Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Part II has nothing to do with pigs!

So to continue with my thought of the last post because I am REALLY good at rambling on and on...

Here is where I now see that the change began to take place. I made a commitment to something. (just commit to something, anything)  It sounds silly but I wanted and needed to lose the baby weight I had been carrying for a few months too long. What did I commit  to? This crazy thing I had heard about called AdvoCare and their 24 Day Challenge.

So that is why, besides all the million things I now know and love about the company, I fell in love with AdvoCare. It was how i finally decided to take ACTION on an area of my life that I was unhappy with.

Is AdvoCare for everyone? NO. Will it do for others what it has done for me? Maybe. And thats all I needed to see.
AdvoCare is not magic, its not a diet, its not a hoax. Its a company. And like all companies they make products. And like all other companies they sell their products. And instead of selling them in a store, they sell them to people. People get results, improve their overall wellness, feel better, look better, perform better and in return people want some of what they found. Its not crazy or hard to understand. They have high quality nutrition products that can help any and everyone. But here is the deal...its not magic...you have to actually COMMIT to the process.  Not some specific "AdvoCare process" but the process of bettering yourself.

If you want to lost weight, the 24 Day Challenge is a launch pad- it helps you create better eating habits, and fuels your body with top notch nutrition and energy.  Our lives demand us do more with less time and that requires energy of which most of us run on empty all day long. Thus my love for Spark! On those days when I hit the wall and wanna crash, I have a healthy nutritious option to get me energized and productive.

So do I love AdvoCare? Yes! Why? Because it gave me a tangible process that I could commit to and know I would see a positive outcome. I lost 8lbs and felt better than ever! I gained confidience and a new outlook on many different areas of my life.  Not only that, but it gave me tool to help others. That is what drives me. I LOVE helping people and always have.

SO back to the pigs...although I said it had nothing to do with pigs..opps

What is it in your life that you are not willing to give up for what you know is better? These people  (read part 1 if you haven't) are mad and complaining because they lost their pigs. They missed the fact that Jesus literally healed the demon possessed men and saved/protected them from these crazy men that had been terrorizing them. Instead, they want their crazy pigs back.  And it might be a stretch of an analogy but it makes me think..
What am I not willing to give up that is holding me back from freedom.

Here is where I will go back to this awesome book and what John Maxwell says much better than I can:
"Tragically, our world is full of what I would call mundane me, people who see only what is immediate. They only reach for things they can tangibly put in their hands...They never look beyond themselves and they never look at what they could be...The poorest person in the world is not the person who doesn't have a nickel. The poorest person in the world is the one who does not have a vision. If you don't have a dream- a goal and a purpose in life- you're never going to become what you could become. There is a distinguishable difference between successful and unsuccessful people: Successful people are motivated by a dream beyond them. Unsuccessful people are only motivated by today."

So I would challenge you to look deep and search deep. Who do you want to be? Do you want to be a great wife, great mother? Want to lose weight to improve your health and feel better about yourself? Want to get control of your horrible money behaviors and change the financial future of your family?

Only you can make the change. No one else can do it for you. When you begin to improve you, and have a purpose in life and look at each day as an opportunity to better yourself, things will begin to change.

PIGS ..really? part 1

I am reading a wonderful book called Be All You Can Be by John Maxwell.  He tells the story in the bible about how demons had been attacking and terrorizing people in this town for years. Jesus comes and casts the demons into a herd of pigs and the pigs (now possessed) run straight into the sea and drown. The people are mad and complaining because they just lost their pigs. In case you missed it- wild, naked crazy demon possessed men are attacking people in this community. But the people are mad because their pigs drowned. REALLY. They wanted to get rid of these crazy possessed men, but they did not wanna lose their pigs. WHAT ARE YOUR PIGS?

John Maxwell then says this:

"They remind me of people who want God to solve their problems without it costing them anything. They want all the solutions, but they want them for nothing." He continues on " We dont want to be confronted with changes or problems. Even when God himself brings them into our lives, we want to escape them. We want DELIVERANCE without DISTURBANCE.  We want benefits without the bills. We want SUCCESS without SACRIFICE. But it just does not happen that way. We cannot afford to drift into a lifestyle that places repose above results. We must welcome the changes that God's spirit brings and accept them on HIS conditions and not ours"

Our culture has become so consumed with instant gratification. We want what we want and want it now.  Unfortunately thats just not how it works in reality. Real life is hard and takes lots of work to make it good, and even more work to keep it good.

