Focusing on What God's Doing on the Inside Instead of Obsessing About the Outside, #HV Faith Food and Fitness Friday

If you are wondering, this photo was taken on the Indiana Lakeshore Dunes. Crazy, huh? 

If you are wondering, this photo was taken on the Indiana Lakeshore Dunes. Crazy, huh? 

I know that it's Friday and you may not be thinking about faith, food and fitness at this time. But I committed to writing on this topic on Fridays, as I walk this journey back to physical health myself. So in a way, it's an accountability check-in with myself at the end of the week. Maybe it will help you too!

First of all - I did yoga today for the first time in what feels like a decade. A 30 minute video I found on You Tube - restorative practice, and it was awesome. Needed it. Boy is it humbling when you realize how tough a downward dog is that you haven't done in ages. It reminds me I did have surgery, but also inspires me because I DID do it!!! Yipee!!! I've also got to say my friend and trainer Michel Edwards kicked my butt this week. 6:15am workouts, up at 5:45. Tough, but worth it and I am SO grateful for Skype because it allows my favorite trainer in the world to meet with me and motivate me a couple times a week. Thank God for technology and a few free-weights in the basement. It pays to get your butt up early to get the workout done. That discipline that can be such a dirty word for so many of us free spirits really gets you more focused (in moderation). Right back to that scripture in Hebrews 12: 11 ESV, "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

As far food, I've been trying to stick to the foods that fuel me and work with my food plan, not feed my emotional need that thinks it needs to be fed. It's not always easy but each day it gets easier. Read an awesome article this week from the Desiring God website that I want to remember. It's by Johnathan Bowers called "America's Most Tolerated Sin."

This one by John Piper is also awesome called, "How Can I Conquer Gluttony." Good points on the boredom that comes in the evening after we leave the dinner table. Points RIGHT to night-eating, where so many of us face a struggle. It's just nice to get Biblical perspectives on overeating and food addiction that aren't so much "how to fix it" but how to see where God wants us to make a choice that's healthier for us than our craving. The other thing I've been reading is the OA 12 and 12 at night which has helped me look at this stuff on a deeper level. Sadly we don't have great meetings here in South Bend on that area of recovery, but I'm hoping to get to an online meeting this week. I share that last piece not because I'm calling myself out or trying to overshare but because we all need to know that there is fellowship available. You are not WEAK if you need other people walking the same journey - especially around FOOD which the world pretends can be controlled by willpower! If you need help, you CAN get it and since it's National Eating Disorder Awareness week still, I'll just make a plug for the fellowship. Here's the link for OA meetings and literature.

Personally, I know this is a long haul ahead, that I can't do alone. So instead of obsessing about the food or a workout or a weigh-in, I focus on God. I focus on what he's doing inside me, and letting the outside take care of itself. It's all about transformation that comes from the inside out, and at the deepest place can only be done with God. 

On another note, it's sunny outside. The birds are chirping out my window and I am excited for Spring. I haven't run in so long, and if I think about it too much it can defeat me for the race we're going to run this June. But all you can do is get out there when you can. Tomorrow, my accountability buddy (hubs) and I are going to hit the pavement and I'm really looking forward to some sun and time on the pavement, probably laughing about how out of shape and old we are....

I hope you have an awesome weekend everyone. See you next week.

 

 

 

Proof that Young Women of "Good" Backgrounds Need Help with Eating Disorders

I am so excited today to share with you a blog from my friend Lani Calabro. She is one amazing young woman that I've had the privilege of walking beside for part of the recovery journey. I'm proud to say she has grown and continues to grow beautifully - from the inside OUT. That's why I asked her if I could share the blog she posted yesterday on her site as a Healthy Voice blog during National Eating Disorder Week.

Her story is a powerful testament to the connection between Eating Disorder recovery and addictions. It just goes to show you it takes a day at a time, there's an ebb and flow to it and as we used to always discuss - recovery is like a game of whack-a-mole. You just never know what's going to trigger you.

You also know never know if you'll be the one going through it.

