Sunday, February 26, 2017

Curiosity Got Me Again

     A word that has always stood out to me and always felt so powerful to me is the word, "Hallelujah."  It just seems like anytime I repeat that word or sing it in a song, I'm brought to tears. In fact, when I was about 9 years old, I vividly remember mocking a preacher that my parents and their friends were listening to on tape (yes, cassette tape).  Even though I was innocently and childishly playing around, repeating that word, "Hallelujah" over and over smote my heart and brought me to my knees in tears!  I remember that night quite often! 
      Today, my curiosity finally got me.  I had to do a quick online research to find out what this word actually means.  Several sources said it simply means, "Praise The Lord."  I don't know,  but that just seemed way too simple.  So I figured it had to have more of a history or deeper meaning than that.  It had to come from somewhere. Everything in the Bible has either a Hebrew or a Greek origin. So I thought I'd check out what it is in Hebrew.  Its root word is Hallel, which means, "praise Jah" or "Praise Yah" (as in Yahweh, which is a Hebrew name for God. Some Jews believe the name Yahweh is too sacred to even be spoken.) Wow!  Using the word,"Hallelujah" in praise or song means to praise Him or to boast in God!  I like BOAST in Yahweh!  Pretty cool, huh??  No wonder I like this word so much, and no wonder it is so powerful!
     So, there ya have it.  It was much simpler than I expected yet just as awesome.  HALLELUJAH!

Friday, December 23, 2016

God Is My Guard Rail

As you may or may not know,  I still have a teenager at home, and let me tell you - he's not an easy one!  He was always my very well behaved, polite, sweet, loving, affectionate, mama's boy.  He was an extremely easy baby, easy toddler, easy child.  So when he turned 14 or 15 and started pushing his limits to the max and became rebellious, I was quite stunned!  Many times, things can get worse before they get better, and boy did they!  I've had many people binding together with me in prayer for my son.  It had gotten to the point that there really wasn't much else I could do.  I don't mean to say that in a way that minimizes prayer.  Honestly, prayer is the BEST thing we can do!   I also don't expect that all of my teenage battles are over.  I think we're in remission for now.  
Anyway,  one day last week, as I was talking to God about my son,  I felt like He spoke back to me.
 I was asking God why my son has to go through this stage, why he's being so rebellious, why he doesn't learn from the mistakes of his brother or friends, why he doesn't just listen to me.  After all, I love him and want what's best for him. I don't want him to have to learn things the hard way.   I could hear God, as clear as a bell asking me, "Why did you rebel against me for so long?  Don't you know that I love you? Don't you know that I want what's best for you too?  Why did you have to learn the hard way? " Even as I'm typing this, I have tears in my eyes.  My eyes tear up every time I think about it.  He's so right!!  I rebelled against God, my Father who loves me, just like my son is doing.  So, even I had to go astray and learn the hard way that my way doesn't work.  God's ways are higher than mine.  When I finally realized that,  and was ready to submit to HIS authority, I came home like the prodigal son (daughter in my case.)   Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy way acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."

Because of all the teenageritis I've been dealing with, I've been reading a few different books that friends have recommended.  One of them is, Boundaries with Teens by Dr. John Townsend.  Today, one paragraph stood out to me.  In regards to holding our ground as parents and holding healthy and strong boundaries, it said this :
"God made parents to be the guard rails on the twisting road of life. You need to be strong enough for kids to crash into over and over and over again. You must stay strong, so that your teens will learn to stay on track. Guard rails get dinged up. But if they work well, they preserve the young lives that run up against them."

Townsend, John (2009-05-18). Boundaries with Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No (p. 32). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. 

I couldn't help but think about how many times in my life that God has done exactly that with me.  He has been my guard rail more times than I can count!  How many times has God preserved my life?!  How many times have I crashed, and He has saved me?!  Thankfully, He's a big God.  He can handle the dings I give Him.  I honestly don't even know anymore what I'd do without Him guiding me.  What an awesome Father He is!!

I'm hoping I will learn a lot about how to raise my teen boy so that he will become a Godly and honorable man, but I have a feeling I'll also be learning a lot more about myself and how my Heavenly Father parents and loves me, and that's definitely not a bad thing. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

A New Creation

Last week, a friend of mine posted something on Facebook that got me thinking a little.  His status said this:  This may sound weird, but ever since I've decided to follow Christ I feel out of place amongst old friends...It's like I'm trying to find my place in this world all over again..... By no means, am I perfect, and I enjoy people and a beer, but man do I feel weird....
I responded that it's not weird at all because when you become a Christian, you become a new creation in Christ.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things become new."  As Christians, we are supposed to be set apart from the world.  We shouldn't be comfortable with sin/our old ways.  I'm not saying that having a beer once in a while or still hanging with your friends is necessarily sin.  However, if these friends haven't given their lives to Christ,  then nothing about them has changed, unlike my friend!  There are many verses in the Bible about being set apart.  One that comes to mind is Romans 12:2, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  It makes sense to me that he would feel a little weird.  I would assume since his friends have not changed, they're probably still behaving the same way, doing the same things, talking the same way, living the same way they always have, while he thinks, acts, speaks, and lives differently now.  It's a good example of how light and darkness can't coexist.  If you turn on the light, the light overtakes the darkness.  If you shut off the light, darkness overtakes the light.  It can't be both light and dark. It just doesn't work!  It's like he has turned on the light, but they still want to live in the dark.  It wouldn't surprise me if his friends feel a little weird as well.  Light tends to expose things that are hiding in the dark. 2 Corinthians 6:14, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" I do wish my friend well as he finds his place in this dark world.  It's definitely not always easy, and the Lord never said it would be.  However difficult, though, the reward will be worth it in the end!

