Embrace Grace

HerReadingToday I want to take time to share my personal thoughts/review of Liz Curits Higgs book Embrace Grace.

072182: Embrace Grace Embrace GraceBy Liz Curtis Higgs

It was first introduced to me through a women’s mentoring program at my Church. More on my personal journey involving this book a little later…

The back cover of the books shares:

Wherever you are spiritually, whatever you have been through emotionally, you are already enfolded in the arms of One who believes in you, supports you, treasures you. He is waiting for you to embrace him in return. To accept the gift he’s offering you. To listen for the whispered words you’ve longed a life-time to hear: You are loved. All is forgiven. ~from Embrace Grace

For those of us who have a hard time understanding Grace, (whether it be we are trapped in a perfectionist mindset, trapped in the guilt of previous sins, or simply have never had His Grace shared with us) I feel Liz does a wonderful job of gently lifting our downcast heads in her caring hand, and pointing us towards the truth of Christ centered Grace.

After the first Chapter, each Chapter invites us on a journey of “embracing”. She encourages us to Embrace Doubt, Faith, Truth, Sin, Forgiveness, and Repentance before bringing us to Grace.

Each Chapter focuses on the given subject and sprinkles Scripture throughout, helping the reader see how and why we are called to embrace it. She also sprinkles in statements shared from real life sisters. Statements from those who are struggling to Embrace His Grace and those who have learned how.  I found these extremely encouraging as I saw I was not alone, and saw the process of learning how to Embrace His Grace.

Her writing style is welcoming to all readers, easy to read, and not all-time consuming. Because of the wonderful Bible versus and shared statements sprinkled throughout, the chapters are not extremely long and can be read well in one setting. It’s not a book that necessarily requires blocking out hours to read a chapter (unless you find yourself in need to spend that amount of time). I personally spent an average of 15 to 20 minutes reading with another 10 minutes or so reflecting on the questions she includes at the end of each chapter. It makes it a very realistic book to read for those of us who are busy in the chaos of life, and a special book for all as it points us to a Truer understanding of peace.  Before the first chapter begins, we are met with the following:

We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
~Romans 5 1-2

I believe it’s a perfect opening verse as the book is a journey to guide us into understanding what this means in our personal relationship with God.

I also believe the questions in the book engage the reader to take those first steps towards embracing Him in a way that is personal. These questions can certainly be used in a group discussion setting, a one on one mentoring setting, or a very personal intimate setting between just the reader and Christ.

My personal journey involving this book…
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When the book was first introduced to me, I was not spiritually where I needed to be. I read the words however I did not stop to truly “believe” the words. Some weeks the Chapter was simply squeezed in because “I was supposed to read it”. While it did speak to my heart, I was not allowing the words to Embrace my heart and therefore I was choosing to continue to not Embrace Him or His Grace. I didn’t even finish the full book and now can’t remember how far into it I went before I let it fall to the wayside.

A year or more later, I found myself in a different place. I was hungry for His Grace. I was hungry for His Word. I was Hungry for His Peace and His Will. I came across Liz’s website and discovered she was doing a series on Embrace Grace. After I read that first blog posting from her, I found myself digging through my book case to find the book I had not finished and purposefully read it.

I used Wednesday mornings to sit with my coffee and read the book out loud to myself. There were mornings I cried and mornings I laughed. I found myself drawn to slowly reading the scripture versus and re-reading them. This time was different because my heart was different. I really wanted to engage myself this time.

I highly recommend this book to women who struggle with understanding His Grace and are hungry for it. Women who know that Grace is there and are just uncertain how to allow it into their lives. Women who constantly live in a state of guilt and feel they are alone in their past or present. You are not alone, and His Grace is sufficient. I truly believe this book will help to begin to understand Grace in a beautiful, freeing, transforming way.

I also recommend if you are reading the book for the first time, take a moment to read the corresponding blog post from the Embrace Grace series on her website. (Actually, I recommend it for those who have already read the book as a refresher to continue Embracing His Grace)

I felt reading the two together was fabulous. I do recommend reading the actual book because while her blog posts on the series are worth the read alone, they really add value to each of the Chapters and do not replace reading the chapters.

