Stephanie Under Construction Blog

Praise Him In This Storm

There’s going to be people that are going to take this post the wrong way, and that’s okay. You’re not me. You’re looking at a snapshot and not the full story of life, and we all have different worldviews and values in which we bring to table to sift through some of these ideas. And that’s cool. But it doesn’t change the truth.

God. Is. So. Good.

I don’t think there has been a day that has gone by in the last several months that my husband and I haven’t uttered/texted some variation of that truth to one another, and often to others in our various conversations as well. We continue to be blown away daily in how God took over our plans and blew them out of the water.

Spoiler alert: We didn’t plan to move back to Lake Havasu as fast as we did. We were several months into the process of what we felt was going to take until fall 2020 for us to comfortably transition. What was anticipated to take roughly 12 months, God said, “Take that–how about 12 weeks? I’ve got plans.” Trust and Obey.

We weren’t ready, but God was. Everything fell into place. It was a tidal wave, and completely overwhelming in every possible way you could imagine, but every detail worked out. To perfection. Not a chance could we have orchestrated winding up what we had dedicated ever waking breath to–and many dreams and nightmares too–for so many years and handing off our ministry, find our absolute dream home (seriously, short of building it from scratch, we couldn’t have dreamed it any better–there’s just a few minor upgrades we’ll make when we get to that point) in the community that we love with our whole hearts, have my husband begin thriving in a new career that he’s loving, and launch the business of my dreams. Just follow the steps He laid out. Trust and Obey.

Life’s pretty grand, right? All our needs are met, we can breathe easy. God is good.

Enter the world turning upside down. Needless to say, I don’t have to go into detail how COVID-19 has brought the planet to a screeching halt.

But. I can tell you, I still cry daily in sheer awe at God’s provision. For He is good.

Let’s back up the train a little bit…remember those plans we had? That God had better?

Nothing happens in God’s plans for us (*in this case, my husband and I) by coincidence. (Trigger warning, this is the part where some of you are going to start taking things the wrong way, so the easily offended can stop reading)

With the current state of the world, while we would have stepped up to the plate and done what was expected of us, we would have struggled in a lot of different ways. I’m not going to lie, and I briefly touched on it in a social media post yesterday–living with PTSD is making it very difficult to manage the everyday symptoms of anxiety and depression that come along with it and not letting it escalate into extremely unnecessary fear or panic. I am blessed to be able to distance myself now from the chaos of the world, still conduct business to help support my family, and also choose how much of the pandemonium I’m going to allow into my life (sadly, more than I like to, but being a responsible business owner and allied health provider, information and knowledge is power). I don’t have to for one second feel guilty for taking care of myself first.

As for my husband, he is thriving in a new career that he is having a blast with! He’s getting to meet new people, see new places, and minister to people in unique places that often are overlooked or don’t get to hear about the love of Jesus. He is affirmed in his work and worth, and his work has meaning and value–and that affirmation is something that was lacking from so many key places for too many years. It’s something that as his spouse I can tell him until I’m blue in the face, but that doesn’t always make the impact sometimes. My heart has always hurt for that, and I just burst with pride and excitement when I hear from him each day now and what he’s up to. Especially during this time, being an “essential worker” and in extremely high demand, he’s serving in ways that I’m sure he never imagined.

Now, don’t mistake my words–life isn’t all sunshine and roses. Life is real. Life is messy. Life is life. I wish a lot of things to still be different. I wish things like some of the quarantine recommendations and sheltering orders were different so I could spend time with particular family members, but that’s not feasible or prudent with this virus right now. Life is hard. Life takes work.

But I do know these things: this too shall pass. All our needs are met. God is so good.

So, all that remains, is just to continue to trust and obey. And praise. Always praise. Always.

International Women’s Day

Is this where I’m supposed to write a sappy feminist post?

No? Okay. Good. That means y’all know me by now.

International Women’s Day is one of those observances I cringe a bit over because of my own opinions on equality vs. equity and my worldview.

Here’s the deal–I was raised with strong leaders. Women and men. Women that never used their gender as an excuse or a pass for advancement, or leverage for “more” in life. They worked for every opportunity, same as their male counterparts. The men, showed the same value in work, integrity, and diligence–and they treated women as their equals, advocated for their same level of opportunity, and were never threatened by them working at the same or higher level of advancement. These were my examples. How “modern” for the 80s.

