Welcome to Freedom

I’m slightly claustrophobic. An easy way to make an enemy out of me would be to trap me under a blanket or hide me away in an elevator. It’s not a fun feeling; being stuck in a place where hope is a word that holds no meaning. A lot of things can get us there: people’s accusations, lies, and hurt. Or our own circumstance, opposition, emotions, doubts, and negative self-talk.

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There is hope.

“Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.” Zechariah 9:12

Some of us are in a place where we’ve been for so long, that we don’t even remember what it’s like to be free (or maybe we’ve never even known it). Where hoping is pointless because goodness seems impossible. A place where the only comfort we look to is in _______ (food, drink–you choose) and not The Comforter. Beautiful one, it’s time to start seeing your darkness, in the light.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

It’s Holy week…the week that led to the great rescue Jesus Christ did to set us free. Free from the dark place we might be presently trapped in. His whole life on earth was all to make way for God’s grand, heroic plan. As he was nailed and breathed His last, the blood that ran out of him was a sign of OUR PAIN, SIN, STRUGGLE, DISEASE being taken from us. He died in YOUR place, because He delights in YOU. His love is greater than our present darkness because he didn’t stay dead. By His death and resurrection, He beat death and anything that connects to it: SHAME, HATRED, ABUSE, ANGER, DEPRESSION, WORRY, LIES, FEAR…you fill in the blank!

No really, fill in the blank, “…and do not let yourselves be burdened again by ________”.  (Galations 5:1)

GIVE IT BACK TO ME.

Friend, if you’re holding onto any of the darkness, the time has never been better than now to give it back to JESUS. His whole living, was to die for you so that you don’t have to live in these dark places. So, what are we doing holding onto these things? They are going to come up throughout our life. Opposition is at every new turn, every attempt to move forward there is a reason to fear, lose hope and believe lies. The questions is: are you going to give into it by putting the darkness into a higher place than the hope of Christ (rescue, healing, freedom…to name a few)? OR are you going to face it and give it back to Jesus?!

What ever you filled in as being your darkness, well…it’s NOT yours. HOPE IS YOURS.  God wants you to give him back those burdens that He ALREADY took on for you.

If you want to live by HOPE instead of being stuck in whatever your darkness is, get ready to experience what FREEDOM feels like and the FULLNESS of JOY Jesus brings through that release.

If you have questions, need prayer or have anything you want to add to this, please email me. I’d love to be there for you, friend.

Be free! Bri Joy

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This is me and my lovely, weird and adorable little family. 

Check out these dope lyrics, MORE THAN CONQUERORS, Rend Collective.

When my hope and strength is gone
You’re the one who calls me on
You are the life
You are the fight
That’s in my soul
Oh, Your resurrection power
Burns like fire in my heart
When waters rise
I lift my eyes
Up to Your throne
We are more than conquerors, through Christ
You have overcome this world, this life
We will not bow to sin or to shame
We are defiant in Your name
You are the fire that cannot be tamed
You are the power in our veins
Our Lord, our God, our Conqueror
I will sing into the night
Christ is risen and on high
Greater is He
Living in me
Than in the world
No surrender, no retreat
We are free and we’re redeemed
We will declare
Over despair
You are the hope
We are more than conquerors, through Christ
You have overcome this world, this life
We will

 

3 Heart-Shaping Mantra’s

The fight over our souls has already been won by Jesus many moons ago. He was victorious for us, and that victory is set in stone. But the battle over our spirits contending with His is a continual battle. One of the greatest enemies in this battle to connect with Him is busyness. Not so much the busyness of our bodies, but of our heart and mind.

“Above everything else guard your heart, because from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23

      Division of the heart happens when the word of God is choked out by our cares. Imagine that our body is a greenhouse and our heart and mind complex is the soil in which things are planted. The connection we have with God happens when we read the Bible, which is the most powerful seed in the universe.

When we read the word of God, we’re planting a seed with much potential. But what happens if this seed of God is planted on a thorn bush? And how did those thorns get there in the first place?

“The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.” Luke 8:14

       The soil of our heart can become crowded by our thorny-cares. In greek, the definition of cares literally means a divided mind. Entertaining our cares, worries, riches, and pleasures all empower inferior seed to compete with the ETERNAL one. The fight for “sunshine” and life is very real between what we entertain and the power of the word of God living in us. Thing is, we can be super consistent with our Bible reading but if we go on about our day letting other “seed” choke out His, we produce fruit that can be catastrophic to His plan. If we bring our attention to the one voyage set before us, to love God, we will see the bountiful fruit in our life that God promises: his blessing and riches, ETERNAL pleasures, and of course the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control.

My personal accomplishments can easily be my idol and create a DIVIDED heart within me. PRIDE follows performance based living. His blessing, reward and the fullness of God follows when I seek HIM with my WHOLE heart. When our ONE aim is to love God really well, our heart is WHOLE.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

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Are you curious what it’s like to have a heart that is made whole by God? It’s not a magical switch that you turn on, it takes action because it truly is a daily battle. Let’s make room for the seed of the Word of God to flourish with THESE 3 HEART MANTRAS…

Here are 3 daily mantras to prevent a heart divided between our flesh and our spirit.   In doing so, I believe there is TRUE HEALING not only to our spirits, but to our physical bodies as well!

