Goodbye Birmingham.

 

 I’ve been living in Birmingham, Alabama since January 2013. I transferred mid-year during my sophomore year of college from Kennesaw State in Georgia(where I am from) to UAB where I ran XC and Track. That was my life. My whole world was my team and school and running.

Then, I graduated in Spring 2015 and was released into the real world where I stayed in Birmingham and started working full time in production while trying to juggle training full time as well.

When I realized I wanted more than working 40 hours a week in a cold dark building, I left after seven months when I got sponsored by Skechers Performance for running(who I am no longer under contract with).

I knew I wanted to run and keep getting faster and devote more time to my training. I really looked at work as a way of survival so that I could run and compete. I know I’m not super-elite yet. More like a sub-elite pro runner. But I have big dreams and live my life the way I want for a purpose.

I started working part time and training “full time”. I continued with the thought that I would sacrifice my broadcast career and dreams for a few years for my running for now while I could.

I started working at a golf course- Robert Trent Jones at Oxmoor Valley; little did I know what a great impact that place and the people there would have on me. Then I got certified through AFAA in personal training in the fall of 2016. This was a great way for me to use my own fitness and over eight years of being a competitive athlete to share with other people.

Personal Training became a way for me to be used to bless other people, not just with showing them physical training but showing them love and kindness. I really feel like personal training is a way I can use my spiritual gifts in one place mixing my physical strength, encouragement, kindness and communication all in one to shower people who need it most.

Now, I’m about three weeks away from moving to Jacksonville, Florida. I’ve honestly been praying about this move for a little over a year shortly after my first “elite” race at Gate River(which I ran injured and didn’t shine as much as I had hoped..) I felt called to Jax, similar to the way I felt called to Birmingham upon transferring in college.

I’ve been in Birmingham about 2 years post collegiate now. I’m not married, no kids, no contracted full-time job. I have friends in Jax, a new and friendly running community with others to train with, blessed with hopeful and exciting new job opportunities already in place for me, and an amazing living situation God provided for me just when He knew I needed it.

I love Birmingham and I know I’m not the same Lauren I was when I came here from Georgia four years ago. I know I won’t be the same as I head to Jacksonville soon. I’ve been through so much in this city and met some of the most incredible people in my life here. Birmingham has so much I will miss and so much I’ll be leaving.

 

Things I’ll Miss about Birmingham-

  • All of my FRIENDS. Especially my running family here, collegiate and post collegiate. I honestly don’t talk to many of my teammates anymore from college. Regretfully, we’ve grown apart quickly and life happens so fast and everyone has their own little world to tend to..But I’ve developed several close knit friendships with many of the local running groups here in Bham that I will miss.

    I also have many great friends from college that I still hang out with and am still close with who I’ve known since I transplanted here. I have other friends and acquaintances I’ve met along the way through my journey here that have been constant in my life. (Y’all know who you are..Kyle, Derk, Sara, Lynne, Jordyn,Porter,Eli..just to name a few).

