Please don’t run.

We are in the midst of a series called “How do we thrive in this season of uncertainty?” If there is anything we can be certain of, it’s that we are in the midst of a season of uncertainty. We have spent the last couple weeks specifically talking about how we can thrive physically in this season. I started off this sub-series by talking about the importance of having a “why; without a compelling “why” we are a lot less likely to follow up with our wellness goals. Last week I shared 10 healthy eating tips because, yes, we truly are what we eat. This week I’m going to wrap up this sub-series by giving you 10 more tips on how to thrive physically in seasons of uncertainty. 

10 tips on how to thrive physically in seasons of uncertainty. 

  1. You need to prioritize sleep. Sleep is my top priority when it comes to my health. To be honest, it comes with sacrifices. I need 9 hours of sleep per night. I have tried so hard to survive on less, but I can’t. If I go more than 2-3 days with less than 9 hours of sleep, I am crabby. I can’t think straight. I am unable to make good decisions and my workouts suffer. Did you know that it is more important that you get a good night’s sleep than it is that you exercise? (Don’t believe me? Read this article: https://www.verywellfit.com/sleep-or-exercise-the-answer-will-improve-both-85902)

Let me share a few reasons why sleep is so important. 

  1. Researchers have found that people who sleep fewer hours per night are more likely to be overweight or obese. 
  2. Sleep is key to recovery. While we sleep, the body is hard at work repairing damage. 
  3. Lack of sleep is linked to depression and anxiety. 
  4. Sleep improves your immune function. 
  5. Sleep improves your athletic and physical performance.  
  6. Sleep gives us the energy to walk out God’s calling our life. 

But Lisa, I am so busy, how can I get more sleep? 

Do you watch TV? If you watch TV or use any electronics during the day, you have time for more sleep. If we have to choose between sleep and TV, we have to choose sleep whether we want to or not.  

2. Drink water all day long. If you google “How much water should I drink?” you will find a ton of different answers. My suggestion is to have water with you at all times and consistently drink it throughout the day. Don’t chug it, it will go right through you and it won’t serve its purpose. Don’t aim for totally clear pee either, it should be a yellow tint (someone had to say it). The benefits of drinking enough water are endless, just google it. 

3. Set realistic goals. DO NOT compare yourself to other people and what they are doing. Also, remember you aren’t a high school or college athlete anymore. When we compare ourselves to other people, we are comparing the entirety of our lives to a small piece of someone else’s life.  We also can’t compare our current selves to our younger selves.  One of the main reasons people stop exercising is because they do too much, too fast. They then either get injured or too discouraged to continue. Set realistic short term and long term goals. 

4. PLEASE. PLEASE. If you are just starting to exercise, please do not start off by running. I feel like people look at running as the gold standard of exercise. I am a runner and there is nothing like it. But if you have not exercised recently and start off with running, you are going to feel discouraged and give up – especially if one of your goals is to lose weight. Each time your foot hits the ground you are bearing 5x’s your body weight. Get into an exercise routine and lose some weight first, then start running. 

5. Find a type of exercise that you enjoy. Like I mentioned, people look at running as the gold standard for exercising. If you hate running, don’t run. Find some type of exercise you enjoy doing and do that. There are hundreds of different ways to get your body moving. If you hate doing something, you won’t keep doing it. 

6. Remember that there is a difference between being active and exercising. Don’t get me wrong, being active is super important – but exercising is a different thing. When I go on walks with people I will often ask, is this an exercise walk or just a walk? An exercise walk is a walk where you intend on getting your heart rate up, a walk just to walk is a leisure activity. Different goals = different outcomes. Just because you went on a leisure walk doesn’t mean you don’t have to exercise. 

7. Dress the part. Full disclosure, when I started working as a trainer I would snicker a little bit when people came into the gym for the first time with fancy new outfits. I would always think to myself “Well, they just spent a ton of money on clothes that they will use once.” I was wrong. I’ve learned over time that there is power in dressing the part. If you are dressed like you are going to exercise, there is a much higher chance that you will. 

8. Get the right shoes. I know this seems like a silly tip, but getting the right shoes is key. If you don’t have the right shoes you will experience more soreness and you will be more prone to injury. If you are going to run, you need to get running shoes. If you are going to use the elliptical or do a class, get a good pair of cross trainers. If possible, only wear your running shoes for running. They are designed specifically for running. 

9. Surround yourself with healthy people. We tend to become like the people we spend time with. Go out of your way to spend time with the people in your life that have healthy habits. Instead of meeting up for dinner or coffee, meet up for a walk or meet at the gym. 

10. Tell everyone you know when you are starting a new healthy living habit. Post it all over social media and tell everyone you see. Just knowing other people know will help hold you accountable.

