Audra Krell

On Purpose

Archive for the category “Women”

Giving Your Pinky Toe

Photo Courtesy @iStockphoto

Time for a much needed update. I’m 50% done with my accelerated nursing assistant program. It’s going very well, I even have an A, but the written final is in less than 48 hours. I’m thinking my mom is pretty proud, we didn’t see too many A’s in the formative college years.

It’s been a huge adjustment for our family; going to school eight hours a day and then doing ten chapters of homework and studying for quizzes most evenings. But each one of my men have largely contributed to making my dreams come true; my grateful heart is full.

We covered a huge textbook in 36 hours of class time. But it’s actually clicking for me. This is the way I think, medical terms make sense due to my love of words and writing, I read so much faster than I did 22 years ago and life experience has taught me much more than I would have realized, had I not gone back to school.

So naturally I reflected on all I’m thankful for this past Thursday. First I’m eternally grateful for each friend and family member God has blessed me with. I learn to love from each one and am a better person because of the people He chose to put in my life. Second, I’m grateful for opportunity. I cannot believe that I get to go to school. I sit in wonder every day at the golden chance to be educated in caring for all of God’s people.

The culture would have me believe I should sacrifice something to “pay back” all I’ve been given. But would I give my first born for this opportunity? Never.

What about my pinky toe? See some women are giving their pinky toes for the opportunity for their shoes to fit better. Seriously. Don’t they need them for balance? Do they have phantom limb pain (there’s my new medical training in action)?  Can she afford shoes after the medical bills hobble in? Is she offered a discount on pedicures for only having 8 toes?

Look at the picture above. Does she have pinky toes? We’ll never know.

Anyway, I don’t think God is calling me to give up something because I’m grateful. He isn’t looking to be repaid.

I do believe He wants me to express my thankful heart, but He’s just fine with this little piggy staying home.

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Italy or Surgery

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Back in May, I had a dream come true when I won a scholarship to a writer’s retreat. In Italy. They gave one prize and I was to leave this Wednesday. For 12 days I would see Paris, consume decadent food and wine, and live, laugh, write and love in Liguria, Italy. I had reserved a gorgeous room on the edge of a cliff in an Italian Villa. Heaven.

But, and there’s always a huge but isn’t there? If you remember back to this post,I had some interesting medical problems the day before I left for Mexico. While I was on the mission trip, I received an email from my doctor explaining my benign condition and told to make an appointment to talk about the options. I filed that email and put it in the “someday I’ll call them maybe” category.

Suffice it to say that although the condition is benign, it’s had it’s way with me. I’ve had a couple weeks where I felt kind of okay and the rest have been a battle to function. I wondered how I would trip around Europe; eating, praying and loving, when I couldn’t get out of bed. So I made the dreaded call and subsequently even showed up for the appointment.

Italy is now a thing of the past and incredibly, a chance trip in the future. And now I have surgery in December, one week before Christmas, which really, is what every woman wants. Am I right ladies? Sorry guys, I can’t prepare a turkey or even a honey baked ham. Decorations? Don’t think so. But opening presents? Sure, I wouldn’t want to get rusty on my love language.

What astounds me though is that God equips me for all things. This includes and is not limited to the ability to find joy in serving in difficult circumstances and in times where I’m not doing what I had planned. I always thought being joyful was up to me, and it’s a choice to be sure, but it is God who fuels me to experience joy.

Instead of the Italian coast, we venture as a family to a nearby pacific beach. The same beach house where we took our son Mason to the hospital when his appendix was going awry. We know the way to the two nearest hospitals and more importantly we know the only way to joy.

I’m trusting and choosing to find joy in all things. Italy will be there when I’m healthy again, so I’ll do my part to make sure I am!

What about you? How do you find joy when your dreams are put on hold?

Feelings Don’t Define You

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Whatever you feel today doesn’t mean you are.

