Claiming Truth Over Lies

IMG_2841I was talking to a friend on my drive home from the office a few days ago. She was telling me that she is going on a trip and is already feeling nervous. She is going to be around women that have always intimidated her. I found myself uttering the words that I am constantly having to tell myself – and in God’s fabulous humor – words I need to hear more often because I tend to forget my own advice:)

The truth she was telling herself is that she is not equal to these women – they are farther along in their careers, have done more in life, have better lives – that whole “the grass is always greener and looks that way because we only put the BEST of ourselves on our Social platforms”…The truth of the matter is that we ALL have ups and downs and NO ONE should feel less than due to another person’s success or status…

But how do we make that a reality? I mean, seriously Courtney, I feel that way ALL THE TIME!

We have to CLAIM the TRUTH. For me it means recognizing that I’m a child of God. He created ME…The timing had to be perfect or I’d be someone else…I could be a BOY or I could HATE to read! But no, mom and dad did things at the right moment and they got ME (thanks to Gary Vaynerchuk who puts this way more elegantly than I just did:)

So what does that have to do with claiming the truth? Well, recognizing that you are YOU and no one else. You have a specific set of skills, qualities, character, etc. that make you unique.

When thoughts come to our mind we need to offset them. We’ve trained our brains over time to believe what we say…and if you’re a parent you may have experienced this with your kids. “Mom, I CAN’T do it!” and my response is: “Get rid of the word CAN’T!” Why do I say that to my kids? Because if they say they can’t that is the word their brain will hold on to and they will begin with a defeatist attitude.

A few months ago I was listening to a podcast and the gist of it was that we need to speak words of affirmation over ourselves and speak with a positive mindset. EVERY. DAY. We need to retrain our brains to think in the positive INSTEAD of in the negative. In other words…when our brain tells us one thing…we are going to voice the TRUTH. Out loud if you need to.

When your brain says: You are worthless. You will never amount. Respond with: NO! That’s not the truth. I AM good enough.

When your brain says: You are a horrible mother. You were late dropping them off AGAIN. You were late picking them up AGAIN. You are terrible – you forgot to send in that paper work. RESPOND WITH: NO! That’s NOT the truth: I AM a good mother.

When your brain says: Why can’t you just get it TOGETHER. The house is a mess. The laundry hasn’t been done – you are TERRIBLE. Respond with the TRUTH: NO! I AM a good wife.

When your brain says: Wow, you really sucked at that presentation! You really messed up in that meeting… Respond with: NO! I AM a good [plug in job title].

At the end of the day, our brain likes to lie. It likes to run on the emotions of the moment. That isn’t always good. A few years ago I made a MAJOR mistake at the office. It was heart-breaking for me because I had worked really hard, but at the end of the day it didn’t matter. And when the project completely fell apart I made a mistake…a lot of mistakes. I was written up and it CRUSHED me. After a few weeks my boss pulled me aside and said, “You need to quit walking around like the world is coming to an end. Hold your head up. It’s over, you need to move on.” It was true. I felt like I would never gain upper management’s trust again. (The old mantra ‘You’re only as good as you’re last…) But here I am, several years later in the same position at the same company. I had to readjust my mindset. I had to realize that that was one moment in time. I had been holding onto it like I’d just written my death sentence and it was TAKING ME OVER.

Ridiculous!

Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

I will never understand why my brain wants me to focus on the negative over the positive. What I do know is that I need to focus on the positive more than ever. We are in a world that loves negativity. It sells. It draws attention. I need to speak TRUTH over myself so that I can speak TRUTH over my family.

There is power in the words we speak.

Speak truth today. Take it a day at a time. I promise you will see a change…and if you find that you’ve stopped – just start again:)

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IMG_2822Mental illness. The words have stigma attached. No one wants to admit there’s an issue. I’ve found myself doing it too…

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a friend. We were having a conversation about depression and mental illness in general. I told my friend that I take medicine daily for anxiety. Then I followed it up with, “well, apparently it’s because of my jacked up thyroid. The doctor said that if I hadn’t been taking it, he would have put me on it. I was treating the symptom before I knew what was causing it.”

And you know what? Later I realized that the reason I added the addendum was because I didn’t want to say that I had an issue. That I have anxiety. That my mind races over and over and over again and I can’t stop it. No matter how much I pray for it to stop, to slow down, to just chill…it doesn’t. And it sucked. For a long time.

My relationships with women have never had longevity. My closest friends I’ve met in the last 10 years. I always thought I had a problem. I had two sets of friends at different times in my life turn their backs on me because they didn’t agree with a choice I had made. It hurt. All of the relationships recovered, but over the years they faded…and some never recovered to what they had been. It hurt.

