Happy Sunday everyone! This is my last 'live' post until July. I wanted to share some of the most simple ideas for how to entertain at home. And then as promised, this week we will kick off with blogs in the cache surrounding adrenal health, probiotics, etc.
Cooking can be somewhat intimidating but it doesn't have to be. It's a cathartic experience actually and one of old fashion love. And gathering with those you love - those you just met - and those you want to know more - over hearty & healthy meals is one of the great joys of life!
Gathering community for a meal in our homes does not have to be stressful, expensive or time consuming. I feel like group meals aren't as common these days because no one 'has the time' but what people do not realize is how little time it actually takes. The prep can be 30 minutes!
I feel like God is blessing me with the most authentic community that I have ever had before. I am so grateful. And my most favorite activity to participate in as of late is cooking & having big dinners hosted in my condo. I plan to do this all summer long.
My suggestion is to head to your local farmers market and gather a colorful array of organic veggies. Being at the farmers market is such a fun experience in and of itself. And talking to the farmers is always an education. I tend to meet the most health minded people there.
Ask each guest to bring a healthy contribution to the dinner and be specific when they ask what type of dish would be best. Give them two options as that makes choosing easy for them. It actually serves your guests well to take the guess work out so, trust me that they will appreciate it.
In a large pan, toss in the veggies - drizzle a generous amount of olive oil - herbs & seasonings of your choice - sea salt - pepper - raw garlic - etc. Once prepared, fold over cubed & cooked buttery butternut squash.
You really only need to make one large dish because your guests are happily contributing. Serve with a large pitcher of cold/hot tea & a squeeze of lemon. Wala.
I used to really love meeting friends on Chicago patios or fancy rooftops for wine & expensive meals. And now, I am very passionate about farm-to-table organic meals, no liquor at all rather teas and flavored waters and deep conversations threaded with silliness......all in the coziness of each of our homes.
Life is grand and the most simple of experiences are typically the most memorable.
June is upon us and I will slipping out of the city & flyin' under the radar for awhile. In the cache, I've prepared numerous blogs that will be rolled out to you weekly! And because we have covered much of the relational side to wellness as of late, we are going to shift to physical health! This week, you will be hearing a lot about probiotics, adrenal health and leaky gut. And yes, I will be sharing that one overdue blog post about my intrigue via Austin, TX. (yep, that's still a comin').
As for today, let's chat briefly about healthy 'at home' or travel snacks. I have gotten into a very regimented routine w/ my food choices, supplement schedule and exercise. And I did this by 'simplifying' all three. My whole schedule is timed out during the week (regardless of what my schedule actually is) and having structure is ideal for me.
When it comes to snacks, what works for me is keeping my snacks unprocessed, gluten-free and low in sugar. I also thrive with 'less options' and I know that most people are the opposite. When I limit my snack options to three or four choices 'routinely', this adds to my entire simplistic approach to my health. It makes the 'grab & go' for a flight or full day in Chicago, easy.
My top healthy snack choices when traveling are:
This is all I snack on....literally.
Again, for me, less (options) is more. I am loving clean eating! And all of the snacks above are easy to seal in a baggy and store in my backpack for day travel.
Enjoy June & all of the blogs that I have prepared for you in advance! We have also prepared photographs, etc. for all of my social media accounts so that everything is churning until I am back on board with all of you in July!
Hi ya patient folks!!!
Thank you so much for waiting through this hiatus via my computer! It was challenging to literally have to stop writing all together. This short time away made me realize how passionate I am about sharing as much as I can about health & wellness with all of you.
I am so grateful it's Friday! How about you? The weather in Chicago is warm, sunny and humid which is the combination that energizes me!
I am very behind via blogs because of the computer challenges so, expect an overflow of articles in the next week about a phlethora of topics that I think just might interest some of you (hopefully all of you)!
Today, I wanted to chat with all of you about this blog title 'No Looking Back'.
Someone that I have been really close with recently shared a Maya Angelo quote with me "When you know better, you do better". It's a simple quote and an obvious quote. It's a quote that regardless of how obvious, resonated w/ me deeply. When we know better, we actually do....do better.
We are constantly learning but that doesn't mean that we are necessarily 'growing'. Learning is not enough though. It isn't. It doesn't serve your greater good to be a student of knowledge if you are not going to apply what you learn to your life.
I think the people that are actually transforming & evolving via their health.... emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically are the ones that are willing to get uncomfortable for short or extended periods of time. And the uncomfortable phase of change is no fun. Let's call it what it is.....it sucks as the initial steps of making a change are generally painful. For example, giving up processed sugar transforms your health in ways that is absolutely astounding. People don't want to get uncomfortable through the detox symptoms that come prior to the breakthrough so rather, they read about the toxic nature of sugar - post articles about it - talk to their friends about it - but they go on eating sugar.
Gosh everyone, let's stop being 'one day' people. Seriously. Life is SO SHORT! It's a breath. A year is a minute in time. 'One day' I am going to give up sugar - 'One day' I am going to get to the bottom of why I acted that way - 'One day', I want to travel with a backpack through Europe. One day I will apologize. One day I will forgive. One day I will start working out. One day I will change my diet. One day...I will live the life that God called me to.
