“But where do I start?” When Trying To Grow Closer To God…


I’ve been there, numerous times, that place where you aren’t really living for God.  You aren’t living a bad life, but you know you aren’t living for God.  Sometimes we think, “but I’m so busy today, I will get to that tomorrow…”  tomorrow  comes and goes and the day after and we have yet to kneel before our Lord and even tell Him a simple thank you for all He’s given you.

Friends, let me tell you, everything in your life that brings you peace, love, and joy comes from the Father.  Do not fool yourself into thinking that you alone are the cause for all that is good in your life.  The devil is quite crafty and good at telling people this lie.  I was really good at believing this!  Pride, ouch, that is one sin that I struggled with daily.  I still do at times.  I have come to realize though that all I have and all that I am is a gift from God.  Without Him I am nothing and I have nothing.

So if it’s been awhile since you’ve spent some time with God how do you find your way back to HIM?

Often we picture God as this mighty judge sitting on a throne waiting to condemn us or so far away that He’s just unreachable.  STOP.  RIGHT.  THERE.  First and foremost let me explain the most vital part of a relationship with God; it is a relationship. This part is vital so I’m repeating it, it is a RELATIONSHIP.  He loves you more than you could ever fathom and what He wants is to have a genuine relationship with you.  In order for that to happen you talk to God like you would your nearest and dearest friend, because He is!  He can handle all your moods, all your stubbornness, all your grief, all your joy, all your frustrations and everything in between.  If you’re angry with Him, tell Him!  If you’re lonely, tell Him!  If you’re so filled with happiness, PRAISE HIM!  He yearns for you to talk to Him, no matter what it’s about.

BUT HOW?!

I recently wrote an article for my church about how my spiritual life has grown so much over this last year and how I helped that happen.  I say helped, because God knocked, and I simply answered the door.  At first with a handshake, but now when He knocks, I rip that door open and lunge into His loving arms for the warmest embrace that envelopes every part of my being.

Here’s what I wrote.  I hope it helps someone, even in some small way.  Please know I am praying for you!  Leave me a note and let me know how I can pray for you or if you’d like me to talk more on this topic.

This past year I’ve been learning what it means to be inspired and transformed by God.  During Lent I had decided to not give things up but to instead take the very first part of my day to be with Our Lord.  It changed me.  St. John Vianney said “We must take great care never to do anything before having said our morning prayers…The devil once declared that if he could have the first moment of the day, he was sure of all the rest.”  

At first it was difficult to focus and keep my mind on things above instead of the tasks laid out before me for the day.  Slowly I started to find little things that would help me grow in my prayer life and holiness.  I journal my prayers to God each day.  This alone is such a blessing, because as the months go on I can go back, re-read it, and tears of joy flow as I see the ways God has answered some of those prayers.  Many times in ways I never could’ve imagined!  

I downloaded the YouVersion app on my phone and use it every morning.  It is a Bible app that also has thousands of devotions to pick from.  Another app I use is Laudate.  It is a wealth of goodness for Catholics.  Each day I read the daily readings from Mass, followed by the reflections and the saint of the day.  It also has hundreds of Catholic prayers and so much more!  

I began listening to podcasts (on iTunes) from Catholic priests to learn more about our beautiful faith.  The beauty of podcasts is I can listen while driving, folding laundry, making dinner, and especially while working in my garden.  Being surrounded by nature, God’s creation, and learning about Him at the same time has brought an abundance of peace to my life in a myriad of ways.  My mind was opened to see how our Church is so rich with history and of Saints that we can learn so much from!  

Learning about the Saints has lead me to pray Novenas (there are apps for this), and I am constantly in awe after seeing my prayers get answered.  The amazing thing about praying to Saints is the reminder that many of them started as very broken sinners, only to be transformed by God and become incredible Saints!  There is hope for us all.  

It is said that pride is what turned Angels into demons and humility that turns men into Saints.  So, I printed off the Litany of Humility but my pride got in the way at first.  I struggled to say this prayer and really mean it.  Thankfully He is patient and merciful, because eventually I surrendered and through this powerful prayer I have grown closer to God.   

