Experiencing Life

Experiencing Life

December 22 always seems to come so quickly every year. Not only is my birthday close to Christmas, but it is also very close to the new year. I can’t help but look back on this past year and think of all the exciting adventures, but also the really challenging lessons I’ve faced.

On the outside looking in, it may seem like I have it “all together” or that I’m “always positive”, but that is definitely not the case. I found myself on the floor of my room a lot this year asking God if He could hear me. In the midst of all the new blessings in my life and exciting doors opening, I have shed more tears of confusion, worry, and anxiety. There have been plenty of times where I have let out huge sighs of frustration towards God. I felt as though he had gone dormant.

To be honest, I could NOT put my finger on it. It’s not like I could name one exact thing that would make me “feel” better. Perfect job, no. Relationship, no. Own home, no. New car, no. More friends, no (although I love friends!). More money, no. More devotions and sermons, no. More followers, no. More listeners, no. More guests for podcast, no. More Jesus, not in the way that I thought…

More Than Friends

Hang in there with me. As a child of God, Jesus is always the answer. But not in the way I thought. Jesus has always been my friend. My pal who comes along side of me and talks louder when I am talking to Him or reading the Bible. A friend who hangs out with me the majority of the time, but when I stop thinking about Him as much… He takes a break from me. (ugh the enemy sucks, because this is so not true!!) Then when I am done sinning and I repent (a heavy Christian word), He is readily available with His arms wide open. I picture His hair flowing in the wind, with a soft smile and an ivory robe saying “I knew you’d come back.” This theology negates the words of God, which are always final, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”. What does this mean? I mean, were these just weightless Old Testament words that were spoken to the Israelites? Or were these words- heavy words that illustrate the very character of our never-changing God.

I am going to do a quick interlude here and list 24 instances where I have experienced Jesus this past year in the most mundane and non-traditional nonreligious ways.

24 Instances

In no specific order

  1. On a back road in Jacksonville
  2. Bartending a wedding this past November while talking to a guest
  3. On a park bench
  4. Under the hood of my car-spotting the oil leak flooding my spark plugs
  5. Crying because I stepped in human poop in a public restroom
  6. When I gained 5 lbs from stopping all my dieting and chasing food freedom
  7. When I burnt toast for Roxy (if you don’t know her you should)
  8. Drinking a grapefruit margarita
  9. At a soccer game
  10. When I was comparing myself to another girl’s life on Instagram
  11. When I got the flu and had to pay an outrageous copay
  12. At a work party
  13. At a tattoo parlor
  14. When I was crying on the gym floor because I hated the workout and was alone
  15. Eating a bowl of cheerios at midnight
  16. Running and crying to the song “Hollywood’s Bleeding” by Post Malone
  17. On the boardwalk getting annihilated by mosquitoes
  18. On a walk with my dad
  19. On a couch in a counselor’s office
  20. Sitting on the asphalt in the parking lot with a dear friend late at night
  21. On a road trip
  22. Quitting my first job after graduating college
  23. Scrubbing a toilet and unclogging a drain at the air bnb I clean
  24. Today, when He told me no matter the narrative in your head baby girl, I will uphold you. I will provide for you. I forgive you. I find delight in you.

You see, all the big and exciting things that we document in life often have other moments like these on the peripheral. The less exciting things. The more annoying circumstances. The unconventional places. The places where you suspect God has restricted Himself. We limit Him to the glorious-happy moments. We limit Him to human circumstance. We limit Him to our devotional time. We limit Him to our spiritual highs.. when He is also in the slower and uglier moments with us.

Life

I titled this blog “Experiencing Life” because I’m convinced I will never experience life until I am experiencing Jesus. I used to think Jesus hid in answered prayers that went my way. I thought that if I worked a little harder at the Christian life then things would add up, and I would get that spiritual high from Him pulling through for me. But then I think of how He is an author. The author of life (Acts 3:15). He spoke us into existence (Genesis 2). But the story was never about us, it was about Jesus (Genesis 3:15)… life itself. He writes stories. Beautiful ones. Ones where the desert land is never wasted.