P.S. I apologize that this post looks kinda funky.  I have tried several times to fix it, with no luck.  Thanks for reading it anyway.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Chip and Joanna Gaines...Take 2!

This was written by a friend of mine, Jennifer Jones, and I wanted to post it here on my blog because it's so good!  Facebook has deleted it from every place that she posted it, as well as from anyone else's page who shared it.  That is unacceptable!  So, here is folks.  Read it, share it, post it on Facebook if you'd like!!  Now, I'm giving the floor to Jennifer:

My original post from 2013 began with a paragraph or two about Phil Robertson and his comments in GQ on marriage. I've deleted those as they're not relevant. However, I do mention him throughout as it relates to his paraphrasing of 1 Corinthians 6. The article in Buzzfeed and the author's intentions about the Gaines and their church's teaching on homosexuality is what reminded me of my original post (from 2013). This post (today's reposting of original) was deleted earlier, so I also cut out the paragraph about Chip and Joanna (darling family)...wasn't much, but I thought this time I'll just get right to it. Here it is... How come every time a line is drawn people (including some Christians) throw down the "Judgement" card? If I choose to have the Bible as the foundation of my faith, I can't omit scriptures that might be offensive. And just because I draw a line, can I not love, too? If my child does something wrong and I say, "You can't do that. That's wrong." Does that mean I don't love them? No. It does not. So I can quote scriptures like the one Phil did in Corinthians {1 Cor. 6:9-10} and love at the same time. I can draw a line against certain behaviors and love at the same time. Just because I, or any other Christian, quotes a Scripture that plainly states a particular activity is a sin, doesn't mean we're judging people and that we're full of hate. Now, about that scripture. Christians didn't lump murderers {again referencing Phil's comments} in with homosexuals; God did. Some would say that's so wrong and mean and how can you serve a God that does that? Well, I'll tell you how. Imagine you're sitting at a table across from God, and you're holding a bunch of cards with labels on them. Sitting in the middle of the table there's a bucket that says "BIG SINS." You begin to drop cards into the bucket: Anger, Murder, Homosexuality, Rape, Adultery, Pornography, and so on. You drop these cards in the bucket, very satisfied and turn to get up. But...God says," Where are you going? You're still holding some cards there." You reply, "Yes, but these are 'little sins,’ Lord. They are not very bad." He says, "Really? Let me see them." So you sit back down, and show Him your cards. He begins to drop them into the bucket. You Gasp. "What are You doing, Lord? Those aren't 'BIG SINS.’ Those are things I've done before." He says, “I know. Let's look at this one here: Gossip. What did I say in Proverbs about gossiping? I believe I said 'I hate it.' Let's look at another one: Fearful. Revelations says the fearful are the first ones cast into the lake of fire after judgment. What about unforgiveness? You know those people that have talked about you and said evil things about you? Do you love them?" If this were me having this conversation, I would have to say, "No, Lord, I do not love them." And He would say, "OK, then we have to drop Unforgiveness into the bucket." While looking at all the cards in the bucket you say, "Wow. So, You're lumping some of the things I've done in with murderers? You're comparing me to all those other really bad people and the really bad things they've done?" And He says, "Yes. I am. My Word says 'ALL have sinned' uncategorically." Thankfully the conversation doesn't end here, and this is what I would like for every homosexual to understand. They don't have to accept it or believe it, just understand it. So, to the homosexual I want to finish the conversation. God says, "What if we take this bucket that you're carrying around, this bucket full of sins, and move it away?" As soon as He does this, there's an offer on the table that we can now see because the bucket is gone. This offer is in the shape of a cross and it's drenched in blood. God stands up, extends His arms and says, "This offer is available to you, to everyone. Come here Murderer, Raper, Homosexual, Unforgiver, Fearful, Gossiper, Liar, Greedy, Self-Righteous, Violent, Prideful, Prostitute, Fornicator, etc. I don't care what sin is in your bucket, bring it to me." We pause because the offer is appealing. The idea of not carrying around cards with labels on them -- labels that we're guilty of, labels that can become our identity -- is appealing. The choice is totally and completely ours to make. He merely extends His mercy to us. If we accept the offer, we have to crawl through the blood drenched cross, and, then, we can sit down next to Him. At this point, He says, "My, Child, a new Scripture applies to you now. My Word says, 'And such WERE some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ...’" 1 Cor. 6:11. So you see homosexual person, I'm not condemning you; rather, I'm just like you. I'm a sinner, too. I believe homosexuality is a sin just like I believe lying is a sin. I believe these things because the Bible is the foundation for my faith and the Bible says these things are sins. The only difference between me and you is this: I accepted the offer...

Thursday, September 22, 2016

What Are You Worth?

