Category Archives: faith

The Comparison Struggle

Many of us like to think that we don’t get sucked into the comparison trap. We try to focus on our own lives and happiness but, to be completely honest, that’s a pretty tall order.I used to be much worse about comparison – looking at everyone’s life around me and wishing that I looked like her, or I had her relationship or her job. It drove me absolutely crazy and caused me to constantly beat down on myself or feel that I was a victim because life was simply unfair.

Luckily, with a lot of work and grace, I’ve come a long way from that mindset. I learned that no matter how good someone else’s life looks on the outside, you don’t know what’s really going on behind closed doors. I learned that we all have our own struggles for a reason, that my life is a gift and that I need to appreciate all the beautiful things that I do have, rather than focus on what I think I want.

Nevertheless, comparison is something that is very hard to get away from no matter who you are or how much you enjoy that life that you have. We’re all human and we aren’t blind to everyone else. You may not even be comparing yourself to someone in particular, but simply judging yourself and your life on what society considers “success” and whether or not you’re meeting that standard.

There’s that word: success. What does it even mean anyway?

Even according to Merriam-Webster the definition of success is a little hazy. Why? Because success is not a universal thing to be achieved but something that is individual to each person and situation.

I was having my “quiet time” the other day and came across a passage in James that struck me and got me started on this topic in the first place:

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

James 3:16

To me, this verse means that when you’re focused on envying what others have and trying to be better than other people, you’ll endure a life filled with disorder and pain rather than one of love and joy. Focusing on impressing other people, having the fanciest things or prettiest house, or thinking that dropping two dress sizes will make you happier or more loved is only going to end up with you feeling disappointed.

Yes, it’s hard not to want those things. Sometimes it’s hard to look around and be not only satisfied with but grateful for what you have right now. However, at the end of the day, we have to remember what is really important. What are you going to look back on from your life and remember? When you slipped on that pair of jeans or looked good in that photo? Or are you going to remember the laughter with friends or the peace that came from doing what felt right and good to you?

Whenever you find yourself in one of those moments, whether it’s when you see your friend’s new house, that person’s amazing vacation photos on Instagram, or your coworker kicking butt at her job, take a deep breath and remember this:

You are exactly where you’re meant to be. You have so many things to be grateful for and you are loved just as you are right now.

Do you ever struggle with comparison? How do you focus on yourself and let it go?

What It Means To Live In The Moment

Yesterday, I was talking to a friend of mine at work while we walked across campus and I realized that I was telling her about how I was already worried about things happening over a month from now. She’s the kind of person who just goes with the flow and doesn’t worry about the future, where I’m the type who can’t stop running through scenarios and worrying about how difficult things will be in the future.

Sometimes, I think too much.

Okay, oftentimes I think too much! Does anyone else do this? I did some googling and read a couple articles about how introverts have a tendency to be in their heads and that’s definitely me!

When I was in Keystone on a 3-day field trip with the 7th grade, I had absolutely nothing to think about or worry about except what was happening right then. I didn’t have time to be on my phone, I didn’t have to be anywhere or get any work done. All I had to do was chat with the teachers, keep the kids in line, and enjoy being up in the mountains.

It was lovely.

It was such a peaceful three days that I came back feeling on top of the world.  I wanted to continue that feeling and keep trying to live in the moment, but then life happened. I had work to get done, I had expectations to meet and I started getting back in my head again until I realized what I was doing yesterday.

Yes, it’s hard for me not to think too much or worry about the future, but I’m making it a goal to focus on living in the present moment this summer. Habits are hard to form, but it is possible! Every time I catch myself unnecessarily worrying about the future, I’m going to take a deep breath and focus on what I’m doing now.

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:31-34

Sure, it’s important to plan ahead, but worrying is simply living through the worst-case scenario in your mind and bringing up negative feelings. If whatever you’re worried about goes well, then you’ve wasted time that could have been positive. If whatever you’re worried about does go poorly, then you’ve made yourself live it twice.

