Friday, April 12, 2013

The one habit that always saves me

I'm going to admit a fault to you guys:

Sometimes, I doubt God.

Yes, even me. This little girl who has seen miracle after miracle, been supernaturally provided for time after time, seen healing only God could pull off again and again; I doubt God sometimes. The great thing is, God's self confidence isn't altered by me doubting him.

When you own a business, there are times in the month when you're not sure how things are going to work out. Checks don't always come in on the days you want them to and it can really make you want to pull your hair out! You watch the bank account full of last month's profits dwindle and - if you're like me - you start having some conversations with God.

"God, why? Why are you testing us like this?"
And the Holy Spirit says "Have faith."

"God, you provided for us that time, and that time, and that time. Why doesn't it look like you're going to do it this time?"
And the Holy Spirit says "Be patient."

"God! I demand to have an answer from you! You promised us abundance and that sure wasn't what this is!"
In the back of my head, I hear God chuckle. And the Holy Spirit says "Trust."

"Okay, God. We're doing the work. We love the people around us, and we're doing the work. We're not the slackers here...your turn!"
And the Holy Spirit says "Be thankful."



But this situation! This awful, painful, stressful situation over here! This one, right here, where I don't know with absolute certainty that we're going to make our bills this month. This one, right in my face, that tells me things are going wrong. This one, where somehow we're doing the work and things aren't working out in my timing! Fix this, and then I can be thankful!

And I imagine the Holy Spirit sighs. "Hasn't God provided for you before," he asks. "Hasn't he always provided for you? What reason do you have to believe that this time is any different? Be patient, child. Have faith, trust God, and be thankful."

So, I stop. I've learned, finally, that when the Holy Spirit repeats himself it's time to stop what you've been doing. I should probably learn to stop the first time, but I'm just here for now.

I stop, and I look around me. I look out at the beautiful view I have just outside my window...every morning. The sun rises and hits the trees and the little valley I can see from my porch and everything lights up in response. All of the colors become richer and more vibrant. From my porch I can watch the clouds get their golden lining, watch daylight burst through a crack in the rainstorm...just for a little moment. But that moment is long enough. It's so beautiful, so perfect...and it's right here. I don't even have to leave my house or put real clothes on to see. God set it on my doorstep.

I close my eyes, and I listen. Birds are always singing here. It doesn't matter if you can see the sun or not, if it's rainy or clear, hot or cold. The birds always sing. Their song is joyous and, if I let it, it lifts my spirit.

Driven by the beauty around me I start to think of the other things I have to be thankful for, like the wonderful husband God has given me, and the beautiful home we live in, and the chance to impact all of the lives we touch. I start to thank God for every blessing that comes to mind until too many of them are reaching me at once and I must fall into silence, allowing my soul to reach out in worship.

A very wise woman whom I admire greatly once told me that worship unlocks doors. Worship is the key that opens the doors to rooms full of God's blessings; full of things he wants to give you, but that you might be holding the door firmly closed on by complaining and doubting.

She also said that God made us, so he isn't frightened or intimidated by our human-ness and emotions. And it's a good thing, too! Because mere moments before I reached a state of worship, I was complaining. I was even angry! I had forgotten that I serve a God I can rely on. That my God is all powerful and very much alive and actually loves me, and that means that his blessings will always meet and exceed my needs. This girl, who has seen the hand of God so many times, forgot.

And then I remembered. That's an amazing thing about the Holy Spirit. You can forget sometimes, as a human, just how powerful God is. And then the Holy Spirit will remind you.

The amazing thing is how often I find myself coming out of that place of worship with new confidence. I may have doubted God a moment ago. I may have not been sure just a minute before. But now I know. Now I can confidently thank him for blessings that are already on the way, even if I can't see it. Because I've been reminded of who my God is. He can work the universe to give me assurance that the sun will rise and shed light on the world every morning!

I don't know if you've ever tried to direct the cosmos, but I imagine it's quite a feat!

The Holy Spirit reminds me of who God is, and my conversation changes. I start thanking God for providing in the past, and for having already sent the provision for today and tomorrow and even months ahead of time.

You see, I come out of that place of thankful worship and I am at peace. Finally. When I walk into God's presence sometimes I forget to be at peace. I forget what it was like as a child to trust that Daddy's going to take care of things, to just know that even if it looks upsetting right now, I can just go find Daddy because Daddy will fix it. I forget that God is my Daddy, and just like a toddler girl, I can go sit in his lap when I'm worried or scared, and he will fix it. I forget that I'm not alone, and expected to shoulder everything on my own.

