I just got back in town Monday from our vacation to Cocoa Beach, FL this past week. If you've ever been on a vacation with your toddlers, then you know that the hope of relaxation and peace may be more of a dream than a reality. Add to it, my husband was unable to get off work for the week, so I was going to have to travel ALONE with both my kids (1yr and 4yr old). Thank God, for my best friend, Carissa, who graciously accepted my invitation to come along! I know for a fact that I would not have survived this trip without her help, encouragement, and conversation.
The plane ride actually went pretty well. We were able to trap my son between the wall and the isle and let him roam in front of our seats. I loved watching Evalee's face as the plane started to speed down the runway and lift up into the air. She squealed with excitement and anticipation of the lift off. "Look Mom!" she would scream every 10min or so, "LOOK!! We're in the clouds!" I had booked us a straight flight, so 2hours or so and we were in Florida. Woohoo!
And that's where our troubles started...
We waited for the car rental shuttle at the airport for at least 30min in the sweltering heat. Upon arrival, we realized the rental office is only 500sqft; really only big enough for a handful of people waiting in line, so I had to leave the kids and our luggage outside with Carissa again in the heat for another 40min. Despite the fact that I had called the company weeks in advance to reserve the right car seats for my kids, they still brought me out the wrong ones and took another 30min to find the right ones and fill our van up with gas. My poor babies were cranky, hot, and looked like they were about to pass out in the heat. Day one was not starting out like I had anticipated, but eventually we got into the A/C and were on our way from Orlando to Cocoa Beach. The excitement had returned, and we couldn't wait to get to our Junior Suite Ocean View retreat, drop our bags and get a bite to eat.
The drive was an hour long, but Carissa and I had a great time bonding while the kids napped in the back seat. Immediately upon pulling into the parking lot, I realized something wasn't quite right. The hotel didn't look like they had pictured it to look on the website. The exterior was worn down and faded, barely anyone in the parking lot, but I'm not one to judge a book by its cover, so I kept my hopes up. After all, this place had a pirate ship kiddie pool! How bad could it be?
Carissa stayed in the car with the kids, while I ran into the lobby to check us in. The lobby reeked of mold and mildew. From the waiting line, I could see into the hall behind the front desk and the floor boards and carpet were discolored and black, like they had some water damage. STILL, I held my cool and prayed silently that our room would still live up to my expectations. Let me tell you folks, the ONLY expectation that was fulfilled was the proximity of the room to the beach! haha. It was an absolute nightmare. Not only did the room also smell like mold and mildew, all the furniture was chipped and dented, paint splattered all over the floor boards and laminate flooring, the couch had sweat stains all over it, and the single bedroom looked as though it had been ransacked right before we arrived. The mattress and box spring flipped up against the walls and bedding toppling off onto the floor. I didn't feel safe. The staff didn't even attempt to encourage us to stay, like THEY KNEW how bad the conditions were. I said something like, "our room was so scary, I'm thinking of just going to another hotel. Is it possible to get a refund?" and the hostess just said, "Yes, I'll do that for you now."!!! "Here you go!" I assumed they would try and find us something better, but nope..
At this point it was now 5pm and a storm was brewing. We had a car full of tired, hot, hungry kids and luggage and no where to go. Again, I said a silent prayer. I could feel the anxiety and tension growing. I was annoyed and frustrated, and starting to spiral. "of course this would happen to me! I can never do anything right! I needed this vacation so bad, and was so excited about this place... Arg!" / "NO no no no NO! You are not going to react this way. No. This trip is a gift and is necessary for your sanity. There is a reason for everything. Remember that comment you read the other day? That girl who posted about how she is able to bring herself out of a rage episode? Yes! think of 3 things you can see, 3 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, then 2, then 1." And just as I was regaining control over my thinking, Carissa chimes in, "You know what, Michelle, I think this is going to work out exactly as it's supposed to. I think the universe has something so much better in mind for us this week." She somehow always knows how to calm my soul and bring me comfort in trying times. I knew she would make an awesome travel buddy for this trip!
And that is exactly what God had in mind..
I decided not to further overwhelm myself and worry about the room. I completely let it go and handed it over to God. I told Carissa, that I would contact an AAA agent after we had gotten dinner and at least attempted to enjoy some of our first day on the beach. So we found a great place to grab dinner RIGHT ON THE BEACH! They had live music and a bar and great food and soon our bellies were full and our feet were in the sand. It rained, but we didn't care. Arms spread wide, I twirled and it was a good day again. The AAA agent was able to locate us a room within a matter of a minute and it was a 5min walk from the famous Cocoa Beach Pier. The whole span of our balcony faced the ocean and the only thing that separated our building from sand was a little patch of wild weeds and bushes. We were able to literally walk out of our hotel, over a strip of wooden bridge, and into the sand. It was breathtaking and exactly what I had hoped for over the last couple months.
