy ones so I’m just baking them longer.


I tried the treats out after they were cooked.  They were pretty bland but I don’t go around eating cat food all the time either.  If I had chosen the recipe that called for sardines I don’t know that I would have been as adventurous.

I cut the treats up using a pizza wheel.

I cut the treats up using a pizza wheel.

I assembled the team.  They were curious.

Curious cats

Curious cats

Coco can be a picky eater.  Which is why she is a sleek lady.  Samuel is game for just about anything.  After the initial stop off to see what this concoction was Coco walked away.  But Samuel hung in there.

This little kitty likes it!

This little kitty likes it!

He didn’t finish all of the treats but perhaps this might be an acquired taste.  They are after all used to processed food.  🙂

We’ve done a little field testing and our friends Sebastian and Valentino gave them two paws up.  Their palates are likely more sophisticated.  Their daddy, Jose reports that they each ate a treat.

Thanks so much for taking time to read this blog.  I’d love to hear if you’ve tried anything like this before?

Do you have any recipes you’d like to share?

Have a meowy day!

Mary Lu-and the R&D team of Samuel and Coco

Leave a comment »

Welcome To My Blog!


I blogged off and on a few years ago when I thought God was calling me to be a missionary. I realized instead He was calling me to what I like to call a God-venture.  I spent a lot of time learning about missionary life, working with a national mission organization called MissionNext, helping missionaries with small tasks, and learning a lot about myself.

This was the first time I dedicated myself to something and when it was over I wasn’t defeated.  I realized that this was another stepping stone in life.  Talk about an incredible feeling!  God was using me to further his kingdom and guess what?  Mary Lu wasn’t in control.   He put people in my path to guide me and listen to me.  This is a mission that will never end.  The relationship I have with the Lord is first and foremost.

I have felt this need to share myself with others in another medium.  Which brings me back to blogging.  I have assembled this page to share with you my thoughts, recipes, and blogs written by those I respect and admire.

I hope that you will find useful information that I pass along and that you will engage with me.  Drop me a note, let your friends know about my blog, and if you have suggestions please pass them along.

Thanks for stopping by my page,

Mary Lu