The thoughts of my mind….

I am just home from a long and excellent workout in Ann Arbor. What I like about the drive is that I have time to think about the journey before and after….time that I am finding quite beneficial. Tonight I was reflecting on ‎”It’s not the achievement that’s important, but what you become in the process of achieving that’s important.”

Today I embarked upon the stairmaster and was having a conversation with myself as I did. I had let anxiety get the better part of me this past Saturday. Tonight I knew I could conquer this machine…and I was determined to do so. Demond set the program to rolling hills on level 6 and set the timer to 20 minutes. I set my eyes on the black wall ahead of me and found my workout zone. I felt pretty good at 3 minutes and 6 minutes and 9 minutes. At about 12 minutes I started to feel more maxed out. Demond assured me at 16 minutes he would slow it down. I set my mind to it again and at 15:50 was sure I could finish strong (now I realize I had set 16 minutes as the finish, not the 20 that was my true goal). At 16 minutes I glanced at my heart rate and was surprised that it was 180 and instead of choosing to be amazed at how good I felt and how many calories I can burn at 180  beats per minute, I started to wonder if I would really survive at 180 beats per minute! 🙂

Demond came over and I was sure he would bump it down a level or two but he had changed his mind, and it was evident within seconds, that I had “decided” I could not go any longer. Now, during my drive home, I wondered how I could be going strong at 15:50 and not able to take another step at 16:10? I jumped off a time or two, only to realize if I was going to opt for that, Demond was going to start the 20 minutes over, and so I jumped back on and finished it up.

I am amazed again how powerful the mind is in the small spaces of the day-to-day. My mind can be my greatest friend or my worst enemy. My mind can be a place of profound truths or sneaky lies. My mind can remind me of my strength and beauty or my mind can tear my thoughts and spirit to shreds…..

I want to nurture my mind and consider its thoughts so that I can trust my mind to see me through in the last four minutes of the tough workout….

How would your mind due when you begin to believe you are at your capacity?


I took time today to visit with a friend….

A friend who I have memories with that I will never forget….

A friend where silence has played too much a part of our friendship…

A friend with whom I have laughed and cried….

A friend whom I have had to ask for forgiveness and who has asked for my forgiveness….

A friend who with whom I have worked alongside many many days of my working life…

A friend, in every sense of the word, because we have struggled deeply, been angry, been honest, been foolish, been kind and compassionate and have been reunited…

The time together can be summed up in one word….DELIGHTFUL!

If you have a friend who comes to mind as I share these words, consider giving your friend a call and saying hello. Take some time to reunite and delight in one another!

Sailing the sea…

It was back in 1953 when my Pake (pa-ke) decided to take his large and young family and immigrate from Friesland, Netherlands to Sussex, New Jersey. They boarded the S.S Maasdam on March 28th and arrived in a new land on April 6, 1953. They came not knowing the language and had only a few connections to familiar faces. They sold their belongings, packed their bags and set sail to new opportunity.

I have been giving this venture a lot of thought this week. I try to imagine what led my Pake to this decision. I wonder if he had a mentor or if his peers supported this decision. I am confident prayer played a significant part and I have to believe a combination of conviction and call of God must have been evident in his spirit.

But what about my Beppe? How did she reconcile this conviction of my Pake? Through the letters written,  it is evident that it was a great struggle for her to leave her family and say good-bye to everything she knew in order to board this ship and sail the seas to the new land.

And my Aunt Trina was staying behind to marry the love of her life, my uncle Louie and Aunt Follie was staying behind to finish her education. It must have been comforting to the two of them to have each other. But it was the days before instant communication and easy travel. I wonder if they wondered how long it would be until they were reunited….

And what about Aunt Anita, Uncle John, Aunt Wilma, my Mom, Aunt Henny, Uncle Pete, Aunt Sim, Aunt Jaltina, Aunt Dot and Uncle Myles. What were their thoughts? How could they envision something their parents had never experienced yet.

There is so much to wonder about. The more I wonder the greater my respect and admiration is for those who journeyed the pathway of immigration.

I am thankful for God’s leading and provision.

I am thankful for God’s faithfulness.

I am thankful for my Pake and how he lived in faith.

I am thankful for my family!

I have to say, when I think on this young family(my family) sailing the seas, I think I come by my sense of adventure quite honestly!

My friend Mike…

I would like to take a few minutes to introduce you to my friend Mike.

I met Mike when he and I both attended Fitness North this past October. We connected well from our first Facebook chat and we have become each other’s greatest supporters on the journey to wellness.

I admire so much about Mike, but let me share with you a bit of his story (he has given me permission to do so!)

