Motivation Monday: Uninvited

Rejection. Uncertainty. Negativity. Failure. Intimidation. — There are so many reasons for a lack of self confidence. I know I have struggled with confidence in the past, and I see so many others who are struggling with it too. Particularly women. So today’s Motivation Monday is dedicated to all of you ladies who are reading this and need this reminder:

“You don’t have to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Accepting yourself and being truly happy can be a long and tedious journey. We often hold onto past mistakes, harbor grudges, and compare ourselves to others until we’ve lost complete focus of who we actually are. We allow life, particularly the unfair parts of life, to shape us into feeling less than and left out.

  • Maybe we haven’t lived up to the expectations of others, or even the expectations we’ve placed on ourselves.
  • Perhaps someone said something horrible to you, and you haven’t been able to shake their voice from within.
  • Many of us struggle with body image comparisons, and society has convinced us that we’re just not beautiful.
  • Or life has just been hard… leaving you tired, unhopeful, and lonely.

Our confidence becomes overshadowed by lies. Then we no longer accept that we belong; we believe we’re unworthy. And nothing holds us back like our own insecurities.

Ladies, it’s time to give ourselves grace… and break the vicious cycle of believing all of these lies. It’s time to hear the real truth. I invite you to join me for an online Bible study that begins tomorrow, September 6 and runs through October 16. We will be reading a new book, Uninvited, from Lysa TerKeurst, a North Carolina author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. You may be familiar with some of Lysa’s previous books like Made to Crave, Unglued, and The Best Yes.

In Uninvited, Lysa shares her own deeply personal experiences of rejection – from the perceived judgement of the perfectly toned woman one elliptical over to the incredibly painful childhood abandonment by her father. She leans in to honestly examine the roots of rejection, as well as rejection’s ability to poison relationships from the inside out, including our relationship with God. Lysa will help us to stop feeling left out, change our tendency to either fall apart or control the actions of others, restore our confidence through prayer, and overcome insecurities. [Excerpt from the back cover.]

I have always enjoyed Lysa’s books and the Bible studies that Proverbs 31 Ministries has offered with them. I truly believe this one will be a blessing to those of us feeling unloved… by others, and by ourselves. Together, we can take this journey to regain honesty, trust, confidence, and acceptance. You can register for the FREE online Bible study by clicking here, and you can order Uninvited on Amazon by clicking here.

I would also love if you would consider heading over to my Facebook page (click here) to LIKE it and/or follow me on Twitter (click here) so that we can chat and encourage throughout the study. Motivation doesn’t have to be limited to first Mondays on the blog! 🙂

Even if the Bible study isn’t for you, I still want to connect with you to offer encouragement and support. I want this blog to remind you to stop being so hard on yourself; stop comparing yourself to others, don’t judge yourself based on what happens to you in life, forgive yourself and others for past mistakes, let go of negative feelings that you’ve been holding on to, and focus on your strengths.

proverbs 31:25
You have the capability to regain your confidence, and you will. Accept yourself for who you are; uniquely and wonderfully you. Stop believing the lies. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are loved. You are forgiven. You are smart. And you are worthy.

 

I was not compensated for this post, and it contains no affiliate links. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.

Spring Clean Your Life in Three (Mildly Sarcastic) Steps

If you are anything like me the thought of Spring Cleaning is something that finds its way into your mind and then exits promptly.  Honestly, when God was passing out talents I got lost on the way to the Loves To Clean line, you’re either one of those people or you are not.  I am NOT.  When faced with certain tasks I usually find other things to prioritize and then maybe six months later will tackle something that usually wasn’t that painful to begin with and would have been a lot easier to address had I done so in a timely fashion… The time is now.  So they say anyways…

Step One to Spring Cleaning Your Life: Organize Your Home

I love to hold on to things. No it’s not an episode of Hoarder’s up in here.  Not yet anyways.  But it’s a possibility that a cartoon girl is under a pile somewhere screaming “Let it Go” and I’m not listening, or maybe there is a sock in her mouth. Who’s to say?  Actually it’s not the cartoon at all. I was told yesterday that I should take advantage of the upcoming church yard sale to make some extra money and I immediately said. “I don’t have a thing to sell”.  Really? I don’t have a thing to sell… Really??  Someone needs to get a grip on what is really worth holding onto and what can be a part of the purge.

