Thursday, January 23, 2014

The things we do : permissible, yes. Beneficial? Hmmm...

I'm so thrilled to be a part of another great Proverbs 31 Ministries online Bible study. This session, we're studying the book Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst. This book is awesome, folks! It's all about how, as humans, we mistakenly look to fill our natural cravings with food/sex/alcohol/shopping/drugs/etc in a desperate attempt to fill the void that is created when we take our focus off our heavenly Creator. As a somewhat-retired, certified health coach, this subject is resonating with me big time.

Part of each study is the opportunity to participate in a weekly blog hop. If you're not familiar with "blog hop"ping (and I wasn't until my first P31 study), the basic idea is that a group of bloggers write on the same topic and then all post together. It's fun!

This week, we're exploring the concept behind 1 Corinthians 10:23...

"I have the right to do anything," you say--but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything"--but not everything is constructive.

I love this verse because it cuts right to the heart of the difference between what the mainstream world says about health and weight loss and what God intends for His children.

Large, secular weight-loss programs tell you: 

"You can eat whatever you want, no matter how bad it is, as long as you count calories/points/nutrition info and structure your entire day around those calories."

This verse is telling us: 

"You can live in a calorie-counting world of madness. Or you can choose to turn your back on this process that does nothing but distract you from your true purpose in Christ." 

Companies selling the latest version of a new "diet food" tell us: 

"You can eat this whole bag of diet cookies! No sugar added! All natural! (just don't read the back of the package where we list all our toxic ingredients that are really really really really bad for you!!)"

This verse is telling us: 

"Yes, you can eat the whole bag. But it's not going to do anything constructive for your body. You're looking for nourishment, but the only place you'll find it is in your Heavenly Father." 

Television informercials tell us: 

"Buy this set of DVDs for three low payments of $99 and workout six days a week for only six minutes and see your six pack abs in six weeks or less - guaranteed!" 

This verse is telling us: 

"Yes, exercise is beneficial. But, pursuing empty promises is not constructive. Find your health in making choices that honor God. Don't pursue the quick fix." 

There are more than 40,000 women around the world participating in this awesome study. 

Think about that number for a minute.

40 THOUSAND

40 thousand stories. 

40 thousand health histories.

40 thousand relationships with cravings. 

My prayer for each and every one of those 40 thousand+ women (including myself) is that we collectively remember the promise of this verse that Paul penned to the church in Corinth so many years ago. 

We can do anything we want. Christ died and took legalism to the cross with him. But, in that death, He also brought us freedom. 

To choose Him. 

To pursue Him. 

To crave more of Him - the only thing that is all three - permissible, beneficial and constructive. 

Love and hugs to all from Holland! 



Monday, January 20, 2014

7 Steps to a Finished Move

Earlier this month, I shared that we're going to be moving soon - from our home in the Netherlands back to the US. This will be my 21st move since I graduated from college ("university" for my Euro friends - love you all!).

Yep, you read that right. 21 moves.

2 .... 1.... moves ....

When most people learn that about me, they almost always immediately ask some version of the same three questions:
1. why in the world would you move that much?
2. aren't you exhausted?
3. you must be a box-packing pro, huh?

Easy answer to the last one - "um, no." You'd think practice would make perfect, but um. Yeah, still "no" :)

Answers to the first two - I've moved this much due to career choices - first, for my own career, then for my boyfriend/fiance/husband's. And, no, I'm not exhausted. Maybe, if we keep doing this in perpetuity, but for now, I'm ok.

And I'm ok, because over the years and across the miles, I've developed a bit of a process. As I've shared it with other movers over time, it developed into a 7-step plan and every step starts with "p."

In the coming weeks, I'll expand on each "p" in the series. I'll share links I find to be really helpful, printables I use and books about moving that have assisted me make transitions over the years.

To finish a move, I ....

