Thursday, September 24, 2015

Maximize momentum for lasting change

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

     Today I can't stop thinking about this word and really more than that about the FEELING of momentum. Have you ever experienced it? 
     Maybe in an athletic or competitive event? 
     Or even in a day in which you started with a grateful heart and continued to express gratitude? 
     Or perhaps in a challenge you made for pray or go to Bible study or stick to an exercise program? 
     The thing with momentum is that its beginnings have nothing to do with luck or chance, or possibly even desire. They have more to do with discipline. 
     The dictionary defines momentum as the force or speed of movement; impetus, as of a physical object or course of events. 
     But something can't begin moving on its own. 
     Have you ever wanted something really badly but did nothing to make it happen. Except maybe pray. 
     I prayed for a really long time for my body to heal. A lot of tears were shed in desperation. 
     But until I made a decision to ACT, nothing happened. Momentum requires ACTion. Action requires a decision. 
     My decision was that I would finally get "all in" about the clean eating and living I was professing. 
     As I did, I noticed some changes. At first they were small, and then when I reached out to start a nutrition program, the changes got dramatic and very quickly. I required two things for this to be successful: a decision to do it well (discipline) and faith it could help me. 
     With discipline and faith, I took action. With action came momentum. 
     Momentum is exciting, because that change I so desperately wanted was finally unfolding. I could feel it, and I could even see the inner healing on the outside of my body. 
     My faith grew even more. 
     But I never could have gotten there without action. Momentum requires force or speed to be initiated. 
     Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University taught me discipline with money. You may be wondering what this has to do with momentum, but you see, I needed to experience that change is good and that discipline leads to transformation. Once I had discipline with my finances, I decided to read my Bible daily. Once I was reading my Bible daily, I decided to pray daily. My continued commitment to action built my faith as I saw momentum in each area of my life. It played out in my physical life as well. We began meal planning, which requires discipline, and I started running races. In each area, I continued because I saw the positive impacts these actions were having in my life. Those positive impacts were the momentum. Once I got started, nothing could stop me because the reward was tangible at that point. 
     In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul writes, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 
     It wasn't easy for Paul, as he was thrown in prison and persecuted for his discipline. But his momentum was salvation, not only for himself but for others. He had GOOD NEWS to share and nothing was going to stand in the way of his calling to spread the gospel. 
     Likewise, our momentum doesn't come without some jarring bumps. We get to decide if the pebble in our path will derail us completely, or if we pick it up, toss it out and continue forward. A little perseverance can help build and grow momentum.  With continued faith and decisions to act daily on what we believe is good for us, we can be sure that the fight we fight for will be "good," the races will be finished even if they aren't won and our faith will be preserved even when shaken. 
     Today, I am determined to capitalize on momentum. To lean into it and to not let life's little bumps along the way stop the good thing that God has started. How about you? 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My food addiction revelation

