Getting Fit–Am I There Yet!?

It’s been six months since my last post, and the journey continues. This is the first time in my life I’ve stuck to an exercise routine for over a year. And it feels good. I’ve learned a lot, and I continue to learn.

A year ago when I reached out to an old high school friend. I saw her progress through pictures on social media. And I asked her in a private message how long it took to shed her weight. Her answer was something I did not want to hear. She answered, “Two years.”

Then I reached out to an old neighbor who also posted pictures on social media about her progress. And her answer was the same, “two years.”

Two years seemed like an eternity at the time. I wanted a quick fix. Something we all tend to look for at one point or another when we’re desperate.

There are days when I feel like a little kid on a long road trip, and I find myself asking, “Are we there yet?!” And when I see I’m not, I wonder how much longer it’s going to take.

If you’ve felt like that, too at times. Here are three things that helped me and may help you stay encouraged as you stay focused on the road ahead.

Take pictures.
Sometimes the last thing you want to do is take a picture. But trust me. Those pictures at some point are going to be your biggest encouragement. Because they will show you your progress. If you need encouragement, start taking pictures now for those moments ahead. Your pictures will tell you the truth, and your progress, no matter how small will be your biggest encouragement.

Try your clothes.
You know that old outfit you couldn’t fit into? Save it! And every time you feel discouraged, try it on. If you’re losing inches, you will see the progress and every little bit of change will be your motivation to keep moving forward.

Reach out to a mentor or friend.
If you feel like you’re getting nowhere, reach out to someone who cares. And if you feel like you’re getting somewhere, reach out to someone who cares. Remember the old friend from high school? Sometimes I reach out to her to tell her my progress or just to tell her how much faster I wish things would go. And she cheers me on and makes me feel like I can do it. I don’t even have a close relationship with her, but I know she knows what it feels like and she has a great way of inspiring me through her own progress and experience and her belief in me.

It can be your spouse, your child, your friend, or anyone else. If you can’t think of anyone, try the mirror and you’ll find yourself. You can be your biggest encourager. You know what you need to hear. And you know how to say it. Be gentle. Be your biggest fan. Be your best friend.

This journey is a journey of love. If you haven’t learned to love yourself, you will learn through the process. And the best way to start is by believing in yourself.



THE ESP Process in Getting Fit–Part 3

I got up this morning and went straight to the scale. Yesterday’s weight was 205.6. I was thrilled. I’ve been 207 for months!  Here’s the thing. If you choose to weight train, you will learn quickly that muscle weighs more than fat.  And if you don’t understand or believe that fact, you will see it in your process.

For me, I think the spiritual part of this journey has a lot to do with taking a deeper look inside.

What’s going on in my heart when I see my husband or friend getting results faster than me? What negative emotions are being stirred up and why? It’s embarrassing to admit, but I found myself feeling frustrated at times. I didn’t have to look too far to discover something I didn’t know was there. Jealousy. And I’ve come to realize that jealousy is a form of fear. Feelings of frustration and jealousy have nothing to do with love. Love cheers people on. Love builds them up. Love encourages. And love drives out fear.

The more I think about it, the more ridiculous it sounds. And that’s pretty much what fear does. It bullies you into believing a stupid lie. Fear of failing or not progressing. Fear of not becoming just as good as someone else. If you ride that wave, you’ll find yourself doing what you’re doing out of competition. I notice that when I focus on myself and do what I’m doing out of love, then I am looking through different lenses. Love will allow me to push competition aside and help me do what I’m doing for myself and not for anyone else around me.

If what we do is founded on competition, then two things can happen. One, we can lose our motivation the minute our competitor quits. And two, we can become focused on what others think about us, and that’s a problem. It’s a problem because if we live by what people think of us, we will live to please others. And if we live to please others, we can at one point or another lie to ourselves or them because we will seek to appear to be someone we are not.

As the pounds are being shed so are some of the behaviors and ways of thinking I feed on. If we feed on love and shed the fear, we can find ourselves shedding the weight of burdens that we placed on ourselves.

The spiritual side of this journey is learning to do what I’m doing out of love for myself now instead of doing something to love myself later. I want to love the person I see in the mirror at 207 just as much as I love the person I see at 157. And, that, my friend, is freedom.

The ESP Process in Getting Fit–Part 2

I cried more than once. I guess you can say I was quite frustrated. And it showed. I was frustrated with myself and the long journey ahead because I realized that this was going to take work and it wasn’t going to happen overnight. And now that I’m seeing results, I have to admit that I’m glad it can’t happen overnight because I’m learning lessons throughout the process. I get to take a deeper look at myself in all areas and become aware of my emotions and how I respond to them.