Maxwell says " But you are the only one who can make yourself happy. No one can bring happiness to someone who is miserable. When we begin to take responsibility for our own personal happiness and realize that its through growth and growing experiences, even though they may be painful, that we become happy, then we're really going to achieve."

Ok so this happiness quote seems to not really fit in, but here is my logic and the crazy journey I have been on over my lifetime.

Over really the past 10 years God has used some very difficult situations and circumstances to shape and steer me exactly where he wanted me to go. At times I wanted to quit and give up, but that still silence voice gave me strength to hold on tight admits the storm. To GROW where I was planted and learn and listen and GROW some more.

I have blogged several times on my "pull up your big girl panties" journey this summer and here is where all the puzzle pieces in my life are beginning to make sense.

The summer before I got married I for the first time really learned to depend on Christ and Christ alone. At the core of my being I was able to "taste and see that the Lord is good." That summer I was for the first time satisfied with Christ and him alone. Michael was in Africa on a mission trip and I was living alone in augusta with no family. ALONE- if you know me well you know I DONT LIKE LIVING ALONE.  But I was forced to rely on Christ for my source of security and strength.This changed me because I no longer relied on Michael, or my family, or my friends to give me strength and security. Those are all really good things. Michael is wonderful. I have an amazing family and great friends but they arent perfect and they will fail me. I finally saw that Christ's love is perfect and that He is enough. He is all I need. He loves me just the way I am. He loves me so much in fact that he doesnt want to leave me where I am at, but make me more like himself.

So my core strength transitioned from relying on myself to relying on Christ that summer. And praise the Lord, He constantly has to remind me that He is Lord and I must rely on him ALONE.
This is what I consider my conviction. Unshakeable, Unchangeable my God is Lord and in Him ALONE I will find my strength to be all that He wants me to be.

Over the past few years the conviction has strengthened through biblical teaching, positive relationships and most of all challenges that have forced me to stretch and grow. And although my head knowledge was increasing, I was not seeing much actual CHANGE in my life. I was still consumed with the excuses of why me, why is life hard, why this why that...blah blah blah...I was the QUEEN of excuses.

This past summer I would complain and give every excuse in the book and then come to the conclusion...Michael, I need to just pull up my big girl panties and do something about it dont it?

....part II in next post

Friday, February 22, 2013

Shortsided

So I have been attempting to put into words the journey the Lord has taken me on the past few months. My mother in law gave me a wonderful book by John Maxwell called Be All You Can Be. His words powerfully speak the truth better than I could ever attempt so here is what John Maxwell has to say in this book:

"The Value of a vision is that it encourages you to give up at any moment all that you are in order to receive all that you can become. In other words, once you have had a glimpse of what God can make you, you'll never be satisfied with what you now are. You will be willing to let go of whatever might keep you from actually realizing that vision. You can probably think of times in your life with this happened to you.  Do you remember when you first fell in love with the person you married? All of a sudden other members of the opposite sex were not that interesting to you anymore. You were willing to trade in the pool for the one.
I have found that you can do one of two things in life. You either pay the price now and enjoy later, or you enjoy now and pay the price later.  But you will always pay the price. I'm constantly amazed at the shortsidedness of people who are not willing to pay the price now. Some people are shortsided about their bodies. They are not willing to give up those pleasurable things that are destroying their bodies now in order to gain a few good years later. Some people are shortsided in their finances. They cant give up any of todays luxuries in exchange for tomorrows financial security. And some people are shortsided spiritually. They  are so caught up in the pleasures of today that they can't see the pain of tomorrow. They're not willing to totally sell out for God. They're trying to avoid the price, but the price will always be there. You can pay it today and enjoy life tomorrow, or you can enjoy life today and pay the price, plus interest, tomorrow. You cannot avoid the price."