“Listen carefully to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; or they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.” Proverbs 4:20-22

STEADY SPIRIT

Pray: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” Psalm 51:10

Recite: No matter how divided my heart was yesterday, God makes me new. As I seek Him, He makes my spirit strong and steady.

WILLING SPIRIT

Pray: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.” Psalm 51:12

Recite: God desires joy for me. As I walk with love and obey Him, He sustains me.

BROKEN SPIRIT

Pray: “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart you God will not despise.” Psalm 51:17

Recite: My spirit connected to God’s is a lifeline. I need Him to survive well, to love well and to live well. I am His.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

Peace and lots of love,

Bri Joy

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Get to your Goals in 2018

Mood: Coffeehouse Blend Playlist, Apple Music.

Today marks the start of a New Year: 2018, BABY! For some of us, this comes as a sigh of relief, as we see this as a new beginning to something better.

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One of the greatest lessons God taught me in 2017 was contentment. I’m not talking about your typical Sunday-School lesson either. The true understanding of contentment needed to come the way it did; through a series of events that left me emotionally and physically beaten. I was practically bed-ridden for two weeks in October– forced to process and do A LOT of self-examining and heart-checking. I didn’t even know that I had an issue with being ungrateful until this season in my life. I thought that problems had to be more obvious. Seeing our massive mounds of clean laundry, made me complain that I never have time to do it. Having to take out the recycles, had me complaining that I’d done this one-too many times this month. Not being able to eat all the foods I used to tolerate, had me complaining that it just wasn’t fair. It was also my impulsive shopping habits that concealed the ungratefulness of not having enough clothes in my closet. The heart change that I allowed God to do in me, was life changing. God has literally brought joy, understanding and patience into my life when I confront everyday things.

The start of a New Year is a great chance to start a new approach to how we do life. I have literally only kept one resolution in my whole life… that was the time that I promised myself I wouldn’t eat those massive-sized candy bars anymore (mini-sized bars were the ONLY exception, HA).

GOOD NEWS!

This is not your one and only chance to have a new start this year. No, it’s the start of a new year FULL of 365 NEW days that mark themselves as fresh beginnings and start-overs. Tapping into this year, I’m going to create goals that MAKE SENSE for MY life. Not for the life of someone else who I see, who seems to have their ducks all in a row. Not everyday will go according to my goals, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. I want to look ahead and expect to fail, to have shortcomings, temptations and trials. BUT WORD…

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 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.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-11

With that in mind, I also want to look ahead to new beginnings everyday, that allow the power of God to work through me and accomplish these goals.

Our approach to goals needs to come from a place of being GRATEFUL for what we have: which is TRUST in our God to lead us, sharpen us and hold us through it all. IMG_2245

2018 GOALS

Below you will see how I have split 5 main areas of my life that take my time and attention: Faith, Family, Business, Personal, and Social-life. Next, I listed multiple goals I have under each category, some in order of importance. Lastly, you’ll see a brief description of the action plan I have to go with it.

  1. Faith
    • Daily Bible reading and meditation
      • Set alarm clock for 5:30AM M-F and Sat/Sun plan for reading with Russ.
      • Pray more- Make a big jar with popsicle sticks and a marker. Every time there is a prayer request, write it down on a stick and place in jar. Place it out where I’ll see it everyday.
  2. Family
    • Engage more than maintain the kids
      • Uninterrupted play with them–set timer for at LEAST 15mins
      • Lead by example with health and fitness, faith and limited screen time.
      • Utilize Parent Cue
    • Grow in love with Russ
      • Monthly dates, weekly pow-wows, daily intentional sacrifices, go on two, 3-day excursions with Russ: Schedule these into Calendar!
    • Stay connected with Mom, Dad, Sister and Brother
      • Send letters, kids artwork and call at least 3x a week.
    • Go camping with the kids
      • Send invite to friends to join us 3 months out
    • Remodel parts of the house
      • Get graphing paper and draw up plan and dream of the end result.
  3. Personal
    • Stress less:
      • Rejoice more! (work on my ungratefulness) Philippians 4:4-9
      • Yoga weekly–breathe deeply!
      • Eat Carby-Paleo and start making fermented foods
      • Be more aware of God’s presence/Be real not perfect–sticky note reminders on mirrors!
      • Be active everyday–power lift the kids, Ninja warrior classes, running with friends, yoga, lift, HIIT, Bike, etc.
      • Less screen time- studies have shown that our breathing is shortened while we look at our phones and other devices!
  4. Business
    • Start personal training in-homes
      • make business cards and set hours
    • Start a VLOG
      • brainstorm and map out the design for studio in basement
      • Blog weekly and Insta post most days of the week
    • Become a independent consultant versus employee.
      • Schedule a meeting with bosses about logistics
      • Teach a young women’s JFIT class in the church gym, or school gyms.
      • Become a certified PPC (girls gone strong)
  5. Social-life Note: I don’t like to be super scheduled because everyone else has their own schedules that might not tie in with mine at the moment. My goal here is to be open and allow space for flexibility with people.
    • Be a mentor-friend to a certain middle school girl
      • monthly planned hangouts
    • Ladies night in/outs
    • Monthly dinners with a church family
    • Coffees dates
    • Plan a girls weekend away (wine tour, Quebec city, Boston, etc.)

