Search This Blog

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Whole Life Challenge - DONE!

On 17 September 2016, I joined the Whole Life Challenge along with 21,000 others across the nation. The challenge focuses on 7 key habits: Nutrition (there are 3 levels: Performance, Lifestyle, Kickstart; I chose Lifestyle because it said it's the most like how we'd eat in real life and the easiest to maintain), Exercise (get at least 10 minutes a day), Mobility/Stretching (10 minutes based on a WoD provided to us), Hydration (drink 1/3 your body weight in water daily), Lifestyle (a prescribed activity area for intentional focus; we did prayer/meditation-10 minutes, acts of kindness, count your blessings, organization-10 min each day to unclutter, etc.), Sleep (you set the hours you thought you'd get each night and got points for achieving the goal or lost them for not achieving it), and then ended with a Reflection from the day (what went well, what did you struggle with, what were you celebrating or lamenting, etc.). All of these items allowed you to get points (0-5 for Nutrition-these could be used as needed, all other areas you either got your 5 points or lost it, 0) and compete against your team members (I was T.E.A.M. Hudson) and against all other players. You also earned a day off the Challenge where you could skip all the habits and get your full compliment of points, Indulgence points to be used when you would have otherwise forfeited Nutrition points to have something not on your list, Night Owl to get points for a lost night of sleep (and I have to say this is the one that surprised me the most-I thought I got a good 7-8 hours a night, but in actuality, I oftentimes didn't make it to 7; much thanks to my Fitbit Charge HR for showing me that each night), and lastly Rest Day bonuses which mean you can take off from exercise (I only used one of these while I fought through bronchitis early on in the challenge; I ended with 4 unused). Officially, our challenge ended on 11 November 2016 (Veteran's Day).
When we started the challenge, there were 7 of us. By the end, only three of us had stayed with it including our fearless Captain. The founders of the challenge said this is common and we should applaud ourselves for finishing. Of 2215 teams, we ended in 676th place. I ended top on my team with 1924 points. Across the world, I ended up 745 of 16,928 players. I was in the top 4% of finishers! Let me tell you why that is so much bigger to me than it may be to you: going into this, I was 4 lbs from my overall heaviest weight ever, I had lost all desire to change my circumstances and couldn't find the motivation to take that first step, and going into this, I was so nervous that I would quit when it got too hard. Instead, I found my way again. These 7 habits made me mindful and intentional in my choices. Yes, there were nights that the kids kept me up later than I wanted and I forfeited these points and while that was annoying and frustrating, it also made me recognize that I didn't get a full night's sleep and mindful of how I felt afterwards--which thanks to my eating and hydration wasn't as bad as it had been previously. Plus, it made me thankful I have these two kids to keep me up--they are one of the blessings for which I am ever thankful. I also drank a LOT of water each day and plan to keep that practice up because I know my skin and my body will thank me for it.
At the beginning of the challenge, I had purchased a Fitbit Charge HR to help me with the fitness side of things. I cannot tell you how much this purchase really was one of the smartest things I may have ever gotten myself. It not only counts my steps, but my heart rate and counts the minutes I a in the "fat burning' zone as exercise. This enabled me to tell if I was getting my 10 minutes of exercise or not. Plus, it bursts confetti when I meet those goals which is like a little celebration each time I do. I had set my steps to begin at 6,000 because I felt I could stretch to this and get it even on the weekends when I spend even more time on my butt than as the office worker I am during the week. Over the last 2 weeks, I am regularly hitting 10,000 steps. I will tell you that this means I park further from the office so I get the first 6,000 steps before or shortly after leaving the building (as long as I got up to get water and go to the bathroom a lot as I usually do). Some nights, I have to dance in my living room or walk up and down the hallway in my apartment or along the corridor to reach this point, but it's important to me to do it. So, in good faith of my commitment, I am changing my goal to 10,000 steps and going to stretch myself to do it. Thankfully, I live 7 floors up from our gym which has a treadmill, elliptical, climber, and recumbent bike for the nights I need to make up a greater number of steps. Plus, I have my NBB who will regularly ask me to come workout with him. I love being my boy's workout buddy.
In the 8 weeks of the challenge, I lost 22.2 lbs, an inch in my hips and two in my waist, but the best accomplishment I gained in all this was coming out of the fog and finding a way to intentionally change the habits that will improve my life for me and my kids. My fitness level increased two-fold and I continue to exceed my own expectations and inspire my friends to join me in doing this. Right as I was beginning this journey, one of my best friends found out she had diabetes. With my family history, I was heading toward that, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and everything else that comes with my genetic history (my mom and older sister already are on meds for cholesterol and BP and both sides my grandfathers had diabetes, but both were alcoholics so I was hopeful that was why and not genetic predisposition) and the fact that all three of my kids were over 9 lbs (one of those factors they say indicates future diabetes, but I never had gestational diabetes), that could be my diagnoses in the future, too. So, I chose to take all my head knowledge into my heart and say, "No more!" I don't want to live this way or add to the things my kids would have passed down from me.
I know this journey won't be an easy one because I have been here before. In February 2011, I hit my goal after a 112 lb loss that took 22 months of mindfulness and intentionality. Unfortunately, I never dealt with the root of why I feed my empty with food and drink and repeated the ways of my past. Now, I am ready to go with God into the dark pit of the past and work through the garbage so I can end this cycle for me and for my family. If you are of a mind to pray, I ask that you would cover me as I journey through the pit and deal with my root issues. Much love & His blessing to you all.

