My Abundant Life: Celebrating Ten Years of Freedom

In November of 2005 I took the first step on a scary but necessary journey to “find myself”.  I just giggled as I wrote that sentence because how cliche is that?  But I guess it wasn’t entirely cliche, since I usually think of early 20-somethings setting out on such journeys and I was nearing my 30’s but still knew very little about myself.  I mean I knew facts about myself, but I had no real sense of who I was.  The core of my personality, my likes and dislikes – even my goals in life – hinged on who I was with.  I was a chameleon who didn’t know my own true colors.

By the time December 31st of 2005 rolled around I was almost ready to take the next big step in my journey, which was to own up to the fact that I didn’t know what was best for me.  As humbling as it was, the admission only made sense since I didn’t really know who I was. How could I possibly make wise decisions for myself?  But it wasn’t until January 2, 2006 that I was ready to make this admission to anyone else.

The funny thing is, is that even then I was in no way ready to admit how lost I was – how desperate I was for God.  But God is patient and I am so grateful that His timing is perfect.  He let me experience exactly what I needed in order for me to get to a place where I would not only recognize my spiritual bankruptcy for what it was, but where I could be humbled enough to cry out to Him.

On this day, January 2nd, I celebrate the ten years I’ve been on this journey with God.  The coolest part of my journey with Him may be that as I look back I can clearly see that He was walking with me long before I agreed to walk with Him.  And I’m not just talking about the five months between January 2nd when I admitted I didn’t have it all together and the afternoon in May when I asked Him to be Lord of my life.  I can look back over my life and see how He gently pursued me until I was ready to give Him all of me – my shame, my guilt, my fear, my insecurities, my hopes, my dreams, my identity.

Over the last ten years He has guided me through a series of surrenders – some deeper than others, but all helping me to see Him for who He is.  And in turn, who I am in Him.  I share all this to encourage you wherever you may be on your journey with God.  He is just and He is merciful.  He will pursue you until you are ready to accept His grace and love.  And once you have surrendered your all to Him, He will not leave you but continue to walk with you.

Journey With God

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Dueteronomy 31:6 (NLT)

Things to Try in 2016

Looking Forward to 2016

If you’re anything like me your email inbox has been clogged with “How to make 2016 your best year ever!” subject lines.  Maybe it’s because I follow a lot of fitness and mommy accounts but my Instagram feed is overflowing with invitations to join the next challenge group that will blast away my excuses and extra pounds.  This post makes no such promises.  Nope.  I will not be promising that you’ll have a perfectly manicured life if you sign up for any of these services or buy any of these products.  These are just some things I’ve read/done/eaten/tried this year and enjoyed (or plan to read/do/eat/try this coming year) that I wanted to share with you.

One Word by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page. I shared about my One Word experiences last year and I can’t recommend going through the process enough.  You can get a copy of the book here and if you’re not into pen and paper like I am you can purchase the Kindle version.  It’s a super short read but worth the purchase price regardless of the format you decide to get.  My word for 2016 is abide.  I know it’s the perfect word for this year because I’ll be working on a pretty big God assignment and I’ll need to stay focused on the One who gave the assignment rather than all the directions I can run with it.

Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace & Purpose in a World of Crazy by Alli Worthington is one of the best books I’ve read this year.  I started several book this year, but I read this one all the way through so that’s saying a lot.  She mixes biblical principles, real life tips, humor, and humility so effortlessly I felt like we were just chatting over coffee.  Well, she would be drinking coffee but I’d be drinking tea because I can’t stand coffee.  We did in fact chat via Tweets as I was reading the book which was quite fun.  I couldn’t help but jump on Twitter as I was reading because there were so many moments of “Oh, that’s so true!” and “That’s so simple it’s brilliant!” that I wanted to share.  The book releases January 26th but you can pre-order a copy here. {I just read in the launch group that there will be pre-order goodies to be had, but I don’t have the details, yet.  I’ll post an update here as soon as I get them.}

Grokker is an awesome streaming service that provides everything from cooking lessons to workout sessions – including yoga.  You can stream on your mobile device or television via Chrome Cast (which is what I’ll be using), Apple TV, or HDMI cables. I learned about the service through FitFluential and recommend you visit their site if you plan to research all things health and fitness.  What I’m most looking forward to with using Grokker?  The FREE access to the Grokker experts.  I will be starting my free trial this weekend.  You can get yours here.

