Ditch The Diet Swap: Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Welcome to the first of what will be many reimagined recipes from some of my old favorite diet cookbooks. Yes, diet cookbooks. You know, those recipes where you had to go out and spend extra money on tasteless, cardboard-y, and usually chemically-modified ingredients to enhance the flavor in order to replace the calories, fat, or sugar that was being taken from the original products?

NO MORE!

I’m reclaiming these recipes and our taste buds to create them in a cost effective manner where they are packed with flavor, real food, nutrient dense ingredients, and broken down in the simplest and easy (and/or fastest) ways to prepare them.

First up, comes from probably one of my most referenced diet cookbooks–the biggest offending diet ingredient in the original recipe called for non-fat powdered creamer to create the creamy effect in the soup. I have altered the amounts/ingredients so much, this recipe is lightyears from the original and SO MUCH more flavorful! Oh, and this recipe cost me $2.97 to make because I got a killer deal on the squash.

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

  • About 4 cups (1.5 lbs.) diced butternut squash
  • 1 onion, cut in small pieces
  • 3-4 smashed garlic cloves (Or, if you’re me–2x that quantity #allthegarlic)
  • 4 cups of your favorite stock (vegetable, chicken, beef, etc)
  • 1/4 cup Hatch green chile (fresh, frozen, or just canned green chiles–more or less to taste, and be aware of the level of spice!)
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice (optional)

Bring all of the ingredients except the milk to a boil and simmer at a low boil for 60-90 minutes until butternut squash dices are tender all the way through (you could steam the squash first, but it creates a less creamy texture to the soup that breaks later in leftovers).

Bring down temperature of mixture for a few minutes from boiling and add to blender with the milk (optional) and puree completely to a creamy texture. The squash on its own creates the creamy texture, so the milk only enhances it and helps to temper the heat of the chiles–up to you! Serve hot or cold, it’s delicious both ways!

My test batch created roughly 1.5 liters of soup. This freezes beautifully or lasts several days in the fridge. Great for a main dish and the leftovers can be for lunch for a few meals depending on family size. Enjoy!

I would love to know if you make this dish–please provide some feedback or tweaks you made to the recipe in the comments!

Spicy Condiments to Make Your Snacks Better

Snacks are the best part of any workday.  They pull you away from the stress of your nine to five and give you something fun and tasty to focus on.  Although you could easily go for some yogurt or bagel bites, a real snack needs some strong flavor to boost your energy!  Spicy food has been seeing a massive surge in popular culture as more people are cooking from home than ever before- and because of this, even our snacks are kicking it up a notch.

Here are the top spicy condiments to boost the flavor of any food you could possibly eat!

Sriracha

This spicy red sauce has been enjoying a surge in popularity for the last ten years.  Based on a famous red Thai cooking sauce, it gets its heat from red jalapenos, which on their own aren’t that hot!  When mixed and fermented with vinegar and then condensed to a thick squeezable paste, the heat comes out to play!  This can be a delicious dipping sauce for any fresh-cut vegetables or even just drizzled on a little rice.

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

Spicy and flavorful jelly has gained a cult following in the last couple of years, with people learning how to make their own and coveting whichever brands they do like buying from.  Jalapeno pepper jelly mingles sweet and savory flavors together into a perfect mixture that will wake you up and get you energized.  You can enjoy this spread on anything from crackers to sandwiches and even make it into a salad dressing by mixing it with vinegar or olive oil!  It’s incredibly versatile and packs a punch!

Gochujang

If you’re familiar with sriracha, it’s time to kick it up a notch with gochujang.  This sweet and spicy chili paste is everything that sriracha is: plus more.  The thicker consistency lends itself well to cooking, but it can also be used for anything from a dipping sauce to something you can scramble into an egg or some minced veggies.  The heat builds on you, and you’ll find yourself wanting to both eat more and also take a break for some water to quench the heat!

