"Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind" (Leonardo da Vinci).
This quote drew me in this week as I stepped in some muddy puddles and then huddled on my sofa during Texas' mini Icepocalypse where our schools and society shut down for three days. It was a nice break and by Saturday I proudly finished up building the Clue mansion in my Minecraft server.
This week we have the opportunity to began building our own real worlds, thawing out that frozen water and taking those steps forward. They don't have to be big leaps, but they do need To Be. Personally, I have taken a step back to wait and see what would be the best steps. Now I am taking them. What about you?
My best friend and writing buddy convinced me to sign up for a writer's conference called Realm Makers, and I am going to register for it today. Am I a little afraid? Yes. When she first mentioned it, I grimaced. Traveling to another state, for many days, to interact with people who I do not know, about an industry which has been full of roadblocks and hazards, has left me reeling and disenchanted. And yet. That little whisper voice says, "If it scares you, it's calling you out." Stagnant water loses purity. I don't want to become stagnant water. So let's do those scary things.
Scary looks different to everyone. Sometimes 'scary' is actually just 'something different.' What do you need to do today that allows you to be freer than you were yesterday? Maybe it is something like registering for a conference, or maybe it is sending an encouraging text or email. Maybe it is taking a few minutes to go on a walk outside, or attend a fitness class, or put down that soda and drink a glass of water instead.
"I have great confidence in you. I am filled with encouragement; I am overcome with joy in all our afflictions...God, who comforts the humble, comforted us by the arrival of Titus, and not only by his arrival, but also by the comfort he received from you" (2 Corinthians 7:4, 6). Paul, in his letter to the Corinthian church, recognized the need for encouragement and for action. He saw the circle of inspiration and how one person's actions influence another, and that 'an object in motion stays in motion.' Encouragement blossoms. Titus showed up, his church encouraged him, he encouraged them, and they encouraged Paul. Isn't that a great picture of why we have a church body? Your actions today matter.
So let's hold each other accountable and have some fun. Do something today which breaks you out of the moldy pond. One little trickle, one little step, that's all you need. Do it scared, do it on your knees, but do it.
Here's a list of options if you need one:
- Send an encouraging text or email
- Thank the grocery store cashier and mean it
- Give a compliment to someone who looks downcast
- Give a giftcard to a teacher
- Attend a group fitness class
- Do That Thing on your list that makes you cringe
- Schedule that doctor's appointment
- Hug that person and let them let go first
- Make up your bed
- Pick up that book and read a chapter
And then once you have done that small (but really, quite big) thing, let me know what it is. I'd love to hear about those steps forward. Let's take them together.
If you need a good book to read, Alliance Book One, Insurrection, is now available in paperback and ebook. You can purchase anywhere books are sold.
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id6445369055
Additional locations: https://books2read.com/u/49VD9J
Strange noises. Dazzling beaches. A secret military base. Saylor must navigate these mysterious elements -- or die trying.
We all do live with such great fear, whether it’s, “What if the chicken doesn’t thaw out in time for dinner?” up to, “Could this chicken be my last meal?” Fear of not being able to pay the bills, of driving down the road, of not having a good enough budget to last for the month, of screwing up our children, of losing someone or something very dear.
We are all affected by Fear, and we are called, especially us Christ-followers, to live outside of fear, outside of the boundaries we can see in this world.
In Esther 4 we read:
Hathach went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”
12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”
15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
In Esther’s roundabout conversation with her uncle Mordecai, she began as a hesitant woman who said she could be put to death if she went to the King, who then gathered the courage to say, well, I need to do what I need to do, and if I die, I die.
Most of us don’t live with this as a daily factor.
Well, I’ve got to go to Walmart. And if I die, I die.
Well, it’s time to go work out. And if I die, I die.
Living with a sense that at any moment something terrible can happen to you is no way to live. That is allowing in a darkness that has no authority to be present. BUT things happen. Sin is present in the world. You get in so many car accidents and you get nervous when that car inches closer behind you or that other car runs that red light. There have been several deaths in my family and among friends from cancer that I have really started questioning what the heck we’re doing to cause such damage to ourselves. But can we live like that? Can we live in fear of car accidents, disease, a crumbling economy, global crisis, Slow Moving People Day at Walmart? No. It will dissolve the trust in that firm foundation under our feet.
Beth Moore said in an Esther Bible study video, “What if something happens? If _________, then _________.”
What if you lose your job? What if your child grows ill? What if there is a tornado and we lose the house? What if……? Moore went through the stages of a hypothetical infidelity. Think about it. How would you first react? What would you do? Be mad. Be really mad. And then? Be sad. And then? She said, “Then I’d lay on the floor with my Bible over my face.” I chuckled at that. But think about the stages. She said then she’d go back to teaching Bible studies (and that she’d probably still be mad and take it out on studiers by giving a lot of homework) but then she would still eventually get back to God. That what’s left at the end of our loss, our grief, our complaining, our anger, our angst, our chocolate binges, our giving up… is God. He’s there all along, of course, but at the end of all of it, is just a shedding of layers to reach the final heart of the matter, that God is all we really have. We don’t have insurance, we don’t have a nice car, we don’t have the clothes on our backs. Even if the world crumbles underneath, God is there. Even if we don’t think we can pay for groceries, God is there. Even if we have no more ability or motivation to give, God is there. If _________, then God .
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your love, O LORD, endures forever--
do not abandon the works of your hands.
The eternal God is your refuge,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
From these few verses alone, we see the concrete fact that God is, has been, and always will be there, unshakeable, almighty, and the author of our faith. And so we establish God’s persona. Now, how about us? We are shaken, poor, and unable? Often misguided, feeble, and unworthy. However, those of us who trust His Word, and hold to his hope, are this:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:9
(God) who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father…
You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,
because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.
The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.
So there you are. Even if we overspend on cheese or buy the wrong car warranty package, can’t figure out why the computer won’t turn on, or if we sit on a retainer, shred the wrong document, or are overheard dispersing judgments on a sister…. We are the children of the Most High King. We are his priests, his kingdom, his bloodline.
Do we cower in fear of tomorrow or do we live, “beyond the casket, all the way into the kingdom”? I think our lives may all change if we step into this reality instead of the one we can see. Sometimes we can’t see God’s love, but he is within and around us. Sometimes we can’t see his exact arms holding us, but he places people in our lives to embrace us or simply call to shake out that dark reverie. Moore also said that, “we won’t ever be in a situation where God doesn’t offer us his presence and to give courage. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the knowledge that there is something much more important at stake.”
We all have our challenges, our callings, our individual stories to live out. We are created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Quite often those “to do” lists are challenging, and sometimes we are so exhausted we don’t want to even get out of bed. But take heart. He has overcome exhaustion. He has overcome the world. He has overcome fear, loss, hurt, grief, anxiety, and anger. Take heart. Take courage.
If it is starting over,
if it is eating less sugar,
moving to a new place,
making new friends,
not tearing out your hair when the baby poops in the bathtub again,
learning to rely on His Strength,
… then we are able to do it, because He is there.
My doctor informed me years ago during a sonogram-- “It looks like you will be having a girl,” he said, watching the monitor next to me, “but don’t paint the walls pink.” Sort of anti-climactic, don’t you think? There is such a big push to “know” what your baby is going to be. Everyone gets all excited as you go to the office, the suspense building that finally, finally, you can find out pink versus blue, purple versus green, and fill the room with baby dolls and lace or dinosaurs and cars. And my doc said, “But don’t paint the walls pink.” Hey, thanks. Thanks for that not-so-pivotal answer. My anticipation balloon warped and winced, flopping down on the floor as the doctor handed me a wipe to clean off my stomach.