     So I'm standing in the mirror, just after a shower and getting frustrated at yet another hive-pimple breakout on my cheek. 
     And I have this ah-ha moment that's kind of depressing. I realize I have to admit something. Not just to myself, but to this blog and to anyone who will listen. Because God told me to share. (Read yesterday's entry.) 
     (Side note: It's really a big DANG IT moment, because I don't know about you, but I HATE admitting my weaknesses. Some people call that prideful. It's genetic in my neck of the woods.) 
     I am addicted to food. Sugary food. Chocolate food. Unhealthy food. All food. 
     I have a real problem. Really. I have a really real problem with food. 
     There. It's out. It hurts. 
     Right before my shower, I hate a fourth of a half-gallon of Praire Farms ice cream. It sat in my fridge for well over a week, and nobody ate it. So today in a moment of weakness that was just like all the others I had in the week that I was somehow able to overcome, I succumbed to it. I don't know why this time was different. I certainly was able to ignore that mouth-watering picture of a cow (Just kidding, cows don't make my mouth water. Well, maybe a little) a dozen other times I opened the freezer this week. But today, I ate it. I intended to eat just two bites. You know, because the "experts" say you really only need a couple bites to satisfy a craving. (What do they know?) 
     I bargained with myself. 
     I'll eat just a little more than that. 
     In my mind, I visually carved out a section that would be "acceptable" to eat. The smaller portion on the left side of the container, which was really just a few more bites than the two I intended. Then I decided I would eat from that carton until the computer finally opened a program I was waiting to use. 
     But the computer was so slow. Another bite. Then another. I was eating as slow as the computer was working. So, you can see, it wasn't really my fault I ate it all, because it was the darn computer. The longer I waited for the computer to open the program, the more frustrated I became. The more frustrated I became, the more I justified the food in my hand. 
     It wasn't my fault, after all. It was the stupid computer. 
     Then I went to hide the ice cream container in the trash, which was overflowing. So I stuffed it in the bag, put something bigger over it and took the trash out to the garage. 
     I dusted off my hands — mission covert food addiction accomplished — and hopped in the shower. 
     There's NO DOUBT my complexion is related to the sugar or the dairy,  both of which I can hardly tolerate in large amounts. My reflection tells me a truth I don't want to acknowledge, and it doesn't lie. 
     But here's another truth. I'm normally so much better with food choices. I had been freed from the pain and suffering caused by years of abusive eating more than a year ago thanks to my full-body cellular cleansing and fat-burning replenishment system via Isagenix. 
      Well, I thought I was. 
     I used my pregnancy — not as an excuse, because excuses are excusable. Rather I used my pregnancy to justify something I should not be doing. That carried over in breastfeeding. Don't ask how, but in my mind, it all made sense. Extra calories. Pampering my body, which was suffering the ups and downs — mostly downs — of pregnancy and then caring for a newborn. And the struggles of early breastfeeding. 
     You may be wondering why this is any big deal at all. I mean, is ice cream bad? Most people don't think so in the slightest. 
      The truth is, yes and no. This product is made of ingredients that make me sick. They make everyone sick, if we're honest, but they make me sicker than most people. And I KNOW in my heart that I can satisfy that craving with something healthy. I also KNOW I could have stopped at two bites. I also KNOW I could have recognized the signs a few more bites in that I was emotionally eating. I also KNOW that I was playing games to justified my bad choice. 
     I guess I'm making progress, because I'm seeing it more clearly now, even if in retrospective. I understand what I'm doing. I know it's wrong, and I want to make right choices. I want to make right choices because I've cleansed my body, which helped me in all ways with cravings. I know that a clean body wants what it needs, not what's sitting in the freezer. And I know when my body is alkaline and clean, it functions so much better. Gone is the restlessness, the mental fog and the lack of energy throughout the day. My pain was resolved once I made better choices in my diet. My eating habits made my body function better, and I was much happier. That's right, eating good food (which doesn't include Prairie Farms ice cream, believe it or not!) made me happier. Feed the body, fuel the mind!
     Yet here I was stumbling. I had just told my husband two days earlier I had a food addiction. I admitted that I had bought a Reese's PB cup in the store checkout that day. 
     So what, he said. That doesn't mean you're addicted to food.  
     Bless him. He's so nice. He loves me, and he doesn't want me to feel bad about myself. He never has. So in a way, he helps me justify. I don't want him to help me justify. I want to be free again. 
     I hid the wrapper in a zipper pocket of my purse, I said. 
Evidence of my food addiction can be found tucked away in undisclosed locations. 
     It's not like it was the first time, I said, but just in my head this time. 
     I realized that it's a thing I do. It's a thing I've always done. 
     Sure, there are some people who eat giant stacks of Oreos and 65-ounce sodas out in the open. They may know it's bad or that it's unhealthy. Heck, they may even realize they have a food addiction. They may be struggling. I don't know, because they aren't me. I just know my food addiction is a covert one. It's hard for me to admit. I think the ones who do it openly might have more integrity than me. But let's be honest, a food addiction is dangerous and the struggle is real no matter where the battleground is. 
     Even harder than food addiction, at least for me, is admitting that the food controls me. I allow the food to control me. I'm out of control. 
     I said this to my husband, tears streaming down my face. He made some joke about how he was on his second lunch. He was. But both were relatively healthy. I don't see him binging on ice cream. Ever. 
     Besides, I said. I'm not here to condemn or point out anyone else's eating habits. I am here to say, I have a problem, and I need help. 
     The truth is Isagenix was a tool that helped me overcome the food addiction I wasn't even admitting I had a year ago. Now that I KNOW I have a problem, I'm using the fact that I can't cleanse as an excuse to further justify my bad behavior. 
     I still have some tools. The products I can eat have some qualities to assist me with the addiction, plus I can utilize Rod Hairston's wonderful new coaching program for a healthy mind and body. (I'm in heaven about this addition to a company that already stands for integrity and completeness in everything it does!) And I still and always have the power of prayer. Now, I can add to my tools that I have knowledge, which I've been told is power. (Ha! See how I did that there?)
     Much as I hated admitting I'm addicted to food, God — in his infinite wisdom — blessed me with a girl's writing yesterday to confirm that I am SUPPOSED to share this with you. Isabelle Loux has written about her struggles with anxiety and depression, writing I'm blessed that she's allowing to be published in Mighty Strong Girls. But the truth is, her perspective has blessed me as the writing of so many girls in this ministry has! 
     They constantly remind me that we don't get help in the dark. We MUST bring our struggles into the light. There, we find hope, mercy, Jesus, forgiveness and community. We discover we aren't alone, and mostly importantly, we help one another. 
     If this resonates with you, then join me, please. Help me be accountable, and I'll help you. Let's live this struggle out — in the light. Let this post be the start of a conversation, and let's get really real with one another!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Disobedience: My hidden sin

