There’s a city beside a lake in the heart of an old volcano. The city is called Sete Cidades and sits on the island of Sao Miguel, in the Atlantic Ocean. Rich sunsets adorn the lush greenery of this island, stucco walls bracing the quaint walls of the houses lining the narrow streets. My husband discovered this marvel while exploring the planet for the elusive city of Atlantis. (Which, by the way, he found it.) He showed me a picture on Google Earth and said, “You need to use this location in a book.”
And so, I did.
We live these busy lives, walk the dusty concrete, and rarely glimpse, let alone immerse in, a tropical paradise. Between the pages of Earthshine, you’ll receive a new mission, a new voyage, into the harrowing wilds of the oceans deep and forests high.
I scoured the interwebs for every photo and article on the Azores islands, watched endless videos on YouTube, and even spent hours using our virtual reality set on Google Earth to explore these and other various locations Saylor and Tucker traverse within the pages of Earthshine. A fellow Clean Reads author even shared an hour chatting with me about her experiences while living on of the Azores islands. One goal for my books is that they will serve readers for multiple readings and re-readings, providing rich, realistic environments and imagery to take my reader friends to these brave new worlds.
Needing a vacation? Get ready to grab a copy of Earthshine and escape. Join me in the Azores, at a fraction of the cost. Maybe it will even entice you to get up and add a new locale to your travel wish list. It sure did for me.
Martin Luther King, Jr:
This is the most important and crucial period of your lives, for what you do now and what you decide now at this age may well determine which way your life shall go. And the question is whether you have a proper, solid, and sound blueprint. And I want to suggest some of the things that should be in your life’s blueprint.
Number one in your life’s blueprint should be a deep belief in your own dignity and your own worth and your own Somebody-ness. Don’t allow anybody to make you feel like you are nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth and always feel that your life has ultimate significance.
Secondly in your life’s blueprint, you must have a basic principle: the determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor. You’re going to be deciding as the days and years unfold what you will do in life, what your life’s work will be. And once you discover what it will be, set out to do it and do it well. Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be the sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or you fail, be the best of whatever you are.
Finally, in your life’s blueprint, must be a commitment to the eternal principles of beauty, love, justice. While life for none of us has been a crystal stair, we must keep moving, we must keep going. If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving.
See King's inspiring speech here:
The past couple of weeks have been intense. They’ve been crammed with work, play, writing, reading, and people. So many people. After thirty-something years around them, I’ve come to realize and acknowledge that the more I’m around people, the more aware of myself I become. It’s draining to be hyperaware of your actions, word choice, tone of voice, and movement. What’s more draining about it is that I realize most people aren’t even paying attention, and yet there’s this creative spark inside of me that whispers, “But, what if they are?”
And so I overanalyze, overthink, and afterwards, rehash. Exhausting. The more tired I become, the more this exacerbates itself.
So this weekend was the epitome just waiting for a bang. I’ve been working with multiple people doing the #PitProm pitch contest (more on that in a coming soon blog!) and on Sunday morning, found myself among the team of people practicing the music for the church service.
I love to sing.
I love it, but I’m more of a back-up or ensemble singer. I’m no Taylor Swift. #ThingsIKnow #BTeam. There are times when people don’t make it to the practice at the last minute, and usually it is somewhat of an annoyance but no big deal. But yesterday, I wasn’t feeling it. I *was* feeling overwhelmed, tired, cranky, and in need of coffee. My voice kept cracking, I was kind of bloated because I had eaten pizza and a doughnut on Saturday, and I was receiving emails and notifications for work that I needed to keep up with. The nagging thought that I am tired but I show up so why don’t others too??? kept going through my head. I was out of my element. Out of my power. Can you see it? Charlie asked me why I wasn’t singing, and it was quite obvious I wasn’t singing because I was the only one other than him that should have been singing. I snapped at him, “Because I don’t know the song.” Eh. Wasn’t a great response, but what got to me was my tone of voice. I heard myself being so mean. I heard three-years-ago me answering.
You know what’s hard about working on yourself? Sometimes you miss the mark. Sometimes you find yourself not responding how you want, but you can’t seem to navigate the new waters in the new self, and judgmental snarkiness rolls out instead.
If you were ever wondering about this chica over here and what the struggle really is, well, I saw it this weekend.
I left the worship center, tears in my eyes, a mixed bag of emotions. My loudest thought was, “What if everyone expects me to react like this?”
I used to react like that. I know it. But I’ve made the effort over the years to be better. To react better. To be the kinder, more gracious person in conflict. Doesn’t always happen. But maybe my biggest fear isn’t actually responding badly, it’s what the other people think. Do they find it shocking, and therefore they are concerned about me? Or do they shrug and sigh, “Typical.”
You know what? I can’t determine what anybody else but myself thinks.
So when I drove to my quiet house, the hush wrapping around me like a fresh breeze, I sifted through the thoughts. I sorted the “why” and the “how come” and the “you stinks” and the “always” and the “never” and the “they should” or “I can’t” and settled on the one thought that got me straightened out again: I control how I react.
At the time, I was having trouble controlling the crying. Because as a female, that’s just part of the project. Insert tears here. They’re in there, they come out, you deal.
I needed to get back into my element, where the REAL ME resided. The real me, my heart and soul, knows I’m not based on ill-will and frustration. I needed to get her back at the helm. The tears, the “what if” thoughts were hijacking my reality. The thoughts you think? They’re not all true. Don’t listen to the false ones. Find the truth.
The truth was and still is this: I’m an amazing critic. I am so good at judging. I rock at finding the things that need to be improved and then implementing a plan to fix them. I am SO GOOD at that. I can order around people like tomorrow depends on it. It’s a great skill to have when directing plays, leading public relations campaigns, teaching classes…but it can be quite difficult to live with inside my head when I dwell on planet earth.
Since I’m one of the best versions of me when I’m critiquing and making lists….I sat down at my computer and graded an essay. Yes. I sipped on my coffee, gave notes on essay writing and compositional form, and when I stood up fifteen minutes later, I was a new person. No…I was my real person again. I got back in my element.
Once I refreshed my makeup and drove back, I apologized and explained what was going on. And you know what? We had some laughs. People chuckled. We related over past challenges and similar stories. The words were wrong on the screen. “You are the hope to the hopless and broken.”
You know what? At times we are hopless and borken.
But then there’s time to get back up again.
Three steps to getting your life back when your emotions or the situation hijacks you and your "not good enough" triggers you:
1) Take a break.
Relaxation, resting, and taking a break are the fastest way to resetting your entire body and mind. We stress ourselves out too often. This is the first and most important step to getting back on track. Think of a train derailing. What if the train just kept chugging forward, off its rails? What a mess! No! The train needs to stop so it can be hoisted back on the rails. Turn off the engine. Step away from the tracks. Take a break and breathe in deeply for at least several minutes. Be alone, be quiet, be still.
And while you’re quiet, hush any lying thoughts or voices. They don’t belong. Criticism doesn’t help, so take a rest from it as well.
2) Get back in your element.
