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Monday, November 24, 2014

Dancing in His Sovereignty

I really love music.
Its one of my favorite things about humanity. We create beautiful sounds with our mouths and instruments, our hands can clap and our feet can stomp. We are such musical beings, regardless of how much you consider yourself a musician. Almost all of us have certain songs that spark memories, instigate bad decisions, fire us up for a  good workout... the list goes on. Music can fuel almost anything we do and make it more enjoyable.

My favorite way to inject music into my life is deep and personal worship. That devotional time spent, one-on-one, with the Lord. I'm not talking about the worship at church, which IS awesome, but I'm talking about the quiet time with only me and my Savior. That is when music is really special and precious. I challenge you to sit down for a moment and just put on some Kari Jobe or Chris Tomlin songs and see where your mind goes. Usually it takes me to a place where I can no longer sit and listen, I have to be either standing or dancing. Usually dancing.

When I'm really deep in my worship time, my favorite thing to do is roll out my yoga mat, crank up the music, and just start moving with the flow of the music. Depending on the situation, prayers of thanksgiving or a humble request start to flow from my mind. One of my favorite times, it was actually a really horrible day. I made it to the amazing facility where I teach my yoga class, and no one showed up for class this day. I stayed anyway to do my own sequence.... it turned into one of those really beautiful broken moments where you just come to the place of understanding, I CAN'T DO THIS ALONE. I AM NOT STRONG ENOUGH. Okay, God. I surrender. So I had Kari Jobe radio on Pandora, and her song Steady My Heart came on.

My prayer went something like this.
"Mmm God, this song was just what I needed. Steady my flustered heart. This hurts so much. Why does this keep happening? You are completely sovereign, always. Thank you. (tears start coming) I trust you even though I hate this. Are you trying to teach me something? Am I so thick-headed that you had to resort to THIS to get the message sent? Okay, I'm sorry. I know you want the best for me and are working all things for my good, and you have given me a spirit of power. Ahhh ok. I'm at peace with this.....*dancing* Ugh God I just don't understand why I feel so helpless! I am not a victim here. I want to be triumphant. Steaaadddyyyy girl. Woah. Breathe. Okay, thank you, Father. You are holy.You are holy. You are holy. Steady my heart. Calm the storm inside me. Sloooow down. Ahhhh, sweet spot. Thank you God. Thank you."

It might be messy. That's ok. This is worship.

If you have read any of my blog posts before, you know that I tend to have popcorn thoughts. It is what it is. :) I just wanted to let you know that God is holy. His ways sometimes aren't what our ways look like, but his are ALWAYS, always better. It's okay to dance in His presence and sing and cry and scream and laugh and fall and run and crawl up in His arms. He is holy. We are not. Let's worship him together... Through the hard times, and the best of times. I love you Lord!


Friday, November 14, 2014

What do we do when we don't know what to do

There have been so many time these past few months where I read scripture or listen to a sermon and think, "Ok, I am reading the words, I am listening to the message... HOW do I apply this to my life RIGHT NOW?? I need this to be applied, but I don't know how to do it."

Isn't that the million dollar question? I think all Christians struggle with the application of the Word to every day life. Reading is easy, thinking is easy.... Application? Not so easy.

I heard in a sermon a while back that when Jesus was walking on the water, he meant to pass the disciples in the boat. He was intending to walk past them, but they cried out to him. Then he stopped the storm... Long story short.

Matthew 14:24 NLT "Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. (25) About three o'clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. (26) When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, "It's a ghost!"
           (27) But Jesus spoke to them at once. "Don't be afraid," he said. "Take courage. I am here!"

Jesus is just waiting for us to cry out to him. The Bible tells us we are going to go through really hard times, so why are we so surprised when they come? It doesn't say "If you face trials" it says "WHEN you face trials."

James 1:2-4 NLT "When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. (3) For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. (4) So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."

WHEN troubles come your way. Not if.

We (my family and I) are going through those trenches right now. We are being tested. We are being stretched. Sometimes we pull through victorious, and sometimes our doubts get the best of us. Every day is a battle. All we can do is try to arm ourselves the best we can with His armor and let him teach us how to survive this hardship.

