All posts by amgits01

Food for Thought

I’ve come to a place where my health is so important to me. Some people think it’s an obsession, others think it’s kinda cool, but majority of the people I know just don’t get it. For the longest time, I neglected my body. I shoved junk food in but still wanted my clothes to be like a size 4. I didn’t exercise or have a generally healthy lifestyle for most of my life. Until recently. I decided to make a lifestyle change but not because I wanted a ‘summer bod’ or because I wanted to shed a few pounds. I genuinely wanted to change my body. Give it a complete makeover and take care of it while I’m here on this earth.

This is not a popular option for most people in their 20s. I made excuses for myself when I went out to eat by telling myself it was okay to eat chips & salsa because that’s what you do at El Nopal and that’s what tastes good and that’s what other people I’m with are doing. It wasn’t until today that I realized I really DON’T have to eat foods that everyone else is eating. I don’t have to do what everyone else does. I can make my own way and my own path, although less traveled, for the sake of my health. In a world of growing health issues, generational diseases, and more, it’s time to take back my health.

Listen, I used to be one of those people who thought jokes like this were funny.

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But deep down I wanted to be in better shape than I was willing to admit. I wanted the healthy look without all the work. Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s a response from a typical product of the immediacy culture. But I am here to say NO MORE. I am taking action for a long term healthier lifestyle.

When you’re 16, you think you’ll be and feel that way forever, but you don’t and physically can’t. You grow up and unfortunately grow out too. When you’re 16, you truly don’t care that fast food is ruining your ability to function later in life. I know this all seems dramatic and I’ve been there too. I used to think people always made things out to be more serious than it actually was. But truthfully, I was in denial. I honestly didn’t know how food really affected me and my ability to function everyday until now. For example, everything good that comes from life must be taken care of and kept after. Flowers die without the right kind of sunlight and temperature. Pets wouldn’t make it without the food and care from their owners. It’s literally the same concept with food and our bodies. We can’t survive in life without the right conditions.

We’ve accepted that grocery stores sell us food that have a shelf life of 7 years. We’ve accepted that it’s okay to buy food that someone else made in some dark, cold factory in mass production. We’ve let major companies dictate where we spend our money just so we can get energy from a sugar high. They want us to be addicted. It’s actually scary to see how the food industry controls where we spend money. Think about it people!! It’s mad that we let random people make what goes in our bodies everyday all for the sake of a quick sale! I know it’s nearly impossible to completely cut ties with these types of food, but it’s definitely food for thought.

I believe in questioning the norms. Let’s ask questions instead of just doing what everyone else does or tells us to do. We’ve let sugar, processed foods, and the companies they come from, control our lives. It’s not always easy to live a healthy lifestyle, especially when our world is literally filled with all the wrong foods, but it is possible. And is most definitely rewarding.

This is a side by side body scan of the inside of a 250 lb woman (left) and a 120 lb woman (right).

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*PSA: this post is not a body shaming post but an alarming reality about how we treat our bodies with the food products we eat.* 

Despite these thoughts, I’m really no expert. I’m still in the process of detoxing my body from all the fake food that doesn’t actually satisfy my body. If I ever need a reminder, I look at the rolls of fat on stomach, legs, and arms. Then I remember that that cookie I ate when I was 12 is probably still lingering on my body. That’s not what I signed up for when I ate that cookie. I really just wanted to taste it without actually dealing with consequences of fat. Oh hey, I spy another response from a product of the immediacy culture. But somehow cookies STILL scream at me to eat them. Chips and salsa still excite me when I think about them. That flavor is still so dang good. There is a time and place for those comfort foods and it’s not multiple times a day.

We can make excuses like, “I’d rather die a fat, happy 55 year old gal who ate whatever than live to be 75 by eating salad and being miserable all the time” but that’s TWENTY YEARS you can add to your life for the sake of you AND your family, not just for you! AND who says eating salad makes you miserable?? The energy and nutrients from eating foods that are good for you make feel so good throughout the day. Healthy foods have always gotten a bad rep. And the the problem is that we’ve tasted the ‘forbidden fruit’ and can’t go back to what our ancestors thrived on. We’re addicted to sugar, simple carbs, and empty calories. We might as well stick a needle in our arm and let it run through our bloodstream.

