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!

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.