Leaving What’s Behind

By February 20, 2015 Uncategorized
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I recently heard a speaker share her story of being sexually abused between the ages of four and fourteen. For ten years she had endured terrible abuse. The speaker, now in her forties distinguished the fact that for thirty years she had been free of such ill in her life. She could either focus on the years of her abuse, or the years that she’s been free. While our struggles and defeats have a role in the story we live, they don’t complete the storybook. The abuses, illnesses, breakdowns and strongholds we have endured don’t define us. They aren’t even a part of us; they are simply a part of our stories.

I love these words by C.S Lewis:

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

While I’ve been depressed, severely or mildly for almost ten years of my life, I’ve been free of depression for over twenty. Today, I’m choosing to fix my eyes ahead and believe the promise that God is doing a new thing in my life.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. –Isaiah 43:19

Live in a way that your story is only a backdrop for God’s bigger story.

I refuse to be defined by my struggle. I will not let my breakdowns overshadow my breakthroughs. Greater, more beautiful things are ahead. May we have the courage to turn on our backs on what is behind and fix our eyes on what is ahead.

What do you need to leave behind in order to press forward?

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Big Sur Adventures

By January 6, 2015 Uncategorized
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My HEAL Journey These Days

By December 23, 2014 Uncategorized
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So I felt like it was time to open up about my HEAL (Healthy Eating & Abundant Living) Journey — my relationship with food and my body. Some of you might assume that since I have written a book on the subject of how to have a healthy relationship with food and your body and led workshops that I have the answers. That’s simply not true.

While I stand 100% behind the message of HEAL: Healthy Eating and Abundant Living (which continues to help thousands of women and girls), the reality is that these days I am struggling. I am not in the same place of freedom I was when I wrote the book. I’m very humbly learning that sometimes on our journeys we take two steps forward and one step back. In my case, I’ve taken a few steps back!

Two years ago I gained a lot of weight after having to go on a certain medication. On top of that I’ve recently found out I have Hypothyroid — a somewhat common condition that among other things can greatly slow your metabolism. In my case, I’m burning 600 calories less a day than I should be. The weight gain then triggered some disordered eating habits that I have dealt with in the past. I was so desperate to lose the weight that I joined Weight Watchers, lost some weight only to gain it back. Been there, done that. I bought a 12 day smoothie fast program for several hundred dollars from the urging of a holistic health coach, which I paid hundred more dollars for. I then threw in the towel, and visited Taco Bell too frequently, and gained more weight. I’ve been defeated, self-loathing and miserable.

These days, I’m working with my counselor and a nutritionist as I seek to return to the place of freedom, health and wholeness I once was. I’m listening to a lot of audio books about breaking free from emotional eating, taking weekly walks and am now trying my best to practice good self and soul care.

I’m praying to God, asking that He won’t waste my tears. I’m praying that my struggles won’t be for nothing and I know God promises they won’t be:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

If you’ve read HEAL and too are on your HEAL Journey, I encourage you dear sister to stay put. Keep digging deep, continue the fight for freedom. Don’t look to me or any other expert for all the answers because they are all human, sometimes slip and can’t heal your heart. Look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith (Hebrews 12:2).

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

My daily prayer for my HEAL Journey is this:

Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. -Psalm 142:27

I’ve been imprisoned before and set free before and am trusting that as I surrender and submit to God, my heart, my body and my emotions will be healed. This won’t be an easy road (it hasn’t been easy before), but I am ready to fight for freedom.

Where are you on your HEAL Journey? How can I pray for you?

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California to Oregon Road Trip

By December 20, 2014 Uncategorized
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Paul and I are planning a road trip in our new camper-van from hometown in Buellton, California to Coos Bay, Oregon. We’re the type that flies by the seat of our pants so our trip might not go as planned. However, here are a few of the spots I’m hopping on on stopping at on the way.

Stops (From South to North)

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Big Sur, California
Big Sur is a sparsely populated region of the Central Coast of California where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. Although it has no specific boundaries, many definitions of the area include the 90 miles (140 km) of coastline from the Carmel River in Monterey County south to the San Carpoforo Creek in San Luis Obispo County,[1][2] and extend about 20 miles (30 km) inland to the eastern foothills of the Santa Lucias.

Alliance Redwoods
Located in the beautiful redwoods near Paul’s hometown of Santa Rosa, California. A few friends from the Love Does tour who stayed with us on their trip work here and are coordinating a cabin for us.

