Being BRAVE.

It’s funny how some things don’t seem hard until you made it though them and then you look back and think holy crap that was hard!! I can’t believe I did that.

And then there are other things that are hard from the get go. Things that scare you, but you push through them – because you HAVE to, even when you don’t WANT to.

Doing hard things is BRAVE.

I always thought that in order to do brave things & be brave that I had to stop being scared.

– Being brave isn’t the ABSENCE of fear.

Being BRAVE is pushing through the fear, it’s doing things even though you are scared.

It’s okay to be afraid!

Somewhere along the lines we are taught to Just stop being scared. While at times that can be a good thing, it has often stopped me from doing hard or things that brought on my fears. I would look at something and say well that scares me- so I guess I won’t do it.

Leaving my abusive relationship was hands down the hardest thing I have ever done, until last week.

Last week I spoke at my childhood friends funeral. She lost her battle with depression and took her own life. This news hit me so hard. Not only because I lost my dear friend, but because that could have been me.

There have been times where I felt so low, I’ve considered ending my life. Thinking it would just make it easier on everyone else around me.

I’m still in a fog of disbelief.

It’s a strange feeling that I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around.

I can’t get her out of my mind.

I can’t stop thinking of her family, her husband, her kids, her mom, her dad, her sister, her brother and all of those beautiful people that came to celebrate her life.

Walking up to speak at her funeral was one of the most surreal things I have ever experienced.

I was scared, yet calm.

Anxious, yet confident.

In a shock of disbelief but yet so sober.

I knew there would be a lot of people there, But; there were A LOT of people there.

She impacted so many people, most she probably didn’t even realize she affected.

Amber accepted you for who you were and made you feel comfortable with yourself.

I wish I could have done the same for her.

I wish that there was something I could have done to help her.

Depression doesn’t care who you are or where you are in life.

It doesn’t care if you are an amazing mom, a wife, a fun friend, because Amber was all of those things and more.

It doesn’t care that you have overcome & battled through the hard stuff, it doesn’t care that you are the happiest you have ever been.

It takes all that good in your life and it tells you that you don’t deserve it. It tells you that you aren’t worth it. Then, when you least expect it- it sneaks up behind you taps you on the shoulder and sucker punches you right in the face.

This is why I have to work on myself EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. This is why I surround myself with people who challenge me and make me better- even when my introverted self wants to hide under a blanket.

This is why I love my job. It encourages me to work on my whole self. I not only get to work on my physical self but my mental and spiritual well being. I’m always learning and trying to be as real and transparent as possible- so that others know it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to be okay one day but not okay the next.

It’s hard, some days I’m good, other days- it’s a struggle. There are days where I want to quit and give up, But I push though it anyway. Then there are days where I have so much planned and so much I want to do I don’t even know where to start.

I won’t wake up one day and be magically “fixed.” I won’t just forget about my past. It doesn’t work that way. Believe me I wish it did. Whether I like it or not, my past has shaped me into the person I am today.

All the good, the bad & the ugly.

Those same choices and circumstances of my past- the ones that whisper in my ear & tell me I’m not good enough- also give me the strength to push through and prove to my past self I AM good enough.

Yes- I made mistakes, but I am learning that I am not a mistake. Those mistakes don’t define who I am.

It’s okay to struggle it’s okay to fail.

Learn from it.

I’m learning to embrace it.

I am learning that I can use it to help others.

If me being vulnerable, scared, embarrassed, honest & open helps just ONE person know they are not alone, than it’s all worth it.

Health & Healing is lifelong journey.

It’s not a destination. You are always moving.

Embrace it, work with it, grow with it.

It will be hard.

But I can do hard things.

And so can you-

Even if you are scared.

Relationships, Grace & Hope.

I don’t even have the words.

This one hit way to close to home for me.

Way to close. Way to personal.

And not just because I lost my first ever best friend.

But because- that could have easily been me.

I’ve been there. I’ve felt that pain, it’s a horrible dark pain.

It’s an indescribable feeling that I can’t even comprehend myself.

It’s a pain that doesn’t care who you are, if you are a good mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend – it has no preference.

It doesn’t care that you are happy, bubbly, unique and original on the outside.

It’s a pain that no one truly can see because the bearer of the pain hides it ever so well- and pretends that everything is fine.

It’s a deep dark sad place.

The fact that our friend felt so bad, that the pain consumed her so much, that she felt like there was no where else to turn, rocks me to my core and makes my heart ache like it never has before. I am truly heartbroken.

I feel like all we ever share on Facebook is our good moments, our highlight reel. Which is great, of course I want to celebrate the good, and I want others to succeed and be happy. But I also want you to know its okay to be real. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to need help.

