Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Entering 2018, with One Little Word

And here we are! 2018! I can hardly believe how quickly the time does go!

I had many things to reflect on while looking back at the year 2017.
It was a year of so much "new", many "firsts" and many "gigantic leaps".
I had the most beautiful wedding and entered into an exciting new life phase, where God was ever present...and through His spirit I went into it all with shame and fear totally removed.
I learned how to be healthy for the first time since I was 14 years old.
I performed in a beautiful concert as a soprano soloist for the very first time, and even received another opportunity to do that again in this upcoming year!

My "one word" for 2017 was BRAVE...and obviously I grew a lot from that. But all I've been able to think about are the ways that I did NOT grow...the ways I ignored the word I had chosen for myself. Like, why can I not seem to get past all the fear of what other people think of me? Why did I have such joy, excitement, and peace when I first got married, but then allowed shame to bury me again, and so quickly? Why is it so easy for me to just give up on things when they get hard? Why, when I experience something very painful, is it so hard for me to talk about how I feel about it, even with people I trust? I don't think I'm a brave person at all.

But then God reminds me, "Hold on! Look at all the ways this word DID shape you this year! All of the accomplishments and opportunities that you would have run away from or been too fearful to jump into before!"

This is very true! And just because I faced some struggles doesn't mean there was no growth involved. The very existence of struggles are to get us to turn back to God, who truly frees us, and the change follows that surrender.

We are cracked and chipped from our afflictions on all sides, but we are not crushed by them. We are bewildered at times, but we do not give in to despair. We are persecuted, but we have not been abandoned. We have been knocked down, but we are not destroyed.  We always carry around in our bodies the reality of the brutal death and suffering of Jesus. As a result, His resurrection life rises and reveals its wondrous power in our bodies as well. For while we live, we are constantly handed over to death on account of Jesus so that His life may be revealed even in our mortal bodies of flesh. So death is constantly at work in us, but life is working in you. -- 2 Corinthians 4:8-12 (The Voice)

As the month of December drew to a close, I could not have been more relieved, as that was the month I dealt with the most stress, when all of the things I was struggling with piled higher and higher until I felt like even one more little thing would just break me.

While on a beautiful, relaxing Christmas cruise in the Bahamas (*cue the major sigh of relief*), I had time to consider what my new word for the upcoming year should be. I wanted it to be something that would allow me to face my struggles and be stretched by them in the best ways. I wanted it to be something that would move me forward, and into new disciplines that would allow me to become a better wife and more well rounded person.

It didn't take me very long to come up with just the right word. And just like when I prayed over the word BRAVE at the beginning of 2017, I knew that THIS was the word that God wanted to use to guide this next year...

My word for 2018 is REFOCUS.

Keep your head up, your eyes straight ahead, and your focus fixed on what is in front of you. - Proverbs 4:25

My greatest temptation is always to place my focus on what I think I can't do..

I'm too exhausted and have no energy, I can't accomplish this right now.
This is too much, I can't do it.
They are going to judge me, I can't do it.
I'm just not wired the right way to be able to do certain things.
I already know I'm going to screw this up, so why even try?

But the phrase that has been thrown at me so many times, just within the last couple of months that has really altered my perspective and had me longing for change is, But what if you COULD?

The concept of "positive thinking" is actually a biblical Truth that was essentially stolen and twisted by new age movements.

As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. - Proverbs 23:7


* What if I COULD find the energy to do things that need to be done...like keeping a beautiful home?
* What if I COULD tackle huge projects and finish them well?
* What if I COULD try new things and be successful with them?
* What if I COULD learn new ways to be organized?
* What if I COULD find total freedom from shame and fear of other people's thoughts?

What if I could completely flourish, as a wife...as a singer...as a friend...as a teacher...simply by choosing to REFOCUS my attitude toward literally everything that I do, or could be doing?

So many disciplines in life (whether they are spiritual, mental, or physical disciplines) may not come so naturally to us. But they can be learned, even when we know it's going to be a struggle or painful at times. And practicing new disciplines can only better us.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. -- Hebrews 12:11

And as always, while I may know how I personally want to experience growth and change with this word REFOCUS...those ideas and plans don't even come close to the way I know the Lord will want to use this word in my life! And my ultimate REFOCUS is going to be on HIM...and I don't want to ignore the things He wants to say to me anymore. I want to walk directly into His freedom and remain there. No more fear. Carrying my previous word, brave, into 2018 with me, while putting my lens on life into "refocus mode" and learn what it really means to grow.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

MY Best of 2017!