I think the key is to pick small task areas and not try to sort the whole house out at once.  Once overwhelmed distraction and procrastination can slip in and derail me, and I think we’ve all been there before.

Me thinks a list would suit this situation!

  1. Donate (You don’t need 8000 books now do you)
  2. Clean out the Expired: Pantry, Freezer, Fridge (that 2010 cream of chicken needs to GO!)
  3. Yard Sale it and Make Some $$
  4. Windex It (All of IT) Even if the dogs stick their faces on it 37 seconds later… DO IT!
  5. Vacuum all those places you never vacuum
  6. Put on the HAZMAT Suit and Defunk the shower. (You know your mother raised you better!)
  7. Make a plan for your yard/garden. (What do you plan on planting this year, are you going to change up any yard décor, add additional seating, or finish that fire pit area you’ve been planning for 3 years?)
  8. Pull weeds, pick up sticks, and mow the grass already…
  9. Assign Bigger Chores Deadlines (Power Washing, Deck Sealing, Mulching, etc.)
  10. Do a Post Winter Walk Around (nail down loose boards; fix the siding that’s blown off, etc.)

Realize that Spring Cleaning your home is more than just about the physicality of something being clean or orderly.  Having projects that stack up can lead to stress and anxiety.  So even if you baby step your way through whatever list you set for yourself try to check off a few when you can.  In the long run coming home to a less chaotic/cluttered environment can be good for your mental health as well.

Step Two to Spring Cleaning Your Life: Dust Off Your Body

For me there is more to Spring Cleaning than just doing windows.  I have taken this season of rest we call winter and exploited it.  I have hibernated like a big ol bear watching cheesy holiday movies and have become a sedentary lump.   But now the lump is excited that the weather is getting a little warmer and that spring is almost here so now it’s time to shake off the dust.

Where to Begin?  My problem seems to be that in my mind I’m an adventurous outdoorsy girl when in reality I’m more of a couch potato.  Couch Potatoes of the World UNITE!  Rise Up and Get Busy- there is a whole beautiful world out there ready for the taking, the key is to take it in a way that is appropriate for YOU!

See last year when I got the New Year’s idea to get busy getting healthy I joined a new exercise class.  I knew going into it this class was going to be doing a lot of activities that were over my skill level.  It was a phenomenal class full of wonderful people who were all about lifting each other up and sharing their faith, all the while getting one heck of a work out.  The instructor preached every class don’t do anything that you don’t feel comfortable with, make all of the adaptations that you need to etc.  At some point I guess I got over confident in my abilities and decided to undertake a 30 day Burpee Challenge.  I don’t know if you know what a Burpee is, but essentially it’s a demonic ritual that has you jumping to the sky then back to the floor in a hand plank pose over and over again.  It’s a pure NIGHTMARE.  Well long story short I didn’t survive the 30 day challenge, and really did a number on my body.  It wasn’t appropriate for my skill level- I knew it, but I wanted to push myself.  What I ended up with was an orthopedic doctor looking at me going you did what? All the while applauding my efforts, but basically telling me what I already knew. Make appropriate choices for your body in the shape it’s in now, so you can continue to work on getting it into the shape you want it to be in the future.

So moral of that story if you want to be active and STAY active don’t derail your efforts by putting your body into situations you are not ready for.  So now that I’m finally ready to get the train back on the tracks I know I have to go about things differently this time.

