Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mich and Potatoes

As you have probably seen in a couple of my previous posts, I have been much more proactive in taking control of my personal health and well being for the last year or so. About a year ago, I heard about this "diet" from a couple of friends and started doing some research. I bought the book Whole 30: The 30 Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom and read about all of the tremendous benefits that people have experienced while on this "diet." I also had been curious for years if I had food intolerances as I often experienced migraines, lethargy, depression, anxiety, increasingly severe PMS symptoms, occasional abdominal discomfort and cramps, trouble sleeping through the night, and waking up feeling exhausted just to name a few. Not to mention I had let my weight grow to an embarrassingly high number that I am still embarrassed to share (although I am sure one day I will get there). I decided to give this Whole 30 thing a try last August and I can honestly say that my life will NEVER be the same again.

During my first round of Whole 30, I definitely experienced some pretty tough detox. For those of you thinking of trying W30, just warning you, detoxing from sugar is actually pretty rough! But once I got past the detox, and started building good eating habits and correcting my relationship with food, the detox became just a small sacrifice for the benefits that I already saw coming. While you cannot weight yourself during the 30 days of your reset, I did notice that things were fitting looser and noticed changes in my skin. I wasn't tired in the early afternoon like I normally was and I actually was sleeping soundly through the night for the first time in years! After the first week of detox, I didn't have another headache for the remainder of the 30 days. I was happier and had more energy and way less anxiety. I started my period towards the end of my 30 days and actually was surprised by it because I had ZERO symptoms leading up to that day (usually I would have a night of really bad insomnia and a day or two of cramps, back aches, and headaches). By the end of my Whole 30, I had lost almost 10 pounds and many of my clothes were fitting looser than they had in a long time. I felt comfortable in my own body and happy and excited about my new relationship with food and new found food freedom.

After my 30 days were over, I slowly started reintroducing specific foods back into my diet and found things that my body just doesn't tolerate as well as other things. Too much gluten for example seems to be what triggers my migraines which is why I have gone gluten free for the year. When I'm not on Whole 30, I try to keep up my food freedom ways. There are definitely days and even weeks where that is not the case. I have definitely used cookies as a spoon in my ice cream. But I can usually sense when too much is too much and quickly go back to another short W30 reset (a few days) or another round of W30.

In the last 2 years I have lost over 50 lbs and I know that well over half of that was from this last year due to W30. I have much more to lose but I'm finally encouraged that it is possible even if the process is slow going at times. This W30 thing really is more than just a diet, it is a lifestyle change and one that I highly recommend. I recently started a new instagram account in which I will be posting recipes (many/all of which I have beg, borrowed, and stolen from other bloggers and foodies... which it's not stealing if it's free right??? Thank you Pinterest!), tips, advice, and updates on my own journey in hopes of encouraging and supporting others on their own journey. We each are walking our own journey in our own way and if I can be of any help or encouragement to others along the way, then my journey will be worth it. If you are interested in following or learning more, go follow @MichandPotatoes on instagram. Next round of Whole 30 starts on August 1st and I already have a few people committed to giving it a try. If you are interested or want to know more, comment or send me a message.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

This Is My Food Freedom

Today I am on day 17 of my third round of Whole 30. This third round is flying by but I am realizing so many things as I go along through this round that I wanted to share with all of you. If you remember from my last post about Whole 30, it is more than a diet, it is a lifestyle. For 30 days there is no:
  • Dairy or Dairy Products
  • Legumes (beans, peanuts, etc.)
  • Grains (no bread, no recreating bread or baked good products with W30 approved materials, no oats, no granola...)
  • Sugar or any kind (no honey, no agave, no stevia, no fake sugar...)
  • Alcohol
Recently Melissa (W30 founder/cofounder/fitness nut/Major B-word/knows her stuff) changed up some of the W30 rules. They added to the list of no-no's chips of any kind and W30 approved ingredient protein and meal bars. As annoying as it is to have some new rules, I actually completely understand the reason. I cracked out a few too many times on my plantain chips (Def'n: "Cracked Out" - eating an entire bag of chips because they are salty and crunchy and delicious and you aren't actually thinking about why you are eating them... but you are probably eating them because you think you need them but you really don't). And then with the protein, fruit, and meal bars (RxBars, Larabars, etc.) other people tend to eat them like a candy bar or a treat rather than using them as fuel. While I never struggled with this, I can see how that can happen and am happy to give them up for 30 days (unless its an emergency which Melissa said is allowed so you don't break). 

