Friday, February 5, 2016

Surprised By The Healer.

I was about to start another long commute home in rush hour traffic when I decided I was kind of sick of all the bebop music that normally gets me jazzed for the drive. [No offense Justin Bieber. Is too late now to say sorry?]

The Lord only knows how I somehow got connected into a podcast program called "Java With Juli." I had heard Juli speak before on a number of occasions & that day she had one of my favorite authors on the show - Linda Dillow.

Linda is pretty much the cat's meow. She's in her 70's & is not afraid to discuss any topic, as it relates to faith & does so with incredible tact, honor, and respect to whomever would be listening. When you hear Linda discuss things like masturbation & pornography, YOU CANNOT HELP BUT LIKE HER. She has a gentle way about her that makes you feel closer to God, just by listening to her speak. I quickly became a big fan of Linda & Juli's ministry "Authentic Intimacy" on social media.

Fast forward to this last month when I was asked to be on a book launch team for Authentic Intimacy. A book called "Surprised By The Healer." Written By, Dr. Juli Slattery & Linda Dillow.  Being a self-proclaimed Linda Dillow groupie, I couldn't wait to read the book they were sending me. I hardly even thought to ask what it was going to be about.

The box came later that week & it wasn't long before I was burning the midnight oil to consume this book in it's entirety.

The book follows the stories of 9 different women through their challenges in sexual intimacy. Sex in marriage, Sex Outside Of Marriage, Sex Before Marriage, Pornography, Masturbation, Rape, Molestation – it’s all there. Each of these women finding hope & healing in their lives. Though some of their stories haven’t necessarily ended with a bow tied around them.
Some of these women, you will relate to.
And some of them might be quite nearly your own story.

I told myself I wouldn’t sugar coat this – but there are points in the book I had to physically put down the book and cry for humanity. Some of these stories were a TOUGH READ.
All of them I was so motivated & inspired by.
Rita’s story of forgiveness after her husband left her & married someone else was truly life changing to read about.
Rita Writes:

God tells us to love our enemies, but Bob & Amy were my enemies for a good reason. How could I love a man who had selfishly broken his covenant? Who had hurt our children & destroyed our dreams? And how could I forgive her? I had a right to be angry.....a right to hate. Didn't I?
Healing requires the obedience of forgiveness, the death of my sense of justice, and a willingness to accept the pain and to release the pain. Most of all, it required faith in my Savior to use difficulty to transform my life into something that reflects more of Him. So I took a step toward forgiveness. I made a conscious choice: I resolved not to live whatever days I had left on earth breeding bitterness, resentment, and anger but rather fighting to overcome them.
This battle to overcome is never over. Sometimes I trust and obey and sometimes I allow myself to be swallowed by pain, loneliness, and depression. What I have found is that the battle is worth fighting.
Staring death in the face has a way of putting things in perspective. Within seven years, I had faced death twice only to be given another chance at life. I began to grasp the superficial nature of my deal with God and to see that what He offers is far greater than the trinkets we bargain with Him for.
Life is short....eternity is long. I want to develop the only part of me that I can take to heaven. Christ in me remakes my character and brings a piece of heaven to earth. If I trust in God's plan for spiritual formation in my life, then there is nothing on earth that can destroy his plan.
The tragedies of life and the sinful choices of others can be devastating. But my response to such things can be even more damaging. How I respond is what forever matters. The truth is, Jesus is the only One who will not betray, abandon, or reject me. In my human condition I will be failed by those who loved me - and I will continue to sin against those I love.
As I began to accept my circumstances and my own contribution to them, to trust in the sovereignty of God over all things and rely on His precious promises, it became easier to accept my circumstances. I was beginning, in the tiniest of ways, to understand that if I truly loved God and yielded my desires to Him, He would in His miraculous of ways bring something good out of everything. I began to realize that what happens on earth impacts eternity: my soul and the souls of others. This enabled me to final begin to forgive.

GOOD STUFF. And if you liked Rita’s story & want to read more, or enjoy the 10 week book study written into the book– perfect for your small group or to read with a friend -  I’m giving away a few copies of this book today! WOOT WOOT! Enter to win now!
Books can now be purchased at Authentic Intimacy’s website.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Diary Of A Soda Addict Day 1

This is something I hate talking about.
Mostly because it’s not a widely accepted behavior in this day & age.
Since we all seem to be bombarded about with messages about our health, I’ve learned that there are certain topics I prefer to stick my head in the sand on.
Quite frankly these are the things I seem to struggle with most when it comes to what I put into my body. 
We all have that one thing we probably struggle with more than anything else.
Even Superman had his Kryptonite.  
Whatever your thing is, it’s the something our body craves & tells us repeatedly we need – even though it’s not likely not any good for us.
I have my weakness – and you likely have yours too.