Wednesday, both my kids came down with some kind of stomach bug. My daughter woke up puking around 4am, then again at the hotel breakfast buffet, then again in the car (thank God we had a trash bag available!)... My son never puked but had diarrhea all day long. We spent the entirety of the day inside our hotel room watching sponge bob, and I thought I was going to absolutely lose it! lol. But here's the thing.. No, I was unable to get up early and go running that morning on the beach, BUT I was still able to breastfeed the baby on our balcony and watch the sun rise over the ocean. No, I was unable to enjoy the sunshine from the sand, but Carissa offered to watch over Evalee while Sully napped, so I could go out and sun bathe on the balcony. No, we did not leave our room, but after the kids fell asleep early, we were able to sip wine in the dark, listening to the waves and crickets, and talk about anything and everything under hundreds of stars, and share life together. It should have been a terrible day, but it wasn't. It is a memory I will likely cherish forever.
So much more happened on this trip.. So much that I won't share as I've already written a novel, but all I can think about looking back over our time in Florida, is how God worked in all of the struggle. How I was able, probably for the first time in a very long time, to calm the storm within me and seek Christ and bring myself peace of mind. To let go my need for perfection and order and embrace the chaos.. the gift.. to be content no matter the situation.
2 Corinthians 12:10
"That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."
"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”'
I'm going on vacation August 5th through the 12th and plan to thoroughly enjoy my time there, alcohol and food included. The week I return, the plan is to ease my way back into my meal prep routine, grocery shop that weekend and start my hard core dieting on Monday the 19th. I will weigh in again on Monday and let you all the damage. lol.
Below you will also find my goals for the coming year and where I intend to be by this time next year.
Weight - 183lbs
Body Fat - 38%
Visceral Fat - 6
Metabolic Age - 50
Weight - 165.4 lbs
Body Fat - 35.9%
Visceral Fat - 5
Metabolic Age - 45
Weight - 161 lbs
Body Fat - 31.7%
Visceral Fat - 4
Metabolic Age - 37
By Feb 1, 2020 -
>Regain pre-baby level of fitness
>Body Fat = less than or equal to 21%
By March/April -
>Find Personal Trainer & Posing Coach
>Compete in first show, not expecting to win
>Championships ...maybe ...someday.
My daughter loves my belly. I mean intensely LOVES it. I have been chatting with her lately about my recent health and fitness goals, and the only thing that she has been able to focus on is the loss of my belly fat. She snuggles her head into it, kisses it, then cries, "but mama! I don't want your squishy belly to go away!! I love it! It's so nice to cuddle with." Her innocent, wonderful, pure love of me and view of the human body makes me feel so full of joy. She see's through a lens of love, not entrapped by the weight of the world, just a girl who loves her mama.
It is incredibly important to me to teach my daughter about good health and wellness without causing her fear of food or putting too much emphasis on how we "look." My mother never taught me how to eat to properly fuel my body, and because of that I struggled with my weight and low energy my whole childhood. She encouraged me to be active. I did play a couple different sports and danced, etc. but her focus was more on the emotional. She wanted to make sure I accepted myself in whatever skin I was in, so she'd say, "Michelle, just love who you are. God made you perfect. Just love WHO YOU ARE." Who you are... that phrase still strikes a terrible cord with me. I get that her intention was for me to love myself and that is wonderful, but it made me feel like my fat defined me. Like fat was just What I was. Just accept that I was never going to be anything else. Why even try? This is how God made you, just accept it! It drove me nuts. As with most things in life, if someone told me I couldn't do it or I wasn't something, you best believe I was going to try to prove them wrong. But it did take years of learning, building self-confidence, and growing closer to Christ to fully infiltrate my mind and belief system. I was capable. I was worthy. I had potential. I don't want my daughter to endure that struggle.
Evalee saw me checking out the Ohio NPC bikini championships on my phone and asked what I was I was looking at. I told her that I'm hopeful that one day maybe next year, I'll be able to compete in a similar contest, explaining how hard the athletes train and how disciplined they must be to compete and especially to win. She seemed fascinated and smiled at every picture. Then she looked at me and looked at the pictures again, then said, "Well Mama... You may not win." haha! I said, "Why not?!" She replied, "You just have to be ok if you don't win. But don't worry, I'll still love you." Now every day since, she has encouraged and asked to work out with me, saying, "Let's go, Mom! You gotta build those muscles!" haha. I just love her enthusiasm. I think she'll make a great coach some day.
