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.

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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?

Making my Goals a Reality

I finally shared my Goals for 2017 now that we are halfway through the year.

For some of you this is a relief to see someone else who doesn’t have it all together just in January. Let’s be honest, we need to Spring Clean our brains sometimes just as much as our houses. For me, May has been a real relief on my brain as I have gotten the shelves in there a bit more organized, and it shows up in my house as well. I am able to decide so quickly what needs to happen in my house when my brain is less cluttered.

If you are like me and have had trouble sticking to the goals you made back in December and January, maybe you need to adjust them. I shared some of the reasons for needing to take the first part of the year to truly set my goals. My daughter’s healing has transformed her, and I want to make the most of that time, to take her in, and to just enjoy this new joyful little girl I have. It meant putting off things like blogging for a while, but it was worth it.

Now I have this happy girl with a routine with me and we are learning to thrive in Lebanon together as a family. David is loving school, loving the bus, loving his friends, and our new house. We are all loving our new house. The move happened quite quickly and was a few months of adjusting as well.

Give Yourself Grace When Legitimate Disruptions Happen

Everyone has big things, or just a lot of little things that are legitimate and happen in life. When these things disrupt our goals it isn’t always a failure on our part. I have not been lazy this year, or depressed as in the past. Life happened, and I had to scrap the goal list I made in November in favor of a better life.

My better life is still going to happen with the aid of tracking goals, but in a way that nurtures life rather than restricts my life. I am thriving because I am using a routine. But if I was trying to stick to an old routine I would not be thriving. Our new house means a new bus schedule, which means new wake up times and afternoon drop off times, and I have finally created a routine that works for all of us around that schedule. We have a larger grocery store near us, so now we shop less often, but it takes a great deal more planning to organize getting all of the groceries home without a car. All of these small changes have had huge effects on our weekly schedules as well.

Return of the Weekly Goals Posting

My Big Goals of the Year I now need to break down into weekly goals again. Being able to have daily tracking for habits has helped me establish good habits as I wrote about a few days ago in this post on Where Am I Going?. It takes them to the simplest form and allows me to accomplish them. The Big Goals are daunting and as our lives are in flex they feel impossible.

I like to use my monthly calendar with an eye toward my big goals to make sure I am still working toward them. I started writing down the books I need to finish in order to accomplish my book a week goal, and that has been so helpful. I also am tracking hours I spend in Arabic immersion situations and studying formally.

The kids have specific days for homeschool, and they are great accountability because Davy wants to do homeschool every single day when he gets home from school.

The blog has been tough with one computer now between all of us, but we are figuring it out.

And I am back to working out every day.

As you can see, some of my goals have been firmly built into my routine.

The foundational building I have been doing over the past few months is so essential. To really look at the desires of my heart and be able to start living that out has been amazingly transformational. I am so happy with this progress!

3 Ways I am Making Room for Abundance

Limiting Date Nights to Weekends

The first semester I was really loving my routine of Davy going to bed early, and having time to watch movies or play games with Louis late into the night. I would groggily wake up and get Davy on the bus and then go back to bed for several hours to make my 7 hours of sleep. This semester, though I am in a season of effective morning time, and I just can’t stay up all hours on school nights. So, my bed time is 8:30, right after the kids’ 8:00 bedtime.

I am missing the extra time with Louis, but everyone is benefiting from my good mood and the house being cleaner. For some of you reading this, you are not carving out a date night each week, so hearing that I had up to seven nights a week with Louis in our previous season may be surprising. We both knew that it was a routine not meant to last, but it might be something you want to try rather than lessening your time with your loved one.

Front Loading my Biggest Goals

Every year I make big, year spanning goals. My repeated goal of reading the entire Bible is the main one. This year I am looking ahead and recognizing that I have big things coming–starting a Masters program being the biggest. So, I am putting the goal of reading the entire Bible early on. I am spending my mornings reading large sections of Scripture, following a 90 day Bible Reading Plan. Yikes! Once I finish this, I will have the extra half hour to make changes in the next season of life.

My blog posts are slacking, so along with my goals for blogging, I have frontloaded this goal by creating a list of writing prompts and starting an accountability group to check in with me on whether or not I am writing. This will lead to having lots of content to edit and work with, and I can start building momentum from there.

