One Word 2016 – 2017

One Word 2016Last year my One Word was the word hope. I shared in that blog post that 2015 had been an extremely difficult year. So it’s not surprising 2016 began with us still climbing out of the difficulty.

And God is faithful.

He worked in 2016. Sometimes in totally unexpected ways.
Wounds remained from the previous year, yet they were being healed. Even now there are days that my family feels the effects of the wounds and the healing. It’s a hard process, yet I’ve come to accept the hard process is the refining process and it is a good thing.

I didn’t blog much in 2016. Instead, I allowed myself to be vulnerable to a few trusted women, and they walked with me during the difficulty in truth and love. I continued to seek personal Godly counsel for myself. I recognized areas in my life where I needed to grow, where I needed to turn away from sin, and where I needed to forgive.

Then as 2016 continued, and the healing, I traveled. I spent some wonderful time with family and strengthened relationships. I started to find deeper peace and contentment. After being away from home for nearly a month, I looked forward to returning. God was at work. He spoke into some of my fears, He stirred my heart to recognize and appreciate what He has provided me with at home, and He gave me back my voice that I had somehow started to lose along the way. As the year went on, I continued to feel closer and closer to God and Jesus.

20160620_070518I know one of the reasons for this was I was consistently in His Word. Last year for the first time, I read my Bible cover to cover. I eventually ended up using the Quieting Your Heart: 6 Month Bible Study Journal to help me really chew on what I was reading. I used up two of them over the course of the year. The daily habit of reflecting on God’s character, being intentionally thankful, and prayerfully asking what He was teaching me/revealing to me through His word was a blessing I can’t put into words. I realize now the necessity for a Believer to dig into God’s word personally. Not just in a class, not always with a group of people, and certainly not just at church on Sundays.

And because my word for the year was hope, it meant every day I was eagerly searching for hope in His word. I have come to believe that hope is not an emotional feeling. Hope is much deeper than that. It’s a reality. It’s a truth. A promise. It’s something I can rest securely in, even in the midst of a difficult trial. There are so many four letter words that try to destroy our hope. Fear, Loss, Need, Hurt, Pain. My heavenly Father was slowly and lovingly teaching me that in the midst of those words, I could trust Him. I could still place my hope in Him and Him alone. When everything around me fails, He is unfailing love.

I’m thankful to say that by the end of 2016, we had grown as a family. Our difficult days have become difficult moments. There is more laughter. More peace. It’s not because of us, it’s because of the One who has lifted us up as we have submitted ourselves to Him.

With hope in my heart, I prayerfully considered my word for 2017.

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This year I am looking to focus.

To focus on where and how God wants me to serve my immediate family, my church family, and others.

To focus on my dream to write a book from start to finish.

To focus on His Word daily, to continue the habit of personally meeting with Him.

To focus on preparing my nest as my son is a sophomore in high school, and in a few short years my husband and I will have the house to ourselves.

To focus on my health and wellness, and continue to put into practice truths God revealed to me through my Made to Crave journey.

To focus on blogging where I feel inspiration to share, because I believe God has given me a gift of writing, and I want to use it to encourage others, even if I never know who or how I’m encouraging.

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New Year 2017

 

Here is to 2017 Friends.

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Refinement Hurts Before It Heals

5_Habits_Woman-195x300I just finished Week One of the #5HabitsBook study with #P31OBS. This week we were focused on the first Habit which is The Assignment of Refinement. 

In addition to the book itself, I also invested in the “A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit” study guide. Everyday there is a “Quit Quitting Verse of the Day”. Two of these versus stood out to me more than the rest because of the word “HOPE”, my One Word for 2016.

 

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One Word 2016 – Good bye 2015

One Word 2016“The world is full of broken people. 
And I am one of them.” 

A few years ago I wrote a New Year’s Eve blog post with that statement as my opening line. This New Year’s Eve I found myself thinking of those exact words again.

For some people 2015 was a spectacular year full of accomplishments, wonder, and memories to cherish for the rest of their lives. For others, it was nothing more and nothing less than another year gone by.
And for the rest of us, there were beautiful moments we hold closely guarded in our hearts, and moments that nearly broke our hearts and left them shattered.Read More »

I Have Nothing, Yet I Possess Everything

Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies

Reflecting on Week 2 of the P31OBS : What Happens When Women Walk in Faith.

 

  

 Last week  we moved into what Lysa TerKeurst calls the “famine”.
I call it the “in-between”.