I've never actually done a post like this before. Mostly because I just don't keep up with what may or may not be "popular" during a particular year. My hubby is actually better at that ;) But that's probably why I'm more "with the times" this year and actually have something to say for a post like this!, because he kept me in the loop! So here are MY highest ratings for 2017.

And I'd love to hear yours in the comments!


{So technically this was published in 2016, but I DID read it in 2017, ha! It was quite a game changer for me!}

This one totally changed my whole life, whole perspective, and motivated the heck out of me!

Looks like I really didn't read any fiction this year. Or if I did it wasn't anything that was published this year. That's one of my objectives for the upcoming year is to do more reading.


...because, c'mon now, would you really expect me to have a list without this movie?

I'm gonna tell you something...I would watch that entire thing all the way through, JUST for the end! I mean, the entire thing was absolutely great, but ohhhhh the end!!!

There were a lot of movies we wanted to see this year that we didn't get to. We are hoping to catch up on those here pretty soon. Such as Wonder, The Greatest Showman, and Murder on the Orient Express. Anyone seen those yet?

Okay so I'm going to start with Contemporary Christian music since that's what I was primarily listening to all year...

I think this one is my personal number one. This song spoke directly to my heart in exactly the way I needed it to at the time. Plus Ellie's voice is so sweet to listen to.

Oh gosh guys, can I just say every. single. NEEDTOBREATHE song that was ever released this year?? I picked this one because this is the one that most people would be familiar with, AND because it's a great song. But my favorite one from them in 2017 was "Walking on Water", no question. Go listen to that one, while you're at it!

This is probably my favorite song that MercyMe has EVER done.

And here's a couple of "mainstream" songs I ended up loving in 2017...


I'm so pleased that a second series of this was made! It gets me in such complete awe of God's wondrous creation, and this is such a wonderful way to experience it! There is absolutely nothing "dull" about these documentary style episodes. The cinematography is breathtakingly beautiful, and David Attenborough's narrating voice is so soothing and makes the viewing experience that much more enjoyable. 

The hubby actually suggested this one! I haven't seen the whole thing yet, but I'm so excited to keep watching it!

Once again, this is one that we haven't finished yet. But what we did see was so very sweet, and a show I did not expect to fall in love with considering my loyalties to the original trilogy with Meagan Fellows. But this is a beautiful, well worth watching (so far) adaptation.


Ya'll...I'm telling you right now...click on the link, and then click through these videos. Your abs will get a legit workout because you'll be laughing so hard!

I really didn't write much this past year. That's going to change. But here are the posts that I DID have that had the highest readership, which is kind of cool for me to see! I'm excited to see how this little space grows over the next year.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Latest Learnings

Hey, it's a list post!
I love list posts!

So here we are heading into winter time...into Christmas time!
And this most recent new season of my life has certainly brought a lot with it! Come see what I've learned this fall!
Some of it is serious, some of it is fun, and some of it is just something really, really cool that I discovered and thought you might find interesting too!

{one} Alma is my new little inspiration!

Oh my goodness, Alma Deutscher is the coolest! She's a child prodigy who is only 12 years old and she's already composed her own opera and even more absolutely exquisite music...full blown symphonies for all instruments. And it's all just in her head! I may not be a musical genius like her, but hearing about her and reading about her completely rekindled my musical passion! And, even though my brain works completely differently from hers, in some other ways, she reminds me a lot of myself when I was her age. I'm glad I ever found out about her and I can't wait to keep following her and see where life takes her!

I love that she says, when compared to Mozart, "I would like to be the first Alma! Not the next Mozart!"

Take a listen to part of this beautiful piece that she composed herself...

{2} These videos right here, are the actual...best...EVER!

Where has this woman been my whole life?!? I. Can't. Stop. Watching!
Need a laugh? Start with this...and then just continue clicking through her YouTube channel!

{three} This quote changed everything for me this season…

It put completely into perspective why I perform...and the people I should be thinking of when I perform.

