Year of Greater

We’re a week into 2019 and I’ve finally gotten around to writing my 2018 review, if you will.

At the end of 2017, God revealed my “word” for the year, “greater”. I would like to say that I entered the year eager and encouraged, but it was just the opposite. I entered the year on a very low note, I had regressed in a lot of areas of my emotions.

Things I thought I had conquered, I though I had overcome, welled up inside me – all. at. once. I was angry and bitter, insecure and doubtful, and I thought to myself “Day 1 of my year of ‘greater’ and THIS is what it has for me?!”.

Needless to say I was frustrated, but I will never regret stopping in that moment and turning to face God. There may have been tears and whining, but He deposited so much into my spirit that day through my sobbing worship. I had tried to carry myself through the last several months of 2017 and allowed my circumstances to shake my knowing of His promises.

On that day, January 1, 2018, I audibly said to God, “I believe what you’ve told me and no matter what happens this year, I will continue to believe it.”

2018 was full of SO many fun and amazing things, accomplishments and celebrations, that I dare not let the uncomfortable parts of the growth process overshadow the victories won.

I finished grad school, I got my mindfulness nutrition mentor certification, I traveled, I made new friends, I hit big business goals, I tried new things, I had one of the healthiest years of my life, and so many other things to name.

My year of greater wasn’t about the external, however. In the process of pruning, the gardener has to remove the things that will harm the plant. Pruning, when it comes to our relationship with God, isn’t comfortable, but very necessary. He wants our lives to be full and abundant in Him. God’s abundance isn’t the same as the world’s definition of abundance. We may have access to everything, but that doesn’t mean everything is for us.

Say what?! Yep. There were things inside of me that I didn’t need, things I had attached myself to that I didn’t need, things that were bringing death to me (in various ways). We have an enemy, and he doesn’t always come as a clearly bad idea or decision. It can be disguised as good or favorable, which is why we have to be aware of God’s plan for us, what our goal should be.

Just the same, as God was changing me to bring LIFE to my situations, relations, and decisions, the enemy disguised the removal as loss instead of gain. God was doing what He said, making me GREATER in Him, but there were days when it looked differently. However, I can boldly say that His promises to me never left my mind. Am I human? Yes. So there were times when I had to remind myself over and over what promise I made – I would continue to believe what God said, no matter what.

God’s intention was never to bring hurt to my life. The things I had to change or get rid of were my doing, He didn’t put them there. But He brought me out. When I lean into Him, I learn Him. The deeper my relationship, the more I trust. I only thought I trusted Him in the year prior, but when trust in Him was all I could hold on to, I really knew.

I’m thankful that he’s remained faithful to me, even when I wasn’t the most likely candidate. I am greater in Him because of Him, therefore, I am a greater me.

The road to greatness doesn’t stop with the end of 2018. It is only getting better.

 

 

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How’s your closet?

Several months ago, I attended a business summit at my church that was put on by my pastor. Over the period of a few hours, business knowledge was poured over us and I’m pretty sure my pen was smoking because of all the notes I took. There was one thing he said that echoed in my mind for a long time, and it wasn’t directly related to business, but to me and my life (that would eventually affect my business).

He said that our closet represents our true life – that the condition of that “hidden” or “unseen” parts of our lives shows how we truly live. Oh. man.

I was immediately convicted – because there is a lot of truth in that. My closet was chaos, but if I shut the door, I wouldn’t see it and I could ignore it. My true life, just the same. I was closing the door to my problems, the things I didn’t want to deal with – the chaos, and pretended it wasn’t there. I would only venture in every now and then to get what I needed (which was stressful), then I would exit and close the door to ignore that part of my life just as I did my closet.

I made so many attempts to clean my closet, but it was overwhelming and I didn’t know where to start. I’ve accumulated so much over the past 7 years of living on my own – way more than I needed. I didn’t have anywhere to put it, I didn’t know what to do with it. So time and time again of trying to clean my closet, I would get frustrated and walk away after “organizing” one or two things.

I got to the point to where I just couldn’t take it anymore. I needed help. I couldn’t clean my closet alone, so I called in for back up. My sweet sister visited me for a week, and we (she did a lot) took that time to basically take everything out, sort through it, keep some, trash some, donate some, and put it back in an organized way. Shirts color coordinated and hung by season, pants nicely placed by style, and shoes by color and type. Boxes were organized and straightened and for the first time in almost a year, my closet was finally in order.