Tonight in youth group (Ka'os) , we talked about self-esteem, self-worth, body image, dressing appropriately, respecting ourselves, and some boy issues.  We had the boys and girls separated for this talk.  Allie (one of our youth pastors) read some great scriptures and quotes, the girls got to talk and ask questions, and all of the leaders got to chime in and speak to the girls from our hearts and from experience.  I'm sure that everything we said, they've heard before from their parents, but you know how teens are - if their parents say it, it's ridiculous, but if someone else says it, it's definitely true.  I hope that we were all able to speak truth into these girls' lives and that they heard us, took what we said to heart, and will apply it to their lives.  I know - it's easier said than done, especially at their age (jr. highers.) 
I thought it might be nice to print out something our girls can hang on their bathroom mirror (or some place they'll see it all the time) to serve as a reminder of what we talked about.  I'm going to suggest reading it out loud....often!  
Anyway,  I thought I'd post it here for y'all in case you have daughters who could use these reminders.  Who knows - maybe you need it too!
confidence in one's own worth or abilities; self-respect.
synonyms: self-respect, pride, dignity, self-regard, faith in oneself; morale, self-confidence, confidence, self-assurance
My self-esteem and self-worth (value) is found in Christ;
not boys, approval of others, Instagram likes or followers, popularity, or my physical appearance.  I AM VALUABLE BECAUSE OF WHO I AM IN CHRIST!
I will demand that boys respect me, my body, and my soul. 
Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. “
Matthew 7:6 "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
Psalms 139:13-14 “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.14I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.”
Song of Solomon 4:7 “You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.”
1 Cor. 3:16-17 “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.
1 Cor. 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
2 Cor. 10:12 “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”  (DON’T COMPARE MYSELF TO OTHERS)
Galatians 1:10 “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”(Be who God wants me to be; not who people want me to be.)
Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  (Don’t be like the world. When they see me, they should see Jesus!)
I won’t pick myself apart and criticize how I am or how I look - it’s insulting to the One who made me!   I will love and accept myself and my body the way God made me.  He is my creator, an amazing artist, and He designed me perfectly- the way He wanted me.  I am made in His image.  I am not flawed!
I am more precious than rubies!  I am a daughter of The King!  That makes me a princess!  I am royalty!  I will treat myself /respect myself as the princess God created me to be!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

For The Boobies

     In just a few weeks, I am speaking at an awesome event that I thought I'd let y'all know about in case you want to come see me!  I'm excited because it's actually in my own town! I don't have to travel this time!!
     This event is put on by a lady I recently met named Elizabeth, and she founded this non-profit organization called Impact One.  She has such a big heart and passion for people who have suffered or are still still suffering from breast cancer and its effects.  She really does a lot for these people.  I think she's an amazing woman!  I love when someone truly has a passion for something and goes after it with everything they've got!  She does for sure!!  
    This event will be Oct. 1, 2016, and it begins at 7pm.  The doors will open at 6pm.  I'd love to meet some of you, and the tickets are only $20, which is very reasonable.  There will be food, an expo, me talking, prizes, and some cool films.  Come support a good cause!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

It's An Inside Job

      Yeah, I know what you're thinking...that I haven't bothered to post a blog in 2 years, and then BOOM...2 days in a row!  Apparently, that's how I roll.  Anyway,  one of my bestest friends, Kelly, aka Kelz, asked me a simple question yesterday that later got me thinking, and I want to just share my thoughts about it.
      We were playing "catch up" because we haven't seen each other in way too long, as there have been issues with our phones, time, distance, life, etc.  If you know me, you know I typically wear my emotions on my sleeve.  So when she asked me how I'm doing emotionally,  it kind of took me by surprise.  I responded with, "I'm really doing good."  I'm sure it wasn't very convincing, but that was probably due to me being puzzled by her question.  Maybe the fact that I had just finished ranting about what a pain in the butt my 16 year old is being was also a factor.  If you have teenagers, know someone with teenagers, or have ever been a teenager, you know what I'm talking about.  I don't even need to go there!
      Last night, I was laying in bed still thinking about her question, which I'm sure wasn't intended to be some deep, probing, thought provoking question.  Nevertheless, here I was hours later, pondering WHY I am doing so well.  For the most part, I've always been a pretty happy, upbeat, and positive person.  It truly is a choice!  I try not to allow circumstances to dictate my emotions, but I am human.
      In the past when I was feeling exceptionally "happy," it usually had to do with something positive going on in my life, whether it be that I was dating someone new, I was getting ready for a competition and my body was rockin',  I was doing some fun photo shoots, speaking somewhere, buying a new house, or whatever.  My point is that it was first of all, a choice, but secondly, external events or circumstances that made me "happy!"   Not that I would crumble when those things weren't happening, but I was always looking for the next "thing" to keep me emotionally well and happy, so to speak.
      Right now, the circumstances in my life aren't bad, but there's still "stuff", ya know?  For instance, as I already mentioned - a teenager.  Need I say more?  My other son, is now officially out of his teens, in college, working, and living on his own. Yep, sounds good on paper, but trust me, it's not all rainbows and unicorns on that front either.  I don't think these boys realize how much prayer goes into me just letting them live.  HAHA.  Kidding, but I do have to do a lot of praying to get them and me both through these trying (to put it nicely) years! I've been doing a little speaking, but not as much as I would like.  I'm not competing anymore.  My body is no longer rockin'.  In fact it's more like rollin'!  I'm heavier than I've EVER been!  I don't particularly like being this heavy, but it doesn't bother me enough that I want to diet again (diet - another four letter word I'm trying not to use anymore.)  Oh yes, and there is not a man in my life aside from my boys and my dad,  one of my dogs, and my cat.  Hmm, maybe that's why I'm so much happier!!  I always wanted to find that perfect man and wanted the romantic relationship, but I have to say things are different now.   I am perfectly content NOT having a man.  In fact, I've never been more content or had so much peace in my life!
    So why?  What's different?  Well, for one thing, I'm not constantly dieting and getting ready for a competition.  Enjoying food is wonderful!!  I am still a regular gym rat though.  I'm not in any unhealthy relationships.  I've learned how to set healthy boundaries and enforce them.  I've weeded out most of the toxic people from my life and keep the rest at a safe distance.   I've taken up playing piano again, and I even finished writing that children's book!  Here's another shocker - I've totally become a bookworm, which I never in a million years would have imagined would happen to me. My youngest brother(he was 33) passed away the day after Christmas last year, which could have devastated me.   I'm happy to know that he's no longer suffering, and he's dancing down the streets of gold now.  
     I'm much more involved at church.  I love our women's ministry and our new women's pastor!!  She's different than most of our other pastors in that she's more relational.  Relational....with her flock.....Wow! There's a concept!  She's a real person who actually makes time to get to know us and even checks up on us!  She's awesome sauce!   (Hey Brianna!  XOXO)  I've been involved with our youth ministry as well - Jr. High!!  I know - crazy!!  I kind of got duped into doing it by a friend who flaked out shortly after I stepped up, but being a leader and role model, especially for these young girls, has been so rewarding!! I sure love all "my" girls!  Our Jr. High pastor is also one of the most amazing people I know.  That man has more stuff piled on his plate than anyone else would ever be able to handle, yet he handles is all so gracefully and never complains (that I've ever heard.)  So ya,  I'm giving a big shout-out to Matt as well, who just had(well, his wife Rachel had) another baby girl...number 3!  She's precious!
    While all of those things are great and would make anyone a better person,  I can't go without saying that the biggest difference in my life has been that I've spent the last 2-3 years rekindling my relationship with God.  That's why I entitled this blog,  It's an Inside Job.  There is a difference in me that I can't completely explain.  Some changes are subtle, and some are more drastic.  It's kind of like this peace and contentment ... true happiness ... snuck up on me, and BAM - Kelly innocently asked me how I'm doing emotionally, and it all hit me!    It's pretty amazing actually!  It's kind of like God asking me, "How do you like me now?!" My answer would have to be that I don't just like Him; I love Him!  As the song goes, He's a good, good Father!  Even a double good doesn't do Him justice.  In fact, good is kinda lame compared to how wonderful He really is!!  It's sad to me that I wasted so many years trying to avoid Him, and that it took a drug addicted son to reel me back in, but I'm so glad that I'm finally back where I belong.  He is an awesome and powerful God, and I'm so very blessed to be able to call Him my Father.  Yes, I'm a modern day prodigal daughter, and I've come home.
     If you too are a prodigal child, I urge you to go home too.  Run there as fast as you can.  You won't be sorry you did, only that you didn't do it sooner.

