i am the master of my own body

Today is a day I miss The OM Place for giving me the best yoga classes I have ever taken. For helping me discover my voice and teaching style. For showing me how to care for others’ hearts and bodies, and for training me how to teach others to care for themselves. The OM Place gave me poetry.

Today is also a day I miss Exhale Studios and all of my incredible, fearless students who allowed me to hone my skills with them. Who let me speak into their souls in restorative, and who braved my crazy kriyas in power class. Who gave me surprise t-shirts and followed me to froyo after hot yoga each Wednesday night and laughed away the sweat and pain with me.

My body was my own back then. I was the master of my own body and my own breath and my own heart, and I worked hard and consistently and gratefully to get there.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve had a regular yoga practice of my own. Call it mixed priorities, a lack of teachers who speak to me, or simply laziness. But there you have it. And not only have I been missing my practice, I am now growing a human in my personal space.

I am no longer the master of my own body. Continue reading “i am the master of my own body”

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i wish i was a boy

When I was a little girl I used to cry or get angry and yell at my mom that I wanted to be a boy. All my friends were boys, but they could never come to a sleepover. All the fun toys were boy toys- GI Joes and matchbox cars and legos. Boys got more freedom in their behavior and expectations.

Not us girls.

There was so much pressure, even from the very beginning, on they way we should look, speak, think, and act.

And there still is.

Continue reading “i wish i was a boy”

what i’m discovering on the whole30

That sweet husband of mine told me a few weeks ago he really wanted to do the Whole30. Then he told me again. And again.

Because I love him so much, and because we’ve watched a dozen documentaries on poor food choices and sugar and juicing and cleansing and detoxing and what eating whole food really does for your body….. I finally gave in. By choice. Or exhaustion.

Either way here we are on the Whole30. And we’ve made it to Day 10!!

Continue reading “what i’m discovering on the whole30”

i’m a mirror, you’re a mirror

I’ve recently found myself teaching some Vision Casting sessions for various groups of people. Yesterday at the completion of our time together, some of the participants told me I sounded like my fiance when I prayed. “You guys say ‘Jesus’ exactly the same!” I laughed at the time, thinking how silly that sounded, and that I hadn’t caught that connection myself.

But then I started thinking.

You know, it’s kind of beautiful that The Professor and I are starting to sound the same. We’ve been able to spend a lot more time together now that we live in the same town, and a lot of that time is spent praying together, seeking The Father. Or even just sharing what we’ve been learning about Him.

So it’s kind of awesome that we’re starting to sound alike.

I thought about other people I share random quirks with. My best friend (and the person I have spent the most time on earth with)-Sarah- and I have this weird “game show host” voice that we both somehow fall into each and every time we’re together. We also went through a strange phase when we used dancing hand guns (think the final dancing scene from Grease) and those gestures seeped out of us and into the small group we were co-leading at the time. Each of those girls, in turn, picked it up and would find themselves using the same dang dancing hand guns when saying pretty much anything of a non-serious tone. Those girls have also picked up my quirky habit of repeating things, like saying “NoNo” to make a dramatic point.

…I’m realizing now as I’m re-reading for editing errors that I technically didn’t have to share an example of repetition, but now that it’s typed in this draft… well, what can you do? I better just leave it… in case.

I’ve also spent a GREAT deal of time with my Sweet Janice, most of that time in intentional discipleship and mentoring. I have thus picked up her gift of discernment in most situations. When I’m trying to figure out what my next steps should be (or shouldn’t be), her voice is often the sound I hear in my conscience. She recently wrote an incredible book about discipleship (you can find it online here and here – and I highly recommend it- it’ll change the way you view discipleship, especially the discipling part)…and in it describes how disciple relationships work- that they are just for a season (length depending on a number of criteria), but they come to a close when the student begins to resemble the teacher. You don’t need continual meetings with someone when you can answer the questions before you ask them. And so our discipleship time came to a close when I asked her questions and then answered them for her.

Why?

We looked like each other.

That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Bearing resemblance to those you spend the most time with.

I started thinking about Jesus (“Jessuuuuuus”) and how wonderful He is. I thought about all the beautiful traits and qualities that make Him so….Jesus. And if I was reflecting those things.

Am I? Am I spending enough time with Jesus that I am starting to reflect Him in all His goodness? The way He sees and treats other people… The way He calls His friends out when they’re making terrible choices- in authority and love… The way He seeks so much time alone to spend with His Father…

If I am not resembling Jesus, I’m clearly not spending enough time with Him. If I give so much of myself to my friends and my loved ones that we look alike, but I don’t do the same with my Savior, there’s an imbalance that needs to be swiftly corrected.

I love that The Professor and I are starting to sound alike, especially when we pray. What a gift. I’m so happy that I carry pieces of my best friend with me when we are far apart, because we’ve spent so much time together we’re basically the same person. I’m overwhelmingly grateful that the voice of the Holy Spirit in my life sounds like Janice Wood.

I want the rest of me to look like Jesus. I want to reflect and resemble Him. I want us to look and sound and act the same.