If you feel sad, it doesn’t mean you are a sad person.
If you feel mad, you aren’t an angry person.
If you feel frazzled and out of control, you aren’t crazy.
If you feel discouraged, you aren’t a negative person.
If you feel empty, you aren’t alone.
If you feel unloved, you aren’t unloveable.
But…
If you feel loved (or even when you don’t), you are.

Everyday. Feelings and all.

Creator God loves you no matter what. Forever.

On Distraction

For 26 hours I rode the roller coaster, eyes closed, hands in the air, nausea and all. I’m in the final stretch of preparations for our medical mission trip to Valladolid.

After feeling ill all week, I went to the doctor yesterday. I was frustrated that I had to go and sent a text to a couple of girlfriends regarding how distracted I was by my physical problems.

After talking for a bit, the Doc asked if I could be pregnant. I almost snorted. “Um, No.”

She raised her eyebrows, burrowing into my eyes.

“Really. No chance.” I assured her.

“I want you to take a test anyway.”

10 minutes later she opened the door and dropped a bomb or several. The test came back positive. And, I was having a miscarriage. And, if the pregnancy was ectopic, I would be having surgery. And, I wouldn’t be going on the mission trip.

The rickety car flew around the old wooden tracks faster and faster as the bottom fell. The ultrasound was scheduled for today and I made my way home. I felt lousy, was consumed with a need for answers and in shock. Collapsing in bed, I prayed for direction, healing and answers. Fever and chills ruled the tunnel of night and the car began another steep decent as daylight dawned.

Finally we bumped to a stop about 10:00 this morning. Blood work showed no pregnancy, ultrasound was great, no explanation for a host of unusual symptoms and a positive pregnancy test yesterday. I do have an infection, but that’s a different distraction which has nothing to with the original problems.

I’m baffled by the events of the last two days. I don’t have answers and I have more questions. But what I do know, is that God is good, He’s got this and He will lead me away from the tracks.

My job is to stay the course now. This isn’t about me and I won’t be distracted from serving the marginalized people of Valladolid. I value my health and I will take care of myself, however I won’t lose my ability to pay attention to what I’ve been called to do.

You can easily see what to pray for and as always, we deeply appreciate the power of standing tall together, on our knees.

What about you? Ever had a time of deep distraction from the things God was calling you to? What did you do?

Shifty Grades of Prey

 This is perfect for one of the covers of the 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy. So symbolic of the masks we manipulate to project our false selves.

My 16-year-old son and I sat in a small California airport last Friday night, waiting to catch a plane. He told me to look across from us, to my right and then behind me. Three women were reading 50 Shades of Grey. When we boarded, another woman was engrossed in her copy. That’s four women out of 60, plus those reading it on their e-reader. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen; that kind of math never happened with Potter, Hunger or Twilight.

As a writer and avid life-long learner, I read a lot of different things. This book was highly recommended by someone dear to me, I had no idea what it was, so I read it. The writing is repetitive, amateurish and won’t be up for literary awards. The content is mature, often erotic and mindless. In this case, none of those words are synonyms for entertaining.

Notice I did not put “shocking” on my descriptive list. Not because I’m experienced in the BDSM lifestyle, but because there is nothing new under the sun. A lifetime ago, while studying English Literature, I took a course called Principles of Obscenity. We read all the big ones, Story of O, Story of the Eye and shorter works by D.H. Lawrence. They were shocking to my 21 -year -old mind and unguarded heart. I learned, that really there are no principles to obscenity. Rather it’s the absence of principle that makes these fictional accounts a literary genre.

I find Fifty Shades simply the latest culture crusher to stand firm against. Next week a new magazine, book, essay, speech, movie, song, album, picture or other entertainment medium will prey on us and take it’s place in the number one spot.

Tomorrow we will still have to stand tall against the message that our marriage isn’t enough, your spouse isn’t everything you deserve, you’re not thin enough, we’re not pretty enough, you don’t think right, do things right, believe right, you’re too far right and you’re weak. All in all, the sun will probably rise tomorrow and with it the message that you aren’t enough and never will be.