Mike has struggled with his weight for a long time. When Mike was 19 he hit his highest weight at almost 600  pounds. It was at that time that the recommended intervention was Gastric Bypass surgery. In this alone, my heart breaks for my friend. At 19 he followed what he was being told, but no one really took the time to explore with him about healthy living. At this point, it was about trying to deal with critical health issues.

Following the surgery Mike had his weight as low as 200 pounds and moved away from home. He was living as a young adult should, but soon he was back in a danger zone with the scale and within three years his weight was approaching 600 pounds again. But my friend Mike has an INDOMITABLE (incapable of being subdued) spirit.

And so, Mike did not settle to be the young man behind all the pounds, but in the last 3.5 years, he has been shedding his weight and discovering his strength. Mike came to Fitness North with a goal of losing his last 140 pounds.

I know I speak for my other Fitness North cohorts when I say Mike is a huge inspiration to those of us on our journey. At Fitness North he reminded us that our goals are attainable and he cheered and screamed encouragement when any of us would start to slow down or even entertain the thought that maybe we didn’t have it in us. Mike knows what it is to hide out and lose motivation. Mike understands emotional eating and hiding behind food. Mike understands longing deeply for friendships…when I think of my friend Mike, I know he understands the struggle…

And since our return from Fitness North in November, Mike has continued to amaze me.  Recently Mike had a minor heart attack after fighting a fire. Mike realized that his weight continues to jeopardize  his health and he is ready to live fully. He recently took a leave from his work as a fire fighter and moved to Ann Arbor. He is living with Demond (see previous blogs to read about Demond) and working out about six hours a day. Yep, packed up and left Washington DC and is committing his time and energy right now to becoming a the man he desires to be.

I am so proud of my friend Mike. I am thrilled that at almost 27 years of age, he has already learned what it means to fight for his heart. I am grieved that at almost 27 years of age, he has had to struggle so deeply with a food addiction. I am amazed at how at almost 27 years of age he understands what it means to rely on the support of others. I am touched that at almost 27 years of age, he will befriend a 41-year-old woman and journey with me. Together we are losing our weight and celebrating that we are shrinking in size but not in heart! ♥

You are amazing Michael McGinn and I am thankful to God that I can journey with my friend Mike!


A stance of curiosity…

Tonight we wrapped our Grace Group. 

When I am involved in a Grace Group I feel as if my heart is being marinated. The conversations, the people, the teachings, the songs….all serve as a type of marinade to ensure my heart is tender to God and His people.

Tonight I am aware again that one of the most important elements when pursuing someone is to commit to asking questions that represent that I am choosing a stance of curiosity…

Have you ever experienced someone asking you a question that doesn’t really feel like a question at all? When the question implies an agenda or attempts to identify how you are feeling? This might happen even in asking, “doesn’t that make you angry?” as opposed to “How do you feel about that situation?”

I am committed again to considering the impact of my questions.

I want to remove the assumptions that creep into my thoughts and slip out through my questions.

I want to invite anyone I engage in conversation to share honestly in response.

I want to be a listener who hears what is offered in response to a question asked.

I want to live with a stance of curiosity.

Curiosity about God, others and myself….



Let’s get it done….

These are the words I hear resonate in my thoughts lately. They are the famous words of  my trainer Demond.

I am committed this week to live by these words…

I want to free my thoughts from the I really should or I have to….it is time to recommit and live by the saying….let’s get it done!

I find that lately it is important for me to be evaluating if I am taking the right steps to achieve my goals. So often I know where I want to end up but easily veer from the steps that will lead me to that place. This is not just about my eating right and wellness. I want to be a person of balance. Wellness and weight loss are included in that, but I also desire to be reaching goals in other areas of my life.

I wonder if you have taken time to identify the steps that will take you to where you desire to be….

Will you join me this week with these words in your life as well…..Let’s get it done!

When your feet hit the floor…

I have another saying at my desk I would like to share….

Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says “Oh shit, she’s awake!”

I smile each and every time I read this one.

I like to think about making satan shudder…

I like to think about what small things I might do to interrupt the work of evil..

I like everything wrapped up in this quote.

But on the more reflective side, this saying reminds me that there is a battle of good and evil and that I, as a believer in Jesus Christ, can offer hope to others. I am often impacted by how very small things can offer hope and encouragement. I want to be a person who not only causes satan to shudder but also a person who shares kindness, compassion and grace to those I know and those I don’t! It is my hope that those who catch a glimpse of my life are able to see that I live with hope and peace and it is with that truth that I can let my feet hit the floor every morning!

An excellent gift…

Listen hard…it is an excellent gift!

We have these little cards spread throughout the office as a reminder to listen well. We spend many hours of the day on the phone listening. It is easy to be distracted and try to do something while we are listening, but I must be honest, I listen best when I am choosing to only listen.