  • My RTJ FAMILY- Okay, so my golfers..my regulars. You guys literally made it possible for me to pay my rent, save up for this move and I’ve made some awesome connections and friends at the course. You all make me feel so pretty and loved and special, even just kindness and a smile on a rough day meant the world to me. My bosses and co-workers at RTJ, y’all showed me what hard work really is and how to adjust to circumstances that aren’t always in your favor. I respect you all so very much(in every area of work..cart boys, f&b, pro shop, cleaning,cooks). Working with all different personality types and backgrounds teaches you patience, humility, the importance of trust and kindness. And Erin, you’ve become like a sister to me; not just a superior. We are so similar yet different but I am so glad we’ve become good friends.<3
  • My YMCA Greystone Family- Andrea Pindroh has to be the most compassionate, patient, understanding fitness director and person on the planet. I am so incredibly grateful to have come under her watch and leadership during my 6 months now as a trainer at the Y. All of the trainers at my branch are amazing people with such diverse and rich attributes. Don and all of the front desk staff, Leonard the director, all of the members, and of course my CLIENTS!!! You have all impacted me more than you know and I have learned a lot from each one of you. I’m so blessed to have started as a new personal trainer at such a caring and rewarding place as the YMCA. It’s not just a gym, it’s truly a family and a culture filled with intent on making people better beyond a healthy and fit lifestyle.
  • My Starbucks– Greystone, no one will ever make an iced-white mocha with 6 scoops of matcha like you do for me on a rainy-busy Monday Morning in between clients or notice when I wear normal clothes. Y’all constantly save my life.
  • First Watch– Literally has become a brunch/post workout addiction and I am so happy Jax has one of these. But you’ll be my favorite always.
  • Avondale and SATURN– BY far, my favorite spot to hang out, be a hipster and sip local craft beer and make new friends.
  • Railroads– OK, so Jax definitely has it’s own railway system too…but something about driving past Sloss, sitting on top of Carrigan’s at night or driving to the golf course and hearing the CSX roar by..is just mesmerizing to me. I absolutely adore it.
  • All of my running trails- Oak mountain, Heardmont, Veterans Park, Jemison, Railroad and downtown by UAB. All of my memorized routes, I’ll have to make some new ones now.
  • The People and the City- Most people in Birmingham are very friendly and I’ll miss the familiarity of the people here. Also, it’s easy to navigate anywhere within 30-40 minutes. Homewood, Vestavia, Mountainbrook, Avondale, Greystone, Cahaba..ect. All the little niches are easy to travel to throughout the city and have their own charm.

Church of the Highlands- I started attending Church of the Highlands when I was at UAB and became a member and completed the growth track this past winter. I love Highlands and Pastor Chris Hodges is so down to Earth and is a great speaker. Highlands reminds me of my home Church where my family goes in GA-12Stone Church. I discovered my spiritual gifts and grew in my faith at Highlands. My only regret was not fully devoting my time and focus to serving while I was here, and not getting involved as much as I wanted because I was so “busy”..that’s something I’ll be talking about in my next post-“A Promise to Jacksonville”. One of my top priorities will be to get connected at Celebration Church and start intentionally planting seeds and impacting wherever I’m placed.

Being fearful to go all in or to not get too attached to people or put yourself out there because you’re too “busy” is a lie. I admit I did that a lot the past year and a half in Birmingham because I was afraid to get too close to people because I didn’t want them to hurt me like I had been hurt before or what if they let me down or didn’t like me?

I realize that’s hard for me to actually admit. It took some reflection and handing that fear over to God, because I know now that he can’t use me and work through my gifts to reach other people if I’m not willing to trust Him with that. That’s probably my biggest lesson going foreward with this move. Which brings me to the next topic!

What I’ve Learned from Birmingham-

  • Rely on yourself and God– Trust God and go where He leads you first. Trust me, just do it the first time and don’t look back. It will save you trouble, second-guessing and heart ache. Do things yourself and handle each day for what it is. Life can seem overwhelming if you look at the whole picture all at once. Take it hour by hour and conquer each day. Breathe.
  • Friends come and go– You can still love and care for people that come and then go out of your life but you don’t have to let it break you if they disappear on you. Everyone has a purpose in your life and some weren’t meant to be there the whole way. It’s okay, accept it for what it is and move on. The important people will stick around and be there in the end.
  • Be ambitious and don’t get wrapped up in what’s expected of you– If i’ve learned anything just from being a human for 25 years now it’s that EVERYONE has an opinion and will always have something to say about what you decide to do with your life. So..live in a way that pleases you and God. Anyone else’s opinion isn’t yours and it doesn’t matter what they think. I think that if you do something that goes against the norms or “cookie-cutter” societal preferences for today, that’s totally FINE. As long as your lifting others up and chasing your dreams and using your gifts, why does it matter how or what or when or where you do it?? Dream big and just DO IT already. It doesn’t matter what Bob on Facebook comments or what Linda gossips about. Don’t even be bothered as long as your focused and driven.
  • Don’t be afraid and don’t wait- I waited almost 2 years after graduating college to pack up and move to a different state because of new opportunities, prayer, a new adventure and because I was too comfortable and “afraid” of the unknown. Life is too short to wait for something you want. If you’re able, go for it. Tomorrow isn’t promised and good things don’t come to those who wait..you have to make moves and get after it if you want it, Now.
  • Don’t take people or anything for granted- Like I said, Life is a “mist”..don’t ghost your friends all the time(I know I’m horrible at returning a text). But seriously, you’ll miss your friends always bugging you to hang out or the casual acquaintances you make small talk with during the week or all of your normal people that are placed within your circles each week. They’re there for a reason, how are you leaving them..?

