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gobez. gobez.

Hey Sweet Friends, I wanted to post some pics I’m getting back from the team! I also wanna post a couple of thoughts I got earlier this week from my girl!

From Haley:

Gobez! Gobez!

We are here!! We are officially one full day into our Ethiopian adventure and it has been amazing. The flights were long and travel was exhausting but we’ve managed to get some good rest. I’m so thankful we made it here safely, though without our bags. More on that later.

Today we went to our first school in Addis Ababa. It is a Buckner school and one of the first in Ethiopia to have kindergarten. We walked through the fence into the school yard and about 200 kids were all lined up and waiting for us. We barely reached the back of the school house when they kids rushed us all wanting to give handshakes, hugs and kisses. In a moment of pure and beautiful chaos, we all mingled with the kids and tried to hug as many as we could fit in our arms. After our extended greetings we sang with the kids and headed inside to start VBS. I was in the group with the youngest kids, all about 4-6 years old. We gave them coloring sheets and crayons and let them color their little hearts out. After about a minute of coloring, each kid would hold up their drawing and yell “Miss! Miss!”until you acknowledged them. When one kid did, the next immediately followed. They would yell to get our attention until we specifically addressed how amazing each painting was. Our translator taught us to say “Gobez!”which means “good job”and “looks great”. After another minute of coloring, the cycle would start again. Each one just wanted to be reminded over and over that they were doing it right and that we loved their masterpieces.

We broke for lunch and came back to our same groups to pass out shoes. I will never be able to describe the moment of cleaning a child’s feet and putting on a new pair of socks and shoes. It is so tender and beautiful, and heart wrenching all at the same time. The school collected the shoes sizes ahead of time so all we had to do was pick a pair and match them to a child. As we began and they started to see what we were doing, the shouting of “Miss! Miss!”started again. As we moved from child to child, I could see the panic in some of their eyes that their turn never would come. The joy that the last few children expressed as they received their new shoes was an amount of joy that I’m not sure I’ve ever felt before. They realized they were not forgotten about and they they too would receive a new pair of shoes.

After we passed out shoes, we got to take the kids outside for recreation time. We brought soccer balls, beach balls, jump ropes, balloons and bubbles for the kids to play with. One of the other volunteers, Allison, and I gave ourselves bubble duty. We started blowing them everywhere and instantly had a pack of kids jumping and trying to pop them. The laughter they had over soapy bubbles was contagious. I started giving them a chance to blow their own bubbles while I held the wand in front of their mouths. My hands were quickly covered in soap and spit and all the while we just laughed and laughed. I don’t know that I’ve ever met a group of people as joyful as Ethiopians. Every person I’ve interacted with has only been even kinder than the one before.

Towards the end of the day, one kid reached up and knocked my hand that was holding the container of soap that I would dip the wand into. The soap spilled all over me and I’m embarrassed to admit my first emotion was frustration. As I said earlier, we got to Ethiopia safely but our bags did not for three of us. I was one of the three. All I had was the outfit I wore on the plane, one extra shirt and one extra pair of underwear in my carryon. So to spill something on one of my two shirts was not what I was hoping would happen at the school. After a nano second of annoyance, I just started to laugh. The thought that popped into my mind was, “Of all the things that could have spilled on me today, it was soap. Not paint, marker, mud or dirt. SOAP. The very thing I could wash out and actually make my 1 of 2 shirts both cleaner and better smelling.God has the best sense of humor. As do Ethiopian children!

At the end of the day, the only way I can describe how I’m feeling is joyful. My heart is absolutely overflowing with joy and love to the point where I feel it could burst. I have fallen hard for these Ethiopian children and I cannot wait to spend this week hugging as many as I can.

I love all these pics!!

allisonshoes
photo photo photo photo 20140909_102721-1 10557415_810526818978701_1502248019733673384_n 20140910_114823 10665844_810526368978746_5631353885367554999_n 10671242_810526515645398_7916734802016241850_n 10616654_10203978120707439_6812374971301816367_n 10408594_10203978293431757_916628002264896718_n 10599453_10203978305872068_6818172786779078149_n 10649980_10203978306792091_8260885802807871015_n 10253772_10203978119947420_572758497403511489_n 10696218_10152684841059844_2791277667420716738_n photo

