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

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.

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.