And so the Adventure Begins

When I was a little girl, I aspired to be just about everything under the sun. Which, in a way, is what happened. In 2012, I graduated with a duel degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice with the intentions to go to law school, but God had another plan. For the past 4 years, I’ve been a preschool teacher, waitress, lacrosse official, and nanny while raising a beautiful little girl. As crazy as it sounds, all at the same time.

In October of 2015, I decided I needed to do something about my health. I hired a personal trainer, and I haven’t looked back. I changed my horrible eating habits and made working out a priority. Even with four jobs, I didn’t lose sight of my fitness goals. Read more about why I got started here.

While in pursuit of my personal goals, I found my new love: fitness. My transformation gave me the inspiration to help others. Which is when I began playing with the idea of becoming a personal trainer. In June, I decided to chase my dreams. I began working with clients to test the waters, and then in August, I began studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer. As of Monday, it’s official: I’m certified!

Over the past 6 months, I have worked with 14 clients to gain experience in this field and begin inspiring others while studying. Now that I’m certified, I can’t wait to help many more. I hope to use my blog as a means of inspiration and motivation along the way.

I’ve had a lot of jobs, all of which have been rewarding in their own way. However, pursuing my dreams of a career in personal training will be my biggest adventure and greatest reward. My passion for fitness has lit a fire under me, and I can’t wait to see where God leads me.

Which brings me to SimplyFit: my take on personal training. I have big dreams for this company, and I look forward to sharing more information with you soon.

I want to thank my family for being my biggest support system. My poor husband had to talk me off the ledge a few times when studying had me overwhelmed. I also want to thank all of my clients for believing in me and trusting me enough to hire me as their personal trainer. A big thanks to my own personal trainer who has been a huge role model and an amazing friend. Each of you have played a huge role in my success, and for that I will always be thankful.

Check out the SimplyFit website here.

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Live Like Laurie

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Friday made me realize how selfish I am. While I go about my day looking for things to complain about, there are people with greater struggles but are more thankful for their blessings.

On Friday, we celebrated the life of Laurie Pufpaff, a life lived to the fullest extent possible. For the past ten years, she battled with cancer, but she lived with grace. She didn’t let her diagnosis hold her back. It never kept her from living. If anything, it gave her more of a reason to do the things she loved.

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Her battle spoke volumes to so many people. She showed true faith in not questioning God in such trying times. She is an example of a true believer. She never gave up on God, and I believe he did the same for her. It’s easy to thank God in good times, but it takes strength to be thankful during the hard times.

Now don’t be mistaken, she didn’t lose her fight to cancer; she won by the way she lived her life. Cancer didn’t stand a chance against this fighter. She continued to be a wife, a mother, a friend, and an educator. Her presence could light up any room.

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I met Laurie in high school, and she became Mama Puf to me and eventually the whole lacrosse team. She was our team’s biggest fan. She was always positive and encouraging, even if we weren’t very good. I went to a game a few years back, and she was the first person I ran into. Years after her kids had graduated, she was still cheering the team on. That’s who she was.

I never heard her complain. Even when she was hurting, she continued to wear a smile, and that smile is how she will be remembered. The amount of love at her funeral on Friday illuminated her character, and it provided evidence that she touched every life she encountered.

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That’s how I want to be remembered. I want to be more like Laurie. I want to love unconditionally, live fully, and trust God always. I fall short in all of those areas, but Friday was a reminder of what a great role model Laurie was. She was everything I hope to be. I am already so far behind, but if I can be half the women she was, that’s something I can be proud of.

Now I challenge you. I challenge you to live more like Laurie. Be the light for others, even in the midst of your own battles. Show the world that no matter what comes your way, your God is greater and so is your strength!

Rest in peace to one of the greatest angels this world has ever known.

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Fall In Love With You

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In 2009, Jonny Diaz released his song, “More Beautiful You”. From my first time hearing it to this very day, it touches my heart. It says what I’ve needed to hear more often than I’d like to admit. It reminds me that society tells me I need to look a certain way to fit in, but God says otherwise.

I’ve always been seen as a person full of confidence, but when I was growing up, it was all a show. Behind closed doors, I would look at myself in the mirror and wish I could be someone else. I never thought I was pretty enough when I compared myself to other girls. As hard as I would try, I couldn’t measure up, at least in my own eyes.

Fast forward 10 years, I am in love with the way I look more than ever, even with my flaws. Not because I think I look like a super model, but because I’ve accepted myself for who I am and the way God made me. My makeup skills are still limited to eyeliner and mascara. I’m typically in workout clothes, and I don’t care if my hair is in a bun. I am proud of who I am, and even on my worst days, I can find beauty inside myself.

