Harvest Moon Soup

Want to reap the goodness of Autumn through Wintertime? This bowl of harvest will carry you through! It’s not every night I throw ingredients together and it magically comes out delicious. If you dig creamy soups, with a mild spice, try my Harvest Moon!

Harvest Moon Soup, by Bri.
PALEO (DF/SF/GF)
Serves 6

Ingredients
3 lg. Carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch rounds
1 med/lg. sized Butternut squash, chopped into 1-1 1/2 inch chunks
1 sm. Onion, cut in half and sliced
1/2 cup Canned Coconut Milk
1 qt. Chicken broth (or Bone broth)
1 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp Paprika 
1 heaping tsp parsley 
Pinch or two of Cinnamon
1 heaping tsp of Black Pepper
1 tsp Salt 

Instructions
1. Mix in all ingredients, except the coconut milk,into a large pot.
2. Bring to a simmer on Medium stovetop heat.
3. Give a good stir, and turn heat to low. Let sit for 2 hrs, this    draws out more flavor in the soup. 
4. Pour in 1/2 cup of coconut milk and blend with an immersion       blender right in the pot. (You may choose to blend in batches by     using a   blender too)
5. Serve with some crusty bread or Paleo rolls and you're set!


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Exercises To Do and Avoid During and After Pregnancy

The hottest topic in the Prenatal/Postpartum world right now is Diastasis Recti. This is the separation of the middle of the abdominal wall of 2.7cm or greater thanks to the stretching of the Linea Alba (the connective tissue that holds it together like glue).

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Owen being a supermodel and Eli still in hiding.

As you can imagine, our abdominal muscles, along with the connective tissue, experience great pressure as the belly expands and takes on unusual weight. It is extremely important that we take special care of our midsection, as to not further the separation which can so easily happen with our day-to-day activities. The simplest example being in maintaining neutral posture (the natural curvature of your spine and placement of head, ribs and pelvis).  The constant awareness of good posture increases abdominal muscular strength and endurance as well as reducing stress on joints and muscles. I’m not going to cover all the anatomical pieces of the core today, but it is important that we understand the do’s and don’ts in our efforts to gain back that core strength and stability.

The following “do” exercises are deemed generally safe for pregnant and postpartum women, as long as you are cleared for exercise and don’t have any contraindications. The “don’t” exercises below, generally carry a high “risk to reward” ratio. They should be avoided during certain phases of pregnancy and immediately postpartum.

 

During Pregnancy Do’s

  • Squat: Bodyweight, Dumbbell, Goblet
  • Glute Bridge: Regular, Single-Leg, Band-Resisted, Feet-Elevated, Back-elevated/Hip Thrust
  • Row Variations: One-Arm DB Row, Seated Cable Row, Standing Band Row, Single-Arm Band Row

During Pregnancy Don’ts

  • Front Planks or any exercise where the belly is “hanging” down or feels unsupported (this recommendation often applies after 20-24 weeks). This includes, but is not limited to: Push-ups, Mountain Climbers, and Shoulder Taps.
  • Plyometric/High Impact Exercises or any exercises where you feel increased downward pressure on your pelvic floor and/or experiences any lower back or pelvic pain, or leaking of urine (this is often after 20-24 weeks). This may not apply to advanced/high level athletes. Consult with your pelvic health physio for specific recommendations.

Post Pregnancy Do’s

(6-12 weeks, prior to 6 weeks consult with your primary medical practitioner and/or pelvic health physio)

  • Glute Bridge: Regular, Single-Leg, Band-Resisted, Feet-Elevated, Hip Thrust
  • Clamshell: Regular, Band-Resisted
  • Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch (with optional reach)
  • Squat: Bodyweight

Post Pregnancy Don’ts

  • Traditional/Advanced Abdominal Exercises:  Examples being Traditional sit-up, GHR sit-up, and Jackknife/V-up.
  • Plyometric/High Impact Exercises or any exercises where she feels increased downward pressure on her pelvic oor and/or she experiences any lower back or pelvic pain, or leaking of urine. Avoid exercises that cause pain or anything that doesn’t “feel right” to the core or pelvic floor.

Always be sure to ask yourself, “How does this exercise make me feel?” or “Do I feel strong, supported, and stable during this exercise?”. Keep in mind that some exercises might also feel good, but might not be appropriate for you yet. For some basic level abdominal exercise ideas, follow along with me on “Level Zero Abs”, The HIIT Hustle.

Resources

Exercises Your Clients Should Do and Avoid During & After Pregnancy“, Girls Gone Strong, LLC. 2017, http://www.girlsgonestrong.com.

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Hi! I’m Brianna Joy. I blog over at joyfullyfit.blog and am a Strength and Conditioning Coach at Fit2Excel, Essex, VT. I’m an imperfect person doing my best to be a Mommy, Wife and Fitness teacher!

Joy! For crying out loud…

You’re no stronger than your joy.

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September seems to be our busiest time of the year. Besides it being our Anniversary and my Birthday month, it’s when Owen starts school, Russ has a few major church events, and I’m coaching soccer. Throw in one of my best friend’s getting married this month and you have a full schedule! I’m sure you can relate. Even though there is a plethora of good things, there is a whole lot of planning, babysitting, money spending and driving behind it all.  

