Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happy September!

Long time, no blogging! I can’t believe it’s been 3 months since I last posted. This summer has definitely been a busy one. There’s been a lot of change and some challenges the past few months, but overall it’s been very rewarding and enriching. Here’s a recap of what I’ve been up to…

*We moved into our new home at the beginning of June. We’ve been getting settled into the house – making it our own more and more every day. Almost all of the indoor painting is done and we’ll be working on unpacking boxes and starting the finishing touches on our basement over the winter months. Most of the landscaping is already complete, so in the years to come we’ll just have to plant what we want and work on keeping up the deck and porch areas. It’s a beautiful home – sometimes I can’t believe I really live there – I feel like I have to pinch myself when I wake up in the morning. It’s really a dream come true!

*I’ve been continuing to diet and exercise (when it’s not super hot and humid out). As of the end of August, I am down 30.4 lbs and to a size 1/2! I feel and look the best that I have in a long time, if I do say so myself. I never expected to lose this much weight. I’m so glad I made the commitment and was able to stick with it…now if only I could get some clothes that fit…lol!

*I found out around Memorial Day weekend that I am going to be an Aunt as my little brother and his fiancĂ© are expecting their first child on February 14, 2011 (Valentine’s Day). We got the news on Monday that this baby is going to be a BOY! So, I will have a nephew in the New Year and I must say, I am already thinking of ways to spoil this kid rotten!

*My Aunt Beth and I completed one bible study together and are now working our way through a second study, both by Kelly Minter, whom we are both so blessed to have discovered. We joined Beth Moore’s LPM Blog and the Siestas for “Ruth: Loss, Love, and Legacy” and let me tell you, for only being 4 chapters long, the Book of Ruth is PACKED with so much wisdom and practical insight for today’s world. It seemed every time I opened up the studies pages, the lesson was speaking to exactly what I was facing. It was wonderful and refreshing. Now we’re working on “No Other Gods: Confronting Our Modern-Day Idols” and in only 3 weeks of completion, I am already learning so much. A lot of what the study has focused on has taken me back to previous studies I’ve done and has reaffirmed things I feel God has been speaking to me for quite some time. I really appreciate Kelly Minter’s style – these are the kind of studies I like to curl up with in my chair and a hot cup of coffee. I highly recommend these if anyone out there is looking for low-key but impactful studies!

*We’ve been continuing to go up north to our “home away from home” when we aren’t feeling the need to stay at our real home and accomplish things there. It’s been a beautiful summer weather-wise – we’ve been able to swim as much as we want and have had a great time with family and other campers who have chosen the marina as their “home away from home” as well. We actually had the opportunity to take a week vacation the last week of July, which tied in perfectly with our 3rd anniversary. We were up in Ludington for part of the week and then ventured up to Harbor Springs as my husband had a 2 day seminar for work. While he was off learning, I traveled the coast from Charlevoix, through Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Cross Village, Sturgeon Bay, all the way up to Mackinaw City. It was a great time and a much needed break!

*Work has been good, but challenging, in that we aren’t sure about funding for the coming year – specifically with my program. We’re hoping to know something this month, but it could go either way. The hardest part is the uncertainty; other than that, everything is going well. Regardless of what happens, I’m very grateful for what the last couple years have afforded me in this position. I have learned so much and have been blessed to work with great individuals – all educated, talented, and hard-working individuals. We don’t serve the easiest of clients and in this economy it’s even more difficult considering we’re in the business of workforce development. But all of us show up to work every day and do our absolute best and that’s something to be proud of, so I think all of us will be just fine no matter what happens. My new motto is, “Keep the faith! Life is GOOD!”

*We just closed on and sold our other house yesterday. What a relief and a blessing. Again, with the economy being the way it is, there’s a huge risk you take when you put your house on the market and have a new one urging you to pay the bills. But, we prayed and kept positive, and it all worked out.

That’s basically all I have for updates, aside from that fact that this coming weekend I will be traveling to Tucson, Arizona to see my very dear friend from college, Stephanie, get married to her wonderful man, Todd. I am so very excited to see her and give her a big hug. They are expecting their first child and I can’t wait to see that cute baby bump! It’s going to be a great time!

Well, there will be much more in the weeks and months to come for sure. I will try to be better about posting more consistently now that things are getting somewhat back to normal. I’m excited to see what the future will bring as I move forward in the blessings God has bestowed upon me. I’ll be leading another small group through church this fall and we’ll be studying “One in a Million” by Priscilla Shirer, so I’ll share some insights on that as well. God always speaks so much to me through the bible studies we do as a group (in fact, I actually picked up this book back in the spring when I went to Lifeway down in Tennessee – talk about God speaking!) The women are such a delight to learn and fellowship with on a weekly basis.

That’s all I have to share for the time being. I’ll close now with the passage of scripture I feel I am being lead to memorize over the next 15 days…

1 John 4:16, 18
“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

There is no need to fear, God is here! Keep the faith! Life is GOOD!

