Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What Plan do You Follow?

Wow everyone! I haven't posted in SO LONG. I apologize for that!!

I hope everyone is having a phenomenal summer so far, with many more great times to come. Chad and I have been busy setting up community events for the office and we have also been able to go to Florida on a vacation with my family. The summer has been great to us!

One of the highlights to this point was the chance to visit a local orphanage and visit with the kids for a little while. Tonight, we get to continue that by going to a meeting with local orphan care teams... and Friday we will have the chance to go back to the orphanage we previously visited. I have no idea how God wants me/us to be involved with this... but please, keep us in your prayers. I know I/we have something to offer these children-- and potentially others much further away-- please pray that I listen and get placed where I need to be, whatever that role might be.

With my lack of writing lately, I am sure everyone can see how important a routine is. For a couple days, I was simply taking a break from writing because I don't think that every thought that comes into my head is worthy of reading... then, it turned into a break in my routine... and you can all see how long it has taken me to get back to it. I won't, "punish," everyone with a long post-- there is no way to catch up on everything without making it way too long to read-- but, I will be getting the routine more scheduled. Writing really does a lot for me-- and as long as one other person benefits from it, it is well worth the effort!

During my devotions this morning, I was really inspired to start writing again... so, here I am. I actually went through a few today because they were so great.. and I want to share the points from one of them with you.

"The Lord is my strength, my shield from every danger. I trust in Him with all my heart. He helps me and my heart is filled with joy." Psalm 28:7

The devotion was centered around that verse... and the premise of the whole thing was a simple question: Whose plan do you follow for your life... yours or God's?

The question seems oddly simple, but I am sure that once you reflect on it, you will find many times where you have questioned God's plan for you... or maybe you have followed your own path thinking that you could handle it on your own. I know I have done that before... and I know I will mess up and do that again.

Reflect on the pieces of your life that you need to let go of-- stop trying to control-- and then see what happens when you finally give the control over to the One who deserves it in the first place!

See, I told you I wouldn't make that too long...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Body-Weight Workout. (You'll love it!)

Just to start off... my legs are absolutely killing me today! Chad has started doing a, "Herschel Walker," inspired body-weight workout a couple of times a week. This weekend, I decided to do some of it with him. You really wouldn't think it would be that hard-- it's just your body-weight as resistance... but man, it made me sore (and I love it)! If anyone is looking for an effective workout you can do in your home (with virtually no equipment), try it out!

It consists of: squats, calf raises (that's what got me), crunches and push-ups. Chad did sets of 60-- I did sets of 30. Do the exercises in a circuit. I repeated the circuit 3 times... I have no idea how many he did, but it was a lot more than me. Squat with nothing but your body-weight... use stairs or another raised surface for calf raises (be sure to go all the way down and extend as high on your toes as you can)... do push-ups or modified push-ups depending on your skill-level... and then do your crunches (either on the floor or on a stability ball for a greater range of motion). This workout is great for everyone... You can do it at your home, by yourself and with no equipment! Try it and tell me what you think.

Summer is Here... and I Love It!

Summer is my favorite time of year. It is a time where, to me, the world seems to slow down and become slightly less hectic. No, that isn't always the reality of the situation... but I love the weather and the beauty surrounding me so much that the tasks and schedules don't seem to bother me. It is virtually impossible to stress me out during the summer. And the reality lately is that things are probably more hectic in the summer, not less!
In addition to the daily responsibilities, summer also brings about family vacations and other reasons to enjoy the great outdoors. Summer makes me want to cookout and go to the pool and attend as many concerts as possible. Summer makes me want to have sand between my toes and nothing but water in the horizon. But, the beauty of summer also soothes me and makes all the demands seem very easily manageable. More than anything, I would assume that's a mindset thing. Sunshine makes me happy... Summer makes me mentally slow down and be thankful. Summer is a relaxing time for me.

This summer Chad and I have the daily responsibilities of the office. We are going on vacation with my family next month. I am hoping to take a weekend trip with some of my girlfriends. I am taking a class. And, I am completely excited about every single aspect of it.

Summer also brings about a time where people are more conscious of their bodies... So, with that being said, I am going to bring back some of the fitness and nutrition tips you will find in the earlier entries (new tips, same concept).

A great exercise for the summer is swimming laps. I usually don't get in the pool with a set number of laps to swim, but just swim and enjoy it. It's a great workout and you can make it fun! Plus, swimming is easy on your joints and you get to enjoy the coolness of the pool in contrast to the heat outside! An added bonus is the vitamin d you will be able to get from the sun at the same time!

Another way to get some activity into your daily routine is to recruit a friend to enjoy the great outdoors with. Go for a hike... go for a jog.... take the dog on a walk... take the kids to the park... pack a healthy picnic lunch and hike to the perfect spot to enjoy it. The point-- exercise doesn't have to be (and shouldn't be) something that you dread. Find something that works for you and make the most of it!

Staying hydrated will be increasingly important as you spend more time in the heat-- so remember to increase your water intake (which will also help you be healthier)!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Living Inside Out.

This weekend was wonderful. It started on Saturday morning with attending the Women of Purpose event at Sarah's church. It was great to hear the ladies speak and to get to know some of the ladies Sarah attends church with (Sarah's husband is a pastor at a church in Pineville and I love going to some of the events)! They have a really active Women's Ministry-- events, book clubs and stuff like that-- I really enjoy it!

The Women of Purpose event was from 10:30 to 1:30; after that, Chad and I went to the SC Strawberry Festival for a little while. There were a lot of people out there and a few interesting vendors... We didn't stay long, but it was nice to enjoy some time outside with no real agenda!

After the SC Strawberry Festival, we headed to a church in Lancaster for a cookout. One of our patients had invited us to join him and his family at a cookout their church was having... it was nice and I am glad we went! Everyone sat around talking and eating and then headed in for a brief message from the pastor and then sang worship songs! We were there from 5 til a little after 8...and by that point, I was exhausted! Of course, the playoffs are on... so we still had to watch some basketball when we got home!

Sunday I was lazy and we went to the 11am service instead of the 9am service we typically attend. It was phenomenal... Very powerful message and I encourage all of you to listen on the website or listen to the podcast. You won't be sorry! www.tc521.org.

After church, we of course called our moms to wish them a Happy Mother's Day. The rest of the day was spent in the backyard reading and relaxing. It was a beautiful day and I couldn't think of a better way to spend it! Then, you guessed it, more basketball (and I must say it, way to go Hawks!!)!

It was a great weekend... and exactly what I needed!

Oh and ps-- a way to entertain yourself and start Monday morning on a funny note-- turn on the voice recorder of your phone and record yourself singing the next song to come on the radio. Then play it back. This morning I got an interesting, "remix," of, "Tim McGraw," by Taylor Swift.
One of the reasons I enjoy the Women of Purpose events is because it gives me a chance to meet and speak to other women. The book clubs are great because it gives you a chance to tell others, who have read the same book, your thoughts as well as to hear their thoughts and opinions. There is a strength in knowing that you aren't the only person to deal with the issues women talk about when they get together. It's not a self-help kind of thing-- more like a chance to see how others are putting their lives in God's Hands and to see the huge difference a relationship with Him makes! (and by relationship, I mean a close, intimate relationship-- not merely knowing what the Bible says in your HEAD, but believing it and knowing it with all your HEART. Trust me-- huge difference.)

A reason the cookout on Saturday was so great was it gave us a chance to see the songs and stories that inspire people we have never met. We have found our perfect church home in Transformation Church... and the people at the cookout have found their perfect church home in their church. They were welcoming and inviting... and I whole-heartedly enjoyed the time we spent in fellowship with them; but, Transformation is still a perfect fit for me! I don't really know how to put into words what I am trying to say-- words wouldn't do it justice anyway. I grew up in my parents's church... have visited friends churches... have found my perfect church home... and continue to experience other churches when invited. If you haven't found a church that feels like home to you and always leaves you wanting more fellowship and more ways to be involved, please don't stop looking! There are many wonderful churches in this world... but trust me friend, you will know when you are home! Find the church where you can most effectively discover and live your purpose-- by letting God live through you!
I LOVE reading books after Chad. It doesn't happen much-- he has a unique ability to start a book, read a couple chapters, put it down and then never pick it up again. I am not going to call that a gift because I really don't understand how he is able to do that-- but, it is for sure an ability that he possesses. Right now, he is reading, "Hero," "The Traveler's Gift," and, "The Shack." I have read part of, "Hero," and what I have read is great-- but, when I started it I was in the middle of, "Purpose Driven Life," and wanted to finish one before starting with the other. You all know how I feel about, "The Shack." If you don't, it is the best book I have ever read... I am so excited Chad is reading it and I can't wait until he gets to the, "meat," of the story so we can discuss it together! "The Traveler's Gift," is another great book that I am looking forward to discussing with him!

