Monday, December 21, 2015

The Masterpiece {A creative use for old puzzles}

Every Christmas when I was growing up my super crafty mom would make us a gift.  We still got other gifts but this one was always so special to me because I never knew what it would be. I can remember almost every gift mom ever made me over the years. I can't, however, tell you many of the toys I received.  After seeing the impact this left on me I wanted to pass this tradition on to our kids.  The only problem is that I am not crafty.  I can be if you give me step by step instructions but even then I tend to have more pinterest fails then wins.  

As this Christmas season rolled around I decided I just wasn't going to make the kids anything.  It was too much time and effort.  But as I've watched my daughter, Ellie, work so hard over the last few weeks sewing and knitting gifts for people I knew I needed to make something.  It is her love language. So I started praying about what to make because God knows I need help in this area. :)

Earlier this week we discovered a local store called Scrap that has a ton of used craft supplies for really cheap.  I saw a tub of mismatched puzzle pieces for .25 cents a bag.  However, I remembered we have a TON of old puzzles the kids never use. When we got home I pulled out a few princess puzzles and got to looking on Pinterest for ideas on repurposing these puzzles.  I saw things like spray painting them and gluing them to a letter shape, or making a heart out of them on a canvas or gluing them around a picture frame.  While these things were cool they just weren't clicking with what I was looking for.  This might sound silly but I truly believe God dropped this idea on my heart of painting a piece for each of our family members that would connect together.  One thing lead to the next and before I know it I had created this masterpiece that I will cherish forever(and I hope my kids do too).

Here's what you need:

  • an old puzzle(just put it together first to make sure you paint the pieces that fit together)
  • paint & brushes(I just used what I had on hand but the color schemes, drawings & words are endless)
  • a word or image you want to be the central theme of your masterpiece

How to make it:

  • After you've determined the pieces you will use simply paint both sides a solid color. I did a brush but you could spray paint(I just didn't have any on hand)
  • Once that is dry paint whatever your design is on one side. 
  • On the other side write the names or initial of the people whose piece is part of the puzzle
  • Hole punch the top of those pieces and string them on a necklace(I used colored rope but any string would work)

I used 9 pieces because we have 5 people in our family(plus 1 baby who is in heaven). And I felt the Lord tell me to put God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the center.  The kids will each get a necklace with a puzzle piece(as shown in top 2 photos below). 

Here are the 2 key points the Holy Spirit lead me to discuss with my kids about this creation:

1. Our family is held together by God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Without the trinity working in our lives we will fall apart.  

2. We each look different and have different qualities and talents.  Yet the puzzle is not complete when one piece is missing.  We must all embrace who we are and know we are valued and loved.  

This project is super simple, cheap and fun.  I hope you try it out for your family!  I have a feeling my kids will want to do one of their own. :)  

Merry Christmas!  

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Big Changes Coming...

Hi friends!  Wow, I have really missed blogging regularly and sharing my heart with you.  But as you know, God has taken me on quite a journey recently and I've been busy with new projects. In case you don't already know this about me, I've been teaching group fitness classes for almost 10 years and I have my Bachelors of Science in Health & Exercise Science.  Over the last 10 years God has brought me on quite a journey in my own health. I've had eating disorders, been overweight, underweight and just flat out hated myself(at times).  But God has set me free from all of that and I have a heart to see other women set free as well.  

With that said, God spoke very clearly to me about a fitness ministry I am to start called "First Fruit Fitness".  The story behind how God gave me the name and what it means will have to be its own blog post. But for now I want to share with you the direction God is taking me with this dream He has birthed in me.  Because it's a new name I feel I need a new site but am not quite ready to move on from Life Outside the Shell since my heart is still to see women set free and walk in all God has called them to be in every area of their life.  While this is not final, more than likely I will transition this to a new site under my name and there will be a tab for Life Outside the Shell posts and First Fruit Fitness posts.  

Now on to the exciting part.  Here is what I envision First Fruit Fitness will offer:

  • An At Home Workout membership library.  Each month you will receive new workouts(lead by me) and a new workout calendar written by me. 
  • Healthy Recipes & Nutrition tips
  • One on one coaching and/or accountability calls with me(this would be a separate fee depending on how often you want to do the calls).
  • Devotionals & Power Verses
  • Fitness games to play with your kids
  • and so much more...
I am not tech savvy at all.  Thus I must pay someone to help transition this site into something a little more functional and user friendly for all the things I feel God calling me to.  Will you please join me in prayer as I seek God about all of this?

