Monday, January 15, 2018

Grumbling, Hurts and Healing

Sometimes I look at my life and fail to see the blessings.  Pretty much like the past generations that grumbled.  I am the same at times.  The missed goals...dreams that didn't come true...and visions that didn't hold true.  When you can see the mountains in the distance and know that you haven't even hit the road headed in yet...

It hurts.

This fast pace, get it done quick, stop to compare to your neighbor world we live in, it messes with you.  We have access to so much, at all times.  Access to others like no one other time in history.  The information and the successes of others in our face here and there and everywhere.  Just when you think you are gaining ground, you look to the side and comparably, you're not anywhere.  People seemingly passing you by...

It hurts.

Certainly, you have been here.  A life event hits.  On the outside those you see are moving forward, receiving blessing, laughing and enjoying life.  Then, there's you.  Sitting. Stuck.  You are not good enough.  You do not measure up.  No one believes in you.  You don't fit the part.  All your shortcomings.  All your failures.  It's all so much to hold onto and carry on with life.  Those lies.

It hurts.

The sucky part of this is we suffer through this alone.  We entertain the idea that no one, and I mean NO ONE, can possibly understand your misery, your struggle, your hurt.  And most likely, they can't.

Those suggestions sent by Satan, they have meaning.  Those attacks, they mean something too. Their sole purpose is to disarm your life.  Lock up your gifts.  Paralyze you with fears and worthlessness.  They are all lies.  How do you even free yourself from this?

You don't.  Single-handedly there is nothing in your own power that can rid you of this pain.  Only  a complete surrender can free you.  The acceptance that Jesus never intended us to do this alone.  He was the one who took all your hurts, pain, suffering so we could have a Savior who KNEW pain.   A Savior who knows our pain and offers the freedom from it.  He is the only author of complete healing.  He is the truth behind all lies.  He sets you free. Gives you rest.  Heals all wounds.  He offers correction without condemning.  He is the gentle whisper of love and light and hope.

He tells you that you are not only enough, but you are called.  You have purpose.  You have love.  You are life.  You are wonderfully made.  Hand-crafted. One of kind.  It's only when you accept THIS truth that the screaming lies in your head, begin to dull down to an inside voice and then a whisper and then a nothing.  You learn to dismiss those lies and pick up truth.  You hold onto it.  You speak it over your life.  Then you come to a day, that you were promised, when you look back on those attacks and see your beautiful Savior was there the whole time.  You see the only real, true love a person has ever been offered.  And you listen to This is Me from The Greatest Showman and you recognize that God's healing resounds so much in the song.  Bumps and bruises are not so bad when a Savior has already gone before.

And those hurts.  They soften.

I spend time writing this to you because there are times you draw close to God for some pruning and the Enemy is clipping right at your heels.  My refuge is only found in the quietness of His Voice, His Word and His People who just love.  If you read this and think, "I need freedom," I want to pray for you.  I want you to know that you are not alone.  He is proven to hold His Word true and it will not come back void.

Scripture I have stood on during a trial:

But I trust in your unfailing love.  I will rejoice because you have rescued me. (Psalm 13:5-6) 

If you cling to your life, you will lose it, but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. (Matthew 10:39)

Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. (Psalm 9:10)

You are a shield around me, O Lord, you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.  To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me. (Psalm 3:3-5) is my word that goes out from my nouth: It will not return to me empty, but it will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Just a Little Pruning

It's been a long time friends.

Life has been a season of busy, crazy, survival mode at times, and major pruning.  I have grown, messed up, focused on the wrong things, been pruned and overall taken some painful hits to shed some of me that needed to go.  Basically, daily renewing my mind to focus.  Focus on the right things.  The path set out for me.  It's gonna be different than the path set out for others.

Do you know how HARD that is to accept at times???

We have so many places to turn many social media many areas to compare ourselves to all in the good name of seeing how we measure up.  What the heck?!?!?

It can be exhausting.

For the past two years, my church has asked us to lay down a few things in January for 21 Days.  Given what I do (coaching people through 30 days of health and wellness) my initial thought was food.  It's what most people do in regards to a fast.  So...if everybody else is doing it, then I'm doing it too.  NOPE.  Your path, Lord.  Not my own.  Search my heart.  What needs to go?

I got an answer.  An answer I really didn't like.

NO SPENDING MONEY ON CONVENIENCE (insert the biggest emoji crying face here)!!!

Here's the deal. Pruning SUCKS.  The whole process is not fun, BUT...what it produces is so, SO beautiful.  And I need some pruning in this area.

Here's my story...

