Grief Is Sneaky

I started this morning like many others. Good morning, Lord. What are we doing today? I thought I was being led to a study on the current topic God has been teaching me about – The Courts of Heaven. I began writing in my journal, starting at the beginning when God first made me aware of the Kingdom of Heaven. It was about 5 years ago and Martin and I were perusing the clearance section at Mardel, a Christian bookstore. We both loved to read, especially about things pertaining to Christian living and I quickly realized it was gonna be too much to write. So, I switched over to my computer.  As it booted up to initiate the Word app, my eyes glimpsed across the Photos folder. There was a picture of a family outing, my close family…and my hubby was there. We were bowling and having a good time. Suddenly, I burst into tears and boo-hooed for a while.

It has been 2.5 years since Martin transitioned. Our marriage was not perfect. As a matter of fact, we had had one of our many arguments the night before his death. And it was a bad one. We retreated to our separate corners, him to his office and me to my craft room. I emerged after spending some time with Abba and poked my head in Martin’s office. He was on the phone. You wanna go for breakfast at Texas Spice tomorrow? This was my olive branch. He raised his head and gave me a look that said Yes, I agree that we need to talk and I’m ready, too. There was still love between us even though the argument had turned if from clear glass to stained. We could still see each other through it.

While sitting at my computer crying, I began to wonder why. Why was I crying now when I had been moving forward in my new life as a widow? Why the tears when I had been blooming through this darkness as God told me I would? I gazed at the picture again and thought back to being part of a team. A team with its issues but a team, nonetheless. I thought about family gatherings that would be taking place right now, today, if Martin were still here. Today is Father’s Day and we would probably be preparing for dinner with the family to celebrate him and my brother-in-law. Today is Father’s Day. There it was. A trigger that snuck up on me.

Emotional muscle memory is what it is called. It is part of the biochemistry of the brain. The autonomic nervous system is the part of the nervous system that is just beneath our conscious control. Although I am in a place of growth past grief, my brain remembered and emitted a strong emotional response – without my consent. I am a little bit of a nerd when it comes to psychology, so I remembered learning about this in Psych 101. Not long after Martin passed away, I had random and automatic bouts of tears and sadness, and that was to be expected. And while I know there is no time limit on grief, everyone moving at their own pace, I wonder if I am sentenced to be held prisoner to this response for life? I would have to dig a bit more into that but in the meantime, I my way of navigating through it.

A few weeks after Martin’s funeral, I was at my sister’s house for a movie night.  In this movie there was a man dealing with the murder of his daughter. He was so caught up in finding the killer that he did not take time to mourn. Eventually the emotions stored in the brain caught up with this guy and he broke down. His friend who had also lost a child physically restrained him in a strong and caring embrace and encouraged him to “sit in the grief”. The stuck with me. Sit in the grief. Then, I felt Holy Spirit co-sign this. Sit in it. Acknowledge it. Feel it. BUT don’t become overwhelmed by it. So that’s what I did today and will continue to do whenever the emotional muscle memory triggers an unsolicited emotional response.

Yeah, grief can sneak up on you and that’s ok. Doesn’t matter how long or how short the time frame. Your brain can trigger you without your permission. But you do not have to let it overwhelm you.

4 Ways To STAY Motivated Despite Life’s Ups & Downs

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Recently, someone asked me how I do this…STAY motivated despite what life has thrown at me, before and ESPECIALLY during this time of shelter-in-place, curfews, social distancing, etc. If you listen to my podcast, The Skinny Girl Speaks, then you know that in August 2019 I was led by God into a season of preparation away from everyone and everything I’ve ever known. I miss my family. I get lonely. I miss my comfortable life. But the following practices keep me motivated and encouraged on a daily basis.

Blog Section1This is typically my first go-to. I communicate with God daily through prayer (usually in the spirit) and/or reading and studying the Bible in some capacity. It may be an in depth study or a devotional. During these times, there’s usually a word or phrase that just sticks out and resonates with me. I follow it – meaning I  read it a few times and begin to write what comes to mind. That’s God speaking through scripture. For more info on this topic, check out my podcast episode, “Is That You God?”, where I share details on how God speaks to us.