     Do you ever feel like God is nudging you to do something, yet you are holding back? 
     There are some things in life I'm certain of, and one of those is that all God wants from me is obedience. My obedience, which looks far different than the obedience of His other children, is always a battle. I'm a stubborn control-freak of a child. True story.
     It's also a fact that being obedient to God helps me with so much more than my faith. It keeps my eyes on Him so as to not be bound by jealousy or bitterness. It keeps me squarely in His purpose for me alone. It helps me to see through His eyes, so I'm more apt to love and pray for other people and use my gifts for His glory. 
     Typically, being obedient to Him means I have little time to worry about the sins of others, criticize, judge or condemn. If I'm honest, doing what He tells me usually involves me working on my sins and purpose, so He can give me freedom to soar in my identity in Christ. 
     But there was this one thing He asked me to do four years ago that I stubbornly dig my heels in about every chance I get. 
     God made it clear to me that I am to share stories of myself and to do so authentically, using my voice through writing on this blog and other publications. Part of me loved this calling, because I have always had a deep passion for writing. But there was part of me holding back from the very beginning. 
    The authentically part. Because being authentic means being honest with yourself and exploring areas of the depth of your soul you may not really want to. Subjects that are dark and difficult. Parts of me I'd rather hide.
    I did not want to bring these into the light. So like most defiant children, I didn't. I wrote about what I wanted to write about and ignored the truths He laid out in front of me. 
     I cannot tell you how detrimental this was to my health and particularly how it affected not just my spiritual being but my physical and emotional selves, too. (See above. The parts about jealous, bitterness, love and gifts. Yep, I was regularly a hot mess of ugliness!)
     Not long ago I read an article about the hidden sins of Christians. Two of them stood out at me as if God Himself had gotten out His bright pink highlighter for my sake: hypocrisy and caring more about what other people think than what God thinks. 
     I have a real problem with hypocrisy, as you can tell. 
     You see, I was holding back complete obedience to God in my writing and blogging because I thought to do so would make me seem arrogant. I like to think of one of my spiritual strengths as humility. I like to serve, and I highly value those amazing servants who do so without much fanfare or praise, whose work is so far behind the scenes that maybe, just maybe, God is the only witness. I don't like being in the limelight; I never have. So to say that writing about my struggles — some that I've overcome and some that are sins I still wrestle with — would be outside my comfort zone is the understatement of the decade. My history in writing is to interview other people and write their stories, not to write my own. 
     There were other factors at play, too. 
     Fear of criticism and judgement, fear that others would view me as prideful, an unlikely expert for writing about the topics I'm called to write about. Not surprisingly, fear is the subject of an upcoming Mighty Strong Girls publication, and God was revealing to me through others' writing submissions how I was letting my fear rule me and keep me from obedience. 
     So I balked. Over and over, I let me fear trump my calling. 
     A few weeks ago, my pastor preached about Nehemiah and how God used Him to rebuild the temple as God wants to use us to rebuild our lives, His church and His kingdom. 
     It resonated with me, as God has recently been rebuilding my life, and I realized I was not walking in full with His beautiful purpose for me because of my disobedience. 
     I know my calling. That much is clear. But I'm distracted by other things that seem tempting. I'm distracted by fear and criticisms. 
     That sermon opened my eyes to the fact that I'm getting in my own way with my disobedience. I am blocking God from using me for the very purposes He designed me for!
     God never promised I wouldn't face criticism, so in a way, my fears are founded on fact. 
     But why do we think for one moment that to walk in His will as we walk toward our purpose that He will reward us by lavishing us with constant blessings. Jesus' disciples made sacrifices. They were mocked. They, too, had fears and doubts. 
     Fears have never been powerful enough to stop destiny! Take my fear of childbirth, for instance. I did it — three times, mind you — and lived to tell the tale. It's walking through and facing those fears that builds our faith and our testimony. 
     To bring our stories into the's not about us anyway, especially when He calls us to do it. Even when we don't like the way He wants us to do it. Who am I to think I know better than Him the way in which I'm to do His work. 
     It is encouraging for me to remember that Nehemiah and Daniel and Jesus' disciples and David and even Jesus Himself were not immune to fears, temptations and doubts. However, they did not change the fact that these men had great work at hand for their lives, God's church and His kingdom. 
     So do I. 
     And so do you. 