My hope and prayer is you can take a few of the tips I have shared over the last couple weeks and try them. 

Friends, taking care of yourself physically is work. It comes with a cost of time, desire and comfort. You have to sacrifice time to sleep more. You have sacrifice comfort when you first start exercising, it can be messy and uncomfortable. You have die to your desires when you chose not to eat another cookie. But I promise the sacrifices are worth it. Trust me on this one. It may not feel worth it at first, but there is no better feeling than having the energy, stamina and strength to walk out the unique calling God has on your life.

Because there is more,

Lisa

Are you what you eat?

Have we lost all control?

I don’t know about you, but I feel like any control I did have (or at least felt like I had), has been lost. I am a planner and usually our schedule is booked a month out at a time. Lately, I’m lucky if I know what the plan is tomorrow. When I was a personal trainer, I found myself saying often to my clients, “There is so much in life that we can’t control, let’s control what we can.”

Believe it or not, no matter how crazy and unknown the world feels right now, there is actually a lot we can control.

We can control what goes into our mouth.

Last week I promised that I would talk about ways we can thrive physically in this time of uncertainty. We are going to start off by talking about what we eat.

Are you what you eat?

There is a lot of truth in the saying “We are what we eat.” What we eat either positively or negatively affects our short term energy and our long term health. Most people that I know, myself included, don’t have a great relationship with food. I have known many people over the years that restrict what they eat because it gives them a sense of control. I have known many others that overeat not because they are hungry, but because of a certain emotion like boredom, loneliness or grief. I could probably write a whole series on people’s emotional connection with food, but we will save that for another time. 

Today we are going to get practical. 

Over the years as a personal trainer I have picked up some helpful tips. Whether you want to lose weight, maintain weight or even gain – hopefully these tips will help you develop a more healthy relationship with food. 

10 ways to have a more healthy relationship with food.

  1. For one week, write down EVERYTHING that goes into your mouth. Keep a small note pad on your desk or in your purse. Or keep a note open on your phone so you can write down what you eat right away. If you don’t write it down right away, you won’t write it down. Trust me. DON’T OMIT ANYTHING, no one is going to read it but you. After the week is over, look it over. Honestly, most people are surprised how much they actually eat and drink in a week. Based on what you see, ask yourself “Are there any changes you should make?”
  1. Remember that it is okay to be hungry. Our bodies adapt to our weight and signal us to eat (through hunger) in order to maintain our current weight. As Americans, we tend to be afraid to be hungry. If you have recently eaten and have eaten enough, yet still feel hungry, let yourself be hungry. You will be okay. I promise. It’s okay to be hungry. It doesn’t take long for your body to adjust. Before you know it those hunger pangs will be a thing of the past.
  1. Remember sometimes when you feel hungry, you could just be thirsty. Outside of meal times, if you feel hungry, drink a glass of water and wait 20 minutes. Then, if you are still hungry, grab a healthy snack to eat. 
  1. Instead of focusing on getting rid of certain foods, focus on adding more fruits and vegetables. Aim for 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (It’s easier than you think, half of a banana is a serving. The internet is full of serving size charts). Having that being your goal will switch your mindset from dieting to healthy eating.
  1. When you find yourself eating outside of mealtimes, ask yourself – “Why am I eating this?” All of us emotionally eat. It starts at a young age. I am currently trying to teach my 12 year old daughter about emotional eating.  Are you eating because you are bored? Sad? Mad? Overwhelmed? Ask yourself, Are those good reasons to be eating?
  1. Make your calories count. I don’t really like cake, so I don’t usually eat it. Don’t eat something just because it is in front of you or because it is offered to you. Before you eat a treat, ask yourself, is this worth the calories? Most of the time when I am out I pass on dessert. I do that not because I won’t have dessert, but because I would rather save my calories for a better dessert later.
  1. Remember that liquid calories count. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but special coffee drinks have A LOT of calories in them. Alcohol does too. I have known people to lose a significant amount of weight by just giving up their daily lattes or cutting back on their alcohol intake. 
  1. Just because you make one bad eating decision, doesn’t mean you have to have a bad eating day. In so many areas of our lives when we mess up or make a bad decision, we tend to throw in the towel and give up for the day. One bad decision doesn’t have to equal a bad day. If you mess up and eat too many chips, pause and commit to making a better decision at dinner. 
  1. If you are the praying type, pray for self control. One of the fruits of the spirit is self control. Pray that God will help you make wise decisions about what you eat. 
  1. Remind yourself why it matters in the first place. It matters what we eat because our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. It matters because when we take care of ourselves we can fully walk out God’s calling on our life. 

Next week I will share a few more practical tips about how we can take care of our body – stay tuned!