Banana Ketchup

This fun Philippine sauce is so much more than its name lets on.  Made with bananas, sugar, spices, and vinegar- it’s usually sold being no spicier than a banana is on its own.  Fortunately for anyone who can get to a good Asian market: there are tons of spicy varieties.  The spicy versions of this sauce are spunky and fun, and fabulous on anything you can eat!

Brown Mustard

Although this sauce isn’t new or thought to be as thrilling as its counterparts on this list, brown mustard packs a punch that shouldn’t be ignored!  Using brown mustard seeds as a base, and often containing the full seeds for texture, brown mustard keeps the original tangy flavor of the condiment while adding heat that can liven up any sandwich or soft pretzel.  You can buy, or make, variations with a smokier flavor or balance it out with yellow mustard for less heat: but it deserves a spot on this list for its longevity of use!

Which ones do you enjoy? Which ones are you going to branch out and try next?

Support a Sole Project

Accessibility is one of the major pillars that I run Heart and Sole Fitness and Wellness on–and I’ve worked tirelessly since its inception to ensure my ideal clients not only understand they are worthy of access to fitness, wellness, accountability, and health services that they desire and connect them to it if I am not the one that is the right fit, but also work to breakdown the barriers that stand in the way of accessibility to those services. In large part, I have been successful in this endeavor, but there’s two areas of accessibility here at Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness that need some solutions, and I’m inviting you today to be a part of this radical solution.

There’s always going to be people that fall through the cracks in life, I have been keenly aware of that for the better part of my life in my previous career, but through the COVID-19 pandemic I have seen too many individuals have to sacrifice care of themselves through the services of Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness because they have:

  • Contracted COVID-19 (themselves or a family member) and not been able to renew ongoing contracts due to healing/contagion
  • Financial constraints due to COVID-19 in lost jobs, reduced hours, etc and we have been unsuccessful in matching their benefits, getting them enrolled in other wellness benefit programs to cover services, or working on an equitable sliding scale to make services possible
  • Childcare expenses due to children being home have taken priority over individual self care so the parent can remain employed

I could list other reasons, but these are the main topics that I deal with. When I am not able to empower a client to break that accessibility barrier, I am not doing my job. It is not only heartbreaking that an ideal client is going without services, it is affecting the operating expenses of small business that has been open weeks shy of a year in the midst of COVID-19 and my avenues of client lead, acquisition, retention, and networking all had to be pivoted extremely quickly as the world shut down within a month of opening for business. Accessibility has had a huge impact on Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness in being such a young business, that I have not been eligible for federal grant and loan monies, not eligible for many of the mainstream grants from agencies such as The National Chamber of Commerce and The Better Business Bureau, and I have applied for over 30 large and small grant, service, and program opportunities with no support to date. I am beyond grateful for my clients, the collaborations, and the communities that I am able to be of service in each and every day to provide people with the ability to reach their wellness goals, but in order to continue honoring that value of accessibility, I have had it laid upon my heart to try something radical here at Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness.

Enter… the Support a Sole Project

While many people have gone through hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many others that continue to thrive in their situations and are in a position to pay it forward in different ways toward individuals and small business. This is a grassroots crowdfunding opportunity to cut out the fees and expenses of other internet platforms that take a piece of the generosity your gift to support others in achieving their goals so they can empower others is meant for. The ripple effect is HUGE here. If you know my story, you know the power of taking that step out in faith, the support of others, and how it comes full circle to help make a greater impact on those that need YOU most (and if you don’t know my story, let’s chat!)

Here’s how the Support a Sole Project works:

  • You make a financial gift that you feel led to make via Paypal just by going to https://www.paypal.com/biz/fund?id=3623L2FRSN9C8
  • For the first $5,000 raised–50% will go to the Support a Sole Project Fund for direct client services to bring in those clients that are experiencing hardship in accessing services from Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness and 50% will go toward the operating expenses of Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness LLC
  • After the initial $5,000 is raised–85% of gifted funds will go to the Support a Sole Project Fund for direct client services for those experiencing hardship who cannot access services with Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness through other means and 15% of funds will be used for operating expenses and ongoing support services (contracted services from other small businesses) of Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness LLC
  • Weekly updates, client impact, and full accounting will be available on the upcoming landing page for the Support a Sole Project that will be live this weekend. Transparency and integrity is the name of the game.