Monday, August 31, 2015


     Romans 12:12 
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

     When I launched Mighty Strong Girls four years ago, I wrongly assumed that because I was acting on the will of God that life would suddenly get better and easier. 
     Some things did. Partners quickly emerged. Prayers were answered. 
     But not everything was easy. Most of all, my personal growth and development. I had a long way to go to really prepare my heart and mind for this ministry work. 
     Why I didn't think I needed to transform just shows my spiritual immaturity. 
     I mean, think about it. Most all of those great men and women of the Bible who worked in the will of God had a period of preparation and trials that tested their perseverance. Moses tried to argue with God that he wasn't qualified. Nobody thought David would be God's chosen king for a nation. God called him at a young age, but he wouldn't become king for many, many years. During his journey of preparation, David's brothers mocked him for thinking he could go up against Goliath; Saul doubted him. 
     Sadly, attacks on ministry don't just come from the world. God's own people were some of the worst critics of those who were doing His work. Not even Jesus escaped criticism — some from his own earthly family. Judas betrayed Him; Peter denied Him.
     If Jesus had to overcome temptation and trials to complete His ministry, why do we think it will be any easier for us?  
     Discouragement is everywhere. And when it comes, it rains down on our desire to persevere.  How many of us want to quit (jobs, sports, diets, church, etc.) when things get hard? How often do we want to walk away when things seem too overwhelming? How many times do we want to let someone else carry the load when it seems to unbearable? 
     I'm reminded that to persevere in ministry, as in life, I must be persistent. How can I be persistent? As the scripture above states, I must not only never give up, but I must also be patient and in a constant state of prayer. 
     Often when I'm facing a major shaking in my life, as I am now, I sense from God that it's time to turn to Him in prayer. That perhaps I've turned away from Him or let my prayer life fade or that it's time to take my prayer to a new level. 
     It's time for me to get away so I can wait. To run off with my Bible and prayer journal, to spend time with my Beloved, who calls on me. It's time to be persistent — not just in doing His work. Sometimes we wrongly put the emphasis on what we can do: the busy work of crossing things off a list. But what He wants isn't our work, it's our relationship with Him. Persistence cannot be carried out without His guidance. I can't be guided without a relationship. I can't cross things off my list without Him. Sometimes, quite frankly, to persist we must simply stop. Stop doing so much. Stop relying on ourselves. Stop trying to control. 
     To wait on the Lord, as He says in His word, is to know Him. Persistently, I must wait patiently and in prayer.     
     Be honest. Doesn't that seem so much easier than trying to run and do and cross things off a list? Why do we think our Lord and Savior wants to create more work for us when all He really desires is that we wait and listen for Him? He is all we ever need.  

