You Make Me Brave

This song by the group Bethel Music has been playing over and over in my heart lately, and it seemed like the right time to process and reflect. Take a quick listen.

“as your love in wave after wave crashes over me, crashes over me, for you are for us, you are not against us…”

“So I will let you draw me out beyond the shore into your grace…”

The imagery in this song is one I experienced on a trip to Puerto Rico this past summer. My vacation was awesome with my family and husband, exploring old castles, zip-lining, going to different beaches, enjoying meals and games together.

However, one of the most memorable times of the trip was taking a catamaran to an island off the coast about 45 minutes. 45 minutes of (what we did not know would be) a super bumpy ride, crashing into wave after wave, jerking around those on the boat.

Multiple times each person in my family thought they were going to lose it. How much longer? How much more could we take before we all ended up like the kid in the front of the boat throwing up?

In an effort to get through the “storm”, my brother and I started singing songs that had the words “wave” or “ocean” in them, which I originally thought was fun distraction. We kept singing the song I posted above, over and over. I let my mind picture the water from the crashing ocean slowly washing over me, like the way God lavishes his Love on us in the midst of the waves of life.

I tried to let it all sink in.

It is in the deep, when we are being tossed about, that we often realize we need Him MOST.

And in life, just like on that catamaran, sometimes we are holding steady. The road is bumpy, but maybe we’re distracted or focused on not getting totally rocked. But then other times, we are so down and desperate, we feel like getting sick because we’re so tired of the “waves”. But then someone comes into our waves and goes through it with us until we find peace again, just like my brother and I did singing for each other.

So we finally arrived to a glowing white sandy beach with clear waters and clear skies, completely isolated. It was breathtaking. It was paradise! Looking back on the boat ride, I couldn’t see the clouds of fear, I saw the sunshine. I remembered how difficult it was, but I also remembered how we got through it–WITH each other, focusing on God’s strength and the words of the song to keep us focused.

The destination was worth it all.

_____________

This year my husband and I faced a storm no one ever wants to go through. We lost our first child to miscarriage. I ache just typing that.

I don’t share this because I want to, I share it to perhaps offer a small glimmer of hope or comfort for someone out there who may have gone through something similar.

This song that we sang on the boat captures a piece of the journey I’ve been on this past summer, and calls to mind all the ways that He makes me brave.

Brave to get up each day and face the world with that tiny void and pain in my heart that was our baby.

Brave to trust that He is my sole comforter and His providence reigns.

Brave to trust that He is faithful when I don’t understand why, and to put my hope in the Lord’s promises.

Brave to know when my eyes well up in complete overwhelming sorrow, I still carry our child in my heart and in my prayers.

Brave to allow myself time to grieve.

Brave to minister to those who are going through something similar.

Brave to forgive others when they don’t seem to understand.

Brave to allow His grace to hold me when I can’t stand.

Brave to know the pain I feel is a reflection of how deeply we loved.

He makes me brave to recognize that I am not responsible for the life we lost.

He makes me brave to look to Him as the example of suffering in love and drawing near to Him in my own suffering. He knows our pain.

He makes me brave to think about what Mary must have felt losing her only son Jesus; What Sarah and Hannah must have felt like in their years of infertility.

And I pray He makes me brave to look back on this trying time and remember the joy we felt when God decided to entrust us with a child.

With all the topics out there being discussed, society is relatively silent about miscarriage. Miscarriage is common, affecting at least 1/5 of pregnancies, and yet there are still many misconceptions or misunderstandings. October 15th is pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day. Today, with this post, I want to pause, draw attention to, and pray for all those mothers who have experienced any kind of loss. I want to acknowledge your child.

There are plenty of women out there who suffer through it alone. It can be very hard to talk about and hard to share. When it happens so frequently but isn’t acknowledged, it can cause the woman to feel shame, as if it was her fault. In this secret loss, she may feel implicit pressure to “move on” without actually processing and properly dealing with the hurt in order to heal.

A miscarried child is not a “piece of tissue”, but a wanted and loved child of God knit together for a purpose. It’s hard to convey to others just how special and important that family member is when he or she seems to dart so quickly in and out of your life; but nonetheless, it is the loss of a family member, just like any other.

We should celebrate the lives of those in the womb, not pretend they were never there. We should celebrate the gift of participating with God in His creative nature and offer ourselves to nurture and cherish a vulnerable soul, even if God calls our child home. And, we should still celebrate mothers who birthed their children into heaven, instead of on earth.

This was not my plan, but God uses what can tear us apart inside to ultimately work for our good. I can have hope that God’s timing is perfect. His knowledge is more perfect than mine. His will is more pure than mine.

If you’ve experienced a similar type loss, please know there are people who want to support you. Even if others don’t understand what you’re going through, don’t know what to say, or can’t grasp the gravity of your pain, there is first and foremost a God who wants to walk with you through that. I hope this song reminds you that the Lord is FOR you and not against you.

And secondly, there are other women who can identify with you and grasp the myriad of emotions, as they’ve been through it too. They are living testaments that somehow, someway, there is a bigger plan. Their guidance and understanding was pivotal in my experience. Feel free to message me if you’d like to connect with a group like this. This book might be a good place to start as well.

