I am a certified fitness instructor and have been teaching group fitness classes for over 22 years. I am also a board certified holistic health counselor with a degree from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. I am 48 years old with a 25 year old daughter and a 23 year old son. My husband Chris and I have been married for 28 years. I have been a member of the Church of Christ my entire life as well as my mother, father and both sets of grandparents. I am the owner of a local food service based business and currently teach conditioning classes here in the Edmond area. I have been a strict vegetarian for many years but I will walk 10 miles barefoot in the snow for a good piece of chocolate! ;)
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The Voice in Our Heads
We go out of our way to be kind to total strangers. We watch our tone with our children. When the conversation is important, we measure our words carefully. And yet for a lot of us, none of these rules apply to the voice that speaks the loudest in our own minds. I wonder why?
We not only say hurtful and belittling things to ourselves, but that voice also has a tone. It is not sweet or kind; it sounds critical, judgmental, and harsh. In my health counseling practice I have spoken with so many women who repeat the same demeaning mantra over and over as if on a recording device. Things like:
- “You’re so stupid.”
- “You are so lazy. Why can’t you get your act together?”
- “You will always be fat so stop trying to be something you’re not.”
- “You’re weak…you don’t matter…you aren’t capable…”
And the list goes on and on.
We would NEVER speak to another person with those words or that accusing tone but we have no qualms about being our own worst nightmare. We would never put up with another person treating us in such a way. But if it’s coming from our own voice, in our own head, not only is it fine but we believe it to be true.
The Need for Self-Compassion
Two words have been cropping up over the past several years in counseling offices, in therapy books, and TED talks alike. Those two words are SELF COMPASSION. Most of us know how to be compassionate to others but are at a loss how to offer that same love to ourselves. In the words of one of my favorite Natalie Grant songs, she says, “You can’t be free if you don’t reach for help and you can’t love, if you don’t love yourself,” and it is so very true.
Frequently, I am asked questions about:
- Techniques for weight loss
- How to stop overeating
- Ways to have more energy
- How to feel more confident in my own skin.
As a fitness trainer, I know the scientific solutions to these questions but without self-compassion, self-love and self-care, none of it works.
Remember that the two greatest commands are to love God and to love others. Matthew 22 goes on to say that we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Self-love and compassion is a commandment of God’s word. I think a lot of us have missed the mark on this one.
The body is the single most proficient machine ever created. It is beyond the measure of intelligence and efficiency and comes with all the signs, signals, and tools we need to be fully alive and functional. The problem is we have stopped listening. So many louder voices speak over us that we are no longer in tune with our bodies’ demands, wants, and needs.
Getting Rid of the Brain Bully
What if we made a pact with ourselves to remove that harsh, critical voice in our heads, and to honor our bodies by listening to its messages?
The answers to all of those health and weight loss questions lie in this formula.
When my body says:
- Rest–I will rest.
- Eat–I will honor it with healthy, life-giving nutrition and I will stop eating when I am satisfied.
- I am hurt–I will deal with the issue immediately whether physical or emotional.
- I feel like crying–Cry.
- I need a friend–Call one.
How opposite is this compared to the way most of us operate? We tell ourselves we don’t have time to:
- Eat breakfast.
- Deal with that hurt right now.
- Connect with others.
We push and push and push and completely ignore the things our bodies are literally begging us for.
Some of us:
- Make our bodies wait hours for nutrition.
- Sleep as little as 3-4 hours a night.
- Give so much to work that we miss out on the very things that make our lives meaningful.
We all struggle with these issues. However, we must find balance in order to avoid the consequences of an overworked, over-stressed, and physically exhausted lifestyle.
The body-spirit-mind connection is so strong.
The three are inseparable, so to honor one is to honor all. If we take this challenge we will fall in line with God’s design for us both physically as well as emotionally. We will kick the brain bully to the curb. We will treat ourselves with the same love and kindness we extend to those around us.
We are worth it and some of us have spent far too long believing otherwise! Since God’s own son died for one and all, HE certainly believed you were worth it!
Are you ready to start kicking the brain bully to the curb?
What changes will you start making today to live in line with God’s design for us?
I'm Lori! My husband and I have been married since 2008. We adopted our son in July and live in Memphis, TN. One of the things I love about Creating a Great Day is that it is focused on inspiring women to the woman that God wants them to be. Every woman is different, and we all have talents to honor God and walk alongside each other in this spiritual journey called life. Have a blessed day!
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That is when we decided to adopt. After I prayed for peace, the next prayer was this:
God, please help me to love our birth mom, not judge her.