Do the tough work now. Get uncomfortable now.
I am a firm believe that if you want to change a habit or pattern, you can do it and you can do it much more quickly than you have mentally limited yourself to believe. I think -in one breath- that evolving as an individual takes a lifetime meaning we are always evolving and changing. On the other hand, what I am referring to is that if you want to take a habit, pattern, lifestyle choice, etc. that doesn't serve you anymore and stop it - for good - you CAN! And this isn't just some positive mumble jumble (((0: It's not.
I changed my diet a few months ago and my new choices are revolutionizing my health in ways that I didn't anticipate. And going back isn't an option. I'm not looking back via my old choices because the changes I have made are healthy for me and my body. I am thriving! I learned. I applied what I learned. I now know better. So, I am doing better.
This translates into every area of our lives. I feel like this year is proving to be life altering for me. I am ready to leap into a new chapter of life which is my healthiest yet. And I want you to join me.
After you make a gigantic change, you do wonder why in the world it took you so long! The change you made feels so right and it's second nature now. Again, there is no looking back when you know better. You are doing better and focused forward.
What is that you desire to change? What is a change that by following through consistently, would benefit your entire life?
Once you genuinely - in your gut - at your core - know better? You WILL do better and you will continue to do better. And there will be no looking back.
A year from now, you will have wished you started today so, start now.
Thanks for reading!
And a quote to wrap up my thoughts for the weekend:
“She took one last look over her shoulder, and waved goodbye to regret, fear and shame. Then she turned herself toward the sun and let out a whoop of joy to celebrate whatever came next.” — Queenisms
Hi everyone! I'm so sorry but my computer is at Apple being repaired. It's been frustrating to say the least. As soon as the issues are fixed, Snapshots of Wellness will be back up and running.
I recently attended a seminar by Dr. Josh Axe (you can read about him here) where he took us through a mass gritty education on gut, adrenal & thyroid health. I had learned a lot to date about health & healing (that's an understatement) in these areas of the body but Dr. Axe raised my educational level to a degree that is life giving.
When I signed onto the seminar, I had an inkling that he was going to provide a commercial if you know what I mean. I had checked out his website and figured this would be somewhat of a gimmick but I have enough medical knowledge to know what he was saying made a ton of sense. In other words, I was skeptical. I am grateful I stayed and listened.
I found Dr. Axe to be the most highly educated physician on gut health that I have personally interacted w/ (and I have interacted with the MOST amazing physicians across the entire country - literally the best of the best). This man has a gift for healing. He is also a strong Christian which I am as well. I appreciate how he incorporates The Bible into his verbiage via his presentations. After the seminar, I signed onto a an educational program of his so that I can learn every single thing I can about how to heal my own body....from him. Through the program, it's as if you are shadowing Dr. Axe (shadowing is a term used in medical academia where a resident follows an attending physician throughout the day to learn the 'craft' so to speak). Signing onto the program was an investment for sure but worth it. I have NEVER signed onto one of these programs before ....to date. I have been invited to sign on to SO MANY! But God said 'go' and when God says 'go', you 'go'. So, I processed for days before saying 'yes' this week. It's really an investment in myself but I am going to use this opportunity to help others and all of you! My goal is to at least point you to the experts who can help you.
There is so much information to pass along to all of you so, I am not quite sure where to begin. I was reminded to just start sharing & leave the rest to all of you...... meaning all of you can piece together the information yourselves. If you have questions, just ask me. I will weave in blogs about what I learn from Dr. Axe along with all other topics on wellness (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual).
I am absolutely amazed at the body's utmost desire to heal and when we feed it foods, supplements, thoughts, exercise and unconditional love .....how dramatically & quickly healing can take place.
As for now, it's absolutely gorgeous here in Chicago so, let's all get off the internet and absorb that heat/sun! Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend if you happen to be heading out for a vaca or grilling with family/friends.
I will be taking the week after the holiday off of Snapshots of Wellness to focus on my own wellness.
Why (I Think) Everyone should have a Counselor:
This past weekend Zac and I celebrated 18 years of marriage.
Before we get into the sticky stuff- I cannot imagine a more incredible gift of a husband. We are best friends, he supports my dreams, isn’t afraid to kick me in the tail and also loves me unconditionally. We love Jesus and we always have- we came into marriage with pretty minimal baggage and yet still…
MARRIAGE IS DANG HARD. And being in ministry for most of our married life- I can tell you that marriage gets difficult for almost everyone.
I believe this fact occurred to me soon after coming home from our honeymoon- it was our first huge fight. Huge as in…. complete with me throwing something, slamming the door, and driving away.
It was a scene from a movie…..in fact, come to think of it, I am pretty sure I ripped it off from Meg Ryan. But in the movie…when the girl runs away the boy comes after the girl.
So I waited and waited and waited for him to come chasing me, driving slowly around the block several times. This was before cell phones (can you even imagine?) so I knew if I went too far, he would worry and call the police. So I just circled the block.