Things I’m Leaving in Birmingham-

  • Toxic Relationships- I’m not in any right now, thank the Lord. But I have been, and those scars I’ll have. The people, the hurt..those are in the past and I’m leaving that part of me here to stay.
  • My Friends and home- Well for my friends-Physically at least for now!! But my home will no longer be here, I’ll be making a new one. I am both nostalgic and frightened.
  • All the amazing food and local breweries!! Melt, Mugshots, Avondale, Urban Cookhouse, just a few of my fav cheat spots. 😦
  • Experiences- the good, the bad, the heartache, the scares, the victories, the defeats.

Overall, my four years in Birmingham, Alabama have been the most challenging, growing, and wonderful years of my life. I met some of my best friends here, had the most heart-ache, transitioned from a student to a full-blown struggling millenial “adult” here, fell in love with Running more here and became more independent and secure in my identity in Christ here, even alone at times.

Goodbye for now Birmingham.

 

 

 

Nutrition Update-My tips & nutrition norms

Many of my clients and friends lately, have been nudging me to post a new nutrition blog with some of my eating and healthy habits.

I know it’s been a minute from the last time I wrote to you all and I am sorry!! 😦

 Life has been a bit busy lately with work and my own training. I’m also about to make a huge life transition which I’ll be going public with very soon! All good things going on, I just haven’t had the time or energy to devote my thoughts to my writing.

That will change very soon as well. I feel better having an outlet to share my thoughts and tips here to help encourage anyone else who may benefit or feel uplifted.

SO-with all that said, I have a few nutrition and overall wellness tips that I do that I believe you can all benefit from if you try some.

Eating 

What I stay away from:

  • soda or carbonated drinksI don’t need to sit here and list all of the negative health benefits of drinking soda..including weight gain and not to mention it burns your throat!! I don’t consume this stuff.
  • sweet tea! I know this one is unheard of being from the south but it’s been months and months since I’ve had this in my diet. If you can’t cut it completely, plan it for your cheat day or work on subbing it with a healthy juice instead with natural sugars.
  • Fried foods– Okay, so I do love to indulge in some wings or fried chicken every now and then after a hard run or logging some long mileage at the end of a hard week. But this should definitely be a moderation food for SURE!!
  • Processed packaged/canned foods- Alright, do you actually think your body understands what your putting into it if you can’t even pronounce it..? I do not eat what I do not know. Meaning- if I can’t list the ingredients on my hands or read and understand what they are..I DON’T EAT IT. It’s not natural and not good for your body to try to break down all these foreign chemicals and harmful additives.
  • Adding salt/seasoning or excessive sauce/dressing to foods- I understand that seasoning meats and adding sauce to pasta and dressing to salad is normal ans tasty. However, again this needs to be done in MODERATION. What good is a salad if it’s covered in dressing and you can’t even see any green? When you go out to eat, many times the food is already over-seasoned and high in sodium. Don’t add more!
  • RED MEAT- This is one most people call me a weirdo for. I don’t eat beef or pork at all. I only eat-chicken,fish, and turkey. This is mainly a personal choice to opt for leaner meats and I also don’t like eating them at all. I think if you do eat red meat you need to really research the meat you are buying and know where it was raised and packaged ect. Know what is in the meat and eat it sparingly if you consume red meats.
  • SWEETSHaving dessert or treating yourself every now and then isn’t a sin but if you’re trying to trim down or work on your six-pack..ice cream and cookies every night won’t get you there. I’m just being real. I like to eat an oikos greek yogurt cup with a scoop of coconut peanut spread and my favorite fruits or granola whenever I get a craving. Find healthy alternatives and your body will adapt.

