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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Authentically me

I vaguely remember the first few times I heard my older sister Angel talking about this new thing “Facebook”. 

  I think it was 2008, she kept telling me all about this “thing” online where she was chatting with people and you could see pictures and she kept telling me friends of mine were on there and she was “friends” with them and “it’s so great” and honestly I remember thinking what the heck is she talking about?! I was pregnant at the time with my second.  I was always tired.  I mean I literally limp through my pregnancies.  It sounded like something that I neither had time for nor would have any interest in.  Are you kidding me? I’m like an extreme introvert bordering on agoraphobia. I don’t want to talk to a bunch of random people online.  In November of 2008 my beautiful whirlwind Sophie came into my life with a big surprise. 

It was honestly probably one of the most difficult months of my life as I was dealing with all the normal postpartum fatigue, pain, hormones, emotions AND a giant medical diagnosis for my child that I have to research AND on top of that she needs dozens of surgeries throughout her life starting right now! Whew! I look back and think about that month and the ONLY way I know that I survived is God’s love and the love of God’s people.  So I began blogging to get everything out and to explain our situation to people and suddenly the idea of Facebook sounded interesting to me.  I need to connect with people.  My world was upside down and inside out and I needed people.  So I jumped onto Facebook and never looked back. 

Facebook and blogging and all forms of social media are places where the danger of being inauthentic is very huge.  I have done that thing where I take a picture and realize in the background you can see my messy countertop or my unfolded laundry and I retake the picture before posting it so people would not see my ugly truth.  

One pic with a GIANT Goodwill pile behind us and with a slight pivot we have a "clean" background

Our best recipes, our kids cutest statements, our husbands most thoughtful gestures.  Look world at all the things I can juggle and how awesome I am at it!!  I know I am guilty of this probably many times over in the last 7 years.  But for the most part I became addicted to the opportunity to be authentic.  It really is kind of an introverts dream.  I can tell the “world” what I think and feel and I can’t see their reaction so all my hangups and insecurities were insignificant! I loved it.  So I probably went way overboard for a number of years.  In terms of my blog it was kind of like an online diary where I was also informing our loved ones about what was going on with my daughter and how they could pray for her.  But it was definitely an overly emotional purging of sorts.  And on FB I was worse, they were quick snippets but I was sure everyone wanted to know my ups and downs and everything in between.  I am hilarious after all, why wouldn’t they want to know everything!? (SARCASM ALERT) I started a second blog for health and fitness (this one) in 2011 and really was thrilled to have an outlet for writing.   

But when you are uber-honest with the whole world all the time in many different venues, people don’t always see eye to eye.  I know there were people I offended along the way.  I have been unfriended by many people over the years who actually seem to really dislike me, including people I see every week at church! Talk about AWKWARD!!!  I had a “friend” tell me that it she finds it extremely offensive that I talk about my faith on Facebook.  Very slowly I have learned to dial it back on the drama especially the negativity.  Although I have posted those dark and ugly moments before and received an outpouring of people who tell me that they felt less alone or encouraged by me sharing my reality.  When it comes to social media I have never been too worried about just being me.  I do get a little internally tortured by the rejection; after all when you are being real and you get rejected it is really you that they do not like and that stings a little bit.  But I hear ALL the time, “I love how you are so honest and real on Facebook.” That is important to me. I’m never going to be the “friend” everyone is looking for so if I am being disingenuous in order to appeal to everyone it won’t happen. 