After a dozen circles and no sign of a distraught Zac in the yard calling 911- I decided it was time to relieve my fraught-with-worry new husband… I opened the door to our little apartment and Zac had fallen asleep on the couch watching football.
Over the next 5 years, there were more slammed doors and a lot of football before I emotionally began to just shut down. Now to be fair, we got married as little baby children (20 year olds). Oh my word! What on earth? This was just barely legal.
And it wasn’t long before young marrieds became young parents and we found ourselves treading the deep waters of parenting toddlers and difficult ministry and unable to fight in a healthy way. I opened up to a mentor about some of our relational tensions and she suggested that we seek out a marriage counselor.
“A counselor?!” In my mind, counselors were for people about to get a divorce. While our marriage could certainly improve… we weren’t that bad?!
And looking back now we weren’t that bad- but we weren’t great.
Why settle for “not that bad” when you could have great?
Year 5 of marriage- we began a life altering journey through counseling. We learned about our families, about our wiring, about why we react to seemingly small things that shouldn’t hurt so much but they do. We really heard each other, and we acquired tools that we still use today: how to fight well and how to really forgive and reconcile. We had breakthroughs that shaped everything about the way we do life today.
It was hard.
It was costly.
It was brave.
It was SO WORTH IT!
Over the last 15 years of ministry, Zac and I have been privileged to see behind the surface of a lot of marriages and hands down the very best marriages all have been through very dark seasons. And the common thread in each great marriage is that during their dark seasons… and sometimes during the bright ones, they sought outside support.
So why am I writing this today?
Because we just walked through another dark season in our marriage. (With Zac’s permission I am sharing this.)
In the last few months we kept hitting a wall (issue) over and over… and the issue was getting more and more heated. Even with all our past work- we still couldn’t seem to reconcile it. Our marriage was in an amazing place otherwise. We are fully supportive of each other’s crazy dreams. And this wasn’t even a major issue, we should have been able to blow it off and get on with it… but we couldn’t.
So a few months ago- Zac and I reached out again to a local counselor. IF:Gathering had just ended, we were both neck deep in projects and kids and we didn’t have extra time or extra money for this but we just did it anyway and let me tell you….
COUNSELING IS GAME CHANGING.
Here is why…
1. We all need translators sometimes to really hear ourselves or the other person.
2. We all need to hear the truth about ourselves in a safe environment.
3. We all need space to sort out how we feel or what we need.
4. We all need help at times applying the truth of God’s Word into real life.
If you are still reading this and you aren’t married, I want to justify the title of this blog for you… I said “everyone” and yes I mean you too. I work at the IF:Gathering offices with mostly women who are unmarried. Many of them are in or have done counseling and have experienced more of God and more freedom as they have processed their pasts and their futures with a third party. While this post is focused on marriage- I just want you to also consider how a wise third party could affect your life in the same way.
So Jennie, do you really believe everyone needs a counselor? Yes I do. Here are some thoughts as you consider it:
1. Counseling only works if it works. It contains no magic…it takes two people fully committed to reconciling the relationship no matter the cost.
2. Start with your church– Everyone needs a counselor and some of you need to pay for it. And some of you don’t. Find a pastor, mentor, older couple but certainly some problems need professional help. Talk to the elders or your small group leaders to decide who might be a good fit.
3. Find counsel from a Christian perspective, because we know that ultimately our souls and deepest relationships were created by God and can only be sustained and healed through Christ.
4. Give Counselors a chance. Know that your first 3-4 sessions with a counselor will be he or she asking questions to actually get to know you and your spouse well enough to actually understand what is going on. In this time you will for sure wonder if you are wasting your money, especially if you just want the fire put out.
5. No counselor is perfect. And it may take meeting several before you find the right fit. Any outside advice you receive must be Scriptural and processed in the context of your community.
Tim Keller defines wisdom as the competency to deal with the complex realities of life. And sometimes we need the humility to say that we do not possess all wisdom about all cirumstances- it is godly to lean on another’s wisdom.
May we never look to a human to fill the place within us reserved for God, Himself. But may we have the humility to seek help on our journey toward Him.
Hey guess what…. our marriage is really amazing. But we have done the work to get it there.
Don’t miss a great marriage
Progress. Just make progress. It’s OK to have setbacks … It’s OK to draw a line in the sand and start over again- and again. Just make sure you’re moving the line forward … Take baby steps, but at least take steps that stop you from being stuck. Then change will come. And it will be good.
Today, I wanted to pass along some really incredible wisdom that my dad passed along to me. He passed away in August of 2014. He had a brilliant mind. He was very human (smile) as he was flawed - as we are all these messy broken people - but he was genuinely brilliant and he did not wear a mask. My dad was vulnerable and he taught me to be vulnerable. I am so grateful for this. He loved adventure more than any single person I have ever come into contact with (and I know a lot of adventurous spirits). My dad's zest for life was and remains unmatched. Whenever I think of him, my energy level rises and my heart feels happy. Often, I would meet him for lunch downtown (Chicago) and if I was ever stressed after a long week of work travel or down because of something happening in my life, I would leave the table energized and eager to go do something invigorating. And it wasn't a rarity to find us laughing so hard that we would be buckled over with tears coming down our faces. We laughed so much and lived for the now.