Our faith, our existence, our calling, is based on a firm foundation. We can most definitely paint our walls. We can line the curtains with purple ruffles and hot glue sequins all over the picture frames because we are His. And he is there.
Fear is that burst balloon, insinuating that we just might wait to celebrate because you never know if or when or what might come upon the next footfall. So this is the challenge: to paint our walls as vibrantly as we can, and to dwell in the shadow of the Almighty. Instead of hesitating upon that impending confrontation, stand firm and to throw back our shoulders.
Then God .
Coming soon, I have some exciting news. Stay tuned.
Martin Luther wrote the words and composed the melody to “A Mighty Fortress” sometime between 1527 and 1529. Remember that Martin Luther was a German monk, priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation (Wikipedia). He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money; that salvation is not earned but a gift of God. Luther helped the Bible become more accessible to the common man.
Quick facts about “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”:
One of the most significant facts to note about the song is that not every verse ends with a cheerful note, literally, musically, and lyrically. In fact, some notes are sour and dissonant. Here are the lyrics:
A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours,
thru him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill;
God's truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever.
Who has no equal on earth, as noted in Verse 1? Our ancient foe. Darkness, fear, hate, cowardice, cheating, lying, stealing, and lack of faith. These are the great enemy.
So why are we singing about this enemy being so strong? Look at Verse 3: God hath willed his truth to triumph through us. Our enemy may be unequal, our enemy may appear strong, but one little word shall fell the enemy. One little word, one little name: Jesus. That name, that word, above all earthly powers. Let goods and kindred go; this mortal life also. God’s truth abideth still; his kingdom is forever.
Psalm 46 says:
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see the works of the Lord,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Here is the definition of the word, ‘Fortress’: a large fort or fortified town; a place or source of refuge or support. Definition of the word, ‘Bulwark’: any protection against external danger, injury, or annoyance. I like the reminder, that the almighty, protecting God who was around in 1 BC, who was around in 1527, is still around and present as ever in 2021.
God abideth with us still.
Even during failure.
Even when you step in gum in the parking lot.
Even when the plans go wrong.
Even when you feel the mountains quaking.
Even when the budget won’t be met.
Even when gray clouds fill the sky, masking the bright yellow sun.
Lord Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, of armies, from age to age the same. And He must win the battle.
So whether the battle is internal, or external, among friends or strangers, or random awkwardness at the line at the grocery store, He can work through it. He’s the one we run to, flinging our shameful inadequacy into his arms when we forget, fail, or falter. “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Psalm 46:5-7).
Maybe today is your mortal ill, your earth giving way, your uproar.
Well for those of us in the audience, we wait. Just keep on singing the chords and remember that even when my blood pressure rises, there’s a stronger one standing beside me. And he must win the battle.
Fear grips the land. Cowardice calls, betrayal beckons, and the Unknown rears its shrouded head before our eyes. Right now -- you are being called out, whether you hear it or not. You get this next moment, this next breath, to cross the shadowed line and bridge the gap of faith.
When in doubt, when you’re on that line and the crowd has drawn back in fear, be the H.E.R.O. — implement a code of Honor, Engagement, Resilience, Ownership.
Honor: The hero serves a greater purpose than self. Move forward in integrity, service, and in honor of others and self. In a quick check, the hero can move from defeat into progress by checking the status of honor. Speak as an honorable person. Treat others with kindness. Honor employs grace and assistance over shame and offense.
Engagement: Engage the situation when intimidation strikes. Forward action initiates confidence. Remember the laws of motion; an object in motion stays in motion. The human brain can perform at high rates of speed, and the more accustomed to movement, the more the brain uses that energy to synthesize solutions. Choices can happen to the hero, or the hero creates the choice.
Resilience: Resilience keeps the hero in the game. Keeping a mindset of overcoming obstacles and hanging in there serves the hero. The abundance of options for action, the abundance of attempts to try again, keep the hero on track when the murky villains have inundated the land. When the protagonist learns how to better navigate obstacles and sees them as the path toward being the hero, then that’s the moment the ordinary human becomes the indelible survivor. Heroes forge ahead, resilient, regardless of the outcome.
Ownership: Ordinary characters become heroes as they recognize their powers, skills, strengths, and weaknesses. The hero plotline demonstrates that every protagonist needs an antagonist; the antagonists teach the heroes who they can be. So maybe it’s best somebody trips you up. In fact, show gratitude for the people who teach you the hardest lessons, for they allow you to become the hero. Own your abilities, improvements, and passions. They make you a unique hero in your ultimate story.
Remember that key verse in 2 Timothy 1:7: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind. Those efforts which intimidate you, beckon you, call you out. These assignments? They’re all a part of you becoming the hero in your story.
Need some great stories to remind you of Whose you are and who you can be? Grab a free copy of Kingdom Come, a non-fictional inspirational workbook to help you engage your inner beast-mode hero.
December 3, 2020 is also the last day to grab the Insurrection series on sale. The Ebook $.99 sale ends at midnight, so act fast to get those at a great price. Click the buttons below to grab them! Share with your friends, and finish the mission!
The last few nights I have had trouble sleeping. Oh, that's an understatement. Since early February I have had trouble sleeping. "Oh a times, they are a changing" (Dylan). In the middle of the night I wake up, writing, shouting, stating my thoughts to the blank void of my bedroom ceiling. I keep thinking, I should be saying SOMETHING. I should be saying something important, something helpful, something encouraging.
So here's a little bit of something, for wherever you are, whatever you are doing, however you may be feeling:
In all the battles I’ve seen, in all the training exercises, and the obstacles I’ve had to climb in my few days on this planet, I’d have to say that day on the beach was one of the most memorable. I hated tugging that ridiculous net along that beach. I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. All of my efforts felt pointless and resistant. With each jerk forward, I made almost no progress.
Anger gurgled in a knot within my ribs. Norita wrenched ahead of me along that beach. He shouldn’t have—he was a weakling who couldn’t even keep his lunch down.
I struggled, sweat dripping down the sides of my face, burning into my eyes, and sliming up my hands so they slipped along the rope, seared. Blisters welled up on my palms, and my back broiled with a fervent, charring ache.
“You gotta pull your own weight, Thompson!” Burkman brought me back. He drew up to my side, hands flailing. He seemed to be everywhere.
“You have to get past those demons! You have to fight them; you have to beat them down. Those voices that tell you to stop, those are wrong. Those voices lie. They steal your victory. Out there be dragons, but in here—” He tapped my chest, “—here lodges your sword and shield. You give up, you’ll never win. You? Give up? That’s not you. You are a victor. You are a success. You have what it takes. Keep going, Thompson. Success isn’t a finish line; success isn’t one moment that makes you great. Success is tackling those obstacles one at a time. Success is dragging this weight until you aren’t supposed to carry it any more. This net is your objective. This finish line, this is where you gotta get. You don’t stop until you get that net across the line. You can’t stop. You won’t stop. You carry that weight. Nobody else can pull it. That’s your weight. Now, you don’t give up. Look around. We need you to cross this line. I don’t care if you do this for us, or for yourself, or if you do this for your mama across the water. Your job, soldier, is to bring this net across this line. You can’t win every challenge. Tucker, you have this moment right here to build up to the moments coming to get you. Tomorrow could be harder. That’s okay. Because you’ll have survived this, right here, right now. Drag that net. Cross the line. The line is all we got.”