For me, my struggle started as a kid.
We never had soda [or pop if you’re from Minnesota] in my house growing up.
My Mom had her stash, but we were rarely, if ever allowed to drink it.
Soda was a treat. An experience on special occasions.
This is likely where my mind psychologically began to shape itself to see soda as a way to treat myself.
To see & celebrate the good in life, you would drink soda.  
This is how I taught my mind to think so very early on in my life without even realizing it.

In high school, our pop machine was my daily water cooler. I would use my babysitting money to purchase a bottle every single morning.
If I ran out of babysitting money, I’d raid my Step-Dad’s change box for quarters.
If I had after school activities, I would usually purchase a bottle before cheerleading practice or sometimes after basketball practice. If I attended a sports game in the evening, I’d purchase a soda with my friends.

Big Crimped High School Hair w/ My Bestie - AWESOME.

Come college, I had non-stop access to a soda fountain. So every meal I would consume a carbonated beverage. Then bring another glass of soda with me to class after the meal was over. When I think about how much soda I consumed in college, I literally start to feel ill.
I reasoned this was all okay. Not only because everyone else seemed to consume it in large quantities.
But also because I was pulling homework all-nighters regularly.
Since I hated coffee, the caffeine in soda kept me awake & somewhat functioning.
I also worked out daily doing high amounts of cardio in the sports I played.
So the extra calories never seemed to quite catch up to me.
I didn’t recognize the harm it was slowly doing to my body.
College w/ my Roomie
It wasn’t until after college when I accepted a high-level stress job that I saw the empty calories start to do some damage.
I would work most weeks at least 60+ hours. This left very little time for working out or having much of a life. By this point, I didn’t know how to function without the caffeine in the soda I was consuming.
3-4 cans of soda per day became my NEW NORMAL.
It became easier to consume high amounts of soda rather than to admit that my life was seriously out of balance with my work to home ratio.

The soda addiction started to become painfully real at that time.
A year after college I had 2 extremely painful root canals. I also had to have fillings put into at least half of my teeth. I had one tooth completely extracted. I had another two crowns put on during that time.
I gained 30 pounds that year alone.

One Year Post College

When my husband & I moved away taking on new jobs, I thought this was my chance for a fresh start health wise.
But something weirdly inside me didn’t attribute my soda drinking habit to my health oddly enough.
 I attributed my weight gain to a lack of working out.
And my rotting teeth to bad genes.
 I vowed to start a better routine with working out & getting more active.
It was about this time I got pregnant.

Pregnancy was such a whirlwind for me.
My husband & I felt during that time that the Lord was leading us into a season of babies.
The process took an entire week for me to get pregnant & a month for the non-stop puking to begin.
I was throwing up from week 4 of pregnancy all the way up to the morning where I delivered.
Though I lost weight in the beginning, the idea of restraint during pregnancy wasn’t something I regularly practiced.
If I was feeling good enough to eat, I ate whatever it was I could eat that didn’t make me want to vomit.
Though my soda intake was extremely minimal at this time, it wasn’t uncommon for me to eat an entire bag of frozen peas for dinner. [This was one of the only things that weirdly felt good to eat.]

Pregnant With Baby #2

I got pregnant with my second child nine weeks after delivering my first.
The result of that was feeling like my body had just been to war.
With a one year old to chase after & a colicky baby on my hip, it didn’t take long for me to fall back on my old habits.
Soda quickly became my new BFF during those lonely days.
I honestly don’t remember how I survived that season of my life – except to say by the grace of God & the help of soda.

It took a few years to come out of the baby fog & the sheer physical exhaustion of that season to see someone I didn’t even recognize in the mirror.
I felt extremely trapped inside my post-baby body.
It felt nearly impossible to lose the weight. 
I started slowly trying to work out again.
These were some of the toughest work-out days of my entire life.
Thankfully it has never felt as tough as it did during those first work- out moments.
Since I had been an athlete for most of my life, it was like my body slowly started to remember the movements.
Those first few months back at the gym, moving felt almost painful.