This is something that is important to me and I feel a great sense of urgency to move out to the masses immediately. Coming this afternoon will be a video that explains more in-depth the Support a Sole Project, and this weekend I’ll launch a formal landing page on my website–but I did not want to delay any longer. I ask if nothing else that you share this post far and wide, ask questions, and share with those that have a heart for the mission of the work of Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness.

Your financial gift to the Support a Sole Project is gratefully appreciated more than you know–please note that Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness LLC is NOT a charitable organization.

I am stepping out in excitement and faith in this endeavor that together we are going to do something BIG to make an impact on people’s live that need some hope the most. Let’s do this!

Our Best Year Ever

I know…I know…not many people are saying 2020 is the best year ever–but I also know many that are. What’s the difference?

Perspective.

We can focus on the absolute sh*tstorm of “are you serious?!” moments that 2020 has brought about, or we can focus on the good things that have happened in our lives. I am not going to lie, 2020 has been EXTREMELY difficult on my husband and I with many hurdles that we have faced and overcome together, but it would have been even worse if we had chosen to stay stuck in the suck of each situation that has come along this year and not keep finding solutions and moving forward.

So here’s where 2020 started–

Our resignation as Salvation Army officers (pastors and business administrators), effective February 2020

One year ago today, on December 30, 2019, we submitted our resignation from a ministry and career we had dedicated our lives 24/7/365 for many years. This was a testament to God moving in our lives and affirming and confirming His will and changing our plans to HIS timing–in our original plan to resign, we had decided fall 2020 was the “right time,” then spring 2020–but once we started working out what we needed to do in order to start over in life, God flung every door open for us in short order. Finally, we couldn’t deny it and drag our feet in fear any more, and put the fleece out–we said once we had a home, we’d put in our resignation. We started looking for homes online, made a few phone calls, and in the end, only saw one in person–because It. Was. Perfect. The home we had chosen was in the perfect location, exactly what we were looking for in terms of the needs for running my business separate from our living spaces and appropriate for our family. The homeowners were our answer to prayer to work with and we are grateful for them. So, we got our house on December 29, 2019…submitted our resignation on December 30, 2019…purchased our car on December 31, 2019…started packing and winding up our ministry…and February 2, 2020 was the start of our new life. What we anticipated to take us a year took us six weeks. In hindsight, had we not been obedient in continuing forward in God’s timing, it likely wouldn’t have happened–with the pandemic, availability of housing in Havasu, and so many other things that occurred in 2020. Life lesson: It’s okay to leap before you look if you know Who’s holding the net.

Here’s the highlights of some of the amazing things that have happened this year (by no means an exhaustive list because I’m sure to forget plenty!):

  • Our marriage has improved
  • Family relationships have changed
  • We have become members at a Bible-based church that aligns with our values
  • I have become an elder in that church and joined the choir and hand bell choir
  • My dream is a reality–Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness!
  • I am a part of a women’s entrepreneurial community where I have formed new friendships, collaborations, and relationships beyond my dreams
  • I have been able to invest time in friendships that I haven’t had time for previously
  • I have been able to be a part of organizations and groups that are important and meaningful to me, like our Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, Ministerial Association, and others
  • I have accomplished so many goals in personal healing that I have set in for my emotional health
  • I am learning to speak up for myself, be visible, and not shrink back from the world because no one is waiting around the corner to admonish me for standing in the truth or speaking my opinion
  • I have the privilege and honor every single day to walk alongside others with compassion and love as they accomplish their goals–and may I never stop waking up in awe over the ability to do so

As I’ve been typing this, I have been listening to a wellness Facebook Live that is talking about doing the very thing I’ve been doing–the power of listing the wonderful things that have happened this year and making a gratitude list. Have you done that recently? I encourage you to try it–maybe list a few in the comments here, or if you’d rather keep them private, email me and share them so I can share in your joy! I’m going to keep thinking and come back and add more as they come to mind too!