And becoming aware of my emotions and how I respond to them is key to my success.

For example, realizing that this was going to be a process helped me focus on the fact that it would take time. And that taught me that patience was key. One thing I’ve done to encourage myself is to take pictures of my progress. When I have days where I’m feeling down because I know I have a long way to go, I focus on how far I’ve gotten.  We have a choice.  We can moan and groan over how long we have to go or we can smile at how far we’ve come.




The ESP Process in Getting Fit–Part 1

The weight loss journey. What can I say? Or what can’t I say? What a journey it is! I’ve tried it all.  Well, maybe not all.  But trust me. I’ve tried a lot of things out there. Like programs that teach you to follow a point system. Kinda like calorie counting. The difference is you get to know just how many points each food has on your chart.  It’s easier than to memorize the number of calories.  I joined that program more than once. And I know others who have also. We had something in common. We gained all the weight back.  There are others things I’ve tried, but this blog isn’t about that.

Several months ago I cried out to God. It wasn’t the first time I had asked for help.  But I must say, it was a cry that was fueled by the frustration within me.  I was tired. Tired of being overweight. Tired of feeling tired. Tired of failing at trying. Tired of not fitting into clothes. Tired of feeling out of shape. Tired of achy joints. Tired of achy feet. I was tired. Just plain tired.

So. I did what most of us do when we’re tired. I cried. I don’t remember what I said to God or to myself.  I may have just said I was tired. When I was done venting as I cleaned up my room, my eyes were drawn to a page from a magazine that was sitting on my night table. On it were the words, “The passion is the process.”

God has a way of getting our attention. It makes no sense to pay attention to the negative stuff.  He’s not a negative God. He’s a loving God. When I read those words, I knew immediately that my loving heavenly Father was telling me something. He was saying that there was a process.  And I knew there would be a passion birthed in the process.

I am a passionate person. I like to learn.  And my desire is to take whatever I’ve learned to help others. Tis the reason for the blog. This is my journey. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s knowing that getting fit and living a healthy life style has a process in it just like everything else in life.

I call it the ESP process. Don’t worry. This has nothing to do with reading minds. For me, this process has been an Emotional, Spiritual, and Physical process.

And that’s where I’ll start–Emotions!  Emotions are tricky.  They can lie to us. And we can develop unhealthy habits as we respond to different emotions.  Some of it is learned behavior.  Some of it is due to what our parents did for us when we were growing up. Many of us were rewarded with food.  There were good intentions behind it, but somewhere in our world of emotions, we kept a file folder labeled emotions.  And in it are the yummy meals or desserts that had to do with special occasions. That’s just one example.

Then there’s the PMS chocolate savory escape. We’ve heard it more than once. Women giving an excuse for bad choices. I’m not saying that we don’t have such cravings.  I’m just saying that perhaps if we paid more attention to that and why we’re doing things, we’d realize where most of our problems start.

The very first step in the emotional process for me was to cry.  After that I had to make a choice. I had to decide if I was going to allow my sadness, frustration, anger, or discouragement drive me to another piece of chocolate cake or if it was going to drive me to the person I am.  I am a conqueror.  And when I set my mind on the truth that I can overcome, I set myself up for victory by taking the first step in the right direction. That’s when my emotions take the back seat and my determination takes the wheel.

Competition Will Get You Nowhere!

I was 19 or 20 years old. A newlywed. My husband and I had just joined a gym.  There we were working out.  There was only one problem. It was that time of the month for me, and I was feeling pretty tired.  My husband, being the focused strength-driven and inspiring kind of guy that he is, tried hard to keep me lifting weight by yelling whatever he did that day in his gym voice to keep me from giving up.  The more I said, “I can’t,” the more he yelled it.  So. Being the newlywed couple that we were, we decided to just ignore each other in a way.  He felt frustrated because in his eyes I wasn’t trying hard enough. And I felt frustrated because he didn’t understand me.

We then moved our workout to the cardio section. He got on one bike and I got on another.  There was one problem. At minute two (literally) into the exercise I found myself feeling weak.  I remember a girl on the treadmill to my left.  She looked like she had it altogether. And Joe was to my right. As I pedaled, I felt like my legs got weaker and weaker. I didn’t want to say anything to Joe and I most definitely didn’t want to look like a loser to the girl next to me. So. I had a brilliant idea (NOT.) I thought if I could just speed up my pedaling every time I felt weak, I could just keep going and noone would notice my struggle. That way I wouldn’t look like an idiot either.