Through the tumult of his words, I buried myself in the forward movement. Me versus the sand. Me versus the weight. The weight withheld its grace, but I secured that rope within my hands and grasped with all I had.
That's a little excerpt from HERE BE DRAGONS and it came to me, inspired, and I pray it draws your heart closer to the One who made you, who makes your arms strong, your feet firm, and your heart victorious.
Would you like a free book? Or a couple free books? They are all by clean science fiction and fantasy authors with a Christian worldview.
Here's a link: https://storyoriginapp.com/bundles/97b669dc-1d57-11eb-b2b7-4fc259165361
If you would be interested in purchasing any of my books at a discount of $.99 right now, they are on sale until December 3rd. Here are those links:
Insurrection: A Young Adult Science Fiction Fantasy (Book 1)
Incomplete: A Young Adult Science Fiction Fantasy (Insurrection Book 2)
Indelible: A Young Adult Science Fiction Fantasy (Insurrection Book 3) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07229CDKC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_n7XLFbSCRCXPE
Here Be Dragons
(An Insurrection story/standalone/Book 4)
Earthshine: A Young Adult Science Fiction Fantasy (Insurrection Series/Standalone/ Book 5) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07J5X6FDL/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_C8XLFbDPHFKN8
The winner of the collaboration giveaway was Katy B. from Louisiana, with 2nd Prize as Teresa K from Indiana.
Thank you again, friends, for persevering in this journey with me. May you see miracles around you, may your heart be strong, may you be courageous, and may you act in peace with faith as your guide.
Earlier this summer, my daughter was "learning" how to ride a bike. The streets in our neighborhood are wobbly and wonky. She asked me constantly, “Why is my bike tipping over?!” and “Why aren’t the streets smooth?!” And I told her the line I memorized from the first page of my driver’s manual:
Not all roads are straight and flat.
The first time I read that line in the manual, I laughed. Psh. How OBVIOUS. Not all roads are straight and flat.
But then, don’t we expect the roads to be straight and flat? The earth, after all, is not straight and flat, nor is your plotline. Or your heartbeat. If it were, you’d be dead.
Instead, we get wobbly and wonky, and you just have to learn how to navigate the curves.
See, she’s terrified of falling over. She wants to ride her bike “like a big girl” but at the same time she wants the process to be simple and easy.
Life has been moderately easy. Until the last few months. And I think that even in her little world, she’s feeling the shakiness. And in a big way, she became even more aware that falling over hurts. There was a little bump at the end of the driveway – she screamed. “I can’t do it!”
There was a pot hole around the corner. “I’m going to fall down!” she began to panic. She leaned precariously to the opposite side.
“Just put your foot down,” I stated. “Create balance.”
Through the whole ride, she continued to state her failures ahead of time, screamed about her inadequacies, and demanded assistance. At one dip in the road, I even pushed the back of her seat over a bump to show her that going over the bumps was easier if you went faster rather than slower.
When we got back to the house we sat down, eye to eye.
I asked her why she was so afraid of falling down, and she didn’t have an answer.
Sometimes, when you see that life is changing, you just feel anxious. Your awareness of your smallness grows. Even for the littles.
I know I use this verse often, but I find myself repeating it and exploring it with my children. They have many fears and anxieties. So we use this verse as our motto: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
And on that day, beside this fiery little spirit, those words made a little more sense. God built us with strong bodies, strong hearts, and strong spirits. He crafted us to solve problems, enabled our bodies to become stronger and more capable, and gave us humor and hope to rove these wandering roads.
He didn’t put us together as lumps of green goo. He didn’t make us cats, or gnats, or clay blobs. He didn’t make us to sit, afraid, timid, in the dark, crying and stuck.
He specifically asked his disciples, “Why do you have no faith?”
“That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him” (Mark 4:35-41)!
Jesus knew his plans: Morning meet-and-greet with the crowds on the shore. Afternoon boat tour across the lake. Nap. Evening gathering with the local town outcast. Normal day. The disciples follow along, unaware of the bigger picture (relate?) and suddenly they are in the middle of The Life of Pi and wondering where the tiger is. And somehow Jesus is asleep. Jesus knew the storm. He knew who could control the storm, he knew the power of the storm, and even further, he knew his ability to overcome the storm. He knew of different storms on the horizon.
Do you know how capable you are?
Do you know who made you, piece by piece, capable, competent, and purposed?
Before this storm occurred, Jesus had spoken to them. “Consider carefully what you hear,” he added. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them” (Mark 4:34-35).
Many things spread easily.
Smiles, laughter, silliness.
Tension, anger, frustration.
Panic, worry, blame.
Hope, grit, perseverance.
With the measure you use, you will be given more. Are you focusing on the panic, the gripping fear of the unknown, and the uncertainty that you were unaware of before? OR are you focusing on the author of faith? Are you focusing on the Provider, the Guide, the King of all? The first and last, who knows the storms and has prepared you to face them. Or, possibly, he has prepared that storm to face you. Maybe you need to see hope, and darkness is where you will find it.
Because a shadow just means that there is light nearby.
If you act with hope, you will find more hope. If you act with great faith, with unity, with great perseverance, with kindness, with generosity… you may not always see the measure coming back. But it goes out and ripples onward.
And if you act in fear, if you give out panic, and anxiety, and if you give out criticism, and snide remarks, and blame…those make waves, too. Which waves do you want to spread? And what waves do you want to arrive at your feet?
You know what else? Jesus knew what lay beyond the storm. He knew his disciples would continue struggling with understanding. And they reacted similarly – they were even more shook than before. He controls the STORMS?! WHAT.
The tests show you who you are and whose you are. What lays beyond…that’s where you see faith walking on water. It’s not just the storm. It’s the changed life afterwards that shows who you are.
Some of my most anxious thoughts have been about what will happen “after” this pandemic. What will life be like on the other side? This has opened so many wide, broad doors to fear and anxiety. Let’s not go that way. Let’s instead, like Jesus did, stand up and call out that peace which surpasses all understanding. Let’s use our wit, our strong arms, our strong hearts, our strong spirits. “No matter how you move, always rise” (one of my Reebok shirts).
Regardless of what waves arrive, regardless of the road before you--
You are stronger than you know. You are more capable than you imagine. You were built to overcome the storm.
You were built to thrive.
Why are you so afraid?
Not every road is for the strong of heart. Or perhaps it is.
Have you entered the giveaway to win a KindlePaperwhite and lots of encouraging faith in fiction books?
A Good Hero Story
Amy Purdy's caption on one Instagram photo displays a twenty-one year-old girl in a white hospital gown, with a resilient smile on her face. She'd just had both of her legs amputated below the knees. Her words rang true then and they ring true now.
"In fact when I was wheeled into surgery, I gave myself three goals. 1. To never feel sorry for myself. 2. To snowboard that year and 3. When I figured this mess out, I vowed to help others. And I'm proud to say, that I accomplished all of them and ended up going further than I ever could have imagined. I didn't just snowboard, I won a medal in the Olympic/Paralympic Games. I didn't just help others, I have become one of the top requested motivational speakers in the country and started my own organization @adaptiveactionsports. But most importantly... I never ever gave up on myself. No matter what your circumstances are, don't ever give up on yourself. You are important and your contribution to this world and humanity is needed. You can be whatever you want to be. But there isn't anyone who is going to figure it out for you, you have to figure it out for yourself."