After writing out those 5 main areas with their goal and action plan, we are going to break it down into our calendars. You can use a daily calendar or journal to stay organized and meet your goals.

A. Give each of the 5 main categories a color using highlighters or markers.

B. Take time to write out how much time each of those activities takes throughout your day or week.

C. On your calendar, write each activity in it’s own time slot and color code it. 

The goal of what Michelle Myers calls “Block Scheduling”, is to only do what is designated for the specific time slot. You only do work when it’s time for work, and family when its time for family. Eliminate all distractions that would keep you from those priorities–Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, texting, cleaning, cooking, fiddling etc.

YOU CAN DO THIS TOO!

  1. Grab a pen and journal (if you’re old school like me)
  2. Set your timer for 20 mins
  3. Split up 3-5 main areas of your life into their own brackets
  4. Write out at least one DOABLE goal for this year, under each category
  5. Under each goal, write out an action plan that will make this thing happen! (be as specific as possible)
  6. Next, fill up your calendar specifics with all the color-coded categories as stated above!

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11

 

Cheers to a Happy New Year!

-Bri joyfully fit image

 

 

 

God Loves the Hell out of You

“Let the love of God, love the hell out of you.” Alisa Keeton, Revelation Wellness.IMG_2212

His love means freedom from the cares of what we think we should look like, think we should weigh, or what we think others think.

His love means that we have power by his GRACE to obey and to live confidently.

His love means anxiety doesn’t win, God’s love is now our master.

His love means that the weightiness of our hearts (as broken people hurt by other broken people), becomes His and we can now live lightly; resting secure as His beloved.

We have a choice to yield to this crazy, unconditional love or deny it’s existence (either by outrightly denying or living naive of its presence).

Confession is the acknowledgment of something that weighs us down (maybe it’s even physical weight that burdens you); weight of something that keeps us from yielding to His way. Confession is also agreeing with God that it does not belong and you’re better off without it.

Confession allows our hearts to become exposed to God. Not that He doesn’t already know what’s going on inside, because He very well does. Through confession we are making the choice to not remain ignorant of the “gunk” building around our hearts, which weighs us down.

When we confess to God that our hearts get easily gunked up with the cares of this world, it allows His love to permeate; doing a deep work in and through us.

His love uproots the gunk of our hearts and replaces it with life-changing, freedom.

 “…God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance” Romans 2:4

His kindness and love make it easy to lean into Him when it comes to our inner battles. No matter how immature or shameful we might think our battles are, God cares way too much to let you be ruled by them. It’s up to you whether or not something is done about it. Go on and live freely, my friends.

 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 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.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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Harvest Moon Soup

Want to reap the goodness of Autumn through Wintertime? This bowl of harvest will carry you through! It’s not every night I throw ingredients together and it magically comes out delicious. If you dig creamy soups, with a mild spice, try my Harvest Moon!

Harvest Moon Soup, by Bri.
PALEO (DF/SF/GF)
Serves 6

Ingredients
3 lg. Carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch rounds
1 med/lg. sized Butternut squash, chopped into 1-1 1/2 inch chunks
1 sm. Onion, cut in half and sliced
1/2 cup Canned Coconut Milk
1 qt. Chicken broth (or Bone broth)
1 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp Paprika 
1 heaping tsp parsley 
Pinch or two of Cinnamon
1 heaping tsp of Black Pepper
1 tsp Salt 

Instructions
1. Mix in all ingredients, except the coconut milk,into a large pot.
2. Bring to a simmer on Medium stovetop heat.
3. Give a good stir, and turn heat to low. Let sit for 2 hrs, this    draws out more flavor in the soup. 
4. Pour in 1/2 cup of coconut milk and blend with an immersion       blender right in the pot. (You may choose to blend in batches by     using a   blender too)
5. Serve with some crusty bread or Paleo rolls and you're set!


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Exercises To Do and Avoid During and After Pregnancy

The hottest topic in the Prenatal/Postpartum world right now is Diastasis Recti. This is the separation of the middle of the abdominal wall of 2.7cm or greater thanks to the stretching of the Linea Alba (the connective tissue that holds it together like glue).

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Owen being a supermodel and Eli still in hiding.

