Fit for a King

Good morning!

I hope you find yourself at the tail end of a Happy Easter. Mine was spent with family and my church friends. I found some refreshment amidst a busy week, which is always nice.

As I scrolled through my Facebook feed last week, I came upon a quote from one of my favorite pages, Pray Fit. It simply stated:

Let’s strive to be so healthy spiritually that we’re ready for the mission field. And so healthy physically that we’d want to run there.” – Jimmy Peña

As we strive for our health and fitness goals, we can sometimes be misunderstood as “vain”, “conceited”, or just plain “self obsessed”. I have come up against some of these accusations in the world, but mostly they exist in the plane of my mind. The voices that whisper in my ear and hold me back tend to catch me at just the right time. The encouraging thing is that I serve a King who is always faithful to keep me on my path.

I find it quite odd, and a bit sad, that within the fitness world I have been blessed to meet some people who are beyond bold in their faith and love for Jesus. These are striking athletes who compete in sport, fitness, figure and bikini competitions. They do not credit themselves for their confidence, but they point to a God who has redeemed them and made them whole. Many competitors write blogs giving God the glory not only for their physiques, but for the freedom to do what they do. I have known football players who give back freely (with both time and money) because they believe it is of God, not themselves, that they are able to do what they do. What about this makes me sad? I have met more bold, Christ proclaimers in the fitness competition world than I see in our churches today….

My pastors often encourage us to take off our church masks. In other words, our lives should look no different on Sunday than they do Monday through Saturday. I have struggled with this for years. I kept my “church life” and my “fitness life” as separate as I could…and I was miserable. Leading 2 lives takes a lot of energy! I was willing to give God bits and pieces of my life, but struggled with giving it all up. My fitness, my ability to work out, my understanding of nutrition….this is all a gift from a loving King. It is my profound pleasure to return these gifts to His glory.

You see, a large weight is lifted when we stop worrying about the decision itself (should I compete, should I not compete? Should I go on a mission trip or not? Should I take on clients? Should I become a coach?) and think more about the heart behind the decision. IN the grand scheme of things, it isn’t the choice itself…it’s rather the choice we make. My time in the gym is not spent in a vanity session. My time in the gym is normally a time to come face to face with my creator. It is a time to see my problems for what they really are: a big pile of my own sweat. Most of my issues are self-made. I invite drama into my life when I shut my King out of certain parts of my life and do not make Him a part of my decisions. My physical practice of working out allows me to listen more fully to the voice that I should hear all the time.

So what happens once you give it all up? What happens once you realize that even the body you inhabit is to be used for His glory? Well, I would hope we all start taking better care of our temples. We have reached a point where our resolve for human comfort and our repulsive lack of embracing discomfort has impacted our health by leaps and bounds. We now house diseases that were unheard of a decade ago, and yet we keep plugging away at what tastes good. By the way, gluttony is a sin and cannot be spun to be good in any way. We must realize that our physical bodies are the house for the Holy Spirit. If we are unable to GO when called….we are sinning against our Saviour. NOT doing what we are called to do is the same as doing that which we have been told not to do. In other words: allowing my body to be physically wrecked to the point of being made useless makes me no better than a murderer. Sin is sin. Period.

Heavy words, I know. And please understand that I am not just speaking of carrying a few extra pounds or needing to lose 100 pounds. I am speaking to us ALL! Those who devote too much time to the gym are no better than those who devote too much time to the couch. They are both idols. I encourage you to break the bonds today! Start by simply making a commitment to ready yourself. Whether we want to believe it or not, a war we cannot see with human eyes is waging. We are called to be ready. We are called to run the race. We are called to be MORE in HIM. Allow this to dig deep into your spirit and guide your steps today.

Ready yourself for your calling….if not you, than who?

Live Louder!

Michelle

Take the first step HERE

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FUN FRIDAY! Special Guest Post: Beverly Weeks

Happy Fun Friday to ya’ll!

Today’s guest post comes from my beautiful friend Beverly Weeks. Here and I met through the She Speaks/Proverbs 31 track and have enjoyed a blossoming friendship. I really love her fresh voice and fun perspective on life. I hope you enjoy her down to Earth attitude about reaching her goals AND honoring God :)

A Personal Trainer, Are You Kidding?