Green Blender is another health service I learned about thanks to FitFluential.  Each week 5 recipes along with the pre-proportioned ingredients are delivered straight to your house.  It’s enough to make 10 smoothies – two 12 oz smoothies per recipe.  You can share one or drink a big 24 oz smoothie.  I geeked out when I first learned about this service because back in September I stopped ordering a particular super smoothie and I’m down to my last full bag.  I was starting to research other protein options but not seriously trying anything because the choices can be a little overwhelming.  I was planning on using some of my Christmas money to try the service but this morning I got an email saying that as a FitFluential ambassador I was selected to get my first shipment free.  Woo-woot!  I even got this cool unique url for you to use in order to sign up.  They run cool analytics to see how many people sign up using the link.  I think.  Because they also gave me a code to give you – reina.  I know you use the code, just not totally sure about the link.  Can you tell I’m new to this?  My first box will arrive the week of January 7th and I’ll have a blog post dedicated to my thoughts on the 5 smoothie recipes up by the 15th.

Revelation Wellness Instructor Training I will be completing a process I started back in August of 2013.  I finished all the online training and attended all of the phone based chats but was not able to attend the instructor retreat.  I was pregnant with our twins and couldn’t afford to give up five days of leave.  I needed every day to go towards maternity leave.  Two years later I have some leave saved up and the boys – all of them including my husband – can survive me being gone for a week.  I’m actually not so sure about that so I’ll probably be asking my parents to come out from California and help out.  If you have ever felt God leading you in the direction of faith then fitness, you should definitely check out Revelation Wellness.  If not as an instructor, then at least check out their Periscope account and their YouTube channel.

So, these are the things that have me looking forward to 2016.  What about you?  What do you want to try out in 2016?

Winning The Bathing Suit Battle

I wrote this as a contributor for Veva Health.

I didn’t want to share this picture.  In fact, I promised myself I would never share progress pictures or photos of me in a bathing suit.  Never ever.

Cropped Splash Pad Photo

Even as God was tugging on my heart to share it, I couldn’t bring myself to post it on Instagram.  I was relieved in an odd sort of way when I realized God meant for me to share it here, with the Veva community.  Although I’m new to Veva as a contributor, I have been reading the content for some time, and it feels like a safe place to share scary stuff.  You know, the kind of stuff that we surrender to God, only to pick it up again and again.  The kind of stuff that we’re hesitant to share with others, but so relieved when we finally do, and they say, “Me too!”

As a middle school teacher I do not get to participate in many play-dates during the year—they are usually scheduled for weekdays.  So, this summer I jumped at the opportunity to go meet up with some ladies from my Moms of Multiples group at a local Splash Pad.  I didn’t give much thought to what I was going to wear until people started posting questions and comments online.  Even after I planned to wear my tankini with khaki shorts, I overlooked the fact that I had to get into the water with the twins.  Bottom line, at some point either the shorts were getting wet or coming off.  Wearing a wet bathing suit home is one thing, but wet clothes is just uncomfortable.  My third option was to keep my shorts on while the twins and I chilled on the grass and watched everyone else splash in the water.  My play-date at the Splash Pad taught three very important lessons.

Lesson 1: I will not sit on the sidelines of my own life

I wasn’t about to not take the boys onto the splash pad. Instead, I opted to bare my legs for all to see. For a moment, I wondered if the other moms thought that as a fitness instructor with sixteen month olds that I should be more fit or toned by now. But, God lovingly revealed those thoughts to be lies from the enemy, so I sent them back to where they came from, Hell. Being present and active in my own life, and experiencing a first with the boys didn’t give me time to be consumed by body image issues.  Their joy (Andrew) and trepidation (Michael) forced me to get out of my head and live in the moment, and what an enjoyable moment it was. Well, except for the time when some kids accidentally sprayed water directly into our faces. But even that was kind of funny.

