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40 Days Deeper – Day 1: Grounded

Hi! In case this is your first time checking out the StepIn2Purpose blog, let me take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Andrea, and I am many things – a wife, mom, professor, seminary student, early stage business owner, child of God, sister, daughter, and of course – a writer. At the very start 2017, after a very rough ending to 2016, I wrote the book 40 Days Lighter: A Devotional Journey for Women Determined to Live Free.

Inspired by a Lenten-season challenge called “40 Bags in 40 Days”, I went on a mission to declutter my closet, and ended up on a very personal soul-searching journey. What I discovered over the course of that 40 days, was that the physical weight and clutter I was working so diligently to remove, were merely symptoms of the mental, emotional and spiritual weight I had been lugging around for years. I decided to blog and share this journey, and as I did, I realized that I was not alone – there were others who had unknowingly been carrying unwanted and unnecessary “invisible” weight for a very long time.

For me, taking the time to carefully examine the memories and emotions I was carrying revealed spaces of disappointment, resentment, and a boatload of fear I didn’t even know was there. I can remember sitting down one day to write, and suddenly a near-drowning experience I had as a five year old, suddenly came flooding back to me (pun intended). I felt as though, in some ways, I was that little girl, unable to catch my breath, or find anything to hold onto in my adult life.

(You can check out the FREE download of the first 5 days of the devotional when you click HERE and subscribe!)

As that 40 day journey came to a close (though I was very clear in the last day’s devotion, that day 40 was not the end), I was lighter, inside and out!

Which brings us to today…

Not too long after that journey ended, my book was published and released in early 2018, and I spent time expressing my gratitude to God for all of the changes that had taken place, I realized that I faced a new challenge – staying free.

Over the last year, I’ve learned that it’s one thing to declutter, learn new habits, lose weight, or simply take the leap into pursuing purpose, and another thing to create and develop sustainable and personalized systems that help you live free – long term. I realized that without the necessary structure in place – in my heart and in my home, in my work and in my studies – I would simply fall back into some old patterns of thinking.

If there is one thing I know for sure, for a tree to grow and remain for many years, its roots must grow deep before it grows tall – otherwise, what will sustain it as it begins to bud and bear fruit? Without deep roots, parts of the tree would dry up, or a strong wind may uproot it all together.

I get how that tree feels.

So today, I begin a new journey – I’m going deeper. I’m committed to being fully grounded – in my faith, my family, my friendships, and my future.

Won’t you join me as we go 40 days deeper?

“…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Ephesians 3:17-19, ESV
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40 Days Lighter – Day 29: All it took was one choice…


These days I find myself repeatedly looking at my life with almost disbelief. In an incredibly short period of time, my life has changed in ways that I have struggled to make happen for years, to no avail. I began asking myself why I was unsuccessful all those times before and I came to one conclusion: I never decided to make the changes stick.

It’s a funny thing – we can be introduced to the best program for weight loss success, or a life-changing business opportunity, or find an open door to make our dreams come true – but until we decide that we want change, nothing happens. Everything remains the same.

I’ve tried losing weight because for external reasons – to be skinny like this person, or to fit some unreachable, unrealistic beauty standard, or simply because “everyone says you should do it”. In truth, even my doctors telling me I needed to lose the weight wasn’t enough for me to keep up my efforts after the first five pounds. 

I would get tired of the effort it took to keep making the necessary, daily choices to reach my goal – and this lack of conviction was manifesting in other areas of my life as well.

I wanted to write, but couldn’t keep up after a week or two, I’d get three chapters of a book out, but struggled to start chapter 4. I had even set up an entire website to start offering resume writing services, and just couldn’t hit publish, and when I finally published it, I wouldn’t share it, and eventually I just took it down. 

I had great ideas but I was yet to decide that I actually wanted to put in the work to make them real.

So I asked myself: What is different this time around?

I realized that I had one choice to make – 

1. Decide that I was happy with my life – my weight, my health, my work – just the way it was (which would have been a lie).

OR

2. Open myself to embracing a new way of life in order to change what made me unhappy.

I’m not saying that every unpleasant aspect of our lives can be altered by our individual choices. However, in my own life, I realized that most times, when I am unhappy, I have not exhausted all of my avenues to making it better. Instead, I’m sitting and sulking.

I refused to choose. I refused to choose action over inaction, trying over fear of failure, faith over doubt, peace over my right to be right, love over indifference.

And my choice to not choose left me feeling hopeless.

I’m grateful for the God-ordained conversation, kind words from an old friend that encouraged me to get serious about my life, and make changes.

All it took was one choice. And I’m pretty sure I made the right one this time!


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40 Days Lighter – Day 17: Is It in the Right Pile?

Hangers

In my efforts to declutter my closet and dresser, I have repeatedly come across items that I was, at first, either sure I wanted to keep, or I was seriously considering throwing out. This internal wrestling with myself became cumbersome, so I followed the instructions of decluttering expert Marie Kondo, and simply pulled everything out into the open, covering my bed in clothes and accessories.

Now, with all of my belongings in one heap, I was able to form 2 more accurate piles: what I loved and would keep, what I no longer needed/wanted and would remove. That second pile was then split into two more piles – items in excellent condition to be donated, and a “straight to the trash” pile. I would never have guessed the amount of will power it actually takes to  properly prioritize one’s clothing.

I had jeans that I haven’t worn in years – whether it was because I was too big, or they were too small, no need to point the finger – but I still struggled to put them in the donate or trash pile! I wish that I could say that they were only a size or two away, but I found a pair of jeans that were upwards of 3 sizes from my being wearable, so even with my recent weight loss adventure, it would be quite a while before I could even squeeze a leg in them!

I asked myself why it was so difficult to part with items that I was not using, and simply did not need. I came up with a variety of answers – one pair was the most comfortable jeans I had ever owned; another was a design and color that just have not seen anywhere recently. I had tops that – if I’m being painfully transparent – were a style that I liked…on other people… but I probably wore once… or would never actually get around to wearing. Because sometimes, we wish we could embrace someone else’s sense of style…right?

As I thought about my reasons for hesitation with my clothes, I realized that these were often the same excuses that sometimes keep us from making transformative decisions in life. This particular role, or way of living is so comfortable. That’s just my style, just the way I am. Or the opposite – I want to try doing it like “So and so”, because they did it that way and they were successful – not realizing that another person’s style or life will never be the “right fit” for us. 

Some of us are afraid to make the difficult decision to let relationships, jobs, downright messy and unhealthy situations go – because we’re afraid we will never find another one like it. Even though that person isn’t helping us grow, even though that job is clearly dead end, even if our very future is in jeopardy, we simply can’t let it go because it’s familiar.

Tonight, I am challenging myself, as I encourage you, to make sure that we are properly – and prayerfully – prioritizing our life, so that we can be positioned to fulfill our purpose!