A big warm welcome

Sorry I missed you yesterday. I was busy meeting MY BRAND NEW NIECE!

My sister went into labor Saturday night, so Sunday morning I frantically worked everything out to spontaneously hit the road (BIG thanks to everyone who helped me pull that off!)  I arrived in Buffalo just in time for her first hours and to spend the night with my super hero sister before turning around and coming right back.

I am so glad I did.

Here she is, Miss Kinsley Marie.

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Don’t let the first picture fool you, she loves the swaddle.

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Can you believe all that hair?

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She is perfect friends. She is strong willed like her mama and she loves to cuddle. I just want to eat her. So. In. LOVE!

& My sister, I am in complete awe. She is a MOM and she is kicking butt at her first days on the job! She is so brave, so calm even through the screams. Gosh I am so proud and my little niece is so darn lucky.

13-fav-13Kinsley looks just like her mama am I right?

 

Friday Finds 4.21.17

Friday, friday, friday friends!! I’ve got a busy Saturday checking out a seminary class and going into the city for a concert.

Hubby has grad school this weekend so Sunday will grant me some alone time to recover and work on some things.

Whats on your calendar for the weekend?

Here are a few things from the web;

  1. All the feels from this one, such a powerful picture.
  2. My name is Megan and I may be addicted to my phone, but not for long.
  3. Excuse me while I mop up all the drool.
  4. Loving this list of the most underrated places in every state. So nice to remind the world that there is more to New York than New York City and to New Jersey the dirty Jerz as seen on TV. Do you agree?
  5. This could be very helpful.

An Invitation

Hey there friends. It is workout Wednesday. Yet here I am without a workout. I actually filmed one for you but I am still learning the camera and the lighting was kind of a mess, so I will try again next week.

I had planned on just skipping a Wednesday post entirely this week, but I was doing a little home workout and had an idea that I just couldn’t shake.

Of course it’s super vulnerable and totally scary. I guess that’s been the story of this blog so far, so I suppose I’ll just stick with it.

Here’s the thing, I have called this The Graceful Growing; I have talked about us going on a journey together, growing together, trying new things and navigate this process together, right? I was realizing though that as far as the fitness component of this growing, I have not invited you into the journey, like into the nitty gritty of it. Sure its pretty darn vulnerable to post videos of myself working out for the world to see, and that’s an invitation to move together. I have been pretty open about where I am coming from and some of my struggles, and that’s an invitation to be open with one another.  

But I  am feeling like there is more, and that maybe letting you in on the more will be a blessing for both of us.

See I am very much still on a journey here. In fact this past year has me feeling as though I am restarting entirely with fitness. I transitioned into a new job and a new town (without a gym membership) and totally let fitness hit the back burner (and dang it is incredible how quickly a year can go by). That started the vicious cycle of not working out →  not sleeping well → being too tired to work out. Oh and don’t forget the other one; not working out → feeling depressed → negative self talk “why bother to work out, you’re a quitter anyway / you won’t reach your goals /  all the Eeyore things.”

I am desperately wanting to step out off this merry-go-round friends. There was a time when I was so encouraged by the community that a fitness practice could bring. There was a time where I felt fired up about sharing that. There was a time when I felt so empowered by what my body could do and by the truth that I could work hard and achieve something I wanted. I want that back, all of that. Community, calling, empowerment. I think this idea might help me get there, and might help you reach your own goals if you decide you want to join me.

Remember when we talked personality a few weeks ago? I told you that I am an obliger, which means I am great at meeting external expectations, but not so great at meeting internal ones (hence no gym membership has been my undoing). The way, then, for me to meet inner expectations is to make them external, to ask for accountability. So here I am, straight up asking for it.

The idea is this; I want to tell you what my goals are, as raw as I can be, in writing on the blog where it cannot be taken back. I want to tell you all the ways I plan to reach those goals, and how I will be accountable to doing what I say. Would you be willing to hold me up? Would you mind cheering me on?