But anyway-- back to the point-- I love reading a book after Chad. Right now I am reading, "Waking the Dead." Chad has read it (and by that I mean he has read a few chapters of it-- never finished). But, the chapters that he did read are full of highlights and notes. I love that! I can read a book, and if he has read it before me, I can also key in on the facts that he found eyeopening and worth making note of. For me, it is a great way to read a book. It is a, "pre-made," discussion, made by Chad and consisting of the things I know for a fact he was inspired by!

If you don't already do so, share books with someone important to you. Talk about them. It's a great way to discover things you might have missed as well as see deep into the heart of the person you are sharing with!
If you have paid close attention to the last few posts, I am sure you have seen some of the challenges spread out through them. I am sure you have also noticed that that fitness and nutrition sections have been missing. Once you have established a fitness and nutrition plan, it isn't that difficult to stick to (it just requires discipline). However, matters of the heart go much deeper. Relationships require more attention than fitness and nutrition do. Being healthy is important-- it allows you do live out your purpose. Taking care of your body is also important...your body is a temple to God.

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; your were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)

With that being said, I hope you have all been sticking to your fitness and nutrition routines...and even more than that, I hope you have been sticking to them for the RIGHT reasons. The purpose of exercising and feedings your body correctly isn't to conform to the image the world tells you is right... it is to honor God and have a healthy lifestyle so you are better able to fulfill your purpose. I can't tell you what that purpose is... that comes only from God. Develop that relationship and start letting Him transform you.

A key point that really hit home to me yesterday was, "living inside out." Don't focus on changing yourself... focus on growing closer to God and letting HIM transform you!

Live inside out!
I'm going to end this here-- Chad prefers the post similar to the length of the Mother's Day one...and I could go on and on with my thoughts for a while.

Reflect on your relationships. Where are you spending most of your time? If time equates importance, what is the most important thing in your life?

Make a list of all the things you love and all the things that are important to you. The list is just for you, so don't worry about prioritizing... just get it in writing! When you are feeling down, refer to the list of the things you love and remember everything you have to be thankful for.

And most importantly, develop your relationship with God.... and let Him live through you. Have a relationship that makes others hungry for what you have... be a MISSIONARY in everything you do, no matter where you are!


Sunday, May 8, 2011

To my Mom and my Granny...

I was blessed enough to have not one, but two, very strong women living in the house where I grew up... my mom and my Granny. On Mother's Day, even though I am not at home with my mom and my Granny has left this world to join God in Heaven, I feel like it is important to take a second to recognize them for the influences they have had on my life.

My mom has always believed in me and has always pushed me to be the best person that I can be. Even though I have grown up and moved away from home, I know that she is never more than a phone call away (and when I am sick or if I am sad, even though it is a four and a half hour drive, she always offers to come take care of me). Even today when I was on the phone with my mom, she let me know that she believes in me.

My Granny is (and probably always will be) the strongest woman I have ever known. She was born in 1912-- carried the mail with horse and buggy-- and saw more change in her life than I can imagine; and she embraced it all! She outlived both of her children, her husband, many friends and even a great-grandchild. Even when she was sick, if you asked her how she was, the most negative thing you would ever hear come out of her mouth was, "I've been better, but not too bad." She worried for and took care of everyone, but didn't want anyone to have to worry about her. There was a great peace about her and she always knew she would be okay; life in this world was only a small part of the journey and she seemed to understand that better than most. I miss her everyday but will always cherish all the lessons she taught me!

I'm not going to get too sappy or to drag it out too far... but, if you haven't already, take a minute to let the women in your life know you appreciate them (you don't have to be a biological mother to have, "motherly love," for someone)!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Change is a Good Thing (if you don't believe me, check out my 6th grade interview...)

Today, I have spent a lot of time thinking about change... It's the one year anniversary of the day I loaded my car, drove to Kennesaw State University to turn in my thesis and then, instead of staying in Kennesaw or going to see my family in Calhoun, I started the drive to Fort Mill, SC. It was a drive that I was used to making--and had made a lot--the difference was, this time I was moving! Yes, I have lived in the Carolinas for exactly a year!

A lot has changed, even since being here. We were in an apartment for the first few weeks and then closed on our house... We lived in Charlotte, NC for the first couple of weeks and now we are in Fort Mill. I have gone from not knowing anyone to having a few close friends and a lot of acquaintances here... We have found a church that is the perfect fit for us... We have seen the good and the bad that we each have to offer and have grown closer because of it... We have taken trips to see our families... We have taken trips to go to conferences and football games and to the beach...We have gone to concerts, cooked dinner, gone out...and an endless list of day to day activities. Now, when we go to Georgia (even though I will always be a Georgia girl); I get the feeling of being home when we are back in South Carolina... Yep, a year can change a lot!

And I will tell you, change is good! Yes, I miss my friends and family on a daily basis-- but, being in a new place will force you to a) continue to go through the motions or b) find the person you are meant to be. And trust me, finding the person you are meant to be is by far the best choice!! I honestly don't know if, at this point, I would have taken the time to look deep within myself and seek a closer relationship with God and ways to fulfill my purpose if I had always stayed in the places where I was the most comfortable. This past year has done wonders for me and I am so excited about the journey I am on! No, I don't know exactly where life will take me-- but I know that the journey is going to be purposeful (notice, I didn't say that the journey would always be comfortable...).

Life is full of challenges... I choose to let the challenges make me stronger. Life is full of choices... I choose to always do my best to glorify God. Your attitude is a choice-- choose to be happy! Your mindset is a choice--choose to encourage others and yourself! Life is a journey, my friend... We will never have all the answers! Make a choice to trust God and His will for you!

When I was so stressed and sad about being in a place where I really didn't know anyone-- I made a choice to let myself get down and cry about it... and then, I did what should have been done all along! Without reason (or so I thought), I looked up Transformation Church on my phone, listened to a couple sermons... and let God in the drivers seat of my life (where He belonged the whole time). It makes a difference! Rephrase that--- It makes all the difference in the world!

Maybe some of that hits home to you-- maybe it doesn't. Just remember-- be thankful in your circumstances and put your faith and trust in God... if you're thankful no matter what, nothing will get you down!

Speaking of change... The other night, Chad and I were watching a basketball game. My phone started to vibrate, so naturally I picked it up to look at it... and then I started laughing so hard that I had tears in my eyes. Chad gets so involved in basketball games that he rarely notices what is going on around him (totally zones out), and he even noticed that I was laughing at my phone like a crazy person.
What had happened-- one of my lifelong friends had sent me a picture in a text message. He was looking through old assignments we had done in school and found a project from the sixth grade (I was 12). I remember it well-- we had to interview classmates and then write a story about them. The picture he had sent me was my page in that assignment book. Seeing myself at 12-- and the things that I talked about in a peer interview was hilarious! I sent the picture to my mom, my sister, Steffi and Keshia. Lindsey (my sister) laughed hysterically (just like I did). My mom thought it was cute and said that most of what it said was still true. Steffi had a good laugh and said that nothing had changed-- and I then had to point out that I no longer wear LimitedToo. Keshia said that we had a lot in common even back then.
Anyway, it made me laugh-- and even though it is embarrassing, I am going to share the picture with you. I think it is great to have an actual glimpse into where we were so we can appreciate where we are and where we are going! Yes, I could think of a few things that were important to me in 6th grade-- but actually seeing an assignment spoken by me and written by a peer really puts, "growing up," in a whole new light!

Enjoy... and try not to laugh too hard!

Sadly, it would not attach... So, I am going to type it out for you:

"Erin seems pretty normal for a twelve year old girl. Erin collects b. babies, carousel horses and cherished teddies. Erin loves to swim, which falls in her favorite season, Summer. Before going swimming, Erin loves to go shopping at her favorite store, Limited Too for her favorite color lime green bathing suit. Erin also likes to go horseback riding, which she does well: she also does back dives well. She loves babysitting and she even taught her sister how to do cartwheels. She is very proud of all these things. While staying busy with all her activities Erin works up an appetite. So after a hard day of work Erin loves to go eat Mexican. "Even though I am American, Mexican food rocks," she says. After learning about Erin, you decide. One of a kind?"