Blessing, Love, and Peace,

Monday, May 31, 2010

Scripture Memory Verse #11

Happy June! So much has been going on in the past couple weeks since I last wrote. Let me give an update...

Health and Fitness:
Still actively working out (primarily lifting weights and running). I am currently down 21 lbs and am incredibly happy with the fact that I reached my goal and can now just focus on maintaining this current weight. If I continue to lose some that's okay too, but staying healthy and fit are the main focus at this point.

My Aunt Beth and I traveled to Grand Rapids two weekends ago to see Beth Moore at Van Andel Arena for Living Proof LIVE! We made it a girl's getaway weekend of sorts. It was an awesome event and I am still relishing the message she passed on to us. It definitely hit home in more ways than even I could see then. Since hearing her teach and going back over my notes, I am realizing how much I need to put the message into action! (More on that when I share my verse for this blog...)

Currently involved with packing up our current house and getting ready to make the big transition out to the country on Thursday. Hoping everything between now and then falls into place so we are ready to go! It's been quite a process - quite tiring and stressful to be honest. I've realized just how much stuff we have and it makes me just want to simplify everything as we start fresh in this new place. I'm hoping that as we unpack, we'll be able to eliminate more stuff and be able to keep things neat and tidy. I'm sure between the hubby and I, we can make that happen!

On a fun note, we are going to see "Phantom of the Opera" tonight! This will be the third time we've seen it for both of us, but we love it and can't wait to see the magic unfold!

So, that's the latest. Now on to my verse for the next couple weeks....

I mentioned above that I was realizing how much I needed to put the message Beth Moore shared with us in action. Her message centered around the theme of trees and was titled, "Lessons from out on a Limb." One of the "limbs" she shared was "Trees Need Reign" and with this, that there are four types of things that tend to reign over us. The idea of the "thornbushes" (Judges 9:17-15), representing the difficulties/frustrations/annoyances of life, reigning over us really resonated with me. I tend to dwell on the negativities of everyday life and allow the challenges I face to rule over my heart, mind, and spirit. It's not always good for the attitude, especially when it comes to having to deal with others. It's all too easy at times to take my frustrations out on others, rather than giving it over to God.

I was pondering over this during the long weekend. While having my coffee and just enjoying the peace and quiet of my up north retreat, I opened the scriptures and found a verse that really spoke to me.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
"Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

This is the attitude I need to embrace. Rather than allowing circumstances and little petty things to get the best of me, I need to keep my eyes centered on Jesus and the promises He has made to me, as well as the inheritance I have in Him. As a new creation in Him, I need to be denying the old self and it's behavior and letting the Holy Spirit do a mighty work in me each and every day. So, this is my prayer - to be renewed by Him day by day and focus on the unseen treasures and blessings I have in Him. I ask that Jesus enter my heart and that He will have dominion over my words, thoughts, and actions. May they reveal a life embedded in His Word and the encounters I have had with this magnificent God! Amen.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Scripture Memory Verse #10

Well, there sure has been a lot going on in my life since the last time I posted! I’m posting a little later than normal because we were up north over the weekend and the wireless internet isn’t set up at this point, so today will do just fine!

Just an update on my diet and exercising….I’ve continued to work out consistently throughout the week and have finally hit my weight-loss goal of 20 LBS! As of this morning, I have lost 20.2 lbs! I am very happy and excited to have finally met this goal. I had intended to meet this by June 1st, and am thrilled to have met it 2 weeks early! I intend to continue to stick to my guns and stay motivated. At this point, my overall goal is to stay fit and be healthy. I will still track my progress and report as needed.

In other exciting news, we are soon going to be the owners of a newer home out in the country! The offer we put on the house back in March was accepted and we are moving forward. There’s a lot to do before we actually move – tidying and packing, cleaning and organizing, painting and updating – the list goes on…but I’m really trying not to get overwhelmed and just take it one day at a time. My husband and I make a good team (thank the Lord!), so I’m confident we’ll be just fine. We are totally trusting in God to be with us as we make this life-changing transition!

My aunt and I are traveling to Grand Rapids this weekend to see Living Proof LIVE with Beth Moore! We are really looking forward to seeing her teach in person! We are huge Beth fans, so this is a real treat! I’m especially looking forward to the “spiritual retreatness” of the occasion. It’s always nice to get away and spend time with another person who lives in the faith. I’m hoping it’ll be just the thing I need to get through the next few weeks with the above mentioned activities!

Onto the reason for my post…

I recently listened to a Beth Moore video (big surprise, right?) in which she talked about prayer. She pointed to a verse that I had never really noticed before, but it's now become something I think about while I'm preparing for the busy day ahead each morning.

Psalm 90:14
"Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days."