Then, a pretty cool way I spend time with the Lord is while I’m asleep. Yes, you read that right…lol! I have several prayer videos bookmarked on YouTube that I listen to at night while sleeping. Our spirit is open and many people don’t realize this is an impressionable time. For some people, this is the only time God really gets to speak to them…because they’re finally quiet!

God never fails me in these times of intimacy with Him.

Blog Section2As I shared earlier, I’m literally away from all the comforts and familiarity of life but thanks to technology, God has blessed me to stay connected to strategic people in the Kingdom in a meaningful way. I have a very small group of sisters in Christ that God divinely connected me with for this season. I already knew them but the connection is different & clearly intentional for accountability, sharpening & encouragement.

The relationship I have with the sisters is divinely organic. We communicate often via text. We confess to one another. Pray. Share scriptures. Call each other out on things. Encourage each other through health challenges. Men. Family. Speak life into each other’s callings/Kingdom assignments. Pose questions for discussion. Nothing is off limits because this is a safe place.

Holy Spirit has led us to do FaceTime video chats too. We all engage as He leads us so the burden is not one just one person to keep the group active.

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Blog Section3I went to the Bible & got examples where Jesus modeled this because I didn’t want to carelessly hop onto the self care trend. This term is often misinterpreted as self indulgence. But that’s not the case. There are scriptures where Jesus got away from the crowds from time to time. In fact, Luke 5:16 says, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” He also encouraged the disciples to  do so as well. See, Jesus understood that getting away to take care of himself increased His ability to present the best version of Himself to attend to the needs of the people. So following His example, I listened to Holy Spirit as He gave me specific instructions for how to take care of my body, soul & spirit. Most people think a bubble bath and candles are the sum total of this but since we are three part beings, all areas of who we are need to be taken care of – with intentionality.

Blog Section4I am busy with specific tasks God has put on my plate that are SO much bigger than me and they’re out of my realm of understanding so research and study of topics I’m not familiar with are required. This differs from busy-ness in that I’m not just looking for ways to pass time. These are Kingdom related assignments that God is walking me through. My attention is not idle but directed and focused.

What are your thoughts? I’d like to hear your ways of staying motivated in tough times. Drop a comment below.

Let Go of the Mask

This picture is a great example of how many of us move through life. We make adjustments in our lives with masks for each role, audience, or desired result. We hide who we truly are, how we really feel. How many of you go on autopilot when someone says, “Hi! How are you?” Without even thinking, we typically blurt out the routine, “Fine.” or “Good.” It’s so routine. As my life is transitioning, The Skinny Girl Speaks (check out the podcast) to me about how effortlessly and seamlessly we move from mask to mask. Why? Well, there several reasons that come to mind.

Reason 1: It Was The Best Defense

Many of us were taught this because it was the best defense our mothers, grandmothers, or great grandmothers had up against their own harsh realities. They saw this as a survival skill that they could pass along to us. Without much hope of things changing, many anticipated a similar hard fate for the future generations and thought it best to prepare us for what was to come. Knowing they wouldn’t always be there to protect us, at least we would be equipped to adjust, blend, camouflage and live. Or perhaps, the masks enabled them to get the things they needed to survive. Teaching you to manipulate was a good defense against lack. And there are oh so many more! They thought the masks would serve us well. And because we trusted them, we thought so too.

Reason 2: It Worked For Us

So we tried them out and saw some benefit. Adapting, even against our better judgment, meant we would now be included. Hanging out with those who were popular and imitating their look, language, and life made us feel as though we had accomplished something. And this happens within the church, too. Checking the religious boxes, attending the right church functions, connecting with the approved cliques, performing the accepted tasks…all to be accepted as ‘spiritual’. We’ve done this so well that we began to endear to the masks. “Don’t leave home without it!” became our mantra. We dressed up the masks and made them look nice. These masks provided a place for us to hide for a moment. If I’m caught up in the busyness of fitting in, the distraction of adapting, I don’t have to face my reality – that I don’t know who I am. Meanwhile, the core of us became a shadow lurking behind each mask.