ME workout with a personal trainer? Are you kidding? Warning: if you use your imagination, the contents in this devotion may cause you to laugh so hard you may wet your pants…well never mind. His name was D-Rock and can I be candid? He looked just like something off of a butter commercial. Young,  dark eyes, tan, and yes he had a six pack. You could see it right through his t-shirt along with the muscles on his arms, legs, and even around his ankles!  I was well over 40 and it was obvious that my body had been drooping in places I never knew it could possibly droop! And then there was Spanx, ughhh never worked for me, that just squishes it all out!! Determined to slow down the aging process I relentlessly called him up and scheduled an appt. That first night he worked out muscles I never even knew existed, all the while I was trying to act refined by sucking in my stomach tightly and holding everything as upright and in place as I could. I thanked him and headed straight for the bathroom. PROBLEM, I couldn’t squat!! Frustrated , I got in the car & headed home.

An hour later I found myself lying on an ER table with my husband and my friend Phyllis by my side. To save me embarrassment, the doctor gave it a fancy diagnosis. I knew what he was thinking, the same thing I was.  Are you crazy? What are you trying to prove? Your whipped , and not to mention you feel like your about to die!! D-Rock had done a great job, I had just failed to tell him I hadn’t eaten all day. I was so engrossed with trying to make myself look better on the outside that I had failed to fuel up and take care of the inside. Just being candid, I have tried it all! Atkins, cracker diets, no starch, no meats, no sweets and the lists goes on.  You know, I was concentrating all my efforts on trying to be beautiful and improve my outward appearance, yet I was a failure on the inside. A crumbling marriage, success & goal driven, priorities out of line , always caring about what others think, using disrespectful words to my spouse….. trying to impress so many people, but not the two  people I should have been seeking two impress, my God and my husband.

I was doing it all wrong!  The deepest beauty does not come from cosmetics, jewelry, working out, or basking in the sun, but the deepest beauty by far is the beauty of the soul. Don’t misunderstand me it is not wrong to desire outside beauty. Hey I still get my nails done, and my hairdresser Jamie knows I am going to be there every Friday at 8:30, and you will always see me with jeans and high heels.  At the end of the day everyone wants to look better BUT looking better from God’s point of view begins on the inside and not the outside.  Sometimes I have to see my flaws and recognize that I am a sinner and seek for God to change whatever is wrong from within.  Mirror Mirror on my wall, my GOD finds me beautiful, even when I fall.  That my friend is what matters most of all.      

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Samuel 16:7

 

 

Beverly Weeks is an energized Christian speaker who is devoted to encouraging couples with God’s inspired Word.  She has written numerous online devotions, blogs & articles to exemplify powerful, practical biblical truths to couples standing for their marriage and family. Candidly & transparently, Beverly shares the grace, hope & redemption that Christ offers to all and their marriage relationships.

Beverly speaks from personal experience, a confident faith and a zealous passion, proclaiming encouraging messages of hope. She engages women’s groups, churches and conferences with topics such as Battling Low Self Esteem to Healing in Your Marriage.

Beverly presently serves with Intentionally Yours, a marriage focused ministry, facilitates Art of Marriage conferences and is a Homebuilder Catalyst for Family Life Ministries.

Hey wait a second, who wrote this? Don’t forget I love dark chocolate, peanut butter & bananas, alfredo sauce, shopping, consignment shops & did I say I LOVE dark chocolate?

To find out more about Beverly visit:  www.intentionallyyours.org

Perfection, or Perspective?

Perfection and perfectionism are extremely interesting to me. The pursuit of perfection seems to be all around us. Just Google the words “Beauty”, “Pretty”, and “Perfect”. The images alone astound me. One thing that I noticed is that no 2 images were the same. Why? Because perfect means something different to everybody. Take the simple art of eyebrows (yes, it has become an art!). The “in” brow changes with the season, the decade and even the shape of the face, yet people are continually trying to achieve it….