Please continue to pray for the team. They fly home tomorrow. They actually fly out late on September 11th. I know God has had them, has them, and will have them. He’s been in every crazy detail of the trip. I can say confidently someone didn’t want this trip to happen! But guess what? He did not win! And that just makes me smile! Of course that’s not to say that bad things don’t still happen; we all know they do. But I believe with my whole heart God had an intentional purpose for this trip. Did the enemy get a few shots across the bow? yeah, he did. Fear crippled some. Not all of the shoes showed up in time (they’re coming tho! And the kids will get them!!), and I could name a few others. But here’s the verse I’ve been meditating on all week. It’s from Isaiah 55:11 …  “It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” God sent his Word the past 10 days with our JOY family. What He ultimately intended, happened. Children were loved, the gospel was shared, and Jesus was lifted up! Even on the eve of the terrible tragedy that happened 13 years ago, we all know how the story ends….WE win in the END!

I’m praying this Psalm for the next 48 hours until they’re safely back on home soil. Thanks for praying with me!

Psalm 91

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.

3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.

4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.

6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.

7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.

8 Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.

9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,

10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.

11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.

12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.

13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.

15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.

16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”

….and they’re off!

 

Hey JOY fam!

I wanted to post a pic of the team that is headed to Africa RIGHT NOW! They’re going to deliver the shoes YOU gave to hundreds of children in Ethiopia. It felt so weird waving good-bye at the airport; this is definitely a new thing for me. It was only 6 short years ago that I was trembling in my boots boarding a plane to a foreign world. Now, it’s so foreign being the one waving good-bye. Needless to say, I’ve argued with God quite a bit about this trip. I’ve pouted, stomped my feet, gotten mad, cried and every other emotion in between. But, for this trip, I am the sender. And encourager. And pray-er!  Would you join me in praying for them?

2014 Ethiopia Team!

2014 Ethiopia Team!

I’m so proud of each of these team members! Their stories in and of themselves are a testimony to God’s faithfulness.

A few of them: One team member’s (unbelieving) boss said she couldn’t have the time off to go on this trip. She paid her deposit anyway. Much to the surprise of her co-workers, afore mentioned boss came back a time later and said, “I’ve changed my mind. You can go.” Another is the mom of two little ones, and her husband is taking the week off so she can go and serve. She said that while her primary job is wife and mom, she wants her children to see her serving Jesus in other ways too. A couple of the team members are flying for the FIRST TIME EVER! Can you imagine? You’ve never flown before in your life, and your first flight is to Africa? I love you crazy people!! Two others are getting married in November. They’re choosing to spend this time as an engaged couple to go and let kids know they are the bridegroom of Christ, before they become a bride and groom themselves. Another team member was a late addition to the trip, after someone else had to cancel. She raised her funds in record time. There are more stories, but these are a few. Of course, I have to mention two more…because they are very close to me. One is Mary Mary! Mary is our Promotions Director at The JOY FM. She’s the one that makes all of my hair brain ideas logistically happen. She’s my sister and my friend. I love her so much! (btw, she’s got a bum knee right now, so pray specifically for that!) And lastly, my oldest daughter, Haley is on this trip! I can’t even type this sentence without tears welling up in my eyes. Didn’t I just have her yesterday? How can she be getting on a plane and flying (literally) half way around the world? As parents, the only thing we really want is for our children to run after Jesus. And then when they grow up and really do…well, I guess we have to let them run, huh? Jesus, I am handing her over to you. I trust you with her life. Of course, YOU are the one that truly gave (and gives) her life.  Thank you for letting me be her momma!

One last note….because I can’t leave elephants in a room, I’ll address what everyone is thinking right now. Yes, we have watched the news. And yes, we know the world isn’t safe. And yes, we know there are US airstrikes in Somalia. And yes, we know there is a virus called Ebola. And yes, we know there is a terrorist group called Isis. We know, we know, we know. But yet…we choose to believe. We believe that God has called us for such a time as this, and we believe He has gone before us, with us, and behind us. We are certainly not throwing caution to the wind; we understand the calculated risk. And yes, I will have scabs on my knees because this is where I will live for the next week and a half! I would love for you to join me there!  The world isn’t getting any safer. We’ve enjoyed comfort and security for a long time. But perhaps when we pray, “Lord, keep us safe!” we also add, “Lord, we’re afraid. But give us the courage to do it afraid!”