Ephesians 6:13-18 NLT "Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. (14) Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. (15) For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. (16) In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. (17) Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (18) Pray in the spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

Putting this armor takes time. It takes persistent time in God's word and memorizing the contents inside. You cannot possibly be fully armed if you don't dive into the word yourself and do your own study. Relying on Pastors and peers to do this for you is not sufficient. Would you ask your friend to put your clothes on you everyday or brush your teeth? No, of course not. You do this for yourself, because it is your body you are taking care of. It works the same way. Read for yourself, study, memorize. One method I love to use is Kay Arthur's SOAP method. (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer.)  I really encourage you to try it. I cannot go a day without Gods word. Pray for God to give you that hunger so you can keep going even when you don't understand it or know where to start! :) If you ask God for wisdom, he will give it to you. But you have to take that first step and crack the cover.

Matthew 7:7-9 NLT "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. (8) For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened."

Keep seeking God. (I'm writing this for ME.) Keep seeking. Keep seeking. Keep asking. Keep reading. Keep loving. Keep worshiping. Keep praying. Keep praying. Keep praying.

Hard times come. They will come. They might be here now... God is always here and always ready for us to call out to him. He loves us beyond measure and comprehension.

Romans 8:28 NLT "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."

Kind of a short thought today... But I wrote this more for me than anything else. What do you do when hard times come? What are some of your favorite passages you keep in your back pocket? Share them with me!

So much love. XO


Sunday, November 2, 2014

He is Jealous for Me.

I haven't blogged in such a long time. I have had this stirring in me to get my fingers moving again, so I'm going to throw a post out there and see how it goes. :)

I have recently over the last few months just completely fallen in love with the Lord again. I don't remember feeling this way, honestly, since I was a kid. This feeling of pure surrender and joy. Joy seems to flow even though there is complete chaos all around me, *ehem* (mom of two small children) and I love this feeling. I went to Women of Faith with my sister a week ago, it was so refreshing. I love being in God's presence and feeling him all around me. The well inside my heart is overflowing.

One thing that I started at that time, July I believe, was reading my Bible every day. I have never done this in my life. Not ever. I remember praying for years for God to just give me this passion to read and journal, but it never happened. I never allowed it to happen. Its funny to me how we can ask God for things and think he doesn't listen, when in reality he is just waiting for us to put in the elbow grease and jump in with both feet. Once I cracked the cover, I had to keep coming back for more. I can't go a few hours without diving in.... The Word of God is alive! I have never really understood what that meant until now. I can feel Holy Spirit inside me and coming out of me when I interact. I can also feel it when He is gone. That still happens frequently.

One thing that has been so....... life changing to me is the fact that He has been fighting for me since day one. He was fighting for me when I was being knit together, by Him, in my mothers womb. He was fighting for me when I was being picked on as a kid, he was fighting for me when I smoked the first cigarette, he was fighting  for me when I was hurt, he was fighting for me when I lost my virginity, he fights for me now. Even as an adult, he fights for me and longs for my heart to seek Him always. I love that about God. He always longs for his children to be redeemed and full of peace and joy. I love that there is no greater love than his, and I don't have to try to earn it. I don't have to try to be "good enough" or "religious enough" or read my Bible enough. I have already won his affection.

Ephesians 5:1-2 " Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

This has been one of my new challenges for myself.... How in the world can I LOVE people when I don't like people. I mean, that sounds a bit rude to say, but lets be honest.... Most people are unpleasant and just plain rude! This can be so hard for me sometimes, especially on those hard days when its hard for me just to love myself. BUT-- Jesus calls US to love all people. Not just our friends and family, but all people. Even politicians, even salesman, even that person that said some really rotten things to you 13 years ago that never asked you to forgive them. All people.

It occurred to me recently after hearing from family and friends that don't come to church, that people in the church can just be rude, and judgey, and just not the type of people they want to be around. That they made them feel bad about themselves... etc. That just makes me SO sad! This is NOT who Jesus is. Jesus is LOVE. We are to be a reflection of Jesus, therefore, we should also be love. Not just full of love, or displaying love, or being loving.... we are to be love.