Here is the best and most important part though, if you would come along, we can get some of that community that got me excited about fitness in the first place. We may not be able to exercise together or meet up face to face to talk about how we are doing (gah I wish we could), but we can use this wonderful world of the internet to get a little closer. We can become a community seeking to reach our goals together. I’ll tell you my goals and plans, and if your goals look like mine, email me and do it with me! If your goals look a little different, email me what yours are and we can come up with something together and I will hold you up.

This will make more sense if I tell you what I am doing huh? This is what I am thinking for the next 30 days (Starting on Monday 😜) …

The goals:

  • Get back what this year has lost, specifically return to a place where I would be comfortable taking or leading a group fitness class
  • Lose weight
  • Work on bad eating habits
  • Love myself

The action plan:

  • Work out at 4-5 days a week (emphasize HIIT training to regain stamina)
  • Practice mindful eating and commit to exercising
  • Whole30 / Keto
  • Prayer, positivity, podcasts?

The accountability plan:

  • Instagram story / post workouts
  • A before and after post on the blog & weekly progress pictures and weigh ins (in a private group for people who want to join).
  • I will follow whole30 protocol and keep notes on how I am feeling to actually determine and pay attention to what works and what does not. I will share some of the highlights in the weekly weigh ins and in the final before and after.
  • I will share weekly positivity either of my own, or from others and actively prayer journal through this process (ideally daily but at least once a week)

 

I need to disclaimer real quick (I know this is a long post, thanks for bearing with me); I wrestled quite a bit with this idea, because I am very fearful of this being perceived wrongly or being a trigger for some of you out there. This is about more than just the way I (or you) look, it’s about reclaiming what makes me feel best, what helps me feel like my best self. For me at this time, that means reclaiming fitness and dropping some weight that depression and ignoring my body packed on. It’s not about putting attention on myself, but about inspiring others and practicing what I preach by asking for help because I need it. It’s not about shame or reaching what the world says is an “ideal body.” I say all that to beg you, if this is a trigger for you, please feel free to ignore these posts. And while we are at it, accountability is more than just having you keep me going toward what I want, I would love to hear from you if you think I need some balance here.

 

If you have questions or want to join me, send me an email over in the contact section. If enough of us want to do this together (remember it’s about being accountable to any goals, not just ones like mine) I will create a private group (probably on Facebook) for what we may not be ready to share with all of the social media world.
Will you take my hand? Can’t wait to hear your thoughts and to dive into this together.

Risen Indeed

Hello there! I am climbing out from behind the mountains of laundry after a wonderful week off. Why does it seem like you end up with way more dirty clothes after a week of vacation than you do in a regular week?

Spring break was great, so so great. I considered telling you all about it today, but it has to wait, because yesterday was my favorite day of the year. Resurrection Day. Easter Sunday. Christian super-bowl as Hubby likes to say.

I love the way that Easter and spring come in holding hands. It fills my bones with a feeling of freshness, of life bursting from what once was dead, of light and warmth pushing through the cold darkness of winter.

Can you feel it too? When you breath in deep? When you smell the budding flowers? When you hear the birds singing? When the wind blows sweet and warm through fresh green leaves?

I am not the biggest fan of winter (read: absolutely hate it). The cold is crippling, the long hours of darkness, being cooped up inside, it all makes me pretty cranky. It is way too easy for me to feel like winter has no purpose, to want to rush out of it and get to the sweet stuff of spring.

This year, this celebration of Resurrection Sunday has me thinking though. At the serviced Hubby and I went to, we talked about all that the Romans did to assure that Jesus was dead. In Matthew the retelling goes like this;

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate.  “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’  So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

The Romans placed the official seal, declaring Jesus absolutely, no doubt about it dead. They made sure there would be no more questions by having the tomb guarded.

I can only imagine that Friday, each breath coming with the stinging sharp feeling of frigid winter. Hopes and dreams laid into cold dark ground.

But Sunday. In that beautiful sweet spring breathing day, all those details set to insure Jesus was truly dead, that no one could hide his body and make up a story, those precise things meant to keep Christ dead, to deny the miraculous movement of God, were the things that declared him without a doubt alive, miraculously alive.