As a naturally critical person, I was afraid my insecurities or judgments would interfere with God’s work in our adoption. For over two and a half years, our prayer has been to unconditionally love our birth mother and to accept her into our lives.
Fast-forward to June 2015.
All adoptive families want to receive “the call,” and finally, we received our call. We had been selected. We scheduled a visit to meet our birth mother in Texas and talk about the logistics of the baby’s birth. There isn’t a rule book of how to interact with your birth mom. You just kind of do it. She set the tone for the interactions, but our agency made sure that we discussed the sensitive topics. When we arrived at our meeting with the birth mother, we didn’t know what to expect. We couldn’t have asked for a better meeting. All she could talk about were our needs and the baby’s needs. She constantly put others ahead of herself in our discussions.
When Benjamin was born, we had frequent reminders that he wasn’t our child. We were connected to him but technically didn’t “have him. Fighting the emotions of wanting to love a child who wasn’t yet “ours” was emotionally and mentally challenging. We tried to love him in the best ways we could. Something else we were not expecting was the truth: loving Benjamin meant loving our birth mother.
The Choice to Love
We constantly had to work out with our birth mother who was to care for Benjamin. Our birth mother was also recovering from a c-section and needed physical assistance, encouragement to eat/drink, and someone to talk to about her emotions. I could feel God giving us a choice. Would we show love only to Benjamin? Or would we also show love to our birth mother, even if that meant giving up time with Benjamin and loving her when it was uncomfortable to us?
Using Adoption to Teach Us About Loving Others
When I look back over that time in the hospital, I am so thankful that God showed us what to do. We had no control over what was happening and no “road map” of what to do or how to act. God used our adoption story to teach us what loving others when it’s uncomfortable could look like. It wasn’t until Benjamin was born that a realization hit me. This child was not ours; it was hers. Yes, we had waited…and waited…and prayed…and cried…and grew angry…and waited some more. But, it was her choice to follow through with the adoption. It was her choice to make medical decisions regarding the baby. And it was her choice to engage in sacrificial love so her child could have the life she planned but could not give.
Our birth mother stated that she was confident of her decision, but her pain was evident. She loved Benjamin so much. You could see it in how she swaddled him, fed him, changed him, and held him. Her choice did not invalidate her sacrifice. That sort of love made me feel guilty. I felt unworthy of being forever connected with her. How do I show love to a woman who is giving a part of herself to us?
Adoption Changed Our View of People
People have suggested that it’s time for us to move on. This has been difficult for me. I constantly think about our birth mother. While we were together, we talked about life, family, and God’s presence in our lives. Our time in Texas challenged us spiritually, mentally, and physically. Beside the fact that we are now a family of three, it also provoked new thoughts of life, love, and our Christian walk. This wasn’t something that we can move on from because it has changed the way we look at and love other people. I can only pray that it helps us move forward in how we treat others.
This experience has led me to several questions:
- What would the world look like if more people chose life (adoption/parenting) over death (abortion)?
- If we truly treated everyone as if they were made in the image of God–put aside race, socioeconomic status, education level, worldview–what would the world look like? What if we really treated people like we would want to be treated? We wouldn’t even need rules and regulations governing our way of life because the Spirit would lead us to live in communion with one another.
- What if there were fewer adoptions? What if we were in the lives of others so much that we pooled our resources and supported all families (not just those that look, act, and talk like us) as we all try to get through life? There would be fewer adoptions/foster care children, more family preservation, and more support. God asks to us to give to the poor and support those in need. He asks us to stand in the gap for those who are hurting. Isn’t this the basis of what draws biological families into turmoil and chaos?
I don’t know what the answers to these question are, or even if they are logical. I just hope that these questions will lead our family to live out the love of Christ in everything we do.
May us all live lives where we love others even when it’s uncomfortable.
May God use us to engage others who are not like us. Help us support them with the sacrificial love of Christ.
Lori and her husband used Christian Homes and Family Services in Texas to become adoptive parents.
Be encouraged by these posts as well!
I am a recovering Army brat who loves to travel and start new adventures. My handsome husband and I met at Oklahoma Christian University and he whisked me away to Kansas. So, I bought some ruby red high heels and made Topeka my home. I have a rough and rowdy Princess 4-year-old girl, amazing twin boys (almost 3) and a newborn baby girl who all make every day an adventure. We are grateful to be part of an amazing church in Topeka who regularly challenges and encourages our whole family. I have been both a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom and/or both at the same time at one point or another. I am constantly seeking God’s wisdom on “balancing it all” and following His plan for my life, not mine.