1 John 4:8 "Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love."

I love this God we serve. When I read passages of scripture like this, it just hits home. Do you have verses like that? It just warms me to read it. God is love. Love is the ultimate picture of Jesus. It is literally his entire existence. He loves us. He is jealous for us. He cares for us. He LONGS for us to love him back, and gives us free will to do so. Sometimes throughout the day I just want to cry and get on my face in worship to this God who loves us beyond human comprehension. My brain literally can't even understand Him or all the ways he works. Or understand how in the world he could love a girl like me. A girl who shouted nothing but hate towards God when she was a teenager, a girl who got pregnant at 16, a girl who lets the dishes pile up to the ceiling, a mean girl, a jealous girl, a girl who puts things of this world ahead of what actually matters... a sinner like me. He is jealous for me. When I worship other things above Him, he is jealous for me. He fights for me. He loves me.

Can you see how much this blows my mind? Truly. This love thing... it broke me. If you are looking for me and don't know where I ran off to... Look for a girl who is dancing in the presence of her creator. She came home! <3

Psalm 30:11-12 "You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent, of LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!"

Psalm 34:8 "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!" 

Ahhh. He is so good. Don't forget to write back to me and share some thoughts! What is God doing in your life?

Love you all dearly. 

<3 A

Monday, June 16, 2014

Return of the Blogger...

Blogging and YouTube has really taken a backseat for me these last 6-8 months. So much has been going on in ours lives, but now it is starting to finally settle down and I can get back to the grind. :)

In December, my sister-in-law and I started lifting again, as well as joining a "diet" recovery group of sorts online. (GoKaleo!) We have both undergone massive changes in our lifestyles, minds, and bodies. It has been a very good and sobering experience. There are lots of ups and downs with this but so much good has come out of it, and I am feeling better every day. Lots of self-love happening over here! That is what I really want to focus this post on.

I have learned in these past months, that my body is an incredible work of art. I may have extra fat, stretch marks, cellulite, sagginess and unattractive qualities... But it has done, and still does, some pretty amazing things. Never take for granted the things your body can do. Those normal and mundane actions could be gone within a moment... Be grateful for them.

My body has grown two full term, chubby, healthy, beautiful babies. It is fertile and willing to take on the challenge of birthing a human-being. THAT IS INCREDIBLE. Don't you see? Seriously think about how amazing that is. My body, as a woman, was created to do this. (Hugs to mamas with fertility troubles...) and it does that job with a mighty force! The last baby was born all natural, with no drugs and did that job with grace. I have never felt stronger than the few seconds after that girl was born. Triumphant. Full of love. Full of joy. The way my body looked by societies standards did not matter in those moments. Why does that feeling go away once we get back to "reality"? Bodies don't stop being incredible just because we get back to schedules and forget about the simple things.

Right now I am able to squat 185 lbs, deadlift 250 lbs, and bench 105 lbs. 1 year ago I NEVER would have dreamed of that. I have met new friends that can do double what I do, and you know what? I'm happy for them, and happy for me. I don't get so caught up in jealousy and feeling mediocre anymore. I feel STRONG and I am happy with who I am. My body has done this within mere months! I am so excited to see what the future holds with lifting heavy things. My husband and I are planning to do our first competition in early November. Lift.The.Weights. :)

This post is pretty short but I just wanted to put a little bit of love out there. Was feeling inspired. :) Stay tuned for regular postings once again!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Playmate by Day... Comforter by Night

Mothers (most mothers, anyway) are hardwired for lending a comforting embrace, soft touch, and gentle kiss when needed. Some days feel like they are a constant, while others don't even beckon a single tear. Every loving interaction I face as a mommy only reiterates the reason why I wanted to become one. There is nothing but pure, unadulterated love in a child. They want nothing but your time, your arms, your heart, and your homemade chocolate cake. (Ok, maybe not homemade... just chocolate cake.)

I am finding that the older my son gets- he's almost four- the more harsh the world gets as far as comfort is concerned. There are all these books to be read, articles to be clicked, and unsolicited advice to be heard from my elder generation that have kids grown and gone. I'm not exactly sure what the precise age was, I just remember the older he got, the more it came. Why do complete strangers feel that it is their right and duty to tell me how to raise my children? I'll never know. I also highly doubt I will ever be able to accept it. 

Let me set one thing straight- I am NOT a believer in "toughening" up my kids. The world will do a good enough job of that, I am certain. How would I react if my husband expected and forced me to "self-soothe" in my time of need? No matter how petty or small it is to him, if it is big enough for me to get upset over, its big enough for him to comfort me. And he always does, because he is a loving and kind husband. (Thank God!) It is my job to offer nothing less to my sweet babies. If that means reading 3 bedtime stories and snuggling every single night before bed, then so be it. If it means nursing my 8 month old to sleep every single night, so be it! I want nothing less than to be a source of complete comfort for my most precious little people. If a mother is not good for comfort, then what is she good for? 