Wasted Places

God revealed this to me in the car the other day with a friend. Remember when the Israelites were in captivity in Egypt? How God led them out of captivity and into the desert? The Israelites viewed Egypt as a land of slavery, oppression, and famine. But isn’t it strategic how years later when the birth of Jesus occurred, Egypt was the exact land Mary and Joseph fled to as a safe haven when King Herod was seeking to kill the Messiah? (Matthew 2:13). God is a story writer and uses up all the places, experiences, circumstances, and mundane moments to fulfill His plans through His son Jesus. The Scripture was never a rule book for us to run to when we “mess up” or to convict ourselves into a righteous life. It is there to show the story of Jesus. The story of life. The story of freedom. The story of miracles that point to the glory of His power and how human efforts aren’t enough and will be destroyed until all that is left is Jesus. He is our hope. He is our safe haven.

Jesus is not just my pal who I bring along with me. He is all of me. We abide in each other. That’s when true rest can enter the scene. When we no longer look at our own Egypt as a land of slavery and oppression, but a place that brings safety and freedom from the cruelties of this fleeting world. Only God could change the narrative, and He did. Praise God. Praise Emmanuel. That’s what we sing this time of year, God with us. The story you are living has been written by the Author of Life. It hasn’t been thrown together for us to figure out and ask Jesus to just walk next to us when life isn’t working. He is our life. He is our living Hope. Our souls are intertwined and intermingled in Heavenly realms. In the unseen. In the mundane. In the mistakes. In the ugly moments. In the mess ups. In the hangups. In the jail cell. In the divorce court room. At the bar. After a one night stand. On the asphalt of a parking lot.

Swing Sets

Swing Sets

How an afternoon on the swing set became a lifestyle…

It’s been a while since I’ve been on a swing set. I’ve been sick the past few weeks, and sometimes getting outside in this beautiful weather is the only thing that doesn’t make me feel like a lethargic noodle. On my walk the other day, I passed a park. About a dozen families were out there with their little ones. They were pushing their kids on the swing, watching them go down the slide, and helping their kids muster strength for the monkey bars.

I decided to go on the swing, as soon as some of the crazy kids cleared off.

I had forgotten how fun it was to “swing on the swings”. A perfect fall day activity. There is still something so competitive in me that I wanted to swing higher than the kid next to me haha… but once he got off, I was able to enjoy the swing for what it was worth.

When you pump your legs, the swing moves. The bigger the pump, the faster and higher you go. If you want to slow down, you just merely stop pumping until you eventually stop. When I was little, my pumping only got me so high. Now that I am older and have more leg strength… I can pump myself higher and go for longer. However, the other day I stopped pumping only because my legs were tired… not because I wasn’t enjoying the ride and the swing… but because I was physically tired.

I was bummed because I wanted to keep swinging but my legs were burning. I thought, man, to be a kid again and have someone just push you. Kids could literally be on the swing for hours with someone pushing them. Like the kids I nanny, “One more time Brookie! Keep pushing me. Higher. Higher” They giggle, and time just seems to have no say in those moments. As a kid, you didn’t have to pump. You never got tired of swinging because someone was pushing you and controlling the pace of the swing.

Adulting Sucks

There is so much beauty and power in being a kid. I think us adults are tired and burnt out. Myself included. Within 30 seconds of meeting me you know I’m a go getter. I rarely say no to a challenge. It could be an ab challenge, Bible reading challenge, running, lifting, no social media… you name it… I’ll sign up. This can be a good thing when it comes to being disciplined, but I also fall into the trap of being performance based and grow tired.

On the swings, it hit me. I need to become a child again. In a world full of people proving, pushing, persuading, and “pumping”, we lose the childlike ability to trust someone else to get us where we ultimately want to be. Perhaps God wants us to enjoy the ride, but not in our own strength which causes burn out. What if even as adults, with careers, kids, responsibilities, debt, and personal upkeep… He wants us to enjoy the life set before us. You see we are disillusioned as adults. We think the “bigger our muscles”, the more we can push ourselves higher on the swing set of life.

But what if that strength was given to us to surrender… to realize that no matter how strong we get we still need someone that can push us so we can enjoy the ride. No father pushing their kid on the swing is gonna say to their kid, “Okay, sweetie now that you turned 6 last week and your muscles are growing, I want you to push yourself and get as high as daddy pushed you last week… but don’t worry I’ll be on the park bench secretly waiting for you to realize you can’t do it.”

If you are a dad and you think that… you be friggen cray.