Those moments hit me as I’m driving home from work. There’s a lot of time in the car…and as I sit here, I think that this could be a part of the reason why I don’t like silence. Where there is silence my brain likes to talk…and it’s not always talking nicely.

The last few months I have been in a downward spiral. Too many thoughts…nothing that is detrimental…but I let laziness take over. I gave myself a pass because I was tired. I am tired.

This past weekend I was at a Coach Summit (some of you might have seen just a few posts – sorry about that;) in Nashville. Shaun T spoke on one of the days and I was floored. He shared something extremely personal from his past. Something I don’t know that I would’ve had the courage to share had it been me…but then again, maybe I would have, because here I am writing this post*.

He stated that admitting the problem was only part of it… Sometimes you can’t move forward unless you’ve divulged everything. For me, it was thinking about all of the conversations I’ve had with friends and co-workers where I felt like I was justifying the medicine I’m on…where I let my thoughts define me. When I let them defeat me.

I have been feeling God leaning on me lately to do more in certain areas of my life…to encourage and provide help in some way to those suffering from the ripple effects of mental illness…It could be depression, it could be anxiety, it could be so much more that I’m not aware of yet.

Praying our issues away is not always the answer. Sometimes we need something to balance it out…sometimes that’s medicine…and that’s okay. It doesn’t matter if there’s a reason that’s causing the illness, what matters is that we are doing something about it.

The more we share what we are dealing with the easier it’s going to be to find answers…Similar to AIDS back in the 80’s, I feel these are the years where we will be able to learn more about mental illness because we are talking openly about it, despite the repercussions. I’m okay with the stigma… because it won’t be a stigma for long.

The theme at the Coach Summit was #strongereveryday. We have to take it day by day. I can talk myself out of doing something because my brain always tells me I’m a failure…but I’m not. I’m a child of God and a miracle in itself when you really diagnose how children are created…I’m not going to waste this miracle and neither should you. Let’s be encouraging and let’s dig in and find a way to eliminate stigmas in general.

I’ll start…will you join me?

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*Watch Shaun T’s talk here.

Retrospect

Retrospect

Retrospect

A survey or review of a past course of events or period of time.

In retrospect there are a zillion things I would handle differently, given the chance. I wouldn’t call it regret. No. It’s retrospect.

I have peace in the choices I’ve made – and yes – I’d tweak a few for sure, but overall I’m pretty happy with decisions I’ve made over the last decade or two.

Lately, random things have been happening – areas I felt were chaotic are slowly becoming clear and God has been moving…in the most unbelievable places. I had to smile the other day because yet again God has placed his arm around me and quietly reminded me,

Child, I’ve got you. Those times when you are begging me to change the situation – make it different? Stop chasing those things…be still…I’m in control.

He is in control.

He IS in control.

Stop trying to take control.

By looking at my desk…and portions of my house…you would not see the control freak…but she’s there…lying in wait for the moments that are not controllable that I SO desperately want to control.

Many times the struggle gives way to the place God wants you to be…whether we realize it or not in that moment. Retrospect is nice…not to revel in the choices…but to see where God has taken you…

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you…” James 1:2-5

Honor Your Father & Mother

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 Exodus 20:12

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

This week’s sermon impacted me a tremendous amount. I’m not positive what exactly it was, but I left feeling encouraged about being a parent…and intrigued in how much more I can do as a daughter.

Below is the sermon – I felt like it is better shared than me trying to reinterpret it for you.

 

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Rhythm vs Balance

The sermon from Sunday was SO on point with where we are as a family. For a long, long time I feel like we’ve been struggling to find balance in our weekly schedule. It has been a struggle to say the least. The first line of my notes from Sunday read:

Balance is a myth - Rhythm is where it's at.

Not the exact words, but pretty much how I interpreted it.

It was freeing to write down. I’m not sure that we’ll ever find balance…but rhythm? Rhythm is something we can work with!

Rhythm allows the ebb and flow of the season. Similar to a musical ensemble gets together to jam – the rhythm and speed change based on where the muscians feel like it should go. Together they sway, making the music flow – never the same, but always in sync. This is how life has become for us. The seasons call for different speeds, different movement. Sometimes it’s chaotic and sometimes it’s not, but we are in sync (for the most part!) constantly striving to do what’s best for our family.