Neither Lani nor I thought we ever could be the ones. We were given so much, good schools, parents who loved us, the chance to compete for getting into a good school. We never wanted for anything (which isn't always a good thing.) By worldly standards it would seem that we "shouldn't" have any problems, because we "seem" to have it all. Yet that's just proof that having it all absoLUTELY doesn't mean you don't have any problems. It just makes it easier to hide them.

 In fact, when you always have a way out and someone who will bail you out, you have every excuse not to want it yourself, because someone is doing it for you. But then - it's up to YOU. You hit a place of desperation where nothing anyone else does will work. YOU have to be the one, and that's exactly what we both did. We stopped being flaky, looked our eating disorder right in the face and got help - for us - and no one else. 

We know it absoLUTELY didn't matter what our background was, how highly ranked the girls high school we went to was, or the fact that we went to Notre Dame. What mattered was that we used our eating disorder to control what we could not and we needed to stop so we could LIVE. The fact that Lani I meant smack dab in the Midwest having come from the East Coast was no mistake. We talk often about getting the message out to those girls from good high schools out East who have everything but STILL have this, warring with them within.

If anything, our friendship is proof that there is more than one of us and hope of recovery for those who might be struggling. If you "get this", we want to hear from you. 

So without further ado, I give you Lani and her blog!

The Truth About Eating Disorders: My Experience with Addiction and Eating Disorder Recovery

(2.24.15)

February 22nd-28th marks National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) Week 2015. This cause is very close to my heart, as I have struggled with an eating disorder for over eight years.  NEDA Week is a great way to raise awareness about the dangers and common misconceptions of eating disorders.

Eating disorders -- including anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating, and other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED), formerly known as Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) -- are serious, potentially fatal conditions that affect an individual’s emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Eating disorders are not a fad, phase, or lifestyle choice; nor do they discriminate against any sex, race, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, or socio-economic status.  According to NEDA, in the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or OSFED. A review of nearly fifty years of research confirms that anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder (nationaleatingdisorders.org).

I am incredibly grateful to be in recovery from my eating disorder today. My struggle with anorexia and bulimia has been one of the most difficult challenges of my life. I developed anorexia about eight years ago -- one of the questions I am asked the most is “what caused it?” For years, I tried to pinpoint what lead me to the obsession with food, weight, and body image, but I couldn’t nail down just one reason. At the time I started overexercising and starving myself, I felt very out of control in my life. I was in 11th grade at a highly competitive all-girls school, and the stress of applying to colleges started to catch up with me. I found that controlling my intake gave me a sense of control and success -- anorexia fulfilled my constant need to set and reach personal goals.

I need not go into the details, but I feel compelled to discuss just how torturous it is to live with an eating disorder. Anorexia is often glamorized, not only in the pro-ana world, but also in the media. Anorexia is not glamorous -- it is a pitiful, freezing torture chamber that is nearly impossible to escape on your own. When anorexia took over, my life became a prison. My capabilities to have meaningful relationships, perform in school, and think about anything other than weight and calories were stolen from me. My life was a whirlwind of doctors’ offices, hospital visits, therapists, nutritionists, and staring at the dinner table as my family cried, begging me to eat something, anything. I rapidly became just a shell of a person -- unemotional and detached from the scary truth that the doctors kept telling me: I was dying, and I was dying fast.

Luckily, today when I see pictures of myself from those dark days, I no longer desire to be that thin. Today, I recognize that I was very ill and that I never want to feel that alone again. Drugs and alcohol took me to the same dark place that my eating disorder did.  I thought I was “managing” my eating disorder by using substances, but I was really just substituting one addiction for another. And I am not alone in having struggled with both an eating disorder and a drug and alcohol addiction: research suggests that nearly 50% of individuals with an eating disorder are also abusing drugs and/or alcohol, a rate 5 times greater than what is seen in the general population (nationaleatingdisorders.org). Both eating disorders and substance abuse are influenced by genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Because of the high comorbidity of substance abuse and eating disorders, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of both illnesses.