I miss our baby everyday. And I strive to live out that call to motherhood by taking care of those around me. Although I am not in control of my future, I do know we will be reunited with our precious little one at the Heavenly banquet one day. We have been through the storm and know God’s blessings can come through the waves and the rain. I look forward to one day being united fully with my entire family in the true paradise.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2

 

Weighin’ in

In my adult life, my body has mostly fluctuated on a 20 pound spectrum.

I’ve been an unhealthy, trapped 125. I’ve been a muscular 130 and a junk food, food-dependent 135. I’ve been a tired and empty 115, and I’ve been a thriving (more) balanced and free 120.

And I honestly don’t know how much I currently weigh. That’s not because I don’t think it can be a valuable measurement when someone needs to get into a heathy range or has a particular role in helping you gain information to access where you are on your fitness journey. It’s because I know for me personally, it doesn’t dictate my health anymore; my mindset and habits do.

I may not have had an extreme weight loss success story, but it’s often what that weight loss represents that makes the biggest difference. It’s the way you feel and how you’re now capable of living your life and your dreams more fully. THAT is why people want to lose weight most of the time, and those same victories and changes are possible at a variety of weights.

Every person at every weight has challenges to overcome obstacles, shut out negativity, avoid temptations, develop mindful eating habits, find the appropriate amount to treat his or herself, make time to sweat, and make peace with their body.

When people comment that I work out way too much or am hyper-focused on what I eat, it’s pretty much the exact opposite! I am joyful that I’ve been given an opportunity to choose things that heal rather than hurt me, and don’t want to take my health for granted.
I have had an external transformation to become stronger, more consistent and more energetic; but even more so, I’ve had an internal transformation…
-stronger will & discipline
-VEGETABLE lover. what? how did that happen?!
-feel stronger and like I’m not settling in multiple areas of my life
-have learned how to cook healthy meals
-deeper sleep & less stress
-confident in my body, dwelling less on appearance
-not as controlled by my emotions with cravings
-free from my sugar addiction! this one is huge.
-gained productivity and clarity from exercise to apply to my job
It has taken years to get to this point! And I know I’m still a work in progress and will have even more valleys on this road. The goal is to never stop giving up on learning, growing, and trying because your body deserves to be treated like the gift that it is. Transformation is happening every time we choose well, whether the scale moves today or not.
Today, don’t forget to celebrate those NON-SCALE victories! Your worth is more than a number. The internal transformation is always what guides the external.
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What to do, When What You’re Doing Isn’t Working

This past week several friends have come to me asking, “WHY?!?! I’m eating less, working out more and still not losing any weight.” While this “eat less, move more” philosophy definitely can help with overall health or beginning weight loss, it may not be that simple for everyone. Each body is different! There can be a number of things to keep in mind when you feel like no changes are happening.

What to do? Remember:

  • Stick it out! Don’t lose heart! Changes take TIME. Make a decision to be committed and be relentless toward your goals. It WILL happen, just keep at it. Your body fluctuates several pounds on a daily basis just because of water intake, sodium bloat, constipation, and inflammation, that it’s impossible to get a good measurement if you’re weighing yourself too frequently.
  • Realize the other victories that are happening in your body. The scale may not always reflect it, but the time you spend exercising or being more disciplined with your nutrition is appreciated by your organs and muscles. You may be gaining muscle, more energy, better sleep, or more confidence. No steps taken toward improving your health are wasted.
  • You may not be accurately counting your calories (if you’re paying attention to them at all). Be honest, are you really eating as clean as possible? Are you still treating yourself to extra treats in your coffee? Are you eating after 8pm and not giving your body a chance to digest?? Maybe you’re over doing it even on healthy foods? You don’t need an entire avocado just because it’s a healthy fat for you or several protein shakes a day with tons of peanut butter in it. Some things our brain says we can have plenty of because it’s “healthy” is actually very caloric, and better served in smaller portions.
  • You may need to switch up your workout to high intensity, sprints, interval training, or circuit training with weights. Your body gets used to the same old 30 minute cardio session, adapts and becomes more efficient at using the fuel. You need muscle confusion to challenge yourself enough that your body will react to it and change. Lifting weights increases your metabolism and gives you more effective, long term weight loss. Cardio alone isn’t enough. Try switching it up with a fitness class, a home DVD workout, one of my challenge groups, or find a personal trainer!
  • Check in on your stress levels. Take a look at your lifestyle habits and see if you’re getting enough sleep or paying enough attention to your emotional/spiritual needs. Chronic stress releases a hormone called Cortisol that increases fat storage and the rate at which you store fat. It can also increase your appetite and raise your blood sugar. Excess exercise then may be contributing to the stress in your body, not helping. You may need to take it easy for a time if you’re over exercising, until your body is able to get enough rest and recover. Drink plenty of water to make sure you’re not dehydrating your body either!
  • Your body may already be below it’s set point. We are naturally designed to hold on to our fat, as our ancestors didn’t know the next meal they’d get. Take time to learn if you realistically are at a healthy weight and it is unsafe to lose any more. I know society can push push push on this topic, so just be sure you actually NEED to lose weight. If not, find a new goal: maybe exercise consistency, a measurable endurance or strength goal, or something fun and active to focus on. You may be able to measure your progress by goals, or how your clothes fit, rather than the number going up and down on the scale.

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