Monday, June 20, 2016

Living On Mission: Getting Out of Your Comfortable Life

I can remember the moment so clearly when I missed it.  I missed the calling.  I missed the opportunity.  I failed.

Walking down Magnificent Mile I saw him.  A man so clearly struggling.  In a hospital gown pushing a basic metal frame walker, a dried bloody bandaged foot and a complete hopelessness on his face.

I was called to help this man.  I knew it.  I knew in my spirit I was to do something.  The problem was I didn't know what.  I had no cash and no food establishments were nearby.  I had a moment of my heart beating so fast and nervousness all over, but talked myself out of it.

What am I really supposed to do?  How can I even begin to help him?  I don't have anything to offer.

I walked on by and said nothing about what I had experienced.  Not even to my husband.

Weeks went by and I went back to my comfortable world and thought nothing of the man.  It wasn't until Thanksgiving of 2013 I had another tug.  It was the Holidays and I was dead set on our kids knowing the value of helping others during a time where they receive plenty.

I put out a call to Facebook and asked people to help me find organizations or activities where we could serve as a family.  We had a good list going.  Blessing the trash workers, postal workers, helping a neighbor with yard work, cards for kids in the hospital, making a meal for families at the Ronald McDonald House and a homeless outreach.  All of activities were in my comfort zone, but one.  The homeless outreach.  Yeah, we're just gonna move that one on down the list. Cooking for people.  I can do that.  Serving those who make me uncomfortable.  Nope.

That was my plan. To put off the homeless outreach until and maybe we wouldn't have time to get to it.  Funny thing about my plans.  I shared the list with the kids and they picked the homeless outreach.

I could go on and on about what that day of serving did for us.  It was a beautiful, messy moment that shook my beliefs on the homeless and poor.  What I knew of my community and the struggles I thought I knew was NOTHING.  Instead, people wanted (and needed) what we had as far as physical donations, but what they truly longed for was acknowledgement.

It was then I realized maybe my moment on Magnificent Mile was just to stop the man in the hospital gown and have a conversation.  To let him know 'I see you'.  You are of value.  You are not the scum of the streets.  You are not a sum of your mistakes.  You are a living, breathing, beautiful person who is loved by the one, true God.

As my church prepares for an complete city wide outreach, it reminds me where we began as a family.  Stepping out of complete comfort to love on people.  I invite you to join us for #Loveday16 in Tulsa, OK.

I want you to know that YOU have something to offer people.  No matter how small or insignificant you think your gifts and talents are, they will be used and for a good purpose.  This is a pretty good video of what one small step can do for you and others.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Joy Filled Life: A Lesson On Body Image

Summer is my favorite time of year because it offers freedom. Sweet freedom.  Lazy summer mornings of not rushing kids every which way. Slower, or non-existent, activity schedule and less clothing.

Wait, what?

Okay, so there's one thing I don't like about summer.  Less clothing.  At least on me.  Less clothing on kids...LOVE (means less laundry).  However, less clothing on me means it's that much harder to hide the flaws.  The spider veins, the cellulite, the whiteness, the loose skin, the non-existent 'I've nursed 4 babies' boobs and the baby leftovers.  I found myself feeling inadequate in lots of areas of my body image. Some things I can change by being more focused on my diet and working out.  Some things I could change surgically.  Some things I could simply hide.


Or, I could accept.

Dang it.  Acceptance is touchy subject.  I often feel when I accept something I am saying acceptance to justify,  or because I feel defeated.  But what if I flipped that to say acceptance as responsibility?

I am where I am.  I can do something about it, but I refuse to let my life center around my flaws any longer.

I thought about this quite a bit today after my bestie snapped a pic of me and I immediately said, "Don't you dare post that!"  I knew my baby leftovers were lapping over my swimsuit.  It was not going to be a pretty sight, and not something I wanted to blast on social media.

You know what's wrong with that?  I made the whole situation about me.  My thoughts. My insecurities.  My shortcomings.  It was selfish.

My kids were having a blast playing at the pool.  We were completely enjoying summer and the last thing I should have been worried about was what I looked like.  But, really my thoughts were more like, Oh, HECK NO!  I want to only show what looks good.  Selfish.