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  -Joshua 1:9

Please check back here in the next few days! My daughter, Haley, will be blogging for me! Thanks for praying, and believing with me. I know He who calls us is faithful. (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

And one more last, last note! I cannot recommend the following series enough! I think every believer should watch this, especially in the world of which we now live. Haley and I have SOAKED THIS up! It’s Louie Giglio’s Goliath Must Fall series. It’s 6 weeks long. We’ve watched Goliath Must Fall. Fear Must Fall, and (because of this trip) we jumped ahead to Comfort Must Fall. If you wanna know why we’re half-way crazy, welp, this will help explain it a little bit!

 

Ethiopia

Hey Y’all!

I’m sitting at my desk working on logistical details and plans for our upcoming Shoe Drive & trip to Ethiopia. I’ve been thinking about the kids we’ve yet to meet, and knowing that the nameless and faceless won’t be nameless and faceless much longer. I wonder which one will steal my heart first. Cause you know it’s gonna happen! It’s funny how you willingly walk down a path that you know will be hard. But at the same time, “in the hard” is the place where I feel Jesus the most. When you don’t have anything, God really does become your everything.

I re-watched this video a few minutes ago. Which is why I’m writing this post right now. I forget how wonderful it is!! And of course, I’m crying all over again. One of my YoungLife kids, Alex (he’s an adult now, and he’s probably tired of me introducing him that way! But once a YL leader, always a YL leader) owns a cinematography business, Voila Cinematic. He sent Alex (Voltz) with me to Honduras last year and Alex (Voltz) shot all of this footage. He did a spectacular job!! Alex (Karas) edited, and knocked it outta the park!!  This video is so so special to me. I love our shoe trips and I’m so grateful Alex squared (ha!) captured this for us all to see and experience.

We’ll be collecting shoes again soon. Watch thejoyfm.com for details. In the meantime, will you watch again with me?!

 

 

Haley. update #2

 

Hey Friends!

It’s been a while… I can’t believe we’re already into May of this year! Didn’t we all just take down our Christmas trees?! Life, please slow down!!

Last year, my daughter, Haley blogged about her struggles with weight. She was very honest (and courageous!) to open up about this lifelong battle. If you missed that post, you can read it here. It was August of last year when she wrote her original post, and she blogged 3 or 4 times between August and October, I believe. A few weeks ago, I asked her to blog again because she is DOING AMAZING!!! It’s not been an easy or short road, actually quite the contrary. But I’m seeing a renewal in her of mind, heart, steadfastness, and dedication right before my very eyes! There’s something about her commitment to health that is different this time, and I wanted her to share with us. I know many of us fight this battle, so it’s nice to know we’re not on the journey alone.

From Haley:

______________________________________________________

Hi everyone!!

I love you Haleybug!

I love you Haleybug!

My mom asked me to give you an update on what’s been going on with me. If this is the first blog post you’ve read by me, go back and read parts one and two first.

As of the end of April, I have lost 40 pounds! I am finally able to say that I have less than 100lbs. to lose and this feels fantastic! I know I still have a major road ahead of me, but I am so proud of what I have accomplished so far.

Though the weight hasn’t come off as fast as I would like, I haven’t stopped. I got through this past holiday season without gaining one pound which is something I don’t think I have ever done. EVER.

I shared with you that this time is different. It feels different. I have a different attitude. I have a different mindset. I want this more than I have ever wanted it in my life. Now hear me say: this is not easy! I don’t wake up everyday and think “I can’t wait for this kale egg white omelet with a cold glass of green juice.” Not only do I not think that, I don’t live like that. I am realistic in my expectations for myself and I know that every day counts. I have bad days. I have cheat meals. I have days where I just do not want to eat another salad and do not want to work out. What makes this time different, though, is that I make myself do it anyway. I am more often finding myself giving up what I want now for what I want most. And I what I want most is to be healthy! It’s becoming more and more of a reality that what I want most is within my reach and can possibly happen in 2014. I’m not putting the pressure on myself to make a hard deadline and I know this will take a serious amount of work, but it IS possible. And that is crazy!!

There are two things I consider my biggest difference makers in my weight loss journey this time around.