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It’s one of those things we cherish in others, perhaps even require in our most meaningful earthly relationships. The definitions of “faithful” according to Dictionary.com are as follows:
1. strict or thorough in the performance of duty:
a faithful worker.
2.true to one’s word, promises, vows, etc.
3.steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant:
4.reliable, trusted, or believed.
5.adhering or true to fact, a standard, or an original; accurate:
a faithful account; a faithful copy.
6. full of faith; believing.
Faithfulness is a foundational component of love, commitment, and trust. That is probably the reason we crave it from our friends, family, and loved ones. I believe we also need it because faithfulness is a key attribute of God and how He relates to us. God is love. God is faithful, and he keeps His promises. He is constant, He is to be trusted, He is thorough, and His word is true.
New Perspective on God’s Faithfulness
As an adult, I have reread the Old Testament with new perspective about how it is really telling us the story of Jesus and God’s plan to save a troubled and corrupted world. When I was young, I always got “trust and obey” out of Old Testament stories. But as I grew up, the Lord showed me that His perfect faithfulness was demonstrated time and again. Layers and layers of faithfulness. (Thanks to the Jesus Storybook Bible, I find it much easier to communicate some of this to my kiddos.)
What is a greater story of faithfulness than God’s commitment to all his promises to the Israelites? The first chapter of Joshua comes to mind. After God told them to finally enter the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership, he tells them this:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:8-9 ESV)
Not Always Obvious
I could go on and talk about all the proof in the New and Old Testaments of God’s unending faithfulness, including the death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, but it is more difficult to understand faithfulness in your own day-to-day life. God’s faithfulness is sometimes easiest seen in hindsight. It’s not something that always seems obvious when we are in the midst of something hard or terrible, or even joyous. But I assure you, He is Faithful. All. The. Time. If we know Him, and we know His Word, we know He is with us wherever we go.
Faithfulness in Big and Small Ways
In my own life, this is sometimes how the Lord urges me to trust and obey in the hard things. He reminds me how He has been faithful in so many “small” and “big” ways. One “small” way in which God has been faithful in my life is that He consistently provides someone to meet my needs on days I just feel weary. Whether it be a friend in a lonely place, ladies from church to help bring meals or offer extra helping hands when you have a newborn (or two), or the person at the grocery store who lets you go ahead of them because your kids are losing their minds, and even a husband who brings dinner home after a long day.
These are “small” examples, but nonetheless, it is powerful to know that He cares about the small things in my life as much as the big things. It helps me change my perspective. When I look back on the Lord’s faithfulness in my life, especially in tragedy or heartache, it overwhelms me. But his faithfulness exists even in times of joy. I can do nothing else but know the same will be true in the future.
God is Faithful because He Loves You
Finding His faithfulness in the “small” things each day makes it so much easier to find comfort when everything, or even just one thing, seems to be falling apart. God is Faithful, All the Time. He is faithful because He loves us; He loves us more than anyone in this world is capable of loving us. Meditate on that for a while. God loves you. He has a plan for our lives and He is faithful through it all. It may not always look the way we expect. It may take time and reflection, perhaps even years down the road, or perhaps we will never know the full extent of His faithfulness in our lives.
Regardless, know this truth: God is faithful.
My favorite verse is Romans 8:28 (NIV):
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Please note that this verse doesn’t say all things are good in this life, but says that HE works things together for THE good OF those called according to HIS purpose.
He is sovereign; He is great. But He is love, and He is faithful to those who serve Him. Do you know what is even better? He is faithful even when we fail.
I implore you to seek God in all things, but especially during times of trial. Trust in Him who is faithful. Even if we don’t understand His ways in the present, we can be assured that He loves us more than we can imagine.
John 16:33 (ESV) says:
“ I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
How have you seen God’s faithfulness in your life?
I live in the beautiful city of Fort Collins, Colorado. I work as a Medical Records Specialist. I enjoy traveling, camping, concerts, comedy, watching hockey, photography, and just being with friends and family.
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I never thought I would be unmarried and childless at age twenty-nine. My parents met in college and married young, so I grew up thinking I would do the same. One of the reasons I went to a Christian college was to lock down that perfect Christian man. Yet somehow the years have rushed by and here I am. It’s like the saying goes: “If you want to make God laugh, make a plan.” I do hope to be married and to have a family someday. But do I still wish I had married young? Not really. Just like being married, being single has its challenges and joys.
