snow day

This past weekend has been a whirlwind, and has proven to be even busier than the last! Thursday-Saturday I had trainings for some coaching through PLACE. This was my second official training, but this time the founder of PLACE came and trained us, so it was a pretty cool weekend. I was asked to lead a 1-on-1 coaching in front of the group on Saturday since I’ve been through this before and have had some experience in the coaching process, which terrified me. I don’t enjoy speaking in front of groups, and most certainly not in front of the person who created the very thing I was going to be talking about, but the Lord is good and it turned out to be a fun time. My favorite thing about being a PLACE coach is getting to hear people’s stories and help them identify unique things they bring to the table through the way God has wired them, and affirm them in those things. If you’ve never taken PLACE, I encourage you to take the assessment, follow through with the class, and after that meet with a coach for your 1-on-1. This assessment covers personality, spiritual gifts, your abilities (which is essentially the environment in which you function best), and your passions with your life experiences. All of these together help to understand how God created you, affirms that you are not just uniquely made but NEEDED, and gives you steps to walk in freedom and pursue the things that make you come alive in order to build up the Lord’s kingdom in the best way possible (and most natural) for you.

Note: If you are interested in this assessment and class, let me know. We’re offering it at our church both at the Loop and Downtown campuses this Spring. Contact me, and I’ll connect you with the class that’s best for you!

Sunday morning we headed out to set up for our Fitness Expo! As you already know, fitness is one of my most favorite things ever, and I absolutely love that I get to teach group classes. We had a fabulous time previewing 15 min snapshots of all the classes we offer, and had tons of door prizes and giveaways. I’m not a performer, but something comes alive in me when I get to inspire people in their fitness goals and health. I just love it! You can see all the photos that Ryan and I snapped in between the classes I taught on Facebook. But here are some highlights of the fun we had…






DSC_0512 - Version 2we are so tough

Yesterday I had an all day meeting for work, following-up everything we discussed on our planning retreat. We assigned to-dos to everyone, and reported back with the information we had found. Let me just say, I am pumped about everything in store for our church in 2014. It’s going to be a great year!

Today we had a “snow day” though I have yet to see any snow. It did sleet, but it’s only about 30 degrees outside, so it’s not sticking. Nevertheless, I am glad work got called off for the day, and I’m seeing it as a gift from the good Lord, providing rest after a packed full weekend. This is the extent of our snow…

P1030101 - Version 2

I’m still in my pajamas (don’t judge), and spent the morning sipping on my coffee and reading. One of my 2014 goals is to read some classic books that I’ve never read completely through – one per month – and I’m almost done with my first one (I read a book over Christmas break too, but I’m not counting that one). It has been so refreshing and so intriguing to read the words of some brilliant minds. So much fun discovering ideas through the lens of someone else’s imagination.

I hope you got to rest today, and are soaking in this chilly weather! I don’t enjoy being cold, but I enjoy even less being hot and humid, which is majority of living in Houston, so I’m not complaining one bit. :)

I’ll leave you with a super awesome video one of our production guys put together for a Fitness Center promo. Check it out!

an only half-crazy weekend

Yesterday was the day of the long-trained, long-dreaded, long-anticipated half-marathon. That race I’ve been (half) training for since we signed up back in May, I think? Yep, that one was yesterday. I’ve stated before that I am not a runner, but I trained for this race because I do love a good challenge, and that’s exactly what I got. :)

My sis and brother-in-law (Lynette & Gary) signed up with us, and came down from their home in Missouri for the weekend to run it. It was a great experience for all, and I’m especially proud of them, as my sister just started running last January 2013 (like, her first mile ever).

I wouldn’t say this race was harder than the Spartan Beast, but it was a different kind of difficult. In the Spartan we had obstacles, which made it harder, but also gave us a break from running. This race was just pure cardio endurance. This was the farthest I (and both my sis and bro-in-law) have ever run at one time without stopping. I finished in 2:12:04, and I’m pretty proud of that time for my first one. Mile 10-12 was definitely the hardest and there was a point where all I could think about was how badly my right hip and left knee and right calf and ankle hurt (I have bad joints). But the cheering crowd was really amazing, and their hilarious signs kept my mind pressing forward (if you have ever cheered on the street for a race like this, know that you are so appreciated and part of the reason some people don’t quit).

Here are some pics of our weekend. Gary and Lynette used to live in Houston, so we hung out with some friends at Cedar Creek on Saturday afternoon. For all the pics, you can look on my Facebook page. Here are just a few highlights…

DSC_0274we almost look like we’re taller than 5ft here

DSC_0264is Lynette getting baby fever again?

DSC_0286 - Version 2(most of) our Downtown Team!

