The Passion-Filled Life: Cheers to 2019!

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The past few weeks I’ve been a bit of a hermit.  On purpose.  I took some time to be still and reflect on the highs + lows of 2018.  My missteps.  My shortcomings.  My victories.  My growth.  And where I want my focus in 2019.  My hopes.  The areas of my life where I still see God challenging me.  The accomplishments I hope to achieve.  And the person I continue to hope I become.   

Each year I choose a word.  A word that has significance in my life.  In 2018 that word was BELIEVE.  Guys + gals, I love life - everything about it.   But as I’ve mentioned before, the past few years have been a real bitch to say the least!  To be completely authentic with you, I hit some real low points over the past year.  I knew coming into 2018 that I was going to have to believe in God’s faithfulness more than ever, because honestly, I hadn’t yet seen him deliver in my life the ways I felt I needed Him most.  It’s those critical moments when we feel completely stripped that our faith is put to the test.  How are we going to respond?  Do we give up, wallow, or persevere like the warriors we were created to be?  I will always choose to be a warrior.  That’s what my parents taught me.  And coming off of Christmas, that’s exactly why God sent us His Son in Jesus Christ.  So that He could bare our sins and shortcomings so that we could have life.  He has already fought all of our battles so that we can be victorious.  And so, I will continue choosing to BELIEVE.  That I am free.  That He has my hand.  That He has a beautiful story laid out for me as the Author of my life.  And at the end of my story, which is ultimately His, I win.  All to glorify Him - my loving and faithful Father.  And guess what? He has continued to refine me over the past year (that's a beautiful thing!) and there were also many high notes! I'm grateful for it all; He is oh so good. All the time.

So as we close 2018, here’s 3 ways God delivered:

  1. I learned to embrace + accept my solitude and singleness by choosing Jesus first.  Not gonna lie, it’s hard to be 35 + single when all of your friends are married and/or with children.  My life looks completely different; it’s not my ideal.  And being totally raw with you, I struggled with it at times over this past year.  There were moments when the silence in my life was deafening, and so I turned to the dating scene which ultimately proved to be disappointing.  But through some missteps of opening myself up to a few relationships which weren’t up to par or worthy of my attention…I found myself back with God.  And I realized that I am perfectly content with this season of my life. I’ve enjoyed the rest and the tranquility. So for now, I’m grateful for Jesus as my true Romancer, teaching me my worth and preparing me for the time that He unveils the righteous + worthy man for me.  And I refuse to settle for less than.

  2. I turned 35 and God showed me the art of living.  By having a voice.  By standing up for what He wants for me as His beloved daughter.  By going against the grain at times.  By being bold and unpredictable.  By having fun.  And by freaking laughing at the humor of it all.  So as Proverbs 31:25 was etched in my heart over the past year, so it was etched on my forearm with my first (and last according to my dad) tattoo:  “She laughs.” 

  3. Prayer after prayer for a new opportunity in my career, and God delivered.  I rekindled a friendship with an old co-worker all because of my tattoo - and through her, I received a great job opportunity that uses my education and experiences, provides me health benefits (after two years of having none), monthly bonus opportunities, and the chance to finally work my way to get ahead instead of in a hole.  Praise Jesus!

So here we are, about to embark on a new journey in 2019, and I have a new word to live by:  PASSION.  I saw a great definition of what this word means - “a willingness to suffer for what you love.”  The best example of this being the passion of Jesus Christ.  And with that being said, not settling for a life that is mediocre.  I want all the feels this life has to offer.  I want pursuit.  I want love.  I want goosebumps.  I want greatness.  I want PASSION!  And that’s what I choose in the coming 12 months.  With fire in my heart and sacrifice, I will live passionately in my faith, in my work, in my relationships, in my health, and in my creativity. 

And here are a few of my passion goals:

  1. Pay off my debts and be a better steward of God’s resources. 

  2. Recommit to my wellness ways - clean up my eating, exercise (even if a little) daily, and maybe lose a few healthy pounds. 

  3. Continue to choose God first and follow with intentional obedience.  Be open to His new opportunities.

  4. Live boldly + creatively.   I’ll be writing more + more. Providing more content. Picking back up on a creative project that requires me to learn a new skill.  And after a few gray hairs surfaced this past week (eek!), I’m thinking of a big change-up.  I’m thinking a blonde version of me in 2019!?!? Yay/Nay?

  5. Read more.  Learn more.  Grow more.

  6. Take faith-calculated risks. 

  7. Love with my whole heart.  And be loved by a whole heart.

  8. Be in the Bible daily.  The Word is alive!

  9. Get involved with a charity or volunteer organization.

  10. Remember this: more of Him, less of me. Period.

So what do you think?  Do you want to join me by living a passion-filled 2019?   

Cheers to a great year ahead!

xx

“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” (Proverbs 20:5)

“The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.  It is the caring that she lovingly gives the passion that she shows.  The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.” (Audrey Hepburn)

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive, and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” (Maya Angelou)



 

Grit, Grace, + Tattoos: How God Can Create A Miracle Through The Little Things

A tattoo. Yep, just another out-of-box experience for me since turning 35.

I wanted to take a risk. I wanted out of my comfort zone. I wanted to do something a little unpredictable. My best friend and I both happened to be off on a random Tuesday and we decided to be spontaneous and go for it. I knew the placement of the tattoo on my left forearm. I knew it was going to SAY something. And I knew it was going to STAND for something. But honestly, it wasn’t until that Tuesday morning that God spoke clearly to me.

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“She laughs.”

Yessss!  It became clear.  That was it.  I felt peace and a smile was plastered on my face as Erin and I rushed to the tattoo studio, late, stuck in traffic.  (Yeah, yeah…I know, I’m always late!  I swear, I’m working on it!)

You might be asking, why “She laughs”? 

