Wednesday, April 27, 2016

If Only...

If only I had more time...

If only I wasn't so busy...

If only I wasn't so tired...

If only my kids would get along with each other...

If only my kids would listen to me...

If only I had more money...

If only I knew more people...

If only I knew the "right" people...

If only I had a better job...

If only I was good at sewing/drawing/acting/singing/playing a sport/dancing/cooking...

If only...

What to know the TRUTH?
Those are all pretty much EXCUSES.
And guess what?  Excuses get you no where.
So stop making them.

Tough love :)

You will NEVER have more time, not really.  We all get 24 hours in a day.  We get to CHOOSE how to use that time.  We get to say YES or NO to anything we want.  Really, it IS up to us.  We do get to decide.  And if something is truly important to you, you CAN do it.  You will MAKE time for it.

If you want to work out and exercise, then get up 30 minutes early.  Use nap time.  Go to the gym instead of watching a show at night.  Whatever works for you and your life/schedule.  But if health is important and you want to work out/exercise, you CAN do it.  And when you do, you will feel great!

Life is busy.  I get it.  I have 4 young girls.  My husband and I are leaders at our church - on the elder board, direct the Kids Ministry, etc.  We have a Bible study at our house on Sunday evenings.  My husband does an after school program once a week with the 5th grade boys where he teaches.  I run a health and wellness business, teach childbirth class, and am a doula. We serve at a Bible camp in the summer.  So, I get busy.  Really, I do.

I get tired too.  My youngest is 5 months old, and does NOT sleep through the night.  Heck, she barely sleeps unless I am holding her.  I am NOT well rested most days, but this is a season of life.  One I will gladly take, seeing as how I dreamed of being a mom and now I am one.  Lack of sleep comes with the "job." I would rather be exhausted and have the title of MOM than be full of energy yet longing for children of my own.  I may not like the messes, endless laundry, or whatever else comes with being a mom, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I think being a mom is tricky.  We pour ourselves out for our families, yet we forget that we NEED to take care of ourselves to be the best wife and mom we can be.  Not only do we drink cold coffee and eat cold food, standing up, holding a baby on our hip, we also tend to put our dreams on the back burner.  Don't get me wrong - we love being a mom, but SOMETIMES in that process, we lose passion and our lack of purpose.

I want you to know several things today:
*God loves you.
*God SEES you, and all those diapers you change, those noses you wipe, the toilets you clean, the clothes you wash, the meals you prepare, the messes you pick up, the fights you break up, and the ouchies you kiss.  And He is PLEASED with you.  He DELIGHTS in you.
*You have purpose and worth.  You are valuable, precious, a MASTERPIECE.
*God created you for a reason.  He has plans for you and wants you to fulfill them, bringing glory to His name as you expand His kingdom here on earth.
*He gives you permission to pursue those dreams.  He is the One who put them on your heart.  And He WILL help you do them, whatever they may be!

Don't make excuses about why you can't do those things.
Excuses get you no where.

Do be realistic.
But also be bold and daring.
Try NEW things.
Think outside the box.
Take risks.
Be different.
Use those gifts and abilities God has given you.
He made you with them for a reason.
The world NEEDS you to use them.

Saying YES to God can be scary.
You don't know all the answers.
You don't have all the details or know every step that will be part of your journey.

But I assure you that holding back, playing it safe, staying put, waiting it out gets you no where.
So, no more excuses!

You may start small, but START.
Read a book.
Write in a journal.
Make a dream board.
Get a plan.
Pray over it all.
Ask God to show you what to do and how to do it.
Then, as He opens doors, WALK THROUGH THEM.

I don't want you to look back on your life and say, "If only..."

If only I had talked to that person...

If only I had taken that art class...

If only I had traveled to see the world...

If only I had supported that ministry...

If only I had spoken up...

I don't want IF ONLY to define you. Or me.
Instead, I want to be passionate and purposeful about the time I have been given on this earth.  I want to make the most of every single day.  Hence, TODAY I sat down and wrote this blog.  I dream of being an author, of speaking on a stage and encouraging others to live out the good works God has prepared in advance for them to do.  Well, that isn't going to happen if I keep saying, "If only I had more time to blog..."

I don't know what GOD is calling YOU to do.
I don't know WHO God is calling you to BE.
I do know He IS talking to you.
Are you listening?
Are you ready to follow after Him as He shows you the way He has for you?
Are you willing to trust that He has the BEST plans for you?

Then, no more IF ONLY's.
Instead, let's be men and women who are known as those who RISE UP and say HERE I AM, LORD.  May we be the ones shouting with excitement (or whispering as we tremble in fear of the unknown), "Use ME! I am Yours. Take my life and use it for YOUR glory..."

Don't start with the...

If only I was qualified...
If only I had more education...
If only I felt like I was good at that...
If only I knew more about that...
If only I had more traning...

Throw all those IF ONLY's in the trash.
God uses ANYONE who is WILLING.

His strength shines through our weakness.
So, let's do this!
TODAY is the day!!!!!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Just Who Do You Think You Are?


These are just some of the words floating in my head this afternoon.
Some are book titles...

Others are simply adjectives that have popped up in my life time and time again in the past few months here recently.

Others are words that I wouldn't say describe me YET, but rather what/who I WANT to be.

What about YOU?
What words are being spoken in your life?
What is God asking you to do?  WHO is He asking you to BE?
Are you listening?

Do you believe Him when He says you are His masterpiece?

Are you watching for those good works He prepared in advance for you to do?

Are you walking them out?
Are you inviting Him to work in and through you until He finishes what He began the day He dreamed of you (way before the foundation of the world)?

Do you TRUST that He has your GOOD in mind?
Do you realize that He wants the BEST for you and won't let you settle for anything less because you are His and worthy of ALL He has envisioned for you?