Because there is more,

Lisa

Quarantine 15.

How do we thrive in this season of uncertainty?

It’s amazing how quickly words can be introduced and integrated into our daily vocabulary. Four months ago I had never heard the term “Shelter in place” or “Coronavirus”. I had never used the word quarantine in a sentence before. Now those words seem to be as common as the air we breathe. A new term has started to trend, “Quarantine 15”. It’s being compared to the “Freshman 15”, the 15 pounds that freshmen in college tend to gain during their first year of college. Instead of referring to the 15 pounds usually gained as a freshman, Quarantine 15 is referring to the pounds gained (or are currently being gained) during the early months of Covid 19.

It’s real. I can’t say that I have personally gained 15 pounds, but I get it. My emotions have been all over the place. When I am feeling off, it takes very little convincing that I am entitled to eat whatever I want. I don’t have to look far for the reason. Covid. Enough said. 

If you don’t know me personally, you may not know that I am also a personal trainer. I have been a personal trainer for over 10 years now. I am not currently practicing, but I have worked with every type of person you could imagine. A majority of my clients come to me wanting to lose weight. Oftentimes they come to me with a list of fad diets and exercise routines they have tried. Certain programs have worked for them for a season, but ultimately they end up back at square one. What I have learned over time is that no program or specific diet is going to work long term until the person internalizes their ‘why’. 

Lisa, why are you talking about fad diets again?

You bring up a very valid question. I bring this up because I believe that in order to thrive in this season of uncertainty we have to take care of our bodies. And we won’t do that until we have a compelling “why”. 

It starts by remembering who we belong to. 

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20.

Our bodies belong to God.

If you are not walking with Jesus, this can be a weird and mystical concept to follow. Let’s be honest, even if you are following Jesus, this can be a tough concept to fully understand. Let me give you a little history lesson that can hopefully help. 

God has always wanted to amongst his people.

“Beginning in the Old Testament (OT) book of Exodus, the tabernacle was a place for God to dwell among his people. He gave Israel detailed instructions for how to build it (1445 BC). He designed it so that they could tear it down, carry it around, and set it back up as they traveled through the wilderness.” (Shepherd thoughts). When the Israelites moved, he moved with them. 

After the tabernacle, God dwelt in two different temples (at different times). I won’t bore you with too much history and details, but it is important to note that these temples were considered to be holy places. People would come to these temples to experience the presence of God. 

Then Jesus came. God in the flesh, dwelt amongst his people. 

When Jesus was about to leave His disciples and ascend into heaven, He said “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate (Holy Spirit) to help you and be with you forever—  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:6

When we make a decision to invite Jesus into our life, the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in us. God is not just amongst us, he is in us.

We are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

There are many chapters in the Old Testament that are dedicated to giving specific and special instructions to the Isrealites about how to construct the places in which God chose to dwell. They were considered the most holy of holy places. People dedicated their whole lives to the construction and preservation of the places in which God dwelt. 

We are called to do the same. We are called to treat our bodies, the dwelling place of the most high, with the utmost respect and care. We need to make sure that God’s dwelling place is fit for the king. 

That’s really powerful and beautiful, isn’t it?

But no matter how much I love this truth, I have found, both in my own life and in others that I have worked with, that this concept alone is too abstract to truly motivate change.  

So what does? Let’s keep digging. 

After we are reminded of who we belong to, we then need to be reminded of something else. 

Our calling. Our purpose.

No matter who you are or who you follow, we all have a desire and need to make a difference in our world. And whether you call it a calling or something else, I think we can all agree that each one of us was created with a unique skill set and that we all have a unique role to play in this world. 

We are not able to walk out the fullness of God’s calling on our life unless we take care of ourselves physically.

And although it may feel like it, your calling doesn’t change when your circumstances change. It just might look a little different. Covid didn’t change your calling, only God can change your calling.

Are you called to be a teacher? In order to be the teacher God created you to be, you need to have endurance, energy and a clear mind. 

Are you called to work with your hands? In order to create the beautiful things that God has in store for you, you must have the strength the project requires of you.

Are you called to be a parent? You need every advantage available to have the energy, strength, endurance and creativity to be the parent God is calling you to be. 

My guess is that a lot of people that are reading this already know these things. A lot of us know that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. A lot of us realize that we are missing out on the fullness of God’s calling on our lives. 

So how do we go from just knowing these things to putting these truths into practice? 

It may sound weird, but start by praying. Pray that God will give you a new revelation of the purpose and the importance of taking care of our bodies. Ask God to convict your heart for not treating your body with the respect it deserves. 

And then stay tuned. Next week we are going to get practical. Small changes equal big changes over time. I’m excited to share some practical tips with you about how to take care of your body. 