1. The first is accountability. My parents are holding me accountable. I talk to them about how I’m doing. My mom knows exactly what I weigh and I report back to her with my updates. In a moment of pure honesty, this was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. My mom and I decided that I was going to weigh in front of her on the first of every month and trust me when I say, I was NOT at all excited about it. For anyone who has ever struggled with their weight, you know the fear, shame and guilt that accompany this level of vulnerability. It is never fun. It is never easy. But it has been the difference maker for me. There is no where to hide on the scale and numbers don’t lie. I encourage everyone who is struggling with losing weight to find someone in your life who you trust and ask them to hold you accountable. Show them how badly you want to change your life by showing them the most vulnerable side of yourself. Without accountability, you will not get there. I know I will not get there. As with any battle, addiction, struggle, you cannot and will not do it alone.

2. The second thing that’s been a game changer for me is my mentality. I constantly surround myself with inspiration and motivation. I live and breathe weight loss. I am in constant prayer and spend time everyday in the Word. In my bible study, it’s what I’m trying to break free from. I have inspirational quotes and bible verses posted around my room and written on my bathroom mirror. I follow fitness and health inspiration accounts on Twitter and Instagram. I read books and blogs by people who have lost weight or are currently losing weight. In my family, we are constantly sending each other articles about health, fitness and weight loss. It sounds crazy, obsessive even. But I’m not obsessed, I’m focused and determined.

I am getting to a place where I actually want to know more about what true (and biblical) health looks like. I am educating myself about what I’m eating. When you start to realize how many calories are in things, what true portion sizes look like, and what’s actually in the food we’re blindly eating, you realize just how far off base you are. I have lots more I want to say about Nutrition & Exercise, but I’ll stop here for now. Just know that if you’re struggling with your weight, you REALLY CAN win this battle! I promise!

Believe in yourself! And believe that Jesus will give you the ability to do it!

Haley

___________________________________________

As you can see, I’m super proud of her!!!! She’s actually inspired me!! For the last 3 months, she’s gotten up at 4:15, 2-3 times a week to do a 5 a.m. Orangetheory class! But as she mentioned, she’ll get into more of that in the next few blogs….that I’m gonna make sure she writes! ha!

I love this scripture, and recite it often to myself:

For I hold you by your right hand— I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.’ -Isaiah 41:13

Breaking Free

 

My bible study just started back, and we’re doing Breaking Free by Beth MooreI did this study years ago, and truly did break free! I can tell you where I was, the date, and the circumstances of my life …. when I literally offered it up to God, and said: “Please, Lord, break these chains.” I literally felt a weight lifted, and I’ve walked in freedom ever since! Now that’s not to say that my life is perfect; far from it!  But I did let go of self-destructive behaviors, and truly embraced and accepted that God’s ways were much better! I trusted Him, and chose to believe Him.  He saved me from myself. I still get emotional when I think about just far down in the pit He reached to pull me out, set my feet on solid ground, and put a new song in my mouth!

Because I believe so strongly in this study, here’s what I want to do. I want to give away a Breaking Free DVD kit. It comes with a full set of DVD’s, a leader guide, and a workbook. My hope is the person who registers to win this, would gather at least 5 or 6 women (they’ll need to get their member book; $15 at Lifeway) and do this study along side us!  Would you be willing to do that?

Register your name and email address in the comments section of my blog, and we’ll randomly draw a winner on Friday, February 28 at 9 a.m.

And one last note…whoever wins, I definitely wanna hear back from after you’ve completed the study!

Breaking Free

Breaking Free

 

My Favorite Things 2013

 

car-fav-things-2

Here we go! Up 1st this year….

I absolutely, positively, without a doubt LOVE my french press coffee maker! This is all I use at home! (and yes, this exact one!) I also love Starbucks Veranda Roast and I love drinking my coffee from fun coffee mugs….it’s one of those simple things in life that brings much JOY! (the cups are from Pier 1, btw).

Register your name and email address in the comments section below, and Hitch will randomly draw a name by 7pm tonight! We’ll announce the winner on my blog tomorrow morning!

Favorite Things #1

Favorite Things #1

Staying in the kitchen…my Favorite Thing #2 is The Pioneer Woman’s “A Year of Holidays” Cookbook! I love this cookbook! Ree literally walks through the entire year … New Year’s, The Super Bowl (yes, it’s a holiday), Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day and so on … and shares her holiday inspired recipes. This is great gift for the one who loves to cook! I actually got one for my daughter for Christmas, but I couldn’t wait – I’ve already given it to her! We’ve only made a couple of things so far. But will definitely be trying additional recipes over the Christmas break!  This is also a great gift for that newly wed or newly engaged couple, too!