Reason 3: We Lost Touch

Subsequently, this routine (wearing masks) distances us daily from who we are. We spend so much time engaging our survival skill of masking that we lose touch with our real self. I was in a leadership class a few years ago about understanding different personality types and how to partner best with them in ministry. The facilitator said that we are most like our true selves around the ages of 5-7. I found that fascinating. But it made total sense. After studying a bit, I learned that during our developmental stages, this age range is typically marked with egocentrism. Not in a bad way either. That’s typically the time we are uninhibited, unbothered and uninfluenced by other’s beliefs or opinions  because, for the most part, it’s all about us. This is good at this age though. There is no abstract reasoning or understanding yet so we don’t know to fear the unknown and change to brace ourselves against pain or unfavorable outcomes. We are simply carefree, learning and growing. We just are who we are BEFORE things that will shape forever begin to get piled on.

Who are you? How do you uncover life’s layers to discover the YOU that God made. Psalm 139:17 says, “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (NIV) To me this means, there’s a library in Heaven filled with volumes of books. And one of them is my story. One of them is your story. Perfectly written with hope and a future. Who is the main character in that story? What was her personality like, the pure one from the beginning of the story? When did this change? And how can she return to her authentic self? The self who doesn’t wear masks. The self who isn’t afraid of being seen, really seen, for fear of being judged and not accepted.  

Finally, Here’s My Solution

There’s more than coping, adjusting, and accommodating just to get from day to day. As Christian women, we have hope. This is how Jesus put it. “A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” (John 10:10, MSG) The thief came to steal, kill and destroy our identity with masks. Jesus came for us to have life – and life to the fullest – real and eternal! That means right now as well as eternally.

Don’t turn to social media to find your true self. It’s not there. Most of that is only what people want you to see. It’s not in mimicking your favorite celebrities. Chances are, they’re wearing masks themselves. You want to be a copy of a fabrication? Of course not! It’s not found in just digging deep within you and creating your best self. You already have a creator and HE lives in you. He will tell you who you are.

Go before the Lord and place your desire for identity (without a mask) at His feet. Petition Him and ask for guidance. I am a living witness that He will answer you. He’s walking me through it. My prayer is that Jesus will lead you through reading the Word and prayer to the right resources. This is what He has done for me – and I’ve embraced walking through this for a year or two.

Here’s a prayer that I’ve held onto during this time:

Lord, guide me into truth about myself. I trust that if you show me, then you are saying that I’m ready and that you will be with me through the process.

John 16:13 says the when the spirit of Truth comes, who is Holy Spirit, He will guide us into all truth. I take that to mean even about myself.

My life has been enriched beyond what I could have ever imagined. I am learning who I am. And you know what?? I like her!!

Breaking Inner Vows

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An old song comes to mind when I think of this topic. “I made a vow to the Lord and I won’t turn back.” Vow – a solemn promise. Specifically, “one by which a person is bound to an act, service, or condition.” We vow to be faithful to our spouse in matrimony. We vow to love God and serve no other when we accept Christ into out hearts. These are definitely good promises to make. But there’s a different kind of vow that can end up hindering our growth, stunting our potential. It’s the inner vow – the ones we make to ourselves.

Lot’s of things happen internally. We go into defense or preservation mode in our psyche as a way of protecting ourselves. When we have been deeply hurt, we may not only shut down and pack the experience down into a deep dark box way in the back of our mind, but we may vow to never be placed in certain situations because we don’t want to experience that pain ever again! We may say things like, “I’ll never be like my (insert least favorite family member here)!” Or “I’ll never let my children go without what they want!” These things on the surface seem ok especially if the relative was abusive or you as a child went without basic necessities.

But my experience with inner vows is different and probably a pretty common scenario. The kind of vow where we take our lives into our own hands. We promise ourselves that we will never give up our control again. We will put certain stakes in the ground so that we can protect ourselves. We will never trust again because, well…remember that last time??  These are some subtle inner vows that when you look at them closely they seem to say one thing. I don’t trust God to take care of this for me so I’ll do it myself. When we do this, we are left to our own devices. All the pressure to keep us afloat, to keep us sane, to keep us safe (we think) are done within our own power. These are the times we end up frustrated, stunted and stressed out.

I broke 2 inner vows that I didn’t realize I had made until I was on a prayer call and someone began to pray about the specific ones I had made!! 😮 I’m a widow of 2 years and told God (1) I never wanted to marry a pastor/minister, nor (2) do I want a man dedicated to the church. Now, on the surface you might think, “She must be crazy! I’d love to have a man like that!” This was due by and large to my past experience. I’ll just say this, often pastors/ministers are so fixated on “the call” that they overlook their first calling, which is to their home. There’s a lack of balance and this is very unfortunate. Things may look fine and dandy to outsiders, but no one knows what really goes on but the ones who live in that home. So I said Lord, I want just a regular God-fearing man who loves you and that’s enough.