Recovery from eating disorders and addiction is possible. It is challenging and it will not occur overnight.  I have learned to accept that my recovery from both addictions has an ebb and flow to it. In the beginning, it often felt like I was playing an intense game of whack-a-mole -- I would get a handle on the eating disorder, but my cravings to use would spike.  To this day, it is a challenge. Some days, the voice of my eating disorder creeps in on me, telling me I am disgusting and don't deserve to nourish myself, but the fact of the matter is that each day gets a little bit easier. I now recognize that my eating disorder and my addiction rely on each other for fuel, and I refuse to fall into their deadly traps. My life is amazing today, free from the torment of living with an eating disorder and active addiction. You can experience this same freedom, so I encourage anyone struggling with any type of addiction to seek help as soon as possible.

To find out more information about eating disorders, visit http://nedawareness.org/get-in-the-know.


 

"His Power in Our Weakness", Healthy Voice Audio Devotional for Lent #2

Here is your devotional for the second week of Lent. It's audio again so that you can just listen with your ears and feel it in your heart as you devote your time to the Lord. Remember - he IS strong where we are weak. Take a listen and get out your Bible to read along if you'd like. Also, I'm adding a song to this week for that person who is having trouble connecting in the silence to God's voice. It's been on my heart since last week and it just feels like someone needs to hear it. I hope it brings you a little extra peace.

The song is "Be Still" by The Fray. I chose this video because it was the appropriate for the Lenten season. I know this is a secular song that apparently has been used in both the show Vampire Diaries and Criminal Minds. If that is how you know it, or you HAVE heard it, I want you to drop your thoughts about it, and just listen to it. Listen to it as if God is singing it right to your heart.

First Edition: Healthy Voice, Faith Food and Fitness Fridays (#HVFFFF): Preparing for my Mt. Everest of Releasing the Body Weight

A picture from the Grand Teton range and some buffalo from our honeymoon from two falls ago. Just notice that single horse in the distance...

A picture from the Grand Teton range and some buffalo from our honeymoon from two falls ago. Just notice that single horse in the distance...

Welcome to the Healthy Voice "Faith Food and Fitness Fridays." I say Faith Food and Fitness in that order because faith comes first in my life. Food is the thing I have to pay the most attention to with God's help and fitness keeps me sane! 

Do you have a Mt. Everest? 

I call this journey of #faithfoodandfitness my "Mt. Everest" because it's huge, not in the sense that I know I've got weight to lose, but in the sense that the journey to the summit is one that is not only physical, but it's seriously mental and emotional, and deeply spiritual and when something takes ALL of me, it's serious. Thankfully, the journey of recovery and my faith has given me the strength to stand and the hope to begin the journey.

Sidenote, as I watch this I've got Netflix playing the movie #theway, one of my favorite movies. The soundtrack often guides me while I write. The movie itself guided my early in my grief journey with Dad and who doesn't love Martin Sheen. I digress.

Let me jump back a bit and tell you that if you didn't know - a few years ago I checked myself into treatment for food addiction. It changed my life and the direction I was going. It gave me tools for living and helped me start feeling feelings again. But it was just a start. The real work began when I got home. For three years, I stuck to it. I wrote a book including those first three years. At the end of those chapters, I shared how I lost my Dad. A few months after I lost him I went back to Florida for a reset button on my recovery, which I also wrote about.

But no amount of prevention or tools or time in the sun could have prepared me for the journey of grief.  As I walked it, I got lax about the food. A little bit here. A little bite there.  And then, life became filled with more than just grief. Life got full - writing a book, planning a wedding, building a home, growing a marriage, step parenting, more loss, and change and new beginnings. Life got INTENSE, and those little bites, kept surfacing. Not only that, a routine of always getting exactly what you need when you need it - was next to impossible. 

The funny part is that no matter how many bites I took, no matter how much the devil tried to get a  hold on me - GOD NEVER let go of me.  He was and STILL is the only power that carries me. He truly is my strength and hope, my creator and my ROCK. It's because of HIM that I am not afraid to scale this mountain ahead.