You see, too often in our lives we try to deal with the chaos in our lives alone. Sometimes we even pray and fast – but what we really need is reinforcement. We need to let someone else, someone we trust, come in and help us unpack what is going on. They can see it from a different perspective, in a clearer way. They don’t have the emotional attachment to your sparkly collage notebook from your freshman year of college like you do. They help you get rid of the things you don’t need to carry, help you prioritize the things you have, and love you still.

Maybe you’re having trouble cleaning your closet on your own. Grab someone who loves you and is willing to get knee deep with you, and tackle it together.

Oh, and if it doesn’t fit now, just donate it. You’ll want new clothes with your new body, anyway.

I’m not quick or easy.

If you’ve been alive for more than 15 years, chances are you’ve probably tried some type of diet or weight loss method.

I began my weight loss journey somewhere around my first year of high school. Since then there have been many failures and successes, I’ve tried just about every method there is – paid programs, shots, pills, starving, low/no carb, fasting, wraps, liquid diet, 3 eggs a day diet, eating what I want and spending hours in the gym, etc.

I found a bunch of ways that don’t work. Sure, I lost weight with most of the methods – one in particular brought me down 40 lbs –  but I always had to start something new, because as soon as I stopped one thing I gained all of the weight back and more.

To say I was skeptical of starting again is a vast understatement. I felt like I tried everything there was, nothing worked (long term) and as a result, I was never happy with who I was or how I felt.

Lets get somethings out of the way before you read this:
Losing weight is FUN – seeing that number go down is so. much. fun.
Losing weight is GOOD – if you’re overweight, likewise gaining weight is GOOD if you’re underweight.
Looking good FEELS good – who wouldn’t want to look and feel their very best?!

^ I understand and agree with all of this.

In today’s world we can miss it big time – with the comparison that comes with social media, if we are emotionally led, we will get stuck in a trap that has us not feeling good enough. You can roll your eyes, but it happens to the best of us – even celebrities, even the people YOU compare yourself to have fallen into the trap. No one is completely immune.

When I decided to start again, I was nowhere near where I am now. My mindset belonged in a trashcan, my eating habits belonged in a landfill, and my workout routine was a joke. I had absolutely no place to help anyone else change their life – I was the person that needed the help. I wasn’t even ready to change. I didn’t want to give up my drinks or my fast food, or late night trips for ice cream. I enjoyed Oreo’s and Reese’s, and my blood was made from cheese and wine – who in their right mind would want to give something like that up?! Not me. (Side note – I still enjoy those things ~50+ lbs lighter, so quit holding your breath!)

Why did I try, then? If I wasn’t ready & I didn’t want to give up any of my fun – why?! Because I was told I didn’t have to. SCORE! Your parents didn’t demand that you walk the day after you decided to crawl – so why do you demand that your body has to change in one day? One of my friends convinced me to do one thing – change my meat source. I could totally do that once I found out that ground turkey and chicken didn’t taste any different than ground beef. Shortly, I was off red meats all together – with the occasional burger (because I didn’t have to stop living real life – this was my real life). The next thing I did was begin to use veggie substitutes, because #pastaaddiction (not all carbs were gone – but some). Veggie noodles, cauliflower rice – okay I can do this! Then, I got some at-home workout DVDs that were 30 min long (I did them when I felt like it).

Fireworks, right?! Nope. I found myself getting SO obsessive with it that I became unhappy if the scale didn’t move. I still wasn’t happy with the way I looked, I still compared myself to everyone with abs. I only ate well and worked out because I hated myself. I confided in friends, those who would ultimately be the ones who still push me to this day to be my best. I asked them how they were doing so well – why they seemed so happy. They told me that they read or listened to something every day that grew and challenged their thinking. BOO – not the answer I was looking for! Reading won’t make me skinny and it won’t make veggies taste better – tell me what you’re really doing!

That’s. It. So, I asked for recommendations and they asked me what my problem areas were. Um….nothing? Everything’s great? (I was not telling them my problems! I was not telling them that I was addicted to food and My 600lb Life  didn’t sound so bad if it meant that I could just give up on life!) I just told them I had self-esteem issues (super safe answer) and that I wanted to be able to stick to a meal plan. The next day I ordered Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst. She’s a Christian author, so she has to be nice, right? Turns out, she got all up in my business – in all the right and much needed ways.