In my faith walk, I’ve learned my place in biblical marriage. (Ohhhh…I think just heard a collective gasp around the world, LOL) Hear me out. If you think I’m a doormat for a second, wait for my husband to stop laughing and he’ll explain that one to you. I have my own opinions, my own decisions, and my own freedoms (including that of speaking, teaching, preaching, wearing jewelry, wearing my head uncovered, and any other Bible passage you would like to proof-text…come at me, bro). My husband is the spiritual head of our household, but that in no way is a means of control. Ever hear the joke that the wife is the neck and makes the head turn? We work together. And quite honestly, when it comes to matters of theology, scripture, and doctrine…that is totally my husband’s wheelhouse. Hand me the paperwork and administrative tasks any day of the week. We need each other.

At times I wonder if my views have done me a disservice, because I look around sometimes and just think, “instead of complaining so much about the problem, do something.” Perhaps it’s because I’ve spent years as a leader in position dominated by men for literally centuries, and come up against the good, bad, and ugly–some minds I’ve been able to change, and others that will never change (women included) and even going forward as a business owner, there’s always challenges that I will face as a woman in business–but see here’s the thing: I don’t use my gender as the excuse.

I will always work hard, seek answers, support, knowledge, and growth just as I always have to succeed because that’s what I’ve been taught to do to thrive as a leader. I just get to do it with pretty curls loose and a far better professional wardrobe now. I support women to reach for the stars, to better themselves, and to reach every opportunity in life. But I also take advantage of the male friends and allies in my corner too–there’s some smart cookies out there that I glean from in my own successes big and small.

At the end of the day, it comes down to this–we don’t exist in a vacuum and we never really know who need in life. We need each other. Love one another. Let’s celebrate what we ALL do.

Analog

Whelp, all good things must come to an end…full speed ahead again. But this time, it’s my hand on the throttle. Don’t get me wrong–still riding out the honeymoon here in paradise, but it’s time to get back to the business of adulting after two weeks of transitioning. At this point, we are probably 3x more unpacked in this house in 17 days than the one we lived in for the last 2 1/2 years. It actually looks like people live here vs just squatters, lol. Definitely another garage sale in a few weeks as I finish going through more stuff! This move we have dedicated to unpacking completely and downsizing the clutter as we don’t intend on moving again. So much fun to put together a home that’s “yours” and as time goes on to continue to chose the remaining furniture and things we need. But, we’ve got the basics and that’s all that we need!

The past several months have been well…I don’t think I can concisely sum up the emotions…on top of all the work in this transition, the holiday season, and recovering from surgery. While I’m not naive to the calendar of races creeping up quickly, my coach in his infinite wisdom, understood the pressures on me and knew what I would heap on myself as well and challenged me to this–no watches, no workout selfies, no social media/strava until I get settled. This would give me a chance to truly hone in on RPE and not stress about metrics, calendars, missed workouts, and structure and completely listen to what my body needs in the middle of healing, busyness, and one of the most stressful times of my life. Have I overdone it? Yup. Have I taken it easier than I probably needed to? Yup. Any regrets? Not a one. Though, all good things come to an end, and now that I’m on a routine now, we talked this morning that “the analog project” is coming to an end.

I recently went through Deena Kastor’s book, Let Your Mind Run, for probably the fourth time–this book resonates so much with me in how I want to balance the things I value, life, business, and training. To have flexibility in honoring what’s most important, yet also meeting the responsibilities of life and reaching our greatest potential. Win. Win. Win. And…peace.

Yesterday I sent my husband off to his job training and boy, they hit the ground running! Poor guy sounds exhausted. I too had quite the day. I had set a rather lofty agenda for the day to start off the week with a bang and got a ton done. Couldn’t be more pleased with all that I accomplished around the house and in my office today. Definitely starting the week on the right foot!

It’s so fun to see how things are taking shape as I still unpack all the fitness equipment…this shot is just a sliver (25%) of the studio space I’m utilizing for the gym for Heart and Sole (uh, and my bike trainer–with a view!)

Why Heart and Sole?

I need a name! *Face Palm* (There might have been another adjective or two in there) …that’s how it went when I started the steps of legitimizing this beautiful business of mine that has come to fruition. As I started working the steps (backwards, of course, until I got righted by the smart people) and coming to realize the order in which I needed to submit all of my paperwork to the Arizona Secretary of State, the city, the IRS, etc, I needed a proper name to call this dream I’m carrying out.