Last year getting injured and having surgery, God made me sit still. I knew I'd pack on weight no matter what I ate. It was inevitable. When I struggled, I just had to give it to God trusting and knowing that HE would not keep me here. Even then I knew it would be a long journey back to health the way my weight would pack on me so easily. But the whole time I could do NOTHING about my weight except sit, I was forced to rest in him and TRUST him. In the end it made me strong in spirit, even though my body was losing all strength. And now he's bringing me out of it, but it's not happening without MY footsteps.

Losing the weight is my Mt. Everest. Once, it served a purpose and protected me from life's struggles. But now, it serves no purpose. It's just a roadblock to deeper reliance on a God who's got  an awesome plan for my life. Yes life gets rocky, but it's GOD we need, NOT our crutches. Yes, there are times it serves as protection, an outer shell, protective lining from the storms (whether it's weight, makeup clothes or whatever you use to mask the pain). But it never serves a lifetime of purpose. We aren't meant to carry the weight. We are meant to give it to the God who died to carry it FOR Us.

We aren't meant to be all vain and obsessed with being skinny, or having the best body, best workout, or best nutrition regiment. We are MEANT for HIM. 

Seasons are a part of life. We go through them. They affect us in every way. But eventually there comes a time when we've got to get refocused and reset. That time for me is now, not just because I feel physically bad, but because seeing what God just brought me through SHOWS me how much more He's got to carry me through. 

Here's where I'm at. Right now, I'm carrying 45 extra pounds above my healthy weight. That is a LOT of weight. I checked. I found on this site, what 40 pounds is equal to: A Border Collie, a 5-gallon jug of water!, and your average microwave. Hello perspective!

In so many ways, I'm back at square one. Except one and that is in my relationship with God. In a way, I'm more ready than ever because of the inner strength he's given me.

So why am I writing about this? Because I believe I'm called to be honest about this weight and Healthy Voice journey in a world that wants us to NOT be. The world wants us to have it all together. But God wants us to show that we DON'T have it all together, so we can see JUST how much we need HIM. I believe there is NO greater evidence of our need for God in our lives than in our obsession with weight, food and our bodies. I think we have to SHIFT our focus and get out of that obsession so we can live by God's DIRECTION. I know that God didn't keep me unable to workout for a year to punish me. He kept me there to strengthen me - in spirit and soul and mind, so that he could do whatever he had to do for whatever he's got next. He also didn't put this weight on me for me to be ashamed or fearful but to show that WE ARE NOT PERFECT!!! Yes, some of us just have these great bodies but MOST of us have to FIGHT to not pick up the food for an escape. I was never meant to be a Jillian Michaels. I was just meant to be ME, standing in the POWER and strength of a God who LOVES me enough to say, "Hey you don't need that," and I trust Him.

Of COURSE I know I've got a tough journey ahead. I haven't had to lose this much weight in YEARS! But it's not about the weight! That's why I'm doing these Friday blogs on this topic while I walk the journey. They will be about the journey of weight loss with HIM as my ROCK and COMPASS and ROADMAP. Of course I'll share tools that have helped me along the way. But most of all, I'll share how much I need Him. HE made me imperfect. He made me struggle with weight so that I could be a light to someone who does too. If we know HIM, we know he takes our mess and HE makes it HIS message. So Lord, I am giving YOU this climb to my Mt. Everest because it's ALL for you and whatever strength you give me or anyone else on the way, I pray that we know it is ONLY by your strength that we can walk.