Coach Potato’s UNITE, Spring Get It Done Right This Time List:

  1. Just Say No To Burpee’s (unless that’s something you feel comfortable doing)
  2. Walk, even if it’s just to the mailbox DO IT! (Unless your mailbox is 50 feet away, in that case walk to the neighbor’s mailbox.)
  3. Make small obtainable goals.
  4. Don’t be afraid to try new things – just be smart about it.
  5. Find friends to be active with.
  6. Get outside and explore
  7. Find the challenge that is right for you- if you want to do a 30 day yoga challenge and it takes you 90 days to do it because you need days off, then that’s okay, 90 days of something is better than 90 days of nothing!
  8. Find what’s economical for you.  Gym life became something I cut out of my budget years ago.  There are lots of free opportunities in your community, you just have to look, and if you don’t have DVD’s for indoor days check out YouTube.  There are tons of videos posted that can work you out on any skill level.

God wants us to be present in our lives, to make use of the bodies he’s blessed us with.  To be able to do for others we must make taking care of ourselves a priority.  I should probably remind myself of this more often.

Step Three To Spring Cleaning Your Life: Feed Your Soul

Of Course Spring Cleaning isn’t complete if we don’t address the inside as well as the outside.  To face any season we have to be well with our souls.

Sometimes the gray gloominess of winter and all the roller coasters that come with the holidays can give us a run for our money, but the best thing about spring is new life.  New life that springs from the Earth and new life that comes from a Risen Saviour.

The Season of Lent is upon us and for me The Easter Season is the most important time of the year.  The purposeful reflection practiced during Lent helps me to be grounded and to reprioritize.  Unlike a New Year’s resolution which I may make it to a week of success, there is something about a Lenten promise that I hold fast too.  The daily sacrifice of small things keeps constant in my mind the monumental gift of Jesus’ grace.

Making a priority the upkeep of my soul has been a lifelong transitional process and on-going struggle.  The road map that I constantly pray for is often too blurry to read but when I go in search of something God has a way of making the path known.  We must acknowledge that to have spring time growth we must foster the seed.  The seed of our faith has taken root but waits for us to build up a foundation with Christ before it can begin to grow or even dream of one day blossoming.

There is purpose in this season.  40 Days we reflect, we don’t get from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday without going through the process.  We must use this time as an opportunity each day to find a new way to Spring Clean our lives.

I feel another list coming on… aww heck maybe even two!

Prepare Yourself for Holy Week By:

  1. Communing with your fellow Christian.
  2. Spending Time reading a Lenten Devotional
  3. Deciding if you will be fasting or committing to other things to give up as a part of your time of sacrifice and reflection.
  4. Deciding if you are going to add something to your life such as a daily purpose goal.
  5. Committing to Sunday and Holy Week service attendance
  6. Reflecting on the Stations of the Cross.
  7. Spending time in prayer

Feed Your Souls Throughout the Spring and the Rest of The Year By:

  1. Setting some seasonal goals.  Is there anything you want to accomplish during the spring or summer that you need to plan for?
  2. Making time for rest and relaxation: are there any travel destinations that you have in mind?  Do you have a happy place that gives you peace? Find a way to get there!
  3. Make time for Serving Others.  Service can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things we can do in our lives.  I’m a firm believer that Faith without works is dead.  Don’t miss an opportunity to share the blessings God has given you!
  4. Surround yourself with the people you love, be those friends, family, or even your favorite animals.
  5. Just do something that makes you happy, smile, or laugh.

Go now in peace knowing that each season God gives us more blessings than we can ever imagine.  I hope they fill you up each and every day!

Motivation Monday: New Year Edition

I’m staring a new series on my blog called #MotivationMonday. On the first Monday of each month, I’ll share some words of encouragement or a helpful hint that will hopefully help us (myself included) prepare for the next 30-ish days ahead. This Motivation Monday is extra-special. Not only is today the first Monday of the month… but it’s our first Monday of 2016.