Today, she asked if she could attend my Boxing class with me. She normally goes into the little kids watch area and plays while I'm in the gym, but because this was a class and away from heavy machinery, I told her that I would ask. We were able to get her in the class and she, in her own words, FREAKED OUT! She ran upstairs to find the perfect Workout Outfit. lol. Always my diva. My little Mini Me. I was so proud of her. Being able to teach her different punches and witness her eyes light up when my mouth would drop in surprise of her hit, just made my entire existence. It is truly a memory that I will cherish forever. The 4year old kicked some major butt today, and I am so proud of her for toughing it out through the whole class. It makes me hopeful that we may share this joy of fitness together the rest of our lives. It also makes me proud of myself and realize despite what the devil would have me believe, I AM a good mom and I AM trying my best and I AM not going to let her down and I AM good and leading by example. Daily affirmations are so important in the journey of relearning the Truth. If you have had similar struggles, I pray that you read the daily affirmations below (provided by oneyearbible.com) because they are life giving.
These last few months have been a whirlwind of life events and heavy emotions. So many highs and so many lows. After I went for so long in silence, the silence just intensified until it seemed like I'd given up all together. I think depression is kind of like that too. At first you say, it's only one bad moment, or one bad day, and tomorrow will pick back up again, start fresh... Then you wake up one morning and you've gained 5 lbs, have absolutely no energy, annoyed with everyone, and just so completely down on yourself that you can't even muster the energy to try.
The guilt is the biggest emotion that signals to me that something isn't quite right. I'll say something to Evalee, yell, be insanely quick to anger over something so small and insignificant, then the guilt rains down... pours in through the windows of my sinking vehicle. "Why did I say that? She's only being 4 years old! I am a terrible mother. I'm going to ruin her. I can't let her feel shame like I felt shame my whole life. What is wrong with me?!" The enemy loves shame. I'd say it's his greatest tool. It keeps you down on yourself, the holy, wonderful creation of God. It makes you hide in darkness away from his glorious saving light. Shame builds up walls around your precious heart, and keeps you separate from everyone and everything, including Christ. Because to know Christ, is to know you are loved beyond reason, while Shame tells you, "you are not worthy of love."
I decided to write today, because I've decided to seek out JOY again, no matter the heaviness and density of the fog. Ever determined to trust in what God tells me is true, and moment by moment wrench myself out of this hiding place and into God's loving, saving grace. But, I needed a plan! an umbrella, so to speak, to help me see through the storm. I've decided my umbrella will be a new goal. An old goal really that had been buried under layers of insecurities and motherhood and responsibility, or at least that was my excuse at the time. Ever since my senior year in high school, I dreamed of competing in an NPC or IFBB event. I was a heavy girl, both physically and emotionally, so the idea of competing and putting my physique up on stage for judgement, seemed so impossible at the time, an honest to God DREAM! As my health and fitness grew over the years, so did my spiritual wisdom need to grow and confidence in order to turn this dream into a possibility.
I was on my way there, the Summer of 2017. I had reached my body fat percentage goal and had began to research coaches and competitions. The dream was becoming realized, and it terrified but excited me. Maybe it was my fear of success or my self-sabotaging behavior, or maybe it was the loss of a dear friend that summer to a drunk driver, but I gave up on my goal and fell back into some old emotional eating habits. John's death shook me. My world seemed flipped upside down, where nothing made sense anymore. Not even God. How could he let this happen? Why would he do this to me, to them, to the world? I was angry with God, and didn't feel like trying anymore. What was the point? I could die tomorrow, why not enjoy today? Shortly after his death, I became pregnant with my son, Solomon, and then that became my excuse to eat whatever I wanted and to put on even more weight.
Since Solomon's birth, I've been on a slow journey back to health and fitness. Because I struggled with postpartum anxiety and depression, I had to make so many daily choices. I had to choose to get up every morning. I had to choose to be kind. I had to choose to love on my babies who needed me even though it all felt like an act. I had to choose to be around other people and to let other people see the mess. So many choices that were about and for my kids and showing up even though it felt impossible. I couldn't focus on food choices and meal prep choices. Getting a shower in more than once a week was hard enough on its own.
With Solomon's first birthday quickly approaching, and my husband's college graduation right around the corner, I feel like I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. My hormones are definitely better. I know I'll feel more comfortable weaning Sully from breastfeeding now that he's reached that 1 year mark. And the most important change this time, is my Tribe of Mommy Friends around me. If Christ is my light, then I'll need lots and lots of torches to accomplish this goal. My Mommy Tribe is my everything. They pick me up when I am down, they understand what I'm going through, validate all my feelings and encourage me through the dark days. We laugh together, cry together, and share life together. I know when the enemy speaks lies, they will help me see the truth. That I am worthy of all things good. That I am capable and wonderful and resilient. That God is for me, so who can possibly stand against. Not even myself.
