Recently, I spoke in front of 50+ women on a subject that I am passionate about…simplifying your life.  It was great.  I put together a nice little presentation on Power Point, added in some stories and jokes along the way and I delivered, what I think was, a pretty nice little talk.  I took up the full 30-35 minutes I was alloted, and there were questions afterwards and I even had a few follow-up emails.   The biggest kicker for me……I wasn’t even nervous.

In school and beyond, I had a huge FEAR of speaking in front of people.  I hated it.  I dreaded teachers calling on me and I would get so anxious before any type of report I had to give in front of the class. Yikes.  I NEVER could see my self speaking in front of people…..and enjoying it?

Even worse than that, I could never in a million years imagine singing in front of others.  My husband, as I’ve mentioned before, encouraged me to sing…in front of other people.  I was SO scared to do that, but once I did it a few times…it was actually fun!

I am writing all of this to make a point.  Fear holds you back.  Fear holds you back, not only from things you may end of loving….but fear can also hold you back from things you are really good at…AND that God has called you to.

Do not let fear hold you back…..from anything!  “Fear not” is one of the most used phrases in the Bible.  That’s because God doesn’t want FEAR to get in the way of us living out His will for our lives and bringing Him glory!

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

Diet Update

So I finished my 10 days yesterday and I have to say I did fairly good overall.  For 5 days straight I ate ONLY vegetables and fruit and drank water.  On the 6th day I did add some whole grain (sprouted) bread and some pasta.  I also then had some corn chips and vegan corn muffins (made with whole wheat flour, applesauce and agave nectar for sweetener) over the weekend, plus some wheat pizza with soy cheese.   However, other than that I still only had fruits and vegetables. 

I had no coffee, no sugar, no dairy,  no white flour, and no meat.  I feel great, but  I felt the best on the first 5 days when I was only eating fruits and vegetables. 

This morning I did have an egg, but I plan on keeping with the “mainly” veggie diet.  I juiced a lot of vegetables, including carrots which I love!  I just feel healthier and I’ve lost some weight and my clothes are feeling better.

I’m going to continue to focus on eating more vegetables and fruits, but I’ll include whole grains, nuts, and some alternative dairy products (soy, almond, etc.). 

I’m not going to be legalistic about it.  If I’m at someone’s house and they only make food that includes meat or dairy, I will eat it.  I’m not “that person”.  I will eat those other foods, but for the most part I want my diet to remain the same.  I will eat meat sometimes, and I will occassionally include fish. 

I want to eat the foods that God has provided to us more than I want to eat the foods that humans have processed for us.  I want to include more “whole” foods in my diet and eat how God intended us to eat.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”   1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Things My Husband Has Taught Me

I love my husband. I guess that’s an obvious and pretty predictable statement, but I do.  I really do.  A lot.  

I love him for many reasons, but today I am so thankful for the things he has taught me and continues to teach  me every day.

He is so patient with me.  I mean, I can be a handful at times.  For many people who know me, that might come as a surprise (hopefully), but I promise if you asked him he would agree with me.  I just get a little “ramped up” about certain things at times.  (that’s a nice way to put it).  Here are some of the things he has taught me.

1.  Patience.   It’s funny because he doesn’t think he has much patience, but he does.  He has taught me (as early as this morning) to just be patient with certain things and to not let them get to me. 

2.  It’s Okay To Ask.  I continue to learn from him that it’s okay to ask people for help.  I’ve never been good at that.  I was taught to be independent and self-sufficient.  I take that to an extreme and tend to try to do everything myself.  Well, you can imagine how that goes sometimes. 

3.  It’s No Big Deal.  He is always helping me realize that most things that I might think are a big deal, are indeed not.  Nothing is really worth getting stressed or uptight about.  That is such a good lesson for me.  I am pretty laid back most of the time, but when it comes to certain things that involve other people I tend to get a little “ramped up” as I stated before.  For instance if we are having people over I tend to get a little OCD and think everything has to be perfect.  He has taught me that its way more important to have people in our home and way less important if there is a little dirt on the floor when they do.  What a relief.