Pray 
about the move, about my attitude toward the move and all the details that go into moving

Prepare 
myself, my heart, my husband, my kids, my friends here, my extended family

Print 
moving checklists, packing lists, bon voyage party invitations - my printer is on overdrive during the moving process! 

Pack 
I do pack a few things myself and make sure I hire good movers to do the rest 

Plan 
oh boy, do I plan! 

Process 
every move requires the closing of one door and the opening of some wonderful windows - I take time to process my emotions, grieve if I need to and carefully help my kiddos and husband do the same, in their own way 

Praise 
as we begin life post-move, I praise God for His blessings in our lives, for new opportunities and for warm memories 

And in those first few weeks post-move, I circle right back up and repeat my first step - with lots of prayers for our new home.

Now, an important caveat to everything you just read - this is what I do to finish my moves. Note that I didn't say "7 steps to an easy move." Or "7 steps to an organized move." Or even "7 steps to a happy move." All for a very important reason - in my experience, moves aren't easy, organized, or even particularly happy. Even when they're for good, exciting and awesome opportunities, most moves will have one (or more) circumstances pop up that try my patience or add a few more grey hairs to my 32-year-old head.

But, while moves are rarely easy, they do always have a finish. Regardless of what happens in between the time I turn in one set of keys and pick up a new one, eventually, my moves do end. And a new chapter in life begins!

My hope in sharing my thoughts in the coming weeks is that I'll be able to help others who are moving look at their processes a little differently - and find the "p"ositives in all moving "p"rocesses :)

Reader question: have you moved recently? What resources or advice would you share with other moving women? 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

When Partnerships go Wrong (accountability partners - part 3)

In my last two posts, I've covered :

How to be a great accountability partner 

and

How to be accountable

Both are for my awesome Proverbs 31 Ministries small group - we're going to rock the accountability thing during our study of the wonderful book Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst! (related side note : it's not to late to sign up for the study! click here to join in the fun).

All accountability partnerships hinge on a relationship between two people. And, as we all know (cuz we're humans), relationships can get messy from time to time! And, unfortunately, the enemy uses that messiness to hold us back from living the full life God intends for us.

If either partner starts feeling tension during the partnership, or a conflict arises, it's important to:

ACT 

A : accept that we're all different! We might share some of the same struggles, but we likely come from different family backgrounds, live in different financial circumstances and have different daily needs. At the beginning of the partnership, try to have a conversation to learn about each other - about where each person comes from, what specific goals and challenges are and how to best work together as sisters in Christ. Establishing a baseline relationship will help prevent problems from happening, and, when they do (if they do), remembering that we're all different will hopefully help remind us that we're all part of God's kingdom together.
C : communicate, communicate, communicate! If a problem comes up, address it immediately. If you feel tension in a conversation, don't be afraid to share. It's really important, in any relationship, to find out what's really going on before anything can be solved. Note : communication should remain between partners only. Sharing negative feelings with anyone other than your partner is gossip and doesn't move anyone forward.
T : take the initiative to seek mediation, if necessary. If any partnership pair has tried to address problems together, but they persist, it's time to seek outside help! By "outside," for Group 28's purposes, this means outside the pair, but still within the group. Please come to me first, and if the three of us can't work things out, I'll find a way to create an alternate partnership that works better for all involved.

Praying for you, sweet friends! May all of you enjoy partnerships that are COOL and ON and may you never have to worry about having to ACT :)

Love and hugs from Holland!

How to be Accountable (accountability partnerships - part 2)

In my last post, I shared some info about how to be a great accountability partner. My awesome Proverbs 31 Ministries Facebook small group (shout out to Group 28 - what what!) is starting a study of Lysa TerKeurst's phenomenal book Made to Crave and we decided to partner up within our group to offer each other support, encouragement and accountability.

In this post, I want to share my thoughts on how to be accountable.

To be accountable to someone else, you need to be:

ON

That's it.

Just two letters, representing two concepts.