But so many of us think that way about Jesus. We think our past, the lessons we have learned, the endurance we’ve produced, and the strength we’ve gained are all for carrying us through the next hard thing. If we partner our strength with a dose of God’s love n slap a smile on our faces, then we can continue the Christian life. This way of thinking will cause burnout. What God is interested in is humility…despite the muscles. Growing, responsibilities, discipline, strength, and principles are necessary when it comes to living… but so many of us Christians think we gain those things in order to live a more effective Christian life…

Backwards Thinking

No no no hunny bunny. We got this backwards. That is worldly thinking. That is us thinking that we were rescued in order to pump ourselves to live a better life and bring a few souls with us… then burnout enters stage left and we are back to square one.

Let’s put it this way, when I was on the swing pumping “higher and higher” the swings were enjoyable. I got to see the river, enjoy the wind on my face, and have moments of bliss… but amid all of that was muscle fatigue. When someone pushes you, you get the joy of the ride without the muscle fatigue. This is surrender. You can work 9-5, setup a 401k, put your kids in the best university, buy a house, get a cat or dog (hopefully dog, I hate cats), get married by 22, go to church, and even encourage someone through a blog (me), but only encounter joy for a few moments because underneath it all you are fatigued. Your muscles are cramping. Then you think to yourself, this isn’t even worth it because I am tired.

When I stopped pumping on the swing, I came to a slow stop. “I was like well, that was fun, but I am reminded as to why I do not go on the swings.” I was kind of sore the next day HAHA. If someone would have come and pushed me, I would have stayed. Unfortunately, this story only counts as a good metaphor, because a grown woman was not finna ask a dad or mom at the park to come push me. Social boundaries are a good thing people. But you get the picture.

I think about our lives and how God really intended us to live. In freedom. With Him. We can go back to the Garden of Eden and see just how God wanted us to live. In abundance, eating, enjoying, sleeping, multiplying, and fellow-shipping. Then sin entered and cursed us and the earth and everything in it. Now we live in an era where we are smarter, more resourced, and “stronger”. We try everything we can to reverse the curse in our lives; enjoying the “high” moments as they come paired with a lil muscle fatigue- thinking God abandoned us when the low moments come our way.

Real Life

We need to go back to simplicity of living. From the mouth of Jesus, “Whoever tries to make his life secure will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it” (Luke 17:33). I used to read this verse thinking “I need to do more to lose my life. To give it up.” Maybe I need to do the Christian life more effectively. That way of thinking is still my sloppy attempt at securing my life, but now I am just labeling it The Life of a Christian. Losing my life is literally surrendering every thought of control, outcome, expectation, and works realizing I am nothing and cannot do this life without Him.

When Jesus was preaching a series of parables, people were bringing their babies to him, so that He would touch them. The disciples, his own close followers rebuked them…. Listen closely to what Jesus does, “Jesus, however, invited them: ‘Let the little children come to me, and don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’” (Luke 18:15-17)

Notice He says, “such as these”. He doesn’t say anyone under the age of 2… No. He is acknowledging the humble hearts of those who earnestly seek and depend on Him.

What does this look like in your life? If you think you have the answer, you don’t. If you think you have the muscles, wisdom, and resources to get yourself to where you see yourself in the future, you don’t. If you think you have the looks and personality for the marriage you’ve always wanted, you don’t. If you think you have the financial security to give, you don’t. If you think you are ready for what God has next for you, you aren’t.

You know what you have? Jesus. The only guarantee. That’s who you have. He has done the work.“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

These other things are false senses of security. This is what has us disillusioned as adults. We think the gifts, talents, resources, “blessings” and growth were all bequeathed to us to give us a full life… to help us “pump harder” to gain more joy in life. When life itself is hidden in Christ, in His very nature. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10b). And when you think you need to be more like Jesus, you do, but you can’t do it. Behavior modification to be more like Jesus, adapting His principles is just making more laws and rules on yourself to generate happiness. Fatigue. We are being transformed into the likeness of Christ…by Christ. We can do NOTHING apart from Him. Even the good things He wants us to do for others. We cannot do it. We are nothing without Him.

Nothing

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing…”(John 15:1-8)

When someone is pushing you the whole time, you can relax and enjoy the ride with no fatigue. The pressure to perform is off of you. He does it all. We participate. You encounter rest and enjoyment, all in the safety of a man who does not grow tired or weary of pushing you and sustaining you. You see, when you stay on the swing and ask your daddy to come push you, your circumstance doesn’t change nor does the goal of swinging change. The force and source of momentum changes. It’s no longer in your strength, it’s in His. That’s how an afternoon on the swings becomes a lifestyle. The highs- the lows- the death- the disease- the mountains-the valleys- the joys- the excitement all of it, we are guided by His hand. And we know that no one can snatch us from His hand. “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:29).