And to do that, I need to hang out with Him more. More and more and more.

And so I guess I’d call this my first “New Year’s Resolution”…. and thank God He used a vision casting session to give me a vision of what it would be like to look more like my Savior. I want it. And I’m gonna have it.

Are you?

hiking revelations

This morning I met up with my sweet friend Kate and we drove around north Georgia to find a great hiking place. We settled on one of the plentiful state parks in the area, parked our car, and headed up a trail into the (completely unpredicted) rain.

It was supposed to have been sunny all day.

But that dampened neither of our spirits as we laced up our shoes and took a few deep breaths before launching into long-winded updates on our lives.

There are times for utter silence in the woods.

And then there are times for external processing and heavy breathing and beautiful revelations about and from The Father. This was one of those times.

We shared our Christmas stories of visiting family and friends. We discussed things that had our hearts burdened. We laughed and celebrated new beginnings and hope on the horizon and stories about how funny and charming the Lord is. And He spoke to us. He really did. And this is what He shared with me:

I am a do-er. I was created to be an accomplisher of great things. I have always identified myself as a “do-er” even to the point of missing out on how awesome it is to just be me. I have passed over on opportunities to sit and be still, to relax, to be silent, to receive, all because I felt the need to get up and do something. God created me to do great things for His Kingdom. And do them I will. But He also created me to be amazing. I am passionate and witty and kind and sexy and brilliant and fierce and beautiful. I am whimsical and emotional and dramatic and enthusiastic and I sometimes take things too seriously. I am made to be a shoulder for people, to be a sounding board for their pain and their celebrations. I am a storyteller and a performer, I am a planner and an organizer and a nest-er. I am beautiful. I am strong. I am exactly who I need to be. Just because I Am.

And you know what?

The God Of The Universe is captivated by my brilliance and beauty. Utterly captivated. He is delighted that I am who I am and that He knows me. He thinks I’m a treat. He believes me to be so special and so unique and so worth it.

And you know what?

He thinks that about you, too.

You captivate the God of heaven and earth. You are clever and generous and lovely. You are tender. You are strong. You have what it takes. And when you feel like you don’t, you really do. And you are wise and charming and necessary. You are so necessary. And enchanting and satisfying and enjoyable. You are grand.

And the God who reigns over all is completely and devastatingly and totally captivated by you. Exactly as you are. Right. Now.

It’s time we start living like it.

So what are we to do now? Well, I can tell you how I feel about it. I’m going to stop saying negative things about my body. I’m going to start saying awesome things about my body- like how it’s so useful for getting me to and fro, for doing all the things I ask it to do without hesitation, and for how beautiful it is. I’m going to start moving and eating and sleeping and drinking like I love my body, and I’m grateful for it. I’m going to stop saying hurtful things about my personality. I’m going to embrace all the goodness and all the flaws and all the quirks and all the humor that comes with being me. I’m going to love it. I’m going to stop feeling so insecure about myself around other women, or other professionals, or other yoga teachers, or people with straight teeth. I’m going to start celebrating how awesome other people are. I’m going to tell them how great and fierce and fabulous they are. I’m going to remind myself that I’m fierce and fabulous and breathtaking all the time. I’m going to enjoy where I am today, even if I’m working on it. I’m going to breathe in and fill up with joy and exuberance and peace and hope and love for all people and all things. I’m going to breathe all that goodness out onto whatever or whomever happens to be in the same zip code as me.

I am going to own how good God has created me to be. Stopping with the excuses and the complaints, I’m going to embrace exactly who He has designed me to be, and celebrate that no one else on earth can be me.

Just like no one else on earth can be awesome, funny, delightful, terrific, beautiful, gifted, fantastic you.

And God is captivated by that.

okay. i’m ready.

Whew. It’s been a crazy month. So much has been happening and all of it has been so spontaneous.

The Professor proposed. I gave my (month’s) notice at my job. I started saying my goodbyes to people I have loved for a decade. I spent my last official Sunday interpreting at my church for a new Deaf couple. I visited friends far away for the last time (for awhile, anyway). I bought my wedding dress. We set a date. The Professor booked our wedding venue. More huuuuge blessings that we’ll announce soon.

Whew. I’m overwhelmed.

I’m moving to Georgia in 3 days.

Three. Days.

Not just a visit. It’s not like all those times I drove to see The Professor for a few days. It’s not going to be the same as filling up my daytimes while he’s at work and then coming up with something big and bold and outrageous to do when he picked me up for a date.

We won’t have to try to cram into one weekend all the experiences and conversations and emotions you normally have over a full month.

We won’t have to say goodbye again. Ever again.

I’m moving to Georgia. Permanently. Georgia will become my home.

I can’t hardly believe it.

We’ve been preparing for almost a month, and now it’s right around the corner…. and I cannot hardly believe it.

