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So here we are…

40 Days Lighter Cover

“Prior to taking my 40-day journey to living lighter, I became intensely and unsettlingly aware of a heaviness I couldn’t shake, in my body, mind, heart and life. I felt weighed down, and struggled to move forward into the next season of my life, despite sensing the blowing and stirring of the winds of change.

The expression “caught between a rock and a hard place” couldn’t adequately describe the constricting pressure I felt. I began to see myself as small – and shrinking by the day – in comparison to the magnitude of my life’s circumstances. Being a wife, mother, educator, leader, believer, all felt like too big a task for someone as insignificant, undisciplined, and ill-equipped, as I saw myself.

The truth is – I was very right, and very wrong, all at the same time!”

∼ Excerpt from 40 Days Lighter: A Devotional Journey for Women Determined to Live Free!

So here we are. In the midst of one of the most difficult seasons of my life, God used my struggle to draw me to His heart and propel me towards my purpose.

Today, if you are feeling heavy, weighed down, defeated or overwhelmed, I encourage you to SUBSCRIBE and receive your FREE download of the first five devotions from my upcoming book 40 Days Lighter: A Devotional Journey for Women Determined to Live Free!

You will find encouragement to get you through your week, and inspiration to begin your journey to living lighter!

~ Andrea ~

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40 Days Lighter – Day 24: Something’s Got to Intensify!

Push!

(In case you missed it, this is Part 2 to a thought I started to share yesterday.)

I’ve noticed that since starting to make these physical/health changes, as I get closer to my goals, the process has to intensify for me to continue to see results! Something has to intensify, whether it is the amount of weight that I lift or the length of the run that I take, or how often I’m working out.

When I first started going to the gym, I was asked to run for a full minute out of my 30 minutes on the treadmill, and I STRUGGLED. Yet a week came where I hit the one minute without feeling ready to collapse, and then the time increased to 3 minutes. And when I hit the 3 minutes, my goal was moved up to 5 minutes – with the end goal of running a 5k in a few months – a goal I would have said was impossible 6 months ago.

The closer I get to my goal – whether it’s the distance I want to run, the weight I want to be, the strength I want to have something has got to intensify! (Intentional poor English).

Why am I saying all of this?

Because sometimes we go through life, and get so hung up on, so discouraged, so disheartened by the fact that as we go to a new level in life, the trials seem to increase as well. We go from faith to faith and test to test simultaneously. The fire seems to be getting hotter in that furnace. The pressure is increasing. Those who are against you seem to be more than those that are for you. It feels like the harder we push forward is the harder our obstacles push back.

The reality is when you feel life intensifying, it means that you are closer to your goal than your natural eyes can see! Use the pressure to build momentum and push!

Keep pushing! Keep moving forward! You are about to give birth to your dream!

 

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No Easy Way Out

 

While heading home from a meeting one day, I was struck by the startling realization that I often like to take the easy way out of situations, especially when it comes to driving. Usually I choose to get off the highway at the first available exit to avoid sitting in traffic. Or I’ll take a far more roundabout route just to prevent having to experience the frustration of waiting patiently behind the long line of cars up ahead.

In most cases, I would just prefer that someone else drive altogether.

Yet on that particular afternoon, as I approached the traffic ahead of me, I made the decision to wait. I made the decision not to look for the easy way out.

Somehow in that moment, as I contemplated my approach to life behind the wheel, I felt the need to endure the process of waiting. It was early September, and in just a couple of weeks, I would be preparing to start my studies at seminary in Boston, and figured I should probably get accustomed to this kind of discomfort on the road.

An interesting thing happened as I waited.

I began to reflect on times in my life when I’ve considered or taken the easy way out.

You know – that disagreement you had with a friend where instead of apologizing, you just “fall out of touch”. Or, rather than taking the time to communicate how something your family member said or did made you feel, you operate with a passive-aggressive attitude, always walking around with a chip on your shoulder and a grudge in your heart. Or, maybe you were thinking that it would just be easier to call it quits on your marriage than to work through the issues. Or, that time you just didn’t bother to try something new, because why would this work out if everything you’ve attempted before failed?!

Oh, you’ve never had those thoughts?

Maybe it’s just me.

Awk-ward.

Back to what I was saying:

What made this moment of introspection so relevant, was the realization that my family was about to embark on a journey for which there was no easy exit. There would be no “quick” way out of the process we were about to endure.

My husband and I had made a commitment to intentionally learn more about God’s Word, and seek His face like never before. I realized that there would be many uncomfortable moments, times when we would feel stuck in traffic, because there are lots of cars and everyone is going in this direction, but God is telling us that we can’t move yet!

It’s not our turn, and if we move before our time we’ll cause an accident.

I realized that God was asking us not just to trust Him, but to be completely dependent on Him, like GPS, telling us where traffic is up ahead, so that we can prepare ourselves. Not to take an alternate route, in this case, but to prepare ourselves to be patient, to prepare ourselves to be strong, to prepare ourselves to endure.

“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

~ James 1:4

A new year is well under way, and just as I sensed in that moment of reflection, there has not been, and there will not be an easy way out of this season of life. Completing seminary is a process. Learning to serve in humility is a process. Learning to understand, embrace, respect and honor the incredible role and responsibility that ministry brings is a process. Learning to be faithful stewards of our resources – our time, our finances, our gifts, abilities and opportunities – is a process.

Learning to be good, faithful, committed and loving spouses, in spite of and in light of the changes we are experiencing is a pro-cess. Seriously. Learning to raise our children in a world that seems so full of turmoil, discontentment, and the pressure to give in to voices other than God’s, is a process. Learning to live lives of holistic health and wellness, while unlearning the habits that hold us back, is a process.

And if we don’t go through the process, we are destined to destroy whatever God  puts in our hands.

So with that said, we won’t take any easy way out. We will wait patiently on God, to bring us through this process, to transform us in this process, to move us to where He wants us to be.

And at the end of it all, I know that we can truly say that He is a faithful God.

Maybe you are in the midst of a process that requires you to wait on God. Be encouraged. Don’t become weary in the waiting.

“…But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

~ Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”

~ Psalm 27:14 (KJV)