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Patience & Preparation, then Press On!

The excitement sets in – you’ve finally made the decision to work toward something you’ve been wanting to do for a while now!

Good for you! You totally got this…

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There is, however, one thing I’d suggest before you take too many steps forward. One of the best things we can do to set ourselves up for a successful journey is to learn and prepare as best we can for the journey we’re about to embark on.

When one makes the decision to work toward a goal, many times immediate action is taken – and, believe me, I am ALL for taking action … how would we accomplish our goals otherwise, right? But, there is something to be said for taking strategic action! Thought and preparation will create a strong starting foundation – and you deserve that!

Patience has always been hard for me – I am very much a “doer”… a woman with a vision! I take pride in being a risk taker, but one thing I’ve learned over the years is how I could have prevented many of the challenges I’ve faced if I had taken strategic action…calculated risks.

If you are reading this and you are ready to take action toward accomplishing your goal, here are 3 tips to help you prepare for your exciting venture!

1. Learn about what you are pursuing – whether it is motherhood, a degree, a career change, starting a business. Read articles, invest in an informational class or purchase a few books on the topic. Knowledge is power…preparation.

2. Chunk it down. You have a big picture and vision, but you also want to break down your goal into several ‘mini goals’ so you are taking consistent action. It’s like walking up a staircase – step by step and then you make it to the top! This also helps to prevent feeling overwhelmed or even becoming stagnant.

3. Determine a way you plan to track your progress. Will you have a notepad where you record “check in notes” to be sure you are moving forward? Will you have a calendar where you post your ‘mini goal’ dates? Or maybe you want to choose someone in your life as your accountability partner. Establishing this all before you take off on your journey will not only increase motivation, but will also help to prevent ‘falling off the wagon’ down the line.

Patience and preparation, then press on!

-Jen

 

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#TransformationTuesday: Angela Hopf

The hashtag Transformation Tuesday (#TransformationTuesday) is a popular trend on social media – commonly used in the health and wellness world, where people post a ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture of their weight loss or fitness journey.

While I am all for the support and encouragement of health and wellness, what if we decided to share stories of the transformation within our minds and hearts?

The first Tuesday of every month will serve as #TransformationTuesday, where a special guest will share his or her story of being transformed through God!

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10


Meet Angela!

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Since I’ve decided to do this, many things have come to mind of how God has transformed me.  I also realized he is in the middle of transforming me and will continue to do His work in me.  As I recalled many things, I see what a mess I am.  I am His work in progress, and now my God gets all the glory for who I am today.  Today I am a 43 year old woman, I am a mother of 3, a wife to a wonderful man, and a grandmother to two beautiful babies.  I would love to say because of how blessed I am to have such a big loving family that my days are filled with joy, laughter, and peace, and most of the time they are, but like I said, I am a work in progress and sometimes life is just hard.

We live in a fallen, broken, sinful world.  Some days I feel as if I battle through this journey called life as the woman who has to go through the fire for the future generations in my family.  I am Angela Hopf and I haven’t always given my life to God.  Looking back at who I was, I was surviving.  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).  I was a fool; a broken, hurt young girl who survived by filling my life with my own selfish desires.

My parents divorced when I was 12 years old.  These first years of my life were filled with fear, worry, physical and mental abuse.  By the age of 14 I was placed in a foster home.  So, now on top of everything else, dealing with issues of rejection and abandonment consumed my adolescence.  At this time in my life, when just being a teenage girl has enough of its own issues, I felt unworthy of love, while concealing guilt and shame.  The enemy was having the time of his life with my mind.  “We are destroying speculations and even lofty things raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).  I have just learned in these past ten years how to really battle the mind.  The family that took me in were Christians.  Looking back I could see that was God, but at the time, I could only feel all of the thoughts that were consuming me.

My self-image was low as you can imagine.  I was barely 100 pounds and thought I was fat.  I believe that was the heaviness of all the damage and lies.  So, I ended up with an eating disorder and became sicker.  Oddly, this was the first time in my life I felt in control.  I loved it.  I was able to overcome my eating disorder after a year of intense therapy, followed by many years of slip ups.  The next thing I moved on to was sex.  I never let myself love or care about a guy.  Sex was all I wanted.  I used my power of being a woman for my own evil desires.  This is just another example of how deeply wounded I was and how my thought process was so distorted.  Today I teach my daughters about purity and worth.  “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).