I’m not going to change overnight, but I am going to try to adjust my thinking. If you worry like I do, let’s do this together! Let’s focus on what’s happening right now – not this afternoon, not tomorrow, not a month or a year from now. Focus on the good things, the things that make you grateful and the things that bring you fun and peace. Take in the sounds, smells, touch and feelings of that moment. Being able to focus on what you can do right now or enjoying the moment is incredibly peaceful and calming. Yes, we will get in our heads again, but it’s worth the effort.

 

Do you struggle with getting stuck in your head?

Do you “think too much?”

 

 

Finding Our Value Outside of Money

Many of us fall prey to finding our value in this world from things like how much money we have, how impressive our career is, and other material-based or awards-based achievements. Today I wanted to remind all of us, including myself, of the importance of seeking our value as a person and our value to this society in ourselves and the love and gifts we have to offer those around us.

Finding Our Value Outside of Money I Peaceloveandoats.com

I’ve been slowly making my way through a study by She Reads Truth called Letters to Timothy, which is an 18-day reading plan that includes daily readings from Timothy, along with other passages from the bible, and an article by the She Reads Truth writers. Here’s an overview:


Paul’s letters to Timothy remind us of our truest context—we are sinners saved by grace, and our lives are to be an overflow of that life-saving, life-changing reality. While Paul’s other letters are to congregations, these are from a trusted mentor to his spiritual son. And though the letters contain specific and important instructions for the Church, the overarching tone is more than a list of dos and don’ts. It is an earnest charge from a father in the faith: Live in light of the Gospel.


Today’s reading was about money, which I found very fitting since that’s something that is constantly on my mind right now. Having lost my job back in February and lost my unemployment checks in September, I’ve actually never been so lacking in funds in my life. Well, maybe when I was a baby, but I was the girl who put all her babysitting money in her savings account and generally spent frugally, minus some special treats here and there. 

Part of today’s reading included the following verses:

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” 1 Timothy 6:6-7

This really struck me because it reminded me that all these things that we have or want in this world are just that – things. In the long run of eternal life, they really don’t mean anything. No matter how much we collect or accumulate during this life, it’s not coming with us!

img_7073

I must say, however, that there’s nothing inherently wrong with enjoying material things. Many of us find great joy from beautiful things, from expressing ourselves through our fashion or our homes, or even love to spend our money on amazing life experiences. That’s perfectly fine! I actually love that Paul addresses being rich in his letter to Timothy:

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” 1 Timothy 6:17-19

The point of this message is not to get so wrapped up in money that we define our value on material things and wealth.

Our value is found in the fact that we are all children of God, of the universe. We are all given talents, gift and love to share with others – that is where our value stems from, not from how much money we have or what our salaries are.

But it’s so easy to forget this, isn’t it?

I have to throw my hand up and say I’m very guilty of putting my value in money. While job searching, I’ve scoffed at some salaries, thinking I’m worth so much more than that! Or what would people think of me if I only made that much? When what I really should be thinking of is how much do I really need to survive? How much do I really need to buy groceries, pay rent, pay back loans, and still have enough to enjoy life’s experiences?

picmonkey-collage

We have nothing to prove.

We don’t have to show people we are of value based on how much money we make, or how nice our clothes are, or how fancy the car is that we drive. We are all equally valuable human beings in the world, no matter our income. Just like everything else I learn from being a Christian, this message is something I have to work on daily, because I am perfectly imperfect in my human ways.

89be71de3cc3d55d0c706bf006bd0efe

Do you ever struggle with getting wrapped up in money? 

Where do you think our value comes from? Why are you valuable to the world?

Why Christian Women Should Care About Health & Fitness

If you’ve read my story, then you know I used to abuse my body and my mind under the pretense of what I called “Healthy Living.” Now I live  a life where I view food as fuel and enjoyment and exercise as a way to feel strong and confident and keep my body and mind healthy. I no longer berate myself for not being good enough and I love who I am.

God saved me.

I’ve always tried to share things that helped me get through that difficult time in my life, but the real truth is God did it all. He reached out to me, as he had been doing my whole life. He pushed me and nudged me until I started to seek Him, and through that growing relationship I was able to understand my value. I am not just someone in this world who needs to appear “successful” by society’s standards; I am his child and my time here on earth is to live out his purpose. I am worthy. I am loved. I am good enough.

