Sunday, July 26, 2015

Temple Building

If you've followed my blog for a few years, you may remember back in 2013 when I wrote about the healthy journey I was on at the time. I lost 20 pounds during that journey. I enjoyed that journey. You can read about it if you like - here or here. As I read over the words I wrote over 2 years ago, I feel a twinge of inner pain, guilt, and disappointment. I was so sure then that the journey I was on was unending. And, in all honesty, it is - it just took a detour for a few years. I'm sad to say that probably a few months after that second post I wrote, I took a wrong turn on that journey of mine which lead me back to my unhealthy habits and subsequently a 30 pound weight gain. Yes, I gained all 20 pounds back plus 10 more. This year was the worst. We had started eating out more than we used to, ordering pizza at least once a week, and I drank more soda than I had in a very long time. 

But about 2.5 weeks ago, that all changed. After deciding before we left for vacation in Alabama that something had to change and I had to get serious, I bought the book - The Daniel Plan. I read and finished that book in about 3 days, pumped and ready for our big change when we returned. I stopped caffeine and sugar cold turkey. The first 3 days were tough y'all - - - like mentally, physically, and emotionally. I knew what I was doing was going to benefit me in the long run but the side effects of a full on detox simply suck! Headache, body aches, extreme fatigue - it wasn't pretty. But I made it through. While I didn't do a pure 10 day detox like it suggests in the book, I did enough to lose weight and start feeling way better. 

What's the difference this time? Well, I am so glad you asked. In my journey before, I had a few of the essentials The Daniel Plan describes and, in essence, prescribes. The 5 Essentials are Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus, and Friends. In order to be ultimately successful, you have to combine all 5. Our physical health is tied to our spiritual health in a number of ways. I believe the Faith essential and the Focus essential were the 2 that I lacked before. While I prayed about my health journey before, I didn't quite look at my food choices as a form of worship. The Bible states that our bodies are the temple. I've always looked at that as more of a sexual purity sort of thing rather than a health thing as well. In the Bible, God's people were only to bring in their very best to the temple. If my body is the temple now, then I should only be providing it the very best. I must care for it - the Lord's dwelling place. 

I'm learning a lot on this journey. I'm learning how to read labels and understand ingredient lists. I'm learning that support is absolutely critical. I'm learning that the more time I spend with God, the more I crave Him and not certain foods. I'm learning that certain things I thought were "healthy" were really just disguised very well. I'm learning that I will occasionally make bad choices when it comes to food and that's okay. Instead of beat myself up, I make note of that choice and how it effects me. I'm learning that God loves me like crazy, extra weight and all, but He desires more for me. In order to be truly used by Him in my full potential, I have to make sure my body is up to it. 

I've lost 7 or 8 pounds, depending on the day, so far. I have more energy. I'm in a better mood. I'm trying new recipes. Sure I've messed up a few times. I just dust myself off and move on. I hope you'll follow me on this journey. Perhaps the more I blog about it, the more accountable I'll be, and one day you'll see the real before and after - the me that craved toxic, poisonous garbage and the new me that craves healthy, life giving goodness...and Jesus. 

Here's to building the temple up the way it should be....

Photo Credit: Me:)
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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Full Circle

Ten years ago I met a girl online who would later become my first roommate in college. We were fast friends, taking college by storm. Well, maybe not by storm. But I loved her like crazy and I tried my best to look out for her. You see, she and I came from very different worlds. In fact, the only real thing we had in common was the love of writing...and Jesus. But it didn't matter. We became nearly inseparable for the first several months. I won't get into the nitty gritty of how we started to drift apart; but it happened and soon summer came. Little did I know, I would only be in touch with her for a few more years. She came back to Southeastern for sophomore year but headed to St. Leo University after that. It wasn't long after I married my husband that we lost touch completely. 

I wanted to tell her when we found out we were pregnant, but couldn't find her. I've actually been searching for her for years. Years. Crazy right? Every few months, I'd run a search on Facebook or Google, typing in anything I knew about her or locations that I thought she might be. I could never really find anything. As a matter of fact, my last search of her was just a few weeks ago. 

Then, enter Saturday night. I received a direct message through Instagram (my first ever). I didn't recognize the username as anyone I followed and I was supposed to approve a picture they sent to me. Um, sketchy. But as I peered at the little thumbnail photo, I new I recognized that tiny little side profile. I immediately opened it up and lo and behold, it was HER! I squealed! "You found me!" I wrote back. "I've been searching for you forever." We chatted on Instagram for a bit before agreeing to chat on the phone the following day.  

On Sunday, before I was expecting her call, I ran another search on Google...only this time I ran it with her new last name. She changed her last name which is why I could never find anything. She had been adopted! My search led me to part of her story and as much as I knew about her scarred life before, nothing prepared me for what I read. There was so much more darkness she'd walked, crawled, and run through than I could believe. She called me right after and we talked for an hour about her life...about what we'd missed....and about how wonderful her life is now. 