What I normally eat:

  • GREENS & Veggies– Try to eat something green with every meal, even if it’s blended into a smoothie so you can’t taste it. You should add a variety of mixed veggies into your diet each week too, don’t get bland and bored with your food. Mix it up.
  • FRUIT- NATURAL SWEETENER. I like buying fresh, organic fruits that are currently in season. Switch it up and try new fruits each week! These are perfect for snacking throughout the day and you should try to eat fruit with most meals.
  • Lean Meats/Protein– As stated, I only eat: chicken, fish(a lot of salmon), and turkey!! QUINOA is also a great protein/ plant based option for you vegans.
  • Almond milk- I drink this instead of dairy milk. I used to drink soy but always drink almond now. You can get it unsweetened or in different flavors.
  • Almond butter/nuts- I’m a big fan of the Justin’s Almond Butter. I normally buy the singles in Target to add to my 4-6 little meals/snack packs throughout the day. I also love Aldi for a canister of healthy mixed nuts.
  • Fruit pouches– There are many kinds out there. I only buy the organic ones with just fruit and natural additives, NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP!!! If you pick anything up in the store with this as an ingredient, put it down and run away.
  • Whole Grain bread/Whole Wheat bread- Typically these breads are higher in nutritional value. I stay away from exceptionally starchy or “white breads”.
  • COCONUT- Oil, Milk, Butter..basically everything coconut.
  • Matcha/Green Tea- Put it in smoothies, coffee(just ask the Greystone Starbucks about me!), Protein shakes, or just inhale it.
  • DRINKS- WATER, natural juices(OJ,Cherry,apple, cran..ect), Vitamin Water XXX Zero, Coconut water, smart water, non-dairy milk. OCCASIONAL- Craft beer, whisky(rarely), or weekly-biweekly(depending on training and race schedule) glass of RED WINE. anddd did I mention..WATER?! oh and COFFEEEEEEE.

My Vice:

I guess if I could name the one bad thing in my diet right now would be my venti iced white mocha addiction. I get it many days throughout the week and it gets me through work and peps me up after an early morning run. I often get the matcha powder in it, which is healthy..yes. BUT-all of the sugar from the syrup in the drink I’m sure I could do without.

All of these nutrition tips are what I normally live by and do. I’m not saying these are what everyone should do but this works for me and my training. I do drink a ton of water, don’t eat/drink those listed items and I am disciplined because I know I perform better that way.

Over time, it really has become normal and just is a part of my lifestyle. Any change you make in your diet takes time. Habits form after about a month of repetition and commitment.

Even if you read this and pick maybe one or two helpful tips, try them for a few weeks and see how you feel!

I’m not perfect and sometimes life gets busy and I’m stressed at times too and don’t eat enough for the amount of training I do, and I don’t drink enough water. But I can absolutely tell in my energy level and performance when I do the little things and stay committed.

Age or activity level isn’t an excuse, neither is cost. Fruits and vegetables are so cheap, cheaper than buying food out at fast food places throughout the week!! YOU are in charge of you and your health. Excuses shouldn’t stop you from transforming or maintaining your body in the way that you want it. Just because it doesn’t happen over night doesn’t mean you give up.

We are given just one body in this life and it is a precious gift. Treat your body as the temple it is and fuel it carefully with love and goodness.