**Remember, this was written by a 6th grade student about me when I was in 6th grade... I am not putting this on here because of the literary content-- but, I thought it was a great way to show how things change!!

Whats the same--
1. Summer is still my favorite season.
2. I still love to swim.
3. I still love riding horses.
4. Mexican food and sushi are my favorites.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Slow Down and Be Thankful

First of all, I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and that your Monday is off to a wonderful start.

I know I mention this a lot-- but, I strongly encourage each and every one of you to go to www.tc521.org, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the link that says, "Resources," and listen to the current series. For the past 7 weeks, we have been on a series," OMG, Who is God and why does it matter?" All the messages have been great-- and I strongly encourage you to listen to them! As Pastor Derwin says, "The greatest thought we will ever have is what we think about God." That thought will influence everything else about our lives... and this sermon series has been exactly what I have needed to hear every week! I am sure that God will speak to you and work in your life through the words of Pastor Derwin.

Yesterday, we looked at God as Creator and how huge He is... Pastor Derwin did a great job taking the message upward, inward and outward (love God completely, love ourselves correctly and love others compassionately). He showed a few pictures... and I want to share a couple of them with you....

The first picture is of the X-Structure in the Whirlpool Galaxy... 37 million light years away from Earth. The second is of Laminin-- a structure in our cells that holds our bodies together (I am sure there is a very scientific explanation to the exact role of Laminin-- but, that's not the point and I don't have the most scientific mind...).

If you are like I was yesterday when he showed this pictures-- You are amazed! As far away as the most powerful telescope can see, you see the image of a cross. In the very center of our being and what holds us together, you see the image of a cross. WOW. Reflect on that for a minute... and really, listen to Pastor Derwin's message on the website (he also has a podcast). He does a much better job explaining than me... but, it is too amazing for me not to share!

Today's challenge is to slow down and take the time to be thankful. Make a list... what 10 things are you the most thankful for? Are they all big things or do you take the time to be thankful for the ability to take a breath and to simply exist? After you listen to the lesson, I bet you take the time to be thankful more often... We are incredibly blessed each and every second of everyday... and we can thank our wonderful, huge, amazing God for that!

Personal Story:
I have always loved stars. To the point that when I was 18, I had a star tattooed on my foot. Yes, I have a tattoo. I like it-- but, sometimes I am self conscious about it because I don't know what people might have to say about it... Yesterday, I went back and thought about my fascination with stars and can look at my tattoo in a new light. Yes, some people are completely against tattoos-- but, now if someone asks me about it, I know I can use it as a way to share something amazing that I am thankful for. Maybe, in an offbeat kind of way, being thankful for the stars will open someones eyes to all the wonders in this world that our Great God gives us daily...
(**I am not advocating for everyone/anyone to go get a tattoo-- Simply saying that it's awesome to learn how to use different things as a way to share God's grace with others... Nobody would expect a response like that when talking about a star tattoo!!)

I am thankful for:

  1. God sending His son so that I may be forgiven and have eternal life with Him. Grace that I absolutely do not deserve.
  2. The ability to have a close, intimate relationship with God. And for that relationship, all I have to do is trust Him and give my life to Him!
  3. The beauty of the world around me and the exactness it takes for us to exist (listen to the message)
  4. The love and support of a wonderful family.
  5. The love and support of a wonderful man placed in my life by God... at the perfect time!
  6. The knowledge that I am a continual work in progress... and the desire to fulfill the purpose God has for me (even if I am not exactly sure what that might be).
  7. The ability to communicate and hopefully lead others to their most important relationship-- the one they are meant to have with God!
  8. The wonderful people placed in my life--- friends, seemingly random encounters and everything in between.
  9. Honestly, the stressful times in my life where turning to God is the only thing that could get me through. Sometimes it takes the tough times to open our eyes.
  10. And I am thankful for you taking the time to read this and hope that your relationship and desire to know God and fulfill your unique purpose is continually growing. 
"He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name." Psalms 147:4

"I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalms 139:14

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Open Your Heart (and see what happens!)

This morning started off like most days do... not wanting to get up when the alarm went off, but dragging myself out of bed to get to day started anyway. Then, my devotional out of my Women's Devotional Book to get the day started on the right track-- I shared some of that with you yesterday, but they are always wonderful. Plus, the other day, I downloaded a Bible app on my iPhone... it's pretty great, too (and it's free, so search it on your phone if you have the ability to download apps) and has devotions and daily reading plans. So, I spent a little time with the app and my Bible before heading to the office to start the day. It was off to a great start (after the hard part of getting out of bed)!

Then, I got to the office and.... it got even better! Chad asked me if I had my Bible with me-- and I did-- so, before the workday began, we sat in the back office reading scripture together. It was wonderful! If you don't share a time like that with your significant other, I sincerely recommend it. Chad is a strong Christian man who is always willing to dive into scripture... but even if your significant other isn't, who knows what God will do with that time you share! Try it!

Since then, we have seen patients and done a health screening for a community service event (raising money for Children's Miracle Network) and are now back to seeing patients... the workday will come to a close with a Health Transformation Workshop from 6 to 7pm. It's definitely a long day, but when it gets started off so wonderfully, the length doesn't matter!

At the screening today, we met an awesome man who talked to us for a while about the ministry work he has been doing at a local place (I have been trying to find it online to get involved, but so far haven't been able to find it--because I don't remember the name)-- it sounds amazing! I love meeting people in the community like that who are striving to make the world a better place and excited to share their passion with others. It's always neat to me to hear the stories complete strangers will share-- and sometimes, those stories are the most uplifting!

We have also had the pleasure to meet an amazing man who is very involved in a local orphanage as well as orphanages overseas... He has given us an opportunity to come in and meet the kids and we can't wait to get as involved with that as they will let us!

The point of those two stories is to encourage you to keep your eyes and ears open... opportunities to get involved in something you are passionate about are all around you (and sometimes, it will be a complete stranger to tell you about it)!

I don't know how the weather is where you are right now... but, if it is nice, I encourage you to get outside and enjoy it today! We have found a lot of parks and places to jog lately... and if you have places like that, go out and do some sprints! Yes, they are intense... but, they are a great way to be outside and still get interval-type training in! All you need is a flat piece of ground to run on (or you can go up a hill, if you are feeling very extreme today)!

I just re-ordered supplements for Chad and myself today. For your nutrition challenge, take a seriously look at your diet and see what you are missing. Do you eat enough fruit and vegetables? Do you get enough fiber? Are there vitamins or other trace minerals you might be lacking? To make up for the deficits, either change your diet... or get a supplement to help you! I take a Omega-3 fish oil--- Chad prefers the liquid Cod Liver Oil. For headaches, I take a combination of: Feverfew, B2 and Magnesium. We both take a whole-foods multi-vitamin. Of course, the exact things you need might vary... but, a good Omega-3 and whole-foods vitamin is great for everyone (whole-foods because it is easier for your body to absorb). Nordic Naturals is a great brand for your omegas... Swanson Vitamins also has great products, if you prefer to order online (that's what I did today)!

The challenges today aren't labeled for you, but they are all there! See what the best fit for your life is... find what you are passionate about... and start living to your full potential!

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

Monday, April 25, 2011

All of You is More Than Enough...

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter and remembered the true reason for the holiday. Yes, the egg hunts and the Easter bunny are fun-- but, I hope everyone's main focus was on the ultimate gift we have because of Jesus rising on the third day!

It has been a while since I have blogged (I know, I need to get back on my schedule... my days go a lot better when I take the time to put my thoughts out, and I hope they help some of you, too) I am going to use today as a recap of the week!