I have to be honest, it would be so much easier to stay hidden in my shell(or should I say, tucked under my covers in bed) but I know God wants to use my personal testimony along with my experience and book knowledge of the body to help set people free.  Below is a short video on a few things I will be doing to raise funds to get these things up off the ground.  I would love your feedback on any and all of this so please don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have comments or questions!  

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

How to Walk in Your Season

New seasons in life come with many different emotions.  If you like the current season you are in you might feel sad or fearful to move to a different season. On the contrary, you might be delighted to move into a new season if you have been walking through a difficult time. 

My husband and I have gone through many different seasons in our 10 years of marriage. We went from being newly weds in college, to having babies and toddlers in the house, on to being business owners and now homeschooling our elementary age kids. With each new season comes new challenges as well as new and unexpected blessings.  Some seasons, like the baby phase, I was happy to move out of.  No more diapers or middle of the night feedings.  But while I'm not changing diapers I am figuring out how to homeschool my kids while still pursing other dreams God has planted in my heart. 

Here are a few lessons I have learned from each season of life I am in:

Embrace your season.

I remember when my kids were babies I would have older moms tell me to embrace the season.  It was so hard for me to receive that at the time because I was overwhelmed, tired and missed alone time with my husband.  But now that I am out of that season I see the many moments I took for granted. Never again will I nurse my children or be able to soothe them by rocking them to sleep.  But I do see how the seeds of love and nurture I planted in them in that season of their life are now blooming.  Because I took the time to nurture and grow them while they were young they are well adjusted children who are pursing their God given dreams and talents.  

Simply put, don't start decorating for Valentine's Day when we haven't yet celebrated Christmas. :) 

Practice patience & have faith.

I love reading about farmers and how they plant a crop then patiently wait for it to produce fruit. It takes a lot of faith for them to plant a tiny seed and believe it is going to grow into something so much bigger that can be used for many things. But I am certain with every year they do it the more patience and faith they have because they have seen it done before. This is why it is so immportan to read God's word and fill our minds with faith. As we read the stories in the Bible we fill ourselves with the truth that God is the same yesterday, today and forever and will continue to provide for His children.

I am currently in a season where I am doing a lot of planting and watering.  It is in these seasons that we must be patient and have faith that God will bring a harvest at the proper time if we don't give up(Galations 6:9).

Share the good news of your harvest.

When the season comes for you to harvest all the crops the Lord has given you, share it with others!  I love that God made plants and fruits to contain seeds that when planted produce more plants and fruits!  If you get fruit in your own life share it with others so it can build their faith and produce a harvest in their life as well.  

I recently received a book from Tommy Nelson Publishers to review called Parable Treasury. I was so excited to read it to my kids because it is exactly what the Lord has been speaking to me about seasons in our lives. I've already had to walk my kids through different seasons in life and this book gave simple yet biblical perspectives on new seasons in our lives. It reminds us that no matter what season we are in God is using it for a greater purpose.  We may not always see the why but God is always working overtime on every detail of our life. 

The book contains 4 different parable stories for each of the 4 seasons of the year. One of my favorite parts were the scriptures that were on the bottom of each page. My 6 & 9 year old girls love this book!  

Would you like to win a FREE copy of this book?  Simply comment below with your answer to this question to be entered:  What season is your favorite and why? 

(Please note: I am a member of the Tommy Nelson Mommies for Thomas Nelson, Inc. As a member of this group, I receive products for my use and to review at no charge to me. I receive no monetary compensation for my participation. All opinions are my own.)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Finding Peace in Your Relationship with Food

When most people write about stress during the holidays they address the hustle and bustle of different parties and the weight of feeling the need to do everything.  But God put it on my heart to address another aspect of Thanksgiving and Christmas that brings stress and anxiety to many people. This article is going to address the anxiety that food brings to the table(no pun intended).  

When I opened my email today I received one entitled "How to survive Thanksgiving".  At first it sounded interesting so I clicked it to read their tips and as soon as I started reading I heard the Lord tell me to stop.  So I closed out the browser and He began to speak to me about my own anxiety when it comes to parties and food. He showed me How deeply saddened He is that a time that was meant to be full of thanks has turned into a time of anxiety about what to eat and how to burn the extra holiday calories off.