Glorious Ruins

   
 A few of you know what this picture is.July 3rd, 2016 a day after I moved to my new apartment with my best friend. I set out for my long run on a new trail, I frequent it almost every week now. 

Before that day I was half broken like many of us,spiritually. (Half-way surrendering our hearts,minds & bodies to what God has called us to.)

For me, I masked the pain of broken relationships(the last year & a half) putting faith in others & myself, ending college torn between career paths & a desire to continue competitive running. 

I was pretty much living to please myself & mask my own hurts, uncertainties, not really overly concerned with serving or intentionally living to fully trust God w/ “my” plans. I’m not saying I was a bad person, I was & am a Christian. I didn’t have some sort of big “crisis” or unhealthy spiral but I guess I was having a severe spiritual battle for my heart. I lived with the lie that many people do in my generation,that it’s okay to give half of your self committed to following God & the other half making quick mental justifications for worldly actions. I feel like God had enough of that and wanted me to choose, he wanted my whole heart.

Sometimes we’re blind & don’t see a need for Christ until we are caught in a storm. 

When I was running that day alone, I fell & slipped between concrete slabs.

 I fell back,hit my back,head and neck & tailbone bruised. I blacked out. When I came to, I was in so much pain, bleeding, confused and had no idea where I was. I was scared and staggered up and just ran. I made it to my car and then the shock hit.

I still can’t remember much about that day because I blacked out & hit my head & got a concussion. I’m not sure how long I was unconscious but I somehow got back to my car bleeding & aching. 

I unlocked my car & the shock hit & I called Kyle, my Roomate because he happened to text me just then.

 The rescue team came to get me, took me to the hospital & I spent the day recovering w/ friends & loved ones watching me. I know it may not seem that bad to some of you but it really could have been much, much worse. 

I did lose my short term memory for a few days and kept repeating the same questions to my Roomate and his girlfriend on the way to the hospital. I still can’t remember every detail, but other than a little physical ruins that went away, my spirit was completely rebuilt.

My parents got the call in church that day & thought all the worst cases like most would.

Jesus is a similar rescue to us in distress and when we realize we need him. He meets us where we fall and he’s our rescue.

  Pastor Chris talked about resurrection tonight at the Good Friday Easter service. But he talked more about just the cross and how Jesus died for us. He talked about that power being able to resurrect us. Like Jesus, we can be resurrected from the death we live everyday. 

What does that mean? 

Well, I feel like when I had my fall and I woke up and recovered..I had my own resurrection. 

I could no longer go back across the bridge and live the same way I had before because I wasn’t the same. When you have a relationship with Jesus and fully trust him and go all in, everything is different in that your heart doesn’t need or desire the same things. In that way, you’re set free of any doubts, fears, insecurities, shame our guilt. You live knowing God loves you so much no matter where you’re at. You trust that he will take care of you and you don’t worry about things as you used to because you’re resurrected in Him, in his hope. And it is so much better. 

That day, I made an internal choice for eternity. I wouldn’t go back across that bridge again,(metaphorically) I couldn’t even look behind. It was sort of like my own hearts resurrection from that water there. 

That God was wiping clean the hurt & sins I had masked from him. Jesus, the ultimate rescuer for all of us-He picked me up from there & took me in his loving arms. beaten down, bruised, imperfect, knowing I wouldn’t be able to fully comprehend the weight of his sacrifice for me in this life. Jesus loves us and He’s always on our side, no matter what side of the bridge we find ourselves on today. He only asks that we follow Him with all of our hearts. 

God gave me a choice that day, like he gives all of us. Follow Him where you’re at now. Like PC said today, Jesus won’t leave you like he found you.

For me, I knew Jesus but I wasn’t following Him the way He calls us to, & it’s always better His way, trust me. I left it all there & I’m incredibly glad I had that fall because it woke me from the sleep i’de been living in my drifting faith. Jesus has never not been there & I feel blessed to know Him & know his love. I can’t imagine doing life without His rescue and I’ll never settle for anything less because there is nothing better.