On Tuesday, after seeing patients all morning and promoting our Easter Event during the early afternoon I was able to go home and spend some much needed time in the sun. Now, if you know me, you know that I can make seemingly routine activities into an adventure. Tuesday I couldn't find a lounge chair-- even went to Wal-Mart and they didn't have one! So, i took a couple kitchen chairs out to sit it-- they proved to be very uncomfortable. Then, I tried to just laying on a beach towel in the yard-- after a couple minutes, I could feel myself wanting to sneeze, so that wasn't going to work either.
Then, the, "Erin Idea," came into my head. I went upstairs and got an air mattress (king sized, I might add) and a satin sheet. I took the mattress outside and had quite possibly the most comfortable laying out session of my life. I even sent Chad, Lindsey, Mom, Keshia, Steffi and Sarah a text message about what I was doing. Their responses proved why they are some of my closest friends. Chad, "Haha. Great work with the mattress!" Lindsey, "love it." Mom, "Lol. So funny!!" Keshia, "And that is one of the many reasons why you are my best friend lol." Steffi, "lol jealous! wish I was there!" Sarah, "That is AWESOME!!!" Sometimes it is the small ways people relate to you that really make you smile!
While laying out, I listened to the sermon online from the previous Sunday-- I had missed church due to a conference in Atlanta. I also finished reading, "The Dream Giver," and was able to read some of my Bible and do a devotional... and let me just say, God's timing is ALWAYS perfect.
On Tuesday, the verse my devotion was centered around was one of my favorites: ""For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord, "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."" Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) The story was about the lady who founded Gospel Recordings... I won't type out the whole devotional, but I will tell you (word for word) what I wrote in my notes.
*Remember, these are my personal devotion notes-- "Before reading the entry, I was inspired--one of my favorite verses. Sometimes it is hard to see all we are meant to accomplish because we limit ourselves to what we can see instead of seeing God's plan. We need to get out of our own way & give our lives to Him!"

Wednesday, His perfect timing in my devotion struck me again. I say perfect timing, because I had actually missed a couple days in this particular devotion book-- so, the devotions of the day technically should have been done already-- but, His timing is always right! The verse on Wednesday was: "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit...fruit that will last forever." John 15:16 (NIV)
The study was centered around a woman named Helen Duff Baugh...again, I will share my personal reflection from the devotion:
"God's timing is perfect! I feel like these devotions are written and timed just for me. They are always what I need to re-focus my mind and start the day correctly. God has a plan for me and His timing is always perfect. All I need to do is trust Him and fulfill my purpose that He planned."
**The basis for the devotion was that Helen and her family were supposed to be on the Titanic-- but, decided to come two weeks before the Titanic left. The day she and her children arrived in America was the day the sinking of the Titanic was announced. Talk about perfect timing!

Thursday was fun! It was the day that Chad and I were putting the finishing touches on our Easter Bunny event in the office! I baked dozens upon dozens of cupcakes and cookies-- and Chad and I dyed 14 dozen eggs! Yes, it took a lot of time-- but it was so more than worth it to know that everything would be ready for the kids on Friday! The devotion on Thursday was about Coretta Scott King (Martin Luther King Jr's wife). It was an eye-opening one on things that I can work on in my own life-- and I am sure a lot of us can learn from! The verse was: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:21 (NIV)
My response: "if I faced all of that (talking about what she and her husband were faced with: including his assassination) I don't think I'd be strong enough to remain peaceful, That realization opens my eyes to possible circumstances where I need to work on keeping my faith and trust in God. Through Him, I can do anything!"

Friday, the day of the bunny event I had so been looking forward to, was less than perfect. I woke up with a migraine-- and stayed in bed all day. The bright side was that Chad took the time out of his day to come and check on me over lunch and Diane stepped in to help with the event! A couple people sent me pictures of their kids with the bunny and everyone really seemed to love it--so, at least the event was successful and I have people who care enough to step in when I'm not able to.

Saturday was more of the same-- when I have a migraine, they tend to linger for a while. Luckily though, they are getting less frequent! When I was awake on Saturday though-- praise and worship songs were stuck in my head, and that really made the pain and suffering a lot more bearable!

Sunday was Easter... and thankfully, I was able to get out of bed and go to the 9am service at Transformation Church. It was AMAZING!! The main auditorium was full... the overflow auditorium was full...and the lobby was full of people watching the service on television! Talk about phenomenal! And can I add-- that was the third Easter service and there was still another one to go at 11am!! I know people who don't typically go to church sometimes attend on Easter-- and I have no doubt that Sunday provided all of them the desire to start living the life there were born to live. It was--by far-- the best Easter Sunday experience I have ever had! Plus, over the weekend, 72 people (I am almost positive that is the correct number) were baptized at Transformation!! It is so amazing to see so many people giving their lives to Christ! After church, Chad and I went to brunch and were then able to spend some time relaxing outside-- we live in a beautiful place and love the days when we get to take a time out to thoroughly enjoy it! After that, I was exhausted-- still getting over the migraine-- and went home to take a nap and ended the day watching basketball (go Hawks!!). It was a great Sunday, centered around all the blessings and gifts we have because of the sacrifice made by Jesus and the fact that He beat death 3 days later!!

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope thought the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." 1 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

A couple big challenges today (that I am not going to categorize for you... they belong in different categories for each and every one of us):
--Stop and appreciate everything you have been given through grace. Understand that there is absolutely nothing you can do to deserve it and start being grateful for the amazing gift that it is!
--Understand that when Jesus died on the cross, He died for our past, present and future sins! He lived a perfect life that none of us would ever be able to... and He did it so we would be completely and totally forgiven.
--Notice the beauty in the world around you and focus on all the things you do have... stay away from focusing on negativity!
--Start your day by doing something that will get the day going in a positive direction! For me, it is taking the time to read and do a devotional... and writing my thoughts for you to read also helps!
--As far as fitness and nutrition goes-- really focus on the positive changes you have already made. Make a note of what has worked the best for you thus far and get ready to continue on the path to success!

(Click the video above to listen to, "Enough," by Barlow Girl. Video from YouTube.)

Monday, April 18, 2011

So Proud

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and has been able to enjoy spring thus far! Chad and I had a conference in Atlanta all weekend... it was a lot of great information and I am glad we went, but still made for a long weekend! On Friday we went to Athens where we were able to see my family (mom, dad, sister, aunt, uncle, cousins) and then Saturday morning--bright and early-- we headed for Atlanta. The conference was all day Saturday and half the day Sunday... and then we headed back home!

While at the conference, Chad and I each won an award. His was, "The Hawk Award," for standing out among his peers for demonstrating the qualities and dedication that success and helping others requires (obviously I am very proud of him). Mine was, "The Sunshine Award," for demonstrating the qualities of being a consistently positive influence (pretty sure he's proud of me, too).

The greatest part of the conference-- even more than the information-- was being around a group of people who are so one fire about what they do and so thankful to God for allowing them to be in the positions they are in. Yep, that's right-- at a Chiropractic Conference, everyone who spoke referenced the Bible and there own experiences with God's grace-- it was amazing!!

Also, I said that I would keep everyone in the loop on the books I read. So, EVERYONE needs to read, "The Shack," by WM. Paul Young. I read most of it on Thursday-- and then put it down until last night (it was SO GOOD that I didn't want to finish it-- so I put off reading the last 2 chapters). It was incredibly written with a wonderful plot and storyline. I have read a lot of books and this is BY FAR the best one I have ever experienced (yes, experienced-- it goes far beyond simply reading). Read it... you won't regret it! It is about tragedy hitting a family and the unique healing process one man goes through (of course by reading the book and understanding the concepts, you figure out that the healing process he experiences is available to each and every one of us...). Again, read it. That's all I am going to say-- I don't want to ruin one single page of this amazing book for you! It is so good that Chad and I have two copies of it-- one to keep and one to loan out to others! I just gave Sarah a copy of it today and I can't wait to hear her thoughts on it!

The posts from last Monday and Tuesday have so many fitness and nutrition tips that I am going to let you keep experimenting with them before I throw more out to you--- there is a lot of information in those two entries, so if you haven't read them yet and are looking for tips, please check them out!

But-- going along with fitness and nutrition-- let me just tell you that after this past weekend, I have been a slug. During breaks at the conference, they provided chips, candy, cookies, soda and anything else you can think of that I don't typically eat. And let me just say that today and getting back to my normal routine has been a challenge... I have had zero energy all day! If you don't think what you put into your body matters, stray from your healthy routine for a day or two. You will really see the difference it makes!!

A quote from the conference that I want you to think about... "What is loved grows." (funny side note--as soon as the speaker said that Chad looked at me and said, "I guess that means I'm making you taller.")

But really--think about that quote! What you love gets most of your time and energy-- and therefore has the ability to grow! Make sure that in your life, what you love is worthy of it and a healthy way to spend your energy! Be sure to never let anything come above your relationship with God--because that is the most important of all and will influence everything else you do! As a wise man, Pastor Derwin Gray, said, "The most important thought we can ever have is what we think about God." Meaning, what we think about God will influence what we think about everything else!!

--Oh and PS, no matter how proud I am of Chad for all he is doing and accomplishing in his life, it can never compare to the love and appreciation God has for you! Wow!!

And for more information on, "The Shack," simply click the image below!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Letter to Another Who is Near and Dear to My Heart...