Quarantine 15 is a choice, and so is thriving in uncertainty. Let’s commit to thriving in this time of uncertainty.

Because there is more,

Lisa

How do we thrive in this season of uncertainty?

We would all agree that 2020 has been rough. I feel like each time I start to catch my breath and establish any sense of routine, something happens. I get knocked down, lose my standing and have to gasp for breath. I have felt this way on all levels. We have the obvious: Covid-19, civil unrest and division in the government – just to name a few. Then there are the more personal things. I have an anxious kid who lost out on her last few months of elementary school, who often expresses her grief through anger directed at me. I’m an active extrovert who is also autoimmune. I’ve struggled with not working and being at home, yet not wanted to expose myself unnecessarily to an unknown disease.

But oddly enough, in the midst of it all, I have thrived in ways that I never had before. 

My plan (which as 2020 has taught us, could easily be derailed) is to spend the next several weeks talking about how we can thrive through this season of uncertainty. I am going to share a few things that have worked for me. I’m going to get practical. I’m going to get spiritual. It may feel like I’m all over the map. But at the heart of it all is this simple question –how can we thrive in this season of uncertainty

So where do we start?

We must live with the end in mind. 

I have heard it said that all important life lessons are learned in Kindergarten. For me, I have learned most of my important life lessons through running. I was a cross country running coach for several years. Before the races would begin I would always remind my runners, don’t start out too fast. At the end of the race, you will not remember how you started – you will remember how you finish.

You may cringe at the idea of running a block, but take a moment and join me. Imagine a group of runners at the starting line. The gunshot goes off and the runners are off. Most of the girls stay in the pack. But there are a few that are ahead right from the beginning. You recognize a few of the girls that are leading the pack, but there are a couple newbies – girls you haven’t noticed before. At about mile 1, those new girls are still ahead of the pack, but you notice that their form has changed. They are winded. They are gasping for air. They begin to slow down. By mile 2, those new girls are no longer in front of the pack. But you notice someone new coming up from the rear. They aren’t in first place, but are definitely breaking free from the pack. By mile 3, that girl that came up from behind is nearing the fastest runner. The crowds are cheering loudly, cheering them on to the end. What will those girls remember from that experience? They will remember how they finished, not how they began. 

We don’t remember how we start the race, we remember how we finish.  

Do you remember social media in March? Wasn’t it beautiful? It was full of words of encouragement. Every other post was about how we are in this together. People were posting ideas about how to keep your kids entertained and sane as we sheltered in place. Encouraging words were shared with abundance. I was so proud to be a human. I felt like we were actually in this together. When is the last time you have seen an encouraging post similar to those in March? There have been times when I want to post something along those lines, but it hasn’t felt right. I’m not confident that those words are true anymore.

Friends, we started this race well. But at our current pace, we are not on track to finish well. And just like a running race, when we look back at this time, we will not look back and remember how we started – we will look back and remember how we finished. 

We need to ask, “How do we want to remember this season?”

Back in March when this all began, I posed the question “How do you want to remember this season?” I think it is a good time for all of us, myself included, to revisit that question now that we have spent some time in the trenches. In that post I shared a few things I wanted to remember about this time. I wanted to remember it as a time that I had the time and energy to do an intense 90 day workout program. I completed it, the whole 90 days. I shared that I wanted to be more present with my kids. I haven’t been perfect, but I’ve done better. There are a few other things I shared in that post that I am working on and things that I have yet to accomplish. But because I was thoughtful about this season, in those moments when I feel knocked down and struggle to catch my breath, I can look back on my progress and feel proud. I haven’t just survived this season of uncertainty, I have thrived in ways I never have before. 

As I share these things, don’t be deceived, this has been a tough season for me in many ways. But I’m learning that it’s not just one or the other – surviving or thriving. There can be areas in our life where we barely make it, yet in the same space we can be growing and thriving in ways that we have never done before. 

There is good news. It’s not too late.

It’s true, we have already started the race. Maybe we started off a bit too fast and are finding ourselves having to pause and take a breath. It may not feel like it, but the good news is that the race is not yet over. There is still time to catch your breath, adjust your pace, imagine the finish line and finish strong. We not may not win, but in the end that doesn’t really matter.  

What matters is that when you cross that finish line, you can hold your head up high knowing you did the absolute best you could. 

And I don’t know about you, but that is what I want to remember about this season.

Because there is more,

Lisa

Can’t you or won’t you?

Several years ago I was working with a non-profit. We needed to do something different. We needed to shift our programming to serve our diverse group of students more effectively. I knew I had a lot to learn. I did my research and sought out the top experts on diversity and race that I could find. 

