Wednesday, January 28, 2015

#FightBodyShaming: Truth > Lies

Body image. It's a topic that has been coming up a lot lately. Actually, it's been coming up a lot my whole life because it's an issue that all women deal with, even the super pretty, confident ones. But, because it's been a discussion topic among friends recently, I posted a little graphic yesterday on Instagram pledging to help fight body shaming, and inviting other women to join with me.

With my post, I wrote the following:
So the topic of body image keeps coming up, especially among those of us tackling the #Whole30 this month. It's a rough road and it can be hard to change your view of yourself. Most body shaming comes from within, when we have an unrealistic and unhealthy expectation of ourselves. The first step to tackling body shaming is to tackle yourself--fighting those self-depreciating lies you tell yourself every time you look in the mirror. As January ends, I'm taking a pledge to stop my personal, inner body shaming, and I think you should too. If you want, repost this image and share the pledge with your friends. Together we can build each other up and fight against body shaming.
Of course anything having to do with self esteem and body image is so much easier said than done. So I started thinking, what are some practical ways we as women can help ourselves fight against the hurtful lies of body shaming? That's where I got the idea for this post and I will be working on new ideas as well. My hope is to "connect" everything with the tag #FightBodyShaming. I'm by no means a mental health expert. I'm just a woman trying to encourage myself and my fellow ladies down a path of positivity, truth, and life.

Telling yourself not to believe a lie only gets you half-way. It's like telling yourself what you can't eat, but not giving yourself something to eat. You need something to replace the thing you're removing. Remove a lie, replace it with the truth. So rather than meditating on the things you don't like about your body or what you think is wrong with you, fill your mind with truth about you, your body, and your life.

The Bible has lots of great verses to help in this area, and I want to highlight a few that stood out to me. I want to meditate on these verses any time I'm tempted to think poorly of myself, and I would encourage you to do the same. The best way to counter internal body shaming is with the truth of our Creator. He made us, loves us, and wants us to listen to Him above all else. (All Scripture quotations included are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.)

Proverbs 31:30 - "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised."

What this says to me: There's nothing wrong with being beautiful, but it won't last forever. I should invest myself and my self worth in what will last forever. I need to develop my relationship with the Lord and put Him first in my life. Knowledge of Him gives me the value I so desperately need.

Psalm 139:13-14 - "For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well."

What this says to me: This passage says so much. First, I am created by the God of the universe, every part of me He formed when I was in the womb. He decided what shape my face would have, my hair and eye color. To want to change myself is to wish away that which the King of kings designed. A small picture of that would be one of us creating what we think is a beautiful work of art, something we poured our time and heart into, only to have everyone tell us what we should have done. To truly appreciate what has been made, we have to appreciate what it is, what is there, not what is not or what could be.

Second, I should marvel at God's creation, and praise Him for what He has made. And, as uncomfortable as it may be, that does include me and you and every other person on the planet. Degrading ourselves or others is directly opposite of praising God. I need to transform thoughts of myself to praise, thanking God for what He has made.

Finally, the truth is, God makes wonderful things. I know it, I need to believe it, and I need to let that knowledge directly affect how I view myself. If God makes wonderful things, I am one of those wonderful things He has made. I'm defined by this truth, not by the things I see in the mirror, or wish I didn't see.

Genesis 1:27 - "So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female."

What this says to me: Not only am I a wonderful creation, as stated in the previous verse, I am made in the image of God. Just try to wrap your mind around that for a moment. Genesis tells us twice in this verse that we are created in God's image, so we know it's extra important. I can't really fit in this space what that means or the ramifications of such a statement. Men and women are a unique reflection of Creator God that no other part of creation can be. And it's not just our appearance, though that is part of it. We also have an eternal nature, a spirit. We are complex beings made in the image of an even more complex Being. How awesome is that?!

Ephesians 2:10 - "For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them."

What this says to me: God didn't arbitrarily make us because He wanted to design something cool and pretty to decorate the planet. He created us for a purpose: a life in Christ Jesus full of important and good work, that He prepared ahead of time. That means our purpose here was divinely orchestrated before we were even born. How amazing and wonderful to know that God has a plan for you and me. This should encourage us in the times where we don't feel like we're measuring up or being our best. God's plan and work are behind-the-scenes, and our purpose is certain.

Hebrews 10:24 - "And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works..."

