You & Cinderella

Cinderella had a fairy godmother, a prince and helpful mice. You don’t.

How’s that for some life speaking?
That’s the first line of my book. Let’s call it real talk. 

Okay, how about three more sentences?

There is no hero in your story that is going to come along and save you. Well, that’s not entirely true. You are the hero of your story and you are the one that is going to save yourself.

If you read my book, please share! Let me know what resonates! 

Put Your Big Girl Panties On!

At last! I can say that Put Your Big Girl Panties On is published! Hooray!

What’s it all about?

PUT YOUR BIG GIRL PANTIES ON IS A SELF-DO BOOK FOR WOMEN WHO ARE READY TO BE THEIR BEST SELVES BUT HAVEN’T QUITE FIGURED OUT HOW YET. Does it seem like adulting as a woman should’ve come with a training manual? Well, now you’ve got one. In this down-to-earth and funny how-to guide, coach Shana will let you know you’re not alone, help you feel understood and give you some practical tips on how to move forward in the areas of life that are holding you back like:

  • Anxiety
  • Negative self-talk
  • Fitness
  • Nutrition
  • Time management
  • Home organization
  • Personal finance
  • Motherhood
  • Marriage
  • and much more!

Put Your Big Girl Panties on will give you applicable questions, exercises, and advice from someone just like you. It will feel like a conversation at a coffee shop, filled with knowing glances and giggles. It will give you a safe space to feel the things you’re feeling while also coaching you ever closer to a better version of you. You see, one thing is absolutely 100% true. No one else is going to come along and magically save you. You are the hero of your own story. You are the one that is going to make your best life possible. You are going to show up for yourself, you are going to solve your own problems. And you’re going to feel really confident and satisfied when you do. You’re going to save yourself. Let’s go.

Put your big girl panties on

Generosity generates goodness

At least six years ago, my Pastor preached something that has stuck with me ever since:

Generosity generates goodness.

 

I’ve just finished editing my chapter on generosity for my upcoming book and I wanted to share a exactly two thoughts I’ve had about this idea.

  1. It’s by design.
  2. Think a good thing, do a good thing.

Many of my life lessons come from my favorite television show FRIENDS. Perhaps you remember the one where Joey proved to Phoebe that there is no such thing as a selfless good deed. In the episode, she lets a bee sting her so he could look tough in front of his bee friends. Of course, the bee died. Whoops! In another example, Phoebe gives money to a charity she doesn’t like but it ends up helping Joey, so she feels good inside. Ding ding ding!!!

Generosity generates good feelings for those you are generous to but the biggest winner is usually you. Yes, you’re the one that ends up with a lot of warm fuzzy feelings inside. And rightly so. Isn’t it awesome that when we do good things and are generous, we receive a lot of good too? The joy and satisfaction of helping other humans is awesome. It is awesome but I also believe it’s by design. Because when all that goodness is generated by generosity guess what’s likely? More generosity. More goodness. Well played God, well played.

Another mantra I like to use when it comes to generosity is to think a good thing, do a good thing. Many times we think about doing something nice but we don’t actually do that something. We think of calling a relative. We think of praising a child for something small they did. We think of paying for someone’s lunch who is counting change. We think of dropping off food at a friend’s house who is feeling sick. Heck, we see a lady at the grocery rocking a pretty dress and think maybe we should tell her so. But somehow, we get stopped in our tracks before the actual DOING begins. That happens for many reasons. We get busy, we feel awkward or we feel like our thing will be inadequate. Isn’t interesting how those reasons are all self-focused? Especially since generosity is supposed to be others-focused? So, let’s flip the script.

Imagine a world where no one held back good things? How much joy, gratitude and goodwill would that worldworld be filled with? Well, we can’t control the world, but I can control me and you can control you. Why don’t we just agree, right now, that we’ll act on those little thoughts that come up? Those little, teeny tiny ideas or impulses? If you think a good thing, do a good thing.

 

Big Girl Panties Academy

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I AM SO EXCITED TO ANNOUNCE THIS!