I found one conversation in particular eye-opening. One of the questions I was asking people when I met with them was “How do I engage more with people of color?” In this particular meeting I found myself thinking out loud “Well, I mean, I can’t just get up and move to North Minneapolis.” and “It’s not fair to my kids to just get up and start going to a church downtown. So what can I do?” 

She stopped me in my tracks. 

She said “Lisa, you need to acknowledge that it’s not that you can’t move to North Minneapolis or that you can’t go to a church downtown – it’s that you won’t do those things. You need to own that.” 

I’m sure I just sat there for several minutes with my mouth wide open. I have a strong personality and I am rarely challenged like that. (Just FYI, I welcome the challenge – I’ll respect you more for it.)

She was right. I could move to North Minneapolis. I could switch churches and go to a church downtown. It’s not that I couldn’t, I just wouldn’t. 

That conversation has stuck with me since we first talked and it’s been on constant repeat over the last few weeks. 

Especially this phrase “It’s not that you can’t, it’s that you won’t.

Let that phrase sink in for a minute. 

How would things be different, in all areas of our life, if we evaluated if we are using our can’ts as a shield for our won’ts?

Let me give you an example.

I can’t be nice to my sister, she has hurt me too badly. vs. I won’t be nice to my sister, she has hurt me too badly. 

That one small word changes it all. When we use the word can’t, we (most of the time; there are truly a few things we can’t do) are deferring any responsibility. We talk and act as if the choice is completely out of our control. But when we replace the world can’t with won’t, it changes everything. The word won’t implies full responsibility, we are actively making the choice not to do something. 

I think in our current discussion about race, we have often gotten the words can’t and won’t mixed up. 

I mentioned in my last blog that my initial response to the riots and protests was fear. I felt paralyzed. I started to tell myself “I can’t deal with this, it’s all too much.” “I can’t really do anything anyway, I don’t live in the city.” “I can’t talk any more about race than I already have. I’ve done the hard work.” 

But over the last week as I have been able to step back, I realized that I wasn’t using my can’ts properly. I was using my can’ts as a shield for my won’ts. It’s not that I couldn’t deal with it – I have dealt with really hard things in my life. I was choosing not to deal with what was happening around me. It’s not that I can’t do anything because I don’t live in the city, I wasn’t – I was choosing not to. It’s not that I can’t discuss race anymore, I wouldn’t – I was making the choice not to. 

We need to own and acknowledge if we are using our can’ts as a shield for our won’ts before we can get to an authentic place of can’s and will’s

In the context of the current racial tension and unrest, have you found yourself telling yourself there are things you just can’t do?

If so, write them down. Then replace your can’ts with won’ts. 

After reframing mine, my statements sounded like this…

“I won’t deal with this, it’s all too much.” “I won’t do anything anyway, I don’t live in the city.” “I won’t talk about race anymore.”

Yikes. That does not sit well with me. When I took a pause and took ownership of my words, I was surprised at what it revealed about my heart.  

It revealed that there was a part of me that didn’t want to engage with another hard thing. It revealed that I did feel overwhelmed by everything going on around me. It revealed that I had pride in my heart about the work I have already done. It revealed that I still have a lot of work to do.

Replacing your can’ts to won’ts may not change anything for you. Regardless, it’s worth digging into. Because if you are like me, there is a chance it might reveal something about the condition of your heart that is worth looking into. 

It’s worth looking into because lasting change does not come from passionate words, it comes from a pure heart. And I don’t know about you, but I want to be part of lasting change. 

I have so badly wanted to go back to that conversation I had with that woman and respond differently. If I could go back, this is how I would respond. “I can, but I won’t, move to North Minneapolis. I am called to our community. I feel like we are planted here for a reason. I can, but I won’t, go to a church downtown, unless I am called.”

But….

I will go out of my way for my kids to have friends that are black and brown.

I will go introduce myself to my black neighbor at the end of my block and invite him to our next potluck.

I will commit to learning about the history of black oppression, especially in Minneapolis.

I will commit to always looking at my can’ts as won’ts, examine the state of my heart and make changes as needed. 

I will be part of lasting change. 

Because there is more,

Lisa

I am the Suburban mom.

Yesterday, I read that a legislator demanded that the government apologize to the suburban moms who were afraid as a result of the riots last week. 

He was talking about me. I was the scared suburban mom. 

This past week many people have asked me how I felt about the events that have unfolded over the last few weeks. My response has been consistent – I have been very unimpressed with myself. 

If you are a student of the Enneagram, I am an 8. Eights thrive when they can advocate for the underdog. When I picture my best self I imagine myself standing up on a podium, megaphone in hand, inspiring a crowd to rally against injustice. 