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Overcoming my late-in-life pregnancy fears

     So, I'm probably about to have blog-rrhea. There was so much I wanted to write while pregnant, and the truth is...I was terrified to put my thoughts into writing during those months. 
     It was one of the most fearful seasons of my life.
     ...I would lose the baby. 
     ...something serious was wrong with the baby. 
     ...of our home sale falling apart. 
     ...that putting my kids back in public school was the wrong decision. 
     ...we wouldn't be able to afford another child. 
     ...of every single symptomatic issue I had in pregnancy. (Yes, I spent a lot of time on Google. Then I admitted I had a problem, promised to stay off the Internet and relapsed after about 24 hours. I realize I have issues!)
     ...that if I talked about any of this, something dreadful would happen. 
     ...I would gain too much weight, not be able to lose the weight after the pregnancy.
     ...I would succumb to food addictions.  
     ...of giving birth naturally, which I was trying to commit myself to doing but even my efforts left me doubting I could. 
     ...God would hate me or punish me for so many fears and doubts. 
      ...of my fears. (My anxiety disorder seemed so under control until this....all of this. It was overwhelming!)
     So I didn't write them. Or speak them. 
     But they haunted me. every doctor's appointment. 
     ...with every snide comment about my age in pregnancy. every headline about a stillbirth or studies about the dangers of pregnancy "late in life." 
     ...during the day and into the night. I listened to a horrendous podcast about depression in pregnancy (1 in 3 women suffer, almost always in silence) and wondered if it was me the author was describing. 
     ...with all the insomnia bouts that returned with a vengeance in my third trimester. 
     I was so glad God was speaking to me during this time and reassuring me. But me, in Amy-the-persistent-worrier fashion, continued to doubt and question. For every worry or fear, I grasped onto the one person who could bring me peace and reassurance. I had to keep going back to Him time and time again because I had such a restless spirit. I think He probably had me right where He wanted me. But I couldn't help shake my feelings of inadequate faith. It was touch and go. 
     I wish I could say that I had a great support network. I definitely had friends who were checking in on me and a husband who was there to listen to all my insecurities. 
     But for every friend who was supportive, there were three people who were negative. Some were silently protesting. Others whispered behind my back. I felt every sting. We received comments like, "How could you be so stupid (to get pregnant at your age)?" "Do you know how this happens?" and my all-time favorite said right to my face, "You're f----ed." 
     Many of these comments came from so-called friends. 
     It was so hard to share our news, not knowing what the reaction would be from a world where the attitudes about a fetus fall more along the lines of a "clump of cells," rather than my precious daughter, a life, a creation of God's. 
     An older woman having a baby seemed foolish. Heck, even I was skeptical in the beginning. It certainly wasn't our plan. 
     But it was our prayer. It was just a prayer from seven years prior...long forgotten. 
     At least we'd forgotten. 
     But someone hadn't. That one person — all holy and almighty — didn't forget the cries of my heart. And deep down, I trusted His timing. He said no to my prayer then. But He said yes to my prayer in this chapter. 
     So I trusted in Him, while so many others disappointed. 
     Faith. But a shaky, insecure, immature faith, to be sure. 
     Still, a glorious story unfolded in spite of my fears when my beautiful baby entered the world. 
Our sweet daughter, born in God's timing as His plan unfolds for our lives.
     She came naturally. But not without trouble. Her positioning was wrong. Labor, which I thought would be fast and not nearly as painful for all my preparation, didn't deliver on those promises. 
     But I was reminded that God doesn't promise life will be easy. He simply promises He will walk through it with us. 
     The birthing plan I had, the techniques I had practiced and prayed upon did not work out like I had hoped. But the scriptures I had written out on notecards gave me the hope and reassurance I need. Just as His word and my relationship with Him carried me through each day of the pregnancy. 
     Indeed, I was never alone. And I knew, no matter what happened to me or the baby, He would help me through it. After all, this was His plan, unfolding in His timing in answer to a deep prayer of my heart. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The long awaited sonogram didn't provide the answers we were hoping for!

