Goodbye to 40…

Hello to 41…

It is my last day of being 40. Better than the last day of my 40’s! I am excited for a new beginning.  I know that when I wake up tomorrow it is not like anything new really begins,  but I am at a point where I believe so much is unfolding in my life. When I started this blog in August, I wrote the following:

I realize that I am journeying through some pretty significant places in my life right now….turning 40, realizing that seeking God does not always mean finding Him and so grateful that finding Him still gives me a sense of amazement. i recognize that God is calling for transformation of my heart and in that process I am shedding extra weight and discovering and uncovering my body….I enjoy the mystery of each day more than the predictability and I love the way life unfolds in the most unexpected of ways.

I would say that today as I look at turning 41, so much of those words still resonate as true. The journey I am on right now is leading me to be more content in my heart. I understand more what it means to trust God with my life and yours. I feel less of a need to rescue and invade other’s lives and more willing to enjoy where I am at.  In that I can wonderfully enjoy the experience of sharing what others  invite me to.

I am more confident that God is everywhere and yet more amazed at where He reveals Himself to me. I love the conversations I have with my nieces and nephews, ages 4 to 17 (since Johanna isn’t talking yet) that reveal to me the freshness of life and all it holds.

I enjoy waking up each morning ready to live the mystery of the day, wondering what I will reflect on at the end of each day that I never expected when I ventured out the door.

But hear me say this, my journey is far from all joy and celebration. I see and experience the depth of the valley and know all to well the cry of my heart and have shared in the tears of others.  Life is not simple and it is not by any means easily understood nor explained. I expect that to remain true all thru my forties, fifties, sixties and beyond.

But this is true as I turn 41….

I am grateful for the journey of my heart, the truth of God’s promises and the faithful example of my parents about how to live in Faith. I am blessed by family and friends who are willing to love me and allow me to share in loving them. I am passionate about my work and so thankful for the relationships I have enjoyed over the years from Sylvan Christian, Holland Christian, Calvin College and Western Michigan University.  Then there was children’s ministry at Sunshine Community Church, my first Social Work job at Three Rivers Area Hospital Hospice,  facilitating children coming home through adoptions with All God’s Children International, serving alongside my soul mates in Open Hearts Ministry, through the blood, sweat and tears of my Fitness North community and in faithful day-to-day service at Visiting Angels of West Michigan. I am a fortunate woman who recognizes every day the goodness of God in my life.

And I will continue to live fully in my 41st year. I have high hopes and a vision for myself and a few other things. I would imagine that life will bring a variety of events, emotions and experiences in the next 365 days…I hope many of you will share in much of that with me.

Every morning as I come down my steps, I see these words…Awake my soul and sing….that is my hope for this coming year!

Thankful…

It isn’t what you have in your pocket that makes you thankful, but what you have in your heart.   – Author Unknown

I love this quote and find it to be so true. Now I don’t want to minimize at all my thankfulness for all that I have in material things, but tonight, I do want to focus on what I have in my heart.

I am thankful for the love and support of family and dear friends. The journey to my heart has been ongoing. During this process I would say that I have learned the joy and delight of living with a full heart. I used to fear having a hollow or empty heart. I can boldly say, of this I am sure, that my heart will never be hollow or empty. For that I am thankful!

I am thankful that I have learned to be content in my own skin. In my relationships, many of you have modeled to me how to live content and at peace. I have grown in my own heart by watching and listening to others. Please remember that your life is an invitation to others to live the same. My heart is full because of the invitations many of you have extended to me to risk living differently…I am forever grateful!

I am thankful for the opportunity to have a passion and a vision for who I desire to be and who I believe others can be. I have a favorite canvas I would like to buy sometime. It includes the following: Let Your Passion Overflow. There are times when the fluffy, feel-good stuff just doesn’t work. I love this artist’s sense of humor! “As much as I try to be an easygoing, stretch your wings and fly type…I just can’t stop trying to burst people into flames with my mind.” I long for people to live with a passion…a passion for something that makes their heart beat. What makes my heart beat? I believe it is the journey to one’s heart…the long and winding path is worth the journey….both in my life and yours…Praise God!