Finally, I am starting (after I shake this terrible chest cold) my workout plan. The 90 Day Challenge with Bikini Body Mommy and the 9 week Couch to 5K combined will give me a big kickstart on my weight loss and health goals. Then I can reevaluate after the 90 days.

Carving out a Weekend

Louis and I are big proponents of guarding the Sabbath. We sit down each week and make sure that we have a day other than Sunday that we are taking as a Sabbath. Additionally, this year, we are not planning things on Sundays so that we have an entire extra day for flex, and we are doing the same for half of Saturday. Whereas Monday is Grocery Day, Tuesday—Arabic Class, Wednesday—Staff Meetings, Thursday—Skype Meetings, etc. Friday through Sunday do not get assignments or tasks to fulfill each week so that as stuff comes up we have space, but also to learn to say no. Friday is our go to Sabbath, and Saturday is half Home Project day, and Sunday is church. Other than those labels, nothing goes regularly on the calendar for those days.

So far this has not once meant we actually had those days off, but it has given us the space to say yes to things we would otherwise be too busy for.

Peace

In this season I am seeking peace and happiness, charging up for the coming work ahead. These three adjustments have been pivotal in my finding calm in my days and nights, and helping me be a better mom, wife, and a better me.

How I Went One Whole Day Without Guilt!!!

Guilt

So many times I read about how guilt is dragging us down. I know that a lot of guilt and shame that I feel is unfounded and irrational, and it is so common in my life that it makes me feel guilty about feeling guilty.

This year one of my goals is to fulfill fifteen 21 Day Challenges. Last year I did several 21 day goals to get habits started, get organized, or just to motivate myself in an area I really wanted to improve in myself. This year I decided to take it from being something useful I did every now and then, to a common thread in my life. I had a great list in my November brainstorming of all the different habits I would start, and even mapped out the 21 days for the first few.

In January we were traveling and holidays were happening, and my first challenge, the 21 Day Writing Challenge, while well planned out, was not completed by me. I stopped at day 14. As many of us feel at the beginning of the year when our goals that seemed so amazing turn out to be a bit too much, I felt like a failure right off the bat. Quickly I realized I needed to reorganize my priorities to be successful, and I needed to set myself up for success rather than set myself up to beat myself up for failing.

Goal Tracking

In December I started my new Annie-style bullet journal, and started it off with a tracker for almost everything I was currently doing daily. It was a great way through December to make sure I was doing the things I wanted to do every day. Right away I noticed a staggering correlation and continued tracking in January to find the correlation to hold true. Every day that I missed taking alone time, I would raise my voice at one of my family members the following day. I decided this had to stop, and so truly began to prioritize self care, even starting the book I have had in my Kindle for quite some time, The Fringe Hours, which is specifically about self-care.

I began meditating and reading the Bible intensively early in the morning, and going to bed earlier to make time for 8 hours of sleep as well. The results have been amazing!

Do you feel a but coming on?

Well, there almost was one. This weekend the kids and I got sick. The beginning of the week was rough, and David ended up missing a day of school. Midweek David and I were feeling so much better that Louis wanted me to come down with Kyrie to the center to help him out with a double booked hour he had. It sounded simple, and Louis even had thought of goals I have for the year that would be worked toward with this. However, it just was not good timing. So I said no, he would have to reschedule something, I just couldn’t. I did hem and haw about it, but in the end I said no. And initially I felt terrible about it. But I stuck to it, and Louis even repeated to me the reasonable reasons he agreed with me.

I woke up this morning feeling tense that the guilt was waiting right outside, but as I started the day I felt…wait for it…

RELIEVED.

Yep, no guilt, just relief as I took care of Kyrie who still is super sickly and I was able to get so much done around the house. I decided this morning that my next 21 Day Challenge is to say no to something every day. If you are in need of learning to prioritize yourself so that you can care for those around you better by being in a better mood, maybe you want to do this with me. I said no to going out today with my sick kid, and I said no to doing the dishes last night. I said no to an extra load of laundry today, and I said no to pushing my exhausted and recovering kid to do homeschool. Everything I said no to was a “good” thing, but not the best thing. One of our mottos is running through my head now, Good is the Enemy of the Best.