I used to value my self-worth according to what others thought about me until I truly gave my life to Christ. He showed me that the only opinion that matters is his, and as long as I’m living for him, the opinions of others have faded in my mind. The artificial confidence I used to carry has become a reality.

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As women of Christ, we have to stop judging others and start lifting each other up. Remember: God created us in his image, and he makes no mistakes. He loves us for who we are, imperfections included. I’m not saying we should throw our makeup away and start wearing rags; I believe we need to take a step back and remember our worth. It’s not found in others; it’s found in our Heavenly Father. It’s time to fall in love with ourselves and lift others up to do the same. At the end of the day, there can never be a more beautiful you.

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139:14

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One Nation Under God

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After recent events in the news, I feel compelled to share my opinion. I try to stay out of controversial topics like this because the only people with the full story are the ones who were there. I don’t know who was right or wrong, and at this point, it doesn’t even matter. What matters is the fact that we’re letting Satan win. We are allowing violence to breed more violence. When do we decide as a people to take a stand and end the unjustified bloodshed?

My heart goes out to the families that have lost loved ones, of all races. Until we decide, collectively, that all lives matter, we will never be able to fix the problem.

A life should not have been lost at a routine traffic stop. The Dallas shooting was an act of Satan utilizing someone who is lost and full of hatred. But God has a plan. He will take this tragedy and transform it into something beautiful. It won’t happen overnight, and it’s going to take the unification of all races to see God’s plan unfold.

I continue to pray for this country. We are broken, and we must turn to God to repair the damage. I respect everyone’s opinion, but blaming each other is a not a solution. We have to be the change we want to see in this world. We have to raise our children in love, not fear. We must band together as one nation under God.

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The Father I Never Had

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After writing a post about how amazing my mom is for Mother’s day, I wanted to share how equally amazing my father is and the impact he’s had on my life.

The first time I met Bill, I thought “what a strange guy”. He told the same jokes several times within one weekend and was just all-around goofy. Fast forward 12 years, and you guessed it, he’s still that same, goofy guy that tells his classic one-liners: “A horse walks into a bar and bellies up to the bartender. The bartender says, ‘Hey Bub, what’s with the long face?'”

This guy, along with his entire family, took me in as if I was their own. They treated me like I had been in their family since birth. He pushed me to be better, make good grades, stick with sports, and taught me that for every action there is a reaction. For the first time in my life, I had a father figure.

To this day, he still tells me, “You are where you are in life by the decisions you made 5 and 10 years earlier.” When I made the decision to stay with the Evans’ family, it was one of the hardest choices I have ever made, but because of that choice, I became the woman I am today. They helped raise me into a successful, loving person.

As I let my guard down to my new family, I realized that while no family is perfect, they loved perfectly. They welcomed me in with open arms, and I’ve never looked back. My dad may be a big jokester, but he’s serious when it comes to his family’s safety and wellbeing.

To the man who taught me how to drive a car while nervously gripping the passenger door handle, picked me and my sister up from volleyball practice, drove us on dates (while being extra awkward and corny), helped me move into my college dorm (and every house after that), walked me down the aisle on my wedding day, I thank you. I thank you for stepping up when my biological father didn’t.

I love the relationship you have with my daughter, your granddaughter. She’s just as lucky as I am to have you. I thank you for showing me how a man is supposed to treat a lady by loving my mom, Holly. You guys were my first example, and I looked to your relationship to help me along the way in mine. I think I did alright!

Not just on Father’s Day, but everyday, know you are appreciated. You have taught me many life lessons. You always remind me to not take life too seriously, and you know how to make me smile even when I’d rather not. You are the best, and I can’t thank you enough for being the dad I never had. Love you, Pops!

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

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It’s true what they say – a picture’s worth a thousand words. It freezes a moment in time. It transforms a memory into a tangible object that can be shared with others. It serves as a reminder of the past. It provides a point of reference to show how people have changed. However, there is something far greater than a picture, and that’s living in the moment.

The more time we spend attempting to capture the perfect photo, the more time we take away from absorbing qualities of life that can’t be captured through a lens. While at the beach this past week, I watched Evan and Ella wade into the waves. Ella had the time of her life, and both her and Evan were wearing the biggest smiles. Ella’s laugh filled the beach as the sun glistened on her face. While a picture could have captured their smile, it wouldn’t have captured the overwhelming feeling of their love, the comforting smell of the ocean salt, or how the storms parted a few hours beforehand to present a perfect, sunny day.

Before we came to the beach, I had an extensive list of all of the staged photos we would take, but once we arrived, I put the camera away and enjoyed life. I captured every moment, this time as a memory rather than on a memory card. I soaked in every moment in both my mind and in my heart. I do not have a thousand new photos to upload, but I have a plethora of new memories that I can share with others.