Sometimes, when I walk into God's presence, I have forgotten who he is.

But here's a credit to my parents: Somehow, I always know to go looking for him.

Even if I've forgotten who he is. Even if I've forgotten that I have no reason to believe he would leave me stranded this time. Even if I'm angry, and scared, and overwhelmed, even if I've been running away and trying to handle the world all on my own...I always know, somehow, to go back to the presence of God. Because in my parents' house, that's what we did.

The bible says "Train a child up in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." And it's right! Because habits, especially the habits you develop as a child, are hard to break! Frequently we don't even realize that it is a habit. It's just something we do.

Because of the way my parents taught me, because every problem was brought to God and set - or sometimes thrown - into his hands, I have that habit. No matter how angry I am or how much I've been doubting, I have the habit of always coming back to God's presence.

I will admit, sometimes, it's to yell at him. Sometimes I come into God's presence with my guns blazing, ready to hurt someone if I don't get my way. But the amazing thing about God is that he's ok with that. If you can't come to him any other way right now, he's ok with you as you are. He wants you to learn and grow but you're not going to get turned away at the door to the throne room just because you're angry, or sad, or hurting. God doesn't hide from the unpleasant side of humanity's emotions.

Yes, sometimes I doubt God. But I am blessed in that the Holy Spirit is always there to remind me of the path to the throne room. I can enter God's presence any time, and there's something about entering the presence of the Almighty Creator of the Universe and Savior of Mankind that just puts you in awe. From that place of reverence I can be receptive to God's pouring into me. I may forget who God is but all I have to do in order to remember is look out my window. Or close my eyes and listen. And then, when I leave his presence, I am changed. I know things will work out, I'm not worried or concerned anymore.

When I walk out of God's presence, I am like a child. Children are so carefree. They play and laugh and can easily be themselves because they don't worry about whether their needs are met. They know with absolute confidence, the kind of confidence that makes you not even think about it, that they will be taken care of.

I leave God's presence like a child. And as soon as I've stopped worrying about the results and trying to make things happen in my own timing, everything falls into place. Health problems are resolved, checks come in on time, even whatever squabbles I've had with the people around me find resolution.

Everything in my life has a tendency to fall into place when I start trusting God again, when I remember who he is. Because I have let go, and decided to trust the God who designed the ground I stand on and the beauty I'm surrounded by and even my own brain. I've decided to trust that if he can do all that, he can probably handle whatever it is I'm going through. And when I decide that, things get handled more beautifully than I could have asked for.

And that, my friends, is very good.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I feel amazing!

Since starting to work with the Nutrilite weight loss system, I've talked about it a lot. I love the 4-3-2-1 workouts. I love the BodyKey shakes because they taste so good and don't require a blender to come out smooth. I love the appetite suppressant chews because they actually work. I love the supplements because (let's say it together) they actually work. All around, I *love* the products that Nutrilite has put out to help people attain and maintain their ideal healthy body. 

Now let me take a moment and tell you about it just a little more. Because I'm so excited that I can't just not talk about it. I've talked about technical stuff and scientific stuff and all of the *features* of these fantastic helpers. Now, let me tell you about the *benefit*

I feel amazing! Really and truly, I feel amazing.

Before starting BodyKey I was stuck in a rather deep depression. I hated myself. I hated the way that I looked, to the point that I couldn't stand being around a mirror and would even specifically avoid my bathroom mirror (which takes a lot of effort, that thing covers the whole wall). I hated the way that I felt, hated that the slightest bit of exertion wiped my energy levels and left me not just panting, but often dry-heaving because I couldn't catch my breath. I hated that my weight gain had finally progressed to my face, which is the last place I tend to put it on. I hated that I couldn't fit my arms into the sleeves of most shirts anymore, that I looked like a tired and lazy mother of four instead of the vibrant 21 year old I want to be. I hated everything about my appearance, and most days I hated myself altogether. 

I was stuck. I was so filled with self-loathing that it had been spilling out and causing me to nitpick my husband and fight with him constantly. And I felt like I had no options. 
Sure, everybody says diet and exercise. What they don't say is how to motivate yourself to work in exercise when heaving your body mass off the couch feels like a monstrous task.Or how to eat healthy when it's faster, easier, and more comforting to head to the freezer isle or McDonalds. Or how to make new friends in this process, because your fat friends are probably going to goad you into eating but you don't have the self confidence to be the fat friend of the skinny girls for even a day, much less however long it's going to take you to lose the weight and size and tone that skin back into place. 