By the way, if you aren't sure if I'm really having to do this myself, here is the evidence of my week on this journey:

  • Monday, I got the email in my inbox for the beginner training plan for the Grand Teton Half Marathon from Active at Altitude. June 6th. The journey begins, and BOY are we out of shape!
  • Wednesday, I had a good day. Got to start with some quiet time knowing that God wants me to get rid of this, and asking his help to remove my cravings. I got to talk to my nutritionist about my food plan and that evening I started a Food Audit of my kitchen. It's like hunting for baddies. You get to find all the stuff that has sugar and flour in it, and there's a lot less than I thought (thank God!) but it is DEFINITELY there, and it's GOOD to see it. More perspective.
  • Thursday (yesterday) I posted the picture series on Facebook from my husband and I's engagement three years ago at the Austin Half Marathon. MORE motivation. That's what we look like when we're maintaining our weight and workouts. Let's get back to THAT. It was a great motivator. It's also been a LONG time since we've done our weekend runs, since before the wedding. But we're excited to get back to them, even if we're making it 10 minutes of running at a time, we're out there doing it together and being together. 
  • This morning, at 5:45 I arose. (Yikes) At 6:15 I went down to my basement and got on Skype with my favorite trainer in the world, Mr. Michel Edwards. We did a workout together over Skype and he's guiding me through getting back into physically healthy shape and preparation for the half-marathon. I am GRATEFUL! (even though it was the crack of dawn.)

Mt Everest is in front of me. I'm ready. I'm grateful for EVERY step. To God be the glory. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every WEIGHT, and sin which clings so closely, and let us RUN WITH ENDURANCE the RACE that is SET BEFORE US, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
— Run with Perseverance, 2 Timothy 2:1-13


"Unforced Rhythms of Grace", First Lenten Devotional from your Healthy Voice

Hi everybody. Surprise! There is no video. This specific devotional series is going to be audio. Listen to the message and you will hear why I decided to do it and the message. I hope you'll listen and let it guide you in your time with God this first week of Lent. Let God show you what "that thing" you do is, that keeps you from intimacy with Him, and trust Him to show you His unforced rhythms of grace.

Enjoy. 

#TuesdayWisdom from your Healthy Voice on Self-Pity

A little #tuesdaywisdom from your Healthy Voic: 

When you are in the #race of life, you will find an excuse (one of many) that likes to hold you back. Today I'm challenging that Unhealthy Voice we've all got called: self-pity. 

It likes to sabotage us especially when we're at mile 18. We're coming through a season. We can't yet see the forest through the trees because we're still in it. We're feeling the feelings. We're hurting. We need to. But then there comes a point where we cross over into self-pity and that is when we start sabotaging ourselves. Pity parties don't help us, they hurt us. When we're on a pity pot, we're not looking ahead. We're looking down - at our feet and sulking. We're beating ourselves up walk up because we think we aren't good enough. But we have a choice to literally pick our heads up and have HOPE. We can glance back and realize how far we've come. We can look ahead and realize the journey isn't over yet. Above all, we can see that God has brought us THIS FAR, we're STILL STANDING, and there is STILL road ahead. He is STILL carrying us, and WILL.

The devil can try as hard has he wants to keep you staring at our feet, but if you have faith, it won't last long. No matter how not fun the season you are coming through has been, God HAS and WILL continue to bring you THROUGH. He's got a plan and even though you might feel doubt, fear, and sometimes self-pity - you GET the choice to recognize, feel the fear and keep walking. Remember God IS guiding you towards the light, if you trust Him.

Make the Choice NOT to let Valentine's Day Define Relationship for You

So, the big V-Day is tomorrow. The question is - what are you focusing on?

To find gratitude and presence in the relationships we DO have, we have to let go of society's definition of "being in a relationship" and embrace the truth. The truth is that we ARE always in relationship. There is no "one" relationship with a person that makes this Valentine's Day special. There are MANY relationships we have had and DO have that show us the abundance of love we have received. But we have to make the choice. We can either believe the hype of "being in a relationship" on this holiday and therefore measure ourselves against it and risk feeling like we aren't enough. Or, we can recognize that we ARE in relationship, it's just not how we (or society) wants it and we are MORE than good enough.

Really, you had to make the choice right now - would you rather believe society's definition, that always makes you believe that you aren't enough? or would you rather realize how lucky you are to have the relationships you do have? (It may sound corny, but honestly, when I get stuck in the letDOWN thinking this week, I'm going to need to make that exact choice.)

So my friend, YOU get to choose how you are going to be this Valentine's Day and the way we're going to do that is we're going to look at our #relationships. Drop the societal focus on "the relationship" and think about the bigger picture for a few minutes here. 