Battling meningitis, losing both kidneys, her spleen, and the hearing in her left ear, weighing eighty-three pounds, and at a two percent chance of survival, Amy Purdy proved to be one resilient cupcake. That same year she strapped on her snowboard. Three years later, she earned a bronze medal in the snowboardcross at the Paralympic Winter Games Sochi 2014. She’s continued moving forward, joining the Dancing With The Stars cast in their eighteenth season, which is where I first saw her dance with partner Derek Hough. I rooted for her every step of the way, gasping when she’d whirl around on the floor, and as Derek would toss her around like a graceful puppet. She held her own, all the way to runner-up. I voted for her, I gotta say! She never earned a score less than an 8 during the entire run.
Amy has spoken on TEDx talks and her speech has become the example from which others are advised to learn in order to present their speeches; she also has a New York Times bestselling book. “Borders are where the actual ends, but also where the imagination and the story begins,” Amy said in her TEDx talk. “Instead of looking at our challenges and limitations as something negative or bad, we can begin to look at them as blessings, magnificent gifts that can be used to ignite our imaginations and help us go further than we ever knew we could go.” Other accomplishments? She went on a speaking engagement tour with Oprah Winfrey, drove a pace car in the Daytona 500, and runs Adaptive Action Sports, a company which helps athletes compete in action sports. She had to create her own gear in order to continue snowboarding, and has used that knowledge to help others. She also competed in the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang in 2018, earning a silver medal in snowboardcross and a bronze in banked slalom.
Amy’s TEDx talk asks viewers, “If your life were a book and you were the author, how would you want your story to go?” She said after she left the hospital, she had to let go of the old Amy and embrace the new Amy.
You’ve got to admit, we humans like a good hero story. We like a guy who rises from the ashes. You’ve got some button—some button that engages your fears, your failures, your darkness—and you’ve also got the ability to quell them. The Not Good Enough seeks you to serve you. How will you greet it? How will you create your story? The building action drives those decisions you make. You get every opportunity to be the hero. “There's no need to be perfect to inspire others,” Amy wrote on an Instagram post. “Let people get inspired by how you deal with your imperfections.” Perhaps you’re sitting on the living room floor, staring at your laptop, illuminated in the dark, just like I am. Perhaps your insides have been trembling in fear. We rise. We rise up fearless, borderless, and creative. Perhaps you’ve been training your whole life just for this incredible moment. This new moment where you embrace your new day. “It’s not about breaking down borders. It’s about pushing off of them and seeing what amazing places they might bring us.”
See Amy’s TEDx talk here: http://amypurdy.com/speaker/
An Island Waiting
There’s a city beside a lake in the heart of an old volcano. The city is called Sete Cidades and sits on the island of Sao Miguel, in the Atlantic Ocean. Rich sunsets adorn the lush greenery of this island, stucco walls bracing the quaint walls of the houses lining the narrow streets. My husband discovered this marvel while exploring the planet for the elusive city of Atlantis. (Which, by the way, he found it.) He showed me a picture on Google Earth and said, “You need to use this location in a book.”
And so, I did.
We live these busy lives, walk the dusty concrete, and rarely glimpse, let alone immerse in, a tropical paradise. Between the pages of Earthshine, you’ll receive a new mission, a new voyage, into the harrowing wilds of the oceans deep and forests high.
I scoured the interwebs for every photo and article on the Azores islands, watched endless videos on YouTube, and even spent hours using our virtual reality set on Google Earth to explore these and other various locations Saylor and Tucker traverse within the pages of Earthshine. A fellow Clean Reads author even shared an hour chatting with me about her experiences while living on of the Azores islands. One goal for my books is that they will serve readers for multiple readings and re-readings, providing rich, realistic environments and imagery to take my reader friends to these brave new worlds.
Needing a vacation? Get ready to grab a copy of Earthshine and escape. Join me in the Azores, at a fraction of the cost. Maybe it will even entice you to get up and add a new locale to your travel wish list. It sure did for me.
But By All Means
Martin Luther King, Jr:
This is the most important and crucial period of your lives, for what you do now and what you decide now at this age may well determine which way your life shall go. And the question is whether you have a proper, solid, and sound blueprint. And I want to suggest some of the things that should be in your life’s blueprint.
Number one in your life’s blueprint should be a deep belief in your own dignity and your own worth and your own Somebody-ness. Don’t allow anybody to make you feel like you are nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth and always feel that your life has ultimate significance.
Secondly in your life’s blueprint, you must have a basic principle: the determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor. You’re going to be deciding as the days and years unfold what you will do in life, what your life’s work will be. And once you discover what it will be, set out to do it and do it well. Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be the sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or you fail, be the best of whatever you are.
Finally, in your life’s blueprint, must be a commitment to the eternal principles of beauty, love, justice. While life for none of us has been a crystal stair, we must keep moving, we must keep going. If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving.
See King's inspiring speech here:
The past couple of weeks have been intense. They’ve been crammed with work, play, writing, reading, and people. So many people. After thirty-something years around them, I’ve come to realize and acknowledge that the more I’m around people, the more aware of myself I become. It’s draining to be hyperaware of your actions, word choice, tone of voice, and movement. What’s more draining about it is that I realize most people aren’t even paying attention, and yet there’s this creative spark inside of me that whispers, “But, what if they are?”
And so I overanalyze, overthink, and afterwards, rehash. Exhausting. The more tired I become, the more this exacerbates itself.
So this weekend was the epitome just waiting for a bang. I’ve been working with multiple people doing the #PitProm pitch contest (more on that in a coming soon blog!) and on Sunday morning, found myself among the team of people practicing the music for the church service.
I love to sing.
I love it, but I’m more of a back-up or ensemble singer. I’m no Taylor Swift. #ThingsIKnow #BTeam. There are times when people don’t make it to the practice at the last minute, and usually it is somewhat of an annoyance but no big deal. But yesterday, I wasn’t feeling it. I *was* feeling overwhelmed, tired, cranky, and in need of coffee. My voice kept cracking, I was kind of bloated because I had eaten pizza and a doughnut on Saturday, and I was receiving emails and notifications for work that I needed to keep up with. The nagging thought that I am tired but I show up so why don’t others too??? kept going through my head. I was out of my element. Out of my power. Can you see it? Charlie asked me why I wasn’t singing, and it was quite obvious I wasn’t singing because I was the only one other than him that should have been singing. I snapped at him, “Because I don’t know the song.” Eh. Wasn’t a great response, but what got to me was my tone of voice. I heard myself being so mean. I heard three-years-ago me answering.
You know what’s hard about working on yourself? Sometimes you miss the mark. Sometimes you find yourself not responding how you want, but you can’t seem to navigate the new waters in the new self, and judgmental snarkiness rolls out instead.
If you were ever wondering about this chica over here and what the struggle really is, well, I saw it this weekend.
I left the worship center, tears in my eyes, a mixed bag of emotions. My loudest thought was, “What if everyone expects me to react like this?”
I used to react like that. I know it. But I’ve made the effort over the years to be better. To react better. To be the kinder, more gracious person in conflict. Doesn’t always happen. But maybe my biggest fear isn’t actually responding badly, it’s what the other people think. Do they find it shocking, and therefore they are concerned about me? Or do they shrug and sigh, “Typical.”