What this says to me: I should be more concerned about others than myself. That is love, to give up my life and myself for others and the work of the Lord. If I'm primarily focused on what's wrong with me, I'm not focusing on the needs of others and I'm harming the community I'm in. What I need to do is get out of my own way so that I can focus on what's really important.

1 Peter 3:3-4 - "Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes. Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes."

What this says to me: I feel like this passage speaks for itself. It's not saying that there is anything wrong with beauty or clothes, hairstyles or jewelry. But it is saying that true beauty doesn't exist in those things. True beauty is defined by the Creator and what He values. Those things can be found inside the heart, along with the qualities of a gentle and quiet spirit. Doesn't that just feel calming and invigorating at the same time?

I hope these verses encourage you as they have encouraged me. I hope that together we can start replacing damaging lies and self-doubt with the truths of God's word. He loves you, wants you, and thinks you are the beautiful pinnacle of His creation.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Faith, It's a Journey

I have been having so many great discussions about beliefs and faith with my girl friends lately. It seems like a topic that won't go away, and I don't really want it to. It's encouraging, humbling, challenging, and uniting us each time we gather to talk.

It's been kick-started lately by discussions about eternity, death, and life after death as our church is currently going through a series on eternity. Last Sunday, the topic of the sermon was hell. If talking about hell isn't a kick in the pants to share truth with those around us, I don't know what is.

Last night with our community group, I found tears in my eyes as we read Matthew 8:12 that describes "the outer darkness," a place with "weeping and gnashing of teeth." Where there is weeping, there is such great sorrow and pain, I thought to myself. I don't want anyone I know and love to experience that.

There are so many misconceptions about hell, what it's like, why it exists. I think even Christians don't really get it because we've never experienced life without the presence of God. It's something we can't fathom, yet its reality should drive us to proclaim Christ all the more. It's not about getting "converts" or shoving our beliefs down people's throats or telling people how to live. It's about introducing them to the only Person who can complete them, give them true joy, rescue them from sin and death, and offer eternal life.

I'm challenging myself to be more open about Jesus, about what I believe to those I know, because I care about them. Because I don't want to just know them on earth. Because someone once introduced me to Jesus and it changed my life forever in the best possible way. How could I not tell people about that?


Another thing that is generating discussion is an upcoming conference for women that we're having at our church in Iowa City called the IF:Gathering. IF states that it exists to "gather, equip and unleash...women to live out their purpose." I wasn't too sure about it at first, but the more I watch and read, the more excited I am for it.

Since it's a conference that is video-streamed from Austin, there are locations across the country hosting IF:Gatherings next month. So it's not just for locals, which is awesome to know that women from all over will be participating. If you're in or around Iowa City, I invite you to check it out and consider joining us. The conference is Feb. 6 and 7, and you can find a little more information on our church's website, or click here to register. (If you decide to attend the IF:Gathering, let me know! I would love to connect with you at the conference!)

I'm a little late to the party, but today I started going through some Bible studies to gear up for the conference at IF:Equip. They started on Monday, so it won't take long to catch up. Even if you can't go to the conference, these studies are so great and I encourage you to check them out. There's a little reading, a little journaling, and a short video clip, going through the life of Joshua and talking about faith.

The Journey

All of this, discussions about eternity, Bible studies, personal testimonies, just keep bringing to mind that faith is a journey. It's a long process of asking questions, seeking Biblical answers, growing and changing, maturing and learning, seeking God and asking Him to change us into the people He wants us to be. It takes tender hearts, openness, and trust in God that His way is perfect. I don't think anyone ever arrives or has all the answers, but the beauty is in the journey.

I'm excited for this journey, for where it will lead and the people I will meet along the way. God has already put some great women into my life who are encouraging and challenging me in my faith journey, and it's so great to know we're not alone. I'm also excited to continue sharing my experiences here on this blog with all of you. :)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Whole30: The [Not Really] Half-Way Point

So we're technically just about half-way through the Whole30, since we're at the two-week point. But we're not really half-way through because we're planning on at least doing the 10-day reintroduction, if not more. I have some different thoughts on the diet, food, and what to do when the Whole30 ends.


For the reintroduction--which I plan to start immediately after day 30--I want to especially pay attention to a couple different things. The first thing I want to reintroduce is gluten-free grains. I haven't tried much gluten-free food because, when you're used to gluten, the two just don't compare. After being off all grains, I'm interested to see how my body and taste buds respond to gluten-free.