4.   Don’t Be Afraid.  He has encouraged me to step out of my “shell” and try things and to do things I would never have done otherwise.  He’s gotten a lot of push back  in the process. Sorry honey.  But I’m so thankful for it.  For example, I love to sing, but I had never done it in front of anyone before I met my husband.  I sang in front of him and he encouraged me to sing in front of others, so I did, and that led to singing in front of more people.  Wow, it was so much fun.  He pushes me, but I need that.  We all need that.

5.  Acceptance.    He has taught me that I have no reason to feel guilty or ashamed about my past.  He has been so accepting of me as is and encourages me constantly that God will use my past as my ministry to other women.  He accepts me for who I am today and for everything in my past that has brought me to this place.

Thank you honey for all that you have taught me so far and continue to teach me daily.  I’m so glad God brought you into my life.  He knew I was stubborn enough to need the love of a wonderful Christian man to get me out of my shell and to calm me down all at once.  You bring out the best in me, and for that, I am grateful.

Diet Update

Well, I just wanted to check in.  Today was my first day to eat only vegetables and drink water.  I sort of cheated a little and had green tea this morning (b/c I usually have coffee), but other than that it was all fruits and vegetables.  I feel really good and I’m not hungry and I’m not craving anything, which is pretty amazing.

I plan to only do this for 10 days, but I am definitely going to eat mostly vegetables and fruits going forward and I think I’ll keep avoiding sugar and caffeine, depending on how I feel.   I will start eating bread, pasta and some lean meats again, but I will try to limit them. 

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the benefits of eating this way.   Among them are the elimination of many common ailments and an increase in your energy.  If I could alleviate the symptoms I experience when I eat dairy, and if my allergies would subside then those two things alone would motivate me to keep this up. 

I am feeling good so far!  Let’s see how the next 9 days go….

The Daniel Diet

Last fall I was doing my daily reading in the Bible and I decided just to flip to something new and read it.  Well, I landed on the book of Daniel.  These are the verses I read that day (and I’ve been reminded of them every since):

“But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the king’s food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.”

“Please test your servants for ten days:  Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.  Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the king’s food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.”

“At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.” 

We have to believe God put this in the Bible for a reason, right?  I felt as if he was speaking to me that day,  presenting me with a challenge.  Or maybe He just wanted to have a good laugh because this topic was on my mind.  I had one of those moments when I’m reminded that God truly knows everything I think about.  As scary as that might be, it’s true.  He knew that I had been asking Him to help me to make healthier choices and to stick with them.  This, I assumed, was his answer. 

I like thinking that eating any other way is “defiling” my body…it sort of helps me make better choices.   It just sounds bad and I don’t want to be “defiling” anything.  Let alone, my body.  Now…here is the challenge, and it’s a doozy.  Daniel ate nothing, NOTHING but vegetables (and I’m going to assume fruit) and water.  That’s it.  Nothing else.

I looked this up on the internet and wow, I found all kinds of “Daniel’s diet” sites…with detox diets, etc.  I guess I’m not the first to pay attention to these verses.   Shoot.   Anyway, all of these sites have different “rules” etc.   I don’t think it’s too hard to figure out.  It says he ate vegetables and water.  That’s it.  It does not say he ate soy bacon with his almond milk latte.  It says, he ate NOTHING but vegetables and water.  Nothing.  It’s pretty clear.   AFter 10 days Daniel and his buddies were healthier than their cohorts who feasted at the king’s table.  Go figure.

My husband and I use that as a joke now…”the king’s table”.  When we talk about or see certain foods we refer to them as “king’s table” foods and we are trying to stay away from that table.  We’ve been a guest of the “king’s” one too many times I’m afraid.  It’s time we joined Daniel, or at least that I join Daniel.  Now, I realize that this seems a little ridiculous to some and just way too extreme for others.  But…remember, it’s in the Bible!  I feel like God wants me to at least try it and see how I feel.  So, mark this as the day that I decide to officially take the Daniel challenge, absurd or not.  I’m not going to do the altered versions I read about.  I’m going to do the following for the next 10 days.