I’ve been at this place before; overwhelmed with the thought of all that’s ahead. But I’ve never been so adamant about quiet time with the Lord because now I understand how much I need it. Like exercise builds physical strength and endurance, quiet time with God trains our trust muscles, builds perseverance, and creates an emotional resilience in our soul. Another great result of meditation with God is that it yields to the fullness of Joy.

“Our connection to the spirit of God is our access point to the full expression of what joy looks like.” -Bill Johnson

“…in your presence there is fullness of joy.” Psalm 16:11

Joy is being in a state of gladness and celebration without caving to circumstance and doubt. I think it’s no coincidence that God had me marry into the Joy family, what a name to marry into! Most of my life I was never a morning person, until I was forced into being an early-bird in becoming a Mom. My sister will be the first to tell you that I wasn’t always a joy to be around. She would often get growled at and things thrown at her if she was being too loud and happy in the morning. Maybe it’s just me, but have you ever found yourself irritated by someone that is seemingly happy and overjoyed when you are not in that same place? Happiness is a natural emotion that comes with satisfaction and pleasure. Joy on the other hand, is not natural. It’s not easily obtained until you begin to understand the reason for it. The discipline of Joy is a practice, it’s a mark on the calendar, and its a daily choice.

Joy that seems impossible, is joy that will yield strength.

“Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

When the Israelites had finally started to settle in Jerusalem after being held captive by the King of Babylon, their leaders Nehemiah and Ezra gathered them all and spoke out the law of Moses. Having never heard the laws before, the Israelites began to weep. As the words were spoken to them they grieved because they knew that keeping the law would be impossible. Can you imagine tens, of thousands of people weeping?? What the didn’t understand was that “with God all things are possible”. Nehemiah looked around and said to them all,

“This is day is holy to the Lord, do not mourn or weep. Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve,for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:9-11

Joy comes when we see impossibility or when we are faced with discouragement but then understand the faithfulness of the Lord. Joy comes when we understand that even though the struggle may be clear as day, God is with us and has already gone before us through those trials. Joy is knowing that God takes the ugly and turns it into something beautiful and valuable. Some of us have been shaped to believe that we are worthless, we’ve been lied to, or maybe we’ve been hurt. Some of us inflict those things on ourselves. Joy comes when we take our eyes off ourselves and our shortcomings, and focus our gaze on what great work God has done, is doing and will do in us.

Joy is a discipline that is nudged by understanding.

 “The point at which you celebrate is the point at which you understand.” -Bill Johnson, on the Discipline of Joy.

“Then the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made know to them.” Nehemiah 8: 12

The Israelites had no connection of joy and the law before they understood that God’s grace would enable them to live holy lives. God’s grace enables us to be joyful in impossible situations. Joy is possible in our pain. It is possible to trade sorrow for laughter, because with God all things are possible.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

Joy is one of the keys God has handed us to the treasure box of strength, health, fullness, and freedom. Imagine the agony that came as Jesus prepared for torture, as the Romans  and his own people, set out to crucify Him. Looking at scriptures, Jesus was in such turmoil that he sweat drops of blood. What was it that held his focus so that he persevered through it all? It was the joy that came in knowing that his actions would provide freedom for us. That’s how deep his love for us went, he didn’t just muscle through sacrifice. He endured by the joy set before him. He intentionally put himself in the path of death in order to for his joy (us) to receive eternal life. Like Jesus’ eyes were fixed on us through his trial, let’s fix our eyes on the redemption and fullness found in him.

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the JOY set before him he endured the cross.” Hebrews 12:2

This understanding of joy in the impossible, changes everything. Goodness, I know for some of us simply cutting out sugar or losing excess weight seems impossible. Maybe it’s a relationship that has two opposing views on faith. Or maybe it’s a loss of identity and purpose. Maybe our eyes are so fixed on our trial that it leads us into deep, dark, depression that seems impossible to come out of. Let me tell you friends, this is not the end. It’s time to stop waking up to another day of just getting by. Jesus has made a way for us to come out of this not only just getting by, but with GREAT JOY. Joy is possible in EVERYTHING you do.  Schedule joy into your day, plan to celebrate what God has done, is doing and will do through you. There is great reason for joy if you begin to understand the reason. The discipline is yours to take on, will you choose joy today?

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Keep moving forward »»

Bri

Note: It’s amazing how God strings together themes that eventually are so difficult to ignore that I end up writing about them here. Through sermons, podcasts, friends, prayer and song, God uses any and every source to speak to my heart! Now I don’t share everything that he shows me but what I do share, I hope that it reaches out to you in a way that is life changing, joy producing and inspires you to understand who you are by knowing whose you are. The fullness that comes with knowing who God says we are changes the way we see not only ourselves, but the world around us. Turn this into a conversation by liking, commenting and sharing on our Facebook page: The Joyfully Fit Tribe.

XOXO!

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You Need a Vacation

It had been nearly 5 years since we had been able to do this. For once, I was not pregnant or breastfeeding and could fly away from my little ducklings for a few days with my husband.

Every time I was stressed out, burned out, and overly exhausted I would say, I can’t wait to be on vacation. The idea of rest motivated me through all the delightful happenings of pregnancy and post-baby.