When I think of the fitness industry I have to realize that it has been built on the pursuit of perfection. This is why it is hard for those like me, who would rather people focus on health, to get their point across. We are all involved in this “ageless” world pursuit. We don’t want wrinkles or sagging skin. I was sitting in the pick up line at my son’s junior high this morning and noticed a group of girls walking into the school. They all sported short (too short of shorts, but that’s a different subject matter), and I realized that those youthful legs are what others kill themselves in the gym for! It astounded me that we are always working to either regain our youthfulness, or stave off signs of aging all together. What would we look like if God actually allowed us to reach perfection? I have a feeling many of us may be surprised at God’s perfection, which is the ONLY perfect thing.

So, what are we to do? Submit ourselves to aging? Just roll over and get flabby? Of course not. An ounce of prevention goes a LONG way. By the way, if it is loose skin that vexes you, all those deprivation diets you praised as your saving grace make it near impossible to rebuild the amount of collagen you need. We learn something new everyday! So, what can we do? Eat to live and enjoy the flavors God has placed on this Earth. He gave us the run of the land, all the veggies we can handle (trust me, it’s MORE than you think you can handle), the fowl of the air, the fish of the ocean, and the beasts of the land. Keep your food as natural as possible and your body will thank you. I really doubt God made Cheetos….

Another thing you can do is move. Don’t move to punish yourself and atone for past food sins, move to be able to move later. Do what feels good to your body. It doesn’t always have to feel great in the thick of it, but when you finish you should feel accomplished and refreshed, even if you’re sweaty and tired :)

Perfectionism is another issue that causes me trouble. Do I suffer from it? No. Not anymore at least. There is debate on whether perfectionism is an inherited trait or a learned response. There are loads of studies and psychology Today even deemed it a disease. After being bound to it myself and having to deal with those that suffer, I cannot say I disagree. It’s a trap of the mind, similar to any other mental illness. In my opinion though, it is a learned response. Most perfectionists learn this trait as a defense mechanism. I grew up with people in my family whom I never felt “good enough” around (note: not immediate family), and I still have some today. I learned to just adapt to what the world wanted me to look/act like and make any sacrifice necessary. Other perfectionists retreat into their world as a way to prove themselves worthy. I mean, if nobody can do it as good as I can…..it starts to make one a martyr after a while.

Psychology Today puts it this way:

For perfectionists, life is an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. A one-way ticket to unhappiness, perfectionism is typically accompanied by depression and eating disorders. What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, so theirs is a negative orientation. And love isn’t a refuge; in fact, it feels way too conditional on performance. Perfectionism is usually transmitted in little “messages” from parents to children, some as silent as a raised eyebrow over a B rather than an A.”

It truly is like living under the constant surveillance of failure. Here’s the thing though: failure is inevitable. We live in a fallen world, deemed subject to imperfection. So, is life then one big fail? Of course not! Life is a culmination of ALL of your choices. Each day you wake up to a choice: be slave or be free. Should you choose to be slave, you succumb to the call for perfection, judging yourself and others harshly for marks that aren’t even really there to hit. Choose free and you give in to the wild ride of life where you relinquish the control you only think you have, to the Father Who truly has control over all of life.

I must say it is a freeing thing to choose to be free. The Bible tells us that Jesus came to set us free. If we awake to the same old habits and negativity, we are not free. I received a wonderful complement a few weeks ago from a dear friend. She stated that I had a certain characteristic to not allow what others did or thought about me to bother me. This characteristic she refered to is a result of constant prayer to not be sucked into the trap of perfection. You see, instances in life have no control over you UNTIL you give them control. Defeat is not the final word of the enemy (the negative thoughts) UNLESS you allow it to be. All too often we give control over to those who do not deserve it and we are left to suffer.

One of the most important things to remember is that the hurtful words said about you may not be a result of you at all. Most people who spew hate battle hatred within their own hearts. I CHOOSE not to be one of those people. Daily, I pray (it takes a LOT of prayer!) that I may die to self, no longer seeking a perfection I alone cannot attain, but rather speaking and writing in love as I was called to do.

So, the choice is now yours, daily: FREEDOM OR SLAVERY: which do you choose?