1. Not fitting in
One thing that really bothers me about being single in the church is the lack of a place for me. In today’s society, more and more people are remaining single longer. In fact, according to Google, “The average age for Americans getting married has reached a historic high–27 for women and 29 for men–a jump from the 1990 average marrying age of 23 for women and 26 for men.” Despite this trend, most churches I’ve attended do not have a group for singles. When I am looking for a fellowship group, I must choose between the college group or the young married group. I don’t fit in either category and I’m left feeling like an island.
Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself.” (Matthew 6:34) This is the hardest command for me to follow, and being single makes it even harder. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I do worry that I will end up all alone. I may never get the marriage relationship I desire. I may never have kids. If you’ve been on as many bad dates as I have, you start to wonder if all the good guys really are taken. As I get older and more of my friends have two or three kids, I wonder if I’m just too far behind.
God also commanded us not to be envious of others. I hate to admit this too, but sometimes when I see my peers who have a wonderful husband and beautiful children, I feel jealous. I think, “Why do they get to have all those things and I don’t? Why am I so unlucky?”
4. Disappointments and Frustrations
Over the years, I’ve done a lot of dating, and therefore I’ve had my share of disappointments and frustrations. Not only have I had many moments of painful heartbreak, I’ve been rejected, and I’ve hurt others. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve been frustrated with men who are selfish, hurtful, flaky, or just plain bad at dating.
But being single isn’t all bad…
Being single has given me opportunities and experiences that I never would have had if I had married at a young age. I’ve had the freedom to move many different places. I have the ability to travel and experience different hobbies and activities. My fellow single friends and I have had many amazing adventures together. I wouldn’t trade our road trips and camping trips for anything. When I think back on all the memories I’ve collected, I smile and I wouldn’t change that.
Single life has allowed me to grow in ways I might not have grown otherwise. I’ve had to seek out a career and work hard at it. I never thought I would care about a career. Although I always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom (and still do), suddenly I found a new satisfaction in working. I like making my own money to pay my own bills. As cheesy as it may sound, I like taking care of myself and learning to become an independent woman. Spiritually, I’ve grown. I’ve had to rely on God, trust him, and find my satisfaction in him. I’ve also learned to create my own happiness. No one, married or single, should look to someone else (other than God) to supply their joy or rescue them. Realizing this has made me stronger and helped me learn to love myself more.
3. A New Perspective
Experiencing what it’s like to be single has helped me understand others who are single. I can relate to them; if I get married someday, I can be sensitive to their struggles because I’ve been through those struggles too.
We all take different paths in this life. Everyone’s journey is different. We can’t say one journey is better than the other. But as different as our lives may be, we as Christians have one thing in common: we walk in the light. Whether we’re poor or rich, married or single, sick or healthy, sad or joyous, we have an anchor for the soul. That is the only thing that matters!
Right now I am dating a great guy and I am so glad I met him. I don’t know what the future holds for us. But no matter what happens, I’ll be strong because God makes me strong.
Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
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Together through Almost Everything
My husband and I have been married for almost twenty-six years. During that time, we have been through so much. We have been together through most everything listed in our wedding vows. God has brought us through good and bad times. At this point in our lives, our oldest child has completed his second year in college, and our middle child will be a senior in the fall. Our youngest will be a high school sophomore. So now we are looking to our future. We recently started discussing what I would do after our children graduated.
I have been a stay at home/homeschooling mom for almost twenty years. The thought of going back into corporate America does not exactly set well with me. When I was in college, I did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I changed my major numerous times, finally settling on one because if I changed again it would take me longer to graduate.
What Will I Be When I Grow Up?
Once I got my degree and started a career, I was never truly satisfied with my job situation. (Now, I can see God’s hand in this.) The position and money was never good enough. I always felt like something was missing, and it was not until we had our first child that I finally knew what I wanted to be: a mom. Now, I am looking back at square one. What do I want to be when I grow up? Or rather, what do I want to do when the kids are grown and gone?
My husband and I recently discussed this. He asked me if I planned to go back to work when the kids graduated. I had been thinking about it and really could not decide what I wanted to do, even with prayer. I could not discern if it was God telling me or just my feelings of what I wanted. The more we discussed it, the more I knew. I decided that I want to retire! I am serious! My husband is six years older than I am. By the time our youngest graduates, my husband will be just a few years from retirement. He would like me to retire when he does, so for now that is our plan.
Looking Forward to Retirement
We have been discussing what we want in our retirement, and we agreed we wanted to travel. So for now, that seems to be our plan. Hopefully our plan will agree with God’s plan for our lives, too. We have learned through the years to always listen for what God wants us to do. I am sure we will continue to discuss this, pray, and change our minds, but right now traveling sounds good and corporate America does not.