He passed along so much profound advice to me but I am only going to share 5 life suggestions today. Sometimes people we love can give us repeated advice and we just don't take it due to our own ingrained thoughts, established patterns, etc.. For someone to really change, it requires something deeply internal and it requires God. I am fascinated by the process of change in someone (including myself) but I am MOST fascinated when someone just 'changes', just-like-that. I am taking his advice and maybe it will cause some of you to consider your choices in your own life and who knows, maybe you will make a change that will be life giving....even life altering:
What is a piece of advice that someone you love gave to you? Have you ever followed advice that changed the course of your life? Advice that changed a bad habit or pattern....for good? Please share with me on any of my social media links at the top right of the page.
I am a huge supporter of Jennie Allen. Are you familiar with her? Please go to her site to learn all about her. She speaks hard truths about life in such an authentic way. I just relate to her on so many levels and admire her zest for truth. This woman shows up vulnerable - real - raw. Brave.
I have read three of her bible studies: Chase, Restless and Stuck. Incredible! And seriously whether you are Christian or not, you will be transformed to show up a better version of yourself in your life. I am about to read 'Anything' which is supposed to be moving.
She also resides in Austin, TX. which is the city I am having this short term (potentially long term) feeling of intrigue with. I am going to share about my love for Austin, TX. in the next blog.
I found this photo (above) on her blog today and it immediately settled the uneasiness I had in my spirit. It gave me complete utter peace. I was thinking maybe it would provide peace to one or more of you too.
'If God wants a thing to succeed, you cannot mess it up. If He wants a thing to fail, you can't save it'.
The question is, do you trust Him enough with what is happening in your life? I do. I believe Him. I trust Him. I truly believe that if He wants something to work out in my life, He keeps opening doors. And sometimes those doors close temporarily and re-open in time, when He feels we are ready.
I have found this to be true as I have navigated my journey back to a healthy body. I would pray to Him to please lead my steps in choosing physicians, supplements, etc. And He would shut doors sometimes that I just didn't understand why He was closing....until months (sometimes years) afterwards. And He would open others.
I have also found this to be true in relationships. If God wants a relationship to end for your growth, protection or redirection and you are prayerfully seeking His Will, He will make certain that relationship ends. And if He wants that relationship to reunite, He will open that door back up when He feels He is ready to. This goes for opening doors to a new relationship as well. He will place you in front of the man (or woman) that He wants you to meet. We need to be close to Him though and journeying with Him to know what He wants for us.
I think a lot of people believe that God is so mysterious. And sometimes He is. It's my opinion that God shows up in our lives in all sorts of ways beyond mystery. He is quite direct sometimes when we are direct in our prayers to Him. There are times when He is quiet....even silent. And there are times when He is speaking to us through others - music - dreams - etc.
I would encourage all of you to get really bold in what you are asking for - when you pray. And be ready for anything because He is listening and He will answer. He loves us. He wants the best for us. So, He is always going to point each and every one of us in the absolute best direction - every single time. He is constant. He does not fail us. So, we can fully trust Him.
Goodnight everyone! We can all rest our heads in peace knowing He's got this - He's got us. In Him, we have a friend.
What is at the absolute core of wellness for you? Have you ever even contemplated that question?
Is weight loss at the core of wellness? Do you think 'Well, wellness means that I have to be thin and eat healthy'? Why are you even trying to lose weight? Is it to impress someone? Is it to unburdened your body of excess 'fat' for endurance exercise? Is it because you don't like who you are and you think that with weight loss comes love for self? Explore the why.....trust me, it's so important.
Is it food that is at the core of your wellness? Why are you eating a healthy diet? Why aren't you eating a healthy diet? Hmmm.... what is at your 'core' - the place that you are basing your decisions off of.
I think these are great questions to ask yourself and ponder when you have time to reflect on your choices.
The core of wellness - for me - is my faith in God. Everything starts with God in my life and then I expand outward from His direction. There is a Bible Verse - Psalm 119:105 - that my friend in New York first shared with me years ago and that is "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path". I love this verse!!!!! It basically means that God is going to provide you with the very next step you need to take that is right in front of you but His light will not necessarily show the entire journey ahead. If you literally picture yourself holding a lamp on a really pitch black evening, you have just enough light so you don't stumble on the stair in front of you but not enough light to know if there is a turn ahead. So you focus on your very next step and that's all you have to do - that's it. And trust Him that He knows exactly where to lead you b/c His word will be the lamp for your next step after that and so on.
To me, this verse is the epitome of every single decision in our lives. It's an approach that works even in wellness.
To achieve wellness, you do not have to have it all figured out. Trust me! Just focus on today, the meal in front of you, the exercise that you will do 'today' and guard your thought life....again, just today. And you make good decisions tomorrow and so on. And next thing you know, you're feeling healthier - more vibrant - and you are gaining momentum in an area of wellness that really matters to you.