Do you understand that His plans are sooooo much better than anything you could imagine?

I think we need to start listening a little better to our heavenly Father.
What HE thinks about us should define us.
Not the world.
Not a bilboard or magazine cover.
Not the mirror or scale.
Not a bathroom sign.
Not a pair of jeans or a dress or a swimsuit.
Not a report card or job evaluation.
Not a paycheck or bank account.
Not a house or car or boat.

Read again who God says you are.

Let that soak in.

Believe it.
Live it out.
Confidently, boldly.
Because THAT is who you TRULY are!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Climb On

I don't know Rebekah personally, but I follow her on Instagram (@growing_by_grace).  Today she posted a picture that struck me.  Her comments only confirmed that I AM on the right path, that I AM doing the right thing, that I AM running after the dreams GOD has given me and pleasing Him in the process.

I truly, truly, truly enjoy what I do.

Last night, when I got a message from a mama friend about how Greens and Confianza are helping her, I almost started crying.  These products REALLY ARE changing her life!

Then, this morning, a teamie shared how one of her customers is using Greens too.  Her child with ADD and autism is now OFF the 5 medications they had been on before adding Greens to the daily routine.  NOTHING ELSE had changed in their life.

Earlier this week, I got a text from yet another mama who is excited that she has been able to get off the meds she was taking and has MORE energy now than before.  Guess what she added to her life?  GREENS and Thermofit.  She's really making health a priority and she FEELS so much better!

I get sooooooo happy when I hear back from people.  Their stories assure me that I AM making a difference.  These testimonies keep me going.  Because let's be honest, I have my skeptics.  People question and doubt our products and the business.  Hard not to take that personally and think they are doubting ME or questioning what I am pouring my heart and soul into daily.

I have to remember, though, that GOD has indeed called me to this "job."  It's NOT a job.  It's NOT about the wrap or greens or a paycheck.  Those are all GOOD things, but in reality, it is soooooooo much more. It's a MINISTRY.  A calling.  One I take seriously.  And one I thoroughly enjoy when I focus on all the positives - the blessing of the friendships with my team mates, the way we pour into each other and encourage and inspire each other and support each other and help each other live up to our potential, be the people we were created to be, fulfill the good works God prepared in advance for us to do.  When people are confused about what I do or why I do it, when they don't see the big picture, I can't let that distract me, discourage me, or get me off track.  Instead, I must keep climbing.

Christine Caine share on Instagram this morning as well.  Her words spoke to my heart as well.

Climbing a mountain is NOT easy.  It's hard.  Difficult.  Can be painful.  Slow going at times.  You could fall, get hurt.  You will get tired.  You might want to turn around and go back down.  Or take a break or stop altogether.

Do NOT do that.

As Caine reminds us, the view from the top is worth it.

Jesus NEVER once promised that following Him would be easy.  He DID, however, assure us that we would face obstacles, that we would encounter hardship, that we would even be HATED by the world.  We shouldn't be surprised, then, when we go through a trial of some kind.  We should be prepared, confident that we can stand firm in Jesus as our roots go down deep in His love and grace and strength and peace and joy and wisdom and ALL things we need to live a godly live.  Not only will we NOT be shaken, we will overcome and conquer and be declared victorious.  In deed, we have ALREADY won.  Satan was defeated the day Jesus rose from the grave!  THAT is why Easter is such a HUGE celebration.  BUT, we need to live out that resurrection power EVERY day, not just one special holiday Sunday.

And so we say YES even when it's hard.
We don't think about ourselves.  Instead, we press on so that those behind us will do the same.  We push past obstacles, overcome hardship, fight back when Satan attacks.  We trust God even when nothing makes sense.  We remain in Him and stand steadfast, immovable and unshakeable.  Others watch us and say, "If they can do it, then so can I."

This is why I dream big and work hard NOW.
I don't just want to tell my girls they can do anything God lays on their hearts, I want to SHOW them how to do that, that it CAN be done.

I am leaving a legacy.
Not about wraps or greens or making a 5 figure monthly paycheck.
My hope and prayer and goal and biggest desire is to INSPIRE as many people as possible, to stir up in them the longing to make the most of the time we are given on this earth and to live life to the absolute fullest possible.  That is after all why Jesus left heaven and came to this planet in the first place.

I know not everyone will understand.  That's part of the climb.
I realize not everyone will say YES with me.  That's part of the journey.
The setbacks aren't going to stop me.
The skeptics aren't going to keep me from moving on, from reaching higher, from climbing on, and enjoying the view from the top.

I will daily pour myself out so that the life of Jesus might be made known through me.
I want to lay it all on the line, leave it all on the court.
When my time comes to go HOME, I want to know I didn't hold back, but rather that I gave it my absolute ALL.

And when I see Jesus face to face, and fall to my knees, I long for Him to place His hand on my shoulder, pull me into His chest for the best hug of all time, and hear Him whisper in my ear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Those words right there make everything I do today and tomorrow and every day until Jesus returns worth it.

What mountain is God asking you to climb today?
What is He asking YOU to say YES to right now?

Start climbing!
Take that first step.
The mountains are calling!!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Mountain Movers

The Mountains Are Calling

The slogan on my shirt is NOT about my desire to visit the mountians, though they ARE beautiful and breathtaking and a wonderful place to experience the majesty of God's beautiful creation.

Instead, I picked this shirt out as a birthday present because it reminds me that the God I serve and follow after daily with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength is a God who moves mountains.

Never once did Jesus promise that being His disciple would be easy.  He never said the path would be straight or smooth.  Quite the opposite.  He assured His followers they would face trials and tribulations of all kinds.  He had people like Paul write letters to remind us for years to come that we should NOT be surprised when the going gets tough.  Before Jesus returned to heaven, He flat out told us, "The world hated Me, and so too the world will hate YOU."