Friends, my sweet college roommate is a survivor. Of course, I already knew a few things she was a survivor of: eating disorders, cutting, alcoholism, name a few. But I learned that this sweet friend of mine was a sex trafficking survivor. Sold by her own parents at age 6, she spent the next almost 2 decades living in that lifestyle, perhaps even in the time we lived together...and I never knew it. I was dumbfounded! But by the grace of God, her story didn't end there. As she recounted the last 5 years of healing for her, tears streamed down my face. I only ever wanted good things for her. I wanted her to get the help she needed and oh, did she get it. She's now living in a safe house in California as a big sister and mentor to the girls they rescue. Her adopted mom is a modern day abolitionist doing amazing work for the anti human trafficking movement through her organization Courage Worldwide and I cannot thank God enough for finally giving her the mother and father she deserves.

She has such an amazing story of redemption and grace and I am so thankful that 10 years later, she is doing amazing things and changing lives. She sure changed mine a decade ago. From our first connection online 10 years ago to our re-connection this weekend online, we have certainly had a full circle reunion of sorts. And words will never be able to express how grateful I am!

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Teachable Moments...

Okay, first of all, it has been WAY too long since I've posted. January...what?! Life got crazy. We went straight from the holidays into crazy crunch time at school not only preparing our kiddos for the tests to come but purging and packing our classrooms  to move our sweet school to our new campus over Spring Break. Things just haven't slowed down since and I rarely venture into the office for anything other than to retrieve something so sitting and writing took a back seat. But I need to blog. People have been asking. I've been itching to write. So, it's time. Bear with me...I may have forgotten how to form a sentence....ha!

One of my constant prayers as a mother is that the Lord would provide teachable moments in my time with my son. These teachable moments come in the forms of questions he asks, situations that arise, or discipline that needs to be carried out. My goal is to always point it back to Christ. How's that working, you ask? Well, most of the time, if I'm being perfectly honest....I fail miserably. Maybe I'm "too busy" and don't take the time to really answer his question. Maybe that situation I just brush under the rug. And that discipline? Maybe frustration and impatience get the upper hand and I let a teachable moment slip by yet again. It's not intentional but then again, that means I'm not being intentional at all in those moments God provides for me.

Saturday was different though. Hubby was with his brother working a side job so Gabe and I had the first part of the day to ourselves, just the two of us. That honestly doesn't happen too often and I wanted to make sure I spent time with him while also getting things done. I turned up some music and he helped me out around the house. Then we were in his room while he was putting toys away and I was putting his clothes away. I don't even remember what was said but I mentioned to him that he was not being nice. The conversation started something like this:

Me: You are not being very nice.
G: Well....
Me: Well, do you want to be mean? (I'm expecting him to say no of course)
G: Yes.
Me: (Thinking he has not understood the question) Do you want people to be mean to you?
G: No.
Me: But you want to be mean to others?
G: Yes. I want to be mean.

At this point, I need to prove a point and not launch into a lecture to a 4 year old whose eyes will glaze over after 20 seconds. So, I softly but firmly told him I would not be helping him anymore and I left the room. Of course, my child, being the sensitive one that he is, immediately began crying. I waited about a minute before re-entering the room to talk to him.

Me: Did you like it when mommy left?
G: No.
Me: Did you think I was being mean?
G: Yes.
Me: How did that make you feel?
G: Sad.
Me: Well, buddy, that's how other people feel when you're mean to them.

At this point, we moved our conversation to the couch in the living room. He sat in my lap as I began to really use this moment to point it back to Christ.

Me: How does Jesus want you to treat people?
G: Good. He wants us to be nice.
Me: Right. And don't you want to be like Jesus?
G: But I want to be mean.
Me: (Thinking I'm losing him somehow) Buddy, why do you want to be mean? That hurts mommy's heart.
G: Well, when bad guys come, I want to be mean.
Me: (I have realized we were on completely different pages) Ohhhh, so you want to be mean to bad guys. Not everyone?
G: Right. I'm going to be mean to bad guys.

I could have left it there. I could have told him that mommy didn't understand before and thought he wanted to be mean to everyone and that now I understood. But, I felt the Spirit urging me to take it deeper. And, so I did.

Me: I understand wanting to be mean to bad guys. But can I tell you something? You know when Jesus died on the cross?
G: Yeah, when he died and then he came back to life 3 days later?
Me: Exactly. Do you know that there were bad guys that killed him? They beat him and made fun of him and they killed him.
G: There were?
Me: Yes. But do you know that He was never mean to them? In fact, He asked God to forgive them. And He loved them.
G: Wow. So we show love to bad guys too?
Me: Yes. I know that's hard but Jesus wants us to show love to everyone.

(Note: Between the above and below sections, months have passed. I got sidetracked when I started writing this and just now picked it back up. So this whole story is actually like 2 or 3 months old. I apologize.)

It seemed to sink in. Then, he ran to get his little devotion book I got him for Christmas. I turned to that day to read the devotion and the scripture that went with it was exactly what we needed. He got his Jesus Calling Children's bible story book which of course had the story we needed as well. I just love how God orchestrates things. We read the story of Jesus dying on the cross and how they beat Him and spit on Him and He never uttered a mean word. He asked the Father to forgive them instead. It was a beautiful moment that I was able to pause and really take the opportunity to teach my little guy a lesson. Let's be real...even mommy needed that lesson too. 

Thank you, Jesus.
Image borrowed from {} 

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