Today Chad and I have been out of the office and meeting with a variety of local businesses. It is always great when we have the opportunity to share some wonderful health and wellness tips with others in our community. Plus, we were able to check out a local coffee shop and Christian bookstore we have wanted to go to for a while (it is only open during the week, 7:30am - 4pm, so we typically don't have a chance to get there)! It has been an awesome day!

Yesterday I shared a letter to my mom-- she was completely okay with me sharing the tips I gave her to the rest of you! Today, I want to share PART of a letter I sent to another important person in my life... I am not going to share the whole thing, but the tips included are relevant for everyone! To respect privacy, I am not going to say who the tips were originally for... but, I hope that you can utilize them, too!

Yesterday was primarily on fitness-- today is primarily on nutrition. Both have aspects of all four challenges though-- especially if you use the letter to my mom and todays letter together!

"So, here goes. Just a warning, I am going to give you a lot of really effective ideas... try as many as you want to! They all work-- and the more you implement, the better they will work together!

First, I want to just say that I think it is great that this is something you are doing for YOURSELF. I always ask clients why they are wanting to start livng a healthier lifestyle-- and the ones that are doing it for themselves are always the most successful! Also, I always ask them to look at the, "reason behind the reason." Obvious reason-- lose weight. Reason behind the reason will vary for everyone, but once you know what yours is, you will be more motivated. It might be the Roadrace... it might be to enjoy a healthy lifestyle longer... it might be to be active with the niece, nephew or eventually your own kids. Or it could be something as simple as a physical appearance-- whatever it is for you, take some time to seriously think about it. It's an important aspect in achieving your goals. 

-No carbs after 4 or 5pm **Except Veggies**. Doing this will allow your body to use the carbs you intake in the earlier part of the day and then burn fat (not carbs) throughout the rest. 
-Be sure to have a lot of veggies and protein at dinner. Veggies do have minimal carbs-- but just be sure to stay away from the starchy veggies (potatoes). Protein allows you to stay full longer and allows your body to recover overnight to maintain and build muscle. Veggies also have a lot of fiber to keep you full longer.
-Never ever ever skip breakfast.
-Since I know you really like carbs-- you can also try the zig-zag approach. Meaning, stagger days of no, low and medium carbs. Repeat the days in a cycle. 
-Incorporate healthy fats into your diet::
almonds and walnuts
coconut oil (great to cook with-- non-virgin does not taste like coconuts)
----the purpose of adding these in is that they digest slowly and let you feel full for longer AND healthy fats actually help your body burn fat. If you are deficient in fat, your body will store the fat you do eat (usually the unhealthy kind)
-You aren't going to like this one-- but limit your milk intake. Lactose is sugar. In an 8oz glass of 1% milk you will have-- 2.5 grams of fat and 12 grams of sugar--equaling a little over 100 calories per 8 ounces. Also, your body can't absorb the calcium and vitamin d in milk-- you'd be better off eating a cup of broccoli or any other green vegetable....roughly 3 or 4 times more calcium than in milk-- and it is absorb-able!
-To address the sweets-- your body has two type of, "burning," modes it can be in... Sugar burning or fat burning. The more you begin the limit sugar, the less you will crave it. Sugar is my weakness, too.
- Eat every 3 hours-- small meals/snacks. Almonds, fruit, protein... something to keep your blood sugar level and your metabolism high!
- Side salad before your meal-- be careful with the dressing and toppings though! The salad is high in fiber and low in calories.
- Avoid packaged foods... Your body doesn't know how to process them and they can cause fatigue.
- A lot of women are deficient in Vitamin D3. I recommend taking a supplement. It increases overall health, decreases fatigue, decreases potential of breast cancer.... among MANY other benefits!
- Omega 3-- Cod Liver Oil is the best-- Nordic Naturals is the best brand you can get! The liquid is more absorb-able but the texture drives me insane-- I take the lemon-flavored capsules (doesn't taste like fish)..."

Okay-- that's the part of the letter I am going to share with you! If you read it carefully you will see that 1. it is full of useful nutrition tips, 2. it forces you to change your thinking and get out of your comfort zone by making you find the reasons behind your reason for doing what you do! I hope each and every one of you benefit from this entry! As always, if you need more information, I am just an email away! 

And, if you are ever feeling down remember that you have a purpose and that God doesn't make mistakes! 

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:27 (NIV)

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Letter to My Mom (really)

I am currently sitting outside our office on a bench to enjoy this beautiful day while writing this entry! I honestly can't think of a better way to spend my lunch break! It is sunny with a slight breeze and the sun feels incredible. I have said this on my twitter account before, but I really don't understand how people say they don't believe in God... especially if they take the time to enjoy the beauty that surrounds them on a daily basis!

This past weekend was wonderful... one of the best that Chad and I have had, as a couple, in a long time. We spent the entire weekend together and enjoying being around each other-- finally putting the office and everything work related to the side for a couple days! On Saturday we went to a Spring Festival hosted by Indian Land Elementary School and then we walked about downtown Fort Mill for a little while. It really is a beautiful place; you just have to take the time to experience it! After that, we headed to Charlotte to a place called Julia's Coffee and Books... a great little coffee shop/bookstore that benefits Habitat for Humanity. We both got a few books and a coffee and sat there talking and browsing for a while. Then, we stopped at a produce stand on the way home and found some deliciously fresh vegetables. About that time, the storm started! The sky was insane looking and we were under a tornado warning for most of the night... hail golf ball to baseball size fell from the sky for longer than I thought possible. It was a very stormy end to a beautiful day... but, it was still great!

Sunday morning we went to church-- and it was one of the best messages I have ever heard. It is so great to have a place that feels so right every time you walk into the doors. Plus, it is a place that inspires everyone to do their part in living out God's purpose. I can't tell you how wonderful Transformation Church has already been in out lives. Afterwards, we did the weekly routine of grocery shopping. Then enjoyed another day outside! It was a wonderful day and weekend... and I am continuing to enjoy the weather today!

Oddly enough, the devotion that I did today was about sharing your positive experiences with others... whether it be a book you are reading or anything else that has been helpful in your life. With that being said, I highly recommend all the ladies read, "I'm Not Good Enough and other Lies Women Tell Themselves," and, "Captivating." For the men, "Wild at Heart," is the same concept as, "Captivating." I am currently reading, "The Measure of a Woman," and, so far, would also recommend it. "The Measure of a Man," is the male version of the same concept! I will make it a point to keep everyone posted in the books that help me.

Today's challenges are going to be a little different-- it is an, "all-in-one," type challenge today. A couple weeks ago, my mom asked me to make her a workout program (primarily to target her arms) and today I am going to share her program with you! Obviously, since it is for my mom, it is very near and dear to my heart. Take what you can use and apply it in your own life!


I am sorry it has taken me a few days to sit down and come up with a routine for you... You know you sometimes have to remind me to do things! First of all, remember that daddy has been working out and training his entire life-- his knowledge of all fitness and nutrition concepts is much more developed than yours will be-- and that is both okay and expected. You don't have to know everything, but you have a huge advantage by having people who love you to help you along the way. You are going to need his motivation and support-- and possibly advice on how to correctly do some of the exercises-- and that is also okay! Don't let anyone tell you that you won't stick with it long enough to do results-- if someone says that, use it for your own personal motivation! There is no magic pill to get you to where you need to be overnight-- if there were, trainers would be out of jobs! You would never expect any of your students to grasp a new concept in a day-- and I want you to have the same mindset when it comes to your workout routine! Practice makes perfect... and once you establish the habit of working out, the more you will want to follow through. Results take time but the feelings of accomplishment once you finish a workout is immediate!

First and foremost, nutrition plays a huge role in your success. You can workout 24 hours a day and never see results if you aren't feeding your body right. Eating something small every couple of hours is ideal-- and I know that can be hard to do during the weeks when you are at work. I want you to find a protein shake and some nutrition bars that you can eat and keep them with you in the classroom at all times... every few hours, eat or drink. This will keep you from overeating by preventing you from ever being hungry. It will also keep your metabolism elevated and your blood sugar at a healthy level. When looking for bars, don't assume they are healthy-- look at the nutritional facts and avoid the ones that a higher in sugar (yes, I know those are also the ones that taste the best). Nuts and fruit would also be good options for you to keep on hand. Be careful with portion size during your meals, too. Also, I know we have talked about this before-- but hydration is key! Have a water with you at all times. If you start to feel thirsty, it is your body telling you that you are already dehydrated. Don't let that happen. And forget diet sodas... the artificial sweeteners in them never allow your brain to receive the signal that you are full. You will drink less if you drink, "the real thing," but still limit your soda intake as much as you possibly can.