So, once you find your 'root' of what is fueling your decisions, you have a really solid understanding of 'self' and what is driving you. And the rest can be an act of self love and adventure. With my faith as my 'root', I am able to approach weight loss as a journey of self love. And it is one. I have lost 17 pounds thus far and for the very first time in my life, it's been relatively easy. And no one wants to hear that but it's been one step at a time but steps taken in love for myself. And food has been nourishment for further loving myself and my body. The activities that I partake in are ones that I (and my body) respond w/ joy to! And so on. Achieving wellness doesn't have to be unattainable. It's not to say it's without challenges but it's doable and then beyond joyful!
I think it's really critical to explore where wellness begins in your life. Because if it is rooted in anything but something loving, you won't achieve much of well, anything at all. Everything that we desire to flourish really needs to be rooted in love.
I absolutely love Vega & the entire Vega Team! I appreciate them not only for their high quality products but for their tenacity, generosity, authenticity and overall awesomeness. The company as a whole is providing consumers with the highest quality in all areas of products, supplements and content all the while creating a really gigantic community. And you just don't see this very often from corporations these days!
Right now, Vega Sport has rolled out the coolest program with the hashtag #FuelYourBetter. And it's just in time for summer! #FuelYourBetter is all about challenging yourself to be the best version of you!
As the program was explained to me, 'The Vega Sport site is loaded with free resources including 8-weeks of training guides, meal plans, recipes, playlists, and nutritional education for preparing for your first or 30th 10K race, Half or Full-Marathon'.
This is all FREE!!!!! FREE!!!! And the program is underway so, head on over!!!! Do you realize that people are paying large sums of money for this information and Vega Sport is just handing it to you - giving it away. Can we - in unison - say 'generous'?!
It's pretty amazing!!!!
How am I am going to Fuel MY Better??????
I am literally transforming my health & body by changing my entire lifestyle! Thus far, I have lost 17 pounds and my goal is to lose 42 total!
A couple of months ago, I changed my diet. I got real. And I got focused. I didn't want to be one of those people - one of those 'one day' people - who says they want to lose weight as I inhale donuts or pizza. And then beat myself up about it. I decided that I really wanted to lose weight but most importantly, love my body by nurturing it with amazing whole foods from the earth. I wanted my changes to reflect an overall lifestyle change that would lead me to healing in a number of ways. And I wanted to speak more kindly to myself. I wanted to truly forgive myself for my mistakes and realize that overall, I am doing a really amazing job at loving myself and others while admitting where I need to change. I genuinely want to grow as a human being even thought the growth process always has a phase of getting incredibly humble and dealing w/ internal & external discomfort. To me, this is 'fueling my better'.
And then Vega generously decided to roll out this cool program that will only aid in my transformation of my body & mind! Thank you so much Vega!
To jump in the fun, head here and start soaking in the education that you will need to #FuelYourBetter! And seriously check out the playlists - fab music that will fuel your soul while you kill it at the gym, on the bike or when hitting the pavement w/ your running shoes.
P.S. All of the free training and nutrition guides for running that are being delivered for 8 consecutive weeks are designed with the help of Lewis Morrison, Director of Sports Science at the Peak Centre for Human Performance - how amazing is that!
This program has begun so, go subscribe!
And use the hashtag #FuelYourBetter on social media to show the Vega Team and all of us how YOU are fueling your better!!!!
Also, this is an ideal opportunity to jump into community with health minded folks! You will meet all sorts of wonderful people that will having you feel 'a part of something bigger then yourself'. You don't have to do this alone when you have an entire team behind you!
Happy Friday....so grateful for the weekend (and this weather)! We all need to get outdoors - all - weekend-long! This will be a fairly short post because this weekend is going to be a blur for me - an insightful blur so, much to share next week.
Also, to let you know, next week we are jumping into back into health, food, sustainability, etc. And I promised I would share why I am really drawn to Austin, TX. I definitely have the travel bug now (something fierce) and I am already itching for another adventure.
So, this photo above. I emailed 10 of my close friends and asked them to tell me - in one sentence - what their immediate thought was when they saw this photo. I am going to share there answers below. And rather then me share commentary about it, I am just asking you to consider how powerful our thoughts are. And then to examine where these thoughts are coming from. I think there answers are kind of fascinating because they are so varied and it goes to show how our thoughts - in so many ways - shape our reality.
Here you go & these are quotes but all friends wished to be unnamed. I asked them to write me one sentence beginning w/ 'I see'....
I see materialism, someone who is into money and luxury.
I see my husband and I making smores by that fire.
I see Tuscany and a vacation home that we are dreaming of.
I see a huge space of nothing. I would never want a home that big, I wouldn't know how to decorate it.
I see a room in a home that is not my style - I do not like those square small windows.
I see a new family home that a couple is moving into with their family.
I see a life that needs color.
I see big opportunity.
I see my dream life.
I see nothing but I feel a word when I look at this space and it's alone.
What do you see? And more importantly, do you ever examine your thoughts? I think guarding our thoughts is so important.
Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.
And that's a wrap, enjoyyyy the weekend. And go have a healthy adventure. -
-more next week.
I have had a heart of mercy for farm animals, children and the elderly since I was a little girl.