As He was speaking to me about this someone sent me a video on a new eating disorder called "EDNOS" or "Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified".  As I watched this video my heart broke, especially when the girl referred to her disorder as "Ed".  The number of Americans, especially women, who have eating disorders is growing by the minute.  Everywhere we turn we are told we need to look a certain way in order to be valued and loved. If we weren't born naturally thin we will go to great lengths to ensure we fit the norm.  

When I was a teen girl(and even throughout my early twenties) I would go in cycles where I would binge or starve myself.  I remember in the times I was starving myself I would have nightmares that I was eating junk like pizza or donuts.  I would wake up terrified and disgusted with myself.  Because of this I know all too well how much of a death grip food can have on your life. If you are addicted to food, or the lack there of, you will rearrange your entire day around it.  If you are addicted to eating it you are concerned about what the next meal will be even while you are eating the first. If you are addicted to withholding food from your body then you will decline certain party invitations if you know it will be too tempting to eat food.  You will retreat and isolate yourself to a place where you feel in control.  To put it simply, satan has you on a chain and the idol(food) is leading the way.  It tells you when to go and when to stay.  God has no voice in your life when you are in bondage to food.  

For those struggling with something like this, Thanksgiving and Christmas, times that are meant to bring joy and peace, can bring nothing but anxiety and wishing you could just play sick for all the family gatherings.  I can tell you that God has set me free from this cycle of bondage but it is something that I must keep submitted to Him or it will rear its ugly head.  

Here are two key truths in finding peace with food and your body:

1. Food is Fuel.

Food was created by God to fuel our body. However, from the beginning of time satan has used food, a beautiful thing God created, to get between us and God. Food was never intended to be our enemy or an idol in our life. 

There is nothing more true than the statement "Eat to live, don't live to eat".  I remember when binging on junk food was a bondage of mine I  meditated on this truth often.  God's word says in 1 Corinithians 10:21 "So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

Pray before you go to the Thanksgiving feasts or Christmas parties.  And pray often.  Even as you are loading your plate, ask God to give you wisdom and self-control.  Ask Him to show you how to enjoy the food but not over indulge. Reevaluate often and ask if your behaviors are bringing glory to God.  Ask questions like: am I at war with food?  Am I using it to fuel my body or to fill a desire only God can fill?

2. You are not your own. 

 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says  "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? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body."

If you are a born again believer your body is a temple of the most High God.  He dwells in you and you in Him.  There is not one moment of any of our days on this earth that this is not true. There are no exceptions or special holidays when our bodies are no longer temples. So when we enter into holiday parties we must keep this perspective. Does God want us to enjoy a yummy meal with our family and friends?  Absolutely.  But does He want us to go to an extreme and either starve ourselves out of fear of gaining weight OR go the other way and binge until we feel we are going to throw up?  Not at all.  Do everything in moderation and with a sound mind and God will bless your temple.  

If this article spoke to you today I encourage you to take a few moments and talk to God about it.  Ask the Holy Spirit what He is asking you to give up this holiday season or enjoy with no guilt.  He cares about every single detail of your life and food is no exception. In fact, food was His idea.

I pray you all have a Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas! :) 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Our Spartan Beast Story

Hi friends!  I am SO excited to have some time to start blogging again!  I am officially done with my Revelation Wellness® instructor training(blog post to come on that soon)!  I have so much to share with you about what God is doing in my life in regards to fitness. There will be many new and exciting resources that will be coming your way in stay tuned!  But before I do that I have to recap our Spartan Beast!

If you have followed me for long you know that last year I signed me and my husband up for the Spartan Sprint. We loved it so much that my husband talked me in to doing a Spartan Beast.  What is the difference?  Oh you know, just an extra 10 miles and lots of extra obstacles and burpees.  So, being the brave little wife that I am, said yes.  There is absolutely no way to fit all the information from our training, to race day to during the race into a blog post without it turning into a book so I will do my best to highlight the key points.