{4} "Appcompanist"…AKA the greatest invention for earth! (at least for singers)

I can practice pretty much any piece of music that I am working on, with full, high quality piano accompaniment! Biggest, best enhancement in my practicing experience! All fellow music and theatre people, GET THIS APP! Totally and completely worth it!

{five} I absolutely LOVE chili!
My school had a chili cook-off on a very cold, dreary day this fall. And I had no idea there were so many different ways to make chili! I sampled so many and actually had a lot of trouble choosing my favorite!
Although there was a recipe for Chocolate Chili...which sounds kind of weird...but OHHHH MYYYYY! That's really all I can say about that!
I used to think chili was kinda boring, but that's probably because I've only ever tried one or two recipes and wondered what the big deal was. I never knew there was so much out there on the chili spectrum! I think chili is my new favorite fall/winter food!

{6} Even extroverts like me have limitations.
I'm the top picture...ha!
Oh yes, I had a week this fall that I NEVER thought I would get through. Demands and needs coming at me from all sides. Don't get me wrong, I love all of the people I work with, all of the parents and students at my studio, and I'm always happy to help. And I know that these people did not intentionally choose to overwhelm me. I just got to a point where “people-ing” quickly became a verb that I couldn't do anymore, at least for a short while. I spent an entire Saturday free of any kind of chatting, working, and doing for anyone else but me. And it was exactly the right choice. Sometimes we just need those days. I rarely do. I am a total “people-er”...but eventually, even the most extreme of extroverts need to take a break.

{seven} I had to redefine the word “BRAVE” for myself.
Brave is not some magical action that makes all the anxieties disappear. Brave is a choice to do something IN SPITE OF the anxiety. And it's a place of genuine faith where we can come back to God after sitting alone in the shadows of fear and shame and recognize the value HE sees in us. We can take risks for the sake of Eternity, because God says we CAN and we SHOULD! Sometimes what seems like the smallest, most unimportant things can still have eternal significance

{8} Our Instant Pot that we got as a wedding gift is the other greatest invention in the world! (And you don't even have to be a singer to enjoy this one!)

Quick and easy to use! We have made so many things in this contraption, and we can't wait to try more! And you can make just about anything in it, even your own yogurt! It can be an extravagant purchase, but what an investment! Although I will be honest and say that I am glad we got it as a gift ;)
{nine} Letting go of shame is still really hard...but freedom cannot exist where shame exists!
Actually this isn't so much something I've been learning this fall...more like over a couple of years really! But it's a daily process still. Shame is so real, but it's such a liar! I deal with so much shame as a wife, as a teacher, as a director, as a friend, as an employee, and as a singer. And it just piles up and piles up to the point where I can't function anymore.
I put a lot of pressure on myself. And I feel pressure from other people...whether it's real or just perceived on my end...and I deeply internalize it to the point where I am defined by how that person may or may not feel about me. 
And I still struggle with feeling completely unworthy of anything good...or if something good DOES happen to me, I have a hard time enjoying it because I feel guilty that's it could be taking away from somebody else.
I AM learning to bring these thoughts to the Lord, but fearing other people's thoughts has been overpowering the freedom I could be finding from it. I know full well what that freedom is like! I've had it! And I know that to continue to have it is a daily practice of willingness and surrender to the Holy Spirit...and reconnecting my own spirit to His. But the enemy has really been using my fearful, shame-ridden mentality to hold me back big time.
{10} And finally...THIS...
You're turn! What are some things you've learned this fall? Life lessons? Exciting discoveries?
I'd love to hear all about them in the comments!
{Linking up with one of my favorite authors, Emily P. Freeman, for "What I've Learned"}

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Adoption should be CELEBRATED!

When I was growing up, I used to love telling people I was adopted.

I liked that it made me unique, and I think I really just wanted to see people’s reactions to it.
They weren’t always positive reactions. Especially when I got into middle school. Kids in middle school are so mean in general, but when you throw something into the mix that makes you different, it can become a source of constant teasing, and a reason for the “mean kids” to make you feel less than everyone else.   

The fact was, being adopted DID make me different. And yes, I may have abused this little fact about myself, and used it to draw attention to myself, even if it was negative…but as someone who always felt like I was on the outside looking in no matter where I was, soon enough this never felt like a GOOD different.