1.  Eat nothing but fruit and vegetables.
2.  Drink water.

I’m a little scared.  I’ve told my husband I was going to do this a few times and on Jan. 1 I got really close.  For 7 days straight I eliminated dairy, meat, caffeine, and sugar.  In the past week I added back in caffeine and sugar.  In doing this I’ve noticed a decline in how my skin looks, and the way I feel and I’ve noticed a gain in my middle region.  I do actually have some food allergies as well and they do affect my body and how I feel.   So…I am ready to go 100%.  If my skin, my energy, and my body feel a lot better afterwards then it’s worth it. 

Why wouldn’t  I want to take care of this temple that God has given me.  I’m 40 now, it’s time I really start taking care of my body.  Really this time.  I promise God, I heard your challenge.  I’m ready to take it. 

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Just Trust

Why is that so hard?  I’m currently participating in a Bible reading plan through my church titled “Pursuit”.  We will be reading all the stories about Jesus throughout the New Testament.  It has begun with the preparations of Jesus’ birth and the story of Mary and Joseph.  So far, one theme keeps popping up in my head.  Just trust.  That’s it.  Simple really, right?  Just trust God with everything you have and it WILL be okay. 

I mean really, Mary and Joseph trusted God when their situation seemed so impossible, so crazy, so unbelievable.  Completely and utterly a miracle and they trusted.  I’m pretty sure that’s why God chose them, He knew they would “just trust” Him.  I believe He blesses those that just trust in Him with everything.  When we hang onto our own pride, fear, doubt, etc…..we hold Him back from blessing us.  It’s up to us. 

If Mary  had not believed, not submitted to God’s way….He would’ve picked someone else.  Instead she completely trusted, completely surrendered and continued to praise God.  That’s what I want to do.  I want to recklessly abandon all my fears and doubts.  They hold me back, I know they do.  I do not want to find out later what they held me back from, I want to experience it, live it and use it all to honor God.  I want to live the life God has intended for me. 

If you want to read more about how Mary and Joseph completely trusted God, click below to read this great post on the subject.

Do You Trust Me?

My prayer:  Dear Lord, please help me to let go of EVERYTHING that holds me back from completely submitting to you.  Completely trusting you with every single thing.  Trusting that you will help me when I ask and that you will work through me if I let you.  Help me to surrender…even if it’s 50 times a day.  I want to honor you with my trust.  Amen.

You Are More

I think those three words are some of the most important words we need to hear.  Especially those, like me, that have made decisions in their past that they regret.  I’ve made choices in my life that I’m not proud of and that I wish I could change, but I can’t.  Only God can use those choices to help others make good choices.  I’ve become a living example of why we want to always listen and follow where God leads.

Sometimes the first place to start is to truly believe that “You Are More“.  God wants you to know and believe that He loves you no matter what.   You are so much more to Him than the choices you have made, than the problems you create. 

I love this song and I love this video.  Notice all of the words they write on the chalkboard and then water (signifying Jesus’ blood) washes it all away.  You are NEW in Christ, Hallelujah!  I have included the lyrics to this song below the video.  Read them and believe them.  God wants you to know them as truth.  You’ve been remade.

Click To Play Video

There’s a girl in the corner
With tear stains on her eyes
From the places she’s wandered
And the shame she can’t hide

She says, “How did I get here?
I’m not who I once was.
And I’m crippled by the fear
That I’ve fallen too far to love”

But don’t you know who you are,
What’s been done for you?
Yeah don’t you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

Well she tries to believe it
That she’s been given new life
But she can’t shake the feeling
That it’s not true tonight

She knows all the answers
And she’s rehearsed all the lines
And so she’ll try to do better
But then she’s too weak to try

But don’t you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

‘Cause this is not about what you’ve done,
But what’s been done for you.
This is not about where you’ve been,
But where your brokenness brings you to

This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

You’ve been remade
You’ve been remade.
You’ve been remade.
You’ve been remade.

