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

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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.

Importance vs. Significance

My sister in ministry, Amia, tagged me in a photo she posted on Instagram.  It was a repost of a post that a friend of  Whitney English sent her (gotta love social media).  Whitney’s take on the picture was included in the repost.  I tried reposting the original image along with my thoughts, but the upload kept failing.

I wanted to curse IG for not letting me post but knew it was God telling me to get over my fear of blogging and just share my thoughts here.  For some reason I think that people expect less from the writing that accompanies pictures on Instagram than they do from a blog post.  Just whispers from the enemy.  I don’t remember what I wrote verbatim, but it was something like this…

IMG_20150515_164751

I want to leave a legacy of a life based on the characteristics of someone having significance.  God calls us to live in community.  With him and each other.  Real community can only be built when people care more about significance than importance.  But community building is hard.  It requires humility, vulnerability, and honesty.

Being humble involves admitting I don’t have all the answers, when I feel that I should have it all together at this point in my life.  {How frustrating is it that it is is always changing?}  Being vulnerable means I have to let my guard down, admitting how badly I want to be loved for who I am.  As difficult as those two are, I think that being honest is the hardest of them all.  Because when I lay it all on the line I may not be enough.

Here’s the thing.  While I desperately want to find and grow my tribe – you know, those women who just get you and are on a similar path as you are – I’m afraid of rubbing up against the people who are more concerned with their importance than significance. That fear tempts me to bypass humility, vulnerability, and honesty – specifically when it comes to social media.  Some days I’d like nothing more than to post photos that make it seem like I’ve arrived.

Because nothing will make me feel like I’m back in high school faster than when I follow God’s lead and I feel like I’m the only one. When I start to take the opinions of others too personally, God reminds me that He has set me apart, not aside. {I totally thought of that scene in Dirty Dancing “No one puts baby in the corner” as I typed that.  You too? Awesome.}

He reminds me to stop gauging my significance by my importance.  It’s super tempting to weigh my impact by follows, likes, and comments.  It can be so disappointing (if I let it) when I follow God’s prompting and pour my heart out only to hear crickets.  But my obedience in following His prompting is a reward in itself.  I need to remember that.

God put me in check recently about the whole fixation with follows, likes, and comments.  I was washing dishes and thinking about my Instagram account.  Very softly, free of condemnation, the Holy Spirit whispered “You don’t have followers.  I have followers.”  Ouch.  And when I thought I couldn’t feel any more convicted He said, “And why do you think you need thousands anyway?  I had tweleve.”  Double ouch.

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.

Noah’s Ark – New VeggieTales Movie

In February, Family Christian sent me an advance copy of the latest VeggieTales release, Noah’s Ark, in exchange for a review.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get my review out before it was released.  {The twins had ear infections (first Michael and then Andrew) and then pinkeye (first Andrew and then Michael).  The joy and reality of motherhood.}
veggietales-noahs-arkMy oldest and I used the movie as one of our Mommy-Son dates.  The first thing we both noticed was that the opening credits are different.  Same song, but instead of the whole VeggieTale crew, it’s just Bob and Larry.  Also, the animation is different – looks a little more computer generated.  We felt pretty cool when Bob and Larry alluded to the changes in the opening scene.

The singing within the movie was different, too.  More polished than it normally is.  Not to say the singing hasn’t sounded professional in the past, but this was a little too “produced”.  Maybe I wouldn’t have paid much attention, but with the animation and opening credit changes…it was just a lot of change to take in at once.  My son didn’t mind at all, though.

Although the story presented a good lesson in trusting God, the movie strayed from the Bible in many ways.  Maybe my expectations were too high, since this is the first Bible based release from Big Idea in several years.  I figured that they’re so good at weaving themes of repentance and redemption into their movies that Noah’s Ark would have been a no-brainer.  I know that it’s a kid’s movie, but I really felt that the creators got a little trigger happy when it came to taking creative licenses in the retelling of the story of Noah.

My son liked the movie – changes in production and all – but I still have mixed feelings about it.  Have you seen it yet?  If so, what are your thoughts about the story and changes?

From Good To Grace

Christine Hoover’s latest book is an invitation to have a daily reprieve from an addiction to goodness.

I received a copy of this book as a Family Christian Blogger.  The opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced by Family Christian or anyone else.

Years ago, while reading Lysa Terkeurst’s Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl, I received such freedom from God that I thought “Whew, I’m so glad I learned all of those powerful Biblical truths!”  I truly believed that I was cured from the need to be good in the eyes of others.  But in the years since then I find myself continuously surrendering my desire to please others, just to pick it back up.  And then surrender it again.  It’s exhausting.