You know what? I can’t determine what anybody else but myself thinks.
So when I drove to my quiet house, the hush wrapping around me like a fresh breeze, I sifted through the thoughts. I sorted the “why” and the “how come” and the “you stinks” and the “always” and the “never” and the “they should” or “I can’t” and settled on the one thought that got me straightened out again: I control how I react.
At the time, I was having trouble controlling the crying. Because as a female, that’s just part of the project. Insert tears here. They’re in there, they come out, you deal.
I needed to get back into my element, where the REAL ME resided. The real me, my heart and soul, knows I’m not based on ill-will and frustration. I needed to get her back at the helm. The tears, the “what if” thoughts were hijacking my reality. The thoughts you think? They’re not all true. Don’t listen to the false ones. Find the truth.
The truth was and still is this: I’m an amazing critic. I am so good at judging. I rock at finding the things that need to be improved and then implementing a plan to fix them. I am SO GOOD at that. I can order around people like tomorrow depends on it. It’s a great skill to have when directing plays, leading public relations campaigns, teaching classes…but it can be quite difficult to live with inside my head when I dwell on planet earth.
Since I’m one of the best versions of me when I’m critiquing and making lists….I sat down at my computer and graded an essay. Yes. I sipped on my coffee, gave notes on essay writing and compositional form, and when I stood up fifteen minutes later, I was a new person. No…I was my real person again. I got back in my element.
Once I refreshed my makeup and drove back, I apologized and explained what was going on. And you know what? We had some laughs. People chuckled. We related over past challenges and similar stories. The words were wrong on the screen. “You are the hope to the hopless and broken.”
You know what? At times we are hopless and borken.
But then there’s time to get back up again.
Three steps to getting your life back when your emotions or the situation hijacks you and your "not good enough" triggers you:
1) Take a break.
Relaxation, resting, and taking a break are the fastest way to resetting your entire body and mind. We stress ourselves out too often. This is the first and most important step to getting back on track. Think of a train derailing. What if the train just kept chugging forward, off its rails? What a mess! No! The train needs to stop so it can be hoisted back on the rails. Turn off the engine. Step away from the tracks. Take a break and breathe in deeply for at least several minutes. Be alone, be quiet, be still.
And while you’re quiet, hush any lying thoughts or voices. They don’t belong. Criticism doesn’t help, so take a rest from it as well.
2) Get back in your element.
Sometimes we call this “power.” Be in your power. Do the thing you love most. Do the thing that brings you joy, bliss, most importantly peace, and reminds you of why you are here on earth because of how much you enjoy it. Do the thing you’re good at. Do something you’re good at.
How do you know what your element is? What’s your power? Well, you need to know yourself first. If you don’t know what this is, then take some time to get to know yourself right now. Shut off your phone, go outside, and walk for an hour to begin figuring it out.
3) Trust your tribe.
You cannot manage other peoples’ perceptions. That’s not your business. Manage your own perception, your own mindset, your own abilities, and do your best. Apologize when necessary. Own who you are. Own that you’re learning. Own the opportunities and challenges. The people who love you will stick around regardless of the outcome.
We all have our lessons to be learned. The important thing is to learn them. We have the tools, so make time to use them. I know that I'm not three-years-ago me. She wouldn't have taken these steps or even known there was a problem snapping at someone how I did. Now the lesson is the thing. Because life is the thing. The getting back up is the thing.
If you feel this story and need your own set of tools to build your best life, get crackin’ reading KINGDOM COME, a reminder of the hero you are and the empire you were built to create.
Can you relate? I’d love to hear back from you about a time when you found yourself emotionally out of your element and what you did to get back on track. Feel free to hit reply with your story and tips!
Have you felt overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up? How many times have you waited, unsure, hesitant, when faced with a decision? Is that ache in your chest old yet?
I’ve had that deep ache in my chest these past few months (years?), and I’ve done a lot of seeking. A LOT. I got tired of the ache. Instead, I tooled up. I learned that I can sit there sad, frustrated, burned out and cynical…or I can take action.
Did you know that you have incredibly powerful tools right within your grasp, and you are on the verge of walking through this mysterious, fabulous door to unknown new worlds? Oh, yes you are.
I hope that doesn’t sound too scary….actually, maybe I do. Because fear masquerades around you, calling you out. Are you ready to stop being afraid? Do you even realize when you’re afraid?
I used to think I was pretty brave until I looked at how I was going about my business, hiding out in the shadows, taking the safe path, and venturing only when I was sure the next step would find firm ground. Even putting this book out is the entry into a nail-biting, murky realm for me, but I firmly believe these tools are essential for us and we don’t even realize we have them. But they’re right there.
Opt in for an adventure to discover purpose, tenacity, and to build your empire. Even the most ordinary of humans can do impossible things. The elements of storytelling are tools to help us understand our purpose and to build a life greater.
My latest collection of seeking and soldering has led to a 150-page guide and workbook to help you change your mindset to change your life. Within these pages of KINGDOM COME we discover the three protocols every hero satisfies in order to fulfill the mission. You’re the hero in your own story. Transforming into the hero may be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done, but it will be the best thing you’ve ever done.
Here we discover the ultimate objective in understanding and experiencing the combined unity of these three tools in your hero story. Get ready to travel the vast horizon of the hero plot line and forge new paths toward your legacy.
Available TODAY from Amazon, in paperback and ebook, you too can join the adventure. Come on, friend. I’ve taken some of these steps myself, and it’s beautiful over here. Let’s get crackin, together. Click here to purchase your copy right now. Only $1.99 in ebook and $6.99 in paperback, you’ll have my crazy little stories about life and how all these problems around you serve as the real excitement you’ve been seeking. The chapters are short and the questions might make you squirm, but I’d rather be out there on that sunny mountain than stuck, waiting for air. Here’s your fresh breath. From my heart to yours.
What does becoming a champion entail? It’s a methodical, ongoing trek toward a goal. It’s a pushing forward, regardless. It’s upward and outward, every day, showing up, and breaking boundaries.
To be honest, it was his turquoise shoes I noticed first. Then, it was his superhuman pull-ups.
One day about a year ago, maybe longer, one guy at the gym did these massive pull-ups I’d never seen with my own eyes in person. He was using the regular squat/pull-up rack in the gym, minding his own business, but with a forty-five pound weight chained to his waist. After a couple reps of those, he went and added to the pull-ups, where he extended his arms down, above the top of the metal rack, shoving his body closer to the sky. That move is known as a muscle-up.
I blinked several times after I saw this the first time, wondering if anyone else at the gym noticed it, but around me the treadmills continued to buzz and the lifters by the weight racks studied the ground by their sneakers. (They were not turquoise.)
Another day, I took to the treadmills in my warm-up and, across the room, this bar lined with multiple forty-five-pound discs begins raising off the ground, the black steel bar itself beginning to bend in the middle. I counted I think eight of those discs plus some smaller ones. I don’t math, but then saw who was owning that bar. And nobody else in the gym even glanced up. He continued deadlifting that grimacing bar, but those hands stayed steady.
I just had to find out what motivated this guy to get up, show up, and lift up. What do you tell yourself when you’re lifting hundreds of pounds? How do you continue to shove against the grain of the earth when all it’s doing is trying to knock you down?
