Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Ties that Bind Us

Let me say before I even begin talking, that I am in NO way taking any sort of credit for what God is doing in the life of my family.  He is doing it all!  Anytime you want to think something good about me, think about Him.
                I have been thinking a lot about my family lately.  Not just about Mom, Dad, Luke and his family, and Andy but my whole family.  Most specifically, my Dad’s side of the family.  Not that I don’t often think of Mom’s side but they don’t struggle with my particular form of addiction.  If you know me well, you know that my Dad’s family struggles with obesity.  So many of them, my Dad, and me fight the never ending struggle against food.  Everything revolved and still to some extent revolves around food.  Of course, this takes its toll over the years.  Unfortunately, many of our family members have died early in life.  So many in their fifties from heart attacks.
                My Mammaw was one of these people.  She died when I was just a kid but there is probably no person I adored more at that point in my life (and still do).  I remember always feeling so safe and so loved by that woman.  I thought she hung the moon and I loved her dearly.  Unfortunately, for some reason I don’t have many childhood memories but I do have two in particular.  The first is that Mammaw and Pappaw used to take turns letting us come over and spend the night.  When you got to spend the night, it was a big deal because you got to pick whatever you wanted to eat for both supper and breakfast the next morning.  I remember clearly that my choices were always Little Caesars for dinner and Sweet Sixteen chocolate donuts for breakfast.  We didn’t go play outside or do anything active.  We went and ate.  My other memory is the fact that she wanted me to come spend the night with her and I told her I didn’t want to.  That memory still haunts me because I didn’t get to say I love you or spend that one more day with her.  It breaks my heart.  She died of a massive heart attack a few days after that.
                My father and I both inherited that love of food.  Even though I have always been fat, I never really thought about myself dying but my Dad dying was a constant fear.  I never thought he would live long enough to be in my wedding or see me have children.  The year he turned fifty I knew it was just a matter of time until he followed in the footsteps of his Mom and the others in his family.  Then he had triple bypass and they told him he had to lose weight.  I thought, well finally he will do it.  He didn’t and I didn’t understand why.  He finally was convinced by his doctors to have gastric bypass and lost 160 pounds.  I am not going to argue the merits of the surgery but I am thankful that it gave my Dad to me for what I hope is several more years.  During this whole time I never once thought, “Hey, Hannah you are heading in the same direction.” 
                If you are reading this blog then you know that about 14 months I finally began changing my life.  The funny thing is that one of the key causes of this change was a family picture we were taking of all the grandkids and great grandkids for my Pappaw.  I couldn’t stand what I saw in that picture.  I am not shy about talking about what is going in my life.  I am an open book and as you can imagine the few times a year I am with my extended family it is a topic of conversation.  Many of my family members are my friends on facebook and they celebrate my successes with me.  I tell them about changes and talk about what is different in my life.  You never know what your words are going to do when you just open your mouth and speak.
                A couple of weeks ago we had a small party to celebrate my 100 pound weight loss.  My Aunts and Uncles all came.  One of my Uncles told me that he had overheard a conversation between me and one of my Aunts about how this time was different.  How when I fail, this time I get back up and keep going.  This was a key.  He told me that he decided to start doing something about his health and now he has lost over 30 pounds.  I was blown away.  I never thought that my journey could help someone.  Especially someone I love so much.  Then that same night another Uncle told me he wanted to run a 5k with me.  Again, I was blown away.  I of course agreed and we are doing that 5k this coming Sunday.  Of course, I can’t run at the moment so we are walking and not only are the two of us walking but my other Uncle, my Aunt, and I believe 3 of my cousins are walking it with us.  I went home on Christmas Eve after being with my family and learning this and just cried.  I was so overcome with the realization that being obedient to God and his prompts could not just change my life but change the lives of those I love so much.
                This realization flipped another switch in my mind and heart on this journey.  If you can imagine a wall of light switches in your heart.  They all have to be switched for ultimate success but God has a pattern in which he wants them turned on.  I had been stuck for awhile and not being able to appreciate or understand the depth of what I was doing.  I was watching myself from a far and not living in my body through the success but only through the failure.  I feel like this growth in my family has flipped that next switch. 
I fully believe in generational bondage.  Exodus 34:6-7 says,” Yahweh!  The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy!   I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.  I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.  I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.   But I do not excuse the guilty.  I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected even children in the third and fourth generations.  Let us not kid ourselves and say that overeating is not a sin.  It is gluttony.  This sin has been passed down in my family.  It is bondage and I became determined to be the one to break it.  My children will have other things that they battle but as much as I can control, food will not be one of them.  But it isn’t just my children that can be saved from this destruction.  This past Sunday I heard a verse at church that really hit home about what I believe God is doing in my family.  Acts 16:31 says, “They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.”  I am not saying that I am saving my family because I can’t.  I can’t save them in anyway but my Jesus can.  He only asks me to believe.  I do believe.  I believe that my family can become more active.  I believe they can start eating healthier and I believe that one by one the chains of an early grave and the chains of destroying the temple God is made to live in will fall.  I believe whole heartedly that God can change my family.
My question to you is this, what is God calling you to do?  No matter how small you believe it is, it is for a reason.  I know 100% that God called me to this journey at this time for a reason.  I always wondered why I could never have success when what I wanted was Biblical and it would please God but he had a plan.  He had a plan for me to be at the gym I am at, with the people I am with, at this time for a reason.  What if I had disobeyed?  What if I gave into my constant fear or didn’t get back up when I fall?  What if I had questioned his timing or how he was going to provide?  It is not about what I do, it is about just showing up.  Take that first step.  Show up!  God can do amazing things with someone who is just willing to show up.

