All I can do is show up

Can we talk for a moment?  I mean really and honestly?
I need to tell you that I haven't been doing great lately.
I need to apologize for not being on here very much.
Will you journey with me?  Will you share your journey with me?
Let's be authentic, honest and on purpose together again shall we.
I need you to show up for me here and I promise I'll show up for you.

With love and courage once again,
Bring it on 2019!
xx Steph xx


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Part 2: Brave enough to be healthy me!

Written by Erin Waldron  | 

Last week Erin talked about the importance of wanting to be healthy and well and how much our identity and our thoughts contribute to that.  This week she’s talking about the HOW!  How to get your thoughts right and get on with living healthy and well. Read on to find out...

I don’t know if you’ve come across it, but affirmations have become a trendy thing these days. These are quotes or statements that people speak over their life daily. Science (or new agers) have caught on to the fact that words are powerful. Words have the ability to focus our thoughts, and even rewire our brain. Words are the scaffolding that we build our thoughts upon.  Affirmations are not a new thing and we don’t need to make up our own, we can find them in the Word. Some I already shared in the previous blog from Ephesians, but here are some more that you may like to take and speak into your own life.
I have been set free in Christ. Galatians 5:1
• I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Ephesians 1:3
• I am chosen, holy, and blameless before God. Ephesians 1:4
• I am redeemed and forgiven by the grace of Christ. Ephesians 1:7
• I have been predestined by God to obtain an inheritance. Ephesians 1:11
• Because of God’s mercy and love, I have been made alive with Christ. Ephesians 2:4-5
• I am no longer a slave, but a child and an heir. Galatians 4:7
• I am God’s workmanship created to produce good works . Ephesians 2:10
• My new self is righteous and holy. Ephesians 4:24
• The peace of God guards my heart and mind. Philippians 4:7
• I have been made complete in Christ Colossians 2:10

In my time I have come across many Christians who shy away from meditation. It is well associated with eastern religions, but it is also completely biblical.
Joshua 1:8
Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.
Psalm 48:9
O God, we meditate on your unfailing love as we worship in your Temple.
Psalm 119:23
Even princes sit and speak against me, but I will meditate on your decrees.
Psalm 119:27
Help me understand the meaning of your commandments, and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds.
Psalm 119:48
I honor and love your commands. I meditate on your decrees.
Psalm 119:52
meditate on your age-old regulations; O Lord, they comfort me.
Psalm 119:117
Sustain me, and I will be rescued; then I will meditate continually on your decrees.
Psalm 145:5
I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles

Meditation is not just about clearing your mind as some might think, it is thinking, reflecting and focusing on God, on his Word, and his Goodness.  When your thinking is focused in the right place, it is actually much easier to look after your body. When you realise how much God loves you, and then determine to look after yourself in a way that honours that, the rest becomes so much easier.
Turning thoughts into action:
We are not just spiritual beings however, we are also physical beings and we live in a physical world with very real demands and expectations. We have to recognise and deal with the barriers that we have that are stopping us living our best lives. When it comes to our physical health, the main barriers quoted tend to be;
1)  Motivation 

2)  Education 

3)  Money 

4)  Time 

1)  Motivation – What drives you?

What is it that moves you? What drives you forward? 
Motivation is generally either in pursuit of pleasure, or moving away from pain. 
Some examples could include; wanting to be an example to the future generation, reducing the risk of death and disease, improving self-esteem, or decreasing depression and anxiety.
If you’re feeling a lack of motivation right now, what can you do about it? 
Maybe it is time to find an exercise you enjoy, or get some healthy recipes that feed your soul as much as your belly, make a plan and get prepared and if you are struggling then get an accountability buddy.

