Am I Happy Yet?

The Quest

This year my word of the year is Belong. I am seeking to belong in my own skin, to love myself, and to be happy. Now that we are in June I want to take a minute to look back on the first half of the year and see how my quest is going.

The Heroine

There is a version of myself that I truly believe I am turning into. I am deepening so many good character traits, and really working to minimize and eliminate the bad. I am so much more patient now that it is weird to think of how I used to fidget and pace and start to raise my voice if something was taking too long. Now I can sit, silently, waiting without feeling any stress. I am able to sit next to women here in Lebanon without needing to say something. This causes many women to build relationship with me because that is normal for them as well.

I have reduced the voice raising so much that when I raise my voice now it surprises me, too. Once a month this gets a little wacky (sorry if that’s TMI), but even that week is nothing compared to how bad it used to be.

I really am learning to love myself. I have a clean house most of the time, and I am able to keep up with chores and homeschool and have begun really showing consistency in the blog, exercise, and many other areas of life.

So much of who I want to be is starting to happen. As a family we are instituting strategies that set us up for success so that we can encourage each other’s strengths.

Day by day, step by step, I am becoming the woman God and I want me to be.

The Villain

Sometimes, in a movie or book, it can be hard to recognize the villain. Often the villainess is good friends with the heroine until in a sudden twist she becomes the bad guy.

I can be the villain in my own life. Just when I am starting to get to know myself, be calm and happy for an extended period of time, or do something to take care of myself, the part of me that does not believe this is possible starts to react. I start distrusting people around me, finding things to nitpick.

Back in February I posted a short letter to my Shadow Self, that villainous piece of me that tries to remove Joy and Love from my life. The battle with her goes on, but it is greatly diminished in the past few months. I have control over that aspect of myself far more than I did before.

I am afraid.

I become my own enemy out of fear. Fear of change, fear of loss, fear of failure.

Recognizing that I am afraid, I can give it back to God, seek His help, pray with my family, and get the train back on the rails.

I really love and thrive on consistency and routine. But so little of my life has been focused on those two things that it is a big change to move from chaos to routine. I have to tell myself every day, “This change is good. This change means that eventually there will not be chaos and mania. I want to be made well.”

I am excited.

I am living in paradox. Feelings that don’t go together are simultaneously in my brain. In the midst of those feelings of fear I am looking forward to the future with confidence and faith stronger than ever. I know without an inkling of doubt that I am headed where God wants me, and that right now at my computer typing this, I am in God’s hand.

God told me I can be happy. So that is true. Anything my Shadow Self, Satan, or any other enemy says that is different from that is not true.

As we plan to go to America, fundraise, people raise, train people in prayer and moral support, and spend time with family, I am thrilled to be on an adventure. I am sure that God has great things planned and can’t wait to see what they are. I know that it will all be different because I have changed inside my own skin so much.

I hope to continue to learn to express myself and share what God is putting on my heart in a way that encourages and blesses others. I have learned how to take care of myself so that I can be the best person, mom, wife, and friend I can be. In another 6 months I know I will look back and see what a special year this is.

I love you, Annie.

If you live in the Arizona or Utah areas, I would love to meet with you while I am in America! CLICK HERE to make an appointment or shoot me a comment or reply.

Weeky Goal Check-In for the Week of May 29, 2017

Sick Week

Just as I started doing these weekly goal posts again I got sick for an entire week. I think I have mentioned it before that being sick seems like the perfect time to catch up on reading and writing, but instead I just spend the days trying to get through the day, sleeping, and moving slower than a sloth. However, I am finally feeling better, and even amidst being sick I have some successes to share.

Successes from Last Week

Reading

Book Progress:

Although I didn’t finish any books I did take the time to restart two books I had gotten from my Kindle First months and had never read. With Ramadan beginning our internet has slowed dramatically and so getting my books from the library has halted for a time, and I figured I ought to read the books I own on my Kindle while I am waiting for good internet. So I made progress on 3 books this week.

Bible Progress:

I read all of Job this week.