The sermon was truly about the Sabbath and taking time to actually have one…not because we are required too, but because we should – it’s what God called for in the Old Testament and what the disciples and a policy the early church followed. The full sermon is here and worth the listen, but for me, the takeaway – the tiny nugget I embraced was to be comforted in not find balance…work vs family life is hard…finding a rhythm can make all the difference in the world…

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The Storm…

The title felt fitting;) The storms aren’t actually hitting yet. There is rain in the forecast, but that’s about it thus far. My life has become quite introspective the last few days. Things that typically aggravate the crud out of me are rolling off my back and the things that I should be chill about are aggravating me…thus a nice glass of red wine greets me at night…oh, that the red wine would make the problems dissipate…

Wine does not make problems go away.

So, my human self is having to deal with the issues and let’s be honest. That’s really how it should be.

Anytime I decide to make a change for the better I am caught up in a struggle of some sort. I have always viewed these struggles as a distraction from what God really wants me to do. Sadly, a lot of times these struggles are self-induced. Laziness hits me and when I know I should stay up just a little later to get things done (or perhaps do those specific things earlier in the evening!) and my brain says…”oh, it’s okay, you’ll get to it tomorrow!” and tomorrow comes…and a week later the items remain undone.

Ugh.

So – 2016 – the year of better-ness! The year of doing things I say I’m going to do – and following through! I can do it – I mean, I wrote a freaking screenplay – I can actually see things through – actually finish them:)

So in the midst of all this change and trying to move through these emotions, I found this book: Living with Less So Your Family has More by Jill and Mark Savage. The intro to Chapter 1 had me hooked and spoke to my heart. I am really excited to see the wisdom they will impart. If you’re trying to figure out ways to improve your day to day living, to improve your family life and really take 2016 by storm – check out this book – and let me know your thoughts!

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Merry Christmas!

3AM

This Christmas started at 3AM. I awoke to hearing the excitement of 2 little boys who discovered that Santa had indeed stopped at our house. 3AM is early…and reminds me why we need a house with stairs. As a kid, we were not allowed downstairs until my parents authorized it…strong word, but its the truth. So at 3AM we had some tears because we had to send them back to bed…but not before I realized that Lincoln was already WEARING one of his gifts that Santa left him! I LOVED it…and so back to bed they went…of course I didn’t go back to sleep so now I’m writing:)

This Christmas I went into the season with the goal to really MAKE the season. I wanted to focus on the good in the season, what Christ is really about – a baby coming as a gift from God to rescue the world. I wanted to tune out the negativity (is that possible?) and focus on the good things. Then we had the terror attack (I’m a sucker for some CNN) and I could see things headed to where they were last year…the bummer of living in a world that is sinful and selfish. The fear of having my children growing up with the wrong priorities…the fears of choosing job over family or…the list of fears can go on…

This Christmas

This Christmas is different. Christmas Eve started out rough – a power outage at the office (and yes I work Christmas Eve – it’s the liquor industry people;) someone needs to stock and REstock those shelves!) had me in a semi-ability to work. My computer kept turning itself off and on…and then it just quit completely. I gathered my team (and some additional co-workers ready to get something done while we waited) and we had a fabulous brainstorming session. It was fun to talk and laugh and brainstorm ways to make 2016 and 2017 better than 2015. We had some great ideas!

Christmas Eve service arrived and the boys joined us in service. It was crazy. Kellen got a new Bible while he was at my in-laws and he and Lincoln both brought their Bibles to service. Fun fact: Kellen can only read sight words. So each time scripture would pop up on the screen I had Kellen trying to follow along (and when the pastor would start explanations, Kellen would ask where he was, because obviously the pastor was continuing the scripture…so his finger would continue along the page while he would whisper “where is he now?”. Then next to me I had Lincoln, who would slap his Bible each time he got lost OR each time his Bible’s version didn’t match the version on the screen. I’m sure there were several folks who were asking themselves, “What is wrong with that family?! Can’t they keep their kids quiet?!” However, I choose to be stoked that my kids were attempting to follow along:)

At the very end of the service our pastor talked about giving your life to Christ. When I was younger we called it “asking Jesus into your heart”. The words seem cheesy and I think it’s because it doesn’t encompass all that it means…the relationship with Christ, the want to follow someone who gave up His life so that you could have eternity with Him. I have realized that it’s hard to put into words because it is about the environment, the person…and Lincoln asked me about it tonight. It started with the pastor mentioning a gift (hello – gifts are cool) and ended with me taking Lincoln out to talk to Tim who had pulled Kellen out because he was whispering a little too loudly, too often…and he might have whisper-yelled Lincoln at one point for messing with his Bible…maybe. Anyways, I talked to Lincoln and then traded out boys with Tim so they could finish the conversation…Tim told him he could always remember tonight as the night that he gave his life to Christ – whether he’d already felt like he’d done it or not – and Lincoln said, “Next year will be my anniversary!” My heart is SO FULL.