Monday, September 12, 2016

No Condemnation

    A year or so ago, as I was deep into my codependency treatment (receiving counseling, reading every book I could find on the subject, going to meetings, and working all the steps), the verse of the day was read on the radio.  I’ve heard and read this verse many times in my nearly 40 years of life, but this time was different.  I REALLY heard it this time!  I have to admit I can be a stubborn person…thick skulled, dense..whatever you want to call it, yet somehow this time when I heard this verse, it went straight through this thick skull of mine and sunk straight into my heart.  I kept thinking about it all day, and finally at the strangest time and place, I decided I had to get my thoughts on paper.  So, as I sat in the Dodge dealership, waiting for my oil change to be done,  I scribbled down these thoughts on blank paper that I had to go ask for, as I am not in the habit of carrying around paper just in case the rare moment occurs that I just have to write!
The verse that was read was Romans 8:1, which states, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Thankfully, I had a smart phone because I felt like I probably should look up the definition of the word condemnation before I began putting my chicken scratch on paper.  The definition I found says that condemnation is: the expression of very strong disapproval; censure (which I also had to look up.  It is SEVERE disapproval).  The synonyms for condemnation are: criticism, denunciation, censure, vilification.  
     We codependents (I say “we” because I definitely fit the description as well.  I learned from the best!  Thank God I’m recovering from that!)  tend to ‘condemn’ ourselves in many ways.    We condemn ourselvs by the lies we tell ourselves that we aren’t good enough, fit enough, deserving enough, or fill-in-the-blank enough. Because of these lies we’ve told ourselves and believe, we’ve condemned ourselves right into lives full of shame, fear, anxiety, unworthiness, and unhappiness, among other things.
     We condemn ourselves to the vicious cycle of doing so much for others that we neglect to do for ourselves, in many cases (mine included) to the detriment of our own physical health!  Then, we become resentful of the very same people we’ve done so much for and feel victimized! So now, we’ve condemned ourselves to being maryrs and victims.  We’ve done this to ourselves, either voluntarily or because we neglect to set healthty boundaries, much less stand firm and enforce those boundaries.
     We’ve taught ourselves that we don’t deserve the same care that we so readily give to others.  We’ve taught ourselves that nobody can or will love us the same way we love others.  Well, if you think about it, how can anyone love us that way when we don’t even love ourselves in that same way?  If we always make ourselves the victims, why would we ever want or allow anyone to love us that way?  If we don’t even accept love and care from ourselves, how can we expect to accept it from anyone else??  I know that I really struggled to accept compliments, gifts, or love from anyone.  Someone could give me a compliment like, “You look so pretty today,” and my reply would be something like, “ Ugh, my hair wouldn’t do anything today!”  I’ve had to seriously work hard to change that.  No matter how badly I want to reply with something contrary to the compliment, I’ve learned to simply say, “Thank you.”  It really isn’t as hard as it sounds! 
     My gymnastics coach was one of the people who helped me come to the realization that I wouldn’t accept praise or compliments.  He’s also one who helped me change it!  It was after I did a front flip off the balance beam that he said, “Wow! That was your best one! Good job!”  I didn’t beam (pun intended) with pride and reply with thanks. Instead, I replied. “It should have been higher.  I was kinda low.”  That’s when he stopped me and told me that I’m terrible at accepting compliments, and he made me tell him thank you.
     When it comes to gifts, I love to give, but sometimes I actually feel guilty when someone gives me a gift!  Why?  I have no idea.  I just know I love to give but am uncomfortable when it’s time for me to receive.  So how can I be upset that people don’t do for me what I do for them, and then not be a gracious receiver when they try simply because it makes me uncomfortable?  Does any of this sound familiar at all?  Does any of this sound crazy?  YES, it is crazy - and what’s worse is that I’ve done it to myself.  I’ve condemned myself to these feelings of guilt.  Nobody else did it to me.  This is all on me.
     Where am I going with all of this??  Oh yes, back to Romans 8:1.  To refresh, it says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”  In other words, there is no disapproval; no criticism. All of these lies we’ve come to believe about ourselves,. the disapproval of ourselves, the neglect of our own needs and wants, the negative and critical things we think about ourselves, are NOT TRUTHS!  They’re NOT VALID!  If we are in Christ Jesus - walking with Him, talking to Him, listening to Him, and living our lives according to His will to glorify Him - THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION!  If there is no condemnation, then what’s left?  How about love?  How about empowerment?