Avenue of the Giants, California
The Avenue of the Giants is a scenic highway in Northern California, U.S.A., running through Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It is an old alignment of U.S. Route 101, and continues to be maintained by the state as State Route 254

Eureka, California
Eureka is the principal city and county seat of Humboldt County in the Redwood Empire region of California. The city is located on U.S. Route 101 on the shores of Humboldt Bay, 270 miles (430 km) north of San Francisco and 100 miles (160 km) south of the Oregon border.

Arcata, California
Arcata, originally Union Town or Union, is a city adjacent to the Arcata Bay portion of Humboldt Bay in Humboldt County.

Patrick’s Point (Trinidad, California)
Sandy beaches & forested cliffs border the Pacific at this park with hiking trails & campgrounds.

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (California)
Expansive park boasts 75 miles of trails, campgrounds & a visitor center amid old-growth redwoods.

Jedidiah Smith Redwood State Park Campground (Crescent City, California)
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is a state park of California, United States, preserving old-growth redwoods along the Smith River. It is located along U.S. Route 199 approximately 9 miles east of Crescent City.

Gold Beach, Oregon
Gold Beach is a city in and the county seat of Curry County, Oregon, United States, on the Oregon Coast.

Coos Bay, Oregon
Coos Bay is the name of both a city and a body of water. It is the largest town on the Southern Oregon Coast and along with its sister city North Bend constitutes the largest metro area on the entire Oregon Coast. Both cities developed due to the timber industry. Tourists are more attracted to Charleston, located where Coos Bay opens onto the Pacific Ocean. The famous gardens of Shore Acres are just south along the Cape Arago Highway.

Bend, Oregon
Bend is located on the eastern edge of the Cascade Range along the Deschutes River.

Have you ever taken a California-Oregon roadtrip? What are some tops you recommend along the way?

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Naja Luxury Lingerie

By December 19, 2014 Uncategorized
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I’m a sucker for fair-trade, socially responsible businesses so I was so excited when I stumbled across Naja, a luxury lingerie company that trains and employs single mothers to sew. I have major women crushes on fellow social entrepreneurs so Catalina Girald is someone I’d love to have coffee with or interview for a podcast. Naja’s pieces are absolutely beautiful and though I haven’t personally tried them yet, I’m excited to make my first purchase soon! Here are a few of my favorites:

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What do you think about Naja’s collection? 

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November Goals

By November 4, 2014 Uncategorized
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I’ve always been a goal setter and a chronic list-maker. I set my goals so high I make it hard to meet them. That’s why I love Hayley’s motto – “goals with grace.” Now that’s something I need to work on. So here they are for November:

1. Decrease tech time by 50%:  I confessed in my most recent post about  my unhealthy relationship with social media and my iPhone, so it’s time to do something about it.

2. Horseback ride at least once this month: Time to put my boots on and get in the saddle. I need to be refreshed and do more of what I love.

3. Stick to my sprint triathlon training plan: I committed to doing a sprint triathlon in February, but so far my training hasn’t been so hot. My goal is to stick to my training plan for the rest of the month! I can do this!

What are some of your November goals? I’d love to hear!

Hugs,

Allie

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Making a Cut: Addictions & The Choices that Can Set Us Free

By November 2, 2014 Uncategorized
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So I kind of have an addictive personality. When it comes to certain things I’m either all in or all out. It’s  honestly a big part of the reason why I’ve made the personal decision to not drink. I didn’t want to give alcohol any chance of damaging my life that way it has certain family members lives. As someone who has wrestled with depression, it didn’t make sense for me to fill myself with a depressant especially after a night of emotional drinking could have ruined me. And when it comes to social media, I have a totally addictive personality. I’m all in. I check my email all day long; constantly stroll through Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I’m realizing I need an intervention. Today, this question popped in my head:

What, if you cut out of your life would potentially transform your life?

I have hope I’m able to relearn healthy patterns and have a balanced relationship with social media (and my phone).  It has its wonderful benefits. It’s clear to me though I have an unhealthy relationship with it. It’s robbing me of my productivity. It’s stealing my creativity. It’s coming between me and my closest relationships. And at the end of the day it’s robbing me of my joy. I can’t help but imagine how amazing it would be without social media entirely, yet I’m so wedded to it! I guess I, like so may are torn!

Maybe for you it’s not social media. Maybe it’s a secret addiction, an eating disorder, over-consumerism. But what if we did the hard thing? What if entertained the uncool question and cut it out of lives completely, maybe not forever, but maybe for at least a season? Do you think it could have the ability to totally transform our lives? I know it’s often not as easy as simply cutting it out, but what steps can you take towards freedom? Maybe it’s acknowledging you have a problem, admitting it to someone safe. As a follower of Jesus, I believe He is the ultimate life-transformer, but habits do have power over us. I’m flirting with what to do next, with this unhealthy relationship I’ve created in my life. Any tips are welcome!