We are the only ones who can alter our experience on the swing set of life. We can take control and start pumping again, but when we burnout He will still be there ready to push and sustain you. We will face ups and downs, but will we rely on ourselves to get out of the lows? Or will we trust the mighty hand of God and His strength?

An afternoon on the swings can become your lifestyle as well, when you fully surrender your own strength. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

PS: Next episode of Write it Down will be out in 9 Days!! December 1st Episode 003 will drop. It’s a good one 😉 Follow @widpod for more updates!

Mall Walks

Mall Walks

I was at a large mall in a bigger city with a friend. Vague, maybe. But you get the scene.

I arrived about 30 minutes earlier than my friend, so I decided to peruse around Dillard’s. I love to peruse. I also love the word peruse. So lovely! Anyways, this grand mall has a lot of wings and subdivisions, and Dillard’s is tucked away far from the main entrance of the mall. It’s quite a walk.

When my friend finally arrived, she gave me a call and I tried explaining to her where I was.

“Okay, so when you walk in the main entrance of the mall, head straight back past the stairs. Hang a left. You will pass Banana Republic on your right and a Rue 21 on your left. Once you get past Tommy Bahama, you will see two couches…”

At this point I knew I had completely lost her. Honestly, it could be that my instructions and capacity to direct people suck big time, but there was no way she was going to find me with my verbal directions.

I changed my approach. I was like,

“You know what? I will just come get you!!” She said “You sure?? I can try to find the mall directory and find you that way.” Me: “No way girl! I will just come to the front of the mall and take you back with me to Dillard’s so we can go together. We can even stop at a few stores on the way!”

In that moment, something clicked in me. It was much easier for my friend’s sake, for me to come get her and show her the way and enjoy the walk to Dillard’s together. It would have been much easier for me to let her come find me based off my instructions over the phone.

The Law vs. Walking

You see, when God first gave The Torah (1) (Jewish written law given to the Jews to set them apart as His Holy People. Aka the Pentateuch: The first five books of the Old Testament) … He did this in order to keep them protected and holy to lead them into the promise land and more importantly eternal life with Him. Without dissecting the entire Bible and creating controversy over Leviticus, I find it most incredible that He didn’t just leave His people with the law and a ton of instructions to fend for themselves. He decided to leave His throne, come to the front of the “mall” and show us the way to Himself and eternal life with Him.

Fellow Believers

I want to take a moment and talk to Christians. If you don’t believe in Jesus, you have my unwarranted permission to scroll to the end 😉

We must live in freedom knowing that when Jesus decided to leave the throne room to fulfill the law on our behalf, that He knows how to lead us back home. This isn’t some sort of game He is playing with us. This is a journey. A life He overcame. A perfect law He fulfilled, so that we can walk alongside a Holy God. NOT because we go to church, listen to Christian music, or monitor our cussing. These things may occur due to a heart change and pure convictions, but we got this thing backwards… We try to modify our behavior and create mini laws tricking ourselves into the fullness of Christ. When in reality, we are bedridden with anxiety, comparing ourselves to the world’s success, contemplating faithfulness to our spouse, and weak in our prayer life. I need to be slapped upside the head with Galatians 2-5 on the real… specifically Galatians 2:16 “and yet because we know that a person is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we ourselves have believed in Christ Jesus. This was so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified.”

In this passage, Paul is specifically talking to Peter (a fellow Jew) calling him out for being a hypocrite by not sitting with Gentiles when other Jews would come around. But I need to be reminded of this truth as well.

Enjoy the Walk

Going back to my friend at the mall, there was no way she would have been able to find me in a timely manner. Not only was I in Dillard’s, but Dillard’s is 4 stories high. I was on the third floor in one of the 10 fitting rooms. Also forgot to mention that English is her second language. Even if she would have made it past Tommy Bahama into the candy cane forest, there was still work that needed to be done for her to get to me. I wanted her to enjoy her shopping trip without worry or feeling lost. A foreign country, a foreign city, a huge mall, a language barrier, and an intricate set of instructions. You see, when Jesus came and found us, He asked for our hand. He asked for our trust. He knows how to lead us into the inner throne room to the feet of our Heavenly Father. My friend did not get to Dillard’s by my instructions, she got to Dillard’s by us walking together. However, we naturally fulfilled the directions from the front of the Mall to the third floor of Dillard’s just by walking together. That’s it. That’s the simplicity of the Good News of Jesus. The law has been fulfilled. We walk hand in hand with the Spirit of God into eternity. Jesus dwindled the law down to two commands.

