Monday, February 1, 2016

Finding My Words



My corner of the web has sat quiet for more than a year.

For the most part, I just haven't felt like I had anything to say that would add to the conversations already being had on the web. My personality tends to err on the side of not saying anything at all unless I have something worth saying, words which add value to someone else's life.

And while I never write for the sake of someone else, I hope folks are reading. Not for my ego. But because there is value in community.

With that said, this post has been brewing in my heart for a few weeks. This post is a reminder to myself, a commitment for the new year. Not a resolution, but an opportunity to focus on the things that matter the most to me.

For several years, I participated in the whole One Word challenge. I'd pray and ask God to show me a word for the year to focus on. A word that would be the theme for my life for the next 365 days. 

In 2013, it was return.

In 2014, it was redeem.

I skipped the whole challenge last year.

But this year, this year there isn't just one word. There are five. Five whole words that are more than words. They are areas of my life that I feel God wants me to focus on and be faithful with this year.

FAITH - Faith in Jesus is the center of who I am. Without faith, my life would be but a shallow existence. When I was a little girl, God rocked my world and changed my life. It didn't happen overnight; the change was gradual, and is still happening. The closer I draw to Jesus, the more my life changes. 

This year, my heart longs to be even more faithful in my relationship with Jesus. I want to sit in the quiet with Him and hear His heart beat more than in past yeas. I want to linger in His presence like Mary rather than constantly being busy doing His work like Martha. Oh, His work is good, and I'll keep doing it. But I don't want to miss out on those precious quiet times with Him.

FAMILY - My family means the world to me! God has blessed me with an incredible mom, stepdad, brothers, stepsisters, husband, parents-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews. We're a crazy bunch, each of us with our own personalities and quirks. But I wouldn't trade my family in for the world. God puts us in families, and I love mine.

This year, my desire is to spend more time with my family. The past couple of years with my family has been a roller coaster ride, to say the least. God has and continues to work a HUGE miracle in my family. I cannot wait to see what His plans are for us.

FINANCES - Money. I have a love/hate relationship with money. I wish I had more of it (don't we all?). At the same time, managing money has never been my strong suit, so I need to be more faithful with what I've work hard for and have been given. 

This year, my goal is to get my finances in better order. Last year I took a leap of faith with the NO LIMITS campaign at church and committed to giving an amount that I'm still not sure how I'm going to give. But God knows. And I trust that He is going to show up and show off with my finances as I continue to be faithful in this area.

FITNESS - Oh, fitness. You want to know the truth? I'm 100% happy with who I am and what I look like. Seriously. That's not a joke. I've been overweight most of my life. Most of my 20s I weighed in at over 200 pounds. On my wedding day, I weighed in at 309. So how can I be 100% happy with who I am? Because the number on the scale does not and never will define me. That is God's job. My weight has and never will dictate what I can and can't do with my life. It will never stop me from hopping on a plane and traveling to exotic places all over the world to share Jesus' crazy love with someone who needs to know Him. It will never stop me from being ME.

So why focus on fitness? Honestly, I've been on a fitness journey since 2014. I was introduced to an online fitness group called Faithful Finish Lines and the group has changed me for the better. This year, I am continuing to focus on fitness so that I can be a healthier version of myself so that I can be more, do more, and go more!

FUN - Because who doesn't need a little bit of fun in their lives?! Truly, I believe that God is a good, loving, FUN God! The creator of the universe is the author of fun. He loves it when His kids enjoy their lives with Him, their family, and friends.

So this year, I'm going to focus on having a good time with the life I've been given because it's the only one I've got!

This year, my blog may sit quiet more often than not, but I feel like I'm finding my words again. I hope you'll join me on the journey...

The new year has come and gone, but it's never too late to find your words! What 5 areas of your life do you feel like God is telling you to focus on this year? Share in the comments!