The most troubling issue regarding 50 Shades, is the term “Mommy Porn.” Why is this okay? If one in six of our men were sitting in the airport reading a little “Daddy Porn” women would go crazy. It’s believed that pornography damages the image of women in the name of a cheap thrill.

50 Shades portrays the female character being degraded and emotionally damaged. Our culture embraces it by giving it a name and touting it on a national talk show. Why aren’t our men asking if they can have their porn featured on a talk show? It would never happen and the uprising would be like none other if  it did.

Even some feminists have praised the book. What? Women dedicate their lives to fighting for equal rights and then embrace a series of books that are in direct opposition to what they stand for.

People however, don’t need our judgement for reading this book or even for liking it. We need to see it for what it is, a gale wind in the storm of life. It’s an opportunity to stand right next to God’s people, shore them up and pray against cultural norm.

It’s not the first time the wind has howled and it won’t be the last.

Take the high road, ride your high horse if you must, but I won’t stop praying for you.

I hope you’ll do the same.

What has been your personal reaction to 50 Shades of Grey ideology and hype? Do the themes and content seem new?

Inbound Marriage

This morning I was invited to the launch of the book Married But Looking. I have no idea what it’s about, but from a marketing and personal standpoint, it’s a message I don’t care about. I’m not intrigued.

Marriages everywhere would do well to think in terms of inbound marketing. We need to stop pushing our messages out and start pulling our spouse in. Many people spend time making themselves marketable to an unnecessary audience. As a committed partner, we shouldn’t even be looking for an audience; we have all we need at home. We spend thousands of dollars making ourselves presentable to the world, when the nurturing of our private life is neglected, choked and tangled.

All any of us want is to be known and loved for who we are. Often the persona we present to the world, isn’t at all who we are. Again, lots of money wasted on a mask that will crack and break. We don these masks and wake up one day lost in the culture, touting messages we never intended and dying, literally dying to be found.

I too, used to be caught in the sticky web of trying to please the world. When I woke up face down in a proverbial gutter, something whispered above the worldly noise. God’s voice reminding me I hadn’t been abandoned and never would be. He further reminded me of my purpose; to love my man. Getting back up wasn’t easy, but the less I looked at the world and the more attention I paid to my marriage, the quicker I healed.

A couple of weeks ago, I played percussion with the orchestra at church. We did one of my favorites, an amazing gospel version of I’ll Fly Away and Soon And Very Soon. I was to lay out during the intro and come in on the verse. I was just having myself a time; counting, swaying and tapping my foot.

Then I saw him.

My handsome husband’s face stood out  in a sea of 2000. It took my breath away and I was lost in him, thinking over and over, “I love him. I love him so much.”

My entrance came and went.

Come on Audra!” I snapped out of my dreamy reverie as the conga player commanded me to do my part. I spazzed on the tambourine and played on 1 and 3 instead of 2 and 4. All the while trying not to laugh out loud, because he still gets to me. (My husband, not the conga player.)

After knowing him for 26.5 years and being married for 19, Steve still deeply gets to me.

And so I’m grateful for the gift of God cracking my mask. I see much better now. The world is a cold, dark place which will never be satisfied with my efforts. But at home,in the safety of our marriage, the warmth and acceptance is everything I’ve ever wanted.

To connect intimately with your spouse, quit investing in outbound, pointless messages and take a hard look at what’s right in front of you. Use your powerful energy to build, grow and nurture a healthy, inbound marriage.

You don’t want your spouse to be married, but looking.

On Good Villagers

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I’ve had to call on my village quite a bit already this year. In thinking about them today and celebrating how grateful I am, I thought about what exactly it is that I’m thankful for. I also thought about what it takes to be a good villager.