Favorite Things #2

Favorite Things #2

I always always have a pair of earrings every year on my favorite things list! This year, it’s a pair of Flirties from Rusty Crickett’s! These earrings are only $16! My personal favorites are the clear ones and I love them!!  I wear them at least 4 days a week; shoot I have them on right now! You can dress them up or down! Thank you, Charlie, for providing me some to give away! (BTW, if you want a pair you can call Charlie at 941.720.7677). Register in the comment section on my blog between now and 7 p.m., and we’ll announce the winner in the morning!

Favorite Things #3

Favorite Things #3

Last year it was Table Topics, this year it’s Chat Pack! Yep, my favorite thing #6 is a Christmas Chat Pack! Using Table Topics or a Chat Pack has become a staple around my table! My kids expect it, and they love it! The Chat Pack is very inexpensive; I found mine at Barnes & Noble, but you can also get them on Amazon. This makes a great hostess gift, as well, for the Christmas parties you’re attending this year.

Favorite Things #4

Favorite Things #4

One of my FAVORITE THINGS, not just at Christmas, but IN LIFE, is CANDLES!!!! I love love love candles! It’s one of my guilty pleasures, and if I’m totally honest….I spend way too much money on candles; I’ve had to go on a budget! I actually buy different candles for different seasons. I have a great Summer candle that I love, one for the Fall, etc. And this year, while it was very hard not to list the Woodwick Fireside again, I did look around and find a candle that I think smells like a Christmas tree. Nothing can duplicate the original scent of a real tree (and there are a LOT of bad Christmas tree smelling candles out there!), but, I think this one comes pretty close. It’s Yankee Candle’s Holiday Garland scent. Btw, Yankee Candle’s Vanilla Lavender is a favorite, too.

Favorite Things #5

Favorite Things #5

I wasn’t a believer, but now I’m a believer! Dave & Bill converted to a Kindle a few years before me. But my girlfriend, Becca, sold me on the Kindle Paperwhite that had the lights that went around the screen! And that meant I could lay in the bed and read!! (Reading makes me sleepy, and since I get up at O’dark :30, I need all the help that I can get to shut my brain down). I ended up getting Dave, Bill and my husband Pete each one for their birthdays last year….and all 4 of us LOVE our Kindles. I think Pete has read more books in the last year than he has in the past 10. It’s well worth the money, and you’ll certainly make up the difference because Kindle books are less expensive than traditional books. One last note, this isn’t me selling out on hardback books; I still buy them too!! I just love books, period.

Favorite Things: #6

Favorite Things: #6

“The experts” say you should walk an average of 10,000 steps per day. Of course, we had no idea how far 10,000 steps was. But we certainly found out when we ordered our Fitbits this Fall! We quickly learned we were NOT walking 10,000 steps per day….hahaha! So, my favorite thing #7 is the Fitbit! I’ve worn mine everyday since September, and it’s really motivated me to get out and get some steps in, when I might not otherwise would have. Welp, that and the fact that we’re super competitive….and with the friend feature on Fitbit, Dave, Bill & I can see exactly how many steps each of us is getting! It makes being active fun, while it holds you accountable. I’m actually getting my family these for Christmas!

Favorite Things #7

Favorite Things #7

I’m not kidding when I tell you I’ve been listening to his Christmas record since September! It’s no secret that Brandon is family to us, so it should also be no big shock that my favorite thing #8 is Brandon Heath’s Christmas is Here! Y,all!! he knocked it outta the park!! The instrumentation (especially the strings!) are top notch on this record. If you like Nat’s version of “White Christmas”, you’ll love Brandon’s! The choir in “Silent Night” feels like you should be at a Christmas Eve service somewhere in New York City, and “Just a Girl”….well, the first time I heard it, I cried. Brandon wrote this song from the Inn Keeper’s perspective, and it’s hands down, no question my favorite song on the CD. I gave the CD to the women in my bible study this year, and Pete is giving to his clients. This would make a great Christmas gift for a co-worker, girlfriends, a hostess gift for the parties you attend, or a fantastic stocking stuffer!

Favorite Things #8

Favorite Things #8

My favorite thing #9 is straight up nostalgia! It’s a light-up ceramic Christmas tree! I was having lunch with a friend a month or so ago at Cracker Barrel, and as I was leaving I spotted ‘em!! Most would say this falls in the “tacky Christmas decorations” category, but both Maw-Maw Brown & Me-Maw had one of these, and it reminded me of them! Mine is sitting on the corner table in my den and I love it!! Every time I glance over at it, I smile and think of a sweet memory I have with each of them. And, aw man, do I still miss Maw-Maw Brown’s chicken & dumplings that she made me every year for my birthday. I can’t wait to see them both again one day!