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PEOPLE, we can fight against this! We can go back to what was literally here for us from the beginning. God put fruits, vegetables, and plant based foods here for a reason. There is a way to heal our bodies, heal our sickness, heal our depression, heal our addictions. But it takes awareness and it takes A LOT of work and commitment. We can’t do this alone. I’ve tried and failed so many times. Support is absolutely vital for this lifestyle. There will be hard days and maybe even some relapses, but it is possible to fight this addiction and let our bodies reward us with a satisfying life.

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The Finish Line

I tried thinking of a less cheesy title for this post, but anyway I tried to cut it, it was still going to be cheesy.

Anyway, here it is. The end of another long semester. But this one was different, as they all are, in that I accomplished more than I thought imaginable. The week of April 19-April 26 was one for the books.

On Monday, I quit my job at Zion after working there for a little over a year.

On Tuesday, I finished my last day of classes as a senior.

On Thursday, I had my last day at my school placement with my fabulous 5th graders and mentor teacher.

On Saturday, I ran my first half marathon (13.1 miles) IN THE RAIN and completed it in less than 2 1/2 hours.

This semester has been the most stressful one of them all. Working, being a full time student, being in the schools, training for the mini-marathon, and keeping up with my pals proved to be one of the most difficult combinations I’ve ever experienced.

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Crossing that finish line on Saturday represented so much of the hardship and struggle that life brought me these last few months. That finish line represented the countless hours spent writing lessons, doing homework, training, going to class, spending time in the classroom, etc. The determination I felt turning that curve to get to the finish line was something I’d never felt before. When Joanna said, ‘Go, give it all you’ve got’, that’s all I needed to book it at the end. Passing people, dodging cones, and making the ugliest face of determination until I made it across. I love symbols and I love that with each mile of that run on Saturday, I was able to drop off another weight from this semester.

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At mile 1 I dropped off the pain. At mile 2 I dropped off the hard work. At mile 3 I dropped off self-hate. With each mile, I crossed a finish line and then kept going until all the hard work, pain, and frustration from this semester ended at the final finish line. I didn’t know it at the time, but now that I’m reflecting on this experience, each mile I got a little bit closer to the person God prepared me for all semester long. He took off more of the old Angela and gave me some newer, thicker skin. I grew stronger after each mile. I grew happier, I grew freer. At one point, I ACTUALLY smiled and laughed. Once the rain came pouring, all I could do was laugh and be thankful that I was still alive and running.

But I did cry. Once I realized I was gonna do it, that I was gonna make it to the end. My feet were gonna get me there. The strength and love of my God were gonna get me there. 2 phone calls during the race from my mom and 2 phone calls from Joanna were gonna get me there. I cried knowing that all the training I completed, prepared me for the finish line.

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People keep saying, ‘man, I wish I could do that’ or ‘that’s so awesome for you, but there’s no way I could run 13.1 miles, especially in the rain’ and my heart wants to burst hearing these phrases. ‘YOU CAN DO IT’, is what I want to scream. 6 months ago I died after running a mile. I absolutely hated it. But give it time. Your body, mind, and soul will thank you for taking care of it (them?).

For me, I wanted my runs to represent my determination outside of running. I had a greater pursuit of knowledge and understanding and could function better in other areas of my life. If I could push through training by running 10 mile long runs for 2 hours, I could write lessons, I could be fully present in my classes, I could work harder at my job. Running symbolizes overall strength and perseverance. Of course, I burned a lot of calories, I strengthened my body, I felt good afterwards, but ultimately it has taught me to push my limits. Go longer, go further. And then take that into my relationships. Go longer, go further. Take that into my work. Go longer, go further. Take that into my time with God. Go longer, go further.

I don’t say these things to put more pressure on myself, but to remember I’m much stronger than I think I am. I have a deeper capacity than I want to believe. Running gives me that perspective. And for that, I’m thankful.

I’m thankful that I get to look at my medal, my bib, my congratulatory flowers, my t-shirt, my bumper sticker and remember what God taught me this semester. Remember how running gives me perspective and drive. Remember how I gave it all I had in each lesson. Remember how I learned to be a better teacher. Remember how God kept his promise of love and freedom.

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Through it all, I have to say that God is good. He is good for bringing me to this point and he is good for giving me amazing support. Thank you God for bringing me through the end of every finish line that I cross in life. You are good.

Prepare

Life is always about the next thing we’re moving into. 5th graders look forward to middle school. 8th graders look forward to high school. High school seniors look forward to college. College seniors look forward to a career-life. Singles look forward to dating. Daters look forward to marriage. Married couples look forward to children. The list goes on. We are hard-wired to prepare for the next steps in life.