At the same time that the Mary’s were telling the disciples what they had seen, the Roman guards went to tell their side of things;

While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened.  When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’  If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”  So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.”

 How interesting that the chief priests did not doubt what the soldiers had said. In fact, they believed so much, that they immediately made plans to cover it up. Who could deny what the Romans had declared without a doubt true? How could they not believe these soldiers whose lives were at stake if they failed their mission?

All those things meant to keep Jesus dead were exactly what proved He was truly alive.

Perhaps all the things meant to keep you dead, to make you question if God has left you, may be the same things that will prove you are alive, that He is doing something great in you.

All the dead and cold and wrestling  and waiting of winter prepares the earth for the beauty and blooming of spring. But you can’t have one without the other can you?

Today I am rejoicing. I am remembering again (because somehow this is a lesson I resist over and over) that winter is not wasted. The beauty of spring is a sweet salve for my soul, but without winter there is no breakthrough. If I am honest, thats the beauty that really changes me, that really makes me pay attention. That hard fought, left for dead but came back against great odds kind of beauty. The kind of beauty that takes time to grow deep and strong roots through that cold dead seeming winter.

Do you feel it breaking too? The winter shaking off your soul? Do you see the things you felt were dead that Jesus is redeeming? Do you taste spring rising up in you? Mmm, me too friend, and its so sweet.

 

 

Friday Finds 4.7.17

Its FRIDAY! This Friday is particularly exciting because when that 5 o’clock bell rings I am officially on SPRING BREAK! For the sake of honesty, I miss my littles when I have that much time off, but we will be headed to Michigan to spend some sweet time with my brother and sister in law. Excited does not even cover it friends.

  
two gifs excited ya’ll.

 

What did you come across on the web this week? Here are a few fun things I came across

  1. If your like me and always feel like you need to be more, come take a big deep breath with me.
  2. Don’t be fooled, this is about way more than fitness. If your in need of some inspiration and challenging insight, go listen.
  3. Trying to create new habits? Try this.
  4. Has anyone read Uninvited? The description has me like 🙋🏻🙋🏻🙋🏻
  5. Time to decorate for spring!

All Things Considered

I have been thinking a lot about trust lately.

I started to mention on Monday that Hubby and I are coming into another season of transition. Gosh, if I am honest, it feels like we have been transitioning ever since we got married. I suppose in some way or another we always have been. New marriage, moving, graduating college, new jobs, moving, new church, moving, church planting, moving (we have moved every year the last 5 years, so no exaggeration in that repetition).

Maybe all of us are transitioning somewhere? Maybe if we are living intentionally and/or paying attention there is always some kind of transition happening to us? Maybe, like us, its moving, or changing jobs, yourself or your children aging, relationships changing.

This season of transition, like most of them, brings with it many unknowns, so many options, decisions, and dreams to consider.

Remember that personality talk last week? One personality trait that Hubby and I share in outstanding measure is being EXTREME planners. Like, we are the type to think “if this person responds this way here is what we will do, but if they do this then we will handle it like this.” We consider all scenarios, all possible outcomes, all. the. things.

As we have been praying about and considering all thats before us in this next year, all the transition, something in me has been pushing back on all that planning. Not that planning is wrong, certainly being organized and prepared has its benefits. Not the planning itself I suppose, but I have been challenged in my heart to pay a bit more attention to why I am making some of those plans.

I know for me, I consider all the scenarios, make all the plans, to make sure I am prepared for the worst. What has been stirring in me lately is that those considerations often aren’t coming from a place trust at all, in fact just the opposite. I want to have everything in line, controlled, because I do not trust that God can control it himself.

I know, I know. He is the God of the universe *, He breathes stars into existence*, with a puff of his NOSE He splits oceans apart*, He literally holds the world together *. But if I am honest, and maybe if you are too, it is easy to believe in this macro level stuff, its the day to day, little-ole-me stuff thats a heck of a lot harder.