     Instead of accepting a life of condemnation, let’s claim the truths of God’s word over our lives!  Let’s remember that God is for us, and that means no one can be against us - not even ourselves and our own “stinkin’ thinkin’”!  Let’s allow the love of Jesus to flow through us!  Let’s love ourselves as Jesus loves us!  After all, He made us in His image, which means we are awesome!  Let’s lift ourselves and others up and empower each other! We are children of the most high God!  There’s nothing better!  Believe it! Live it!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Nice To Know

     Yesterday,  was not exactly a great day for me.  I've been dealing again with my oldest son and his issues.  It's about time for more tough love I think.  I've always been an emotional eater.  Food is to me what alcohol/drugs is to other people I suppose. So, of course I binged on junk and felt like crap after.  Yes, I know this must stop.  I'm working on it.
     Anyway, in the midst of my not so good day, I had to run to the store for a few things for dinner.  When I was in line at the register,  a total stranger approached me by saying, "You're YouTube famous, aren't you!"  Well, I don't know about "famous," but yes I'm on YouTube.  He proceeded to tell me that he is a marine, has been deployed several times, and is just visiting family here right now before he heads to San Diego.  He started telling me all about  his many marine friends who have been injured, lost their sight, lost limbs, etc, and they all talk about me and look to me for inspiration. 
     WOW!!  That's one way to brighten my day!  I had no idea I ever had any type of impact on our soldiers!!  What an honor!!  I told him to let his friends know that they should feel free to reach out to me anytime they need support or help.  I'd be MORE than happy to give pep talks, help figure out how to do things without their limbs, or give them a kick in the pants if needed.  I appreciate their service and courage. So, if I am giving back to them in anyway, I am overjoyed and honored!!  Thank you to ALL of our brave soldiers of the USA!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Out of My Comfort Zone and Into a Blessing

     About a year ago, I received a message on Facebook from a guy named Sam Kuhnert, asking me if I'd be interested in coaching kids at a sports camp he and his mom, Jana Kunert, put on for kids with limb differences.  I thought it sounded like an awesome opportunity, especially since I have a soft spot in my heart for those kids, having been one myself many moons ago.  Of course, I accepted this chance to help those kids!
     As the time for camp got closer and closer, I started to get nervous and feel a bit of anxiety.  I actually contemplated backing out.  However, I knew that would not be the right thing to do.  I had already committed to this!  As much as I wanted to back out, I could not let Jana and Sam down after all they did to make this happen.  It wouldn't be right, and wouldn't be fair. So, I sucked it up and went.
    The first night, I was dead dog tired and a total party pooper because of it.  I felt completely out of my element and definitely out of my comfort zone.  Why?  I have no idea. I was around all these awesome kids, coaches, staff who had limb differences, as well as many other great people.  You would think that being around so many people who are like me would make me feel comfortable!  For whatever reason though, I was about a million miles away from my little box of comfort.  I told my boyfriend that it was just overwhelming.  Being in the company of so many other limb-different people is something I haven't ever experienced.  It was new, different, and uncomfortable for me.  In the next breath (or text rather,)  I told him that getting out of my comfort zone will be good for me.  Like the saying goes...if it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you.  This was apparently going to be quite a challenge.
     After getting a good night's sleep, I felt refreshed and ready to take on this challenge, get my butt to camp, and make the best of it.  Little did I know, I was about to embark upon the most amazing weekend of my life!!  I had more fun than I could ever have imagined!  I met the most amazing kids on this Earth and fell in love with every one of them that I got to interact with.  I heard some incredible stories....stories of turning tragedy into triumph, from coaches as well as kids! The smiles on those kids' faces, the pure joy they exude, and the determination in their faces made everything worthwhile.  Those kids inspired me and blessed me way more than I possibly could have inspired/blessed them.  I couldn't believe that the thought of not going even crossed my mind.  If I had done that, I would have not only disappointed some amazing people, but I would have robbed myself of joy and blessings beyond measure.  I made new friends, found a new purpose, and I can't wait to go back next year...and every year thereafter!!
      I also want to share with you something that really stuck out in my mind.  Sat morning, we had breakfast in the cafeteria, and the coaches could volunteer to share a "God moment" or testimony with the campers and their families.  Of course I jumped at the chance to speak to them.  When I was done, I listened to several other coaches talk about their own experiences, and there seemed to be a common thread.  A soccer coach named Bree was telling the story about how she lost one of her legs and nearly the other one too.  She was telling how it turned out to be a blessing in her life.  She was thankful that this (and this is what rang loud and clear to me) was "GIVEN TO HER."  She didn't say she was thankful for what was TAKEN FROM HER, but rather GIVEN.  This was the common thread throughout each coach's testimony, even if some of us (me) took longer to get to that point.  That message will forever stay with me.  Sometimes we don't understand why things happen to us, but God has a plan and a purpose for all of us.  The sooner we accept that we have a purpose and realizing/executing/living our purpose, the sooner we will be blessed and be a blessing to others.  I was one of those people who, when I was younger, didn't want whatever it was God had for me to do.  I didn't want to be an "inspiration."  Why couldn't someone else be an inspiration?  I was a girl who used to go to bed at night, repent for whatever sins I had made, and then prayed that I wouldn't wake up.  Every morning I woke up was another disappointing unanswered prayer.  I now thank God He didn't answer those prayers!  When I finally decided to accept the purpose and job God had for me AND began doing it, I too realized what a blessing my life is.  I only wish I had accepted it so many years earlier, like Bree and the other coaches.   
    I hope that next time you're in a situation that takes you out of your comfort zone, you embrace it.  You never know how rewarding it will be!!  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Behind the Scenes