The Hard Thing And The Right Thing

I once heard a quote in a  movie that has stuck with me.  I saw the movie about 5 years ago.  I think it was Weatherman, which I don’t recommend, but nonetheless I loved the quote.  It was “the hard thing and the right thing are usually the same thing.”  How true is that?!?!

Let’s dig a little deeper.  Think about it.  Working out is hard work, but it’s the right thing to do.  Hard thing=right thing, check.  Eating healthy is harder than not eating unhealthy, but it’s the right thing to do.  Hard thing=right thing, check.  Sticking with your word is sometimes a very hard thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do.  Hard thing, right thing…okay you get the point.  Doing the hard work in these areas really pays off:

1.  Work – Working hard is the right thing to do and it feels good.  It feels good to work really hard at something and see the outcome.  Whether it’s your 9-5 job, your hobby, your new business idea, or your goals.  The easy (and wrong) thing to do is do nothing, waste time, goof off, procrastinate.  All of those things may feel “good” for an instant, but true satisfaction that lasts comes from doing the hard work.  Delayed gratification is SO much better than instant. 

2.  Parenting – Parenting is hard work.  Period.  It’s hard to be consistent and stay on your kids about the important things.  Sometimes you just want to give in because you are tired, or it’s easier. I get it, I am a parent.  But when you put in the hard work of parenting and show consistency, that is the right thing to do.  When your kids are grown up and you are so proud of the adults they have turned into, you will be so glad for the hard work you put in.  Another “delayed gratification” example.

3.  Healthy Living – How easy is it to sit on the couch and watch TV while eating a bag of chips?  Easy.  The hard thing to do is to get up off the couch, go for a walk or run and eat an apple instead.  The way you feel after walking/running and eating an apply completely outweighs the temporary satisfaction of eating those chips and being stimulated for a few minutes by the TV.  After the chip-eating TV watching you will more than likely feel miserable or guilty.  The “up” turns to a “down” quickly.

See the pattern….get it in your mind that the hard thing and the right thing are the same thing and you will see things differently.  Life is hard.  But when you give it your all, the satisfaction of the outcomes is exponentially better than any instant gratification you feel from putting it off!

The 100 Thing Challenge

You may remember that I wrote about the “100 Thing Challenge” back in Sept. of 2009.  That was really the beginning of my desire to start living with less.  Well, I just finished reading Dave Bruno’s  book about his 100 Thing Challenge and how it all came about.  In this book he writes about how his life was before the challenge and what led him to create this challenge.

Dave then goes on to describe the process of going through his personal things and making decisions on what to sell or give away.  He talks about his emotional ties to his train set and how he had been hanging on to those trains because of some disappointments from his childhood.  I love how he points out how many of us, himself included, go and buy stuff as an attempt to fix an emotional problem.   That is what shopping does for many people.  It tricks them into feeling like they are solving problems, but really they are only creating more.  

He purged the trains.  He says that letting go of those trains “was inspirational and cathartic.”  I have a part-time organizing business and I would love for a lot of my clients to read Dave’s book.  I wish everyone could experience what it feels like to let things go.  It’s not as scary as many believe.

As I read the book, I felt as if I were sitting down across from Dave and he was telling me the story about his life over the past few years.  His writing is so easy to read and keeps you engaged.  He writes from his heart and lets you into his thoughts and feelings.  He’s transparent, which I love.   He’s real and you can relate to him.  You really get to know Dave and experience the challenge with him through his words. 

I’m inspired by Dave and his story.  I have begun my own 100 Thing Challenge and continue to work on it.  I’m close, but need to continue to pare a few things down quite a bit.  I think it’s a great idea, brilliant really.  Living with less helps us to see what is really important and how much “stuff” we can live without.

I applaud Dave for creating this challenge and I thoroughly enjoyed reading his book and learning  more about the person behind the challenge.