Push-Ups and other life lessons

This journey is not like any physical journey that I have had before.  I am so at peace and at rest in this journey of health, that it is almost scary. It is scary that I continue to slim down, loose weight, build strength and literally change my life... one decision and one day at a time.

About a week ago I decided to try and do a push-up.  

A REAL Push-Up!

On your toes not KNEES push-up. 





I have NEVER, not ONCE in my life, ever done a REAL PUSH-UP. 

I wasn't able to do one, but I was on my toes... and I was in position... a place I have never really tried to go before because ...I KNEW I WOULD FAIL.

This time I wasn't concerned with failing...I was Dreaming of Success.

So the other night...I tried again and I felt stronger... but no push-up. So I did several "girl" push-ups and called it a night. I find that when I am not feeling very fit, I can get in a plank position and hold everything still and all of a sudden I feel like super woman. So..I did that and felt better. (it is more than physical's emotional and that is a huge part of this journey of change).

Last night I tried AGAIN... and this time I was able to Go down HALF WAY! What? I can ALMOST DO A PUSH-UP???

Then right now as I was writing this, I went over and tried again... two times.. half way down. I am getting there.

So, what am I learning from this lesson.  

Life is about building strength to do the impossible.  

I am not kidding that to me, Push-Ups have represented an impossibility in my life. Something that only other people did, but as I build strength and focus on the sucess and not the perceived failure, I am getting there.

I remember Bill Johnson talking about praying for healing and praying for his dad (whom I have gathered was an amazing man) and that although his dad did not get healed from cancer... Bill did not waiver. His belief in the Goodness and Faithfulness of God and the TRUTH of healing got stronger because he was pushing on this immovable boulder praying for his father's healing.  The next time there was a smaller rock of cancer in the way... it moved when he pushed on it. Was that a coincidence? Is Bill Johsnson some spiritual giant with a special gift? No. While he is an amazing man... he simply has worked his muscles in the supernatural and therefore he has gotten stronger.

Can it be that simple?

Yes. I really believe it is.

Other areas of my life where this has played out are in my emotional and relational world. Things that once seemed far off... friendships and connections that didn't seem to be a reality for me because of my emotional nature (and attention to details.. lots of details)... are real and they are abundant for me.

I have gotten stronger in my identity, in my relationship with Jesus, in my understanding of myself and others and in my comunication skills.  Just tonight I was triggered by a text I received and instead of "giving my friend a piece of my mind", I made a powerful decision and extended grace and love... and didn't need to tell my friend how I was feeling.  It may seem small to you, but that is a victory, folks! 

I am not kidding when I say that I am living everyday to the fullest and I am happier now than I have ever been and I am expectant for MORE.

I am expectant that soon I will be doing full push-ups... all the way down and all the way up. And things will get so easy for me that I will need to do all those crazy modifications to keep up the challenge. I believe this.

What in your life is like a push-up?

Seems impossible, but just takes practice to build strength...

Just like me... I believe you can build the strength you need to over come.

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.


My inner athlete...

When I was a little girl I was a little chubby and then that turned into slightly overweight and then just overweight. I don't remember life when my mom wasn't on some kind of diet and it just seemed like the norm of my family was just like that.  

I loved my parents, but they both worked hard and I am now realizing that we simply didn't know about nutrition... we bought into the box dinner lie. I grew up on Hamburger Helper, Chef Boyardee and Kraft Mac and Cheese. In fact, a good meal was steak and potatoes or going out to a mexican restaurant. My only vegtables came from a can and consisted of corn, green beans and peas and when we had salad it was ice berg (not so nutrious).  I also loved cookies, chips and fastfood and noone told me differently.  

We just kept going up to the next size in clothing and I just figured this was who I was. Inside, I felt strong and fast and atheletic, but on the outside I was just a chubby little girl who wasn't very fast. Add to this fact that I was smart and funny, then you have someone who didn't want to try things that she didn't know how to do too well... I am thankful that video games were a new thing to my generation and not all that good, so I still spent lots of time outside, running and playing with friends.

From an overweight kid... to an overweight teenager to an obease adult.... I just kept shopping at different stores and not really understanding why I would exercise but never lose weight.  I wasn't a binge eater nor a binge dieter. I have been on maybe 3 diets in my entire life... most of the time rejecting them and being frustrated that I couldn't just eat like my skinny friends and not care about food. As an adult, I worked too much and never really learned how to cook until I gave up everything and moved to Africa.

 My whole life I have waited to start learning what I have been learning in the last 5 years or so... while in South Africa, I had to learn to cook if I wanted to eat. It wasn't really a choice.  I found that I actually liked cooking and that I LOVE vegetables.  

Then when I moved to Nashville my friend told me about Kale.  Don't laugh, but I had never heard of Kale before. I started out slow... added it shakes. Then I would try to buy more veggies...use olive oil to start with. From that day more than 3 years ago to this day, I have learned SO MUCH about nutrition and my body.