I also added Bible reading back into the bedtime routine for the kids, so we started through the Psalms this week also.

Homeschool

I was so glad this was a review week because being sick meant we took a few days off from homeschool. We still were able to start a Father’s Day craft, review most of the material we were supposed to, and we are all set for this coming week to start off right with new material.

Exercise

Numbers:

Saturday I did my Fit Test and measurements.

 

The weigh in and measurements are done every 15 days, and I lost 3 pounds in those 2 ½ weeks. I also lost ½ inches in many of my measurements including my waist and hips. Yay!

A non-scale victory for me this week was noticing that my feet have gone back to looking like my feet. When Kyrie was born and with my weight gain after her birth I ended up with puffy feet. Now they just look like my feet.

Research

Louis and I were able to have a good meeting helping me feel comfortable explaining what he does with more detail. I even wrote up some summaries to post on our Lisses to Lebanon blog prior to my heading to America so I can refer people to the blog with confidence.

Events

Every year Lebanon has a Spring and Garden Show. This has become a family event for us because it allows us to feel rooted here. We buy a plant or two, and it gives us a day to be family and do something we enjoy. It is a street fair atmosphere, which feels like home for us. We ate ice cream, the kids got to play on a blow up bouncy house with a slide and a giant blow up slide. Kyrie played until she literally could not climb the slide, so the adult working the slide carried her up and helped her slide down the last two times. She couldn’t believe we were leaving even after she fell from half way up down the air filled “steps” onto her head. It was adorable and fun. Davy bought flowers and we ended up leaving at 10pm.

Goals for This Coming Week

Reading

Bible:

Read the Psalms to the kids each night at bed time.

Complete at least 4 more “days” on my Bible reading plan.

Books:

Finish 3 books this week of the 4 I am currently reading.

Homeschool & Exercise

After having a sick week I know it will be a challenge to get back into routine of waking up early, and doing homeschool 4 days, but I need to push through and Just Start again.

My Weight Gain & Loss Journey

Let Me Summarize My Weight Loss Journey So Far

I was reading encouraging stories from Bikini Body Mommy participants, and I realized I haven’t shared with you the full story of when my body was a wreck and how I turned it all around.

The Weight Gain

I started gaining weight as soon as high school ended. All throughout elementary, junior high, and high school I had PE to keep me active. In college I just sat around. When I became a teacher I stress ate and was still rather stationary. Then, I got pregnant.

As everyone knows, having babies has huge effects on a woman’s body. Not only is there a person growing inside, but organs literally are shoved out of the way to make room for that little person.

With my first pregnancy, I lost weight. Hard to believe, but after I had Davy I was around 15 pounds below where I started. This was exciting after the fact, but during my pregnancy it was stressful. I was overweight enough to begin with that it didn’t endanger David, but every time I went to the doctor she would tell me to eat more. But I just couldn’t keep anything down.

I continued to lose weight when we arrived in Lebanon due to lack of a vehicle which forced us to walk everywhere, no elevator in our apartment, and healthier food being far easier to get. However, it isn’t all about nutrition.

With Kyrie, I ate all the time. I gained weight, but within the levels my doctor said were okay. After she was born, nursing made me so hungry, and there was the added stress of her needing surgery and my having mommy blues. So, I gained a lot of weight.

The Breaking Point

My breaking point happened sometime during my pregnancy with Kyrie when I stepped on the scale and weighed 300 pounds! Yes, indeed. The same as a baby hippo. “It’s not going to bring me down,” I thought. “My baby is healthier with me eating and I just need to maintain.” I figured that after she was born I would weight less than 300 and had nothing to worry about.

When we found out Kyrie needed surgery because of an imperforate hymen, my world stopped. I was in a tailspin of out of control hormones on top of the aggravation of untrustworthy insurance companies. I didn’t pay attention to my weight, and it was hard to just get through the day. After nine months we returned to Lebanon and I knew I had to just start moving.