So what better way to correct my selfishness by sharing my 'ashamed pic'.  I wish I had a big flashing arrow right to the point that bothers me the most, but a nice zoom in will do ;)

I realize for others, this is probably not a big deal.  We women certainly like to compare, but for me, I measure myself up to my old self.  My pre-Stevie self.  I measure myself up to this...

Can we take a moment of silence for those ABS!?!?! Now, if I took hours each week focusing on my workouts (which I do need to do), then I can get that back, but guess what?  There will always be things I don't like about my body image.  The only way to combat destructive self images are to remind myself of who I am in Christ.

Sounds so cliche, but truth.  I am fully capable of serving others and living out a calling whether I have the Dunlap Disease or not.  You know, the disease where your stomach 'done lapped' over your belt thus resulting in Dunlap Disease.  My joy should not be wrapped up in my appearance or lack of appearance.  My joy should be present no matter what the circumstance.  Even in the darkest times. Even in the joyous times. Even in my own noticeable shortcomings. Even in my own successes.

Joy.  A joy filled life. That's what I want.

Instead of focusing on whether or not baby leftovers are hanging out, I will capture those selfish, destructive thoughts and move towards focusing on Philippians 4:8.

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-think about such things.

Aligning my thoughts correctly.  I am no where near perfect, but I will continue to work on getting better.

If you are interested in rewiring how you think The 4:8 Principle by Tommy Newberry is a great start.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Balance and Presence and All That Stuff

I like to juggle.  Who am I kidding?  I suck at juggling.  I don't like to juggle.  The thought of it sounds cool, but the balls start flying and I get all anxious.  Anxious about the WHAT IF! 

What if I drop a ball?

What if I drop all the balls?

What if someone sees me drop the balls?

What if they laugh?

What if...what if...what if...

This, in theory sounds crazy.  Stressing out about juggling balls, but in real life  this is REAL.  I wear a lot of different hats, and if you are like 99.99999% of the American population, you wear a lot of hats too.  Case in point, it's 8:00am and I have already been a workout partner, a friend, a cook, a hair stylist, a tutor, a butt wiper, you get the point.  A lot of stuff has happened in the 3 short hours I have been awake. No doubt, there's a lot of other stuff that I still have to do, and will forget to do.  It's inevitable.

When the overwhelming feeling of all the jobs, all the chores, all the things I need to get done well up in my anxious self, I have to STOP.  Easier said than done.  Really.  I have to not only stop, but tell myself to stop, then follow my own directions and prioritize. 

Almost always I find myself in an anxious mode when I let life run it's course in my head.  I get distracted.  I forget what I'm doing.  I start something else. Get distracted. Forget what I'm doing again.  Pick up something else. Get distracted. Then BAM!!!  It's bedtime and I have all these half done jobs and nothing gets checked off my mental list.

There's my problem number one.  I keep a mental list instead of an actual tangible list where I can cross things off.  Problem #2?  I forget to be present in what I'm doing.

Presence is the very key for me living a balanced life.  I feel anxious when I let my thoughts and to-dos run wild in my head, instead of focusing and being present. Over the last two years, I remind myself often to be present in my activities.  In the time with my kids.  In the time I spend working.  In the time I spend being a friend.  In the time I spend with God.  In the time I spend at church.  In the time I spend being a wife.  Sounds super great, right? Uhhhh...notice I said I have spent TWO years working on this!  I am a multi-tasker by nature so the art of being present is something I work on DAILY.  Funny thing is, when I practice being present, I am not anxious.  I get WAY more done, and my family is happier. 

So today, I'm practicing presence...again. Something tells me I will be working on this tomorrow too.

And, because I work on a better me for these guys (and I like to show off my kids and nephews like trophies) you get a pic of the Torres Kids!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Attitude of Gratitude

Yesterday I had a leadership meeting with my business to map out our plan for the remaining 4 months of the year.  Before we began, we took a moment to focus on the art of being grateful.

When you really think about it, how often are we truly grateful?