Love God. Love others.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40

Also, wanted to mention that my second episode of Write it Down will be released on November 1, 2019 on Apple and on xvxiii.com. Follow for more content on Instagram @widpod and @xvxiiinetwork

Thank you @kyanamassihniaphotography for the picture!

  1. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-tanakh-full-text
Write it Down

Write it Down

I started my blog two years ago in September 2017 after one of the most trying seasons of my life. I was confused on where God stood with me, convinced He didn’t want good things for me, and fearful of what He might do in my life. My circumstances weren’t adding up to my dreams.

I wish I could go hug on her and tell her that what He had in store for me next would blow my freaking mind. But here I am again, two years later falling back into the trap of fear. Fear that my dreams are too big, fear that people may look at me funny, and fear that I have been forgotten in some areas. I am reminded two years later that His faithfulness in my season of heartache and confusion did not look like what I thought it would. He didn’t give me the relationship I thought I wanted, he didn’t give me the first job I thought I wanted, and He didn’t give me my immediate desires. Not because He was mad at me or wanted good things for my friends instead of me… but because He wanted what was best for me and His plan for me… and my oh my am I blown away.

Moving home in 2018 after graduating was fun for like 2 months, and then I began to panic. I started to reach out to all my contacts for a job in the TV Industry. I even applied to a job in Alaska. I was not finna be caught dead in Melbourne where I grew up. I was so eager to get out. I wouldn’t commit to community because I was moving. I wouldn’t commit to a job because I was sure I would be moving. I wouldn’t commit to being present because I was for sure going to get a job in NYC or Cali.

It’s funny because when I told people about my dreams, they would say “I can see it. You are gonna be in LA or NYC hosting a TV show.” But that wasn’t happening. I knew God had validated my dreams in secret, but people’s opinions of how it should happen began to shape some unnecessary insecurities in me. I started to think “Well here I am, settling for Melbourne… cleaning Air BnB’s, babysitting, and bartending on the weekends…” It didn’t make sense. I started to feel like every time I walked into a room people were looking at me sideways… yet expectant of what God could be up to.

I was invited to a Bible study in October of 2018, and I reluctantly went. I say reluctantly because I did not want to connect with people in Melbourne. Like at all… I missed my community in Gainesville. I missed my church. I missed my old job. I missed my apartment. All of it. Bible study stopped in November 2018 due to schedules and life. During this time, I was training for my first half marathon with a friend. It was during those 12 weeks of training that I really felt The Lord speaking to me. He told me that it was the daily disciplines, the early mornings when no one sees you, and the recovery days that would ultimately prepare me for the race. Come race day, I was ready. And this isn’t a humble brag, but I won my half marathon. And when I tell you I had no idea… I had no freaking clue. I had to pee the whole time. I almost cried. My headphones were dying. I was just trying to finish and not die to be honest. But I learned something that day. If I was going to see fruition of anything God wanted in my life, well I was going to have to be okay with the endurance training. It doesn’t mean that I had to merely get through the tough seasons, but I could enjoy it and train well. That because I am saved by Jesus that I can be sure that I will win in this life and the next. Because He did. But I also learned that life is not going to turn out how we expect almost ever… But we can expect to train and to choose people we want to train with.

I trained for the half with two of my dearest friends, and we look back on those long Sunday runs on Trop Trail and think to ourselves: “how the heck did we do that?” What a joy it was to our friendship and still is…

Fast forward to January 2019, I was convicted in the New Year that I needed to take that principle of training with people into my personal life. I had already booked my flight to North Carolina to visit my sister, and I was still applying for jobs out of state, like fervently. I applied again to jobs in Alaska and this time I put my dad’s email in, and he still gets emails from them to this day. Lol sorry dad, you rock.

I remember calling a friend in January asking her, “Hey want to start back up Bible study with me? We can take turns and just see what God does.” I needed to stop projecting myself into a story that wasn’t mine. The story of me moving to LA, the story of me moving overseas to be a missionary, the story of me getting married to a college sweetheart… I could choose to come to terms with my life, or I could choose to live the actual life God presented me.