O : open - be open to the idea of having someone in your life. A friend, a partner, who will be there to lift you up in prayer, support you on your bad days and encourage you on your good days. Yes, she will also call you out on occasion, but in a spirit of love and a genuine desire to see you move forward. In that same spirit, you need to be honest about your life with your accountability partner. These partnerships are set up in a spirit of love (remember our COOL acronym??)

N : natural - in other words, be yourself! You're beautiful just the way you are, God created you uniquely and He knows your unique skills, as well as your unique struggles. Attempting to hide them from your accountability partner will result in frustration for both partners and will create barriers and obstacles that will prevent you from moving forward.

My prayer for all of us is that we'll be able to be good partners during the next weeks of our study - we'll keep COOL and we'll stay ON throughout the lengths of our partnerships!!!

Wishing you lots of love, peace and health!

Hugs from Holland!

How to be a great Accountability Partner (part 1)

I'm so excited that my awesome Group 28 is starting an accountability partner program today, to help all of us work through the awesome Made to Crave study (starting today - yay!) hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries.

They're graciously allowing me to share my expertise in this area (leftover skills from my health coaching days), so I'm writing mostly for them :)   However, if you're interested in the topic as well, by all means - keep reading!!

First, let's explore what is an "accountability partner?"

Basically, an accountability partner is someone who helps another person work to achieve their goals. Of any kind. In corporations, you often see partners working together on a project - they're accountability partners. If you go see a trainer at the gym, she or he is your accountability partner.

As Christians, our definition of an accountability partner takes on an even more significant meaning.

We're called to...

"...encourage one another and build each other up..."
1 Thessalonians 5:11a 

And... 

"Bear one another's burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it]."
Galatians 6:2

In the context of our MTC study, accountability partners are going to:
- help each other learn to #CraveGod and not food or cravings for things that move us farther away from our walk with our heavenly Father
- celebrate successes and pray through temptations
- be there to encourage each other along the start of this journey that will, for some of us, last a lifetime

Becoming a great accountability partner is really pretty simple ... you just need to stay ...

COOL 

Here's how it works.

C = be consistent - check in with your partner on a regular basis. Talk at the beginning of your partnership about what works best for both of you. Some people like to chat constantly throughout the day, others have commitments that make a slightly longer convo once a day more realistic. Still others might only need contact every couple of days. Discuss a consistent rhythm that works best for both of you and then stick with it.

(Related sidenote : In my experience, with health changes, daily contact is preferable to achieve the best results!)

O = be observant - watch how your partner is acting on Facebook - is she posting pictures of herself out on a run? Send her a note of congratulations! Is she posting a picture of a piece of cheesecake she's about to devour? Send her a quick text reminding her she's made for more than that temporary physical pleasure! If you're choosing to talk on the phone, ask "open-ended" questions (questions that can't be answered with a simple "yes" or "no" response) - observe her tone - is she upbeat? Sound a little down? Dig beyond the surface to help her address what's going on in her life.

O = be objective - celebrate successes with your partner, but also remember that your partner's progress is not up to you! If she has a bad day, please resist the temptation to either take it personally, or worse, give up on her. Reach out, communicate your support and lift her up in prayer. It's extremely tempting for many accountability partners to begin to feel like failures if their partners aren't achieving results. At that point, many partnerships fail as both partners pull away from each other. Remember that, as an accountability partner, you are not your partner's Holy Spirit! Give the actual Holy Spirit room to move and use any difficulties that might come up as an excuse to hit your knees in prayer!

L = be loving - as you join a sister in Christ on a journey toward better health, always approach your conversations with a spirit of love! Let Christ's love flow through you onto her as you celebrate each other's good days and pray together through bad days. And remember - part of being loving means being discreet. Under no circumstances should you share anything your sister may tell you during the course of your partnership.

I praying for everyone starting this awesome MTC study - that everyone who wants to will become awesome accountability partners to offer support, friendship and love as we work together to offer our physical bodies as living sacrifices for our Creator!