New Year’s Resolutions often go hand-in-hand with health and fitness. The start of a new year seems like the perfect time to commit to losing weight, to staying fit, or to stop smoking. If you’ve declared a health resolution, your goals may already seem overwhelming today. Maybe you’ve set the bar too high, or just simply don’t know where to start. I understand. Let me share my juicing experience with you…

I have been curious about juicing for two years. A friend of mine introduced me to the idea while we were training for a 5K in December 2013. I often made comments about how sluggish I would feel during the run based on what I had eaten throughout the day. She told me to watch Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. (It’s a documentary about a 310lb man and his 60-day juicing journey.) I have to admit, it took me a while to watch it. Then it took me a while to process the thought of a 60-day all-juice lifestyle. I didn’t care how fat, sick, and nearly dead that I felt… 60 days seemed like a long time to commit to the change in my diet. Nearly a year later, in anticipation of my New Year’s Resolution for 2015, I started researching “how to juice”and learning about all that goes into it. Did you know that juicers can range upward to $500 depending on the model and brand? Yikes! If it was going to take 60-days, $500, and a lot of time to juice, I’d pass!

It wasn’t until I stumbled on an article on Women’s Health magazine online that I realized juicing doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing condition. There are ways to ease into juicing. The article suggested having a breakfast juice with a handful of almonds a couple of times a week instead of the usual cereal or yogurt. This helps juicing become a part of a normal routine, which in turn would hopefully prevent falling off the juicing wagon.

Organic raw juice bars are becoming more common. We recently had one open here in my little corner of NC. If you’re interested in juicing, I highly recommend searching your town for one. It’s a perfect way to try out juicing without investing a lot of time and money into it. Local juice bars also specialize in the right combinations of fruits and vegetable to ensure a great flavor of juice every time. Fresh juice is very alkalizing and detoxifying, and is beneficial without having to go on an extreme cleanse. The best part? Juicing is an easy way to focus on adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. The more you good food that you add, the less room there is for the bad.

So how does my rambling about juices motivate you? I’m hoping it will remind you to:

  1. …not be intimidated by other people’s journey. Allow their story to encourage you, but adapt your journey to your own goals. Be on a mission to live your life, not theirs!
  2. …not procrastinate. The worst thing you can do when you’re overwhelmed is delay your journey for more than a day. Don’t wait a year to seek opportunities. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
  3. …ask for assistance. If you want to try something but aren’t sure where to start, research to see if someone is already doing what you’re interested in doing. For those of you who have always wanted to try a 5K but aren’t sure how to start training, there are running groups in many towns. Consider support groups to help with smoking cessation. Reach out to the community for help!
  4. …ease into change. Don’t feel like you have to jump in feet first with no reservation. If you’re new to exercising, commit to walking twice a week. Want to stop drinking soda? Try adding one extra glass of water to your day until that becomes normal, then add more!

New Year’s Resolutions often fail because expectations are unrealistic. Don’t be a statistic this year. No matter what your goals are for 2016, even if they’re not health-related, know that they are attainable. Stay focused on your journey. Keep a steady pace toward your goals. Don’t try to get from A to Z without adding in the other letters. And lean on your community to help. This is just the beginning. You’ve got this!

When Life Knocks You to Your Knees

When life knocked me to my knees, I realized I was in the perfect position to PRAY!

Hello, my name Tiffany.  I am 27 years old… and a one year survivor of breast cancer.  I have a 6 year old son named Cameron.

It all began on my 25th birthday. I did my self breast exam and noticed something that just didn’t feel right.  I panicked because I had participated in a research project at Winston-Salem State University about breast cancer.  We had the model breast with a nodule that replicated a breast cancer lump, which felt similar.  After visiting with the doctor, what they found was a fibroid adenoma, so they decided a lumpectomy was the best for me considering my family’s history of breast cancer.