Monday, November 24, 2014

Focus on the Positive


Three weeks ago I started a journey to get healthy. It's not the first time I've started such a journey, but my hope is that this time will lead to a lifetime of change. You see, Faithful Finish Lines is a tangible program. It starts by asking the journey-taker to create "God-given, short-term fitness goals that balance with family priorities, promote eating for energy, and include mission and fun." 

One of the reasons I love Faithful Finish Lines is because it is practical. The program isn't like all those diet programs out there that make you drink meal replacement shakes or obsessively count calories or work out 2 hours a day. Instead, Faithful Finish Lines is all about helping each individual create short-term goals that will aid in healthy long-term lifestyle changes. For example, the program leaders give us fitness goals each week, such as increasing our fruit and veggie intake or increasing our movement for the week. Along with the goals, each member is encouraged to to pray a specific prayer for the week that will help us focus our mind on Jesus as we re-create our lives towards a more healthier version of ourselves.

Another reason I love the program is that not only are the leaders (Sara & Jill) super inspiring and encouraging, but the members of the group are as well! We spend time each week logging onto the Faithful Finish Lines Facebook page to cheer each other on in our journey. Faithful Finish Lines isn't something you do on your own, which often leads to giving up and going back to your old way of doing things. Instead, Faithful Finish Lines has a built-in accountability system. There are other people walking alongside you in this journey, encouraging and lifting you up in prayer, while you do the same for them. It's amazing, and I'm so so thankful to be a part of this wonderful group!

Confession time: while I love love LOVE everything about Faithful Finish Lines, change is HARD! If you've been paying attention to the blog, you've noticed I've not blogged about FFL in two weeks. These past two weeks have been super difficult as I've tried to walk this journey to a healthier life. Some of the changes have been simple, such as adding more fruits and veggies to the diet. But other things have been a challenge, such as increasing my activity. Week one I was determined to get moving more and was walking 1.2 miles every other night. Week two I started out strong then it got cold outside, so I lost all motivation. Not to mention, I can't seem to get this eating under my calorie goal thing down. It's  because I don't want to give up some of my favorite things (Mt Dew mostly).

Last week I avoided the Faithful Finish Lines Facebook page. I ignored Sara's emails asking me to let her know what my short-term fitness goal was going to be. The truth was, I was discouraged because I felt the weight of making this huge lifestyle change. I finally reached out to Sara and let her know I was discouraged, and she responded with such encouragement. She reminded me that I needed to give myself credit for the progress that I was making, even if it seemed small to me. 

So this week I've decided to focus on the positive! Though they may seem small, these changes I've made are going to help me in the long-term:
  • I went from ZERO servings of fruit per day to 1-2 servings
  • I went from ZERO exercise a week to walking 2-3 times a week
  • I went from almost ZERO glasses of water per day to 1-2 glasses

Also, the short-term fitness goal I've chosen is to attempt to walk a 5K! I officially signed up for the Rudolf Run which is coming up soon on Thursday, December 4th!! This event is going to be super fun as it's a night-time event that comes along with blink-y noses so all the folks participating can look like Rudolf. :) I'm also walking with a mission -- to honor some folks in my life who are cancer survivors. These folks inspire me each and every day to continue to live a better life!

Ever since I participated in the #write31days challenge, the thing that keeps coming back to me is that it's OK to give myself grace. There will be times in life where things get difficult, when I'll feel like quitting, and maybe I'll even give up for a while. But instead of giving up permanently, grace says it's OK to start again.

What is grace telling you?

If you're on this Faithful Fitness Lines journey with me, THANK YOU for your encouragement along the way. Whether you've actually personally said something to me or not, your words have made an impact. I'm reading your posts on Facebook as well as your blog, and your stories keep me motivated on this journey. 




Friday, November 14, 2014

When All Goes Still

There never seems to be a quiet moment in my world. Funny enough, I don't have kids, so you'd think there would be plenty of quiet time in my life.

But the noise is constant.

Sometimes it's because I want it to be there. I need the noise to keep me motivated, energized to do whatever task lay before me.

Dishes.

Laundry.

Sweeping.