Lesson 2: I will capture the memories

I experienced horrible pregnancy acne with the boys. It was so bad I avoided having my picture taken and used as many filters as possible when it was unavoidable. I regret not taking more pictures to document my ever-expanding belly. God reminded me of that regret as the boys and I were getting ready to dry off.  I asked my dad to take a picture of us and trusted that in the years to come I would focus on our faces more than my thighs.

Lesson 3: I will step out in faith

I was shocked and confused when God first prompted me to share this photo. He knew about my promise and He knew the reasons behind it.  And yet, He nudged me to share it.  He gently told me to get over myself. That sharing the picture really wasn’t about me, but about giving other women permission—permission to get off the sidelines of life, to create memories and capture them without worrying about thigh gaps or giggly squishy bits, and permission to fearlessly be the women He has called us to be.  As uncomfortable as I was sharing this picture and the accompanying story, it was incredibly freeing to do so.  I love how faithful God is to use all things for the good of those who love and obey Him.  There is no greater reward than freedom through grace.

I pray that you will join me in doing and sharing some scary stuff to bless others with the relief of “Me too!” Use #lovebeyondlooks and #vevavida on social media to share your “Me too!” moments. If you want to win the bathing suit battle, check out our Bible study on body image: Love Beyond Looks.

What scary challenges have you faced lately?

How has God spoken to you? 

Made to Crave: 21 Day FOCUS

MadeToCraveLifeGuard

Deeper Surrender

Have you ever found yourself surrendering an area of your life to God, again?  That’s where I currently find myself where food is concerned.   Specifically sugar and junk food. I’ve gone around this mountain so many times, it’s tiring.

I really thought the last time was just that, the last time.  I climbed up the mountain with the Lord as my guide,  victoriously put His flag in the peak of the mountain, and put my hands on my hips with my hair blowing in the wind as the Rocky theme music played behind me.

I thought I had won.

Then two years ago I got pregnant with my twin boys.  My mindset had to drastically shift from eating clean to eating enough.  Three thousand calories per day is not an easy feat.  People would find out about my new diet goal and say “Man, I’d love to be able to eat that many calories every day!”  I’d look at them, shaking my head.  At first I tried to hold on to my clean eating ways.  Then the protein cravings kicked in.  Big time.  I really should have bought stock in Wendy’s.  For real.  Although the people in the drive-thru didn’t know my name, they definitely knew me.  I’d pull up to the windows and be greeted with “Hey!  How are you doing?  How are the twins doing?”  For real.

During the first trimester the Floyd Twins did not like man made sugar so sweets weren’t an issue until the second trimester.  And although adding sweets into the mix made it easier to get closer to my daily caloric goal, I usually still fell short.

Fast forward to today.  The boys are about to be 15 months old, and I’m still eating like I’m pregnant.  Not as many calories, but no where near as clean as I once did.  Although on a very real spiritual level I know that I have been delivered from my sugar addiction, the simple truth is that my brain has been rewired.  And not for the better.

A Little Help From My Friends

So I’ve decided to circle this mountain again.  I’m going to pick up Lysa Terkuerst’s “Made to Crave”, an awesome book that God used in a mighty way to free me from sugar addiction nearly three years ago, along with the book’s 21 day devotional and climb back up the mountain.  But this time I’m bringing some friends with me.  I’m teaming up with my sister in ministry, Amia, to participate in the annual inneractive FITCLUB Swimsuit Confidence Challenge.  The theme of this year’s challenge is “Made to Crave”.

What Is the Challenge?

Spiritual motivation, group accountability, nutritional support, and fitness challenges.  We will be getting rid of all the necessary junk we’ve been carrying around {Hebrews 12:1}, the cravings that distract us from what we’re really longing for.

What Will I Do When I Accept This Challenge?

You will not be “going on a diet”.  We’ll be offering healthy, doable eating options, not strict eating plans that you’ll quit as soon as you think no one is watching.  There’s no freedom in counting calories and macros every day of your life.  Besides, if you’ve got a family you’ll want to model health and wholeness for your husband, and kids if you have them.