A few short weeks ago, after communion, I reached the point of surrender.  I uttered the words “Lord, I give my life to You to do with me as You wish”.  I let go of the fear of the unknown to let God take control of my life.  I pray to Mary for help with this, because it’s a constant, daily, surrendering of myself.  She is the perfect example to all of us what surrender looks like.  “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  Let it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38  Complete surrender and lack of fear for God’s plans in our life-not our own plans-offering ourselves as a living sacrifice to Him.  Allowing Him to use the resources and gifts He has given us to glorify Him.  

My life has changed and though I am thankful for my past because it has taught me so much, and it is a living testimony to others, I look intently into the future to see what God has in store for me, to serve Him.  

 

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When God Is Silent But The Silence Is Deafening


There has been a resounding theme to the podcasts, devotions, Bible readings, and homilies I’ve been exposed to lately…hearing God in the silence.  Over and over from multiple sources I keep hearing/reading that God speaks to us most clearly in a still, small voice, in the silence.  Here’s the thing, I KNOW THIS!  I have experienced it often and it’s utterly magnificent!  But lately, the silence is deafening.

God has been silent recently and the silence is wearing me down.  I know what to do.  To persevere through it by continuing to pray, spending time with God and receiving the sacraments. But that doesn’t guarantee that God will automatically be vocal again.

Sometimes God is silent to teach us and help us grow spiritually.  It can help magnify things about ourselves that need to change.  If we allow it, we learn to lean into Him even more BECAUSE He is silent.  We learn to place our trust even more in Him.  We learn to wait with patience, a virtue.  We learn humility by realizing that it’s not our own strength that we get by, but God alone.

I have been struggling this last month with being in silence.  I tell myself to listen for God’s voice.  I try to quiet the noises in my head, but then things bubble up that I don’t want to hear.  See, the devil likes to trick us and tell us lies that aren’t true. For a moment I start to believe him.  I pause, recognize it’s him and say a prayer to not believe the lies of the evil one.  But the silence is still too much for me to bear.

I have unanswered prayers that each day seem to grow further away and the heartache of it makes me want to shut it out.  THIS IS PRECISELY THE MOMENT I AM MEANT TO LEAN INTO IT.  Let the pain, the hurt, the confusion of it all just pour out.  Give it all to Jesus, because He understands our pain.  He died on the cross to bear our pained be one with us.   Do you ever have those moments where the flood gates open and the tears flow like a river?  You cry, begging God to answer your prayer.  Lately my prayers have even gone something like this “God, please just tell me if the answer is no!  Just help me to understand so I can let it go!”.  Silence.  Deafening silence.  I wipe my tears and let the pain sit for awhile and feel it.

There is a saying I hear often that I never quite understood until recently…  “Offer it up!” It just never made sense to me.  Until now.  Now I get it.  I have to learn to truly offer up my suffering to become more in union with Jesus’ suffering on the cross.  We all have our  own, different, crosses to bear.  I’m getting there, I’m slowly learning to ‘offer it up’ and unite my suffering with Jesus’.  I can be a slow learner at times.  Thankfully God is patient, especially when I am not.  Sometimes, silence is the best answer to my prayer of “Just tell me if the answer is no!” because it’s hope that maybe, just maybe, the answer is “yes, my child.  Be patient because the answer is yes, but you aren’t ready yet and I am making a way for you.”

Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.  Romans 12:12

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Changing Things Up a Bit on PaleoHope


It’s a good thing I don’t get paid to blog because I’d be broke.   I’m not good at being consistent with it.  I can go for months without posting then post three times in a week.  I love that I have the freedom to write or create when it hits me though.  So, I’m thankful this is a hobby and not a job.