I do try my best to be honest and transparent with my life on here, but often times when we publicly share struggles or state that we have a chronic illness or are suffering with mental health issues we are often brushed off or labeled as seeking attention.

It’s so hard to know how much to really share and how much to hold back.

Wanting to be oh so real – but not too negative or too needy.

We are so overly connected with technology, media, status, and checking in on peoples virtual lives, that we often overlook the real connections in our lives.

How many times have you been in a restaurant and have seen an entire table of people staring at their phones. We are right there in front of people but we aren’t THERE. So consumed with checking in seeing how everyone else is doing online that we don’t even acknowledge the people right there in front of us. I’m guilty of it. I do it all the time.

We just assume that people read our facebook status, Insta-stories & snapchats so that when we pass by in real life –

We often offer a trivial, “hi how are you- I’m good, you? Eh, I’m busy, but good.” Small chit chat and chatter. And then we move along, being our busy selfs – without ever really asking the deeper questions.

We don’t take the time to truly get to know one another anymore.

We are so busy and so consumed with life, plans and other things, that we forget to connect, we forget to form a bond and a forget to build relationship. Life is all about relationships – and we are losing them to our phones.

Most of you know that I struggle with my mental health, depression, anxiety and major PTSD from an abusive relationship.

Maybe most of you know, maybe most of you don’t know?

I’m currently partaking in a mental health study with the University of Michigan. It aims to work with people struggling with PTSD and/or bipolar depression.

But I don’t often talk about how hard it is to truly live day to day with it.

I don’t really share with you how much it really affects and impacts our daily life.

How hard it is on my husband to know that he can’t do anything to “fix me.”

I don’t share the mundane in and the outs because I’m afraid that people will get sick and tired of hearing about how much I struggle every day.

The stuff you see me post about my workouts & nutrition is part of what I do during my day, but it’s not my full day. It’s usually the happiest part of my day. So it’s why I talk about it so much, it’s why I post about it so much.

My day is filled with mess, chaos, screaming at my child, crying because she’s so stinking stubborn, throwing my hands up in the air saying enough is enough!

Questioning if I am a good mother.

Questioning if God made a mistake in making me a mother.

Asking my husband if he thinks that he would be better off without me.

What if I just left him and Jade?

I feel like such a burden to them and that maybe he could find someone else that would do a better job of meeting his needs.

These are the types of things that run though my mind. ALL. THE. TIME.

I have flashbacks. Not so many now. It’s been 6 years since I left, and I can’t believe I still have them. Vivid ones. Terrifying ones – that leave me in such a panic that I wake up wondering if I’m back in PA? Back in the abuse? Wondering if my current reality is just a dream.

There are times when Dallas will unknowingly do something to trigger thoughts or feelings of my past, and I get angry, I snap and I’m mean.

It’s not his fault, sometimes I don’t even know all of my own triggers.

He hasn’t done anything bad to me, but he ends up taking the brunt of it all. We are working on this. But it’s a struggle.

The feelings of insecurity creeep back in.

The feelings of, “Am I ever going to be good enough?” Seep though.

The feelings of “I don’t ever do anything right” and that I’m a bad person come back.

The feelings that I don’t deserve Dallas, that he is “too good” for me.

They are uncontrollable.

Even when I tell myself, that they aren’t true.

There is such a stigma attachted to mental health.

The kind of stigma of, “Well its just your thoughts and feelings, so change them.” “Just change it.” “You shouldn’t feel that way. “

Friends, I wish it was that easy. If it was, then no one would struggle.

Like I said, even my own husband (who is a saint, mind you) doesn’t understand it, or what I’m going though.

He doesn’t understand why I’m depressed because I currently legit have no reason to be.

I’m out of the abuse and I know I’ll never be treated like that ever again.

I’m with someone who loves me, unconditionally.

After struggling with infertility for just a year we had our little miracle baby.

He has a great job and is able to make enough money so I can stay home and care for our little girl.

I don’t have to work, even though I choose to, because I’m passionate about and love what I do.

I have had some major health issues the past few years, but we seem to always make it thought them okay.

He feels like he should be able to fix me by loving me enough.

By just telling me that I’m safe, that I’m fine and he’s here to protect me.

It makes him feel like a failure.

And it breaks my heart.

I wish I had the perfect answer my friends.

I wish I had a cure that could just fix it all.

But I don’t.

What I do have is HOPE.

That is what keeps me going.

Hope that the past abuse and trauma that I went though from age 14 on up to age 30 has made me stronger. It has made me the person I am today.

It has shaped and defined who I am. And I am proud of all that I have overcome.

Hope that when I share my story and my struggles that it might help just one person be brave. Just one person to say, if she did it then I can do it.

One person to say, I see you struggle but I also see that you are succeeding though the struggle.