From a very young age, my parents explained my adoption to me.
Quite early on, I understood that my birth mom loved me, but she could not take care of me…so she chose two parents who could. As a wide-eyed little girl who was constantly chatting and asking questions, it made me feel special to know this about myself. I actually felt important knowing this. And I shared it with everyone I knew…with no fear and no shame.

A Distorted Perception... 
As I got older, my lens on this seemed to shift. 
I was in doctors’ offices a lot growing up, because I had scoliosis and I was fitted for a brace, and then prepared for surgery a few years later. Nurses asked all kinds of questions about my genetic history that my parents and I obviously could not answer.   

In fact, in these and other situations, my parents often made light of the fact that I was not their biological child by jokingly saying, “Wait, you’re adopted?! Didn’t know that!”
And believe me, I get it! They were trying to make me feel like I was one hundred percent THEIRS, and in their minds, being adopted didn’t make any difference to them. They loved me just as much as if I had been their biological daughter. I KNOW their intentions were good.

But looking at it all now, I think often I wondered…why couldn’t my adoption have mattered to them just a little bit more? I suppose, in a way, I felt as though I was loved in spite of the fact that I was adopted. Not because of it.
Heading into middle school, still feeling like it was a beautiful thing, I shared my adoption with my peers, who in turn used it to isolate me. I can clearly recall a day in my 6th grade art class, when the teacher asked us to split into groups for a project. No one chose me. And one girl even said, “No one wants you in their group, Emily, just like your parents didn’t want you.” 

That was the moment everything changed for me. My adoption story was no longer beautiful. It was a reason to be ASHAMED. 
Now see, I knew that I knew that I knew, that what this girl said to me was completely false. I knew my birth mom WANTED me. I knew that she WOULD have taken care of me if she COULD. I knew it was the hardest CHOICE she could have made, and I held her up in the highest regards because of that.  

But in my mind, even though I was aware that her decision was the BEST for me, and made fully out of LOVE…even though I believed the fact that I existed at all meant God had an amazing plan for my life…I still felt to my very core that my life was not worth the existence, and I was not worthy of being loved.

Family Differences...

My large clan of cousins were all aware that I was adopted.
I was very clearly wired differently from them. I had a different personality type. I was interested in different things. I just was different.  

But the mentality always seemed to be, Yes, she’s adopted, but that doesn’t matter to us. We don’t think about that. 

Even if I wasn’t consciously thinking about it at the time, I'm pretty sure I always wanted my follow up questions to be, Why not? Why does it not matter? Why don’t you think about it? Why can’t this be more important? Why do we just ignore it? And just like everywhere else, I found myself on the outside looking in…all the time…simply because I came from a different gene pool than the rest of them.  

Eventually, I just couldn’t advocate adoption anymore.

I started to realize that all of the issues I’d had growing up – feeling isolated from every group including my own family, desperation to be loved but never connecting with anyone, constantly “on guard” and scared that everyone in my life was just eventually going to leave me – they all stemmed from my adoption. And I just couldn’t promote something that had seemed like such a negative, in my own life, for so many years.


A BETTER Perception... 

But more recently, I’ve also seen adoptions that are fully embraced by celebrating something called “Gotcha Day”…the anniversary of the day the adoption was finalized.

It’s a day for parents to celebrate, acknowledge, and yes, completely REVEL in the fact that they have an adopted child! And it’s so much different from a birthday. Everyone has a birthday, but this is a celebration of their PURPOSE…the reason why they are here, and why they are loved so deeply.

Seeing the connection these children have, not only with their families, but with the world around them, brought the beauty back to adoption that I had been missing for so long.

It enabled me to recognize that adoption is not just a word. It is an ACT of love.

I was able to see that adoption is an incredible picture of God’s goodness, and how HE views us as His precious children. And He celebrates us every day.

I could see that an adopted child COULD in fact make real, loving connections. And that they didn't have to be so fearful and guarded as I was, along with so many other adoptees I knew. 


Now, having shared MY story, I want to end with these thoughts…


CELEBRATE those who are adopted!