Once I realized all these things about myself, exercise and dieting no longer had control over me. But I didn’t know how to handle something that was once my idol.

Where does health and fitness fit into my life as a Christian woman?

One of the biggest reasons I started to change how I treated my body was scripture. That’s right, the Bible. I’d come across verses that made me realize I was doing this “healthy living” thing all wrong, and that God valued more than my looks, but also valued my body as something He created for me to use and treat well.

First Samuel 16:7 says, “The LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

First Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

First Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

I will not. - Revelation Wellness | Fitness Plans | Weight Loss Plans | Christian Fitness | Fitness Certification:

Clearly God wants us to take care of our bodies, but where is the line between treating ourselves well and turning fitness into an idol, something that we put above God? The question to ask yourself is:

What is your why?

Are you doing this to be healthy or because you want to be skinny?

Are you doing this to be physically fit and strong so you can live out a longer life for God, or because you want to impress people with how you look?

Are you doing this because it relaxes you so that you can better pursue God’s purpose for you, or because you’re ashamed of how you look?

Answer yourself honestly.

Exercise and eating well can be an amazing tool to help women feel strong and confident in their own skin, so that they can go out and help others, whether they are accountants, doctors, missionaries, dog walkers, lawyers, artists, or anything else. We all have our own purpose in this life, but by taking care of ourselves, we are able to better take care of and serve others.

We cannot give our hearts to God and keep our bodies for ourselves.. - Elisabeth Elliot www.claresmith.me:

We exercise and eat well not for how we are viewed by other people, but as a way to stay strong and healthy to serve others and God. Exercise allows us to have increased energy and strength, which results in a healthy mind and increased productivity. Using this mindset of honoring God helps us to focus not on just our looks or how we feel, but on how God designed our bodies to bring glory to Him.

The important thing to keep in mind was written by Paul in a letter to Timothy: “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). We cannot put physical exercise above spiritual exercise.

What does this mean if you’re a healthy Christian woman who doesn’t make fitness a high priority like I do? Nothing. Fitness is a priority for me because it’s my way of teaching women to value themselves and their bodies. I’m not here to tell anyone what to do, but if God is nudging you in a direction to treat yourself better, whether that’s less exercise and eating more or more exercise and eating better, I’m here to help.

For the past several months, God has been pushing me to include a spiritual element into my challenge groups. I’ve been avoiding it because I’m afraid of isolating people who want to do a fitness challenge, but don’t want to do the spiritual portion. I realized, with the help and encouragement of my teammates, that to be truly authentic and happy with my business, I need to be true to myself. Which is why I’ve created a new type of group for the month of April.

Faith and Fitness Banner

Instead of just focusing on nutrition and fitness, we are going to include our spiritual selves as well. Through my experiences, I know that I cannot, in good conscience, teach women to take care of themselves if I don’t include this portion of my life and my journey. Growing a relationship with God has been the key element to my own personal journey and now I want to share that with other women.

So what does the group entail?

Along with what you’d regularly receive in one of my groups we will be doing Joyce Meyer’s 365 Day Confident Woman Devotional together throughout the 3-week group.

  • 3 weeks of a group of like-minded women to support you and keep you accountable, as well as to go through a devotional with. Pursuing God amongst others is incredibly rewarding.
  • Daily check-in’s to keep you accountable to YOUR individual goals
  • Working one-on-one with ME as your coach
  • State of the art fitness program that fits your needs.
  • 30 Days of a nutrient-dense superfood drink to cover all your nutritional needs, give you energy, and help curb cravings.
  • A resource vault with recipe e-books, meal planning strategies, and all the information you need to feel successful and prepared.
  • A real food nutrition plan and workout strategy that’s customized to fit YOU. Whether you’re a single girl in the city, or a busy working mom, whether you want to lose a few lbs, get over your sugar addiction, or just feel good in your skin.
  • Access to our private Facebook community to share your journey with women on a similar path.

If you’re interested in joining or learning more, please fill out the contact form below. If you’re a current client, you’re welcome to just send me an email so we can chat!

I can’t wait to get to know you.

How do you feel about spirituality vs healthy living?

What is your WHY for living a healthy lifestyle?