Fast forward a few weeks later, my friend told me I should connect with this local podcast network… I am like “Uhm… no I am going to NC in February and I am going to follow up with someone from ESPNU. I am sure I am going to land a job with them or somewhere else.” She basically told me I had nothing to lose and to reach out. So, I did. I didn’t really think much of it. My friend kept telling me I was being stubborn… which I was. Melbourne was not for me. I thought to myself… a podcast network? What does she think I will be doing? Running sound? Is this entry level? Do I need experience?

So, I reached out and got connected with the XV XIII Network in downtown Melbourne. I was impressed with the people I had met there, and I was excited to meet people with similar passions and dreams as me. I tabled it a bit in my mind. I was excited, but I was nervous. I prayed about it, and I decided to listen to the Lord and just do it. I recorded my first episode with my Aunt April. She was wonderful. I fumbled. And I will never release that episode, and I will re-record with her someday. Just keeping it real. I went to NC to be with my mixed nut nephew. I prayed. I worried. I second guessed it. I read a book. I read The Bible. But I had already committed, and I didn’t want to back out.

Fast forward to March with one episode recorded and a concept, I went to the Tim Tebow Celebrity Gala and Golf Tournament… and it’s there that I had no idea I was talking to an NFL Hall of Famer for a few hours. That’s a story for another day… but that NFL Hall of Famer was Marcus Allen. It’s probably good I had no clue who he was… LOL

Long story short, he offered to help me with my podcast and said to me “Sometimes it’s all about having one person, just one person believing in you and helping you.” I am like wow. First of all, I told him I didn’t even know who he was when I met him. Perhaps he is going to connect me to someone who can help. But when he said “one person”; he meant himself. He was my next guest for my podcast. And just like that I am living in Melbourne, interviewing a former NFL athlete for a podcast I never dreamt of starting.

Many of you know that I have been working on this lil project for a while now, and I am excited to release my very first episode of Write it Down. This would not be possible without the XV XIII Network. We didn’t know that months later, God would open doors and create a unique show with unique guests. But isn’t that the beauty of God’s adventure for our lives? So, my encouragement to you is to stop projecting yourself into the life you think you should be living. Don’t just sit in the life you have, but train in the life you have with the people God has placed in your life. I promise you… you will not miss out on anything exciting. In all aspects of my life, I am challenged to surrender the story I thought I wanted and live in the one I was given. Surround yourself with people who have the same end goal in mind. For me that goal is the Kingdom of God, and I am thankful for every single person who has encouraged me, mentored me, and prayed for me. This is not my show. It’s ours.

Check out what my friends are doing with the XV XIII Network. The other shows on this network are exceptional and unique. I am excited to watch God move n shake in the 321, and I am humbled that He chose me to be a part of it.

 xvxiii.com

By the way… my release day is October 1 and will be released the first of every month!!! Follow for content on Instagram @widpod and @xvxiiinetwork

Macros and Manna

Macros and Manna

I would like to preface this entry by saying: This is not a blog full of dieting tips nor is it a suggestion to start counting your macros.

Macronutrients

There are a lot of fitness junkies out there who count the macros in their food. What does that mean? Well, there are 3 macro-nutrients that your body requires in order to function. Those macro-nutrients or “macros” are Carbs, Proteins, and Fats. When a fitness enthusiast “counts their macros”, they do this to optimize the benefits of their workout to shed fat and build muscle. It’s a science. For more on this, read this article: https://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2015/03/06/how-much-do-macronutrients-really-matter

  • It is necessary for your overall health to ingest all 3 macro-nutrients throughout the day when it comes to the longevity of your life. Sure you can go on a low-carb diet to lose weight fast, or you can do a fat-free diet to avoid high caloric intake, or you can do a high protein diet to ensure you build muscle to burn more fat, but if you go a long time without one specific macro-nutrient you could inflict long-term damage to your body’s system.

Jillian Levy, Certified Holistic Health Counselor and senior writer for the Dr. Axe Team, puts it this way, “We cannot live without all three of these macro-nutrients even for a short period of time, as they’re needed for everything from growth and development to sustaining circulation and providing the brain with enough energy for cognitive functioning.”(1).

Why do I bring all of this up? Because God created our bodies to crave and require these macro-nutrients for basic function and living. We can tweak our diets for weight loss results and to feel better in the gym, but we can’t deny our bodies these macro-nutrients… at least not forever. Eventually on a low-carb diet, we are gonna break down and eat a pound of cheesecake at the next party.

Okay, maybe that’s just me…

The main goal when it comes to nutrition is to eat exactly what you need, when you need it, in order to maintain a healthy and functional lifestyle. Overindulgence will hinder your efforts, and undereating will wreak havoc on your body.