I know that’s why I connected with the cover of Christine Hoover’s latest book From Good to Grace: Letting Go of The Goodness Gospel.  It shows a woman (probably a mom) sitting in a laundry basket as she thumbs through a book.  I can totally identify with her – too tired to find a “proper” place to recline and read.  Like her, I have to steal away moments to read.  And I’ve loved every moment I’ve spent reading this book.

Godo to Grace 2

She had me at “Good, Bye”

Yes, that’s totally a reference to “Jerry Maguire”.  High five for those of you who got it.  And for those of you who didn’t, you can look it up later.  The book is split up into three sections, each covering three chapters (the math teacher in me was tickled by the symmetry of that).  I’ve only gotten through the first section which is titled Good, Bye (hence the heading above).  Although I’m only three chapters into the book I know that Christine wrote this book just for me.

Sure, I know it’s her story, but it’s just as much mine as it is hers.  She talks of her obsession with being good – trying to win the approval of others and God. My heart winced as I let her words sink in that the gospel isn’t just for salvation; it’s for everyday life.  Too often I wave the banner of God’s power and tout what He’s done, totally neglecting what He is still doing in my life.  I accept that salvation is by faith alone, but somehow expect sanctification to be a different story. Thinking and acting as if I need to go it alone.

The goodness gospel that Christine describes is all about caring more what others think of us than what God does. She writes about putting chains on ourselves and I can most certainly relate.  I take the chains of bondage that Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection freed me from and I wear them like jewelry.  They weigh me down and I remain stuck for fear that whatever I share will be judged, or the presentation of my thoughts won’t be witty or compelling enough.  I question and doubt not only my ability to write, but my calling to be in this arena, or any other for that matter.

Christine spoke directly to my heart when she confessed “Unfortunately for me, a large part of a goodness obsession is an addiction to self.  Goodness is evaluated by activity, completed tasks, responses from others, and results.  It requires a focus on appearance and image and maintaining some semblance of religious behavior […] Goodness fed both my pride and my self-condemnation”  Oh how I wish that I could just create the perfect checklist and be better once I’ve completed all those tasks.

Alas, I know that isn’t possible.  What’s more, I know that isn’t what God wants from me.  Or you.  As Christine succinctly puts it, “He simply wants us to follow him, receive him, submit to him, and […] let what we receive from him compel us outward to serve and love others.”

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of From Good to Grace.  I smile just thinking about stealing away moments to read it.  I must confess that I almost added it to my daily checklist.  I decided not to.  I decided instead to let it remain a “get to” rather than a “have to”.  I highly recommend this book if you, like me, struggle with a goodness addiction.

becoming myself

I don’t remember when I picked up my first copy of Stasi Eldredge’s becoming myself: embracing God’s dream of you.  Funny, I remember where I bought it, but not when.  Also, I’m pretty certain that I picked it up because I misread the title as God’s dream for you.  For the past five years I’ve been torn between wanting to go into full time student ministry working full time as a teacher.  Although I have accepted that teaching middle school is boot camp for God’s next assignment for me, I would be lying if I said there weren’t times that I desperately want to speed up the timetable so I can walk into God’s dream for me.

Like so many other books I have bought over the years, becoming myself went untouched. (I have a list of books to finish in 2015) Then last month, as a Family Christian Blogger, I learned of an opportunity to receive both the book and the accompanying eight session DVD.  I didn’t even know there was a DVD that went along with the book.   I’m not saying that I would have already read the book had I known, but just maybe.  It wasn’t until I received the book and DVD did I remember I already owned the book.  The memorable book cover had me searching through my library to confirm my suspicion that I had not only seen it before but walked by it several times in my own home.

As a mother of infant twins and a seven year old, I do not have the luxury of pleasure reading like I did before I had kids.  What I do have though, is my morning time.  It isn’t as sacred as I’d like it to be, as it is often sacrificed in order to get my oldest to school on time.  And when I get to have it, reading a book is the last thing I do during that time.  I pray, read short devotionals, pray some more, and then read.  I say all that in hopes that you won’t judge me when I tell you I’m only about to start reading Chapter 4.  Seriously.  Although I thought I was cured from caring what others think about me, blogging and reading this book have made me keenly aware of my ever present desire to be accepted by others – especially women.

My friend Amia and I always talk about how you can’t help people if you haven’t walked through whatever it is they’re struggling with.  And although you can commiserate with your friend if you’re still in that place, two people in a pit are still in the pit.  One of the goals of Catalyst Movement – the dream God gave me for a girl centered ministry – is for girls to love one another as they learn to love themselves.  I know that God brought my attention back to this book so I can work through some stuff so I can better lead girls into a life of freedom and wholeness.