Heck, even writing a blog post.

While I'm driving to work, the music has to be playing. Otherwise I talk to myself  God. He doesn't mind all the chit-chat during the commute.

And when I'm home, the TV seems to always be on, the same shows repeating themselves over and over again.

But this evening, oh blessedness, there is not one sound in this house. I can breathe.

Peace, the stillness has come.

And I'm enjoying every moment of it.

Is this noise constant in your life or do you find moments of quiet?

Today I'm joining up with hundreds of others who like to take five minutes every Friday to free write. There's no need to be perfect or to worry about taking time to edit. Feel free to join us as we link up here!


Monday, November 10, 2014

Two Things that Inspire


I love sunsets. 

There's something about the sun settling down on the western skyline that brings joy to my heart. Whether it's the gorgeous shades of yellow, orange, and red spray painted over the blue-purple sky, or the silhouettes of the trees in the foreground. 

Sunsets are breathtakingly inspiring. 

You know what else is inspiring? A group of people who band together to make changes in their lives and are encouraging each other on their journey together!

Last week I started a journey as part of a group called Faithful Finish Lines. It has been such a joy to be on this journey with these brave, inspirational women. We're all at different stages in our journey, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that we're doing it together!

I'm also a part of a Facebook holiday challenge group. The goal is to get up and move for 30 minutes each day. I suck at exercise, but it's been so inspiring to see each person post every day when they've got their 30 minutes in. Plus they're cheering each other on! 

These two groups of people amaze me.  We are all different. All in different stages of life, faith, and fitness. But we're putting that all aside to be each other's biggest cheerleaders. 

That, my friends, is inspiring. ��

What inspires you? 

Today I'm linking up with the folks at #InspireMeMondays. Click here to read other inspirational posts! It'll make your Monday better, I promise. ��



Faithful Finish Lines

Silence. 

That's what you've heard on the blog these last ten days. After the flurry of writing in October, I took some time away from the blog to just be. Thirty-one straight (almost) days of writing was quite the challenge! One I'm proud to have participated in and conquered (even if I didn't write every single day). {You can read all the 31 days of simply writing posts here!}

You see, that's the thing I learned during the challenge: to not let one or two or three days of not writing keep me from finishing. 

It's OK to give myself grace. 

But then I have to pick up where I left off and keep going. 

It's also an important lesson I've learned this week while participating in the Faithful Finish Lines fitness group. FFL is a 7 week program developed and led by Sara Borgstede which offers encouragement and accountability all while helping those of us on this journey to create and complete a specific fitness goal. 

Say what?!

So if you've known me any length of time you know I'm hugely overweight. Always have been. Well, except from like birth to 6 years old. Once I turned 7 it was like the pounds just crept up on me and never left no matter how active I was! Well, except that one time when I went to India and faithfully woke up every day for mandatory exercise at 7am and then walked a bazillion miles every day to get wherever we were going for five months. 40 pounds melted right off me those months regardless of the number of cokes I drank or the fact that I ate a Big Mac (lamb burger, anyone?) every day. 

Online Faith and Fitness Program

But anyway... So I've joined the FFL group not because I have a huge desire to lose weight and be super skinny. Never have been skinny and never will be. Weight has never defined me as a person. It's a number on a scale. That's it. Weight has never stopped me from being ME or achieving the goals in life I've set out for myself. It doesn't matter if I'm 100 lbs or 400 lbs in terms of who I am or what I want to do in this life. 

With that said, the older I've become the more I realize that the weight I carry often causes me physical pain and fatigue. Several years ago I started working out and eating better, and one of the results from doing so was all this energy! It was amazing to finally not be tired all the time. But I quickly became discouraged because my goal then was to lose weight yet the pounds weren't coming off. So I quit. 

But this past week I've picked up where I left off several years ago and I'm moving forward. The steps forward are baby steps, but they're steps nonetheless. 