Enter…more smart people. aka: a few creative friends. One reminded me that the focus of my own holistic journey has not been completely rooted in the physical, but also entirely spiritual and richly enveloped in emotional change as well. The other reminded me of a very important scripture passage, Matthew 22:37, where Jesus says, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” (NLT)

All of me. All in. Sharing my journey, helping others find their full potential to reach their individual goals just as I have been lead to do in my own life too.

The name became crystal clear…and I owe all the creativity on the play on words to a girlfriend. The logo is going to be pretty cool too–more to be revealed (ooohhhh suspense!)

And there you have it, my dream become reality: Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness

Perfect Peace

There are very few times in my life when I can recall experiencing true peace and contentment in my life, but when you know it, you know it. You also know those experiences won’t stick around forever and you fiercely savor those moments to hide in your heart to remember because the memories do. Some of those peaceful moments I’ve experienced are things like when I signed my covenant in getting ready for ordination, walking down the aisle to marry my husband…never could or would I have imagined it coming from walking away from what was meant to be a lifetime of service.

But.

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” (Ecc 1:8, NLT)

My life of service isn’t over. My life of service in that particular vehicle of service is over.

I sat in a meeting this week expecting to be made a pariah for my new life, yet instead I was loved, encouraged, and prayed for instead–and even reminded that I have a marketplace ministry now, a place to make an impact for Christ right on the front lines. I could’ve cried right then and there…I’ve gotten good for saving the ugly crying for at least when I’m in my car or later on these days. I’m living my dream–to be able to help people navigate their individual paths to achieving their seemingly impossible goals. Because they’re not. I can do it, so can you.

I’m not stupid, I know the honeymoon will end. But I also can’t deny God’s hand at work in this transition how everything has fallen into place and is moving along well. He has made a way, and He is with us. He is good.

Last.

We have officially entered the hardest part of our transition out of our current ministry. The “lasts.” Over the next 10 days we will be conducting our last meetings, presenting at our last speaking engagements on particular topics, leading our last two Sundays as the pastors of the congregation, saying our “see ya laters” to folks, finishing packing and cleaning, ensuring all the proper contacts have the correct information for who/what/when/where/why going forward, and making sure everything is in place for a smooth transition for those new leaders that are stepping into our place.

Like ships in the night…that’s always been a hard part of our ministry and how we move around. We are going to be packing up our u-haul next Friday, moving into our new house on Saturday, popping back to lead for one last Sunday, hand over our keys to those that will hold them for the new leaders, and then they move in on Monday. Very much an unceremonious end to a chapter of life that has consumed us completely for many years. Such is life. We at least had the blessing last week to meet face-to-face with the folks stepping into our place, an opportunity that is not afforded often, and we were so pleased to have that time to make this transition (hopefully) smoother for them.

While these days are consumed with all of the “lasts,” we’re filled with excitement for the next steps in life. To be able to spend more time with our families, especially our aging parents…to care for ourselves in some ways that we haven’t been able to…to be able to live out some of my dreams that I’ve felt so strongly called to do…to work apart from my husband so each of us can thrive without being the two parts that make the whole vocationally…to move back to the community and people we dearly love. Excited, absolutely. And with all change, a bit of anxiety too. But how does that quote go? Your goals should excite you a lot and scare you a little–yeah, we’re there. It’s all good though. God has been with us in the process and led the way. Our full confidence is in Him.

There’s a lot of firsts too. My husband and I were married after we were in ministry full time, so there’s a lot that one or both of us are experiencing for the first time. We got to choose our home together. We purchased my first car…it still sounds bizarre for me to say that at 38 years old, but I’ve never had a car that was “mine”–all my friends had cars in high school, public transportation was readily available when I was in college and I remained living in that city for some years after, and then I entered seminary and since that point I’ve always driven fleet vehicles so I simply never had a need for my own. We have had to choose the first bits of furniture for our home that we’ll build upon as time goes on. We get to “reintroduce” ourselves to the world as individuals with specific passions, goals, gifts, talents, and even our now separate vocations. And there’s the hard parts too…there’s a big adjustment in having to plan, budget, and execute adulthood when so much has been provided for us over the years so our sole focus was our work. But we’re up to the challenge, because we know Who is leading the way.