Let’s make 2021 even BETTER!!!

Must Bake Recipe: Raspberry Bread

Okay, the one time in my life I didn’t take a photo of a new recipe I experimented with…sorry friends!

I was sitting here on Saturday evening, a bit chilly (therefore let’s warm up the kitchen and living room with the oven), wanted a nibble of something sweet, didn’t have anything planned yet for Sunday breakfast…so, I wandered over to the depths of Pinterest to see what I could bake. Of course, I didn’t have quite all the ingredients for the recipes I was coming across, but I did come across one that I could modify that actually came out better than I think the original would have (because I think the original would have been too sweet)–and with my modifications, it actually became more of something I wanted to consume with ingredients that I know that make me feel good inside and out, and help my body perform better. (aka full permission/gentle nutrition–two principles of intuitive eating)

So, after enjoying said recipe on Saturday evening and Sunday morning for breakfast, I sliced the rest of the loaf for a couple families and delivered it on Sunday evening (I’ve been making some special deliveries lately of meals, cooking for others is a love language of mine) and it got positive reviews–since I modified the recipe so much from the original, I figured I would share my version here so you can experiment with it (and maybe improve it) too!

Raspberry Bread

  • 2 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 Tbsp
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries, rinsed and dried (1 container)
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek Yogurt (I’m partial to the Greek Gods brand because I like the thicker, custardy texture)
  • 1/2 cup butter melted
  • 3 large eggs beaten
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar for dusting
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a non stick loaf pan (or just non-stick spray and parchment paper like me!).
  • In a mixing bowl, sift together the all purpose flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the Greek yogurt, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla.
  • Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until fully moistened.
  • Toss the raspberries with the remaining 1 Tbsp all purpose flour so they don’t sink (mine still sunk). Gently fold into the batter.
  • Spread the batter evenly into the loaf pan.
  • Bake for 55-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes back clean (This took 65 minutes for me, but I use an electric oven and a stoneware loaf pan). Cool in the pan on a cooling rack.
  • Dust with powdered sugar before serving (non-pro tip: don’t use your flour sifter to dust with powdered sugar, I ended up dousing the loaf with it!)
Since I didn’t get a pretty recipe picture, enjoy a photo of this beautiful painted rock I was gifted today!

How To Support #SmallBusinessSaturday

This year, more than ever, the emphasis is on shopping local, dining local, giving local, and supporting local businesses. Obviously, the easiest response to this need to simply shop local this holiday season, but I invite you to think a little bit deeper in how you can really love on small businesses and small business owners in your community this year.

As we know, many larger companies have been pushing out Black Friday sales for some time, a bit earlier than usual, but have you made a plan or looked into what’s going to be offered yet from some of your favorite small businesses and services on Saturday, November 28–in case they haven’t announced it yet?

Do That.

Maybe just purchasing products or services from your favorite small businesses/service providers doesn’t seem like enough this year? Maybe you’re in a position to bless them with more? Or maybe you don’t need their products or services right now, but you’d like to support them–here’s some creative ideas to show some love for #SmallBusinessSaturday:

  • Purchase products and services (I think that’s a given)
  • Purchase gift cards/gift certificates (you might not be in the market for a specific product or service right now–but might be in the near future, or know someone you can gift it to)
  • If you have a specific product or service that you provide, and you feel moved to gift those products/services, ask if they would be supportive to that business/owner
  • Share advertisements–both on social media and in print
  • Refer friends
  • Write reviews for the business on Google, Yelp, Facebook, Nextdoor, and other places the business is listed
  • Gift owners and/or employees with supportive care. This year has been extremely difficult for many small businesses with the workload, lessened hours, closures, and in many cases, decreased income–grocery store gift cards, restaurant gift cards, even gift certificates for a few hours of house cleaning can take a huge burden off some of these entrepreneurs.
  • Tip graciously.
  • Partner with a business for a giveaway or contest to help increase their exposure and visibility

Remember, not every small business has had the same experience this year. It’s easy to make assumptions that “everyone is going to be okay” because of various governmental and local pandemic assistance programs and public and private grants that have been made available, but every single one of the loan and grant programs have eligibility requirements, and there’s always people that fall through the cracks because of business size, business age, industry, etc. There are businesses in your communities that despite every effort have received no relief assistance and have continued to work hard daily to keep their doors open. What can you do today to support those working hard around you?