If you’ve read my blog before, you probably know the past several years have been…well, to be perfectly frank, pretty dang hellish.  I’d like to refer to it as a VERY long season of pruning.  I was stripped at every level.  Health, heartbreak, career, finances, and it felt like with each passing day, it was more loss and disappointment.  My faith was tested.  I was exhausted.  I grew discouraged.  But while I would allow the space for tears, I kept meditating on Proverbs 31:25.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, she laughs at the days to come.” 

I would keep moving forward.  Even with the faith of a mustard seed.  I made the decision to live from a posture of joy, hope, love, and faith.  I promised myself that I would laugh and smile my way through this life, trusting God’s faithfulness.  That He has me in the palm of His hand.  That He loves me so much as His beloved daughter that He has only the best planned for me in my life.  The best job for me and my skills and experiences.  A healed body.  A loving, trusting relationship with a strong man of character.  Joy and abundance.  Opportunity.  When all is stripped, there is no other way than to rebuild.  And rebuild is what I have done.  With each passing loss, I have gained.  And I will continue to gain.  No matter how badly it hurts.  And no matter how many times I get pinned down.  I will get up with style and grace.  I will smile.  And I will laugh. 

So let’s talk miracles.  I believe in miracles both big and small.  I believe they surround us everywhere; we encounter them everyday.  And even when we don’t notice them, they’re there.  Waiting for us. 

I noticed an old co-worker following the tattoo studio I went to on Instagram.  And so for whatever reason, I decided to reach out to her.  And through our conversation about tattoos, we began to catch up on life.  And she shared with me a job opening at work.  A job that sounded like a perfect fit for me.  A job that would use the education, skills, and experiences I’ve acquired over the years.  A job that would provide more stability.  A job that would allow for growth and opportunity.  And job that would provide me benefits (after having NONE for the past two years...ick). 

I applied.  I interviewed.  I got the job.  And I start on Monday.

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I reconnected with an old co-worker.  Learned about an opportunity.  Took advantage of the opportunity by acting on it.  And accepted a job offer that will redirect my path in a very positive way and help me continue the rebuilding process.  All from the crazy decision to get a tattoo on a random Tuesday. 

And I laughed. 

Alas, my big miracle!  Thank you, Jesus!  But if I’m being totally truthful, God was with me all along.  In the midst of the little things.  Preparing + refining me.  Teaching me a valuable lesson about grace.  Strengthening me.  Perfecting me.  These too, miracles within. 

Listen closely…He is with us in the ashes.  He seeks us out of hiding.  He carries us.  And He rejoices with us.  If you are in your own season of pruning right now - know that I feel for you.  My life is not perfect.  It has been messy.  I have not always made the best decisions. I have had moments when I have grown angry with God.  I have yearned for the desires of my heart.  And I have been disappointed and heartbroken.  But here I am, a warrior, here to tell you that you are too!  Look for the glimmers of beauty.  The rays of hope.  The windows of opportunity.  Miracles are here.  Waiting for you.  For the perfect time.  To change everything.  All because of Him.

Grit, grace, + tattoos, oh how I thank thee.  You’ve allowed me to witness God, the Miracle Maker in action…in the little things.  After pruning comes a great harvest.  Get ready for a season of abundance, because it’s ready for you + me.  Laughing.

xx.

 "The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.  The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.  The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.  You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing." (Psalm 145:13‭-‬16)

 

Happy 35: A Life Crisis or An Awakening?

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This past weekend I did yoga with goats, smoked a cigar at a cigar bar, drank beer (maybe two), and ate all kinds of glutenous things (and enjoyed it!).  Those who know me might ask what the freak is going on with me!?  And some might even call me a hypocrite after all my healthy, wellness ways.  

Today I'm 35.  For the past few months I've dreaded this birthday.  Somehow 35 seemed catastrophic.  And maybe you can understand why...

35 and divorced.  35 with no kids.  35 with a genetic mutation that makes childbearing difficult and already risky.  35 and still chasing my dreams.  35 and still struggling to stand on my feet as a single woman.  35 and not where I had hoped to be at this age.  My life looks NOTHING like I thought it would.  Not. At. All.  Do ya get me?

34 was rough + tough.  To be brutally honest, the past several years have been.  I was hit at every angle.  You name it, I've probably endured it.  And while I tried to model grace, it wasn't pretty every day.  Some days I would come home fatigued and allow myself to crumble at the foot of God.  I would cry, I would feel weak, I would feel discouraged, angry, and maybe even question Him.  Lord, what the heck are you doing???  Why do I feel like I am being stripped?

 But you know what?   Those raw moments of vulnerability--I wouldn't take them back.  The past few years have tested me, yet somehow my faith has remained, and I have smiled the whole way through it.  Because those were the very precise precious moments when I felt God draw so near.  And as He peeled back layer after layer of my being, I felt more "me" than ever before.  Stronger knowing His power reigns within me.  More confident in my walk with Him.  Peace even when life felt unsteady.  Joy even in the moments of despair.  Hope in the goodness I know life has yet to bring.  And all of it - ALL OF IT - absolute beauty.  I credit my faith in God for giving me my warrior spirit - He who loves me so purely and tenderly even in my weaknesses + imperfections, and even when I stumble and lose sight of Him.

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 I have learned so much.  I have grown so much.  And because of it...because of all that I have lost...I can now regain and fully experience life.  Each cherished moment of it.  As I dreadfully approached 35, I realized that I was allowing an age to label me.  I was permitting a # to define my life.  And then it hit me how silly I was being.  Because through all the ups + downs, I am so appreciative of WHO God has made me.  And how even though my life looks differently than I had envisioned, I love my life!  I love the journey.  I love the people.  I love God.  And I love ME!

So, if you’re feeling a little down and you aren’t quite where you wish to be, I want to share 10 quick tips that I’ve acquired to help embrace this thing called life.