I wonder sometimes if we are losing the art of listening. Do you also find yourself distracted when listening in your day-to-day activities. Does your cell phone or iPod or texting interrupt your ability to just listen?

Remember that listening is a gift you can give to most anyone. I enjoy this gift because it is free, it is intentional and it is most often rewarding to both parties.

Give it a try in the next day or two. Set down whatever it is that is distracting you and listen…I dare say, it will be worth it!

Oh to be single focused…

Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.

Anthony Robbins

I spent a few hours on the road today and was reflecting back on my experience at Fitness North. I find it interesting that I long to return to the routines of working out 10 hours a day and I would like to feel strong and exhausted again like I did during my two weeks in Minnesota.

As I spent time thinking, I realized it is not only the 10 hours a day of exercise that I miss, I miss the opportunity I had there to be single focused. I was able to set everything else aside and focus only on my workout routines. It was a great feeling. It is a feeling that is rooted in my heart and one that I am realizing, even though I might not be able to repeat the opportunity of Fitness North, I can work on finding that feeling in new environments here at home.

I signed on today with a new trainer. His name is Demond Johnson and the really crazy thing is that he is out of Ann Arbor. I drove 260 miles today and wondered what I am thinking? I plan to make the trip on Saturday mornings and Demond will oversee my day-to-day workouts and monitor my nutrition. I have resisted the commitment and yet I can’t quite shake the interest I have either.

So, this is what I know…

Demond is working with my Fitness North cohort and it feels good to share in the weight loss journey with someone who I started the journey with.

Demond is committed to me and my journey. I have been conversing with him for a few months and now as Spring approaches, I believe the timing is right.

Demond is committed to ensuring results and maintaining a relationship. I appreciate Demond’s interest in my daily numbers to ensure I am on track for hitting my established goals.

Demond knows O’Neal Hampton and I can work under Demond and remain in line with the philosophy of Fitness North.

Demond has lots of experience…Demond is certified through the American Fitness Professionals Association and International Fitness Association for over ten years. He is also certified through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. Along with his extensive training career, he has been a member of the United States Army for over 19 years. During his tenure he has acquired numerous certifications and has been charged with many additional duties. Amongst these military duties he has been assigned as an Army Master Fitness Trainer and an Army Weight Control Program Coordinator. Demond also has many years of martial arts training, Demond has also been assigned as a United States Army Combatives Instructor.

And so there you have it….out of my longing to be single focused again, to work hard like I did at Fitness North and to experience the results I had at Fitness North, I am entrusting myself to someone who will require that I become single focused amidst my day-to-day , who will challenge me to find the zone and work out with my heart rate being 165 to 170 for 45 to 60 minutes and require me to plan out my food choices and hit my protein, fats and carb numbers right on every day. Will it be worth working with Demond and traveling to Ann Arbor…yep, for sure, without a doubt, because to become fit and healthy and well will be well worth it!

It is time to be single focused right here in West Michigan. To begin round two of my success on my journey and to remember that God will grant me the desires of my heart, but I must be faithful on the journey!

Tribute to my Texas friends…

I have met wonderful people through my involvement with Open Hearts Ministries. Today I want to take time to tell you a bit about Richard and Betty Lee.

I have always enjoyed Richard’s quiet presence and have learned that Richard is a man who retains much wisdom, loves deeply and embraces many with his heart and his arms.

Betty Lee is a woman I have laughed with and cried with. We can share conversation about anything or nothing and I enjoy her deep passion for God, people and prayer.

Both Richard and Betty have impacted my life with their embrace, kindness, curiosity, challenge and most recently their hospitality!

Richard and Betty welcomed us to Texas with open arms. From balloons on the mailbox, pink cowboy hats and t-shirts to the cozy space of The Winston House, it did not take us long to feel welcomed and embraced. 

During our five days in Texas I experienced the richness of Texas hospitality and felt very loved and cared for. Richard is a kind man who would take time to open my car door and ensure he assisted with opening the back seat for the kids to climb into the third seat. He was quick to pay for anything we were doing, a wonderful conversationalist and assisted Anne and Ellie with the horses and anything else they wished to do on the ranch. 

Betty greeted us with cheerful good mornings, hot coffee, and great breakfasts. She drove us all around Texas (well, maybe not all of Texas) and is a wealth of information about what was, what is and what is coming in the surrounding areas! Betty embraced my nieces and is a wonderful friend to myself and my Mom. I love Betty’s ability to be on the go and engaged in so much and her willingness to sit and reflect and share about the struggles and victories of the journey to one’s heart! 

I shared new space this past week by mixing my Open Heart friends with my family and I am thrilled at how much we all enjoyed each other. It is great to have created memories and experienced a true flavor of Texas….

Thank you Richard and Betty for inviting us into your home and your hearts and for sharing so much with us!



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