What I did for my Spartan Beast Training:

One of the main things I knew I needed to work on for my training was long distance running.  I have always been one to run 3 miles or less because I considered myself "not a runner".  But what I learned from this experience is that you really can train your body to do anything. Did I start out running 12 miles?  No.  In fact, I remember the day I ran 7 miles I thought it was a huge deal. Then I ran 8. Then 9. Then 10.  Now any run less than 5 miles feels like a short run.  I used a basic half marathon training program I found on Hal Higdon

I have always loved to do strength work so I didn't have to add too much of that to my training.  For my strength I did Les Mills GRIT® workouts and used my TRX Suspension Trainer.  Oh and we can't forget the burpees.  For every obstacle you fail on a Spartan race you have to do 30 burpees before you can move on so I did a lot of of them in my training. :) 

Race day prep:

The next question I get a lot of:  what do I wear for a Spartan race?  I have not always been one to wear form fitting clothes when I workout but you want them fitted and dri-fit material.  Most Spartans are wet and muddy and there is nothing worse then getting drenched in mile one and then running in wet, heavy cotton.  We wear everything dri-fit right down to our undies and socks. :)

This Spartan race attire was extra special for me.  My dear friend, mentor and Pastor Jan Greenwood recently discovered her cancer had returned and the Lord immediately gave her the words "Square Up".  I won't do the meaning of those words justice so head over to Jan's blog to read it for yourself: Square Up

About a week before our race I felt the Lord tell me to have a shirt made with these words "Square Up" on it. At first I felt a little silly since it wasn't my word but I've learned to be obedient even when I don't understand why He is asking me to do something.  Those two simple words carried me through my race.  How?  Because every time I wanted to quit I remembered my shirt and the Lord told me to take the focus off myself and on to praying for Jan. It's amazing the power that is released in our lives when we stop focusing on what we are currently walking through and start looking up to God and out to those around us. It was a really sweet time with God.  Thank you Jan for letting me borrow your word from God. :)   

Here is what I wore(my husband chuckled when he saw how cute and shiny it all was since it got demolished in obstacle one:)):

A few notes about my gear: I chose the fanny pack hydration pack because I don't like things on my shoulders like the camelbacks. This was my first time using gloves and there were a few obstacles they were nice to have. Because it was a long race the Surge packs were a lifesaver. And my cute capris are from Fabletics.
Race Day:

For me, driving to the race feels much like a roller coaster. You've already been strapped in and as you creep up that first hill you desperately want off but too late...the only way off is to ride it.  Then after it's over you're like "that was awesome, let's do it again!".  

Here we are on the drive over when I'm starting to freak out a bit. Luckily, Mr. Wonderful here has command in his top 5 strengths so there was no talking him out of it. :)

The part of the race we weren't planning on was the 2.5 mile hike IN to the starting line. Because it had rained the day before there was a lot of flooding so we had to park really far out. I had to quote a lot of scripture and pray to keep my mind right on that part of the journey.  

Here are a few pictures from our hike in: 



We FINALLY made it in to our race!  It's really hard to write details about the race itself because, to be honest, most of it is a blur. There is so much adrenaline pumping and camaraderie that for most of the race you don't realize that you have mud in places not appropriate to blog about and muscles are hurting that you didn't know existed.  But this race was very different because it was MUDDY.  Most of them are muddy in certain areas but because of the rain every single step was nothing but mud.  The hardest part was picking your foot up off the ground to try to run and jump.  It slowed us down big time.  

Some of the obstacles this race had were walls to jump over(which for me looks like me jumping up on my husbands knee so he can hurl me over), monkey bars on steroids, lots of hills, fill a bucket with rocks and carry it up and down a hill, sandbag carry up and down a hill, barbwire crawls, spear throw, american ninja contraption, rope climb, sled pulls, slanted & weight wall climbs, dunk wall, atlas ball carry & drop with burpees, pole balance walks and of course the fire jump. This is just to name a few.  Since you do 30 burpees for every obstacle you fail I did 90 burpees.  

One of my favorite parts about the Spartan races are the pictures they capture.  I love getting to reflect on it after when the blood has returned to my brain. These are keepsakes for sure.  

This next set of pictures is from the dunk wall.  All you do is swim out and under that wall but when the water is freezing it's not very fun. The first picture is our victory hands then I realize I can't touch and yell for Matt to save me. Yes I can swim but it's hard to with mud in your shoes!  

 The last obstacle and my absolute favorite picture of Matt & I is the fire jump:

For some reason I put my arms in the air every time at the fire jump. :)  And our last picture...the victory pose!

To wrap it all up, I asked some people to submit questions for us to answer.  Here are the 4 I picked to answer:

1. What was the hardest obstacle?

Rach: The hardest obstacle for me was definitely the atlas ball carry.  I believe the women's ball was 50 pounds but it felt like 100 because it was STUCK in the mud. When I did finally get it picked up I had to carry it down to the other end, drop it to do 5 burpees then carry it back. On the way back I fell backwards and it landed on my ankle.  I honestly thought for a moment I had broken my ankle but it turned out to be a bruise.  