I’ve spent the last year putting together all the tools and tricks of what has worked for me, my clients and my mentors into a book. I also spent last year getting my certification as a Life Coach. The next step is what this post is all about!

This year I’m refining my content and process in a new way that’s open to you. It’s called the Big Girl Panties Academy. Here’s how it will work. 12 months. You & me and other like-minded folks. There will be monthly audio files (so you can listen while driving or folding laundry), a monthly workbook and then ONE group coaching call. Yes, we will all get on together and work through the material together. We’re going to hit a new topic each month and really do the deep work to improving every area of our lives.

So, that goal for 2019 to find balance? To do some personal development? Let’s do that. Let’s do it together. Let’s become better versions of ourselves. Together. It’s one thing to read a book or do something by yourself. It’s a whole ‘nother thing to do it with a group of like-minded folks who are having similar struggles! It’s so important to be heard. It’s so important to feel like you belong. It’s so nice to know you’re not the only crazy person.

Okay, so the idea behind Big Girl Panties is that we all have the power within to make our lives exactly what we want them to be. We don’t have to rely on external sources, we can put our big girl panties on and take charge of life. We can do the hard things.

This year, I’d like to tackle the following topics each month. I know I need CONTINUAL work in all of these areas. I need continual REFLECTION and GROWTH in all of these areas. Personally, I am addicted to self-improvement and especially to those deep conversations they trigger with others who feel the same. However, I know personally reading a book doesn’t always cut it. So, we’ll listen, write and then chat together. Here’s what I’m proposing.

  • January: Life by Design
  • February: Love, Expectations & Marriage
  • March: Home Reset (Declutter & Organize)
  • April: Get Your Mind Right
  • May: 4Es of Love (Embrace, Encourage, Empower, Enjoy)
  • June: Rituals & Self Care
  • July: Every Body has a Challenge (Food, Fitness & Body Image)
  • August: Productivity & Organization
  • September: Home Economics (Finances, Budget, Savings, Goals, Etc)
  • October: Tribe & Relationships
  • November: Mental Health
  • December: Generosity

So, what do you think? Would you be excited to work on these things together? We’re talking about going to the University of YOU! If you’re committed this year to really bettering yourself, this is the moment. Let’s do it together.

I’m not going to overload you with information or with appointments or even host this on social media. I’m going to make this as easy as possible. I’m going to send you 1 email with links for the audio chats to listen to each month along with an accompanying workbook for you to work through. Then we’re going to have one online group coaching session the third week of the month and talk it all through. There is power in community y’all!

If you’re in, sign up below! Pricing will be a really easy to swallow $25 / month. It’s my intention to WAY over deliver on the value of this Academy so that you get way more than $25 worth! Pay here. Fill your info out below and you’ll receive an email from me!

Let’s do this. Together.

 

Gaining Gratitude

Before we get into setting all of these high expectations for ourselves in 2019 wouldn’t it be nice if we took a moment to sit and think about all the good that happened in 2018?
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I have the perfect worksheet for you. Print one out or even a few to do with your family over the holidays. Why?
Well, gratitude is not just a warm fuzzy that pairs perfectly with Christmas. It’s also a common denominator between the happiest and most healthy people in the world.

 

The attitude of gratitude affects more than just turning the frown upside down. Research suggests people who are optimistic and practice gratitude even have higher functioning immune systems, lower blood pressure and sleep better according to Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis.

Another study done out of the School of Medicine at University of California San Diego found those grateful attitudes also happened to have better heart health that included less inflammation and healthier heart rhythms. Again, this study showed better sleep.

In fact, studies of those who kept a gratitude journal showed reduced fat intake through the diet as well as lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Science has also shown it can reduce the effects of aging on the brain.

What’s more is gratitude is an antidote to anxiety. Dopamine and serotonin increase when gratitude brain circuits are activated which acts like a natural antidepressant.

Whoa! So why aren’t we more grateful?

What’s interesting is that it’s actually harder for our brains to focus on gratitude. In fact, our brains have been hardwired to focus on danger and things that are potentially negative. That’s part of why many folks use the phrase “practice gratitude.”