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”   Deuteronomy 30:19

Monday, December 12, 2011

Keeping My Eyes Open

The goal that I had my eyes on for over a year has now been reached.  Since I began this journey, I knew that losing 100 pounds was my first huge goal.  I have been focused on it and the weight aspect the whole time.  As the number approached, I became more and more freaked out about it.  Would I get there by the date I had set?  What would I do after I got there?  If the first 100 was this hard, how hard was the second 100 going to be?  If you know anything about me, you know that when I become freaked out about something parts of my heart and mind shut down and become numb to protect myself from pain.  You would think this would make you feel better or safer but that is not the case.  God did not create us to run from pain or numb ourselves to it but instead to keep walking through it, leaning on Christ every step of the way.  I don’t do this well the majority of the time.
                I have actually been struggling with this the entire journey, but as the pressure turned up the harder it got to not go numb.  This has been a big issue in the gym.  As I have watched weight fall off me and I have begun to be able to do things I never dreamed I would be able to do, I have not taken pleasure in these successes.  Yes, every once in awhile I would feel pride that I accomplished something or people would tell me how amazing something was but it never felt real.  I told Meredith that it was like watching someone else do all of that stuff.  It wasn’t me.  It was some other girl.  I never felt in the moment and honestly, that stinks.  When you feel every bit of the physical pain and you feel the pain of missing family events or time with friends, you better believe you want to feel the pride, excitement, and happiness from success.  So how do you do that?  How do you live in the moment and not shut your heart down?  This is the challenge I have moved onto now.  It is not one of running more miles, lifting more weights, or eating more proteins and less carbs.  It is a matter of healing past hurts, of trusting God with those hurts and those moments that led to this present, it is a matter of trusting myself to succeed and not fail.  This maybe the hardest challenge yet.
                As I have considered these questions and talked about them with Meredith, we have not come to an answer but that does not mean you stop working in the mean time.  I am continually asking God for direction and steps to take.  Last week, I was listening to my Needtobreathe “Reckoning” CD for the millionth time and a song that I have heard a lot spoke fresh to me.  It is “Keep Your Eyes Open” and here are the lyrics (Emphasis Mine):
“If you could soldier on
Headstrong into the storm
I’ll be here waiting on the other side
Don’t look back
The road is long
The first days of the war are gone
Take back your former throne and turn the tide

Cause if you never leave home, never let go
You’ll never make it to the great unknown till you
Keep your eyes open, my love
So tell me you’re strong, tell me you see
I need to hear it, can you promise me to
Keep your eyes open, my love

Just past the circumstance
The first light, a second chance
No child could ever dance the way you do, oh
Tear down the prison walls
Don’t start the curtain call
Your chains will never fall until you do

Cause if you never leave home, never let go
You’ll never make it to the great unknown till you
Keep your eyes open, my love
So show me your fire, show me your heart
You know I’ll never let you fall apart if you
Keep your eyes open, my love