Timing

One more thing I would like to add: a lot of health gurus stress the importance of nutrient timing. They suggest “eating for what you are about to do”. Without getting too technical… Carbs are used as a quick energy source and best consumed around physical activity. Fats are best consumed when your activity level is significantly low, like before bedtime. Dr. Clay Hyght, (DC, BSc, CSCS, CISSN) believes you should consume fats when there are no carbs. When you sleep, your body is almost exclusively using fat as an energy source (2). Protein is great throughout the day, however, consuming it at night before bed is also beneficial. Protein is necessary for repairing your muscles after strenuous activity and this repair occurs more proficiently during your sleep cycle.

Let’s take a break from this dieting convo and head over to Exodus 16. There is a correlation between nutrients and God’s perfect supply of what we need in our life.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+16&version=NIV

The Wilderness

The scene is this: Moses and the entire Israelite community were being led out of slavery from the Egyptians. I am sure you know the story of Pharaoh and Moses even if you aren’t a Christian or avid Bible reader. If not, you can find that story starting in Exodus 1.

The Lord had promised to lead the Israelites into the promise land; however, they would be wandering in the wilderness for 40 years in the meantime. Around the second month in the wilderness, they did not have food. God had just miraculously provided water for them in the desert after their escape from the Egyptian army. The Israelites grew angry with The Lord for their starvation in the wilderness. “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by pots of meat and ate all the bread we wanted, Instead, you brought us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of hunger!” (Ex. 16:16:3).

PAUSE: how many times has God pulled through for you in a big way, then you enter a season of wilderness and almost wish for the last season? “The grass is always greener” syndrome is real.

Manna

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I am going to rain bread from Heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather it for that day. This way I will test them to see whether or not they will follow my instructions’”.

Without typing up a block of scripture I am going to paraphrase the rest of the passage. The Lord provided manna (a very thin-flaky honey flavored wafer) in the morning and quail at night. (Ex. 16:13). When they woke up in the morning, the dew evaporated, and the fine flakes of manna covered the desert ground. “The Lord has commanded, ‘Gather as much of it as each person needs to eat…’” (vs. 16) Then “Moses said to them, ‘No one is to let any of it remain until the morning’. But they did not listen to Moses; some people left part of it until {the next} morning, and it bred worms and stank.” (vs. 19).

You get the picture? The command was to gather as much of the manna they would need for the day but not to keep any for the next morning. Why? Because he knew that the next morning He would again provide fresh manna for their nutritional needs. When the sun came up, it melted the leftover manna (vs. 21). There was no need for them to overindulge or become greedy.

By the way, the main macro-nutrient in bread is carbs…. Remember that carbs are the main energy source for physical activity. The Lord knew they would be breaking down camp, walking miles and miles, fighting beasts of the wild, and setting up camp again. Carbs would be needed for this strenuous daily activity. He wanted them to trust Him for the next morning’s supply. Much like He wants us to trust Him for the next season’s supply. He gives us exactly what we need, when we need it.

Quail

Let’s look at God’s provision when evening came. “At twilight you will eat meat… So, at evening quail came and covered the camp.” (vs. 11,13)

I looked up the nutrition information of quail…. Quail meat has zero carbs high protein, approximately 78%, and moderate in fats, 22% per caloric ratio (3). (that’s interesting; I believe most health gurus suggest no carbs at night….)

Quail is also high in zinc, iron, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B3 (niacin). Quail is high in cholesterol, however Vitamin B3 assists in controlling cholesterol levels by catalyzing lipid synthesis in the liver. Zinc is great for growth, reproduction, the immune system, and neurological function. Iron helps form hemoglobin (protein that transports oxygen in the blood) and myoglobin (protein that transports oxygen in muscles). Vitamin B6 supports the immune and nervous system but also aids in breaking down glycogen (a form of sugar stored by muscles and the liver as a store of carbohydrates). Wow all that nutrition information and science makes me realize the Israelites had EVERYTHING they needed at the time they needed it for optimal health and physical activity.

You see, it may have seemed overbearing for God to command them when and what to eat. However, He knew exactly what their bodies would need for their daily activities and recovery at night. For a span of 40 years!

Now, I said this wasn’t a diet blog, and I am not saying that the Bible wants you to count your macros… But I think we just learned a lot about the human body and its complex needs. We also learned a lot about our Father in Heaven who is the ultimate provider and supplier of our needs. Not only is nutrient timing effective, but God’s timing is even more effective. He is merciful. He is just. He is faithful.