And so tonight, I am thankful for the people in my life who love me and allow me to love them, for my job and the amazing people who offer care every day through Visiting Angels of West Michigan. I am thankful for my home and car and the daily provisions that make my life comfortable. I am thankful for the freedoms I experience and enjoy throughout every day. I am thankful for the community of believers I am a part of in my Church, Visiting Angels, Open Hearts Ministries, Fitness North and other places I enjoy the relationships the Lord has blessed me with. Tonight I am thankful for so many things but also thankful for so many people and experiences.

My life is full, my heart is alive, my joy is deep, my soul is content, my relationships are dear, my vision is big and my passion is burning….what more can I ask for….I am thankful!!

Morphing…

I had to smile today when I heard myself tell a friend that I feel like I am morphing. I am down 20+ pounds in just under four weeks. The journey has been long-awaited and now feels delightful. I feel like my body is changing weekly and today I was keenly aware of something I did not really anticipate.

As I picked out my clothes today I had a bit of a panic moment. Because my body continues to shed weight as a result from my great experience at Fitness North, I realized that I might not be wearing my favorite clothes for very long. I have already set aside many things but today I looked at some of my sweaters and wondered if they will fit in two or three weeks. I realized that part of this process is leaving things behind ~ and some of those things are items I have liked or enjoyed. But it was a fleeting thought and realized I will be enjoying new favorites. So, I unclenched my fists and remembered to live open-handed, ready to release or receive whatever God has for me.

I am growing in the confidence of my new being. I feel healthier and have a deep sense of wonder at the process I am currently living. I am thankful for many things this week (a blog for tomorrow night) but I also find that I am often in a thankful frame of mind….and that brings a wonderful sense of contentment in the day-to-day.

So, if you are home Wednesday evening, please tune in and catch a glimpse (or however much NBC decides to share) of my experience at Fitness North….

Thank you for your love and support in my morphing process….:-)

In late October, we launched our new live-in weight loss and fitness program at Surfside on Lake Superioron Minnesota’s North Shore. Fitness North co-owner and Season 9 Biggest Loser participant, O’Neal Hampton and his daughter SunShine inspired the first ever Fitness North participants and the North Shore community with their more than 290 lb combined weight loss.

NBC TV was on hand to film the Fitness North launch and plans to include co-owner O’Neal Hampton and his daughter SunShine in an NBC Thanksgiving eve special titled “Where are they now?” We invite you to watch the NBC special this Wed., Nov. 24 from 8-10 p.m. to learn more about Fitness North and how you, too, can change your life. We’re excited to see our Fitness North Family from the first program on national TV.

 

 

 

Bob from Biggest Loser….

has a quote on the wall that I saw tonight while watching Biggest Loser that said “stand up and finish what you started….

It was a good reminder to me tonight to stay focused on my food intake, my exercise and so much more. I started to think through how many things I begin and walk away before I am fully finished. It is the simple things like drying and putting away the dishes after I washed them, putting away the folded laundry or putting my clothes away at the end of the day. I am thankful that tonight these words struck my heart and remind me to stay focused on the task and see everything through to completion. I can start to anticipate only positive change if I live this simple concept out….positive change to my body, my home, my routines, my workplace and my relationships!

I am starting to be excited for next Wednesday night. The Biggest Loser is featuring a special on Where are they now. (http://www.tvovermind.com/nbc/the-biggest-loser/biggest-loser-thanksgiving-special-air/34033)  NBC was at Fitness North to film O’Neal and the positive change he is bringing about via Fitness North. It will be great to be taken back to the moments we shared while at Fitness North. Although I am hoping they don’t air my bathing suit interview, what will be will be. I am hoping it will be a clip that will show many that there is a place to go that infuses hope and possibility. With that hope and possibility comes a strategy that only requires you to “stand up and finish what you started….”

And with that I am going to press on to the end and reach my potential!

