Journey of Faith: Day 17

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Day 17: Dare to Live in the Miracle of Who You Are

How many of us can truly say we are happy and content with who we are? What do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror? Is the reflection staring back at you someone you are proud to be? Speaking for myself, this has been a huge obstacle to overcome. Battling weight problems most of my childhood led to a lot of self-doubt and low confidence levels in many areas of my life. I constantly compared my looks, my spiritual life, to everyone around me. I wish I had realized sooner what I now know to be true. If only I had looked at myself and my life through the eyes of God I would have known that He has given me a unique purpose for my life.

It has been several years now since I started overcoming my weight struggles, and not only was it a journey of reshaping my physical appearance, it became a journey of self-discovery into who I was. I did not realize that beginning that journey would lead to a college major change, which led to a change in college location, which led to another move and my first job since graduating, which has now led me to the present at the most amazing job. Each change that came about, brought its own obstacles to overcome. New people, new places, forcing myself further and further out of my comfort zone. The places I have been, the people I have met along the way, have all played a huge part in shaping my life and who I have become. This journey has taught me to let God take the reins and let Him have control. I am slowly beginning to see my life through His eyes and I know He is watching over and looking out for me each day. There’s been too much evidence these last several years to not believe that truth.

I hope that as you’re reading this and these scriptures to follow, you will be uplifted and encouraged to know God is not finished with you yet. He believes in you and He wants you to have a little more belief in yourself and in Him in your journey of life.

 

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them-yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”

(1 Corinthians 15:10)

 

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

(Psalm 139:13-16)

 

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

(2 Corinthians 5:16-17)

 

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

(Ephesians 2:10)

 

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Not My Will, But Yours Be Done

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Looking back just over a year ago, when I finally received my Nutrition degree, I never in my wildest dreams thought I would end up right here. In the midst of my struggles this past year, I had no idea that God was working in me and preparing me for something amazing. It may not have come in the timeframe I wanted, but He knew exactly what He was doing and knew I would not be adequately ready for it at the time I wanted. And so a year of prep work began, whether I asked for it or not.

Just like any new college graduate, finding a great, stable career was at the top of my list. To be honest, I really didn’t know the specific area I would most like to practice nutrition. With previous weight loss experience I did have a special interest in that area. I had always thought about a career in helping those I could really relate to on a very personal level. Unfortunately, a job in that field is pretty hard to find. Thankfully, within just a few short weeks of graduating I was blessed to find the job with Jenny Craig. I would be a Weight Loss Consultant and I thought this job would be right down my alley. I was going to be working one-on-one with clients who shared some of the same struggles as I once did. What I wasn’t aware of was the amount of sales, marketing, and phone calls I was responsible for and how much of that my job revolved around. But, my favorite part about the position was counseling the clients on nutritious eating and aiding them in their own weight loss journey. That part alone was the best part about my job. I loved helping them in their personal journeys and watching their progress along the way.

As most of you know, the first few months of my job proved to be very trying and stressful for me as I was in a tense and very negative working environment. Staying positive and upbeat became harder and harder every day. I prayed and prayed for something better to come along, but it wasn’t until October that I became aware of a Nutrition Educator position to work in the school systems. This job seemed perfect for me! I wanted this job very badly. I prayed constantly about it, but God’s plan wasn’t quite in line with what I wanted. At first, it was hard to understand why He wouldn’t take me out of such a stressful situation and put me into something more in line with what I went to school for. Pretty soon my work became one I didn’t enjoy anymore. Thankfully, God did bless me with an amazing family that owned this particular Jenny Craig. They looked out for me and I could tell they would do anything for their employees. They knew and understood the situation I was in at this location. God did answer my prayer of getting out of there and relocating to a different centre in December part-time and I was switched to full-time in February. This one came with amazing co-workers that I quickly became great friends with. They were so kind, supportive, and encouraging to me and work became more enjoyable again.

As hard as the first several months were, I am thankful for those struggles. I would not have been able to fully appreciate all that God had been working on and still was doing to bring about a change in me and my future career. It took a lot of patience and determination, but I finally learned to be content with where I was right at that very moment. I stopped looking so much for other jobs and just tried to gain as much experience as I could from the one I had. Little did I know just how much God was working and preparing me for what was just around the corner.

Around the first of May I became aware of a Nutrition Educator position at the Escambia County Health Department. This job required direct nutrition counseling to women, infants, and children who qualified for WIC. After talking with the WIC Director, this job seemed almost too good to be true. But like with any state job, HR takes forever! Several weeks later I finally had an interview lined up. When I arrived at the health department the first person I saw was the lady that interviewed me back in October several months before. She actually recognized me and led me where I needed to go for this interview. The interview went exceedingly well and by the next week I had a call that I was their top candidate for the position! They couldn’t officially hire me yet, because background checks and paperwork still needed to be processed. It was a long three weeks of waiting again before I heard more about the job. I had decided to call and follow-up and when the director answered, she said she just was about to call me. I felt a huge sigh of relief, because that meant she had news for me. She had just received an email that I was approved for hire and we could precede forward! At the time of this call, I was on my lunch break and walking around the mall and I literally started crying right there in the middle of JCPenney! Haha! I just couldn’t believe that this job sort of came out of nowhere! Like I said, I had not been looking for another job at the time. If something like this happening doesn’t bring out your faith in what God can do, than I don’t know what will.

