What a Fitness Class Taught Me

About 18 months ago I walked into a group fitness room at the Y scared out of my mind. It’s a source of anxiety for me to try something new like that alone. But I thought that January was a good time to try something out since there would more than likely be other people checking out group fitness classes.

If you know anything about me or have read this blog any over those last 18 months I have made mention of that fitness class, because it’s been a constant since that time. I have been doing POUND for that long but even more than that, I have developed friendships that go beyond a class at the Y. Female friendships y’all. Which you know is a struggle for me in many ways as well.

 

But these women, well they motivate, support, challenge and encourage like no other women I know. We talk all kinds of life stuff when we can catch our breath, we choose to spend time with one another outside of the gym, and we yell at each other when we don’t show up at the gym (hi, I got a barrage of poo emojis sent to me because I skipped last week).

But most of all, walking into that class has brought me confidence in being me. In seeing that I am more than an elliptical hugging introvert. That my body can and will go further than I set it’s limitations to be. That it does not matter what I look like when I enter, but how I feel when I leave (except for last night and “hot POUND” as we called it). It’s about knowing I can show up and do, or sit back and complain. It is about opening up myself to more by just showing up and being willing. It’s about looking to others to join you on that journey, and wanting other women to know what it feels like to be welcomed.

So this is my ode to POUND today, and the people it has brought into my life, and the ways it’s made me stronger beyond just a physical means. It’s the Rise of the Rebel, and boy are we about that rebel life ’round here.

Swipe Right to Friend: A Review

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Y’all, I have to say that I haven’t been very good with the female friendships in my life. I am more prone to male friendships over the years, as the guys I was close with in college can attest (except for Brooke and Angela). I found that women often brought drama and I wanted as far away from it as possible, still do.

As I have gotten older though I have found that I crave female friendships, women to connect with and talk with. There are certain things that frankly I just cannot with men-and honestly, should not. So I dug into Never Unfriended from Lisa-Jo Baker, her newest out from B&H Publishing over the last couple of weeks.

This book? Well I was prepared to think it was another in a line of gushy women-love books for believers. I was prepped to read alot of fluff and not much content, and oft mis-contextualized Scripture thrown in for good measure. But that was not the case y’all.

It chronicles Lisa-Jo’s own walk in female friendships, starting first with what we fear about them. Chapters dig into the realities of life lived outside of a computer/phone screen in real life with women around us. What holds us back from them, and what keeps us talking about them long after they’ve departed.

“For better or worse, female friendships take courage to start and courage to maintain.” (pg. 43)

She walks you through being the new girl, and y’all, we will always be the new girl at some point. And we’ll also be the girl to include the new girl. Always.

As you dig deeper into this book you’ll find sections on what you can do about your friendships and what you cannot do. We have to embrace both, as Lisa-Jo points out. There are points of application in some areas, and points to pray and seek further wisdom on. There were points where I had to put down the book and reflect on friendships I had let go of and ones I had so desperately clung to when I shouldn’t have.

This book is a much needed resource for women today. It highlights key areas I see continuously besieging friendships I am in, and those I am on the fringes of. You may disagree with her on some points, but allow the Holy Spirit to convict you as you read as well, opening up the space you have guarded off due to broken trust and hurt in past relationships. I highly recommend this book for women in a single context. I wouldn’t encourage a group study on this per say, as you need space to solely process and work through some areas she brings up…or maybe that was just me.

At the end you’ll find where you can start on never being unfriended, but you already have if you’ve picked up this book. Lisa-Jo provides more than platitudes with this book, she provides opportunities for women to connect and grow in community in real-life friendships, not the ones we see plaguing our jealous hearts across Instagram and Pinterest.


In exchange for this review, a free copy of the book was provided by the publisher, B&H. You can pick up this book at LifeWay Christian Stores or on their website, as well as other retailers nationwide.

The Death of a Friendship

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For almost the last year I have been grieving the gradual death of a friendship, trying as I might to revive something that just is flat out dead. The reality of that death hit me hard this weekend, much like any death would. I had to come to the very real and grave decision to let this friendship die. Several friends I have discussed this with over the course of the year were encouraging and supportive, where this friendship had been concerned, allowing me to talk through it and fight to sustain it.