      I wasn't prepared for this. 
     Well, maybe a little. 
     A week before I stood staring with my jaw drooping to the floor, positive pregnancy test in hand, we finally made a decision to move forward with adoption. In an all-new way. All four of us decided we were equipped to handle a baby. We could logistically do it. We were mentally and emotionally prepared. We would go through classes and become a foster family to a newborn. It was settled. 
     And then the unthinkable happened. Six weeks shy of my 41st birthday I discovered that the two missed periods weren't symptomatic of pre-menapause. Or some fluke.
     Immediately, my doctor sprung into action. Blood test in the next three hours. Immediate appointment. She even came in at 8 a.m. on the first morning of her week off to see me. 
     Because. Because of my age, I am HIGH RISK. 
     Frankly, it seemed like more hype than necessary. I just ran a 10-mile race — seven more miles than I'd ever ran consecutively before 2014. I was down 22 pounds and feeling better than I did when I was in my 20s! I felt WAY more healthy than I did in my early pregnancies with the other two. 
     Didn't matter. Statistically speaking, I have a higher rate of complications. So does the baby. 
     Speaking of the baby's risks, I had taken prednisone in early December for a freaky outbreak of poison oak or ivy that was all over my arm and face. It was not a super high dose, but it wasn't a low dose either. 
     My doctor looked at the dates and decided rather than send me to a neonatal specialist, she would check closely for birth defects at our sonogram at 20 weeks. Specifically she mentioned mid-line birth defects of the heart, spine and possible cleft lip/palate. 
     That day came on Monday, and I was certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was going to show up and the results would indicate what a perfect baby I was carrying. That He would give me peace and comfort that the medicine hadn't done damage. 
     I should have known better. 
     She was wiggly and uncooperative. She spun to put her back to the "camera" and there were no good images to be had of her heart, lower spine or face. Everything else they could see just fine, especially the fact that she is a SHE. Except the places where we wanted reassurance. 
     I was angry. Because a few weeks earlier I had read a study that sonogram technology has been linked to autism/ADHD/neurological issues. I decided on the spot that we wouldn't do another one. So God HAD to show up. Right? Ugh! So why had he abandoned me?
     We had a wonderful chat with our doctor, who was honest and admitted there are risks doing another sonogram. She didn't do all the recommended sonograms on her own pregnancy. She supported our decision after she had already told us that everything they could see on the images suggested that this baby is very, very healthy. So am I and so is the pregnancy. 
     Dan and I have peace in that if there is a defect, we live in a community with the very best doctors and medical resources. Our girl will be fine. We will be fine. Even if everything isn't perfect. 
     Life is really never perfect anyhow. It's a little broken. And a little messy. And a little unpredictable. And a lot challenging. 
     Which is why we (especially me!) NEED God. That's where I should have known better. Each time I make a step of faith, I find myself in an imperfect spot. In other words, just because I trusted God and He helped me through a situation doesn't mean He's done with me. 
     Instead, there's another step I must take. Sometimes a bigger one or a harder one than the last. It's simple really. If I didn't need Him, I might let go. But He isn't letting me. This sonogram result is really a gift, reminding me that no matter how smart technology is and no matter how much I think I can handle something on my own, I'm really hopeless and helpless without Him by my side. 
     As I worked through my anger with Him for not providing this reassurance, this answer to prayer, I realized sometimes He's answering even bigger prayers of ours. I would never want to be estranged from Him, especially in my hardest hours. Especially as I continue to be bombarded with information — like statistics about stillborn babies born to older moms — and people's insane opinions that we're too old (and consequently stupid) to "let" this happen. (For the record, we had two types of infertility but just went on a super foods diet and cleanse with an amazing company!) 
     I have a confession to make, and it's hard for me to make it. Because it shows how vulnerable and untrusting and hard-hearted I am. These comments and stories and statistics have made me detached. Fear of losing the baby has made me less engaged in this pregnancy. Less excited. Less hopeful. Sadly, I realized today that a detached mom is never a good mom. 
     A baby is ALWAYS a blessing. I realized if the baby doesn't live a day outside the womb, it's still my job (and my greatest privilege) to be the best mom I can be until the point that I'm no longer a mom to this girl or my other children. 
     So I made a decision that I will begin bonding with this sweet, active girl right now. Just like my amazing son, who has been reading stories and books to the baby since before she could read. Yes, I think I will have faith like his. Faith like a child. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year, New YOU!