The second vow was made because God is delivering me and releasing me from religion. I LOVE God so much and this freedom, y’all!! It has been incredible! I don’t want to go back under “church” oppression.

In Matthew chapter 15, the Pharisees are challenging Jesus about why his disciples are breaking a tradition (not washing their hands before eating). He basically told them that they were hypocrites because they “cancel God’s commands by their rules” (The Message). Then Jesus went on to say in verses 8 and 9 that people honor Him with their lips but their hearts are far from Him and they worship in vain. Their teachings are merely human rules. (NIV paraphrased…read it) I have had my fill of dedication to human rules. There are many whose allegiance is to church tradition instead of The Church. I am a seeker of Truth, not tradition. This is liberating. So I made a vow.

But here’s what I have come to understand. I am following God in a way that challenges the religious norm and my heart is open to Him in a way it wasn’t before. When in prayer, my heart is tender toward God in a special way. Hearing these vows called out made me see that I was not trusting God and brought conviction. I was prepared to screen him (whoever he is…lol) right out of my life even if God presented him as the one for me.

But seriously, conviction is when our hearts are sorry and we come closer to God for forgiveness, knowing that He is faithful and just. Condemnation may cause us to feel sorry but the difference is that it causes us to hide from God in guilt and shame. So do this. If you think you have made an inner vow, one of those “I  will never…”, look into your heart and see if you are tender and repentant to God about it. The Holy Spirit will guide us into all Truth, even about the things in our hearts.

I trust God and I’m sorry for thinking I know better than He does what’s best for me. Although I would never say that and didn’t think I had, I see now that I made the vows to protect me. But God’s plans are for peace, hope & a future. He’s got me.

Sis, Bro…You can renounce the inner vow. Repent and let it go. 😇  God’s got us.

When God Winks! 😉

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This started off as a Facebook post but I soon realized it was getting too long. Could I have shortened it? Of course, but I wanted to take my time and present this. When I switched my brain to blog-mode, the title sounded like a book title, so naturally I Googled it. Sure enough, it is a series of books written by author, Squire Rushnell. Drat, he beat me to it! Lol! Digging a little further, I learned that this is an actual term (Am I the last to know this?):

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godwink. Noun. (plural God winks) An event or personal experience, often identified as coincidence, so astonishing that it is seen as a sign of divine intervention, especially when perceived as the answer to a prayer. (yourdictionary.com)

My God wink wasn’t divine intervention as the answer to a prayer but it was assurance that God and I were on the same page about some things in my life – very important things.

I was at dinner with a friend and we prayed before parting ways. The restaurant was about to close so we stopped just outside, in front to do this. We had parked a ways from each other and it was convenient. We were the second to last customers there and I thought the others were still eating as we left. They walked out just as we finished and the wife came over to us. She asked if she and her husband could pray also. Well, certainly you can! When he walked up, his T-shirt had “ITALIA” emblazoned across the chest. I LAUGHED!! He smiled but was obviously a little taken aback. Noticing the friendly, yet quizzical look on his face, I explained. A few days ago, I posted on Facebook that Italy was the most recent country to join the list of places where my podcast (The Skinny Girl Speaks) had been heard AND it’s the first stop on my very soon vacation.

Meeting fellow believers was God’s way of winking at me as if to say, “Yep, I’m with your podcast (which He confirms through feedback on a regular basis) and I’ll also be with you on your Jubilee vacation trip!” This resonated with me and I felt Him in that moment. It was like a welcoming arm draping over my shoulder and pulling me into a safe hug. My Father is SO good like that. It’s one of the innumerable ways He loves and speaks to us. Why, you may ask? As with the majority of us (dare I say ALL of us) who obey God’s direction that pulls you out of a comfort zone and places you in a spotlight of sorts, it’s challenging. By spotlight, I mean with no one else to hide behind under the guise of “partnering”. You feel vulnerable. You second guess yourself. You feel ill-equipped. And many other nagging negative thoughts begin buzzing around in your mind like a bunch of meddlesome mosquitoes. When starting the podcast, the thoughts said, “No one’s gonna listen.” When booking my solo vacation abroad, the thoughts said. “Everyone’s gonna stare at you.” So when God, winked, I desperately needed His validation. It warmed my heart and gave me the boost I needed.