As I go through round three now, I have really stepped up my meal prep game. I am spending a good 3 or so hours each Sunday prepping veggies and some sort of protein to have throughout the week. I have somehow found a good balance of not prepping too much since I will be cooking some during the week and will have leftovers from that. So far I haven't had to throw too much food away which is amazing in an of itself. I've been trying out some new recipes and experimenting with new foods. I started eating beets and added a Gut Shot (probiotic drink) to my morning breakfasts.

I have also branched out and am more comfortable eating out if necessary. I went to a girl's night dinner at BJ's and called ahead to ask about the ingredients in one of their menu items. It was just a salad, but I wanted to know if their Herb chicken was made from their own seasoning or a premixed rub. After being on hold for nearly 20 mins, they connected me with the kitchen and they informed me that sugar was not added to their seasoning. And while I thanked them for that, I asked if they make their own seasoning or if it is packaged as many pre-packaged seasonings have sugar as one of their ingredients. She was surprised to hear this and quickly went to go check the label. Sure enough the seasoning that they use includes sugar. She had no idea. I thanked her and when I went to dinner I asked for the chicken without the seasoning just with simple salt and pepper. One thing about eating out on Whole30 is you just have to know that you are going to be that annoying person with the extra special order. You also have to really trust the people who are making your food because you have no control over that really. And finally, be prepared. Do your research. Maybe bring your own dressing from home. And tip them really well because they had to listen to you order a Cobb Salad with no blue cheese, no jack cheese, no cheddar cheese, no dressing, no bacon, and chicken with no herb seasoning just salt and pepper...

Being over halfway done with round 3 of Whole 30 I am confident that I can't, won't, and don't want to go back to my pre-whole30 habits. Do I miss donuts? Yeah. Of course. But I picked up two dozen for my students today and was only a little sad that I couldn't eat one (the sadness passed very quickly... don't worry). Is it hard to go out to eat sometimes? Yeah, but it just takes a little research and extra kindness towards your server (which they probably need anyway). Is it hard when you are constantly being invited to parties, or goodies are brought to work, or it's someones birthday or... fill in the blank? Yes. There will always be something. But that's what Food Freedom is. It's not saying you can never have these treats and fancy things. It's choosing if that thing is really worth what it's going to do to your body internally, externally, physically, mentally, emotionally (yes... what you eat effects your emotions too... it's crazy!). Sometimes it's worth it. Sometimes you just want it. And that's ok. This is Food Freedom.

I put my jean shorts on the other day for the first time since last summer and they are significantly looser than they were last year (I had to squeeze into them and really suck it in to get them to fit right away). This time I put them on with ease and found that they were way too loose in certain areas and that it might be time for some new shorts. I'm lifting more than I ever have in my life (and at a lower weight). I'm feeling confident and happy and content with things in life. My face is clearer and I sleep better than I ever have before.

It's hard.

But it's worth it.

I am Whole 30. 

Adventure Is Out There

Holy Moly! April flew by! It seriously was such a busy month, it has taken me a full week into May to even recover fully.

The best part of April by far was my trip to Arizona. It was my second week of Spring Break and the plan was to camp at the Grand Canyon with my mom, sister, and my mom's friends for a few days and spend a few days in Phoenix with my sister. I flew out early Saturday morning and spent the day with my sister and my parents (who drove out to Arizona that morning). The following day was Easter and we went to my sister's church. Service was good and they did baptisms after service which always makes me cry (I didn't even know them and I was crying... yes... I'm that person... Happy tears of course...). Later that afternoon we had some friends over to my sisters house and we did a Mexican, Easter dinner complete with an adult easter egg hunt that my parents did for all of the adults.

Monday morning, my dad left to head back home but my mom, sister, and I headed out for Flagstaff to meet up with my mom's friends Rosa and Ray. When we got to Flagstaff, we planned out our meals for the week with Rosa while Ray was busy packing the truck and their trailer. We went grocery shopping for the week and then came home to fix dinner. While we were fixing dinner, Rosa and Ray got some tragic news from their family which meant that they needed to leave for California the next morning. They offered to drive us to the Grand Canyon if we wanted the next morning if we still wanted to go, or offered to let us stay at their house for the week if we wanted to change our plans. We opted for staying at the house since we only had really our sleeping gear for camping and nothing to really cook with or store our food in.