IMG_8782What I didn’t like, was my husbands response to my yearnings: Vacation will not fix your problems. …I thought for sure it would. I kicked every inkling of knowing he was right straight out the back door of my mind.

“I’m done”, is typically a statement that is followed by: “I need to get out!” I am going to share what God has done in my heart since that vacation; When I get to the point where I feel like there is a circus of wild monkeys in my brain and I need to get out…I actually need to get in.

Some of us work until we are completely stressed out of our minds. To the point where stress is a normal part of our life and we don’t know how we’d operate without it. A constant high of cortisol (stress-hormone) for an extended period of time, can actually result in a constant level of it and medication might be deemed necessary.

I had in my mind, that 3 days and 3 nights spent kid-free, at a small beach town in Rhode Island, was going to be my cure. Cure of all the pain and stress from raising little ones and working outside the home. It was indeed relaxing, peaceful, and added some salve to our relationship, I kept asking myself, how can I feel like I’m on vacation when I’m back to reality? 

The reason why we all love vacation is because there is little to no stress. We come down from our busy lives and remember to play, be flexible and read a book that is not for the sake of learning or downloading more information to our overloaded minds.

Coming back home from our sweet time away, I pulled for those vacation-vibes to stretch into our life back home. I was holding onto with all the strength I could, and then God showed me over the span of a couple months that that was exactly my problem. I was trying to use my own strength and will power to earn and to live in rest.

For years I thought that I needed a vacation. The thought that “getting out” could resolve my uncontrollable situation at home blinded me from what I really needed. My heart was being clouded out by stress. It was being pulled by a desire to be free, which I thought looked like vacation. When, what I really needed for that freedom, was Jesus.

How can I feel like I’m on vacation when I’m back to reality? 

Why do I want to be on vacation all the time? It’s because I don’t want to feel stress. The feeling of needing to “get out”, runs us into a wall that we end up coming back and running into again. When we feel like we need to get out, we need to use that as a reminder to “get in”. Get into the heart of the matter, get into the conflict of our soul with the redeemer of our soul.

“And they remembered that God was their rock, And the Most High God their Redeemer.” Psalm 78:35

It wasn’t easy, beginning the practice of stillness. But, if you pull anything away from this blog, I hope that it is to learn to be still. That is where true strength and resilience to emotional-stress is found. Finding resolve, losing weight, eating clean, restoring relationships, finding joy and peace…doesn’t start after vacation. It begins by a renewing of our mind, remembering God’s promises, release of control, and a faithful leap of trust in God.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2

Our minds mold to what ever patterns we feed them. If the pattern is business and constantly going, or doing things, our minds will hold to that pattern and it will take serious discipline to find strength, joy and peace. Just like I strived for a vacation, so to fix my wounds and make me happier, I now strive for stillness every single day. This is a testimony of freedom, peace, joy and strength. I once was lost in the chaos of business. Now I’m completely found in my daily meeting with Jesus. The verse below is the key that God gives us to unlocking peace and strength to muster every day,

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” Isaiah 40:29-31

What keeps me going is a daily vacation with the Lord y’all. It looks like finding time in your day to sit, think about what you are thinking about and invite Him in to be with you and your thoughts.

The rest of that verse above is powerful and hits me like a rock,

“…but you would have none of it.”

Say we have our minds set on having quiet time. The next thing you know, we are cleaning the kitchen, driving around doing errands, and catching up with old friends over Snap Chat. I am totally guilty of being a fiddler. It’s like my mind decides that there are more important things to take care of first. Our minds are renewed when stillness becomes a priority. 

In the middle of the months God was teaching me to prioritize stillness, my friend lovingly dropped a blessing-bomb. She told me that while she was refurbishing some old porch furniture, God spoke to her heart ever-so-clearly saying, Give these to Bri. Create a space for her to call sacred. Create a space for her to sit with me. My dear friend told me this and in days to follow, she brushed our old porch with a coat of fresh paint. She set-up two cushioned-chairs and planted blooming flowers all around. She pulled up weeds in-between the cracks of brick leading up to our porch. And with my eyes, clear-as-day I saw God confirming that daily stillness is an essential piece to living a fruitful, resilient, and stress-free life.

Friends, this is how I know God is doing a deep work not only in me, but in you too. God moved my dear friend to create a sacred space, in the middle of this pursuit of stillness. I can confidently share with you that you have a choice just like I did. You can work all your busy days to rest, or you can work out of that rest. The fruit comes when we prioritize stillness and mediating with God. From that obedience, we produce love, joy, patience, peace, self-control, kindness, goodness and gentleness.

Practice stillness

Stillness is hard, it’s uncomfortable and can be uneasy, especially when it comes to letting thoughts settle in that you’d rather much ignore. IMG_0817

Stillness is important because it’s when our trust muscles get the pump they need to beat out worry, shame, guilt, stress, fear, depression and all of the things that are a result of weak trust muscles.

While you sit, you’ll be tempted to busy your hands, to read scripture, to hold onto thoughts that crowd your mind. Acknowledge thoughts that come in your mind, but then also acknowledge that God is seeing those thoughts and is with you as you let them float by. I encourage you to sit still even when you feel like you’ve been sitting long enough and you have to get chores done, sit there 5 minutes longer and focus on being with God right there and then. Breathe in, God here I am, Breathe out, to be with you. Breathe in, God here I am, Breathe out, to start anew.