Matt: Not being able to eat for 4 hours. After that would be the gravel filled bucket carry up the hill. 

2. What was the first and last obstacle?

The first obstacle was a jump over a hay bale.  The last obstacle was the famous fire jump. :)

3. What was your motivation for doing the race? 

Rach: I love a new challenge.  And the fact that my husband wanted me to do it with him made it like an adventure we were on together. It brought us really close.  

Matt: Adventure. 

4. Was there any point during the training or race that you wanted to quit?  

Rach: There was only once that I got worried I would have to quit training when I injured my foot on my first 11 mile run.  I had to stop running for a few weeks which set me back but as soon as it was better I got back to it.  I never wanted to quit during the race. Even with every muscle hurting in my body it felt so good to accomplish something like this with my husband. 

Matt: No. How are you going to quit during the race? I mean, you are out in the middle of nowhere. That's why I like it. I liked getting out of the clinic and having a mission to accomplish.  

Are you thinking of doing a Spartan?  If so, JUST DO IT!!! :) 

Friday, October 30, 2015

NKJV Study Bible For Kids {Book Review & Giveaway}

I have a confession.  I have grown up in church and owned a Bible the majority of my life but it wasn't until the last few years that I have actually started reading it.  It's not that I haven't believed what everyone says about it being God's love letter to us but more that I just couldn't understand what I was reading when I opened it.  But over the last few years the Lord has brought me resources to use in reading His word. Now when I read the Bible it feels more like an exciting time to dig into a great book rather than something I know I'm supposed to check off my list.

Because of my own struggles in reading the Bible as a child I have a passion to see my kids and the generations to come be excited to read God's word.  If you have spent time in the word you know how life changing it is.  Reading it is not just a good thing to do but life to our body and spirit.

(please note: clicking the image contains an affiliate link where you can purchase the book)
With that said, I was SO excited to read and review the new NKJV Study Bible for Kids by Tommy Nelson.  Truth be told, this book is so good that my kids are going to have to share it with me! :)

We headed to Starbucks one day last week to do a little school work and brought the NKJV Study Bible for Kids with us for our Bible time.  The girls absolutely loved it so I thought I would share with you some of their favorite parts of the book.

Livvy chose to look up the book of Esther and Ellie the book of Matthew. 

One of our favorite parts of this book is the description it gives of each book of the Bible. As you can see it explains what the book is about, who wrote it, when it was written, why it was written and how it can be applied to our life. 

These spotlight sections are placed throughout the Bible which are great for a quick read or devotional. It breaks it down in a way kids can understand. 

Since this is our first year to homeschool I absolutely love this timeline section in each book. It's a great way to give the kids, and myself, a visual of when and where the story took place. 

My girls love these starring roles sections because they describe personalities of major people of the Bible. 

Epic ideas are placed throughout for the kids to read and learn more practical things about the christian life. The dictionary is awesome for those hard to read words that most kids, and adults, don't know the meaning.

Would you like to win a FREE copy of this NKJV Study Bible for Kids from Tommy Nelson?  Simply leave a comment below and answer this question:  What are your favorite Bible study tools?  

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Shame Game

A young 16 year old girl was sitting in a sea of people yet felt so very alone. She vowed that one day she would leave that town, burn bridges and start a new life. That girl did just that and yet she found herself in college, sitting in a sea full of people, feeling so very alone. "I know what I will do" she thought to herself. "I will stare at the ground and not say a word. Then no one will notice me and I will never have the opportunity to mess up. No one will know me or my name and I won't have to feel any more pain". But as the days, and years, went on she realized that pain deep down never went away. No matter how much she put up walls between herself and friends, family and even her husband, that pain was still there.  "What is this pain?!" she cried out to God.  "What is wrong with me? Why, no matter how much I hide, does this pain remain?  I thought if no one knew me, the real me, I wouldn't have to experience pain. No more pain of rejection and no more pain of disappointment. If only I could remain invisible then all this pain will go away.  Yet it remains.  In fact, the more I run the stronger the pain grows. Please help me God,  I can't go on this way".  