If things go well, I may try to make the shift to living gluten-free as much as possible, but still limiting my grain intake. This is going to be a struggle because, to be honest, I'm a bread lover. Whenever people ask the question, "If you had to eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?", I usually answer bread. Or pizza, but that's bread with some other stuff thrown on top. Breaking up my love affair with bread is going to be hard.

I also want to reintroduce certain types of dairy, like cheese and cream in coffee. I had already been off milk for the most part before this Whole30 started. I don't think I have a dairy allergy, but I do think it affects me negatively in a small way. So I want to see what I can handle, and if I should be limiting it to once a week or something like that.

The other thing I'm curious about is legumes. I don't think I have an issue with those, but until I do the reintroduction, it's hard to tell. So this will be a helpful 10-day period as I go through what's okay and what isn't. Overall, my goal after completing the Whole30 is to make changes that will help me continue to eat well.

Post-Reintroduction Food Choices

This week I've been wrestling with different thoughts and desires surrounding food. I've been catching myself wishing for things like pizza, lattes, and candy. The funny thing about the Whole30 is you can feel so strong and resolute in your decision to do it one day, and be totally ready to throw in the towel the next. That's what scares me about when this 30-day period ends, what will I do?

I know it will be very easy for me to slip back into my "old" way of eating. But, I also know that after completing the Whole30 previously, I was able to cut out soft drinks almost permanently. (I say almost because I did allow myself to have them on my honeymoon, but cut them off again after getting back and settling into a routine.) So I know it's possible to permanently cut out a bad food item.

Following the reintroduction and after evaluating the results, one of my plans to eat better is to cut out another food item. I think it's more manageable to make a permanent shift with one item at a time. When I cut out soft drinks, it was hard at first, but after a while I got used to ordering water at restaurants and not buying them at the store. More recently I reached a point where I didn't even like having them anymore, which felt like a huge victory and made abstaining so much easier.

So I think cutting out one item will be an easier way to move forward, and later if I want, I can cut out something else. I also think I may start keeping a food diary of what I'm eating/drinking. This will help me track my eating habits so I can see when my weakest times are, what I tend to go for, and what I need to cut back on week-to-week and month-to-month.

I've also considered the possibility of a "cheat day." I would eat clean on say Monday through Saturday, but on Sundays allow myself to go off that a little. Sundays are usually a hectic day for meals, especially in the evening. So it would be a good day to have less strict rules in place.

Why it Matters

For Whole30-ers looking for a permanent change, I think it's important to consider these things before the Whole30 ends. As soon as the Whole30 is over, if you don't have a plan, it's so easy to get back into your old eating habits. (I can have pizza and cookies now?! Bring them on!!) The point of the Whole30 isn't just to reset your system (which is important), but to also help you see how the foods you're eating affect you, and make important changes based off that information.

As "good" as some foods seem, if they're hurting you inside, sapping your energy, or causing sleepless nights, are they really worth it? The goal should be to live our best life possible, and sometimes that means saying no to things that taste yummy but ultimately hurt you. I hope that all of us Whole30-ers can work through this together, encouraging each other to make good choices when it comes to food.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Book Review: The Social Church


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

I've managed the online presence for several different non-religious businesses over the years, but just recently took a job at my church, which includes helping with any part of social media I can get my hands on. This is what initially drew me to "The Social Church: A Theology of Digital Communication" by Justin Wise. I wanted to know how to best translate my skills and knowledge gained from previous experiences over to a strictly Christian atmosphere, and pick up some new information along the way.

I absolutely loved reading "The Social Church," it's a great balance of stories, quotes, analogies, history, facts, and calls to action. I also appreciated how the book is really for any person who wants to combine their faith with the current digital climate. In fact, I would recommend this book to literally anyone, but especially to church leadership and those who see social media as a mission field. While the book is particularly geared toward those in a church who have a direct relationship with or control over its online presence, it is informative and helpful for all Christians.

Justin makes it clear that social media is not going away, which is an important lesson for those who may say or believe that there isn't any place for it in their church. The truth is, there is not only a place but a demand for cultural relevancy in the church at large, and a big part of that relevancy lies within technology and social media. It is important for the church to be present in the places people find themselves the most, and today, that's on some form of social media.