We don’t talk much about this really, as we grow more into being seen as having all these friendships, connections and followers in our social media world. I see books pouring out about connection and engagement, craving it with one another. That is good y’all, I really do champion that. But I think we forget the ugly side of it too, that some friendships do die, even after years of relational contact. Some glide away, rolling in and out like the tide on a lazy day at the beach.

But some? Well you find yourself grieving and worrying, pouring too much and not enough into, and finding yourself being torn further by keeping them alive and sustaining them. But it must be done. Some times that means we are the ones who have to kill it. We have to put it down to put it out of it’s misery, and quite possibly our own. You shouldn’t be filled with regret after leaving time with that friend, ever. That’s not a friendship worth keeping alive.

If I am filled with regret after time spent with this friend, why do I continue to allow this friendship to stay alive?

That’s the question I had to ask myself yesterday. It’s the one I have consistently had to ask myself over the last year of seeing this friendship die and going back with the paddles to bring it back to life. Dear friends would say, “It’s for the best, let it die.” I would champion on, trying to find redemption, pointing to times where encouragement and respect were at the forefront. But those snippets were small and distant the longer this friendship continued on life support.

The greatest gift we can give ourselves is the ability to grieve something like this, and then move forward from it. Just as I talked about One Way Friendships before, I think we have to be a friend to ourselves first in order to realize that some deaths are inevitable in friendships, and that we can be better from it. I saw that over the course of this year I have forfeited some of my very own words, truth and love in order to give life to a friendship that should have had the plug pulled.

Grieve the loss, but don’t let the nostalgia of a seasonal friendship deceive you into thinking it’s a lifelong one. As has been said before, some friends are here for a reason, others for a season, and still others for a lifetime. But for our own good, and the good of our other friendships, don’t try to make one of those into something are not. Allow them to die, grieve the loss, and forge into relationships meant for you in your season, for whatever reason, and pouring into those lifelong ones which enjoy all the stages of life, even the grieving of death.

Early Mornings, Fear and Encouragement

I greeted Friday with a dose of early morning reading…and by early I mean 3:30am.

I know, right?

I have been both actively and passively avoiding my own passion this year if I am honest, and what are Fridays good for if not honesty? Do you ever do that?

You know deep down you are passionate about a thing, a calling, a hobby, a goal, something. You keep getting pulled right back to it even when you think you’re over it. Yes I have been writing here, but I have neglected the book I have outlined and worked on chapters sporadically on for years.

I told myself 2017 would be the year it got finished, that no matter what came from it and where my heart and God’s will aligned on it, it would be finished. It would get shipped, as Seth Godin likes to say.

But that’s not been the case. I actively chose other projects that led me further from working on it. I pursued excuses of living situation, computer malfunctions and further research. I pointed to my complete lack of experience and place at the table. I know I have talked about disobedience and the like over the last few weeks, but honestly it’s like choosing to not parent. To sit idly by on the phone, the computer, the tv or any number of other things instead of tending to a child.

So at 4am this morning I ran across this quote in a book I recently received (and y’all if you have one person who says “GO DO THIS.” you are far more blessed than you realize…and I am super thankful for the quiet encouragement of a person when I haven’t really believed I had it in me to do this)…it’s from Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles: 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Y’all….when we play small we tell others it’s okay to be small, to live in excuses and be okay with being less than. OUCH. and WOW.

This kicked my tail, and I keep coming back to it this morning over and over. Seeing just how much we fear how awesome we truly are instead of how lacking we are not. Maybe today you need to shine, just like I need to step fully into light that’s been cast, to finish and be fully who I have prayed and sought counsel on being-a writer with a finished book.

Let’s liberate the fear of who we think we aren’t and be who we truly are…AWESOME. And maybe that means wakeups at 4am, encouraging those you know who haven’t realized the fear they are living in, or it means putting all the excuses and distractions aside to do that thing.

 Friendships and Singles

As a single lady it’s often hard to define the relationships I have outside of marital status with certain friends. “Yeah, he’s my friend, and that’s his wife.” When you are single in your 30’s and beyond, it becomes an interesting thing to have friendships that aren’t in couples or defined by the status of ones romantic relationships. It becomes harder for many to navigate the boundaries (or even know what they are) within the confines of friendships of the opposite sex. 

Recently I read this great article from Paul Maxwell that does one of the best jobs I’ve seen outside of Gary Thomas’s Boundaries books in laying out some specific parameters and cautions, as well as benefits in being friends with the opposite sex. 

