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.

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.

Set Yourself Up For Success


Set Me Up For Success, Mom.

This has become a common phrase in our house. The kids will come to us and say, “Can you set me up for success?”

We are building a foundation of trust in our family with this phrase.

Our kids know that we will be doing what is best for them when we use this phrase. We use it with ourselves as well to remind ourselves that we need to make sure we aren’t setting ourselves up to fail. The feeling of failure is debilitating. It makes life so much harder, and sometimes those failures are entirely preventable.

In my year of learning to Belong in my skin, one of the first things I realized is that I need to learn to trust myself.

To begin the process of learning to trust myself, I said no to something every day for one month.

Just Say No

Saying no to something each day meant that I gave myself freedom from myself. Every single day I was putting too many items on my to do list for the day. Putting myself in the habit of looking for something to cut out gave me the ability to prioritize and most importantly to breathe during the day. This simple task helped me find the parts to my day that were not working out and to adjust. After a month of saying no I felt that my load was lighter, and I also now have the permission to say no to myself whenever I need to.

Stick To My Decisions

I spend time planning each week, but often I second guess my plans, or try to rearrange them continuously. So much time goes into the planning, that sometimes nothing actually gets accomplished. Even simple tasks like getting dressed for the day, what to make Davy for his lunch, and whether or not I was going to boil water for coffee became mind consuming. I recognized the need to change this, so I added Stick to My Decisions to the habit tracker taped to the top of my desk. Each day I made it through the day without getting paralyzed by a small decision I could check off a day. It took me longer than 21 days to make it through, but now I have set up little routines for myself.

The best thing I solved was getting dressed. I recognized that the reason it was so hard was that at 5am in the morning when I wake up I cannot really think through the plan for the day well enough to know what kind of clothes I need for the day. Now I set my clothes out every evening because in the evening I have enough mental power to think about the kind of day I will be having the following day.

This little routine makes it so much easier to get out of bed instead of hitting snooze every morning.

Can you identify a habitual failure in your own life? How could you take some time right now to set yourself up for success? Please share in the comments some of the ways that you are setting yourself up for success.

What I Wish You Knew About Me

Who Am I?

I am in a year of seeking to Belong. I want to belong in my own skin, I want to feel like I belong in Lebanon, I want to belong in my community. It may surprise some of you to know that I do not feel comfortable most of the time anywhere. I am a highly sensitive person, and noise, smell, and the general environment around me throw me off very quickly. I have been working very hard to modify sensory input for myself over the past two years as I have learned more about myself. I have learned that I cannot change these aspects of myself, and I am striving this year to find the beauty in the way God has created me rather than always praying I could be fixed.

This year I am in the process of taking out old dreams and dusting them off to see if God intended for them to be put away. Rather than live in regret, I am taking the time to unpack myself, get to know myself, and hopefully fall in love with myself.

moravian

Getting To Know Me

This past year I read a set of books on the History of the Moravian Church. My paternal family is Moravian, and growing up we were a part of the Christmas Love Feasts and whenever I was asked what denomination I was I would reply Moravian. Saying “nothing” sounded lame, and while I didn’t really know what it meant to be Moravian, I felt that it made me a part of something bigger to say Moravian. To claim a nondenominational church was to be a part of something much smaller. In my reading this set of books, I was thrilled to find so much commonality between my life and their history. Moravians are the founders of the 24/7 prayer movement, first missionaries to many areas of the world, and not bound by building their own churches, but rather intent on unity among denominations. These are all values I share. One of the pieces of the history that struck me was the Moravians created a textbook that was sent out to all Moravians which contained verses for daily meditation. This was a boon to the missionaries who could find comfort in the knowledge that they were reading the very same verses as their brethren in every other part of the world.

Bonhoeffer-Pastor Martyr Prophet Spy.jpgIn a biography I read this past year of Bonhoeffer I found, much to my delight, that Bonhoeffer also discovered these textbooks and he required all the students at his secret seminary Finkenwalde to practice meditation with them. As I set goals for myself to get to know myself, to be more intentional, to learn to pray as an intercessor again, I realized there were many aspects of what I wanted that did not have a measurable aspect or restriction of time. These are habits I want to grow in for the rest of my life. So, I bought myself that textbook, it is still published every year with verses from the heart of the Moravian Church, Herrnhut in Germany. They are called Moravian Daily Texts, and I get no stipend if you click through and order, but I would love to share this tradition with you. I am loving it. I am following Bonhoeffer’s plan of meditation using the Daily Texts as my verses each day as he did.

P.S. The amazing Bonhoeffer biography was called Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxas. You should definitely read it.

I Love Running

The second part of myself I am dusting off is running. I am a runner. I run from conflict and I ran in track in junior high. Last week I was waiting with Davy for the bus and was so cold I started to jog in place. It felt so nice, that when the bus pulled away with Davy inside, I decided to run home. So, I ran up our driveway and then up the stairs. I was exhilarated and happy, smiling, and ready to laugh out loud. Immediately I researched the couch to 5k plan and added it to my workout plan, which was to begin the very next day. I will be sharing more about this in the coming weeks as I establish it as a habit, and please feel free to join me as I work through the 9 weeks.

I am planning on running in a 5k in Tucson in September.

Lifelong Learner

There is always more to learn about our kids, friends, spouses, and selves. I am on a journey to do just that, and learn where I belong in it all. It is shaping up to be a great year.bonhoeffer-pastor-martyr-prophet-spy

 

Outliers: A Book Review

This is Day 8 of my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. It isn’t too late to Join the Challenge! Yesterday Louis and I went out to a hockey game and I completely forgot about it, so I didn’t get a chance to write. I am learning through this challenge about writing during times of great flex. I feel most relaxed to write well at night, but I need to prepare ahead of time to make the time to write late at night.