DSC_0288 - Version 2my dear friend, and coworker, Seresa! love this lady.

finishat the finish! excuse the photo… these were taken with the phone. :)

DSC_0302a Pappasito’s celebration

unnamedand a headband that sums up the weekend well

Gary and Lynette left this afternoon, back to Missouri. It was a short visit, but packed with lots of fun and excitement. It was such a fun thing to share this half-marathon first experience with them. They are already talking about doing it again next year (crazies)! I am just so grateful for gifts like this from the Lord. He is so good!

When was the last time you did something that at one point seemed completely impossible? If you can’t remember, I challenge you to change that! It’s never too late to take on something new. Do something fun! Try something crazy. Get off the couch and pull some people up with you. It’s always worth it.

old friends

Last week/weekend was filled with friendships we’ve not seen in far too long. After a full week of work (Ryan and I were both beat), we got to hang out with our friend, Steve, who is in from Australia. This is the second time we were able to see him on his visit, which is so awesome because we haven’t seen him in years (I’ve skyped with Steve a few times with my coworkers as he does team building work using MBTI & Strengths Finder… If you’d like to do some team building for your company or even personal consulting, I highly recommend reaching out to him. He is so good at identifying strengths of your individual team members and helping you understand each other and how your team functions best together.) God has used Steve greatly in both Ryan’s and my life, and it was so good to see him again. We also got to see our friend, Sterling, as we gathered at Gingerman to listen to our old friend, Tom play (I know him as “Tommy” but I will try really hard to refer to him as “Tom”). Ryan and Tom used to be roommates and Steve was our college minister years back (also where we know Sterling from), so it was a pretty surreal thing to reflect on God’s goodness to all of us over the past few years. Side note: we learned that Tom Lynch plays at Gingerman pretty consistently on Thursdays (6-9p). He’s pretty incredible musically, so if you ever want to go chill with some friends and hear some great local music, you should totally go check it out.

1527946_10152210267892223_2033383291_nGood lookin’ crew, eh?

We also have some friends in Houston from Missouri for a mission trip. It’s ironic for me, because the trip they’re on is the very trip my brother-in-law came on like 15 some years ago and met my sister. He ended up moving down here after the trip, and worked with my sis as a youth minister to intercity students. They of course, ended up getting married and eventually moved back to MO. Just kinda funny to now see some high school friends taking the same trip.

Brock and I were in the student worship band at church when I was a senior in high school. He confirmed that I was good at telling everyone what to do (shocker.. it’s a spiritual gift). But he said it was a good thing, so I believe him. :) We got to meet his beautiful girlfriend, and showed them around some parts of Houston on their free-day.


DSC_0237Is it bad that I kind of enjoy taking pics of people when they don’t know what to do? Keeping it awkward.

1513210_10152216077152223_169836619_nAlso saw this little guy as we were leaving. 

It was a lot of fun reconnecting with people and hearing what they’re up to and where they’re headed. God is so good to us, and it’s a great thing to be reminded of how far He has brought us. Gives me hope for where He’s leading us. :)

Today also happens to be my momma’s birthday! She seriously is one of the best people I know. Her love for the Lord is undeniable, and it’s clear that her one desire is to see more of God, and for as many people as she knows to see Him too. She also has a really dry sense of humor, and really enjoys giving people (especially my dad) a hard time. I TP’d my first house with my mother, and learned how to play pranks on people from her (sorry for outing you, mom). She loves people deeply, and cares for everyone she meets. Growing up, we always had people I’d never met before at our house for holidays just because they didn’t have anywhere else to go. She taught me how to study God’s word and showed me what it looks like to fall in love with Him through it. She is one of the most selfless and giving people I’ve ever known. I still look up to her and ask her questions about this scripture or that, knowing that the wisdom she has been gifted with has one goal: to magnify Christ. She’s lived some life for sure, and her life is a living testimony of God’s redemption and grace to us. Ask anyone who’s ever met her, and I can almost guarantee they’ll say the same. I’m so thankful for her life, and that God saw it fit for her to be my mom!

She’s also a really great cook, and a fabulous hair-dresser (yep, she cuts my hair), but that goes without saying. Oh, and she rocks the salt and pepper hair better than anyone I know.


I hope that you have someone (or someones) in your life that inspires you to fervently pursue the things of the Lord. I hope that you don’t take yourself too seriously, and allow yourself to do things just for fun! I hope that you are better because of the people God has brought into your life, and I hope that you intentionally thank the Lord for those people and experiences. They are a gift not to be taken for granted! Live well, live full, live in thanksgiving. And be that inspiration to those around you! 

active rest

These past few days have been fairly rainy, on and off between sprinkling and complete downpour. I usually love the rain… it hits a sweet spot with me in time with the Lord many years ago. Rain speaks to me of His faithfulness and nearness in times of deep need to hear His voice. I usually love the rain… except for when it remains 70 degrees outside, meaning rain = feeling like I’m in a sauna. I attempted to go for a long run this morning, and it turned out to be one of the worst in my life. I felt like I was fighting to breathe the whole time. Not fun. That is not the point of this post. Welcome to my rabbit trail.