Perhaps its not that I don’t believe God is in control, but what I actually struggle to believe is that He is good.

Like, when Hubby and I plan to take a risk, we always make sure we have a fall back plan. Sure we believe God is in control, but not that He is good enough to keep our feet from slipping *, or to provide for our needs *.

Or when I get down in the dumps about all the things I have had to (or may have to) sacrifice this side of heaven, like family, friends, comfortability. Sure I would give you the party line “God is in control,” but in the days (sometimes weeks, sometimes months) that I let it suck me down a deep pit, or when I plan for the future expecting that lack to continue, what I am really saying is “God is not good enough to make up the difference. God takes away, but He does not give, at least not to me.”

Or even just simply tossing and turning over every decision, and fearing making the wrong one. What we are saying is straight up “God I don’t believe you are in control and I do not believe that your goodness will keep me from making a wrong choice.”

I know I am not alone here.

In these days of transition though, with the sweet gentle prompting of the Holy Spirit, I am trying something new. See, I know I cant just turn off years of over calculating, not trusting or believing in Gods goodness, but what I can do is  “take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. *

When my mind wants me to believe that I have sacrificed for nothing, I will remind myself of what is true; that when God takes, He is faithful to return twofold what has been lost, like He did for Job *. I will remember that He is not unjust, that He sees the work done on behalf of his people * . I will tell myself not to grow weary of doing good, for when the time is right, I will reap a great harvest if I don’t give up *.

When I fear the future, when I can’t stop pondering the “what-if’s” I will take a moment to remember that God is a good and loving father * *, that He is for me, that He delights in showing mercy *, that He is not looking to confuse * us or set us up to fail or fall *, He makes the path we walk straight *. In fact, He holds me up in his right hand *, He rejoices over me with song *.

This work of taking thoughts captive is hard, it requires so much attention and diligence. But I am beginning to realize that trying to control and manipulate is even harder. Sure, there are many reasons I could question or doubt Gods goodness, but oh friend, there are so so many more reasons to believe it. I want to take up Bill Johnson’s call  to “. . .never sacrifice what you know about God to the questions that remain unanswered.” I know He is good, He has said so, He has proved it. Will you believe with me?

March Heart to Heart

Woah. April has arrived and it just barely feels like spring here. I am going to let the little hint of warm in the air today sway me to grab some iced coffee while we chat. Come join me!

March has been a rollercoaster.

The Highs

Birthday Celebrations
My birthday is the beginning of the month and that was without a doubt the highlight of March. Maybe you experience the same thing, but I find that all the kind words and encouragement I receive on my birthday just about fuels me for the rest of the year. I hope I have already said so, but thank you friend, for making it so special.

Hubby is an incredible gift giver, every year he manages to figure out exactly what I need and always delivers and then some. This year, we went on a little weekend away to rest, dream, pray, and enjoy sweet time with one of my dearest friends. It was a dream.

We took a 3 hour drive to Lancaster Pennsylvania and stayed at the stunning Arts Hotel.  IMG_5426IMG_5366

The room was stunning, exposed brick, wood beams, a hipsters dream (& I am not ashamed to say I LOVED it). The building was once a tobacco warehouse, then a paper and twine warehouse. The place has now found good use as a part hotel, part art gallery. The halls are lined with stunning art pieces and the rooms are filled with more.  The guestbook in each room was a drawing pad to leave behind your own artwork, and the lobby had an album of collections from those books. I loved all the carefully considered artistic details.

If I had to give one bit of #realtalk here, I was a bit heartbroken over the hotel breakfast. I know, I know, you should never have high hopes for a hotel breakfast, but Lancaster is a coffee /  food lovers DREAM, and it is a city beautifully full of local pride. I guess I had anticipated a place with such well curated Lancaster artistic flair to have some local love in the breakfast, you know? Like give me all the Passenger coffee, or Square One, give me all. of. it. Listen though, it is ABSOLUTELY worth it to stay when you visit, but definitely go out for breakfast (maybe I’ll do a future post on our favorite spots in Lancaster 🤔).