So why then do we seem to forget we are at WAR?
Why do we chase after COMFORT?
Why do we grumble and complain with the road before us is bumpy, steep, narrow, winding?
Why do we fear the darkness when we have the LIGHT of the world living inside us?
Why do we forget to SHINE and spread the hope and joy and peace and strength flowing freely within us if only we would tap into that power, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead?!

Why do we stare at the mountains "in our way," hang our heads, droop our shoulders, and sit down feeling defeated?!!!  We have been promised that our God can move mountains!  Not only that, WE can move those mountains.  Jesus Himself told us, "If you have the faith of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move,' and it will move!"

No need to run from obstacles.
No need to turn back or look for another way.

The mountians ARE the way.
We can go up and over them.
We can go THROUGH them.
Or we can ask God to move them.
Going around them is a waste of precious time and energy.
And there is definitely NO reason to stop our journey altogether.

Today, as I wear my new shirt, I hear the mountains calling.

Climb us.

What about YOU?
Are the mountains calling you too?
Those difficulties or obstacles or hardships you are facing right now are NOT a surprise to God.
They are part of His good and perfect plan.
I don't exactly how, but I know they have purpose, that God is using them to shape and mold you into the man/woman you were created to be.  He is using them to strengthen you, empower you, and equip you to do all the wonderful things He prepared for you before spoke the world into existence.

Do NOT fear.
You are strong.
You are powerful.
You are able.
You are courageous.
You are brave.

God is with you.
And God is on the move.
He is moving those mountains.
Follow Him to the top, to the other side.
A glorious destiny awaits...
So, shall we go up to those mountains?!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Grocery Shopping, Meal Planning, and Being Healthy on a Budget

I posted some pictures of my grocery store trip this afternoon, and a friend asked me to share what I got at each store.  So, figured I could do a blog to give anyone interested a little insight into how our family tries to be healthy - on a budget and with our busy, fast-paced lives!

I have come to realize that I am NOT superwoman, and so I do my shopping on Sunday afternoon.  We get home from church, eat lunch, and then I leave all 4 girls with the hubs so I can shop solo.  It's faster and MUCH easier.  My stress level has gone WAY down and I actually enjoy getting the groceries.  That hour and a half on Sunday afternoons is like my mini vacation for the week. Sad, that my "me time" is spent in the grocery stores, but alas that's mom life for you.  And I wouldn't trade it for the world either!

Before I leave the house, I do 2 things:
*make a meal plan for the week
*check the ads to see what is on sale at each store so I know what to get where because I am all about getting the best bang for my buck (and is why I have NOT used the Hy-Vee delivery program yet, even though I have soooo many friends give it rave reviews)

This week's meal plan is:
*Chicken and Veggie Lasagna
*Salmon, asparagus with mushrooms and turkey bacon, twice baked potatoes (or skillet potatoes)
*Steak Salad with feta cheese
*Tilapia, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts with bacon
*Chicken Enchiladas with homemade guacomole
*Hamburgers, sweet potato fries, steamed veggies (carrots and broccoli)

With meal plan and cloth bags in hand, I headed to Sprouts.

They had a sale on nuts, so I picked up a BUNCH of almonds in bulk for 4.99 a pound (saved $4 a pound).  Dried cranberries were also on sale (saved $1 a pound), so I grabbed at least 3 big scoops of those to use for powerballs, trail mix, and homemade granola bars.

They also had certain brands on sale, so I got 35% off 2 packages of organic salad mix for our Steak Salad night.  Almond milk was another thing on sale, though I should have waited and gotten it at Aldi for even cheaper :(  Spent 50 cents more on each container than I needed.  But...

Sprouts had turkey on sale for 6.99 a pound.  I grabbed that instead of going to Hy-Vee for our deli meat. And since I wasn't making a trip to Hy-Vee, I got our yogurt at Sprouts too. They had individual Greek yogurt cups on sale for 89 cents each.  They are 75 cents at Aldi, but not organic :)  I got 10 yogurt cups so Coralyn and Lawrence could each have 1 a day in their school lunches.  I also got a tub of Whole Fat Plain Greek yogurt for me to use in my smoothies.  And then 2 tubs of vanilla yogurt for Lawrence to use for his (he doesn't like the plain Greek).

Kombucha was on sale.  2 for $4, which was like getting almost a whole bottle free.  I got 6.  I may or may not really like kombucha.  BUT, it is really good for you, and I did share a bottle with the girls today, so they got some great probiotics and such in them as we continue to hear about so many people dealing with the flu.  (I also made smoothies for a snack for them and put in 3 scoops of greens, so they each got an extra 4 servings of fruits and veggies plus a probiotic in that!)

I only neeeded 1 green pepper for the week for our Chicken Enchiladas, so I grabbed one at Sprouts, on sale for 77 cents.  They had strawberries on sale too, so I got 2 cartons (only to find out at Aldi that I could have saved 21 cents on each carton - I read the ad wrong I guess).

They also had boneless skinless chicken breasts on sale for 1.77 a pound.  Picked up 2 packages.

Mini red potatoes were there as well, so I grabbed a bag (and took quite a few out and put what I didn't need in another bag for someone else to get).

And I THINK that is all I got at Sprouts today.
Loaded up the bags in the trunk and made my way over to Aldi.

Grabbed 4 boxes of the Simply Organic applesauce pouches.  I never thought I would be "that mom" who gave her kids applesauce pouches, but let me tell you - they are fast and easy and a healthy snack since they don't have any added sugar or junk!  I got a box of GF granola bars and a box of Simply Organic Peanut Butter Protein Energy Bars too - they make super easy snacks for Coralyn for her to pack herself in her bag.   A jar of organic peanut butter and a jar of organic almond butter.  A jar of pickles.  And a new salad dressing a friend posted on FB about, so I thought we could try it on our Steak Salad.