I have the compassion, empathy and understanding to help others going though hardships- because I have been there myself. It’s a unique gift, that makes people feel super comfortable talking to me. It’s a gift that I have that makes others feel safe in knowing that I will not ever judge them.

I have hope in knowing that by sharing my struggles it helps others know that they are not alone.

My hope is in Jesus,

He saved me from my horrible past, my mistakes, my bad choices-

And I know that he can save anyone. And that He wants to save everyone.

He’s not asking you to be perfect my friends,

Perfection is impossible.

He’s just asking you to put your faith and trust in Him,

To follow his ways, his teachings, what he taught.

To try to grow, to work on yourself, and to get better daily.

There will always be setbacks.

Life is a journey. Filled with ups and downs.

There are no straight A’s.

No Perfect 10.

He grades you by Grace.

So give yourself a little Grace today,

And show some Grace & Love to those around you.

You never truly know what someone is battling.

Blessings to you my friends.

If you ever feel like you need any type of help, please reach out.

To me, to a friend, to a loved one, to a stranger.

Promise me that you will reach out and get help.

There is ALWAYS help.

There is ALWAYS HOPE.

Our Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough.

Friends, our thoughts and prayers aren’t enough.

There have been a lot of articles and posts lately that state “Your thoughts and prayers aren’t enough.”

People seem to be offended by this.

Especially Christians. Yes, I am a Christian & what I’m about to say might offend some of you. But I hope it does the opposite, that it makes you reflect, think and change.

A majority of the Christian world says that there is nothing else they can do except to offer their thoughts and prayers.

But, the problem is folks-

Our prayers, they ARE NOT enough.

Our response, though often well intended, is to offer our thoughts prayers for victims, families, friends and those impacted closely by these senseless acts– and we hope & pray that nothing else will happen.

I’ve been there,

I’ve said it,

I’ve done it.

Offered my thoughts and prayers…

Most will say thank you, but deep down they are thinking and some are saying that’s not enough.

Heres the thing-

I honestly don’t think that prayer in itself is really what they are questioning.

It is the skepticism of the perceived ATTITUDE of our prayers.

To causally tell someone, I’m sending you my thoughts and prayers has become TRIVIAL. Because there is no ACTION attached to our prayers– it’s just an automatic response,

Like when people say,

“Hi how are you?”

& you reply “I’m fine, thanks.”

Even though you may not be fine.

Even though your world may be falling apart.

It seems as if we just offer our thoughts and prayers after a tragedy and then move on with our pretty little lives as normal.

As if nothing really happened?

And then we thank God it didn’t happen to us?

I mean- what are we really accomplishing? As Christians aren’t we supposed to do more? Aren’t we supposed to help?

Aren’t we supposed to get in the trenches to work & to change something?

Not just stand back and watch it all happen and blame it on things that we say we have no control over?

I know Jesus wouldn’t just offer his thoughts and prayers and causally walk along as if nothing happened.

The function of prayer is NOT to INFLUENCE God.

It’s not to BEG God to CHANGE his mind.

To make our lives all pretty & shinny.

Prayer is not a bargaining tool.

Saying, if you do this for me, I’ll do that for you.

It is not intended to ask God to fix everything while we just sit back, sip our hot coffee and WAIT.

It doesn’t work that way.

It was never meant to work that way.

If you pray to God to PROVIDE you with a job

You still have to put a resume together,

You still have to go to the interview

You still have to TAKE ACTION–

Jobs don’t magically just appear out of nowhere and “poof” there you are, sitting in your big comfy leather chair ordering people around while they gravel at your feet.

Flashback to 2012

I was in an abusive relationship,

I was broken, hurt and helpless,

My self esteem and confidence was at an all time low.

I finally reached out and prayed to a God that I didn’t even know if I really believed in or not & I asked for some kind of help. Any kind of help. And I clearly heard God say, CALL.

THEN. I CALLED my friend.

I TOOK ACTION. I picked up that phone.

I barley got any words out of my mouth in between my crying except,

I need help, I need to leave.

My friend said START packing.

I’m coming to get you.

The situation I was in was so bad,

I can guarantee you if I would not have TAKEN ACTION and CALLED her, that I wouldn’t be alive today to tell you this story.

If our prayer is a TRUE PLEA to God to keep evil acts, like the mass shootings our country is experiencing today, from happening then

We HAVE to take ACTION.

Prayer doesn’t EXCUSE us,

It doesn’t take the responsibility OFF of our shoulders and put it all on God’s shoulders.

Prayer is ASKING God to PROVIDE us with the TOOLS to STOP evil from happening and then to USE those tools!

If we are to pray against evil,

then we must do more to stop evil.