Favorite Things #9

Favorite Things #9

And lastly, my favorite things #10 is incredibly special to me. As you know, we’ve partnered with Abolition International the last few years, forming Team Freedom, to run for those who aren’t Free.To.Run….yet! Abolition International exists to bring an end to sex trafficking and exploitation. They focus quite a bit on quality care and restoration, after the rescue. This year they launched the Penh Lenh Collection. Penh Lenh means “whole” in the Cambodian language Khmer. Abolition sent a jeweler to Cambodia to teach rescued girls how to make jewelry, so that they may support themselves in a gainful way. My favorite things #10 is the whole Penh Lenh collection, but I’m specifically giving away the Dalmatian Jasper Flower bracelet. Each piece of jewelry is hand-made by a girl who was rescued from sex trafficking in Cambodia. What a meaningful gift, and what a terrific way to help fight this evil. And, if you’re interested in joining Team Freedom, you can find information HERE! 

Favorite Things #10

Favorite Things #10

Stop it!

 

STOP IT!

STOP IT!

I attended First Baptist Temple Terrace recently, and the pastor there, Paul Purvis, was preaching on Nehemiah. It was one of the best sermons I’ve heard in a long, long time. Backstory: Nehemiah was calling out some bad behavior among the Jewish people. They were charging each other interest, selling their own people back into slavery etc. Nehemiah called a town meeting and basically said to them: “STOP IT!” Both Nehemiah (and Pastor Paul) said it emphatically, “Just stop it!” Paul then drew the line from Nehemiah’s story to ours….what are we doing in our lives that we need to stop? I loved the way he delivered the message: You don’t need counseling, you don’t need to go to therapy. You just need to STOP IT!

So, my fellow sisters, listed below are a few things in which we need to say to ourselves: STOP IT! We chicas are our own worst enemies! We drive ourselves crazy obsessing over these things, and we just need to STOP IT! By the way, I am the chief of sinners.

1. Stop saying “yes” to everyone. There’s no need to say “yes” to everything! Take Billy Graham’s advice. Ask yourself: Is this event/endeavor/engagement really necessary? Is it taking me away from my family? Is it really the best use of my time? Or do I just feel guilty and obligated?

2. Stop saying “no” to yourself.  Repeat after me: Rested wives and moms are better wives and moms! Take some time for yourself. Carve out a few minutes a day for a quiet time. Think about it this way: If you had the opportunity to sit for 10 minutes with “fill-in-the-blank person you respect the most” (for me, it’d be Beth Moore or Billy Graham) would you cancel on that person? Would you walk away, and say “sorry, can’t.” No!! You’d make time! Then make time for Jesus! The one who loves you! Your Redeemer! Your Savior! The one who knows you better than you know yourself. Last thing: an occasional girlfriend date for pedis is nice too! And yes, stop by Starbucks on the way!

3. Stop apologizing all the time! I am a Southerner. It’s in my DNA to apologize and then give an explanation. For stinkin’ everything! STOP IT! Actually say it back to me…I need to hear it! “Carmen, STOP!” Of course, we need to be gracious. But it’s ok to be ok with our decisions and preferences. (I’m sorry, does this sound harsh?) Haha!

4. Stop comparing your life to what your friends post on Facebook. Definitely stop this one! With the exception of those friends who are chronic complainers on Facebook (very unattractive, btw), let’s all admit that we post “the best of the best” on Facebook.  We’re not gonna post, “Just got in a fight with Pete, and we went to bed not speaking.” NONE of us have perfect lives. We all have deep hurts and very personal stuff happening in our lives. I could write on and on about this. I could tell you about my insecurities, my fears, the times I feel very lonely…I could tell you about all of that …. but the reality is I don’t post that stuff. And neither does “she.” So stop looking at all the perfect pictures, with perfect status updates, describing the perfect vacation, with the perfect husband, holding hands with the perfect kids, having a perfect meal. These are only a glimpse of a small fraction of our lives!  Praise the Lord for families and vacation, etc etc. I love family, vacations, good meals, and fun status updates….But know this for sure: virtual does NOT equal reality. What we choose to post is not the whole picture. If browsing your newsfeed makes your feel badly, STOP browsing the newsfeed.  And just fyi, Pete and I did get in a fight on Sunday night (over a game, no less!) and went to bed without speaking. We didn’t talk all day Monday, and finally went for a long walk last night and resolved it. There were lots of tears (me) and “I’m sorrys” (both). So, there…..that’s REAL life.