I have felt like a nomad for two full  years. While on the World Race we traveled every few weeks, camping down wherever there was space (whether a bed was available or not). I came home and spent a month traveling to see friends and family for the first time in a year. I moved in with my sweet roomie and immediately got a job with a commute which, at the very least, required a 40 minute drive through awful traffic. Both morning and night. And I spent on average, not counting the commute, 11 hours a day there. When I finally get back to the apartment, it’s bedtime or very nearly. Every weekend I would drive 2 hours south to spend time with friends and church, or I drove 7+ hours to visit The Professor. I believe, in my 11 months of living in Northern Kentucky, I’ve spent maybe 3 weekends total at my apartment. TOTAL.

Can you see why I still feel like a nomad? It isn’t because I don’t have a place to sleep. It isn’t because I’m not welcome anywhere I tread.

But it’s exhausting to be on the move all the time.

I was driving to see friends a few days ago and about an hour and a half into the trip I had to pull over to the side of the road because I was losing my mind. Tears streaming down my face, snot threatening to choke me- all the emotions of the last 2 years gurgling up to suffocate me all at once.

And it isn’t because I’m unhappy! I’m SO HAPPY. So very, extremely, overwhelmingly joyful.

But it’s a lot to take in all at once.

Processing the last 2 years of my life, grieving this season of singleness, independence, Kentucky-living, constantly-being-surrounded-by-everyone-I-know-and-love and at the same time celebrating this incredible and exciting new season of newness- new engagement, new wedding planning, new state, new job (hopefully), new friends, new community, new church, new home- it’s just hard, man. It’s so, so hard. Especially trying to take all of the things in and celebrate all the new things on my own, still living 8 hours away from the boo, and having literally zero amount of time to myself. In the next 3 days, I work 34 hours and have to pack up the rest of my life and move it to my car. For Thanksgiving, we’ll spend a week with The Professor’s family. The Monday after, I fly back up to Cincinnati to work one more week. That Friday I’ll fly back down late, and prepare all the things for our engagement photos to be done that Saturday.

Exhausting.

Whew.

Listen. I know that I know that I know that I’m ready to move to Georgia. I know that I know that I know that I’m ready for this next big life change and all the things that come with it. Maybe ask me again in a couple months just to be sure, but honestly there’s no turning back. This is the boy I love, and I’m going to marry him. And when I marry him all his things will become my things and all his people and all his traditions and all his memories and all his life. And vice versa! It really brings new meaning to that verse in Ruth (1:16):

“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”

I’m just so ready to be done with all the transitioning, and ready to move on to the roots-planting phase of life with someone else. Even though we won’t be married for another several months, there are so many things for us to do and accomplish before we’re ready to take the plunge: job-hunting (for me), setting up house, church-finding, marital counseling, financial counseling, wedding planning: just a few of the millions of tasks on our immediate to-do list.

But I’m so ready- and so grateful- to finally be taking a real step forward, a step toward all the dreams we want to make happen. I’m ready to take a break from traveling all the time and just spend some quality face-to-face time with this man I’m marrying. I’m ready to finally set down some roots.

I’m so ready to make this move, to grieve my last season well, and leap boldly into this new one.

Okay. I’m ready.

#postpartumprobs

Let me just begin with this: No. I am not pregnant. No, I have not had children yet. No, I am not expecting.

Some girlfriends and I were discussing pregnancy and birth plans and what have you this past Sunday. As we do. One of the major topics of discussion became the area of postpartum care. I recently read this article about the lack of postpartum care for new mothers in America and how detrimental it can be to go from just you and your spousey-poo to you and your spouse and lots of new baby poo. And crying. And diaper rash. Oh, and learning the art of breastfeeding. And the art of Never Sleeping Again. Ever.

I feel like it could be the next Harry Potter series:

Harry Potter and the 24 Hour Labor
Harry Potter And the Colicky Baby
Harry Potter and the Neverending Poo Stream
Harry Potter And 18-Year-Long Night

You get my point.

But, seriously, how are we supposedly at the top of our game as a country, and yet we are the only country without paid maternal leave, and one of the few countries without normal practices of postpartum care? Rather than being a community of women-helping-women, we’ve become a society in which the moment a baby leaves a mother’s body, the mother is expected almost solely to care for her brand new human being, and forever deny her own needs. If she attempts to put her health or needs above baby’s, she’s considered lazy, selfish or, at worst, neglectful. In the article I recently referenced, an Argentine woman compares post-birth to a plane crash. We’re all told that in a crash, you must place an oxygen mask on yourself first, and then your children. Yet, milliseconds after birth, women are expected to hold their breath for the next 18 years, attending first and nearly-only to the needs of her child. Especially during infancy and early years. Rather than take care of herself so that she is physically and mentally able to take care of her children, she is expected to undergo major physical trauma and then immediately recover in order to focus solely on the infant.

And we wonder why postpartum depression is on the rise.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, your mother will show up to help for a week or two. Maybe, also, your mother-in-law. Or a sister if you’re suuuper lucky. But for those without extended families, or with poor familial ties, what’s the alternative? To suck it up and get on with it.