Open up
Open up
Open up your eyes
The weight is unbroken
Open up
Open up
Open up your eyes
Keep your eyes open

Don’t let the night become the day
Don’t take the darkness to the grave
I know pain is just a place
The will has been broken
Don’t let the fear become the hate
Don’t take the sadness to the grave
I know the fight is on the way
When the sides have been chosen

Cause if you never leave home, never let go
You’ll never make it to the great unknown
Open up your eyes
Keep your eyes open
So tell me you’re strong, tell me you see
I need to hear it, can you promise me to
Keep your eyes open, my love
So show me your fire, show me your heart
You know I’ll never let you fall apart if you
Keep your eyes open, my love

Keep your eyes (Keep your eyes open)”
There was so much in this song that spoke to me.  I could hear Jesus whispering to my spirit that He was right there.  Not only waiting on the other side but walking along side me.  He has given me a year of victories to look at when I feel weak or like a failure.  I have a year of the war over and yes, the sides have been chosen.  I am on the winning side.  There is no turning back now!  This was all reflective and looking back but He gave me words for the future too and these are the ones that have become what I shout in my mind during the times of attack and doubt.
                I am scared.  I am not afraid to admit it.  Everything that I have ever wanted seems to be getting closer by the day and every pound or inch I lose seems to be throwing me forward towards a future that I so desire but that I am not sure if I am ready for.  Am I emotionally prepared to date and marry?  Am I ready to have only myself to depend on?  Who is this person that I am becoming and will people still like her?  I am scared of becoming just as addicted to exercise and nutrition as I was to food.  After all, not all addictions are to inherently evil things.  Give me more time and I could come up with more things that I am scared of.  However, this song reminded me if I do not let go then I am going to miss it.  If I don’t let go of the fear, of the control, of the doubt then I am going to miss or delay what God has for me.  I don’t want to miss the great unknown because it is there that God is calling me. I have to keep my eyes open and my heart open and alert.  It cannot be numb.  I promise to keep my eyes open and God promises to not let me fall apart.
Part of letting go is learning to do this fitness journey alone and trusting myself to succeed.  Now hear me that I know I am not truly alone because I not only have my Abba Father but I also have a duo of women who God has blessed me with that are right there next to me.  However, right now I am not training and I don’t have someone to push me harder and farther than I know to go.  I have to find that within myself.   As a people pleasing, background, and soft spoken person I don’t find fire easy to come by.  So the line, “Show me your fire, show me your heart,” has become my constant reminder.  It is what I say when I don’t feel intense or purposeful.  I wish I had it on a bracelet.  It is what I have promised myself and what I promise those who are pushing me.  I will show you my fire and you already see my heart. 
One of the reasons I decided to do this blog is that I am slowly learning that God uses things I say and do in ways that I just don’t understand.  But then again, his thoughts are not my thoughts and his ways are not my ways.  I don’t know if anyone else has walked where I am walking right now and can offer me advice or if someone is just starting the journey that I have already started and needs someone to talk to.  Whatever it is, God has a plan and purpose.  I am confident in one thing and it is this, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6  Keep walking my friends!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

More than a Child's Toy (Written October 2011)

How many times do we miss the opportunities, joy, or pleasure from the moment God has us in because we are worrying or being frightened by things to come?  For me, this is daily struggle.  I am not the kind of person that finds it easy to live in the now.  I can see what is coming up before me and some days it seems so huge and daunting and I seem so small and insignificant.  I think if only I could truly internalize and believe in my heart God's words in Matthew 6:34, "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today."

God just drilled me in the heart about this today.  Let me tell you how.  I have fallen in love with indoor cycling.  If I could do one thing at the gym for the rest of my life, that would be it.  I don't know why.  I have really been wanting to move that love to the outdoors.  It is fall now and the temperature is comfortable and the scenery beautiful.  I thought it would be nice to go ride on the weekends and not have to be so dependent on a gym.  I have a bike.  I got it two years ago for Christmas.  That was during my non-fitness days and so while I really did want it, I never rode it.  Can you guess what happened to it?  It rusted.  I in my naivete thought that it only would rust if it got wet and since it was in the garage I thought it would be fine.  I was wrong.  Inactivity destroys but that is a whole other subject.  I was recently given a gift to celebrate my fitness-versary and I have been praying and thinking about buying a new bike from a cycle shop.  To help me in this decision, my friend Christy offered to bring her two bikes with her to the Rush and we would go ride them and see what I thought.  I was pumped but more terrified and worried.  Why you may ask, it is only bike riding?  Well, I haven't been on a bike since probably middle school.  I decided to help remedy this by riding my bike around yesterday to get used to it again.  This did not go well.  The seat wouldn't stop tipping me off the bike and I couldn't get going.  It just was a complete failure.  Hannah's level of worry and fear were at about a 9.

