the BLOG of stuart mcdonald

A Look Back at 2008
December 31, 2008, 12:39 am
Filed under: My Life... | Tags: ,

I decided to look back in my journal today and see all the things I’d written about. There were only 7 entries which tells me 2 things; one, I was really busy or distracted because I had a lot more going on that what I wrote, and two, I’m not really a big fan of physical writing. I’ve written more since I got my new laptop than in the past 2 years worth of journalling. What’s crazy is the fact that this particular journal goes back to 2005. WOW! And I’m not nearly finished with it either; I’ve got nearly 1/3 of it left and at the rate I’m going, I’ll be 2015 before I finish it off.

As I finish out this year it’s only fitting to look back at the lessons learned. Of course I had to throw on the Alicia Keys track for a little inspiration. “It’s called the past cause I’m getting past, And I ain’t nothing like I was before. You ought to see me now.”

I know most people are making lists of five or ten best and worst moments; I’m just going to share. THIS YEAR:

I turned down a position that guaranteed me a good salary, health benefits, and a great working environment. A job that most people would have given a limb for. And when I did it, I had such peace because I knew that it wasn’t the right job for me. I know without a doubt (and believe me people have outright questioned my decision!) that it was God that led me to make that choice. I’m thankful that I heard his voice for my sake and for the sake of the other people that choice effected.

I’ve narrowed my ministries down to the 2 that really suit me best. It took me quite some time and experiences, but I’m so satisfied with where I am. I absolutely love my church and am 100% committed to it’s growth and success.

I finished 2 half marathons, 2 10Ks and a whole slew of training sessions. 2009 will be more intense with a half and my first full marathon both before April! But, I’ve realized that for what God has called me to do, I can’t afford to be out of shape. I’ve gained countless insight and revelations while running and am thankful that. I’ve also gotten in the gym a lot more frequently and have been really focused on my overall health. I love what Eric Liddell says in one of my all time favorite movies, Chariots of Fire, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

I made the decision to go back to school. I haven’t been putting this off for any particular reason, but around my birthday I began to examine my life. I saw that there are things I want to do and I need to get to school in order to better accomplish those things.

I broke one of, if not, the single most destructive habits in my life. I really can’t say I did it, because under my own strength, I’d still be doing it, but it was only God’s grace and mercy working with me to help me through it. I will someday divulge more information about this particular subject, but for now, that’s all you get.

I’ve finally started writing on a regular basis. It’s really been only as of late that it’s happened, but we’re still in 08. I kept saying and saying (mostly to myself) that I wanted to being writing again, but just never “found” the time. I’ve got my blog and I’m going to try to publish something at least 5 days out of the week. I can’t always promise something profound, but I can promise that I’ll be transparent.

I’ve had all kinds of relationship issues. I had my first official “girlfriend” in who knows how many years. While it only lasted 3ish months, I absolutely enjoyed it (I won’t say every minute) and learned more than I ever could have without it! Experience is truly the best teacher. I feel like this year I definitely branched out of my comfort zone and forgot about caring what people think as it relates to females. I met some new ones, got to know others better, took some chances, and learned a whole lot about what I’m looking for in my wife (as well as myself). Have I met her yet? Maybe…

I sat down and wrote out my purpose for the first time and all I can say is wow. It’s still very much a living document, but as I look at it, I’m incredibly amazed at what God has created me for.

I’ve learned that everything happens for a purpose and a reason. Even when things don’t make sense, we have to trust God’s greater plan in all of this. What’s going on in our lives currently is never for the present. It’s always for the future. I don’t quite fully grasp this, but I’m confident I’m going to continue to learn this in 2009 for sure. Maybe even more than I did in 2008…


Fasting the STU Way
December 29, 2008, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags:

The first thing I would say is this: Trust God to physically supply you with what you need, both physically, spiritually and emotionally. He created our bodies and therefore knows what we need better than we do.

As far as food goes, there are a couple of things that become my best friend for the first 21 days of January. Of course, make sure you drink plenty of water. What helps me is to find a container that I can fill up about twice or maybe 3 times during the day (for me, it’s around 30oz) and making sure that I drink all of those.

1. Larabars – They’re great little snacks that are nothing but fruit and nuts. They’ve got some GREAT flavors (all of which are “Daniel-friendly”. My favorites would be: Banana Bread, Apple Pie, Pecan Pie, Cinnamon Roll, and Lemon.