Are you judging me quite yet? Perhaps you’ve been through it all and you’re thinking to yourself, By God if I had to do it, and I made it through alive, everyone else should quit complaining and just deal, too. Or maybe, It’s not normal to need or expect someone else’s help. You brought a baby into the world, you decided for yourself you wanted children, so you brought this on yourself. Again- deal with it.

Or maybe you’re a mom went through the exhaustion of a new baby for the first, second, third, fourth time… and you know how desperately you needed someone to talk to, help change the baby, give you 15 minutes so you could shower for the first time in a week.

I’ve seen repeatedly on facebook, posts like such:

“Eat, sleep, or shower? I can only do one.”

“Baby finally went to sleep. I’m too exhausted to sleep so I guess I’ll just sit here on facebook.”

“I haven’t showered in a week. Can someone please come watch baby so I can clean myself?”

And the list goes on. Perhaps instead of spending our time judging each other, why don’t we just help a family out? We were always meant to be a small town, no matter where we choose to live. In moments of tragedy, people line up all the way around the corner with meals for the grief-stricken family. What about for the sleep-stricken new parents? Where is the meal train for them?

And let me also just say that I’m not condemning the world. There are a LOT of people, friends, family, community, churches out there who respond to the needs of new families with clothes, diapers, meals. But what I’m saying is that, for the most part, the idea of a culturally-accepted postpartum support system is nil, and I think it should change.

So do my girlfriends.

As we stood around the island in the kitchen dreaming of one day when we’d all have our own babies, we began planning a pact, per se. A promise to be there for each other, post-birth.

“Oh, you need someone to come in and help when your mom has to get back home? You can count on me. Sign me up for a week.” “Two weeks for me!” “You pay for food, I’ll buy it and cook it. And clean your house so you can rest.” These are the things we promised to each other. And not without weight.

Just as in major surgery, a woman needs to recover physically. It takes time and it takes sleep, two things a new mother has ZERO of. But what if our community of friends gathered around us to give us just a little extra time to adjust and recuperate? What if, like a million years ago when neighbors came to help bring in your crop under the promise that you would help when their crop came in, we (especially as women) gave a week of our time post-birth to help a new mom? And she would lovingly and gratefully return the favor when your babies came?

I can just imagine what it would be like to have a newborn baby and sleep. In the same breath. A husband who is able to work and also sleep. Food that is prepared, and friends to help keep up with laundry. Just long enough to recover physically and learn the basics of caring for a brand new human.

I don’t think it sounds selfish. I don’t think it sounds lazy or neglectful. I think it’s what we’re meant to do for each other as a basic community of love. We are supportive of those around us when grief abounds. Let’s be supportive of each other when major life changes go down, too.

What’s your opinion on postpartum support?

on graham cooke, inheritance, and what favor truly is

I’ve been walking through some junk over the past several years. And the name of the junk monster is FINANCE. I’ve really struggled (haven’t we all?) with budgeting, making enough, and getting All The Things paid. And I’ve been feeling for awhile now that I’ve been walking through some curses, financially speaking. That may sound like hoo doo, but it certainly hasn’t felt that way. Coming home from the Race I was faced with an overwhelming and unexpected financial situation. God blessed me with a job, and I began the painstaking journey of pulling myself out of the pit one day at a time. When I felt I was making some good headway- finally– I was bitten by a poisonous spider and suddenly faced three separate emergency medical bills, as well as unbelievably expensive antibiotics. 

I kept going.

I got those bills paid off, and my credit card paid off… and this past weekend my car decided to die suddenly while I was driving down the highway.

Cool.

Not cool.

There were 3 recalls on my vehicle, and they were fixed for free at the dealership. Thank You, Jesus! You know I can’t handle car expenses right now. But within 20 miles of driving after picking my newly-fixed car up, all the same warning lights as before came on, in addition to a terrifying warning sound… and then my gas and brake pedals stopped working.

Cool.

Not cool.

So as of last night, Penelope the Prius is back in a shop, where I was warned that it would be nearly $100 just to look at her. But… as we do in this day and age, I need a reliable vehicle, so I took her in anyway.

And proceeded to lose my mind in fear and anxiety about what may or may not be wrong, and how much it may or may not cost.

I wept through an entire conversation with The Professor about it. We discussed the Lord’s favor, and His provision, and my fear that I didn’t have enough faith to believe His favor could or would show up in my life in such a tangible way as a free fix or even- as The Prof encouraged me to pray- for an upgrade to my car. I just didn’t know. I have a long history of not receiving favor in that kind of in-your-face, extraordinary, supernatural way. He reminded me that my history does not predict my future, and that he had enough faith and trust to believe for both of us that this situation would work out the way it needs to, and that it will all be okay in the end.

I spent all of yesterday in prayer to the Lord, asking for His divine favor in the form of an upgrade to my car or, at the very least, a lack of financial burden to fix what’s wrong with it. It’s cool to get new things, but I love my car very much, and don’t care in the least bit for a new one. I just want my feelings of safety in regards to my car to be restored. I want to drive down the street knowing that I will get from Point A to Point B safely and without issue. That’s my real desire.