You will:

  1. Attempt the daily challenges (fitness, spiritual motivation, photo of the day, healthy food swap, stop drop and chug, etc) posted on the challenge page (details given in the weekly email).
  2. Share your journey.  Blog about it, Tweet it, post on Facebook, share on Instagram, or pin it on Pinterest.  You don’t have to post a before/after photo, but you can if you want to.  You can post about your goals (specific and measurable) and post updates.
  3. Be actively involved.  inneractive FITCLUB is a community of women who motivate and encourage one another while holding each other accountable to the goals we’ve each set.
  4. Commit to working out at least 3 days a week.  The daily fitness challenges can be incorporated however you like.  They can be your work out, supplement your already existing fitness regimen, or not done at all.
  5. Choose your scriptural anchor.  This is what you will meditate on to get you beyond the stuff that’s been hindering and tripping you up.
  6. Stay focused by interacting via social media:
    • Use the hashtag #CravingGod
    • Follow fellow participants
    • Follow hosts Reina and Amia (find Amia’s info when you sign up for the challenge)

How Do I Join the Challenge?

Head on over to inneractive FITCLUB to sign up for the weekly email.

I can’t wait to walk alongside you on our journey up this mountain to health and wholeness!

SnowyMountain2

Why Not?

I was looking over my Finish the Work list and God totally called me out on something.  The purpose behind the #100DaysofFTW challenge is to commit to finish things I started and walked away from as well as to start and complete new projects or tasks.  I’m not sure how intentional it was, but I neglected to put Beachbody coaching on my list.

I first became a coach in 2012 because I got hooked on Shakeology and wanted the coach’s discount.  I was super into couponing at the time and getting the discount was a no brainer.  I didn’t put any time or effort into helping people learn about the Beachbody mission or all the resources they have to help reach that mission.  I would gleefully share with people about how big of a role Shakelogy played in combating my sugar addiction, but stop short of telling them “You’ve got to try this!”  I’d have no problem telling someone that about a an awesome discovery like a cleaning product, a curly hair friendly product, or a wallet friendly store.  But I couldn’t bring myself to tell people they needed to give Shakeology a try.  I didn’t want people to see me as a sales person, because I am so not a sales person.

In November of 2012 Beachbody launched the Ultimate Reset, an all-natural alternative to harsh cleanses, and I was tempted to try it.  Three weeks of structured clean eating is just what I needed to get my eating back on track.  But the price tag was a hefty one so I planned to start eating better in the new year.  Besides, it would be pretty silly to try to eat better during the holiday season.

The new year came and went.  When spring rolled around my cousin told me that a girl at her work chatted her up about a Beachbody program that was on sale.  Her coworker told her that it helped people lose weight and helped curb cravings.  She asked me about it because she knew I was a coach (even though it was only in name).  I did a little research and it turns out it was the Ultimate Reset.  My cousin convinced me to do it with her, so we both ordered it. She ordered the challenge pack which included Shakeology and I ordered the regular program since I was already receiving the shakes direct shipping.

It was the most time consuming health program I’ve ever committed to.  But it was awesome.  I dropped 4% body fat and lost 8 pounds.  I was more excited about the body fat than the weight though, because my body fat percent has always been on the high side.  But more importantly, I learned to prioritize and manage my time.  I had to.  There was no other way that I could make all of my meals and snacks if I didn’t.

As a result of my experience with the Ultimate Reset I realized just how selfish I had been with keeping Beachbody and their product lines to myself.  So I committed to being a coach, a real coach.  Then I got pregnant with the Reset twins, as I affectionately called our boys for at least the first trimester.  It was a joke between my cousin and I because I told her that I finally decided to do the Ultimate Reset since I figured it would be a great detox in case my husband decided to try for another baby.  You know, clean house for a possible tenant.  We joked that my body was such a great environment for a baby that God decided to bless us with two.

Anyway, being pregnant with the boys and then subsequently having them left little time or energy to follow through on the whole trying to be a real coach thing.  I did try to watch videos and go through the coach office when the boys would nap, but quite honestly there are so many resources available to coaches that I was simply overwhelmed.

Recently my sister in ministry and I decided to truly commit to doing this coaching thing.  (As a former soccer coach I really wish they’d find another name than coach)  We’re going to go through the 30 Day Challenge Group for coaching.  Just like the challenge groups for any other Beachbody fitness or nutrition program, there will be accountability coupled with motivation.  My prayer is that I can get over my fear of the opinions of others long enough to be of service to women who are looking to live a healthier lifestyle.