2)  Education:
It can be hard in this world of 'information overload' to work out what is truth.
We have to learn to listen to our body. 
I find when I’ve had a few days of ‘play foods’ all I crave is some salad or veggies. If I’ve been sick and not able to get out, my body longs to go for a walk to stretch out the kinks. It’s important to get in tune with your body and think about what is best for you. In regards to food, I like to think about what our grandparents generation ate. The American author Michael Pollan puts it well, "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”.
3)  Money:
Gym memberships can be expensive and healthy food can cost more but we can’t just leave it as an excuse. There are other options out there - how about a home workout? The internet is a wealth of knowledge and YouTube has loads of different workout routines you can join in with too. Walking and running is free (but it can be helpful to have a good pair of shoes). Rice, beans and lentils are really cheap and can be incorporated into your diet with multiple benefits for your health and wallet. And maybe it is worth seeing a nutritionist or personal trainer to get you started. Remember it’s an investment in your health and you are worth it.
4)  Time:
This is the hardest one, But often we can get caught up thinking if we cant go to the gym for an hour it's not worth doing anything. A solution to that is a concept I’ve come across called exercise snacks. These are 10 minute snatches of activity throughout the day, and if you manage to get a couple of these in, then that’s a whole lot more than you would have otherwise. You could try doing it while cooking, during your lunch break, or you can involve your kids in it too. Just focus on integrating movement into your day. A lady I worked with lost 1kg per week for over six weeks without changing her diet just by moving more throughout the day.  Regarding food, it does takes time to make things from scratch, so when you are cooking, try making a double batch and then freezing it, or make the most of a slowcooker.  Having a plan for the week, and doing the grocery shopping with this plan in mind, makes it loads easier when it comes to dinnertime!
Moving forward:

When I was 14yrs old I hurt my back doing gymnastics. Since then I've suffered from a number of headaches and sore backs. I've prayed for it to be healed, I’ve had others pray for it to be healed but nothing has happened. But you know what I’ve noticed? - When I look after my body, when I exercise regularly, and when I spend time in relaxation, my back isn't anywhere near as bad and my headaches are nearly non-existent.
There is a lot of research being done at the moment about the connection between what we eat and how we feel. But also around how we feel and the influence it has on what we eat.
The diet trap is real and we can all get caught in it - restricting in order to try and meet some ideal weight or image passed down by society, rather than recognising our God given bodies and the intuition that he has blessed us with.  Perhaps you are letting some app on your phone tell you how much to eat rather than being able to listen to your body.  Are you caught in the cycle of restricting foods, binging, feeling guilty, then restricting even harder to make up for it? Are you at war with your body? Are you dealing with feelings of guilt or shame or fear and medicating with food? Are you constantly rushing, multitasking and not ever taking time to appreciate your food, and listen to what your body is telling you?
I can’t tell you what you should do, maybe you already know. But getting out of traps like these might need some guidance and help, maybe even professional help. 
A few months ago I read a book called ‘Slight Edge’ by Jeff Olson, which is based on the premise that it's not the big things we do that matter so much in the long term, it's the little things we do day in and day out, over a long period of time, that add up to make a big difference.
If you were given a choice to receive one million dollars in one month or a penny doubled every day for 30 days which one would you choose? When I first heard this, I figured that the penny doubled everyday must have been the better choice to go with as it seemed to be a trick question of some sort. But how much better? To demonstrate this, written out with all the calculations it turned out to be something like this:
Day 1: $.01
Day 2: $.02
Day 7: $.64
Day 14: $81.92
Day 30: $5,368,709.12
Quite a big difference once you look at it like this! You would get over 5 million dollars choosing the penny doubled everyday for 30 days route.
This actually applies to a lot of things in life. It's not that one meal of a burger and fries or chocolate cake that makes you over-weight, but if you repeat that regularly, you’ll notice the weight creeping on.  Just the same, its not that one super healthy balanced and perfectly nutritious meal that will all of a sudden give you more energy and put you at your ideal weight, but having healthy habits repeated day in and day out that will get you there.
Let’s come back to my situation with the teenagers in my house from last weeks blog post:  After a lot of tears, yelling and heartache, I came to the point where I realised that it didn’t matter what I said or did, I could never make them think, feel or act the way I wanted them to. The one thing I did have control over was MY actions, and MY reactions. Letting go has allowed me to be more relaxed. To be more fun. To not snap at the smallest thing, and to feel more like myself again. It has allowed me to start building a positive relationship with them. Unfortunately there was some damage done which will need time to heal, but we’re moving in the right direction.
Earlier this year I had a real journey of self discovery. I realised that my self love (which I had previously thought was pretty good) was actually extremely conditional. I realised that I only felt like I was loveable and acceptable when I was working hard, when I was achieving, and when I had earned it.  I started a programme called '40 days to self love' and on the first day the challenge was to stand in front of the mirror, look myself in the eye and say, “I love you, I value you, and I accept you”. Sounds easy right? Well actually I stood there and I just looked at myself. I had no idea that there would be this real sense of resistance. It completely surprised me just how hard it would be. I eventually managed to say the words, and you know what? I cried! There was such a complex mix of feelings, wishing it to be true, relief for finally hearing it, sadness that it had taken me so long, joy that I got there in the end, and hope, hope for it to become real.  Throughout that '40 days to self love’ program and also seeing a counsellor I was able to process some grief and fears I had been hanging onto for years. I sought out some focussed prayer to help reprogram my thoughts on God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and came to a new understanding and I feel like a whole new person!  I feel like I have joy bubbling up inside me. I’ve found myself dancing in the kitchen again. I tease and flirt with my husband again.  I sleep better at night, I have more energy during the day. I feel lighter.
I know this is a journey, and there are layers that need to be peeled back to get to the core of who God created me to be, but I’m committed to leaning in to the discomfort. I’m brave enough to find out who I was designed to be!