John Maxwell  Be All You Can Be

Change your thinking

So we got the amazing blessing of hearing Andy Andrews speak this weekend. He had many profound things to say of which I am going to attempt to make sense of.

You create the culture in your home/ family.  
Only you can throw out the anchor and let change begin.

Our choices are a product of our thinking.

Thinking determines choices
Choices determine action
Actions yield results
Results eventually pile up- they never go away.  
These results are barriers around us. Like magnets- either attracting things/people to us & the culture we have created...or rebelling and pushing things/people away.
This is our reputation. 
Reputation=our culture.

SO ultimately our culture = our thinking.

When I look back on the past few months I realize that it all began in my thoughts. My temperament lends me internalize everything and over analyze everything which ultimately left me paralyzed in my head. 
The cycle went something like this. I am exhausted, two kids are HARD, my husband is busy working hard to provide for our family, I will just always be this size, always be negative. 

When I heard Andy Andrews break down this Thinking=Choices=Actions=Results=Culture it all clicked and finally made sense. No wonder I never got far in anything I wanted to do, because I had really given up before I ever started. My thinking was so negative and afraid of failure that there was no way I would ever get results.

All that to say, if you are frustrated with lack of results, or the culture you have created in your home, i would take a good look and evaluate your thinking.

As I did this I slowly began to change. I realized I am worth it. I am worth investing in. 
As I began thinking that maybe I really good make some positive changes, I began making simple choices to improve my current situation. Now six months later I feel better than ever, my marriage is better than ever and I have a whole new outlook on life and relationships.  

So where are the results you are experiencing? What is life going to look like in 2,5,10 years if you keep on the same path? Your finances? Disciplining your kids? Your marriage? Your health?  From what I took from Andy Andrews, if you are unhappy with the current results, take a good hard look at your thinking because thats where it all began. Then begin the changes in your mind, in your thoughts. Do you really WANT to be debt free? WANT obedient children? WANT a happy marriage? WANT to be healthy?  

Only you can decided what you WANT. 

6 months ago I made a decision that I truly wanted to be the best mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, ME that I could be. Thats what I wanted at the core of who I am. 

SO I made small simple choices to move in that direction. 

Sweetness

I LOVE bedtime! Now, dont get me wrong there are nights I dread the mommy this...and mommy that, and I need milk, I need to pee, I need one more song.....ok so most nights bedtime gets the best of me. 

But I LOVE snuggles. Noah is my snuggler and will let me hold and love on him as long as I want.  That is as long as he has a paci & snuggie...therefore I REALLY dont wanna take those away even though the time is coming :( 

Tonight my heart was full at bedtime.

As I started singing to Noah he hummed along with me. SWEETEST THING EVER.  All snuggled into my arms he let me hold him and kiss him and sign about how much Jesus loves him.  No greater joy.

Then I went to snuggle my little princess. I have been telling her lately to stop getting so big and that I really want her to stay little forever.  All that to say, we snuggle in her bed with the stack of llama llama books and I said...Allie Reese I love you so much. And she said "mommy dont worry I will stay little forever ok".  PRECIOUSNESS.

Thankful that the Lord gave me these sweet babies. They bring more joy in those sweet moments than my heart can handle.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Remove Excuses

This past weekend Michael and I traveled to Dallas, Texas for AdvoCares' success school.  I learned so many incredible principles that I wish I could just blog for days to share it all.  One of the most powerful transformational moments in life is when you realize that life is not all about you.  This sounds kind of backwards, but I think thats why so many women's lives change when they have a child.  All of a sudden the world is no longer about us. And even though this is very physically and emotionally demanding. WE LOVE IT.  Our hearts are fuller and we find much deeper significance in life once we have a child.  Why- part of me really thinks it may be because ITS NOT ABOUT US anymore. The self sacrificing that is required to love& raise a child demands you to deny yourself for the better good of the family.  

Ok so that was a little side note..but i guess all of that to say, we all know deep down inside that we are made for something more than what we see or know currently.  We have half decent marriages at best, but know deep down that we really WANT to have a great marriage and LOVE our husbands like the books describe.   We are have decent mommies- but we know deep down that we can be better, more intentional with our time with them.  We have friends, but deep down we long to be THAT friend that cares deeply and carries the burdens of friends and walks the hard road.  We want to be physically in shape and feel good about ourselves for once in a long time.  BUT ITS HARD.  We want it to be easy. We want to take a magic potion, or class, or read a magic book. 