1.         Remember to breathe.  Close your eyes.  Drop your shoulders away from your ears.  Open your chest and inhale deeply into your belly through your nose. Feel your rib cage expand with air.  Hold your breath for a moment.  And exhale completely.  Wow, does that feel good or what!?  I remember when I first started to practice Pilates, the teacher would have to remind me repeatedly – drop your shoulders, drop your shoulders, drop your shoulders.  Remember to breathe, remember to breathe, remember to breathe.  Those are the same shoulders that carried my daily stress.  And I began to realize that when I hiked my shoulders up to my ears and forgot to breathe, I wasn’t allowing space for oxygen-rich nutrients to enter my cells.  I literally had to practice the act of breathing.  And with time, and focus, and maybe a little Pilates, I began to breathe with more ease.  My shoulders felt lighter.  I gained strength in my core.  My mind and body felt more relaxed.  And I began to carry myself with more confidence.  Remember to breathe deep, cleansing breaths!  It calms the central nervous system, lowers blood pressure, decreases the effects of stress, and aids in better sleep!  Drop your shoulders.  Remember to breathe. 

2.        Remind yourself to be present.  Stop worrying about yesterday.  Stop worrying about tomorrow.  And as you remember to breathe (see above), take in this exact moment.  Because this, this right here, is all that you are guaranteed.   Fully experience the now.  Who are you with?  What do you see?  What do you smell?  What do you feel?  Be mindful to breathe it all in.  Press the pause button and sit in this very moment for a little while.  Appreciate it.  Love it.  Be thankful for it. 

3.        Allow yourself to be vulnerable.  This is hard.  As a recovering perfectionist, I always say that I used to have my life in a box wrapped in pretty, sparkly wrapping paper with the most perfect bow on top.  That was the image I put before the world.  I have all my sh$t together.  My life is perfect.  I am perfect.  And it was exhausting and couldn’t be further from the truth.  When I began to deepen my love relationship with God, He helped me to see with His eyes that my imperfections were beautiful.  They gave me character.  They made me human.  And that by being open and honest, sharing my story with others was darn liberating.  And now I can walk in confidence accepting myself as perfectly imperfect.  Allow yourself to be vulnerable – your life is a magnificent story to be told.  And you’ll see that people appreciate your vulnerabilities and love you just the same.

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4.       Ask for help when you need it.  Be open with the people that love you.  Talk to them.  Cry with them.  Allow them to help you.  As a therapist and wellness coach, I’ve always struggled to admit when I need encouragement, confrontation, and help myself!  But my life circumstances have humbled me so much.  And if I am asking for people to let me help them daily, I too must be open to letting others help me.  I began to see just how deeply I am loved by my family and friends.  They believed in me.  They pushed me.  And my heart was so moved by their love for me.  Let others help you when you need it.  And may your heart be touched like mine.  For those who have helped me, in whatever capacity, you know who you are.  Thank you. 

5.        You can reframe any situation.  A shift in perspective; it’s all you need.  I swear.  Try it.  Label yourself a victim.  Then label yourself a victor.  Label yourself as alone, lost, and abandoned.  Then label yourself as loved, found, and never alone.  Remind yourself of the truth of God.  It will never fail you.  And it will give you life. 

6.       Have fun.  Get out and do something new.  I don’t care what it is.  I am not an opera fan, but it’s not about the opera.  It’s about the experience.  Go with someone you love and care about, have fun, and enjoy the EXPERIENCE.  Make memories.  Now that’s what I call living. 

7.       Look for the glimmers of beauty.  I know, sometimes we fall into moments of hopelessness.  When finding “the good” seems like a feat.  But I promise, glimmers of beauty lie underneath.  Look for them.  A smile.  An encounter.  A conversation.  People that care.  The breath of life in your lungs at this very moment.  Trust me, beauty is always here in the midst.  Open your eyes.  Open your ears.  Open your heart.

8.       Laugh.  Laughing heals.  Stop taking everything so seriously.  Be silly.  Loosen up.  Find the humor even in the serious things of life.  Roll around.  Dance around.  Joke around.  Just freaking laugh!

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9.       Believe.  Trust that your Creator has a plan for you.  A plan to prosper you and not harm you.  A plan to give you hope and a future.  Set your intention on that which is good.  And believe.  Believe in abundance.  Believe in opportunity.  Believe in greatness.  Believe in love.  When you believe, you open yourself up to receiving.  Be ready for it. 

10.    Show yourself love + grace.  You are an exquisite masterpiece.  You are worthy and valuable.  God loves you.  God forgives you.  God sets your free.  So how about you stop all forms of self-sabotage and show yourself some love and compassion.  Honor your body.  Rest.  Pamper yourself.  Surround yourself with good people.  Pray.  And pleeeeaaaasssseee show yourself some love and grace.

So yeah, what the freak is going on with me!?  An awakening. that's what!  I want to squeeze every drop outta this life.  And maybe living well is about balance and actually LIVING!  So if I want to get dirty in the field with some goats, so be it.  If I want to have a cigar every once in a great while, I will.  If I want to celebrate with a rare beer, cheers!  If I want to indulge in gluten today...maybe I will deal with some consequences, but for today, it tasted good.  I am all about healthy living; with my occasional autoimmune challenges, I most definitely have to be.  But my birthday is about my gratitude for life.  And boy am I grateful for it all.  My life might not look like I wanted it to today, but I am joyful and hopeful for the greatness yet to come.  And here I wait with anticipation and open arms.  Happy 35.  

xx.

 

 

 

Who the Heck + What the Heck?!

Who the heck am I?!

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  • Beloved daughter of the Highest King
  • Jesus lover first
  • Doting dog mom to sweet baby Josie
  • Pilates junkie
  • #worshipmusicobsessed
  • Recovering perfectionist (who occasionally relapses)
  • Matcha latte mornings
  • Rainbow chaser
  • Devotionals on the balcony are my early morning jam
  • Peace seeker
  • Getting caught in a rain storm exhilarates me 
  • I eat lunch/dinner for breakfast
  • Overcomer
  • Leap of faith jumper (I've learned that I'm more of a risk taker than I ever knew...)
  • Fave quote - "Feel the fear and do it anyway" (Susan Jeffers)
  • Proverbs 31 woman - "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come" (vs 25)
  • Lover of all things love...I doodle hearts...
  • Spirit led, spontaneous writing is my favorite
  • The hardest moments of my life have been the most profound
  • Believer that miracles are everywhere, all the time
  • Fascinated by the healing process
  • Food is thy medicine and medicine is thy food
  • Striver of simplistic living
  • Co-author of book From Pain to Purpose

Credentials:

B.A., Psychology/Communication from Duquesne University

M.S.Ed., Marriage + Family Therapy from Duquesne University

INHC, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition

Cellular Expansion + Healing Practitioner from The Vanati Center for Energy Medicine

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What the heck is Mind. Body. Jesus.?!