As you can imagine, our abdominal muscles, along with the connective tissue, experience great pressure as the belly expands and takes on unusual weight. It is extremely important that we take special care of our midsection, as to not further the separation which can so easily happen with our day-to-day activities. The simplest example being in maintaining neutral posture (the natural curvature of your spine and placement of head, ribs and pelvis).  The constant awareness of good posture increases abdominal muscular strength and endurance as well as reducing stress on joints and muscles. I’m not going to cover all the anatomical pieces of the core today, but it is important that we understand the do’s and don’ts in our efforts to gain back that core strength and stability.

The following “do” exercises are deemed generally safe for pregnant and postpartum women, as long as you are cleared for exercise and don’t have any contraindications. The “don’t” exercises below, generally carry a high “risk to reward” ratio. They should be avoided during certain phases of pregnancy and immediately postpartum.

 

During Pregnancy Do’s

  • Squat: Bodyweight, Dumbbell, Goblet
  • Glute Bridge: Regular, Single-Leg, Band-Resisted, Feet-Elevated, Back-elevated/Hip Thrust
  • Row Variations: One-Arm DB Row, Seated Cable Row, Standing Band Row, Single-Arm Band Row

During Pregnancy Don’ts

  • Front Planks or any exercise where the belly is “hanging” down or feels unsupported (this recommendation often applies after 20-24 weeks). This includes, but is not limited to: Push-ups, Mountain Climbers, and Shoulder Taps.
  • Plyometric/High Impact Exercises or any exercises where you feel increased downward pressure on your pelvic floor and/or experiences any lower back or pelvic pain, or leaking of urine (this is often after 20-24 weeks). This may not apply to advanced/high level athletes. Consult with your pelvic health physio for specific recommendations.

Post Pregnancy Do’s

(6-12 weeks, prior to 6 weeks consult with your primary medical practitioner and/or pelvic health physio)

  • Glute Bridge: Regular, Single-Leg, Band-Resisted, Feet-Elevated, Hip Thrust
  • Clamshell: Regular, Band-Resisted
  • Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch (with optional reach)
  • Squat: Bodyweight

Post Pregnancy Don’ts

  • Traditional/Advanced Abdominal Exercises:  Examples being Traditional sit-up, GHR sit-up, and Jackknife/V-up.
  • Plyometric/High Impact Exercises or any exercises where she feels increased downward pressure on her pelvic oor and/or she experiences any lower back or pelvic pain, or leaking of urine. Avoid exercises that cause pain or anything that doesn’t “feel right” to the core or pelvic floor.

Always be sure to ask yourself, “How does this exercise make me feel?” or “Do I feel strong, supported, and stable during this exercise?”. Keep in mind that some exercises might also feel good, but might not be appropriate for you yet. For some basic level abdominal exercise ideas, follow along with me on “Level Zero Abs”, The HIIT Hustle.

Resources

Exercises Your Clients Should Do and Avoid During & After Pregnancy“, Girls Gone Strong, LLC. 2017, http://www.girlsgonestrong.com.

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Hi! I’m Brianna Joy. I blog over at joyfullyfit.blog and am a Strength and Conditioning Coach at Fit2Excel, Essex, VT. I’m an imperfect person doing my best to be a Mommy, Wife and Fitness teacher!

Joy! For crying out loud…

You’re no stronger than your joy.

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September seems to be our busiest time of the year. Besides it being our Anniversary and my Birthday month, it’s when Owen starts school, Russ has a few major church events, and I’m coaching soccer. Throw in one of my best friend’s getting married this month and you have a full schedule! I’m sure you can relate. Even though there is a plethora of good things, there is a whole lot of planning, babysitting, money spending and driving behind it all.  

I’ve been at this place before; overwhelmed with the thought of all that’s ahead. But I’ve never been so adamant about quiet time with the Lord because now I understand how much I need it. Like exercise builds physical strength and endurance, quiet time with God trains our trust muscles, builds perseverance, and creates an emotional resilience in our soul. Another great result of meditation with God is that it yields to the fullness of Joy.

“Our connection to the spirit of God is our access point to the full expression of what joy looks like.” -Bill Johnson

“…in your presence there is fullness of joy.” Psalm 16:11

Joy is being in a state of gladness and celebration without caving to circumstance and doubt. I think it’s no coincidence that God had me marry into the Joy family, what a name to marry into! Most of my life I was never a morning person, until I was forced into being an early-bird in becoming a Mom. My sister will be the first to tell you that I wasn’t always a joy to be around. She would often get growled at and things thrown at her if she was being too loud and happy in the morning. Maybe it’s just me, but have you ever found yourself irritated by someone that is seemingly happy and overjoyed when you are not in that same place? Happiness is a natural emotion that comes with satisfaction and pleasure. Joy on the other hand, is not natural. It’s not easily obtained until you begin to understand the reason for it. The discipline of Joy is a practice, it’s a mark on the calendar, and its a daily choice.

Joy that seems impossible, is joy that will yield strength.

“Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

When the Israelites had finally started to settle in Jerusalem after being held captive by the King of Babylon, their leaders Nehemiah and Ezra gathered them all and spoke out the law of Moses. Having never heard the laws before, the Israelites began to weep. As the words were spoken to them they grieved because they knew that keeping the law would be impossible. Can you imagine tens, of thousands of people weeping?? What the didn’t understand was that “with God all things are possible”. Nehemiah looked around and said to them all,

“This is day is holy to the Lord, do not mourn or weep. Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve,for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:9-11

Joy comes when we see impossibility or when we are faced with discouragement but then understand the faithfulness of the Lord. Joy comes when we understand that even though the struggle may be clear as day, God is with us and has already gone before us through those trials. Joy is knowing that God takes the ugly and turns it into something beautiful and valuable. Some of us have been shaped to believe that we are worthless, we’ve been lied to, or maybe we’ve been hurt. Some of us inflict those things on ourselves. Joy comes when we take our eyes off ourselves and our shortcomings, and focus our gaze on what great work God has done, is doing and will do in us.

Joy is a discipline that is nudged by understanding.

 “The point at which you celebrate is the point at which you understand.” -Bill Johnson, on the Discipline of Joy.

“Then the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made know to them.” Nehemiah 8: 12

The Israelites had no connection of joy and the law before they understood that God’s grace would enable them to live holy lives. God’s grace enables us to be joyful in impossible situations. Joy is possible in our pain. It is possible to trade sorrow for laughter, because with God all things are possible.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

Joy is one of the keys God has handed us to the treasure box of strength, health, fullness, and freedom. Imagine the agony that came as Jesus prepared for torture, as the Romans  and his own people, set out to crucify Him. Looking at scriptures, Jesus was in such turmoil that he sweat drops of blood. What was it that held his focus so that he persevered through it all? It was the joy that came in knowing that his actions would provide freedom for us. That’s how deep his love for us went, he didn’t just muscle through sacrifice. He endured by the joy set before him. He intentionally put himself in the path of death in order to for his joy (us) to receive eternal life. Like Jesus’ eyes were fixed on us through his trial, let’s fix our eyes on the redemption and fullness found in him.

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the JOY set before him he endured the cross.” Hebrews 12:2

This understanding of joy in the impossible, changes everything. Goodness, I know for some of us simply cutting out sugar or losing excess weight seems impossible. Maybe it’s a relationship that has two opposing views on faith. Or maybe it’s a loss of identity and purpose. Maybe our eyes are so fixed on our trial that it leads us into deep, dark, depression that seems impossible to come out of. Let me tell you friends, this is not the end. It’s time to stop waking up to another day of just getting by. Jesus has made a way for us to come out of this not only just getting by, but with GREAT JOY. Joy is possible in EVERYTHING you do.  Schedule joy into your day, plan to celebrate what God has done, is doing and will do through you. There is great reason for joy if you begin to understand the reason. The discipline is yours to take on, will you choose joy today?

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Keep moving forward »»

Bri

Note: It’s amazing how God strings together themes that eventually are so difficult to ignore that I end up writing about them here. Through sermons, podcasts, friends, prayer and song, God uses any and every source to speak to my heart! Now I don’t share everything that he shows me but what I do share, I hope that it reaches out to you in a way that is life changing, joy producing and inspires you to understand who you are by knowing whose you are. The fullness that comes with knowing who God says we are changes the way we see not only ourselves, but the world around us. Turn this into a conversation by liking, commenting and sharing on our Facebook page: The Joyfully Fit Tribe.

XOXO!

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You Need a Vacation

It had been nearly 5 years since we had been able to do this. For once, I was not pregnant or breastfeeding and could fly away from my little ducklings for a few days with my husband.

Every time I was stressed out, burned out, and overly exhausted I would say, I can’t wait to be on vacation. The idea of rest motivated me through all the delightful happenings of pregnancy and post-baby.

IMG_8782What I didn’t like, was my husbands response to my yearnings: Vacation will not fix your problems. …I thought for sure it would. I kicked every inkling of knowing he was right straight out the back door of my mind.

“I’m done”, is typically a statement that is followed by: “I need to get out!” I am going to share what God has done in my heart since that vacation; When I get to the point where I feel like there is a circus of wild monkeys in my brain and I need to get out…I actually need to get in.

Some of us work until we are completely stressed out of our minds. To the point where stress is a normal part of our life and we don’t know how we’d operate without it. A constant high of cortisol (stress-hormone) for an extended period of time, can actually result in a constant level of it and medication might be deemed necessary.

I had in my mind, that 3 days and 3 nights spent kid-free, at a small beach town in Rhode Island, was going to be my cure. Cure of all the pain and stress from raising little ones and working outside the home. It was indeed relaxing, peaceful, and added some salve to our relationship, I kept asking myself, how can I feel like I’m on vacation when I’m back to reality? 

The reason why we all love vacation is because there is little to no stress. We come down from our busy lives and remember to play, be flexible and read a book that is not for the sake of learning or downloading more information to our overloaded minds.