*We want to know that we have purpose. Yes we may have come from an "unplanned pregnancy", but nothing about our lives is unplanned! And sometimes we just need to hear that.
*Don’t shy away from talking about adoption with other people. It sends the message to the adoptee that it’s something to be ashamed of.

*If you have an adopted child, don’t assume that acknowledging how special and important that is will make that child feel like they belong to YOU less. I can pretty much promise you, it will have the opposite effect.

*And remember that loving your children EQUALLY (adopted or not) doesn’t necessarily mean loving them in the SAME WAY. Everyone is so unique…but, especially those who come from a different biological background are going to be wired differently from you, and will need to be nurtured and loved in different ways. No way is going to be “better” for one child than for the other…just different from what you may already know. But these differences can be so, so good!

I am not at all resentful about how I was raised. PLEASE, don’t take that from this post! My parents did what they knew to do. They wanted me to feel that I was loved “equally” as my brother who was also adopted, and my youngest brother who was not. Their intentions were great! But I think my entire family has learned, now that my brothers and I are all adults, that we were all so different and had different needs. And that’s okay.



…to the Lord for being my ultimately security. For His constant reminders that He created me for a purpose, I am worthy of love, and worthy of being celebrated every day. I find my worth only in Him now.

…for my birth mother for the choice she made.

…for my adoptive parents for the choice THEY made, and for doing the best they could.

…for my cousins and extended family. It took seeing my own worth to finally recognize that I was always a part of them, and I was just so scared of rejection for my differences.

…and even for all the pain I went through as a result of being so open about my adoption. I may have done it to get a reaction, but I had to learn and grow through all of the fears and anxieties I experienced over the years. And grow, I did. I still find that those old hurts find their way back to me every so often, but I am no longer slave to it.

Now I love talking about and advocating for adoption. I find such joy in having a renewed perspective of it. Not because I find my identity or security in this element that is such a huge part of me, but because of the sweet picture it paints of God’s goodness, love, and adoration of His children. He created adoption, and He did so with a beautiful, meaningful purpose to reveal Himself and who He is.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Checking Back In...Hello!!

Friends. I haven't touched this blog since June. That's 4 months. FOUR!
I'm not quite sure how I feel about that.
I've really missed writing...more than I can even explain! And I can blame my lack of posts on the fact that I've been insanely busy since June...which is actually quite true!

On August 5th, 2017, John-David and I were married.

It was the most beautiful, perfect, memorable day! We were truly blessed beyond measure! And it was so evident that God's hand was ALL OVER the day!

And then a new semester of dance started, and we jumped in, full speed ahead. We are doing The Nutcracker Ballet this December, and it's been A TON of work. But the students are so excited!

And we celebrated World Ballet Day! I love seeing all the girls' passions and how hard they work in dance class.

So yes. I've been very busy.

But the honest truth about why I haven't written in so long, is that I've wondered if it's still worth it.
I look at other people's blogs and immediately fall head first into the comparison game.
Even with people I know personally, I find myself thinking, What makes their blog so much better than mine that I'm not getting the readership they are? Maybe I'm just not as likeable. Maybe my blog is just not worth reading.
I've actually started several different posts many times over the last several weeks, and then changed my mind. Even now, I'm hesitant to push the "publish" button.
But my Word of the Year for 2017 is "BRAVE" and I've made some other brave choices recently, so I'm making another one. I'm going to keep at this. Yes I feel completely undeserving...completely unworthy...and very self-conscious. But I fully believe that writing is a CALLING and a GIFT given to me by the Lord. And I'm not going to allow the enemy and his lies to stop me from doing what I KNOW I'm supposed to be doing.

So I'm back.
Life is good.
And I'm writing again.

Monday, June 12, 2017

What Food Freedom Looks Like {or how I'm kicking disordered eating once & for all}!

I’ve kept pretty quiet about this…


I didn’t want to say it and then not follow through with it…again.

I didn’t want to talk about yet another method I want to try to overcome my long-time struggle with disordered eating…only to find it not working for me…again.

I think I was publically sharing about other “plans” I’ve created for all the wrong reasons.

It was like, maybe if I wrote it all out and shared it, it would give me more motivation to actually do it. Or, maybe if I saw it in writing, then that would make it true.