Just Start

I wanted an exercise routine I could do from home without any fancy equipment. I used jugs of water as dumbbells and began Bikini Body Mommy 1.0. I was hooked on Bikini Body Mommy immediately. Briana Christine is a mom, so she understands what parts of the body are in recovery after birth and she is able to provide insight on ways to adapt around those sensitive areas. Most of the challenges are filmed during her own baby weight loss periods after having her children.

The key to this program is that it is a part of my life constantly. There is so much content on Briana’s website that there is no reason for me to ever go stagnant again. I love working out because I love the way it makes the rest of my day feel.

I love cooking every night because I love knowing that all four of us are eating something that is nutritious and spending time together to eat it.

I also enjoy the alone time provided by both activities, which has been a major motivator for me. The second and even better motivator to keep working out is that I do not get coffee unless I do my workout first.

Have you had a low point with your health and wellness that you overcame? Let me know about your own journeys. We are here on this earth journeying together.

Behind the Scenes of My Homeschooling

What School Does Your Son Go To?

I have been answering this questions since David was 1 year old here in Lebanon. He is tall for his age even in America, so he seems like he is far older than he is in actuality. So, school has been on our minds from the beginning of our missionary work. I always thought I would have years with David before I even had to think about it.

It was far too complicated with our limited Arabic to explain that he was too young for school, so we just started saying he does school in the home. Because I also wanted to do activities with him that my own mother did with me, I searched for a homeschool curriculum for him. I found abcjesuslovesme.com and love the program. I love sharing websites I love on here because they are free. So often we just don’t know what we don’t know. We think it is going to be too hard to teach our kids. The reality is that we are the best teachers for our own kids. We know them and can provide the kind of attention and understanding that teachers cannot provide. We know when they need to be challenged, and we know where they are struggling.

I am Not a Great Teacher

I must admit to you teaching is not my skill set either. I know those of you who know me will try to argue this point. But I do not enjoy teaching, nor do I have the patience for it. This is why the curriculum on abcjesuslovesme is so amazing! It helps me to know exactly what to do. I cannot come up with these activities by myself. In fact, teachable moments are prone to fly right by me if it weren’t for having a focus for the week.

I believe teaching is something that can be learned, and over time I am improving, but there are so many people far better suited for teaching than I am. So, when we had gone through a year of the homeschool curriculum and prayer we decided to enroll David for school when he was 3.

You Enrolled David in School?

When we enrolled Davy I was praying about what to do this year, and we decided that God was supporting us continuing homeschool as well. This has many benefits. The biggest being that in our crazy chaotic transitional lives, this homeschool curriculum is a constant. We have a book of the week, several songs of the week, verses of the week, themes of the week, and that never changes. This year we began the brand new 1 year old curriculum for Kyrie, and she loves it. She loves being involved, and her favorite part is when we pray for her with her verse of the week. This week she even learned her verse “God loves a cheerful giver.”

No matter what else is happening this anchors my super emotional children, and focuses them on Christ. This is the goal of our parenting, so we will continue with the homeschooling.

Traveling Homeschool

Another benefit is that if God calls us to another country, or if for some reason there is an interruption in the school year, I still will be homeschooling, so my kids will not be dealing with gaps. Even on our visa trips I am able to continue the homeschool curriculum by adapting activities to travel based. It is easy to adapt because we have been doing it for three years now.

A huge benefit of continuing the homeschooling curriculum is that it keeps me focused and helps me take every visa trip with a mind toward learning opportunities for my children. They are getting to see parts of the world that other people only dream of. They are getting to walk where Paul and Peter and Barnabbas walked. They are touching history, and we want them to know the history they are a part of.

Please Join Me!

If you are a grandparent or parent or babysitter, Sunday School teacher, abcjesuslovesme has great resources for Biblical activities. Of course, if you are not using it for your own personal child you will need to purchase a license, but it is reasonably priced. I don’t get any money from recommending this, I just want you to be able to raise your kids in the way of Jesus Christ!