God is doing a great work. I know He’s moving me and you to do something deeper with ourselves. To go beyond ourselves and find strength in our chaotic, stressful, and mind-cluttered days. God’s deep work is manifested through us when our hearts have learned to simply be unswervingly with him in the practice of daily stillness. In our meditations with the Lord we become wonder-women; able to tackle whatever is in our day because we know the He has gone before us and is with us.

“You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:1-5

Fit for Freedom

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

If I were to give you one word explaining the reason why I blog, without a doubt it would be: freedom. It is and always has been the root of my writing.  This is because I’m so over expectations. Expectations hold us to the idea that if anything goes the opposite way of which we foresee, we get angry, sad, depressed, and anxious.

It’s funny, when I first started dating-to-marry (some call this courting), I expected flowers, romance, and lots of affirmation. When I didn’t get this, wow was I upset! I literally thought that he didn’t love me because he was not filling my expectations. There were a few times that I wondered if this would be his last fighting chance. Phew. I sure had some knots of worry and distrust to work out of my heart.

Eventually this guy (who is now my husband), ended up proposing which definitely proved how serious he was about me. All this to say, setting expectations can and will hold us in a type of prison. I want to tell you what freedom looks like and what it looks like to break out of expectations. I want you to experience freedom because with it comes great joy and perseverance.

How many of us hold expectations on our bodies? Much of what that relays is guilt, sadness, and an endless circuit on a hamster wheel. Why do we have such a hard time being unhappy with our appearances? We feel the need to work so hard to fix how we look or how we operate but friends this needs to be an INSIDE-OUT approach. Whether you are in the slumps about your weight and extra skin, or you are disabled in some way, shape or form, it starts with a transformation of your mind and soul! We like to fix our problems with extreme workout programs or diets. I’m here to tell you that those don’t last unless the fixing begins on the inside. Often times when the inside is healthy, the outside will reflect it in health and attitude.

“Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Matthew 23:26

What happens before a resurrection of life? Grieving! We need to grieve the loss of our expectations. Do not feel silly about doing this, grieving is an essential piece to losing. Be open to those who can help you heal not simply make you feel better during this time. You may feel incapable of much, but let me tell you sister, when we feed to those thoughts of incompetence and not to the thoughts of God, we hold ourselves back from a great work. Meditate on Isaiah 55:8 “”For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” 

We need to understand that we are called to something greater than ourselves. It took time for me to get over myself. It was not a flip of a switch because a rewiring of my brain needed to take place. Yes, my midsection might look like silly putty when I stretch it down to the floor, but I do not get hung up about it. No, I absolutely refuse to now because something changed in my heart. God revealed something big. I’m talking a turning point in my relationship with my body AND God himself. I’m talking fireworks of freedom y’all. You thought Independence day was the greatest mark of freedom in humanity, but I’m telling you it’s the day that you decide to go independent of Great Britain–or great expectation and run towards the Lord to discover His perfect plan for your body. His ways are higher than our ways!

Gosh, the world leaves such an imprint on our hearts when it comes to what we think we should look like or how our bodies should work. And in turn, how we understand relationships to work with our friends and spouses. The day that I turned to Jesus to be the decider of my fate, JOY entered in. Perseverance and peace followed close by. I wish I could light up your souls and show you how God broke the chains of expectation and released me to absolute freedom in how I live, breathe, move, eat, workout, interact with others, be a mom and a wife! God’s thoughts for us are so much better than our own. The only expectation that we should have, is on God. We expect him to do what He says in scriptures, because that is what He has promised: to be our healer, our guide, shelter, comfort, strength, redeemer and Savior. God ain’t no promise-breaker sister. Let Him in to your health and fitness journey, let Him into your lives! Then you will be FIT: sound physically and mentally: HEALTHY. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Friends, fitness is just a result of the work God is doing on your inside.

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5 

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The main thing that resulted in Joy was making the daily choice to love others really well. It seems so simple of a statement, but have you ever tried coaching 20 middle school girls?? A couple years ago I was coming out of a rough season in my life. Postpartum-anxiety hit me like a mallet as well as some lovely intestinal disruptions. I’d love to go into the story of how I got there, but God led me from social-anxiety to confidently coaching middle school  soccer in a matter of months. If any of you have social-anxiety, you can probably relate to how I felt speaking and leading in front of a bunch of little talking monkeys. The difference came when I prayed: Lord, I pray that everyone I come in contact today would feel loved and valued. This prayer set my mind right–my focus came off of me and how I was performing, to how can I love those girls and make them feel valued the most? My suffering turned to joy, the minute I turned my expectations over to God.

“Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:4

I see it everywhere in the Bible and in the world around us: there is great joy when we branch out and focus on helping other people. If you’re not a people-person, I have a feeling that God will work out something great in your life and grow you by loving others. There’s an awesome man in the Bible named Paul who God had called to reach out to the Thessalonians. He says, “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.” 1 Thessalonians 2:19

Once our life becomes about something greater than ourselves, expectations crumble with depression, anxiety, ungratefulness, and self-loathing. Once our life becomes about something greater than ourselves, the result is joy and perseverance through the hard stuff.