So thankful for the support of family and friends!

The power of…

the experience and the community….

I have been home from Fitness North for one week and I continue to be grateful for my two-week experience in Minnesota. I am practicing  feeding my body on a schedule and working out 45 minutes a day of good cardio exercise. Life is manageable and I am grateful.

And as I reflect on what made Fitness North as great as it was, I come down to two words….experience and community.

The experience of working out 8 to 10 hours a day was amazing. I learned to break the day down into bite size (ironic, isn’t it?) pieces. I learned to believe I could do whatever task was before me and not allow my mind to psych me out. I learned to believe in my strength and celebrate movement…of more than the scale. The experience I had is one that I will hold close to my heart for years to come. I learned and I grew thru the routine, the structure, the blood, sweat and tears and the celebration.

The community I experienced in those two weeks was more than I ever hoped for. The power of my fitness north family will be with me for many years to come. I drove down 28th street last night and was hungry. I battled thoughts of a quick burger from here or there and then i remembered the faces of those who are making sacrifices with me. I envisioned Shannon and Wendy and Heather. I thought of Robyn, Shari, Cara, Karen and Sheryl. I remembered Justin and Mike and Leif and Jay. I heard the words of O’neal and I drove down 28th street with a renewed sense of commitment. I knew I was not in this alone and again, I was thankful.

I wonder how many times you have tried to change alone. I know that my success rate increases the more I am willing to live in community; honest and supportive community. Asking for what I need, offering what I have to give and living with an honest and compassionate heart towards myself and those on the journey with me.

Fitness North has offered me this in my weight loss journey….

Open Hearts has offered me this in my journey to my heart….

My family has offered me this in their loving me every day, in the valley, on the flat road and on the mountain top….

I am forever grateful that God designed us for relationship!

Saluting my hero’s…

This year my perspective on Veterans Day feels is different. I can honestly say that my travels to South Africa this summer allotted me incredible insight to what it means to live in a free land. The power of Apartheid was prevalent and listening to first hand accounts was powerful and surreal. To have never lived in such oppression made me realize how fortunate I am.

I have great respect for my brothers and the many others who have served in our Armed Forces. I have seen the camaraderie of those who serve together. I have watched the vigorous and brutal training that prepares one physically for war. I have listened to the heartache of those in training  that accompanies the emotional and mental torment that comes from giving your entire being to something you believe in. I have wept as I have seen others say good-bye to those we call soldiers and they call sons and daughters. I have witnessed the cost to families when their husbands and fathers are absent for long periods of time. I have seen the celebration of victories of all sizes! I don’t know that I can imagine the depth of the valleys or the incredible mountain tops that  those who serve our country experience. I do know that my admiration and appreciation grows with every day older I get. There is a great cost to my freedom and I never want to lose sight of that. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who have or continue to serve for our freedom!

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

EXCELLENCE

Who you are will show in what you do….

These words are on the wall at Visiting Angels Conference Room. I see it every morning when I walk into the office and I am reminded that every day, my work will speak to my character. I will have many opportunities with in the day to act professionally as a Director, Business Owner and Social Worker but I want all of those professional actions to be interwoven with the heart of a compassionate, strong, tender Christian woman.

This is not always an easy balance to find. I have moments when I struggle with what interwoven may look like, but I am pleased to say, it comes more naturally now than it used to. Is it because I have parents who modeled this well for me, or perhaps because I have been well-educated at Holland Christian, Calvin College and WMU MSW program? Is it because I learned about ministry while on staff at Sunshine Community Church, about advocacy while facilitating international adoptions, quality of life while working for Hospice or how to grow and manage a business that is all about professional boundaries and deep endless compassion. I want to say, it is all of those things and more. It is the big and little pieces in my story. It is about the journey of recognizing I am a woman of dignity and depravity. It is about the path that God has led me on and how He has gifted my being, It is about all the many wonderful mentors and friends who have helped me to grow up and mature and to learn how to love people well.

I hope and pray every day that who I am will show in what I do and as a result, that God will be Glorified!