Finally, this coming Fall I am planning on stepping into an active role of working with our local church, so if you are interested in helping me to prepare to teach this curriculum to the children at our church and in our refugee outreach programs, please CLICK HERE to sign up to meet with me this summer. We can meet together to discuss ways to help me stock up on materials for the activities, and funding for the licenses I will need to purchase, and most importantly to pray over the ministry God is calling me into.

Goals for the Week of May 21, 2017

Successes from Last Week

HOMESCHOOL

We signed Davy up for a summer course of hockey while we are in the States!

The kids are loving homeschool this year, and it is great for giving them activities and focus in the afternoons.

EXERCISE

See my Post How Are You Taking Care of Your Body? This week about my continued success in working toward a healthy body.

ARABIC

In our Arabic lessons we have been doing conversation for the duration of the lesson for a few weeks now, so less than 10% of our time is English, and then only to get the word in Arabic and confirm the connotation is correct. It feels good to be almost conversational. Louis is doing so well!

BLOGGING

I have started blogging again:

Mommy Book Blog—New Total for the Year: 11 Posts

Where Am I Going?

Goals for 2017

Making My Goals A Reality

Set Yourself Up For Success

How Are You Taking Care of Your Body?

Lisses To Lebanon – New Total for the Year: 4 Posts

Dates Posted

May Financial Update

My goal with blogging is to gain consistency, so I know that this burst is not the point, but the continuation of writing, editing, and publishing. My goal is to post 52 blog posts this year, which is at least one per week. I have gotten rather behind, but weeks with multiple postings do really help with that.

I am at 29% progress with my blog post goal.

RESEARCH

Partnership Development Planning has begun. We have a few people signed up for appointments with me while I am in the States to hear about what Louis and I are doing in Lebanon and how to join in our ministry.

Goals for this Coming Week

READING

Finish Speaking the Truth in Love and When Helping Hurts

Put Desiring God, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business, and A Confident Heart back on hold from the library.

BLOGGING

Continue to Write Every Day even if not everything I write is “post-worthy”

RESEARCH

Continue to put together a Partnership Development Plan I can follow in America. Research in order to set SMART goals for my time in America. Break up the big ideas into baby steps that can be accomplished on a timeline. Meet with Louis about the Plan.

How Are You Taking Care of Your Body?

This year my focus is to Belong in my own skin.

One of the ways that I am working toward that is by setting a goal to lose 50 lbs in 2017. I am by no means a health guru, but I have had some major success in the last year losing weight, gaining endurance, and increasing strength, which I want to share in order to encourage you. The few times I have mentioned my exercise routine or goals have received a big response, so I want to keep sharing about this part of my life.

 

In 2016 I lost 63 pounds!

 

 

It was such a good feeling. I lost weight so fast, which has everything to do with making it a lifestyle and not just something on my calendar. In a time of post-baby depression, dealing with a daughter in constant pain, flashbacks of my own childhood trauma, and life in a third world country, it was essential to reduce the number of decisions I had to make each day. I decided to just work a plan for exercise and nutrition and do whatever it took to make that plan a habit in my daily life.

January 2016

December 2016

I followed the Bikini Body Mommy meal plan and exercises six days a week as much as possible. It was amazing! I wrote a post about my experience following the meal plan HERE. The majority of the meals are loved by everyone in our family, and I have a good handle on substitutions my family would prefer when there is an ingredient they don’t like.

I am over 1/3 of the way through Challenge 6.0 now (I took a break for March and April after our move) and I am feeling great. I am getting stronger, looking better, and I am so excited to keep it going.

Every morning I wake up at 5am now, and I start my day by working out. This has been an amazing time of solitude and renewal while also taking care of my body. Briana Christine has the participants in the challenges send a #SweatySelfie each day, but I don’t use social media currently so I Whatsapp my Sweaty Selfie to Louis each day. Here’s one. Yes, I am glistening with real sweat. It’s hard work, and sometimes not as lonely as other times.