What Is a Devotional? {For Beginners}

I started hearing the word “devotional” back when I was in college. Freshman year I arrived at the College of Charleston ready to start a new, exciting chapter in my life and to make some amazing new friends. After a few hours of having set up my stuff, some tears saying goodbye to my dad, and getting the lay of the land, my roommate, suitemates and I were sitting around getting to know one another and I quickly learned that I was the black sheep.

What Is a Devotional

Not only was I the only person not from one of the Carolina’s, but I also wasn’t Baptist. Let’s be honest, if you had to label me at the time, you’d call me agnostic. I just didn’t know what to believe, but I envied people who had a strong faith in something, whatever that was.

Needless to say, with my suitemates being the people I knew best on campus, I ended up at a lot of different meetings for campus ministries and ended up making a lot of Christian friends that first year in college. Along with that, I heard little bits and pieces about devotionals, but wasn’t sure what they were. Fast forward to my time during law school and I started seeking out God rather than hearing about Him by happenstance. At the time, I couldn’t find a church that I liked, so I started reaching out to Christian bloggers and eventually tried my hand at the concept of the devotional.

bakeshop

So what is a devotional?

Well, it’s actually a term used in a few different religions but, in my own words, it means a focused time during which you read God’s word and reflect upon it. It’s also used to describe a book or series of short written pieces that speak on God’s word and it’s application. So when you hear someone saying, “I’m doing this great devotional,” she probably means she’s following a book or something online where she reads a verse or two each day and reflects upon it.

Why would you do a devotional?

Because it’s good for your soul. Yes, that sounds super cheesy but it’s so true. Taking some time out of your day to spend with God and reflect on your life in a much larger sense can make a huge impact on your day. Doing so daily can make a huge impact on your mood, attitude, thoughts, actions, and life.

Just like we spend time each day exercising our bodies, this is a way of exercising our spirit. Your relationship with God is just like any other, and it takes time and work. The more often you get in your daily devotional, the stronger your connection with God, His word, and your own inner joy will become. For more benefits, I love this article on Desiring God.

How does this work?

Most often people choose to sit down with their devotional first thing in the morning, just as a calm and meditative way to begin their day on the right note with time and reflection with God. I know some moms who choose to get up a little before their kids to have this “quiet time” before the day begins, or others who enjoy the extra bit of time before work.

However, if you’re new to devotionals or Christianity, choose a time that works best for you and that you know you’ll commit to. The most important thing is to do your best to create a consistent habit. If you fall off and stop reading for a few days, or a few weeks, just jump right back in as soon as you can. No judgments from God- he just wants to spend time with you.

What if I don’t have a bible?

That’s no problem! If you’re not ready to invest in one, there are actually free apps for your phone with the bible and also websites where you can just search for whatever verses you’re looking for.

I recommend the You Version Bible App or Bible Gateway.

What if I don’t know what I believe?

This is a great way to find out! I didn’t know what I believed until I actually took the time to read God’s word and spend time with Him. Actually reading the bible and then spending time in community with other Christians made it all click for me and helped me grow my faith. Even if you’re just looking for a quiet time in the morning to reflect and want some guidance, many of these devotionals recommended below will help you do just that. Just begin, give it a chance, and see where it takes you.

If adding in a devotional to your daily routine feels overwhelming at first, start with just five minutes, then turn that into ten, and so forth. Also, just like with exercise, accountability can be incredibly helpful. Find a friend who also does devotionals, or who wants to start, and see if you can read the same book along with one another and check in, or even join a group of women doing the same. I plan on running a challenge group in the near future that combines faith & fitness, so be sure to keep an eye out for that.

To help you get started, here are some great online and in print resources for daily devotionals:

Online Resources

She Reads Truth

IF Equip

Our Daily Bread

Joyce Meyer Everyday Study

First 5

(in)courage

Bible App Reading Plans

Book Recommendations

Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are; As You Are

The Confident Woman: 365 Day Devotional

Morning and Evening

My Utmost for His Highest

Jesus Calling

Grace for the Moment

Thank you to all my friends who contributed to this list! 

 

Do you have a daily quiet time?

Do you have other questions that you’d like me to answer in a post?