I loved that tonight the highlands worship team absolutely CRUSHED “resurrecting” my favorite song by elevation worship! 🙂

PC’s How to’s from my notes(how to resurrect your glorious ruins)-

1.stop dying 

2.start rebuilding 

3.stop doubting(slowly workin on this one!)

4. Start living!! (Be fearless in your pursuit and faith, don’t give up)

Isaiah 61:1-4

Ephesians 1:20

Download this song:

Elevation worship-resurrecting 

Naked mind 

Naked minds are what I seek to uncover,bogged beneath flesh and bone we wear.
A rare person, one who knows no care.

Our skin is born free, thrusted into the world naked and bare.
That scandalous freedom, nothing but a touch, a tingle when we take everything off. 
Why do we hide now..what we didn’t know we were til death, it’s gaping snare.
Physical chains, such a shame to ware.

Bored of this routine, a predictable charade submerging the real.
Something of sheer beauty, a raw touch I have yet to see. 

Naked and pure, a souls burning fire lays there.
Drenched in intoxication,

upon sight of the truth we long for more to share.

Can’t look away, from your naked soul oh so fair..

Mammoth, I miss you dearly

Mammoth I miss you dearly,
Running through your wilderness, below skies seizing every path for days.

Snow covered mountains, sleeping giants bigger than any being I could ever dream of.

Your valleys sinking vastly deep.

Disappear like the hearts I learned of there,

in summer nights beneath the stars clear show.
Your friendship longing, I dared capture in my caving heart there. 
Forever you stay with my soul, deeply woven in a love that grows bare.
Never will I forget your lessons breathed in me, that mountain air..
Enchanted by a lake of convicts to see my reflection, changing ever so.
Above the moon..

7,000ft. a world of its own above earth’s petulant problems below.
Hot springs natural, and wild dreams of dancing with wolves and howling with the trees that come to life at night and stare.
Hard to breathe, your forsaken wilderness leaves us at its mercy to test.
Friends born together for this infinite journey,

we stagger to keep up with each step.
Lost in this desert, trees spinning above, we lift our plank every mile until we reach the rest.
Brought to my knees, leavin you behind me..

The longest ache I’ve felt, to let go of you.

darkest night I’ve had, deepest leap I regret.

I’m still in love with you, this place.

A hope lingers still to see your face. 
Mammoth, I miss you dearly.

Stay in your lane!

Often times whenever I had track practice in high school or even college, someone would inevitably find themselves in the way on the track as a train of distance runners were blazing by in a workout.

Our coach, or the front runner would simply yell-“TRACK!!!” Or “LANE 1!!” And immediately, everyone knew to move out of lane one.

 

It’s important to stay focused on the lane you’re in so you don’t get knocked off balance or lose sight of your own goals.

If we get too distracted by what’s going on in the other lanes around us, we become distant and weary of our own goals; fixated by what’s around us and not helping ourselves move forward.

I’ve been getting a lot of comments recently about how “little” I am. When I tell some people that I’m a personal trainer they expect a “bigger” bulkier person I guess.

One lady even said,”well you’re a tiny little thing aren’t you?”, while I was going to meet one of my clients on the floor.

Well, I’m also a competitive distance runner and I run 70 or more miles a week. This week I’ll hit 90 miles as I’m inching up the volume and intensity focusing on the half marathon in my racing future. I do my own strength training that’s supportive to my running training cycle.
I’m here to tell you that your appearance doesn’t always define your strength and everyone is training for something different! So comparing yourself to others in the gym or sizing people up makes no sense and it’s insecure in my opinion.