Next, the biggest barrier we all face is our own mind. Don't think that you can't do it... if you think that, you can't. Just do it to the best of your ability and have the mindset that you are a work in progress and can continuously improve. If it will help you, ask one of your friends to workout with you. If they miss a workout though, it is still your responsibility to do it on your own! If you are too tired at the end of the day or if you find yourself making excuses to not workout after work, do it in the mornings. You have to get over your mind telling you that you can't do it or talking you into putting it off. Action will bring results.

I know your main concern are your arms-- but I also don't want you to ignore any part of your body. All parts of the body are useful for the overall function. Separate your workouts into body parts-- don't try to do it all in one day! I workout 3 days in a row, take a day off (or devote it to cardio...) and then repeat. Also, I switch up the body parts that I work together and the exercises that I do. Dumbbells and cables are my favorite-- you might want to invest in a couple dumbbells (they force you to also use small, stabilizer muscles). Daddy already has the cables in the basement-- so, you are good to go there!

Some good, basic exercises you can do with the equipment daddy already has::
-Bench press
-Incline press
-Lat. pull-downs.
-Leg press
-Calf raises
-Hammer curls
-Preacher curls
-Tricep pull downs (you will want to do this--let daddy show you the form--it will help your problem area)
-Crunches (let daddy show you how to do crunches with the cables)
--If you get dumbbells, I highly recommend kick-backs and skull-crushers.
Use these basic exercises as a starting point-- I am not going to go into detail on how to do everything. Form is key, so have daddy by your side until you are comfortable with everything. Like I tell my clients, we are not adding weight until you have the perfect form! The exercises will be more effective and you will avoid injury. As you get more advance, we will discuss super-sets and drop-sets-- my favorite way to workout!
Don't worry about getting, "man muscles," even if you do the same routine as daddy does-- we do not have enough testosterone in our bodies for that!

I hope this helps to get you motivated and to get you started! Wish I were there to help.

I love you,

***If you pay attention to the letter you will see that it has: Nutrition, Fitness, Change Your Thinking (you can do it, not you can't) and Out of Your Comfort Zone (ask for help and motivation) challenges included!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Different Stages of a Great Life

Today the weather is glorious, it's my day off from the office, I've spent most of my day reading books and my dog is laying at my feet as I write this.... and I am finding myself sincerely missing all of my friends in/from Georgia. On a day like today, I would spend hours begging Steffi to hike Kennesaw Mountain with me... and she would finally give in, only after I offered to buy whatever she wanted at Sonic afterwards. Keshia and I would meet at Los Reyes and enjoy our dinner on the patio... Danielle and I would look for tickets to any and every country concert or outdoor festival. I would beg anyone who would listen to play putt-putt or a variety of other, "kiddie," activities. All the girls would have, "spring fever," and we would head to the mall for new dresses and flip flops. If it were freshman year, a huge group of us would be skipping class and laying out on the top level of the parking deck... if it were any year after, the same group would be skipping class and laying at the pool. The Calhoun crew would be playing a sand volleyball game at Paul's apartment complex and, again, heading to Los for dinner on the patio. A group of my sorority sisters would hang out on the campus green... or potentially break out in a random water balloon fight. Everyone in class would have on shorts or dresses and be anxious to get out and truly enjoy the day! If these were primary school days, Carrie and I would have taken our Barbies outside to play on the trampoline, Natalie and I would have come up with some way to, "make money," in her neighborhood (selling snails out of a red wagon was our business venture one day, a car wash and lemonade stands on other occasions). Our Girl Scout troop would be having meetings... Jennifer and I would be challenging Max in a game of basketball at her grandmother's house... we would be playing with the dogs in the yard... anything to be outside! Looking back over the years, I have some truly amazing friends and memories... days like today make me miss everyone!

That's not to say that I don't absolutely love where I am now-- because I do! I have an awesome boyfriend and a great church. I have met wonderful people and am creating a close group here, too. Sara has become a great friend and one of my favorite people to talk to... Amy is one of the nicest ladies I have ever met and is always great for a conversation. Kelly reminds me the most of my friends from home. Jesse has become a really close friend and reminds me a lot of the guys who have been some of my best friends my entire life... Hannah and Megan remind me so much of my roommates from college. Life here is great, too! Different stages, different people... but all great!

Mary-Beth, Steffi, Me, Danielle-- Steffi's Surprise Bday Dinner

Danielle, Me, Steffi-- Jason Aldean Concert

Me and Steffi--- Pool day headed to Sonic

Madison, Lindsey, Me, Montana-- Calhoun High School Football Game

Carrie and Me-- Athens, Ga
I just wanted to take a second to acknowledge missing my friends and appreciating the newer people in my life! I wish I had pictures on this computer to represent everyone mentioned... but, computers crash and picture become lost (the digital copies anyway).

Nutrition Challenge:
Today's challenge is less about nutrition and more about natural ways to get through the allergy season and be able to enjoy spring! First of all, if you have never used a Netti Pot-- get one and try it! It is kind of disgusting, but it really works! Second, you are going to hate me because of the taste... but apple cider vinegar will dramatically help your allergies! If you can't stand drinking it (it taste horrible), dilute some with water, steam it and inhale. It will help to clear out your sinuses. I am not an expert on all the uses of it, so I am not going to try to sound like it-- I just know it works for me! So, if your allergies are driving you insane and you don't like taking a lot of medicines-- Google it! It will help!!!

Fitness Challenge:
Now that you have ways to get your allergies under control, I want you to enjoy spring! If you have a talent for making things grow, plant some flowers or a garden! No, it's not the most intense activity you can get-- but it will get you outside and provide beauty for you to enjoy all season! If you are like me and can't seem to make anything grow, find a park where you can enjoy the natural beauty around you! Find a nature trail or somewhere you can be outside, enjoy your surroundings and exercise!
I know a lot of you appreciate the more intense fitness challenges... and trust me, there will be very intense days... but, we can't neglect our metal fitness/well-being either! Websters definition of health: the condition of being sound in mind, body and spirit. With that being said-- let's not neglect our minds and spirits on our road to good health!!

Out of Your Comfort Zone:
I have been reading A LOT of good, inspirational books lately. Most recently: The Purpose Driven Life, I'm Not Good Enough and Other Lies Women Tell Themselves, and Captivating. I am on the last chapter of Captivating and had to put it down because I am not ready for the book to be over yet! The greatest things about these books is that every thing and every point mention is backed up with scripture. I'm Not Good Enough is about the lies we are taught to believe about ourselves and the truth we can find in the Word of God... I didn't even know I needed to read a book like that until I started! Captivating is about what it means to be a woman and the unique purpose a woman has in this world... yes, it goes much deeper than that, but that gives you a general idea. I would recommend EVERY woman to read these books-- so, I don't want to give the story away and ruin the experience for you!
So, the challenge today is to dig deeper into the person that you are and the person you are meant to be... (male or female, the challenge is universal-- even though the books mention dig into the heart of females) figure out why you react the way you do to certain circumstances. It is not easy and not something that can be completed in a day-- rather it will take time to figure it out and a lifetime practicing living to your potential. But, it's a journey that I am on and a journey that is well worth it!!

Change Your Thinking:
Your opinion matters and is unique and valuable. A lot of times if I don't feel like my opinion is valued, I shut down. Completely the wrong reaction and I am working on it. If I don't share my opinion, who else will? Nobody. If I don't share my heart and the core of who I am, who else can? Nobody. The same goes for you!
As humans, we all want to be loved, valued and cherished... I believe women are particularly sensitive to this (but, I'm not a man, so I can't speak for them)! Great news is... we already are! So you feel like nobody understands your stance on a particular situation? Take your thoughts to God... He created you, He loves you and He knows the place you have in the world!
I am not going to dig deeper into this-- because this is where your heart takes over. You know the issues you struggle with-- take time today to begin sorting them out!