Between reading the book and my friends holding me accountable to the things I said I would do – things started changing for the better. I was following a simple meal plan, doing simple workouts, and reading. I wasn’t cutting out food groups, I wasn’t killing myself in the gym for hours, I was finally doing something that FELT right.

I had tried all the quick fixes, but the temporary satisfaction was detrimental to my health overall – mentally, emotionally, and physically. We live in a time where we have quick and easy access to so much, and while it is a good thing – it can also be a bad thing. I was setting myself up for failure by putting my trust in something that offered the quickest results. I didn’t have to deal with the root of the problem – and that was a problem.

If you’re like me and you’ve struggled with emotional eating, binge eating, or just weight in general, it is a lot more than just the number on the scale. There is a long history of other problems entangled in our health/eating habits. We can’t just quick fix them away. I’m not a gardener, but I know that weeds have to be poisoned at the root and taken away before they end their reign of toil in the garden. The same goes for our emotional and mental view of food and the way it comforts us. We’ve altered the way we look at ourselves. Deep down we know what we are, we know who we are, but we are being suffocated by the kudzu of what we’ve seen, heard, and what we’ve been through – all things that alter or silence the truth in our minds.

I had to remove the weeds and allow the truth of who I really am to grow through. I learned WHY the foods I was eating were beneficial to my body (or not). I learned WHY the workouts I was doing were working. I learned what emotions were triggering my want to comfort with food. I learned how to untangle feelings from food. I learned how to love myself and my body the way it is now, even though I’m still working on my physique.

It has been a long process, it didn’t happen overnight. I ditched the quick fixes and got to the root of the problem and the real life change began. Now that I am truly living life healthier overall – a little deviation from the norm with ice cream, a candy bar, or a patty melt doesn’t throw me off course – and it doesn’t make me feel like I have to overwork the next day to make up for it.

Whatever you settle for will flourish. If you settle for quick fixes – that’s what you’ll get. If you settle on obsessing over the number on the scale – that’s what will remain. If you decide to get to the root of your problems, fuel your body properly, move to strengthen your muscles – that will flourish.

Only you can decide.

 

Purpose on the Sidelines

When I came home from school and told my mom I wanted to play softball, I think she almost had a heart attack. But a few short weeks later, after tryouts, I remember the anticipation and excitement of finding out which team I had been selected to be on.

I didn’t really know what was in store – all I knew is that I was going to play softball and I was S T O K E D. I played, and I was pretty decent. I was selected for the All-Stars team for years and years in a row. I played throughout the summer with travel ball teams – I basically lived and breathed softball for 13 years of my life.

I loved the game. I loved the mental and physical parts. I loved the team aspect. I love, and still love softball. It was a huge part in my life, after all. But more than that – it revealed to me my purpose, and I didn’t even know it – until now.

Like I said before, I was pretty decent. I had numerous “clutch” moments in my playing career, I was consistent and in it for the long haul, and I put my all on the field. I don’t remember, however, ever being the “hot shot” or “star player” – but I was okay with that.

Not “okay” in a sense that I didn’t want to get better or strive to do my best with every play, but I never had that desire in me to outshine everyone else. Some people do, but not me.

My first high school season, however, ya girl had a perfect batting average. Yeah, you heard me – P E R F E C T. That’s because after the first tournament, I broke my ankle in practice. Yes practice. Insert eye roll. After hours in the ER and a trip to the orthopedic doctor the next morning, surgery was the verdict. Surgery on Friday morning. We had a tournament on Saturday.

I made it to the bus on Saturday morning- with the help of some pain relievers, but I made it. And I made it to every practice and game after that.

I don’t say this to brag – I say it to show you that when you are walking in purpose, your circumstances don’t stop you from continuing to walk in purpose. I wanted to be there – because, if nothing else, I could sit/lean and encourage my team to victory. I could speak life into their every play. I could lift them up (even if it was in a stern voice when they’re pouting) after a bad hit or missed ball.

During the rest of my high school career, especially on the varsity team, I wasn’t the one who always got a ton of playing time. Again – I never saw this as defeat. Of course, I wanted to be on the field playing as much as possible, but when I wasn’t I was on the fence. Encouraging. Uplifting. Speaking life into my teammates.

I had nothing to complain about – other than the umpires sad excuse for a strike zone. This is what I was made for. I loved playing ball more than anything – I still enjoy being active and competitive, but I found my groove – my purpose – on the sidelines.