Good villages don’t happen by accident. Over the weekend, one of my new villagers granted me a huge favor. Totally undeserved and unmerited, but he did it any way. And he did it with joy. That trips my “pay it forward switch” and inspires me to find meaningful ways to bless others. Favors are a way of intentionally building a village.

I can actively bless my village by being a good villager.

Here are a few things you can count on from me.

I will work intently to always think the best about you. I believe Waylon Jennings got it right, and you are good- hearted men and women, doing the very best you can. Some of us haven’t met in person yet, but be assured, I already know your heart is good.

Every village has a couple of crazies. I promise you there will be times I’ll be one of them. I’ll make mistakes, I’ll hurt your feelings, misunderstand and sometimes my hair can be big and wild. But I also guarantee this, if you speak the truth in love, I’ll listen, mean it when I say “I’m sorry” and I’ll try to do better. You should know though, that 80’s hair is one of my favorite things in the world and non- negotiable.

When you’re feeling crazy, I’ll stand by you, I’ll speak the truth in love and every day will be a new day. If we have trouble in the night, I’ll fully expect joy in the morning. If you need me during the crazy period, I’ll bring my comb and some Aqua Net. We’ll get you fixed up in a jiffy.

When we are together, I will look you in the eye, I’ll listen, trust you and enjoy your presence. At the same time, I’ll respect your space, privacy and personal rights. If I have a question, I’ll come to you first and won’t ask others about your life.

I’ve got a fightin’ side that I try to use for good. It’s one of those superpowers we all have that can go either way. If I see an injustice against the elderly, minorities or children I won’t quit until it’s right, period. I will organize large groups for the greater good of the village and we’ll have some good music and great food while we work together to make today’s corner of the world a better place.

I will use that fight to storm Heaven for you, and will pray for anything you need, anytime.

Finally, you should know, your past is just that, your past. It’s not who you are, it’s simply things you’ve done, good and bad.

Remember, I already know who you are and I like you.

Actually I love you and I thank God every day for you.

What about you? How’s your village working out for you? Are there things you could do to make it a better place for all?

Wrestling Faith

By now you've probably heard about Joel, who refused to wrestle a girl and thus had to forfeit the match.

He walked away because of his faith. He believes in respecting women and didn't feel he could do that by wrestling.

Rick Reilly, a noted ESPN columnist wrote a demeaning story (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=6136707)  about why Joel should have wrestled her. He says the young woman "relishes the violence" and "loathes being protected."

So, she's asking for it Rick? I didn't realize that if we decide a woman is asking to be disrespected that it's okay to do whatever we want to her, because she "deserves it" since she asked for it.

I thought we'd been trying to fight against those messages for a long time.

The world needs a whole lot more real men like Joel. He is a man who stands up for what he believes in, based on who he is, not on who other people may or may not be. Whether the young woman wanted to be respected and defended or not, Joel chose the right way based on his convictions and beliefs.

Integrity and respect mean more to Joel than a wrestling title. My mom taught me that you'll never regret being nice to people. Joel's conviction and kindness will take him a lot further than any wrestling title ever could.

Love Food and Live Well Review

Well I'll tell you one thing, I 've got the loving food part down pat. But the living well? Not so much. This is a great book for suggesting how to marry loving food with living well. They have seemed mutually exclusive up to this point.

What I love about the author Chantel Hobbs, is that she has been there. She's been miserable about her weight, and has climbed out of the trenches of obesity by losing over 200 pounds. 

This book has recipes, food plans, exercise and personal inventories. Everything you need, to love food AND live well.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour  book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

 

 

and the book:

 

Love Food & Live Well

WaterBrook Press; 1 edition (December 14, 2010)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Chantel Hobbs is a life coach, marathon runner, personal trainer, wife, and mother of four. Her amazing story of losing two hundred pounds and keeping the weight off has been featured on Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, Life Today with James Robison, The 700 Club, and Focus on the Family Radio—and in People and First magazines. Hobbs hosts a weekly radio show and is the on-air fitness expert on the WAY-FM radio network. She is also a regular guest on the KLOVE radio network. Hobbs is a frequent speaker to women’s groups and makes personal appearances at fitness conventions. The developer of The One-Day Way Learning System and the author of four books, including Never Say Diet and The One-Day Way, Chantel lives with her family in south Florida.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; 1 edition (December 14, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307457842
ISBN-13: 978-0307457844

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The Battle over Blue Jeans

People, Here Is My Deal!