I worked as a therapist and researcher in the mental health field.  I saw a real need when I noticed that the majority of my clients being seen for mental health also struggled with some form of a chronic illness or health condition.  I could equip clients with a toolbox of skills, but if they ate like crap, I knew they would continue to feel like crap.  If they didn't move their bodies and get exercise, they wouldn't feel strong and confident to fight the battles they faced.  If they didn't have Jesus, would they ever be set free from past regrets, know how incredibly loved they are, experience peace and joy even in the storms of life, and find meaning in the ups + downs?

Mind. Body. Jesus. is the embodiment of the human experience.  The mind considers our mental and emotional well-being.  The body is our physical health and how we care for it through food and movement.  Jesus satisfies our spiritual need to find forgiveness, love, wisdom, freedom, strength, peace, and purpose through all things.  Each facet is absolutely necessary to attain "whole health" and healing.  No part can be ignored if we want to achieve true health and wellness.  

I work with my clients to bring balance to imbalance. To bring alignment to what is misaligned.  To find direction when lost.  To find wholeness from brokenness.  To bring restoration to that which needs repaired.  To walk with confidence and no longer insecurity.  To love, not hate.  To bring healing to injury.  To find peace in unrest.  To stand as victor, not victim.  To stand with faith, not fear.  To be unshakeable instead of shaken.  To stand with strength not stumble from weakness.  And to find joy in the midst of pain.  

When life is a dichotomy of good + bad, we remain whole. 

And that, my friends, is who and what the heck!  

In mind, body, + Jesus,

Lauren 

xx

Dear Captor of my Heart

Dear Captor of my Heart:

Whoever you are, I'm not sure we've met yet...but I know you're out there somewhere.  I feel you.  It's almost as if time and space have been obliterated and somehow we are connected.  And I hope that you are okay.  I pray you feel peace.  I pray that you are full of joy.  I pray you are overwhelmed with love.  

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Today I am single and I celebrate Valentine's Day without you.  I bought myself roses and little cheesecakes shaped in hearts; I treated myself.  No, I'm not throwing myself a pity party and it's certainly not because I feel sad.  It's because I am whole.  And with or without you, my heart is content.  I have walked into my worthiness as a woman.  I now carry myself as a daughter of the Highest King.  I know who I am.  I know what I stand for.  I know what I won't settle for.  And I know what I'm waiting for, with you.  

I want you to know something.  I need you to be strong.  I need you to know that as God's son, you are called to lead me.  To carry me.  To be of wisdom.  To cherish me.  To honor me.  To love me deeply, passionately, and sacrificially.  

Don't get me wrong; I too am strong.  I am a resilient warrior, an overcomer, a victor because of Christ.  But while my feet are firmly planted in The Word and I wear the armor of God each and every day...sometimes I stumble.  I have moments of despair.  I have times when I need you to hold me.  To come alongside me.  To challenge me.  To encourage me.  To push me. To point me to Truth. To love me. To be my other half.

Know that you are worthy of my love just as you are worthy of God's.  You are His handiwork.  You are a leader.  You have His muscle; His power is within you.  And so I pray you walk with confidence.  No, not arrogance, my love.  But quiet confidence, knowing that you have God and me right alongside you.  When we look at you, we can't help but smile at the man you have become.  I know your life hasn't always been easy.  I know you have been through the trenches.  I know you have suffered loss and heartbreak.  And I know you feel broken at times.  Lost.  Lonely. Even afraid.  But I want you to know, my sweet, you were never abandoned.  God has been right there beside you, pouring out His compassion and extending His grace for all that guilt and shame you carry.  You are released from that bondage.  You have been set free.  And He will guide you.  He will love you.  No matter what. 

I know you feel pain, Handsome.  Maybe even insecurity at times.  But I want you to know that your life is a beautiful story.  All of the wounds.  All of the pain.  The darkness I know you want to forget.  But all along, there has been a glimmer of beauty, of light.  All of it has been equipping you for this very moment.  Preparing you.  Refining you.  Readying your feet to lead others, to inspire, to provide hope.  Your story, my courageous man, is meant to leave a major impact in this world.  It is meant to glorify God.  It is integral in the telling of His story.  And it is meant to bring others to our Father's amazing love.  His miracle-working power.  

Just as I need you, you need my love too.  God has meant for us to come together as one.  We are stronger together.  We have better return for our labor.  When one of us falls, we can help each other up.  We can keep each other warm.  We can defend each other.  And our love, together with God at the center, will not be a cord easily broken (Ecc 4:9-12).  

I love you.  I look at you with adoration.  I honor you.  I respect you.  Thank you for all that you are.  Thank you for finding me.  Thank you for showing me the love of a man that I have missed for so long.  Thank you for cherishing all that I am.  Even my own broken pieces.  

I can't wait for our life together.  The memories.  The wild goose chase.  The highs, the lows, the falls, and the triumphs.  For our precious children; our little blessings from God.  I can't wait to see you in their faces.  I can't wait for your little quirks to shine through in their personalities.  I can't wait to watch them grow.  To equip them for this fallen world together. With God as our guidepost.  