After I finished the book this second time around, my friend (and mentor) and I watched the Embrace Grace DVD together. It was wonderful to see Liz come to life on the screen and put face and voice to the caring hand which wrote the book. Again, the DVD simply added to what I had read without becoming repetitive or subtracting. I found myself thinking “Ta-Da” in front of mirrors and one sentence she said really spoke to my heart on a number of  levels “I know all about the far country”. So do I, and to hear her explain God’s love and His arms embracing us was comforting and peaceful to my spirit. While I watched the DVD after reading the book, I feel that one could watch it before or after and it will still add the same beautiful value to your journey.

074273: Embrace Grace: DVD Edition Embrace Grace: DVD EditionBy Liz Curtis Higgs

I greatly enjoyed reading this book and feel the Lord placed it back in my hands at a time I needed it most and could learn from it most. I have tucked some of the truths and scriptures in my heart, and hope to someday share it in a one-on-one setting with a sister as it was shared with me.

In Love & Faith,
RaZella

Seriously?!?!?!? Don’t Panic.

It’sWellness Wednesday“.

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(Trying a new “look” for Wellness Wednesday. Forgive me, I’m new to this whole concept of “button” making and still tweaking my button making skills.)

The day I hold myself accountable for my wellness journey.
Let me throw at you what’s on my mind right this moment. 

The numbers.

Last Week’s Weight: 139 LBS
This Week’s Weight: 141.4 LBS
Difference: +2.4 LBS
Total Since Weight Loss Journey Began: -16 LBS  -8.6 LBS

Seriously?

SERIOUSLY!?!?!?!

This morning’s weigh in was utterly disappointing.
I’ve been drinking the 8+ cups of water a day.
I’ve exercised 5 days out of the last 7.
I’ve watched my food intake and gone out of my way to make healthier choices and started tracking in my food journal again.
I’ve been getting 8 hours of sleep a night.
I’ve remembered my vitamins every day.
I’ve made a decisive effort to get back on track with my health.

And I gained 2 and a half pounds.

Deep Breath.
Let’s try this again.

I’ve been drinking 8+ cups of water a day, and feel better for it.
I’ve exercised 5 days out of the last 7, and feel stronger for it.
I’ve watched my food intake and gone out of my way to make healthier choices, and have had far fewer issues with feeling groggy, icky, or bloated.
I’ve gotten eight hours of sleep a night and it’s been GOOD sleep. GREAT sleep. The kind of sleep that let’s me know I am getting genuine REST. Without having to take a sleep aid.
I’ve remembered my vitamins everyday and I know it has helped.
Most importantly, I’ve been in my Bible EVERYDAY, even if only for a few minutes, and my soul has been NOURISHED.
I’ve SEEN the Lord working in my family this week. In ME. And it has been humbling and rewarding.

I have gained more peace in my spirit.
More strength in my body.
More self-control in my food addictions.
More balance as I get back into my routine of wellness.

Granted, if next week I’m up another 2 lbs, I told my husband this morning I’ll be convinced I have a tumor growing at an alarming rate somewhere near my organs and will demand the doctor to see me and find it. (Joking…ish)

Although, I suppose I could always test the
batteries in the scale first.

Nah. Definitely a tumor.

The truth is, I let the “numbers” upset me. Honestly, the numbers do have a proper place. To be intentionally unhealthy and harming one’s own body is not “OK”. The thing is, it’s not ONLY about the numbers. The numbers do not define my identity. This is a concept I may continue to mention weekly, because I need to remind myself of it weekly.

I accomplished many goals. I want to be grateful for what I accomplished. I believe a redeemed life is one that is grateful. One that wants to take care of the body physically out of gratefulness for it, and one that understands the importance of taking care of oneself spiritually. 

for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also of the life to come. ~1 Timothy 4:8 (ESV)

By having just a little quiet time everyday, the decision to exercise was much easier. Because I called on Him when I didn’t feel like it. I thought about how He has given me this body, and how I want to take care of it for Him. This way, He can provide more ways to use it. If I’m tired, groggy, icky, unhappy, or physically harming myself, I reduce the opportunity in which I can be used for His glory

I’ve also discovered that true Wellness is not achieved apart from Him. I’m still learning fully what that means. Trying to drink it. Absorb it. Live it. Love it. 

I’m not going to Panic. 
I’m not going to give up or give in because some numbers don’t agree with my wants. 
I’m going to keep doing what I need. 
Keep retraining my thoughts.
Keep obeying.
And hopefully, develop my character out of my obedience. Develop my thoughts out of my obedience. And from that, reflect true love and life.