Sometimes we call this “power.” Be in your power. Do the thing you love most. Do the thing that brings you joy, bliss, most importantly peace, and reminds you of why you are here on earth because of how much you enjoy it. Do the thing you’re good at. Do something you’re good at.
How do you know what your element is? What’s your power? Well, you need to know yourself first. If you don’t know what this is, then take some time to get to know yourself right now. Shut off your phone, go outside, and walk for an hour to begin figuring it out.
3) Trust your tribe.
You cannot manage other peoples’ perceptions. That’s not your business. Manage your own perception, your own mindset, your own abilities, and do your best. Apologize when necessary. Own who you are. Own that you’re learning. Own the opportunities and challenges. The people who love you will stick around regardless of the outcome.
We all have our lessons to be learned. The important thing is to learn them. We have the tools, so make time to use them. I know that I'm not three-years-ago me. She wouldn't have taken these steps or even known there was a problem snapping at someone how I did. Now the lesson is the thing. Because life is the thing. The getting back up is the thing.
If you feel this story and need your own set of tools to build your best life, get crackin’ reading KINGDOM COME, a reminder of the hero you are and the empire you were built to create.
Can you relate? I’d love to hear back from you about a time when you found yourself emotionally out of your element and what you did to get back on track. Feel free to hit reply with your story and tips!
Have you felt overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up? How many times have you waited, unsure, hesitant, when faced with a decision? Is that ache in your chest old yet?
I’ve had that deep ache in my chest these past few months (years?), and I’ve done a lot of seeking. A LOT. I got tired of the ache. Instead, I tooled up. I learned that I can sit there sad, frustrated, burned out and cynical…or I can take action.
Did you know that you have incredibly powerful tools right within your grasp, and you are on the verge of walking through this mysterious, fabulous door to unknown new worlds? Oh, yes you are.
I hope that doesn’t sound too scary….actually, maybe I do. Because fear masquerades around you, calling you out. Are you ready to stop being afraid? Do you even realize when you’re afraid?
I used to think I was pretty brave until I looked at how I was going about my business, hiding out in the shadows, taking the safe path, and venturing only when I was sure the next step would find firm ground. Even putting this book out is the entry into a nail-biting, murky realm for me, but I firmly believe these tools are essential for us and we don’t even realize we have them. But they’re right there.
Opt in for an adventure to discover purpose, tenacity, and to build your empire. Even the most ordinary of humans can do impossible things. The elements of storytelling are tools to help us understand our purpose and to build a life greater.
My latest collection of seeking and soldering has led to a 150-page guide and workbook to help you change your mindset to change your life. Within these pages of KINGDOM COME we discover the three protocols every hero satisfies in order to fulfill the mission. You’re the hero in your own story. Transforming into the hero may be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done, but it will be the best thing you’ve ever done.
Here we discover the ultimate objective in understanding and experiencing the combined unity of these three tools in your hero story. Get ready to travel the vast horizon of the hero plot line and forge new paths toward your legacy.
Available TODAY from Amazon, in paperback and ebook, you too can join the adventure. Come on, friend. I’ve taken some of these steps myself, and it’s beautiful over here. Let’s get crackin, together. Click here to purchase your copy right now. Only $1.99 in ebook and $6.99 in paperback, you’ll have my crazy little stories about life and how all these problems around you serve as the real excitement you’ve been seeking. The chapters are short and the questions might make you squirm, but I’d rather be out there on that sunny mountain than stuck, waiting for air. Here’s your fresh breath. From my heart to yours.
What does becoming a champion entail? It’s a methodical, ongoing trek toward a goal. It’s a pushing forward, regardless. It’s upward and outward, every day, showing up, and breaking boundaries.
To be honest, it was his turquoise shoes I noticed first. Then, it was his superhuman pull-ups.
One day about a year ago, maybe longer, one guy at the gym did these massive pull-ups I’d never seen with my own eyes in person. He was using the regular squat/pull-up rack in the gym, minding his own business, but with a forty-five pound weight chained to his waist. After a couple reps of those, he went and added to the pull-ups, where he extended his arms down, above the top of the metal rack, shoving his body closer to the sky. That move is known as a muscle-up.
I blinked several times after I saw this the first time, wondering if anyone else at the gym noticed it, but around me the treadmills continued to buzz and the lifters by the weight racks studied the ground by their sneakers. (They were not turquoise.)
Another day, I took to the treadmills in my warm-up and, across the room, this bar lined with multiple forty-five-pound discs begins raising off the ground, the black steel bar itself beginning to bend in the middle. I counted I think eight of those discs plus some smaller ones. I don’t math, but then saw who was owning that bar. And nobody else in the gym even glanced up. He continued deadlifting that grimacing bar, but those hands stayed steady.
I just had to find out what motivated this guy to get up, show up, and lift up. What do you tell yourself when you’re lifting hundreds of pounds? How do you continue to shove against the grain of the earth when all it’s doing is trying to knock you down?
I think I asked him, “How much weight was that?” and he simply shrugged, non-committal, with a, “That was only four-fifty” or something to that effect. What. And then I have no idea what came out of my mouth because math… and I’m intimidated by most humans, especially ones who can lift four times my weight with a shrug. But then he said, essentially, “How you handle the gym demonstrates how you handle life.”
And I knew that my friends and readers needed to hear his story and perspective.
Need some motivation? Go find Travis Cadenhead on Facebook and Instagram at CadenheadKinetix. He’s a personal coach who offers online nutrition and fitness programming. Travis has worked with the elderly, special needs kids, the average gym goer, and pro athletes.
If you’re intimidated about those first few hesitant steps to bettering your life and wellness, then take a moment to rush forward. Success and victory aren’t as far away as they seem.
Here are just a *few* of his recent resume triumphs:
2014—Texas Raw bench press record of 402lbs at 198lb bodyweight. (U.S. Powerlifting Association)
2015—Pig Iron Classic Powerlifting meet. 1st place in weight class and best overall lifter.
2015—Bend the Bar (USPA) Powerlifting meet.
1st place in weight class and best overall lifter.
Qualified to compete at IPL world powerlifting meet.
2015—Unleash the Beast (MSA) Powerlifting meet.
1st place in weight class and best overall lifter.
Qualified to compete at IPL world powerlifting meet.
2016—Clash of the Barbarians (USPA) powerlifting meet.
1st place in weight class, best overall lifter, and a top 30 total pounds in the Nation and Top 4 in Texas.
Includes raw lifts of a 705 lb squat, 440 lb bench press, and 672 lb deadlift. 1819 lb total.
Qualified to compete at IPL world powerlifting meet.
Has your jaw hit the floor yet? I know! How does someone become a champion like this, and stay hungry yet humble? I think it has to do with the shoes. And probably also the commitment to persevere.
1) How did you get into Powerlifting/lifting heavy?
I started lifting during Junior High School for athletics although I didn't take it seriously until I was a senior in high school. It was an outlet for me; I could let out all the energy and aggression I had in the weight room versus somewhere else. I’m confident I would not be where I am today if I had not found weightlifting. I am an adrenaline junkie (fast cars/bikes or whatever to get a thrill) and quickly got addicted to the adrenaline factor of heavy lifting. It may seem crazy to a lot of people, but I love the mentality of "100% effort, give it all you got, get it or die trying." I believe the attitude I, and many others, have developed in the weight room transfers to other aspects in life also.