Because it takes practice to see things from the gratitude perspective.

One study matched gratitude practices with brain imaging and showed the more gratitude work folks did, the more activity showed up in the scan in that region of the brain. Ultimately, gratitude was shown to be a specific emotion as one that can be “exercised” to grow.

One small way you can try to incorporate gratitude is to keep a daily gratitude journal. Taking just five minutes before you go to bed to think of three things you’re grateful for can begin to rewire those rigid neuropathways in the brain. The more we practice gratitude, the more our brain will notice things to be grateful for. So, try doing it for just one week.

Another way to practice gratitude is to take advantage at meal times to go around the table to say just one thing you’re grateful for with your family.

Finally, a gratitude assessment is one approach Darren Hardy presents in his book “The Compound Effect.” His idea is for you to come up with three things about the most important subjects in your life you can be grateful for. Those topics include your life, your health, your work, your home, your experiences and times you’ve been “lucky.”

As we continue into the holiday season, why not give one or all of these practices a try? Don’t forget to print this worksheet out and do it with your framily over the holidays!

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Fierce Faith Friday: Remember your stones

How often do you sit back and reflect on all the big moments in your life that you’ve overcome, that you’ve gotten through, that you’ve seen your own personal miracles? How often do you tell your friends (#testify) or kids about it all?

Let’s look in the Old Testament for some inspiration. After God has performed many miracles and rescued the Israelites, he brings them through the Jordan River (which in itself was a miracle) to the Promised Land. God then tells the leaders of the 12 tribes to each take one stone from the river and stack them all up as a memorial. God tells them to keep the memorial to help them remember and to tell their children about how God brought them through so much and all the miracles and blessings they’d witnessed.

In an interesting twist of the story, the very next generation had completely forgotten about everything those stones represented. As Pastor Furtick said (see link below), they’d allowed the current battles to loom bigger in their minds than the past blessings.

So, here’s our take. Here’s how we can apply this ancient biblical tale.

Stop, now, and think about all the things you’ve come through in your life. Think about the huge prayers you’ve had answered. Think about what you’ve overcome and what you truly have to be grateful for. Think about the things that have grown your faith.

These are the things you’d want to tell your grandkids about too. These are the things that made you realize your own faith. These are the things that, at one time or another, you probably couldn’t shut up about. Things you were so grateful for, so happy to have resolved or finished or healed or realized.

These are your 12 stones. They are a memorial of the blessings in your life. Of the biggest moments. What are yours?

Here’s a worksheet you can download to draw this out. Or, if you’re a better artist (no doubt there) than I am, you can draw your own. I find drawing things out is a really fun way to gain clarity  and really visualize what you’re thinking about.

If you want to listen more about this concept, it’s from the weekly series I listen to from Pastor Steven Furtick. Head over here.

Sunday planning: How + Worksheet

Happy Sunday! I hope you’re having a great day! On Sunday’s, I like to do alllll the planning for the week while I’m calm, relaxed and happy.

Before I sit down with my hubby for our marriage meeting, I get my own things in line. Want to take a peek at my plan? Maybe it will inspire your plan?


Schedule for the week:

  • 5am Wake, Bible, Pray, Journal
  • 6 – 6:30 Breakfast with hubby
  • 6:30 – 7:30 Breakfast / Kid prep / Clean house
  • 7:30 – 8:30 Coffee & relaxing time
  • 8:30 – 9:30 Kid bus / preschool drop off
  • 9:30 – 11 Workout / Shower
  • 11 – 12 Work
  • 12 – 1 Preschool pick up / errands
  • 1 – 4 Work
  • 4 – 4:30 Bus / Folders
  • 4:30 – 5 Dinner prep / House reset
  • 5 – 6 Family dinner / dishes

My schedule varies week to week quite often. And my evenings are always different based on clients / classes but I like to have a good base. This is what I call “mom blocking.” When I have the basics blocked like when I will get quiet time, workouts, housework, kiddo time and my work done then I can breathe and relax and get excited for the week!

When I’m doing my schedule, I also set the priorities for the week.