Reality check!!!!  Not often enough for me.

Case in point...

We have 6 living humans in this household.  The laundry is unreal.  UNREAL I tell you!!!  Too many people in too many activities wearing too many clothes.  It adds up so fast.  And to be really honest, it drives me batty.  Laundry and dishes...don't even get me started on the dishes...

I digress.

We leave tomorrow for a little weekend trip.  Super fun, right?  YES!  Totally looking forward to it.  However, the laundry needs to be done.  So does grocery shopping.  So does house cleaning.  So does feeding kids. So does work. It goes on and on and on.  I walked into my bedroom and was instantly frustrated with the laundry staring back at me.

I kid you not, it said, " won't fold us.  There's too much of us and only one of you."

Okay, so that didn't really happen, but it felt like it.  Seriously.  I felt defeated by laundry, and chores, and groceries, and kids.  Hello, basket case!

Stop.  I had to stop.  Stop and think about what all these little things truly meant.

I have clean clothes.  Which means I have running water and electricity in my own home.  That we own.  I have money to buy soap to wash the clothes.  Our family has many options of clothes to wear.  For every season.  The stains on the clothes are the evidence of the very freedoms we have.  Freedom to eat out.  Freedom to play sports. Which means we have a means to pay for food and activities.  The list goes on and on and on.

When you start to put it that way, life doesn't seem to defeat me as much.  The attitude of gratitude immediately turns my frame of reference towards a place of victory.  So there, Pile 'O Laundry!  I will fold you and you will like it.

Then my kids will put you away!

Monday, September 14, 2015

When Good is Good, But Great Is Better

TMI Alert...

I LOVE nursing!  I love the closeness, the cuddles, the baby breaths on my skin...I LOVE IT!!!

I HATE the breastpump.  The boob squeezing, tube sucking, devil machine.  It is awful.

Anytime I can avoid using the pump, I will.

Nursing is good.  Breastpump...ehhhhhhh.

All this glorious information is pertinent, I promise.

Yesterday my bestie and I scheduled a morning run, but the littliest Torres wasn't up just yet.  I would have rather nursed her, yet I decided to pump so I could run.  As I was getting ready to lace up my shoes, I heard her playing in the room.

Dang IT!!!  I could have saved myself a pumping session!!!

As I poured the milk into the bottle for Steven so he could feed her, Little Miss got all jumpy and said, "Mama, can I please feed her?!?!?"

She got her wish...

My plan of wanting to nurse the littlest Torres was good, but laying that down gave me the opportunity to see that good is good, but great was better.  I got to go run and Little Miss got to feed her sister for some bonding time.

This is true in almost every aspect of life.  Often times we buy into the lie that what we have is good, so looking for great is wrong.  NO!  Looking for great is what we are called to do.

Let me clarify one thing here.  If you're reading this and think, "My spouse is good, but I need great,"  STOP. RIGHT. THERE.  Your spouse is great.  Maybe you haven't helped uncover the greatness in them.  So, more than likely, the problem is you and YOU should lay down your good and become great for YOUR spouse.

But, since we aren't talking about that, I'm moving on.  I had to make that one little thing clear.

I can give you countless example after example of how this has proved true in our families' lives.  Jobs, children, church, school...all these things we have experienced good.  Then something was laid down before us.  We almost stepped over it because, after all, what we have is good.  Why would we trade it in for something else?  What if the new isn't as good as the old?  What if we weren't supposed to pick up the new in the first place?  What if...what if...what if...

We let fear take over.  Fear paralyzes us from living out our true calling or potential.  Pick up the dang thing!  Let yourself see that good is good, but great is better.  You can have great.  There is nothing wrong with saying, "What I have right now is good.  In fact, I love it.  BUT, what I'm picking up will take me to a place in life I could have never imagined."

Don't walk in fear today, or tomorrow for that matter.  Walk through whatever you need to, but let fear fall to wayside on the way.  Greater is He who is in you than who is in the world (1 John 4:4).  You have already won.  Just walk it out.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Willingness To Be Misunderstood

Have you ever put yourself out there only to find out you were misunderstood?  Yeah, me neither.