This week, our team of staff for Houston’s First – Downtown took a 2 day planning retreat with the purpose of praying through and mapping out all of 2014. It was a great time together, and I’m so thankful for the unity we’ve been blessed with as a team. My brain hurt by the end of the retreat, but I simultaneously felt refreshed and energized for what the Lord has planned for our church this year. I absolutely love being outside and observing the Lord’s creation, and woke up early the second day of our retreat to do so. Here are some pics I thought you might enjoy through my lens of His beauty.





P1030086This photo was taken by my boss, Lee. Literally taught him how to turn on the camera and focus the lens, and he snapped this. Super impressed with his newly discovered skillz.

We stayed at Hunt Retreat, which is a retreat center owned by our church and used for ministry purposes & outreach. It used to be a small farm house, and they just recently completely renovated it and built this beautiful retreat. Here are a couple more pics of our time there.



P1030043Quite possibly the best photo I’ve ever taken of anyone.

P1030068This was a lamp made out of an old typewriter. So good.


P1030037Sam taught us a song called “Your Grace Finds Me”. What a beautiful reminder of God’s grace to us regardless of where we find ourselves.

I hope you have a great weekend, and find rest not in just relaxing, but in actively pursuing renewal in Christ. May you be refreshed and restored to praise Him from the depths of your soul.

5 ways to improve your workout

Well, the new year is here! Meaning new beginnings, new goals, new accomplishments, new challenges, new adventures! Do your 2014 goals have anything to do with fitness? If so, I am so excited for you, and would love to join you in the journey! Here are just a few tips I’ve picked up on ways to improve your workout from personal experience and in observation of coworkers and others in the classes I teach.

1) Form. I can’t say enough about this first one. If you’re experiencing pain in your joints, back, shins, feet, neck, there’s a good chance you’re straining your body by working out with improper form. Either that, or you have a pre-existing injury that you should see a doctor about, and be very careful while working out with impact on that particular body part.
I will use a squat as an example, which is probably most common exercise I see performed with bad form. The squat seems simple enough, but I see a lot of injury from improper form, especially toward the end of a workout when individuals start to get tired. If you don’t hear anything else, hear this: never sacrifice safety for feeling strong or awesome. A lot of the time we get pumped up and our pride doesn’t allow us to take a break or stop when we should (I’m a very competitive person – believe me, I understand). When you sacrifice your form for the sake of finishing a workout fast, you’re creating injury to your body that likely won’t show up until days, months, or even years down the road. If you find that you can’t walk at age 40, don’t say I didn’t warn you. :)


The squat in this picture has a couple things wrong with it. First, her knees are way past her toes while squatting. In a squat, your leg should be making a 90 degree angle, with the bottom half of your leg perpendicular to the floor (think knee in line with the ankle). This is hard to achieve when you just start working out, so my advice would be to not try to squat so low when you start. The stronger you get, the lower you’ll be able to go. Very few people can – no – SHOULD squat lower than 90 degrees, depending on build, fitness level, and the condition of your knees.

Tip: workout in front of a mirror as often as you can. Not so that you can stare at how awesome you look, but so that you can ensure that you maintain great form throughout the entire workout.

The second thing that’s wrong with this picture is that it seems her weight is shifted to the front of her foot (which happens when your knees pass your toes, by the way). During all squats, your weight should always fall to your heels. I even tell my participants to wiggle their toes while in a squat so that their weight is sure to be in the heel. We try to naturally shift our weight to our toes because our quads are naturally pretty strong, and we want to compensate for the burn in our glutes and hamstrings. Working out the right way feels awkward at first… it’s ok. Don’t neglect the backside of your body! Every muscle is important, and by evenly exercising every muscle group we will be the strongest and healthiest version of ourselves.

2) Balance. I have to say, girls are generally more accepting of workouts that focus on balance than guys (i.e. pilates, yoga, dance). But no matter how manly you are, balance plays an important part in strength and health of the body. Strength isn’t just about how much iron you can pump in a chest press. Balance helps you to control your muscle mass, giving you the ability to do so much more than someone who has big muscles but no control. Balance also helps stabilize and create core strength. Core means center. The stronger your core is, the stronger your entire body will become.