What I so love about this verse is that it makes it clear that the only thing that can ever satisfy our souls is the love of God and that when we draw strength from that first thing in the morning, it is with us the whole day. That's a big deal. I know throughout a normal day, I encounter challenges and difficulties that were it not for God's unfailing love, I may not have the ability to get through them. But with God, I can get through everything and still have joy and gladness. It's really a mindset and an attitude - that no matter what happens, God loves me and that love is all I need to live. Amazingly simple! I need some simplicity!

I hope this verse will become my daily morning prayer and that at the end of each day, I can look back and see how God's unfailing love carried me through. Thank You, Lord, for Your truth, wisdom, and love! You are an awesome God and I love you so much. I praise You for the amazing things You are doing in my life. Amen!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Scripture Memory Verse #9

Happy May! Already 5 months into the new year - how time flies! It's so refreshing to see the earth coming back to life after winter. The scents and colors of this spring season make me so very excited for the coming summer!

Since my last post, I ran in the Mid-Michigan Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K. It was a fabulous experience - awesome and inspiring in so many ways. My girlfriend, Nicole, and my husband, both ran with me. We had a great time and all did a great job time-wise. I was proud to finish better than my last race at 28:01. I'm going to continue to work on improving that over this summer by doing other various 5K's around the area.

It's so cool how running has opened up doors for me that I didn't see possible. I thank God for the ability to run and the opportunity to grow in the process. Since my last post, I have hit the weight loss mark of 18 lbs. I feel great and definitely have experienced a boost in my self-esteem and confidence. From the beginning though, it's always been about being healthy and living the fullest life possible. I hope that my challenges and successes will help to serve others who have faced what I've faced and will encourage and inspire them to live their best lives too! It's a journey worth taking!

To close on the subject of running, I will add that May is National Runners' Month. I've been struggling to find a race to run this month because of my obligations to our business venture up north on the weekends, but I will be training this month for a race on January 12th up in Ludington, MI - the Ludington Lakestride - very exciting to be running in one of my most cherished places! And I'd like to share this quote that I got via email through Runner's World...I absolutely love it because it totally defines what running has become for me...

"Running is a retreat, a place to commune with God and yourself, a place for psychological and spiritual renewal." -George Sheehan, M.D.

Now onto the real reason for my 9th scripture to focus on over the next 15 days...

I'm wrapping up my Esther study this week with my women's small group at church. This time of year is always bittersweet - while it'll be nice to have my Wednesdays opened back up during the week, I'm going to miss immersing myself in such detailed study of God's Word and the fellowship I've experienced with these precious ladies. Thankfully, more studies await me in the future, but I'm hoping that the teachings from this study last long into the coming months until I start back up again (most likely in the fall).

I mention my bible study, because I read the verse I've chosen while doing the final week of homework. The verse I decided to focus on is one that reflects my heart, as it most closely resonates with the testimony I hope to have every day of my life. It is...

Psalm 16:5-6
"LORD, you have assigned my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance."

The verse, as well as Beth Moore's commentary of the verse, really hit me in the deepest part of my heart. Every day presents new challenges and victories (some big, some small), as well as good things and bad things. It is all too easy for me to get caught up stressing about the small things and feeling like life is going to fall apart if I can't do this or that, or this does or doesn't work out. I'm the type of person who has a list of things to do for every day of the week, and I'll be darned if those things don't happen in that exact see where I'm going with this. So much of my effort in one day is wrapped up in trying to control every last detail, fretting to make sure that every little thing works out as I have it planned.

BUT, God calls me to a different way of operation. He values my gifts of administration and planning - it has it's place in my life - but ultimately, He is in control! My life is going to work out, despite all the ups and downs, simply because He is the author, creator, and leader of my life. In Him, I am secure and I have no need to worry about every little thing. He has my inheritance ready for me - I just have to trust that He is there no matter what! Seems easy enough, right?

My prayer is to reflect on this verse over the coming 15 days and thoughtfully consider how I can surrender every bit of my life over to Him every day. I pray that my testimony at the end of each day will read something like this..."Whether it was a good or bad day, everything was as it was supposed to be because my life is all worked out in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Him, I am exactly where I need to be at this very moment. Amen."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Scripture Memory Verse #8

Already that time of the month again...a new verse with new insights from a GREAT God!

This next verse I've chosen to focus on is inspired by my pastor who told us to reflect on this verse over this past week. We are doing a 10 week study over the Book of Colossians and our next message will be examining this scripture...

Colossians 1:13-14
"For he has rescued us from darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

Although I recognize the significance of this verse, especially for what means to me as a Christian, I'm pondering what our pastor will speak about with regards to this passage. I'm going to do my best to reflect and memorize it over the next few days and pray that God will breathe life into my heart through these words as I hear them on Sunday morning!

Just an update on health and fitness...since my last post, I have lost 17.2 lbs total to date! Very excited that I am continuing to tone my body and improve my health. I've boosted up my running for the race happening in a little over a week. I actually ran 3 miles in 28 minutes the other night and all praise to God for that! It was so awesome and such an incredible feeling. Hoping He will help me keep up the good work!