If we are in the wilderness like the Israelites, I recommend we obey His commands and cling to His promises extra tight because we can be assured, He will provide each morning and each night for our good.

  1. https://draxe.com/nutrition/vitamins/macronutrients/
  2. https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/tip-eat-fat-before-going-to-bed
  3. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/poultry-products/798/2
Self Talk

Self Talk

Have you ever heard of an ear-worm? An ear-worm (or a brain worm) is when a song is stuck in your head and you can’t get rid of it. This could be an entire song or part of a song that continues to repeat over and over. Like “Baby Shark”.

Anyways, the only way to really get rid of an ear-worm is by replacing it with a different song or preoccupy your mind with different thoughts by watching a movie, completing a puzzle, or chatting with a friend.

Can We Just Talk?

I bring this up because I think all of us have a song that we sing over ourselves that we can’t seem to replace. The ear-worm I have goes something like this: “Brooke, you are too much. Your personality is abrasive. You’re too loud. You don’t know how to relax. You overwhelm people. You are overbearing. You obsess over what people think. You rub people the wrong way. You will never get what you desire with the personality you have. You are intimidating. You are the reason things go wrong in relationships.”

Yikes! Sounds so harsh. By the way, I would NEVER say these comments about anyone else, but for some reason this is the record that plays in my head the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep at night. This song starts off loud in the morning… then when my day is full of work and distractions, it grows faint, but it is still there. Kind of like when you’re shopping and the store has faint background music you can quietly hum to. The more I sing the song over myself, the more familiar I am with it. To be honest it sucks.

Side note, whenever I have a legit song stuck in my head, I often sing it out loud or tell the nearest person “You know what song is stuck in my head”? Then I tell them.

The song we sing in our heads about ourselves follows this notion as well. I pretty much announce my insecurities and almost beg people to agree with them… ☹

Maybe it is just me, but when I believe lies about myself, I let that influence my relationships and how I interact with people. I preface most texts and conversations with, “if not no worries” or “you can say no” because I am afraid that my presence is too much. I would rather reject myself first than have someone else do it and validate my insecurities. WHY??? Why do I give people permission to perpetuate the lies that Christ worked so hard on the cross to replace?

No matter how many times someone reminds me that I am a child of God or I am who He says I am… I struggle. And then when people tell me to ask Him who He says that I am, I wonder if He has a unique name or song for me.

Interlude:

I wish there was a step by step process on how to rid yourself of the explicit content in your head that permits you to believe lies about yourself. I think one way we can combat these lies about ourselves is by focusing on what is ahead instead of letting the past define us.

The Lyrics in the Letter

In the letter to the church at Philippi, written by a guy named Paul around 60-62 AD, reminds us what we should be filling our minds with.

“My goal is to know Him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead. Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus… Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, let all of us who are mature think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you. In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained”  

This passage is found in Philippians 3:10-16, right before the famous passages of not being anxious about anything (Phil. 4:6-7).

When I read the passage above, I do not initially think of my ear-worm problem. But when I circle back to how songs are introduced into our thoughts; I reconsider how I read this passage. My self-deprecating thoughts that I replay in my head do not reflect that I have been taken hold of by Christ (vs. 12). They reflect that I have been taken hold of by my fears, past rejections, recent failures, and misconceptions of the realities in my life. I am challenged to forget the song I have been replaying in my head and replace it with the goal of Christ’s call on my life.

I love verse 15 as well, “Let all of us who are mature think this way”. This maturity is not due to age, it is due to a mindset. In order to be mature and whole in our thinking, we must forget what is behind us and reach for what is ahead. What is ahead? Christ ruling and reigning on this earth in fellowship with His people. In the meantime, God will reveal to us the thoughts He has towards us and His call on our life (vs. 15). While we wait for Him to reveal more of Himself to us, we should overwhelm our lives with the truth He has already shown us (vs.16).

A New Song

It’s a process my friends, but in order to stamp out the explicit lyrics that we sing over ourselves, we must replace it with a new song. In the same letter, Paul closes out with this challenge:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy, think (dwell) on these things.” (Phil. 4:8)         

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

“Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar. The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name.” Isaiah 49:1

Let’s replace the songs in our heads with a new song. We can start by replaying these.

Song of the Day: https://youtu.be/k5w7MgTgVVs