4 dozen eggs.  I really, really, really, really want to buy free range eggs, but we go through a TON of eggs - at least 6 each morning, so for now I get them at Aldi.

I grabbed some Orange Mango juice and then some Pomengrante Cranberry juice too for a Sample Party I am doing at my house this week.  The greens taste great in both :)

From the cooler part I also got a package of turkey bacon, a bag of spinach, a bag of Simply Organic shredded Mexican cheese, 2 tubs of Pine Nut Hummus, and a pound of grass-fed beef.

For produce: I got 3 bags of baby carrots, 8 avocados (on sale for 49 cents each), 3 bunches of bananas, a bag of mandrain oranges (on sale for 2 something), 2 grapefuit (on sale for 39 cents each), a bag of Granny Smith apples, and a bag of Fuji apples.

From the freezer: I got a bag of tilapia filets, 2 bags of blueberries, 2 bags of raspberries, and a bag of strawberries (because the frozen ones are better in smoothies in my opinion).

I THINK that is all I got at Aldi.
If I didn't mention something obvious that was on the menu (like salmon or steak or asparagus), it's because I already have those things in my freezer/fridge.  We get a half beef every year, but ran out of the hamburger.  I have PLENTY of steaks and roasts though.  And some liver too - if anyone wants that, I am HAPPY to give it to ya :)

So, that wraps up my grocery trip for today.  Sorry, it reads more like a story than a simple list to look over, but I am not going to take the time to go back and change that now.  I have a baby who needs her diaper changed and a house to pick up before the kiddos come over for Ponca and Beyond Bible study in about 2 hours!

If you ever have questions about how to eat healthy on a budget or fix meals that are nutritious and delicious but don't take more than 20 minutes to throw together, I would LOVE to help you out!  Health has become a passion of mine, and I want to support and encourage as many people as I can to invest in themselves/their families.  We spend more on fresh, quality food and see it as an INVESTMENT in our health.  We haven't been to the doctor in 3 years, so I would say it's paying off!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Let's Face It

The word FIGHT has been coming up quite a bit in my life recently.
Not sure I like the implications though.
Seems to indicate struggle, battles, trials, tough times, getting hit in the gut and then kicked while I am down.  Not my idea of fun at all.

BUT, the idea of FIGHT resonates with my soul right now.
I want to FIGHT for my dreams.
I want to FIGHT for my teamies and THEIR dreams, their families, their lives.
I want to FIGHT for my girls, showing them how to run after their dreams and work hard and believe anything is possible with God on your side.

I want to FIGHT for my boys, still in Africa and unknown to me, but loved with all my heart and desperately wanting them safe in my arms.
I want to FIGHT for ALL children all around the globe, praying for them to have a forever family where they feel loved and accepted and can grow into the people God has made them to be and reach their full potential and live out the amazing plans God has for them.
I want to FIGHT for anyone trapped in the human trafficking industry, freeing them and showing them they are valuable and precious and worth so much more!
I want to FIGHT for my marriage and all marriages.

I want to FIGHT for freedom, freedom from debt, freedom from stress and anxiety because of bills and student loans and mortgages and car payments.
I want to FIGHT for God's kingdom to be come here on earth.

And like any good fight, there are going to be OBSTACLES.
The enemy is going to throw punches, jabs, left hooks, and low blows.  He plays dirty.  And hard.
It's tiring, fighting him every single day.
It's exhausting, battling the same struggles day in and day out, over and over and over again.
It's warying, makes you want to give up and throw in the towel.

Keep fighting.
You are NOT alone.
I am fighting WITH you, and even better yet, JESUS is in our corner.  He has our back.

Here's the deal though...
I tell my friends time and time again, "I want to punch Satan in the face!"
And that's all well and good.  I do want to defeat him, to see him run away with his tail between his legs, head hung, knowing he has lost and has no power over me whatsoever.

BUT, if I am going to punch Satan in the face that means I have to actually face him.
I can't run and hide when he comes to attack.
I can't crouch in the corner and hope he just goes away.
I can't fall to the ground and wait for the round to be over.  The bell will just ding again and another round will start, with Satan more than happy to pounce on me while I am a crying heap on the floor of the fighting ring.

No, if I am going to WIN and come out like the overcomer I already am, I have to stand my ground, look Satan in the eye, and go on the offense.
I need to be the one throwing the punches, not the one getting hit by them.
I want to be ON the attack, not the one being attacked.

And how do I go about doing that?
I emerse myself in the Word.  When Jesus was tempted, that's what He did.  For every stupid thing Satan said, for every trick he tried to play, Jesus answered with Scripture.  "It is written..."  Those words are like a knee in Satan's groin, a slap across the cheek, a punch right in the mouth.

THAT is what I want to do!

And guess what?  If we STAND TOGETHER and FIGHT TOGETHER, we will shorten the round and quicken the victory.  Side by side we can defeat Satan so much better than when we go at him solo.

I am making it my daily practice to wake up each morning with intention.
As my feet hit the floor, I am going to immediately "put on my armor" and enter the battle, ready to FIGHT, ready to WIN!

Anyone else ready to face Satan and put him in his place?!
Then, join me!
Let's stand and fight TOGETHER.
Let's punch him in the face, over and over and over.
Until Jesus comes back and raises our hands high, declaring us VICTORS and throwing Satan into the firey pit of hell, never to bother us again!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Broken, Together

This morning I cried in the shower.
I cried when I stepped into my closet to see what I was going to wear today.
I wanted to fall in a heap and ball my eyes out, then crawl into a corner and hide.
I did NOT want to go anywhere.
I did NOT want to get dressed, because nothing fits right.  I am at that weird stage where I'm not pregnant anymore, but I'm not back to my pre-baby body either.  I'm in the middle.  And nothing fits right in the middle.  Literally.