Not the case. Ever. And I’ve been doing that for far too long. Scripture tells us that the praying you do in secret will be rewarded by God {Matthew 6:6}…so I opted to just let this be between God and me for a little while, rather than sharing it with the world before I had even surrendered this stronghold of food to Him.

I did share this with my fiancĂ©, as I wanted his support {which, of course, I got}, my future mother-in-law {who also uses this same eating plan I’m going to talk about here in a sec}, and a couple of very close friends {who know my struggles with food well, and whom I trust sincerely with my heart}. Scripture also tells us that we are not meant to do life alone. “Two are better than one, because good return comes when two work together. If one falls, the other can help him up. But who can pick up the person who falls down alone?” ~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. So if I had tried to do this on my own, sharing it with no one at all, I definitely would have fallen down, and felt too defeated to get back up. God has blessed me with wonderful people to support me through the early stages of this new lifestyle. And with HIS help, I am conquering disordered eating once and for all!


So…what IS this change? What AM I sharing about this time?


I’ve been off sugar and gluten for two weeks.

Two. Whole. Weeks.

Now I’m sure some of you are thinking, “That’s nice, Em, but it’s only been two weeks.”

Yes, I realize that’s not that long. But I’ve never been able to go more than just a couple of DAYS before with no cheating. So this is actually a huge feat for me!

And I’m sure someone else is thinking, “Why go COMPLETELY free of sugar and gluten? What about everything in moderation?” or “Why not just gluten, or just sugar? I could NEVER give up both?” 

I know. It sounds so negative doesn’t it? I didn’t think I would be able to do it either. That’s part of the bondage I was stuck in, and exactly where Satan wanted me to be. I’m not saying that food is a stronghold for every person who loves sugar and heavy carbs, but it has a real danger of becoming one, just like anything else.

I was introduced to the Trim Healthy Mama plan over a year ago, and it made a whole lot of sense to me. I’ve tried it and stopped, tried it and stopped, unable to stick to the plan. Unable to stop my urges to binge. Unable to stop my cycle of negative, self-sabotaging thinking {i.e. “I’m never gonna be able to do this, so why even try?”} from the enemy. So, as I said before, this time I approached it differently by only surrendering to the Lord, and only sharing with a few supportive people instead of publically. That was enough to remove the “pressure” and “expectations” of doing something a certain way, and then having to tell everyone that, once again, I did not succeed.

What is Trim Healthy Mama, {link} you may ask?

I’ll go into more detail in a later post, because it gets a bit complex and hard to explain. But I do HIGHLY suggest you check it out for yourself, by clicking HERE!

{NOTE: No one from THM has asked me to say any of this. I’m sharing this with you because I believe in it, and it makes so much sense!}

All of the recipes I’ve tried from this plan have been so unbelievably delicious, and they don’t even “taste healthy”. You can’t tell that there is no sugar and no gluten. Even with the desserts! I even found a recipe for a soda that was so yummy, it’s officially my go-to drink for when I’m seriously craving coke {which happens A LOT}! And I know it’s so hard to believe that it didn’t taste sugar free, but I’m telling you, if Emily thinks it tastes good, it tastes good! ;) It is definitely not a SAY GOODBYE TO ALL THE FOOD YOU’VE EVER LOVED ordeal. That WOULD give it a lot of negative connotations, and this is the most positive thing I’ve ever done!

So even though two weeks is not that long, I’ve learned A LOT already. I’m officially, and totally ALL IN on this venture, and I have no desire to go back!

Maybe you’ve never had an eating disorder, but you DO want to establish healthy eating patterns, or maybe just feel better physically and mentally over all. This eating plan is so doable and GREAT for long-term, unlike a lot of fad “diets” or 30 or 60 day “meal plans”.  

Here’s what I’ve learned…and what you can benefit from too…


{one} Attitude is EVERYTHING!

I’ve turned up my nose at lot of veggies for most of my life. Especially green ones. Granted, I’ve always loved cooked {even sometimes raw} broccoli and cauliflower, but I could never bring myself to eat things like cucumbers, celery, onions {although I know they are not green, but still}, and especially lettuce or other leafy greens. But recently, I was served cooked collared greens made with sausage and rutabagas. And I just made the CHOICE that I was going to like them when I tried them. Guess what? I loved them! And now I would eat them all the time if I could! I haven’t been brave enough yet to try onions or cucumbers, or even lettuce in a salad yet, ha! But the fact that I was able to try, and then completely devour collared greens is a good sign that trying new foods with an open mind is a REAL AND EFFECTIVE THING! 