We continued to chat, laugh and pray some more. What a wonderful evening it was!

I’ve mentioned the following before either on my podcast or probably in a previous blog. But I’d like to be intentionally repetitious.

God is talkative.

I’ve talked to many people who have said that they don’t talk to God because He doesn’t listen or care. When I ask what makes them think that, the responses are similar, “Because He never talks to me.” Oh, my dear friend! God talks all the time! Since He IS Almighty, His methods of communication are vast! You gotta listen/look for Him all the time. Remember the story of the prophet Elijah when God was talking to him? Elijah was trying to hear God in an earthquake, the wind and fire. But God’s voice came a different way, one to which Elijah was not yet accustomed. Same for us. This particular example for me was the God wink. I don’t believe in coincidences.

God cares about every aspect of our lives.

Someone once told me that with everything going on in the world, God has bigger fish to fry. Meaning my issues, concerns, requests paled in comparison, That person couldn’t have been more wrong. Here’s how I see it. If God cares enough to know the number of hairs on our head (which changes ALL the time) and bottles up our tears, then surely He’s interested in my “insignificant” things. He wants us to invite Him into our whole life, not compartmentalize and confine Him to Sunday service and maybe Wednesday night Bible study or small group.

I end every podcast with this, “God wants to do life with you.” so He sends us God winks along the way to remind us that He’s right there with us.

I Dare You!

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A new podcast episode from The Skinny Girl Speaks drops MONDAY! And it’s another GOOD one! Why? Because I issue a challenge to anyone who will take the dare . Now, this challenge is specific and will not apply to everyone but IF you feel your pulse quicken, temperature slightly rises, and you feel an invisible tap on the shoulder saying, “She’s talking to you!”, then I urge you to respond. It’s in you! You CAN do it!

If you’re ready to take a step forward – even a baby step toward growth, listen to The Skinny Girl Speaks podcast Monday morning. It’ll give you life. Go ahead…I dare you!

It’s easy to TUNE IN! Just click a link below:

Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, or Stitcher!

The Skinny Girl Speaks Podcast

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I’ve shared my story with quite a few people – both men and women. But it’s been the ladies, my sisters, my fellow female compadres, who have been impacted the most by my journey. I’m sure this is due by and large to their ability to see themselves in my shoes, doing what I’m doing. A comparative boosting, if you will. “If she can do it, so can I.” And that’s a good thing. So often we look at others and negatively belittle ourselves. We count ourselves out because we don’t feel like we measure up. We listen to the antagonizing little voice that says, “Who are YOU to think you can do this?” But when I share my life with someone and they’re prompted to do more, THAT’S a win/win!! I’ve sharpened someone, not caused them to feel little and insignificant. It’s what I’ve come to realize I was created for. That gives me life.

A few weeks ago, I was at dinner with a mentor/friend, bringing her up to speed on all that’s gong on in my life. I am impressed by and look up to her. So when she sat riveted and listened to me, I was inspired and shocked at the same time. Someone wants to listen to what I have to say?!? She proceeded to tell me that I need to reach more people with my story. Truth be told, I had heard this many times before but when she said it, it happened to be during my “Season of Yes”.

SEASON OF YES

You see, I’ve said NO to so many things. Talked myself out of countless opportunities, experiences. Why? Because I was afraid. As I mentioned before, many of us often discourage ourselves from being great. No one is in our way but us! We let an often small voice talk us right out of big things. So during my time talking to God, I told Him that I was breaking up with fear. I’m done!! I’m gonna start saying Yes to opportunities. I want to see how far God will go if I give Him my Yes. And it’s what’s pushing me forward these days. It’s what fuels my courage and bravery…which I didn’t even know was within me.

A PODCAST IS BORN

After dinner that night, I went home and thought about it some more. I went to work the next day and asked a friend questions about a microphone, headsets, editing software, getting a jingle created, etc. Old habits die hard so I quickly recognized that this “research” was my slipping back into talking myself out of something great. This was classic Ingra Procrastination…lol! I downloaded the app right then. I knew I had to strike while the iron was, well not exactly hot but still relatively warm to the touch.  I recorded and published my first episode that same afternoon, “The Skinny Girl Speaks” podcast. And it felt amazing! You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, Spotify, Anchor, Breaker, Overcast, Stitcher, Pocket Casts, and RadioPublic.