I have been super frustrated, if I am going to be completely honest.

I eat clean - no processed foods or sugar.  Very limited grains, no gluten.  LOTS of lean protein, fruits and veggies.  All the good things you are supposed to eat, I eat them.  All the bad things you aren't supposed to eat, I don't eat them.

I eat small meals and snacks throughout the day.  I'm not starving myself or overeating.  I'm following all the guidelines and rules that are supposed to help you lose weight or maintain the healthy weight you want.

Nutrition is KEY to a healthy lifestyle.  I have heard that 80% of weight loss has to do with what you eat and drink. When you eat, how much you eat, combining the right foods, etc.  Somebody posted a great MEME the other day reminding me that the GYM is not the difficult or confusing part.  Really, it's in the meal planning and nutrition department.  However, I do feel like I have a pretty good handle on nutrition. I'm not a certified trainer or a registered dietitan or anything, but I'm not oblivious either.  I take great care as to what goes into my body.

Yet, I have not lost a single pound since the day Craedyn was born.  I gained 40 pounds during her pregnancy.  10 of that was baby and fluids.  Other than those 10 pounds, the scale has not moved one iota.  I know, I know, I know it's NOT all about that number on the scale.  It's just a number.  I realize that.  Don't send me messages reminding me.  I am fully aware.  I get that it's more about how you feel and how your clothes fit and all that jazz.

Well, my clothes do NOT fit.
I do NOT feel good about myself at all.
I have taken pictures (that I will NOT be showing publically) to record progress.  I see hardly any noticeable changes.

And so I am frustrated.

To top it off, I have also been working out 5-6 times a week. I started out gradually, but have increased my intensity each week over the past 10 weeks.  I do weights, focusing on both my arms and legs.  I work on my abs.  I do cardio.  Again, I am NOT a personal trainer, but I have hired one before and have been in sports since I was 5.  I know a little something about exercising.  And I truly enjoy working out.  I feel energized.  I know I did something good for my body.  I feel accomplished.  I have all those good endorphins flowing through me.  I'm not sure why or how, but for me, I feel like my physical health is deeply connected to my spiritual health.  When I work out, I can listen to music.  When I'm on the elliptical or out running, I can think and pray.  It's my ME time and helps me fuel up so I can pour myself out during the day.  Exercise is really important to me, for many reasons.

You would think with the way I eat and the consistent exercise I am doing, I would have seen some sort of progress.  Either on the scale or in the way my clothes fit or BOTH.  But NOTHING. Seriously, nothing!

Did I mention that I am frustrated?

Not knowing what else to do, I reached out to a dear friend.  She had the privilege of looking at my pictures and immediately suggested that I check myself for diastasis recti - separation of your ab muscles.  YEP.  I have it.  Total bummer.  Not only does that mean I have a pooch I don't want, it also means that I shouldn't be doing all the normal exercises I have been doing.  Why?  They make it worse!  Instead, I need to focus specifically on healing my core, reconnecting my muscles, breathing correctly, and other fundamental things to get my body back on track.

Well, that explains part of the problem.  BUT, what about the "failure" in the weight loss department.  If it's related mainly to nutrition, shouldn't I be able to drop at least a pound or two?  I'm not expecting 10 pounds in a week or anything ridiculous like that!  Seriously, though, a pound a week is a reasonable goal.  Yet, here I am at 13 weeks postpartum and haven't lost a single pound!  That seems "off" to me.  So again, I asked for help or ideas from my friend who knows way more than I do.

She suggested I look into postpartum thyroid and adrenal failure.  Sure enough, I have quite a few of the symptoms.  Ugh.  Why?  Why is my body broken?

That's what I don't know.
There's not really an answer other than SIN is part of this world, part of our daily lives.  And it affects our bodies, our health.  Sad, but true.

I have wanted to cry, and HAVE cried, so many times the past few weeks.
Tears of frustration, discouragement, defeat.
Tears of confusion, heartache, disappointment.
Tears of bewilderment.
Tears of HURT.
Why me?  Why am I broken?
Why can other mamas lose weight and get their bodies back just fine after having babies?
Why do I have to struggle?
Why, why, why?

The answer God gave me wasn't really the one I wanted.
I wanted Him to assure me that He would "fix" me.
Instead, I feel His response was more along the lines that through my battles and struggles, I can be an encouragement to others in the same place in life.  I can be a voice in the wilderness, the desert, the dry bleak wastelands, the long dark winding vallies.  I can be a source of HOPE to those on the same path.  I think of the song, "Broken, Together."

We may not like our situation.
We may not feel lovely or beautiful.
We may not want to look in the mirror.
Or walk into the closet and try to find something to wear.
We may not want to leave the house.

But here's the deal.
Sitting in the corner and crying doesn't do us any good.
And by isolating ourselves we certainly aren't fulfilling the GOOD plans and purposes God has for us.  We are letting the enemy win.  And THAT is one thing I will NOT let happen.  Not on my watch.
He is the source of these lies we are battling day in and day out in the first place.
He knows how strong and powerful we are.
He knows the "damage" we can do as we go out and spread hope and peace and joy and love.
He knows we can change the world.
And he wants nothing more than to shut us down.  So, he finds our weaknesses and attacks.  Over and over and over and over and over and over agian.  He is relentless.

BUT, he forgets one thing.  One VERY important thing.
He is a loser.
He has already lost.  Meaning, we have already won.
WE are victorious.
WE are overcomers.

We may be broken, but that's not the end of our story.
And it definitely doesn't have to sideline us.  Not at all.
God is an expert at using broken people to do AMAZING things here on this earth to build His kingdom and bring Him massive amounts of glory.

