Define success

Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

What is the definition of “success?”

The dictionary says success is “The accomplishment of an aim or purpose, the attainment of popularity or profit, a person or thing that achieves desired alms or attains prosperity.

Synonyms includes: favorable outcome, successfulness, triumph, Hollywood ending, prosperity, affluence, wealth, riches, opulence, blockbuster.

Based on the dictionary definition, I consider myself successful when I have a profitable month at work, stay on top of our crazy schedule, and have a little money left at the end of my paycheck. Sometimes at home, success looks like having everyone fed, bathed, and clothed… Basic answer but many times we are so busy that just accomplishing those 3 things seems like a feat! I consider my kids a success when they get good grades, do well in sports, and act responsible. My husband considers a successful hunt one that ends with a trophy buck hanging on the wall.

What if we change the question? Instead of the dictionary definition, what if we ask…

How does God define success?

1 Kings 2:3 says success is to “keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.”

Proverbs 3:1-4 says “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.”

I am not a bible expert, but I have yet to find a verse that says making a lot of money or being famous makes you successful. Don’t get me wrong – who doesn’t want to be good at what they do and make a lot of money doing it? But profit should not be our first priority. Using the talents God has given us to let Him shine through is the foundation of success. If you are a hard-working business man who is great at making money – good for you. But what do you do with that money? Do you hoard it? Buy more stuff? Act stingy? Do you spend every waking moment earning that money? So much that your family life suffers? Or do you use that money for good? Donate your money to a worthy cause? Help those in need? Do you bring glory to God with the use of your money?

What if you are an aspiring actress that goes to Hollywood and makes it on the big screen? Do you use your fame in a positive way that will give glory to God? Are you setting a good example for all the teenagers who look up to you and want to be just like you?

We were made to work – just like Adam in the garden. We all have unique talents & thank God for that!

What if we were all good at the same thing? BORING!! Diversity is essential!

What if there were no gas station attendants or fast food workers? We often think of those as menial, unimportant jobs. But without gas stations, there would be no road trips, no vacations, and no getting back & forth to work. Can you glorify God by working at a gas station? Absolutely. Start with the golden rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. It’s hard to be a Christ follower and not follow this one basic, age-old rule. Treating others with respect is a great way to let God’s love shine through. Even if it’s behind a cash register at a gas station. There is a crossing guard on the corner by my daughter’s school each morning. Every single day he waves at every single car with a smile. Sadly, not everyone waves and smiles back. But he keeps on waving and smiling! If it bothers him, you can’t tell!

ANYONE can give glory to God. Not just “church” people. Glorifying God means to acknowledge His greatness and give Him honor by praising and worshiping Him.* Why give Him glory? Well, he’s God! He made us. He made everything. Without Him we wouldn’t have ANY success. It all points back to Him and acknowledging this is a great start to being successful.

Step one? Determine which definition of “success” you want to achieve. The worldly definition is tempting. I mean honestly, who doesn’t want a Hollywood ending? But what happens when your life in this world is over and you move on to the next? 100 years on this Earth are a split second in time compared to an eternity in the next life.

When you stand before God, do you think he will ask you…

“How much money did you make?”

“Name the last 3 large accounts you wrote.”

“Provide a copy of your bank statement.”

“Show me your child’s report card.”

“What kind of car did you drive?”

“Square footage of your house?”

“How popular were you in school?”

“Did people think you were pretty?”

Doubtful!

-There is a big difference between “wealth” and “success” yet they are synonyms in the dictionary. Interesting!

Oswald Chambers said worship is when you give your best to God. The person doing the most with what they have been given is truly successful.

How well do you use the talents you have received? What is your ratio for talents received and talents used? Have you ever asked yourself that? I look at my oldest daughter and smile because she scores 100% on this! She uses her many God-given talents – especially her musical talent. She has a beautiful voice, sings in the church choir, and her solos & duets bring tears to my eyes every time. My theory? I know this is one of her many God given talents because she does not get nervous or anxious – she just does it! I would have a panic attack if I had to sing in front of everyone at church (not to mention glass would shatter) Singing is NOT one of my God given talents & that is ok! Remember, diversity is important! She plays the clarinet – loves it and does great. (First chair might I add!) She uses her God given abilities to the fullest and that is fun to see. That is success!

All year we have an opportunity to set goals, not just when the New Year is right around the corner. How can you let go of worldly success and focus on Godly success? What does this look like in your life? If you aren’t sure, pray about it. Ask God to show you. Listen for God’s answer. Follow through in action. 3 simple steps: Ask, Listen, Follow through!