Lastly, just to share for husband and I got free tickets to go see Carrie Underwood in concert last night. It was a great night - there's something magical about live music. I was really pleased with how both artists (Craig Morgan and Carrie Underwood) acknowledged God in their music. For all the fame and wealth they have, it was encouraging to see that these individuals know where their talent comes from and who made them to be the people they are. I was really inspired by it in that it made me think about how I need to be living my passions out for God and His glory. Still pondering those areas - don't have them quite nailed down yet - but I'm going to work it out with Him and see what He reveals.

That's all for now - Goodnight!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Update

Had to share some awesome things the Lord has done over the past Easter weekend...

1) Before leaving for Tennessee on Friday, I got my biopsy results in the mail and the news: negative for any abnormalities! Yay! Don't have to go back to the doctor's for another 6 months - this is fantastic!

2) While in Tennessee, my brother proposed to his lovely girlfriend, Ashley. Everyone in my family absolutely adores her, including me! She is a godly girl and I am proud to call her my "sister" in Christ!

3) Got on the scale this morning and I have finally hit my 15 lb weight loss goal. To date, I have lost 15.8 lbs! Woohoo!

4) I think I ran my fastest 2 miles yet tonight. (Don't know that for sure, but I'm almost 100% sure that I did...I think I'll go with it!)

Anywho, those are my praises! So grateful and blessed for the wonderful things God is accomplishing. I continue to pray that He will use me for His good and complete the good work He has started in me. Amen!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Scripture Memory Verse #7

Happy April! This year is just flying by, but what a great year it has been so far!

I am happy to say that I am still doing well with my workouts and healthy eating plan. To date, I have lost 12.8 lbs! My husband and I ran our first 5K of the year on Saturday, March 20. Although it was the first day of Spring, it was 35 degrees and snowing...that's Michigan for you! BUT, we had a great time. I ran the entire 3.2 miles and finished in 31 minutes. Not bad for my first race in a very long time. We are now preparing for the Susan G. Komen "Race for the Cure" on Sunday, April 25th. I am very excited to run for such a great cause!

Well, the Easter holiday will be here in only 3 days. I've always loved Easter and what means to me as a believer in Jesus Christ. Its the time where we get to celebrate the fact that He conquered death and rose from the grave, a miracle beyond all comprehension, and that points the finger to an Almighty God. In doing so, the chains of sin were broken and we were offered a life of FREEDOM in Him! Isn't that truly amazing? I absolutely LOVE it!

For the next 15 days, I am choosing to focus on a verse that capitalizes the meaning of Easter...

Luke 24:5-6

"Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen!"

I love the question in this verse, and I love that its directed toward WOMEN. How many times do we look at or for dead things - whether they be issues from our past, relationships that are long over, etc. How come we have such a hard time moving forward and living the abundant life to which we are called? How come we don't always believe God for the things He tells us? In the case of this passage, the women had been told Jesus would rise from the dead, but they still journeyed to the tomb to tend to His body. Why? Why do we not listen?

I'm praying that over the next 15 days I will be open to what God is speaking to me - the truths He has to share with me about my life and the direction I'm headed. I'm praying that I would move forward and be FREE from things in my life that are dead and no longer needed. And I pray I'd be obedient in following where He leads.

He is RISEN!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Scripture Memory Verse #6

I love it when God reveals themes to me in the different seasons of my life. At this point in time, I would describe myself as a young married professional, doing my best to maintain a household, live an active and healthy lifestyle, stay connected to my faith, and be the best that I can be in my relationships, work, extracurricular activities, etc.

I've been leading a small group in a women's bible study at church for awhile and I always just go with the flow and participate in whatever study the church is offering. I always find it amazing how the study we do is directly related to what I'm going through in my life. Right now, we're studying "Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman" by Beth Moore and I'm working through Week 5: It's Tough Being a Woman in the Tight Fist of Fear. In addition to this study, I'm also reading the book "So Long, Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us," also by Beth Moore. I'm loving how God is revealing to me the command to trust in Him alone and place all of my security in Him, as opposed to the world and its temporary offers and promises. Not being afraid and placing my heart in His control is exactly what I need to be doing.

Let me give an example of why I need to be focusing on this simple truth...We just placed an offer on a house in the country. We have lived in the city for quite sometime, and for the past few years, we've really been trying to save money so we can retreat to a secluded place. This house is exactly what we've talked about - a lovely ranch, nestled in the woods, with plenty of space for our future family and family/friend gatherings. It offers everything from gorgeous outdoor to cozy indoor entertaining opportunities. It is an exquisite, custom-built home and yes, we have put an offer in on it. The catch: its in short sale status...meaning, its going to take some time. We are in a position where we could stay in the city awhile longer and be just fine or move out to the country and be just fine. Both places have their pros and cons and we're not in a hurry to move. But we've decided this is an amazing opportunity, so why not take a chance and see where God leads us? And as much as I am trusting in God, I'm also getting anxious and nervous all at the same time. I think about the stress of moving, the increased house payments, and leaving our first home together behind. I also think about staying in the city and having to continue to drive 80 miles roundtrip to work each day, sharing a driveway, listening to cars all the time, and having little privacy. Needless to say, I find myself getting stressed out over both options and working myself into a tizzy to try and keep things organized and get things ready to go should this all work out. My mind has had a hard time shutting off at night as I ponder all the differences and try to come up with my idea of what would be best for us. But God is saying, "Hannah, I've already got it figured out. Trust in ME!"