There is a new Whole Life Challenge beginning on January 19, 2017 if you're interested in starting the new year off with your own journey to change the way you approach wellness in your life. Visit WLC to learn more.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Perfect Love Casts out Fear

Fear is a very real thing. From a young age, I knew fear in the form of a phobia. I feared death. Not just my death, but specifically around darkness, emptiness, the end of life. I worried something would happen to my mother and I hated sleeping somewhere other than home. As I got older and my thought processes could take me down deep into the darkness of what if scenarios, I could end up in a panic attack. There were times that the most unusual situations lead to the worst ones. The kind where everything goes wonky, sight becomes a tunnel and then blackness overtakes you. 
In the Bible, there are many verses written about fear because it's a problem as old as time. This week as I was preparing for what's coming in Sunday's service, this verse stood out to me, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." (1 John 4:18, ESV). The part that specifically spoke to me was, "perfect love casts out fear". I know this to be true for me. God is perfect love and in His perfect love, He has the power to overcome our fears. I remember coming to a point in my panic attacks where my mom and older sister would ridicule me over how I got when it happened. That broke my spirit even further. Where could I run to when I was overcome with fear? Who would hold me and comfort me? If I couldn't count on the people in my life, then what? "Then what?" lead me to the arms of my Father.
As a Catholic in my youth, I was armed with prayers I had memorized. In the midst of my panic in the future, I used prayer as my shield and salvation. It began with the "Our Father" and I would say it over and over again if needed. It would calm me. It brought me peace. It delivered me to sleep and rest. It released me. When I couldn't muster the "Our Father", I had learned the power in the name of Jesus and would just call out His name rather than for my mother. And there IS power in His name. Power to quiet us. Power to comfort us. Power to overcome what is trying to overcome us. Most recently, I have used the 23rd Psalm as a reminder of where God is and how He will be with me wherever I am, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters." (v 1-2) or "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; Your rod and your staff they comfort me." (v 4) and comfort me these reminders in His Word do. The power in the Sword of His Word gives me the ability to fend off the attack. To overcome the grip of fear, anxiety, and panic that want to take me down.
These verses are not just words to be said like a mantra, they are more like a truth spell. They are elixirs to my weary soul which needs mending. It is a balm unto my soul which is torn by walking in this world. It is the salve of healing that can be applied each day and as needed. I never understood why it mattered to have verses memorized, but when I am under attack mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, His words remind me how to fight. They are my sword and my shield (Eph 6:10-18, Full Armor of God) and He is the Rock of my Salvation. My Fortress and my Tent of Refuge. I am thankful for a Daddy who knew my needs and yours even before He created me in His image and breathed His spirit into me. His love, perfect love, casts away my fears.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Climbing out of the Pit