Body builders do not look like distance runners and I do NOT look like a body builder because we each train differently and have different goals.
I do my own strength training 2-3 times a week in the gym but everything I do inside the gym is to respect and improve my running. That’s my training and my goal. You have to have tunnel vision in a sense to ignore other people’s comments or opinions of your training. You’re not training to appease anyone, you’re training to reach your own goals.
Of course my clients training is not at all what I do because they have their own goals and needs.

I just wanted to share that you can be “small” but still have incredibly strong and defined muscles that support whatever you’re training for. You can also be “bigger” than some people think is acceptable and still be beautiful and strong.

One of my friends- Nicole, recently started working out and training for gymnastics. She posted a lovely picture & message on her insta & facebook about her own body image and how proud of herself she was. I think we can all learn from her positive self talk and motivation!

 

It’s a very common misconception that anyone in a gym or personal trainer should look like they split their week into- “leg day”, “chest day” ect..well leg day is every day for me!!
I also want to encourage anyone reading this post to accept small victories. Whatever day your having in your fitness or training is a good day if you make even one step forward. I always tell my clients- where you’re at not isn’t where you’ll be. Stay committed and believe in yourself. I always make them give me one positive comment in place of a negative one.

It’s alright to feel impatient and discouraged at times but don’t let that be your focus. Use it to be better.

Focusing on the negative things or comparing yourself to another person makes no sense at all and doesn’t help you reach your goals.


A truly successful athlete doesn’t have time to criticize another athlete or obsess over another persons training or body image.
They focus on each day and making themselves better in whatever way they can that day.


Let’s all do that from now on, stay in your lane. And encourage one another instead of trolling on someone who you know nothing about or what they’re training for or going through.
Enjoy YOUR training and focus on YOU and respect everyone for where they’re at and their goals being different. There are all kinds of “strong” out there. Own yours & don’t get distracted.

A stoic heart and a call to Love.

Few things will make me more passionate than my relationship with Jesus or my love for running. One of those things that I’ve been innately blessed with is my protectiveness for others who are considered lesser or can’t or don’t defend themselves. 
Maybe it’s because I’m a twin who is one minute older than my brother. I’ve always been like a prowling mother wolf toward anyone I find out hurts or upsets my twin or anyone I’m close to for that matter. I know when something’s bothering him too, I can hear it in his voice even when I’m miles away in Alabama when we talk on the phone. I would drive to Georgia and happily take care of any problem Zach had if he told me to. I feel like it’s my duty in a way because I feel like I am strong and have been given a gift of discernment (spiritual gift we talked about at Highlands, growth track the church I now attend). 

Anyways, I wanted to write a little post addressing the heart of our society today and the disturbing level of desensitized hearts everywhere today that is shamelessly growing. 

With Valentine’s Day approaching, a day our culture has deemed a hallmark for celebrating “love” for one another and creating unfair expectations for both male and females.. I think this post is rather relevant for opening up our hearts and minds to what’s really in there. 

I would encourage you to be open when reading this and think about your own hearts and what your current pulse says. Are you a stoic heart? Do you feel empathy for others who are hurting? Do you care about others hearts or even think about what your own is saying right now? What’s it saying to you? Be real with yourself if not with anyone else.

The topic that inspired this-Body Shaming.

has to stop. 

I’m not trying to be overly sensitive and I know there is a fine line between “just joking” and going beyond that in a way that makes another person uncomfortable, or hurt. But sometimes a joke to you may not be funny to the person next to you. Maybe someone who hears or interprets what you say as hurtful or careless is going through something you can’t relate to or empathize with. Then it’s not a joke them, does that still make it OK because it’s just a joke for you? 

 I know my generation gets a lot of flak for being “snowflakes”- those of you who like to categorize everyone in the millennial generation or anyone who stops to think about another persons heart or feelings too. 

And that may be true, a lot of us are super sensitive and overreact due to being sheltered or helicopter parents or those kids that failed to launch and moved back home or live at home and don’t contribute at ALL to society.(NO, I’m not talking about those of you with financial difficulty or circumstances beyond your control).