2) What motivates you to keep lifting heavy? When you’re at the bar, and the weights feel like they are too much, what do you do mentally or physically to continue working?
I always strive to be the best athlete I can be. I hype myself up by trying to do more reps or weight than before. I don't want to be normal and never wanted to be. If a thought comes into my head that I cannot do something, I remember the last time I had that thought, kept trying and accomplished the goal. Fear is not something God created us to have, so I bring that to the table when I am training.
3) What approach do you take to fitness and nutrition and mindset?
Fitness is very important not just physically for me but mentally. It’s been a part of my life for over a decade and I would be lost without it. I do set schedules for specific exercises/training depending on my goal at that time. I train to be a well-rounded athlete. I am always thinking about what I need to do to get better; that includes weightlifting, calisthenics, gymnastic movements, running, jumping, agility, conditioning, and martial arts.
What we put in our bodies is everything. I believe a lot of the diseases nowadays is from the Western type diet most Americans eat. Instead of eating foods with anti-inflammatories and plenty of micronutrients, the American diet is loaded with sugar and unhealthy fats which cause inflammation in the arteries, have insufficient micronutrients, vitamins/minerals, and cause diseases like diabetes and heart disease, etc. I believe eating foods loaded with anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, micronutrients, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, along with exercise, will help prevent and reverse a lot of these diseases.
4) What is your strategy for setting goals? Do you set specific numbers and work toward them or how do you decide what your results will be?
I like to set extreme goals. I am either all in or not at all; I have no in between. When I have a goal that is very extreme and hard to achieve, that is what drives and motivates me to keep moving forward.
5) For the regular person who’s afraid of stepping inside the gym, what’s one piece of advice you’d offer?
Don't be intimidated. Not everyone wants to be extreme in the gym or a competitive athlete. Everyone has different goals and levels of fitness. Starting a consistent fitness regimen is, in my opinion, one of the best decisions you can make in your life. It is never too late to start. As you get older fitness training will help you keep your muscular structure, it will make everyday functional activities more manageable, and you will be able to do more desirable activities (hiking, biking, playing with kids, etc..).
6) What is one piece of advice you’d give your teen self?
I would tell myself to learn more about functional training rather than just getting bigger. Bodybuilding like most young men want, without functional training in their routine is not practical. You will look the part but will probably lose athleticism.
7) What is one thing you’d like to leave as your legacy?
I want people to remember me as a Godly man. I want to help people live a more positive life physically, mentally and spiritually.
8) What kind of personal training do you offer, and to whom?
I offer online nutrition and fitness programming. I have worked with the elderly, special needs kids, the average gym goer, and pro athletes. I desire to work with anyone who wants to live a healthier more functional lifestyle, to athletes who wish to increase their athletic performance.
How you act in the gym demonstrates how you act outside the gym. I wasn’t raised in the gym and didn’t start loving the place until I was a mother of two littles and lost my connection to the outside world, and gained a lot of baggage in the process. What about you? Are you ready to feel better inside and out?
By pushing the limits, by digging in harder every time, the reps get easier, the reps simultaneously get harder, and also get more enjoyable. The reps equal results. You want to be the champion? Want to move freely, to do the good work you need to do? Hang in there. Don’t give up. Put in the reps to do your work, and continue pressing on regardless of outcomes, regardless of conflict, regardless of the weather or how you feel about them. If you’re hitting a wall, try aiming for a new one. Reps equal progress. The progress may be slow but all progress counts every single time.
How much do you want it?
Go get it.
And go check out Travis' Insta for inspiration and making new strides toward your tomorrow.
Connect with Travis online:
Facebook: Travis Cadenhead-CadenheadKinetix
Did you know that sprints are the number one exercise to fight belly fat? About two years ago I began sprinting. I began with a ten-minute timer and have worked my way up to twenty minutes. I set the timer for twenty minutes and run as fast as I can from thirty seconds down to zero, walk for thirty seconds, and hit it again on the following thirty. Most of the days I've shot across the pavement with my jogging stroller, baby in tow, throughout sun, slushy puddles, and wintry clouds overhead. Last weekend was a first -- I went out on my own, the four-year old preferring to stay inside and watch cartoons. So my soles rammed against the concrete, amid potholes, leaves, and burning sun. While salty drips dribbled down my temples, my brain got to whirling.
Why do we commit? Why do we give up? How do we keep going? What do we do when we want to cave, want to decline, want to bow out? Do you call in sick, or do you buck up and slam the toes against the cold ground?
Here are my thoughts from my run last weekend. Hope the encourage you and inspire you to persevere, even when the winter clouds tumble down.
5 Tips for Committing (Life Lessons I Learned From Sprinting)
ONE: Do it for you and no one else. Make it your business to fully follow through your commitments.
You agreed to do the thing. Own your choice and dive into enjoying the work, offering your best capabilities, and hanging in until you no longer need to do the work. You control your action and attitude. Build your own excitement and fulfillment in the work. If you look at a job or task and tell yourself you are doing it because someone asked it of you, or you are “out” of something if you don’t do it, then that takes you out of your business and out of your power. Take hold of your capability to do the work you chose to do. You could be doing something else; you will eventually be doing something else. While you do this job, do it because you know you can do it and better the lives of others in the process. Look at your task as an act of service, for others and yourself.
Find something to be grateful for in the work and look for the opportunity to learn and engage your inner warrior. Consider this a time to build your tool box.
TWO: Employ grace for your season.
When I first began running, I pushed my forty-pound daughter in the jogging stroller. I’ve grown accustomed to shoving the burden ahead of me, with a slot for my water bottle and my phone to blast the tunes. But you know what? You can run so much faster without a stroller.
What baggage do you have? What season are you in? Have grace with yourself for whatever season you’re in. Do your best right now and keep working toward the coming season while celebrating the current one. Avoid comparing your story to someone else’s. One day you may be sprinting clear and free, no stroller, no handbag, no accompanying soundtrack. That may be relieving or intimidating. Regardless, employ grace for your season.
Whatever season you are in, whatever baggage you are dealing with in your commitments, allow some wiggle room. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. As Jess Glynne sings, don’t be so hard on yourself. Run your race. Dig in to your sprints. And allow time and space for the extra weight you’re pushing along the track. If you insist on running full force and physically cannot do it, then don’t commit to doing more than you can handle. Be honest to the people with whom you’ve committed and allow space for the stroller. In the long run (especially the long run!) everyone will thank you for the honesty and grace you employed. That’s wisdom.
THREE: Set time limits.
Committing to something for an endless amount of time overwhelms most people. Deep in the trenches of life and stress and sinks full of dishes, even the heartiest soul considers giving up. So prepare to invest in your activities by committing for a certain time. Maybe it is a twenty-minute workout, three times a week, for six months. Can you do that? Maybe it’s to do something for thirty days. Can you do that? Maybe it’s to say, “I will do this every Monday for one year.” Can you do that? Specify your time limits and purpose your expectations.