The next morning we helped unload the truck and the trailer before Rosa and Ray headed out. The
three of us decided to do some things locally in Flagstaff so we started by going to the Lava Tubes. These Tubes are underground caves in Flagstaff that are about 3/4s of a mile long. You have to drive about 7 miles on an all dirt road in order to get there, but we eventually made it out there. In order to get into the cave, you have to climb down into a hole in the ground. As soon as you enter, the temperature drops about 30 degrees (it's was really nice outside... maybe like mid-60s, but in the cave it was about 30 degrees) and we were faced with a wall of ice. We tried figuring out a way around it and found some rocks to climb down, but realized that part of the rocks were covered with ice as well. We needed to go down a good 6 feet on just ice in order to move further into the cave and we decided that maybe that wasn't the best idea... I mean... we could get down and just like slide on our butts, but how do our little 5'2" bodies get back out again? So we climbed back out and decided to try to hike/walk over to the end of the tube thinking that maybe there was an opening on that end and we could climb in that way... We followed what we assumed was the trail, but quickly turned into just open forest. We wandered aimlessly for about 45 mins before deciding that maybe there wasn't an opening at the end and we should probably head back and eat some lunch. As we wandered back we definitely did not follow the way we came and ended up off course by maybe a 1/4 of a mile. We eventually made it back to our car and ate out lunch before heading out for our next adventure.

After driving the 7 miles back out on the all dirt road, we headed out to Walnut Canyon in Flagstaff. Once we got to Walnut Canyon, we hiked down and looped around this island in the middle of the canyon. Along the canyon walls you could see the ruins of homes built by Native Americans  who lived there years ago. It was a beautiful canyon and it was neat to see the different home dwellings along the sides of the canyon.

On Wednesday morning, we got up early and headed North to Page, Arizona. It was a 2 hour drive so when we got there we stoped for some coffee. Our goal was to see Upper Antelope Canyon but in order to go see it, we had to get on a tour. The tour companies just operate off of reservations, but we stopped by one to see if there were any cancelations or openings. We were able to get on the very
next tour and rode with our tour guide out to the canyon. Upper Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon so we had to go in with our tour guide. Before we entered the canyon, our tour guide helped us adjust the photo settings on our iPhones in order to best capture the canyon from within. As we walked through the canyon she kept giving us tips and tricks to help with our phones and told us where to take pictures and even took some pictures for us. This canyon was seriously incredible. The color of the rocks, the different formations. Honestly it was really spectacular.

After our tour through Upper Antelope Canyon, we ate some lunch and the headed over to Horseshoe Bend which is a part of the Colorado River. It was a short hike in to the rim but when we got there,
the view literally took your breath away (or many that was just me because I was reminded how I don't like heights and couldn't get too close to the edge without my knees shaking. We hiked around the corner to get away from the crowds and just sat in awe of it all for a bit before heading out for some Sonic Slushes.

Thursday we slept in a little then headed to Sedona for a 6 mile hike. This hike took us along a river/creek bed in the middle of a canyon in Sedona. There were about 13 creek crossings (one way)
but overall the hike was pretty mild. We ate lunch then found some trees to hammock in for a bit before heading out of the canyon. We then drove into downtown Sedona and stopped in at a coffee shop that overlooked some of the red rocks of Sedonna.

Friday we cleaned the house and then headed back to Phoenix where we laid low for awhile before my mom and I flew back home.

Overall, the trip went above and beyond my expectations. While I was anticipating going to the Grand Canyon and camping for the week, God clearly had other plans which far surpassed my expectations. Isn't that crazy how that happens sometimes? We think we have things planned or we try to make our own plans and then God says, nope... I have something better for you. He reminded me of that this trip and I am so beyond thankful for that.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Purpose Over Position

We started a new series in church today in preparation for Easter Sunday in a few weeks. Today's message was called Purpose Over Position and it was super encouraging. Pastor Caleb shared from the book of Mark when James and John ask Jesus to save them a seat at His right and left hand in Heaven. Jesus then talks about what they must do in order to be great, they must make themselves servants and slaves to all. "But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:43-45). We are called to serve, not to be served.