I also experienced a swift slap across the face not so long ago when I heard someone say, “If I don’t like a food that was created by God Himself, then I have a problem.” WOW! Talk about a huge heart conviction, and a good reason to change my mentality towards healthy veggies that come straight from the earth that I previously “didn’t like.”


{2} Saying, “Just this once,” or “Just a little bit,” is NOT okay.

These types of phrases open yourself up to temptation WAY too easily. If you’re anything like me, you might have an “all or nothing” mentality. For me, there is no such thing as “just one bite.” One bite turns into the whole thing. “Just this once” turns into, “Eh, I’ve already messed up, so what’s the difference?” And that becomes a huge downward spiral.  

Now that’s not to say that special occasions don’t call for a “cheat day” once in a while. My wedding shower is next week, for example, and I have every intention of splurging! But I know that won’t turn into a problem because I am prepared for it. It’s about anticipating those times, and allowing yourself to let go of the guilt of treating yourself for a special day.


{three} The detox is the WORST part…but don’t give in!

Yeah, so in this case it’s not so much about giving UP the plan, it’s about giving IN to how painful and hard the detoxing might be on your body. My detox was AWFUL! I had severe headaches for almost the entire first week, and no matter how much Tylenol I took, they wouldn’t subside. There were also two days in a row that my entire body was in extreme pain from head to toe, to where I could hardly even move! Those were the days when it was hardest to keep going. I wanted so badly to have some sugar just to make myself feel better physically. But I knew if I did that, I would have to start all over again, and I just couldn’t face the defeat of that. I got through the detox, and I now I’m feeling better than I have in literally YEARS!

{4} There is a big difference between willpower and self-control.

Willpower is something you make yourself do. It’s part of a “try harder” mentality, and invites a lot of guilt and shame if you can’t “will yourself” to accomplish something no matter how hard you “work”. Self-control is a fruit of the SPIRIT, not a fruit of the flesh, and it invites a lot of GRACE. If you are walking in the spirit, you are able to resist the temptations of the flesh {Galatians 5:16}. This has nothing to do with working hard. It requires nothing but your full submission to God, and full belief that His holy spirit has the power to GIVE you that self-control that you need.  

If you walk alone, and try to do it on your own willpower, you will almost surely fall down and become discouraged every time.

{five} Weight loss is a side effect…a WONDERFUL side effect…but only a side effect.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t doing this to lose weight. I really love the idea of losing weight. But my main priority truly is kicking eating disorders to the curb! I want to get my blood sugar under control and actually feel good both physically and mentally. I want food freedom…freedom from guilt and shame that toxic habits have pulled me into. And I’ve found all of that, PLUS weight loss. Of course, I haven’t lost a whole lot of weight yet, and it’s not super obvious to outside observers yet, but I can definitely tell on myself. Even though I have not stepped onto the scale {and I don’t plan to for a very long time…too many triggers}, I can tell because my clothes fit differently, and it LOOKS different in the mirror. And that’s such an amazing feeling, on top of just feeling better overall!

{6} Finding the right sugar substitutes is key!

Some people find certain sugar subs to be really yucky…and I agree! Sometimes THEY are what make foods or drinks actually taste sugar free. Well, no of course you’re not going to want to eat or drink that! Why put yourself through something that doesn’t taste good if you don’t have to?

So I’m going to introduce you to something spectacularly wonderful {yes, that’s right}!

It’s called xylitol. And it is the closest thing to sugar you will ever find. It’s the same texture and enough of the same taste that you really can’t tell a difference. I put it in my coffee, mix it into smoothies or other drinks, and many other sweet recipes.

Truvia and stevia are also excellent, good tasting choices. And Trim Healthy Mama has a couple of their own sugar subs which, once again, I will discuss further in another post.

{seven} And finally…ONLY with God’s help, and by His grace was I able to do this.