Now, let’s level up. Extend the time. Extend what you think you can do. Add five seconds. Add a day. Add a couple inches. Many runners slow down at the end of the race. Expect the race to last longer. Place your mental finish line farther than you think you can go.
In my research into training and military exercises, I came across some videos instructing how to punch. Set your feet, own your placement on the mat, and punch through the punching bag. The strongest punch doesn’t aim for the front of the bag; the strongest punch aims for the back of the bag. Use this same strategy for your commitments. If you know that you can commit for six months, allow for seven, mentally. If you need to run a race, train by running farther. Don’t just end where everybody else is ending. Punch through to the other side of the punching bag.
Set yourself up to win by setting your expectations and accountability limits. Own your limits, and then blast through them. Intentionally focus on specific boundaries, and then go one step further. The only limits you have are the one you set for yourself. Detail them and raise the bar for yourself, for you are stronger than you know.
FOUR: The smoother the ground underfoot, the easier it is to stay upright.
How much do you believe in yourself? Do you have a solid foundation, confidence in your competence to do the task?
My neighborhood is apparently packed with crumbly streets, leaves, potholes, and rocks. And I’ve trekked over them for years. One street recently got the nice treatment and it’s smooth, black, and freshly tarred. The difference between running over the potholes and on this one fresh slab of smoothness suddenly illuminated a truth: you can run faster when the road’s clear, when there are no rocks in your shoes or on your path. While you can’t take the obstacles out of your path, you can believe in your abilities, your path, and your journey. What kind of foundation are you treading upon? Doubt in yourself serves as a pothole. Doubt in your capabilities, letting the fear creep in? That’s like running with a spike in your shoe.
Avoid comparing your road to anyone else’s. Your journey has a twisty, windy path with obstacles built just for you. The obstacles will help you get faster and stronger – are you moving ahead, one step at a time?
Get the rocks out of the way. Take the grime out of your shoes. The road will have obstacles and twists and hills, but you’ve got to trust your feet and find your own smooth track.
FIVE: Decide what story to tell.
What’s the story? When the plot has a great story, readers stick around to the end. This step consists of basically finding your “why” but maybe you haven’t personalized it enough or been intentional with it. What’s depending on this seven years from now? Twenty-seven years from now? What brought you here from seven years ago?
How do you know when to end a commitment you’ve made? Think about the ending of the story. Many times I’ve thought about giving up on my sprints before the time expires, shutting down my writing career, or just not going to the gym because I’m not “feeling it” that day. But then I think about the story I want to tell about it. How do I want the story to end, and what will make a satisfying ending for this task I’ve committed to doing? When I’m happy with the ending, that’s when the task has been completed. Not all stories have happy endings, but I’m determined to serve the character I will be in seven years. She needs me to follow through right now. I’m not sure why; but in seven years I’ll get back to you and we can chat about it. What story will you be telling in seven years about your commitments? And how will that story end?
Take a step back and consider the lives at stake, the risks involved, and what kind of story you want to tell about following through with the commitments. Maybe you just need a change in perspective to see how important this ability to persevere and commit will forge you into the hero you are. Go, hero, go!
Sprinting along the streets in my neighborhood, wobbling along with my jogging stroller, gasping in the sizzling Texas air, has offered me a wealth of knowledge. I’ve released some stress, some sweat, and gained some inspiration. Now it’s time to level up.
Run as fast as your dirty silver sneakers will carry you.
The timer’s running.
How will you commit to your promises? What story will you design? Are you running for yourself or in the name of something greater? Are you excited about the pavement? The gritty pathway awaits. I’m right here too.
Do you remember the moment you met someone who changed your life? The first time I was invited to go hear Krista Johnson speak about nutrition and health, I didn’t want to go. All of my friends were talking about her fat loss program, how they were suddenly losing all this weight, and how I *just had to* hear her story. At the time, I was a new mom, had just recently lost my job, and possessed little motivation for trying new things.
But I sure am glad that my friends didn’t give up. There in that white-walled church meeting room, as Krista introduced her story of releasing one hundred pounds from her body, going from being a tired mother of four, into a business owner who taught Tae Bo classes and had trained in person with Billy Blanks, I could almost feel the sands shifting under my feet. A fresh, soft breeze began to blow within my spirit. It started out with a plate. Now I’ve changed from that weary new mom who lived on coffee and bagels and struggled to get out of bed without crying, to someone who races to the gym every day to see if I can beat yesterday’s weight bracket. Now I understand that every day I get this great gift, this new opportunity, to speak life into others, and I think my friends understood that. I’m so glad they insisted I go to that meeting seven years ago.
If you’ve never met someone who helped you understand freedom, let me introduce you to my friend Krista.
1. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to own and operate Fit By Faith. When did you establish it?
When I was in the middle of my weight loss journey, down 20 pounds from 242 pounds, I was going for a run. Well, if you want to call it a run. I was tip toeing up a hill, crying in pain, feeling humiliation trying to get my body to move. I made a choice to keep pushing on and I literally heard in my head, FIT BY FAITH. I prayed and God showed me a vision for Fit By Faith and I laughed. How could someone as out of shape as me ever be able to help others get fit? As I began to lose and become fitter, God gave me guidance and equipped me mind, body, and spirit, to start preparing Fit By Faith. About two years later, I taught my first Tae Bo class out of another gym. One month later we opened up Fit By Faith, on September 30, 2006.
2. What does your typical day look like now?
Each day is a bit different. It involves keeping my household running, being available for my family and my famous dogs :) It is a mix of personal training, teaching fitness classes, running nutrition groups online, organizing all the other services we offer that are taught by my Husband, running two Network Marketing businesses and volunteering at my church running the media and working on the protection detail team. It sounds like a lot, but God truly equips me to handle it all. When I become overwhelmed and feel like it is too much, I stop trying to do it myself and get back on track letting God lead me!
3. What kept you going through your fitness/wellness journey when you felt like you were at a plateau? What did you do?
I like how you call it a journey, because it is. I am still on it and will be on it forever. There were times I had no changes, but I think the reason people quit when results stop or give up is because their motivation was a weak one. If it is to be a certain weight by a certain date, to look good in a swim suit, etc, then those are weak motivations that will not last a lifetime. For me it was realizing I had the responsibility to break this cycle and keep it from trickling down into my children. It was realizing I did not want to be this overweight, sick burden to my family. I want to be an example and a blessing to my children and family. So whether I am having results or not, they see me walking in faith, making good choices, being joyful in all situations and then they learn to do the same.
4. Do you have a favorite quote or Bible verse which encourages you?
Yes. There are about 354 to be exact! Ha! But the one that stays with me through all situations is Acts 1:8. I believe we are equipped to do whatever God leads us to do. I may have had no clue about fitness, but when I allowed him to use me 100%, he has equipped me. If he told me tomorrow he wanted me to be a hair dresser, I may have no idea today about how to be one in that moment, but you can bet I would become the best one in the nation because He would equip me to do it :) You shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be His witness to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8
5. Do you have a favorite and a least favorite fitness move? What are they?
I have an equal amount of both, but if I had to pick one, I like burpees. It is funny because when I first did one, I thought they were straight from the pit of hell and hated them with all my being. Now I love them. I love that I can do them and do them well. I love to get creative with them too. Least favorite would be pull-ups. Enough said. Ha!