We will have moments that we can't keep our hands off of each other walking through the grocery store.  Or even at the movie theater.  Moments when we are in alignment, connected, and passionate.  But we will fight.  We will have times of disconnect.  And yet we always find our way back to one another.  And somehow we come back stronger than ever.  That's because we choose to relentlessly love one another.  We won't let the evil one destroy that which is good.  Our enemy wants us to destruct.  Our light of love shines so brightly that he will want to come between us.  But we are wiser than that.  And we fight our battles through prayer and Truth.  He has nothing on us.  He will fall at our feet.  And we will stand unshaken.  

Until then, I am praying for you.  Please know that I am okay.  I am full of God's love and I feel such joy and peace, like never before.  In the meantime, I am continuing on with my own mission.  And he is preparing me for you.  And you for me.  For when that precious day comes.  

So this Valentine's Day, I celebrate.  I celebrate the love I have within.  The amazing love of my Holy Creator.  The Author of my life.  The one who will bring me you.  

With love, my darling, Happy Valentine's Day.  

xx, Lauren

 

 

2017: The Year I Found My Muscle

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A new year is always a time of reflection; a summing up of the year past, and the start of a new chapter. 

I could call 2017 a lot of things.  The Year of the Rollercoaster.  The Year I Got The Wind Knocked Out of Me. The Year of Multiple Heartbreaks.  Or maybe The Year I found My Muscle.  Whatever it was, it was another year of refinement.  And here's what God taught me along the way:

1.   Never Settle

A finalized divorce.  A job I felt loyal to, yet consumed me.  A single income that wasn't always pretty.  Opening my heart again to dating in my 30s which proved to be much more difficult than I ever imagined.  Disappointment.  Hurt.  And with my life not looking anything like I wanted it to, a yearning for more. 

What I knew was that none of these things defined me.  My relationship status.  My job.  My income.  None of it was my identity.  God reminded me to keep my eyes fixed on Him.  On being a daughter to The Most High King.  It was He who taught me my value.  He who taught me my worth.    And He taught me to never let the aforementioned things above to strip me or deplete me.  He was my answer to being whole; He alone carved my identity.  With him, I was unshakeable.  And so I put my confident trust in Him, even through the momentary pain.  And I decided that I will never settle for less than ever again. 

2.  Relentless Love Regardless...

"You have heard it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil.  But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also...And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles." (Matthew 5:38-41)

Let me be perfectly honest here.  Last year I had moments of weakness.  Moments of despair. I tripped up.  And it wasn't always a perfect walk.  There were times when I had to turn my other cheek. And there were moments that I had keep my head held high and walk away.  But through it all, God taught me to love.  Only by Him.  While the former me would have been defensive, angry, tit for tat - I wasn't.  Yes, I had times when I wanted to shut down, when I wanted to build a wall up around my heart - but I didn't.  Transformed, He taught me to be secure in Him.  And as a result,  I was able to radiate love through all circumstances.  And I will continue to keep my heart open.  I will continue to love relentlessly.  All because He first relentlessly loved me. 

3.  Grace, Grace, + More Grace

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"Grace, Lauren.  Grace.  Be a woman of grace."  His whisper followed me to be strong and courageous.  To be a warrior.  To clothe myself in strength and dignity.  To know and stand for what is right and wrong.  To  love valiantly, yet to forgive.  To extend the grace that is extended to me every single day.  To stand up for myself, yet be merciful.  To carry myself in a way that honors God and honors myself.  And so I did just that.  With no regrets.  None.

4.  Leaps of Faith

Sometimes God calls you to make a bold move.  Sometimes you just need a shake-up.  Sometimes you just have to say yes to the adventure.  And so I did.  Dare I say that I quit my full-time job in marketing to pursue my own business?  All because I wanted to live authentically.  A life of balance.  A life that I preached.  And dare I say that I am now working at a high-end restaurant as a server for the first time in my life to help make some extra income?  Yep, it's true.  And I have no shame.  God has called me into unchartered waters for this season for a reason.  And I am going along for the adventure, trusting His provision.  Full of hope. 

I leave 2017 better than when it started.  Grateful for it all - the good and the bad - all of it beautiful because of who I became. 

Never settle.  Love relentlessly regardless.  Be of grace and extend grace.  Take leaps of faith.  And believe in the Goodness of God.

2018 already feels promising.  I will live with fire in my heart.  I will seek only a relationship where I am loved and cherished.   I will live a life led by my values.  I will live passionately.  I will follow my dreams.  I will live with love.  I won't back down.  I will never give up.  I will follow my God with intentional obedience.   And I will move forward with anticipation.  Trusting.  With belief. 

2018:  The Year of The Comeback. 

xx, Lauren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Wellness + What to Expect!

The weekend is coming to a close, but I wanted to share with you a little about what to expect from me moving forward.  In the next week I'll be posting a VLOG explaining exactly what Mind. Body. Jesus. is all about.  I'll be sharing more about our mission and you will be hearing much, much more from me in the coming days.

Below is our weekly schedule of daily social media posts, so make sure you like/follow my Facebook and Instagram pages to keep up-to-date!  Here is a little background about why each day of the week is important for your overall health and well-being:

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#MusicMonday:  Bottom line, music heals.  And we'll be talking more about how in the coming days.  A few years ago I was certified in an energy practice called Cellular Expansion + Healing.  The basis for this practice is that every single cell, all matter, holds a vibrational frequency.  Those vibrational frequencies can be affected by our environment, our words, trauma, fear, negativity, and the like.  Yet, we have the opportunity to also introduce healing frequencies through words and music.  Consider church on Sunday.  We worship through music.  I stand there singing, focusing on how Great our God is, and a blanket of peace, love, and joy covers me.  I feel a great healing overtake me.  It doesn't matter the chaos going on in my life in that moment because it all fades away into the background and I'm focused on the very Presence that surrounds me.  On #MusicModay I will be posting a song for you to take a few moments to close your eyes, let the lyrics sink into your heart, the healing vibrations enveloping your body, and your mind in total self-reflection.  More on music and frequency therapy to come.

#TuesdaysTip:  I will post a weekly health tip centered around mindfulness, nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, etc.  It's all about promoting a healthy, balanced lifestyle.  I promote "whole" healing in mind, body, and spirit.  Without one, we can't have the others.  It's all about small, simple changes to lay the groundwork for your health!