As a follower of Christ, my starting point was the day I submitted myself to Him, His death and resurrection. My end point is when I am with Him in heaven. Everything else is the in-between. I’ll have lots of little mini-stops on the way. Some are rest stops, some are exciting stops, and each have their own “in-betweens”.Read More »

The Broken, Outdated, No-Real-Reason-To-Keep-It Night

Last night I went on a de-cluttering spree in my bedroom. It was time.
Make-up bag overflowing, clothes poking out of overly stuffed drawers, and the papers, oh the papers…..

I believe a bedroom should be a place that says “Here is where you can relax, drifting away peacefully into sweet slumber and rest.”

The last few months my bedroom has been saying “Here is where you can drop another arm load of stuff from the living room because company is coming over.

(Don’t judge, I know I’m not the only one…)

Trash bag in hand, I began to go through the mountains of STUFF.
It was time to throw away the broken, outdated, no-real-reason-to-keep-it STUFF.
Old make up – tossed. Old lotions – tossed. Old pair of shoes with a hole in them – tossed. And the papers, so many papers – TOSSED.

Then I came to the drawer that held my journals.

All through middle and high school I wrote in my journals. Sometimes meticulously recording events to preserve the memory. Mostly allowing whatever emotion I was feeling to fill the pages. More than once I found myself in trouble because of this.
A teacher I was close too during one of those “troubling times” when someone else read my journal and the ensuing teenage drama followed, said to me “Never write anything down that you don’t want someone else to read“.

I didn’t learn the lesson.

Eventually my journals were taken from me, misrepresented, and then thrown away. In my hurt and anger over the situation, I bought a stack of blank journals, determined to keep writing MY way, without any remorse for the hurt or pain my words may have caused others.

The thing is, I’m not the same person anymore.

Last night as I sat and read through these journals, I was both convicted and astonished. Convicted because of the words I had written. Astonished because it was a clear picture of just how lost I was.

Earlier this week I read Romans 12, and it’s been lingering in the back of my mind.

Romans 12:6-8 : “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”

 

As I thumbed through painful memories and emotionally focused writing, I had to ask myself WHY. Why was I holding onto this broken, outdated, no-real-reason-to-keep-it life? Then as I found myself questioning that, I felt the Holy Spirit whispering to my soul this…

Writing is a gift, it doesn’t belong to you, it was gifted to you by The One who Loves You Most. Use your Gift Well in This New Life you now have In Christ Jesus.

I didn’t throw the journals away.
Instead, I went to my husband. The only person in the whole world who knows where I keep my journals, and who has for five years respected my request that he not read them. I asked him to burn them. When he asked me if I was sure, I took a breath, looked at them, and then looked at him, and told him I was absolutely sure. I was ready to let go of my life before him, the hurt, the anger, the rebellion, the person I no longer was.

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I was letting go of that old life, to fully embrace THIS life. This life with my Savior, with my husband, with family and friends.

The only journal I kept was the one I started after my husband and I married. I kept it so I can journal with purpose.

To write Truths when my emotions try to dominate me.
To write praises of thankfulness for things the Lord is doing in my life and in the lives of those I love.
So that the next time I sit down and look through my “journals” – they will be pages of purpose – pointing back to a Glorious Life Giving Savior.
So that the next time someone wants to pick up my journals and read through them, what they will find will be something that has purpose.

Never write anything down that you don’t want someone else to read.
I think I’ve got it now.

Ephesians 4
29
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 
30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

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Wellness Wednesday and Financial Peace

For those following along with the Mark Study, please excuse the delay. The final post for Mark will be here next week.
For the book review portion of these, please skip on down to the bottom 🙂

It’s Wednesday. I try to use Wednesdays to think about my wellness goals, hold myself accountable to them.
I have a confession to make.
I was really excited to Weigh In today.
REALLY EXCITED.

I moved up to level two  on the 30DS. Last time I tried this workout, it was right about now I gave up. Not being able to exercise and breathe at the same time was a turn off for me. I believe when exercising I need to push myself. I’m aware of my own laziness. It’s possible this 30 minutes of exercise will be the majority of my movement for the DAY at times. I also believe trying to commit to a program that’s too physically intense is a waste of time and energy. A constant feeling of failure isn’t going to motivate me to show up the next day and do it again.

Over the last year I have been doing more. So this time I could feel the difference in my body, my energy, and my ability. Hence why even though it’s intense right now and I’m sore all over again like I was in the first four days, I feel like I’m accomplishing something and want to keep pushing on.