So, to get to the reason for my post... I have found the verse I'm going to be focusing on over the rest of this month...

Isaiah 26:3-4 (The Message)

"People with their minds set on You, you keep completely whole, steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don't quit. Depend on God and keep at it because in the LORD GOD you have a sure thing."

I love this verse, especially the way The Message says it so clearly. It really resonates with me. My prayer is to keep my mind set on Christ no matter what is going on with or around me and to place all of my dependence in the One who already has my whole life planned from beginning to end. I ask that He would allow me to find greater trust and security in Him and that He would reveal His plans to me as I seek out His will for my life. Amen!

Fitness Update: Last week I started training for the 5K I'm doing this weekend and did 18.5 miles of running/walking. I lost 3 lbs over the last week and as of today, I have lost 12.2 lbs total since January 4th!!! The running is really making a difference and I am feeling great! I am only 2.8 lbs away from my real goal, and only 7.8 lbs away from my best goal. I'm curious to see how this will continue. Praises to God for giving me the strength to keep up with my workouts and eating healthy!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

2010 Vision Board

Just a quick post to share the vision board I created for the 2010 year based on the goals and values I have set for myself. It encapsulates everything, including: health/fitness, marriage/family, faith/spirituality, recreation, and encouragement. I am so excited to have it done and in a place where I can see it everyday to keep me focused on the important things in life!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Scripture Memory Verse #5

Happy March! I love it when a new month starts because when I look at the calendar I see a new beginning filled with exciting opportunities and endless possibilities. I am looking forward to what this month will bring!

The sunrise on my way to work this morning was breathtaking. For the first time in a long time, it feels like spring and it’s WONDERFUL! This time of year is incredible to me. After winter, it’s so refreshing to see everything come alive again and be reminded of God’s beauty and the wonder of his creation. I’m excited about spending more time outside, opening the windows to let the fresh air and sunshine in, and the smell of fresh cut green grass. It really doesn’t get any better than that, does it?

Because the sunrise was so inspiring to me this morning, I decided to look online to see if there was a verse that spoke about the sun. I found this one and loved it…

Psalm 19:5-6, NCV
"The sun comes out like a bridegroom from his bedroom.
It rejoices like an athlete eager to run a race.
The sun rises at one end of the sky
and follows its path to the other end.
Nothing hides from its heat.

One of the lines that caught my attention comes from verse 5… “It rejoices like an athlete eager to run a race.” This is very fitting because tonight I actually start my training schedule for the 5K I’ve decided to run on March 20th. I’ve continued with my healthy eating and exercise plan – as of today I’ve officially lost 8 pounds – and I really want to get outside and start running again. I know it won’t be easy, but I’m up for the challenge and feeling good about the opportunity to race in support of a good cause! I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Now, to get to my scripture memory verse for the next 15 days… I was racking my brain trying to think of the area God would like me to focus more on in my spiritual life. I wasn’t quite sure where He was leading, but I got on my church’s website and learned that the first sermon of this month is going to center on prayer and its importance in the life of a believer. Prayer has always been an up and down activity for me. Sometimes I’m really consistent and fervent in my prayers and other times, I’m totally out of the communication loop with Him. I also don’t always know how to listen for God’s answers to my prayers or what I’m listening for exactly. Anyone else ever feel that way? Like you throw it out there and then…what? I’ve realized that prayer is something I really need to cultivate more of in my life. To be in God’s presence and lift everything up to Him, surrendering full control and letting Him take over from there…that’s what I need to do!

So, my 5th scripture for memory is Matthew 6:6 from The Message…

"Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace."

My hope is to not only memorize this verse, but put it into practice! Here's to prayer...Amen!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Scripture Memory Verse #4

I can't believe its already the middle of February! Time is absolutely flying by...but wow is life fun! Some days it doesn't feel that way, in fact sometimes I'm just plain tired, but when I look back over the year of 2010 so far, its been a good one. I hope it continues to be that way!

My diet and exercise plan is still going well. I'm proud to say that when I stepped on the scale this morning, I was two pounds lighter than I was last week! That makes 6 total pounds lost since the beginning of January. Its a process for sure, and it definitely takes discipline and motivation, even when I feel I don't have it within me, but I'm happy to be sticking with it! And the work-outs are something I'm actually enjoying doing after busy days at work. Its become quite the stress-reliever!