***

On Monday, I mentioned in a Facebook post a few different types of relationship - the one you can choose (or choose not to have) with God, the one with yourself (added) or significant other and family/ kids, and your family and friends.

I don't know about you, but all of these play a role in every single day of my life. Every single one is in a different place of process, but every single one has a role in my life. It is NOT just about my husband. It's about ALL the relationships I cherish in my life. These relationships are not all wrapped up in a bow and joyous every time we connect. No, cause that's not what relationships are about.

Relationships are about connection, apartness, togetherness, individuality, growth, and change. They are messy, much like life and sometimes when you see them for their value, you see how worth it all the mess really is. But like everything in life, relationships are a process. In that process, we learn that they are EXACTLY what make life worth living.

So let's get down to business.

Relationship with God. It IS the most important relationship in this life. 1 John 4:19 says it simply, "We love because he first loved us." 

 If you don't know HOW much this Creator loves YOU, I recommend doing some soul searching. Drop everything you thought you knew about Him and imagine that He has, is and will always love you MORE than any significant other you could possibly be dreaming about right now. If you are wondering why your current significant other isn't meeting your every need - it's because THIS guy is the only one who CAN.

 If you aren't quite sure about it, think about it the next time you hear a love song this weekend. My Spotify radio that I'm writing to, literally just had THIS song come on. Play it while you read... It was very popular a few summers ago. Listen to the lyrics and imagine it's God you are singing it about. It's not the love of your life. It's HIM. If you need to, read the lyrics or sing this song for yourself out loud. (Btw, not sure on the imagery in the video, just focus on the lyrics and singing it out.) Add it to your driving or workout playlist for this Valentine's weekend to remind you that HE loves you, even when you feel like giving up. If you choose to receive His love, and it is a choice - you will never feel lonely again. If you do know him - this is a reminder. HE loves you.

Relationship with yourself. This is not an easy one my friends. I know there are lots of people out there trying to teach this. But you gotta dig deep and want this. It's an inside job that can't be taught. Relationship or not, we all need to be reminded that we are absolutely enough. I know I struggle with self-doubt and self-sabotage. In fact I was just writing about it this morning and you know what's behind it? Fear. Fear. Fear. I'm not going to choose fear. I'm going to choose faith. It seems simple, but seriously, when you are struggling with a piece of your life? It will FREE you. You still feel the fear, but you do it anyway.  Don't be so afraid of yourself. You've got more awesome in you than you know. (Another reason to have a relationship with God - cause He doesn't want you to have so much fear!) Quick scripture...

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
— 1 John 4:18, NIV

Relationship with your husband (or boyfriend). For those if you who DO have a significant other, you know this is one of the BEST and hardest relationships in your life - simply because God gave you this person not to save you or fix you, but to mirror you, to walk with you and be there for you every step of the way. That's some pretty intense stuff - so intense that sometimes it's hard to take a step back and realize how amazing it is, and I'm not talking all roses and romance. I'm talking about how this person sees your every beauty, imperfection, and broken crevice at the depths of your soul and still loves you. I'm talking about when it gets tough and you see each other hurt, grow, struggle, and you still LOVE. If that's not the love of God I don't know what is. I learn every day from my husband how much God loves me and is rooting for me. Marriage is tough, especially for this girl who was terrified for so long because all I saw was a broken one, but it is BEAUTIFUL and I am SO glad God chose me to walk the journey cause it isn't easy! But it's worth it.

Relationship with kids. In my case, this is step kids. Whether your kids are your own, your spouse's or their adopted, relationships with kids are an absolute GIFT. In my case, they are teenagers now. We met when they were in elementary school, and now they are all budding into awesome young adults. Every day I get more excited to see them grow into their own. I'm not painting some picture of how perfect family life is, or how being a stepmom is all glamorous. Of course it's not. But it's also not what you see in movies like Parent Trap. It's just real, and raw, and tough, and beautiful. I can't explain the love you can have for stepchildren, but it's special. I learn more from them every day. I cherish the little moments like any blood parent out there. I just have a different perspective on the love but there is no doubt it is absolute LOVE.