We’re inviting other women to join us in this 30 day challenge.  If you have wondered about getting involved with Beachbody, either was a consumer or coach, this challenge group is for you.  If you are a coach, but only in name, this challenge is for you.  If you were a coach, but decided it wasn’t for you because – well, for whatever reason – this challenge is for you.

Why Not-

What have we got to lose other than the things that are holding us back from helping others?

Finish the Work

1

I used to think that the phrase “Jack of all trades, but an ace of none” suited me perfectly.  The truth is, though (sticking with the analogy) that I’m more the queen of starting many things but finishing few.  I look around my house and see unfinished books.  Lots of them.  Logging into the dashboard of this blog shows more unfinished drafts than I care to count.  I held on to the paper bunnies from our sons’ first daycare room just in case I ever get around to decorating it with things they liked when they started attending the daycare.  In August.  Of last year.

That’s the story of my life.  Great intentions but inconsistent follow through.  When I get honest it comes down to a fear of failure. What if I fail at implementing all of the tips and life lessons an author shares with me?  What if I pour my heart out in a blog post and it resonates with absolutely no one?  What if I muster up all the craftiness I can and the family collage I create for the twins is an epic Pinterest fail?

So my solution over the years has been to halfway do something.  Either give a halfhearted effort by procrastinating to the point of having to rush to complete something or letting my interest in a project wane until I have an “Eh, oh well…” kind of attitude.

Wanting to do life differently, I looked over my One Word for the past three years and prayed over my word for 2015.    I joined the One Word party late in 2012.  My word for that year was INTENTIONAL.  I wanted to be more intentional with my time and more present with my husband and son.  In 2013 my word was STEWARD.  I prayed that God would help me be a better steward of everything He’s gifted me – especially my time, my body, and our home- and then expand my territory.  But God has a serious sense of humor.  He expanded my territory by blessing me with twins before helping me with managing my priorities.  I guess He knows me better than I know myself and knew that I learn best when it’s a sink or swim scenario.  I can’t remember what my word for 2014 was.  I know it was a year marked by lots and lots of GRACE, though.

After much reflection and prayer, God gave me FINISH as my word for 2015.  Finish the assignments God has given me over the years but I pushed aside saying “There’s someone better for that, Lord.”  Finish all of the books I started but put down.  Finish the decluttering and organizing projects I’ve started over the years but walked away from when I felt too overwhelmed.  Finish the small but meaningful projects I promised to do for friends but never got around to completing.

I started out 2015 with the intention of finishing everything I started and even going through unfinished tasks and tackling those as well.  But then I ran head first into the reason why I struggle with finishing in the first place.  Fear of not completing a task perfectly.  It’s not as though I wasn’t aware of this issue.  I just naively thought that I could forge ahead with FINISH as my sword, when I really needed to allow God to attack the lie of perfection on my behalf with His grace.

While I set out to finish reading books (my plan was to alternate between one I had started and put down with a new read) and projects around the house, God had other plans.  He started performing surgery to remove the deeply imbedded lie of perfection from my heart, and showing me that I’m not alone.  I’m not the only believer sidelined by a bruised ego, too afraid or weary to go another round with the unrealistic taskmaster that is perfection.

With God’s prodding and guidance, I started putting the Finish the Work challenge together.  I knew it was going to be a social media campaign, so I didn’t really see the need to write anything out.  But knowing recovering perfectionists the way I do, I knew that people would want something tangible to refer to as needed.  It isn’t super complicated, but I created a PDF file so people wouldn’t have to search through blog posts to find it.  Who am I kidding?  I don’t post that much content.

I wanted to share my #100DaysofFTW “to finish” list with you.  It’s a comittment to spend at least 10 minutes a day (no more than 20) for 10 days on one thing.

  1. Finish “The Best Yes”
  2. Read “Do Over”
  3. Drink more water*
  4. Drink Shakeology*
  5. Clean out my closet
  6. Read Trim Healthy Mama
  7. 20 min morning prayer walk
  8. Clean and organize office
  9. Write in the boys’ baby books
  10. Move content from Catalyst Movement to Faith Fitness and Mommy Stuff and relaunch FFMS

*I’m hoping that after 10 days this will be easy to incorporate into my daily living routine

2I spent way too much time on Canva creating the Finish the Work images and couldn’t decide which version I liked better so I decided to use both.