My question for you -  take an honest look at your life – do you want to be made well?
Are you brave enough to find out who God has created you to be?
What do you need to do for this to happen?
What would you do differently if you were to treat your body like you loved it?

Maybe it would be to eat takeaways a little less. Maybe it would be to move a little more. Maybe it would be to workout less or eat more. Maybe it’s learning to say no, or maybe its getting outside your comfort zone and trying something new.
Learn to love and value yourself, and treat yourself in a way that shows you that you love you. Form healthy habits – whether its getting up 5 minutes earlier to have some quiet time before starting your day, getting in those exercise snacks, swapping out some non-nutritious foods for nutritious foods; little things, repeated day in and day out over time add up.
Ephesians 3 MSG
14-19 My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
20-21 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.



Posted by Erin Waldron


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Part 1: Brave enough to discover ME!

Written by Erin Waldron  | 

I want to introduce you to my friend Erin, we've been getting to know each other over the last year or so and I really like the journey that she is on and how she is living it out.  She is authentic and real, and always wanting to learn and grow through every season.  She is a brilliant photographer and has done a bit of that for us at BraveGirl, she is also a nutritionist and health enthusiast who loves Jesus.  At our BraveGirl conference this year I asked her to run a workshop and we got such great feedback about it that I asked her to turn it into a blog post for me.  I know that you will enjoy being challenged and inspired in this two-part blog series with Erin.
- Steph xx

The Healing at the Pool – John 5: 1-9
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

Do you want to be made well?
Doesn’t that seem like an odd question. I mean he had been paralysed for 38 years. He was waiting to get into the pool. And yet Jesus asked him this question.
I had a situation a little over a year ago where I didn’t want to be made well. 3 years ago I married a wonderful man, who has three teenage daughters, and I found myself in the position of being the stepmonster. To say I struggled with it is an understatement. Our home-life had become rather tense and unpleasant. I wanted the others in the situation to be fixed. It wasn’t my problem, it was theirs… Stay tuned to hear how this worked out!
Do YOU want to be made well? 
Like Linus and his blanket, if you’re determined to hold on to what you have, you may well be closing the door to the possibilities God has in store for you.  So, what is standing in your way? What sort of things do you need to change about your life in order to be whole? Are there things you need to let go of?
Often we get stuck where we are, in the identity and labels we give ourselves - depressed, anxious, fat, unfit, weak, loser, failure, unloveable, unforgiveable… Or maybe in holding on to anger, nursing injustice or hurt from years back, stuck in the victim mindset and unable to move forward.  Perhaps it is holding on to grief, looking back to something or someone you once held dear. Or maybe holding on to a destructive habit, wanting to be healthy and whole, but not willing to stop smoking or drinking or eating your troubles away.