For some, this book may be a tough lesson, but it is also an extremely important one as many churches are sadly becoming obsolete. The time has come for churches to decide, will you embrace these cultural trends with the goal of reaching people, or will you be left behind? Justin makes a compelling case, and a plan of action, for not simply using, but using well, social media for the mission of the church. It's about so much more than being cool and trendy. It's about being co-creators with God in the culture in which we find ourselves.

I am so glad Justin wrote this book as he clearly conveys a message I have hoped and tried to impart to church staff and leaders over the years. When I talk about using social media, I'm often met with glazed eyes, excuses, or non-committal responses. My hope is that this book will impart what I have not been able to, and I will be encouraging all the church leaders I know to pick up a copy. It's a quick, easy read and well worth the time.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The First 'Currently List' of 2015

Making: Graphics about the attributes of God for my church's social media.

Cooking: All Whole30-approved meals and feeling quite good about it. :)

Drinking: Straight black coffee because doing the Whole30 = no sugar/creamer.

Reading: 'The Social Church' by Justin Wise and 'The Scorch Trials' by James Dashner. One of my goals this year is to read more. So far, so good!

Wanting: To see Dressember reach its goal of raising $500,000 to fight human trafficking with International Justice Mission. We are 90 percent of the way there and anyone can give through January 31! Check out my page to donate if you'd like!

Looking: Forward to making the most of the last year of my 20s, which will be starting all too soon.

Playing: [Confession:] Way more country music than I'd like to admit. And some 1989.

Wasting: Time watching TV shows like The Bachelor and Sister Wives. Not sure what that says about me...

Sewing: I need to sew up a hole in Nick's hoodie... and learn how to sew more things so I can be more creative!

Wishing: That I could be more appreciative and grateful for the things in my life, especially the things I don't like as much. I'm practicing this by looking for the beauty in the cold temperatures and glistening snow. God makes marvelous things!

Enjoying: Warm nights by the fire with Nick and Jade in our comfy little home.

Waiting: To see what 2015 will bring. I know what I'm hoping it will bring, but I know God is in control.

Liking: This shirt from Sevenly. It helps support Stand for the Silent's work against bullying. Just ordered it today. :) Also liking this downloadable calendar from blogger and designer Kynley at To Live Beautifully.

Wondering: How long it will take for me to start really craving junk food.

Loving: Life right now. I don't want to dwell on the past or look to the future so much that I miss the now. It's gone too quickly and we can't get it back.

Hoping: To build even better, stronger relationships this year with my friends in Iowa City and beyond. I am so thankful for each and every person God has brought into my life and I want to strengthen those special friendships.

Marveling: At the gift of life. Whether old, young, or somewhere in between, life is amazing and so precious.

Needing: To reorganize, well, everything. The holidays always get chaotic, so does the house. I also need to take down the Christmas decorations. Nope, that hasn't happened yet. Don't judge!

Smelling: This new perfume, Black Orchid by Tom Ford. I got a little sample from Sephora. It is soooo good.

Wearing: So. many. layers. Including fleece-lined leggings and a sweater from Loft. Gotta keep warm in these negative temps!

Following: Restore One which seeks to care for boys who are victims of domestic minor sex trafficking. Find out more about Restore One at

Noticing: That a lot of us women struggle with self-depreciating thoughts. I pray for God's truth to shine brighter in our hearts and minds. You are wonderful, beautiful, and amazing, ladies!

Knowing: That contentment is a bi-product of a pursuit of godliness. Our church's family pastor said that and it's so true.

Thinking: Way more things than I can write down in this space, but isn't that always the case? Right now I'm mostly thinking I'm about ready for dinner.

Bookmarking: All the Whole30 recipes I can find by pinning them on Pinterest! I'm always on the lookout for another delicious meal!

Mostly emails these days, now that Christmas is over. But I'm tempted to keep up my Christmas card display for a while. I love all the pictures of friends and their babies!

Giggling: At our cat's antics. She always does the funniest things.

Feeling: Really good, inside and out, for the first time in a while. I'm learning that mind, body, and soul really are all connected. You have to care for each to be your best.

What's on your currently list? Copy and paste this one, fill in your responses, then share a link to your currently list in the comments so I can check it out!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Whole30: The First Few Days + A Recipe

We're now on day three of the Whole30--or four if you started on Jan. 1--and so far things are going well! Like last time, I think my body is skipping the "hangover" phase of the Whole30 timeline. I haven't noticed any headaches and have been feeling great, so I'm thankful. I'd be fine with skipping "kill all the things" but let's be honest, that's probably not going to happen.