The problem in Mark and the problem even today in the church is that we get caught up in what position we hold. We want to be the ones getting all of the attention and all of the glory, but we are unwilling to put in the work required of being a servant to others. Caleb encouraged us to focus more on what God can do through us rather than the position we hold. He also shared three ways in which God can work through us. 

God works through us according to our gifts. We have all been given specific gifts that we must use to serve those around us, not just at church on Sundays but in our everyday lives. Our gifts are muscles that must be exercised. We have to "stop waiting for God to elevate [us] and start serving where God has placed you right now." I took this step a little over a year ago when I started serving with in the nursery. God has given me a huge love for kids and the ability to care for and nurture them and I knew I had to put that to use. So I started serving. Not to get anything out of it or to be recognized for my contribution, but to use the gifts God has given me. Secondly, God works through us according to our willingness. We have to have a willing heart. Jesus didn't pick the most talented, spiritual, or gifted people to be his disciples. He was and still is looking for people who are willing. And finally, God works through us according to our purpose. We have all been given a purpose to serve and to love both in and out of the church.

Another thing Caleb said that resonated with me today is that "God elevates that which we cultivate." Like I said, I started serving at church a little over a year ago. It took me awhile to dive in but I feel God pulling on my heart to get involved and to use the gifts he has given me. So I started serving in in the nursery. After serving consistently for several months, I was asked to serve at the West Sac campus once a month with the Preschool program. Later I was asked to co-lead a sisterhood group and eventually lead it by myself for a little while. I found myself getting asked to do more and more things and while it did give me more position, all I wanted and still want to do it serve in whatever way God is asking me to serve. This last week, I got a call from Pastor Chrissy asking if I would be willing to let them put my name up for a position on the Board for Project Church. I was shocked and thought, well why me? Who am I? I'm single, young (well... almost 30... I don't feel that young physically but maybe like mentally???), a woman, and have only been going to church here for just over 2 years. But what she shared with me was so encouraging and uplifting. She said that many people had suggested my name when they were thinking and praying about potential new board members. They spoke of my faithfulness and my consistency in serving. They spoke of the maturity and wisdom I have shared with others and the advice and counsel that I have given to others in the church which is why they wanted me on the board. At the Partners meeting that weekend, they introduced the possible new board members and asked that those present vote on the new board members. Myself, along with the three others who were nominated were all voted in as new board members. And while it's exciting and new, it consider it a huge honor to continue to serve my church in this new area. God really does elevate that which we cultivate. 

Be encouraged. Live out your purpose. Ask God to use you and work through you. He is going to do amazing things. The best is yet to come!

NOTE: Here is the sermon if you would like to hear more.

Frozen Chosens

What do you think of when you hear the term Catholic? What is your experience with the Catholic church? Working at a Catholic school, I have learned a lot about what the Catholics believe and how they pray and worship. While I know there are things that I do not agree with, there are many things that I love about the Catholic church. Their traditions, their prayers, their services (sometimes), all are very thought out and beautiful. I have met some devout Catholics who go to Mass every Sunday and I have met a few that are more relaxed in their practice. Overall though I have found that they have a huge heart for others and a desire to serve and bring God's kingdom here on earth.

Now, if you have every been to any sort of Catholic service, you will know that it can be a little stuffy at times. I don't mean that in a bad way, but there is a precise order and routine to it all. And routine sounds bad but I don't really know what else to call it. There isn't much movement when singing and there is absolutely no clapping after songs or anything like that.

This last Monday, the kids had the day off of school so that we could have our staff spiritual retreat day. We had a guest speaker for the day who I seriously thought was maybe a Southern Baptist in another life because she was unlike any Catholic I have ever met. She proclaimed the gospel (which is definitely NEVER done by women during Mass, but it wasn't Mass so they said it was alright), she dressed up and acted out bible stories. She made us stand up and sing and dance and clap our hands which made a lot of people, including myself, extremely uncomfortable. She could tell that people were uncomfortable and made a comment about how the Catholic church tends to get a little stiff at times, calling themselves the "Frozen Chosens." But she encouraged everyone to get out of their comfort zone for the day and really allow themselves to be open to what God was doing.

While I found that title hilarious, I couldn't help but feel a little convicted. How many times in my life, and even during that day retreat, have I felt uncomfortable in expressing my love and worship for God? Why was it ok for me to worship in my church on Sunday with reckless abandon but I could side step and clap during our spiritual retreat on Monday? How many times in my day to day life have I chosen the path of the Frozen Chosen instead of complete surrender in worship of the King of Kings?