THE WIN/WIN

I’ll share about my life and all the invaluable things I’m learning and experiencing. Specifically, in the areas of my faith in Christ, grief, life transition and travel. I hope that as you listen, you are spurred to do more – even if it’s just a little. That’s a win for you. Then come back here to let me know what you think. Let me know if anything resonated with you. That’s a win for me.

Confessions of a Recovering Pharisee

So WHO wants to admit this?? It’s never a comfortable place to be when you find out that some of the beliefs you’ve held onto for years offend God, the very One you seek to please. You thought you were doing the right thing, much like Paul, because this is what you were taught as truth. But when He, the Spirit of Truth, challenges you, you’re knocked off your feet & rendered dumbstruck as you learn all over again! It’s scary at first. Then that initial wonder returns as God clears the cobwebs, peels back the layers, & ushers you into a pure walk, re-introducing you to Him.

“Hello, my child. I’m Abba. Let ME tell you who I AM.”

I realize that I’m taking a very bold stance and many will not agree, but I was already told, similarly like Ezekiel, that many would not receive this. That’s ok, for I’m merely sharing my PERSONAL journey with God. Take it, leave it, or just read it for entertainment purposes.

The Lord began exposing my Pharisaical tendencies a few years ago and the acceleration of this uncovering increased after Martin passed away. From time to time I’ll share more. But for now, it all started with a Christian who cussed and my spirit just curdled!! You see, I was introduced to Christ through the Holiness denomination and if you did ANYTHING that wasn’t Godly (by their guidelines), you simply weren’t saved. If you weren’t filled with the Holy Ghost & that with fire with the evidence of speaking in tongues, you weren’t holy enough…you still had things to be delivered from before God would deem you worthy of filling you with His Spirit. You’re a woman & you wear pants? You needed deliverance…and the list goes on of many judgements doled out indicating that you didn’t measure up to the “standard”. This became the lens through which I judged the world…all of it!

Here’s what God shared with ME when I prayed about this person later that evening. “You don’t understand my grace…because if you did you wouldn’t judge some things the way you do.” Thus began the peeling off of layers packed on from years of spiritual oppression. That evening, He began to deconstruct what I had been taught about Him, based on human rules. Now, before some of you get nervous, I’m STILL saved. I’m just allowing God to help me throw aside the extra baggage & get rid of things that have tripped me up so I can run this race more effectively.

My heart’s desire is to know God, to live freely and expansively right here on earth (not just in the sweet by & by), and to encourage others to know God personally.

“The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”

Isaiah 29:13 NIV

This is MY confession.

Make Friends! The Skinny Girl Says So…

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I have a close knit immediate family. While having lunch one Saturday afternoon, the topic of our “circle” or “tribe” came up. They were of the opinion that making friends isn’t easy and while I agree, I also think it’s not AS hard as some may think.

Scripture tells us that if we want to have friends, BE friendly (Proverbs 18:24). So why is it that there are friendly people, who find it hard to make friends? I’ve thought about this over the years as I look at my own network. I love variety. But when I looked at my “tribe”, which includes my spiritual one, they all looked the same…like me. Why is that when I’ve always longed for different cultural connections in my life. Not just being courteous and interacting on a surface level, but having a real connection with someone from another race.

Psychologist, Donn Byrne, did some research that resulted in this:

“…most of us have a need for a logical and consistent view of the world. We tend to favour ideas and beliefs that support and reinforce that consistency. People who agree with us validate our attitudes and so satisfy this need, whereas people who disagree with us tend to stimulate negative feelings – anxiety, confusion and maybe even anger – that lead to repulsion.” (psypost.com)

So I guess, these familiar views are typically shared racially?? Or perhaps, it’s just our desire for familiarity in general be it views, food preferences, social experiences, or whatever. Not sure about that but here are my thoughts. As a Christian, I don’t believe in coincidence so I take meeting people seriously. I believe God is intentional. So when I am blessed to meet someone, God has a plan of some sort. As a Christian, I carry the Gospel – the good news – and have a mandate from God to share it. Not by preaching to everyone I come in contact with but through a smile, a brief conversation, letting others see how He does everyday life with me, sharing my testimony of His hand in my life, etc.