I’ve already pretty much covered this, but it’s so important that it needs to be reiterated…

Trying to do this on my own was not even a choice for me. Walking with God and living by His spirit is what gives me drive to excel…to “run this race with perseverance” {Philippians 3:14} toward the great reward He has for me! With His guidance I CAN do all things…and this WILL be a course I can stay on, to come out healthier, happier, and officially eating disorder FREE!

And that’s all I’ve ever wanted for YEARS!

You can overcome your food struggles, or just learn how to have overall healthier eating habits too!
Watch for future posts!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What YOU say, vs. What WE Hear

Please don't say, "I know how you feel."
What we hear: That what we're struggling with has a limit...that it can be measured. You're not trying to understand how we feel, you just assume you already know. And since you "just got through it" you expect that we should too. It insinuates that our problem is "no big deal"...not huge for us.

It is completely impossible to fully understand how a person with depression feels. Everyone has bouts of feeling depressed...that is, feeling sad...and there's a huge difference in that from actually HAVING depression. Feeling sad is VERY a wide spectrum. So is feeling happy.

Please don't say, "Just replace those negative thoughts with positive ones."
What we hear: That it's our fault we are so depressed. This is something we could just snap out of if we just try hard enough. Right?

Believe me, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say, I WISH IT COULD BE THAT SIMPLE!

Please don't say, "You have nothing to be depressed about!"
What we hear: The fact that we are depressed is pathetic. Nothing in our lives could possibly be that bad.

Because really, it could very well be nothing at all! It could very well be everything! Sometimes depression is definitely circumstantial, but more often than not, there is a chemical imbalance that we have no control over. That's where the "NOTHING" comes from.

Please don't say, "At least you're not____" or "You are much better off than so many other people."
What we hear: That we are not grateful enough for what we have, and that in comparison to certain other situations, our depression is minor.

This is a reminder we don't need. We are not homeless. We are not dying of a terminal illness. We are not starving in some far off impoverished country. Umm...YES! We know this! Of course we know this! So before I resort to the very called for, "DUH!" let me be very clear...Never would I EVER, in a million lifetimes, minimize any. single. thing that someone else is going through. Nothing! Ever! Because nothing should ever, ever, ever be minimized! I just ask that you do the same for me.

Please don't say, "You shouldn't have to take that medication to feel better."
What we hear: That you think you're smarter than the doctors who prescribed this medication to us. That you don't actually see this disorder as a "real problem" and we don't actually need to do anything to treat the CHEMICAL PROBLEM in our BRAIN.

This is probably the AB-SO-LUTE WORST thing you could possibly say to a person! Leave it to the doctors...the professionals! PLEASE! Saying these words could really put someone else's life in danger!

“Depression has many possible causes, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems. Many chemicals are involved, working both inside and outside nerve cells. There are millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic  system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life.” {SOURCE}

Please don't say, "You can CHOOSE to be happy."
What we hear: Obviously we don't WANT to be happy. We are choosing to stay in this suffering state, and not trying hard enough to get out of it.

{I cannot convey to you enough how much I HATE this phrase!!! No I mean it...it truly makes my blood boil!}

But really, though?? I mean...REEEEAAAALLLLYYY???!!!!
Thankfully no one has said this to me for a very long time...and, honestly, if anyone ever does again, believe me when I say that you'll be seeing a side of me you won't expect.
But I've heard this said to other people who are suffering. For the sake of the sufferer, I've been holding my tongue. But I'm not going to do that anymore. From now on, anyone who says this is going to get a mouth-full from me. Friends, if you hear this from someone, you need to immediately remove that person from your life. They are TOXIC!!!

So....instead of saying all of these things...here are some things you could say instead...

"I believe you are suffering. You are seen and heard."
"I know I will never be able to fully understand this part of you, but I want to try."
"Can I do anything to help you?" {typically the answer to this one is, nothing, but it is still nice to hear from someone}
Say absolutely nothing. Just be with the person. Give them a shoulder to cry on. Hug them.

And if you don't agree with anything at all that I've said here, that's okay. That's your choice. So if you take nothing else away from this, at least understand this part...
Just walk away. You don't need to say anything. You don't need to "pretend" that you care. If you don't truly believe in a person's suffering, that person doesn't need you in their life. Leave.

Harsh? Maybe. I'm typically not harsh. But this stuff NEEDED to be said.