 

Deuteronomy 8:18 “You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who give you power to get wealth”

*gotquestions.org

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Just Breathe

Just Breathe. It is not only one of my favorite Pearl Jam songs, but also great advice. Breathing is so basic yet so overlooked. Yes, we breathe all the time without thinking about it. We tend to notice our breathing when it’s not working well, but forget about it when it’s working. Check yourself. Are you breathing? Phew. Good! Now, HOW are you breathing?

When I started paying attention to my breathing, I noticed I don’t breathe deep very often. When I’m feeling anxious, it is almost impossible to breathe deep. Sometimes I am even holding my breath! Why? No freaking clue. If I really stop and pay attention (this seems to happen a lot at stop lights) I will notice I am breathing shallow and my body is tense.

At almost every Ayurveda appointment, I get asked the same question.

“How is your breathing?”

Um, well… I mean, I’m breathing all the time. All day long actually, so that’s good.”

At some point it becomes stupid to pay someone $150/hour to tell me to breathe deep. Obviously my visits are more than that, but most appointments, the topic of deep breathing (or lack thereof) always comes up. Here I learned the difference between belly breathing and barely breathing.  Belly breathing is the most beneficial for me. It’s pretty easy to do. Lay down and put your hand on your belly. Take a deep breath. Does your hand move up and down? Yes? Then you are belly breathing. No? Then you are not! Simple as that. If only your chest is rising and falling, but not your belly, then you are probably not belly breathing.

Deep breathing has so many health benefits:

  • Stress reduction & relaxation
  • Better blood flow & stronger lungs
  • Release endorphins & decrease pain levels
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Release toxins from the body
  • Better sleep

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Even though it sounds so simple, if you are not used to deep breathing, it can be a challenge at first. Start with 2 minutes. Find a quiet place if you can, close your eyes, and take some deep breaths. Your mind may wander at first and that is ok! If you notice this happening, redirect your attention & keep going. I have used meditation apps (One of my favs right now is Stop, Breathe, Think. It reminds you to pay attention & bring back your wandering mind! Even with a scattered mind, breathing deep is still beneficial! I try to spend a few minutes deep breathing first thing in the morning, mid afternoon when I’m picking up my kids from school, and right before bed. Before sleep is the most beneficial for me because it helps me relax, fall asleep faster, and release the tension in my body. Sometimes I wake up with sore muscles and wonder what happened to me in my sleep! Usually this happens after a night of sleep that started off restless. Work your way up to 5 minutes, then 10 minutes. The longer the better, but even 5 minutes of deep breathing a day will help!

Keep track of your breathing throughout the day. I used to set a reminder on my smart watch twice a day. When my alarm went off, I would take notice of my breathing, which was usually barely there! It may not be practical to lay down and breathe at work, so if that’s the case, just close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.

If you struggle with belly breathing, check out the Resperate. I should really start asking them for a kickback. I have told so many people about this device – even some random guy at the pool while I was on vacation. I overheard him say he had high blood pressure and was going to take medication. He seemed so young for that. I just had to share what I knew. My husband was slightly embarrassed. I did apologize for eavesdropping though! It is a belt with a sensor that straps around your waist and detects your breathing. It then leads you into longer, slower deep breaths. The first few minutes are always shocking to me because my breathing seems so fast once I stop & pay attention to it. It’s almost hard to keep up when you consciously think about it.  I find it so relaxing, but some nights I am too antsy to do it for very long. It is proven to lower blood pressure and is a great way to end your day and nod off to sleep.

I’ve read that meditating for 30 minutes is like sleeping for an hour. I wouldn’t know because usually after 10 minutes of this, I’m a crazy restless person. But I’m working my way up and would love to get to a 30 minute breathing/meditation session every night before bed. I think this would be so life changing. My mind is often like a bunny rabbit bouncing around in there from topic to topic. Supposedly, regular meditation trains your brain. When you start doing it all the time, your brain becomes used to it and it’s easier to sink into that relaxed state. My goal is to find out!

My New Favorite Nutrition App!

There are so many helpful apps available for dieting and nutrition. I have many I love but recently found a new favorite! It’s called Fooducate and it is super simple to use.

  • Download the app

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  • Open the Food Finder section of the app

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  • Scan the bar code on your food item or search by name (My screenshot examples are Almond Butter Granola Cups)
  • A product grade is generated. Click the arrow on the right hand side and it will expand and give an explanation of each bullet point. (This is my favorite part!!!)