This Week?

    • Keep Exercising. Power90, until I’ve made it back to where I was. 
    • Keep Making better food choices and tracking in my food journal.
    • Keep researching the Whole30 until we can officially start it.

Speaking of which, found an AWESOME FREE website for meal planning and recipe ideas. Foodee is a great place for the Whole30, and also for low-carb ideas (which is awesome for us because even after the Whole30 my husband is diabetic and low-carb is a lifestyle we need to get back to and stick with).
It really is amazing, and I highly recommend checking it out even if you are not doing Whole30 or low-carb, because the meals on there are just so incredible that I find myself EXCITED to cook after cruising it a bit. It also allows you to organize in such a way that you choose your meals, and then it GIVES you the shopping list. It’s super cool. For reals.
Now back to goals.

    • Keep drinking water and getting adequate sleep.
    • Keep getting in the word and dedicating some time to be alone with my Savior daily. 
    • Something New: Get up EARLIER in the morning.

This is a goal I’ve had for a while now. It’s not that I want to get up SUPER early, however, I’d love to be OUT of bed no later than 6am. I’m not a morning person. Especially when temperatures outside are in negative digits, then I have no desire whatsoever to leave the warm comfort of my awesome fleece sheets. (Thanks again mom 🙂

However, I also don’t want to be rushed with preparing breakfast and packing lunches. I don’t want to be rushed with saying good morning to my son and spending a little time with him before he heads off to school. I don’t want to be rushed to potentially give up my quiet reading time in the Word because of other commitments that come later in the day, yet sneak up on me quickly because I didn’t get out of bed early enough. I don’t want to NOT work out with my husband because I choose snooze over exercise with him (Which is also very good for his health and controlling his sugars).

I’m excited and nervous about stating my new goal and holding myself accountable to it. I need to make a genuine effort. This week, 6am is my goal. (Eventually I’d love to bring that up to 5:30am. Baby steps my friends in this area, baby steps.)

My immediate goal is to get up and get some things accomplished today around the house. The arctic blast that has swept through Maine and dropped the temperatures to negative numbers has left me wanting to hibernate. It’s also left me not wanting to change out of my fuzzy pajamas, so I’m procrastinating changing until I’m forced to get ready to leave the house. The only reason I’m planning on leaving the house is because the husband told me it was unrealistic to refuse to leave the house until the temperatures made it back up to the 20s.

I think that’s debatable. HA!

Also, for those following the “Embrace Grace” study with Liz Curtis Higgs, the post for Embrace Truth is now posted on her site.
Embrace-Grace-Bible-Study-BLOG-450x150Honestly, just saying embrace truth sounds like a beautiful thing. Because it really is a beautiful thing. 

I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread. ~Job 23:12

That’s a redeemed life. That’s my goal, my desire, to treasure His truth above all else. 

Are you striving towards Wellness? If you participate in Wellness Wednesday or Weigh In Wednesday, please let me know in the comments section and be sure to leave your blog address so we can stop by and encourage you! 

In Love & Faith,
RaZella

UPDATE 1-28-13: Found a “Weigh In Wednesday” Group through the blog of a friends’ friend. After reading some of these blogs at the link up, I am simply AMAZED by this group of woman and already feeling ENCOURAGED. So I’ll be linked up with Kim over at her blog, and hope to continue linking up with them. ^_^

Amazingly Enough – I Am Grateful

Today begins the first official Wellness Wednesday post.
I’m going to start by doing something I don’t historically do – throw out the numbers first. I’m still “weighing in” on Wednesdays because I have a goal set by a health care professional I am trying to obtain. Here goes.

Last Week’s Weight: 138.5 LBS
This Week’s Weight: 139 LBS
Difference: +.5 LBS
Total Since Weight Loss Journey Began: -16 LBS  -11 LBS

Granted, this is not the direction I want to see things moving towards. However, I have a much better attitude about this than I would have when I first started this part of my journey.

How? First of all, I met a lot of my goals this week.

  • I worked out 5 times since the last check in. It felt great to get my heart pumping and my body moving!
  • I have increased my water intake again, 6 out of 7 days I drank my 8 glasses worth.
  • I remembered to take my vitamins EVERYDAY. I know when I forget, especially my iron, it impacts me.
  • I made better food choices, and even pulled out my Sparkpeople nutrition tracker again.
  • I started a Pinterest board to start organizing some recipe ideas for when we start the Whole30 challenge. I even started picking up a few of the ingredients when I went grocery shopping in anticipation. Hoping to order the e-book in another week so I can get it read!