#WellnessWednesday:  Wednesdays are about education!  With knowledge comes power.  I can't urge enough the importance to become your own health advocate.  Nobody other than the God that created you knows your mind, body, and the state of your soul more than you.  You hold the keys.  You are in the driver's seat.  It's time to get empowered and initiate the changes necessary to meet and exceed your goals.  Never forget that you have the power of God within you!  With Him, all things are possible!

#ThoughtfulThursday:  Ever notice that natural high that follows a good deed from the purity of your heart?  "A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed" (Proverbs 11:23).  #ThoughtfulThursday is all about loving others as you love yourself.  If we love others generously, help someone in need, give with the resources God has abundantly provided us with, it takes the focus off of the struggles that we face.  It's no longer about "me"!  And with that, comes refreshment.  While #ThoughtfulThursday is not about boasting about our good deeds, let's share the fullness of God's goodness in return.

#FitnessFriday:  I can't stress enough the importance of moving and using the bodies that we have been blessed with.  Whether stretching, strengthening, or conditioning - all of it has great impact.  It's about making a decision to take action.  Let's release those healthy, happy, "feel good" endorphins.  Let's strengthen your body so you feel confident to go out there and slay the day ahead.  #FitnessFriday will promote exercise and bring you fitness tips, research, and inspiration.

#SelfCareSaturday:  I'm a firm believer that we can't take care of others unless we first take care of ourselves.  Boundaries - both physical and emotional - are essential to our health.  Self-care is not about selfishness, it's about taking a critical time-out, scheduling a date with God, nourishing your mind, body, and soul, and loving yourself the way God loves you.  Self-care is about restoration, grounding, and alignment.  CRITICAL for your whole health. 

#SoulSunday:  "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).  I can't tell you how liberating it is once you accept this principle into your life.  When we realize that our lives are not about us, but about God, a huge burden is lifted.  Once we surrender that our lives are in His control, the more ease the flow of our lives.  We realize that He is the Author of our stories.  He holds the beginning and the end.  And all of it...every single moment...is to be used for His purposes.  This fact also helped me to walk more confidently knowing that His power is within me.  And He does all things for our ultimate good.  #SoulSunday is all about worshiping Him -- His is love, His freedom, His grace, His healing, His wisdom, His goodness, His peace.  It is He who is everything we need.  May we honor our minds, bodies, and spirits knowing it is all a gift from the Artist that brought them to life.

May each day bring you new life, inspire you, motivate you, and bring you a great healing.  A great new chapter awaits!

xx

 

Running: A Metaphor

I had a Facebook memory pop up in my feed yesterday that reminded me that it was 4 years ago that I had my 2nd knee surgery in a period of 4 months.  It was a long road to recovery,  so I celebrated my working legs by intentionally leaving work a little earlier to go on a prayer run.

I'm not a strong runner yet; I have about 3 straight miles in me for now, but I will get better. And those 3 miles are invaluable to me.  They are my outlet. They clear my head. They push me and challenge me - physically, mentally, and spiritually. They are painful and they hurt. Sometimes I gasp for more air in my lungs. They beg for me to slow down and give up. And in those moments when I don't think I can do any more, I keep calling out to Jesus for help.  I pray for Him to provide me the endurance and the strength for one more step, one more step, one more step... and He does, if I just focus on that one step right ahead of me. And then, I notice a shift, and the pain begins to melt away as I get into a rhythm. The run that was fatiguing me starts to energize me. I start to feel strong and my body tight. I have a natural high.  I feel accomplished.  Peace and joy overtake me. All that begins to matter is this time that I have, just me and God, being completely reliant upon him.

Last night I realized why I have grown to love running; it's a metaphor for life.   It takes me through a series of feelings, both in body and in mind.  I get to a point where I have to make a decision, to give up or push through.  And so I push through, one small step at a time.   If I focus on what more I have ahead, I get overwhelmed.  But if I just focus on what's right in front of me, God gives me strength.  And I realized how blessed I am.  How much I love to feel.  How little I am and how big God is.  How much I need Him in every moment of every day.  How He supplies for my every need.  How He is with me always, never leaving my side.  And all the chaos that surrounds me, it begins to lose its significance as I focus on The Great One. 

Blessed.  Blessed I am.  Blessed we are.

God's Hand is at work in our intricate lives; His love runs deep.  He is molding and refining us.  No matter what we are up against, He loves us and He Has already fought the battle for us.  And He won.

So today, like the full range of emotions experienced on my prayer run, let's embrace life to its fullest.  The joys, the heartbreaks, the unknowns.

God is with us.  He loves us.  He sustains us.  He provides for us.  He fights for us.  He stills waters for us. 

One small step at a time.

xx

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul. (Psalm 23:1-3)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul. (Psalm 23:1-3)

Get Ready...

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.  Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

Jesus.

I’ve uttered His name on my lips more times than I can count over the past few years as I’ve walked through dark valleys and stood high on mountaintops.  I feel a great warmth cover my body and tears flood my eyes at the power of His Great Name.  Even a whisper, “Jesus”, and everything changes. 

My prayer list is growing.  I keep adding to the list family members, friends, acquaintances, people and situations that don’t even know I exist.  I don’t mention this to boast of my prayer life, but because the apparent brokenness in this world is becoming more and more evident as I talk with people new and old and begin to ask questions.  Or when I see the divisiveness, tragedy, loss, and suffering that permeates the news outlets.  Or when I see behind the smiling faces on social media the perfectionism, insecurity, call for attention, materialism and anxiety that consumes so many.  Or the struggling relationships and broken marriages.  Or the need to cover deep wounds with a Band-Aid of alcohol, drugs, and sex. 