I think I asked him, “How much weight was that?” and he simply shrugged, non-committal, with a, “That was only four-fifty” or something to that effect. What. And then I have no idea what came out of my mouth because math… and I’m intimidated by most humans, especially ones who can lift four times my weight with a shrug. But then he said, essentially, “How you handle the gym demonstrates how you handle life.”
And I knew that my friends and readers needed to hear his story and perspective.
Need some motivation? Go find Travis Cadenhead on Facebook and Instagram at CadenheadKinetix. He’s a personal coach who offers online nutrition and fitness programming. Travis has worked with the elderly, special needs kids, the average gym goer, and pro athletes.
If you’re intimidated about those first few hesitant steps to bettering your life and wellness, then take a moment to rush forward. Success and victory aren’t as far away as they seem.
Here are just a *few* of his recent resume triumphs:
2014—Texas Raw bench press record of 402lbs at 198lb bodyweight. (U.S. Powerlifting Association)
2015—Pig Iron Classic Powerlifting meet. 1st place in weight class and best overall lifter.
2015—Bend the Bar (USPA) Powerlifting meet.
1st place in weight class and best overall lifter.
Qualified to compete at IPL world powerlifting meet.
2015—Unleash the Beast (MSA) Powerlifting meet.
1st place in weight class and best overall lifter.
Qualified to compete at IPL world powerlifting meet.
2016—Clash of the Barbarians (USPA) powerlifting meet.
1st place in weight class, best overall lifter, and a top 30 total pounds in the Nation and Top 4 in Texas.
Includes raw lifts of a 705 lb squat, 440 lb bench press, and 672 lb deadlift. 1819 lb total.
Qualified to compete at IPL world powerlifting meet.
Has your jaw hit the floor yet? I know! How does someone become a champion like this, and stay hungry yet humble? I think it has to do with the shoes. And probably also the commitment to persevere.
1) How did you get into Powerlifting/lifting heavy?
I started lifting during Junior High School for athletics although I didn't take it seriously until I was a senior in high school. It was an outlet for me; I could let out all the energy and aggression I had in the weight room versus somewhere else. I’m confident I would not be where I am today if I had not found weightlifting. I am an adrenaline junkie (fast cars/bikes or whatever to get a thrill) and quickly got addicted to the adrenaline factor of heavy lifting. It may seem crazy to a lot of people, but I love the mentality of "100% effort, give it all you got, get it or die trying." I believe the attitude I, and many others, have developed in the weight room transfers to other aspects in life also.
2) What motivates you to keep lifting heavy? When you’re at the bar, and the weights feel like they are too much, what do you do mentally or physically to continue working?
I always strive to be the best athlete I can be. I hype myself up by trying to do more reps or weight than before. I don't want to be normal and never wanted to be. If a thought comes into my head that I cannot do something, I remember the last time I had that thought, kept trying and accomplished the goal. Fear is not something God created us to have, so I bring that to the table when I am training.
3) What approach do you take to fitness and nutrition and mindset?
Fitness is very important not just physically for me but mentally. It’s been a part of my life for over a decade and I would be lost without it. I do set schedules for specific exercises/training depending on my goal at that time. I train to be a well-rounded athlete. I am always thinking about what I need to do to get better; that includes weightlifting, calisthenics, gymnastic movements, running, jumping, agility, conditioning, and martial arts.
What we put in our bodies is everything. I believe a lot of the diseases nowadays is from the Western type diet most Americans eat. Instead of eating foods with anti-inflammatories and plenty of micronutrients, the American diet is loaded with sugar and unhealthy fats which cause inflammation in the arteries, have insufficient micronutrients, vitamins/minerals, and cause diseases like diabetes and heart disease, etc. I believe eating foods loaded with anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, micronutrients, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, along with exercise, will help prevent and reverse a lot of these diseases.
4) What is your strategy for setting goals? Do you set specific numbers and work toward them or how do you decide what your results will be?
I like to set extreme goals. I am either all in or not at all; I have no in between. When I have a goal that is very extreme and hard to achieve, that is what drives and motivates me to keep moving forward.
5) For the regular person who’s afraid of stepping inside the gym, what’s one piece of advice you’d offer?
Don't be intimidated. Not everyone wants to be extreme in the gym or a competitive athlete. Everyone has different goals and levels of fitness. Starting a consistent fitness regimen is, in my opinion, one of the best decisions you can make in your life. It is never too late to start. As you get older fitness training will help you keep your muscular structure, it will make everyday functional activities more manageable, and you will be able to do more desirable activities (hiking, biking, playing with kids, etc..).
6) What is one piece of advice you’d give your teen self?
I would tell myself to learn more about functional training rather than just getting bigger. Bodybuilding like most young men want, without functional training in their routine is not practical. You will look the part but will probably lose athleticism.
7) What is one thing you’d like to leave as your legacy?
I want people to remember me as a Godly man. I want to help people live a more positive life physically, mentally and spiritually.
8) What kind of personal training do you offer, and to whom?
I offer online nutrition and fitness programming. I have worked with the elderly, special needs kids, the average gym goer, and pro athletes. I desire to work with anyone who wants to live a healthier more functional lifestyle, to athletes who wish to increase their athletic performance.
How you act in the gym demonstrates how you act outside the gym. I wasn’t raised in the gym and didn’t start loving the place until I was a mother of two littles and lost my connection to the outside world, and gained a lot of baggage in the process. What about you? Are you ready to feel better inside and out?
By pushing the limits, by digging in harder every time, the reps get easier, the reps simultaneously get harder, and also get more enjoyable. The reps equal results. You want to be the champion? Want to move freely, to do the good work you need to do? Hang in there. Don’t give up. Put in the reps to do your work, and continue pressing on regardless of outcomes, regardless of conflict, regardless of the weather or how you feel about them. If you’re hitting a wall, try aiming for a new one. Reps equal progress. The progress may be slow but all progress counts every single time.
How much do you want it?
Go get it.
And go check out Travis' Insta for inspiration and making new strides toward your tomorrow.
Connect with Travis online:
Facebook: Travis Cadenhead-CadenheadKinetix
Did you know that sprints are the number one exercise to fight belly fat? About two years ago I began sprinting. I began with a ten-minute timer and have worked my way up to twenty minutes. I set the timer for twenty minutes and run as fast as I can from thirty seconds down to zero, walk for thirty seconds, and hit it again on the following thirty. Most of the days I've shot across the pavement with my jogging stroller, baby in tow, throughout sun, slushy puddles, and wintry clouds overhead. Last weekend was a first -- I went out on my own, the four-year old preferring to stay inside and watch cartoons. So my soles rammed against the concrete, amid potholes, leaves, and burning sun. While salty drips dribbled down my temples, my brain got to whirling.
Why do we commit? Why do we give up? How do we keep going? What do we do when we want to cave, want to decline, want to bow out? Do you call in sick, or do you buck up and slam the toes against the cold ground?
Here are my thoughts from my run last weekend. Hope the encourage you and inspire you to persevere, even when the winter clouds tumble down.
5 Tips for Committing (Life Lessons I Learned From Sprinting)
ONE: Do it for you and no one else. Make it your business to fully follow through your commitments.
You agreed to do the thing. Own your choice and dive into enjoying the work, offering your best capabilities, and hanging in until you no longer need to do the work. You control your action and attitude. Build your own excitement and fulfillment in the work. If you look at a job or task and tell yourself you are doing it because someone asked it of you, or you are “out” of something if you don’t do it, then that takes you out of your business and out of your power. Take hold of your capability to do the work you chose to do. You could be doing something else; you will eventually be doing something else. While you do this job, do it because you know you can do it and better the lives of others in the process. Look at your task as an act of service, for others and yourself.