Post Babies

Come 2014 knowing I was soon going to be turning 30 that year, I longed to feel good again.
That year I got really into working out. I was running 4-5 times per week.
The pounds were slowly coming off.
And everyone seemed to notice.
I felt a lot better about myself that year.
Women started asking me for weight loss advice. "Go run a mile."
Men started to hit on me. "No, I will not go out with you."
But I still wanted to lose another 10-20 pounds.
I noticed that buying a treadmill & having a good weight loss support team that helped keep me accountable at work really helped.
My coworkers were always talking about things that were good to eat for weight loss.
Or competing with me for a water drinking challenge. [I really REALLY like to win competitions.]
Looking back, I learned a lot during that time about how beneficial community can be when you are actively trying to lose weight.
And though I was doing great with getting active & eating better, I was still consuming soda at least twice per day during that time.

Turning 30.

In 2015 when I accepted a promotion at work & added a lengthy commute each day to my schedule, working out soon took a back seat to everyday life.
I began to see every minute I spent on the treadmill, was a minute I wasn’t spending with my kids.
The limited amount of time I had with my kids became so precious to me, I almost got defensive about working out – simply because I felt guilty for doing it.
The words- “I just want to be with you Mommy” echoed around in my head.
It felt like I was trading my treadmill for a piece of my soul.
Plus I wake up INSANELY early for my job. [No time to work out in the mornings.]
And by the time I get home in the afternoon, I felt so sluggish & tired, working out was the last thing I wanted to do.
My new routine simply seemed to not support working out at all.  
Add to that my intake of 3-4 sodas again per day, and it was painful to see the weight coming back on pound for pound.
I got so frustrated with my routine, I gave up – and no longer cared about what I was eating.
It got so sad, I literally would try to sneak into my bedroom at night a bag of chips or an extra soda. Not wanting to be around my family so that I could binge on all the extras I knew I didn’t need, but felt so good to consume.

How was it possible to feel so empty while being so physically full?
I knew I had a problem when I started to HIDE empty soda cans.
I couldn’t even remember the last time I didn’t feel guilty about what I was putting into my body.
I felt ashamed & my body was begging me for better foods.  

2016 I woke up in a nightmare to see myself surrounded by empty pop cans & empty ice cream cartons.  
By chance, I had signed up to receive a free webinar consultation with Sarah Jenks – a lifestyle & eating coach.
It took a half hour of lots of pretty pictures with some powerful life changing words written on them for me to get a swift kick in the pants.
I realized that my unhealthy relationship with soda & food was built because I had been living an unbalanced life.
 I realized I would drink soda because I had said yes to too many things for me to pause to eat.
That it was easier to get full on soda, rushing from one thing to the next.
And that so often, my reward for surviving those long days became soda.
It had become easier to poison myself with soda, so that I could push myself a little further, to go a little harder, to survive on less sleep. I realized that soda became a way for me to be able to accept some difficult seasons in my life & reward myself with it for surviving it all.
To medicate rather than make some hard, life-changing decisions.
I had made my life a habit of saying yes.
That something had to give in the equation.

I couldn't shake my general longing to restore some balance.
To see myself as God saw me.
To accept His praise as a reward for good days, instead of rewarding myself with soda.
To receive His grace on hard days, instead of depending on soda to get me through.

I could tell you about all the health benefits to quitting soda.
The truth is there are too many to name.
For me personally though, it’s about being around long enough to get old & chase after my grandbabies.
Not inheriting a family health history of high blood pressure & diabetes.
I don’t want to have any more expensive, painful teeth procedures.
I don’t want to be controlled by this extreme addiction to sugar & caffeine.
I want to lose weight.
I want to feel better about myself.
Mostly I want to live IN FREEDOM.

I want to walk past the fountain soda at restaurants & choose water because I WANT TO. Not because of I'm afraid of who will judge me for what I'm drinking.
I want to be one of those people who turns down soda at a baby shower or not purchase a soda while cruising the mall because I CAN.
I want to put things into my body that make me feel good about myself.
Instead of trying to find clothes that hide all my extra weight.
Trying to hide from everyone the amount of soda I was consuming each day.
Lying to myself thinking I had it under control.
I used soda to compensate for dysfunctional lifestyles.
Instead of admitting to myself that I had bit off more than I can chew.

Today starts a new journey in my life.
February 1, 2016 is my first day with no soda.
Not for anyone else – but simply for me.
Learning to say no.
To put better things into my body.
And though I have written about weight loss before on my blog, I have NEVER publicly shared the depth of my destructive choices.
By doing this today, I hope to create some accountability for myself.
But I’m also hoping that maybe somewhere out there, is another Meggan.
Who is just a little too much over her head on something, and needs to reclaim her freedom in that area of her life.