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Santa’s Coming! Santa’s Coming!

SantaKellenThe boys are at my in-laws until Christmas Eve. I have to admit, I was bummed when I realized that the boys would be gone right up until Christmas Eve. Tim thought I was crazy;) Truly though, with Christmas being my favorite holiday, the idea that the boys would not be with me up until the very moment of Christmas had me a bit sad. The laughter and the craziness makes me feel right at home – considering that’s how I grew up – a big family brings lots of noise and fun so this quiet time before the big day is something new.

While the rain is slowly starting to fall on this side of Georgia, I’m reflecting on how I want 2016 to be…The post yesterday shared some of my expectations of what 2016 can hold…More focus on those in need and less focus on the materialistic items – both for myself and my family.

Today I went to the bookstore and found myself perusing the social issues section. I love reading about others who have inspired and met challenges around the world from inner-city high schools to 3rd world countries. I found the companion to 3 Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson which I’m excited to begin reading as well as a few others that I’ll be mentioning in the coming weeks. I’m so grateful for the life God has given me and I want so much to be able to share my journey with others. It hasn’t been easy – the last few years since Tim left full time ministry has been difficult. We have both been learning to face the new reality and while I’m confident that God moved us from our former church, it does not make it any less painful. It’s been slow going, finding our footing. I found that I took just as much ownership in Tim’s former position as he did and while my identity was not his job – a portion of it was that job…that calling. So to find us both navigating the corporate world has been both fun and frustrating. I haven’t talked about that journey except with a few close friends. It’s similar to my journey at work and dreams of the future. Some are hard to vocalize because in stating what you want might make people question the path that you are on…I’m hoping in 2016 I’ll be able to share more of what we’ve learned, what I’ve learned. We haven’t navigated everything perfectly, but we’re not perfect people.

It sounds crazy, but a few years ago I am very confident God provided me with a vision of our future as I drove down I-285. It was the second time in 2 years I had felt God audibly speak to me. I debated whether the vision was exactly what the future would be or whether it was just a vision of what opportunity lay ahead. I’m still not sure, but I hold onto it and I believe that 2016 is the year I will begin to see it unfold.

I have to admit – I’m pretty excited!

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Odds & Ends

The Odds & ends of life as I sit here and watch The Voice;)

Burkina Faso & Ebola

Yes – I’m still going. No, I’m not in fear of Ebola. Burkina has zero cases of Ebola right now and missionaries THERE are praying for us HERE that the cases in the USA do not cause us to miss the trip. It’s a bit amazing watching the media, hearing from friends and family – those in the health industry and not – all the opinions. How could I do that to my kids?! Honestly? If I could take my family with me I’d totally do it! In fact, Lincoln has been continually asking me if he can go (he can’t) and I can’t wait to be able to one day take him on a trip like this with me.

I think this is a great testament to how we have to trust God. Awhile ago I wrote a post detailing my thoughts on “what if” God called us, as a family, to go to Haiti. Whenever I bring it up to friends and family the FEAR factor totally starts up. I’m not saying the fear and concerns aren’t relevant or valid BUT it immediately becomes “what if, what if”…We can’t let the fears of the future stop us from doing what we feel God is leading us to…regardless of the circumstances. I’m not saying go blindly…but if you think about it, Jesus called his disciples to Go and they went in totally blind…no clue of what the future would be and how their lives would change for better or worse, but they went anyways.

If you want to help support my trip…think about purchasing a challenge pack – get healthy & help send me to Burkina…or if you’d just like to make a straight up donation…details are here.

#FitNFabulous Challenge Group

Remember that time I said, “Hey Tim! Let’s do this thing called P90!”…Ha! Well, I’ve been doing it…and it’s been a bit crazy! I am totally huffing and puffing but I LOVE it and true to their word – I really think ANYONE could do it!!

Tim has not had a chance to start it just yet BUT I know that once he does start it he will LOVE it too!! I completely feel my legs & arms getting more and more tone – and I’ve had a few people comment on noticing the tone in my arms…Plus I’m not afraid to show off my “guns”!