2. Odwalla Superfood Juice – Now this stuff looks nasty, I’ll be honest with you, and people WILL look at you crazy when you drink it. But know this: it tastes NOTHING like it looks. It’s very fruity and kind of sweet. It is thick, but as long as you drink it cold, it’s just like a smoothie. It’s cheaper to buy the big bottle as opposed to the smaller individual sized bottles, but if you’re going to be traveling a lot, you should be able to find the smaller bottles in any Starbucks! I actually got hooked on this stuff when we did 40 days 2 years ago and drank a glass every morning for nearly a year! Maybe this is TMI, but it helps keep you regular too.

3. Odwalla Super Protein Bars – These are great when you’re really hungry and don’t want to look at another apple of a banana! Last year, when we fasted, I would eat 2 of these a day as well as other stuff, and I didn’t lose a pound because of the protein that I needed for working out. And of course they taste good too! Maybe not good enough to eat when you’re not fasting, but I won’t eat anything that isn’t good, regardless of whether or not we’re fasting.

4. Peanut Butter – I love peanut butter but especially with apples or banana or celery. You can’t beat it!

5. Quaker Instant Oatmeal – Something I eat regularly, but it’s great because you can take it with you when you travel and all you need it some hot water (which you can get in your hotel room if there’s a coffee maker). Some people trip about the flavors which can have a lot of sugars and unnatural ingredients in them. Honestly, it’s a personal thing and I wouldn’t worry about it, but you can always get the regular unflavored and then add some honey or raisins, apples, whatever you want to it.

Those 5 things are my “go-to” items when we fast. I’m actually going to be training for a half-marathon that I’ll run on January 25th, as well as a full marathon in March, so I’m definitely going out of my comfort zone this year as well. Know that you’re not alone and you’ve got 4,000 other people that will be going through the same things you will be.

Now, it’s no secret that I LOVE to eat out… and during the Daniel Fast, it can be a little challenging. Here are a few places you have to try:

1. Cafe Sunflower – This place is so good, I’ve eaten here when we WEREN’T fasting.
2. The Real Chow Baby – With create your own stir fry, you can’t go wrong.
3. OK Cafe – One of my all time Atlanta favorites, but they’ve got great veggies! (Mary Mac’s is good too)
4. Top Spice – Great Thai food!
5. Ru San’s – 2 words… Banana Sushi. Great spicy fried rice too!

That’s about it… If you have any questions feel free to let me know. Holla!

Facing My Flaws
December 28, 2008, 11:03 pm
Filed under: My Life...

I saw a quote today that really jumped out at me. Augusten Burroughs said, “I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

I think this has incredible spiritual application whether or not it was written by a Christian. It could easily read: “ I myself am, in my flesh, a sinner, stitched together with God’s grace.” Paul writes in Romans 7:18: “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh”, but it is through God’s grace that He give us his Spirit so that we don’t have to live as a servant to our own worldly desires, which lead to nothing good.”

I thought about the strange similarities between the quote and Romans 7:18-25 (in The Message):

For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes… I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I am my own worst critic. I know the me that no one else knows and I’m glad that’s the case. I don’t know if “they” would look at me the same way if they “really” knew me. I sometimes use “Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves…” (Romans 12:3) as a crutch. I feel like being honest in my evaluation of myself means being extra hard on myself for the things I do and think that no one else sees.

Please don’t feel bad for me, thinking I have super low self esteem… I may be harder on myself than you would be, or maybe than I deserve, but I also know that in order to go in your strengths, you must first know your weaknesses. In “The Art of War” Chapter 6 discusses weak & strong points. It explains how your opportunities come from the openings in the environment caused by the relative weakness of your competitors in a given area. If that’s true, then it is all the more important to know your own weaknesses in order to properly guard against attack, not only from our physical enemies, but from THE enemy.

I think one key to, not only overcoming temptation but, living a health Christian life, is to recognize when, where, and why the enemy tends to attack you when he does. If you know that you’re more likely to fall into a particular sin when in a certain situation, you’d be a fool to put yourself there on purpose. Sometimes, the enemy tends to line things up so that we “fall” into those compromising situations without thinking. If we can recognize the enemy taking us down those roads early on, we have less space to backtrack. Think of it this way: The sooner you realize you’re lost and have gone the wrong way, the sooner you can find where you’re supposed to be and get back on track. The longer you go down the wrong road, the longer it takes you to get back on track.