Those are the big transitions but then I think about my daily routine & I’m constantly preparing food for my day, making sure I have everything I need before I go to class, work, or my field placement. There’s a serious art to it. I have to force myself to think, “What will I need at this time tomorrow so that I’m ready for whatever comes way?” That could be anything from a snack to having some gum in my backpack. It seems kinda silly admitting it, but being prepared for what is to come is vital to my well-being.

Of course, this got me thinking about many other things that should be prepared for. I think about my relationship with Jesus and this makes so much sense. I often hear, and I include myself in this, “I just don’t know what God wants for my life” or “I don’t really know how to have a relationship with Jesus”. But how can I know him or what he wants if I’m not preparing my heart & mind for him daily? Just like the night before I go to my placement & must make my lunch, pack all the snacks I need for the day, get everything printed for assignments I need work on the following day, I must prepare my heart and mind of all the things Jesus may want to say.

Easier said than done, right? Man, why does God always give us so many analogies from our normal lives into our spiritual lives too? He’s pretty cool like that.

But seriously, how can we prepare our hearts for the way of the Lord? I think he’s waiting to share with us and meet with us more often than we want to with him. I think about that friend that has news to share and you just can’t wait to meet them to hear about that news. I feel like Jesus feels the same way. That he wants to share his heart with us.

Let’s prepare our hearts for more than a 10 minute devotional about how to behave better, according to this one verse in the Bible that Paul said. Let’s get into the nitty gritty with what he wants to share. Let him speak directly to our soul, to our being, to our core. Let him whisper those sweet little reminders of love, peace, and freedom. Let him prepare us for greater, deeper rooted desires for him. Let him prepare for us for excitement, joy, and love. Let him prepare us for wider arms, opened eyes, and a selfless heart.

Just like that 5th grader, 8th grader, high school senior, college senior, career man/woman, single person, dating couple, and married couple, we progress in our preparedness for the Lord. Each encounter, be prepared and ready for him to speak. You’ll move on from 5th grade to 6th grade. Each time he does, the love grows deeper. You’ll move on from 8th grade to 9th grade. Each time he’ll begin to show you himself in deeper connection. You’ll move on from 12th grade to freshman in college. He’ll prepare you for the next thing and then the next thing. You’ll move on from senior in college to a career man/woman. Just keep coming, keep being, keep loving. He’ll show up.

“A messenger is calling out, “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord. Make a straight road through it for our God…””

-Isaiah 40:3

Present

Today we had another snow day. And I’ve mentioned it before but snow days make me really, really contemplative. Like super contemplative.

Anyway, life recently has been a big bang of busy. Good things, yes, but busy. I feel myself so deep into my profession that it is quickly becoming all that I am. But on the days, like snow days, that I don’t have to be anywhere or have a strict timeline, I find myself in the midst of thoughts that need to be reflected upon. I think about how much time I spend thinking, living, eating, and breathing my school-related activities. And if it’s not that it’s my training for the mini. (I’m up to eleven miles, btw). But nonetheless I’ve realized that by giving to people and by giving so much time to my future profession, I’ve forgotten how to be a friend. I see my friends for a few hours on the weekend. I don’t check in on people throughout the week. In fact, I hardly talk to my parents when I get home from a long day. And if I do it’s usually to complain about my frustrations from the day. Some people would say, “well that is just the stepladder to success. Not everyone is going to be there for you in the process of your success.” And to be honest that’s complete crap.

You can have the world and without friendships, community, and loving relationships, nothing matters. Absolutely nothing. As a matter of fact, just tonight I was on Facebook and one of my friends posted something about how she has so much in her life that should make her happy but she just isn’t. Could it be she doesn’t have a lot of friends so she just makes do with material things? Could it be she doesn’t know Jesus and therefore has no purpose? It could be either or both of those things but either way, I believe that the things you think will make you happy never really do. That includes your profession. Should you have purpose and drive? Absolutely. But the minute you live your one and only life for something that could be taken away is the minute you have actually lost it all already.

The most important thing in life is to be present. To be around. To be available. I suck at that and because I suck at that, I have lost a lot of friends. A LOT of friends. One of my deepest fears is not being loved fully for who I am because I have not experienced a friendship where I have been able to love fully and be loved back fully. I’ve tried. And sometimes I have friends who stick around for a while but there’s always someone better, someone greater, someone funnier. No one has ever consistently turned to me or wanted to call me when something good has happened. I can’t help but think this has to be my lack of presence in someone else’s life. If I’m not around why would anyone trust me with their life? If I don’t make the effort, why would the other person?