If there’s a collar of expecation around your neck and doubt has you leashed to it, I challenge you to take a giant step of faith by grieving over the loss of it and finding what joy God brings as your redeemer.

With freedom, comes fruit. We’ll be diving into the topic of fruitfulness in next week’s blog, so stay tuned!

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

 

Peace and Joy!

Bri

 

Cease Striving

IMG_0376The majority of us either go one of two directions when it comes to taking care of our bodies:

We can go the way of should-ing ourselves: I should start eating less sugar! I should lose 10lbs! I should workout twice a day! Yet,with all of these thoughts we do nothing, become complacent, and maybe neglect our bodies.

Or,  we start a chase after the “perfect body”. This often times results in yo-yo’ing, where we go back and forth, starting new workout programs and diets and stopping them, just to begin another one 2 months later.

Last week we focused on putting those two mindsets to the side. Together, we are practicing a new perspective. One where we move and fuel our bodies from a place of CONFIDENCE because we know that we are already loved and valued by God, no matter what the heck we are doing.

“I give glory to God, simply by being myself.” Brennan Manning, Abbas Child.

Now, in order to develop and maintain this awareness that we can do everything in this God-confidence, one necessary thing needs to happen… we need to get alone with God.

It is in the quietness that we can turn from all the negative self-talk and fears to instead sink into the truth of what He says about us–that we are loved, redeemed, called, and are His daughters. The assurance that we are God’s comes in the stillness. Taking the time to be present with God is essential to being renewed in our minds. It is the key to wellness because it is the starting place to work towards a healthy body, spirit and soul.

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

IMG_4711There is something so sweet about children–unless they are drawing all over your walls with permanent marker or coating their face in your $30 lip stick. Even then, there is something to learn.

Children are not stressed, busy, fearful of their looks being sub-par, or down on themselves for gaining a little weight…Oh to be young again!

When I was a child, my parents had a giant painting, hanging up on our living room wall. It was a picture of Jesus with little lambs and children surrounding him. They were sitting under a tree, in brilliantly green grass. I would look at this picture as a child, and feel the warmth that Jesus gave those little ones just beaming off of their faces.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Psalm 34:4-5

As I throw back some chocolate chips with tears in my eyes, I feel the magnetic force-field of God’s love drawing me into that picture. Sisters, that is exactly where He want’s us. Sitting next to Him, feeling His gaze of love and His arms of peace around us. How sad it must be for Him to see His daughters disappointed in their bodies, focused on things so mortal instead of focusing on the eternal gifts that He’s given us. He longs to draw us into His sanctuary of green grass. He says, Just be with me. You’ve done enough stressing and chasing, it is time that you come to me like a child. 

Young children are completely dependent on their parents. They have no lack of trust and no fear of going hungry, homeless or lonely. They are wired for adventure, and with no care of what others are thinking, they dive into whatever nutty-adventure or kooky-dance their mommy might be pulling them into.

I desperately need to go back to that. Not to where I’m acting like a child, but trusting and believing like one. With all the inner turmoil that gets piled up on my soul through the struggles of life, I stress. I easily will blow little things way out of proportion and exclaim “I’m so done!” Oh you guys, I’m super fun too, like when I analyze myself for what I’m doing wrong because every day seems like a whirlwind that I can’t slow down. The answer is in these words from God:

“Be still [cease striving], and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

My quiet time with Jesus has been so sweet. It used to be something that I “should” be doing, but now it’s something that I need to do. I’ll remember to do it during the day, and it perks me up. Last week, I literally found myself smiling once I remembered to sit myself down for Jesus-time. Just to sit and think about what I’m thinking about, say hello to God, and wait for Him to speak to my heart completely changes the approach I have on my day. Those little children who were with Jesus, were just that. They were with Him. They weren’t scrambling through scripture, as they memorize and study it. They weren’t fiddling in the kitchen, making sure there were no crumbs on the counters. They weren’t sleeping on the the 3rd round of the Snooze button. They didn’t even put a pot of coffee on.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures…” Psalm 23:2IMG_0358

One thing I like about children is that they’re not in a hurry. I am positive that I could keep my boys at the playground all day and the only thing they would ask to go do, would be to go eat.

With the average attention span sinking down to 8 seconds, it is time that we learn how to be bored again. A lot of us are uncomfortable with the thought of a quiet moment–now we have cellphones to distract us from those. Even in our quiet times with God, we might feel rushed to study the scriptures and read as much as we can in a sitting–but that can just become another form of busy.

“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” John 5:39

Jesus knew that many of the leaders in his day were well versed in the Holy Scriptures. Although, Jesus told them that they were missing out on life because they didn’t actually come to him.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

If you are burdened by screaming babies, broken relationships, the inability to lose weight, a lack of belonging…the key to restoration is found in being with Christ. He formed you beautifully. He redeemed you, plugging your shame in for value. He has called you, and you will only find that calling when you cease the striving, breathe deep and simply sit with Him.