  • This week I have to get my vision board workshops completely planned out and I need to file business stuff at the county court.
  • I also need to get December’s budget completed.
  • I need to get my girl’s birthday party planned.

Whew! So, I’ve got those things scheduled in on my planner so they’ll actually GET DONE.


Food for the week:

This week’s food is brought to you by leftover turkey and end of the month creativity.

  • Monday everyone will eat turkey sandwiches for lunch and I’ll have a shake. For dinner, I’ll have zoodles and they’ll have turkey & dumplings.
  • Tuesday they will have leftover dumplings for lunch and I’ll have a shake. For dinner, I’ll make chicken fried (cauliflower) rice.
  • Wednesday I’ll have a shake and they’ll have leftover dumplings for lunch. For dinner, I’ll make salmon & spinach.
  • Thursday they’ll turkey cranberry salad and I’ll have a shake. Then we’ll all have leftover chicken fried rice for dinner (it’s a busy night).
  • Finally, Friday will bring wraps for lunch and pizza for dinner!

Workouts for the week:

Another thing I plan is my workouts. You may be following a program but I’m just following my heart. Right now that heart says:

  • Monday / Legs: 5k + 4 rounds of 25 squats, 25 squat jumps, 25 walking lunges, 25 lunge jumps, 25 deadlifts, 25 skater jumps + 21 Day Fix abs.
  • Tuesday / Arms: 5k + 10 inchworms + 3 Supersets + 21 day fix Abs.  3 rounds each superset, 20 reps each move. SS1: Plank push-ups & Curls. SS2: Side planks & Skullcrushers. SS3: Pike pushups & Curl to press.
  • Wednesday / Full body: 5K + PIYO.
  • Thursday / Chest, Back & Booty: 5k + 10 inchworms + 4 tabatas.  T1: Chest Press w/ Leg Raise & Snow Angels. T2: Superman w/ band & Push-ups w/ chest bump. T3: Pullovers in bridge & Banded bridge w/ butterfly. T4: Fire hydrant R & FH L w/ hold.
  • Friday / Full body: 5K + Ladder workout. 100 squats, 90 lunges, 70 Everests, 50 Pushups, 30 Triceps dips, 10 burpees, 30 Triceps dips, 50 Pushups, 70 Everests, 90 Lunges, 100 squats.

I want to give you a free tool to help you plan to have a FABULOUSLY FIT week! It’s my Sunday Planning sheet that focuses on your fitness journey.

Get the printable Sunday Planner here!


Join me!

How about you? I hope this post just inspires you to plan your own week. If not, just copy mine as best you can! =D

Fill out the form below if you’re interested in:

  • Vision board workshop. I will have one vision board class in person and one online.
  • Online health & fitness groups.
  • 1 on 1 coaching to help you achieve your goals!
  • You can also check out my How To Have An Awesome Marriage Meeting course for $5!

 

 

Gratitude challenge

How are you feeling today? I hope there’s gooooood mojo going on in your life right now. Even if there’s not, let’s do three quick exercises together and see if we can infuse good feels into your day.

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First things first: Print out this worksheet. We need all of this to get out of our heads and into the world. Putting this stuff on paper takes it from imaginary to tangible and real. So, print it out. If you don’t have a printer, get a piece of paper and copy the worksheet.

Okay, so first thing’s first. Write out 20 things you want. This might be tough. It might be hard to come up with 20 things. That’s okay. Persevere. Stick to it until you’re done. I’ll wait. Write your 20 things, then come back to me.

How did you do? Was it easier or harder than you thought? I’ll tell you a few things I wrote, just so we’re in the same zone. I wrote diamond stud earrings, a trip to Florida and close relationships with my adult kids.

Take a look at your list of 20 things. How many of them are things that you already have? Yes, how many of those 20 things are achievements or material things that you don’t already have? It’s okay if it’s most or all of them. That’s totally okay. It was kind of a trick question. Now, we’re going to flip this exercise on its head so we can really dive into the feeling of gratitude.