In my next post, I'll share my thoughts on what it takes to be accountable.

Prayers for health coming your way from Holland!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Join us!

I'm so excited about the opportunity to join Proverbs 31 Ministries in yet another great study - this time, based on the book Made to Crave : Satisfying your Deepest Desire with God, not Food by Lysa TerKeurst. This is my 4th "P31 study" and my 3rd with my awesome Facebook small group (shout out to Group 28 - what what!!!)!

In addition to my online small group, I'm also leading a group of 8 women through the study from my home here in the Netherlands. I really love getting to experience this book from two different angles - online and in person.

Regardless of which group I'm "meeting" with (either physically or online), I'm already loving this study for many reasons. Among them:
- It's hard to "go it alone" and feel the impact of lasting change, particularly with health-related goals. Joining P31 and meeting with my local girls allows me to go deep with a community of other women who support each other, encourage each other and pray for one another.
- Looking at health and wellness from a Biblical, spiritual perspective totally changes everything. I really mean that. I feel my yo-yo dieting days are coming to an end.
- I love the opportunity to be real and honest about my struggles with weight, amongst 30,000+ women who are going through the exact same thing. That's right, you read that number correctly -  more than 30,000 women signed up for this study online! How amazing is that?

If you're struggling with issues related to physical cravings, I invite you to join us for this amazing study! It kicks off on Sunday, so sign up today and let's get healthy together!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The art of saying "tot ziens"

I'm not a huge fan of saying "good-bye," so I'm a huge fan of this Dutch saying ...


Pronounced "tote zeens," the phrase (roughly translated by me) means "see you." Close to "see you later."

As I prepare to say "tot ziens" to my current home in just 53 days, I realize I'm not just saying "see you" to people, I'm saying it to places, to traditions, to little European things that have slowly, surely and sometimes silently crept into my psyche and made themselves nice little homes.

Before writing this post, I started making a "TZ bucket list" - notes of all the people, places, things and customs I want to honor before flying out:




Some entries are truly blessings, things that have made my life wonderful in the last two and a half years.

And others are not. Others have made my life considerably difficult while we've been here.

But, whether I wish I could take them with me, or desperately want to flee them ASAP, every note on the paper deserves a farewell.

Why?

Because there's a great deal of freedom in saying "tot ziens" and letting go. I really believe that you can't fully enjoy a new chapter in life before releasing the past one into the "written" section of your life's story.

And here's the thing. I've come to realize that this concept is true no matter where you're at in life. Whether you're physically moving your family to a new location, or living in the house you were born in, there's always going to be something in your life that needs to be released into the past.

As we continue to gain momentum in this new year of 2014, I hope you take a moment to pause, reflect and release those things that should remain in your past.

Keepin' it real question: 
even if you're not moving to a new home this year, do you have something in your life that you need to release? Maybe a "tot ziens" list of your own?

Friday, January 3, 2014

We like to move it, move it!

Who likes to move it move it?


These cute critters do - and my family and I sure like to move it, too! We love it so much, in fact, that we've done it 8 times in the past 7 years and plan to do it again in 2014. And we know we're not alone. According to Melissa Data (a big company specializing in demographic info), 40 million folks in the US will move this year as well.

In just 55 days, the Cordova clan will be packing up and shipping out of the Netherlands. We're not exactly sure where our final location will be yet (due to my husband's job), but the kids and I will head back to the US to stay with a variety of family members on an extended vacation.

It's hard to move, and often messy. Physical boxes and emotional baggage create a kind of chaos that doesn't go away for a while.

I'm planning to blog (and dance) my way through our 2014 moving journey, so watch for lots of upcoming posts with this theme. I'll be honest, I'll be authentic and I'll share what helps me keep all my bags and boxes organized. I'll all my posts tagged with a "move 2014" label (see right hand column), in case you need/want to catch up at any time.

Reader question: what advice can you share with others making moves this year?