“But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you,…
    he who formed you…
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

I encourage you today to not go back to sleep just yet. I encourage you to make your first waking moments totally intentional. Go out on your porch, sit in your car, or at your table and just be. Pretend for a minute, that you are a child and simply show up to this little patch of fresh green grass that God has for you to lie down in. Allow yourself to not do anything but just be there. Think about your thoughts, let them float on by. Take some cooling breaths. Inhale, “God, here I am” and exhale, “to start again“.  (Thanks Alisa Keeton for that cue!) If you need more of a visual–go outside and find some real grass! I promise, the more you do this, the more your soul will be restored my friends.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” Psalm 23: 1-3

 

Rest up,

Bri

XOXO

 

Working Out Isn’t The Same Anymore

15936768_1356573141031717_7480876603427658376_oI remember clear as day, the swarm of feelings that came after having our first son…

Unconditional love, awe and utter amazement. This warm, smooth, and giggly bundle made us see each other in new light as we began to watch each new milestone being crossed.

What I didn’t expect was how disheartened I would be. My body had gone through a change that puberty could never top. The days went slow, but the months flew by as I began to become even more down and out about my reflection and the way my body sort of just fell past the place it used to sit firm.

TEARS came you guys. Actual TEARS over the thoughts of never being the same again. This poor attitude I had toward my image, pushed me to begin a 12-week workout program, about 12 months post-baby. “I’m going to prove to myself that I can get my body back” was my motivation the length of the time.

This is not a Mother’s sympathy blog, so please keep reading…IMG_9768

Some of us are still pushing ourselves to attain those 6-pack abs and slim thighs. And I’m here to dig past those surface-thoughts to the real reason we want those features. When it gets down to the heart of it, we all actually just want to be lavishly-loved and showered-on with adoration.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” 1 John 3:1-2

If you are like me, a serious re-wiring of your mind needs to happen when it comes to the approach on fitness [and food]. Love and affection has always been something I certainly craved to hear and to feel. Isn’t this what most of us seek out as we strive towards perfect bodies?

You my dear, are called for something so much greater than a sulking face of discontent. You are meant to be absolutely lavished on with the love of Christ, continually.  It’s this crazy kind of love that produces a fearless heart. I endlessly strived to perfect my figure to the best that it’s ever looked. I trained myself so hard because I believed that if I shaped up again, I would be happy. The striving for stronger, sleeker, sexier bodies is NOTHING compared to the results you receive from a life lived out of the LOVE God has for you. You are literally inseparable from it AND those results last forever, unlike our gym-commitments!

“But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.” (Ephesians 4:22-24, MSG)

DAUGHTERS of GOD! He has the power to renew your mind and the negative attitude you might hold. We like to trap ourselves to standards of beauty don’t we? Standards that require obsessive training and meal plans. Standards that make you believe that you are totally right in thinking that happiness comes with a thigh gap and your body back. Standards cradle the feelings of “I’m not good enough”.

The Re-Wiring

Repentance took place in my heart when I realized the chase I was in: working out to tighten up my chest, lift the booty and erase arm-flab. I was driven by fear of not being attractive enough for my husband or friends to love me. I repented of this deceit when I realized that I was already loved. The chase is done. No longer do I workout to make my body perfect and lovable because I know that I already am.

This is the starting place.

Know that you are already loved more than you can even imagine.

Work out, eat, and live from this place of security in Christ and no longer will you “throw in the towel” when you cheat on a diet or miss a week of exercise.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” 1 John 3:1-2

If you are contemplating starting a lifestyle of health and fitness, setting the view of yourself now is more important than any goals you will set for the future.

Your view must be how God sees you or else it will be an endless chase after something that will distract you from the joy of a body that beautifully reflects what God has done to your soul.

Sister, there is nothing you need to do in order to win true love. You already have it.

Your are already loved with perfect love.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” 1 John 3:16

Working out and my pursuit of health is not the same anymore. The chase for perfection is over and I’m ready to see  everlasting results.

How about you?

If you are contemplating  a lifestyle of fitness and/or want to know more of what this love of Jesus is all about, shoot me an email or DM!

I am happy to be there for you in your beginnings. 🙂

Love,

Bri Joy

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Gaining Definition

 “…your life is hidden with Christ.”

Colossians 3:3

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Gaining definition in my legs, arms and back are all good signs that my body is getting stronger and healthier. It feels incredible to know what a strong and agile physique feels like, without a doubt!

Although, the anatomical definition of muscles cannot be the only definition we have as women. Although a lot of blood, sweat and tears go into physical training, it’s not enough because you are more than what you see in the mirror. Yesterday I asked my son who is 4, “Owen, who would God say I am?” He looked up at me like the question was a joke and replied, ” Mommy”. That was easy. As we get older though, we easily make self-discovery a lot bigger than is. It’s automatic to let titles completely define us– daughter, sister, friend, co-worker, gardener, artist, musician, athlete, doctor, and so on. Like muscle definition, titles and hobbies cannot merely be what we hold onto for proof that we are something. It’s great to have those things be a part of us, but according to the Bible, our life, wholeness, freedom and true sense of calling is HIDDEN in Christ.

Why is it hidden? Why does it need to be something unraveled and discovered? Simply because God wants to be the one to define us. He wants to be the one to tell us who we are. He knows that when we hold onto what others [or ourselves] tell us, or when we try to make a name [or a body] for ourselves, our spirit and soul is compressed and the wonders of what God can do in us is limited.