This Is Us

There's a new show on television (well... it was new this year... it actually already had it's season finale... so I will try to not spoil it for you) called This Is Us. Have you seen it? It's amazing! Probably one of my favorite shows on television right now. It follows the story of this family and the ups and the downs of their lives together. I love stories like that. Ones that really capture what it means to be human. The everyday challenges that we face. The ones that just feel real, you know? It also helps that they have an amazing music selection but that's beside the point.

Now I don't want to ruin too much of the story for you in case you haven't seen it yet and want to (seriously! The first episode alone is worth watching... so creative and a storyline I have NEVER seen before) but there was a moment a couple of episodes ago that really got me thinking. Now again, if you haven't seen it, SPOILER ALERT! Stop reading right now and go watch the show... when you finish the season then you can come back and read the rest of this post.

Ok... So in the show, one of the main characters is adopted and in the first episode he finds his biological father. He then spends time building a relationship with this man and he comes to find out that his father is very sick. He has terminal cancer. He takes his father in and introduces him to his daughters and they build a relationship together as he attempts to fight his cancer. Eventually it gets to be too much and he stops the treatment. And without going into too many details in case you still haven't seen it and are still reading this, his biological father dies.

The episode that stood out to me the most though was the one after he died. He had asked his granddaughters to plan his memorial service to make sure it wasn't too sad. Throughout the entire episode, Randall (the character who lost his dad) was trying to figure out how to honor his father. The one thing he was really struggling with, which I found so profound and intriguing was remembering how he lived his life before meeting his biological father and choosing how he would live his life after knowing his biological father. You see, he didn't have much time with him (less than a year really), but he knew the impact that that time spent together had on him. He knew that he couldn't live his life the same having known the man that he knew, even for just a brief time.

Have you had anyone like that in your life? Someone who blows in and out of your life like a flash but has such a profound impact, that you find yourself knowing that you cannot live the same way having known that person? There are a few people that come to my mind. My grandma Linda for sure. She was in my life for 27 years so she didn't come and go in a flash. But the extra time that I got to spend with her when she was sick I wouldn't trade for anything. To see her faith insight of her fear. To see her light up at the sound of her favorite hymns even when she couldn't hold a conversation. To see her spirit and her joy at a familiar face, even when she couldn't find the name. That has changed me forever. Because of that I will never be the same. I cannot live my life the same.

Who is that person for you? And how have they changed you?


It's been a couple of weeks now since our big women's event at our church and I think that I have recovered enough to write about it. In case you missed other posts, the event is called Fashioned and the theme this year was being Fashioned in Strength and was a very busy two night event. Being a sisterhood group leader, I was super involved both evenings and was in the skit which made for a crazy busy weekend. Friday night started around 5:00pm (I got my times mixed up and accidentally got there early) in downtown Sac. The space was beautiful and intimate and very welcoming for our small group of women coming to the first night. Women were greeted and welcomed by sisterhood group leaders before we all entered into a time of worship. The worship was powerful and passionate and you really felt the presence of the Lord in that room. After worship, our guest speaker, Deborah Giles of Jesus Culture, was introduced and she proceeded to do something that I honestly have never really witnessed in person before. I mean I have always believed that it happens; we have proof of it happening in the bible and I have heard stories of it happening now a days, but growing up in a somewhat conservative church, it wasn't something I ever got to experience. You see, our speaker hears from God. She is a modern day prophet. During worship she heard a word from God for specific women in the room. After worship she went around the room sharing that personal, specific word with those specific women. She went right up to them and spoke truth over them and shared with them the personal message of what God wanted them to hear. It was moving and inspiring and made me so excited to be a witness to that. She then spoke about strength and our theme. She spoke about growing up in ministry and some of the obstacles she had to face. Her word was encouraging and uplifting and filled the women in the room, including myself with strength and excitement for night two.