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and is His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the Devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against the flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." Ephesians 6:10-13

"Offering a tender vulnerability can only be done by an incredibly strong woman, a woman rooted in Christ Jesus who knows whose she is and therefor knows who she is." (Quoted from, "Captivating")

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

AMAZED by Grace

On Monday when I left the office, instead of driving to the gym or home like I normally do, I found myself across the street at a park. I really didn't even intend to go there, but that's where I ended up! There were couples sitting on blankets under trees, kids playing on the playground, people of all ages riding bikes, walking dogs and running on the paths in the park. Families were flying kites, playing baseball and just simply enjoying the weather. And then, there was me. I started sitting on a bench that overlooks most of the park and then relocated to a spot on the grass-- me, my book, my keys and a bottle of water. I didn't plan on staying there long-- but a couple hours later, there I was; in the same spot. I read some of my book and watched the families as they played-- it was relaxing to just sit with no agenda of what I should be doing. It was nice-- my mind could relax and I could just breathe.

I think sometimes we think we have to be busy to get ahead or be busy to be successful... and I think our hectic lifestyles sometimes take away from the beauty that surrounds us daily. When was the last time you did something for yourself? I'm not talking in a selfish way-- I simply mean taking the time out to appreciate the things God has placed around you and letting your mind go where it will. Forget the stress, forget the challenges, forget being angry... just take time to relax and thank God for the beauty that surrounds us. I know I needed my time in the park... and I know I need to take a time-out like that much more often than I do. Things aren't always great and sometimes I have no idea what to do next-- but, it helps to take the time to remember that God has a plan for me (and for you!) and all we need to do is listen.

Yesterday was one of those days-- I didn't blog because I was having a down day and didn't really want to put my thoughts into the world until I took the time to sort them out and pray about them. I had a couple consultations at the gym yesterday, starting at 11. I left the house at 10:40 and thought I would be to the gym by 10:45 or 10:50 at the latest. However, that wasn't the case. I sat in endless traffic on Johnston Road and then more endless traffic on Lancaster Hwy. The gym is less than 5 miles from my house and it took me until 11:45 to get there! There had been an early morning accident on 485 (Charlotte's version of Atlanta's 285) and, on top of that, the storms had knocked out a lot of power lines and traffic lights. It was a traffic disaster. When I finally made it to the gym, I stayed for about an hour and then came back home. Home was really the only place to go-- the storms had also knocked out the power at the office and the rest of downtown Fort Mill. I watched part of, "Days of Our Lives," read some of my book and then took a nap. Not a very productive day-- but, it was exactly what I needed. I couldn't tell you exactly what had me so stressed or what specific incident made me need time alone-- but, something did. And taking the time to reflect, relax and talk to God made all the difference! Point being-- sometimes things don't go exactly how we plan, but God always has a plan for us! Sometimes it is hard to trust completely in God's plan when we can't explain any of the circumstances-- but, I am constantly working on doing better and building a stronger and stronger relationship with God. And I have found, the closer we are to Him, the less the things of the world and the problems we face get us down! Things can't affect us if they don't have power over us.

Nutrition Challenge:
I have TONS of food for Indian Land Elementary School and Transformation Church sitting in my living room right now... I am delivering it to the church later on this afternoon. It is amazing how much our patients and others brought in... and buying the food that Chad and I contributed was so energizing; knowing that we are a small part of something that is going to make such a huge difference. So, today's challenge is to find a shelter or a food bank (or anything similar) in your area and make a donation. Live up to your potential and start making a difference. Donate towards a cause that you are passionate about-- children, elderly, animal shelters--anything that moves your heart! The things that inspire you will tell you a lot about the plan God has for your life.

Fitness Challenge:
Today's challenge has nothing to do with physical fitness and everything to do with mental wellbeing. I want you to take a time out for yourself today. It can be staying up a little bit later than your family to do something you enjoy; it can be time at a park or a trial; it can be a bubble bath with a good book-- whatever you feel compelled to do, make time for it and enjoy! We can't take care of others unless we allow ourself time to reflect on how we can best impact the world!

Out of Your Comfort Zone:
I am reading, "Captivating," by John and Stasi Eldredge right now. It is a phenomenal book and talks about the core of being a woman. If you ask Chad, he will tell you that a lot of my sentences the past couple of days include the words, "my book said so." It talks about the beauty and vulnerability of a woman as well as some of the emotional scars most women have... and, the various sources those scars come from. But, everything and every challenge is backed up by scripture and is so empowering to me! I have talked about some of the things in the book with Chad-- and he always says that he is glad I am getting something out of it. So, the out of your comfort zone challenge today is to talk about things going on in your head or in your life with someone. Talk to God, talk to a parent, a friend, a significant other-- but, talk openly and honestly with them. You will find that you are not the only one who things about or experiences the things you do-- and you will find strength in the support of others! But as with everything else, talk to and trust God as the final authority on everything-- He will never lead you down a wrong path!

Change Your Thinking:
"I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
"I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." Philippians 4:13 (KJV)

It doesn't matter what translation you prefer, this is a powerful verse. It is also a verse that we have probably grown up hearing so much that it has lost some of it's power. It doesn't say that I can do most things or that I can do all things by my own strength. No. It says ALL THINGS through CHRIST. If you are a Christian, Christ lives in you and His strength, mercy and grace are shown through you. If you are living for His purpose, there is nothing that you cannot do. He has given each and every one of us special talents and strengths and a special place in this world to use them to expand His kingdom.

One morning I woke up and was compelled, beyond belief, to start this blog. Am I a theologian? No. Am I a Bible scholar? No. Am I a girl who has her whole life together? No. Am I an extroverted Christian with the ability to write? Yes! Do I have experiences and thoughts that, through God, can make this world a better place? Yes! So, I started this blog. I didn't know if anyone would read it or if I would even had anything to say. I thought that I would have to think and prepare the challenges a day in advance... I was embarrassed to tell people about it because I didn't know if I had anything worth reading to say. But, I started it anyway! Writing this blog is empowering to me... I don't pre-plan what I am going to say... I sit at my computer and my fingers take over! The best post have been the ones where I have no idea what to write about. I use this as a way to show anyone who is willing to read it what God is doing in my life-- and hope that it inspires them to build a closer relationship with God themselves! I have always loved to write--- and public speaking is one of my favorite activities. But, without using my passions and my God-given abilities to spread inspiration-- my passions and abilities were being wasted. I am not saying that I am a world-class writer or that I am the greatest role model or that I even have my whole life in perfect order-- I am a work in progress. But, through God and through building a intimate, personal relationship with Him, I am able to put valuable thoughts into the world.

Point-- if you are compelled or pulled to do something and you can't explain why, but know that it is for a good, higher purpose--it is probably God working in your heart and in your life! Don't ignore him! Invite him in and let him take over-- Use the abilities He has given to you!! You have a purpose in this world that only you can fulfill and a place in His heart where only you belong!

Just as I have a place in my parent's hearts and an unique role in my family... I also have a special place in God's heart and an unique role in this world! My daddy, mom, brother, sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and myself are all unique, one-of-a-kind creations... YOU ARE TOO!! The love of a parent towards their children is great---Imagine how great God's love for ALL His children is! 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Passion is a Powerful Thing!

Nutrition Challenge:
This weekend, when my family was here, we went out to eat for a majority of meals. But, that doesn't mean that you have to make unhealthy choices! On Friday night, we went for sushi. On Saturday for lunch, we went to a pub and I had a spinach salad with grilled mahi mahi.On the salad, I barely used any of the dressing in order to ensure that I didn't make a healthy choice turn into a bad one. It would have been easy to make a much worse-for-me choice with all the options on the menu-- but, I went a healthier route and my meal was absolutely delicious! We also went to my favorite Mexican restaurant with my parents-- and even though it it slightly more difficult to resist all the delicious cheese-covered food-- I was still healthy with the addition of guacamole and having water as my beverage. Maybe you can use today's challenge today-- or maybe it will be a few days before you go out to eat--but, either way... The Challenge Is: Even in a social setting and even at a restaurant, be intentional with what you put in your body. That's not to say that you can't have the food you enjoy, but make sure you make some healthy choices!

Fitness Challenge:
I had every intention to go to the gym with my family on Satuday-- but, we never made it. However, we still spent the vast majority of the day outside. My sister and I played on a playground at Lake Wylie and then all of us walked around Baxter Village in Fort Mill for much of the afternoon. We didn't get in any gym time, but we were still able to be active for most of the day. Yesterday, after everyone left, Chad and I wanted to play basketball-- but, the basketball was flat. So, we played catch with a football instead. We also went to the gym. Point being-- sometimes things don't go exactly how you planned, but you can still make the most of any situation and enjoy being active! None of us looked at playing or walking as exercise-- but it was still a great way to get some activity integrated into our time together! Challenge-- even if your original plan doesn't happen, you can still fit some activity into your day! Be sure to have daily movement and exercise (whether it is going to the gym or playing at a park with your kids, be sure to stay active daily!)