We’ve been so blessed by the love and support we’ve received, and as always the prayers from others that we covet. This was never a choice we imagined making, but, life happens, and God is always bigger than our plans. He has provided us with the people that are upholding us, very gracious responses internally and externally to our choices, and the peace in our hearts to know that “it is well.” As with anything, there’s been blowback–people that have made assumptions, talk behind our back, or simply just refuse to talk to us to learn the truth of our situation…but we can’t control those situations, people, or their actions. We have definitely had a painful lesson in who your friends are and who’s around just for drama, but it’s helped us to lean in hard on the love–grasping on to the love that’s being shown to us in many ways and to lean on Him as He guides us in all the next right steps.

It is good. God is good. As our hearts break a bit going through the “lasts,” those holes are filled with a hope for the future. What is right and true and part of God’s will and purpose for us. For the moment, we keep plugging along to finish well, and soon, we exhale. A new chapter in our book of life. It is good.

More later. (and yeah, updated website coming soon…the tech inept–me–is close to nailing this!)

Awake and Alive

Just in case you haven’t noticed (because not all of it I’ve been able to keep it unpublished until launch as I develop all the new pages), stephanieunderconstruction.com is under construction! As of February 3 (praying all systems go according to my meager web development skills), this page will be the landing page for my new business, Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness! This blog will still remain (and become much more active), but as a tab on the main bar on the top of the page and not the first thing you see when you click on the website. (Hint: subscribe to the blog if you want new entries sent right to your inbox) The blog itself is not going to change–it’s still going to be about my holistic journey, athletic pursuits, and the bits and pieces of life suitable for the world wide web.

Speaking of life…big changes for the husband and I. The rumor mill has just been laughable to hear as it gets back to us the “reasons” people fabricate to make a good story. The lengths people have gone to in order to find “what’s up?” with us is beyond disappointing. Being probably two of the straightest shooters on the planet, I just fail to understand why grown adults won’t come and talk to the source directly. Integrity? Mind boggling. Shows you who your true friends are, I suppose.

Anyway, husband and I have freely made the decision that we needed to make some big life changes–probably one of the hardest decisions we have ever made in our marriage and one that was not come to lightly, but it’s needed. It’s hard, there’s some grief, I’d be lying if we weren’t a little scared, but also very excited. We get to care for families and ourselves in deeper ways, and that means the world.

This is the busiest month I can ever remember, even more so than any holiday season and all the responsibilities that it entails, trying to put all the pieces of transition in place for those that will follow in our footsteps so it is as seamless and smooth as can be, as well as make sure everything is in place for our move forward so that we have the basic essentials ready for us to hit the ground running. Even in all the work, stress, sadness, and grief–there’s joy. I can’t wait to embark on this next step with my husband.

Several years ago, as I began this journey, I had an encounter with a temporary employee that had known me before I made any changes in my life, and about a year later. She paid me the greatest compliment I had ever received up to that point, “you smile more than you used to.” Once we made this final decision in moving forward, even in the hard choices, someone I care for looked at me in conversation a couple weeks ago and said, “I haven’t seen you this happy in a long time.”

Joy. It’s not happiness, it’s joy. Joy in the midst of life and the circumstances that we can’t control, but God has such plans for our lives that blow our minds when we just follow Him in obedience. He has been so faithful to us in this process and we just continue to trust. Even in the sadness of leaving behind what we know, even in the moments of fear of what we don’t know. Trust and obey. He’s got it covered.

I was listening to the radio on the way to the office the other day and Skillet’s “Awake and Alive” came on from my playlist:

I’m at war with the world and they
Try to pull me into the dark
I struggle to find my faith
As I’m slippin’ from your arms

It’s getting harder to stay awake
And my strength is fading fast
You breathe into me at last

I’m awake I’m alive
Now I know what I believe inside
Now it’s my time
I’ll do what I want ’cause this is my life
Here, right here
Right now, right now
Stand my ground and never back down
I know what I believe inside
I’m awake and I’m alive

It’s my time…God is with us, God goes before us.

Stay tuned for more in a few weeks as the dust settles and the new website launches. The new homepage for Heart & Sole is pretty spiffy if I do say so myself (especially since I have ZERO website building experience beyond what I’ve done here) and will have pages for all of the different services available. Don’t want to overwhelm with all the info at once. Also, the most up-to-date information is available on my business Facebook page, facebook.com/heartandsolefit

And more coming on this blog about me, my comeback from my hysterectomy recovery, and the road back to fitness as I prepare for my races this year. More later.