Learning to Fuel Our Bodies Well

Fueling Bodies

Photo by Megan Hodges on Unsplash

About six months ago I was having a conversation with my chiropractor about my health and I had this MAJOR “Ah Ha” transformative moment! This was quite the powerful conversation!! You have to understand that I adore my chiropractor and he is an absolute gift from God for our lives. He is also an Italian from NYC and is one of the most out spoken people I have ever met while simultaneously being extremely wise and encouraging. Someday I will write an entire post about him because I have learned SO MUCH. Anyway, we were reviewing all the steps that Adrian and I have taken to reduce the chemicals that we use in our home (cleaning products, laundry, dish soap, etc.) and on our bodies (skincare, shampoos, makeup, etc.). These chemicals weaken our immune systems and cause all kinds of havoc in our bodies…especially mine. So my chiropractor gently and wisely prods me with this question, “Jen, you have done incredible things to remove chemicals from your home and with what you use on your bodies, BUT what about what you are putting IN your bodies? Mic drop! I could say nothing but humbly agree. While we have always maintained certain strict boundaries (zero processed foods, only drinking water, etc), we were not doing our best to fuel our bodies well. Our weight gain was a clear indicator of that fact.Breakfast.pngHis words rang in my mind for months, and God began to draw my heart toward change. Around the same time we were encouraged by several friends to watch a Netflix documentary called “What The Health.” I would highly recommend you check it out. Again God seemed to be using many things to draw our hearts toward change. My conviction going into 2018 was to proactively build nutrition into our meals and fuel our bodies well. Um what does that mean? What path is the right path? My thoughts exactly, lol!

I have learned a ton about nutrition since our journey to get healthy began back in 2010. The problem is there is this constant ongoing struggle in the media about which eating plan is actually healthy. Does anyone else get completely overwhelmed and frustrated by that? Seriously, most of the ways of eating healthy now weren’t even around back in 2010. Is it Gluten Free, Paleo, Weight Watchers, Keto, Whole30, Vegan, etc.??? Each with differing & conflicting methods claiming optimum health for our bodies. This is a stumbling block for many people who then just give up and instead do nothing and remain unhealthy. My position and best counsel is for you to learn to be aware of your own body and what YOUR BODY needs. When you eat a certain way do you feel good physically? Emotionally? Do you have more energy, sleep better, and feel more satisfied? For example when I eat gluten & dairy I tend to have some tummy troubles, cramping, etc. My body is communicating A LOT to me through those actions. When you eat a certain way are you healthier, stronger, and able to maintain a healthy weight?LUNCH.pngI credit much of my self-awareness as it relates to food to the 2 years we participated in the Weight Watcher program. The discipline of daily tracking, weekly meetings, and constant education about food, nutrition, exercise, etc. will benefit me the rest of my life. I have also learned a ton about my body through the multiple times we have participated in Whole30 (a 30 day detox).

I have learned that my body likes fuel every 2-3 hours all day long.

I have learned that as I am aging my body like gluten & dairy less and less and less.

I have learned that many times when I think I’m hungry I actually just need water.

I have learned that I am a better human, wife, friend, etc. when I am OFF sugar. Like for reals y’all!

I have learned that I need to plan ahead and be prepared for holidays, travel, and events in order to stay healthy.

I have learned that cooking is my biggest creative outlet.

I have learned that food is fuel.

I have learned that pretty food is more satisfying.DINNER.pngGoing back to basics on January 1st we joined our church by entering into a season of 40 days of Prayer & Fasting. We felt God’s leading to participate in a Daniel Fast as one portion of our personal fast. Don’t feel bad for us y’all we have been eating all the amazing meals in this post & more!! This fast has been a wonderful journey is more ways than one. We are doing our best to fuel our bodies well and are feeling absolutely FANTASTIC!! I’m so grateful for the love of God and the gentle prodding of my chiropractor to draw us toward greater wellness in 2018. Our journey towards wellness continues and I believe the BEST is yet to come!

I’d love to hear from you!!

What foods fuel your body well? Is your body trying to tell you something?  Are you listening to your body during this season and giving it what it needs to thrive?

Shattering Limits!

Shattering Limits WEB REV

Photo by Jilbert Ebrahimi on Unsplash

Have you ever said the words “I could never do that”?

What spiritual, emotional, & physical limits do you place on yourself?

Do you have people in your life that limit you and speak death over your dreams?

In 2010 I was working as a counseling intern, running at outpatient women’s program at a mental hospital. I got very sick with a fungus called aspergillus in my lungs which led to a 180* shift in my life. In the two and a half years that followed, I had 12 cases of bronchitis or pneumonia and 55 weeks of bedrest. I had 12 different doctors and they couldn’t figure out what was causing the complete shutdown of my immune system. I was unable to work because I couldn’t go more than a month without getting sick. I developed horrible fatigue and lost half my hair. When I got bronchitis I would be in bed for days at a time, often my husband would need to help me shower because I would get so weak. A case of bronchitis would take me 3 to 4 weeks to recover from. During this time I gained even more weight and at over 300 pounds I was the heaviest I had ever been. At my worst, at 35 years old I was taking 24 prescription medications. Y’all I was SICK! My life went from vibrant & fulfilling to one GIANT limit!