We spent so much time just soaking in the city! Did I mention the Arts Hotel is perfectly located within walking distance of downtown Lancaster City? Right next door we grabbed lunch and beers at The Fridge. Friends, the pizza was so good we ate it before I remembered to take a picture. They also feature an impressive display of beers from all over. I enjoyed myself, but the Hubby was in heaven.

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We roamed around, drank so much coffee, and enjoyed some chess in the park.

Then my sweet friend SPOILED us with an incredible dinner. The place was called Ma(i)son, and I cant recommend it highly enough. Its a cozy farm-to-table BYO french restaurant. I have dreamed about the food friend, it was that good. IMG_5375IMG_5376IMG_5380

Lets be honest though, any meal shared in such sweet company is a dream.
I came home feeling so loved, so rested and full of hope for 26!

90’s night
Another dear friend celebrates her birthday at the end of the month. It turns out Just Jakes, a bar in our town, was hosting a 90’s cover band on her actual birthday night! So she got a whole bunch of friends together, we ordered take out to my place (in lieu of waiting THREE HOURS for a table at Cuban Pete’s, thank goodness they do take out) before and then hit the bar! I will readily admit I am a bit of a noob as far as the bar thing goes, and crowds aren’t totally my jam, but I had an incredible time, like 90’s music people, reliving childhood as an adult with a splash of alcohol, whats not to love?

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Blood:Water
We raised close to $300 for Blood:Water and upped our hydration this month!

New Camera
My hubby is insane / wonderful / thoughtful / generous / supportive and got me a new camera for the blog!! Watch out for some much improved quality around these parts.

The lows

Christ Central 
Some of you know hubby and I have been a part of a wonderful church in Brooklyn for the last few years. When we had originally started, we had the intention of moving there, but God made it clear to us that was not His plan. After plugging in from afar these past few years, we finally had to make the hard decision to listen to the Lord and move on to something closer to home. The people in that church are family to us, and making that call was painful, but we feel so much leading from God and so much peace, hope, and anticipation for the future.

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all. the. snow.

Like, it was march. Come on.

this is actual footage of an actual storm in mid march.

What I read:

Jesus Feminist – Sarah Bessey I can not recommend this book enough. Sarah is such a gracious writer and deals with what is often a difficult and divisive topic with so much tenderness and kindness, but without holding back. Get yourself a copy, give one to a friend. Seriously.

God is Good: He’s Better Than You Think Bill Johnson always challenges me to think outside the boxes I have fashioned for God. This book was a great wake up call for me to recognize all the places I have tames God’s goodness because of my experience. Let me tell you, I have been missing out on so much of the blessings that surround me because of my broken understanding of God, and I feel like my path has been rerouted in the best way.

In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware I always try to have one fiction book in the rotation for the month. This psychological thriller was a page turner, as all the best ones are. I will say it was very typical of the genre, but for the sake of some light entertainment, it did the trick.

 

What I watched:

Parks and Recreation : I know, seriously. It took hubby and I this long to finally watch, and we are loving it.
A United Kingdom There is an awesome movie theater just a ten minute walk from our apartment. We try to catch a movie at least once a month, and for March I chose A United Kingdom. It tells the story of an African king who married an English woman. I was excited to see an interracial relationship story from such a unique perspective. The film was well done, though I would have loved to be let in on more of the inner thoughts and workings of the couple.

What I listened to:

Ed Sheeran that new album though. Its just so catchy and so. good.
Twin Forks middle school favorite turned new adult favorite. Chris Carrabba I’ll shamelessly love you forever.

What I am looking forward to:

SPRING BREAK BABY! The second week of April is our spring break. We have plans to visit Hubby’s brother and Sister-in-law in Michigan. WOOT WOOT!

BABY BABY BABY!! Guys, my sister is ready to pop!

Retreat weekend : the end of this month we will be going to a prophetic retreat weekend in New Hampshire. Need I say more?

 

How was your March? Are you so ready for some more spring? What are you looking forward to this month?

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