My mom worked in a nursing home when I was a tiny. And when she couldn't find a babysitter, she would 'very often' take my two brothers and I to work w/ her. My brothers and I were allowed to roam free there so we would sit and play checkers with the women & men in the 'common' area as it was called. We would race into their rooms and want to be chased. So one of the elderly men would come after us with his cane. And we would laugh so hard. They loved seeing us and we developed a lot of close bonds.
I developed this call to mercy from the Lord long before I knew it was 'The Lord' who was calling me to it. Long before I could even understand or verbalize it - but I didn't have to know how to explain it. It's an inner passion - it's a blazing fire in me - to help those that don't have as strong of a voice or no voice at all. And The Lord 'created' me with this passion. He also created me for a passion to create a family that deeply loves one another and others. What fire did He create in you? Maybe it's a fire that you have 'put out' with loss of hope, lack of belief, etc. I would love to know what fire burns in you. What is that passion in you that you don't even have to 'cultivate' rather it just burns deep when you encounter it? If you don't know, just think about what get's your heart beating faster? What do you see or experience that makes you want to jump in and 'do something'?
Last year, I volunteered w/ for For One Chicago (amazing opportunity that thousands in my church body participate in once a year) and I was assigned to meet w/ the people at a particular nursing home in Chicago. And my only instruction was to help the elderly to laugh and smile. This was going to be easy, light and fun, I thought!
I arrived to a beautiful facility but the old folks there didn't seem particularly well cared for. I scanned the room as most of the elderly were in two BIG circles with their wheel chairs - chatting, laughing and ready for the day with all of us volunteers. And there was this woman....
There was an extremely old women sitting in a soiled wheel chair, hunched over to her side, head down with chin to chest, frail as can be, actual crusted food in her hair and she was blind. And the nursing home (which I will not name) clearly wasn't bathing her b/c her body odor was putrid. It made me gag. I was told not to bother her or go near her by the staff....that she was 'unresponsive' to others.
And well, this made me want to go help her even more. I felt this haze of negligence towards this woman. And then that burning fire I experience when I get passionate, started to churn. And once the fire starts, it's as if The Holy Spirit takes over and I go into action whether I want to or not. It's a cool feeling. And we all have it in us.
Everyone headed downstairs to play board games with the elderly folks, pushing them in their chairs and I stayed upstairs. Once everyone was gone and it was only her and I, I grabbed a wash cloth & I cleaned up her hair and face. It was clear that she couldn't lift her head but I lifted it for her and repositioned her posture with some of the couch pillows. I was nervous to do that b/c I didn't know what her situation was medically.
I put my forehead up against hers gently and placed my hands over hers. She moaned. I felt an ache in my heart. And my eyes welled up with tears. I cried because of the loss of life - of hope - I could feel from her and the longing for what felt like love even though she didn't speak to me the entire time. And I must have sang to her softly for 3 hours - no break. I sang anything I could think of....Oceans by Hillsong was one that I repeatedly sang, I hummed, I told her it was going to be okay and I told her that I loved her - and I meant it. She drooled, smiled, her face softened and by the end, many tears came down her face. I massaged her neck. And man, did I cry. It can make me cry right now. She never spoke one word to me.
When it was time for me to go, I went to take my hand off of hers and she very slowed grabbed my hand. She wanted me to stay with her. And my heart ached to leave. I left her there - kissed her forehead -sat on a curb in Lincoln Park and bawled my eyes out. It was a shoulder shaking ugly cry. It was a cry that you would have thought 'someone died in that girl's life'. It was a cry that drew unwanted attention. Several people asked me if I was OK and all I was able to do was shake my head yes.
I was furious. I was furious because she wasn't being loved and taken care of. I was furious inside because God calls us to take care of one another (James 1:27) and He teaches us that LOVE above everything else, is what matters most. 1 Corinthians 13:13 says:
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. And this isn't a mere suggestion from God. He didn't say 'Hey, whas up ya'll, yeah....when you are up for it and you feel like it suits your emotions landscape -show some love to one another'. No, He says (Note: I don't know why I added that southern accent and slang - lol), 'DO THIS'. We (me, all of us) - so often read His Word and then go live our lives, getting all drunk on grace. We are better than this.
I am not sharing this story to say 'Hey, look at me and what a good servant I am'. I am not. If you focus on that, you are 100% missing it - your missing my message of this blog. Please don't miss it. I am sharing this because I am praying we all LOVE one another as we are told to by Him and that we all RISE UP to injustice. I want us to be a community that DOES SOMETHING ABOUT IT - that participates - that is proactive - that simply loves. We are created to LOVE one another. And it's often the least thing we do - we hold back on - we don't know how to do. Yet, we do. We were born to love one another.
We have our priorities so messed up and our approach. I mean, my last two blog posts.....women, we are focused inward on how we look when our eyes and hearts need to be focused OUTWARD on how to pour love into those that are so desperate for it - crazily desperate for our help. We need one another so badly.
And here we sit - here WE SIT soiled in pride - jealously - worry - frustrated - ungratefulness - unforgiveness. All of us. ME TOO.
Let today be 'that' day. The day you show so much love. Show mercy. Show gratitude. Go home and makeout with your husband - thank him for all that he does for your family. Hug your kids tight. When you see someone not being treated right, step in - step up - step OUT.