Find something to be grateful for in the work and look for the opportunity to learn and engage your inner warrior. Consider this a time to build your tool box.
TWO: Employ grace for your season.
When I first began running, I pushed my forty-pound daughter in the jogging stroller. I’ve grown accustomed to shoving the burden ahead of me, with a slot for my water bottle and my phone to blast the tunes. But you know what? You can run so much faster without a stroller.
What baggage do you have? What season are you in? Have grace with yourself for whatever season you’re in. Do your best right now and keep working toward the coming season while celebrating the current one. Avoid comparing your story to someone else’s. One day you may be sprinting clear and free, no stroller, no handbag, no accompanying soundtrack. That may be relieving or intimidating. Regardless, employ grace for your season.
Whatever season you are in, whatever baggage you are dealing with in your commitments, allow some wiggle room. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. As Jess Glynne sings, don’t be so hard on yourself. Run your race. Dig in to your sprints. And allow time and space for the extra weight you’re pushing along the track. If you insist on running full force and physically cannot do it, then don’t commit to doing more than you can handle. Be honest to the people with whom you’ve committed and allow space for the stroller. In the long run (especially the long run!) everyone will thank you for the honesty and grace you employed. That’s wisdom.
THREE: Set time limits.
Committing to something for an endless amount of time overwhelms most people. Deep in the trenches of life and stress and sinks full of dishes, even the heartiest soul considers giving up. So prepare to invest in your activities by committing for a certain time. Maybe it is a twenty-minute workout, three times a week, for six months. Can you do that? Maybe it’s to do something for thirty days. Can you do that? Maybe it’s to say, “I will do this every Monday for one year.” Can you do that? Specify your time limits and purpose your expectations.
Now, let’s level up. Extend the time. Extend what you think you can do. Add five seconds. Add a day. Add a couple inches. Many runners slow down at the end of the race. Expect the race to last longer. Place your mental finish line farther than you think you can go.
In my research into training and military exercises, I came across some videos instructing how to punch. Set your feet, own your placement on the mat, and punch through the punching bag. The strongest punch doesn’t aim for the front of the bag; the strongest punch aims for the back of the bag. Use this same strategy for your commitments. If you know that you can commit for six months, allow for seven, mentally. If you need to run a race, train by running farther. Don’t just end where everybody else is ending. Punch through to the other side of the punching bag.
Set yourself up to win by setting your expectations and accountability limits. Own your limits, and then blast through them. Intentionally focus on specific boundaries, and then go one step further. The only limits you have are the one you set for yourself. Detail them and raise the bar for yourself, for you are stronger than you know.
FOUR: The smoother the ground underfoot, the easier it is to stay upright.
How much do you believe in yourself? Do you have a solid foundation, confidence in your competence to do the task?
My neighborhood is apparently packed with crumbly streets, leaves, potholes, and rocks. And I’ve trekked over them for years. One street recently got the nice treatment and it’s smooth, black, and freshly tarred. The difference between running over the potholes and on this one fresh slab of smoothness suddenly illuminated a truth: you can run faster when the road’s clear, when there are no rocks in your shoes or on your path. While you can’t take the obstacles out of your path, you can believe in your abilities, your path, and your journey. What kind of foundation are you treading upon? Doubt in yourself serves as a pothole. Doubt in your capabilities, letting the fear creep in? That’s like running with a spike in your shoe.
Avoid comparing your road to anyone else’s. Your journey has a twisty, windy path with obstacles built just for you. The obstacles will help you get faster and stronger – are you moving ahead, one step at a time?
Get the rocks out of the way. Take the grime out of your shoes. The road will have obstacles and twists and hills, but you’ve got to trust your feet and find your own smooth track.
FIVE: Decide what story to tell.
What’s the story? When the plot has a great story, readers stick around to the end. This step consists of basically finding your “why” but maybe you haven’t personalized it enough or been intentional with it. What’s depending on this seven years from now? Twenty-seven years from now? What brought you here from seven years ago?
How do you know when to end a commitment you’ve made? Think about the ending of the story. Many times I’ve thought about giving up on my sprints before the time expires, shutting down my writing career, or just not going to the gym because I’m not “feeling it” that day. But then I think about the story I want to tell about it. How do I want the story to end, and what will make a satisfying ending for this task I’ve committed to doing? When I’m happy with the ending, that’s when the task has been completed. Not all stories have happy endings, but I’m determined to serve the character I will be in seven years. She needs me to follow through right now. I’m not sure why; but in seven years I’ll get back to you and we can chat about it. What story will you be telling in seven years about your commitments? And how will that story end?
Take a step back and consider the lives at stake, the risks involved, and what kind of story you want to tell about following through with the commitments. Maybe you just need a change in perspective to see how important this ability to persevere and commit will forge you into the hero you are. Go, hero, go!
Sprinting along the streets in my neighborhood, wobbling along with my jogging stroller, gasping in the sizzling Texas air, has offered me a wealth of knowledge. I’ve released some stress, some sweat, and gained some inspiration. Now it’s time to level up.
Run as fast as your dirty silver sneakers will carry you.
The timer’s running.
How will you commit to your promises? What story will you design? Are you running for yourself or in the name of something greater? Are you excited about the pavement? The gritty pathway awaits. I’m right here too.
Flip The Switch
Do you remember the moment you met someone who changed your life? The first time I was invited to go hear Krista Johnson speak about nutrition and health, I didn’t want to go. All of my friends were talking about her fat loss program, how they were suddenly losing all this weight, and how I *just had to* hear her story. At the time, I was a new mom, had just recently lost my job, and possessed little motivation for trying new things.
But I sure am glad that my friends didn’t give up. There in that white-walled church meeting room, as Krista introduced her story of releasing one hundred pounds from her body, going from being a tired mother of four, into a business owner who taught Tae Bo classes and had trained in person with Billy Blanks, I could almost feel the sands shifting under my feet. A fresh, soft breeze began to blow within my spirit. It started out with a plate. Now I’ve changed from that weary new mom who lived on coffee and bagels and struggled to get out of bed without crying, to someone who races to the gym every day to see if I can beat yesterday’s weight bracket. Now I understand that every day I get this great gift, this new opportunity, to speak life into others, and I think my friends understood that. I’m so glad they insisted I go to that meeting seven years ago.
If you’ve never met someone who helped you understand freedom, let me introduce you to my friend Krista.
1. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to own and operate Fit By Faith. When did you establish it?
When I was in the middle of my weight loss journey, down 20 pounds from 242 pounds, I was going for a run. Well, if you want to call it a run. I was tip toeing up a hill, crying in pain, feeling humiliation trying to get my body to move. I made a choice to keep pushing on and I literally heard in my head, FIT BY FAITH. I prayed and God showed me a vision for Fit By Faith and I laughed. How could someone as out of shape as me ever be able to help others get fit? As I began to lose and become fitter, God gave me guidance and equipped me mind, body, and spirit, to start preparing Fit By Faith. About two years later, I taught my first Tae Bo class out of another gym. One month later we opened up Fit By Faith, on September 30, 2006.