I don’t know about you, but I DO NOT like limits. I’m basically the personality type that says, “oh you think I can’t do it, WATCH ME!” It felt like people were lining up to tell me what I couldn’t or shouldn’t do. I was crippled with the limits placed upon me by doctors, well-meaning family & friends, but even worse myself. Now don’t get me wrong, God created limits for a reason and some of them are necessary and important. However, I began to develop a very limiting and unhealthy mindset. My thoughts and plans centered around “I am a sick person” or “I’ll always be sick”. This limited my hope, my dreams, and my future! This was NOT the truth about my life, it was NOT God’s plan, but I believed it and acted upon it for a season.

Fast forward nearly 8 years later I am a completely different person today. In the next few weeks I want to share more in depth my recovery journey but for now let’s just say God is AMAZING!! What the doctors said was broken, God renewed and healed!! See God created our bodies in this incredible way, when you give the body what it needs…God designed it to heal itself! WOW!

Now I am in the business of SHATTERING LIMITS! After losing years of my life to sickness, medication, doctors’ appointments, and bedrest I am now chasing after GOD sized dreams. One of the biggest dreams I am chasing is running in a half marathon. With the approval of God, my husband and my doctor I have registered and am training for a half marathon. {HAPPY DANCE!!!} I am absolutely thrilled and overjoyed at the favor of God for the ability & strength to run this race. God continues to show Himself powerful & mighty in my life.

Joshua 1: 9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you God.” Joshua was a brand new leader for the people of Israel after the mighty man of God, Moses had died. As all new leaders are, Joshua was probably a little insecure and scared. He had huge shoes to fill and was commissioned to fight a bunch of battles and bring God’s people into the Promised Land. I feel like this verse is like a pep talk from God. Think about the limits that could have plagued Joshua’s mind and held him back from God’s purposes. God is in the business of SHATTERING LIMITS! God’s purposes & plans will NOT be limited, thwarted, or compromised. Consider this: how has your story influenced the limits you place on yourself? Are you holding yourself back from following your GOD sized dreams? I believe God wants to give us a pep talked today, to be STRONG & COURAGEOUS, to no longer walk in fear but abide in His truth, and that HE will be with us wherever we go! Let’s break down the walls of self-doubt, fear, insecurity, and confusion friends and begin SHATTINGER LIMITS!!

What GOD sized dreams are you chasing right now? How are you SHATTERING LIMITS?

Interested in reading more? Check out My Testimony

The Power & Beauty of Silence & Stillness

The Power & Beauty WEB

There is a song by Israel & Meleasa Houghton called “To Worship You I Live” that I absolute love. The song begins with these beautiful lyrics:

“Away, away from the noise, Alone with you
Away, away to hear your voice, And meet with you
Nothing else matters, my one desire is

To worship you, I live
To worship you, I live, I live To worship you”

Away, away from the noise…each time I hear that I line I exhale deeply. I totally relate to the need to unplug from the noise of life and enter into His presence. To be alone with Him where truly NOTHING else matters.

Adrian and I were invited to attend a conference last year while in the throes of a difficult season of ministry. With the demands of our busy lives it wasn’t an ideal time for a getaway but it was equally the most needed time. The conference title caught our eyes, The Emotionally Healthy Leaders Conference, the Lord confirmed and we were on our way.

As we settled in at our table and the workshop began, the speaker asked us to close our eyes and sit in silence & stillness for two minutes. As we began, he directed us to take a few long deep breaths and shared that as our minds wander it helps to repeat a short phrase, like “here I am Lord” to refocus our minds on Christ. WOW! It was powerful. I don’t know about everyone else but my mind was OUT. OF. CONTROL with worry, anger, resentments, & responsibilities. To sit still for two whole minutes felt like a million years. I could barely go 10 seconds without redirecting my thoughts back to Christ. In my silence & stillness all of these emotions came flooding in and my eyes welled with tears. It’s incredible how much God accomplished in my heart through that two minute exercise. The speaker then read scripture, a short devotional & prayer, and concluded with another two minutes of silence & stillness before God.

I can honestly say that experience was very transformative for my husband and I. Since that time we are learning to incorporate silence & stillness into our everyday lives. God is doing a deep work in our hearts and we are consciously aware of and value times of silence & stillness before God.

It is in silence that I make room to hear God speak.

It is in stillness that I regain perspective.

It is in silence that I surrender control.

It is in stillness that I refuel.

It is in silence that I receive HIS love, healing, forgiveness, & hope.