And if you can't muster the courage of your own to do that? Borrow His. And if you don't know Him, ask me about Him....better yet, ask Him - just talk to Him. He is your friend. And He wants to show you a way of life that will transform your heart in a way that your jaw will hit the floor.
Instead of watching TV during the weeknights, go volunteer, be of service, help others. And this includes your own relationship and family. Be of service to one another. My Pastor said last weekend that society has it wrong, marriage isn't about compromise, it's about both people being of service to one another fully. I think this is true (and those weren't his exact words so I am paraphrasing).
We have so much goodness in us - so much deed seeded love. We aren't to cling on to it-hoard it up. We are to let it pour out of us into others and into our lives. We are missing it all if we don't start putting our love into action.
I love the simple sentence that isn't simple at all: Have mercy.
Luke 6:36 “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
I read this quote by 'unknown' and I absolutely loved it:
“You are so used to your features, you don’t know how beautiful you look to a stranger.”
I was thinking about how much time we spend as women wanting to be anything but who we are. How much time over the years that women- all women at some point in time - don't feel 'good enough', 'thin enough', pretty 'enough'.....it's a shame. And I spent my twenties in this place and what a complete waste of my time - really. Some women take this deep seeded unworthiness to their graves. And you don't have to. You can make a change today.
Think about the people in your life that are truly stunning. There was this girl that I worked w/ many years ago that was just breathtakingly beautiful. And it was her spirit - energy - heart - inner confidence that made her so. Men's heads turned and so did women's frankly. And I think meeting her was a moment in my life where there was a shift in my thinking about beauty, relationships w/ men & my relationship w/ myself - how I viewed myself. Along w/ being so inspired by her, my dad- growing up -cultivated a sense in me that I was beautiful because of what I was capable of. He taught me that being lost in the moment - having a ball (as he would say) is really what beautiful 'IS' vs. the self conscious girl who would never take chances. So, I risked a lot growing up via adventure, travel, etc. And I am so glad that I did! I have this adventurous streak in me that can get swept away in various cultures, travel and the beauty of the earth.
Anyway, I used to be in medical sales and back to this girl, Katie, that I mentioned. Our district went boating in Ann Arbor, MI. and I remember, while all of the women focused on their makeup, how their bathing suits fit, talked about their weight, wondered if their boyfriend was noticing the thinnest girl on the boat, singles flirted w/ other single district members, etc. She was this imperfect beaut who honestly could careless about her weight (in a way that would affect her self image I mean). She wasn't particularly thin, she didn't stand out in the way society is provoking women to stand out and yet, was so comfortable in her skin - engaging - and present that she drew so much attention. I remember thinking 'I am going to be even more free too'. And when I say 'be free', I mean be free to focus on life vs. how I looked. She made such an impression on me. And ironically, she ended up marrying a male model in New York (I think that's interesting). And that goes to show me that men don't really care about finding the 'perfect' size, they want that girl with the good heart and inner beauty. She relocated there and well, the rest is history. I think last I heard, they have 4 girls and from FB photos, seem quite happy.
Let's chat about men....
Men might care what you look like in the beginning of a relationship meaning your looks might be what attracts them (or even stay a bit longer then they should). They even might be drawn to the most outwardly gorgeous women in the room but, trust me (trust me please) that after awhile, they are more drawn to the inner workings of your heart - who you are - how you treat yourself - how you treat them. Some of the most outwardly (meaning body, face, etc.) gorgeous people are plain ugly inside. So, being jealous, wishing for 'that girl's body' or 'that size' or 'that other face', embrace yourself. And honey, if you are holding hands w/ a man who is lusting after someone else - who has a 'wandering eye' - etc., this is not the man that The Lord has in store for you. Slip on your confidence and make yourself available for someone who will appreciate you.
It all starts with self love. It really truly does. You cannot achieve any aspect of wellness - TRUE wellness - if you don't adore yourself. You can't.
For me, it wasn't until I was in my late thirties that I gave my life to Christ. And when I did, I realized that my hope is in Him. And I think my love of my body and who I am (in Him) just flourished. And my whole outlook on dating, relationships and marriage changed. And I was free from jealousy or the thief of comparison. It's an area that I personally flourish now but, mind you it took numerous years. And I think I was freed of that concern about age - I honestly just feel grateful to be alive.
I just think that we waste so much precious time on trying to change ourselves. When you really truly love yourself and put Him first? And realize He made you to look the way that you do - He crafted you and I mean, He knows every single strand of hair on your head. You can thrive and see life differently - it's a lifting of an unhealthy veil. And it's amazing!
So much of your energy and focus is freed up when you love yourself and your confidence is healthy. Your focus turns to what is best for you - who is best for you - travel - laughing - serving others with your entire heart. And you feel this joy! You can finally be present to look out in the world with so much inner love.
Why not just try it.
I know many of you have heard about 'the capsule wardrobe' and if you haven't, please ready here. 37 pieces of clothing for three months made women across the country want to jump in on the minimalism trend. And I love this!
I am very much into minimalism as most (all) of you know too well. I have written about it in prior articles & on the blog but, this concept of the 'capsule wardrobe' has inspired me to revisit this topic.