I recently read an article entitled, “10 Reasons I Don’t Like Most Christians” (which you can read here) and I thought it would be healthy to give out my own 10 reasons. Not the 10 reasons I don’t like most Christians, but the 10 worst traits I have. I’ll give you the disclaimer now that these are things that I, personally, see, not things that most people would necessarily see or assume me.

Stuart’s 10 Worst Traits

  1. I tend to judge books by their cover.
  2. I take people at their word.
  3. I’m honest (this is bad when #4 happens).
  4. I fail to think a statement through before it comes out my mouth.
  5. I procrastinate.
  6. I doubt if I’ve heard God for real.
  7. I limit God because I fail to have the faith to step out like He would want me to.
  8. I have unrealistic expectations.
  9. I’m stubborn.
  10. I’m too hard on myself.

Christmas Slump
December 26, 2008, 12:16 am
Filed under: My Life...

As of late it seems like I’m not in a “Christmassy” type of mood. When I began writing this on December 20 and now it’s the early morning of the 26th. Granted Christmas has come and gone, but it’s still the “holiday” season I still feel a little depressed (let’s just call it what it is). So I’ve been thinking about what could be causing this Christmas slump…

For starters, with Christmas comes New Years and that means 2009. I already know 2009 is going to be a huge year for me and I think to some extent I’m trying trying to procrastinate and not to deal with some of the things that I know I’ll have to in 2009. I love to procrastinate! And with 2009 around the corner, I know my procrastination time has run out.

This year, I’m not in as much of a position to give the gifts that I want to and I think that’s playing a big role as well. Now, my primary love language isn’t gifts, but when I do give gifts, I always make sure that they’re on point. I never give a gift just to give a gift. I make sure that it’s something that they want and can use. I LOVE seeing people’s reaction to a great gift and surprisingly (or maybe not) my not being able to give as much as I want has thrown me off.

If I’m honest, I think, for some reason, that I’m a little depressed that there’s no romance going on either. I don’t remember there being any last year (sorry if there was!) so I don’t know why the difference. Actually I think I do know why the difference, but I’m not going to divulge that information now. Maybe later, like this time next year. Of course my love for loves songs and watching Alfie late at night don’t really help either, but whatever! I’ll be focused on other things soon enough.

Dangerous Chick Flicks?
December 24, 2008, 10:41 am
Filed under: Relationships

Are romantic movies bad for you? That’s the questions that a recent TIME magazine article aims to answer. It quotes Dr Bjarne Holmes, who conducted the study, as saying, “Relationship counselors often face common misconceptions in their clients that if your partner truly loves you they’d know what you need without you communicating it, that your soul mate is predestined. We did a rigorous content analysis of romantic comedies and found that the same issues were being portrayed in these films.”

Translation: You and your girl (or guy) have seen every romantic movie under the sun. But someone fails to understand that they way they are on screen isn’t “real”. They’re acting, but yet your partner is still act like you should know your every thought, want, and need without you properly communicating. Unhealthy and/or unspoken expectations can sabotage an otherwise healthy relationship so quickly it’s not even funny.

The way the plot runs is fantastic, the characters say things to each other that we could only dream of. We sit there and think, “That’s plausible, that could happen to me” and it could. I don’t want to be the ultimate pessimist here, I am, after all, a hopeless romantic myself. I’m always down for a good “chick flick” (or romantic comedies, or whatever you want to call them) and Lord knows I love love songs; it seems like I’m listening to them more and more. I think you do have to be realistic about what to expect in a relationship. You have to understand that real life isn’t a movie, as much as it seems like it. Not every relationship has a storybook ending. I wish they did, but the fact is they don’t.

Another misconception movies tend to perpetuate is that there is one person for each of us; I bought into it for quite awhile myself. But stop and think about the weight of that idea for a minute. That means if one person marries someone who isn’t their “one” then the entire world is thrown off. While the thought that there is more than one person I could marry is a little odd, that forces me to rely on God’s guidance in order to choose the one that is His best for my life that much more! What I’m struggling with, personally, is how do I choose from “the choices”?