But when the looting started and it started to get close to home, I didn’t grab my megaphone. Instead I took a nap. I felt scared and overwhelmed. I just wanted it to be all over. 

You see, as much as I am an advocate, I also have a high felt need for safety. I didn’t feel safe at all. 

I also felt angry. My 12 year old daughter struggles with anxiety. She is already struggling to navigate the challenges that have come with being in the middle of a pandemic. Now this? The first night our city had a curfew, she cried herself to sleep. She was sure that someone was going to come into our house, steal all of our stuff and shoot us. I tried my best to hide my feelings, but it was a struggle. Honestly, I wondered the same thing. 

“Why did we have to suffer at the hands of someone else’s bad decisions?”, I found myself saying out loud (Please keep reading, I’m not saying these feelings are okay). Not that I demanded an apology, but I did wonder more than once why the government had let things get so out of control. 

The morning after the curfew had been instituted we left to go out of town. The whole way up to Duluth I felt conflicted. Were we making a statement by leaving town? We had planned the trip earlier in the week before all of this happened, but all of a sudden taking a vacation felt like we were taking a stance. The whole time I felt like we should be pressing in, not running away. I struggled to stay focused throughout the weekend. My emotions felt confusing and conflicting.

Social media blew up with a slew of new experts on the issue of race. And for some reason I felt like each comment or suggestion was a direct attack on me. When I was trying to sit back and listen, I felt like assumptions were being made about me and my lack of engagement. I felt a deep need to explain myself. I wanted to prove to the world that I do care about racial reconciliation and I have for a long time. Yet I felt like I had nothing to add to the conversation. 

After we returned from Duluth things had died down a bit. My dominant emotion was no longer fear, but confusion. 

Where was my place in this fight? Do I have one? The battle had been won, but the war was not over. Crowds began to fill the streets to clean up the damage. While people hit the streets, I hid in my room and googled “What should I do?” I still felt paralyzed and I could not figure out why. 

I pressed in. I prayed. Then I started to see. 

I felt paralyzed because I had been waiting for my feelings to change. 

I am an incredibly passionate person. I’m getting a bit more level-headed as I get older, but still a lot of my decisions are made from a place of passion. 

So during the riots I kept waiting for the Clark Kent in me to become Superman. I was waiting for the advocate in me to emerge from underneath the rubble of anger and fear. I was waiting to feel that depth of passion that I rely on to propel me into action. I was waiting for my feelings to go from being conflicted to conviction and it wasn’t happening. 

And as I waited for my feelings to change I became paralyzed by them.  

You see by nature, I am a black and white thinker. I am either sad or happy. I believe that I have to be either convicted or complacent. I quickly conclude that I am either angry or accepting. And when I feel both happy and sad, convicted and complacent, or angry and accepting – I don’t know where to turn. I don’t do anything and I become paralyzed. 

Over this last year I have started to learn that I don’t have to be one or the other. I can be happy and sad. I can feel convicted and complacent. I can even be angry and accepting. And I don’t have to wait for those emotions to change to do something. 

I can still feel scared about the unknown, yet seek to understand.

I can feel angry about the world my kids are being forced to navigate, yet feel the same level of anger for injustice. 

I can feel confused and curious all at the same time.

But I don’t get to be paralyzed.

I don’t get to be paralyzed because when I chose to walk with Jesus, I chose to walk. I chose to walk with Him as He confronts injustice. I chose to walk with Him as He extends mercy and grace. I chose to walk with Him as He breaks down evil strongholds and brings freedom to the captives. 

I chose to walk with Him regardless of how I feel. 

So that’s what I’m trying to do. I still feel a bit scared, angry and a bit confused. But as I continue to walk with Jesus on this journey, those feelings are starting to become smaller and smaller. I’m starting to feel my passion arise. 

It’s time to bring out the mega phone.

Because there is more,

Lisa

Less of me. Covid Questions.

[Before I start I want to acknowledge a few things. First, if you read my blogs weekly, this content may sound familiar. I wrote a series on the Holy Spirit last summer and most of the content from this blog comes from that series. Also, I recognize that there is a lot of content in this blog, I attempted to summarize four blog’s into one. I feel like it is important content to share and truly is the key to experiencing peace, joy and hope regardless of circumstances. I would encourage you to go back and read the whole series. But in light of recent events, I feel compelled to wrap up this series and address our current situation.]

The question I left us with last week was, if the Holy Spirit dwells in us and He is the key to peace, hope and Joy – why don’t we always feel that way?

Sin.

I know, you want to stop reading. I said I was going to talk about the Holy Spirit. No one likes to talk about sin. We ignore it because we don’t understand it. We don’t talk about it because it brings too much shame. We feel above it because our hearts are filled with pride. 