So today comes and before I was going bike riding, I had my training session.  It was our first session back in strength so I knew my muscles were in for it.  It was a DISASTER!  I could tell when I was warming up that my head was not right and as much I as tried to pray through it and mentally prepare myself, I couldn't get past my fears of the bike ride.  In the moment I had no idea that was the problem.  See when I freak myself out, I become numb and blank.  I just kinda zone out.  So instead of me being able to pinpoint the problem I just get frustrated about the result.  I have a wonderful trainer who can read me better than any human I have ever encountered (and that is saying something considering some of the people that are my friends and family).  She knew something was up and when I was supposed to be doing pull-ups and I just couldn't get it, she pulled me off and let me do some cardio on the rowing machine to reset myself and then we did a different exercise that worked the same muscle group.  I did finish the day and it was a hard workout but because of my fear of the future and really my pride, I missed what God had for me in that moment.  I missed the joy and pleasure of doing something I can't believe I am doing.  I missed it.

The bike ride started the same way.  I couldn't even get seated on it without tipping one way or the other.  We were going nowhere and I was becoming more and more embarrassed.  Thankfully, Christy is a patient woman and worked on it and I finally got going.  In the beginning I kept driving into things.  If you have ever seen the Frasier episode where he learns to ride a bike, you know what I am talking about.  If you stare at a pole, or a creek, or a manhole cover you are probably going to drive into it.  How many times do we do the same thing in life?  We get so focused on an obstacle we miss that all we have to do is turn the wheel just a bit and go on the path God meant for us to walk and we get past it.  Sometimes we even have to go over the obstacle and we may fall down.  We may fail, but we have to get back on the bike and keep pedaling this journey we are on.   I am so thankful my Jesus loves me even when I fall off the path or when I take a REALLY long time to get back on the bike.  He is so patient.  Romans 2:4 says,"Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience,not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?"  He is kind, tolerant, and patient.  So I got back on my bike and I kept riding.  It was a beautiful time outside, with a friend, and just listening to the Spirit.  He brought me to the root of my fear (my pride) and I was able to confess it and move on.  The end of the bike ride showed a ton of progress and I felt at peace about what I had accomplished.

So what are you worrying about right now that is making you miss the moment?  God has a divine plan for your life and every single moment is accounted for.  Don't miss a single one!  IF you do, and we all do, continue on and grasp on to the next one.  Everyday brings it's own trouble but thankfully God's mercies are new every morning.

My Story (Written October 2011)

Okay, if you follow me on Facebook then you have seen this but I figured it was a good place to start.  It was written in October.  I don't know how often I will blog but Mom finally convinced me it was necessary.  Who am I to say that my story can't be used by God to change people.  I am willing and He is more than able.