JUST DO SOMETHING. ANYTHING.

Michael is a visionary- by which i mean that he sees things big picture. I dont- AT ALL. As my dad used to say to help me understand that I was wasting so much energy on things that dont matter "quit worrying about the ant in the corner who has a broken ankle and trying to fix that."  Dont know if that makes sense but the point is this-  I used to spend ridiculous amounts  of time and energy & emotions into all of the hard things I was going through.  I love motivational speakers because they get me out of my little funk- and negative mindset and help me see that there is more to life than the silly stuff I waste so much energy on.

SO, this weekend the motivational speakers were AMAZING. I could literally go on and on about so many different things. Michael and I spent a few extra days in Dallas and our conversation revolved around this- ultimately all that AWESOMENESS- and it was very awesome- means NOTHING if you do nothing with it.  IF you took one small thing from the worst speaker and actually ACTED on it- it would probably change your life.

The problem with our generation is we want it now. INSTANT GRATIFICATION. 
We want brilliant obedient kids- but we dont wanna do the hard work to teach & discipline. DISCIPLINE is HARD WORK!! If its easy, you  are probably not doing something right! :) or else my kids are crazy horrible!! haha :) but seriously.
We want good marriages- but we dont want to confront our reality and fight for our husbands and learn how to love them crazy boys...and by golly learn to communicate. And not just scream and yell- but speak their love language and love them well. Make them fall in love with us all over again.  Be the woman he fell in love with. FIGHT for HIM!
We want purpose, security & fulfillment- but we look in ALL the wrong places. Ultimately that deep need we all have can ONLY be satisfied by Christ. When we see God for the HOLY God he is, we see our unholiness and our desperate need for a savior. Only at that point do we realize we are all sinners in need of GRACE and its easier to love the unlovable.

So... to take a few ideas from a speaker I heard that can apply to many areas of life its this:

REMOVE EXCUSES
CREATE DISCIPLINES

Here is a quote she kept using:
"Consistant Results are because of  Consistant Effort over time."

Physically-
  Remove excuses- im too tired, too heavy, not enough time, 
  Create Disciplines- GET UP & MOVE. Do a video, go for a walk, jog, dance for 30 minutes with your kids, go to the gym, start eating health, drink more water. small steps.

Marriage-
  Remove excuses- I dont love him, he does not care, its been over for a while, we have drifted apart, I do all the work, he wont help around the house/with the kids.
  Create Disciplines- GO ON DATES. like book a sitter, take a shower, get cute, and take him to dinner. then talk, if there is lots of a tension- it obviously needs to be addressed, but maybe tonight just HAVE FUN...like the good ole days. Choose to sit down as a family and have dinner- quality family time (or chaos with kids) but just do it.

Relationship with God-
  Remove excuses- I dont understand it all, I dont like my church, I dont know where to start.
   Create Disciplines- Pray, dont look for answers, just lay your burdens at the cross and pray for wisdom and peace and direction.  Find a church- any church- get under the teaching of the bible.

OK- so im starting to preach now, but here is the conclusion Michael and I came to as we attempted to solve the worlds problems....

JUST DO SOMETHING.  Take something small and do that. Start there. This is where REAL CHANGE begins. Step out in faith and do something to improve some area of your life. 

We are who we are because of the battles. Things that stretch us make us better.

As John Maxwell says in his book Be All You Can Be, 
"Success is due to our stretching to the challenges of life. Failure comes when you shrink from them."