I also spent a lot of time thanking the Lord for who He is and for giving me this chance to renew my dependence on and trust in Him.

This morning during my break at work I found a new Graham Cooke youtube video. Graham Cooke is a prophetic speaker, and he reeeaaallly speaks to my soul. I think anyone who listens to him would have the same reaction. The Professor introduced me to his videos a few weeks ago, and I’ve enjoyed them all immensely, but none have touched me the way this particular one did.

It was about favor.

I have been looking at favor (and seeking it) as a one-time imparting of a tangible gift. I’ve been looking for a physical, touchable handout, instead of looking at favor as what it truly is: an intentional bias toward me because of relationship.

I’ve been looking at favor all wrong!

Favor is a special kindness from God to me because we are in relationship with one another. I’ve been seeking an end result; God has been asking me to look at and enjoy the process of what my current circumstances are creating for me. I have been financially burdened my whole life. I have struggled with finances for as far back as my memory goes. I keep looking for a fish, when God wants to teach me how to fish, and how to enjoy the process of relating with Him.

Mr. Cooke reminds us that when circumstances arise in which we feel we are losing, or we aren’t receiving favor, there are a few questions we must ask:

  1. What does this mean?
  2. What should I do to partner with Your cause and Your Purpose for me?

It all comes down to this point:

God, what is it that You want to be for me now, that You couldn’t at any other time?

If this is our focus, if this is our starting point of thought and intention, everything else falls into place. If we look at circumstance, we’re lost. If we concentrate on our relationship, we’ve won. Even if and when it feels like we can’t go on, when the burdens seem too difficult to bear, we will not sink, because our eyes are on the goodness of the Lord. Which is unchanging. Which is unfailing. Which always is. We shouldn’t desire to see God’s goodness retroactively. We should want it right now, up front, in the thick of it.

And so my focus should move from Will I be able to afford the cost of fixing my car? to God is good. He is so, so good. And He loves me. And He is for me. And if this is the situation I am in, He has something very special and very important for me.

Cooke opened his message with this:

In the world, if it’s ‘too good to be true’ someone is being conned. But in the kingdom, if it’s NOT ‘too good to be true’ it’s not God.

Wow. Talk about stretching your faith. I didn’t grow up in a church that freely discussed the favor and the mercy and the goodness of God. I am a part of one now, but this is a long-reaching belief to replace. I’m still not a wealth-and-prosperity believer, but I do believe that as my Father, God loves to give me things. Sometimes they are hard things to receive. But they are always gifts, and they are always for my good. When a circumstance arises, or the Holy Spirit convicts me of something, there is something being pointed out in my life that isn’t working. Cooke says that it’s when this happens that God gets excited. EXCITED. Because it’s only when He points something out that He is ready to do something about it. This is the area of your next miracle, or- in his own words- your next UPGRADE.

There! There it is! The Professor asked me to pray about an upgrade the Lord might have for me, and this is it! It is an opportunity to grow closer to Him who loves me and delights in me so much! It is an opportunity to grow my faith and to embolden my trust that He has my back and is working for my good. Favor does not mean life runs smoothly. It means you are consumed by God’s desire for you.

Mr. Cooke reminds us that the Holy Spirit is the most excitable, enthusiastic, encouraging, and empathetic Person he knows. And this is so true! How have I not thought of this before? I was asked recently which of the Trinity I felt most connected with. I immediately answered The Father. Mostly because of my daddy issues, and the redemption He has brought to that specific area. But I’m convinced now that it is the Holy Spirit. I am created in the likeness of the Spirit- passionate, enthusiastic, encouraging, excitable, empathetic, present, dramatic.

Talk about the acorn not falling far from the tree.

This encourages me so much, because I also don’t come from a background of knowledge about or trust in the Holy Spirit. It’s just not something we talked about or learned about until very recently in my relationship with Christ. And knowing that He has modeled me after this one mysterious part of Himself, it gives me a hunger and desire to know more and experience more and more and more.

This is the favor of the Lord in my life. This is His calling me to draw closer, to come more intimately near Him, and grow up.

Mr. Cooke talks about two more things: an inheritance verse and our unique Name for the Lord in each of our lives. The latter I’ll discuss in a later blog (because it’s deserving enough- and I’m sure long-winded enough- to merit it’s own post). But an inheritance verse is something that the Lord gives us individually- a word spoken to us, over our lives, from the Bible. Cooke says the Lord is previous-minded. He will put a verse on our hearts- and most of us have heard this, we just haven’t recognized it or given it enough thought- but we will recognize it and claim it for ourselves in future circumstances. Cooke says once we receive that inheritance verse, we need to start living like it, owning it, using it in battle against the Enemy in all his lies and deceptions- THIS is what the Lord says about my life. This is His favor over me.

And for me, that verse- given to me about two years ago, is Luke 1:45:

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.

This is in direct connection with God’s Name in my life, God’s unique affection with me.

