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