Friends, we’ve all heard of the “fitness journey” but let’s talk about the “faith journey” which has an even more significant outcome.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” Hebrews 11:1

Faith most certainly ties in with fitness. Fitness takes on the appearance of being super physical. It’s what we see, that’s why we go into these journeys aiming to be toned, sleek and flab-free! I talk about fitness as a very integrated thing…meaning there’s more to you than BODY. Your body holds the abillity to do what you are called to do. You have a mind that is very influenced by your environment. You have a soul that inhabits the body, and that holds dreams, ambitions, and desires. You also have this mighty thing called a Spirit. Your Spirit is where you have the ability to know God! Fitness is all inclusive–body, mind, spirit, and soul! This is where FAITH comes in. Unlike the body, you cannot see FAITH. Faith would’t be faith if you could see it. The benefits far out weigh the perks of physical fitness if you can believe that!

There was a man named Abraham who lived a long time ago, and his story is is written in the Bible. He was a hundred years old, but God filled him in on all of the things that He still had planned for Abraham, including having a child with his infertile wife. When all seemed impossible, Abraham kept BELIEVING and living out His life trusting God and His promises.

“Without weakening his FAITH,  Abraham faced the fact that his body was as good as dead…Yet he did not waver through unbelief…but was STRENGTHENED in his FAITH.” Romans 4:19-25

The enemy wants to make us believe that fitness is all about that one thing: booty-poppin’-show-stoppin’ bod. Acknowledge when those thoughts try to own your mind, and let them drive right back out. Instead, let’s focus on the truth and what God defines us by.

We are redeemed, daughter’s of the King, free from the chains of sin and guilt, accepted, Temples of His spirit, friends of Jesus, justified, chosen, inseparable from the love of Christ, and entrusted with a calling.                           All of which are from God and happen to be ETERNAL.

“…put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; be made new in the attitude of your minds” Ephesians 4:22-24

Abraham was FULLY PERSUADED that God had power to do what He promised. Faith made Him strong in who he was, who God told him he was and in those truths he did not back down. #neverbackdown

If you plan to start a new pattern of movement and health in your life, GO FOR IT! Press into it knowing that there is more to you than BODY. The WHOLE-self needs fine tuning–body, mind, spirit and soul. A bikini body plan, that begins and ends with Summer is just not enough.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:1-4

Read those verses above again, then come back.

God is our personal trainer–you might want to call him your personal pruner instead! It is GOD who makes us perfect and beautiful. He is our HEALER. He makes us clean by His word. That’s where we will gain a FAITH that is RESILIENT. I know it’s heavy, but I am urging you to do some heavy lifting today. Ready for this? Lift the WORD of God. See what He has to say about who you are and wait to see His plan for your life unfold. Your attitude towards yourself will be made NEW.

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

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My besties came to visit this weekend. We took care of our bodies by riding bikes and laughing a lot–this is getting fit in my eyes!

The Case of The Insecurities

It’s morning time. You wake up, stretch, proclaim that this day is good and start the routine. There may be a few mouths to feed, a diaper to change or a husband to hit upside the head (with a pillow), to get the gears of the house turning. Eventually you make your way into the bathroom, and if there’s a mirror in it, you catch a glance and say….well, what do you say? Or what do you think?

One criticizing look at ourselves and quickly our attitude’s reflect ungratefulness, shame, discontent and insecurity. With unspoken words, I’ll go through various body parts and tell  them what they need: the butt needs more squats, the “girls” need more push ups (or a bra?)…and so on. We all do it. We analyze our reflection and then inflict punishment by diet and exercise. IMG_8099

Is this what the relationship between health and our bodies is supposed to be? I swear, this is the same thing as using pruning shears to give yourself a hair cut. Exercise and diet have a different purpose than punishment, they serve us much better as a means to take care of ourselves rather than punishment and shame-slaying.

I’m here to tell you to stop. When our mind so roughly analyzes our physical form, it QUIETS the Spirit of God. It is utterly unacceptable to Him and completely destructive to our spirits.

“Always be joyful.  Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

Our thoughts of insecurity dampen the noise of GRACE that could be BOOMING through us. I’m ugly, I need to cut back, I’m gaining, I need to lose 10 inches….all this thinking may push us to join a program or begin a healthy lifestyle, sure. But when health and physical prowess come from a place of discontent and self-resentment, it only leads to another thing to be unhappy about.

It is normal to feel this way. Every woman (and man) goes through this, but we need to take our insecurities by the shirt collar and face them like the women we are. We are so much more than our flabby skin and wrinkled chins. We will never find 100% health, happiness and security until we understand the true purpose of our body, mind and soul.

Ok, so  now what do we do with this body of ours?! I’ve birthed two (HUGE) babies, got some kind of GI issues going on, and I’m no spring chicken! Is there hope? With great guilt and depression, I’ve worn the labels of Unmotivated, Insecure and Lack of direction and those are not pleasant places to be in. Girlfriends, if you want to truly understand what your body was made for, look no further than the one who created it. If we want to feel SECURE in our bodies and minds, we need to learn to be with the one who give us definition and life!