Perhaps in my life I’ve not seen God’s favor show up in supernatural tangible ways. My friend Emily has seen this a lot (you can check out more of her incredible stories (and wonderful writing) here). I haven’t prayed for free furniture and received it. I haven’t asked for supernatural healing and received an inexplicable health report. And these are all stories from people I know personally! But God has shown up in my life in extraordinary ways, unique to the story He’s weaving with me. I always, always know He’s around. There’s never been a time in my entire life- even before I had a relationship with Him- where I didn’t know who He was, or that He was with me. I always, always feel The Comforter’s Presence. I always, always receive frequent reminders that God is thinking of me- little coincidences, little nods to the supernatural, every day. Every single day. Always.

God’s favor is thick on me.

Who knows how much it will cost to fix my car? Who knows if a miracle will happen and when I show up at the dealership a brand new car will be waiting on me? Who knows if I will spend the next two years of my life trying to pay for the repairs?

Who cares?

This is just one hiccup in the great adventure we call life. Stuff like this will always show up. But I believe in and have a relationship with a God who ‘is too good to be true.’

And I want more of it.

Not more of His gifts. Not more of what He can do for me.

More of Who He Is. More of Who I Am when I’m with Him. More of Who He Wants Me To Become.

I’m hungry for more.

And I’m ready to start living out my inheritance- and His favor.

30b30: four. see ya later, debt monster!

prepare yourself for honest confession time

Several years ago, I moved to a small town where the only job I could get was minimum wage… and my rent was not. So I started to buy food and things on the evilest of evils: a credit card. Then I went back to school. Then I was a waitress. Then I was a missionary. None of which are positions of excess, and I found myself deferring payments. UGH. What a terrible idea. (Note to future young-twenties credit card possessors: DON’T).

this is not an example of stuff i used a credit card to buy.

This year, however, I was blessed with a job that I love, making enough money to help me pull myself out of the pit I created, one ten-yard-army-crawl at a time. I’ve been able to pay off three separate medical bills, one random payment on a camera, and any number of various living expenses that anyone with a pulse and a social security card seem to incur. And as of eight o’clock this bright, sunshine-y morning, I made my last payment on my only credit card.

HIP HIP HOOORAAAYYY!!

Seriously, I just might throw myself a party! I have been living under the weight of this (relatively small) debt for so long, and there is NO FEELING like having it fall away from my shoulders forever. If I’m perfectly honest, there was a part of me that truly believed I would never get to this point. But I’ve learned some really valuable lessons about finances over the last couple of years, and this feels like a win for everyone in my life who took the time to pour into me in the area of fiscal responsibility and just simply “doing whatever you have to do to pay your dang bills.”

should i save or should i spend? …DUH

No joke.

So here’s to a continued habit of stewarding my finances (and my financial responsibilities) well!

Cheers!

the world is officially my oyster once more

healthy=happy, but does it?

A long time ago, someone told me that the only way to truly make any legitimate physical changes was to look down at myself and be so disgusted that I can’t go on anymore. And that has been the main motivation for most of the exercise and diets I’ve chased for the last several years.

I’ll get on some kick and only eat leafy greens for two weeks, or hop on the latest Insanity kick (and ruin my knees), or do nothing BUT work out on as little food as possible until my body or my motivation gives out and I fall face-first into a steaming hot pile of pizza and chocolate chip cookies.

ugh. it doesn’t even look that appetizing from this point of view

But the thing is….I genuinely like living a healthy life. It’s important to me to know where my food is coming from, and what exactly is in it. I enjoy giving my body the foods it needs to use as fuel throughout the day. I feel SO GREAT about my body, my life, and the world, when I am regularly exercising. When I’m consuming enough water and getting enough sleep (which is infinitely easier, deeper, and shorter when I’m taking care of myself), I walk around every day feeling like the world is on my side and I can conquer anything.

So why do I keep falling into the same old pit of despair and fast food?

What is it in me that thinks convenience is a better alternative than health?

I’ve been batting this question around internally for the last few months. Having come home from the Race with a parasite, I had to be even more cautious about food and, while it required more effort and concentration than I was used to, the way I physically responded was remarkable. No more digestive issues, no more stomach cramps, headaches were gone, and both insomnia and hypersomnnia became non-issues. Further bonuses- I was losing weight and my skin was clearing up!

I felt incredible!


this girl does, too

Which led me to say things like, “I guess I could have a piece of that cake that everyone’s enjoying” or “I haven’t had fast food in ages, and I’m actually running really behind so I guess it couldn’t hurt to pop in somewhere for a burger and fries” or really any alternate version of any of these things. It was a sloooooow process of falling back into poor eating habits, but here I find myself. And along with that, I noticed that the more terrible foods I ate, the less I exercised. And the less I exercised, the less energy I had, the worse I felt in general, and the more I wanted to sleep. Just, all the time.

It’s a freakin’ snowball effect.

Seriously. Once that ball starts rollin’ it’s a fast downhill slide.

And so here I am, once again, stuck at the bottom of the Hill of Health, looking up, and being pretty intimidated by the climb. I’m at a place where I look at myself with just enough revulsion that I roll my eyes, mutter something rude about my body under my breath, and start clambering up once more. And immediately start to sweat.