3) Change It Up. Everyone gets bored of the same ole thing over and over again. This applies to everything in life, not just working out. Well, here’s some news for you: it’s not just your mind that gets bored of a routine workout, it’s your body too. It’s called muscle memory. When you do the same thing over and over, your body gets used to it. This is great for things like sports or learning choreography. It’s amazing that our muscles have memory, and things that were once difficult become second nature (like driving, for instance). But there’s also a downside to that. Have you ever noticed that when your muscles know what to expect in a workout you don’t get sore anymore? Soreness gets drastically reduced as you get stronger, but it should never disappear completely. You’ll notice that doing the same thing over and over gets you results at the beginning, but after a while it seems to not work anymore. So here’s the tip: keep your body guessing! Every once in a while, change up your workout to something you don’t usually do. This is where group exercise classes and personal trainers come in really handy (shameless promo), because your instructor or trainer is doing that thinking work for you! You just show up, and they take it from there. It takes some creativity to think up a new safe and effective workout all the time, so take advantage of those classes or hire a personal trainer and soak in the soreness! :) 



4) Set a Goal. 
We are goal oriented people. Without a purpose or a drive, we fall apart. Same thing with working out. If you don’t have a goal or some kind of drive to keep you going, chances are you’re not going to last long in the gym. For me, working out has become part of my life. It’s not like dieting to where I start with the intention to one day stop. But it didn’t begin that way. The thought of voluntarily sweating seemed crazy to me, and so I had to set some goals in order to stick with it. This is where accountability comes into play, and this is why I love teaching classes so much. To inspire someone else in something that makes you come alive is one of the greatest things ever. I get to help break down fears and lies that people carry with them into class, and watch them become empowered as they make incredible leaps toward health. And no, for me it’s not just about looking and feeling awesome. We get to work hard and explore first hand how intricately God has created us. We get to push beyond limits we’ve formed for ourselves and experience God at our very weakest moments, and then step back and watch Him do His work and pick us up when we have no strength to lift ourselves. We get to serve Him in greater and more vast ways the healthier we are, because we have no physical issues limiting us from His work. Even if you don’t enjoy group classes, find a friend to workout with, and commit to helping and encouraging each other. You will go farther if you’re not alone.

I would encourage you to plan out your workout before you get to the gym. Think about what you want to achieve in today’s workout. What exercises will you do today? Pick out specifics and set reps. Our temptation when working out alone is to workout until it hurts, and then stop. I even do this when I’m by myself if I don’t plan ahead. You go in, you do a few reps, it burns, you think, “Eh, that’s good enough” and move on to the next thing. Don’t do it! Set your reps and finish them, even if you have to take a break or two. Remember what I said about not sacrificing form for finishing fast. Take it slow, complete it, and walk out of the gym with the satisfaction that you gave it your all.

Also, set some long-term goals. Do you like running? Sign up for a race and train for it. I personally don’t enjoy running the most out of everything else, and really can’t understand the runners’ high. But I signed up for a half-marathon in January because I want to challenge myself beyond what I’m naturally good at. You don’t have to sign up for a half-marathon, but challenge yourself in proportion to where you are in your fitness journey, and move forward!


5) Stretch. 
One of the most important parts of a workout is the cool down. When you hit it hard in the gym, be careful to not just finish your last rep and walk away. Take a lap or two around the track, and then stretch. Too many times at the end of a class I’ve watched people get up and start putting their equipment away as soon as I start the stretch. Some people see it as a waste of time (hello America, slow down!). Your body NEEDS this. The more you workout, the tighter your muscles get. Picture a rubber band being stretched tight. If you never release that rubber band, but keep pulling and pulling, it’s eventually going to snap. Same thing with our muscles. If you don’t stretch, you’ll lose range of motion, and you’re practically proclaiming an invitation for injury, whether it be a pulled muscle or even a tear. All of this can be prevented by committing about 10 mins after every workout to stretching (the longer, the better). Your body will love you for it. It’s also a great opportunity to intentionally slow down and breathe. I always go to a darker room if I can and either listen to some calm music or simply sit in silence (but I really love silence, I’m weird like that). I close my eyes and just breathe deeply. It helps this busy body to remember to slow down and just be. I’m naturally a doer, and I often equate being busy to being efficient (they are not the same thing). Do your body and your mind a favor, and stretch!

If you have no idea on how or where to start on stretching, let me know, and I’ll gladly send you some ideas!


There are tons of other things you can do that I’m sure would help you in your fitness journey, but these are just a few practical ones that have helped me, and I know have helped others as well. Wherever you are in your journey, I hope that you can find the same excitement and fun that I and so many people I know have found in working out! May we move, and breathe, and have our being in Christ, and may He give you the strength to serve Him well!