My last day with Jenny Craig was just a couple of weeks short of being with them a year. But in that time, I learned so much and gained so much experience that required me to step out of my comfort zone in ways I could never imagine. God works in mysterious ways, ways I don’t understand sometimes. There were lots of times I spent unhappy and impatient with Him because I wasn’t where I thought I needed to be. I never would’ve guessed that God was preparing me for something so much better than I could ever imagine. Once I finally learned to be content with where He had me, my attitude and whole outlook shifted. He taught me patience, perseverance, and He built up my faith in Him. I’ve now been working with WIC for three weeks now and I am still in awe and shock that this is where I am. This job is nothing short of amazing and I can’t wait to finally be finished with all my training so I can start working with the people. Who knows what lives I’ll touch or come in contact with along the way? After all this I can’t help but think of the line from one of my favorite movies, “God is good all of the time, and all of the time God is good!”

“Pray. Relax. Let Go. And Let God Take Over” (Unknown)

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Many of us have been asked the question, where do you see yourself in five years? How many of us can answer this question? How many of us have our whole life mapped out in what looks to be a perfect scenario? I’ve been asked this question many times at different points in my life. I always have the normal cliché answers of reaching a weight loss or fitness goal, being married, having a great job, and on my way to beginning a family of my own. Those answers and then some are what make up the majority of our life plans. What I’ve learned through my various list-making occasions is that my list doesn’t always occur in the time-frame I’ve allotted for. And what happens when our plan doesn’t pan out like we would like it too? We become discouraged and upset that everything didn’t work out the way we wanted. We start to say to ourselves, maybe it’s just not meant to be? So we immediately begin to create a new list with basically the same answers as before.

When I was a senior in high school, I thought I had my life all planned out. I was going to Faulkner University to pursue a pre-physical therapy degree and eventually would go on to become a physical therapist. Of course, attending college such as Faulkner I was asked countless times if I was going to earn a Mrs. degree. My answer was always no, which was true because that’s not why I was going to school; although if I happened to find my future husband there then that would be just an added bonus. Or so I thought at the time. Well, I got to Faulkner and only stayed my first semester of my freshman year. In that span of time I had job shadowed at a rehab center with a physical therapist assistant and decided this was not the career for me. I moved back home and transferred to the University of South Alabama and majored in radiologic technology to become an x-ray technician and eventually specialize in ultrasound technology. Again, I was required to job shadow one day at a hospital in Mobile and quickly realized that was not meant for me either. I changed my major once again to nursing because I really didn’t know what else to do. I’ve always wanted to work in the medical field and USA was known for their nursing program, so I thought why not? Once I got into all the school work involved for that major and hearing how small the number of people was that actually got accepted into the nursing program, I started rethinking my major once again. Come to find out, most of my family members could not see me becoming a nurse and in the back of their minds didn’t think this was the career for me either. It turned out that they were very much right about that.

It was at the beginning of my sophomore year at USA that I began to take control of the weight that I had gained and started out on Weight Watchers. I had already changed my major to nursing at this point. When I started Weight Watchers and begin to learn more about nutrition and healthy eating I became a little obsessed with the whole thing. I was constantly reading health articles, nutrition news, and magazines on the latest information. I enjoyed reading all I could find on this topic. I read about various diet fads, what foods you should and should not eat, how important exercise is to your overall health and so much more. It wasn’t until the second semester of my sophomore year that I began to reevaluate my major one last time. What I discovered was that USA did not have any type of nutrition major available. I searched schools nearby and found out that the University of Alabama had a food and nutrition major that was offered online. I wanted this option because I was not yet prepared to move away from home yet. I began at UA as an online student my junior year and loved all my classes and learning about something that was so personal and important to me. Nutrition and Weight Watchers had changed my life and I loved the thought of becoming a dietitian and working with people, like me, to help them reach their own weight loss and health goals. After completing my junior year online at UA I realized it was time for me to move away from home and finish out the rest of my schooling from Tuscaloosa. Well as you all know that’s what happened and the rest is history.

As a senior in high school, never in my life could I have imagined this is where my life would turn out to be. It’s completely different from my five year plan and all the clichéd answers I came up with. And you know what? I’m really okay with that. I couldn’t be happier with the way my life has turned out and the person I’ve become. I know God is doing great things and continues to help me grow and mature. What I thought was a perfect plan for me at the time, was not really what God had in store. His ways are so much better than mine and I am constantly reminded of that. I’ve learned to no longer create five year plans. Don’t get me wrong though; there is nothing wrong with having dreams, goals, and ambitions for yourself. In fact, that’s very important. I’m just saying we shouldn’t get caught up in making sure everything on our five year plan is reached and attained in that time span. You never know what or who will come into your life that will make you change directions. Always be open for change. I know change is scary because you don’t know what will happen, but if we have faith in God that everything will work out, then everything will be fine. All you have to do is let Him take over and lead the way.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9