Can you relate to this girl?  I sure can....because it was me. If you have breath in your body you have probably dealt with shame in some area of your life. Shame crept its way into my life as an overweight child. I would hide behind over sized t-shirts and athletic shorts in hopes that no one would notice me. That shame stuck with me and as a teenager I made many poor choices which resulted in a great deal of shame surrounding me. I thought if I could run fast and far away from that shame that it would disappear. I thought if I became a nobody and no one knew my name that those painful experiences would cease to exist. But the truth is the further I ran the more intense the pain and shame became.  

The problem with shame is that it causes us to dwell in darkness.  Everything we do is hidden or secret for fear of people around us knowing the truth. Shame has been around since the beginning of time when Adam & Eve hid from God out of shame. Satan tells us to run and hide but God tells us to bring it into the light. 

The Lord has brought a great deal of freedom and healing in my life but this last weekend I attended a conference and the Lord revealed to me a root of shame that I was still carrying from that 16 year old girl I just described. The Lord showed me that root of shame had not been dealt with and was causing me to receive shame in other areas of my life without noticing it.  

Some daily things I would experience shame on included feeling shame about eating a cookie, or not exercising, or thinking I was failing as a mom, not feeling worthy enough to be a church leader, feeling stupid for writing this blog, not feeling worthy of God's love. As God uprooted that root from almost 16 years ago I felt shame in all these other areas fall off.  I feel like I just delivered a baby, the intense pressures to be perfect are gone and I lost weight over night.  

Shame will literally suffocate and paralyze us, keeping us from walking into the destiny God has on our lives.  Do you have a root of shame in your life?  Here are some spiritual truths for you today:

Shame says: I must keep things hidden, it is safer and easier that way.
God says: I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but have the light of life. (John 8:12)

Shame says:  I am not enough. I will never measure up.
God says: I am complete in Him Who is the Head of all principality and power.(Colossians 2:10)

Shame says: I have done too much. God will never be able to use this hot mess.
God says: I love to make a message out of your mess.
                   I am holy and without blame before Him in love. 
                   (Ephesians 1:4, 1 Peter 1:16)

Shame says: I will never be able to overcome this addiction. I am a loser. 
God says: I have the Greater One living in me; greater is He Who is in me than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

Shame says: I am too fearful and timid to be used by God.
God says: I don't give a spirit of fear or timidity but power, love and a sound mind. 
(2 Timothy 1:7)

Shame says: I am too dumb to do anything great. No one will ever take me seriously.
God says: I have received the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, the eyes of my understanding being enlightened. (Ephesians 1:17-18)

Shame says: I am not special. There is nothing unique or lovable about me.
God says: I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ unto good works. (Ephesians 2:10)

Shame says: I am not chosen or valued.
God says:  I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people. (1 Peter 2:9)

Shame says: I am not forgiven. Therefore, I must put my sins on replay and beat myself up over them.
God says: I am forgiven of all my sins and washed in the Blood. (Ephesians 1:7)

This list could go on and on. I can promise you for every thought of shame or insignificance you've had there is a promise for you in God's word to counter it. It says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that we must take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. We do this by speaking God's word to that thought. Stop playing the shame game with the enemy and start receiving God's grace and love today. 

I pray that as you are reading this, any spirit of shame will fall off you in the name of Jesus. Bring the darkness into the light and allow God to wash you with the blood of the lamb. The only place you can run from shame to receive healing is into the arms of Christ. Let Him heal you today.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Dream I Will Never Forget

As we were riding along to church this morning my 6 year old daughter asked if she could tell us her scary dream she had last night.  "Sure" I said, while continuing to put on make-up and half listen as I waited for another story that was so far fetched we could easily tell her that would never happen and not to worry about it.  But as she started talking she caught my full attention.  Read on for her dictation of the dream:

"I had a dream that there was a small fire under my bed. It didn't spread it just burned in one spot. We were all playing in the play room and noticed smoke so we ran to my room to find the fire. When we were all in the room a snake that was dark red with black spots on its back came into the room.  But it was weird, it started talking to us like it was a human. It said "God doesn't love you" then disappeared. None of us said anything but just had wide eyes. We left the house and when we opened the garage another snake appeared but this time it turned from a lizard into a snake. We ran back inside and found that red snake back in our house, it had come in through the front door. Ellie said to me "Livvy you know how to get rid of the snake, you have to pick it up and throw it outside!" So I walked over to the snake and touched it. It hissed at me then went out the front door and didn't come back."
As you can imagine this left me almost speechless.  Call me crazy but this was not just another scary dream. This was one of the best visual illustrations of how satan sneaks into our lives and tries to whisper lies. Just like he took the form of a snake to get Eve to believe a lie he tries to disguise himself to get us to believe lies. He whispers things like:  God doesn't love you, no one loves you, you aren't good enough, you aren't thin enough, you aren't smart enough, you will never be enough. We have all experienced his lies at some point in our life and unfortunately we don't often recognize them as lies.