So with a smile I stepped on the scale:

Last Weigh-In: 136.6lbs
Today’s Weight: 136.2lbs (-0.4)
Bottom Line: +6.2 lbs from Goal

That defeated feeling crept up and in and over with rapid speed. It lingered all morning.

Then came the domino effect. Maybe you’ve experienced this?

Thoughts of “Why bother with this? My husband loves me, who cares about weight? I could eat whatever I want, whenever I want. Why bother exercising? This is just too much work. It’s taking too long. How much does this really matter in the grand scheme of things?”

Then a very quiet thought, in the very back of my self-pity and frustration, barely audible yet recognizable the whispered “How much does this matter? Ask why does this matter?

The Why isn’t about a number on the scale.
The Why is about my food addictions. About food easily and quickly becoming my IDOL.
About the number on the scale becoming my IDOL.
About finding strength in a God who offers me complete freedom from bondage, guilt, and shame through His son, even though I have done nothing to deserve it.
About truths – my body being a temple of the Holy Spirit.  My body needing to be in motion to stay healthy.
About seeking Him in this journey of bringing my body under control and using it to honor Him. Having Faith that He will help me do this.

It’s the Why I needed to remind myself of today.
It’s the Why that helped me eventually change into my workout clothes, pop the DVD in the player, and put in twenty minutes of intensity as Jillian would say.
And it’s the Why that lead me to the elliptical to put in twenty more minutes of cardio for this beating heart of mine.

Then I realized something else.
Our God is unbelievably perfect. He knows I need exercise to stay healthy. He knows my flesh would rather work one day and rest six. So He designed my body to release endorphins when I exercise. To relax my body and reduce my stress. To literally give me a “good feeling” so after I get started I honestly enjoy it. WOW.

The other thing I wanted to share with you was a book I read.
During one of my elliptical training times, I began thinking about all the different aspects of life “Wellness” could apply to.

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The mind wanders when you have a wall and Tom Hanks to stare at for 20 minutes

I’ve been thinking about finances this month because my husband and I had some major financial prayers, and thankfully, major financial blessings. With the blessings came a new financial prayer, for wisdom, discipline, and the ability to have an open hand with our finances for the Lord’s purposes. I decided with all the research and reading I do on nutrition and exercise, maybe it was time to take a few days and research finances.

I stopped by my church library and checked out the financial shelf. I love my church library. I saw two Dave Ramsey books and decided to start with him, mainly because I’ve heard good things about him through the grapevine.

I decided to read while on the elliptical and I could not put the first book down. It’s his Financial Peace*.

I think what I needed most from the book was the understanding of just how dangerous debt is. Facing how much of the culture’s buy-in I’ve accepted over the years that “debt is the norm”.

I like Ramsey’s writing style. It’s very easy to follow. I came across a few sentences that made me literally laugh out loud. For example, “Avoid the lifestyles of the rich when you are not rich“. I mean, that should be common sense right? I know there are times when I NEED to hear that. Hence why I laughed. Followed by “You must find your income level and live below that mark“. Another chuckle from me.

I don’t believe Ramsey is the end-all be-all of financial knowledge. I think there is a danger in putting too much focus on “building your personal wealth” against the many teachings of Christ.
I do believe savings is a smart idea, and planning for a retirement that would not burden your children is smart too.  I now have a new appreciation to understand the slavery debt is.
Ultimately I think it’s more about submitting the numbers to the Lord’s will over your own, something I’m sure I will struggle with until the day I die.

Ramsey has some great advice on getting out of debt, things to consider in a monthly budget, and even suggestions on teaching kids about finances before they are grown and on their own. The book made me really take a hard honest look at my view of money, my spending, and gave me some insight as to what I do and why I do it. It helped me realize things I need to be in prayer with the Lord about when it comes to me and money, and it left me with a written plan my husband and I are committed to.

These were my wellness lessons this week.
The reminder I needed yet again about WHY I am on this journey to physical health, and realizing financial wellness is important too.

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Oh, and one more thing! Realizing I’ve finally developed enough balance to read while on the elliptical. FANTASTIC.
I look forward to utilizing this new ability for researching all areas of “wellness”.

How did your week go?

In Love & Faith,
RaZella

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32085: Financial Peace: Revisited Financial Peace: RevisitedBy Dave Ramsey

Want to get out of debt and stay out? Financial Peace Revisited gives you the tools to understand why you are in debt, create a budget you can stick to, set goals you can achieve, and make things right for you and your family emotionally, spiritually, and financially, for good. Updated version of the bestseller Financial Peace includes new chapters on marriage, singles, kids, and families.