     Today was somewhat of a weird day. I don't feel like I was very productive.  I guess that's because I didn't get much done besides shooting with Incredible Features. Ohhhh, the life of a celebrity.  (haha)  There were a few photographers with me today, doing an update on me and my life, since the last time they ran my story...when Jared was a baby!  That was 13 years ago!  Anyway,  we were supposed to start at noon.  Then it got pushed to 1.  A little after 1, a different photographer/assistant showed up to get started, but he really wasn't informed on what they wanted him to shoot.  He was super cool though:)  He's now a new friend, and we're already talking about shooting some training videos to sell on my web site. 
     Anyway, at 2:00, the original photographer finally showed up (only 2 hrs late), and he re-shot half of what we already did.  Why?  I have no idea.  I just rolled with it. We then took a trip to the gym, stopping at Starbuck's along the way.  We were at the gym a good 2 hours!!  At least while they were packing up ALL the equipment and loading it back into the truck, I was able to get my cardio done so I don't have to go back!  Yay!!  
     Finally, we headed over to a nearby park, just in time for one of our gorgeous AZ sunsets, so he could get some head shots.  It was definitely a LONG day, much longer than the 1-2 hours I was told this would take.  Needless to say,  I'm glad this day is over.  I am always happy about making new friends though, and Cole is a cool dude;) 
     Shannon was visiting with me at my house before the photographers arrived and stayed for part of our shoot.  As always, she captured a few good "behind the scenes" pics.  She never disappoints!! 
So, here is one she shot of me chopping an apple....something I never do.  I usually just bite right in!!  Another is a pic of me and Cole, the fun, laid back, and coolest ever photographer.  Lastly, I thought y'all might like to see who my fantabulous, fun friend, Shannon is!!  Believe it or not, we didn't even talk about our outfits before she came over.  They just coordinate because great minds think alike....and we're both cool like that. (haha) You can expect to see all of the other photos in various magazines around the world! Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Media Craze

     I have been in the media a TON lately.  It all started (this time) with the Huffington Post article.  It has all sort of spun almost out of control since then.  I honestly don't get it.  There's a lot of hype over me right now, and I just don't understand why.  To me, I'm just a normal (whatever that is) woman who does normal things....the same things everyone else does.  Yes, I do it without having arms, but SO WHAT?  I've had a lifetime to figure out how to get by without arms!  I feel like there are so many other people so much more deserving of this attention.  I honestly don't care for all the praise and accolades.   
     YES, I hope that my story somehow inspires, motivates, and helps others.  I'd love to see my "No Excuses" lifestyle rub off on the rest of our society!  I'd love for people to understand the power of a positive attitude and a "Can Do" mindset!  I'd love to be a positive role model for the younger generations, especially the girls.  That's what I hope for through all of this.  The praises and fanfare should be going to those deserving of our brave men and women in the military who put themselves at risk for our the families of those men and the law enforcement officers and firemen/firewomen who risk their lives on a daily basis for our the teachers who are teaching our children...and many more!!  I'd like to see them get the attention and recognition they deserve.  
      Back to this media craze:  This week is only half over, and has been and will continue to be busy.  Another interview came out today on,  Incredible Features is coming to my house tomorrow to do a photo shoot and update about my life (they did a story several years ago).   Next week will be just as crazy!   I will be on 'The Doctors' next Thurs, and they are coming on Mon. to shoot their backstory.     The next week,  Phoenix Magazine who already interviewed me a few weeks ago,  is sending their photographer to shoot some photos to go with their article. 
      I THINK I'll finally get a little down time after that.  Whew!!  At least I hope so, because I have other people to focus on! My oldest son is showing his horse (a wild mustang that he trained!)  I can't miss that!  I'm so proud of him!  My "grandson" is turning 2 and has a birthday party coming up, and I have several friends competing in our local bodybuilding show in a few weeks.  I like to be there to support all my friends!!   Other than that, I have a few speaking engagements to tend to.    I haven't even begun to think about the holidays yet!!  Can we please just skip them this year??

Just A Thought

     The other day, a close friend of mine made a comment to me that has stuck in my head and made me think a little.  Me...thinking....scary, I know!  This friend of mine said that I'm one of the few people who is nice to him/her without ever asking for anything in return.
     Yes, it felt good to have my kindness/generosity acknowledged,  but more than that it got me thinking about how many times people are "nice" to others in hopes of, or with expectations of getting something in return.  It's sad, really.  
     It also made me think what a crappy feeling it must be to feel/know that most of the people you know are "nice" to you because of what you can do for them.  I'm happy that I can be that one friend who is just nice because I genuinely love this person and care about my friend. Hopefully, I am a tiny bit of sunshine in this friend's life, even when everything and everyone else is not so sunshiny. 
Think about this:  If you are nice, kind, generous, or giving to someone, with expectations of getting something for yourself in return attached, then are you REALLY being kind, generous, giving, or even nice?   My opinion is NO.  In fact, I believe if you're doing something for someone else in hopes of getting anything in return, it's not only NOT nice, it's downright selfish!  That's the exact opposite of how you're trying to appear.  
     Remember the Golden Rule??  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!  It's a great rule to live by, even if everyone else doesn't.  
     So what if you do nice and thoughtful things for people, and they can never repay you or give back?  Is it really going to kill you to GIVE ANYWAY?  Remember, it is more blessed to give than to receive.  I know that's a tough concept for many people to grasp.  Give it a try though.  Trust me, you will feel blessed for sure, and you never know how much a simple act of kindness can mean to someone.  There is joy in giving!
     To my friend: if you're reading this.....I love you:)

Monday, September 30, 2013

What Now?