If you're looking for an exercise routine, check out Buzzfeed's Get Fit Challenge, an option Nick discovered the other day. It technically starts tomorrow, as today was a rest day, so you haven't missed anything. I'm thinking about doing at least parts of it with him, interspersed with Zumba. Let me know if you're going to do it too!

Meals + Tips

As for meals, here's what we've been having so far.

Day 1, breakfast: Eggs scrambled with clarified butter, and black tea to drink.

Day 1, lunch: Taco lettuce wraps--ground beef seasoned with homemade taco seasoning--with guacamole and sliced scallions and tomatoes. For a side we had carrots and more guac.

Day 1, dinner: Hamburger patties prepared with freshly crushed garlic cloves, onion powder, salt and pepper and cooked over charcoal. We had sliced avocado and oven-baked potato bites (recipe below) as sides, and topped them with some homemade ketchup.

Day 2, breakfast: Eggs scrambled with clarified butter, clementines, and black tea with fruit.

Day 2, lunch: Leftover taco meat over leftover potato bites with sliced avocado.

Day 2, dinner: Homemade chicken and vegetable soup and all-natural apple sauce.

Day 3, breakfast: Eggs scrambled with clarified butter, clementines, and green tea with fruit.

Day 3, lunch: Chipotle's chicken salad with pico de gallo and guacamole.

When you're making food for the Whole30, my advice is to make enough for several meals, keeping leftovers for the days when you don't have much time or motivation to cook. Tonight we'll be having some of the soup we made yesterday since we tripled the recipe, which will help since our Sunday evenings are full with youth activities. Knowing you have to make food from scratch for every meal can be daunting, but you can help yourself out and make some extra.

Cravings + Tips

Cravings are an inevitable part of the Whole30, and honestly one of the hardest parts. I'm not really looking forward to those days when all I want is something I can't have, like chocolate, or cereal, or bread. But I think there are a few ways we can all do ourselves a favor and combat cravings at the source, in our minds.

1. Don't dwell on it. When you start to crave something, you have two options. You can keep thinking about it, wishing for it, and feeling sorry for yourself that you can't have it. Or, you can redirect your thoughts to something else and focus on that. If all you focus on is what you can't have, you'll essentially torture yourself, only making things harder. My advice is to not allow yourself to go there. Don't think about the flavor, don't visualize yourself eating it, don't keep thinking about how much you want it. Just don't go there.

2. Visualize it. If you can't stop yourself from thinking about the bad food you can't have, visualize what that food is made up of. Be honest with yourself, bad food is made up of crap. Crap that isn't doing your body any good, like toxic sludge working its way through your body. Re-associating food with what it really is, bad junk clogging your system, will help you want the healthier choices of the Whole30. Think about those options for what they are, good, wholesome, nutrient-rich foods that are doing your body a whole lot of good.

3. Practice mental coaching. A lot of the struggle of the Whole30 is in our minds. It's not hard to eat well, it's not hard to cut out a food group for a month. We have access to the food items we need, we have the physical ability to choose what we can have over what we can't have. The hardest struggle is inside the mind, where we think we need something just because we want it. Work on mentally coaching yourself through the process of the Whole30. Tell yourself the truth, that you will have cravings, it will be difficult, but you are strong, you can do it, it's good for your body. You'll need mental toughness to do it, but mental toughness is something you can have, you just have to coach yourself through it.

What do you to to help yourself through the tough days of the Whole30? What meals have you been enjoying? How is the process going so far? Share your tips, recipes, and experiences in the comments. I'm always looking for new recipes to add to my Whole30 Pinterest board, so please pass along your favorites!

Oven-Baked Potato Bites
- Four small baking potatoes
- 1 Tblsp olive oil or melted clarified butter
- 1/2 tsp garlic salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp parsley flakes
- 1/8 tsp onion powder
- 1/8 tsp pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Scrub potatoes thoroughly, then cut each potato lengthwise into 8 slices, then dice each slice into bite-size pieces.
3. In a bowl combine oil and herbs/spices. Stir potatoes into the mixture.
4. Arrange potatoes on a baking pan (approx. 11 x 7 x 1/2 inches) and bake uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes or until tender. Best served hot.
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