I also did something else this week that was difficult to do at first.
Every time I looked in the mirror and had an immediate thought come to mind that was “insulting” to myself, I changed it to a thought of gratefulness to God.

I know of the practice of standing before the mirror and saying “I am beautiful, I am smart, I am intelligent” – and I have done that before in my past. What I have discovered to be true for myself, is that I am human, I am flawed. So when I participate in this practice for an extended period of time, one of two things always happens: a) I get an inflamed ego about myself which is NOT good or b) I stop “feeling” it and don’t believe it anyway and it becomes pointless.

So this week I tried a completely different approach. I looked in the mirror and said things like:

“Lord, thank you for the teeth you have given me. Thank you that they work, and thank you I haven’t had any major catastrophic dental issues.” 

“Lord, thank you for my skin. That it protects my body, that you wonderfully crafted it just for me.”

“Lord, thank you for my body. That you designed this body specifically for me, with purpose and intention, for me. Thank you for the gift of this body specifically, and help me to honor you by taking care of it.”

Friends, it truly made a difference. I want to continue doing this, because I still had some difficult days (like the one when my hair was being disobedient to the hair dryer), yet I know that on the days I successfully changed my thoughts to be thoughts of gratefulness to the Lord, it made a difference in my attitude, my emotions, my DAY. Because while I am human and I am flawed, He is God and He is Perfect Love.

funny-rhino-unicorn-treadmill

I saw this picture of a Rhino running on a treadmill while looking at a picture of a “Unicorn”. I’ve seen some use this picture as motivation to “Dream Big.”

When I saw this picture, my honest first thought was “How much of my young woman’s life have I spent, “running on a treadmill”, desperate to be something that is fictional”. 

(This is completely off point – however, this video that talks about Unicorns in the Bible, I have to share anytime I bring up the word unicorn. Sorry – going back to point now)

The reality is, I have run the treadmill trying to become something I am not. I have looked to the world to give me my worth, when Who I should be looking to is God.

I also read a post a few weeks ago that made me question how I look at myself when I get dressed, what my motivation is behind meeting my weight loss goal, what my motivation is period. In my Wellness journey, it’s not just about my physical body, it’s also about a “mental” wellness. Checking myself and my motivations along the way to ensure they are honoring God. Repenting when they are not and turning away from thoughts that will not lead me closer to Him. I believe it’s all part of a Redeemed life. My One Word, my Resolution, my gift from a Savior.

My husband had his diabetes check in with his Doctor this week. The results were not as good as we would have liked. It reminded both of us of the importance of being health and taking care of our physical bodies. I’m also thankful to have a husband who wants to share this wellness journey with me. It’s truly encouraging on the days I don’t “feel” like it.

For God hath not called us unto uncleaness, but unto holiness. ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:7 (KJV)

This upcoming week, I will continue to make healthier food choices. I will continue to drink more water. I will continue to exercise. I will continue to research and pin Whole30 recipes, because the truth is, we need to get onto a more diabetic friendly/ heart healthy friendly meal plan on a regular basis. I will continue to practice gratefulness with my Lord in the face of ungrateful and unrealistic thoughts.

I will NOT be the Rhino looking at the Unicorn.

I also want to leave you with the following link. (A lot goes on for me on Wednesdays, so bear with me please!) I have been using my Wednesday mornings to do the “Embrace Grace” study with Liz Curtis Higgs over on her blog (linked up in the picture). If you have the book, it’s a great companion to read the chapters with her blog which provides even more. Her blogs are different enough from the book so you don’t feel like you’re re-reading the chapter, yet they fit hand in hand with the Chapter material. I’m going to start including a link on Wednesdays for those who also want to join in. This was the 3rd week, and this week is about Embrace Faith.

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I hope you all are finding encouragement on your Wellness Journeys. I myself am off to do our Power90 and then go ice skating with my husband! (Please don’t say break a leg…it just might happen).
If you are doing a “Wednesday Wellness” or a “Weigh-in Wednesday” please share in the comments and leave a link to your blog! I’d love to stop by and give you encouragement!

In Love & Faith,
RaZella