What have I been up to the last few months then that has kept me away from my blog?  Well, a lot of stuff.  Nothing earth shattering to keep me away this long except for the simple fact that my life is evolving.  I’ve been struggling with how to write with what’s on my heart when what people expect to read here is recipes and health related articles. With that being said, I haven’t hidden the fact that my blog name is not just Paleo but also Hope-as in “Hope in God in all things”.  I’ve been feeling the urge in my heart to write more about this side of it.

I am guessing I will turn some people away with my writing about God…that’s ok with me.  I will not deny Him (Matthew 10:33).  That’s the cool part about writing your own blog, you can write about whatever YOU want and if people read it, awesome!  If they don’t, that’s fine too.  I write not just for others but also as a form of release and creativity for myself.


I’ve struggled with how to go about adding posts that are strictly about God when this blog isn’t just about religion/faith.  The more I pray though and the more I read the bible, the less complicated it seems.  I need to not worry what others think and do what is right for me.  I have many doubts in myself…I’m not a theologian, I don’t know the bible front to back, I don’t know a lot!  I’m a sinner, I’ve been broken, and yet I remind myself…we all are.  Maybe, just maybe the words I type will reach someone in a way they need and God will use me as his vessel to help someone.  Even one person.  That is enough for me to push on and type without fear.

I can’t tell you how many posts I will write in a month and how many of those will be about food, health or God, because like I said above I am not very consistent with it.  But what I can tell you is that I will be writing more about my faith and if that’s not something you want to read about then that’s ok.  You can choose to keep following my blog and only read the Paleo type posts or you can choose to unfollow.  I have a heart for God and I have been feeling an intense calling to share some reoccurring thoughts so expect that soon.

I’ve taken a big step back from some things in my life in order to spend more time in prayer.  If you follow me on Instagram and noticed a drop in my posting there, that is why.  It is easy to get drawn into social media and forget the things in our life that really matter most.  The people in front of me, time spent with God, my calling to be first a wife and a mother.  PaleoHope is NOT my main priority.   There are times I have to check my pride when it comes to Instagram.  Seeing how many likes a picture received, how many followers I have, etc. at all hours of the day.  I realized that is not a feeling I enjoy.  My worth is not dependent on any of that.  It’s fun to interact but I have to make sure I’m doing it for the right reasons and not for my own glory.   So for now, I leave you with this:

He said in reply, “It is written: ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”  Matthew 4:4

Food alone does not sustain me or fulfill me, and my blog will be a more true reflection of my life from here on out.  I pray that God blesses you in many ways today.

I Changed My Focus To Change My Life


I never cease to be amazed at how much things and people change over time.  One day something that means so much to you right now may not even be a blip on your radar a year from now.  Then there are things that will transform your life and you never see it coming.

When I look back at who I was 7 years ago, I was so naive about how difficult life could be.  Until suddenly my husband was diagnosed with cancer and everything changed.  Our lives were dramatically altered in the blink of an eye.  He was 28 years old.  We had two little girls, one was three and the other a 13 month old baby.  He was supposed to come home from his doctor appointment and say he just had kidney stones.  I wasn’t prepared to hear him say the words “I have a 4 inch cancerous mass in my abdomen”.   Those words, they shifted the course of our life.  I can still feel all the emotions, and picture his face as he dropped to his knees, grabbed our daughters and held them close.  He looked up at me with a tear stained, panic stricken face and repeated those words to me.  It was the scariest year we have ever faced.  Multiple surgeries, months of chemo, hundreds of blood tests, and countless CT scans.  Cancer consumes your life and makes you view things in a different light.  I thank God every, single, day that he is now cancer free and thriving.

So much was taken away from us during that year though.  Yet, so much was given to us.  It’s funny how that works.  God always has a plan for everything.  We lost the freedom of our youth and the freedom to be naive about how difficult life can be.  We lost so much more, things that are just too personal to even put into words.  The gains though, those things, they make the battle a little easier.  We gained the ability to live life like there is no tomorrow.  While at the same time, knowing the vital importance of also planning for tomorrow.  When you face a battle such as cancer, you tend to view life differently.  You realize how short life is and you truly appreciate the time you have a little more.