2. What does your typical day look like now?
Each day is a bit different. It involves keeping my household running, being available for my family and my famous dogs :) It is a mix of personal training, teaching fitness classes, running nutrition groups online, organizing all the other services we offer that are taught by my Husband, running two Network Marketing businesses and volunteering at my church running the media and working on the protection detail team. It sounds like a lot, but God truly equips me to handle it all. When I become overwhelmed and feel like it is too much, I stop trying to do it myself and get back on track letting God lead me!
3. What kept you going through your fitness/wellness journey when you felt like you were at a plateau? What did you do?
I like how you call it a journey, because it is. I am still on it and will be on it forever. There were times I had no changes, but I think the reason people quit when results stop or give up is because their motivation was a weak one. If it is to be a certain weight by a certain date, to look good in a swim suit, etc, then those are weak motivations that will not last a lifetime. For me it was realizing I had the responsibility to break this cycle and keep it from trickling down into my children. It was realizing I did not want to be this overweight, sick burden to my family. I want to be an example and a blessing to my children and family. So whether I am having results or not, they see me walking in faith, making good choices, being joyful in all situations and then they learn to do the same.
4. Do you have a favorite quote or Bible verse which encourages you?
Yes. There are about 354 to be exact! Ha! But the one that stays with me through all situations is Acts 1:8. I believe we are equipped to do whatever God leads us to do. I may have had no clue about fitness, but when I allowed him to use me 100%, he has equipped me. If he told me tomorrow he wanted me to be a hair dresser, I may have no idea today about how to be one in that moment, but you can bet I would become the best one in the nation because He would equip me to do it :) You shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be His witness to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8
5. Do you have a favorite and a least favorite fitness move? What are they?
I have an equal amount of both, but if I had to pick one, I like burpees. It is funny because when I first did one, I thought they were straight from the pit of hell and hated them with all my being. Now I love them. I love that I can do them and do them well. I love to get creative with them too. Least favorite would be pull-ups. Enough said. Ha!
6. What is one change anybody can make today in order to begin a fitness journey? What about a faith journey?
I believe the absolute first change has to be what comes out of your mouth for both your fitness journey and your faith journey. Our words are life and death. What you speak is what you will become. Change your words, change your life. When I finally fixed the inside, the outside was no longer a battle. It just fixed itself. Until you can speak truth to your body, to your mind and spirit, and only work on the outside, it will be like a dog chasing its tail in circles.
7. Do/did you have a particular struggle in regard to changing your lifestyle? What do you do when you find that weakness creeping back in? Do you have a particular strength or preference that keeps you in the fat loss lifestyle?
I did and still do face struggles all the time, but through them I grow and learn. I see struggles as great teachable moments. You have to be a teachable person and be willing to have not so good days and learn from them. I think what has kept me on this journey is just loving myself through the process. Understanding that my best will be different each day and embracing every victory no matter how small. I think love is the answer to everything, honestly. It is the strength that everyone possesses, you just have to do it :) Honestly the power is always in our hands. You just have to flip the switch on!
8. What’s one thing you would tell your teenage self?
When your flesh wants to handle something, stop before you speak or act and remember this: Be in love, walk in faith, be led by the spirit.
9. What do you hope to leave as your legacy?
John and I have four of the absolutely most amazing children. Each one of them truly is if you know anything about them. They are my legacy and as far as I am concerned, that job is already done!
10. What do you offer at Fit By Faith? Do you offer personal training? Do you have a particular program to help me on my wellness journey? How do I find you online?
We offer personal training, fitness classes, nutrition classes, CPR & Lifeguard Certification, Reflexology, Nutritional products and a lot of love. You can find out about all of it at www.fitbyfaith.net .
It doesn't matter if you're burned out, broken down, or just plain tired. You've got this one moment to make a change and act. Can a mom of four lose one hundred pounds and keep it off? Yes. Can an ordinary chica break a board with a swift kick? Yes. Can even the clumsiest of fumblers learn how to deadlift her weight? Oh, my, yes. Can one decision change a life? You know it.
Flip on that switch, readers! Welcome to this beautiful new day of life, creation, and wild adventure. If you struggle with your weight or nutrition choices, need mental clarity, lack motivation, or just want to feel better overall, I encourage you to check out fitbyfaith.net and see all that Krista has to offer. She’ll get you the tools you need and equip you with courage, hope, and love, to not just be fit, but fit by faith.
The Best Education
Kristin Hernandez may be considered a first-year teacher, but she’s spent years preparing for such a time as this. Nominated for the 2018 Texas Teacher of the Year award by her superiors, this teacher has a colorful story of hope and courage. She not only instructs her students in using their numbers and letters, she lives as an example of defying the odds and overcoming obstacles with some elbow grease and a hearty spirit. Kids need more than numbers and letters; they need examples of grit.
Hernandez attended Howard Payne University as a full-time student while working multiple jobs to pay her own way, and support herself through four years of fees, tuition, bills, groceries, and rent. Crushing tunes in the music labs and studying within the education department’s paneled walls by day, she spent her nights cleaning with a janitorial company, volunteering at church, studying, and other miscellaneous tasks to earn the occasional dollar here or there. Nights were short, days were long, but her intrepid nature commanded the years. In 2015, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies with a Music Minor.
Immediately after graduation she applied to East Elementary, where she was hired as a Computer Lab Aid. While the position offered the opportunity to connect with teachers and students inside the walls of the school, the full-time hours provided part-time salary. Regardless of the restrictions this placed on her, Hernandez maintained a positive environment within her computer lab, assisting in multiple tasks and projects in addition to her required duties, all with colorful posters on the lab walls reminding her students of all their possibilities. She began the process of testing for state mandated certifications. The following year she moved into the classroom as a Third Grade Teacher’s Assistant, where she worked one-on-one with students, particularly when the teacher required maternity leave in the second half of the year. In her third year at East Elementary, in a buzz of gumption and gusto, Hernandez finally finished the state-mandated certifications and was hired for the shiny position of Third Grade Teacher. Ever since, she’s been filling the role like a champion.
Anybody who stumbles across Hernandez receives an authentic, heartfelt hello, and focused attention. “I teach for them,” Hernandez said. “I teach because I get to watch them discover things and grow. Some of them need all the love I have, some of them need the knowledge, and some of them just need the structure.” Students, current and previous, run up to her whenever and wherever, and offer a genuine hug. “They make me feel alive, and I end up loving every single one of them as they walk into my room.”
She not only offers honest, straight-forward instruction but unique, applicable tools for her students. “It’s so satisfying to see them years later, to see them grow into their own talents, and still remember I was a huge part of their lives for that one year. I get to receive the love back that has been poured into them. I get to see some special moments parents don’t, and that is so valuable to me. I get to see them overcome their biggest struggles, to watch them choose to be kind instead of mean, to watch them laugh, to watch them gather new perspectives on life, to decide who they want to be that day. I teach so they know all of those things they may or may not get at home, and enjoy it with them. The group of people I love grows every year, and it’s more rewarding than anything else.”
Even amidst the required mounds of roll calls, testing, paperwork and form-filing, she finds time to encourage her students. She shows them to pursue their education and how to tenaciously tackle life’s challenges. She lives it every day right before their eyes. And that’s some of the best education possible.
Want to make a difference in someone’s day? Vote right now for the 2018 Texas Teacher of the Year. One simple click provides a vote. Here’s your opportunity to support a hard-working teacher who truly deserves this award. Simply click here and select the dot beside Kristin Hernandez – Brownwood East Elementary.
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