I’ve realized that I am the classic definition of a loner. I have lots of friends but everyone seems to be at arms reach. I don’t let myself fully known and therefore why should I expect someone to let me fully know them? A good life is built on friendships. The longer you make yourself available to the people in your life, the greater trust they’ll have for you. And I hate that I feel like I burned so many bridges to be present in people’s lives. I hate that I feel like people don’t really love me for who I really am I. I hate that other people get attention for being who they naturally are but I don’t feel like people give me attention for who I naturally am. Is it not the greatest joy in life to be exactly who we are and leave that legacy here on this earth? Yet, why do so many people feel the need to be someone else or someone different?

I want to be present and needed by the people in my life. I don’t want to use the excuse, “I’m just too busy” or “I’ll see my friends on the weekends”. I’m not sure how to flip this switch but at least I know it exists. By the sounds of it, I have a lot of learning to do in this next season of life.

Crevice

This post is mostly for myself. To let out some steam through writing. If you’re reading this, I don’t expect to see it being passed around as this profound, “I’m tired of being single but God is good” post. I know how annoying those get.

No, in this case I just want to share how frustrated I am that not only am I single, but that I have always been single, I’ve never had sex (comes with being chronically single USUALLY), I’ve never kissed anyone, I’ve never gone on a date, I’ve never been seriously pursued, I’ve never been sought after. Not once. Not even once.

I’ve never been on the other side of heartbreak either, so I don’t have experience of love AND rejection. But I do have experience with just rejection. It absolutely SUCKS to live your whole life thinking you aren’t desirable, wanted, needed, loved, or mattered from a man. Yes, I have friends and family who have been great and I don’t want to dismiss that by any means. But I’m 22 and people around me are getting married, starting their lives, having kids, etc.

And here I am just sitting on a Saturday night, sulking a bit, yes, but sad. Ultimately sad and utterly heartbroken. You know the phrase, “It’s better to have love and lost than to never have loved at all”? I feel that. Deeply, deeply feel that. I’ve never had the chance to love someone. Isn’t that life’s greatest joy? But it isn’t it life’s greatest disappointment? Oh, the paradox.

I know Jesus took heartbreak when he died on the cross but it’s so so hard not to be identified by this unfortunate circumstance. You can bet your bottom dollar that I’ve cried out angry at God for not bringing along someone I can love. Because I know I can love. I have so much I want to give. I would be so willing to give my heart to someone to take care of and I would be willing to take care of someone else’s heart. I’ve not met anyone willing to explore love with me. I know it’s in those moments where God gently whispers, “Let me. Please, can I hold you?”

I am reminded of his love through the whisper, but my heart is still screaming. Screaming out for a rope, something that I can at least hold on to for a little while, while I wait. Because if I have no shred of hope, I’ll go seeking for something that will help me feel better. And that’s exactly what I do. I fill that crevice of my heart with silly, frivolous things that don’t really give me my heart’s desire. I want to walk away from it but it’s here for me. I don’t want to be tossed around in these silly desires, but I have nothing else to hold on.

It seems like the cross isn’t enough for me. I know how to get there but how do I stay there? I get there for a moment and then walk away from the freedom Jesus so lovingly offers. Every day is a battle. Every hour is a battle. Every minute is a battle. Every second is a battle. How does the Lord enter that crevice of my mind in those seconds, minutes, hours, days?

I want to look at love and be inspired, motivated, and energized. When I look towards Jesus I get those things. But is it too much to ask that I want to find that in a man? I want to be inspired, motivated, and energized by a partner, a friend, and a lover. To think that those things can exist within two people’s relationship is incredible. To be able to pair my relational capital with Jesus and my relational capital with my husband is the ultimate bond of love, in my opinion.

I’m sorry if this doesn’t make sense. Take it as you will and interpret it for yourself however you want. In case anyone was wondering, this snow week off from responsibility is the culprit of such thoughts above.

“God in my laughing, there in my weeping. God in my hurting, God in my healing. Be my everything.”

XOXO

I just recently looked at my stats for the year 2014. Sometimes I do this to see the numbers, views, etc. But as I looked at my annual report (the real fancy one) I was utterly SHOCKED at some of the stats from last year.