So, what do you think? What needs reevaluating in your life?

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Setbacks and Comebacks

By September 23, 2014 Uncategorized
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Sometimes the comeback takes longer than the setback.

Have you experienced a setback in your life? A break up or a breakdown? Have you traveled down a path you never saw coming only to find yourself far off course from the live you imagined yourself living?  Two years ago almost to the day, due to a health crisis my life was in a downward spiral; a total train wreck. Coming back from this setback has been the biggest challenge of my life. Two years later  I’m so far from where I want to be. From who I want to be. I fear I’ll never make my way back. The detours of life offer the chance to shape our character. Our past can refine us, but it doesn’t define us. Remember that great comebacks take time.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4 NIV

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Yellow Conference Recap

By September 4, 2014 Uncategorized
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 Photography by Brienne Michelle

“Courage is telling our story, not being immune to criticism.” ― Brené Brown

Truth is, I was pretty anxious to tell my story at the Yellow Conference last week. Prior to two years ago, my story fit in a nice, safe little box. I just struggled with depression — it was simple and relatively easy to understand. But I haven’t opened up much since two years ago or spoken out about the struggles I’ve gone through since so it was frightening to say the least. But at the Yellow Conference, I opened up about it – I shared nearly all of it. My talk didn’t go perfect as I wished I had – my hands were shaking, I had to read from some of my notes, but I did it. I showed up. I was vulnerable. God carried me through. And hopefully lives were touched.

I’m realizing it’s okay sometimes if things are messy; if things aren’t perfect. As I like to say, there is beauty in our brokenness. As someone wise once said:

“brokenness is a will always be a willing canvas for beauty.”

Sometimes it hurts to become real.

If you missed the Yellow Conference this year, I encourage you to attend next year! The speakers were inspiring and their messages were transformative. Joanna Waterfall, the creative visionary behind the Yellow Conference and her entire team did a phenomenal job. The details were exceptional and so well thought out. A highlight was having my two best friends to soak it all in with as well as meeting so many incredibly talented, kind and interesting women. You can follow the Yellow Conference on their website or Facebook page. Also, check out this year’s speakers through their website and social media sites, you won’t be disappointed.

Hannah Brencher
Caitlin Crosby
Natalie Warne
Lindsey Eryn Clark
Carlos Whittaker
Sarah Dubbledam
Caroline Howard
Promise Tangeman
Ashley Howell

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Overcoming the Shame and Stronghold of Depression and Mental Illness

By August 13, 2014 Uncategorized
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“It’s not your fault,” my dad said in his wise, loving voice, as we drove to the pharmacy for my first prescription of Prozac.

“Yes, it is,” I said with assurance. “This is my fault. I’m a bad person.”

I was eighteen years old and had just been discharged from the behavioral health partition of the hospital and diagnosed with severe depression. Deep-seeded insecurity, stress, perfectionism, and grave hormonal and physiological imbalances collided, shattering my picture perfect world into bits of broken pieces.

I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t talk. My body was alive. But there was no life within me.

My parents did their best to help me understand the diagnosis I had been given, which they too were just coming to grips with. I wasn’t buying it—I didn’t believe I was depressed, just that I was a horrible person who deserved to die and there was absolutely no hope for me.

Mental illness has been misunderstood and mistreated for so long because of its relative obscurity. An x-ray can show the exact fracture point of a broken bone, but without brain scans, which are expensive and difficult to do, you cannot see the physiology of a brain struggling with depression or anxiety. This leaves at least part of mental illness as somewhat intangible. And because we cannot see the source of the brokenness, we believe as a whole we are broken. We judge our character, when our chemistry, circumstances, or a number of other factors may be the problem.

Depression and mental illness remains a part of my story as it does for so many people, many of whom suffer in silence out of shame. Shame of being labeled, Shame of being ostracized. Shame of being misunderstood. Of being abandoned by friends.

If you are a church going person the shame factor is often magnified. You feel like if only you prayed harder, sinned less, read your Bible more, memorized scripture more your mental challenges would diminish. But that’s often not the case because they’re often not a spiritual issue. I personally liken my depression to an onion that had many layers: physiological and chemical, spiritual, and hormonal. As each layer was accurately addressed, so was my depression.

I believe God heals but sometimes it looks like doctors and medicine to get our brain chemistry right and we have to be okay with that. Clinical depression and mental illness is not a sin. It’s not your fault. You are wholly and dearly loved by God. Turn to Him. There is hope for you.

 

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