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  • Nutrition section shows the nutrition label and gives you a green check (good) or red exclamation point (bad) on anything worth noting

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  • It gives you alternatives. If you like this type of food, they can recommend some alternatives with the same or better score.

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This app has helped me tremendously! Sometimes I thought I was eating something healthy, when in reality it wasn’t that great. I love how it explains why the food scored the way it did. I have noticed sometimes the alternatives include the item I just scanned, or another variation of the product with the same score. But I like using that to compare my item to other options. In reality, I am not going to eat all A’s. Just sayin’. But since using this app I have tried avoiding C’s & D’s as much as possible. I would be happy with a B average for now!

It has a health tracker option so you can track the food you are eating. I just recently started using this so I don’t have enough experience yet to provide a great review. It seems easy and works a lot like the other food tracker apps out there.

It has a diet tidbits section with short, easy to read health articles on a variety of topics.

I am using the basic version, but you can unlock the Premium Features for an additional fee, which includes several options, including a Pet Food section! Seriously!

Try it out and let me know what you think!

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Muffins

20180503_204215_0001I have tried some recipes that were healthy but NOT delicious and some that were delicious but NOT healthy. These muffins are actually healthy and delicious! My super picky daughter liked them so that says a lot!

My 2 worst enemies = white flour and white sugar. Which, by the way, totally sucks because they are in just about everything I crave. Then my brother brought me a muffin to try & I couldn’t believe they had no added sugar or flour. They are simple to make (easy enough for my 10-year-old to make a batch with very little help) My 12-year-old made 2 dozen for a school project & they were a big hit! I have made these with & without the vanilla extract and they were good either way. This is a great recipe to use brown bananas that are a little too mushy to eat. It’s also a great way to sneak some extra protein into my kids’ diet without them even noticing. I like Vega One or Orgain Organic Protein powder, but I’m sure any vanilla flavored powder would work just fine.

These muffins are much better alternative to your sweet tooth craving than, oh I don’t know, say a bag of Oreo cookies or a package of Hershey Kisses! We are slightly obsessed with Costco muffins. Last I checked the Costco Apple Crumb Muffins are almost 700 calories, 38 grams of fat, and 48 grams of sugar. You could eat a whole batch of these muffins and still consume less sugar!

Healthy & Delicious PB Banana Muffins

  • 2 bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 scoops of vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Blend all ingredients together except the chocolate chips until smooth. I prefer my bullet but you can use a blender. Once smooth, stir in chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into muffin tins and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Enjoy!

 

 

The Good List

I am a list person. I have a list for just about everything. Sometimes if I forget to write something on my list, I add it just so I can cross it off. Can anyone relate? I have a grocery list. I have a goals list. I have a personal wellness list. I have a wish list. I have a to-do list.

Lately, I have been adding to my list of lists! Most recently I started a gratitude list (this list will get its own post someday) and now I am working on a ‘bad to good list’. Some may call these blessings in disguise. My bad to good list is a place to write down all of the things in my life that I thought were bad at the time but actually turned out to be for my good later on. Sometimes it took days, months, or years to realize the bad actually brought me something good. There are also some things still stuck on the bad list, and I’m confident someday I will move them to my good list. It might not be on this side of life, but maybe an answer in heaven. This bad to good list is expansive, from a simple upgrade due to something breaking, to a tough time in life that brought me closer to God. When I started this list, one of my favorite verses came to mind.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.

This verse says ALL THINGS work for the good. This backs up my belief that some of those bad things will bring good, even if I can’t see it yet. Taking time to think about these things has made me so appreciative and thankful. It is really amazing to see how things unfold and work out!

One very simple example is a recent experience at work. Everyone in our office has at least 2 monitors. I am not quite sure how we functioned back in the day with only 1 monitor. Seriously ineffective! Recently one of my monitors quit working. I tried everything and it just did not come to life. After a phone call with our computer tech, it was discovered the monitor was DUNZO. I found a VERY small spare monitor in an unused office I could use temporarily.   Eek. I felt like I was staring at a sticky note! It was so small. Good thing I wear glasses – I needed them see this tiny monitor! Total first world problem, but working on such a small monitor was a nuisance. In talking with the technician, it was determined I could also use a new computer due to my software being so outdated. I had one of the oldest computers in the office. So, a few days later, an order was placed for a new computer, and not just 2 monitors, but 3 new monitors! I was getting an upgrade. If you have ever gone from 2 monitors to 3 monitors, you know how life-changing this can be! Now I feel a little sorry for the people who only have 2 monitors! My bad thing – my broken monitor – turned out to be a good thing – I got an extra monitor and a new computer!