For as long as I can remember, I have loved clothes and makeup. Even when I weighed close to 350 pounds, I experimented with trendy hairstyles while checking out the latest plus-size fashion catalogs.

When I was in elementary school, I would spend afternoons with my sister Christy, sitting on the floor of the closet in the decked-out pink bedroom we shared. This was a supersized closet where we would set up our Barbie dolls for fashion shows. Because I had blond hair and Christy was a brunette, it was only natural for me to pretend to be Barbie and her to be Skipper, Barbie’s little sister. At least that’s how I sold the idea to Christy. As we grew up and began to put our dolls away, I still enjoyed being prissy, often spending way too much time in front of a mirror.

Even as a young mother, I was a fashionista. I’ll never forget entering the hospital to have a scheduled cesarean to deliver my son Jake. I had spent the day before the delivery getting a pedicure and manicure and shopping for a matching nightgown set. Really, I did this! As I lay on the table in the operating room, the doctor arrived and started to chuckle. “Well, Chantel, I can see nothing about this is going to be a natural delivery.” All I could say was, “At least I left the false eyelashes at home.” I was only half kidding.

One reason I went overboard with my appearance was because I loved hearing friends and family comment on how together I looked. Even while having a baby, I wanted to look great. But today, in hindsight, I feel seriously sorry for the woman I used to be. She was always exhausted from trying to maintain her unreal image. Plus, I knew deep down that I wasn’t fooling anyone but myself. My weight problem wasn’t going to vanish underneath fancy clothing and attempts to camouflage my problem areas. I really did know that owning an all-black wardrobe wouldn’t keep my body issues a secret.

But back then I had convinced myself I needed to make a serious effort to look pretty from the neck up because I was too overweight for the rest of me to look decent. I rationalized that if I could highlight my best features, people would see my positive attributes and look past my greatest flaw: my obese body. At this point my life was one big head game.

I’ll never forget the weekend I went on a business trip with my husband, Keith, to Bermuda. This was a dream coming true for someone who spent most days watching Barney and folding laundry. But when we started to pack, panic set in. Bermuda is one huge beach, and I knew I’d embarrass my husband if I wore a swimsuit in front of his bosses and work friends. On the other hand, this was Bermuda! It was a free trip and a chance to escape the zoo I called home!

After we boarded the plane, I found my seat and immediately put a jacket over my waist. This was a trick I had learned from previous travel experiences, and it almost always worked. If I could hide where the seat belt was supposed to be, the flight attendant wouldn’t notice that mine was unbuckled. The truth is, I did this because I couldn’t connect the seat belt. I was too big around. This time, however, my system failed. As the attendant stopped by our row, she asked me to buckle my seat belt. As I struggled to latch it, she stood impatiently with one hand on her hip. I whispered that I was having trouble making it fit.

So being the sensitive, tall, and freakishly thin woman she was, she shouted to her co-worker, “Could you look in one of the overhead compartments for a seat-belt extension?”

I was mortified. I closed my eyes and tried to pretend the attendant was talking about someone else. A few moments later she handed me the hated seat-belt extension, and I fastened the thing as quickly as I could. I promise you, I could feel the pity of strangers as they witnessed my hame. But instead of shedding tears, I did what I had rehearsed in previous situations. I took a deep breath and grabbed Keith’s hand, squeezing it for dear life as the aircraft took off. My vacation is off to a great start, I told myself. I can’t wait to see what other embarrassing moments lie ahead.