It wasn’t until I dug deeper into the Holy Spirit’s role in my life that I began to understand sin in a convicting, life altering way. 

I shifted my perspective from sin being a list of the do’s and don’ts to being the barrier keeping me from experiencing the fullness of the Holy Spirit. 

I started to look at sin like a muscle knot. 

We have all had a muscle knot before. We do something physically we shouldn’t or do something in a way we shouldn’t and our muscle fibers tense up and adhere to each other. When that happens, blood flow is restricted. A knot keeps the blood and nutrients from flowing freely through your body. 

If sin is the muscle knot of tensed up fibers, the Holy Spirit is the blood supply. Just as blood brings life to all parts of the body, the Holy Spirit brings life to us.

What if we started to look at sin, instead of a list of dos and don’ts, as a knot that is keeping the Holy Spirit from giving us the fullest life intended for us? What if we looked at the pain caused by the knot as a signal that things aren’t right, that we need to adjust something? What if we looked at sin as God’s way of telling us that he has more and better things for us? What if he is trying to say that if we worked through the knot, we would experience more of him? 

When I began to look at sin this way, I felt motivated. I felt motivated to change. I felt compelled to dig deep into those knots. I stopped ignoring the pain and tried to get to the root of the problem. I was motivated because it was no longer a list of the do’s and don’ts, it was the key to unleashing of the Holy Spirit in my life. 

When I became a more serious runner I started using a foam roller. A foam roller is a device that is designed to massage out knots. You press the point of pain on the roller. And you gently roll back and forth on the roller. Though it is the smallest of movements, it is so painful. The longer you do it, the less it hurts and the less knots you have. The blood is allowed to bring life to the whole body, the way it was intended. 

So let me share a few ‘foam roller techniques’ with you. These are ways I have found in my own life which when practiced regularly cause the knots of sin to dissipate and the life of the Spirit of God to freely flow through my veins. 

(I wrote a blog post dedicated to each one of these techniques, if you are interested in going deeper – click on the links.)

First technique: We need to die.

John 3:30 says “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”  Less of us means more of the Holy Spirit. 

How do we become less?

We need to die to our dreams, plans, desires and ideas. None of these things are bad within themselves, but they become problematic when they get in the way of God’s dreams, plans, desires and ideas. 

Let me give you an example.

I’ve mentioned this in previous blogs, but four years ago I was offered my dream job. I felt like it was the job God created just for me. It lined up with my passions and gifts. I was good at it and I wasn’t the only one who thought that. It was a no brainer, of course I would take the job. But I didn’t feel any peace. I would take one step towards saying yes and would be met with confusion. I would rework a scenario in my mind to make sense of it all, move forward and again be met with chaos. I really wanted that job. The job was in ministry so of course God would want me to have that job, right? As you can probably sense, the job didn’t work out and I was really upset about it.

What I needed to do was die to myself, my ideas, my dreams (that I felt were from God), but instead I pushed and I pushed. I said things I didn’t mean and burned bridges in the process. 

It took me a while to finally surrender that dream, but you know what happened when I did? I finally felt peace, the peace that passes all understanding. I didn’t feel confused anymore. I had a clear picture about what God had for me. It wasn’t the picture I would have painted, but I would have it no other way. And as I continue on this journey to die to myself, to my ideas, my passions and my dreams, I’m experiencing unprecedented growth in my faith and in my relationships.

I needed to become less, so he could become more.

Where do we start?

Start in the morning by surrendering your day to God. Lay down your ideas, dreams and plans before him. Be open to divine interruptions throughout the day. Keep this question in the front of your mind “Is this you God or me?” If you aren’t sure if it is God that is nudging you, error on the side of obedience. I believe that if you have pure heart, God will bless your efforts.

Second technique: Repentance.

Matthew 4:17 tells us “From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of God is here.’” It struck me that according to Matthew when Jesus began his public ministry, his first words were “repent”. I think that should cause us to pause and take note. This might be important. 

What does it mean to repent?

The biblical definition of repentance is “to turn from sin and turn towards God. It is a change in direction.” 

As I started digging deeper into that definition, I felt like God impressed on my heart….

Repentance starts with saying I’m sorry.

Even as I type these words, I resist. Those words are often spoken without much meaning or attention. I often find myself saying to Bryan, “Stop saying you’re sorry, just change your behavior “ (we don’t mince words in our house). But as I continued to meditate on those words, I was reminded-sometimes you have to fake until you make it. You have to start somewhere and in this case I have found that it had to start with words.

It is not the words themselves that begin to change us, it is what the words start doing our brain, and with that, our heart. Science tells us that we can literally change the way we think by doing the same thing over and over again.

