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?

Trust But Verify

God has been giving me some very uncomfortable assignments lately, and this post is one of them.  I trust that obedience is better than sacrifice.

The Pope’s recent visit to the States got me thinking about my own journey with God and organized religion.  {I was really tempted to make a Grateful Dead reference but thought better of it}

I left the church when I was very young.  I held a lot of resentment against God.  At least I thought my anger, frustration, and disappointment had to do with God.  It turns out that all of the things I didn’t like about church were things that weren’t in God’s Word.  Well, some of them were, but they were antiquated practices that we could let go of because we were under the new covenant.  Again, I did not learn this until I was much older.  After I had stopped running from God and was simply too tired to be mad at Him anymore.

I share all this because God put it on my heart to do so.  To say that it’s great that the Pope’s visit stirred up some feels in lots of people.  And to say, be aware of the feels.  If someone, anyone, says something that stirs up feelings of shame, guilt, or condemnation, check what they said against the Word of God.  If His Word supports what they said, that’s called conviction.  If it isn’t, that’s from the enemy.

And on the flipside of that, if someone says something that stirs up feelings of “I can do whatever I want”, check what they said against the Word of God.  If His Word supports what they said, walk in that freedom.  If it doesn’t, be wary of the enemy luring you into sin like the pied piper.

Trust, but verify

Remember, God is the ultimate authority in our lives.

Wicked Women Of The Bible

I would like to thank Family Christian for sending me an advance copy of this book  in exchange for sharing my honest opinion.  “Wicked Women of the Bible” is available for pre-order now at Family Christian and will be available in stores on September 22nd.

Wicked Women of the Bible

I was instantly intrigued when I read the title of this book.  I’ve always wanted to know more about women like Jezebel and Delilah.  I was so excited when I go the book that book I opened it to a random chapter, “A Wicked Woman of the Night: The Story of Rahab”, and started reading.  I was not entirely surprised to see that Rahab had made her way into the book.  She was an innkeeper and as such it’s presumed that she ran a brothel and perhaps was a prostitute herself.  So how did a woman of the night make her way into the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11)?  Because she chose to help Jewish spies and trust that their God would spare her and her family.  I enjoyed the way in which author Ann Spangler shared Rahab’s story so much that I kept reading.  I was much more surprised to see that Deborah was the protagonist of the next chapter.  How is it that a judge, prophetess, and mighty warrior made her way into a book about wicked women?

A little bewildered, I decided to flip to the beginning of the book and read the introduction. Within the pages of the intro she shares that wanted to keep with the oral tradition of the Bible and do her “best to reimagine the stories of some of the Bible’s most fascinating women in order to bring them to life for contemporary readers”.  In my opinion, she nailed it.  She doesn’t contradict or stray from the Bible like so many biblically inspired movies do.  She fleshes out each of the women in such a way that I can identify with all of them, even the “wicked bad” women.  Through her writing style, be it in the main story or in the Takeaway section that follows, she prompts me to wonder about their insecurities and fears.  I start to question their motives and wonder how their story would have turned out if they allowed God to lead them.  As for women such as Deborah and Esther, they were included in the book because Spangler’s “aim has not been simply to highlight the stories of some of the Bible’s worst women but also to explore the stories of those who might be considered ‘wicked good’ or ‘wicked smart’.”

The timing of receiving this advanced copy could not have been more perfect.  For the past several months I’ve been feeling underqualified, not good enough to do the work I feel God is calling me to do.  Reading the stories within “Wicked Women of the Bible” has reminded me not only of God’s character, but that He can use anyone in His story.  If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the women of the Bible, or wondered how God could use someone like you, this book is for you.

I just read this on the “Wicked Women of the Bible” site: Pre-order Wicked Women of the Bible before September 22, 2015 and receive a free copy of Wicked Men of the Bible. This 40-page ebook includes the stories of Cain and Jonah. Simply email a copy of your receipt to admin@annspangler.com. Once we receive your email, we’ll email you back the PDF of Wicked Men of the Bible and you can begin your wicked study right away!