My husband is coming home tonight after being in Colorado skiing for an extended weekend with his best friend from college. Its been nice to have some "me time," but I have to say, I am so glad he is going to be with me again in only a few hours! Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. In the time he's been gone, I've realized how much I really do love and cherish my husband. Even though I know I've always felt that way, I just seemed to realize on it on a different level. I have so much respect and admiration for him. Not to mention, he spoils me rotten, even though I don't always deserve it. He definitely puts up with a lot from me and God bless him for it! I am the blessed one though...I feel God's love through my marriage and it is just AWESOME!

Now for the real reason I'm writing... The verse I've picked for the next couple weeks comes from the Book of Philippians, and is a dearly loved verse of many...

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus."
-Philippians 4:6-7

The reason I picked this verse is because I realized during my alone time this weekend that I have given Satan too much power over my mind. I have given in to anxious thoughts, in efforts to control the uncontrollable. Its really been wearing on me...more so than I realized until I had the time to myself and with God to understand just how important it is to operate with a clear head. I'm working on my ability to let go and let God in areas where I have no business dabbling. Before bed last night I prayed for a release of the burdens I've been holding in my head, as well as for refreshment and a clear mind as I started a new week. And when I woke up this morning, I actually did feel different. That is going to be my prayer for awhile until I've mastered this with God. I'm excited to see what God will reveal to me with a mind not focused on junk, but on Him.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Scripture Memory Verse(s) #3

Its that time again...time to focus on another scripture and ingrain not only the words, but what God is speaking to me, into my mind. I have actually chosen 2 verses to focus on over the next 15 days...

Psalm 45:13-14

"All glorious is the princess within her chamber; her gown is interwoven with gold. In embroidered garments she is led to the king..."


Isaiah 61:10

"I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness..."

These verses are inspired by the bible study I'm doing right now on the life of Queen Esther. I just got through the part where she went from being an orphaned Jewish young woman to the Queen of Persia. Its fascinating what God does in the lives of those who trust in Him! As I read the story, I am reminded how yes, there may be people deemed royalty in our society, but all of us who believe in God are royalty in His eyes. As His daughter, I am a princess and everyday that I choose to follow Him, I am being led closer to His heavenly throne!

The second verse is one that was mentioned as part of the study. Similar to the first verse, I like the imagery of the think that not only am I princess in God's eyes, but that He also clothes me in salvation and righteousness...its almost too much! What an honor! How do I, a woman with so many faults and imperfections, rate so high in God's eyes? Its a mystery I hope to someday find out in Heaven, but one that for now, I am eternally grateful for and blessed beyond imagination!

Ultimately, both verses speak of the love, grace, and mercy God extends to those he calls His own. Our God is GOOD! He loves each of us so much. My prayer is that over the next 15 days I would come to better appreciate what these verses speak of me as God's daughter and who God is as my King! Amen.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

An Ode to January

Good Morning! I'm glad to finally be back in the blogging world. We made it through our trip to Las Vegas and WOW, was that an adventure! We had ourselves a very good time and although it was hard to leave such lovely spring-like weather (blue sky, sunshine...not to mention mountains in the distance), it felt good to come home! As much as it was nice to be away from the normal routine and daily demands, it felt like I wasn't just on a vacation physically, but mentally and spiritually as well, and honestly, I didn't like how that felt. I should never let myself go one day, let alone a whole week, without spending time with the Lord...its too precious and necessary to take a vacation from...let that be a lesson to me! No matter how busy a vacation may be, make sure to include time with God!

I am proud to say, however, that going on vacation did not hinder me from jumping back into my daily devotions, bible study, diet, and workout routine upon our return. I have been faithful almost everyday this week to my goals of becoming more spiritually and physically fit! And looking back over the month of January, I am happy to say that I have gotten off to a great start for the year 2010! Its the small life adjustments that over time will make incredible differences! I am excited for what future months will bring.

Well, tomorrow begins a new month and I will be sure to have my scripture memory verse ready. I am realizing that it may not always be feasible for me to blog everyday or every week for that matter, so for now I'll plan on blogging on the 1st and 15th of each month and any time in between will be considered extra.

Goodbye January...Welcome February!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Scripture Memorization Verse #2

Well, I did not expect to be away from blogging for so long! Things have just been so busy - work has picked up, and it was my husband's 40th birthday last weekend complete with surprise party and all. And almost every night this week has been packed full as we're heading to Las Vegas on Monday for a week-long trip. So much to do, so little time it seems! But, it is definitely nice to be back on here and ready to work on memorizing my second verse for the year.