So this is me.  I’m Amanda,

  • I think I am funny, hilarious actually
  • I have an insanely skillful memory especially for song lyrics
  • Speaking of music I am the family DJ
  • I go overboard with things, like everything, I’m a go big or go home kind of girl
  • I have bad teeth, hideous fingernails and even worse earwax, sorry mom!
  • I am kind of awesome in the kitchen as long as I am not baking in which case, I’m kind of a disaster
  • I am fiercely loyal
  • I love to sing
  • I am full of creative ideas
  • My mom thinks my skin has this amazing earthy aroma and she frequently smells my face, one of my kids has this same effect on me, we are all weird!
  • I love to read books out loud and do amazing accents for all the characters
  • I have seen way too many movies and am a very gentle critic
  • I recently broke my lifelong obsession with television and have barely watched a thing since June but before that I could binge on Netflix like it was my job!
  • I am obsessed with organization and yet can be extremely messy which is distressing to me 
  • I live life passionately
  • I always horribly embarrassed by my childhood nickname but also kind of happy that I had it because it made me feel secure and loved. 
  • I stay up way too late most nights and I hate mornings
  • My favorite moments in life are those instances when you get the chills because you know God planned it all out just to take your breath away, I have had buckets of those lately!
  • I have spent a lot of years extremely undisciplined at things; my fitness, my spiritual life, balancing home/family/work, my friendships, etc but this is the year I am making actual changes
  • I am terrified I will never be able to repair all the damage to my physical health and even more my emotional wellbeing that those years of not feeling my worth have done.
  • I believe from the bottom of my heart that God placed me on this earth to a. point people to him and b. to help people to live life to the full, a jubilant life.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Get in the zone!

Ack! There is only one week until summer is over!!!! How did this happen people!?  Seriously had a mini-panic attack the other day as I realized this! I know, the denial hanging above my head had been a heavy heavy fog! You remember me last summer when I was like Super Mom on maternity leave with crafts and projects and games galore.  Check out my series of posts from last summer here, I rather impressed myself last summer.  This summer was the exact opposite of that.  Ha! Go out and play. No you don’t need a snack and I won’t make you one.  No we cannot go anywhere.  Yes I do hate fun.  I felt like a lame mom this summer and yes I realize it was my own stinking fault.  After last year, I had nowhere to go but down.  But we survived, we did some cool stuff. Heck we went on two vacations in July and one of them was to the Bahamas!  But how can it be over!!! I’m not ready!  I like routines and structure and schedule so to me “Back To School” is quite honestly music to my ears. But. Oh. My. Word. My house! It is filthy and disorganized and all the 7.4 billion projects I was going to get done this summer, or rather have my husband get done, did indeed NOT get done and for the love of all that is holy WE NEED MORE TIME!!!!! To be fair to him he built me a magnificent deck that trumps any and all item on his Honey-do list.  However with the new school year closing in on us this was what my mind was racing with.  

But I, dear friends, am an amazing procrastinator.  If you need someone to waste time with you and then in the 11th hour pull out razor sharp focus and determination and pull off a giant project like a boss…I’m your girl! So I looked at “last week of summer vacation” and I stood my ground and I said “Game on!” Here is my strategy feel free to join in, you have 6 days. (I had 9 woo hoo!)

Only 9 days left, what are we going to do?  Step 1: Have a fun day (What!? I thought you meant business?) We have a reusable summer bucket list and the summer fun items are all listed on popsicle sticks in the bucket.  Saturday we dumped all the sticks on the floor and went through them all to see how many activities we could cram into one day! In the end I think we accomplished about 12 list items and had a great time! Boom.  

Step 2. Separate your house into zones.  How many days till school = how many zones you have.  I had 9 zones.  With each zone you clean, organize and purge the area.  You are also doing a deeper cleaning than usually occurs.  The children WILL BE helping with this process.  Put them to work!!! Oh they will whine and complain and claim they didn’t make the mess (which is categorically untrue!) but working is good for their souls.  It’s good for who they will become. Make them work.  God bless my kids I don’t think I make them work enough.  

So zone 1 for us was the garage, because you guys, I can’t walk from my car to my house without looking like a bank robber trying to sneak through a minefield of laser alarms.   So what did we do to clean and organize the garage?  You better believe I had them all drag every single item from the garage to the driveway.  People kept slowing down to see if they wanted anything from our yard sale! Take it!!! Ha-ha! Tempting.  Grace informed me with an eye roll that this was all “So embarrassing!” (Will someone please tell my child she is NOT a teenager yet?) We put stuff back into the garage carefully and thoughtfully.  We came up with a short list of a few inexpensive projects Craig can do in the future to further organize.  That is a very important element of this process, planning long term.  Love for procrastination aside this is the penalty, not having time/ability to make major transformations.  But having a plan in place for them feels like a step in the right direction.  