5. Stop viewing food as the enemy. Read this book: Intuitive Eating. It changed my life. It’s about making peace with food. We girls tend to label foods as good or bad. We look down at our plate and here’s the internal conversation we’ll have, “Grilled chicken – good! Mac & cheese – bad. Broccoli – good! Warm roll with butter – bad!”  Here’s the bottom line: Of course, we can’t live on bad carbs. But good gravy, (pun intended) ENJOY a meal every now and then! Give yourself permission to eat a cookie. I truly feel that if we’d give ourselves permission to have forbidden fruit occasionally, then we wouldn’t be so obsessed with not having it.  I truly do try and eat healthy. But it’s my mental, negative self talk that is the enemy. Not the mashed potatoes.

6. Stop body snarking – out loud AND in your head. Again. Chief of sinners! How many times have you heard me talk about my muffin top or bra fat on the air? I do it ALL. THE. TIME!  And it’s wrong. I need to STOP IT! As women, we are socialized to believe the lie that our worth lies in our looks. This is a lie from the pit, my sisters! We need to stop putting ourselves down. It’s not good.

7. Stop obsessively untagging yourself in every “unflattering” photo. This one has been the biggest struggle for me the last several years. When I started in radio years ago, FB wasn’t even a twinkle in cyberspaces’s eye. It’s a new world, and we have little control over it. Camera phones are here to stay, and aren’t going away. People aren’t gonna stop taking pictures, and they’re gonna post what they’re gonna post. Obsessing over the pic that doesn’t capture your best side (for me, it’s my right side) is only gonna make you crazy. Remember this: your real friends will get approval first. And your very best friends will crop!

8. Stop trying to make your life or house look like Pinterest. Granted, I’ve never been on Pinterest (as most of you have heard. Bill’s our Pinterest guy).  But I’m assuming it’s very Martha Stewart-esque. I think “do it yourself” things are great. But ease up on yourself. Most of us do not have catalogue homes, with Food Network kitchens.

9. Stop being plugged in 24/7. Stop it! Take some downtime. Stop scrolling through your phone incessantly. Stop being available to your employer at all times. Stop checking and returning email at all hours of the night. Take a vacation. Turn off your phone. #1) You need the decompression and away time, and #2) You’re not that important. The business isn’t gonna cave without you.

10. Stop wearing heels everyday. Give your feet a vacation too!

11. Stop fearing being alone. I don’t know why some of us are married, and some of us aren’t. Embrace your singleness. You are perfect just the way you are! You don’t need a man to complete you! God knows the desires of your heart. Trust Him, that He has good plans for YOU!

12: Stop holding onto toxic relationships. Whether it be a girlfriend or a boyfriend. It’s true….Relationships either “life” you, or “death” you. If you’re not being lifed by a person, it’s time to prune; lose the frenemies. And there is a Christ-like way to do it.

A few more thoughts….in the same sermon, Paul, using Nehemiah as the example, finished the list of things we could learn from him (Nehemiah) this way:

1. STOP IT!
2. Start it!
3. State it!
4. Stick with it!

I think we can all apply this to our lives. Hold me accountable. I’m praying for you today, my sweet sisters. And I hope you’ll do the same for me. I love you!

{Note: This list was inspired by/taken from a Huffington Post article I read by Emma Gray. She wrote an amazing list, and I certainly want to give her credit! She really nailed it! I expounded and put my own spin on it – to make it more applicable to us – as women who are striving to be more like Jesus.}

Gasparilla Training Schedule!

Hey Guys!!

Here’s the training schedule I’ve been promising you! I’ve signed up to do the 15K
(9.3 miles). The run is February 22, so this schedule is doable. If you wanna be a part of TEAM FREEDOM, you can register here! We’d love to have you!

PS…When I get to work on Monday, I’ll get one of the IT geniuses help me make this into a .pdf that you can download.

Screen Shot 2013-11-02 at 9.28.12 PM

haley. update!