Go back to your worksheet. Now I want you to write out 20 things that you want that you already have. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with desire, goals, dreams and wants. That’s all part of being human and it’s part of the experience. What’s really cool though, is when you have those desires and they’re coming from a place of abundance. So, you’re so content and grateful with what you’ve already got and you’re excited about the future things that you’re going to get too.

That’s much better than hating or disliking what you’ve already got and desiring something else. It’s also much better than always thinking about the next thing, how the next achievement or goal met is going to make your life better. Nope, let’s spend some time really thinking about wanting what we already have.

One fun way to think about this is to think about teenage you. Maybe teenage you wanted a job. Then she wanted a car. Then she wanted a place to live. Then she wanted to get married. Then she wanted a baby. Think about all the things that you used to want that you now have.

Another way to do this is to think about things that you’d really miss if you woke up tomorrow without them. I really want my paid off Tahoe. It’s the perfect vehicle for my life right now and I love it. My family has made so many memories in it, it can go anywhere, it can seat up to 7 people or it can haul a couch (just not both at the same time). I really want my awesome no-car-payment Tahoe!

For this list, pay attention to what you already have. To what you’ve already achieved. I bet you can come up with a really long list of things you already have that you want. Go now, write your list of 20! I’ll be here when you’re done.

That, my friends, is called gratitude. You just totally nailed it. Notice how you’re feeling on the inside. I bet it’s like the middle of a fresh-baked pumpkin pie. Warm, gooey and awesome. I want my three, happy, healthy kids just the way they are right now. I want the awesome, cool capsule wardrobe I’ve built for myself that makes my life easier. I want the marriage that’s comfortable but still challenging and exciting that I have right now.

Now for our third exercise. As I said before, there’s nothing wrong with desire. Goals are awesome. Progress is a core human value. So, I want you to go back to that first list now. I want you to pick one of those things that you want. Just one! I want you to use the third column to zoom in on this want. Write out all the ways you will be grateful when you have it. Think about achieving or getting that want. How will future you be grateful? How will she feel?

I’ll give you a few examples to get your juices flowing. Let’s go with the material thing I mentioned earlier. Let me imagine future me getting diamond stud earrings (again, long story there). I am so happy because I have a way to decorate my ears (again) that doesn’t interfere with my lifestyle in terms of fitness, mom life and taking the time to make decisions about jewelry. Every time I pass a mirror I see the pretty little shiny diamonds and it makes me smile. Those earrings give me a little boost everyday because they make me feel pretty and shiny. (I’m smiling right now, that’s how powerful this is.)

Okay, let’s go with one a little more deep: a close relationship with my future adult kids. I am so grateful that my kids love being around me. I am so grateful that we get to do fun things and have cool experiences. I’m so grateful I get to experience my kids as adults and I never have to miss them for too long because they want to be with me and I want to be with them. I love seeing the cool people they are and helping if they need it. I am so grateful that this lifelong vision I’ve had of a close-knit family is a reality. My heart is full. (My cheeks are starting to hurt from smiling again).

Now it’s your turn. Go, be grateful for the future you! Zoom in. I’ll be here when you’re done.

How was that? How did that feel? There is a lot of hippy-dippy-baloney that goes into why that exercise you just did is powerful.

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Deep concepts like faith or the law of attraction are things we can dive into, but how about just focussing on how you feel for now? How did you feel with that third exercise? Again, I bet it’s like warm pumpkin pie. Ooey gooey goodness! =D

Now, there’s more to the story but you’ve been through a lot of emotion today already, haven’t you? I am so excited for you. You know why? You just figured out why you’re already happy by focusing on wanting what you have. You also just figured out how it’s going to feel when you do achieve or get one of your wants. And it’s going to be pretty freaking awesome. 

If you want more help with this exercise and meeting your goals, I’m here for you. Schedule a session with me now!

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Fierce Faith Friday: Set that blessing free!

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A few Sundays ago I was so excited to win a Starbuck gift card for some work I did at church. I was so excited because that very week was going to be the first in a decade I could actually go to Starbucks and sit inside all on my own and enjoy a delicious drink. My youngest was off to part time preschool. And salted caramel mochas were back. It was bittersweet, but a coffee alone seemed like a really good way to cope / celebrate.