My whole beauty approach from head to toe is about minimalism. I absolutely LOVE minimalism in skincare, beauty/hair care, clothing, LIFE. I think minimalism enhances beauty and allows me (all women) to be 'seen' vs. people noticing an outfit, hair style, etc. It's just very freeing to be as natural as I can be.
So many of you want me to share more about my skincare, style, beauty, etc. routines and you can head over to the Apothecary if you want to know specifics on actual products that I use.
I feel whenever I share the truth about my actual approach via head to toe style, people are disappointed and often go as far as to say 'No, that isn't true. What do you really do'? haha. I think less is more is something that has transformed my inner confidence about beauty. It really has.
Here is my routine:
I wear no hair products (maybe once a month at most, I wear a little hairspray). I only wash my hair about every 5 days and I use whatever the cheapest organic and natural shampoo/conditioner that I can find at Whole Foods. I do not stick to one brand, I rotate. I dry my hair about twice a month with a blow dryer otherwise, I let it air dry, throw it in to a ponytail most of the week and then each weekend, I do my hair on Fridays (aka brushing & styling). My hair is healthy because I just let it naturally 'be'.
As for skincare, I only use quality oils on my skin. I do not use lotions - none. I don't use a toner. I don't use eye creams. And I don't use anti-aging products b/c I am aging and the fact that I am alive is something to celebrate 'naturally'. I do use an Apricot scrub from Walgreens to exfoliate once in a while and I buy the trial size which will last me a month (it's like 2.99). Otherwise, I use my favorite high quality oils which I listed in the Apothecary as well. My skin is supple & it glows. I think the oils penetrate and hydrate my skin on a level that lotions never could.
Makeup.....during the week (Mon.-Fri.), I use mascara, a lose mineral based powder and lipstick. And that's about it. Sometimes I will throw on eyeliner during the week but I mostly only wear more makeup on the weekends. My makeup routine takes about 5-8 minutes. It's simple. I use whatever brand that suits me via color palette from Whole Foods.
I don't wear perfume. I use a combination of whatever oils I have on hand at home with an added dash of pure maple sugar & cinnamon (or vanilla) from my pantry! Yes, it's true! I just sprinkle them in, mix with my finger and slather on (0:
Hmmm....clothing. If you have seen me out and about in Chicago, I am typically in muted solids (navy, white, black, heather grey hues). I love wearing red to weddings though (It just usually works out that way by some odd chance). And a lace dress always finds it's way onto my body for a formal event. I love fully lace dresses and plain silk dresses in a moss color (fabulous)! I feel like I have a style that is all my own (I am not into trends at all) but, those that really know my heart well, know that I am much more into experiences/adventures then concerning myself about what I will wear. I love having a minimal wardrobe - love it. I have about 24 items of clothing that I wear Spring through Summer and then a few added pieces for Winter. So I have less clothing then the capsule wardrobe which suits my personality. In the summer, I wear TOMS until they fall a part, flip flops and ballet flats of various styles. And I am into the ankle boot for all seasons, especially in summer w/ shorts.
The white dress above is a personal favorite.
I don't really wear much jewelry other then some choice earrings that my dad has bought me through the years - they are my staples. I will wear two bracelets I've had for years and occasionally a ring that my friend bought me. I will be one of those women when I get married who will not be concerned with the 'size' of a ring or style - just focused on the love!
And that's my whole routine. Yes, really (smile). I appreciate natural beauty. And I think the most beautiful women are the ones that have just this natural vibe. I don't strive to be the prettiest girl in the room. And I don't care to be the most stylish. I want to be the girl that is noticed for her heart - kindness - zest for life - smile - rather than the latest handbag I am carrying.
Happy Friday everyone! Gosh, I have SO much content for both the site & MindBodyGreen.com that I am working on this weekend. Get ready to learn so much about health!
This past weekend, I attended a health & wellness conference w/ my boyfriend in Austin, TX. We had a truly spectacular experience & I fell in love with Austin, TX. in the process. I will share another blog about my new rising love affair w/ Austin, TX. .
Today, I wanted to introduce all of you to Dave & Luise over at Green Kitchen Stories. There are so many blogs that we can all be following (over-saturated blog world) and Green Kitchen Stories is one of my absolute FAVORITE health & recipe blogs out there! I think you will fall in love with this family as I have!
When choosing my favorite weekly blogs, I am drawn to the authentic people behind the recipes - photography via the site - creative sustainability - colorful recipes. Green Kitchen Stories has all of the above! Plus, I think one of their books 'Green Kitchen Travel's' is a great table top book for a kitchen nook & conversation starter about health with friends/family/guests into the home. This couple also inspires some of my own desires/dreams of a family of my own. I want to raise children that are health conscious & environmentally mindful as well. And I want to be part of a family crew that travels to various countries to embrace real cultural stories, gardens together and dives deep into wellness as a family unit!
Let me know your thoughts!
Created and curated by Kelly, Snapshots of Wellness encourages all of you to cultivate your 'joie de vivre': Compassion for Animals via food, style & lifestyle.