How I am Meeting my 2017 Goals

Today is my first day back to blogging, and I am posting this as soon as I type it. It isn’t the most polished blog post, but I am getting back into the habit. I didn’t finish the 21 Day Writing Challenge myself because I was in shock at Kyrie’s healing and subsequent personality change, so I have been enjoying my daughter instead of writing for the blog. This week, however, I was reminded that people want to know how life is, so I am starting off with a taste of how the New Year is starting off with a reflection on meeting my goals. This is my new computer, so I have no pictures downloaded yet, but in upcoming posts I am going to be even better of giving y’all great visuals of life as a mommy missionary.

I Met 90% of my Goals Last Year!

That was a big deal. Yes, there were goals that were unreasonable, but it was way more than I accomplished the year before. One of the keys to success is setting the goals. By setting the goals, I was able to see my progress and it motivated me to keep going. So many times we get to the end of a year or even a season in our lives, and although we were busier than ever, we may not see the successes we had. I have made it a habit to track successes in many areas, and this year I am doing even more tracking.

Also, note that I did not meet 100% of my goals. I made audacious goals, and sometimes they didn’t work out for me. One big goal was to read the whole Bible and to read the New Testament through 5 times. There were so many weeks that just got skipped, so the New Testament was only read 3 and a half times, and I only got through about 80% of the rest of the Bible, but that was pretty good. To start off this year I am following a 90 Day Bible Reading Plan since I know that these next few months are the lightest I am going to have in the near future.

I lost 25% of my body weight last year!

The main key to what I did was to decide I was going to work out and use a meal plan, and then to do it. So many times it is just too easy to let ourselves slide, but by thinking about the end, and recognizing that every day was a day I had to spend on my goals, I was able to go above and beyond my goals.

This year I am doing it again, and I have great news! Bikini Body Mommy just started Challenge 6.0, so you could join me and workout, too! I use the meal plans as well, and do the bonus ab series. This plan is working for me, it is easy to begin at any weight range or activity level you are currently at. Please feel free to join, I just started this week, and the challenge just started last week, so you can jump in and be a part of the community.

Because I had success I feel so much more motivated to keep making new goals, to keep striving for the joy I feel when I exercise, read, write, and spend time doing all the things I love doing. Meeting goals even helps me persevere through the harder, less fun parts of life.

Our Front Room Is Clean!

We just came back from America after one month of family focused trips and health related doctors (See Kyrie’s health update by CLICKING HERE if you haven’t already). We brought back 4 checked bags, 3 carry on sized bags, and 4 personal bags and put them all in our front room. We arrived on a Sunday night and we had nine days to get that front room presentable for our first Arabic class. Our teacher comes to our house, and we already have a very American house, so we didn’t want bags out and about.

I decided to be rational, calm, and logical. Denying my emotional side the chance to freak out, I made the backup plan of throwing everything in my room the day of Arabic if I wasn’t able to clean, and I set to work steadily going through the bags. If something came out of the bag it had to have a place right away. I finished by the end of the first week with all the checked bags. Huge bags are now empty in my kitchen waiting for me to brave the cold to reorganize the maid’s room for them, and my front room is sparkling, swept, mopped, and I even have decoratively set the table. Yay for being clean. I am not good at it, but I have built habits and routines to do it.

Skinnied Sunday

As you have seen, I am working through my very own FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. The only way to get the prompts so you can join is to CLICK HERE!

Sunday is a Skinnied down version of the Challenge, so today I am going to link to some past posts that you may be interested in.

The first post I am linking to is my review of an excellent prayer journal book I read this past year. If you are following the Challenge, or if you are inspired by my own following to start a spiritual journal, read my review of How To Keep A Spiritual Journal.

Secondly, as the New Year comes up and you begin making resolutions, make Bible reading one of those resolutions. CLICK HERE for my own How To Make Your Own Bible Reading Plan.

Finally, let me take you over to my page of resources for creating New Years Resolutions or just lifestyle goals. CLICK HERE to get access to these FREE Resources.