Out of Your Comfort Zone:
A couple months ago I met some wonderful ladies and a health fair. They are distributors of an organic coffee (delicious, by the way) and we have stayed in touch. We were supposed to meet for lunch on Friday, but with my family coming to town, I rescheduled. At that point, the ladies offered to bring some of their coffee to me at the office for my family to try. They came to the office and we had a wonderful conversation. Before you know it, we are talking about Transformation Church and how wonderful it is in conjunction with the food drive we were doing at the office. So, I invited them to church on Sunday morning and they came! But, not only did they come to church, they brought tons of food in for the food drive. AND they brought one of their daughters with them to church. Talking to them after the service, they loved it and say they will be coming back and that they felt like they spoke with me for the sheer purpose of being invited to Transformation-- that I was meant to have a conversation with them and they were meant to be there.
Point of the story-- if you are passionate about something, talk to others about it. Your passion is contagious and could be exactly what someone else needs!

Change Your Thinking:
Transformation Church is totally different than the church I grew up in. I knew my parents would enjoy the message, but I was still nervous that they wouldn't understand why I am so on fire about the church (simply because it is so different than the traditional service they are so used to)... they are my parents and their support means a lot to me. But, after church on Sunday, they knew exactly why I love Transformation Church. My daddy was singing right along with the songs-- my mom was taking sermon notes. Afterwards, they socialized in the lobby and met some of the many members that make Transformation amazing. So, even if something you love is different than what people are used to, share it with them! Yes, if you value their opinion, it might be hard to do-- but, it will be worth it! Be a missionary to everyone around you. Your family, your friends, your co-workers and every stranger you come into contact with. Live your life so that others can see your passion and experience the feeling you have!

Chad and I served on the Hospitality Team at Transformation Church for the first time yesterday. The first Sunday of the month is now our designated time to serve. It was AWESOME! Not only were my parents and a couple of my friends there, but it gave us a chance to greet everyone and, in a way, share our excitement for Transformation. When you are passionate about something, you want to share that passion with others. I hope that everyone who came in the doors felt as welcome as I do every time I am there-- and that they could tell that we (everyone there) were genuinely glad to see them! I know I have said this multiple times, but share you fire and your motivation with everyone! You never know the impact you can have on someone. Your life has a meaning and a purpose... and you have something to give the world that only you can! Get excited and let's make this world a better place, one person at a time!

Best Compliment I have received in a long time (if not ever): "Your passion and love for this church and this mission pours out of you and made us want to experience it, too! We will be back and we will be bringing all of our kids... my daughter even said that this is a place where she feels connected. Thank you for sharing this with us!"
Mom, Chad and Daddy after church!

My Family Came to Visit!

Happy Monday everyone!! I know it has been entirely too long since I have written and I sincerely apologize. This blog is something that I thoroughly enjoy-- and based on the amount of daily readers, I believe it is something that others enjoy, too! This past weekend, however, my family that I rarely get to see came in town-- and spending time with them is also something that I enjoy, too! So, I dedicated the weekend to my family-- and dedicate this week to you and to writing the best posts that I possibly can for you!

My sister and hey boyfriend were the first two to get here...and shortly after that, my parents arrived! It was so great to see everyone-- but I wish they could have stayed longer! We spent most of Saturday outside and then Sunday we went to church before everyone had to leave. Friday thru Sunday isn't near long enough, but it was better than nothing. If you ever move away from your family, you will really learn to appreciate the time you get to spend together.

A post with challenges will follow later-- I just wanted to be sure to get something up for everyone as soon as possible!

A Few Picture from Their Visit::
Sean, Lindsey, Mom, Chad, Dad

Sean, Dad, Me, Chad

Lindsey and Me

Chad and Me

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Happy with Who I Am

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these he have given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." 2 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV)

Last night I went to the book club mentioned yesterday...and it was fantastic! It was at a church in Pineville, North Carolina and there were around 30 women in attendance. Most of the group meets on a regular basis, so I was the newcomer. The meeting started at 6:30 and lasted til 8:30 and it was a solid two hours of women digging deeper into scriptures and issues women face (all from the book, "I'm Not Good Enough and Other Lies Women Tell Themselves). The book was exactly what I needed to read-- even though I didn't realize it before I started-- and hearing other women share their reactions and experiences made it even more encouraging. Whether it is a book club or another group-- or even just another person-- I strongly encourage everyone to get involved in something that challenges you to dig deeper into issues and struggles-- and even more importantly, deeper into what God says about those issues and struggles. And--this is important--by getting involved, I don't mean going and sitting somewhere to listen to other people talk-- I mean getting involved by actively sharing and participating. Your story could be exactly what someone else needs to hear to make it past a conflict in their life, too!

Nutrition Challenge:
Today's challenge isn't super specific... but, it will make a difference (in your diet and in your bank account)! Whether you are in school or in the working world, you can greatly benefit from this challenge. Instead of relying on a vending machine or fast food to get you through the day, I challenge you to plan ahead and take lunch (and snacks) with you! Yes, it takes a little more effort at home-- but it is well worth it. It gives you greater control over what you eat-- and will save you money versus going to the nearest fast food place on a day-to-day basis!
Example (this is what I keep, 100% of the time, at the office)
-Spinach Wraps (can be bought in packs of 6 or 8 at most grocery stores)
-Deli Chicken or Turkey (depending on what I grab at the store)
-Caesar dressing (no, its not the healthiest option-- but you can be sure to get the lighter version)
-Baby Spinach Leaves
-Black Olives
-Parm Cheese (use a small amount!)
-Bacon Bits (the real bacon, not the processed stuff)
Then all you have to do is roll it all together in a wrap and you are good to go... and, it's a great source of protein and fiber!!
**No, all of the ingredients are great for you-- but, it's much better than fast food!! Easier on the bank account, too!

Fitness Challenge:
So far, we have learned about cardio training, interval training, circuit training, stretching and a few specific exercises. Don't worry, there are many more exercises to come! But, before anyone gets overwhelmed by the amount of things you know how to do, we are going to put it all together for a circuit today.
-Start off with a 10 minute warm-up.
-After the warm-up, do 25 lunges with each leg.
-After the lunges, do wall-squats (3 sets of 10 repetitions each!)
-After the wall-squats, get started on your ab routine! We are just doing the basic crunches today-- either on your stability ball or on the floor! Start with a set of 25 repetitions. Do up to 3 sets!
-After the abs, do the tricep kick-backs we learned the other day! 3 sets of 10 repetitions is a great place to start.
-AFTER you finish the routine, be sure to cool down for a few minutes (5 will be enough) and STRETCH!

Out of Your Comfort Zone:
Last night at the book club, I was completely comfortable sitting and listening to all the ladies that I had never met talk about their personal experiences and their reactions to the book. Towards the end, however, they opened it up for everyone to share what they thought-- and nobody was really speaking up! So, I did... I had a lot to say, but wasn't really sure that I wanted to talk because I was the newcomer to a group of ladies that all know each other very well. But, I shared what I thought (much of what I said in the post from yesterday) and then compared the start of the book to the ending-- I encourage all the ladies to read it, so I am not going to spoil what happens-- but, if you read it you will easily pick up on what I am talking about. And, if you are like me, will be laying in bed crying over the last page!
Long story short-- if you have something to share, and it is something that could benefit someone else, share it! After the meeting, multiple ladies came up to me to thank me for speaking up. You might be uncomfortable at first-- but sharing what God is doing in your heart and in your life is part of your purpose. Whether you realize it or not, you are a missionary and this entire world is your mission field!

Change Your Thinking:
The whole purpose of the book was to take how we see ourselves and the lies we tell ourselves and transform the lie into the truth-- backed up by scripture. If I had the book in front of me to give specific examples, I would... but, Sarah has the book now! Again, whole book paraphrased, look at yourself how God does. You would never say that God couldn't do something or that God isn't good enough-- and if you are a Christian, God is living in you and you can do anything through Him! Maybe you couldn't accomplish something alone; but the great news is, you don't need to!

A tip in the book is that anytime you have a negative thought, put, "in God's name," after it. "I can't do anything right, in God's name." "I never do anything right, in God's name." "I will never be good enough, in God's name." WHAT?? Doesn't make much sense, does it?? Anytime you start to put yourself down or have a negative thought, try that exercise... once you get in the routine of it, I bet you won't think so negatively all the time!

"Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God." 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 (NIV)