I can't believe it's been over three and a half years since I wrote here. Well, since I published anything here. I've been back periodically to write here, but left things abandoned because I just didn't have it in me to finish what I'd started. My heart wasn't in it anymore. Thankfully, I have found my way back again and my heart is filling up again.
What happened to me, you ask? I fell into the pit. A place of sorrow. Of lost hope. Of keep-on-keeping-on and putting one foot in front of the other. I lost heart for the journey I was on. I let myself live in a self-imposed place of defeat. Sometimes, you get knocked down so much that you don't feel like getting back up again. I really don't see myself as that person, though. Someone who gets defeated. Someone who stays down. Instead, I am the girl who chooses to fight. I come out swinging. I drag my butt back up because I live by the motto, "If not me, then who?" So, again, how did life kick me so hard and so long that I quit overcoming and just kept moving forward?
It was a slow start. I lost heart little by little. Each thing taking one more piece from me. It's hard to see yourself sinking when that happens. Kind of reminds me of the frog who gets put in the cold pot of water to boil. You don't realize what's happening until it's too late. And once you're in a pit, how do you get out? Do you even want to? I can't tell you how many times I told myself that maybe this is just my lot in life. Maybe this is just how things are supposed to be and I should just suck it up and take things for what they are. We live in a broken world and even though God is good and life is good, bad stuff still happens. We can still be broken. Our flesh is still our flesh. What I lost sight of far too many time is that we are all Overcomers as heir's to the Salvation that is Jesus Christ.
Don't walk away right now because I spoke about Jesus because there's more to the story. Sometimes, He was/is not enough for me. Sometimes, I looked up and found myself wanting more. Wanting what I wanted and not being able to see why I was where I was. Wanting things in the right now and not to wait for what He knew was best. I am struggling against my flesh and the desires of my heart in the midst of the wait for what He has for me. There are times I can't see the vision of His hope and the future He has for me. But let me tell you that it's not Him who is failing me, but me who is falling down and looking to the world for answers. Looking to the friend on the left and the friend on the right. Looking to the past. Looking to my own heart. Looking anywhere but to the King who holds the plans of the whole world in His hands. The one who not only created it all, but created me. Knitting me in my mother's womb. Knowing all of me. The from whom nothing can be hidden.
I'm not fooling Him in my outward smile and my inward brokenness. He knows me down to the number of hairs on my head. I don't even know what that is. Plus, I feel like I lose a good 20 strands or so in each shower and more as I brush my hair. These things die and still He knows. If those little things are important to Him, how much more are the big things?
Parts of the pit are outlined in the published posts here and others in the unpublished. There are still other stories left unwritten, too. Do they matter? I don't know if they do now. They were part of the journey. Part of the bigger picture. The one that's still coming into focus. It started a few months ago when I knew it was time to get to the root of the issues. To stop repeating the same mistakes. To stop taking the same roads and hoping for new things to see or learn. To let myself feel the hard stuff. The deep, hurting things. It's ok. I'm safe now. I know who I am and won't get too lost because I know whose I am. I was ready. And, so, it began...
The climb up and out of the pit.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wait for It

Waiting. UGH! Totally not one of my strong suits. I am a woman of action. I am a doer. I had a former boss who used to say, "It's not going to happen by itself. You have to make it happen." Now, that is a plan I could get with. One that makes sense to me. One that I LIVE!

But there is another voice that tells me to "wait". That the best is coming. That there are some things I won't or can't do on my own. It is something more than I can ask or imagine. And it is worth waiting for. Love. Real love. Perfect love. 