     Well, that's a deceiving title. I don't know if there will be a NEW YOU in 2015, but I do know there will be a NEW ME!
     I love fresh starts, do-overs, blank pages. I am a writer, after all, and there's nothing more inspiring than a new page to start a new story. I've been thinking a lot about my New Year's post, mostly because last year I was in Sierra Leone and coming off of one of the worst years in my life. I didn't write a New Year's post. I was in a not-so-good place. 2013 was a crappy year — one I KNEW I didn't want to repeat. 

     Yet, I was afraid to write down a thing. Because, you see, 2013 started on a very positive note. And it just got worse and worse until it ended in what seemed like an abyss of darkness. I could hardly bear the thought of writing out goals and starting out a positive note when so much "could" go wrong. 
     So I started out wrong. I cried at my annual doctor appointment in January, and I moped around in self pity for a few months. I became my own worst enemy. I didn't mean to; it just kind of happened gradually.
     Then I decided that if I wanted God to answer my prayers, I better use the brain He gave me to make better choices. 
     He made it clear before I began that it all hinged on one thing. Get over the pity party. God reminded me that He loved me in the miserable, pathetic place where I was living, and before I did anything, I better love the girl in the mirror. Because He did. And so did my husband. It was time for my most important choice of all. LOVE MYSELF JUST AS I AM, NO STRINGS ATTACHED, KNOWING SHE MIGHT NEVER CHANGE A BIT. 
     Just like that, I did. A few months into what appeared to be the crappy start to another crappy year, I set my goal. My one goal. 
     In April/May, I decided I was going to take the best care of myself that I humanly could and make the best choices I was financially and practically able to make to be the healthiest me. After all, I am charged with taking care of the body God gave me, the one He calls His temple. I was so used to taking care of everyone else first that it was a big adjustment, but I didn't want to miss another holiday. I had spent Halloween in bed in 2013 because it happened to be one of the 3-6 days a month that I was so sick I couldn't function.
     2014 was a mixed year. There were challenges, still, like there had been the year before. But I learned so much, mostly that while the bad years suck, they are the ones where I grow the most. The bad times are when I find myself learning more about myself and realizing just how faithful God is, as crazy as that sounds. He speaks more and more when I am hurting, sad and desperate. And that part is actually good, and my growth is also worth celebrating. 