You’re So Loud!

I’ve written before about the greatest compliment I’ve ever received, several years ago when a temporary employee that hadn’t seen me in a year looked at me one afternoon and with all sincerity, “you just look so happy!”–she will never understand how life-changing that statement was to me. She was the first person as I was going through so much transformation in my body to acknowledge the inside work that took place made the exterior changes possible. That was priceless.

Several weeks ago, I walked into a weekly meeting and greeted the room as I entered, and the self-proclaimed curmudgeon in the room (*more on him in a second) without skipping a beat, exclaimed, “You’re so loud!”

Now, under any other circumstance, I might be extremely embarrassed and shut down over such a remark–but I also have to say, this statement was also followed up with a giant smile and a big hug from the gentleman that proclaimed it. This man has known me since we moved here (the first time), shares my personal values of integrity and transparency, and shared many of the frustrations we had in other areas of life previously when he sat on our board for a time. He has seen me in group situations where I was afraid to say a word to where now I have taken on leadership, speak up, and don’t back down when it’s appropriate.

People that have met me recently often comment they see me as an extrovert, and in some ways, it feels good that I’ve got people fooled. I absolutely come to an ease in many situations and am learning my way in others, and I always love meeting new people and speaking about the things that I’m passionate about–but the reality is, I am absolutely an introvert and people still scare the absolute crud out of me. I don’t thrive with the pressure of groups or being put on the spot–but still like to be included, savor my alone time, and don’t mind collaboration but do my best work individually.

Introvert/extrovert labels aside, I’ve definitely got to count, “you’re so loud!” as probably the second best compliment I’ve received–to me, it’s an edifying remark of coming into my voice. I’ve taken the time in my business, politically, spiritually, and the groups that I join to carefully cultivate the people in my life I align myself with so that I have the joy and freedom to speak when and how I’m moved to do so. I WANT to be considered loud, because when I speak, it’s important–I don’t speak to simply be heard, I speak because it’s worth being said.

For Just Such A Time As This…

A beautiful friend sent me a bracelet for my birthday with the words of Esther 4:14 etched on it. My favorite translation of Scripture states it this way, “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b NLT) It’s my favorite, because, well…who doesn’t like to be called a queen?! Moreover, there’s just something so striking about those words, “for just such a time as this.”

Regardless of your faith, I think we can all come to an agreement that we each are on this earth for a purpose. I believe that God has a very specific purpose for me, and makes that plan more and more evident the closer I grow to Him. I had shared some years ago on this blog my original leading in the realm of fitness and wellness and the very small vision I had–to simply mentor others within my small sphere of influence in ministry because I could see the struggles my colleagues were facing with their holistic health and I wanted to be able to help hold them accountable physically, emotionally, and spiritually in a very personalized way to help them be successful in reaching their individual goals and breaking down the unique barriers that each of them faced. I talked. No one listened. I wrote. No one listened. I gave feedback through the proper channels. No one responded. My great plan to help those that I felt God had led me to help was sitting here ready to go and falling on deaf ears. Heck, and it even was in a sustainable business plan that I could carry out the practice while still doing my primary work with the organization. No bite.

God, I don’t get it? This is GOLD!

Well, life happens, as it tends to, and when my husband and I separately and together came to the realization that God was leading us to a different path with so much clarity and confirmation we couldn’t deny, my clarity in my path forward was that my dream was too small. When my “gold” was ignored, I took that to be a dismissal of my worth–my value–and I tucked away my pretty little business plan as “maybe just something I would pursue in retirement”…but something pretty powerful happened. I had some people affirm the very ideas of that business model in me that it was needed in the public marketplace, not within a niche organization. Well? Could this really be a viable option? And since we all know I don’t just throw caution to the wind–enter feasibility, a few beta testers, sustainability, and what the model would look like on a public/virtual scale for a solopreneur.