As years went on, we got busy with life and let some of our healthier habits slip.  I was still very conscious of cleaning supplies and things we used in our home but when it came to food I personally lost my focus from “healthy” to wanting to be “skinny”.   If I could go back in time and beat myself with a big stick for that, I’d do it in a heartbeat.  The ironic thing is I had somehow convinced myself that skinny equated to healthy.  Thinking if I cut my calories to a measly 1,200 a day I would achieve some stellar level of health.  Oh how wrong I was!!  I ate well enough, but definitely not enough, and not enough of the right things.  Sure, I lost a lot of weight, but I also had no energy.  I suffered from almost daily migraines, and my joints started to ache.  So much so that I couldn’t even function enough to lift my child out of our truck and almost dropped her one day.  It was at that moment that I started to fear what was happening to me.  The weight I lost had crept back on and I even gained back more weight than I had started with.  I was miserable with my body and even more so with how I felt physically.

I went to doctor after doctor.  Eventually I was diagnosed with multiple nutrient deficiencies.  I was given scrips for them and it helped me feel a little better, but I naively thought that it would solve all my problems.  WRONG!  Sure, it helped for a short period of time.  Until things slowly got worse.  I didn’t realize how bad I was until just day to day functioning was out of the range of things I could do.  I felt like my body was on a roller coaster of symptoms.  The whole time all this was going on I was so concerned with being thin that it never occurred to me that could’ve been big part of my problem.  I had quite literally starved my body of the nutrients it so desperately needed to survive.  

Then the day came that I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.  I will forever remember that day.  Driving home, I cried so hard that I couldn’t see the road. I knew enough to know, this would be something I would face for the rest of my life.  Autoimmune disease (AI) is where your body self attacks in some way.  You can put autoimmune disease into remission but you still always have it.  To top that off, once you have one AI you are three times more likely to trigger another autoimmune disease.  One that could be life threatening.  After having been through one very serious health battle in our family, I refused to put my family through it again.  Those are not odds I am willing to take.

Nobody ever thinks it will happen to them.  The cancer diagnosis, the autoimmune diagnosis, news of a miscarriage, or loss of a loved one.  We never see it coming.  We get so caught up in the unimportant things of life that we often forget what really matters.  That was the day that I decided to start living the Paleo lifestyle and I never looked back.

This isn’t a blog post about how amazing Paleo is.  (It is though so don’t get me wrong!!)  This post, is about a wake-up call.  The wake-up call to anyone reading it who thinks that the key to feeling great is getting skinny, or that being thin is the answer, or that losing tons of weight will automatically mean healthy.  Working out is amazing, I will never discount that.  But you can work out all day long and still die of a massive heart attack, colon cancer, or multiple sclerosis if you don’t first care about the food that goes into your mouth.

There are so many products on the market right now with sales pitches to lose weight and look great by replacing meals with shakes, and so on.  I’m not at all trying to single anyone or any certain thing out.  Quite simply, my heart breaks at the thought of anyone having to hear the words “you have cancer” or “you have an autoimmune disease”.   As I sit here and type this, I have hot tears streaming down my face, my emotions run strong.  If there is one thing I could tell someone and pray that they heard it deep in their soul, it would be this….

Don’t ever lose focus on being healthy first, by putting your health at risk for your physical appearance.

Because one day you may be like me, and look back and want to kick yourself for being so ignorant.

Here’s the kicker.  When I stopped putting so much focus on how I looked, and I solely focused on my health, all the weight I had gained melted off without effort.  I started to love my body.  Not for what it looks like, but for what it does for me.  I can wake up and step painlessly out of bed. Migraine free. Before my alarm even goes off, because I’m no longer exhausted.  This body allows me to make food for my family, pack lunches, do laundry, clean a house, hug my kids, play with my kids, do yoga with my kids.  Do yoga not just on my own but teaching others as well, three days a week!  This body is well cared for now, and loved for the vessel that it is.

The day I changed my mind from treating my body like an object I hated, to realizing it is my temple and the only place I have to live, is the day I changed my life.