     It also helps me remember that the accomplishments and memories during these times are that much better. 
     In 2014, I had insomnia, but I wrote a book. I had pain, but I found Isagenix. I was hurt by people I loved, but God proved He's all I'll ever need. I spent many days in bed sick, but the chains of illness were broke forever. I felt shadows of depression and then learned the way to true JOY through my Savior.
     I COULD focus on all the crappy things that happened. Or I can chose to see all the wonderful things God did in the midst of the muck and mire. That's just how good He is, that He does care very much about our hurting and suffering. Amazing character growth can come through it, and He certainly cares about that. But mostly He just wants us to cling to Him.
     Some people say we shouldn't relive the past, but I learned a lot last year, so I'd like to take those lessons forward!
     Things I did in 2014 that I want to repeat in 2015: 

     1. Fuel my body with health foods. Isagenix was by FAR the best thing in my year. I kept trying and trying and failing with better and organic foods. Nothing even came close. I'm so grateful for the healthy products I'm putting in my and my family members' bodies — and in my baby's body.
     2. More spas. I'm so thankful for my friend Jan and the spa she did for me. This has been a fabulous tool to show the LOVE of Jesus to girls and moms in a world that sees Jesus as punitive and monstrous.
     3. Write a book. I have the idea and concept for another one, and I'm praying God will show me how to publish the first one! Maybe it's just to my blog, or maybe just to the women and girls who go through the spa. I'd love for Him to show me the way.

     "New" goals for the new year:
     4. Spend more quality time with family. Homeschooling and working from home means we're constantly in each others' hair, but it doesn't mean we spend "quality" time together. I want to be more intentional with my family! This will be more important than ever with baby No. 3 on the way this summer.
     5. Build my Isagenix business. By the grace of God, our products are paid for, so that's HUGE and I'm grateful for it. But we do need a car because Dan can't fit four in his truck. I have specific financial goals, and I'm praying that Isagenix is the answer because not only does it help us, but the nutrition is freeing so many of my loved ones from food addictions and enabling them to eat healthier than ever before! My specific goals are to buy an inexpensive used car by May and have an income of $500 a month over and above for myself. By the end of the year, my goal is $5,000 a month. Sound crazy? I'm totally motivated to help my friends Rick and Paula Miller — missionaries who lost a lot of funding and need to get back home to Sierra Leone as soon as possible. I'm trusting God to make the impossible possible! Having more money to give is another one of the best things about Isagenix!! 

     6. Sell our house and downsize our mortgage. This goes along with No. 5. If we can shave $500 off our mortgage, it will allow us to afford baby no. 3 AND have more to give!

     Things I did in 2014 I hope to never do again: 

     7. Obsess over homeschool. I'm attending the conference and finding a more managable online school for the next school year. All this planning, grading and curriculum design is NOT my thing!
     8. Keep my house meticulous. That means our house needs to sell and soon. I don't like living in a museum state, chasing dust bunnies and getting OCD about crumbs on the floor. I'd like to move on to things that matter!

    9. Overcommit. I am learning boundaries and more about this two-letter word NO. It might require loads of therapy, but I hear using this word can be done! 
    10. Spend a week in a beach house with extended family. Thanks for the memories! A repeat is not necessary. I actually just threw this in because it's funny. It really wasn't that bad. There was a beach after all. Did I mention the beach was LOADED with the stinkiest seaweed, interspersed with six-foot mounds of seaweed? It was like a metaphor for how we felt sharing that space. I'm kidding. We loved every minute of it. There are seaweed sculptures — and photos — to prove it.