I kid.  I put myself out there a lot, and I'm okay with being misunderstood.  A few years ago?  Never.  I would have really cared about what people thought of my motives instead of focusing on the true nature of my motives.

That's the thing with living outside of your comfort zone.  People often misunderstand your heart and your intentions.  It happens to us all.  The more you step out of your comfort zone, the more opportunities you have to be misunderstood. 

I've found this to be true time and time again.  Running my own organization through Arbonne offers lots of moments where I am misunderstood. I'm okay with this. I'm okay with knowing, and outsiders not knowing, the beautiful stories of people who I have partnered with as they worked on better health, better skin, or better finances.  They know my heart.   As for others who see a skewed view of who I am or what I do, it's okay!  The truth will always be made light.  It is the same for you.

We can walk through life and try to prove who we are to the world.  That's not needed, and often times we are trying so hard to prove who we are, we unintentionally lose sight of ourselves and our passions.  The truth is we have already been proved through Christ.  We have a list of all the things God says we are...friends, heirs, wonderfully made, conquerors, and many more.  All the more reasons why we need to protect our hearts, live with good intentions, shine a light for Him, and have the willingness to be misunderstood.  And, might I add the willingness to be misunderstood without putting up a fight.

Now, if you really want to know about what I do and how I came to be apart of Arbonne, I really encourage you to listen to my story tonight at 8:30pm CST via a conference call.  The flyer below has the dial in number, and reference number you will be prompted to enter.  Then you just listen.  

Whether you are curious of how one builds an organization or what Arbonne is, this is a time to discover the answers.  It's also a time where you can be completely nosy and nobody knows!!!  Like a fly on the wall.

(screen shot the info for faster reference)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Menu Monday...Or Some Version Of It

It's been a really long time since I have typed our weekly menu.  I meal plan for each week.  It helps keep our grocery bill under control and keeps my mind from stressing each day on what to feed the children. Seriously.  If I don't meal plan, there is a Feed the Children campaign that instantly begins at my house.  Children laying on the floor writhing in pain from stomach cramps.  They are dying.  Dying from starvation.  You know, because they JUST ate 2 hours ago!

If they only knew...

So, I meal plan.  It keeps my sanity.  Here are some options for you this week or to file away.  Generally, these are fast meals because, like the rest of America, we are on the go.  Plus, cooking with a baby on your hip and a 3 year old racing cars under your feet, all the while helping two older kids with homework is a job in and of itself.  Just typing that out made me exhausted.  It's a glamorous life up in here!

Veggie Loaded Spaghetti
Fast Tips:  I usually have ground turkey cooked, seasoned and frozen so I can toss it in the fridge to thaw and then dump it in the spaghetti.  Veggies are pre cut as well.  Toss in and boil noodles.

Make It Clean: Swap out regular noodles for Gluten Free.  Most GF options are made with corn or white potato. Neither of those are good choices for you.  We opt for brown rice pasta. A lot of my clients opt for quinoa pasta. Both great choices.

Greek Tacos
Fast Tips: This one is pretty fast itself. Less than 20 minute cook time.  However, pre-cooking and seasoning your beef will speed it up.

Make It Clean: Grass fed beef is the way to go or swap out for free range ground turkey.  Serve over brown rice chips, or use a brown rice tortilla.  This dish, I don't skip the feta. It makes it so yummy!!!

Southwestern Quinoa Salad 
Fast Tips: This can be made 1-2 days ahead of time.  Often times I buy a rotisserie chicken from Sprouts or Whole Foods to shred the meat.  The recipe doesn't call for chicken, but we LOVE it.

Make It Clean: Organic non-GMO corn is the way to go or skip it altogether.

Honey Lime Chicken Skewers
Fast Tips: Pre-marinade and throw it on the grill.

Make It Clean: Substitute Bragg's Liquid Aminos for soy sauce, coconut oil for vegetable oil, and use a raw local organic honey.

Hopefully, these four items help you out a bit.  And, just to keep it real, we'll be hitting up Chick-fil-a this week too.  Holla if you love some CFA!!!!