Woohoo! I hope you have been enjoying the past couple of weeks with family and friends. I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and you are looking forward to the New Year. I don’t know about you, but I have been very reflective the past few days. I’m always stirred to do this at the end of the year. I look back on the year, give praises and glory to the Lord, and then get excited about what He is stirring in my heart for the next year. I have to say, 2016 was chalk FULL of accomplishments, lessons learned, surprises, disappointments, victories, and a TON of spiritual growth, which is exactly what I sensed was going to take place about this time last year.
I had no idea the holy discontentment I would experience in January of this year would lead to not one, but two more challenges for the year, where several women would experience physical wellness, and gain a sense of strength over the course of forty-five days. I also had no idea several of us would take on the challenge of doing fifty 5k’s in fifty days, and complete them (Hubster included). Nor did I expect to completely fall off the fitness wagon after finishing. I would have never guessed my family and I would have enjoyed building, raising and gathering from the chickens we added to our home – but we did.
I was delighted as the Lord began transforming this site and social media outlets into a place that would better encourage, support and edify other women on their journeys to becoming whole in spirit, soul and body. I loved sharing not one but two 5k races with my dear friend. I loved witnessing my daughter grow spiritually, as well as become more independent, on our mission trip to the Dominican Republic, together.
Life changed following that mission trip. Our oldest grew up and seemed to launch from the nest sooner than we expected. Our youngest literally growing at a rate of one inch per month, while exploring who she is becoming. The constant, as we all know, was change. Our marriage changed. Our family changed. Our friendships changed. Our hearts changed. We wanted more after that trip. More love. More life. More living without fear. More LIVING.
Books like “Undaunted”, “Wild & Free”, and “Fervent Prayer” moved me from a place where I really wanted to settle into, into places where I would be extremely uncomfortable – and the response from others would make me even more uncomfortable. But looking back, it was all necessary. From praying with our private online community for so many women I love, to going live and sharing about ensuring we set aside time, have true connections, and understand brokenness, as well as being cautious of ditches. It was all necessary.
God was stretching me. Seeing if I truly was willing to go wherever He would lead. Like creating the recipe book and compiling the devotions book, and then asking others to review for me. All this both excited me and made me uneasy at the same time. I knew I could create for my daughters, I desire nothing more than to leave them with items possessing eternal value. But being open to others’ criticism, while also feeling the lack of support from some I never would have guessed, generated unease I had to hand over to the Lord and trust He was going to do something with. When He surprised me with new support and encouragement, I began seeing sometimes that is how it goes – there will be a pruning and growing – and it’s ok.
In October, when I was faced with the notion of having only twelve months to live, my entire perspective shifted. A resolve solidified in my soul that there are no other options BUT to follow wherever He leads, and that living testimony to my husband and girls is all I really need to leave behind. There’s that word LIVING – again. While contemplating and praying about what living might look like in 2017, so many things came to mind…
Months went by and my episodes persisted on a near daily basis, taking me out of my career for a few months - they were crippling. Doctors had no answers, research overwhelmed me. I'd try to block them out and focus on a competition, with no luck. When I began to deal with things and look to God, things began getting better. Episodes went from near daily to sporadic, and about one or two per month. Then from month to month, to every once in a while, with the entire phenomenon lasting about two years.
When I hiked up a mountain in Seattle, while visiting my trainer-turned-ah-mazing friend @chellefit, something shifted within. Marriage still in turmoil, I began focusing one ME - getting strong again, began a blog, and set out to compete - again - but this time WITH God.
As I looked for folks who knew it was important to combine faith, fitness and food, I came across @kimdolanleto I'd seen her in @oxygenmagazine as a fitness model and had always admired her physique and the hard work she put in for it. But now! Now she was sharing a book RIGHT UP MY ALLEY. She was now inspiring me on a different level.
The first year of the blog my hubby and I grew stronger, competing in a sprint and super @spartanrace together, earning a place in @strongfitness magazines digital training guide. Reflecting our renewed commitment to one another, no matter what. My shift from self and circumstances, to God, our family and others, seemed to be curing my "ill".
When I met @amandalatona last November during our first group challenge, and following #TeamAmanda training, she shared her heart with me about God, loving her husband, and relying on grace to move through whatever platform He gives us. She was another I admired from Oxygen magazine. In fact, during my two years of paralyzing episodes, all I could do was pin images of inspiration of where i hoped to be one day, because I physically couldn't train at the time. Amanda was a huge source of inspiration.
This past year, it's like God took ALL this and blessed me with a confidence in Him like I'd never known. My peace comes from Him. My guidance comes from Him. My love for Him, compels me to love others and KEEP GOING. And He's doing so much. So this is the result of a four year inner transformation, one I wouldn't trade for the world!
2017 is the year I'd like to see the physical, match what's on the outside. But if not, I'm perfectly fine with the healthy-complete-in-Christ 155 pounds, 37% body fat seen here. I pray this blesses someone, today, and encourages you to NOT GIVE UP. Keep looking forward, allow Love in, and be strengthened ❤ There's more to be written in YOUR story.....
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