6. What is one change anybody can make today in order to begin a fitness journey? What about a faith journey?
I believe the absolute first change has to be what comes out of your mouth for both your fitness journey and your faith journey. Our words are life and death. What you speak is what you will become. Change your words, change your life. When I finally fixed the inside, the outside was no longer a battle. It just fixed itself. Until you can speak truth to your body, to your mind and spirit, and only work on the outside, it will be like a dog chasing its tail in circles.
7. Do/did you have a particular struggle in regard to changing your lifestyle? What do you do when you find that weakness creeping back in? Do you have a particular strength or preference that keeps you in the fat loss lifestyle?
I did and still do face struggles all the time, but through them I grow and learn. I see struggles as great teachable moments. You have to be a teachable person and be willing to have not so good days and learn from them. I think what has kept me on this journey is just loving myself through the process. Understanding that my best will be different each day and embracing every victory no matter how small. I think love is the answer to everything, honestly. It is the strength that everyone possesses, you just have to do it :) Honestly the power is always in our hands. You just have to flip the switch on!
8. What’s one thing you would tell your teenage self?
When your flesh wants to handle something, stop before you speak or act and remember this: Be in love, walk in faith, be led by the spirit.
9. What do you hope to leave as your legacy?
John and I have four of the absolutely most amazing children. Each one of them truly is if you know anything about them. They are my legacy and as far as I am concerned, that job is already done!
10. What do you offer at Fit By Faith? Do you offer personal training? Do you have a particular program to help me on my wellness journey? How do I find you online?
We offer personal training, fitness classes, nutrition classes, CPR & Lifeguard Certification, Reflexology, Nutritional products and a lot of love. You can find out about all of it at www.fitbyfaith.net .
It doesn't matter if you're burned out, broken down, or just plain tired. You've got this one moment to make a change and act. Can a mom of four lose one hundred pounds and keep it off? Yes. Can an ordinary chica break a board with a swift kick? Yes. Can even the clumsiest of fumblers learn how to deadlift her weight? Oh, my, yes. Can one decision change a life? You know it.
Flip on that switch, readers! Welcome to this beautiful new day of life, creation, and wild adventure. If you struggle with your weight or nutrition choices, need mental clarity, lack motivation, or just want to feel better overall, I encourage you to check out fitbyfaith.net and see all that Krista has to offer. She’ll get you the tools you need and equip you with courage, hope, and love, to not just be fit, but fit by faith.
Kristin Hernandez may be considered a first-year teacher, but she’s spent years preparing for such a time as this. Nominated for the 2018 Texas Teacher of the Year award by her superiors, this teacher has a colorful story of hope and courage. She not only instructs her students in using their numbers and letters, she lives as an example of defying the odds and overcoming obstacles with some elbow grease and a hearty spirit. Kids need more than numbers and letters; they need examples of grit.
Hernandez attended Howard Payne University as a full-time student while working multiple jobs to pay her own way, and support herself through four years of fees, tuition, bills, groceries, and rent. Crushing tunes in the music labs and studying within the education department’s paneled walls by day, she spent her nights cleaning with a janitorial company, volunteering at church, studying, and other miscellaneous tasks to earn the occasional dollar here or there. Nights were short, days were long, but her intrepid nature commanded the years. In 2015, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies with a Music Minor.
Immediately after graduation she applied to East Elementary, where she was hired as a Computer Lab Aid. While the position offered the opportunity to connect with teachers and students inside the walls of the school, the full-time hours provided part-time salary. Regardless of the restrictions this placed on her, Hernandez maintained a positive environment within her computer lab, assisting in multiple tasks and projects in addition to her required duties, all with colorful posters on the lab walls reminding her students of all their possibilities. She began the process of testing for state mandated certifications. The following year she moved into the classroom as a Third Grade Teacher’s Assistant, where she worked one-on-one with students, particularly when the teacher required maternity leave in the second half of the year. In her third year at East Elementary, in a buzz of gumption and gusto, Hernandez finally finished the state-mandated certifications and was hired for the shiny position of Third Grade Teacher. Ever since, she’s been filling the role like a champion.
Anybody who stumbles across Hernandez receives an authentic, heartfelt hello, and focused attention. “I teach for them,” Hernandez said. “I teach because I get to watch them discover things and grow. Some of them need all the love I have, some of them need the knowledge, and some of them just need the structure.” Students, current and previous, run up to her whenever and wherever, and offer a genuine hug. “They make me feel alive, and I end up loving every single one of them as they walk into my room.”
She not only offers honest, straight-forward instruction but unique, applicable tools for her students. “It’s so satisfying to see them years later, to see them grow into their own talents, and still remember I was a huge part of their lives for that one year. I get to receive the love back that has been poured into them. I get to see some special moments parents don’t, and that is so valuable to me. I get to see them overcome their biggest struggles, to watch them choose to be kind instead of mean, to watch them laugh, to watch them gather new perspectives on life, to decide who they want to be that day. I teach so they know all of those things they may or may not get at home, and enjoy it with them. The group of people I love grows every year, and it’s more rewarding than anything else.”
Even amidst the required mounds of roll calls, testing, paperwork and form-filing, she finds time to encourage her students. She shows them to pursue their education and how to tenaciously tackle life’s challenges. She lives it every day right before their eyes. And that’s some of the best education possible.
Want to make a difference in someone’s day? Vote right now for the 2018 Texas Teacher of the Year. One simple click provides a vote. Here’s your opportunity to support a hard-working teacher who truly deserves this award. Simply click here and select the dot beside Kristin Hernandez – Brownwood East Elementary.
"Who invited the mom that runs?" She said it partially in jest, but the hint of insecurity and chastisement were what I heard. Did she really disapprove of the parents who chose to join their kids on the track of the running club? Wasn't the point to get people moving?
No, I think she had a moment where she felt inadequate or jealous and let that win. There's space for every mom. Some moms stand on the sidelines cheering on their kids, some moms drop off the kids and drive to work, and some moms get on the track. I'm glad this mom said her piece, because it inspired me.
The first day of running club, I wasn't sure whether to join my daughter on the track. It was technically FOR the kids, so could parents run too? I stood on the sidelines that first morning, unsure if I could use that twenty minutes to get my own blood pumping.
Then The Mom Who Runs showed up with her kids and took the track with them. She was the only one. The second day? I wore my running shoes and joined the fun.
Don't be afraid or insecure if you want to get on the track. Maybe there's a place for helicopter parenting but I'd also venture there's a place for being an example. I want my kids to see that they can be physically fit at any age, and I want them to be encouraged in their striving. I want them to know they are capable of doing more than they imagine, that it's okay to be courageous, and it's okay to be different.
Time to toss the fear, the insecurities, the jealousy, the inability. You are needed on the field. You're wanted on the field. You're capable of filling the space that needs to be filled. Lace up those running shoes. Take that first step and get on the track. The children are watching. So are the other moms.
“Here be dragons to be slain, here be rich rewards to gain;
If we perish in the seeking, why, how small a thing is death!”