Coming back home from our sweet time away, I pulled for those vacation-vibes to stretch into our life back home. I was holding onto with all the strength I could, and then God showed me over the span of a couple months that that was exactly my problem. I was trying to use my own strength and will power to earn and to live in rest.

For years I thought that I needed a vacation. The thought that “getting out” could resolve my uncontrollable situation at home blinded me from what I really needed. My heart was being clouded out by stress. It was being pulled by a desire to be free, which I thought looked like vacation. When, what I really needed for that freedom, was Jesus.

How can I feel like I’m on vacation when I’m back to reality? 

Why do I want to be on vacation all the time? It’s because I don’t want to feel stress. The feeling of needing to “get out”, runs us into a wall that we end up coming back and running into again. When we feel like we need to get out, we need to use that as a reminder to “get in”. Get into the heart of the matter, get into the conflict of our soul with the redeemer of our soul.

“And they remembered that God was their rock, And the Most High God their Redeemer.” Psalm 78:35

It wasn’t easy, beginning the practice of stillness. But, if you pull anything away from this blog, I hope that it is to learn to be still. That is where true strength and resilience to emotional-stress is found. Finding resolve, losing weight, eating clean, restoring relationships, finding joy and peace…doesn’t start after vacation. It begins by a renewing of our mind, remembering God’s promises, release of control, and a faithful leap of trust in God.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2

Our minds mold to what ever patterns we feed them. If the pattern is business and constantly going, or doing things, our minds will hold to that pattern and it will take serious discipline to find strength, joy and peace. Just like I strived for a vacation, so to fix my wounds and make me happier, I now strive for stillness every single day. This is a testimony of freedom, peace, joy and strength. I once was lost in the chaos of business. Now I’m completely found in my daily meeting with Jesus. The verse below is the key that God gives us to unlocking peace and strength to muster every day,

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” Isaiah 40:29-31

What keeps me going is a daily vacation with the Lord y’all. It looks like finding time in your day to sit, think about what you are thinking about and invite Him in to be with you and your thoughts.

The rest of that verse above is powerful and hits me like a rock,

“…but you would have none of it.”

Say we have our minds set on having quiet time. The next thing you know, we are cleaning the kitchen, driving around doing errands, and catching up with old friends over Snap Chat. I am totally guilty of being a fiddler. It’s like my mind decides that there are more important things to take care of first. Our minds are renewed when stillness becomes a priority. 

In the middle of the months God was teaching me to prioritize stillness, my friend lovingly dropped a blessing-bomb. She told me that while she was refurbishing some old porch furniture, God spoke to her heart ever-so-clearly saying, Give these to Bri. Create a space for her to call sacred. Create a space for her to sit with me. My dear friend told me this and in days to follow, she brushed our old porch with a coat of fresh paint. She set-up two cushioned-chairs and planted blooming flowers all around. She pulled up weeds in-between the cracks of brick leading up to our porch. And with my eyes, clear-as-day I saw God confirming that daily stillness is an essential piece to living a fruitful, resilient, and stress-free life.

Friends, this is how I know God is doing a deep work not only in me, but in you too. God moved my dear friend to create a sacred space, in the middle of this pursuit of stillness. I can confidently share with you that you have a choice just like I did. You can work all your busy days to rest, or you can work out of that rest. The fruit comes when we prioritize stillness and mediating with God. From that obedience, we produce love, joy, patience, peace, self-control, kindness, goodness and gentleness.

Practice stillness

Stillness is hard, it’s uncomfortable and can be uneasy, especially when it comes to letting thoughts settle in that you’d rather much ignore. IMG_0817

Stillness is important because it’s when our trust muscles get the pump they need to beat out worry, shame, guilt, stress, fear, depression and all of the things that are a result of weak trust muscles.

While you sit, you’ll be tempted to busy your hands, to read scripture, to hold onto thoughts that crowd your mind. Acknowledge thoughts that come in your mind, but then also acknowledge that God is seeing those thoughts and is with you as you let them float by. I encourage you to sit still even when you feel like you’ve been sitting long enough and you have to get chores done, sit there 5 minutes longer and focus on being with God right there and then. Breathe in, God here I am, Breathe out, to be with you. Breathe in, God here I am, Breathe out, to start anew.

God is doing a great work. I know He’s moving me and you to do something deeper with ourselves. To go beyond ourselves and find strength in our chaotic, stressful, and mind-cluttered days. God’s deep work is manifested through us when our hearts have learned to simply be unswervingly with him in the practice of daily stillness. In our meditations with the Lord we become wonder-women; able to tackle whatever is in our day because we know the He has gone before us and is with us.

“You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:1-5

Fit for Freedom

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

If I were to give you one word explaining the reason why I blog, without a doubt it would be: freedom. It is and always has been the root of my writing.  This is because I’m so over expectations. Expectations hold us to the idea that if anything goes the opposite way of which we foresee, we get angry, sad, depressed, and anxious.