Does it seem like it would be harder to love stepchildren? Of course. I haven't had my own yet, but I'm sure glad I've gotten to love them first! I really am grateful that God didn't just give me a husband. He gave me triple that love. Were were scared to blend? I mean, duh. Was it tough for the kids for us to get married? Of course! But the beauty is that it's a journey, a beautiful, messy one, and I love it. I wouldn't have it any other way. I will take giving a ride to practice or making dinner any day.

Relationship with friends. I always refer to the phrase, "People are in your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime." I would absolutely Not be where I am without my friends. The ones I have today aren't about quantity, they are about quality. They are there for me in the thick of it. They get on the phone with me or sit across the table from me and we get to the root. We share our struggles back and forth. Sometimes one of us needs to get out more than the other. But it doesn't matter, because we're there for each other. Period. Of course over the course of life, friends come and go. We grow our families. We move. Our priorities change. Some you talk to once a year and it's like you never stopped. Others, it's not so much there. You miss that friendship. But you are grateful for that friendship, because at one point in your life - it was there for a reason and a season. The important thing is that you have them. Whoever they are in your life at this moment, they are there for a reason. Cherish them, and if you don't feel like you have real ones? Then reach out and find the ones who "get" your struggle cause you'll will be amazed at how much strength you'll get.

Finally, relationship with family. This one has been a big focus in my life recently. The past few years, has been a season of sowing and reaping in the home. We've been planting seeds, and my family life here in South Bend has been my focus. We've been through hell and we're beginning to see the light. I'm beginning to see how much God has brought us through on a whole other level, and it wasn't because I was expecting my blood family to be there, but because the people who were standing right here when my Dad died, when I walked down the aisle, and everything else - they were the ones walking with me, and I'm more than okay with that. Sometimes you need another family to help you heal your relationships with your real family. When your family is kinda broken, you feel like you don't have one - whether there's been a divorce, a death or there's just plain old family politics or strife, you need to know you belong to a family. I know today that i'm a child of God and that I belong to a church family. That has been a tremendous comfort, so has my recovering family. But today, as I finally feel myself growing up - I see the tremendous value in my blood family.

The other week I got to spend time with family - with my mom, with my stepmom, with cousins, with babies, and toddlers and aunts and uncles. I hadn't spent time with them like that since before our wedding, and it was nice. It got me excited about reconnecting in those relationships, however God intends. We're all coming out of seasons - of building families, of raising children, of fostering marriages, of career paths, of love and loss, of so many things - and it's cool to just be able to see that for what it is - a season and realize that a new season just may be around the corner if you are open to it. I sure am.

All that being said I want you to think about those how these relationships reshape your idea of what relationship really means. If you got it, you realized that the imagined "relationship" that the holiday of Valentine's Day creates, is just that - an imaginary one. Seriously, it's like our bodies. Is there one ideal one? NO. Is there one ideal person or relationship? IN your DREAMS! 

I suggest you tell society to go stuff it - Valentine or not. You ARE in relationship - with a heck of a lot more than one person. I mean I love my husband, but if he's my everything? I'm in trouble. I need every relationship I have and each one is God's GIFT!!!!!!

So I encourage you to contemplate where you are at in your relationships in this season in your life (and try not to beat yourself up). Give yourself some credit for how far you've come. Recognize the ones who've been standing by you - some in presence, and some in spirit. Get excited about what's to come, cause it's SO much better than getting a box of chocolates on Valentine's Day. I mean really, after everything I just mentioned - there is SO much more to life than just HAVING a date on the day. You want it because the world tells you that you have to have it. You've got it. You just gotta recognize it.

With that, I hope you have an awesome Valentine's Day and just know you are loved MORE than you can imagine, and ESPECIALLY more than the stupid holiday will imagine for you. Sunday will be here soon enough. 

xo, Your Healthy Voice

If yo are still stuck, watch this video: