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

Why I Toss Protocol in the Trash

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I got beef.  With the wellness industry.  With diets.  With fads.  With super foods.  With protocol. Call me crazy.  And maybe you will (and that's okay).  But here's why.

If you know my story, you know I wasn't physically well.  I struggled with various health challenges since I was 16 years old. I had severe digestive issues that spiraled out of control which led to anxiety and depression.  I had irregular menstrual cycles, prolonged bleeding (sometimes lasting 45 days), hormonal imbalances.  Nausea.  Skin rashes and breakouts.  Weight gain and rapid weight loss.  Difficulty putting sentences together.  Worsening food allergies.  Bone and joint pain.  Excessive fatigue.  When I was married, I was told my body was unable to sustain a healthy pregnancy.  And at my worst, trembling in my hands.  I was terrified.  I didn't know what was happening to me.  Nobody did.  Not even the doctors that were supposed to have all of the answers.  

Years of questioning and frustration led me on a path to become my own healthcare advocate.  Instead of wallowing.  Instead of being paralyzed by fear.  Instead of giving up.  I took matters into my own hands.  I researched.  I talked to wellness experts.  I enrolled in an integrative nutrition program.  And I set out on a journey to make changes in my life.  Healthy changes.  I was paving my own way towards healing.  

Gluten free.  Grain free.  Soy free.  Egg free.  Dairy Free.  Hemp.  Turmeric.  Lots and lots of kale.  Raw juices.  Detox programs.  Wheatgrass shots.  Supplements.  Fermented foods.  You name it.  

Yeah, I lost weight.  Rapidly.  But I got worse.  My symptoms intensified.  How?  Why?  I was doing everything right!  I was living a healthy lifestyle!  I fell to my knees, crying out to God for help.   

What I learned is that I had a genetic mutation that was working against me.  My body wasn't able to eliminate toxins like a "normal" person without the mutation.  Our fat cells store toxins.  And as I would lose weight, those toxins were released into my body, circulating throughout my bloodstream without an exit strategy.  What resulted was underlying inflammation which led to some pretty serious health challenges.  As I got an understanding for my body, I was able to make appropriate changes that were safe for me and my body's needs.  But those changes did not include fad foods or specific trending protocols.  It included an intuitiveness and the knowing of my own body with the help of a humble practitioner I found who did things the old school way (no receptionist, no computer, not even an answering machine - say whaaat?!).  He wasn't in it for the money, for the fame, for the sale of his product.  He was in it to peel back the layers of the one + only me.  And guess who was in the driver's seat?  God + me.  

Here's a dose of truth.  Dr. So and So's general protocol wasn't going to help me.  They didn't know my body like me.  They didn't know my underlying genetics.  And the fact is, our bodies are living and dynamic, ever changing.  What I need today may not be what I need tomorrow.  And so forth.  Two people can be diagnosed with the same exact condition, but they may require two very different forms of treatment based on their unique body's needs.  It's called Bioindividuality.  And we need to keep it in mind on the healing journey.  

Here's what else I want to tell you.  Sometimes when our health spirals out of control and we are looking for answers, [x] diagnosis becomes something we identify with.  And on our quest for answers, our practitioners or certain products and/or supplements easily become our lifeline, our God.  The end all be all.  The source of our healing.  The answer we seek.  

Now, please know that I am not bashing practitioners.  They have been blessed with a set of gifts in order to diagnose and bring treatment options to the table for those suffering with health conditions.  But I don't want us to get lost and lose our focus on two important facts.  

1.  You are not your diagnosis.  

2.  God is ultimate Healer.

Be firm in who God says you are.  I have seen far too many chronic illness "online chatrooms" that only confuse, overwhelm, and scare its members.  Many, many members then allow fear to consume them and rule their lives, filling them with lies of who they are.  They live labeled by their diagnosis.  Not all, but I do believe many practitioners prey on these fears.  I fell for it too.  And that's why I do things differently in my practice.   

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Your Creator never called you by your diagnosis.  He called you, Beloved.   And He wants you to experience an abundant life, regardless of your circumstances.  Receive it!  Sometimes this abundance takes form of healing miracles.  Sometimes spiritual growth.  Sometimes beauty in the midst of chaos.  Sometimes bringing hope and inspiration to others facing similar trials.  But you were saved by blood shed so that you could experience abundance.  Live it.  Feel it.  Believe it.

So, I'm here to say, rise above protocol.  Get to know your body.  Take a stand for it.  Love it + nourish it with God's Truth and the food and movement that only your body knows it needs.  Open yourself to healing and grace.  Turn to the only One.  Let go of labels.  And allow Him to lead you on your path towards wellness.  

Peace, Love, + Healing!

xx

[If interested in learning more, head on over to "Contact" and send me over a quick message!  I'd love to hear from you!]

 

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)

Set Free on Good Friday

I haven’t posted on the blog for a while, so I can’t think of a better day than Good Friday to share the message of being set free! 

It is so easy for us to carry on with our everyday lives today, just like every other day.  TGIF, right?  So, I find it incredibly important for all of us to slow down and reflect on what is so good about Good Friday, when an innocent man was arrested, tortured, and died on the cross.  And maybe that’s why I’m writing this, to spend my own time in meditation processing the meaning behind this very day. 

I find it amazing that Jesus, a man of the flesh, stands quiet when Pilate asks “Do you not hear how many things they have testified against you?” (Matthew 27:13-14).  How many of us when we come under attack immediately jump to defend ourselves?  We feel hurt, betrayed, and we seek justice!  And yet, Jesus…he just stands there quietly.  We know that Jesus was scared, because when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, he was in such agony that “his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44), a condition known as hematidrosis which is a very rare condition when the tiny capillaries in the sweat glands burst from significant emotional stress.  And yet, He still accepts this fate from his Father.  He puts his trust in Him, and Him alone.  He isn’t looking for acceptance from the world.  He knows that the only acceptance He needs, is from God.   

Think about that.  What an example of faith knowing the amount of suffering he is about to face.  Wow.

This morning I stumbled upon a Facebook video talking about Barabbas.  The video sent chills throughout my body.  Pilate asks the crowd “Whom do you want me to release for you:  Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:17).  Barabbas was a bad man – selfish, a thief, a criminal, and a murderer.  And, Jesus…well, he was a healer!  And yet, this crowd chooses to accept the murderer over an unblemished man!  And when Barabbas is unchained, with no gratitude for Jesus, the one that truly sets him free, he walks away without hesitation as the crowd continues to mock Jesus and call for his death.  Barabbas and the crowd are symbolic here, don’t we see it?  They represent me.  And they represent YOU. 

We can be so ignorant of our sin.  “I’m a good person.”  “I haven’t killed anyone.”  But you see, sin goes much deeper than that.  Do we deny Jesus such as Peter?  Are we quick to judge others, yet reluctant to admit our own failures?  Are we boastful and full of pride?  Do we have a sharp tongue?  Do we chase after the things of this world such as sex, money, fame, and power?  Maybe we look at others with envy?  We live selfishly?  Or maybe we even put spending time with God last a long list of things to do.  Let me tell you, I am just as guilty as Barabbas.  And I fail – Every.  Single.  Day. 

But Jesus, knowing he himself is innocent, and knowing just how guilty Barabbas is, let him walk free.  Because he loves him.  And he loves US! 

My heart breaks for Jesus.  When I reflect on The Passion, I weep knowing just how guilty I am.  And I know in my heart just how much I don’t deserve the free gift Jesus is extending to me.  But the last words he utters before giving up His spirit are “It is finished.”  My favorite words ever spoken.  As my pastor recently addressed – sin, suffering, satan, and salvation – all of them are finished forever and for always, because Jesus has already won.  He has conquered it all, for us.  And so, as I sit here writing and reflecting, I accept this gift of salvation out of love and gratitude for The One that gave up his life so that I could live. 

The chains are broken, and I am set free.  Without ever looking back at the person I was, I am forever transformed. 

If you have not yet accepted Jesus, all you have to do is open your heart, put your faith in Him, and ask Him for forgiveness.  He will wash you clean, and you will be made anew. 

If I can help you, or pray for you, please don’t hesitate to email me at lauren@laurentarr.com. 

May His peace be with you. 

xx 

 

Merry Christmas, From a Jesus Freak

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

The other night, I lay awake in bed praying.  In that moment, I wasn’t asking anything of God.  I was acknowledging Him.  I was thanking Him.  My eyes flooded with tears.  A continuous stream flowed down my neck and along the outside of my shoulders.  It wasn’t that I was sad.  I was in awe.  I was in love.

Over the course of this past year, I was stripped bare.  A job lost.  Strained finances.  Bubbling health issues coming to a head.  A new diagnosis.  Continued longing for a child.  Challenges in my marriage from it all.  And lots and lots of questions.  I was being hit on all sides.  And I crumbled to my knees more times than I count.

Funny thing is, it took all of those things happening to me in order to get me to that place—on my knees, completely surrendered. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. 

I grew up in the church…

…and I fell away from the church.

In my early twenties, I found Jesus again.  And while I believed in Him, I didn’t really know Him.  If I’m being totally transparent, it was more of a one-sided love relationship.  I still had my guard up.  And I still wanted to do things my way.  Except, I found myself falling into a spiral of overwhelm, panic, and deep pain.

There I was, trying to control every aspect of my life, all while feeling completely out of control. 

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

So, on my knees I fell.  Stripped bare.  Seeking a Savior.  Pouring out my heart.  Hoping He would hear my cries.  And as I bowed down, I noticed my tears of agony turned to tears of gratitude, my cold, selfish heart turned soft, and my fears turned to overflowing love.  I was restored.  And I began to trust my journey in that moment as I surrendered control to The Creator of all things.

Yep, this year I was hit on every side.  And at times, it was really, really freaking hard. But somehow through it all, I also made a new church my home, renewed my faith, laid down my life, found my purpose, joined a Christ-centered business coaching group, learned how to love myself, and love others, forgave people who wronged me, found healing, matured, became an entrepreneur, made new life-long friendships, wrote a book, and in the sadness, I found joy. 

This Christmas takes on a new meaning for me.  Today it isn’t about giving and receiving gifts of monetary value.  It isn’t about a vacation day from work.  It isn’t about the food.  And while I cherish moments with my family, it isn’t even about them.  It’s about Jesus.  It’s about a precious gift of life that is freely being handed to us.  It’s about a choice we all have to make between the sins of this world, or the love, grace, and mercy being extended to us from Our Father. 

These days, I am a new creation.  I am wiped clean.  My heart is changed.  And I am full of love.  I pray in acknowledgment and thanksgiving.  And I cry not from sadness, but because I am blessed beyond measure.  Even in the sorrow, I somehow experience peace and joy. 

Some might wonder what happened to me.  People from my past might see that I am no longer in bondage.  Maybe they see a transformation.  Perhaps they witness that while I had the hardest year of my life, I was given the strength to take action and accomplish things only God could have done through me.  Others might roll their eyes at this Jesus Freak.  And that’s okay too.  Because what matters today, is not me.  It’s Him.  It’s Jesus.  My Savior.  The Prince of Peace.  Our gift.  The best gift of all. 

Merry Christmas to you and yours. 

With Love,

From a Jesus Freak

 

 

 

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

 

When We Grow Weary...

Have you not heard?  The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary; and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Have you not heard?  The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary; and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Hi, Doll.

I don't know about you, but growing up I was never a roller coaster lover - the anxious butterflies while waiting in line in anticipation of the ups, downs, twists, turns, and loops that lie ahead.  As a child, I would avoid them.  As an adult, I would look at kids half my size shrieking with excitement and think, "Seriously, if they can do it, I can too."  So, I would muster up enough courage trying not to show any ounce of fear to my friends.  A rush of adrenaline would overcome me, my stomach in knots, and while I would want to run away, I would commit myself to fighting through the fear of what lie ahead.  The ride would only last about a minute and a half, and once I felt it halt to a stop, I would unclench my eyes and a whimsical high would overcome me knowing that I had survived and conquered.  What a perfect illustration of life:  a continuous roller coaster ride of peaks and valleys demanding constant perseverance. 

I'm not going to tip toe around it, I had a rough week.  I had a flare up of symptoms and felt my body growing tired and my mind discouraged.   I then found myself mourning the absence of a child in my life.  I am a faithful person.  I do trust that every aspect of my life is perfectly woven for God's greater glory, even when it doesn't make sense.  But, I still fall.  And I still have days that I struggle.  We ALL have a giant, scary monster in our lives whether it be illness, loss of a loved one, infertility, a miscarriage, loss of a job, financial instability, a betrayal, a divorce, depression, anxiety, loneliness...

And just like me this past week, maybe you are growing weary too...

So what do we do when we find ourselves in that valley of despair? 

1.  As for God, his way is perfect:  The LORD's word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.  (Psalm 18:30)

First and foremost, go to Him.  Over the past few years, as I set out on my own self-healing journey, I committed myself to growing my faith.  This year in particular, I joined a Christ-centered business coaching group with about 24 others entrepreneurs from across the country.  Our focus has been putting more of God into our businesses, and less of us.  I joined a church after years of church hopping.  I joined a Discipleship Bible study with three of my friends.  And I also joined Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) where I will be studying The Book of Revelation over the course of the next year.  Through it all, I have learned that the answers to any and all of my life questions, are found in The Bible.  And let me tell you, His Word is alive - there is so much power radiating from those pages!  Read His Word.  Meditate on it.  Pray the Scriptures.  Let it speak to you.  Let it restore you.  Let it transform your heart. 

2.  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Call it tough love, but I am going to call you out.  (Don't worry, I gave myself a dose of my own medicine earlier this week.)  When we grow weary, we are not fully exhibiting trust in God.  I recall hanging my head in shame at the thought of me questioning His faithfulness.  But then, I remembered.  God loved us so much, that He brought us His Son to us in human form.  He loved us so much that He wanted to have a better understanding of our human nature.  He loved us so much that He allowed His Perfect Son to be beaten, spit upon, bloodied, crucified, and sacrificed so that each of us could be freed from our sin in a broken world.  In Matthew 26:36-46, Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane before His arrest and made His own humanness known. He told his disciples "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death."  He asked them to keep watch over Him while He prayed and he even warned them to not fall into temptation as "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."  As He brings His prayer to a close, Jesus cries out, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done."  Jesus walks among us.   He knows our circumstances, He knows our temptations, He knows our hearts, and He knows how weak we are in the flesh.  But trust is spread all throughout the Bible, over and over again.  Knowing our human weaknesses, God is constantly commanding us to trust Him, just as Jesus did.  You see, we don't have to understand our circumstances.  God is faithful to those who submit to Him.  When we seek Him, He promises to make our paths straight.  So, no matter what storms you endure, you have a choice to trust Him, to let His will be done. 

3.  Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the LORD. (Acts 3:19)

When gripped by doubt, fear, overwhelm, or depression, we tend to shrink.  We become small.  We isolate.  And we are held captive.  Know that it comes from one source only - an enemy of lies that "seeks to steal, kill, and destroy you."  God is love, and anything that repels love is not God.  When I felt doubt creep in this past week, I knew I had let the enemy take refuge in my life.  It was time for me to say "PEACE OUT!" to the destroyer.  And it was time for me to go to My Father to repent.  I confessed my sins, asked for His forgiveness, and asked Him to help my unbelief.  To humble ourselves in His presence in a time of repentance allows God to wipe us clean and restore us.  

4.  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2-3)

Author Margaret Feinberg spoke at my church this weekend.  After studying joy in the Scriptures, Margaret wrote a book - but just as she was about to publish it, she was diagnosed with cancer.   She decided that joy would be her secret weapon to fight back, and she rewrote her book, Fight Back with Joy, from this new perspective.    As a joy seeker in my own life, I needed a reminder that my joy was in my control.  Margaret spoke of joy as God's complete love encompassing us.  When we fall into weariness, it's important to sit quietly in God's big, unfailing love.  Let it fill you.  Dance with His love.  Let it romance you.  Let it empower you.  Let it cast away all fear.  Surround yourself with His love reminders.  And know that God is refining and perfecting you with each perfectly orchestrated life moment.  Margaret looks back now and sees that unknowingly, her journey to write about joy had prepared her for what lie ahead in her cancer journey.  Then, she utilized what God taught her for His greater glory as she helps others fight back with joy.    So, I ask you, how can you use your story for good?  (I highly recommend Margaret's newly released book, Fight Back with Joy.)

In closing, go to His Word, trust Him, repent, and use joy as your secret weapon.  Enjoy the roller coaster ride of life and persevere!  May these tips encourage and restore your soul today.  And always, always know that you are deeply loved. 

xx,
Laur

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Welcome to My Blog!

 

Hello, Darling.

Welcome to my blog - a place for all things mind, body, and Jesus! 

As a former therapist, now health and lifestyle coach, I will be sharing with you the intimate details of my own health struggles stemming from a genetic mutation called Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (MTHFR).  It's been a frustrating bugger that has caused digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, menstrual and pregnancy issues, neurotransmitter imbalances, inflammation, and maddening food allergies.  Being a therapist, I acquired an arsenal of skills and techniques, but they weren't enough to lift me out of the funk I found myself in.  My heart yearned for something more, so I set out on my own self-healing journey.  I believe in a "wholistic" approach to healing touching on the mind, body, and soul.  And while I have good and bad days in body, my most profound healing has been spiritual.  I credit my suffering for deepening my relationship with Jesus Christ and strengthening my faith in The Almighty God.  I had been so self-centered and full of self-pity chasing the desires of my own heart and trying to please mankind.  But I learned that my life has absolutely NOTHING to do with ME.  Instead, it is about my love relationship with Jesus,  my humble submission to God, and my intentional walk to obey His call on my life.  I've learned to live joyfully through the physical and emotional struggles trusting that every single moment of my life is perfectly woven to give Him all glory and praise.  I am set free and full from His blessings.  And nothing of this world can take that from me.

So here I am - out in the open, out of hiding, on the path He set before me!

Please stop back and follow me as I share more of my experiences and provide health and wellness tips, daily/weekly doses of inspiration, lessons from Scripture, and how to live with an abundance of joy and peace regardless of life's storms of uncertainty.

Love and Blessings to you!

xx,

Lauren