So, what am I going to do about my personal circumstances?
I am going to learn how to reconnect my abs and fix my diastasis recti.  I am going to talk to a doctor about having my hernia repaired.  I am going to do some more research on postpartum thyroid and adrenal fatigue and meet with a natural doctor to help me get my body functioning better, the way God intended.  I am going to keep eating healthy and incorporating the right exercises into my daily routine.  And I am going to PRAY my heart out.  Not only for me, but for the countless others who are struggling today.  I may be praying for you, even if you aren not in the exact same situation as me.  I am praying for YOU.

We can be broken, together.
And together, we WILL defeat Satan.
We will CRUSH him and remind him that we are ALREADY victorious.

Anybody else out there feeling broken today?
Let's be broken together!!!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Triple Threat

When I think of trios, the 3 Amigos certainly come to mind.
As do the 3 Muskateers.
In It Works we have the Triple Threat - greens, fat Fighters, and thermofit.
And then, of course, there is the most famous triad of all - the Trinity with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In the Christian world, another trio should sound familiar too - faith, hope, and love.
You know the "3 that remain."
We see them mentioned all throughout Paul's letters.
As I opened to 1 Thessalonians 1 this morning, I say the triad in the first few verses.

We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly.  As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yep, there they are again!
The believers in Thessalonica were known for these 3 qualities.
These 3 traits defined them.

That's how I want to be.
How I want to be known, remembered, spoken of both now and long after I am gone.

Here's the deal - these 3 characteristics of a Christian are POWERFUL.
Faith, hope, and love are a Triple Threat as we fight our enemy every single day.
Satan KNOWS that.
And so he does his absolute best to keep us from developing these traits, to distract us, to occupy us, to discourage us, and eventually defeat us.
BUT, it does NOT have to be that way.

In fact, we have already won the war.
It's those day in and day out battles that we struggle with.

At Winter Jam this past weekend, something one of the artists said really stuck out to me.
"We don't fight FOR victory.  We fight FROM victory."

Talk about perspective.  Mindset is everything.
We MUST remember that we ARE victorious, overcomers because of Christ.
We can confidently declare our victory and stand firm in our position as winners.

Peter must have known we would need reminding.
He writes and urges us to keep in mind that God has given us everything we need to live for Him.  He goes on to encourage us to never stop growing, but rather "supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self- control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone."

Did you see how faith, hope, and love are woven throughout there?!

Peter promises us, "the more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

The better equipped we will be to defeat Satan on a daily basis, putting him back in his place time and time again.

We have access to this Trile Threat at ALL times.
The Holy Spirit lives inside of us!!!
The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is alive and well in you and me.
Right now.

Let's take advantage of that and live in such a way that like the believers in Thessalonica, we are known for our "faithful work, loving deeds, and enduring hope."

As we do, God will use each of us - you and me - to CRUSH SATAN!!!
The Triple Threat is no match for him!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2016


This morning I was feeling really good about myself.
I got up early.
I worked out, hard.
I journaled, with pen and paper, for the first time in a long time.
I was about ready to pat myself on the back, but then I opened my Bible and picked up in Colossians where I had left off yesterday.

Let the message about Christ, in all it richness, fill your lives.  
Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives.  
Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.  
And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, 
giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

This is a pretty familiar passage to me, but this morning it hit me like a rock.  It put me in my place, if I am being honest.  I got knocked off the high horse I was climbing up on just minutes earlier.

You see, I have NOT been a very good representative of the Lord Jesus lately.  Not in ALL I do and say.  Instead, I have been an easily flustered, easily angered, quick to raise her voice mother.  I have spoken to my children harshly.  I have NOT been patient, or compassionate.

Yesterday, when my 4 year old whined one too many times, I didn't take the time to ask her what the problem was or how I could help her.  I told her, "STOP IT!"

And when my 2 year  old started crying, I was more annoyed than anything.  I didn't check to see if she was hurt or how I could soothe her.  I rolled my eyes and demanded that she too, "STOP IT!"

When my 6 year old got home from school, and I was busy making supper before we needed to rush out the door - to church of all places, I didn't sit down to listen to her tell me about her day.  Nope, and when the girls were not responding to my requests to clean up before eating, my stress came out in my words.  Granted, they didn't listen to me the first 5 times I asked them to put the crayons and toys away, but I could have done a better job of getting their attention.  I should have KINDLY asked them to come over to where I was, GENTLY reminded them that I needed their help, and CALMLY sent them on their way while I finished getting our food ready.  Instead, I was stern.  Mean, if you ask my 6 year old.  She even asked me why I was yelling at them.  I didn't feel like I was yelling.  I wanted to tell her, "Trust me, I CAN yell if you want me to. THAT was NOT yelling."  Instead, her words pierced my heart.  Humbled, I answered, "I am sorry.  I shouldn't have talked like that.  I will try to do better next time.  You girls work on listening the first time, and I will work on saying things nicer."

As I sat there and read Paul's instructions to do EVERYTHING as a representative of Jesus, I almost started crying.  A representative doesn't get a day off, or even a lunch break.  A representative ALWAYS represents their country, store, namebrand, etc.  Hence, their title.  At ALL times a representative is influencing the reputation of whatever or whomever they represent.  They can enhance or harm that reputation.  I had to admit I was probably doing more harm than good to Jesus' reputation.  If someone saw or heard me with my girls, they might not want anything to do with Jesus.  NOT what I want at all!

So, I took a good look at how I could do my "job" of representing Jesus better.  Paul gives us the two-fold process right there - "let the message about Christ, in all its richness, FILL your lives..."  I need to be in the Word, letting it DWELL in me, taking up root in my heart and mind.  I can't be reading the Bible all day long, but I CAN be meditating on what I read that morning.  I CAN listen to music that will keep my heart soft.  I CAN pray without ceasing.