It’s release day for HERE BE DRAGONS! My heart’s roaringly thunderous inside my chest. The pressure, the epitome, the culmination of months of work—no, years of work—leading up to THIS one moment…it’s finally here. Are you ready?
Breathing life into her awoke my own resolution to restore others. Saylor didn’t know I’d revived her. She didn’t know for months, and during that time I traveled across our blue sphere and back to her recovering form at Fort Story, Virginia. Little blonde firecracker. Changed my life.
Sergeant Merritt Steele sat beside me on the cargo plane carrying us to Camp Kissinger, located deep in the heart of Australia’s Outback. “Sorry to see them go,” my co-commander noted, a slight tremor in his blue eyes. I knew he meant more than he said. He’d connected with Saylor, her sister Micah, and the McConnell family during our three-week leave.
Neither of us knew when or if we’d see them again. But that was life as Echo Company of the Alliance Military Guard, and we held that knowledge closer than our body armor. Never quit. We defeat. Let the enemy fall, come what may. That’s what we did, that’s what we were, and not a single one of us doubted it.
Not even when we landed in a war zone.
(HERE BE DRAGONS, Chapter One Excerpt)
Are you living in a war zone?
Fiction shows us how to deal with our non-fiction. We can read these characters’ stories, see their pain, feel their journey, and tremble as their spirits quake. We get invited into their space and see the world with its crumbles, heartache, and power. Fiction’s miraculous. Fiction offers a gift of escape, of courage, of grit, of shuddering through temptation with the hero. Are you facing some serious shadows? Are you hearing the grinding of bones in the distance? Follow Tucker into the heart of the Outback.
Where are the heroes?
A friend of mine recently said she wondered where the heroes were. The current trend for stories is that they often feature a strong heroine—and while I am ALL about a strong heroine, and inspiring girls to believe in themselves—I also believe we need to encourage boys to protect, to serve, to lead humbly, to explore, to create, and to forget stereotypes. Be inspired. Be fearless. Be wise. Be the hero.
Temptation leads us down paths where we consider retreating or cheating, or complaining or blaming. Well let me ask you, can fiction teach us to face the shadows? Can fiction show us the glory in the fight for life?
The amazing thing about HERE BE DRAGONS is it’s only $4.99 on Kindle Unlimited AND if you’ve got Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for FREE! I’ve had several readers who’ve provided feedback, and what they’ve all said is how much they enjoyed the ending--do you need a great ending? HERE BE DRAGONS is currently only available as an ebook, until I sell 100 per my publisher’s contract. Help both of us hold that book in our hands. We need to grip this, to flip through these pages. Connect with a free trial of Kindle Unlimited and download your copy of HERE BE DRAGONS and soar through those Australian skies with Tucker and his rag-tag crew of Guardsmen.
What is HERE BE DRAGONS about?
Alliance Military Guard sent the order. Sergeant Tucker Thompson acquiesced. Hopping on a plane to his long-lost Australian birthplace, he's been charged with his toughest mission yet. Thompson must rally his company of soldiers to prevent a new generation of weaponry from breaching the world's borders.
Readers love HERE BE DRAGONS! One reviewer stated:
“On the surface, this novel is a good dose of sci-fi and futuristic drama. Deep down, the realistic characters, with their daily struggle, not only for survival but also for understanding their sense of purpose in life, meets the need of young adult readers who, similarly, are seeking a meaning of life. The message is clear: work hard, stay the course, and look for the good in everyone and everything. Life can be good.” (Emily-Jane Hills Orford)
Are you wanting to add a great book to your reading list for 2018?
Grab HERE BE DRAGONS today. I’ve seen those dark days, those dark nights. I’ve felt the gripping fingers of desperation slipping around my neck in the trenches of writing, amid crying children, tight finances, broken down cars, endless mounds of papers to grade. I’ve scraped by on my knees and had to carry heavier weights than I thought possible. But you know what you find in the darkness? You find the light. You find the people who help, the people who stride through your front door with chocolate and coffee, and the people who truly believe all of which you’re capable.
You need to believe it, too.
The stories you tell yourself in the dark, those are the ones that stick with you.
You have the opportunity to build upon the bricks of shattered dreams and mortar of confusion, and turn it into an empire. What do you do, what do you tell yourself, when the lights go out?
Some may beg for light. Others may beg for relief, beg for some give in the take. Others may bury their faces further into the miry pool.
Something I’ve learned in the dark places: there’s always someone around to bring in the light. There’s always someone around to absorb the spilled tears, to carry the weight, and to offer a square of chocolate. Death brought confusion. But, ultimately, life wins.
You see, people are intrepid. People do seek life and life fully. There may be a lot of dark, but the warriors for light rage on. They cannot, they will not rest, until the light shines over the horizon. You see it among the darkness: a sparkle, a spark, a crack of hope against all odds.
The people who feed the darkness, they are confused. They are trapped. They are prisoners enchained by lies. They are enveloped by the monsters who devour them.
Another lesson? The hardest battle may be around the corner, trapped in the tunnels, snarling against the bright light you carry. Be prepared. Be prepared for anguish, be prepared for a cold chill to grasp for the warm light. Be prepared to fight with courage, with kindness, with tenacity, and grit. Expect among the war cry a song of hope to emerge. Be the singer. Be the strong arms carrying the weak into the night. Be the grammar joke, when death is on the line.
Bang the war drums.
Rattle the cages.
Here be Dragons.
Amy Purdy's caption on an Instagram photo posted last year displays a twenty-one year-old girl in a white hospital gown, with a resilient smile on her face. She'd just had both of her legs amputated below the knees. Her words rang true then and they ring true now.
"In fact when I was wheeled into surgery, I gave myself three goals. 1. To never feel sorry for myself. 2. To snowboard that year and 3. When I figured this mess out, I vowed to help others. And I'm proud to say, that I accomplished all of them and ended up going further than I ever could have imagined. I didn't just snowboard, I won a medal in the Olympic/Paralympic Games. I didn't just help others, I have become one of the top requested motivational speakers in the country and started my own organization @adaptiveactionsports. But most importantly... I never ever gave up on myself. No matter what your circumstances are, don't ever give up on yourself. You are important and your contribution to this world and humanity is needed. You can be whatever you want to be. But there isn't anyone who is going to figure it out for you, you have to figure it out for yourself."
Battling meningitis, losing both kidneys, her spleen, and the hearing in her left ear, weighing eighty-three pounds, and at a two percent chance of survival, Amy Purdy proved to be one resilient cupcake. That same year she strapped on her snowboard. Three years later she earned a bronze medal in the snowboardcross at the Paralympic Winter Games Sochi 2014. She’s continued moving forward, joining the Dancing With The Stars cast in their eighteenth season, which is where I first saw her dance with partner Derek Hough. I rooted for her every step of the way, gasping when she’d whirl around on the floor, and as Derek would toss her around like a graceful puppet. She held her own, all the way to runner-up. I voted for her, I gotta say! She never earned a score less than an 8 during the entire run.