10/06 Update: I am attempting to offer the first giveaway on this blog using an autogenerated giveaway widget.  I’m hoping it works.

Well, from what I can tell you need to click on this link: a Rafflecopter giveaway

10/12 Update: The giveaway is closed and the winner is Helene!

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

FlapJacked Protein Pancakes

Why Protein Pancakes?

I had absolutely no intention of writing a review of flapJacked protein pancakes, but I enjoyed them so much and took so many pictures, that had I posted them all there it would have been a pancake overload.

I went to our local Kroger supermarket for late night shopping run last night and decided to look for some protein pancakes, as one of my Refresh Summit sisters had recently posted on IG about a stack she had made.

FlapJackedInKroger

I was intrigued by the notion of a package of pancake mix made with protein powder because I have tried, and failed, to make my own protein packed pancakes.  As the mother of a self-proclaimed carbivore, I’m always looking for ways to sneak protein into my carb-loving son’s diet.

I wasn’t sure if the package of flapJacked I found was the same she had recommended, but I decided to grab it just the same.  I figured that since my husband would be out playing in a disc golf tournament today, that my son and I would taste test them.  If they were good I could make them again when he was home.  If they were awful he’d be none the wiser.

The directions give three protein options  – one that yields 20 grams of protein, two that yield 25 grams of protein, and one that yields 32 grams of protein.  I decided to try the 25 gram option that calls for reducing the amount of water and adding a large egg.  Egglands Best are a staple in our house, and I always season our pancakes with vanilla and pumpkin pie spice.

BakingPancakes

I’m not the biggest fan of whisking so I decided to put my new Ninja to work.  It took less than ten seconds for the ingredients to be perfectly blended together.  I poured the batter into my Pyrex measuring cup and let it sit for three minutes as the skillet warmed up (per package instructions).

You Fancy, Huh?

StackOfFlapJacks

The first four pancakes went to my son.  I was impressed with the thickness/fluffiness of the pancakes.  Usually the pancakes I make are thin, more like crepes than pancakes.

NutellaFail

I made myself one pancake and thought it was delicious enough, but decided to try something I saw in a video posted to Facebook this week.  I tried to get all fancy with it.  You know, pretend like I’m one of those people who can recreate stuff I see on Pinterest.  I wouldn’t say it was an epic fail, because it tasted delicious, but let’s just say my pancake didn’t look anything like the one in the video.

Maybe it’s because I opted to use the Trader Joe’s hazelnut spread rather than the Nutella featured in the video.  Either way, I decided to share a photo of the almost fully devoured pancake than when it first came off the griddle because it looked like something my eight year old made.  For now I’ll be sticking with the nice and fluffy regular pancakes.

Kid Tested

DJApproved

To say that my son thoroughly enjoyed his pancakes would be an understatement.  He was one satisfied carbivore and I was pleased knowing that his pancakes provided plenty of protein.

Mom Approved

Nutrition Facts

The directions call for 1 cup of mix which yields two servings.  Each serving provides 200 calories, 3.5g total fat (zero trans fat), 23g total carbs (5g of fiber and 6g of sugar) and a whopping 20g of protein.  Because I added an Egglands Best egg each serving had an additional 30 calories, 2g total fat, 0g carbs, and 3g of protein.

Cost

Although a package of flapJacked pancake mix is about 70 cents per ounce, while a box of Log Cabin pancake mix is close to 10 cents per ounce, I think it’s worth the nearly $8 price tag.  If you’re like me and you don’t make pancakes but once a week, you won’t really feel the cost difference.  Even if you go through a package a week, the way I see it is that the protein alone is worth the cost difference and the ingredients are far superior.

What About You?

Have you tried protein pancakes?  Made your own or bought a mix?  Please share any tips you might have!