We moved into a home (that we are remodeling) about 4 months ago. We did this in the busiest season our family has ever known.  I coped with some Jesus and some convenience.  Sounds really Holy right?  I mean, I mentioned I coped with Jesus, but did you catch it?  I coped with SOME Jesus and SOME convenience.  It's that SOME part that is the problem.  God is not having me serve two masters, and over time that convenience thing kept winning out...making my life as easy as possible...comfortable...convenient.  Even typing it doesn't sound THAT bad of a problem, except anything I'm seeking that isn't after God's own heart is surely going to end in some heartache for me...and those around me.

For the next 21 days, I'm stripping my convenient go-tos and replacing them with prayer.  It is taking me some intentional looks inside WHY I feel overwhelmed and going to a place of refuge and heart searching by my One True King instead of searching for a way to solve my own problem.   WHY?  Because when I look to solve my own issues within my own means, it demonstrates an ugly part of my pride.  And, THAT my friends, is a problem I need a doctor to fix...My doctor, Jesus (like kinda kidding, but mostly not on that).

A few little verses (among many) that I have focused on this week (and God is using to prune me)...

Matthew 9:12 For it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick."

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 3:9 Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.

Matthew 6:21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Psalm 4:8 In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Living a Life of Passion

We have all been entrusted with something.  Maybe for you it's great wealth.  Maybe it's your kids.  Maybe it's your job.  Maybe it's your marriage.  Maybe it's all of the above.  It's important to recognize even the seemingly insignificant responsibilities and remind ourselves it's our job to move those responsibilities further.  You have been entrusted with something, but what are you doing to be entrusted with more?

I remember a time when you would have asked me that very questions and I would have been like, "Uhhhhhh...(blank stare)...ummmm....(more blank staring)....I don't know."  I had not a clue.  I had settled for a day to day routine.  A way of life that benefited my family.  I created a life of selfishness. Me and my family?  We're good.  Everyone else?  Not my responsibility.  That's someone else's mess to clean up.  I've been called to serve my family.  To be a mom.  To be a wife.  To take care of a home.

And that my friends is a big pile of POOP!

All I can say is thank the Good Lord for Church on the Move in Tulsa, OK, great mentors in my life, and having a graceful God who didn't leave me in my fixed mindset.

Living a life of passion is truly the only way to live.  I want you to think of passion like a hunger and thirst.  Think about it.  Hunger and thirst is natural.  It is real.  It is intense.  Have you ever been hangry???  Hunger and thirst can be painful.  It can be a driving force.  And lastly, hunger and thirst is a sign of health.

Passion is the same way.  It is natural.  It is real.  Passion is intense.  It can be painful.  It is a driving force for our actions.  Most importantly, it is a sign of health.

When we forget to live on passion, part of us dies a little.  We stop living up to our full potential.  We stop growing.  We become stagnant.  We succumb to a daily grind.  A mundane life. Yuck!

Here are a few tips on growing in your passion I picked up from the 2016 Global Leadership Summit.

  • Enlarge Your Vision:  Are you focusing on maintaining your everyday life or multiplying it?  Begin to dream again. Write down those dreams and go for it.  Take the risk of failure.  Through failure brings growth.
  • Empower People:  Leadership is all around us.  If you have kids, you're a leader.  If you have friends, you're a leader.  If you're a co-worker, you're a leader.  If you're a spouse, you're a leader.  If you know people, you're a leader.  You simply have to rise up and fulfill your role.  Begin to build others up.  Call out the great aspects of their character or personality.  Love on people the way you want to be loved.
  • Focus On Character: People don't fail for lack of knowledge.  We have information at our fingertips unlike any other generation.  People fail for a lack of character.  Generally, that falls in the arena of self-discipline.  Build upon your ability to discipline yourself.  
  • Embrace Risk: If you are like me, this one make me uncomfortable.  Being an analytical thinker I want to know all outcomes before making a decision.  Instead of viewing risk as an enemy to avoid, I had to change my mindset to risk being a friend to love.  Comfort and safety are even worse.  I have noticed the more I step out in faith (or take a risk), magic happens.  I grow a little and a bit more passion begins to spark.
  • Increase Your Capacity For Pain: If you want to grow, you have to get uncomfortable and increase your capacity for pain. You get a little more vulnerable.  What are you doing to increase your capacity for pain so you can grow?
Honestly, none of these 'helpful' tips are fun.  I'm not sure I know one person who automatically loved risk and pain, but after they developed a passion they were on fire that cause a tidal wave of change in others.  

So my call to action from you is...

You can simply take this info and learn a little, or you can make a decision.  A decision to become a Passionary.  A person who lives the rest of their life with vision and passion.  The best way to live!

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!