I have learned more about organic foods and why grass fed beef is important. I have learned about the woes of diary and gluten...though it wasn't an easy lesson to learn because I fought it most of the way.

Then this year I tried something new...

I took a challenge with my friend... the WHOLE 30. It is a 30 day eating challenge where you cut out DAIRY, GRAINS, SUGAR and LEGUMES (and Alcohol).

When I finished my 30 days, I had lost 8 pounds and was feeling really good. So, I added in activity to my goal and now my daily goal is to eat well and MOVE everyday.  I learned while doing the Whole 30 how to plan and cook ahead of time and how to get creative. So I decided to keep eating the same way for the most part... and the pounds have been coming off quicker... well, I started moving alot so that helps!

I am finding my inner athlete because every day I am getting stronger and I can work a little harder. I hope to talk a little more here about the journey because I honestly am having FUN! I should mention that I bought a FitBit and am having fun competing with friends to keep up my activity everyday.

So... since I have found this inner athlete I have decided to try something I have never done....a Sprint Triathlon.... that is .25mi swim, 12 mi bike and a 5 mile run. So, I am "training" now and believing that I will be ready come July!

Have you found your inner athlete?




Reflections after Thanksgiving

Honestly, I was dreading going "home" for Thanksgiving. It wasn't going to be like most years... plans had been made differently, we weren't really spending much time as a family and I knew that much of my time would be spent going through boxes... and years and years of memories.  Now as I sit back in my house in Tennessee in front of my beautiful Christmas tree, sipping on some red wine in one of my mom's crystal glasses I am reflecting on all that I "took away" from these last few days. Most of what I "learned" I already knew, but it was definitely reinforced.

I learned

...that I am successful according to me. I found my college entry essay and in which I listed the three goals I had for my life... simply put it boiled down to love God, serve God, and help people. I even mentioned that my "current career goal" was a peditrician.. as if I knew it was going to change. My 16 year old self was pretty smart after all. I also read my journal as I was graduating college and my goal was to get a job that would "help me learn something for the future"...I would say that all of my MANY jobs have done that and I am so thankful for each one of them.

... that my dad adored me. Not only this.. he made a point (bad grammer and spelling and all) to write it down... he put notes in all sorts of places.. in books, on memorabila he bought, in gifts I gave him.. every where. He loved me and he was proud of me. I am tearing up as I write that, because really when it all comes down to it, that is all we want.. right? For our parents to be proud of us...for our lives to make a difference.

... that I have been living a legacy since I was in college. I found notes from teens thanking me for pouring into their lives when I was just a few years older than them. I also found notes from high school friends thanking me for praying for them and imploring me to not give up. I also want to continue this... both with friends and young girls that I mentor and mother.. but also with my own kids one day.

... I have always been a bit of a writer, but never really felt like one. I found poems and papers galore of my writings from junior high through college.  I am not sure why I have never "felt" like a writer, but I am tired of confessing that. I can write and I will continue to write. I am so glad I kept them all because they are actually encouraging me.

... I have always enjoyed learning and trying new things.  I found articles about historical, spiritual, scientific and cultural topics... most from high school.  Things I have long since forgotten that I was interested in. I remembered that I REALLY liked genetics and RNA and DNA. I found so many places where I have been studying the Bible and seeking God for 25 years. I also discovered hobbies that I no longer have... collections, ventriliquism, and games to name a few.  I really am my father's daughter, in fact,  I brought home a painting, pottery, notes, collections, and a Japanese tea set that my dad "saved" for me. He liked learning new things and sharing them with others and I do too!

While it was hard to say good bye to my "home"... it was fun to remember my childhood, my dad, and to reflect.  I enjoyed hearing stories from my mom too.  I have been so blessed and I am so thankful. I am inspired to continue moving forward and making more memories and continuing the legacy that has been passed to me.

Take a moment to reflect on your childhood and who you are today. What is one thing you are thankful for?

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer




The importance of vision

In the natural we see the importance of vision and I think that we talk about having a vision, but I am not sure that most people have a clear understanding of really how important it is to have a vision for your life. 

Proverbs 29:18 says, " Where there is no vision, the people perish".  

As Danny Silk puts it in his new book, Keep your Love On,  "Only vision can give purpose to your pain, which enables you to endure it and reach your goal."

Those of us who are not Olympic atheletes or hopefuls may have a hard time understanding the work and sacrifice that many very young children and teens make for the slight chance of competing a few times in their lives at the Olympic level.  It is simple... they have a goal to win a medal in their event and they have a vision of that goal... so they endure the pain.

There have been multiple times where I have asked myself:

"Why am I here?"