The second part stems directly from doing all those things connected to God's Word filling my life.  "Give thanks..."  As I speak God's Word and lisetn to God's Word and pray God's Word and sing God's Word, I can't help but give thanks.  That thankful heart will flow into all I do and say.  And THAT will definitely help me become a much better representative of Jesus.

My prayer is that at ANY time someone can look at me and see Jesus.
Even when no one IS looking, I need to represent Jesus.
And as my daughter reminded me yesterday, even behind the closed door of our house, I AM being watched.  4 little girls are watching my every move.  I certainly want to represent Jesus well so they know who He is, what His heart is like, how much He loves them.

At Ponca Bible Camp, when we want the campers' attention, my husband and I will shout out, "Represent!"  The campers take that as their cue to stop and listen.  To let us know they are ready, they respond, "Jesus!"  This morning, it was as if God had needed MY attention and through Scripture yelled out to me, "Represent!!!!"  With a repentant heart and thankful I serve a God of second chances, I answered back, "JESUS!"  And I pray I do just that today and represent Him well, in ALL I do and say...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

X Marks the Spot

On a treasure map, X marks the spot.
How fitting that X in Latin stands for Christ.
Indeed, Christ IS our treasure!

Paul confirms this in Colossians 2:1-5,

I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally.  I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love.  I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God's mysterious plan, which is Christ Himself.  In Him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments.  For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong.

We can search and search and search for wealth, riches, possessions, happiness, peace, strength, wisdom, knowledge, power, the perfect job, a dream house, popularity, fame, fortune, and so much more.  We think that all that "stuff" will satisfy us.  Yet, we are left wanting more.  Or we feel eluded in our search, never finding what we truly want or need.

That would be because we are looking in all the wrong places!
Our treasure is not in a place at all, but rather a person!
Only in CHRIST will we be content and complete.
HE is our treasure.
HE is what our hearts long for.
In Him and Him alone is absolutely everything we need.  And then so much more!

1 Corinthians 2:9 reminds us, "no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him!"

Paul assures us in Philippians 4:19, "God will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus!"

And if we are faithful to trust Him with all we have, God turns around and blesses our faces off.  He promises this in Malachi 3:10, "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple.  If you do, says the Lord of Heaven's Armies, I will open the windows of heaven for you.  I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in!  Try it! Put me to the test!"

So, what do you say?  Will you take God at His Word?
Every day this is a battle I fight, a choice I must make.
I am certainly not perfect, but I am growing.
If I am honest, today - and the past few days and weeks - have been hard.  I am struggling with a few things and feel as though I am coming up short.  I am confused and frustrated, discouraged and even a bit defeated.

Maybe I am the one to blame.
Perhaps I am looking for treasure in all the wrong places.
I needed the reminder this morning that CHRIST is my treasure, my prize, my goal, my desire.
And so I work once more to fix my eyes on Him as I run the race of life, following after Jesus one step at a time.  Giving it my all, pouring myself out, knowing that God will fill me back up.  And then keep on pouring so I am overflowing.

As David wrote in Psalm 16:11, "You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever."

Sounds like a treasure to me.
I think I hit the jackpot!
Even though I did NOT have one of the 3 winning lottery tickets from last night's 1.5 billion dollar drawing!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Shhhh!! I've Got a Secret

I'm not usually one for sharing secrets.
You know what they say, "Secrets don't make friends."
BUT, in this case, telling you the secret is the BEST thing I could ever do for you.

This secret can change your life.
In deed, it WILL change your life if you let it.
If you believe it...

It's a pretty incredible secret.
When I read about it this morning, I was taken aback for sure.
After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I was determined to find time to blog today and get the secret out to you too!  The news was soooooo good I couldn't keep it to myself a moment longer!

So before you explode wanting to know what in the world I am talking about, and before I explode from keeping this to myself, here's the juicy secret:

This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God's people.  For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too.  And this is the secret: Christ lives in you.  This gives you assurance of sharing His glory.

I told you it was GOOD!
Life-changing, right?!

First, the riches and glory of Christ are for EVERYONE, including YOU.
And as if that wasn't enough, Christ can live IN you!  Yes, YOU!
Then, there's the cherry on top of the already piled high cake and ice cream: we have the assurance of SHARING His glory!

Say what?!
Share Christ's glory?!!!!
ANYONE who believes in Him?!

That's crazy talk!!!!!!
But it's TRUE!

This is the secret God couldn't keep quiet about any longer.  From the Old Testament to the New Testament, there were 400 years of SILENCE.  God broke that silence with the birth of Jesus.  Talk about making some noise!

Then, as we read yesterday, Jesus reconciled us to God by dying on the cross for our sins.  His blood paid our debt and washed us clean so that we can stand before God holy and blameless, without fault.

And now God goes on to let us know that all the glories and riches of Christ are OURS.
That Christ lives IN us.
That we will SHARE IN HIS GLORY!

It's almost too much to handle!
We deserve death, but are given life - abundant, glorious, eternal life in God's very presence.

No wonder Paul committed his whole life to spreading this Good News.
Once his life was changed that day on the road to Damascus, he couldn't stop talking about Jesus and His transforming power at work in him.  He told everyone he could about salvation through Jesus and invited them to join him on a life-long journey of pursuing Jesus with every fiber of their beings.  Compared to Jesus, everything else was a pile of garbage!  Exactly why Paul himself left everything behind and RAN towards Jesus, pressing on for the prize awaiting him.  And I am confident when Paul crossed the finish line of his life, he was greeted by Jesus Himself with the best reward anyone could ever ask for - a hearty "Well done, my good and faithful servant!"

Paul urges US to live in the same manner, putting everything else aside and focusing on Christ alone, giving our all for HIM.

He rounds out Colossians chapter 1 with this:
So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.  That's why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ's mighty power that works in me.