Yes, he defines it in Christian terms, but I do think across the board this applies to any friendship between men and women. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below on this topic we often shy away from in Christian circles because it’s just not something we navigate well-at least not from lack of trying…

What if Ruth was your call to ministry? To minister to other women, to hearts that were seeing Christ in you? 

I’m reading through the familiar story of her life with a new perspective, new experiences and a God who whispers His truth revealing into my heart at just the right moment…

For me it’s not about Boaz, the widowing or the marriage bond of in-laws. It’s about the women, Naomi especially. God chose to work in her, setting her in a foreign land and then losing the things that would have defined her in context of her land and time. The same we do here, now. Husbands. Children. She was those things. And then she wasn’t.

She was the living God lived out to Orpah and Ruth. She was the God of Israel to women of Moab. One responded and one didn’t. One looked to her life, her God and wanted it so much so that she abandoned all she knew to cling to Naomi, to be in the presence of the God she saw in her. The other went back to what she knew, and we aren’t really sure of her story after that.

But we see the impact of Naomi, of her story. Even in her bitterness she didn’t stray from God. She oversaw her daughter in law, now calling her daughter. She cared for her and her future, a future that didn’t look so great but only asked for faith. Faith in the God Who took her to Moab complete and brought her back empty. Naomi’s faith shone through, even as Ruth sought to glean from a harvest. A harvest God had provided, and knew long before we be pivotal in the story of the lineage of Christ.

Ruth was exercising faith in the simple things because she had seen it lived out by Naomi throughout the good and the very bad. She simply asked to collect God’s provision, and Naomi encouraged her to go and do.

I cannot help but be joyful at this new perspective, of Naomi’s ministry to Ruth, to living out the God of Israel before women who were foreigners, who ended up being family. She loved and lived, even in bad circumstances. She mentored and fostered love in the household in order to bring about God’s provision that He set about far before Naomi could fathom.

I don’t know about you, but it makes me realize the relationships we have with other women is pivotal to our own with Christ. God will use even the bad for His glory and our good. He’s in the small, He provides, if we but be obedient in the simple, the daily steps of faith. It’s a call to minister even when we don’t feel like we can, when we don’t see how any good will come of it, and to allow those women into our lives who desperately want the Jesus they see in us.

 

Well Giddy On Up: A Book Review

I took a bit of a sabbatical from book reviewing for about six weeks this summer. I have read (to date) 26 books since January 1, as my goal for 35 by December 31 looks obtainable. But I had been reading quite a bit on Christian living, dating and leadership over the last few months that I felt the need to breathe and dig in to some candy for my brain.

In doing so, I have consumed far too much fiction in six weeks. I’m currently in the middle of Zoo by James Patterson and will begin the transition back to more focused reading for the fall. I did take some time to read the new book out from Sophie Hudson, better known as BooMama, called Giddy Up, Eunice.

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In reading this book, it feels like you are sitting with Sophie chatting. She’s sharing her stories and thoughts on women of the Bible. Their relationships, how they cared and mentored one another, and how that translates to our relationships now as women in the church (and mostly outside of it).

There were times when I had to put the book away as I felt the tug of a needed relationship in my life that had gone uncultivated. Or when I felt convicted that I wasn’t giving attention and support to women all around me in our relationships. Sophie can catch you right where you are at, and do so unsuspectingly.

This is a great read for women in their 20’s and up as a means of guiding relationships as peers, mentors, and anything in between. It’s a call to women to be in fellowship and see first hand what that looks like from the women in the Bible who’ve gone before in the Lord and shown us the way. Our circumstances may not be in the same context, but here we are thousands of years later, still looking around at the women of our church for community.

It’s something that has gotten after my heart this summer and challenges me to pursue engaging more in some relationships, trusting others that I felt were going distant, and leaning into unsuspecting areas to foster relationships I hadn’t considered. Sophie’s book gives you thoughts to ponder and some applicable steps to take, as she guides you through real life stories from her own eyes and heart.

I highly recommend this book for women’s ministers, small group leaders, Sunday School teachers, basically any female who has friendships with any other females in their lives. It’s something that can be used as a guide, a resource, and even a teaching platform of sorts. Whether you are just coming to the table of Christian friendships, or you’ve been here a long while, we need you because as Sophie says, “We need each other.”


In exchange for this review I received the book at zero cost from B&H Publishing.