They don't tell you how to choose what diet and exercise plan to use. Or how to tell if it's actually working and this is normal initial weight gain because you've built muscle, or if it's going to be yet another 50 pounds if you keep this up. They don't tell you how to find who to trust. They don't mention that if you ask for help from your runner friend or your trainer friend or that one friend you have who works out like a fiend, you're going to end up hurting yourself because they don't know or understand the limitations of your body well enough to be able to actually help you. So you'll watch them on that treadmill at level 19 and feel horrible that you're winded at level one. And so you'll quit. 

The thing is, losing weight and size in modern society can be very hard! It can be so emotionally challenging and even damaging if you trust the wrong people or program. It's easy to say "diet and exercise." It's easy to say that you can exercise anywhere, but it's not easy to do it!

I'd tried everything, and I felt so stuck. I was steadily gaining more and more weight and though God gave me the mercy to carry it well so nobody would ever guess it was there, I knew. I knew when I looked at myself in the mirror and thought "time for new clothes again. I've gone up a size." I knew when I tried to find a new dress to wear for Valentines day, and not even the plus size stores had anything in stock. I knew when my doctor gave me that look that said "we aren't here to talk about your weight but if this keeps up we will be."

I knew, every moment of every day, and it was killing my spirit. I had tried everything, but I was still desperate and so I was still willing to try one more thing. 

Enter BodyKey. 
BodyKey is the newest program designed by Nutrilite. Each component comes with the scientific backing that all of the Nutrilite products do, and some phenomenal results that came out of the research phase. BodyKey is different because instead of being designed around what works for one person's body like the system my gym sells, it's designed around *your* body, around *my* body. The pieces are all designed individually around what worked for the majority of their testing group, and then the genetic test tells you how to fit the pieces together to create the picture of fitness and health that's going to work best for your specific genetic code. This isn't the Subway diet or the Cabbage Cleanse. This is real science finding the real solution that's going to really work for you. 

And boy has it! 

I'm a busy person and as much as I do love my 4-3-2-1 workouts, there are mornings I have to pop out of bed, throw on clothes and eyeliner, and leave to make a meeting. There are days when I honestly don't have 20 minutes to spare, especially not if that 20 minutes is going to make me sweat. 

Despite this, I'm slimming down! Using the genetic test results I've paired the products that are going to optimize my results, and *they really have!* Even without consistent exercise, everybody - even the cashier at Rite Aid - is starting to notice the difference! Just barely one month in I've already gone from almost not fitting my fat fat clothes (the ones you wear when you've grown out of your fat clothes), to fitting back into some of the beautiful clothes I got two shopping trips ago and having them actually be comfortable! 

The results are amazing. My arms are fitting into sleeves better, my stretchy waistband pants aren't having to stretch so much, and I don't have to do that weird thing to my shirt where I stick my elbows in the bottom to make it stretch out! I've regained a bit of mobility because of the size loss I've experienced so far. I can actually make it up a flight of stairs and not almost die at the top! I put my hands on my hips the other day, and spend about ten minutes astonished that they were so much farther in than they had been a few weeks ago. I'm still pretty far from where I want to be, but I can *see* and *feel* the progress, and that's more than I've ever been able to say before. 

Oh, and I forgot to mention, my roommate works at Pizza Hut and is addicted to french fries, so I still eat crap for dinner most nights.

Let me say that again: I eat pizza or hamburgers and fries for dinner almost every night. Ice cream is usually also involved. AND I'M STILL SLIMMING DOWN FASTER THAN EVER BEFORE. It makes me *Want* to eat healthy and work out more - just to see what happens!

The progress has pulled me out of my funk. I'm feeling better about myself as a person, which is making me more able to be a nice person (go figure) and not pick fights with my husband. 

Read: The results I'm experiencing with the BodyKey program are improving my life all around. My marriage is better, my interactions with other people - whether I know them or not - are better. 

I CAN LOOK IN A MIRROR NOW! I still see a spare tire, sure. I still notice where more needs to be gotten rid of. But I feel like it's possible now. I don't feel stuck. 

In short, I have hope. 

And I wanted to share that with you because hope is a very hard thing to find these days, especially when we're talking about weight loss in the world of fast food and gluttony. I'm feeling truly amazing, because I'm making such amazing progress, and I know it's only going to get better. 

And that, my friends, is cool.