Monday, February 11, 2013

Being Intentional

As a strong believer in Jesus Christ for many years, this past year has been quite transformational for me.  I have loved the Lord for as long as I can remember and I am so thankful as our pastor often says that I have never known a day that I did not know who Jesus is.  Being raised in a home with God fearing parents I was blessed to know from the age of comprehension that Jesus Christ is Lord.  At a young age I asked him to be my Lord and savior, and I must continually choose to trust in Him for all I need.  
Our sweet children are only 19 months apart so the transition to two children was a challenging one for me.  As most women would probably agree with, I like to have control of things. With two that young it seems like nearly nothing was ever in control.  If the kids were happy and content the house was usually in need of a good cleaning, and if the house looked slightly clean I usually had screaming kids or it was less than 5 minutes and a new beautiful, fun mess was made.  And like I tried many a times to convince myself "excuse the mess my children are making memories" did not always work to make me feel better.  This endless cycle of nothing ever completely being in order or the way I thought I really needed it to be slowly began wearing me out.
Fast forward a few months and thus began my "pull your big girl panties up and get over it" stage.  I would sit and complain about everything and then tell my sweet darling husband, "I need to just pull my big girl panties up and get over it dont I ?!?!? " After patiently listening and encouraging me well for several months he helped me see that I get to determine the way my life goes. I get to either be positive or negative. Every day I get to make a choices that are going to lead me in one direction or another. And no, life is not perfect and throws us all curve balls, but here is what I have realized has made the biggest impact on my life:
BEING INTENTIONAL.
It started with me.  I decided to care about myself and my body and do something to improve me.  I made a choice to give some nutrition products I thought were "not for me" a try because as my husband kept saying- why not? what do you have to lose?  So I stepped out and gave the products a chance and LOVED them.  Regained confidence, had more energy than ever, felt better than ever and got a whole new wardrobe cause my pre-baby clothes finally fit again.  It might sound crazy, but this is really what got me started on the right foot.  Cause here is the deal with me- I often get stuck in my crazy head with all the would have/could have/ should have ideas and live in frustration.  I made a choice to improve me and it worked.
Then I started being intentional in my marriage.  Finding ways to serve and love my husband well. Thinking for him and his needs rather than my own for once.  Being thankful for the ways that he provides for our family and allows me to stay home and raise our family.  Prioritizing date nights- which meant finding a babysitter and trusting that they would be just fine without mommy snuggling them to sleep every night just perfectly.  And amazingly... my marriage improved greatly. We began LISTENING to one another! which is huge!! I actually thought I was a good listener until I actually really listened to what he was saying, rather than thinking about what I was going to say back!  LISTEN MORE_ TALK LESS...  it does wonders to a marriage.  We have been amazingly blessed with generations of strong marriages as examples but in the end- to have a good strong marriage you must invest in it. 
When you first find your identity in Christ alone, you are able to go in to your marriage with strength rather than sucking the life out of your marriage with a list of never ending expectations that no matter who you married THEY WILL NEVER MEASURE UP. Why? Because we are ALL sinners in desperate need of GRACE.  And when we realize how CRAZY the God of the universe is about us and how much he loved us IN-SPITE of all our craziness- we can THEN and only THEN love the sinner/crazy person we married.  
In return I have learned to be more intentional with the time I have with my children.  Which many days means letting the dishes sit in the sink a little longer so I can put clothes on baby dolls or roll cars down the roller coaster.  Still struggle to quit "doing" and just "be" but I strive to be the best mommy I can be and love these sweet babies well.
I have learned to invest in friends & neighbors.  We need relationships. As mommies we need the conversation and sanity that comes with sharing life with other mommies.  We need perspective on life and marriage and parenting.  The majority of my transformation actually began with walking with a good friend and neighbor. Getting out the door was never easy or fun- but it was wonderful and necessary.  

ALL that to say... Choose to Be Intentional.  
First with your relationship with Jesus.  Nothing in or of this world will EVER satisfy.  Find a church, bible study or friend that is a believer and ask questions. Learn more about who God is and how truly CRAZY he is about you.  He sent his only son to die- for you.
Second- with yourself. Be intentional to improve yourself, your weaknesses. Take a step forward in some area that often holds you back.
Third- with your marriage.  If you have kids- your kids NEED you to care about your marriage. They will learn how to LOVE & serve by your example.  Whether your husband is crazy or not - make a choice that you are in it for the long haul. buckle down and learn how to love your man well. ITS NOT EASY but who said us crazy women are easy to love :)
Fourth-your family. Kids, extended family, in laws. 
lastly- friends, co-workers. Be intentional with good healthy relationships.

As my wise mommy always said "seek to understand and you cant help but love."