There was no way that I could keep going.  The more I tried the “brilliant” idea I thought I had, the more my husband (who was not speaking to me) on my right and the girl on my left looked at me funny. I was determined to keep it up.  And I did.  Maybe for just a maximum of two more minutes when suddenly the sounds in the room started to fade.

I was about to pass out. Still trying to fake it and act like I had it altogether, I turned to my husband and with the little bit of strength I had left I said, “When I say go, go.” My lips felt like they were in slow motion. In fact, so did everything else around me. He looked at me and asked, “What?” as he kept pedaling.  That’s when I repeated, “When I say go, go.”  At that point, he realized I was desperate.

We immediately walked out of the gym to splash some water on my face and talk. We both were no longer upset. And my loving husband was apologetic and concerned. Little did I know that there was a trainer who was probably watching us the whole time.

It is a classic and funny story in our family which still makes us laugh every time it’s told.

My point? Competition will get us nowhere. It will cause us to look at others and lose focus on our own journeys.  Good for those who can walk for hours on a treadmill.  And good for those who can lift heavy. And good for those who seem like they are doing everything right and getting results at whatever they are doing.

You are you.  I am me.  We need to get to the point that no matter what we’re surrounded with or who we’re surrounded by, we can’t take our eyes off our own journey.  Because our journey will have a story and song of its own.


Fear, Frogs, and Freedom

I had a dream a few years ago. I was in my Grandma’s house and I went to use the bathroom.  When I looked into the toilet, the water was clear and there was a tiny frog in the water. I quickly ran down to the kitchen and told my mom I was going to the hospital.

I arrived at Kohl’s and found two Pentecostal looking women outside the store.  They were dressed in long skirts and I knew they were Pentecostal from their appearance. When I entered the store, I passed a bedroom display in the store. I passed that to go directly to an area that looked like a hospital X-Ray room.  It had a big X-ray machine.  The technician there said, “This is what is going to tell us how much fear you have.”

When I looked at the X-rays, I could not believe what was before my eyes.  There were several frogs in size order.  From tiny to large. I looked at the X-Ray in disbelief and asked how they all got in there.

Ready for this?  I began to pull the frogs out as if I was giving birth.  I kept digging in and pulling them out.  The first one was red with black spots on it.  It was poisonous.  The others came out. Some in pieces. I reached in desperately trying to get them out. When I looked up, I saw a gentleman dressed in a white jacket.  He was leaning against the wall. I knew it was Jesus.  He had a file folder in his arms against his chest.  With the sweetest smile on his face, he said, “Let the Holy Spirit do the work.”

I woke up crying.  It still makes me teary-eyed sometimes when I think of the gentle smile and response he had toward something that seemed so stressful to me. I grew up with so many fears. Some of it was learned behavior from a mother and grandmother who escaped a communist country.  It was also the product of growing up in a domestic violent home.  Let’s just say I grew up with a lot of drama. Maybe I’ll save that for another blog.  I read somewhere that the meaning of “Kohl” is inner strength to keep going, and I believe that’s what it represented in my dream.

Look what happened in the beginning. In Genesis 3:10 (NIV):

He (Adam) answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

The product of sin is fear and a mindset of being separated from God. Adam hid. Not God. In believing the lies that are produced in fear, we separate ourselves from the truth–from God and from his love for us. Not because he hides himself from us but simply because we hide ourselves from him. Fear has that effect on us.  We fear punishment and rejection. But the more we grow in knowing God’s perfect love for us, the less room there is for fear.

In my dream, there was so much work, effort, frustration and stress in trying to get rid of fears on my own. One of the most comforting things for me was discovering the truth that the battle of fear has already been won. And the Holy Spirit has done and can do what I alone can’t.

2 Corinthians 4:7

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

1 John 4:17-19 (NKJV)
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him[b] because He first loved us.

The good news is, there’s an ear in fear. And I believe that with every temptation to fear, there is a loving Savior with a peaceful answer longing to embrace us. There’s the voice of a gentle and loving Savior saying, “Let the Holy Spirit do the work.” The voice of God will always be a voice that brings peace and calls us to himself.  If what you are hearing in your thoughts produces fear and torment, it’s not from a loving heavenly Father.

May the prayer of our hearts today be, “Lord, help. Help me to realize that whatever I’m dealing with, you’ve already conquered through Jesus. I receive your love for me.  Where your spirit is, there is freedom.  Thank you for setting me free. Help me to hear your voice and recognize it. Help me to run to it and not from it. Help me to know and experience your love in new ways today and for the rest of my life with a desire to live and without the fear of judgment. Help me to embrace you and love you in response to your love for me. Because nothing can separate me from your love.”