Night two was on Saturday which was a super long day. It started with breakfast with a sisterhood group, followed by lifting with Jessica for the day. I then ran home for a bit to be with Toby and eat some lunch. But then it was out the door again at 12:30 and off to the Crest for set up and prep. Most of the afternoon was spent moving boxes, decorating balloons, and helping to transform the Crest into a welcoming, fun, and beautiful environment for the women coming later that evening. Like I said earlier, I was in the skit so I was lucky enough to have someone do my makeup for me. She did my eyebrows for me (which is awesome because I have no idea how to do them... I sort of make it up each day I do them...) and some blush and stuff. After make-up, I rushed upstairs for a quick run through of the sketch and to warm up a little for my part in the skit. The skit was a Hans and Franz parody in which we had some "volunteers" come and show up the strong men on the stage. My part was to do a deadlift. The boys did their lift first, then asked for a "volunteer." I went up and told them to put on more weight, then did a quick set of three with the bar and three plates (it was only a 10, and 25, and a 35... nothing crazy). The audience went nuts! And even though it wasn't that much weight, it felt really good to display an example of physical strength in front of a room of supportive, strong, and loving women of God.

But before all of this happened, I joined the rest of the sisterhood group leaders in welcoming women to the event with signs and lots of yelling. An old coworker came to the event with her daughter and they were shocked to see me so involved in the event. From welcoming people, to being in the skit, to  even being on the prayer team after the event, she was surprised and impressed at the person I had become. Many people commented on my makeup and that I looked really good, but one sisterhood group leader told me that I was just glowing. I myself was again surprised and was almost unable to recognize myself that evening. Not because I had make up on or because of what I was wearing (which was leggings because I had to lift... so nothing cute) or because I was able to lift some weights, but because God truly has been transforming me and molding me into a new person. It's amazing how God can take a quiet, comfortable introvert and transform her into a tool for His purpose and His glory.

Once again, our speaker Deborah brought the word. Women were moved and encouraged and I believe that many of them found freedom in Jesus that night. I had the opportunity to pray with many women, and although I felt inferior and unable to offer them anything, I was encouraged that in my weakness, He is made strong.

It's now been several weeks since the event but I am still so encouraged by all that happened that weekend. I was reminded of my strength in Christ and in the community I am surrounded by. Remember that you are strong in whatever God has given you purpose to do. Everything you have been given, everything you are, and everything you ever could and will be can be used to reveal His glory. That is where our strength comes from. Be encouraged. Remember that you are strong. You are loved. And you are Beautiful!


Thursday, March 02, 2017

I Get Knocked Down... But I Get Up Again...

Being a teacher is hard. Sometimes I forget how hard my job is, but am quickly reminded when I have weeks like this one (it's funny, now that I think of it because the last time I had a rough week like this was right before our last big Sisterhood event... oh how the enemy likes to attack when God is about to do something big...). It's easy to get into your routine and go through the motions as a teacher. You sort of get into a groove and lessons are going well, you are getting through your curriculum, you are having positive interactions with your students, and you really feel like you are making a difference... Then you get the email... Any other teachers out there know the email I am talking about... The one from a parent or admin questioning your practice or policy or teaching or knowledge or... the list goes on...

Not a big deal right? It's just an email... But sometimes this email can seriously throw you for a loop... You become defensive and hurt that people would question your motives or your ability to do your job. You become angry and bitter and just want it all to go away, but have a hard time pushing it out of your mind. I got one of those emails this week. And without going into details about what it was about, it really threw me for a loop a little. It made me feel small and like I wasn't good enough. It made me feel like a bad teacher and a bad person and made me question if what I am doing is really making a difference or is worth it in the long run.

After reviewing the email with a few people, I was reminded that I am a good teacher and I am doing what needs to be done to help my students be successful. But it's crazy how a few written words can really just cut you down and make you feel small.

If you are a teacher, I feel you. I know what those emails are like and I know how they make us feel. You are a good teacher and you know what you are doing. Stand strong in that.

If you are a parent, be kind to your child's teacher. Most of them really love your kids and want the best for them just like you. Work with them and don't cut them down.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Who Is This Person?

Have you ever made some changes in your life? Nothing major, just minor improvements of stepping out of your comfort zone, listening to the Lord, taking better care of your health, putting your health and wellness as a priority? A lot has changed in the last year or so and I think it took me until this moment standing in my kitchen (yes... I am standing in my kitchen with my laptop on the counter typing at the moment while I wait for the oven) to realize I don't completely recognize this person.

Now I don't think that is a bad thing and I don't think I am a completely different person, but I can see that these small changes I have made in my life are really making a difference in my attitude, my relationships, and my well being. 