 

My daughter, Haley, blogged a few months ago about her battle with weight. If you missed it, you can read it here. I was proud of the courage she showed, sharing her deeply personal struggle. I’ve heard from so many of you…wanting to know how she’s doing, or wanting to let her know that you struggle too. And some of you simply are wanting to root her on! Both of our hearts were tendered by your sweet words. Speaking for myself only, I know all about letting the scale determine how we feel about ourselves. A few pounds up … it can bum you out for the day. A few pounds down … you literally wanna skip to the closet to put your clothes on! It’s literally a roller coaster ride of insanity! All of our numbers and goals are different, but I’m pretty sure we can all relate to the feelings and emotions.

All this said, I’ve been SO proud of Haley! She’s down 20 pounds!! I asked Haley to give us an update. Here’s what she sent me:

——————————————————————————————-

For the last couple of weeks, I have been living in a weight loss haze, as I have decided to call it. I have been going through the motions of eating healthy, but feeling emotionally disconnected from the new lifestyle changes I’ve been making. I kept finding myself distracted and unfocused on my goal. One of the commitments I made to myself when I started this journey was to dive all in. I told myself that if this time was going to be the last time (meaning, my last time to truly lose the weight that I’ve battled for so long), I had to make weight loss something that influenced and impacted my entire lifestyle from the things I ate, to the things I read, to the things I thought and prayed about.

Somehow I had found myself going through the motions with an almost apathetic state of mind. I decided to have an intervention with myself. I was driving to work the next morning literally saying out loud, “Haley you have to get your head in this. You have been distracted, unfocused and unmotivated. If you don’t pull it together and get your head in it, this will be over before it even really begins.”

I thought I had taken care of my “state of mind” problem, but I was so wrong! My pep talk boosted me up for a couple of days, but eventually that faded.

Abbey & Haley

Abbey & Haley

Until a couple of days ago, I couldn’t figure out why the last two weeks have been so much harder than the first few.

But then I figure it out….

Throughout this journey, I have only been looking one week into the future. I didn’t want to overwhelm myself by the whole journey so I allowed myself to only worry about one week at a time. And it had been working, until two weeks ago. I was having some quiet time a couple of nights ago when it hit me. I had been trying to do this alone. I woke up that Monday morning and started my weekly journey without the ONE person that I absolutely need by my side: God. I didn’t realize it but I had stopped praying for guidance and support. I had stopped talking to God about my cravings and asking Him to help me crave Him more than food. I had stopped making this a spiritual journey and simply made it a physical one.

I was letting the distractions of everyday life consume me. I allowed my thoughts to be clouded and my attention to be altered. I started seeing success in my journey and I let my guard down. For me, this has always been a spiritual journey. I re-started the “Made to Crave” devotional on YouVersion. I’m on Day 1 again and I’m already seeing the impact of starting it over again. Lysa writes, “The process of getting healthy has to be about more than just losing weight and focusing on ourselves… It’s about recalibrating our souls so that we want to change for the right reasons. I’ve realized that a healthy eating plan can be one of the most significant spiritual journeys I’d ever dared to take with God.”

I am down 20 pounds so far. I am very happy I hadn’t started putting weight back on. That being said, I knew that if something didn’t change within me, I was on the brink of another failed attempt at losing my weight.

If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.
Psalm 139: 9-10

Buffalo Chicken Muffins

 

Dave found this recipe a few weeks ago. Abbey & I made them over the weekend for Pete’s college buddies who were in town. OH. MY. WORD!

So good!!!!

 

Buffalo Chicken Muffins

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 24-30 rolls

Ingredients:

1 recipe Pizza Dough
1 onion, chopped
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup favorite Buffalo Sauce (I used Ken’s)
2 cups fresh mozzarella

Instructions:

Sauté chopped onions in butter over medium heat. Once transparent, add chopped chicken. When chicken is done, add Buffalo Sauce and heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or non-stick spray, or, opt to use a prepared muffin tin.

Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a large rectangle roughly 1/4 inch in thickness.

Spread chicken and cheese evenly across each piece of rolled out dough. Starting from long side of dough, begin rolling the dough up like a cinnamon roll. Pinch ends when done. Slice into 1 1/2 to 2 inch rolls. Place on the baking sheet or in muffin tins. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and dough is lightly browned. Serve and enjoy!

PS… I served with Blue Cheese & Ranch dressing. Great for dipping!

 

Buffalo Chicken Muffins!

Buffalo Chicken Muffins!

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