Today we did zone 2, the mudroom/bathroom/kitchen.  Ok seriously I need to know someone else’s kitchen is as out of control as mine!? I had kids washing the slider and cleaning the baseboards and wiping down the crown molding on the cupboards.  It was awesome.  Many times my kids would say “this is too hard!” oh how they didn’t want to clean.  But they all chipped in to make the messes, they are helping to fix the situation.  I also reassured them that the kitchen is the worst room in terms of dirt so it should be all downhill from here.  

So we have seven more days and seven more zones.  I’m full of goals.  Having a plan made it seem much more doable.  Rather than convincing myself there wasn’t enough time and blowing it off due to the lack of time to invest I broke it down and made it manageable.  I am all about goals lately, you feel accomplished when you can cross them off, I’m kind of addicted to that feeling.  The keys to success are you want the zone to feel like it is getting a fresh start and you want to tackle the big scary jobs that get ignored all year because they seem too hard or gross.  For example my hubby scrubbed out the gross cupboard under our kitchen sink where the trash lives. (Is your cupboard under there kinda gross too? Please say yes!)  It looks as beautiful as the day we moved in! We are both feeling whipped tonight, and we have seven more zones to do! But step 3 is crucial to the goal; Rewards!!! We have been rewarding the kids for their efforts by doing a few more surprise items from the bucket list too! Tonight we went to Hagar Park for the playground, trail hike and ended with ice cream.  So I guess I don’t completely hate fun, kids!  Tune in next week and I’ll show you all the rest of the zones/transformations.  What is everyone else doing to get ready for back to school?    


Friday, August 19, 2016

Reboot: Part 3

The way I felt those first 21 days was unreal! I only lost 5.5lbs in truth but I lost 20.5 inches, and that included going on a road trip vacation!!  I never ever feel hungry.  If anything I am too full to eat all my containers some days! The workouts are TOUGH for sure but they make me feel capable and I sweat like no other workout I have ever done!  I was sold.  

 And during those 21 days I began engaging my mind to absorb all the information I could.  I have read 4 books and listened to hours of podcasts.  I write down goals and I do not waste time on idle behaviors such as television.  It occurred to me at some point to pull out that list from my phone from 2 years ago.  Coaching encompasses 9 out of 10 of the items on that list. But the moment that I got literal chills was when I went to take those measurements from my first 21 days.  I got out my measuring tape from my sewing kit and it caught my eye…..

I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE I GOT THAT MEASURING TAPE! I had heard of P90X and Insanity and I guess I had probably even heard of Beachbody but I knew of no one who was doing these things and I really don’t know how I got my hands on a Beachbody measuring tape! I got on my knees and I told God, “I think you have brought me to this. Over 5 years you have slowly led me here to this moment and if this is the adventure you have for me I am going to jump! But I don’t want to do this alone! I want to honor you with this and be a coach who is set apart! Show me how to do this in your name!” The next week we were on a trip to the Bahamas. I know right, trip of a lifetime! And there was this slide there, I’m not a complete wimp but I’m not exactly a daredevil either, but this slide was called the “Leap of Faith” and I heard that and thought, I need to do this, this is my physical milestone of jumping all in, of taking this leap of faith into coaching!  And you can ask my sister Sue the photos of my face contorted in terror as I screamed all the way down are quite a sight to behold! 

In the book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, Jim Cymbala reminds us that “God says to us, ‘Pray, because I have all kinds of things for you, and when you ask, you will receive.   I have all this grace and you live with scarcity. Come unto me, all you who labor. Why are you so rushed? Where are you running now? Everything you need, I have.’” Over the years I would go through seasons where I heard God calling me and pulling on my heart, I have to wonder if my seeking had been more steadfast how he would have led me to this long ago. I regret that wavering in my spirit, that doubt that he had anything for me.  

 Later in the book Jim says, “Let us never accept the excuse that God cannot work in our situation…this kind of thinking is never found in the Word of God….we can see God do things just as he did in the book of Acts, since he has never changed.  The only changing that can occur is within us.  Let us purpose in our hearts to change in his direction and see him do incredible things to the praise of the glory of his grace.” If you feel God calling you to step outside your comfort zone, even if you don’t have a clue what he is calling you to, don’t settle for where you are, don’t give up praying, don’t give up dreaming….God has a purpose for your life! 