So what I’m saying is this. I look for the ways that God wants to make what I call “creation connections”. He put things, GOOD things, in all of us. Saved and unsaved alike, He made all of us in His image. Just as there is something in me to share with someone, there’s a reciprocal benefit for me, too! Hence, the reason we should look for Him to show up in all the ways He blesses us to relate to others. With God, it’s a win/win.

So what does this have to do with the Skinny Girl, you may ask? Well after lunch that day, we went to a Nail bar for extended girl time and pampering. I was the only one who needed a pedicure so I was essentially separated from my “tribe”. I sat next to a woman and after almost an hour of silence as we were glued to our individual phones, we ended up chatting. She’s a not a Believer. She’s a runner/hiker/biker and is always looking for places to enjoy the great outdoors. The Skinny Girl in me keeps calling me to the trails. Long story short, I introduced her to a place where I go most often, Prayer Mountain. You see what I see? A “creation connection” that never would have been made had I chosen to keep to myself and ignored an opportunity to be friendly at the nail bar.

Peace and Blessings!

So It Begins

I have wrestled with the idea, the thought of blogging about this journey for quite some time now. And every time I sit with the idea, I come up with TONS of reasons why it simply isn’t the right time. I need a logo…I need to watch more YouTube videos and Periscopes of bloggers…I need more time to actually write…I need content because I haven’t officially embraced this whole idea yet…and the list goes on. Then I realized that even my hemming and hawing about getting started was actually part of the process that I could share! I put the ‘PRO’ in procrastinator and it has crippled me in so many ways. So today, in my quest to simultaneously START and combat procrastination, I am lifting the veil – ever so slightly – on the inner workings called ME.

This is not my quest to lose weight. That’s what I said in my first blog that TheSkinnyGirlSpeaks, and in large part, that’s true. But weight loss will be a by-product of my journey of self-discipline as I travel the road that my heavenly Father – Abba, I call Him – predestined for my life. TheSkinnyGirlSpeaks is my guide who will lead me along the path with all the twists and turns that I know are sure to come. These days, however, she’s really pulling me. Actually YANKING me because I’m hesitant to go. I still feel the call that compels me to workout here and there. I even answered when she told me to sign up for a 6k run, well walk for me. But I am realizing that there’s something deeper behind my resistance.

It’s a blessing to know smart people. A few years ago, I was blessed to meet a wonderfully intelligent woman who would be my boss. She was pursuing her doctorate and I had the very fortunate opportunity to glean from her during that time. She introduced me to a study called Immunity to Change. I’ll attempt to regurgitate what I can remember – in an oversimplified explanation. Basically, we all want to improve ourselves but many of us have barriers that prohibit such growth. Typically, the barriers are very valid reasons in our lives. These barriers are called “competing commitments”. These are the little buggers that logically pop up when our introspection begins to lead us down the path of change. You see, most people really don’t like change and the majority of us find it difficult to manage. Which is what many do who actually change – they manage their dislike for change. For others of us, we listen to the competing commitments tell us why it doesn’t make sense to do something radically different since after all, we have enough on our plates. So here’s what it looks like. TheSkinnyGirl says, “You should go to the gym.” But the (valid) competing commitment says, “You know you don’t have time for that. You’re hosting guests this weekend and really need to finish getting the house ready. There are errands to run and so much left to do!” The validity of what needs to be done competes with the thought (going to he gym) that leads to change. Now again, I’m oversimplifying a very complex psychological school of thought so for any academicians reading this, please pardon my naiveté. There’s this whole process that you can be guided through to get to the deep down root of things.

So, what’s the real skinny?? I’m allowing TheSkinnyGirl, aka the Holy Spirit, to speak to me, leading me down into the dirt to find out what’s at the root or the heart of things with me. I may be kicking and screaming now but here’s the thing. I KNOW I’ll not only dis-cover the truth but I’ll also allow the real me to step out from underneath the shell that I’ve comfortably worn my whole life. And I also KNOW that the physical weight I carry now will be shed during the process. There will be wins. There will be losses. But I will stay engaged in this battle and for me that’s a victory all its own.