I have now been on this journey to health and fitness for a year.  I am in general a very reflective person but holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. all usually make that especially true.  So I thought I would write down my story of the past year and some things that God has taught me about himself and about myself.
                It all started last year in September.  I tell most people that I just woke up one morning and thought, “I think I will go join a gym.”  That is pretty close to the truth but it really happened like this.  I was in the midst of taking 15 hours of history classes so that I could student teach the following semester.  Like any typical college students I did most of my work at night and stayed up playing on my computer researching or writing.  One night during the last night of September I started looking at gym websites because I felt a nudge to join a gym.  I checked out several in the area but landed on the Rush because it was close and it was open 24 hours.  I clicked on the trial membership button hoping that just meant that I could go workout for two weeks to try it out and be left alone until I decided to join.  That was not the case as I was emailed the next day to set up an appointment to meet with the sales staff.  I made an appointment but immediately started coming up with excuses of why I couldn’t go.  I finally emailed the guy and made up something of why I couldn’t come.  We moved the appointment to September 30th.  This one I kept and this was the divine appointment God had set up for me.
                Have you ever been terrified to even walk in a door?  I care very much what people think of me.  Even people I don’t know.  I know that people look at fat people and assume that we are slobs, lazy, and uneducated.  I mean after all, no intelligent person would let themselves weight 350 pounds.  I go into any first impression meeting trying to figure out how to counteract these assumptions.  Going into a gym is a lot worse because almost everyone there is healthy or at least looks healthy.  I was blessed however, by meeting a young woman named Katie.  When I sat down to meet with the sales guy he had Katie come join us as we talked about my goals and what I was looking for.  She then took me around and showed me some exercises.  I am all about heart and I feel connections with people very strongly and very quickly (this is a blessing and a curse).  I felt this with Katie.  She had eyes that didn’t look at me with shame or condemnation and she was knowledgeable.  This combined with my inability to say no to things led me to not only sign a two year contract but to buy some training sessions.  You have to understand that if I had not bought these sessions I would not have succeeded.  Hannah plus a treadmill would not have equaled success.  He knew what was coming down the road and knew that I needed support and accountability there in that building where I intended to be completely left alone and isolated.
                Training is incredibly difficult.  It isn’t just the physical aspect that is hard and painful but the mental aspect, most days, is my more difficult challenge.  It really didn’t help any that my second training session resulted in me passing out for like 5 minutes.  Lucky for me I never hit the floor as I just kind leaned up against a machine but I woke up to Katie terrified and the fitness manager getting ready to call an ambulance.  This is what happens when you don’t prepare for a hard workout by eating or drinking.  One of my biggest fears in the gym is throwing up so I hadn’t eaten anything.  I have not made that mistake again.  I continued to work out with Katie for the next month or so and then she got promoted to fitness manager for our club.  I was devastated.  You have to understand that this partnership for me was like a cancer patient with a trusted doctor.  Here I am dying more and more every day.  Just destroying my body and this person is sent to save me.  For that to be taken from me in my mind was a disaster.  Also, my number one issue in life is that I depend on people more than God.  I am aware of this problem and I battle it in every single relationship I enter into.  I have a bad habit of getting very angry with God and blaming Him any time I lose someone.  So here I was in the same situation again.  Honestly, I fell apart that day when I got home and really thought that was the end of my journey already.  One more failed attempt.  Thank God I was wrong and it was all God that I was wrong.
                Katie told me that she knew just who she wanted to take over training me and that this person was like me and she thought we would be a good fit.  I chose to trust her and give this woman a chance.  I started training with Amy in November.  She was wonderful.  We got to take the training to different levels and she knew how to push me at the same time as encouraging me.  That is a lot harder than it looks. She was not afraid to be bold and speak the truth and I found another ally in this battle.  But even more than the training relationship, we developed a friendship.  I found out that her and her family attended Faith Promise Church.  I have been struggling with going to church for several years now.  When you are damaged by a church like I was, it takes a lot of time to get over it.  Some days I still don’t feel over it.  However, during all this time I have felt a constant pull to this church.  They are current and use technology and media to reach people.  It is always growing and they have a 11:45 service!  She invited me to go with them and so I did.  I have found a new church home and part of my relationship with God that had been missing.  It was like a piece of my heart being restitched.  I got the privilege of working out with Amy for about 9 months.  During this time I started spinning regularly and fell in love with it.  I also began jogging.  For me this was unbelievable!  Amy showed me how big of a role fear was playing in my life.  It was a time where I recognized a problem but still didn’t know how to deal with it.
                About a month ago I started working out with Meredith.  This transition, though abrupt, was a lot smoother than the first one.  I got to know Meredith through spin class.  She is my favorite instructor.  For me, I want an instructor who is engaged with the participants, who can correct in the middle of class, who cares about the little things, and who works with passion and dedication.  All of these things applied to her.  She got to know me and we had a very cordial relationship.  She became another part of my support team.  I even got to train with her once when Amy was on vacation.  Now she is my trainer soul mate.  I like so much about her as a person as well as a trainer.  She loves her children fiercely.  She is a wealth of encouragement and is one of those people who ooze compassion and kindness. She is a lot like me because she wants to help everyone and carries their problems on her back.   I had learned all of this and on the training end I was confident in her abilities.  I was still nervous because I had to prove myself and how strong I was.  I was still terrified though to do some things.  I still didn’t trust myself to let go in some aspects of certain exercises.  A couple of weeks ago our gym was remodeled and we got a Ring of Fire.  This monstrosity of a machine involves a lot of pulleys and harness type contraptions where you use your body as weight or leverage.  It forces you to let go and trust yourself.  My biggest issue was about to be dealt with.  Sure enough the first day of training when the gym reopened Meredith had me on that thing.  Though she was patient with me and my fear, she was still determined that I was going to do the exercises.  She told me even if we were there all day I would do it.  It was so hard but I was able to do it and felt some of that fear slipping away.  It wasn’t so much that I trusted myself because my body has always tried to kill me.  It was that I trusted her.  She said my body could handle it.  Her with her many years of experience training, her with her sessions with me and knowing my limitations, and mostly her confidence and trust in me.  Knowing that she knew I could do it, made me know I could do it.
For most of this entire journey I have had several other women who have been counselors and advisors to me.  God continues to surround me with support.  They come in all kinds of people.  I don’t know their spiritual conditions.   I don’t know if they all have a relationship with Jesus.  I try everyday when I am there to let Jesus work through me.  I try to allow Him to show up.  I want them to see Him.  He is the reason for my success.  Proverbs 11:14 “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.”  God has surrounded me with advisers.  I have had three different trainers and two different fitness managers.  The only one I haven’t told you about yet is Christy.  She has been around me for almost the whole journey.  She has a tremendous amount of wisdom and knowledge about nutrition and fitness.  She is my go to girl with random questions.  She calls me “all-star” and makes me feel like a million bucks every time she speaks to me.  She helps me remember to fight the mental battle just as much as my physical battle.  These women have been my greatest source of encouragement and support walking around with flesh on.  They each bring different things to the table that have combined to get me where I am today.  They even bought me spin shoes.  I honestly can’t imagine my life without them.  God has used them to show me how important preparation, discipline, and knowledge are in all aspects of life, especially my walk with Him.  I had gotten away from spending time with him and all of my books were fiction.  I wasn’t growing and learning.  I wasn’t seeking him.  I was just expecting Him to show up when I needed him and then to go away again.  That isn’t how this thing works.  He wants all of me.  He wants surrender to him and his purposes.  He wants me to seek hard after him.