But the thing is, I’m going to fail.

Yep. Again and again and again.

Why? Because I’m approaching the idea of a healthy lifestyle from a place of self-hatred. Who succeeds when that’s the motivation?!

I have to start approaching my lifestyle from a place of LOVE and RESPECT.

We just get the one life, y’all. The one body. That’s it. And whatever comes with it- acne, thin hair, bad genes, a predisposition to this or to that. Guess what? That’s never going to change. We can take acne medication and use rogaine, but we will never, ever, ever be able to change our genetics. What we have is what we have. So it’s not going to help anything by spending time and energy hating on ourselves.

I loooooove the way I feel when I choose healthy foods and when I spend time every day listening to my body and asking it to work a little harder. Maybe that’s a yoga class, maybe it’s a barre workout, maybe I’ll go on a nice run and enjoy a different view. I love it. I love all those things. Seriously life just feels better when my body feels better.

I’m sure it’s that way for you, too.

But we need to approach those hard choices (like should I eat this delicious salad with all these life-giving vegetables and that mouth-watering homemade Italian vinaigrette dressing or should I stop by McDonald’s and stuff a Big Mac down my face?) with the forethought of how our bodies will feel later. When we approach choices such as these from a place of love and affirmation, I really think we’ll be able to hit a home run. Because, honestly, those french fries NEVER taste as good as we remember they did. It’s all a mental game. I told myself just this weekend that YES, I neeeeed Chick-fil-a chicken nuggets and a chocolate chip cookie. First and last, they really really were not as good as I remember them being, and I also spend the entire night nauseated. Bleh. Not a fun way to spend a Saturday night.

But this morning, when I chose cheerios and fruit with a side of tons and tons of water, not only did I feel great about the choice I made, but I felt great physically, too. No gross chemicals or oil or grease, no hydrogenated this or treated that. And while cheerios still aren’t the best option, it was the better option when I compared it to my preference of a bagel with butter or cream cheese. So that’s like….a quintuple bonus! Feeling great about and because of small choices throughout the day. That one small choice led to a decision to head out for a run before work which I also felt totally jazzed about! (Even if it was a million degrees outside).

My problem (and I’ll wager yours, too) is that I have to stop approaching food and exercise as a punishment for poor lifestyle choices. I have to stop approaching them as a way of penance after I get to the place where I can’t stand my own body anymore. I’m never going to succeed that way. Believe me, I’ve tried! I’m sure you have, too.

So let’s all just take a deep breath and realize that our bodies are lovely. They were created to be exactly as they are, whatever shape they are. A mother’s stretched belly, a teen’s knobby knees, a little girl’s wispy hair, a grandfather’s wrinkled face. All so, so beautiful. Short, tall, fat, skinny, average, toned…. these are beautiful places to be. And once we start appreciating our bodies for what they are and what they allow us to do every day, we can start giving them the things they need to continue doing so. Bodies are amazing, you know. They will give and give and give even past the point of exhaustion, no matter what you ask, because that’s what they were designed to do. It’s time to start giving them the fuel to do the things we ask, rather than demanding things on empty.

I’m really just preaching to myself here.


this is our bossy face

My body has allowed me to travel to places, to endure pain, to grow tall, to lift heavy loads, to perform miraculous feats. I need to start treating it like the miracle it is, and embracing it for the wonder it was always meant to be. And from that place, I will be able to make wiser and healthier and better decisions, for a longer, healthier, happier life. Because as well all know, Healthy does, indeed, equal Happy. Happy bodies, happy minds, happy hearts.

I’ll share a favorite end-of-class mantra I teach in some of my yoga classes:

I’ll ask you to sit in easy, cross-legged position, with your eyes closed and your palms pressed together in a prayer position at the center of your heart. Sitting nice and tall to give your lungs room to breath, all your muscles are relaxed after a long class of hard work. I’ll ask you to sit in silence and be fully present, listening to your body tell you all the wonderful things it feels: that tension in the left side of your neck from typing at a computer all day is gone; your shoulders feel a little lower and heavier, slipping a little further from your ears, much more relaxed than at the beginning of class; even the spaces between your toes are sighing in relief, having soaked up all that intentional movement from today’s class. I ask you to take a moment and silently express gratitude- gratitude for your breath which comes and goes providing life without thought, and gratitude for your body, for allowing you to do all the things you do each and every day without question, without hesitation. Feel that gratitude deep down in your gut, in a place that can’t be torn from you. Embrace your body in all its flaws, its imperfections, all its less-than-beautiful areas. Appreciate your body for the things it does for you, whether you acknowledge it or not. Love your body from a place that wants to see it grow and live a long, healthy life. Remember what this day, what this moment feels like- what it means to truly have a love for yourself.

Freedom.

Namaste.

spider butt. or, what infections teach me about community

Last week I was bitten by a spider. Suuuper high up on my hamstring. It wasn’t a poisonous spider, it turns out, but it has caused some serious problems.