My blog website had a whopping 1300 views from 11 different countries. These countries included, the U.S., Canada, Belize, Honduras, Nigeria, India, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, and a few others. It blows my mind to think that my little blog could be on people’s computer screens in other countries. I’m just a little Louisvillian girl writing from the heart. But when you pair that with the internet and word of mouth, anything is possible.

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By reviewing these stats I realized something: ANYONE has the power to change the world with words. I have no idea if my blogs have had any kind of impact on the people who read them, but I can continue writing regardless of who reads. I usually never write as if I want thousands of people to read. I don’t have a lot of followers or a large audience. I don’t normally have a blog “theme”. I just write to process my thoughts and feelings. I want to share them so that other people can take a look at their life and process their own thoughts as well.

I like to write in this intimate form of writing. Unfortunately, for an English major, my grammar, sentence structure, and overall writing style isn’t exactly ideal, but I care about the message, the thought, the emotion of what I’m writing. Writing from the heart will always be my favorite way to write, but I hope I can write something that truly and honestly encourages and challenges people to think differently when they come across my page.

To those who have supported, encouraged, and challenged me to keep writing: thank you. I deeply feel that love. This post is a shoutout to all you lovely people.

But also to those who write, whether you’re a famous author or a community blogger: keep pursuing your thoughts, keep stretching your mind, keep sharing those moments, those revelations from God. This post is for you, too.

You really never know what your words can do for someone else. So keep writing.

XOXO

Angela

Raw

We all have walls we live behind. Sometimes, I have to actually picture myself walking with a wall around me in order to really understand what this metaphorical “wall” means. I always read about emotional walls we build, but it’s easier to imagine walking around with an actual wall to understand just how weighty that wall is. We don’t want people to see or feel our real, raw emotions. We just want people to see that picture of us going out with all our not-so-best-friends. We want people to like those things and be jealous. Don’t look at the screen like that.. At some point in our lives, there is at least one picture or post we make so that someone (or somones) feel jealous about what we’re doing.

I’ve talked in previous blogs about my dislike of pictures and just picture perfect media in general. These are the most tangible resources we have for these walls we build. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at someone’s social media page and thought, “dang they just have it.” And then I can’t stand myself. All I want to do is make my Twitter feed funnier, make my Instagram pictures prettier, and send goofier snapchats. And thus I build my wall. The fluffier I make my media, the higher my wall gets. People don’t have to see who I really am or how I really feel.

I remember one time I was actually really mad about something that I did and hated myself for doing it, but I thought I could tweet about and make it out to be funnier than how I actually felt because I wanted people to laugh and think that I didn’t care. I got a good amount of favorites and retweets, but it didn’t change the fact that I ACTUALLY felt awful about it. But I made it out to be this funny, humorous thing that I’m sure people just laughed at and moved on.

I can recall another time I made my profile picture on Facebook a picture of me and 4 friends with Ben Rector when he came to Louisville several years back. A friend commented and said, “You girls always look so happy!” When I read that I literally LOLed. I was thinking, “Little do you know I was actually an emotional mess all night over a silly boy who doesn’t even like me.”

Why do I do stuff like that? I’m SO GOOD at making my life look posh. What does this do for me, though? It doesn’t make me feel any better about a relationship I have with a friend if we take a super cute picture together. The next thing I think is that if my friend really cares about me, she’ll post it on Instagram. As if Instagram is the holiest of holy places for a person to show how much they care about you.

What do we really get out of life if we are never raw with our thoughts and feelings on the daily?

What if we had a social media website that recorded and shared the details of our lives that we try to hide? Imagine if there was a little camera on us all day and at the end of the day, it would post all of the stupid, dreadful moments from the day and we all had to watch everyone’s terrible moments. I’m chuckling just thinking about that! It would most definitely be weird, but I think it would stop us from thinking that people are squeaky clean.

We really need more people willing to share their struggles. Maybe not on social media but to share their struggles with God, themselves, and the community around them. We’ve got to stop telling people we’re doing fine in order to fill some cultural expectation. We need people wiling to admit they want to be selfish. To share the temptation of wanting to have sex all the time. To shed light on their addiction for approval. To be vulnerable about the jealousies they have against their friends.

All of these and more. A dear friend once sent me a devotional about confession and this is what stuck out to me the most, “In order to be fully loved, we must be fully known.” We can’t really have people’s fullest love for us if we don’t allow ourselves to be fully known by those people. It takes a while to get there. And I’m learning that I suck at actually letting people fully know me, but I know the weight of that truth. And that’s what I truly want out of life. To be raw and not be scared that whoever I am raw with will leave my life.