 

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Our Brokenness is Our Rebuilding

I sat in a semi-circle of women whom I have grown greatly fond of.
This particular night however, my heart was heavy.
I found my attention distracted. My thoughts wondering.
My spirit was distressed, overwhelmed, hurt, and frustrated.

I sat there silently.

I wanted to speak. I wanted to share.
And I didn’t want to.
Because sometimes transparency is only appropriate to a point.
Sometimes transparency is difficult.

The loneliness of wrestling with fear and hurt in silence is more difficult.
And discouraging.
A place I’ve lived in already.

Tentatively I raised my hand.

I whispered my silent prayer to the Lord for help to be transparent.

To be transparent without betraying the trust of those I love,
stumbling into gossip,
or losing my integrity.
To be Faithfully transparent with the purpose of seeking encouragement.
Seeking Godly wisdom from these women in my time of difficulty.

And so I spoke my semi-transparent words,
and the build up of the swirling emotions within began to trickle from my eyes.
A kind hand gave me a tissue.
Semi-transparent words spoken,
I returned to my silence.

The room did not stay silent.

The room filled with the voices of love and encouragement.
Voices of women who let me know that I was not alone.
My struggles were familiar.
My emotions were understood.
And these beautiful voices said things that made me breath deeply.
Things that made me realize blessings I was forgetting.

The blessing of a Godly husband.
The blessing of a marriage where both spouses are actively seeking God.
The blessing of being a mother, of a son.
Of friendship.

And the all important reminder that nothing is impossible with God.
That the comfort, strength, and hope I needed could all be found in Jesus.

I left that night feeling encouraged.
The despair had the light of hope shone on it.
The stress was relieved with truth.

It would be a few more days still before my conflict, my trial, was over.
Praise be to God for it’s blessed resolution.
Praise be to God for the Godly women He has brought into my life this year.

He has proven to me over and over again that it is only when we are broken that he can rebuild us.
It is the rebuilding that we need.

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There are trials, difficult days we face that break our hearts.
Remember that He is Sovereign.
He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings and nothing happens without His permission.
We may not always understand why.
We may never understand why.
However, He will rebuild us as we turn to Him.
We will be changed, and that change will be a Blessing.

Remember, He also gave us one another, brothers and sisters in Christ so that we may be encouraged and lifted up in accountability. To help point each other back to the cross when the weight of our lives feels overwhelming.

I heard the following song earlier this week.
I found the lyrics to be utterly amazing.
Maybe because I was just there.
Either way, I end today’s post sharing the song.
My hope is that if you are going through a struggle right now,
you would find a trusted brother or sister to be a little transparent with.
Pray with them. Pray alone. Be comforted and know He has a plan, even if you don’t yet understand it.

In Love & Faith,
RaZella

Wellness Wednesday: Let Him Make It Possible

This is my first Wellness Wednesday post of NOT doing the Whole30.
I was going share how post-Whole30 is going. Then as I started typing, something happened. So I’m holding off on that update and instead going with the “what happened”…..

I want to share my personal thoughts about HOW to take those first steps towards better health. It’s hard to “get there“. It’s hard to make new habits. It does take an effort. I believe that effort is worth it.