My maternal great-grandmother was diagnosed at age 81 and my paternal grandmother at age 76. I had great aunts who were diagnosed too. So for me, this was out of this world!!  I remember waking up at 4am preparing to go to the hospital to have my surgery. I was accompanied by my mother, grandmother, and boyfriend at the time.  I was so nervous and scared.  Truly, at this point, I didn’t know what all this meant.  After the surgery I was in recovery; my pain was so intense that I began to cry.  “Oh my gosh” is all I could think. I wanted to sit up but I couldn’t.  The doctor came in and stated “You have pre-cancerous cells; we had to take out more than expected.” I would have to wait for them to call me when my pathology results were back.  I was still under medication; the tears began to roll even more. I was then discharged.

When I arrived home, the pain was still very bad.  I wanted to look down at my breast, but I couldn’t.  The sports bra made me cry. I didn’t want to look at my breast, the bandage, the incision, NOTHING!!!  I became angry; I was scared, in pain, and I wanted a new body.  So, yes this was my pity party before the results.  My mom, who is my best friend, and my supporters – new and old, were on point with checking on me.  I had a hard time with not having certain supporters who I just knew would be there.  Little did I know, that was the beginning of realizing friendships would change, people who you thought would be there weren’t.  It was a hard pill to swallow and still to this day I struggle because I miss them.  It would have been nice to have them around.

It was almost results time. Now keep in mind, my surgery was on a Thursday. I had to wait until Monday or Tuesday for results, which turn into to a call around 4 o’clock on Wednesday, so my nerves were shot.  The results came back benign. I was good; PRAISE GOD for the power of prayer!! I was told at follow-up visits that I have fibrocystic breast disease, meaning very dense breast tissue. I took that as I would need looking after pretty much all the time.

Even though I had a good bill of health, I was severely depressed and still angry. The pain was still there to remind me that my breast would never be the same. They had to cut a chunk out of my body.  I hated my body. I hated crying but I couldn’t help it.  I was so lucky to not have cancer; why was I so sad?  Life for me could have been worse, but all I had to do was recover now.  My son was 4 at the time – going on 5. He knew Mommie was sick. He could no longer lay on me; our usual cuddle time had become associated with “your boo-boo!”  I began to feel inadequate as a mother. I couldn’t hold what I viewed as my baby, although really he was a big boy. He was starting  Kindergarten. I wanted life for him to be normal.

It was Fourth of July weekend; I remember it like it was yesterday.  I was still in a place of denial and pain. So I went back to the doctor where, finally, they discovered my pain source. There was nerve damage from the surgery.  They treated it with muscle spasm and nerve pain medicines.

A year later, things were still not better. I just toughed it out. I thought my family, my then boyfriend, friends, and supporters were tired of hearing me complain.  My mother would say, “Time out for all that crying!” Ha. It worked; I had to suck it up!  I had no other option. I missed a lot of work. I became stressed about bills, etc.   They finally decided to do a procedure called a nerve block. It blocked the nerves in my breast to my upper back, which was the pain source. At that point in treatment, I still had image issues. My body would never be the same and my boobs, as I call them, were uneven.  Living with constant pain does a number on you.  After two nerve blocks, the pain was still there, along with right side numbness. The pain was in my arm and breast, which this alarmed me.   I took another trip to the doctor, I believe this was the 100th or at least it felt like it!  She performed an ultrasound. There was another tumor at that point, which they called a neuroma, and nerves were wrapped around it.  The doctors suggested a mammogram.