This year will bring about so many positive changes, and I'm so excited to get started. The goal for this blog is to extend the walls of my village to incorporate all you incredible family, friends, and internet fans. I hope you can become my extended tribe and follow along with me on this incredible journey called life. I promise to post at least once a week, even if it is only my workout, a recipe, or two sentences about how sore I am or how my kids are driving me absolutely bonkers! The next 6 months will be about getting back to my previous level of fitness and my body fat down to about 20%. I'm not striving for perfection, just sustainable long term success. Stay tuned to see my starting stats and learn more about where this goal will take me. Obviously, losing weight and building muscle isn't going to magically
make me happy. Neither will making more money or buying a bigger house or falling in love or whatever your goal may be. JOY however IS a CHOICE. And we can choose to be content in whatever situation life puts us in. We can choose Christ and choose love and choose to see ourselves through God's eyes. Today, I choose to love me again. I choose Joy.
Sully had fallen asleep around 9:30pm, but woke up when Evalee and Jerod got back from the roller skating rink around 10:30pm. It was a late bed time for all of us, and Sully especially, but instead of crying and throwing a fit, our happy boy just COULD NOT stop laughing. Everything Evalee said, any time Jerod would yell, "come here," Solomon would explode in a fit of laughter. The laughter became contagious, and soon we were all in tears!
I cannot remember the last time that we were all up so late and in such great spirits. It's days and moments like this, that remind me how much my quality of life is based on how I percieve it to be. Bedtime is not a looked forward to event for me, except maybe the end of having the kids asleep and enjoying some precious alone time. No, too often, I'll even plan my day around driving home at bedtime, just so my toddler might fall asleep on the car ride home. Mostly, because I'm so tired myself and my patience is wearing thin in that final stretch.
I know we are all human and not every night we are going to be our best selves, but shouldn't these moments be cherished?! Cuddling in bed together, snuggled up with some books, teaching them how to pray and talk with God, then listening to their tiny breaths as their bodies drift off to sleep in your arms. They are only little for so long, and too often I allow my PPD and the enemy to ruin the memories.
Evalee will not sit still long enough to get her pjs on, so I become increasingly frustrated. Then she won't sit or pick a book, or allow me to do anything without a password of her own design. Haha. (It's only funny til I'm in a hurry, and I can't buckle her in without a password!) We are working on learning the word "respect," and it's definitely a work in progress because Evalee still likes to sing or play around while I'm trying to say our prayers. Every little thing builds and accumulates and all at once I feel super overwhelmed and just yell at her or count to 3 or actually swap her butt, and then I'm instantly swamped in "Mom-Guilt" because she is only being her 3year old self and with more patience and a better attitude, we could both get what we want and end the night with neither of us in tears..
Tonight, in all it's giggling and loving splender, reminded me of some very important bible verses:
22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 25Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
We drove past a large grave yard today covered in flowers and evalee asked what "that place" was. I told her it's a cemetary and that it's where we burry someone's body when they die. Then the families can come visit and often leave flowers for the people they miss. Evalee then says, "mommy, some day when you die, you'll come back to us and I'll make sure to bury you there. And I'll bring you so many flowers every single day." I, regretfully, answered, "well... mommy doesnt want to be buried but that's a story for another day." She immediately asks why, and to avoid telling her all about cremation, I sit there in silence trying to figure out how to change the subject. She must have noticed my hesitation cuz then ahe she says, "don't worry mama. I'll make sure to leave your head out. I'll just bury your legs and body." 🤦♀️🤣
Getting Evalee ready for the snow brought back so many memories from my childhood.. the 5 layers of socks, pulling eachother on the sled, angels, and snow men dancing in my head. The year the snow looked like waves nearly 3ft deep and we built a giant snow fort in Olivia's yard near the street. Then Mrs. Lattimer bathing our feet in hot water, fighting over which was the right way to make hot chocolate (milk vs water). Struggling to get back on my soaken snow pants and walking back home, watching the snow sparkle under the light of the street lamps. So sad I can't be out playing with them today, but it was nice to remember and know that they're out there making new memories that will last forever. 😍
I had the honor of being asked to perform at Engage Newark's Testimony service on December 30th. It was a great opportunity for me to embrace the path God has been calling me to walk for a very long time. It was also a perfect start to my writing & performing new years resolution