We spent time talking with Livvy about the meaning of her dream but at the end told her to ask God to teach her something through it. When I picked her up from her class at church she ran out the door to me and said:
 "Mom, God spoke to me about my dream!  Our lesson in church today was about not being afraid. I felt God say that was for me about my dream. I don't need to be afraid because He is with me. Just like when I touched that snake and he left. He hissed before he left because he was mad he had to go. But mom, God showed me I have Jesus inside me and because of that satan had to leave! Mom, I'm just so excited that God actually spoke to me in real life!".
Now do you see why this is a dream I will never forget?  Not only did I leave with a visual of how very real satan tries to manipulate us and get us to believe his stupid lies but God used this nightmare of my daughters to teach her that He still speaks today.

As I tucked Livvy to bed tonight she said "Mom, I just know that I am going to dream of rainbows and princesses tonight because last night was a learning dream and I don't have to be afraid anymore."

Wow, just wow.  You are so cool God.

Do you have an area in your life you may have believed a lie?  Ask God to show you. He longs to bring freedom to every area of our life.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Win or Lose I Love You! {Book Review & Giveaway}

Recently our girls, Ellie & Livvy, have started playing soccer.  Ellie loves to get out and try new things and usually has a good attitude whether she wins or loses.  Livvy, on the other hand, has been hesitant to try sports.  When I asked her why she told me "because I'm so afraid of losing!"

I don't know about you but I can relate to Livvy much more than I can Ellie.  I remember as a young child never wanting to try things for fear of failure.  I remember being terrified of coming in last place(because I often did) or worse yet falling on my face in front of everyone.  The mere thought of it was paralyzing.

But, as evidenced by this blog, I have overcome that mindset.  I have learned that I would much rather fall flat on my face in front of everyone then to continue to hide and never try things.  There comes a point in all of our lives that we must decide if we would rather take a chance and possibly fail or sit back and watch life pass us by always wondering what could have been.  I tell my kids the pain of failure is so much less than the pain of never trying.

While I would like to give say my new found courage is me mustering all my strength to be brave that is simply not the truth.  The truth is the closer I get to God and realize how deep His love is for me, I am less afraid of what people think of me because my hope and my security is in him.  

I was excited when I was asked to review Lysa Terkeurst new book "Win or Lose I Love You!" because it addresses the heart of the issue of our attitude in winning or losing in life and finding our hope and joy in Christ.  The book uses adorable forest animals and kids, Max and Lulu, who are playing different field day games.  The characters are cute, relatable and engaging for kids of all ages. I have to admit even I could relate to the different characters.  Some of them were great sports and others not so much.  Lysa did a great job of making the forest animals come to life and teaching kids the importance of being a good winner and a good loser.

My kids have asked me to read the book to them multiple times and every time we read it something new comes to life.  I asked them each what they liked about the book and here are their responses:

Ellie(age 8): I liked that the book was fun to read and it taught me how to not be a poor winner or a poor loser.  
Livvy(age 6): I learned that if you win or lose people will still love you.  
Zeke(age 4): I liked the animals, they were funny. I learned you will love me no matter what.  

My favorite part of the book was the very last page that had 10 biblical words of wisdom(scriptures) whether you win or lose.  I had each of my kids choose the one that spoke to them most to memorize.  The girls told me these will help them next time they have a soccer game. :)

Whether your kids play sports or not, every family needs this book.  From soccer games, to board games to getting up and speaking in front of their class, my kids will never forget the life lessons learned in this book.  You can purchase your copy by clicking the image below:

Would you like to WIN a FREE copy of this book?!  Simply comment below and tell us who you would love to give this book to OR ask your kids how they know they're loved by you and share their response with us for a chance to win!

Friday, September 18, 2015

A Star for my Dad

For those of you who know my dad, you know what a strong man of God he is.  It's hard to imagine a time when he didn't know the Lord because God's love just pours out of him.  He has countless people tell him his sparkly blue eyes make them feel like Jesus himself is speaking to them.  I couldn't agree more.