I entered the Breast Clinic in fear and shame, thinking “I’m 26. What am I doing in this machine that is squeezing me to death?” I was being dramatic.  In reality, it did not hurt at all, it was just a little uncomfortable.  The only thing I could do was cry. None of my friends were going through this. There was no one in my family even close to my age to relate to. I would pray, “LORD, get me through this!!”  A couple of days later I received the phone call and this is what I heard, “Tiffany, we have found something and we need you to come in.”  I immediately panicked. Worry took over me even more so what I was already battling.  When appointment day came, I was told, “You have Early Stage Breast Cancer.” I was in complete shock. They said, “Don’t worry, we are going to take good care of you.” Little did I know the shock wouldn’t stop there. Before I had a chance to tell my then boyfriend (of one year, who had walked and held my hand through this whole process) what my terrible news was, I received a text from him that basically said we were done.  That day I view as one of the worst days of my life, along with one of the best. After it was all said and done, it made me stronger. It took a while to realize it but YES!, it happened.  How could I handle cancer and a break-up? They both crushed me. I couldn’t breath; it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. Days after it felt like I was living in a trance. I was crying on top of crying; the emotions poured.  I kept it a secret for a while. At that time of my life, both were situations that left me feeling crushed and defeated.  HOW and WHY did this happen to me? My poor child watched innocently as his mommie fell apart. I just couldn’t see the end of the tunnel at that given moment.  Along with hating my body, I hated my life. The only reason I smiled was because of my son and my family, because I still didn’t know exactly what was going on with me.  They were no words to express the deep grief, and mental and physical pain, that I was dealing with.

Unsure of what to do next, I had three different opinions. Everyone was flowing in the same direction except one doctor.  I had my second lumpectomy. I began to spiral in to a deeper depression, and some of my friends were not there as I thought they would be.  I hated what I was going through. I couldn’t understand why God was making me go through this. I’m young and this was so much to handle. After one crazy round of radiation, I began to recover.  My mom is a minister, and she coached me through the process day and night.  I cried the most in that two year span than I had my whole life.  I had to learn to “TURN PAIN INTO POWER!!!”  I had to suck it up and keep it moving!  I had a son to raise! It used to break my heart because a 5 year old shouldn’t know what breast cancer is.  He took care of his mommie and he shouldn’t have had to.  He associated me with being sick all the time, because many days, I either had no energy or I was just down about life.  I begin to feel guilty; my child would be forever affected by this.  Even though I prayed consistently, listened to Joyce Meyer and TD Jakes, music therapy, and running, nothing was helping me take this brunt I felt at the time.  This was a very hard time for my son and me.  I felt like a zombie. I hated wearing a bathing suit. I didn’t want to look at my body even two years later.  “LORD, what am I going to do to feel better?”

A friend of mine from middle school had begun her own battle with head and neck cancer. She was and still is an amazing woman who touch many, many lives.  Jamie Berrier Crutchfield lost her fight in November. She left behind her precious baby boy and a wonderful devoted husband, along with an immense amount of support from family and friends.  It was at that time in my life that it clicked… “You have life Tiffany; she doesn’t!” Her impact on me was phenomenal. She taught us to “PRAY OUT LOUD!” Even on her bad days she would tell us to pray.  She never gave up the fight. She is a remarkable woman!

Approximately one year later, here I am. I am thriving; I am better than ever (even with some minor issues to keep on working on, but that’s life.)  After many bad days, tears, and pain, I learned a valuable lesson we can all take with us: GOD WILL NEVER GIVE YOU ANYTHING YOU CAN’T HANDLE. What may look like a train wreck can simply be a caution light to stop you and make you realize the value of yourself, your life, and to not take one minute of life for granted.  I am now closer than ever to God. My prayer life has changed and now I view life as a gift!  I regret ever questioning God but muddy water makes you wonder, where is the Holy water!

I have since been blessed beyond measure with meeting and working closely with the wonderful women of Komen Affiliate in Winston-Salem.  I have participated in four of the annual walk/runs.  I have volunteered many hours to give back and provide advocacy.  As I went through my journey, my life began to tremendously change. Friends changed, priorities changed, all that good stuff.  I met up with another cancer warrior, who walked and talked with me. We decided we needed to form a support group for young women because if you notice, there aren’t that many.  I didn’t know where to turn to, so I went to Komen.  I now serve as Co-Chair on the Young-Survivors and Co-Survivors group. I would like to extend a personal invitation to anyone interested in joining Komen’s support group and my new endeavor of life; to help change, impact, or motivate the life of someone else who has been diagnosed, or had a scare.

I’m going to leave you guys with this:

When life gives you a thousand reasons to cry, show life you have a million reasons to smile!!