The next morning I arrived at the bus stop to find my new (and only) bus stop mom friend was not feeling well. She was about to go crawl back into her bed when I found myself saying the dreaded phrase:

“Let me know if I can do anything.”

I don’t like that phrase because I know myself. Myself would never let anyone know if I need anything. Therefore, I assume others are that way. And I made a decision quite a while back to not be that way. To not settle for that kind of thing. Instead, I came up with a new mantra, “Think a good thing, do a good thing.”

In that moment with my friend, I knew I wanted to do something. Sick mom of three, I know how that feels. What could I do to inject just a moment of positivity into her day? Just a moment to let her know I know it’s tough and I care about her.

To be honest, I didn’t have time to make chicken noodle soup. Plus it was 90 degrees, so that didn’t seem like winning idea.

And then. BOOM! I remembered that Starbucks card. Before she walked away, I told her I’d bring her a Starbucks coffee. Okay, now I had a solution.

To be honest, I was momentarily sad that I wouldn’t be able to use my awesome gift the way I’d planned. I decided to just buy hers with my gift card and grab a coffee on my own dime. Of course, then I found out the gift card was $10! That’s two coffees! I’m not a person who frequents Starbucks, so this made perfect sense! Thanks Jesus!

What happened next was truly laugh-out-loud-awesome. But you’ll have to wait so I can wrap up the though of think a good thing, do a good thing concept.

You see, so many times we shrink back from doing good things.

We might feel it may be too small. So, what we would’ve done for one we don’t do because we feel we should be able to do it for lots of people. Or we don’t drop off a coffee because our Southern upbringing tells us it should’ve been a casserole.

Sometimes,  we think our small gesture can’t possibly make a dent in something as emotional as grieving over the loss of a loved one. Or we think two hours of babysitting our friend’s kiddos isn’t much compared to the six month deployment she is facing.

Sometimes we don’t do things because they aren’t perfect, they are good enough. So, instead we do nothing.

Other times it can be even less serious. Let’s say you see someone looking fabulous in a dress or with a really cool tattoo. You might think it, but why not say it? Why not think a good thing, do a good thing? Pastor Craig Groeschel says it this way:

Set the blessing free.

You see, whatever it is may not seem like a big deal to you, but it might be HUGE to the other person. Whatever little good thought God put inside your head, that’s a blessing that He wants to be set free. Even a simple smile can totally change the trajectory of a day for someone. You could be that pivotal moment. Don’t keep the blessing imprisoned inside. No, set it free! Think a good thing, do a good thing.

Imagine a world we lived in where no one held back? How much joy, gratitude and goodwill would that world be filled with?

Well, we can’t control the world, but we can control ourselves. Why don’t we just agree, right now, that we’ll act on those little thoughts that come up? Those little, teeny tiny ideas. I’d say, if you think a good thing, do a good thing.

Now, for the grand finale of this short story I’ve made long:

I sat down to drink my coffee while I did some work. This kind, older gentleman came and sat adjacent to me and chatted with me for a few moments. Out of nowhere, he randomly gave me another Starbucks gift card. That’s kind of a great metaphor for setting the blessing free. It always blesses the giver.

God is good. Generosity generates goodness. 🙌🏻

Fierce Faith Friday: Jacob’s journey is my journey

I’ve been reading through the Bible this year at my own pace, which is quite slow. There is quite a bit of head scratching in the Bible, and lots of it happening in Genesis. I’ve (mostly) made peace with the fact that I don’t have to understand or rationalize it all, but that doesn’t stop me from trying in the moment. Does that happen to you? Or is it just me?

I’m far enough into Genesis to be reading Jacob’s story. It’s a real page turner. A real puzzling page turner. As I read, I believe that Jacob is supposed to be a good guy, he’s the hero in these chapters.

But he’s not. He’s just really not. That’s an epiphany I’m sure people who grew up in the church had long ago. For me, today, it’s a comforting revelation. If my story were written out in the Bible from a bird’s eye view, I wouldn’t look like the hero either. You’d be puzzled and shaking your head just as I do reading about Jacob.