The world is growing more and more tired over our MEANINGLESS thoughts & prayers.

Prayer is indented to CHANGE the nature of the ONE WHO PRAYS.

It is to make you STOP, THINK and REFLECT,

On HOW you can CHANGE,

On HOW you can ACT,

HOW you can HELP to find a SOLUTION.

Prayer is INTENDED to make us LOOK INWARD on ourselves.

To focus on what God would WANT me TO DO.

To ask God, what SHOULD I do,

What CAN I do,

How can I bring about CHANGE.

Then, you MUST LISTEN & ACT.

If we are constantly praying about issues BUT we don’t take action then we need to reexamine the reason for our prayers.

Pope Francis said “You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. That’s how prayer works.”

PRAYER needs to be accompanied by CARE.

A few moments after a tragedy happens, thoughts and prayers are always offered and well intended. But the news of mass shootings and other senseless act continue on like a force that is seems unstoppable.

BUT–

Perhaps it’s because WE PRAY,

but WE DON’T CHANGE?

No body ever got anywhere by remaining the same.

My Goal for today?

Pray.

Reflect.

Look Inward.

Listen.

Act.

Jesus Didn’t Ask You to GIVE UP Coffee for Lent

Thank goodness right?

I’ll let you read that AGAIN to yourself aloud this time.

Jesus DID NOT ask YOU to give up Coffee for Lent.

He did, however, ask you to give up one thing.

He asked you to give up yourself, and follow him.

For those of you not familiar with the Lent Season. It is a 40 day period between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday. It is supposed to mark a time of humility, repentance, peace, self denial and soul searching.

As one is SUPPOSED to take this time to DRAW NEAR to Christ during this time. It is modeled after Christ’s 40 day fast in the desert and ends on Good Friday.

Do you Observe Lent?

Are you giving something this year?

Do you know WHY? Like the REAL reason why?

I love the idea & concept of Lent. Especially as a Health & Wellness coach, as most people give up their unhealthy food and try to exercise more! Which in itself is a wonderful thing to do for your body.

But why are you doing this? Do you even know?

Basically you are giving up something for 40 days that you enjoy, or depend on, something that you are addicted to- Like coffee, chocolate or social media.

But most people leave out THE ONLY ONE IMPORTANT reason of why they are practicing Lent. It can be so easy to fall into the religious practice of just doing something for the reason of doing something. To check off that box. Or because everyone else is doing it, or because your pastor suggested that you to do it. Or because people will tell you it will better your life if you do it. That’s all well and good- BUT

Are you truly practicing Lent if you are only giving something up-

just for the sake of giving something up?

What about the REAL meaning behind Lent?

Lent is supposed to SHIFT your FOCUS and draw you closer to Jesus.

Is giving up that cup of coffee, or that piece chocolate or an hour of social media REALLY nurturing your relationship with Jesus? I mean really?

In other words, I can only imagine if God was standing in front of me today he would say-

“Janet, I didn’t ask you to give up that cup of coffee so you could whine and complain all day about how much you need caffeine to survive. Or so you could roll your eyes and say no thank you, I can’t have that today, I gave it up for Lent.

NO!! I didn’t ask you that.

I asked you to give up your life,

I asked you to give up your ways,

I asked you to give up your control,

& I asked you to GIVE your life to me. I asked you to FOLLOW me.

All I want is for you to give up your old ways, and follow mine.”

This is what Jesus wants from us. It’s that simple folks.

If giving up that cup of coffee will make you focus on Jesus during the time that you would normally drink that cup, then you are on the right track.

If giving up that chocolate addiction makes you go out for a walk and have a conversation with God for a half hour, then you are on the right track.

If giving up an hour of social media during the day makes you pull out your Bible & Devotional and spend time praying & journaling for an hour, then you are on the right track.

For me, I don’t want to think of Lent as a season of GIVING UP.

I want to think of it as a season of GROWTH, GIVING IN and GIVING TO.

In what ways am I more compelled to GIVE IN to the ways of God?

How am I more deeply GIVING TO those around me?

How am I GROWING IN my stewardship towards others?

How am I GIVING IN to more mercy?

How can I BE MORE humble?

How are you GIVING IN to the GRACE of God this Lent Season?

The GRACE that provides us ALL a life of salvation?

How are you giving up your OLD WAYS and your OLD SELF,

And FOLLOWING His?

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”  Matthew 16:24

“For even the Son Of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  Mark 10:45

“He who has found his own life will lose it, And he who has lost his own life for my sake will find it”  Matthew 10:39

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have not received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will no be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  Matthew 6:16-18

So, during this time of Lent I will be working on giving up on myself & my old ways to grow deeper in my relationship and understanding of Christ, to grow in showing love and kindness to others, and to follow in His ways.