  1. God must be first. I 100% believe if we are trying to be healthier WITHOUT including our Lord, without prayer, without leaning on Him for strength, without seeking Him and His wisdom in the process, without allowing His Grace to Embrace Us, we will not be able to succeed. 
  2. We must have knowledge. I believe we combat lies from Satan by stating truths from God’s Word. It’s what Jesus did when He was being tempted by Satan, He spoke Truth in the face of Satan’s lies. We need to know “truths” about health, so that when we are tempted to give up, or don’t “feel” like it, we can speak truth as to WHY we will live a healthier life.
      • One truth that really helps me: Remembering my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. My body is a gift, specifically designed for me by God. I want to honor the gift of my body He has made just for me by taking care of it. This means spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
      • Reading about nutrition and learning nutritional facts has helped me. This takes effort to seek out nutritional information and to use discernment with the information you find. I personally recommend reading It Starts With Food. I also recommend checking out Intoxicated on Life, I’ve really enjoyed some of their health articles. Like TheHealthWish on Facebook, she shares some great articles from time to time. The only other suggestion I can make, use the Google Search engine to your advantage. Ask friends whom you know are living healthier lifestyles. Learn about nutrition, what your body needs, and start reading labels.
  3. Have a Realistic Plan. Figure out what you want to accomplish and using the information you have been reading and researching in step 2, make a plan. Be honest with yourself. If you’ve been here and done this before and feel that you failed, be honest as to why you failed. Was it that you didn’t feel like it? Remember, when your emotions don’t “feel like it“, you’ve got to speak truth to yourself. Was it that you didn’t have time? Be realistic about your time. Be realistic about giving up an hour of TV in the evening to prepare your lunch for the next day. Remember, it takes effort to learn new habits, healthier lifestyles. It won’t just magically appear. Lean on God for the strength of self-discipline to do what needs to be done. Grow in that fruit of the spirit. It will not only help in this area, it will bleed into other areas as well.
  4. Find a Support System. Family is great, this is true, however, family doesn’t want to be the wall you run up against when you aren’t feeling like it. Family doesn’t always want to push you because let’s be honest, sometimes when we are being pushed we tend to push back. So find even more support. Especially if you have struggled again and again with this area of your life. Find someone whom is living the healthier lifestyle you seek, and ask them to be your accountability partner. Check in with them on a planned basis, once a day, once a week. Find an online support system or group. I found a Facebook group of women who are amazing. I also joined a Facebook exercise challenge for my specific workout plan. There are sites such as SparkPeople with tons of groups you can get involved in. Not to mention websites such as MustLoveGod which host link-ups for accountability on Thursdays. Find other people and get plugged in. Encourage and be encouraged by them. This way, you have the support and encouragement of your family (my husband’s support has been wonderful) AND you also have support from people who may be more willing to push you when you need to be pushed.
  5. Get Back On The Horse. You stumble. You trip. You fall. Get up, get back on, re-work the plan, re-evaluate what is realistic for you, get in prayer with God about why you “fell of the horse“, ask Him for what you need, and keep going. A long time ago I read in a pamphlet at the Doctor’s office that the average person who is trying to quit smoking will “quit” seven times before REALLY successfully quitting. I can tell you, it’s true. I’ve also heard that sugar is as addictive as cocaine. If that’s true, then I have to think that the average person trying to eat healthier, trying to make exercise a habit, will try several times before REALLY successfully establishing those healthier habits.  I cannot over-emphasize how important it is to fuel your body with nutrition. You cannot physically have the energy to make exercise a habit when your body is not being fueled properly. It is so vital. Don’t allow guilt or shame or feelings of failure stop you. Christ died for you to free you from the bondage of sin. Do you struggle with gluttony? I did. Do you struggle with making food an idol before God? I did. Go to Him. Confess of any sin revealed to you in this process, repent of any sin, turn from it, and keep going forward with His Grace as Your Savior. You may think I’m crazy saying this when it comes to eating and exercise. I only say it because of everything the Lord laid on my heart in my journey. I had some sins I wasn’t aware of, and it wasn’t until I got those out on the table and addressed them with Him that I was then Free to make the changes I needed to make.

I know we neglect to give every part of our lives to God. It is a life long process for us. However, I believe we don’t even think about giving Him something as “trivial” as how we eat. The weight we want to lose. The feelings of failure we have when we try and don’t succeed. We push full steam ahead all by ourselves. Then can’t figure out why it isn’t working.
The other thing, from my personal journey, is that as I handed over this part of my life to Him, He gave me more realistic expectations. He spoke truths to me above and over the culture’s truths about how I should look. It became less about “looking good” and more about being healthier. That alone is freeing. I hate the check-out line of the grocery store. Magazines on either side of air-brushed, photo-shopped, half dressed women telling me how I should look. No wonder we have such un-realistic expectations of ourselves, masked as “trying to get healthy”. I believe it’s the bondage of our culture. Preventing us from realizing who we are as women in the eyes of our loving Father. Preventing us from growing from the inside out because we become so distracted with the outside that the outside begins to bleed into our insides.

I apologize if I sound like I’m preaching at you. I feel overwhelmed with passion to try and convey that with Christ, all things are possible. To try and give hope to every woman who is beating herself up with feelings of failure when it comes to body image, how she eats. Who is tired and run-down from poor nutrition. Who, every time she looks in the mirror she sees errors and “ugliness” instead of God’s image, His creation, His love. If that’s where you are, I simply encourage you to seek Him. Fall before Him and pour it all out to Him. If it is causing your soul distress, if it is wearing shame and guilt on you, if it is a cycle of failure, it is not trivial. Give it to Him. Let Him take it from you and let Him clothe you with His Grace. Find brothers and sisters and start making changes, being encouraged, giving encouragement. Let Him use this one area of your life to show you what He can do with it. Let it be what starts infusing all areas of your life.

That is my hope for you.
In Love & Faith,
RaZella

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