To be made well, to be who God designed us to be, we have to be willing to let go of what we’re holding on to, so we have open hands and hearts for what He has for us.
I believe a big part of the problem is found in our sense of identity.
Where do you get your identity?
Is it in appearance, or from God.
Is it in what you do, or what He says about you?
Is it in who the world sees, or who God sees?
What would you do differently if you acted like you loved yourself, and if you treated your body like you loved it?
I have found that women have this warped idea that looking after ourselves is selfish. That spending time and money on ourselves is a waste and we should feel guilty for it, especially as Christians. I firmly believe that this is false. This is a lie. God created us. We are his perfect creation and we are dearly loved by him.
When I was growing up we were taught this saying:
Joy - Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.
While I agree that we need to put Jesus first, I believe the rest of this is wrong! In the bible it says to love others as ourselves. We need to love ourselves. You cannot pour out anything from an empty cup. It’s important to put some time and resources into filling your cup, putting priority on YOU and loving and discovering yourself.
Some ideas of things could include going for walks (especially in nature), exercising, getting your hair or nails done, getting a massage or facial, taking a relaxing bath, reading a book, buying yourself flowers, listening to music, praying and bible reading.  These ideas may be very different from what you are used to but remember - sometimes we need to let go the familiar, and be willing to try something new. New things can feel odd at the beginning like reaching for an apple instead of chocolate, being willing to be vulnerable and say sorry or forgive instead of staying angry, embarrassed or offended, to put on our sneakers & get out the door instead of defaulting to Netflix, to feel the feelings rather than trying to bury or hide them. Your new thing may be facing up to the fact that we cant do it alone and getting help from a professional, a counsellor, nutritionist or personal trainer. Maybe its getting people to pray and support, or a combination of all of the above.

Your thoughts matter!
What you focus on expands.
Proverbs 4:23
Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

When you're feeling good, when your cup is full, you’re in a good place to fulfil well all the roles you have (friend, sister, wife, mother etc).
"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Abraham Lincoln
According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking is linked to a wide range of health benefits including:

* Longer life span

* Less stress

* Lower rates of depression

* Increased resistance to the common cold

* Better stress management and coping skills

* Lower risk of cardiovascular disease-related death

* Increased physical well-being

* Better psychological health


I haven’t made it to this stage in my life without acquiring a few scars. I have made many mistakes in my past, and I know I will make many more in my future, because I am human. I am on my second marriage. I came out of my first marriage not knowing who I was, not liking who I had become, and feeling like I had spent too many years trying to live up to some idea I had in my head of what a good wife is!  I had lost any scrap of who I really was, and what I was living for. I had lost my identity, and the words I used to describe myself were loser, failure, sinner, unloveable, and incapable.
It took a while to change this.
I had to go through the journey of accepting that while I had made mistakes, that didn’t change how God saw me. I needed to replace the devil's lies with Gods truth.
I had to see that even though I had made mistakes, that doesn’t make ME a mistake.
My marriage may have failed, but that doesn’t make ME a failure.
God loves me no matter what. He tells me, and you, that I am royalty, that I am dearly loved, that I am bought with a price, that I am valuable, and I am his daughter.

Have a read through the first chapter of Ephesians. Really read it. Mull over it.
Some of my takeaways from it:

* I am planned

* I am loved

* I am adopted into Gods family

* I am free, abundantly free

* I am provided for

* I am delighted in

* I am valuable

* I am called

Who are you? What is it you are living for? Do you know you are free?
If you have identified that you are living under the devils lies, go back to the source of truth. Replace the lies that you are living under with Gods truth.

Maybe you’re asking how? How can I do this?  
Next week on the blog Erin will be addressing the HOW so be sure to check back or make sure you are signed up to our mailing list and get it straight to your inbox!

Posted by Erin Waldron


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