It’s funny, when I first started dating-to-marry (some call this courting), I expected flowers, romance, and lots of affirmation. When I didn’t get this, wow was I upset! I literally thought that he didn’t love me because he was not filling my expectations. There were a few times that I wondered if this would be his last fighting chance. Phew. I sure had some knots of worry and distrust to work out of my heart.

Eventually this guy (who is now my husband), ended up proposing which definitely proved how serious he was about me. All this to say, setting expectations can and will hold us in a type of prison. I want to tell you what freedom looks like and what it looks like to break out of expectations. I want you to experience freedom because with it comes great joy and perseverance.

How many of us hold expectations on our bodies? Much of what that relays is guilt, sadness, and an endless circuit on a hamster wheel. Why do we have such a hard time being unhappy with our appearances? We feel the need to work so hard to fix how we look or how we operate but friends this needs to be an INSIDE-OUT approach. Whether you are in the slumps about your weight and extra skin, or you are disabled in some way, shape or form, it starts with a transformation of your mind and soul! We like to fix our problems with extreme workout programs or diets. I’m here to tell you that those don’t last unless the fixing begins on the inside. Often times when the inside is healthy, the outside will reflect it in health and attitude.

“Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Matthew 23:26

What happens before a resurrection of life? Grieving! We need to grieve the loss of our expectations. Do not feel silly about doing this, grieving is an essential piece to losing. Be open to those who can help you heal not simply make you feel better during this time. You may feel incapable of much, but let me tell you sister, when we feed to those thoughts of incompetence and not to the thoughts of God, we hold ourselves back from a great work. Meditate on Isaiah 55:8 “”For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” 

We need to understand that we are called to something greater than ourselves. It took time for me to get over myself. It was not a flip of a switch because a rewiring of my brain needed to take place. Yes, my midsection might look like silly putty when I stretch it down to the floor, but I do not get hung up about it. No, I absolutely refuse to now because something changed in my heart. God revealed something big. I’m talking a turning point in my relationship with my body AND God himself. I’m talking fireworks of freedom y’all. You thought Independence day was the greatest mark of freedom in humanity, but I’m telling you it’s the day that you decide to go independent of Great Britain–or great expectation and run towards the Lord to discover His perfect plan for your body. His ways are higher than our ways!

Gosh, the world leaves such an imprint on our hearts when it comes to what we think we should look like or how our bodies should work. And in turn, how we understand relationships to work with our friends and spouses. The day that I turned to Jesus to be the decider of my fate, JOY entered in. Perseverance and peace followed close by. I wish I could light up your souls and show you how God broke the chains of expectation and released me to absolute freedom in how I live, breathe, move, eat, workout, interact with others, be a mom and a wife! God’s thoughts for us are so much better than our own. The only expectation that we should have, is on God. We expect him to do what He says in scriptures, because that is what He has promised: to be our healer, our guide, shelter, comfort, strength, redeemer and Savior. God ain’t no promise-breaker sister. Let Him in to your health and fitness journey, let Him into your lives! Then you will be FIT: sound physically and mentally: HEALTHY. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Friends, fitness is just a result of the work God is doing on your inside.

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5 

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The main thing that resulted in Joy was making the daily choice to love others really well. It seems so simple of a statement, but have you ever tried coaching 20 middle school girls?? A couple years ago I was coming out of a rough season in my life. Postpartum-anxiety hit me like a mallet as well as some lovely intestinal disruptions. I’d love to go into the story of how I got there, but God led me from social-anxiety to confidently coaching middle school  soccer in a matter of months. If any of you have social-anxiety, you can probably relate to how I felt speaking and leading in front of a bunch of little talking monkeys. The difference came when I prayed: Lord, I pray that everyone I come in contact today would feel loved and valued. This prayer set my mind right–my focus came off of me and how I was performing, to how can I love those girls and make them feel valued the most? My suffering turned to joy, the minute I turned my expectations over to God.

“Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:4

I see it everywhere in the Bible and in the world around us: there is great joy when we branch out and focus on helping other people. If you’re not a people-person, I have a feeling that God will work out something great in your life and grow you by loving others. There’s an awesome man in the Bible named Paul who God had called to reach out to the Thessalonians. He says, “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.” 1 Thessalonians 2:19

Once our life becomes about something greater than ourselves, expectations crumble with depression, anxiety, ungratefulness, and self-loathing. Once our life becomes about something greater than ourselves, the result is joy and perseverance through the hard stuff.

If there’s a collar of expecation around your neck and doubt has you leashed to it, I challenge you to take a giant step of faith by grieving over the loss of it and finding what joy God brings as your redeemer.

With freedom, comes fruit. We’ll be diving into the topic of fruitfulness in next week’s blog, so stay tuned!

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

 

Peace and Joy!

Bri

 

Cease Striving

IMG_0376The majority of us either go one of two directions when it comes to taking care of our bodies:

We can go the way of should-ing ourselves: I should start eating less sugar! I should lose 10lbs! I should workout twice a day! Yet,with all of these thoughts we do nothing, become complacent, and maybe neglect our bodies.