Michelle

How to SHUSH the Negative Thoughts PT2

Good morning seekers of health and wellness!

Today is a paramount day in your life. Why? Because you are going to choose for it to be so….

I have written and said many times that we are an accumulation of our choices. Today, we are going to take that a step farther and begin to learn how we can start changing our choices to better our lives and the lives of those around us. Sound like a big order? Well, it is, but I assure you I will be right there with you. :)

What is a choice?

Most of us don’t really think of choices all that often. We think it’s the choice to eat out or stay in. Maybe we chose who we married, or when we had kids. Perhaps the biggest choice we think we have ever made refers to a home or vehicle or career move. I am here to tell you that you are free to make much larger choices than those each and every day. Let’s begin to wipe the slate of the mind clean from the fog that tends to settle over daily life. You can choose, right now, to really LIVE. You can choose to be vibrantly happy and contagious to everyone around you. It all begins with feeding the good thoughts and weeding out the bad.

So what are daily choices that we make? Well, I can’t really speak for everyone since I am not in your head, but some of the choices I make before my feet fling over the side of the bed are these:

  • I choose to wake up
  • I choose NOT to hit the snooze (again, hehehe)
  • I choose to treat my husband with love and respect
  • I choose to honor my children with tenderness
  • I choose to be productive
  • I choose to breathe

Now, do I always get these perfect throughout my day? Oh, I wish I could say yes, but the truth is no. I am a flawed human just as all of us. My truth is that I set intentions daily NOT to live as a flawed human, but instead to live within my rightful power as a daughter of the King. This is perhaps the most important choice I make all day. This one choice empowers me to shed light into the dark corners of the mind. These are the corners and alleys where feeling of unworthiness, ugliness, self-pity, depression and anxiety gather together. When light is not allowed to shine into these spaces, darkness spreads.

So, how do I design my day so that I can keep the light shining throughout my being? You see, the more light you let in, the less darkness has a hold. Well, I have a schedule (I ADORE schedules!) that I stick to. At first it was a struggle to keep this schedule, but within weeks I had formed habits. These habits are deeply ingrained within me and I would love to share them with you now.

Ladies (and the few brave men) welcome to Habits of Hope: Daily Habits that Put you in the WILL of God. The first habit is Choosing to Live. Below is how my days start to remind my of this habit:

  1. I get OUT of bed with a little gusto. Stretch, yawn, a couple of lion’s breaths and I’m a whole new person.
  2. I always have a cup of warm water with lemon. This wakes you up and helps rid the body of any toxins, especially in the liver.
  3. I head upstairs to my quiet space and read my Bible.
  4. Following this, I spend time in prayer. I pray for God’s will to be done in and through me and I pray over my family. I pray that He will guard my children’s hearts and the hearts of those they will marry.
  5. I sit quietly for a few minutes. OK, this one was tough for me at first! Some days it still is. Even one minute in complete silence can seem like an eternity when you run on adrenaline, but trust me it will make a difference.

These are all within the first 30-60 minutes upon waking, everyday. I encourage you to pick 1 seed of any of these and start from there. You can spend just a few moments stretching and praying and watch how that impacts your day. After all of this I move. For me personally, moving is when I can really let go of all the pent-up stress and anxiety (uh-huh, darkness at work) that has built up over the night. It gets my mind clear and ready for the day.

I really enjoy yoga as my form of moving, but you can pick any form really. I think yoga and running are natural and pretty pure forms. I like to think that even the great prophets of old settled into a comfortable place on the ground to be with God and listen. Perhaps beforehand they even did a few stretches to prepare and be present, just as I do today :)

Wherever you are in life, whether you feel on top of the world or deep in a pit, you can start to utilize these habits and pour more LIFE into each day. Become vibrant and present in each moment, no longer drifting aimlessly through life. Sister, if you are feeling bored or unhappy in life at this moment I employ you to take control of those thoughts. Let the light shine in the dark spaces because we are assured that the LIGHT will always overcome darkness. Begin today and see where these habits can take you.

I will be praying for you in the Holy Name of Jesus!

Michelle