My life was frozen.  My screen was flickering.  My computer was dying.  I needed a reboot.  And God flicked the switch and handed me an entirely different life! I am on fire with purpose.  Now my prayer is just that I can help as many people as possible.  In homes all over the country there are men and women that feel as badly as I did for so long.  And as God is my witness I just want to inspire them with my message, that if I can help them reboot their own lives and live lives of purpose than even in that, my sorrow from years past was not in vain!

 In the Purpose Driven Life Rick Warren also states “Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you. Don’t waste your pain; use it to help others.” This. This!!! It is in Romans 8:28 that the Bible says “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.” I am here standing on top of my small little blog platform shouting for all the world to hear, God has great things for you! Each and every one of you! And if you feel that there is something missing, get on your knees and ask him again and again to move mountains for you! He can and he will! He will not forsake you there! I am so grateful that even though many times I gave up on my dreams and essentially gave up on Him, he kept bringing me back! I have been rebooted.  Who's next....

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Reboot Part 2

Fast forward a few years and another kid and late one Sunday night I was taking a shower before bed.  The sermon that night had been about gifts and using our talents and how they help us live out our purpose.  It had struck a chord with me. I am not trying to insinuate that raising my children isn’t a noble and admirable purpose.   But is that ALL I should be doing? I didn’t really feel like I was maxing out my potential.  I felt much more like I was surviving, not thriving.  And just barely at that.  While I was in the shower that night I was praying asking God to show me how he wanted to use me, show me what I could and should be doing, and give me purpose.  I stumbled over to my bed and jotted a list in my phone of things that I was either passionate about or that I considered to be my talents and I laid them there at his feet.  For several months I began praying about these items. I would think of small things here and there that would encompass some of the items on my list but never saw any real avenue to grow them.  And as time went by again slowly that hope that things were on the horizon faded in my memory and again I seemed to move on.  

The week between Christmas and New Year’s this year I started having a stirring in my heart again. But this time there was a lot of “Oh no, not this again.” I felt very uncomfortable in my own skin. Quite literally the person looking back at me in the mirror was not who I felt like in my heart and yet she had totally taken over me.  I was sick and unhealthy.  I was ashamed. I was broken.  I was trying as hard as I could to live a life worthy of being a mom to Grace, Sophie, Charlotte and Jack but I felt nothing like a role model, not like a mom to be looked up to and admired. Much like Michael Phelps I felt worthless and needed a purpose. I decided then and there, once and for all, I was changing! I put my stake in the ground and I yelled “No more!”  For all the times in my life that I have wanted to make changes and didn’t stick with them, this time felt drastically different and I’m not sure why.  I feel strongly that my stubborn nature is finally working with me. I will never go back to living the way I was, it was not truly living.  

It’s hard to fully describe how I’ve changed in the last 7 months.  I have lost 35lbs and gained a ton of energy, vitality and most importantly that thing I have craved for years, purpose.  I began tracking my food and working out, I enlisted friends to work out with me and I joined online accountability groups to encourage me in my struggle to change quite literally from the inside out.  My friend Sara who has also been my coach for the last 6 months and I planned a camping trip for our two families in June and I knew it was my chance to ask her some questions that had begun burning in my heart, what is this coaching thing all about?  As our kids and husbands went to bed that first night we sat up until 2 am talking about coaching and the ups and downs and she answered question after question for me as we sat staring at the sky and beautiful embers in the fire slowly went dim and we finally realized how late it was and went off to bed.  I did not sleep well initially; I was wrestling with the idea.  One of the main reasons I didn’t know if I wanted to try this was I hadn’t actually even tried any of Beachbody’s products myself yet.  I had been in a 7 week weight loss plateau.  I was still tracking all my food.  I was still working out 6x/week and everything just stopped.  Something needed to change.

A few weeks later I called Sara, “we leave for the Bahamas in 21 days…..I want to do the 21 day fix!” (Nothing like waiting till the last second! Typical me!) so she loaned me supplies to last me until my order arrived.  She set me up to go to a “what is coaching” sneak peek online the next night.  I began to have more and more answers to my questions and thought maybe this would be fun for me, a little extra income.  So I told her why not sign me up for the discount and I’ll see what I think.  Paul Harvey fans, stay tuned for the rest of the story ….