I rushed out of the house that day.  I thought I had grabbed two 5 dollar bills from my husband’s wallet. It wasn’t until I paid for breakfast that I realized I had mistakenly grabbed a 50 dollar bill from my husband’s wallet thinking it was a 5.  When lunchtime came around, I ate a 1/2 sandwich that was in my frig.  Then I went to a thrift store in the area.

As soon as I arrived to the lower level of the store, I saw a woman sitting on a table and crying and searching desperately as she emptied her purse saying to a man who was with her, “It’s not here.”

I approached her and asked her if everything was okay.  With tears in her eyes, she explained to me that someone must have stolen her money.  She cried and cried as she kept looking and said to me, “It was $150 to pay my bills, and I don’t have a job.”

50.jpgRealizing at this point that the $50 that I “mistakenly” took out of my husband’s wallet wasn’t really a mistake, I opened my wallet and took out the $50 and told her that I didn’t have $150, but I did have $50 and I wanted her to have them.  As I spoke to her, I felt a tug at my heart for the rest of the money in my wallet which was $6.  So I said to the woman, “Look, I have $6 left, but I want to give you all of what I have.”  Then I asked if I could pray for her.  She accepted. We talked a bit and exchanged numbers.

Later that evening while at another store trying to buy a new pair of shoes, I had a talk with Daddy God and said, “Lord, I’m glad I was able to help that lady and I would do it 10 times over again, but you know how much I needed that money.”

About 10 minutes later, my cell phone rang and when I answered, the lady said, “Jennifer?”  I answered and asked who it was.  She told me it was the woman I had given the money to.  She then said, “I want to give you your money back.”  “How could someone have returned her money?” I thought.  Didn’t she say that there was no identification? Thoughts raced through my mind as suspicion and doubt and fear came knocking.  Who was she?  Is this some sort of trick?  She insisted on returning the money and asked to meet me at the same place.

She then explained to me that someone found her little purse with the cash and the bank slip.  The gentleman took it to her bank and said to someone there that if it were his, he would want someone to do the same.

My heart was touched.  That purse had cash and no identification with it. It was found on the ground of one of the busiest shopping areas in town during the holiday season.

Sometimes we think that in responding in love to help others, that it’s all about the other person. That day my eyes were open to the goodness of God.  I learned that God doesn’t ask us to bless people without blessing us in the process.

Does that mean we should do things expecting something in return?  Never. But it does  mean that when we do things in love, it multiplies.

Two Words

This has been on my heart for two days. Never underestimate the power of simple words.
Before my Grandma had a stroke, we had one of our little talks. Joe called me, and he had two words from the Lord for her. “Ten paz” which means “Peace” or literally means “Have Peace.”

I can’t tell you how simple and powerful those two words were for her.  They were exactly what she needed.  They were simple enough to repeat to her, too during her transition to heaven. I reminded her of those words.  And my Mom posted a piece of paper in her hospital room as an encouragement to her also.

I realize that sometimes it feels good for us to give long prophetic words.  Words that sound deep.  Yes, they’re pretty cool.  But Jesus is simple, too.  When there was a storm, he said, “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39.)

When Jesus raised the girl who was sleeping, he said “Talitha Cumi.”  He told her to arise. (Mark 4:41.)  When he called Lazarus from the dead, he said, “Come out” (John 11:43.)

A man approached my desk recently. It seemed like he needed something. I asked him and he said he just wanted to tell me that he liked my lamp. That simple compliment was timely.  Why?  Because shortly before that, I was encouraging myself to love a difficult person and rest in God’s love for me and her.

A simple compliment about my lamp reminded me of a recent dream I had.  In my dream, someone was turning off my lamp. And each time she did, I immediately turned my lamp on and spoke encouraging words to her. The man’s compliment was a reminder to me about “turning my heart light on” and keeping it on by responding in love.

When I had a chance, I thanked the man for his compliment.  I wondered if this man was prompted by the Holy Spirit to say it. Maybe he knew it and maybe he didn’t.  I didn’t go into much detail.  But I felt the need to tell him that sometimes the simplest words can be the most encouraging.

Years ago, I was in the hospital recovering from gall bladder surgery when I felt a strong urge to say “thank you” to the cleaning lady. And when I did, she returned to the room and told me no one had ever thanked her before.  Those two words touched her heart deeply.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of simple words. It only takes one in love to make a difference.