This week I've kept track of my eating habits and caloric intake by using MyFitnessPal as well as my exercise (or lack thereof) with RunKeeper. I've also made plans to meet with a friend of mine to learn the art of clean eating and possibly some personal training. I've also been reading and chatting with some of the other FFL participants, which has been so encouraging. Not to mention, I love receiving encouraging and inspiring emails from Sara a couple of times a week. She's been where I've been but has also seen the other side. 

I'm looking forward to seeing the other side as well. ��

Have you ever started a journey, fitness or otherwise, only to find yourself discouraged? Did you quit or did you keep going?

Friday, October 31, 2014

The End (or is it?) {Day 31}

Today is the final day of the #write31days challenge hosted by The Nester. The challenge was simple - write every day for 31 days. I joined up with thousands of others and wrote. I missed a couple of days, but that's OK.

I still wrote. 

I didn't give up when I missed a day. I just picked up where I left off and wrote. 

Like a couple of years ago when I started working out but didn't see the results on the scale. I felt better physically and mentally, but wasn't looking pounds. So I gave up. I stopped working out. Even though I loved Zumba, I quit going to class. 

Also a couple of years ago I started writing a book with my husband and beat friend. We wrote and wrote and wrote. Then life got busy and crazy and just in the way. So the writing slacked off. Then eventually stopped. Though I loved colloborating and creating something with my favorite people, I quit. 

But this time was different. I could have given up after I missed a day, but I didn't. I kept going. 

I gave myself grace. 

This afternoon I was thinking about how sometimes we're our harshest critic. It is easier for most people to forgive others but so hard for us to forgive ourselves. We can give grace but think we don't deserve it. 

Yet we need to accept grace when it's offered. And we need to extend it to ourselves sometimes. 

So as the 31 days of simply writing series comes to a close, I challenge you to give yourself grace. This challenge may be ending, but the real challenge is just beginning: taking what we've learned these past 31 days and applying it to our lives. For me, that means to keep writing. To not give up when I get off track. To give myself grace even though it is super hard sometimes. 

What have you learned these past 31 days? 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Little Things {Day 28-29}



This week has been (and will continue to be) extremely busy. Three days this week have (or will) keep me away from home until late in the evening. Though they're all good things, it makes for an exhausting week.

Today was one of the days in which I was able to come straight home from work. The biggest portion of dinner was in the crock pot, so all I had to do was put together a couple of sides. Then the hubs and I sat down for a nice meal together. 

As I was cleaning up the kitchen mess, I noticed a bag of mail on the counter. Most mail is junk mail at our house, but I thumbed through it just in case there was something important. And I'm so glad I did as there was a letter from my sweet girl in the pile!

My sweet girl, Mounika, is my Compassion child. She's a sweet 10 year old girl from India. It is an absolute joy to get a letter from her. She writes of her love for Jesus, her family, friends, and school. Her birthday was earlier this year and we were able to send her a little extra $ so she could get something special. She wrote that she was able to get a couple of dresses and make-up which makes her feel beautiful. 

Her letter this time was much longer than usual, and it simply blessed my heart. Her previous letters were much shorter. But this letter shows that she is growing and learning and being loved on by the Compassion staff. 

It's a small thing, this sponsoring a child. Some wonder if if makes any difference, sponsoring a child. Spending $36 each month and writing letters to a child. Maybe it does or maybe it doesn't, but from what I can tell, it does.

Mothers Teresa says that "little things done with great love can change the world." 

She's right, you know. 

Many of us have grand ideas of changing the world. But we become overwhelmed. We think changing the world is too big a job. Especially for one person. But one person can change the world, if they focus on the world around them. Each of us have our own sphere of influence. And we can do little things each day to influence change in our part of the world. 

For me, one of those little things is giving up $36 a month for my sweet girl. Compassion makes it super easy to become a sponsor. If you're interested, click here for more information

What other ways do you do little things to change the world around you?

This is day 28-29 of the 31 days of simply writing series. Click here to read from the beginning. And thanks for stopping by! Feel free to subscribe to receive my posts directly in your inbox.