Surprisingly, our Bermuda trip ended up being the trip of a lifetime. The island was beautiful, the water was the clearest blue I had ever seen, and I felt beautiful for the entire week. Strangely, it was another young mother, the wife of one of Keith’s co-workers, who was mostly responsible.

Each day I would get dolled up and make my entrance into the meeting room for the company’s group breakfast. This girl went out of her way to say something sincere and extraordinary about the way I looked, morning after morning. She would also ask me for fashion advice. By her looks, she didn’t need any, certainly none from me. Yet she still inquired and never in a condescending way.

Best of all, she never breathed the dreaded words “You have such a pretty face.” The trip to Bermuda taught me the intense power we all have when we speak to someone, especially to a person who is feeling weak and vulnerable. Just by saying something simple and positive, we can brighten someone’s outlook, even if it’s only for a few seconds.

For most of my life I had become accustomed to backhanded compliments. When it came to my weight and all my failed attempts to lose it, I had heard everything. I’d try yet another diet, and two weeks into it over and over I would hear from those around me, “Now keep up the good work.” And I would always think, Are you kidding? I’m trying here. Just tell me “good job,”

and don’t worry about whether I lose another dad-gum pound. I get that you are letting me know I have a long way to go!

Yet Another New Start

Coming home from Bermuda, where I felt sincere acceptance, I had real hope. I felt different. I was relaxed, revived, and encouraged. I decided that I was ready to give weight loss another shot. As I set out to lose weight for the eighty-sixth time in my life, I felt prepared. I bought the latest diet book from Sam’s Club and a twelve-pack of muffins. I rationalized the muffin purchase by telling myself I needed to have one last hurrah.

On Monday my plan was to go for it. I would try with everything in me not to let anything stand in my way. Of course, I didn’t see any need to crack open the new book I’d bought until the weekend was over! What would a few more days of indulgence hurt?

Then Monday arrived, and I made my grand entrance at the gym. I even went back three days in a row. The only problem was that by the end of the week I was hanging out more than working out. I’d been trying to get David, the juice bar owner, to tell me his recipe for the yummy chocolate–peanut butter protein shake I was ordering every day. The first clue it wasn’t all that

healthy should have been the chocolate syrup he poured in. But I told myself, if it’s made on gym property, how bad could it be?

By the time the week ended, I had followed the plan in my recently purchased book and had my cheat day. Not surprisingly, I quickly indulged in an entire cheat weekend. However, I managed to get back to the gym the following Monday. The plan I was on was doable, and even with halfhearted efforts, I was slowly losing weight.

After shedding about twenty pounds, I decided I needed some new clothes. This was kind of funny, especially since not one person had noticed that I had lost an ounce. As I said earlier, I’ve always loved fashion. But at this point, with my weight so high, I was stuck wearing mostly dresses and skirts. I just couldn’t face the prospect of trying to fit my behind into a pair of pants

at Lane Bryant. But now, since I was feeling pretty good about myse
lf and getting results, I headed over to the Coral Square Mall. I was there to hunt down a pair of blue jeans. Even if I had to lie down to zip them and not breathe while I wore them, I was determined to come home with new jeans.

I picked up three pairs with plenty of stretch to take into the dressing room. Once the door was closed, though, no amount of sucking it in, squeezing hard, or holding my breath got the jeans up to my waist. I couldn’t make any of them fit. As I held the jeans up and looked in the mirror, I wondered how anyone could stand to look at me. I was a disgusting blob of pain and misery.

I had left home that day feeling good about my progress. I was finally losing some weight. But after a few minutes in a dressing room, I wanted to die. How had I let myself become this pathetic mess of a woman?

A few Cinnabons later I went home. Two weeks after my blue jean horror show, I found out I was expecting. A month into the pregnancy I miscarried due to a badly infected gallbladder, and I ended up having emergency surgery. I wondered if I would ever change my life or if I would die first. Death seemed like perhaps the only escape out of this prison.