Amy has spoken on TEDx talks and her speech has become the example from which others are advised to learn in order to present their speeches; she also has a New York Times bestselling book. “Borders are where the actual ends, but also where the imagination and the story begins,” Amy said in her TEDx talk. “Instead of looking at our challenges and limitations as something negative or bad, we can begin to look at them as blessings, magnificent gifts that can be used to ignite our imaginations and help us go further than we ever knew we could go.” Other accomplishments? She went on a speaking engagement tour with Oprah Winfrey, drove a pace car in the Daytona 500, and runs Adaptive Action Sports, a company which helps athletes compete in action sports. She had to create her own gear in order to continue snowboarding, and has used that knowledge to help others. She’s currently on track to compete in the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang in 2018.
Amy’s TEDx talk asks viewers, “If your life were a book and you were the author, how would you want your story to go?” She said after she left the hospital, she had to let go of the old Amy and embrace the new Amy.
You’ve got to admit, we humans like a good hero story. We like a guy who rises from the ashes. You’ve got some button—some button that engages your fears, your failures, your darkness—and you’ve also got the ability to quell them. The Not Good Enough seeks you to serve you. How will you greet it? How will you create your story? The building action drives those decisions you make. You get every opportunity to be the hero.
“There's no need to be perfect to inspire others,” Amy wrote on an Instagram post. “Let people get inspired by how you deal with your imperfections.” Perhaps you’re sitting on the living room floor, staring at your laptop, illuminated in the dark, just like I am. Perhaps your insides have been trembling in fear. We rise. We rise up fearless, borderless, and creative. Perhaps you’ve been training your whole life just for this incredible moment. This new moment where you embrace your new day. “It’s not about breaking down borders. It’s about pushing off of them and seeing what amazing places they might bring us.”
See Amy’s TEDx talk here: http://amypurdy.com/speaker/
During the 1988 Calgary Olympics the world saw the debut of the Jamaican Bobsled Team, and also where Eddie “The Eagle” soared into last place as a famously unsuccessful ski jumper. The media called him, “Mr. Magoo,” and “a heroic failure.” At the closing ceremonies of the 1988 Olympics, Frank King, organizer of the Olympic Committee stated, “You have captured our hearts. You have broken world records and you have established personal bests. And some of you have soared like eagles.”
Michael “Eddie” Edwards spent three years of his childhood wearing plaster casts on his legs after a noble yet unnecessarily dangerous risk blocking a soccer goal, damaging the cartilage in his knee. He wore thick glasses. At the age of thirteen he began downhill skiing, and by the age of seventeen he had advanced on the British national skiing team. He decided to pursue ski jumping due to lack of funding for the costly downhill skiing. He traveled the European ski circuit in his mother’s van, utilizing second-hand equipment. He earned money doing odd jobs, such as babysitting, mowing lawns, and working in hotels. The Italians gave him a helmet, and the Austrians handed over a pair of extra skis. His boots were too large, so he wore six pairs of socks to fill the gap. “When he broke his jaw, instead of paying to be treated at a hospital, he tied it up with a pillowcase and went about his business” (The Guardian). Edwards received news he qualified for the British Olympic Team while staying at a Finnish mental hospital—he’d booked their accommodations for the cheap cost of one pound a night.
Edwards was twenty pounds heavier than the other ski jumpers, and barely scraped by the minimum qualifications for ski jumping. But he was the fastest ski jumper from Britain.
At the 1988 Olympics, fellow Olympians watched as Eddie smashed into a glass door at the airport, crushing his skis and ruining some of his gear. But despite all these difficulties, Eddie persisted. The media ran with his story and ridiculed him. Fans adored him. They rooted for the underdog. He participated in all three jumps, and scores landed him absolutely last place. According to Wikipedia, “In the 70 [meter jump], he scored 69.2 points from two jumps.” Next to last place, “Bernat Sola Pujol of Spain scored 140.4 points. Winner Matti Nykänen of Finland had 229.1 points.” Underwhelming results didn’t stop him from showing up and jumping to the best of his ability. And the whole crowd rooted for him.
See, we love an underdog. We love seeing someone dedicate and overcome. We love to see the guy who doesn’t give up, no matter what.
In 1990, the International Olympic Committee even made an “Eddie The Eagle Rule,” raising the minimum qualifications. As People magazine stated, “stricter qualification rules were imposed, making it nearly impossible for Eddie the Eagles of the world to ever make the Olympics again.”
Edwards sold the movie rights to his life story in 2007, and production halted on the movie until the right people fell into place. In 2016, the movie “Eddie The Eagle,” starring Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman hit theatres, which is where I first saw this fantastic story of heart and grit. We all have our Eddie moments. Ever been wearing six pairs of socks to fill someone else’s boots? Are you out of your league? Are you underprepared and financially incapable? <Raises hand.> Eddie braved it all and didn’t look back.
Even considered a “heroic failure,” he still went to the Olympics, man. And he was mentioned in the closing ceremony address, to thunderous applause.
Maybe you’re dreaming of big things and great stories. Maybe you’re stuck facing overwhelming odds against you, and fears which leave you crippled in your spot.
Or maybe, just maybe, it’s time to soar.
Pre-order your copy of the Young Adult Action Adventure HERE BE DRAGONS for only $4.99 and receive your own Alliance Military Guard Training Guide containing TWO WEEKS worth of exercises, guaranteed to get you in battle-ready shape to train as a Guardsman.
In addition, every purchase earns an entry into a drawing to win a MONTH-LONG online FAT LOSS PROGRAM, worth $150!
With over ten years of experience specializing in metabolic conditioning, and as the official trainer of the Alliance Military Guard, Fit By Faith© owner Krista Johnson has created ten workouts to get you in gear and ready to crush life. Utilizing a variety of whole-body strengthening techniques, your free gift with purchase will be just what you need to start your new year off the right way. Each of the ten workouts can be completed at home or in a gym, and takes approximately thirty minutes or less.
ALSO Krista has generously given me one spot in her online FAT LOSS FORMULA PROGRAM. I've participated in her online program several times and learned something new every single time, along with losing over 10 pounds and 8 inches in one month! Over the course of six months where I've been measuring my progress and working consistently on my eating habits, I've lost over 20 pounds and 17 inches. Krista's program is worth its weight in gold. She gives you the education and information to manage your own nutritional and fitness goals to live a fat loss lifestyle like a boss. For every HERE BE DRAGONS receipt received, you earn ONE ENTRY in a drawing to win this spot in her class! Krista's online course begins December 31st. (See more about Krista's program, workouts, and courses at http://www.fitbyfaith.net/index.html)
***To earn a spot in the drawing, entries must be received by Wednesday, December 20th at 11:59 PM***
Click this link to pre-order HERE BE DRAGONS and submit your receipt to get your FREE GIFT NOW:
What's HERE BE DRAGONS about?
Alliance Military Guard sent the order. Sergeant Tucker Thompson acquiesced. Hopping a plane to his long-lost Australian birthplace, he's been charged with his toughest mission yet. Thompson must rally his company of soldiers to prevent a new generation of weaponry from breaching the world's borders.
Pound the war drums. Rattle the cages. Here be Dragons.