Back to the shaming-

From all the lady gaga super bowl comments about her being “fat”..or Beyoncé’s weight gain recently-(who is in fact pregnant with twins);

 I’m a twin and I don’t know what kind of comments my mother may have had to ign or roll her eyes at when we weren’t born yet.

But body shaming can target any body size- big or small, male or female, famous or not.

 I’ve dealt with body shaming as a runner too from crude comments or scoffs on the trail, looking me up and down while I’m running or asking if I have an eating disorder just because I’m slender and look different than some people running or walking by. 

The fact is- you don’t know what the other person you’re ignorantly judging is training for. You don’t know anything about them more than your shallow comments so why project your own opinions onto someone because of the way you think they look? 

This makes no sense to me but I just wanted to say, be confident in your own image and if you’re happy, great. If not, change. But don’t let anyone’s comments or opinions of you change how you view yourself or what you do. Your body is yours, it’s a gift and you don’t live to make others happy with how you look. 

Also, I’m sure that someone with an actual eating disorder or body image problem might not think its funny or cute either.

I’m much more focused on how someone’s spirit looks than just how their physical appearance is..maybe that’s just me but shouldn’t we as a human race see each other for what we really are rather than the flesh we parade around in daily??
Bottom line here intertwined with body shaming being highly unintelligent, is that this culture we’ve bred has created a stoic heart if you will.

We walk around complacent, insensitive and unaware of what’s really going on in our own hearts. Then we call anyone who opposes this kind of mentality all kinds of names, filling them away as silly, insubordinate or discarding them from our circles of importance.

Labeling someone as a “snowflake” because they bring up a relevant issue that you deem as unimportant doesn’t make them weak or lesser in my opinion. Just different and that’s okay to disagree.

But importantly, how can we ignore our own hearts so long and forget what the spirit is speaking into us so much and then expect to connect and cultivate real, loving, lasting relationships built on trust and care for each other? It simply doesn’t work that way. 

Stoic, heartened hearts don’t see the damage they inflict upon themselves or others because they’re incapable of empathy. You know that thing that allows you to know what someone’s been through or just a “hey I know how you feel, I’m with you” pat on the shoulder or word of encouragement someone may vitally need to hear? 

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭4‬:‭23‬ NIV)

If we don’t stop all of this senseless, meaningless mockery of one another it’s going to be too late. Words matter. Words either lift someone up or tear them down. There’s no grey area. Choose to be a light. Don’t say something just to say it because it’s amusing to you. That’s what a fool does. Be wise and loving! 

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭12‬:‭18‬ NIV)

I know this may have gone off in a different direction, but after reflecting and having great conversation with some friends today; I thought this would be a good post to remind us to love one another freely, without expectation, judgement, guilt or shame. 

Even if you think Valentine’s Day isn’t a real holiday, use this time as a refresher for your own heart. The biggest “gift” you can give someone/ anyone at all, is to love them unconditionally like Christ did and does forever for us. 

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, (‭Colossians‬ ‭2‬:‭2‬ NIV)

We are called to Love. We are to love everyone, even those we don’t like, who have hurt us, who it’s hard to love. This isn’t easy, we make mistakes and it takes some time to come around to that. I’ve learned that so much this last year more than ever but if you accept and place Gods love in your own heart, that becomes so much easier because of the love you share through that relationship. 
Nurturing your own heart with the truth of the spirit and protecting your heart first allows you to love others. Until you get that right, you literally can’t love another person truthfully. 
You won’t be able to love honestly or freely the way God intends for us to or be able to accept his love- not the love that we “deserve” but the love that we need. Love was never about give and receive, it’s a choice we must make like Jesus did for us. You can’t do anything to earn it and don’t deserve it, but you can chose it and then you can share that with everyone you meet in how you treat them, what you speak into them and how you live. 

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (‭John‬ ‭13‬:‭35‬ NIV)