I noticed that my left leg was hurting on Thursday of last week and (because I’m a yoga teacher- hollllllaaaa) when I twisted, arched, and folded to see what the issue was, there was a swollen, raised circle about the size of a half dollar.

Hmmm.

Whatevs. It’s probably nothing. Remember last year in Albania? When one of my squad mates was bitten on her leg by something and had a huge red welt? They said it was no big deal and to just leave it alone, and in fact it did go away all by itself.

So ME TOO. I figured I would just leave it alone and it would go away. PLEASE GOD, LET IT GO AWAY.

Friday morning arrived and brought with it a serious amount of swelling, pain, and tripling in size of the redness. It was starting to look really yucky and it hurt quite a bit, so of course I reached out to the wide world of social media to see if we could all, collectively, figure out what was happening to me. At this point I didn’t know it was a spider bite, and there was a teensy weensy part of me that thought I legitimately could be housing an alien baby. I didn’t know. Social Media, help!!

The amount of people that reached out to me, that asked about my symptoms, that put me in touch with other people who were nurses or doctors or pretty much anyone in the medical profession, was astounding. Everyone was immediately concerned for me and a few people went waaaayyy out of their way to make sure I got taken care of. It was so overwhelming and so encouraging and I felt so loved and supported.

[I ended up having an infected spider bite and was on the receiving end of not-super-expensive antibiotics. Oh, and also MRSA. Which is kind of a big deal.]

By Sunday morning, though, even with the meds and ointment, it was so deeply infected and so very swollen that I couldn’t sleep, sit, stand, or walk without excruciating pain. It was unreal. That afternoon I lay on the couch trying not to cry, experiencing for the first time pain so intense I was nauseated. Within two hours I was visited by a highly-qualified medical professional who was also a member of my church who checked it out, diagnosed it, and launched into minor surgery on it. Without numbing medication.

It was the worst thing I’ve ever gone through.

And yet I didn’t care, because the pain from the bite alone (and it’s infection) was enough to make me beg for my leg to be amputated.  …I didn’t really want that, but in my hysteria I sure thought I did.

A little over an hour later and 95% of the infection had been pricked, sliced, squeezed, pressed, and otherwise tortured out of me. SHEW. I would never wish that on anyone. A.N.Y.O.N.E.

And now, two days later, the wound is still draining, the meds are working like a dream, and I’m finally starting to feel better. Still quite painful (because it’s black and blue from the procedure…still totally worth it), but I am well on my way to healing.

I tell you all of this for two reasons: (a) So you can all know what a Champion I am for enduring such torture, and (b) so I can share with you the biggest thing I learned this weekend.

Community.

It is vital.

It’s honestly what keeps us going.

Receiving messages from people who were genuinely concerned for me and my health was so boosting for me. I didn’t really think I would receive any feedback when I reached out to the wide world of social media, but I was seriously reminded of the gift that it can be when used properly. The whole body of Christ, from all over the country, reached out to me in order to help me find some healing through all kinds of giftings, whether by connecting me with nurses or doctors, or sympathizing with me, or sharing words of encouragement and prayer.

That is what we are meant to bring to this world, and to each other.

I wonder how much better life would be if we as Christians really stepped up into our role as friend. If we are truly called to love our neighbors as ourselves, why is this not how we react to all things? A friend recently shared with me about an online group whose sole purpose was to bless others by giving their things away. You could get online and offer something, or ask for something and if someone had it, it would be sent to you, no questions asked (except for “what’s your address?”). It wasn’t a Christian group. Just a group of people who wanted to bless someone else. People came and went from the group, tons of stuff changed hands, people got rid of stuff, and people received stuff. And much more deeply, I think some lives were changed in the balance.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really see this kind of stuff happening too often, even in the Christian circle. It makes me frustrated, and a little more than sad, that this isn’t simply the natural way we all live our lives, that it isn’t the way I live my life.

I realize that the changes I want to see in the world begin with myself making a change. But I’m also left wondering, if we all lived with such a Community- and Kingdom-minded perspective, how many lives could change for the better? How many people could be affected in a positive way if I simply started reaching out to people when they ask for something?

I asked for a little help and received a HUGE response of love. It filled me up. And in the end it helped me avoid an ungodly amount of medical expenses and an even more serious infection. The Body surrounded me just as I reached a breaking point and saved me from what I felt sure I was headed for- an inevitable pit of physical pain and financial/emotional despair.

So I’m going to make myself a challenge. You can join me, or encourage me along the journey, or maybe even scoff at my (perhaps a little-too-big) intentions. When someone asks for something, when someone reaches out for a hand in the darkness, instead of skimming over or pretending like I don’t see it or reminding myself I’m too busy/tired/whatever, I’m going to reach out and grab hold. I don’t know what it is I can offer, but I do know I can offer something. Maybe I don’t have all the knowledge in the world, but I can network, and encourage, and listen, and pray. And sometimes those are the most powerful catalysts for hope.

So here goes, and here’s hoping you join me in a world-wide campaign to spread hope, love, and a few less spider bite infections.