Or,  we start a chase after the “perfect body”. This often times results in yo-yo’ing, where we go back and forth, starting new workout programs and diets and stopping them, just to begin another one 2 months later.

Last week we focused on putting those two mindsets to the side. Together, we are practicing a new perspective. One where we move and fuel our bodies from a place of CONFIDENCE because we know that we are already loved and valued by God, no matter what the heck we are doing.

“I give glory to God, simply by being myself.” Brennan Manning, Abbas Child.

Now, in order to develop and maintain this awareness that we can do everything in this God-confidence, one necessary thing needs to happen… we need to get alone with God.

It is in the quietness that we can turn from all the negative self-talk and fears to instead sink into the truth of what He says about us–that we are loved, redeemed, called, and are His daughters. The assurance that we are God’s comes in the stillness. Taking the time to be present with God is essential to being renewed in our minds. It is the key to wellness because it is the starting place to work towards a healthy body, spirit and soul.

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

IMG_4711There is something so sweet about children–unless they are drawing all over your walls with permanent marker or coating their face in your $30 lip stick. Even then, there is something to learn.

Children are not stressed, busy, fearful of their looks being sub-par, or down on themselves for gaining a little weight…Oh to be young again!

When I was a child, my parents had a giant painting, hanging up on our living room wall. It was a picture of Jesus with little lambs and children surrounding him. They were sitting under a tree, in brilliantly green grass. I would look at this picture as a child, and feel the warmth that Jesus gave those little ones just beaming off of their faces.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Psalm 34:4-5

As I throw back some chocolate chips with tears in my eyes, I feel the magnetic force-field of God’s love drawing me into that picture. Sisters, that is exactly where He want’s us. Sitting next to Him, feeling His gaze of love and His arms of peace around us. How sad it must be for Him to see His daughters disappointed in their bodies, focused on things so mortal instead of focusing on the eternal gifts that He’s given us. He longs to draw us into His sanctuary of green grass. He says, Just be with me. You’ve done enough stressing and chasing, it is time that you come to me like a child. 

Young children are completely dependent on their parents. They have no lack of trust and no fear of going hungry, homeless or lonely. They are wired for adventure, and with no care of what others are thinking, they dive into whatever nutty-adventure or kooky-dance their mommy might be pulling them into.

I desperately need to go back to that. Not to where I’m acting like a child, but trusting and believing like one. With all the inner turmoil that gets piled up on my soul through the struggles of life, I stress. I easily will blow little things way out of proportion and exclaim “I’m so done!” Oh you guys, I’m super fun too, like when I analyze myself for what I’m doing wrong because every day seems like a whirlwind that I can’t slow down. The answer is in these words from God:

“Be still [cease striving], and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

My quiet time with Jesus has been so sweet. It used to be something that I “should” be doing, but now it’s something that I need to do. I’ll remember to do it during the day, and it perks me up. Last week, I literally found myself smiling once I remembered to sit myself down for Jesus-time. Just to sit and think about what I’m thinking about, say hello to God, and wait for Him to speak to my heart completely changes the approach I have on my day. Those little children who were with Jesus, were just that. They were with Him. They weren’t scrambling through scripture, as they memorize and study it. They weren’t fiddling in the kitchen, making sure there were no crumbs on the counters. They weren’t sleeping on the the 3rd round of the Snooze button. They didn’t even put a pot of coffee on.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures…” Psalm 23:2IMG_0358

One thing I like about children is that they’re not in a hurry. I am positive that I could keep my boys at the playground all day and the only thing they would ask to go do, would be to go eat.

With the average attention span sinking down to 8 seconds, it is time that we learn how to be bored again. A lot of us are uncomfortable with the thought of a quiet moment–now we have cellphones to distract us from those. Even in our quiet times with God, we might feel rushed to study the scriptures and read as much as we can in a sitting–but that can just become another form of busy.

“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” John 5:39

Jesus knew that many of the leaders in his day were well versed in the Holy Scriptures. Although, Jesus told them that they were missing out on life because they didn’t actually come to him.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

If you are burdened by screaming babies, broken relationships, the inability to lose weight, a lack of belonging…the key to restoration is found in being with Christ. He formed you beautifully. He redeemed you, plugging your shame in for value. He has called you, and you will only find that calling when you cease the striving, breathe deep and simply sit with Him.

“But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you,…
    he who formed you…
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

I encourage you today to not go back to sleep just yet. I encourage you to make your first waking moments totally intentional. Go out on your porch, sit in your car, or at your table and just be. Pretend for a minute, that you are a child and simply show up to this little patch of fresh green grass that God has for you to lie down in. Allow yourself to not do anything but just be there. Think about your thoughts, let them float on by. Take some cooling breaths. Inhale, “God, here I am” and exhale, “to start again“.  (Thanks Alisa Keeton for that cue!) If you need more of a visual–go outside and find some real grass! I promise, the more you do this, the more your soul will be restored my friends.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” Psalm 23: 1-3

 

Rest up,

Bri

XOXO