Another bad to good experience involves our property. Several years ago when we were looking to move, we found some land we liked and made an offer. It was declined and we could not make a higher offer within our price range. We were so disappointed. It wasn’t long after this we found an even better piece of land for sale by owner. A few weeks later we were the proud owners of 40 acres of land. Over time we cleared the land, built a house, and this is where we live now. In retrospect, I am so glad we did not the original piece of property. It was not as nice and a little farther from my work. Plus, they recently put a gravel pit not far from that plot of land, so the road is much busier now than when we looked at it years ago. That bad turned to good and led us to the perfect piece of land that is on a quiet road, much prettier, and we have great neighbors!

2012 was a challenging year for me. It was the year I had a complicated pregnancy, my dad was diagnosed with cancer, and we were building our new house. In the end, my son was born just fine, my dad had surgery and is cancer free today, and we are living in our beautiful house. But there was A LOT that went on in between! Building a house is such a blessing, but also extremely stressful and we were running over budget and out of time. My pregnancy was full of challenges, ending in 2 months of bed rest, lots of high blood pressure, and a few scares. I trace my relationship with God back to this time. It was a turning point for me. During my dad’s surgery, I bought a journal from the hospital gift shop and started reading devotionals and writing down verses. I referred back to these during the 2 week wait for test results during my pregnancy that would confirm my son’s health. I became a lot closer with God & really relied on Him during that time. I came out in such a better place! I am thankful for that year of trials!

When I think about bad turned good, I think about the story of Joseph. He could have made a SUPER LONG list of many bad things that happened to him. But again and again, those bad things led him to something good. His jealous brothers wanted to kill him and end up selling him into slavery. It didn’t take long for that bad to turn good. He went from being a slave to being in charge of everything in Potiphar’s house. But Potiphar’s wife lied about Joseph because he wouldn’t do what she wanted. So he was thrown into jail. Once again the bad turned good when he was put in charge of all the prisoners. Joseph helped out the cupbearer while he was in jail and that cupbearer promised to get him freed as well, but that didn’t happen quickly at all. Until one day Pharaoh had a dream and nobody could explain it to him. Nobody except Joseph. He gave God the credit for interpreting this dream. Pharaoh was impressed and put Joseph in charge of all of Egypt.

These are just a few examples of bad turned good, thanks to God keeping His promise of Romans 8:28. Take some time to think about all of the bad turned good in your life. And don’t lose hope if you have a long list of bad. There is still time for it to turn good!

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The Journey Begins

My journey to ‘be wholly’ didn’t happen over night. I’m actually still a work in progress. But I’ve finally come to the realization that true health happens when we take into consideration all moving parts. That belief has developed over the years, along with my love for writing, which has led me to where I am now. This is how I got here…

Rewind to the 80’s. Where everything was neon and life as a kid was way different than it is now. Sigh. We played outside, out of sight from our parents for hours on end. My mom actually had this really embarrassing bell that she rang when it was time to come home. You could hear it from anywhere in our neighborhood. My kids would be mortified. Anyhow, we had a Nintendo that I played on my black and white basement TV. My grandma would quickly “die” during her turn so I could play again. We had dinner at home together on Sundays. We didn’t fill every spare second with something.

Ah the good ole days!

I started exercising at a young age. I remember using my mom’s aerobic step and working out to VHS tapes. Physical fitness was always top on my list. I enjoyed exercising, but mental and spiritual health were not as important. Honestly, they weren’t even really on my radar until my 20’s. Growing up we went to church, but I figured that was enough to feed the spiritual side of me. Time ticked on and physically I managed. Aside from my destructive teen years of doing stupid things ignorant teens do, I had taken pretty good care of myself physically. But the lack of mental care was catching up with me and anxiety had reared its very ugly head. I found some relief with a low dose of Xanax as needed. At the time it felt like the right solution. In retrospect, it was more of a band-aid.

Fast forward to 2004…a lot less neon…thank God because this is the year I got married. It wasn’t long before the babies started showing up. Three to be exact. 2005. 2007. 2012.

Insert hormonal tidal wave. Whoa.