The answer to this question should be the vision I have set before me... for example, by about the third month I was in South Africa, things started to get more difficult.  Relationships were tricky and my life was already not what I thought it was going to look like... exactly. In retrospect some of that was what was happening on the base that I didn't know about, but most of it was the normal growing pains of community (missional) life. So, to answer the question with the vision or the WHY that I sold all I had to move to Africa, helped me not pick up and move home three months after I arrived.  Four years later when it was time to leave, I am thankful that I stayed right where I was until I was released, eventhough it was incredibly hard.

Another question I ask when I am presented with a choice or a directional decision for my life is: 

 "Does this line up with my vision?"

This one has been interesting for me because it is really God helping me to see when I can't really see because sometimes the direction that I feel called to go in DOESN'T look like it lines up on the outside. The truth is sometimes I move in that direction because I feel the Holy Spirit nudge me towards it and I am trusting that it indeed lines up with my vision.  

A good example of this is my current job.  While I enjoy it, I have never had the vision to work at a church or ministry school. When I ask myself if it lines up with my vision, I am not completely sure and I could walk into reasoning. However, when I am still and I wait...I hear and see how everyday of the last two years I have experienced a "pulling up" from my leaders and experiences into "my destiny", which does line up with my vision.  So, I do feel like I am closer now than I ever have been to understanding my CALL of being Aaron's Hands.  While I love where I am, it is only taking the time to answer these questions and then HOLD on to the answers the Lord gives me that keeps me in PEACE.

So it seems like where Proverbs 29:18 says, " Where there is no vision, the people perish", the converse can be true as well, "Where there is vision, people flourish".

I would say...I am definitely flourishing therefore I am on the right track in my pursuit.

Do you have a vision? Are you flourishing?

If not, He would love to give you one.... all you have to do is ask.



Being Aaron's Hands to an introvert....

Did you know that 1/3 to 1/2 of the popluation is comprised of introverts? 

I honestly have never thought about it. Recently I have been prompted to think more about extroverts and introverts because someone that I love dearly is an introvert living in a very extrovert centered world. I have never considered how difficult this might be. 

However, when I lived on the side of a mountain in Africa...I was in distress a lot of the time because I was an extrovert living in an introverted world. I had about 4-6 people in my community and while they were great... we didn't necessarily "choose" eachother as friends or roommates. We chose to serve in South Africa and because of that were lumped together.  I leaned into my introvert while I was there and I definitely learned more about myself... received healing.. and became a better me... but I did not become and will probably never become an introvert. I would imagine the converse is true for introverts.

Now that I live in Nashville... I have so many different streams of my community. I could choose to be with people or to be alone at almost any given time. The truth is, I don't usually like big groups of people but I enjoy being with close friends... and I enjoy being close in proximity to friends. I love to talk and process... to be with safe people who know me and love me.

I know that my introverted friend loves some of these things too... but I am learning that there are some stark differences in how we interact with the world around us, with God, and how we process life.  So as I have been thinking about what it is like for people who choose to enter into areas of poverty and trauma in order to bring peace, healing, and the good news... I am thinking about how extroverts and introverts handle the stresses differently..... I mean-

How many missionaries are introverts?

Would the same number above carry over or would it be skewed one way or another? For my processing, let me assume that it is the same... 1/3 to 1/2 of all missionaries are introverts. So 1 out of every 2 or 3 missionaries gets their ENERGY from solitude, but feel called to serve Jesus in a culture that is not their own. And if they are serving in a very dangerous place and most likely on a "team", they may not get the same freedom to have that solitude as they would at home.

It is also interesting to note that a large number of missionaries return from the field before their first commitment time is up and mostly because of team conflict of some kind. I need to find the back up for this statment- but in my world of missionary friends in the last 20 years- I can see the truth in it for sure. I wonder if this was a part of that conflict? If our "group" and team culture has carried over so that the loudest and most charasimatic idea is king? I think that was definitely the case on my team in South Africa sometimes... and then the unhealed or hurt introvert goes underground or around authority because it might seem like the only way.

It is important to note for all the extroverts out there- introverts do have a HIGH capacity to love, are creative, can make great decisions, and make some of the best friends in the world.  In fact, if you really are an extrovert... probably some of your closest friends or family are introverts and love you well.

I would love to hear from you if you are serving somewhere in ministry (in the US or overseas) and are an introvert or are more introverted than extroverted.

  • What is your experience?
  • What have you learned about yourself?
  • How can extroverts love you better than maybe we have in the past?
  • How can we hold your arms up and help you STAY in the places/ ministries that you are called to? 

Just as I process the idea of really helping people process life when lived in constant "war like" zones I want to process helping people BE FULLY them (which is an aspect of God's heart) where they are called to be.

Communication, Knowledge, Honor, Power, Boundaries... all good tools for living and all good tools for STAYING where we are called...I look forward to exploring just how we can align, organize these tools effectively so that those that my heart litterally aches for (missionaries) can be equipped to not only STAY where they are called to be, but also THRIVE there!