In one of my trips up to Oklahoma over the last year I got to hear a part of my dad's salvation story.  I won't tell it as good as he does but I'm going to try to hit all the high points.  In February of 1975 my dad found himself married, with two daughters and feeling like there was more to life than the current lifestyle he was living.  They lived in the country and he stepped outside their trailer home and spoke out loud to God asking if he was real.  He asked him to show him in that moment if he was real.  God spoke to his heart and told him to look up at all the stars.  God said that he knows the number of stars and knows them all by name.  That was an important moment in my dad's salvation because he knew that if God knew all those stars he must know him.  And he learned that God still speaks to his children.  The coolest part of the story is that it wasn't until months later when my dad was reading the Bible that he realized God was speaking scripture to him that he had never read:

Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.  Isaiah 40:26
Over the last few years my dad has had heart problems.  This last week he had another trip to the ER because of it and this time he wasn't sure he was going to make it.  When I got the call that he wasn't doing well I started interceding in prayer for him.  As I was praying I saw an image of Jesus walk up to his bed in the hospital, lay his hand on his body and it was as though a surge of new life went through him.

By the grace of God he is out of the hospital now and feeling much better.  When a near death experience hits so close to home it really makes me stop and think.  It makes me remember the brevity of life. Just as it says in James 4:14 "Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.".

How much different would we all live our life if we kept this verse at the forefront of our mind?  I'm not saying plans and dreams are bad(in fact they are from the Lord) but I do think it's important to keep an eternal perspective.

With that said, I decided to do something for my dad that I may normally think to do after he is gone. A letter to my dad:

 Dad, I am so honored to be your daughter. I'm thankful you chose to ask God if he was real 30 years ago. I chose your birth year for the date of your star because I felt God say he knew you from the moment you were conceived and from the moment you took your first breath. He knows your name and He has great plans for your life. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future.  He sees you, loves you and is so proud of you.  He delights in you and loves how you allow His spirit to shine through you for all to see.  You have made an impact in the lives of thousands, more than you will ever know in this life.  Your strength, joy, compassion and integrity is contagious. You will never be forgotten.  We have many years left on this earth to enjoy together.  I love you daddy.  Love, Rachael Joy

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Why I'm taking a break from blogging

Hi friends!  You may have noticed from my last few posts there are a lot of changes in my life right now. From homeschooling our kids to my Revelation Wellness journey and on to my involvement with our church and business my life is very full.  Despite all that I feel very called to write. I never dreamed I would enjoy writing as much as I do but the Lord has really birthed it within me over this past year.  Just like exercising, or any other habit, it is good to schedule regular time to do it or it won't get done.  So for the last several months I have had one day a week that I sit down and write a blog post.  So why am I taking a break?  

The Lord has dropped a dream/idea for a book and/or small group curriculum for fitness on my heart.  I began to write a portion of it this last summer when I lead a fitness group at our church.  God gave me the format and so many ideas to go along with it.  I haven't written any more on the curriculum in a few months simply due to time.  Every time I run God gives me more ideas and revelation for the book.  Today as I sat down to write my weekly blog post I asked God what he wanted me to write about and his response shocked me "nothing on the blog, work on the book".  This is exciting and a little scary at the same time!

As I said yes to God in taking the time I would usually blog and instead work on the book I felt I would just keep it to myself.  Because you know, it can be scary to share dreams.  What will people think?  Will they laugh?  Judge me?  But then God reminded me that it's good to bring things into the light and I want all of you to know that I didn't just give up on blogging!  I will still write from time to time but it just won't be on a set day weekly for a short season.  

I don't want to share too much about the book yet but I do want to give you a glimpse into what it will cover so far:

  • Small group curriculum for a fitness life group with format and devotional for each class
  • Daily fitness related devotionals
  • Appendix with workout ideas
  • Appendix with games/partner drills for your classes
  • Power verse & power thought cards you can cut out of the book
  • Healthy and whole eating tips/recipes
  • 10 Minute workouts you can do at home
This is how I need your help:
  1. Pray for me!  Pray for wisdom, ideas and favor as I write and move forward with this project. I have no idea if it will get published but I feel God calling me to write it so that's my part, the rest is up to Him.
  2. Give me your feedback!  You saw the ideas I have for the book above but I would love to hear from you.  What would you like to see in a book like this?  I want this to be a resource for people, and churches, who want to incorporate fitness in to their lives but just need a little help getting started. It's time to put some of this fitness knowledge of mine to a better, higher call. :)
Thanks for all of your love and support, it means the world to me!