I will say, before I jump into my verse, that I have been very faithful to my diet and exercise plan. Even though I wasn't blogging about it, I have kept on going! I've been sticking to eating healthy, drinking lots of water, and exercising no matter what is going on! In the last two weeks, I am proud to say that I have walked 15 miles via those "Walk Away the Pounds" dvds. As of this past Monday, the scale indicated that I had lost almost a whole pound, and I've noticed that my skin looks clearer, and just in general, I feel happy and healthy through and through! This new way of life is doing wonders for me not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

So, I'd been thinking about the next verse I was going to focus on and two terms that were really coming to mind were "walking" and "faith." I blogged previously about what God has revealed to me about faith, so, I decided to go with a verse about "walking" and this one seems quite appropriate...

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." -1 John 1:7, NIV

My bible comments on this verse by noting that there are two walks of life...1) walking in darkness and 2) walking in the light. Walking in darkness is characterized by wickedness and error, while walking in light is characterized by holiness and truth. I know that sometimes I walk in both darkness and light, but the ultimate goal is to walk faithfully in the light every day of my life!

I've been struggling with a particular friendship lately; one that I want to keep and make better, but one that I'm not sure God wants me to keep and make better. Its really been an emotional rollercoaster for me because I'm not sure what to do. I've got my prayer warrior and best friend praying with me about it and I'm hoping for either a solution or a way out without any more pain and hurt. This verse inspires me because I know that if I walk in the light of God's holiness, truth, and love, that I will find the kind of friendship (fellowship) that builds one up and encourages one to stay out of the darkness. God may work a miracle in the situation I've mentioned and make this friend a part of that divine connection.

I'm also getting ready to start a new bible study through my church. Our women's group is going to be doing Beth Moore's "Esther: Its Tough Being a Woman" study and as a small group leader, I pray this verse over my members as they prepare for and enter this study on Wednesday evenings. I hope that together as a group we can find the kind of fellowship that inspires us to walk everyday in the light and that we will encourage one another to seek God for forgiveness for those times we step out of the light into the darkness. I pray we will seek Jesus at every turn and know it is Him who saves us!

Well, that about wraps this post up for the day. I may not be back on for awhile as I'll be out of town next week, but my hope is that while I'm away that I can experience walking in the light and have some blessings to share with you the next time I blog!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Simply Faith

Another successful workout tonight! Its really easy to do it if I just go right downstairs after work and put on the workout clothes. I think if I sat down upstairs, or did anything else for that matter, I wouldn't be motivated at all. The strategy I've come up should work just fine!

Well, after working out I fixed my husband and I wonderful dinner of baked lemon pepper tilapia, wild rice, and broccoli. It was delicious AND healthy! Can't go wrong there. But I was really excited to get on the computer and blog tonight. I just really wanted to take some time and reflect on God and what He is revealing to me.

I have a little book, called "TouchPoints Bible Promises," that I absolutely adore. I actually bought a copy of it for my best friend Kate before she left for college and when we reconnected after being apart through school, she told me how much the book meant to her and presented me with my very own copy. I treasure this little book of wisdom in so many ways. In just over 250 pages, this book touches on just about every subject, A-Z. I find if I need specific verses to better understand something or just need a dose of refreshment, this is the book to read.

With the new year beginning and with new goals having been set, the topic of "renewal" seemed perfect to read. A verse that came up, and one that I've pondered many times, comes from the Old Testament...

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." -Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NIV)

I love that despite all of my faults, mistakes, and weaknesses, that God still manages to extend His grace and pours out His Spirit on me. I love that after a year of ups and downs, that this new year can be better, filled with only things that He can do! It gives me hope that I can live the best life possible - one beyond my wildest imaginings!

Another verse mentioned comes from the Book of Colossians...

"You have clothed yourselves with a brand new nature that is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you." - Colossians 3:10 (NLT)

Ultimately, choosing to set new goals and seek out God's will for my life requires a great deal of faith. Faith is what is going to keep me going in the direction that will lead me to Christ in eternity. As I learn more about Christ and experience who He is and what He's capable of, my faith will dramatically increase and allow me to not have to worry about worldly matters, but to just rest in Him. Isn't that a wonderful gift? No worries, just resting in the Lord.

In thinking back to my first scripture to memorize, Ephesians 4:24, I asked this question yesterday: "Lord, what does a God-fashioned life look like for me? What does it mean?" I believe God is starting to show me what a life fashioned after Him looks like - it is simply FAITH! Faith to look to God when its the hardest thing to do, faith that He can overcome any obstacles or challenges, faith that He loves me and provides for me, faith that He really exists and that I am who He says I am...the list could go on forever. Faith is going to be what keeps me renewed in my commitment to seek after the best life possible - the God-fashioned life.

Praises to God for bringing some of the pieces together for me so I experience some of what that ideal life looks like now! Thank You, Lord, for loving me and being with me as I faithfully move forward with You in this new year. Amen.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

First Workout Down!

Today was a success! I came home after work and went right downstairs to do my walking work-out. I ended up doing a whole 2 miles and I felt so good not only while doing it, but afterwards. It felt really awesome to take that first step of getting started and I realized for the first time in a long time that I can do this and it can actually be quite fun! I couldn't help but smile while I was in the shower cooling down.