Before I truly came to know Jesus, I remember a constant yearning for something more.  I was a perfectionist rattled with worry.  A wallflower hoping no one would notice me.  Insecure and scared to show my true self.  Afraid of judgement.  And health problems began to mount up as the conflict inside me grew and grew.  And that constant yearning for more in this life -- I’ve found that it is a common thread that we all share, whether we realize it or not.  That yearning exists because we are separate from our Father, our Creator, our Forever Home.  But today there is Good News.  Because of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus, we have a free gift and invitation to close that gap and yearn no more.  The Author of all creation lives amongst us, in Spirit form, and wants to fill us with His love, hope, joy, and peace.  He wants to erase your blemished past by extending His mercy and grace to forgive you.  He wants to give you new life – an eternal life.  He wants you.  You.

Jesus doesn’t mean an easy life; we were never promised a life of ease.  We are told that we will encounter challenges in many forms.  But now we don’t have to go through them alone.  God is the Author of every circumstance, and He is growing and maturing us, preparing us for the next great chapter in His Book.   

As a coming clean, I have written before of some of the challenges I’ve faced in years prior – health challenges, financial fears after I was laid off, infertility concerns.  But what I haven’t mentioned over the past year (if you’ve noticed I’ve been pretty quiet) is my pending divorce, adjusting to life on my own, working long and often draining hours, and having to heal some of the brokenness in my soul as a result.   Heartbreak was there.  Stress was there. Fear was there.  Fatigue was there.  But yet, somehow, through it all, I have not crumbled.  I’ve stood strong and firm.  I have put my trust in Jesus, held His Hand, and allowed Him to continue transforming me from the inside-out.  I am forgiven.  I am healed.  I am confident.  I am bold.  I am courageous.  I am tough as nails.  I am resilient.  I am true to my God.  I am loved.  I am worthy.  I am valuable.  I am beautiful.  I am smart.  I am sexy.  I am better, wiser, and more mature than ever before because I have walked through valleys to now stand high on the peaks of mountaintops.

I never realized how capable I was.  But it hasn't been out of my own accord; it’s through the strength and supernatural power that only God can provide.  My feet are firmly planted in His Word.  I am equipped with the armor of God so that no fiery dart can pierce me.  I have His love as glue to piece me back together when I feel myself breaking apart.  I have His grace when I make a mistake or fall victim to sin.  And I have Jesus; my Rescuer, my Redeemer, my Healer, my Lover, my Restorer, my Wisdom, my Father. 

And so, Jesus is on my lips...

To break every chain.                                                                                                                                                  To change everything.                                                                                                                                           To silence the waves.                                                                                                                                                  Jesus. Jesus.                                                                                                                                                    

And I am holding steady.                                                                                                                                                And I am ready.                                                                                                                                                  Because He's about to what I am not expecting...

...And I look forward with anticipation; with joy and with peace.  For He is ALWAYS good.  And His plans, ALWAYS perfect. 

If you feel lost, I want you to know that He knows exactly where to find you.  You can’t run from Him, and you cannot hide.  He is constantly seeking you. 

So he told them this parable:  “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost’.  Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:3-7)

Wherever you are today, no matter your past, He knows you, He loves you, and He wants to rejoice over you.  He's ready to carry you on His shoulders to bring you Home.  So I pose you this same question from John 11:25-26...Do you believe this?  Then let today be the day.  Open your heart.  Let the power of Jesus fill you.  Put His name on your lips. Come home and be set free. 

May His love shine upon you this Easter Sunday.         

xx.                                                                        

The Face Of Thirty-Three

I'm not where I expected to be at 33. Many pieces of my life are in limbo. Many of the accomplishments I had envisioned at this point are still left unchecked. I've experienced struggle and adversity as we all do at certain times in our lives. But on this birthday, I choose joy. I choose to trust God's unraveling plan of beauty in my life. And while today looked different than what I had pictured in mind, I'm embracing it...because I know today was a perfect day in the eyes of God, and that my life was created with a bigger purpose than I could ever possibly imagine. So...with this smile, I give all thanks to my Maker. Thank You for my life, the hardship, the beauty, my family and friends, for inspiration, and hope, and all of the amazing opportunities that will continue to unveil themselves to me...all to glorify Your name.

Labor Day Birthday shopping with my lovely mom today.  So grateful for her love, support, encouragement, and guidance.

Labor Day Birthday shopping with my lovely mom today.  So grateful for her love, support, encouragement, and guidance.

Love to all I have encountered on this journey of life. Each of you has touched my heart and made me better, stronger, wiser, and more loving. Thank you!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares The Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

#birthday #reflection #thefaceof33 #God #gratitude #Bible #thanks #joy #trust #laborday

The face of thirty-three:  confidence, joy, peace, love.

The face of thirty-three:  confidence, joy, peace, love.

The Secret to Unleashing Your Glow

With the creative eye gifted to my hubs, sometimes I get to pretend to be a legit model.  My initial shyness seems to disappear, and I start to get lost in this pretend model world.  I ignore the curious stares of passersby and focus on the present moment right in front of me; the camera lens searching deeply into the layers of my soul, hoping to uncover the story that bring me here today.  And in those moments, when everything fades away and it is just me and that camera, my husband captures photographs like the one to your right.  I look into the eyes of the image staring back at me, and I am reminded of the journey.  A journey that hasn't always been easy.  A story of heartbreak, fear, overwhelm, frustration, people pleasing, pain, brokenness, and longing.  But also a story of redemption, of victory.

I find it funny when people who haven't seen me in a while say - "You look great, Lauren!", "You've lost so much weight!", or even "You are glowing!" Truly, I am humbled by the kind words. And today, I'm going to let you in on my secret to radiance. 

Are you ready for it???

...Because it has absolutely nothing to do with me...

That glow...

(Really, it's super simple!)

...is the light of Jesus shining through me!