I've been nothing some changes for a little while now and like I said, these changes have been progressive. It started a little over a year ago when I finally got involved in church. I joined a sisterhood group (see my previous post), then joined a community group. I took the foundations class and actually became a "member" (aka partner) at a church that I chose for myself for the first time in my adult life. Around that time I started serving and getting involved and I finally started to meet people and get connected. I recently became a sisterhood group leader and am helping with our big Fashioned event coming up March 3rd and 4th (it's going to be amazing... you should all come...). I played my guitar and sang for our two masses on one of our student retreats two weeks ago. I even sent in a recording of me singing to maybe join the worship team... I haven't heard back yet and they might not even want or need me. But I knew that it was on my heart to do it so I did it. 

In my personal life I joined a couple of online dating sites, which turns out were definitely not for me, but it was a step in the right direction acknowledging that I couldn't sit on my butt and wait around for the Fedex guy to magically become my husband. I became more confident in who I was (which definitely took some hard core melt downs and wrestling sessions with my insecurities and self-worth... which are not totally fixed but on the mend) and what I have to offer. More importantly, I am constantly be reminded of who I am in Christ and who He has created me to be. I really do believe that He has great plans for me and I can't wait to see them come to pass. But back to my personal life... I'm taking more risks. Last night I went to the movies by myself. I saw Hidden Figures and totally nerded out over the math problems and things in the movie (it was glorious). I signed up for a kickball league in downtown Sac (it was supposed to start last week but the last two weeks were canceled because of the rain) where I don't know a single person on the team or even in the league. 

Health-wise, I am back in the gym lifting again. I finally found someone to train with. She pushes me out of my comfort zone with training and kicks my butt most days. I finished my second round of Whole 30 and just have a different relationship with food than I ever had before. I care about what I put in my body and how it makes me feel. I have lost over 20 pounds since august and went down a jean size. I am almost two months into my year of no gluten and I can safely say I haven't had any major migraines yet (a few headaches here and there but nothing crazy). I've somehow become the expert on Whole 30 and have been encouraging friends, family, and even students to be successful on Whole 30. 

Even now, as I finish typing this post, I find myself not totally recognizing the person standing in my kitchen. Leggings, trucker hat, nikes, and my apron... drinking my gluten free beer (which is delicious btw) and typing away while I wait for my Paleo Butternut squash soap to be done (side-note: I just got off the phone with my friend who said that should be my Tinder profile... Or at least there should be a dating website that works a little like the Nordstrom website where people can see the person for who they really are and add them to their cart or not... Anyone know of a dating website like that? Let me know...). And as I stand here and wait, I can honestly say, I don't totally recognize myself, but I'm not mad about it...

Fashioned in Strength

Growing up in church and working at a Christian camp and conference center,I remember seeing the women’s groups and thinking that I would never be a part of something like that when I grew up. At camp, I saw women’s groups come in and out, running their events, and never had a desire to be a part it. I was too much of an introvert and didn’t think that socializing with a group of women was something I wanted or needed. Oh my, how God has a sense of humor. I first joined a sisterhood group at Project Church because I felt like I needed to get involved. To be perfectly honest, I was trying to sign up for community groups to meet guys but it was in between sessions and there were no community groups at that time. So I figured, ok… why not… I’ll give this a shot.

After my first sisterhood meeting, I was hooked. We met for breakfast and I was amazed at the diversity of the women in our group and their interest in getting to know me. Not what I do or whether I am married or not; all they were interested in was getting to know the real me. To say that my sisterhood group has been a blessing to me is an understatement. To be surrounded by a group of women from different walks of life, with different experiences and stories has been incredible. Being able to share my life with other women who have had similar experiences, who constantly speak truth into my life and point me back to Jesus has meant more to me than I can express in words.

If you have ever been to the Redwood National forest, you have seen these beautiful, monstrous trees that grow to hundreds of feet tall. Yet you may have also noticed that their roots sometimes are popping up out of the ground. In reality, the roots of these trees only grow 6 to 12 feet deep. So how do these trees withstand the winds and storms? Their roots grow out wide a good 50+ feet and intertwine with the roots of their surrounding trees. Together, they help those around them withstand the storm. This is what my sisterhood groups is for me. They have helped me withstand the storms of life by keeping me rooted in Christ and have strengthened me to continue to grow tremendously over this last year and for that I am truly grateful.