I have every intention of sticking to my plans for eating healthy and working out on a regular basis. As I said yesterday, I know that I can't do it alone and so today my prayers centered on God giving me His power and strength to be motivated, rather than relying on my own. I am happy to say that He answered that prayer and I have faith that He will continue to do so as long as I am willing to surrender to His will for my life - the will to be healthy and keep my body as the sacred temple it is supposed to be.

Here's to (power) walking in faith!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Nobody Said It'd Be Easy

Well, the first official day of my health plan was challenging. I ate consistently throughout the day, pairing carbs with protein, drank two full bottles of water, and then....I crashed! Towards the end of the work day, I started to get a bad headache and after my last snack, I was feeling pangs of I was starving! It was totally not what I was expecting or looking forward to after all that preparation. And to make matters worse, since I wasn't feeling 100% when I got home, I decided to postpone my first night of working out until tomorrow night.

I wouldn't go so far as to say today was a total failure...I stuck to my guns with eating properly and have every intention of working out tomorrow. But I realize I need more that just my own strength to stay motivated and committed to this healthy lifestyle. I need God in every way!

My prayer is that God would extend His marvelous grace to me and that He'd carry me through this change in lifestyle. I pray that God will be in authority over my new goals and that any progress I make will be to His glory. I thank God for loving me and for being with me in my weakness. Amen.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Great Expectations

There's something incredibly sacred about God speaking to His people. With all that goes on around us, unless we're really listening and engaged with God, we'll miss what He's trying to tell us. That's why I love to spend time with God first thing in the morning - while I savor a cup of coffee in my oversized chair, before the rest of the house awakes, and prior to getting in the shower and attending to the ever-growing "to-do" list.

Today, God spoke to me. Both my daily devotional and the sermon at church spoke of how BIG our God is and the expectations we have when it comes to our relationship with Him. I was deeply touched by the messages in both as I became aware that while I have the knowledge of who God is and what He can do, I don't always expect those things of Him and it turn, rely on my own or others abilities to come through for me. This, of course, leads often to heartache, disappointment, and failure as nobody can be everything to me the way that God can.

This may seem simple and obvious, but it became clear to me that with new goals, needs to come a new attitude with renewed expectations. So, in answer to the question, "What do I expect from God this coming year?," my response is that I expect the God of miracles to work a miracle in me - to transform me into the person He desires me to be and redeem me from my past mistakes and weak expectations. Why? Because He's BIG enough to do so! Amen.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Toast to Health

Yesterday I mentioned the spiritual walk I'm embarking on over the coming year, but I didn't delve much into the goals surrounding my physical health...

2009 marked an interesting year for this topic of "physical health." I watched my grandmother battle bladder cancer, complete with chemotherapy and then ultimately complete removal of her bladder last month. She never exhibited any symptoms of cancer, but went in to a routine yearly appointment only to be forever changed by the finding of a tumor in her bladder. It was shocking! One minute, you're completely fine and normal, the next you're being told you have the dreaded C-word!

Later in the year, I went in for my routine check-up and was shocked to find out a few days later that I had high grade pre-cancerous cells, which would mean an outpatient procedure and check-ups every 3 months for a year to monitor these cells. Although my condition is quite common, it was nonetheless emotionally and mentally challenging. Fortunately, I am incredibly blessed to be married to a supportive and loving husband who has been nothing but wonderful through this entire ordeal.

These are just two examples of how my eyes have been opened to the importance of physical health and well-being. Granted, I know that someone can live a perfectly healthy lifestyle and still get sick, but I am still motivated to do whatever I can to live the healthiest and most holistic lifestyle possible. Therefore, I am taking the step towards healthier eating and weekly exercise.

I went to the grocery store yesterday and had a blast picking out the freshest foods in order to prepare small meals and snacks throughout the day. And for Christmas I was fortunate to have been given some walk-at-home dvd's that will make my exercise goals accessible and easy to do. I am really excited about the opportunity to not only get in shape for my summer up north, but to feel and look better inside and out!

Here's to health and well-being in 2010!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010!

A new year has officially begun, which means new goals are set and ready to be achieved over the next 12 months. My biggest goals for this year encompass ways to get spiritually and physically fit. I hope to reach new heights in my relationship with God and by June 1st, be ready for days at my favorite beach up north.

Spiritually, I've made it a goal to be in the Word, in prayer, and in fellowship everyday. Part of my commitment to this is memorizing scripture so that it becomes a part of who I am - my thoughts, speech, and behaviors. Based on a practice I learned from Beth Moore, I am going to pick scriptures that are particularly meaningful to me on the 1st and 15th of each month. As today is the beginning of my journey and the beginning of what hopefully will become a transformation of my soul, I have chosen the following verse to memorize...

"...take on an entirely new way of life - a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct..."
-Ephesians 4:24, The Message

May this verse echo the way of life I hope to embrace over the coming year and into eternity!