* I do not receive any money from Bikini Body Mommy, I just really love this program, so I have included all the links to find what I am talking about. *

Couch to 5K

I had a few people ask about my Couch to 5K progress, which I wrote about in my post about Making Room for Abundance. Somehow in the move I lost my running shoes, and with our budget at below 50% coming in I have not had the money to go buy new shoes. Therefore, I am sticking to the free Bikini Body Mommy videos online because the shoes I do have do not provide the support I need to run. I am planning on buying a pair when I get to America.

The 5K I was thinking about running in is held in September, but we decided to return to Lebanon in the middle of August so that the kids can get back in a routine before September. I still plan on doing the program this year and running a 5K even if just on my own streets. The Couch to 5K plan is 10 weeks long, so as long as I start it by September I can still complete it this year. I am so excited to hear from those of you who also started running after I shared. Great job!

Many of you have been sharing with me your own exercise plans, and I am so thrilled to be sharing this journey with you. Let me know in the comments or by email what you are doing to take care of your body this year.

When Did People Become A Bad Word?

PEOPLE

It seems that people love animals more and more as time goes on. This belief permeates the world that animals are innocent, and people aren’t. Except that Sneaky Snake, but I guess we try to forget about him. We get to blame whatever animals do on instinct, but with each other we know better.

We thought growing up that there were good guys and bad guys, but it turns out that we are all just people. Flesh, bone, marrow, and spirit.

Without a purpose, our lives can take a quick turn down into that dark, cold spiral.

I strongly believe, and know that God has called me. I also believe just as strongly that God has called you. If you answer God’s Call you will gain purpose and get to join a journey far more epic than that of Samwise and Frodo.

Once grace takes hold, it rips through boulders that seemed to block the path, and it rips through you and pours out all over the place. Like a dripping loufa scrubber in your shower, grace gets all over the place. And that’s good!

I have shared previously about the main focus of a Call from God as the Paragon, Focus, or Ideal of a person’s life. I feel very passionately that we are a part of an epic tale, but also that God has our very own book being written. And in my book I have responsibilities that do not come from other people, but from God. And those responsibilities tie in perfectly with the jobs He has given others around me, which links us together!

I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together!

Being the church means being People, together. Sharing with each other this grace, this God. It is messy because we are still human throughout the process. We have a perfect model in Jesus Christ, but we ourselves will not be perfect until we all dance together in Heaven.

“I could never do what you are doing.”

As a missionary in the Middle East the thing I hear more than anything else is. I know that what they mean is that they think I am strong, gifted, called, and inspiring. I am honored and blessed that people think that about us. There is something else to that comment, however, it seems that it also means that I have some super power. I have no super powers.

I am a human being! Just like you.

And I could not do what you do. God called you to your life, which could easily include a great many things I am not equipped for. I spent some time this year tutoring Evan, pictured here with Kyrie, in math, but also Louis and I have been spending time pouring into his family before they move to Argentina where they have a church sponsoring them. This family has inspired me to take the call even farther, and to look outside of the routines we have formed the past few years. I want to see what new things God has in store. There are things God is calling me to do that even I am saying, “I can’t do that.” Now I am adding one important word…

YET

I can’t help churches sponsor refugees YET. But hopefully I will be able to help in new ways soon.

God’s Assignment

I am taking the assignment from God for my life and doing my best, but I fail. I go months without posting. I scream and shout when things don’t go my way. My house gets really messy. And I don’t always want to love others and care.

What keeps me going is knowing I am not alone. I have God in my tummy, and people all over the world are a part of my family. We are all working toward the same goals, God’s goals, and that makes it easier to work out differences, and get motivated to keep on keeping on.

The church is not a building, the church is everywhere. We are everywhere. Someone near you is feeling alone and outside of the church, the family, the love, and it might just be your responsibility to find that person and invite them in. This isn’t a closed group. This is a family that loves to have one more potato salad at the picnic.

Can you find some more potato salad? Do you hear the call? Do you feel the pushing of God to step out and share His love with others?

If anything I am saying relates to you, let me know in the comments. How do you take the responsibility of God’s calling and share your gifts, talents, and passions with those around you?