There’s nothing wrong with having standards when it comes to what you’re looking for, but at the same time, it’s important to be realistic as well. I’m not saying lower your standards. I am saying be open to things when the situation may not be perfect. If you want for perfect conditions (for anything, not just relationships), you’ll be waiting forever. You might just have to take a chance and be surprised.

There are no perfect people and therefore no perfect relationships. Everything is about compromise and learning and understanding it’s not about you. It’s about working together and moving in the same direction with mutual trust and respect and love for each other. Real relationships take real work. Period.

ISTUARTBMCDONALD – 16 Things About Yours Truly
December 23, 2008, 12:48 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I love to write (not as big a fan of reading or arithmetic). I haven’t really done it in a LONG time, but, as of late, I’ve been doing it a whole lot more. I plan to be a published author by the time I’m 30. That’s also why I’m pushing myself to blog more often as well as make the next 15 things each begin with a letter in my name (I’ve also been at Destiny with our acrostics a little too long).

Sitting down and trying to come up with 16 interesting things about me isn’t easy for me. I don’t really think I’m that interesting of person although I know that there are plenty of people that would tell me otherwise. But I am ALWAYS my worst critic!

Trying new things (especially when it comes to food) is something I’m always down for.

Usually, I don’t leave the house without a blue pen, a dual point sharpie, Burt’s Bee’s lip balm, and a handkerchief in my pocket. Usually.

An indecisive person is something I can’t stand. Being insincere, b****a**ness, and lying (because I will take you at your word until you give me reason to do otherwise) are also on the list. I just need you to be who you are and stop trying to be who you think other people want you to be!

Regardless of who you are, what you do, have, or can control, I’m not easily impressed. We both had to wake up this morning and put on pants and eat food. That doesn’t mean I don’t have respect, but impressing me is a challenging task. I am however impressed with a few single mothers I know who have their stuff together!

There is a part of me that is a huge hopeless romantic. And don’t you think about using that information

Back when I was in elementary school (1st and 2nd grade), you couldn’t get me into other than sweatpants. Now I don’t own a pair!

Musiq Soulchild, Brian McKnight, Anthony Hamilton and Raheem DeVaughn are some of my favorite artists. I absolutely LOVE love songs. I’m VERY thankful the Lord knew who NOT to give the gift of music to… I would be singing to EVERY fine female that took an interest in me.

Cereal and Chocolate Chip Cookies (with Silk) are 2 of my favorite late night snacks. And of course, Waffle House is my FAVORITE late night eatery! I regularly eat food after Midnight… it’s a bad habit, what can I say?

Don’t even think about getting me near a snake (or getting a snake near me). They are the only thing that I’m “scared” of.

Opening a restaurant has always been a dream of mine. A dream that will come true.

Night time is when I’m most productive. I’ll stay up until 4 am usually once every 10 or so days. That’s where the Cereal and Cookies come in…

Applying for my concealed carry permit is one of the things I’ll be doing in 2009. I own 5 different guns and plan to by a few more.

“Let me find out” is one of the phrases I use more often than I should. I use it primarily after I have already found something out, thus making it a weird and meaningless phrase. I’m trying to wean myself off of it.

Dancing is something that you will only see me do during praise and worship or at my wedding (which will be done as an act of worship and thankfulness that God provided me with a woman that put up with all of me). I have my personal reasons why, but that’s for another time.

I feel like I kind of cheated on the “S” so here’s another: Someday I will cook Thanksgiving dinner for all 4 of my parents as well as my wife’s (2 or 4). I can’t wait to see all those people in the same room!

BlackBerry + Bible =!
December 22, 2008, 3:34 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

I recently (6 months ago) got my first BlackBerry and INSTANTLY fell in love with it. I failed, however, to find a good Bible application for the platform… until recently! The great people at created the YouVersion software. If you have a BlackBerry, you really should download the new Bible App for the BlackBerry!

There are only a few free Bible applications for the BlackBerry and even fewer that provide access to several modern English translations.  The Bible App for the BlackBerry provides free access to the 30+ translations in many different languages that you can access through  Read more about this release or download the application right now.

I will say that ever since the purchase of my new MacBook Pro, I’ve been wanting an iPhone SO badly. I will probably wait until the next generation comes out (and hopefully unlocked) because I still do like my BB and I want to make it worth the money I spent. But for now, this is the best Bible App I’ve found!