Angela Hopf

You see, I was missing God in my life, trying so hard to fill that void with many things.  I also dabbled in witchcraft.  A spirit, I know, the Lord broke off of me and the generations ahead.  “He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains” (Psalms 107:14).  But why would I try God?  My walls were high and I wanted nothing to do with love, and God is love.  He wanted to wipe my tears and show me what He had planned for me.  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).  The Lord removed me from my family to protect me.  To show me what a Godly family would look like because God Knew I was going to be a mother and a wife one day.  I needed that foster home.  It took me many years to thank God for that home.

I had my first baby when I was 20.  In my son, was the first time I felt true love through all my brokenness.  I loved him the best I knew how.  Daniel is now 22 years old, and over the span of his life I have learned how to forgive myself for not giving him the life he deserved because I only began to grow and change as he grew and matured.  I was so happy to have a baby who needed me and loved me.  I didn’t realize he needed me to be strong and guide him and teach him about the Lord.  I was still only “surviving” but now with another life to be responsible for.  Daniel is now on his own journey and I know, and I claim in the name of Jesus, He will be living his life for God one day and not of the world like I was.  “For the Lord your God is He who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory” (Deuteronomy 20:4).

Today I am an overcomer!  Today I am a mother who guides her children to know the Lord and teaches them how to battle the lies of the enemy.  I show them their worth through God’s eyes. Today I know the love of a man.  My marriage is a gift from God.  It’s not perfect, and no marriage is, but with God in the center, it’s pretty close.  But most of all, today I know the love of God.  I know when any adversity comes my way my God will never leave me nor forsake me.  I know I am set free from the lies of the devil and above all, I am forgiven.  I am the apple of His eye, so whom shall I fear!?  I am transformed by the blood of the Lamb and until He calls me home my God will continue to transform me.  I make myself available to Him to leave a legacy of generations of believers long after I’m gone.  Today, I don’t just survive; I live!

( John 10:10) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I come that they may have life and have it abundantly.

-Angela Hopf


Interested in sharing your experience for a future #TransformationTuesday? Click here to connect – I would love to hear from you!

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#TransformationTuesday: Kristen Hemmings

The hashtag Transformation Tuesday (#TransformationTuesday) is a popular trend on social media – commonly used in the health and wellness world, where people post a ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture of their weight loss or fitness journey.

While I am all for the support and encouragement of health and wellness, what if we decided to share stories of the transformation within our minds and hearts?

The first Tuesday of every month will serve as #TransformationTuesday, where a special guest will share his or her story of being transformed through God!

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10


Meet Kristen!

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I’m really honored that Jen asked me to share my story. It may not be much different than yours, but I am proud of where I’ve come from, what I’ve moved through, and what God is moving me towards.

I am the quintessential people pleaser. The first born in my family, I have always been a rule follower; a person who believes in structure and hierarchy- in fairness. In terms of my relationship with God, A + B always equaled C. If I followed His commands, was nice to my neighbors, and rewound Blockbuster movies before I returned them (hey – I came of age in the late 90s, so this was relevant at the time!), then God would reward me. I didn’t realize it then, but it was a very “works-based” mentality. I believed I deserved the blessings God would bring to me because I was “good.”

Right after college, I got married. I knew this was the next step God wanted me to take, and I fully believed He would bless our marriage. I was not prepared for marital strife and even less prepared for an extended period of unhappiness. As my marriage fell apart, I became a petulant child with God. “I did what you asked me! I am a good person!! Why isn’t my life working out according to MY plan?!?!” I felt lost. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t on a clear trajectory. I had no coping skills to deal with this and felt that God owed me better. Resentful, hurt, and immature I spent the next several years of my life “doing my own thing.” I had tried God’s plan and it didn’t work out – why would I trust Him going forward?