Our grandparents tell great stories without photos to remind them. We then have the opportunity to take those stories and envision what they saw and how they felt. It leaves room for imagination and questions. We live in a society so focused on capturing every memory that we are letting too many pass by. Let’s live more in the moment instead of in the picture.

A picture might be worth a thousand words but the memories made are priceless.

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To the Man in Blue

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When I saw the flashing lights in my rear view mirror, my heart sank as I’m sure everyone’s does when they’re getting pulled over. “Oh great. Just what I needed today” I thought. My emotions were on a roller coaster this week with the school year coming to an end. I didn’t think it would hit me this hard, but the thought of leaving my current preschool sunk in as I cleaned out my classroom earlier that day.

The officer came to my window and was very polite, but I couldn’t help but get upset. Partly because I knew I would be getting a ticket, but also because I’d hit a point of too many emotions at once. I don’t want to say goodbye to my friends, school, and most importantly, my students.

Officer Singleton asked me if I was okay, which made it worse. I wanted him to think I was okay, I just couldn’t do it convincingly. He took my license and registration and told me he’d be right back. A million thoughts raced through my mind during the few short minutes he was sitting in his patrol car, which felt like hours. When he returned, he told me I would be receiving a warning which led to me bursting into tears.

Why did he give me a warning? I didn’t deserve it anymore than the next person, but he gave me one anyways. He told me I shouldn’t be upset because after all, the Lord woke me up this morning. Wow! He was right. He added that tomorrow is either going to be better than today or worse, but I at least had a 50/50 shot.

He might have pulled me over to slow me down on the road, but God was telling me to slow down on life. I started out my week by worrying about my to do list. I was in such a rush that I was forgetting to slow down and enjoy my last week at the preschool.

Thank you, Officer Singleton. You didn’t have to say what you did or let me off with a warning, but you decided to make a positive difference in someone’s life. You may never know the impact you had on me, but you changed my perspective, allowing me to make the most of this week of goodbyes.

As an officer, I don’t think you get enough credit for all of the behind the scenes work you do. Not only do you wake up every day and put your life on the line to protect others, but you’re passionate about your job and the people you come in contact with. When you asked if I was okay, it was evident that you truly cared. I wont forget the kindness you showed and the wisdom you provided. To the Man in Blue, I thank you.

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This Isn’t Me

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After a phone call with my mom, I decided to share a struggle that many teens, as well as adults, face on a daily basis. When I was in high school, I never thought I was pretty, tall, skinny, or smart enough. I was never enough for anyone. My mom asked me today if I was eating enough because of a photo I posted. She said I looked too thin. At first, I was upset that she would even ask, but then I remembered who I used to be.

I believed all of my failed relationships were because of the way I looked. All of my friends were thin and gorgeous, and I felt like I could never compare. High school was a rough time for me, and in this time of figuring out who I was, I developed an eating disorder.

It started with my goal to lose weight. This quickly spiraled out of control. While I was losing weight, I was also losing who I was. I changed completely. I started to fish for the next complement, and after a while, losing a few pounds wasn’t enough. I began making a trip to the bathroom after every meal to purge the food I had eaten. Depriving my body of food gave me the sensation of control over my appearance.

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My sister quickly caught on and knew I wasn’t being myself. She tried talking to me about it, but I made excuses and wanted nothing to do with her advice. Then, our mother got involved. When a lady from Long Island tells you to do something, she means business. She provided me with a reality check that was long overdue.

She reminded me that God made me a beautiful, young woman and that searching for temporary praise from others wasn’t a fix for my underlying issues. She helped me address my past so that I could overcome my desire to become someone I wasn’t and accept who I already was. She reminded me that I was only 17 and had my whole life ahead of me.

In my attempts to lose weight, I was exercising too much and not eating nearly enough. I was constantly sick and at an all-time low. I can say without a doubt I will never go back to my old ways. It was never worth it, and it was only a temporary fix. After having Ella, the appearance of my stomach started to bother me. However, this time it was different. I wanted to make a change, but a positive one. I wanted to go about losing weight the right way, the healthy way.

I have since started a flex diet, and I have started working out again. I’ve lost inches in my waist and weight. (See results here.) I’ve honestly never felt this good, even when I was at my skinniest in high school. I have energy and have started to gain muscle.

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Reflecting on my past, I understand my mom’s concern because she was with me in my darkest days. While she knows I am not that same person, it’s her nature to worry about me. I can’t blame her. She was slowly watching me take my life until she put her foot down and wouldn’t allow it to progress any further. She saved me, and she doesn’t want to see me go down that road again.

Over the years, I’ve learned to love myself and the skin I’m in. I can have control over my appearance but in a positive way. My disorder was simply a cover for much deeper issues from my past. I was seeking help in all of the wrong ways. I have since dealt with those issues and its helped shape who I am today. I have confronted my past and allowed my future to be brighter than ever.