And because it is He (and He alone) that I thirst after today, I can say with a smile that I am full of peace and joy (even after going through some pretty crappy storms over the past few years!). It is through Him, that I have been rescued from the mental bondage that kept me quiet for a very long time (removing lies and false narratives). It is through Him, that I have gained courage and confidence (trusting His will to be done). It is through Him, that I now diligently live a life of discipline (healthy nutrition/soul-care/physical activity/prayer).  It is through Him, that I have gained the strength to persevere and heal my body from illness (never losing hope or fueling negativity). It is through Him, that I can fully love myself and others (healing and restoring broken relationships with an outpouring of unconditional love). And it is through Him, that I choose to live with intentional obedience to His call (humble submission), even when it doesn't make sense, or it requires taking risks others might not deem realistic or acceptable.

This is the face of victory. The face of Jesus. And it is Love.  Beauty.  Hope.  Forgiveness.  Strength.  Courage.  Confidence.  Trust.  Mercy.  Boldness.  Perseverance.  Wisdom.  And Grace.  

And all of these can be yours too!

If you are interested learning more, or if you are in need of a complete mind/body/soul tune-up - a program that holds you accountable, teaches you to gain an awareness of your own unique body and soul needs,  helps you uncover an abundance of peace and joy in your life TODAY, unleashes your healing potential, and helps you live a life of purpose,  then apply here for a complimentary strategy session with me.  Seasons have gone by, but now is the time...time for you to get your glow!

"As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God."  (Psalm 42:1)

Prescription for When You are in a Funk

Soapwalla Indulgent Bath Soaking Salts (Lavender & Eucalyptus), "Experiencing God:  Knowing and Doing The Will of God" by Henry and Richard Blackaby, "Without Words: Synesthesia" album by Bethel Music, a deeply connecting soul stroll

Soapwalla Indulgent Bath Soaking Salts (Lavender & Eucalyptus), "Experiencing God:  Knowing and Doing The Will of God" by Henry and Richard Blackaby, "Without Words: Synesthesia" album by Bethel Music, a deeply connecting soul stroll

I hate when I'm in a funk.  I mean, we all have funky days, but I literally cannot seem to tolerate them in my life anymore.  It reminds me of former me.  The me that always felt like a victim.  The me that would get sucked into a dark mole hole, where I hid for far too long.  The me that was fearful.  The me that didn't like herself.  The me that didn't believe in herself.  I look back and I am so thankful that I have been able to grow and mature from that girl.  I have Jesus to thank.  He captured my heart and transformed me from the inside-out.  And I haven't looked back since.

Last week I had a tough day.  I wasn't feeling well to begin with, and then I got some bad news.  To be honest, this past year has been one requiring a constant state of endurance.  The majority of things in my life have not been going as I had planned.  But then again--I guess it isn't up to me.  God, The Author of my life, has something else in store. 

For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  (Eph 2:10)

How amazing is it that God has prepared wonderful things for us in advance?  Things we aren't even aware of quite yet?  A few of my friends and I joke that he has already bought us a puppy...He's just hiding it behind His back waiting for the PERFECT time to present it.  And when it's time, that puppy will come running and jumping into our arms smothering us in those precious puppy dog kisses. 

See, this past year has been one of immense spiritual growth for me.  One that has taught me obedience--the lesson being, DELAYED OBEDIENCE IS DISOBEDIENCE.  All of those little hints, all of the messages in our dreams, all of the tugs at our hearts, all of the moments of inspiration...those are not coincidental.  God is speaking to us constantly, trying to reveal Himself to us.  God doesn't abandon us.  He's right here in all of the muck.  He's whispering to us.  He's telling us to act, not tomorrow or next week or in a few months....but NOW!  He's telling us to step up! And when we act with obedience without hesitation, He will unleash that puppy-full of blessings!  Trust me, I know, we often try to rationalize our way out of the "crazy" ideas that we think we aren't capable of ever achieving...But that only means it is time for us to trust in Him completely.  Time to surrender.  Time to let Him do the work He has set out to complete. 

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.  I say, 'My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.'  From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.  What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.  (Is 46:10-11)

Wow, wow, wow!  How powerful is that verse?  Seriously, reread it and meditate on it.  Let it saturate your soul. Remember, God will always set out to accomplish His good works in you, no matter what the circumstances.  You just have to first put your faith in Him.  Believe.

Okay, so I was feeling yucky the other day and I knew that it was because I had fallen into my flesh.  I had disconnected from the love of God.  So, I chose not to let the enemy of lies get into my head and heart.  I indulged in a day of total self-love and -care.  I relaxed in a hot Epsom Salt bath.  There is something about a hot bath that instantly reconnects and grounds me to my Creator.  Our bodies require minerals to optimally function.  Epsom Salts contain a mineral compound of both magnesium and sulfate, which are easily absorbed by the skin.  Many of us are mineral deficient, one of those minerals being magnesium.  An Epsom Salt bath can help ease stress, relieve joint and muscle pain by decreasing inflammation in the body, alleviate constipation, and eliminate toxins from the body through reverse osmosis.  I encourage an Epsom Salt bath at least weekly!  While soaking in the tub, I played an inspiring, thought-provoking instrumental album in the background.  And I prayed my heart out, completely emptying myself to The Lord, crying cleansing tears.  Yep, emotional tears actually contain stress hormones that are excreted from the body when we cry and stimulates the production of endorphins (feel-good hormones) according to "The Health Benefits of Tears", an article published in Psychology Today (2010).  I intentionally (even kicking and screaming) thanked God for my life and what was yet to come.  I read from one of my favorite, life-changing books.  And, I took myself on a deeply connecting soul stroll (no matter that it just so happened to be one of the coldest days of the season yet! Brrrrrr....!!!  But oh so worth it!)

The result:  I was restored.  I was full of love, hope, and faith that God will complete His works in me.  I trusted my path.  I embraced my failures.  And I believed that God will indeed present that puppy at the most perfect of times.

Rx:  Take care of yourself.  Slow down.  Connect.  Take a hot bath.  Listen to moving music.  Pray.  Thank God for all He is and all He is doing in your life.  Read an uplifting book.  Take a soul stroll.  Act with obedience now.  And enjoy every second of the perfectly woven life you have been gifted with.  Each moment is with great purpose. 

xx