It is in stillness that I receive HIS peace, strength, & comfort.

I want you to pause for a moment and think about the last time you sat perfectly still in complete silence. Why not take 60 seconds and do it now. Take a few deep breaths, exhaling the worries & stress you are carrying, inhaling the hope & peace of God. Didn’t that feel incredible!! The pace of our lives is never ending, go. goo. gooo. GO! Join me and welcome the “ancient & revolutionary discipline” of silence & stillness into your lives. We are using this awesome devotional  written by Peter Scazzero and produced by Emotionally Healthy Spirituality who created the conference we attended. Or add a few minutes of silence & stillness, turning your heart to Christ throughout the day. I promise you will not be the same! Let’s step away from the noise together friends & listen to hear God speak. There is power & beauty in silence & stillness. God is so faithful!

I’d love to hear your experience with this spiritual discipline. Comment below & share how you were impacted by God in moments of silence & stillness.

Interested in the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day (devotional I reference above that we are using daily? Check out this link EHS Day by Day.

Interested in the Emotionally Healthy Spiritually or Leader Courses? Check out their website at https://www.emotionallyhealthy.org/.

2018: A Blank Canvas

2018_ A Blank Canvas

Happy New Year!! I love the New Year! There is something so powerful & exciting to me about a fresh start, a clean slate, a blank canvas. Recently I took a weekend trip to Indiana to visit some of my dearest friends & we took a painting class. You know the ones, they have become a popular Groupon destination for a girl’s night out & usually involve a patient instructor and a lot of laughter.

26652917_10156068909151977_1878073748_oI have always wanted to try a paint class and was SO excited to finally do one, especially with these dear friends. As I sat in front of the blank canvas I remember bouncing around in my seat with nervous energy. It was powerful! The wonder & anticipation were brimming out of me as sat in front of that blank canvas. I was definitely expectant, I’m mean…come on…I was about to create a masterpiece! If I’m honest I was a tiny bit fearful, what if mine looks terrible, or what if I make a mistake and screw it up? I haven’t painted anything since high school…and let’s just say that was a LONG time ago. I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of the whole class and feel like a failure.  26552939_10156068909156977_1765493520_nThis experience echos my heart going into the new year. 2018 is a blank canvas! 2017 was a very difficult year for us and I don’t know about you but I was happy to see it in the rear view mirror. 2018 is a fresh start, a clean slate, a blank canvas. What will you fill it with? Will it be a masterpiece? What goals have been brimming in your heart that you are chasing after? Will you let fear paralyze your progress?26648819_10156069131976977_2042884811_nI am headed into 2018 with some GOD sized goals & dreams y’all!! I am sitting on the edge of my seat with nervous energy determined to paint my canvas into something glorious. Who’s with me?? This week I have been studying the life of Daniel in the Old Testament and these 5 words continue to resonate in my heart. I see them in Daniel’s story and want them in my life.

HOPE: My prayer this year is that the Lord would renew my hope. I see in Daniel a man of God who’s hope in God never wavered. He maintained a confident expectation that God would provide & deliver him, and God did!

SURRENDER: My prayer this year is that God would give me the faith & strength to surrender to His will, even if I’m afraid, even if I don’t understand, even if I’m in unknown territory and am not in control.  Daniel started out as a young man in exile who was brought to serve in the king’s court. This was a very vulnerable situation to find yourself in, yet he still lived a surrendered life to God and risked his life rather than disobey God’s commands. So inspiring!

TRANSFORMATION: My prayer for this year is that God would transform my life. Dramatically refine & transform my character to be more like Christ. In Daniel chapter 4 God radically transforms the life of wicked King Nebuchadnezzer, humbling him to the point of grazing on grass like cattle, until he ultimately blessed & worshiped God. That was a serious transformation!

CONSISTENCY: Ughhh this is a huge one for me, especially with this blog. My prayer is that God would teach me the disciple of consistency. I love in Daniel chapter 6 (the lions den chapter…one of the most famous stories about Daniel’s life) that the bad guys who were trying to trap him knew his schedule to the hour….why….because Daniel was consistent. He prayed 3x a day, and even though the enemy tried to use that against him, God’s great power & mercy protected him from the lions.

STAYING CONNECTED: My prayer for this year is that I would have a greater depth of connectedness to the community of family & friends that God has treasured my life with. Ministry, leadership, and life can often cause me to isolate and I believe there is healing and restoration in drawing upon family & friends, caring for & being cared for by each other. 26638508_10156068909141977_794779939_nAs we kick off 2018 my prayer is that hope, surrender, transformation, consistency, and connectedness fill my canvas. I am dreaming GOD sized dreams this year y’all!! What will fill YOUR canvas in 2018? What GOD sized dreams are you dreaming? How can I cheer you on in 2018? I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment or send me a message so that we can connect & support each other as build a beautiful masterpiece in 2018!