Excerpt from HERE BE DRAGONS:
Creeping through the sultry space, footsteps steady and stealthy, we readied our weapons. Blood and fire pulsed through my veins like they’d done so many times in training. This was the game, after all. These Alliance builders loved their long hallways.
Our rustling stirred up dust underfoot, and cement beams overhead groaned in disuse.
“How many feet‘re we underground ya think?” Hawk asked from the back of the line.
Flashlights and head lamps illuminated the way before us, stark tile work on the ground cracked and chipped. With every few feet we advanced, the walls became more fractured and peeling, as if a wave of tremors had rippled outward from the explosions of the bombing. Like vines along the paint, crevices in the cement grew substantial and entangled. Cautious and wary, we proceeded.
After several minutes of quiet steps echoing along the corridor, someone’s beam of light caught a fleck of darkness upon the wall.
“What’s that?” Norita asked.
Burkman shined his light to the scrawled paint upon the wall. The black paint dripped the warning: Beware.
GET IT HERE: HERE BE DRAGONS
Master a mindset of excellence. You've been put on this blue sphere within this time and space for a specific number of reasons. Create success in the strength of the Lord. He's given you the opportunity to achieve great tasks, so rise to the occasion.
Let's explore our first facet of an excellence mindset: Owning your power.
In the strength of the Lord, you can do all things. God has set you in your beautiful time and space for a reason. You can do remarkably more than you know. You’re created to do good works. So as you find yourself working toward this larger, greater goal (sometimes you don't even know what it is, but you're on your way!), you will have to kick it in gear. You will be distracted, discouraged, and lonesome. But you are here, you are mighty. As a believer in our almighty God, you have the strength to move mountains. Mountains of paperwork, it may feel like at times, but you can and must do it. God’s got endless resources of patience, endurance, moxie, and hope, so lean on him to power you through late nights, empty voids of space where you need to be studying, creating, and doing your good work. He funnels these resources into our souls and fuels us toward success. The hardest part? You must keep stepping onward, in humility and intent.
This journey belongs to you. It’s not your mom’s, it’s not your brother’s, it’s not your kid’s, it’s not your teacher’s, it’s not your peer’s. It’s yours. Claim it. Own it. Rock it.
“It is awfully hard to be brave, when you're only a Very Small Animal.”
- A. A. Milne (from Winnie-The-Pooh)
In these shifting sands, I often feel like a Very Small Animal, just one pinpoint among the many, many stars. The reality is that dreams shift and shatter, and yellow-brick roads sometimes lead to dead ends. Sometimes life is a quick drop, a sudden stop. And what do we do? We can look up into the blue sky and wonder who is watching. We can glance over our shoulders to see if anybody saw when we fell down and skinned our knees. We can wipe away that glimmer of a tear because there just isn’t time right now. We can yell at the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s.
There are different types of fear. We fear letting people down, failing, falling, and basically appearing foolish or incompetent. Basically, we fear the unknown. It’s a survival instinct. Here’s one important lesson to realize: humans, inherently, are not psychic. Humans are limited in that way.
The good news is that the unknown is not a monster. The unknown simply doesn’t exist. The unknown is your projection of a possibility. It’s not fact, it’s not verifiable, and it’s probably not even what may occur.
Projection avoids the present. Appreciating the present eliminates fear. Let’s walk through it step by step.
I have always liked the movie Elizabethtown. It is the story of a man, Drew Baylor, whose great invention at a shoe company craters and he is fired; while he rigs a contraption to commit suicide, his sister calls to inform him that his father had a heart attack and died. Yeah, yeah, it sounds sad, whatever. This is the platform from which he falls, however, and the audience takes the journey with him, through facing failure and its wretched aftermath, new love, and fresh beginnings.
“You have five minutes to wallow in the delicious misery,” Claire Colburn says in a note to Drew. “Enjoy it, embrace it, discard ... and proceed. Sadness is easier because it's surrender. I say, make time to dance alone with one hand waving free.”
We see Drew dancing under some shade trees after scattering some of his dad’s ashes along the road. He cries.
You can dance and cry at the same time.
It’s about glorying in the moment rather than expecting a projected triumph.
At one point, Claire says to Drew, “We are intrepid. We carry on.”
Regardless of what we hope for, project, or dare, what IS exists. And it’s stunning.
Call it a web, a journey, a path, or a plotline, humans navigate this earth and their time on it. The more difficult the landscape, the more you see of your true self. Amid the bouquet of options, I can see yesterday’s selfish flippancy, the materialistic cravings, the immature belief. I can see yesterday’s shaking flesh, the whimpering muscles. But I can also see how these challenges, these opportunities, they work like a sieve. Through the emptying out, an instigation of firmness builds within; as the complaining sifts out like powdery flour, a more solid hand steadies a tangible faith.
Not so long ago, God breathed out life upon the universe. He pieced together billions of people with billions of opportunities to thrive in a life greater.
The God who made us has us here to learn more about his security. He is secure, he is able. He is intrepid. As a believer in him, he resides within me, therefore I am secure, I am able, I am intrepid. There’s no better place for me than where I am right now. There’s no better place for you, either. You’re in this time and space with me, and we can reflect on the delightful present of our reality.
You breathe air.
You blink with bright eyes.
Your senses ignite, your hope flares, and you are now more awake to the possibilities of freedom — the possibilities of life, beautiful, perfect, as it is, right here, right now. How do you feel without expectations for what should be, and is not? How do you feel knowing that the story you’ve been beating yourself up for does not exist, nor should it? ‘Should’ does not exist. How does it feel to accept that the slow car in front of you is supposed to be slow? How does it feel to accept that you have the opportunity to wipe gum off your shoe in front of your child? How does it feel to receive the incorrect order at the drive-thru, and know that this is the moment for which you’ve been preparing? You get right now to be your best self. You get this one moment to drop your pride, speak with humility, and act in kindness.
You get right now to choose how to act.
Three kinds of business exist: Your business, My business, and God’s business. Your gift is this one reality to mind your business. You don’t have to mind mine or God’s. You can’t mind God’s business. (Seriously, would you want to? No thanks.) That’s why it’s his. He gets to deal with the stars, the natural disasters, and the mass of humanity as a whole.
“David also said to Solomon his son, ‘Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you’” (1 Chronicles 28:20).
See, God IS minding his business, which includes us. He won’t stop. He will never leave or fail us — he’s with us, he’s within us, he’s around us. So we’re secure on that end. Be strong, be courageous, do the work. I manage my business. You manage your business. And we rockin’ it. We magnificent.
Intrepid means ‘fearless and bold.’ Plucky. Dauntless. Resolute. We are intrepid. We carry on. It’s our business. And remember, you got yours, I got mine! We manage the events as they piece together before us. We have nothing to fear. We have nothing to complain about. Don’t assume some other scenario than what you currently have could be better. This one moment is the best option. (Spiders and all!)
Small animals? Maybe our bodies are small creatures compared to the stars. On any ordinary day, are our souls woven into the Spirit of the King of Kings, the Creator, the manager of the stars? Yes. Able to do the work? Yes. Dancing with one hand flying free? Oh, my dear, yes.
More on this coming soon. <3
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