     Now that competition season is over for me this year, what am I doing??  I'm staying on top of all my motherly duties, first of all.  Raising two teenage boys is not an easy job!  As far as fitness goes though,  I'm still getting about 30 min. of cardio in at least 3 days per week.  I'm going to gymnastics lessons/practice 4 days per week, which is a good workout in and of itself!  I'm also doing legs once per week.  Now that the weather is cooling off a bit, I need to start hitting the bleachers more regularly again too.  
    As most of you know, I LOVE food!  I am a big eater!!  However, I am trying super hard this off season to stick to a clean meal plan, control the number of cheat meals I allow,  and not gain too much weight.  So far, it's going well.  Obviously, I'm going to put on a little weight, but hopefully not as much as I have in the past because it's not healthy, and it makes contest prep that much harder.
     So...goals for my off season....#1 - maintain a good weight and clean eating, and #2 - master the gymnastics/tumbling tricks I've learned and gain enough confidence to do them on any surface so I don't chicken out on stage again next year. 

2013 Competition Season Is Over

2013 has been a heck of a year for me to say the least!  Honestly, I should have put competing on the back burner because I had too many irons in the fire at once, so to speak.  I like to be able to focus on and give my 100% to everything I do, and I tried to give 100% to too many things at the same time this year.  There were other things in my life that took a much higher priority than competing, and my attention/focus was there more than it was for competition stuff.  I felt I could have looked better for Jr. Nationals, but I went and planned to kick butt anyway. However, I got sick. I totally half-assed my routine, just trying not to puke my guts out on stage. Oh well.  It happens.  There is always another competition.
     Then it came time for North Americans. I was really excited about doing that show because it's one I hadn't competed at before.    As it got closer and closer to show time, I was stressing out more and more because my body was far from ready.  I think between my body fighting me/rebelling because I had been dieting so long, and other things that took priority in my life, I just was NOT ready.
I debated about going or backing out.  I finally just decided to go for it and JUST DO IT.  I figured I might regret not going, and I might as well just have fun with it.  I did have fun at the show for sure!  I met some awesome people, made some new friends, and got to see my dad!  He flew in from Texas to watch me......another reason I really wanted to be in my best shape ever.  He's my dad; he's proud no matter what.  He thought I looked every bit as good as the rest of the girls though.  
I did F up my routine though. I had planned on having one of my flips in it, and I chickened out at the last second.  I was so mad at myself that I forgot my freakin' routine and had to improvise for a big part of it.  I thought my routine absolutely stunk up the place! My dad only mentioned a few tricks that he knew were supposed to be in there but weren't.  Other than that, he couldn't tell I messed it up, and neither could anyone else apparently.  In fact, one of the judges told me it was the best routine he's ever seen me do!  I thought, "Really?? Then the rest of them must have REALLY sucked!!"  After seeing a video, I realized it wasn't as bad as I thought.  It wasn't as good as it was supposed to be either.  However, I placed 5th, which means I remain qualified to continue competing on the national level for another year. Whew!  At least I won't have to bother doing an extra show next year just to qualify again.  That's one burden off my shoulder!!  
When it was all said and done, I am happy that I went and competed, even though I knew I was far from being my best.  I still had fun, and it was a great experience.  Do I ever want to go on stage feeling like a fatty ever again??  Hecka NO, but I don't regret being there.  I plan on competing there again next year. I have to say it was probably the best run show I've ever competed in!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Blingy Bling Bling!

     Yesterday, I discussed my determination to see this contest through.  Today, I'm getting excited!  I took my routine costume down to 'Luv My Bling' to get it all fancy-dancy blinged out!!  I wanted to keep my costume simple this year, but I just could NOT go on stage without bling!  I should have it back in about a week!  I can't wait to see it!  Ya, I know...I'm easily excited.  All it takes is sparkly and shiny stuff!  Now I just have to decide what shoes I'll wear:)   Fitness girls have so many choices to make, but it's SO much fun!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Determination & Stubbornness Are Rearing Their Heads Once Again