Darn it. Not only was it possible, feasible, and sustainable–I looked around and got giddy, thinking, “wait, I would actually GET to do this all the time? This could be my LIFE?”

I was listening to a podcast this morning by my friend and business coach, Caterina Rando, and she was talking about the litmus test for business, in that if you won the lottery today, would you still be doing what you’re doing? Unequivocally, yes. A thousand times yes. There is nothing more exciting in the world to me than walking alongside someone as they are working toward their goals–whatever that goal is–equipping them, educating them, supporting them, and providing the resources and encouragement they need to be successful in the area of holistic wellness. I’m convinced I’m the world’s biggest super nerd, and my clients challenge me more and more everyday to keep learning so that I can continue to provide them with better and increasing knowledge and quality care. I am enlivened and reminded every single morning when I wake that this was sparked out of my own very personal holistic journey to get where I’m at, and that without it, I wouldn’t have been spurred to this time and place for which I have truly been created.

Caterina also has a quote that she uses to “hold a bigger vision for your clients than they hold for themselves,” and my vision grows daily. To borrow the Ironman tagline, “Anything is possible,” and when we keep showing up, keep doing the things, keep faithful to what we value and what our mission is–then that is honored. My original plan wasn’t honored because it was MY plan, not what was truly meant for me–there was a bigger vision, a bigger plan, out there for me, but I first had to have the faith to trust and obey to make it happen.

Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness is just over six months old. I can’t possibly fathom where the time went, it feels like the ribbon cutting was yesterday. But there’s not enough gratitude on the planet for the people that have come alongside me as clients, mentors, vendors, encouragers, supporters, friends, and even just the curious onlookers (I see you, too!). This is my baby, I’m so proud of where it has come from, and where it’s going. On top of regular client services, the rest of 2020 is packed with workshops and group programs that will be announced next week, and I’m well through the first quarter of 2021 with what’s up next. I hope you’ll be along for the ride with me in discovering what you can achieve for yourself when we work together too.

My beautiful birthday bracelet from my friend Mimi Warfel–click on the photo to go to her website for more great products!

Change The Plan, Never The Goal

I was originally going to write a blog on this, but I took it to Facebook Live instead…my heart still aches a little for 2020, but if I can’t practice what I preach, I’m no good to anyone else either–so, altering the action steps to my amazing goal to make it the safest and optimal way to get to the most amazing finish that I desire, and I’ll see you on the red carpet at Ironman Arizona in 2021.

Do you have any goals you’ve have to shift lately?

Community.

I’m stuck on a pithy title for this one, so we’ll just roll with it.

I have talked before about the clarity, leading, and ultimately, the peace and joy, that my husband and I have experienced as a result of our transition in life over this last six months. Yes, today marks SIX MONTHS in our beautiful home and separated ourselves from the life, culture, stability, and lifestyle that we knew for many years.

Initially, looky-loos came out of the woodwork to be nosy and try to “get the dirt” on why we had voluntarily resigned, as it did come to a shock to a lot of people that didn’t know our unhappiness and discontent. But, of course, when there wasn’t any juicy details or any drama involved, those faces quickly vanished. Not shocking. It’s how people work.

My husband and I ask each other every couple of days, sometimes jokingly, sometimes seriously, if there’s anything that we miss of “our old life,” and other than naming a small handful of specific people who we actually don’t miss because we maintain relationship with them, we haven’t been able to come up with anything yet. I’ve grieved and wrestled with this thought because in six months I can’t come up with a single thing that I miss from what I spent the majority of my life pouring myself into–at the sacrifice of my health, my family, and a lot of other things I value. I’ve even grieved that other than the relationships we’ve put the time into caring for, we’ve vaporized from that world. Totally ghosted. I’ve gone into that place a lot of, “maybe I didn’t make the impact I thought/they said I did.”