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In the United States alone, 20 million woman will develop an eating disorder at some point in their lives. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, there is help. If talking isn’t working, get other loved ones involved. Talk to them about getting the help of a professional and encourage healthy alternative methods of weight loss. Most importantly, remind them that they are beautiful even when they can’t see it.

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What’s Your Golden Calf?

May we be consumed with the creator of all things

rather than with things created 

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While reading through Exodus, God began tugging on my heart. It was Exodus 32 to be exact. Here, we learn about the golden calf that the Israelites asked Aaron to build.

“When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, ‘Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’” Exodus 32:1

God called Moses to climb the mountain to receive instructions for the way the Israelites were to live. God had already performed numerous miracles that helped lead the Israelites out of Egypt, but they became impatient. They quickly lost their faith in God and began to worship worldly idles, in the form of a golden calf.

It’s easy to read these words and wonder how they could defy God, even after everything he did for them. I would have never done that! But is that a fair statement? How often have I grown impatient with God’s plan? I have questioned him far too many times.

The Bible goes on to say that God was so enraged with the Israelites that he was ready to destroy them all, but Moses reminded God of the promises he made to their ancestors. However, the Israelites did not go unpunished. When we try to sculpt God’s plan for our lives instead of letting his plan be fulfilled, there is a price to pay; this often leads to a more difficult path than he anticipated. In fact, we prolong God’s original plan. We can avoid wasted time by keeping our focus on God and remembering he is in control. We tend to forget that everything is made perfect in God’s timing, not our own.

While waiting for God’s plan to unfold, I find myself looking to other things of this world. I try to fix my problems on my own instead of giving them to God. I intervene when all I need is to have faith in God’s word. Does that mean waiting years? Possibly! God doesn’t give us a time frame. He simply asks us to trust his word and know in our hearts that he is our savior.

It’s easy to become impatient, but we must not lose focus for God’s plan is greater than anything we could ever craft. When we see ourselves slipping away, we must pray that God draws us closer to him and allows us to be strong in the face of temptation. Waiting is one of the hardest things to do, and frankly, I am the worst at it. But the reward of God’s perfect plan is worth it. I have to constantly remind myself of this to keep my mind focused on God.

So, no. Maybe I haven’t built a golden calf, but I have let things of this world take my eyes off of God’s plan. What is the golden calf in your life? Will you continue to allow it in or will you stand against society and break down these false idols?

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The Role You Didn’t Have to Play

With Mother’s Day right around the corner, I wanted to take a minute to share with my readers a little bit about my own mother.

I could write a novel about how amazing my mom is. I could share with you all of the love she shows her family and how involved she stays in our lives. I could share with you how she’s always been a shoulder to cry on and knows exactly what to say and when to say it. I could list for days all of the ways she has impacted my life, but I’d like to share just one thing: my mom wasn’t always “my mom”.

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Holly entered my life when I was in the third grade, and never in a million years could my imagination have predicted the relationship we have today. To give you a little background information, Kylee, her daughter, and I were both new to the elementary school. While Kylee was shy, I was the complete opposite. Holly would go on class field trips, and I would cling to her. She was always kind and didn’t seem to mind me too much.

As the years went on, Kylee became my best friend, so her mom saw a lot of me. I was always at her house and fell in love with her family. Little did I know in just a few short years, that family would become my very own. It’s funny how God places the right people in your life at the right time. In 2005, my life changed dramatically. I was removed from my then family and placed into a group home.

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I hit rock bottom. I felt every emotion under the sun and struggled to understand why these things were happening. Holly didn’t waste a minute to start fighting for me. She went above and beyond, and because of her efforts, I was released into her custody a few months later. Holly and her husband, Bill, did everything required by the courts to get me out of child protective services. Holly wrote me letters while I was there that brought hope back into my life. These letters provided me with encouragement and strength that enabled me to fight through this dark time in my life.

I lived with my adopted family throughout high school. My new family, a family that owed me nothing yet gave me everything, provided me with shelter, food, and most importantly, love. Love that I had so desperately needed. Holly was, and still is, the greatest role model I could have asked for. To this day, she treats me no different than her other two children. She expects more of me than I usually do myself.

From high school athletics to makeup for prom, she was always there. She never let me go without and still to this day won’t. She gave me a childhood when I was ready to throw mine away. She allowed me to find myself even if that meant making mistakes along the way.

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I could never thank this women enough for teaching me how to love and be loved. Because of her continuous efforts, she has helped shape the woman I am today. If I am at least half the mom she didn’t have to be, Ella will have the best life possible. She, without a doubt, is the best mom around.

Love you!

xoxoxo

“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Proverbs 31:29

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