It is given freely. Available to all. Waiting. Expectant. Until it becomes irresistible. Until HE becomes irresistible. 

He initiates. Pursues. Woos. Captivates the heart. Who would think it possible? In this world? Right where we are? Hoping. Wanting. Needing. Expecting, even. And then, there it is. An answer. A revelation. A heart broken into. Walls broken through. The lies repealed. The Truth revealed. All is as it was supposed to be. I am His. 

His bride. 

He is mine.

My forever.

Learning this. Knowing Him. Being known by Him. It was all worth the wait. 

His love is patient. His love is kind. It always protects. Always trusts and can be trusted. It always hopes and gives hope beyond what we could ask or imagine. It perseveres even when we or our love fall short. His love never fails. His love, a Perfect Love, will be the only thing that remains when this world passes away. When He brings heaven down to earth and makes all things new. 

He is doing new things in me. For me. It is a time that I didn't get ahead. It is a time that I waited to see what He was doing. Where He was leading me. I saw my former ways and where I had gone in my own will and determination. I see all that He has given me and how He has even used the bad choices and my willful ways to bring about good things. 

It is not easy for me to lay things down. To lay ME down. To choose His way. His perfect way which remolds me as He sees best, but even through the fire, the storm, and the difficulties...He is always the same. Never failing. Constant. 

He is worth waiting for and I trust that His way, His purpose, His plan, and His time are right and best. Sometimes, I forget this. And I know that I will continue to have days or seasons where I wrestle with His way over my own, but today I continue to choose to follow and to live this: "Wait on the LORD. Be courageous, and he will strengthen your heart. Wait on the LORD!" (Psalm 27:14, ISV).

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lesson 1

Have you ever just known that you have to do something, but not sure why? You can see lots of reasons for it, but nothing is exact as to why? Well, I had that happen just recently. I felt like God wanted me to take care of the things around my house that annoy me, but not enough to do anything about. What started as a feeling that I needed to do some cleaning turned into a project: touch up some paint, fill some holes, wash walls, deep clean in places that are hidden. I hung pictures and wall decor and made my house a home again. It felt so good to live here again; to accept the gift that had been given and treasure it for as long as it is mine to have.

When my friends came over for our study after I had done most of the work, I thought for sure they would notice. No one did. I brought it up and then they commented on it. Still, I had more work to do and I called attention to the places they don't see that have yet to be cleaned (my room, walk-in closet and the loft bedroom which is my son's room). Funny how my outward life is so much like my inward struggle. I wanted them to see the work I had done, but I wanted to hide the stuff that was still a work in progress. Unclean. Not ready for public consumption.

Today, as I was admiring the walls that were clean and the lack of hand prints and smudged walls, I realized how God was using this. As I scrubbed the wall above the sink in the kitchen, I realized that God wants to clean up my thoughts and the broken down places inside of me just like He was having me do in my house. He wanted me to pay special attention to how it was FOR ME and not for others. Not so they would see me differently or remark at my changes, but so I would be happy with the work and want to LIVE right where I was. Happy as I am and not focused on what work still needs to be done. There will always be work to be done. Changes to be made. Messes to clean up. Taking what is complete and reveling in it and enjoying all He has made in me, around me, through me...that was Lesson 1 for this new journey.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New Eyes

I am not perfect by any means. I make snap judgments about people regardless if I know them. Even if I know them, does it mean I know their experiences? Their hurts? Their hopes? Their dreams and disappointments? Do I know their mind or their hearts? Only as much as they choose to let me. And then there is God. The all-knowing God. Who knows our hearts, our minds, our choices, our thoughts, and loves us in spite of them. I want to be more like Him. 

E.G.White said, "If the eye is kept fixed on Christ, the work of the Spirit does not cease until the soul is conformed to God's image." (The Desire of Ages, pg 302). Make in me a clean heart, renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10) has become my constant request. Teach me to take captive my thoughts and make them obedient to the person  He is making me to be (2 Cor 10:5). Give me your eyes, Lord, so I may see people as you do. Not as the person I think they are or have made them out to be.