I also believe that it is my job to PLAY. I try to say "Yes!" to my son as many times in the day as I can. (Within reason. 'Mom, can I play in the street?' -- Probably not a good idea.) Especially if I have no real reason to say no, other than I don't feel like doing it. Is my son spoiled? I would say no. I would say he is unconditionally loved, and that play is high on our agenda. At four years old, what else do you expect there to be? Children thrive when they are allowed to play to their little hearts content. Plopping them in front of a TV all day, or play with my legos in the bathtub? Then make scrambled eggs and "toasted bread" for lunch? (Kyler never says "toast", it is always "toasted bread.") Maybe a couple mini-chocolate chips for dessert? Why the heck not! I want to give him my all. If he wants to play WWE and slam my wrestlers "from the top rope", then by golly, he does. 

If you ever met my son, you would know that he lacks nothing in the confidence and manners department. He is always the first one to introduce himself to other kids, and is more often than not, bullied, ignored, and left out. It breaks my heart to see him rejected when all he wants is to be a friend, and make a friend. He rarely forgets a "Thank you!"  and flips down the toilet seat after going to the bathroom. As you can tell, I baby him and he therefore has no concept of manners, and he is unable to make friends or do things without his mommy.  I don't know how people writing these parenting books expect me to turn the other cheek, or worse, actually punish him when he gets his feelings hurt or gets upset. Obviously, the world is cruel enough to toughen him up without any help from his mother. 

So, here I sit, typing this entry to you all, I'm sure it is confusing and so I am going to sum up my slight rage in a few short words. 

When my babies are hurt, scared, or tired. I will comfort. In any way I (or my husband) see fit.
When my babies are happy, I will rejoice, play, and laugh with them. And I will say yes to chocolate cake.

OH. One more thing.
I will let him cry. Because, boys ARE allowed to cry. In case you didn't get the memo.

the end.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

To the Protector and Lover of my Soul.

Do you ever feel just sick and tired of being in your own skin? Tired of being tired, sick of being sick, and feeling crushed by the extra pounds that seem to hang on even after so much work and effort? 

I do. I know it well.

Sometimes I just get the urge to run, just imagining that extra fat and skin shedding off the "real" me underneath. Usually  I calm down, after the tears and pain have subsided (or been buried) for a little while, until they eventually emerge once again. 

Not anymore. 

I imagine God looking at me thinking, "This beautiful girl of mine is hurting, but she is mine. I am doing a good work in her and I am going to complete it. If only she would look past the image in the mirror, and into my heart. Then she would see her true beauty, which cannot be found in a gym, a diet, or an appetite-suppressant. She is mine." 

Well, the truth is, I am over weight. I do have excess fat. If you came to me and asked, I could show you exactly where. Does the truth hurt? Yeah, it does. It means that I have been overindulgent, carried 2 children in my womb, not been as active, and are just plain worn out from the duties a mom has to carry out. But do you know what happens when you ask God to give you renewed strength?? He gives it to you. That is exactly what I did. 

My alarm goes off at approximately 6:29 a.m. every morning. I jump out of bed after breastfeeding my little 7 month old, throw my coat on, and drive to the gym. (If you know me personally, you know that I despise getting up early. This is big for me.) This crazy thing happens in that time it takes me to get there... I am FILLLED with absolute JOY! I am so thankful that I have a husband willing to stay home alone with the kids so I can go to the gym, two kids who will let me leave, and a baby that continues to sleep even after I am gone. I often come home to a quite house, where everyone inside is still sleeping. Those are beautiful moments in the eyes of a mom. 

I can't say I do this all my myself. I have a great partner in my sister in law, we keep each other accountable, motivated, and excited for our future selves. It helps me immensely to have her in the gym and outside of the gym for inspiration and encouragement. I highly encourage you to find a partner if you are just starting out. It makes it much harder to cancel last minute due to "I"m so tired..." "I don't feel good..." "Can't we just go 'tomorrow'?" 

Looking to my Heavenly Father for emotional support in this journey has brought renewed strength and a smile back on my face. I plan on getting back to the grind on my blog entries.... it was a "resolution" of mine for the new year... ha!