I’ve got a few people in the challenge group with me and I am loving their participation! There is something to be said about having friends to help you stay accountable to items that have a tendency to slide down the priority list. I’m a late night workouter (ok, I know that’s not really a word;) and it would be SO easy to say, “Oh – I’ll get to it in the morning” but instead I’m popping in the DVD and working my tail off…and then I crawl into bed:) I will say if you don’t have a group you feel comfortable with helping you stay accountable with workouts (or you just want to make some new friends!) then shoot me an email or leave a comment below and I’ll get you hooked up! My goal is to get my family further on track to healthier living…and this has been a great step in that direction for us:)

Kiddos

We just finished up our first bout with Flag – Football. It was interesting to say the least:) Lincoln was a bit bored b/c he wasn’t able to play as much as we would have liked (a post for another time!) BUT I was super proud of the way he supported his team and embraced the challenges he faced. I was able to finally see him “tackle” someone (ie. grab their flag) so he had 2 tackles this season. He also found a love for snapping:) Tonight was the last game and he was awarded a trophy along with his other teammates! What’s next for him? When I asked him, he told me he would like to do tennis, baseball, soccer (again) and lacrosse…I think there are lots of ball fields in our future;)

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Health, Wealth & well…good times;)

Health and wealth…in this case wealth is not exactly monetary terms…more like exciting times. I’m super pumped bc I’m starting 2 new ventures:

1. Health: So it’s not exactly a venture, as in corporate venture, but it is a fabulous new venture into my future. I have been wanting to invest in my health, but unfortunately the gym eludes me; mostly because I have quite the drive (minimal to some) but an hour + to and from…so time at the gym is a no-go for me. Instead, I’ve tried to incorporate bike riding or running or walking…but that typically gets deferred to my kids and dinner prep as well as darkness (our neighborhood has zero lights and sidewalks). I have a friend who began doing some Beach Body workouts – PIYO sounded intriguing to me so I tried it…and I LOVE it! I enjoyed the coaching aspects that MY coach, Laura Mendenhall, gave to me – encouraging healthy eating (including Shakeology – which sounded bizarre, but I tried it and…well…on the days I don’t have it, I can tell a difference!) as well as time management tips (when DO you work out inbetween drives, dinner and family time?!) and just a fun community…so I’m hosting my own group in September (check out my FB page for more info).

2. Wealth: Okay…so not $$$ BUT wealth as in…I’ve been blessed by the wealth of being born in the USA. I’m so thankful that I’m able to worship my God without restrictions from government ON TOP of the fact that I’ve been able to go through life without going hungry, homeless, etc. I have been given a wealth of resources! So, what am I doing about it? As you can see from previous posts, my want to help others has been top of mind lately. I want to be able to share God’s love with others and help my kids to see how blessed they are as well.

Earlier this week, our church announced that it is taking trip to Burkina Faso, Africa in February. Our previous church had a relationship with Haiti. (Check out Haiti Cherie!) Tim took several trips with them and I do believe one day we may do a long term trip there because of Tim’s love for Haiti and even Lincoln’s desire to go there. Our church now, has a relationship with Burkina Faso and I have been wanting to travel there since we first started attending. And in February that trip is going to come to fruition!

Sidebar: My dad’s mom always wanted to go to Africa and while my grandfather would travel ANYWHERE with her, Africa was not really his cup of tea…she died unexpectedly when I was in college and never got to go. When Tim and I got married I told him that Africa was somewhere I needed to go, in order to fulfill the dream my grandmother had had. Now, my mom tells me that my grandma would not want me to travel to Africa now (I wouldn’t doubt that), I, however, feel like it’s a trip I need to take.

I can’t wait to meet the people of Burkina Faso and am hoping to even me our Compassion child while we are there! Yes, EBOLA is happening in Africa…no, Burkina Faso is not one of the countries that has had a major outbreak (trust me, I went over this with my mom today!)…

So, in addition to a crazy hectic work schedule (my trade show is literally a few weeks away!!!) I am going to be challenging myself to a steady diet of work out, health and wellness (Starbucks, I’m sorry, but I’m having to take a break for awhile!!)…I want to be tip top shape, emotionally, spiritually and physically to embrace all that Burkina has to offer in February and all that life has to offer in between:)

Be praying for our family as we prepare for this amazing adventure…while they are not going with me, I know that God has some pretty exciting things in store for my kids and Tim while I’m away! I want them to be prepared to embrace that as well!

Below is a video from Engage Burkina – it will give you a taste of what we are doing in the country as wells as some stats. It’s hard to believe that while we have so much, others just a plane ride away, have so little.

And for those of you who think…what about the needs in OUR country? Soon, I will share some of the things our family will be getting involved with locally in the coming months as I agree, we don’t have to travel abroad to help others…we can help those in our backyard too.

 

Engage Burkina from Engage Burkina on Vimeo.