 

Outliers

 

 


This book is such a good book. When it first came out I was so excited to read it, but forced myself to wait until the month I had it in our budget to purchase a book online. I LOVED the book. The whole purpose is to look at success and to take apart the ideas that we hold to of there being these excellent people who come from nothing and have no help along the way. The book is excellent and worth reading, and in this short post I won’t be able to do it justice. For me it was wonderful to look at the different aspects of making excellence in the multiple case studies he shares about. The writing style is so easy to read and makes the statistics understandable while not sacrificing the numbers and purpse of data.

Greatness

I truly believe Louis, my husband, is meant to be great. So, for me reading this book was also helpful in looking at his life and how to support him. One of the main points the book makes about greatness is that it takes about 10,000 hours of real practice to become an expert at something. I began to think about what Louis spends hours and hours doing. Theological application is one that came to mind. Even before he became a Christian, my husband was thinking through those ethical dilemnas and working out religious problems. People is another one of Louis’ expertises. He has spent years studying the people around him. Malcolm Gladwell explains that to hit that 10,000 hours takes about 10 years, which is how Louis can be so good at these things at a young age.

Highly Recommended

As I said I can’t explain it all in this short post, but you should read the book for sure because it was an excellent and important book. As I am moving into the New Year and making goals and plans, I want to become a better me. I have great aspirations for creating a life for myself of independence and purpose. I want to move forward with focus and intentionality. I want to belong in my own skin. I want to love myself and learn to be happy. As I read Outliers I also spent time thinking about my own expertise. I have spent at least 10,000 hours reading. I was thinking about this and getting down on myself for not being better at English. But it occurred to me, that like the post earlier about never throwing out an idea, I have a vast web of connections through reading. I have learned about people, the way people think, and now use those ideas in my own writing.

I was able to look at a lot of things analytically through this book. The book taught me to read between the lines in any story of someone rising to greatness in order to see the help actually received along the way. No one can do it on their own. We all need community as well as passion. So exciting to think about.

This post is one of a series meant to kickstart a writing habit. I created exclusive prompts which are emailed to those of us signed up for my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. I am posting my responses each day, and I invite you to join me in this writing journey by CLICKING HERE! The only way to receive the prompts is to sign up for the Challenge. The emails will include the prompt for the day as well as directions to kickstart your writing habit for any combination of the following:

  • Personal Journal
  • Prayer Journal
  • Blog
  • Christmas/New Year Letter or Correspondence

Learning to Love Myself

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This is Day 6 of my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. It isn’t too late to Join the Challenge! The clock just turned midnight as I began writing this post, but I am persevering and posting this so I can keep up with my challenge along with any of you seeking to share in it with me.

Discipline

I picked my word of the year for 2017. I picked my first word of the year last year, Discipline. I ended up a little disappointed that I didn’t feel more disciplined at the end of this year. I still struggle with basic obedience to God. I still speak up against Louis in front of the kids and others at inappropriate times. I still give up on plans and don’t follow through with most projects. I still think of myself as flaky and blonde. How frustrating to end the year of using a word of the year and feeling like it had no effect. But I started looking through my journals and posts from the last year and realizing, as I shared yesterday in my post about healing from childhood trauma, I am a new woman! 2016 has altered the course of my life, my relationships, my hopes and my dreams. In fact, prior to 2016 I did not have dreams for my life, I was a pessimistic, hopeless wanderer.

Hope

Why did focusing on discipline help me learn to dream and have hope? In my pursuit of discipline I found that I have hope when I have boundaries. Discipline is often about living with different types of boundaries. Also, I learned a big lesson in realizing that I cannot do everything. Discipline is about focusing on what needs to be done, prioritizing. Losing the idea that I can spend 8 hours a day with my kids, 8 hours a day alone, 8 hours a day with my husband in one-on-one time, 8 hours a day writing and reading, and 8 hours a night of sleeping. That is a hyperbole, but on three separate occasions throughout the year I checked in on a time budget and can share a success. At the beginning of the year I found that I was attempting almost an extra week’s worth of events per week. The second check had me closer to 3 ½ days over. The last time I went through my time budget I was only 21 hours over. This is a small thing, but helped me realize that I need to have success points.

Belong

In picking my word of the year for 2017, I was so happy to find one that can have so much meaning for me. I am going to share all about this word and its meaning to me in a future post, so I am going to keep to the point here of how to learn from the past in order to inform the future. Knowing that if I just meditate on the word belong for a year there is a chance that the new me at the end of 2017 won’t really remember how it was back here in 2016, I must point out things I hope to change through this meditation throughout the year. Already as I have thought about this word, so many little changes have begun happening and I have had to stop and write them down. As you begin to look ahead to your own New Year’s Resolutions, remember to take time to recognize where you are at right now, so when you are looking back at the end of the year you can see the changes. For me, I have this idea percolating in my head that I actually can be happy. This seems normal to many of you reading, but to me this is a huge change from the past me. I look toward future me and I am so excited to meet her.

This post is one of a series meant to kickstart a writing habit. I created exclusive prompts which are emailed to those of us signed up for my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. I am posting my responses each day, and I invite you to join me in this writing journey by CLICKING HERE! The only way to receive the prompts is to sign up for the Challenge. The emails will include the prompt for the day as well as directions to kickstart your writing habit for any combination of the following:

  • Personal Journal
  • Prayer Journal
  • Blog
  • Christmas/New Year Letter or Correspondence