Paul poured himself out so that as many people as possible would know this life-changing secret.
I want to do the same.
And so I tell you the secret today.

YOU can have eternal life.
YOU can share in God's glory.
He invites you to do so.
He has given you His only Son that you might not perish but have eternal life.
And He wants you to tell everyone you know that they can join you.

ALL are welcome!
Spread the good news!
Share the secret!
Change someone's life, today!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Divine Magic

I think God might be a magician.

He can speak anything into existence, creating EVERYTHING out of nothing.
He can make the invisible visible.
And He can make ME faultless.
(makes me think of that song about being flawless)

I read all about these divine magical powers this morning in Colossians 1:15-23

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through Him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can't see -- 
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through Him and for Him.
He existed before anything else,
and He holds all creation together.
Christ is also the head of the church,
which is His body.
He is the beginning, 
supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So He is first in everything.
For God in all His fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
and through Him God reconciled everything to Himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ's blood on the cross.

This includes you who were once far away from God.  You were His enemies, separated from Him by your evil thoughts and actions.  Yet now He has reconciled you to Himself through the death of Christ in His physical body.  As a result, He has brought you into His own presence, and you are hold and blameless as you stand before Him without a single fault.

But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it.  Don't drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God's servant to proclaim it.

So, let's go over those magic tricks again.
First, Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
Until Jesus' birth no one had ever seen God.
BUT, when Jesus left heaven and came to earth as a tiny baby, born in a stable, everything changed.

Somehow Mary held in her arms the Creator of the universe, the One who had been before time began and spoke creation into existence.  That would be the second divine magic trick we see here in this passage.  God made everything out of nothing.  And then proceeded to hold it all together.  Check out Genesis 1 if you don't believe me!

And of course, God being the master showman that He is, saved the best trick for last.  Through Christ He has reconciled everyone to Himself!!!  He has turned enemies into friends.  He has made completely clean what was rotten, disgusting, and full of sin.  By means of Christ's DEATH, He has given us LIFE.  That's a pretty impressive trick too, if I do say so myself.  

But here's the amazing part - it's NOT a trick at all!  
Salvation is the real deal.
The bee's knees.

We who were doomed to die and be forever separated from God are now invited into His very presence and stand before Him holy and blameless and without fault.

It's no doing of our own.
Left to ourselves, we WOULD perish.
In Christ, and Christ alone, can we have eternal life.
His BLOOD, shed upon that horrific cross, has washed us clean.
We are white as snow.

I don't know of any magician that can do that!

As I read those verses this morning, I was taken aback.
I deserve to die, yet today I stand in the presence of God.
Without fault.

I shake my head even now as I type out my amazing reality.
I am forever grateful for this gift of life.
And I plan to do as Paul urged the believers in Colosse to do all those years ago - stand firm in this truth that I have heard and received.

As I sang with my girls in the car earlier today,

No magic required...

Monday, January 11, 2016

Faith, Hope, and Love

If you have ever been to a single wedding, you have probably heard the phrase, "but these three remain: faith, hope, and love.  And the greatest of these is love."

Almost every wedding I attend, someone reads the "Love Passage" from 1 Corinthians 13.
Or the verses are printed on the wedding program.
The emphasis is on love, as it should be at a wedding.

This morning, though, as I was reading in Colossians 1, I noticed that faith and love stem from HOPE.  So maybe HOPE is the greatest of the 3?

Take a look at these words from Paul and see what you think.

We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For we have heard of your FAITH in Christ Jesus and your LOVE for all God's people, which come from your CONFIDENT HOPE of what God has reserved for you in heaven.  You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.

Did you catch that?
Did it stick out to you like it did for me?

Our faith is a result of our hope.
We can live out our faith because we are confident that God will do as He has promised.  We look forward to the future with HOPE.  We are expectant, excited for Jesus to come back.  We anticipate His return.  While we wait, we have HOPE and that equips and empowers us to LIVE BY FAITH.

Our love also stems from our hope.
We can love other people because we know God has reserved a special inheritance for us in heaven. No one can take that away.  No one steal that from us.  AND there is no comparing or fighting or trying to outdo each other.  God has something reserved for EACH of us, so no need to compete or argue or show off or keep up with the Jones.  Instead, we are FREE TO LOVE.

Isn't that wonderful?!
That can seriously be LIFE-CHANGING.

In fact, Paul says it IS.

Read on to see what he says in verse 6:

The same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world.  It is BEARING FRUITS everywhere by CHANGING LIVES, just as it CHANGED YOUR LIVES from the day you first heard and understood the truth of God's wonderful grace.

When we know the truth, we understand who we are.
As we let the truth work its way into our hearts and minds, we are changed.
We can't stay the same as we were.
We bear fruit.

"The fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, FAITHFULNESS, gentleness, and self-control."

Paul goes on to explain in his letter to the Galatians,
"Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's leading in EVERY part of our lives.  Let us NOT become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another."

Instead, we LOVE one another.
And Paul seems to think faith and love are connected.  He writes in 2 Thessalonians, "Dear brothers and sisters, we can't help but thank God for you, because your FAITH is flourishing and your LOVE for one another is growing."

Jesus tells us in John 13:35, "Our love for one another will prove to the world that we are His disciples."   If love is our defining feature, it must be pretty important.  Hence, it's the "greatest of these."

YET, if our love stems from the HOPE we have in Jesus, I am thinking that HOPE must be pretty darn important too!

So, I ask you today...
In what or whom are you putting your hope?

ONLY as you hope in Christ, trusting HIM alone, will you be able to live by faith and truly love others.  ONLY as you hope in Christ, believing Him at His word, will you be FREE to enjoy the life God has planned for you.  I assure you the blessings and gifts He has for you are amazing, beyond anything we could ever begin to imagine!  I encourage you to put your HOPE in Him today!!!

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