Jesus reminds us to judge not lest we be judged (Matt 7:1). That starts with us seeing ourselves with His eyes and heart, too. To do that, we need to realize who we are. How He made us. How He loves us. And may the truth set you free! (John 8:32).

Lysa TerKeurst wrote the following on Day 20 of her 21 Day Made to Crave Challenge:
One day I read a list of Bible verses that describe who God says I am, no matter the circumstances in my life, both good and bad. I took that list of Scriptures and started to redefine my identity. It was a stark contrast to the way I defined myself by circumstances or others’ opinions of me. I finally realized that these issues don’t define me. Instead, I could tie my happiness to the reality of who my heavenly Father says I am [insert your name below]:
  • _______, the forgiven child of God. (Romans 3:24)
  • _______, the set-free child of God. (Romans 8:1–2)
  • _______, the accepted child of God. (1 Corinthians 1:2)
  • _______, the holy child of God. (1 Corinthians 1:30)
  • _______, the made-new child of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • _______, the loved child of God. (Ephesians 1:4)
  • _______, the close child of God. (Ephesians 2:13)
  • _______, the confident child of God. (Ephesians 3:12)
  • _______, the victorious child of God. (Romans 8:37)
We were made to be set free, holy, new, loved, and confident. Because of this truth, we can’t allow our minds to partake in anything that negates our real identity. Tying our happiness to food, skinny jeans, relationships, or anything else will only set us up for failure. But tying our security, joy, and identity to God’s love is an anchor that we can cling to no matter what the circumstances.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Figuring Life Out - One Thousand Gifts

I love tenor of Ann Voskamp's shared thoughts. The lilt of her voice and the cadence of her words coming together to paint a picture of her mind's heart. Her love of Jesus and relationship with Him pour out and pour into my own. She makes me think differently about Him. She makes me see Him differently and look back at times past with new eyes. New insights.

Every other week, I am blessed to be with these little ones. My heart longs for this time. They have no words, but speak with their eyes, their smiles, their snuggles, their hearts. It blesses me BIG! Last night, I fell asleep wondering which of my loveys would be there today. I dreamed wonderful, happy dreams with a handsome man in his Naval summer whites, wore a pretty frock in a creamy white, danced and laughed. This morning, I woke and prepared myself for my day thinking about the happy sentiment of the dream I had had and the babies who I would soon get to snuggle.

I am usually the early one, but today I was running late--too wrapped up in my happy, dreamy state. When I got to the nursery, a father was there with his baby girl, Josie. She is six months old, has feathery baby hair that is thick and wispy and auburn hued. She has blue eyes and long eyelashes that seem to touch her eyebrows when her little eyes are open. She is a petite little thing who is dressed in her  embellished jeans, long-sleeved shirt with scalloped sleeves and a creamy, cable-knit cocoon cardigan. She looks like a little person. She has the sweetest disposition. As our time together passes the hour, she is getting sleepy. I place the silk-trimmed, emerald colored blanket her mom gave me on the floor and place her on it. She smiles and kicks. I lie down on the floor beside her and play. I think for a moment about my black pants and that I have to greet people in the next hour, but I don't care. I am being given an opportunity to have blessing poured on me from a little girl's heart.

She grabs the edging of her blanket and rolls toward me. She looks like a sweet pea wrapped in that emerald blanket. She puts her knuckle in her mouth to suck and we just look at each other. I smile at her and tell her she is such a sweetie. She smiles around the knuckle in her mouth and I see her eyes move as she stares into mine. Maybe she is wondering what I am thinking just as I wonder what she is thinking. She blesses me with her innocence, her smile without pretenses, her freeness of spirit. This morning is a reminder to me why I am there every other Sunday. As much as I do it for these little children, I also do it for me. These little ones are a balm on my heart. All they know is trust and love. I hope each of them will hold onto that and those that lose it find their way back to it again someday.