Ready. Set. Go.

Has God ever dared you to do something?  Not in the sense of the game Truth or Dare.  That game always seems to involve something risque or stupidly risky.  I’m asking if God has dared you to leave your comfort zone, to push past your self-imposed limits.  He dared me this evening, during the most routine activity.

Today was a dreary day.  It rained all morning and it remained cloudy long after it stopped raining.  Shortly after the boys woke from their final nap (I think they took three today, but it could have been four) the sky finally cleared up.  I couldn’t let the opportunity to be out in the sun pass us by, so I put them in cooler clothes and we were out the door.

We circled our cul de sac before making our way to the cul de sac at the other end of our street.  I do this most mornings by myself and forgot how difficult it is to go up the slight incline from one end of our street to the other while pushing the boys in their stroller. The cold I’m fighting didn’t help either.  Or the fact that I only walked one day this week due to said cold.

As we made our way to one of the main roads in the neighborhood, David and DJ were returning from their trip to a nearby disc golf course.  They pulled up next to us to say hello to the boys.  David reminded me of the time and I promised to not be much longer.  We walked our normal route and I was just about to turn to go home when I felt compelled to take on the challenge of walking up a rather steep incline. (Dare #1)

My Team MOMENT’em YouTube playlist was playing on my phone and was pretty pumped up.  I was listening to For King and Country’s “Run Wild” as I walked down the hill, and Shawn McDonald’s “We Are Brave” came on as I walked around the cul de sac at the bottom of the hill. {You are correct in surmising that cul de sacs are popular in our neighborhood}  The upbeat tempo and encouraging lyrics definitely made an impression on me as I thought about my approach for getting back up the hill.  I contemplated walking up the hill as I did with the earlier incline but that thought was quickly interrupted by “Just go for it.  Give it everything you’ve got!”  (Dare #2) And that’s exactly what I did.

Ready Set Go

I ran up the hill as fast as I could while I pushing the stroller.  Although I couldn’t take a sprinter’s stance (I was pushing a stroller, after all), I definitely ran like I was sprinting.  My heels didn’t touch the ground until we were up the hill.  I was so winded that I choked on the first post-hill gulp of water I took.  But I made it up the hill.  And I felt pretty awesome.

Running up the hill was easier than walking the much smaller incline earlier in the walk.  I’m certain that it was my approach.  Not so much physically as mentally and spiritually.  I saw the first incline as a “have to” – something I had to do to get to what I wanted to do.  I had to climb that initially hill to get to the walk the rest of our route.  I didn’t have to walk up the the steep incline in order to get back to our house.  I deliberately went out of my way to take on the challenge of pushing the stroller back up the hill.  Why?  Because I looked at it as a “get to”.

This time last year I was recovering from a Cesarean.  It took me weeks of working with a chiropractor to sleep without discomfort and several more weeks to start walking without experiencing excruciating pain. Over the past year and a half, simple movements I had once taken for granted became huge accomplishments for me.  Tonight’s dare from God was like a wink and a nod Him showing me how far I’ve come – physically, mentally, and spiritually – since I first found out I was pregnant with twins.

God meets us in the everyday, in the routine, and dares us to step out in faith. Today, it was running up a steep hill in my neighborhood.  And as I basked in the awesome feeling that came with meeting that challenge, I thought that was it.  I finished that God assignment and figured my evening would return to its routine.  But then God dared me to write this blog entry and followed up that initial dare with a second – to start writing regularly.

To write for the first time in over a month.  Writing again after taking a month off (not intentionally at first) is like walking up that first small hill.  The challenge of writing again regularly, that’s like taking that much bigger hill.  It’ll all come down to my approach.  Will I see this call to action as a have to or a get to?  Has God recently dared you to do something?  Something that had you thinking “Nah, I can’t do that.”  Maybe you knew you could do it but thought you would look silly doing it.  Whatever it is, dear sister, know that you are not alone in your uncertainty and discomfort.  I’ll be praying that you meet each God dare with a get to mindset.  Please be in prayer that I do the same.