It’s called Neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to restructure itself after training and practice. New thinking changes brain structure and function. With each repetition of a thought, emotion or word, we reinforce this new pathway. It’s like a hiking path. The first time that we try to blaze a new path, it is full of weeds and grass. It’s hard to navigate. Then the next time we try it, it’s not quite as bad. There are some weeds and brush to push aside, but the path is more clear and easy to navigate. Before we know it, the path is clear and easy to walk on. 

So start with words. Go to the Lord and say you are sorry. And then do it again and again and again until you blaze a new path.

Then practice the act of turning.

After you apologize to God, try physically turning the other direction and take a few steps forward. As I stated in the definition, repentance isn’t just about apologizing – it’s about turning from sin and turning toward God. Just see how it feels. I think, over time, you will really notice that a physical turn can make a significant shift in your heart and mind.

In my experience, as we practice these two techniques, we will become less and He will become more. The knots of sin will be massaged out and the Holy Spirit will have the ability to flow freely throughout our body. As a result, we will experience the fruit of the spirit.

“the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control….” Galatians 5:22-23

The fruit of the Holy Spirit serves as a Litmus test. A litmus test is a way to prove or measure something. I believe what Jesus is saying to us in Galatians 5 is (paraphrase mine) “Do you want to know if you are filled with the Holy Spirit? Ask yourself, are you loving? Are you joyful? Are you peaceful?….if not, come to me, let’s examine your heart. I think we have some foam rolling to do” 

Become there is more,

Lisa

Do you want to dance? Day 6.

Have you started a Covid-19 journal yet? If not, start there. Go and order a fancy journal on Amazon if that would motivate you. I usually just grab an old notebook. Staple some loose paper together if that’s all you have. After this is all over, you will be glad you kept a journal during this time.

If you are just joining us, start here. Each day this week will build on each other.

We are in the midst of exploring the different roles of the Holy Spirit.

Yesterday we talked about the Holy Spirit as the one who leads us to The Truth and helps us become more like Jesus.

The Holy Spirit gives us to power to share the good news.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

The Holy Spirit gives us the power and the boldness to share with people who Jesus is and what he has done in your life.

Journal question:

Is there someone in your life that you want to tell about Jesus? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you.

The Holy Spirit gives us each a unique spiritual gift.

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge, by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” 1 Corinthians 12: 7-11

The Holy Spirit gives us each a unique gift in order to serve others.

Journal question:

Do you believe that? What gift do you think the Holy Spirit has given you? How does he want you to use it to serve others?

Tomorrow I am going to share the next post in my series, Covid questions. Stay tuned as I share ways to unleash the power of the Holy Spirit in your life.

Because there is more,

Lisa

Do you want to dance? Day 5.

Have you started a Covid-19 journal yet? If not, start there. Go and order a fancy journal on Amazon if that would motivate you. I usually just grab an old notebook. Staple some loose paper together if that’s all you have. After this is all over, you will be glad you kept a journal during this time.

If you are just joining us, start here. Each day this week will build on each other.

We are in the midst of exploring the different roles of the Holy Spirit.

Yesterday we talked about the Holy Spirit as a teacher and one that brings freedom.

The Holy Spirit guides us to truth.

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” John 16:13

Not only is the Holy Spirit a teacher, he also guides us to The Truth. I believe this verse is telling us that the Holy Spirit reveals the truth of who God is and what His Word says.

Journal question:

Is there something that you struggle to understand about God or the Bible? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to you.

The Holy Spirit sanctifies you.

“But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the spirit of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11

Sanctified is a word that essentially means becoming more like Jesus. The Holy Spirit helps us become more like Jesus.

Journal Question:

How can the Holy Spirit help us become more like Jesus?

More tomorrow,

Lisa

Do you want to dance. Day 4.

Have you started a Covid-19 journal yet? If not, start there. Go and order a fancy journal on Amazon if that would motivate you. I usually just grab an old notebook. Staple some loose paper together if that’s all you have. After this is all over, you will be glad you kept a journal during this time.

If you are just joining us, start here. Each day this week will build on each other.

We are in the midst of exploring the different roles of the Holy Spirit.

Yesterday we talked about the Holy Spirit as a helper and one that brings hope.

The Holy Spirit teaches and gives insight.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26

One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to teach us. Each morning before my kids go off to school I pray that God will help them learn and understand what they are being taught. I often pray when I am learning something new that God will help me understand.

Not only that, the Holy Spirit reminds us of what he has already taught us.

Journal questions:

Have you ever asked God to help you understand something? If so, did anything change? Has God ever reminded you of something he taught you? Why do you think he did that?

The Holy Spirit brings freedom.

“Now the Lord is the spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

Journal question:

What do you think this verse means?

More tomorrow,

Lisa