But…and we know with me, there’s always a but…

This is why I’m so grateful for community. And SO MANY communities that collide and coincide that build me up, that I can serve, and that just exist on so many different levels for so many different purposes. (And I’m positive I’m going to miss more than a few here.)

Backing up to my previous statement before my “but,” I know that’s a can of lies that Satan has somehow beautifully manufactured in my head to help derail me from continuing to walk in God’s incredible plan for us–for me. Not that everyday has been sunshine and roses, it’s hard and it’s work, but let me tell you, I can write a novel based on the last six months with the title being simply Romans 15:13, because lemme tell you–I’ve got joy coming out of my ears! And I’ve always said it, and just because my business card is different now, my mission is not changed–I’m in the hope business.

But I don’t come to these magical realizations on my own or just in my personal devotional time…boy I wish I was that smart, I’d be a millionaire by now. It comes in the communities that I’ve immersed myself in, yes, even in this time of COVID-19. I can realize the lies I’m telling myself sometimes just from a post-it note that I have on one of my computer monitors from a workshop I attended with a quote that says, “Are you making it up or is it true?” (Rhonda Britten) How did I find this workshop? It’s a series presented by two amazing women that personalities jive with mine, that are incredibly loving and supportive, that I met in all places–my business coaching community! (want to check out the workshops, check out my friends Kelly and Terry!)

Now let’s talk about my business coaching community. This is not just business coaching my friends, this is fast becoming a big family of women. I have not only had many opportunities of learning and growth, but chances just to meet other women and get exposure to so, so, so many different types of businesses, network, exchange ideas, and fellowship. In this time where face-to-face meeting isn’t happening, it’s been nice to hop on meetings and catch up and learn about people I might not even get a chance to meet as rapidly as I would if we were doing business “normally.” (If you’re a woman in business and are looking for community, check out the Thriving Women in Business Community. There’s literally thousands of women to connect with there from every possible field of business. Just don’t forget to answer the questions to get in the group, Caterina doesn’t admit people without them to prevent bots/spam)

Communities of support. Countless friends to vent to, bounce ideas off of, and hear about how they are doing has been so important. Connecting with old friends and acquaintances with similar shared experiences has been important too in this healing process of sorts. I have communities I’ve been a part of for many years like my friend Natalie Forsythe’s Path To Food Freedom as I’ve continued my intuitive eating journey and healing from eating disorders, and so many others that I’m brand new to and enjoying so much, like Annette Bond and her Reveal Your Radiance Style Academy. (Let me tell you, I learned SOOOO much to feel great about my wardrobe, putting together an amazing outfit, and feeling great in my clothes–I knew I needed something like this after so many years in a uniform, but this was way better than I possibly anticipated!).

And most important in our (me and my husband’s) lives, our faith community. We were extremely intentional in our choice on where we would worship. We wanted somewhere that completely aligned with our beliefs and was clear on their positioning when issues arise. Yes, the church and political issues collide and it can’t be avoided. We need to be able to discuss these things, and have an avenue to discuss them through the lens of our faith. We were familiar with our church we have chosen, as from previously living here working with them as part of the ministerial association, being friends with the pastor and his wife, and seeking pastoral guidance, and knew much of the congregation from united ministerial association events, and felt very loved and a good fit. We also had great respect for this church and their congregation because they did a big, bold thing several years ago–in a nutshell, they did not feel the positions that the PCUSA were taking were aligning any longer biblically/doctrinally and so they went through the process as a UNITED congregation to graciously separate themselves from the PCUSA and align themselves with the ECO. To have sat on the sidelines and watch that process and talked with friends that are elders in the church as they went through this, I still sit in awe–I feel sometimes like the world should be flocking to churches like this that have really taken the time to explore as a unit what they value and stand firm it. And after several months of being unanimously approved as members (thanks COVID-19), my husband and I finally got to be presented to the congregation this last Sunday–and that felt really, really special to “belong” in a place we love dearly.

Like I said, I could name communities all day long–and miss many in the process! I’m curious, what communities do you hold dear?