What are your plans for retirement?
Hello! I am a native So Cal resident. Admin by day, but more importantly Mom to a teenage boy who I often refer to as "Man-child". We are a two person, one corgi, one goldfish household with a heart for God and family.
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I’m on the wrong side of experience with this topic. Well, maybe that just depends on how I look at love. On one hand, I am on the right side, as I have no doubt I’m incredibly loved by an amazing God. On the other, I’ve come up way short of loving people the way God expects of me. Can anyone else relate?
There is so much to be said about how poorly we Christians set this example, and how incredibly wrong our culture is on understanding what love is. The truth is that it is too overwhelming to tackle in a simple post like this. I’m at a loss as to where to even start, which is usually where the Holy Spirit comes in…
“Ahem… can’t find all the right words? Don’t know where to start? Shocker. Do you really think you need to recreate the wheel? The scripture is already there. Just give a little reminder by putting it in front of them.”
Drive Love Home
Recently, I was in a meeting where a team was asked to provide suggestions on how to ensure that what was being taught would remain active in the workplace. One suggestion was to present the information to the team at each meeting, instead of moving on to a new training topic. Simply put, drive the message home until it has become second nature. So even though in the next meeting it will not be anything new, there will be a commitment to understanding and getting it right.
Maybe it’s time to make a commitment to understand love and get it right. Are we willing to make it a point to keep God’s instruction before us and drive love home before worrying about the other items on our Christian checklist?
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13
The greatest of these is love! Where is our commitment to love in the midst of all the other topics we Christians are so passionate to defend?
What kind of Christian are you?
I’ve met some Christians who can quote scripture at the drop of a hat in one breath and with the next breath say the nastiest things about a brother or sister in Christ.
I’ve met Christians who will speak out against corrupt lifestyles that our society has widely accepted, but will tear others down for their own personal gain.
Now, if you know me at all and are reading this you know I’m not innocent of anything I talk about here. But none–and I mean none–of us can pretend we are. So please, don’t misunderstand me. This comes from a place of conviction, not a place of feigned moral high ground.
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Love is hard, folks. It is so unbelievably hard. Why? Because it is work. If we do not labor to love, we do not love at all. That is the bottom line.
What love is: An act of obedience.
What love is not: A feeling. This is where our culture gets it wrong. (Now before we get all “amen sister” let us not forget how much room for improvement we have on this topic. Preaching about how society has a distorted notion of love comes second to the issue of us Christians not leading the charge, so let’s not deflect.)
Merriam-Webster defines love as:
a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person
attraction that includes sexual desire: the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship.
a person you love in a romantic way
The mother of all face palms is happening right here in my living room friends. It is no wonder we don’t get it. We just don’t get it! Here is what the creator of love has to say about what it actually is:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (emphasis added)
Patience can look like not acting on frustration. Kindness can be shown by choosing to pick our battles. Jealousy, pride, and rudeness can be avoided when we ditch the sarcasm and the need/desire for validation from anyone other than God. Truth can win out when we bite our tongue. Love can persevere if we don’t get lazy. These are action items. Nowhere does it talk about feelings. It is how we respond.
Responding to “Feelings”
In Beth Moore’s Bible study Living Beyond Yourself, she notes four ways to respond that fly in the face of our feelings:
- Confront the situation.
- Admit to God we lack agape (love) for someone.
- Consider through scripture God’s response.
- Be obedient and respond like Jesus.
I don’t know about you, but to me it sounds like something that endures through every circumstance has seen some things. Every. Circumstance. That is a big deal; that sounds like serious work to me. I want to get love in a room and tell it to write a book because that’s gotta be one heck of a saga. “Oh Sara, I am love, and that saga is The Holy Bible.” Oooh snap, did anyone else hear that? Mother of all face palms happening right now in heaven.
Let’s Get to Work
All right. That is enough chatter. Let’s get to work on this love thing, shall we? I’m certainly no expert but can suggest to you a couple resources I’m currently using to help drive love home in my life.
- Pray your heart out. Ask God to help you get past your feelings and be moved into an active place of love. Can you imagine what the world would look like if we didn’t just know the following verses, but actually lived them?
John 13:34-35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
1 Peter 4:8: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
Galatians 6:10: “Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone-especially to those in the family of faith.”
I’d LOVE to hear your personal experiences of how God has shown up in your obedient, hard and worthy acts of love. Brag about God in the comments section and encourage someone today!