Lessons Learned In 2013

Well, 2013 is coming to an end and 2014 is well on its way. For some of us, the new year is a welcomed change. I’m one of those hopeful folks ready for a fresh start. This morning I was reflecting on some of the lessons I’ve learned over the past year:

Listen to your body. It speaks volumes. When you feel tired, rest. When you feel stressed out, ask why or what is causing the stress and then address it. If what’s causing the stress is beyond your control, the very best thing is to let it go and put it in the hands of God because He is the ONLY One who can take care of the details.

My tastes, my cravings are changing a lot! I can actually talk myself out of running to grab a drink from Starbucks with the common sense that says “I don’t need that right now.” I still enjoy meeting up with friends or going to use wi-fi, but it’s definitely not about the drinks being a regular thing for me any longer.

Make lots of candy, sweet treats and goodies to share with loved ones. It’s what your mom used to do and it always brings such joy. Besides, you have a plethora of recipes pinned to your Pinterest boards. I love cooking! Oh how I’ve missed it and I’m done making excuses for why I can’t. I have new toys to use in the kitchen and I’m taking advantage of their usefulness. I’ve spent the past twenty-four hours making a half dozen yummy treats that are gluten-free and have healthier ingredients. And they all taste great!

Use what you know to help heal your body. I love eating raw foods and will continue to make healthier choices when it comes to food because I feel so much better when I do. When I don’t I hate how my body feels. I’m really getting this message. It’s coming through loud and clear. I can’t afford to keep buying and eating things that used to satisfy me. I would buy too much of it and eat too much of it at one time. And then I hated myself for making those choices. This cycle is coming to an end! That gap is closing moment by moment. Glory Hallelujah!!!

Don’t stop doing what you were made to do just because its difficult or you find yourself facing opposition. There will always be opposition in some capacity. But with courage you can face anything: fear, doubt, worry, hurt, sorrow, discontent and discouragement. God is for us, so who or what can be against us.

Speak the truth whenever possible and do it in love, but don’t be afraid to speak the truth when it truly matters, even if it seems like all of the ugly feelings are going to come out when you do. You can apologize. It’s much better to not keep it in, stuffed deep inside where it could torture you and hurt you even more. The people who love you will accept you and your apologies and will appreciate your willingness to not allow them to stay in that place and they will try to make changes because they care about their relationship with you.

Put up the Christmas tree the night before Thanksgiving-don’t put it off again. You need this to help usher in the season of celebrating the birth of Christ.

Make time for the people who matter most. Enough said!

Rest, rest, rest. Two weeks off from school does not mean to play catch up at home. It means to sleep, play, sleep, play and do what brings you joy.

Go Christmas caroling! You know you love it.

Take long breaks from social media. Your brain can only process so many things at once.

Make time to talk with God every morning when you wake up and at night when you go to sleep. Don’t ignore Him when He is calling to you. When He is singing you a love song, respond by singing it back to Him. Receive His mercy and grace with open arms and His discipline with a humble heart. He is the One, the ONLY One who loves you without condition and will never fail you. Even when you find yourself disappointed by things that are happening, know that He is still working for your best. He doesn’t mind your honesty when you cry out to Him. Sometimes that is the best way to release your hurt and pain before Him. And the allow Him to heal the deep places where your heart is broken. He wants to restore you completely. He will hold nothing back that He has for you. The question is will you receive His gift of life and hope and healing and restoration?

Making the Change

Change can be difficult for anyone, depending on what it is. For me it has become a revolving door over the past decade, so much so that it seems like it’s just part of life for this girl. One of my worship mentors always said “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall be stretched” and oh, how I feel that quite often. In my job, in ministry, in relationships, in my life overall.

When my mom died a few years ago, I knew that my health had to change. I’m sure a number of people have heard me say this again and again, but I don’t want to end up where she was: depressed, lonely, discontent with people and life, and full of stress and emotional baggage that finally took its toll on her body because she internalized things so much.

She died at the age of 65; her mom, around the age of 70. I don’t want it to be me at 60 or before I have lived and done all that God has planned for me (unless of course, He returns to take us home, then I will relent and go gladly through those pearly gates).

So I am starting to recognize just how much my hard work is paying off. I can see the results more now than ever before and at times it astounds me. For example, I tried on a dress this week that I’ve wanted to wear from the moment I laid eyes on it, but it had been too small. Now I can fit into it almost comfortably, just gotta work on toning up my arms. But I cried when I looked at myself in the mirror because I had not believed that I would get here anytime soon.

I also recently discovered that over the past four years I have dropped an average of fifteen pounds per year, or sixty pounds altogether. I had not really realized that because I’ve been focusing more on my stuckness (is that even a word?) with a closet full of fun and stylish clothes waiting for me to show them off. Can you tell I’m hard on myself? This is significant! I need to celebrate this, right?

I find myself seriously NOT wanting to use food in unhealthy ways like I have before, to fill those potholes in my heart where pain and sorrow have appeared. Now I am thinking more about how to use food, the very best foods that leave me feeling good, feeling healthy and full of energy. I don’t want to bring home the snacks and junk food much these days, even if it is a healthier choice, because I know that my tendency is to sit in front of the TV and eat it all.

Or instead of binging because I’m super emo, I meet with a wonderful counselor, find time to release the stress in cycle class or on a walk with a friend. I make myself journal and write the truth about how God sees me, then speak it out loud so that I hear it and get it into my head and my heart. Some days out of desperation I will even crawl up to the piano to spend time singing out my love songs to Jesus (actually I do this a lot because it fills me up, but I don’t always go there first).

Do I always make the best choice? No, but the “want to” is growing stronger day by day. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time people. And now that its here, I think I’m becoming inspired to cook more and spend time in the kitchen again. I may have a different perspective once school starts due to time constraints, but I’m eager to try out new recipes and see how they work for me.

For the past three days I have been eating a “high raw” diet, trying out new recipes and seeing a positive change in my body. Even though I still want my Starbucks White Mocha Americano with half and half, I know that eating clean and raw is one of the best things I can do for myself and the people God has put in my path. I’m believing that these changes are becoming permanent for me, as a way of living healthy. In all that I do, I want to honor God with what He has given me so that He is recognized as the One who showers down redeeming love to us, His delight. It is only because of His grace that I have been able to make these changes and continue on with them more and more. I’m thrilled with what I see happening and I look forward to see what else will come.

This is me on my 30th birthday at around 350 pounds:

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I’ve come a long ways since then and life just keeps getting better and better.

Romans 12:1 (The Message Bible)
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.