The tidal wave wasn’t working for me. After trying a few different things, I decided to see a therapist. I thought maybe this could help me manage my moods a little better, but in reality, my PMS seemed to be the biggest trigger. My doctor’s solution was a bigger band-aid. Prozac. The long list of side effects was a bit intimidating, especially since I historically get the weird ones. The discussion was pretty short and sweet. He suggested Prozac because it’s hard to test for hormone levels because they fluctuate so frequently. Oh, and exercise 3 times a week. Dude! I already do that!

I found this baffling. This is the 21st Century! How is this possible?! No blood test to check hormones? This can’t be! This led me to find an alternative. There had to be some way to treat the problem rather than the symptom. My therapist gave me the name of someone she had seen herself for various issues. A holistic person that uses “weird techniques” to help her feel better. Um. Ok. Weird. Right up my alley!

This was my entrance into the Holistic world. I started seeing an Ayurvedic practitioner. I had no clue what that was and honestly didn’t care. I just wanted help! Turns out Ayurveda has Indian roots. It’s a whole body healing system that is over 3,000 years old. Ayurveda believes the mind, body, and spirit need to balanced to achieve overall wellness. She used a combination of herbs, oils, and other natural remedies to treat my issues. 5 years later, I have noticed a drastic improvement in my overall well-being. Oddly enough, this approach has fixed things I didn’t even know needed fixed…

  • My stress and anxiety is better maintained. Notice I said “maintained.” Stress will never go away. There will always be stress in our lives but we can learn to manage it! I still take an herbal blend to help with my anxiety as needed. I love this non habit-forming natural option! Years ago I would experience so much tension that my upper back and shoulders would hurt. This tension would always lead to a headache. It was a vicious cycle. Today that tension is gone! On days where I get super stressed or anxious, I can feel it creep in, but now I have the tools I need to prevent it from getting worse.
  • My energy levels are better, partly a result of drinking more water and getting better sleep. So basic, yet so helpful!
  • My sinus issues are drastically better. I went in knowing this was an issue I wanted fixed. I started using a nose oil. I can’t begin to tell you how life changing this has been for me. The year prior to my first visit I took an antibiotic 9 times in one year! A CT Scan had confirmed I had chronic sinusitis. Duh. I started the nose oil and the following year I had 2 sinus infections. I now average about one a year – huge improvement for me! No more over drying nasal sprays that didn’t work!
  • My mood has improved! While I still struggle with some PMS, my overall mood is much better! I am able to find the good in most situations and am WAY more grateful for everyday things!
  • I am eating better, which in turn has improved my digestion. Less sugar. More whole foods. Less caffeine (I will NEVER give up Iced tea) Just not happening! I still have ‘those days’ where I eat ice cream for dinner or fast food for lunch, but I usually feel like crap afterward!

Ayurveda has been very helpful for me, but I do not limit myself. I recently saw a medical doctor that uses a lot of alternative options such as accupuncture in conjunction with his medical practice. How awesome is that? I see a Chiropractor who keeps me straight (no pun intended) I’ve tried some homeopathic options. I diffuse essential oils. I see Bessie, my reflexologist (and substitute grandmother) about once a month. She is awesome and you will be hearing more about her later! While I still get an occasional antibiotic when I’m sick and get yearly check ups, I try to keep an open mind & be open to all options. I find in most cases, a combination of all of the above works best for me!

All of these things have worked great for me, but I have to give credit where credit is due! God. I know He led me to this lifestyle and now my spiritual life is a priority. We found a church we liked and became involved. I actually look forward to going every Sunday and get bummed when we can’t. I read devotionals every day and spend much more time in prayer. I have begun to understand the difference between happiness and joy (Joy is an amazing thing) When I slack in my spiritual life, I suffer emotionally and anxiety takes over.

When all of these things come together, it makes me feel great. When I feel great, it’s contagious and I want to make others feel great! The more I make others feel great, the better I feel. It’s like this big ole happy circle of greatness! I love reading a devotional and sharing it with a friend who needs to hear just those words! I love finding a remedy for something and sharing that success with someone facing the same issue. I love dragging my friends along to exercise class or taking a walk together on a nice, sunny day! On vacation recently, I overheard someone at the pool talking about his recent high blood pressure diagnosis. I politely apologized for eaves dropping on his conversation and then told him everything I knew about naturally lowering blood pressure!

My “real job” as Insurance Agent and my full-time job as mom & wife take up a lot of time, but I love the opportunity to write. I am not used to sharing what I write, so this adventure is new for me. I am excited to see where this leads. Follow me! The best is yet to be!

When I slack in my spiritual life, I suffer emotionally and anxiety takes over.

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