When I look at Jacob’s story without trying to make him a hero, it’s enlightening. God uses Jacob despite his character flaws (lies to his own father, runs away from his father in law, sleeps with any woman thrown at him). God has a plan for Jacob that happens despite how many struggles he faces on the way (brother wants to kill him, father-in-law cheats him, wife is barren). Finally, God blesses Jacob even after he wrestles against him (wants to do things his way, through his own strength and wisdom, possibly wants to run away from what God wants to pull him through).

If I look at my own journey, I certainly can see those similarities. God has used me and is still with me despite all of my many character flaws (prideful, overambitious, impatient). Even though I might look back and see a path littered with struggle and shame (drugs, sex and rock n roll, etc), God has still gotten me to this very point in my life, this plan he’s always had for me. Most incredibly, God is still blessing me, still with me, as I struggle and wrestle against Him even daily.

Jacob’s new name becomes Israel, which means “struggles with/wrestles with God.” Clearly, the struggle is real and the struggle is preordained.

The scripture that most struck me today was:

I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick. Now my household fills two large camps! -Gen 32:10

I thought about all I’ve done and been through. Literally, the only thing that has pulled me out of some of my darkest moments was that unfailing love. The comfort of unfailing love. Even when I’ve made bad choices or done wrong, God has been faithful.

Then I think about when I left home. I, too, owned nothing other than a lot of mental baggage and a lot of ambition. But I left home a broken little girl who had no idea how to show up in the world, how to love and accept to love. I didn’t even know how to feed myself properly! I had no meaningful, deep relationships. I had no roots. I couldn’t wait to be on my way!

It struck me as I looked at the parallel to Jacob’s journey.

Now, I have a marriage about which all I can say is Only God. It’s far from perfect, and we’re still working. But considering the examples we both had, it’s pretty incredible. I left home with a terrible attitude toward men and false expectations about them. Now, I am well loved and cared for, I have a partner and teammate and provider. I wouldn’t have even been able to accept that as the girl who left home.

In fact, that has been part of my continued wrestling with God. I can see now that God was leading me here even from the first step out the door. Becoming the woman I am today is something I have fought, wrestled against for…as long as I remember.

For example, I’d always planned to stay in the military for 20 years. God had other plans. Experiencing the pain of separation just a month after being married and faced with it again, I suddenly knew I couldn’t be without my family once I had a family. A miscarriage illuminated that. God also gave me a husband I would slowly learn to trust and rely on. The really, really painful kind of slowly.

Then, once I was working in the civilian world and became pregnant again, I just knew I couldn’t bear to leave him. So, I became the thing I’d sworn I’d never become: a stay at home mom. It’s funny now to read and write that thought. It was not then. It was gut wrenching. I couldn’t understand how I could feel pulled in two different directions so vehemently. Now I know it was like that night Jacob had. I was wrestling with God.

I wish I could say it stopped then. Or that it stopped…ever. It hasn’t. And that’s just one part of the struggle. That’s just one thing I wrestle with!

However, being aware of that struggle was the first step. Then being able to lean more into being obedient IN SPITE OF the way I felt helped. And knowing Jacob wrestled also helps. Because, in the end, Jacob got the blessing.

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” -Gen 32:26

I also now have a household full of three kiddos who love me unconditionally, who bring me joy and who give me purpose. (That sentence, read to 18-year-old me, would probably made me vomit.) I left home never having even babysat another child! Never having even been around other children for any length of time, except those I saw at school.

Now I have some wonderful relationships in my life, I have a relationship with God. I have joy and peace. So, it might not fill two camps, but it feels so much larger than what I left with. So much more full and overflowing.

And it’s all because of God’s unfailing love and faithfulness. It’s pretty crazy to think about how far I’ve come since I left home and try to see the parallels from Jacob’s journey.

  • In what ways do you wrestle with God?
  • How has God demonstrated faithfulness in your life?
  • How has God blessed you since you left home?