GoOD-by PerFEction

i was watching a video about writing on social media the other day when I came across a comment from one of the viewers.  She stated that she was discouraged because of others in her writing group who seemed more knowledgeable about grammar and other subjects.  I recognized her name.  The sad Part isn’t so much the fact that she stopped writing or that she left the group (if she left).  What seEmed more disappointing to me was the fact that I knew a tiny bit of her life story. And it’s sad to know that she allowed her own insecurities to stop her from writing.

i under stand what it’s like to want to get eveRything right. To plan the perfect event. write the best book. Get the best grades. Who doesn’t? Don’t we all want to achieve perFection in some way?  It feels good, right?

but. what would happen if we trained ourselves to look bEyond perfection?  What if we embraced imperfeCtion? What if coloring outside the lines was perfect and inside the lines wasn’t?

OR What if we read the word, “Imperfection” as “I’m Perfection.”  Not necessarily to think of ourselves above everyone else, but simply to reach satisfaction with ourselves as we see through differenT lenses in a way that would build our self-confidence and crush our fears of failure.  What if we gave Imperfection a different meaning.

is it poSSible to train ourselveS todo that?  And if so, how?

We can do it by focusing on the beauty of everything we look at. People and things.

sometime last year, my husband bought me a book which was written by someone I admire. The author is down to earth and fun. I was excited. When I opened the book, I noticed a typo. A few weeks later, I noticed more mistakes.

Then sometime shortly after that, I randomly picked a novel in a public place and opened it up to check it out.
Would you believe that out of the 630 pages it had, I opened up to Page 83 and found another typo?  That book had “The New York Times Bestseller” on its front cover.

My point? I was learning a lesson in all of it. One mistake (and possibly others in it) didn’t keep that book from making it as a bestseller or any other book from delivering a message. It taught me not to get so hung up on mistakes (I still need the reminder.) Yes, we should try to do things in excellence. Yes, I’ve probably reviewed my children’s books about 100 times and made 30 changes even after I sold some of the first ones. But let’s not lose our focus. We can’t allow the fear of making a mistake to paralyze us.

The other night I read a Dr. Seuss book to my daughter.  It was a book I had read several times before, but I noticed something.  I noticed that Dr. Seuss repeated a few lines in it. Maybe that was intentional.  Maybe not.  And then I noticed something else–a word which was spelled differently than the way most people would write it.

Did the famous Dr. Seuss have a typo in his book? Don’t his BOOks seem perfect to those of us who love them and his style?  They make us smile and they make us laugh.  They are his, and they are perfect just the way they are.  Why?  Because they are all part of his work of art.

And that’s the point of my blog today. there will always be MIStakeS.  Or maybe what seems like a mistake is simply a unique way of doing something.

Maybe that’s why bees sting? Or maybe that’s why moths exist. Maybe that’s why a butterfly starts out as a caterpillar. I don’t know. All I know is that the Creator of the Universe, my Heavenly Father made some things, too that perhaps to us don’t make sense and there’s so much PERFECTION in all of it.

Let me tell you a secret.  This is one of the reasons why I loved illustrating my children’s books. I see perfection in children’s art. As a mother of four, I’ve learned that perfection is receiving cards from my children with backward letters in different sizes and stick figures with tiny heads and long legs.  Scribble makes me smile.   I see freedom in it.  An expression of innocence.  All of it to me is perfect.  The misspelled words make it extra special.

My first book’s cover which is now part of a 5 book series was an experiment we fell in love with which was led by our three children (ages 4 through 12.)
cover for chosencover for book for foster bigger FINAL FOR SURE

Maybe if we look at anything we do as art, we will experience a new freedom. The same freedom of a child.  A child who doesn’t care about what people think.  A child who knows a story and wants to tell it his way.

yES, THIS blog has a bunch of typOOs, but you got the message.  And that’s my point. An imperfect blog had a message to deliver.


A Walk Down Memory Lane

Today, I had a flashback.  I was in the elevator when I remembered the first time I asked God for my job.  And suddenly I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude.  I realize we all have those moments when we wake up and need to motivate ourselves.  It happens.  But what would happen if we took the time to remember the times that made us smile.

There’s something that happens when you take a walk down memory lane.

Ask any married couple how they fell in love or how they met each other, and you’ll see a smile as they walk down memory lane.

Ask a mother who is struggling with understanding her teenager how she felt when her baby was born, and you’ll see a smile as she walks down memory lane.

Ask a traveler sitting in his cubicle at work to tell you about his vacation, and you’ll see a smile as he walks down memory lane.

Ask an athlete how he felt when he received his first award, and you’ll see his smile as he walks down memory lane.

What can you think about today that can make you smile?  Maybe you’ll be able to answer that question once you’ve walked down memory lane.

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