“Let your roots grow down into Him [God], and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7

Our God commands us to be still, to simply rest and be with Him. Read His Word, write it out, meditate. This is where our roots grow deep and where His work begins in us. If God is our #1, life will look a lot different than body shaming, number counting and roller coaster diets. It will be one full of strength, laughter and direction. A life of security in God rather than our appearance is: restful, passionate, purposeful, content, and you’ll finally get “it”. God will begin to show you what to do with your body; what your body, mind and soul were meant to do as a whole. He will unearth passions and talents that maybe you have forgotten were there. He will show you that you can trust Him. He will replace your fears with hope knowing your weakness binds you to God. A life of just getting by will become one with life-changing impact on you and those around you. By embracing imperfections AND strength you will become a woman of valor. Through physical, emotional and relational battles, a dependence on God will make you strong to the soul. True confidence in the self is God-confidence.

“The [woman] who trusts in the Lord will be blessed. The Lord will show [her] that He can be trusted.” Jeremiah 17:7

On average, our health and fitness journey’s begin with resentment of who we are, what we look like and a severe case of the insecurities. Our health needs to come from a place that is ALREADY confident and secure. God wants to do a DEEP work in you. The definition of perfection and beauty is truly how God sees us. He sees us as DAUGHTERS, BEAUTY, more than CONQUERORS, a women of WORTH, His TEMPLES,  FRIENDS, and His WORKMANSHIPS.

“She is clothed in strength & dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25IMG_9298

Next time you miss a workout or gain a pound, feel no guilt or depression because God fuels you and HE defines you. What you do and how you feel does NOT. You are complete body, mind and soul and confident by the Spirit of God IN YOU.

If a health journey comes from a place where our looks are of concern, then it ends there too. From shameful reflections to prideful ones, it easily becomes all about our physical appearance when we all know that we are much more than that.

“Your beauty should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle & quiet spirit. Which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:4

The first step in living a healthy lifestyle is contemplation. I want to hear from YOU! What are you contemplating doing with your health? Are you going through some of the things I described in this blog post? Don’t be afraid to reach out. This is a together thing.

#befearless #godconfidence

XOXO

Bri joy

 

 

Is Fitness Godly?

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8

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For a long time, God had no part of my fitness world. It really didn’t even come into my thinking that it could be something that involved Him.

For a long time, my physical health was simply that…mine. It’s not like I didn’t want God to make me whole or heal me, it’s just that I really didn’t think to go to Him with my health.

With great ease, I took control of my own health and physical fitness. Not with intent to disown God, but I really hadn’t learned this area of relationship with Him ( I’m still working on it).

God is not advertised in everything we see with our eyes. We often see fitness paired with sexiness, appeal to the opposite sex, perfection, guilt, vanity and obsession. Which really is opposite from all that God is. It makes sense that plugging God into our health journey might be foreign to us.

I’ve had a plethora of symptoms that pre-curse Auto-immune disease for the past 2 years. Constantly limiting myself from foods (and even limiting exercise) has been a big part of trying to heal myself. While I’ve learned a lot, I’ve also realized how much control I’ve held on my health.

“May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it!”  1 Thessalonians 5:23

When I get stressed out, I know that I don’t have God first in an area of my life. I know if He was first, He would be responsible for that area and I would be at peace. Stress is the main symptom that reveals my heart is in the wrong place. When we give every single area of our life to God’s control–meaning we completely entrust them to Him without worry– we then become complete in His fulness. Which is: peace, joy, hope, blessing, health and greatness through His righteousness.

Beautiful women! God was the one who laid the foundations of the earth; Who told the seas where to end, and owns the storehouses of snow, rain and hail. He doesn’t let the birds go without food or the flowers without color. We absolutely NEED Him in our health journey. Why? Because sin brought into this world disease, sickness, and ailments. When we turn to Christ and turn from sin, He makes us shameless and forgives us completely. The chains of sin are broken from us and in doing so, healing from what sin brought with it is possible too!

“You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you? No one will get by with vandalizing God’s temple, you can be sure of that. God’s temple is sacred—and you, remember, are the temple.”1 Corinthians 3:16-17

When we make our health and fitness a way to pursue God and honor Him, it is most certainly Godly. On the other hand, feeding our bodies anything WE want OR trying super hard to make them look like what WE want them to look like OR even not caring …is incredibly destructive.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

God has a beautiful plan for your WHOLE body. Your body, mind and soul together make up a choir of melodies that can sing His songs and reflect His love and light. It takes a BRAVE and FAITHFUL woman (or man) to boldly step onto this path of faith and fitness. Your eyes see the reflection in the mirror, the pretty girl on Instagram or the drool-worthy double chocolate chunk ice cream in your freezer.

FAITH sees God, it sees the cross where Jesus died and disease and sin were cancelled.                                                                                                          FAITH sees God making you WHOLE and HOLY through this process.                           FAITH sees the promises of God and His faithfulness.

With every ounce of sweat and frustration, you are tested and your character is built. You let go of excuses and you run the race in front of you. When we are exercising, our body is tested, challenged and drained. Likewise, our spirit will be affected the same through all sorts of trials. In all respects we are given a choice to believe God is with us and he is dependable through trials which results in JOY. Or we can choose to believe that we have it under control and we will find a way to help ourselves. #choosejoy

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:1-3

Look at this journey with your FAITH instead of your eyes, and ask God if this is an area of your life you need to trust Him better with. If you are starting a faith and fitness journey for the first time, PLEASE email me. I’d love to hear where you are starting at and where you want to go.k

“What the eye of faith sees, the hand of faith appropriates.” F.F. Bosworth

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