Jr. Nationals is just around the corner it seems, and I was debating about whether or not to even send in my entry form.  This has been, without a doubt, the worst contest prep I've ever had.  In all the years I've been competing, I have never struggled this much to get ready for a show.  It has been absolutely ridiculous.  If it's not one thing, it's another getting in my way.  There have been obstacles popping up around every corner.  My life has been quite chaotic this year, to put it mildly, which is sooo not what I'm used to.    Stress and knee pain have been my biggest and toughest battles.  Between unnecessary emotional stress, thanks to a certain male friend, and stress from my 16 yr. old, I've been a mess...physically, emotionally, and mentally.  My son is now going to school in another state, where he can get the help he needs in different areas of his life.  I am beyond grateful for the folks who are in our lives now to help.  Now that I've gotten him all settled and my heart is at peace, I can finally relax, be a lot less stressed, and focus on MY goal to compete in June.   It's amazing how stress can affect fat loss!  The fat IS coming off, but it has been fighting me every step of the way and taking its sweet time to comply!  My body does not want to cooperate and do what it knows to do!!  It's extremely frustrating!  I'm expecting weight to start dropping a bit faster now that my stress level is much lower; at least I hope so.
My knees have been the other major obstacle.  Both of my knees are jacked up.  They're always swollen, full of fluid, and they hurt almost constantly. The proof is on my M.R.I. films.   These knees of mine are really putting a cramp in my style when it comes to training, conditioning, cardio, gymnastics, and routine practice.  I was ready to throw in the towel and retire AGAIN from competing, until my doctor referred me to a chiropractor who has a fancy super-powered laser that will help my knees tremendously!  There are only 4 of these lasers in the country, and luckily for me, one of them is here very close to me!!   You can read about this laser at  I've only had two treatments so far, but I can already feel a difference.  I've been advised to stay out of the gyms just this week.  I'm doing my best to obey orders:) It's not easy to obey tall orders like that when I'm only 7 weeks out from competition day.  
In the past, when I learned different gymnastics tricks and flips, I chickened out when it came to actually doing them in my routine on stage.  This time, I've been more determined than ever to master a few tricks and perform them at Jr. Nationals.  I realize that this may be my last competition due to my knee health. So, I want to go out with a bang, have an awesome routine, and prove to MYSELF that I can do this!  So, when I thought about maybe having to quit, it just killed me!  Because of this laser, I have renewed hope.  I am not giving up just yet!  Giving up isn't in my DNA.  At the end of this competition, I want to be able to say that despite every curve ball that was thrown my way, I kept pushing, kept getting over the hurdles, and made it all the way.  Is this determination or just pure stubbornness on my part?  I'm not completely sure, but I'd like to think it's both!  Nothing is stopping me now...not teenagers, not a man, not stress, not emotional turmoil, not knee pain, and not stubborn fat!  This chick is taking the bull by the horns and is going to bust my butt to finish what I started!!  Yee haw!    See y'all in Chicago!!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Speaking in Canada

This past weekend was an adventure to say the least!   My friend Shelly and I traveled all the way to Brantford, Ontario to speak at a fund raising event for the Children's Safety Village and Everyday Heros.  BTW, you can learn more about my awesome friend at 
Fri morning, after we arrived at the airport, Shelly mentioned our passports, which I quickly remembered that I left at home.  I raced home and back to the airport, only to miss the flight...kind of. I got back just in the knick of time for them to close the airplane door, which they refused to open for us.  The key note speaker (me) is not supposed to miss her flight!!  As you can imagine, the entire day went an entirely different direction than was planned, with several twists and turns along the way.  We eventually did make it to our destination a day later than we planned and just in time to have lunch and get on stage to speak. Talk about cutting it close!! We then had to turn around the next day and make our trek back to Arizona.  It was a LONG 3 days!  We were so happy to be home. Shelly and I sure had fun together though, as we always do, and made some new friends and met some other amazing people in Canada as well! The newspaper in Brantford ran a story that I'm told landed on the front page!  I'm hoping I get a copy of it to add to my collection:)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Monday Will Be THE Day!

Several of y'all have sent me messages via Facebook, YouTube, and my website, asking how progress is going on my back flips. Well, it's been going great!!  If you recall, I had a horrible mental block for a while.  Hell, those are freakin' scary!!  One day, I just said to my coach, "Let's do backs today," and I did!  She is barely spotting me now! Monday, she is making me try them alone!  It's scary, but also very exciting!   She had me do them on the floor one day, which is a very different feeling than landing in the resi, but that will be the next step!  My goal is still to have it in my routine at Jr. Nationals this year!  I WILL do it!!  I will try to upload a video for you! Videos from my phone never seem to upload on here. I'll give it a shot though.  Oh ya...and no goggles this time. hahaha 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I'm Human Afterall

     For as long as I can remember (in my adult life) I've always been the one who is STRONG, not only for me, but for others as well.  I've never been a "needy" person. I've never been one to have to reach out to my friends and family for support or comforting words, etc.  I'm always the one doing that for everyone else.  I've never been one to get stressed out easily, and when I did feel the weight of the world on my shoulders, I just handled it on my own...and very well, if I do say so myself.  I enjoy being there for others and helping others whenever I'm able to.  I'm a giver; it's just something that is in me. It's a natural thing for me to do.  I like making others happy, and I also find it very rewarding and in a sense, therapeutic.  
     However, in the past months, I have not been myself....AT ALL!   I still do for others and can be strong for them. Being strong for myself though, has been a completely different story.  I'm not sure if it's because everything happened all at once like a giant avalanche just came crashing down on me, or if it's because they're all matters of the heart.  All at once, divorce and extreme hardships with my son happened.  As you can imagine, I love my kids with everything in me, and these hardships I'm facing are absolutely tearing me up inside. This is, without a doubt, the hardest thing I've ever had to do...and it's killing me.  I have been an emotional disaster!  On top of that,  I'm having to do it alone, and it's been quite a while since I've had to cope with these things alone. Yes, I have my girlfriends who are appreciated more than anything, but I mean the day in and day out details of this situation that I'm dealing with on my own. I feel almost abandoned in my time of need.  Nearly every day, I just wish I had someone's arms to be wrapped around me for a few minutes, to be told it's going to be ok, and to not feel completely alone.  I have a close friend, who I assumed I could depend on for that, but I guess my neediness (if you want to call it that.  I don't really think time together and a hug is being extremely needy) is pushing this person away, which is exactly what I don't want.  You know who you are, and I love you and value our special friendship.  I'm very sorry for dumping my issues on you, when you too are facing a difficult situation. 
     I just can't wait for the situation with my son is resolved. Then, I can relax, and feel like ME again....STRONG, not stressed, and definitely not needy!  I hate being this way!
    On a different note, I am still pushing to get myself ready to compete at Jr. Nationals again!  I have 11 weeks and 2 days to go!  Even though, this is adding to my stress, it's also the one thing keeping me somewhat sane because it gives me a goal to focus on, something to look forward to.  Fitness is still my passion, and I'm giving it all I've got at the moment!