About six months later I had an unforgettable encounter with God. I was alone in my car, driving home from a meeting. I had reached my lowest point ever, and I let God in. I had known Him for years, ever since I had been saved from an eternity separated from Him. As a little girl in Sunday school, I had asked Jesus into my heart to save me from my sins. What I needed now, as a desperate, hurting, damaged woman, was to be saved from myself. I was still trying to run my own life.

God had whispered my name through many embarrassing moments and hurtful situations; I just never answered. But that night, alone in my car, He finally got through to me. I experienced a supernatural intervention. And it compels me now to tell my friends, my clients, and my readers my Lazarus story.

An Incredible Second Chance

Remember the story of Lazarus in the Bible? When Jesus brought him back from the dead, and we’re talking dead as a doornail (he was four-days dead), I imagine all he wanted was to blow a trumpet and tell the world about his miracle. Today I feel a similar kind of zeal resulting from my own miracle. As I surrendered all the pain of my lifelong weight problem to God, my heart

began a major shift. God gave me a deep desire to go to work. For the first time, I took on the task of losing the weight with Him in charge. I was no longer alone as I had been in the past. By allowing God, who never breaks a promise, to give me the strength, self-control, and focus I needed, how could I fail?

Ten years later I am on the same course He set for my life that night. My life is still filled with unexpected moments, both tragedies and celebrations. But I have never looked back.

After going on to lose two hundred pounds, I designed my own fitness and weight-loss program and became a certified Spinning teacher, personal trainer, and marathon runner. I love feeling strong, being healthy, and knowing I’m not a slave to my former appetites. Often I run into people I haven’t seen in many years. They may have known me as the overweight girl with a

pretty face. And if I dare to attempt a reacquaintance, I am usually in for a good laugh.

I’ll never forget one woman from a church I attended years earlier. I ran into her at the grocery store and tried to convince her who I was. “You aren’t really Chantel from West Lauderdale Baptist,” she insisted. I tried to get her to believe it was me, just an improved version. I think she finally accepted the truth, but it took awhile.

I am proud of the woman I have worked to become. However, I am most thankful that God rescued me from a place where I had lost all hope. God’s care for me and His work in my life give me the strength to stay on course. Now, after writing four books and producing a learning system for weight loss and fitness, I can see that God continues to use me as a voice of real-life

experience. A big part of my message is this: let me help you stop sabotaging yourself and your life. I know, from hard experience, how to overcome self-defeat. Every day I get to hear the stories of people who were losing hope, as I was, and now are finding the life they had dreamed of. I receive e-mails from women who have heard me speak, read one of my books, or heard me on the radio and now are surrendering their failed attempts to God. They are learning the truth and power of surrender and then doing the hard work of changing their lives.

In my work of helping people reclaim their health, I never know what is coming next. Recently I got a call from my publicist. She was so excited she could hardly tell me the news. “While you are in New York later this week to do The Today Show and Fox and Friends, a major women’s magazine wants to set up a photo shoot.”

I screamed. I couldn’t help it. Not only would the exposure help sell my book, but doing a photo shoot in New York, as the author of fitness books, was an experience I never dreamed I’d have. When I weighed nearly 350 pounds, an opportunity like this never entered my mind.

I couldn’t wait, but I had to. It was still a few weeks away. As New Year’s came and went, I was more careful than ever about fitting in all my workouts and eating clean. (Clean eating is the best way for me to think about food that delivers maximum energy with a reasonable calorie content.) When the day arrived, a driver came to our New York hotel to take Keith and me to the shoot. In the previous week, I had given my measurements to a stylist. She informed me she would be shopping for the clothes I would wear for the photo shoot. To use a term from my Southern-rooted parents, I was in hog heaven! I used to be the woman who was embarrassed to tell anyone her sizes, and now I had someone else buying me clothes based on them! The great part was the freedom in sharing what size I was. For the first time, I felt no shame.