 I can already tell this won’t be easy.
I plan to share that journey here – sharing weekly about the up’s & downs.
As I start to reshape how I think of food & soda.
How I can “reward” myself in more healthy ways.
And how this might maybe be the start of building something better in my own life.
I cannot WAIT to look back on this time 6 months from now to see how much has changed in my life.

If this is something you might be interested in joining in on, please email me.
There’s so many of us who live with an unbalanced view of food.
Even if you aren’t in a place yet where you are ready to make any sort of changes, maybe just send me a quick email to say “What you said today on your blog Meggan – me too.”

I am so thankful for you Readers.
For this place to love, encourage, and reach for things we didn’t think we ever could.
Most of all, I’m thankful we’re each capable of change.
And for a God who gives us the grace to walk in freedom.
That’s good stuff.
Better than Mountain Dew.
I promise.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Things I Wonder About.

Life is full of things I am trying to figure out.

Like why I love using way too many !!!!'s in my emails.
Not to mention all the smiley's :)
I don't care if it's a work email or a personal one.
Happy punctuation must be used.
Is this because I have some sort of weird email tone sensitivity?
Or is life just too short to sound like a jerk via email?!

I'd also like to know why I just ordered a pair of faux leather leggings.
Am I having some sort of life crisis? Am I too old to pull this off?
Or have I seen one too many cool Natalie Grant Instagram pictures?
Where will I wear these to? Will I actually wear them?
Will I enjoy wearing them? What sort of shoes do you wear with faux leather leggings?
Do your legs sweat or get itchy?
Does one have to shimmy into these pants? Is it a process to get dressed?
Will I look like Ross Gellar?
I'll soon let you all know.

In a random moment of fate on one of my recent commutes to work, I came upon a mixed cd I made for my husband before we were dating.
The songs on this cd were SO INTENSE.
It was basically me pouring out my soul through all these songs I loved.
I look back on it now & wonder how on earth my husband would EVER agree to date that girl?
She was CRAY CRAY.
Waaaaay too intense for a girl you aren't even dating.
Why would he not run screaming into the other direction? Why is this man attracted to crazy? What on earth would possess him to like such a girl?
I quite literally felt sorry for him the entire time I was listening.
But that didn't stop me from making out with him when I got home that night.
He saw my crazy & loved me anyway. There should be medals for that sort of thing.

At work last month we had a Secret Santa gift exchange. You had to get your person one gift they would love. And one white elephant gift. My Secret Santa nailed my gift that I would love. A journal. Some cool pens. Stickers. I was in writing heaven. But my white elephant was a book called "Animals With Hangovers." It was basically cats with terribly funny looks on their furry faces. I got a good laugh out of it. And put it on my desk in case my Secret Santa ever walked by. I wanted my Secret Santa to know I thought it was a good white elephant gift.
As the days have moved us away from the Christmas season, I kept wondering about the book still sitting on my desk. Is it office appropriate? What would people think about it? What would my boss think about it? Would they think I am some sort of drunken lush? Is that what I would think about someone else if they had this book on their desk? If so, when did I become so judgmental? Why do I care? Why am I overthinking this so much? Why is this book still on my desk? My Secret Santa knows I thought it was funny - I told them so. Why am I so worried about offending them if I took it off my desk? Do I really want this book on my desk? What about what I think? Why do I get so grossly obsessed with pleasing people? Isn't this MY DESK?! What is wrong with me? Why do I care so much? Would my Secret Santa even care about this book being on my desk? Why am I even writing a blog about this? Oh Meggan -When did you start over-analyzing things this much?
Seriously people - I need therapy.

There's also a whole bunch of other things I try to figure out:

  • Why do I collect cute little notepads & refuse to write on them? Is there such a thing as being "Too Cute" that you cannot write on it?
  • The more Trump's numbers surge, the more I realize it's a SCARY world out there. Why oh why aren't more of you people paying attention to Rubio?! WHAT IS WITH YOU PEOPLE?!
  • Will I ever step into a meeting with my boss without being scared? Why am I such a fraidy cat?
  • How do people not buy out the entire Valentine's Day section at Target? I died somewhere between the heart shaped cupcake pans & the love bug stuffed animals. IT'S ALL TOO CUTE. Hi. I'm Meggan. And I'm a hopeless romantic. Do they make pills for this?!
  • Is it possible to pray away your "Check Engine" light?
  • I keep getting asked to write Bachelor blogs again. Would you people actually read them? REALLY?
  • Is it possible to watch the entire series of Smallville in one weekend? I'm trying to decide if that's an awesome goal or a sad one?

HAPPY FRIDAY READER. Until we meet again.