During this period of time, there was plenty of collateral damage. Not only was I turning my back on God, but I had completely let my own selfish thoughts take over. I was not a good friend. I was not a good daughter. I was not a good sister, Christian, coworker, or neighbor. I treated others in my life as second class to the real Queen Bee: myself.

My selfish nature never felt satisfied. I was always searching, always restless, always criticizing myself. I never spent time alone in those days as silence and solitude only reminded me of my failures. Loud music, fun parties, and big distractions were the norm. And I wasted one of life’s most precious commodities: time.

The exhaustion of life was catching up with me. I was tired of making my own choices and still feeling like a failure. I was tired of the guilt I would heap on myself. Guilt that my marriage ended and guilt that I had hurt people. As someone who believed in fairness, I deserved unhappiness because I had made others unhappy. What a sad picture of my life.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that things started to change. It was gradual. I met my husband, Brad, and through many conversations he helped me to see that failures and bad decisions don’t preclude us from happiness. I started to really listen to church sermons that would challenge me. Ones that would make me look deep into that dark place in my heart and confront some parts of me that I didn’t like. And then God took me on a journey that would ultimately bring me back to Him.

Now married, Brad and I decided to start a family. We suffered a miscarriage and then a year and a half of infertility. Every month brought hope, fear and pain as I worried I would never have children. Instead of pushing God away, I clung desperately to Him. I worshiped and read and went to retreats and talked to friends where I was real and raw. And my prayers changed from “please let me have a child” to “please let your will be done.” Because over the past 10 years I had learned that true happiness, true freedom, and true love come from walking with God through life – especially the low and dark places we do not want to walk. Like David describes in Psalms 23, I was the sheep, scared of the storm, trying to run away to escape the rain and thunder. But God, my Shepherd, came after me, and held me. And even though the storm raged on, I was no longer lost. And that brought a peace like I had never experienced in my life.

Eventually, I did get pregnant, and I had a beautiful baby boy. I had another boy two years after that. God continues to transform me through my children. Where I once had apathy, I now have drive. Where I once meandered through life, I now have purpose and intensity.

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God has shown me that what I do for myself in life will end with me, but what I do for others is eternal. It becomes something greater than myself and multiplies and continues. Each morning I try to stop and ask myself, how can I show God’s love today? What can I do for others? Please don’t take this blog as a declaration of having everything figured out. I still fight against my selfish nature. I still eye up the corner office, sometimes drawn towards worldly success. But God isn’t finished with me yet, and the comfort of walking through life with a God bigger than all of it steadies me and guides me.

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“In this life we will have trouble, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.” The words of Jesus give me courage to walk through the storms and give me a heart to help others who don’t feel like they can take the next step.

God is faithful. Seek Him out – whether that’s through prayer or community or singing “Jesus Loves Me” just to get through the day. You aren’t in this alone. You never were. You, like me, just got scared of the storm. But if you call out to Him, the Shepherd will find you and keep you dry and safe as you ride it out together.

-Kristen Hemmings


Interested in sharing your experience for a future #TransformationTuesday? Click here to connect – I would love to hear from you!

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Kick it to the Curb: Let Go. Let God.

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Confession: I grew up a worry wart (that’s an absolute understatement) and I still consistently fall victim to “worry”, “doubt”, and “anxiety”. Yes, me, the girl who posts and publicly speaks about positivity and motivation! We all have struggles…skeletons in our closet. Don’t be ashamed of your struggle – you are not alone! I am not alone.

There are times I can quickly kick anxiety to the curb and then days like the last two days where I just can’t beat it. It consumes my mood and every little thing feels like a ton of bricks piling up.

BUT, I always hit this point where I feel God shakes my shoulders and forces me to take a couple steps back to consider what it is that I’m allowing to stress me out so badly – I, then, remember 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” ….. Let GO and let GOD.

I definitely understand the pain and emotional defeat that anxiety and worry can bring into your life. The way it can impact your relationships and your own mental state. But, I can tell you God brings so much more into your life if you make room for it. Also, I’m here for you if you ever need it! We got this!

Let go, let God.

-Jen