When we arrived at the studio, I noticed that the loft where the photographer had scheduled the shoot was trendy and chic. It had sky-high ceilings complete with lots of lights and screened umbrellas to ensure perfect lighting. Taking up an entire wall was a buffet of food the magazine had catered for the event, my event! All of it was healthy fare with me in mind.

As I entered a dressing room, fun music filled the air. A makeup artist and hairstylist began their magic. I listened while they talked about their past work. One had done Heidi Klum’s makeup not long before, and the other spoke of doing the makeup for big names on a major movie set. I was a little overwhelmed with the emotion of the moment. I felt like I was back to playing Barbie dolls with my sister.

After hair and makeup were underway, the stylist had me try on all the clothes she had bought. We settled on a great pair of designer jeans with a sleek white sweater and a trendy hot pink top. I put on the heels she had purchased—a perfect fit—and some fabulous jewelry. Then I was whisked away to the main part of the studio. In that moment I felt like a million bucks.

It was then the stylist asked me what I believed to be an insane question: “Where are your old blue jeans?” At first I couldn’t believe I had heard her right, but I knew what she was getting at. She said the creative director wanted me to hold up a supersized pair of pants in the photo to show the dramatic contrast represented by clothes I had worn in my previous life.

I understood the point of playing up the shock value. Shoppers standing in line at the supermarket checkout would be amazed by the pants I had once filled out. But the idea that I would have to display a symbol of the old life I had left behi
nd made me feel sick, like I had never lost a pound. How could I hold up a pair of jeans that represented my old humiliation?

I explained to the stylist that not only had I not brought a pair of jeans but I didn’t feel comfortable doing this. As I held my breath, a few phone calls were made, and the shoot continued without the troubling reminder of my past. It turned out to be a great experience, and I was pleased with the photographs. However, I felt a little angry and upset with myself. Hadn’t I moved on past my old image? I could now fit two of me inside my old jeans, so why was this such a big deal? I also wondered if readers might have been helped by seeing me holding up the pants I used to wear. Why couldn’t I just smile into the camera with confidence even if I was standing behind a pair of my old jeans?

I Will Never Return

Back in my hotel room, I awoke in the middle of the night still thinking about the photo shoot. Finally I could see clearly what had offended me. Supersized blue jeans were a symbol of major pain in my life. Holding them up in front of me would not feel as if I was showcasing success. I was now on an exciting journey to share my life and my program to help other people. I had ditched the old jeans, just as I had ditched diets—and both of them for good! Sure, I will always be able to relate to the woman who desperately tries to zip up a pair of pants in a store’s dressing room. But I didn’t want to spend another special moment of my life sharing the spotlight with my former self. I had crossed the point of no return. I now knew without question that I would never go back.

I have a completely new deal, one that focuses on living my new life, the life that God led me to when I fell into my darkest moment. The old me had long wanted to leave behind the constant torment of being overweight and undisciplined. That life is now over. My new deal is much sweeter than I dreamed was possible.

You can have the same deal! You can start living a life of security and freedom. You can be released from the prison of defeat, failure, and negative self-image. And best of all, the new deal we’re going to explore is guaranteed to last.

I won’t ever return to being the person I started out as. There is no going back. And I’ll show you how to take full advantage of the same deal!

 

Leading Millennials

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Thom S. Rainer has a great article here on what millenials want in a leader. Through his article you can learn who our Millenials are and more details about what they are looking for in a leader.

I have a huge heart for Millennials, as Steve and I are raising 3 later born Millennial boys. I love to study articles like Rainers, because it's important to learn about what their generation is seeking.

For me, learning turns into leading. Millenials are looking for gentle spirited mentors, as well as authentic and down-to-earth pastors, politicians and the like. My favorite quality in Millennials is their zero tolerance policy on lying and inauthentic people. If you consistently lack integrity and are manipulative and deceitful, they will leave you. Forever.

Honesty wins every time. It's a good policy to implement for every generation.

In what ways are you leading the Millennial generation? 

 

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