                So that brings me to now.  I have lost 79 pounds this year.  Not my goal, but a great amount nonetheless.  An amount that I am very proud of.  But what I am even more pleased with is the work God has done in me on the inside.  This year has been the second hardest period of my life.  I spent  2 to 3 years dealing with a deep depression and all kinds of related issues.  I dwelt in darkness and pits that were so dark and deep I couldn’t see death right in front of my face.  I had no hope for a future or any happiness.  God got me through that time and showed me a future.  He showed me that I didn’t need a person to be happy.  That was the major lesson of that time.  This last year has been about trust.  To prove that this journey could not have been done without him, he had me do it in a time of no job, almost no income, and no time.  He chose this year to flip the motivation and desire switch in my heart and soul.  It didn’t matter that I had none of those things.  I had Him and he was (and is) driving me.  Thoughts and issues gain so much power in the dark.  Would you believe that for so many years I refused to admit that my weight affected me?  When I was going to counseling I refused to talk about my weight with my counselor.  I told her it had nothing to do with my problems.  It stayed in the dark though it was completely visible for everyone to see.  No more!  With this motivation, God illuminated my heart and showed me where it has.  How it has made me work harder and longer to be loved and appreciated because I thought that is what I had to do to earn love.  My struggle no longer stays in the dark.  It is not only visible but it is known.  I know what I am dealing with and God is showing me broken wall by broken wall how it has imprisoned me these many years.
                That is what God has shown me about me.  He has shown me more about himself.  Here are some things:
1.)    Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
I have spent a lot of my life being ashamed.  I have felt like I didn’t live up to the expectations of others because of my weight.  When I talk to people about my struggles I can see condemnation in their eyes.  It made me stop talking to people about what I struggle with.  It made me want to lie.  How was your day?  Fine (Horrible, please love me).  Did you go to church?  Yes (Nope).  How was your eating this week?  Pretty good (Please don’t ask specifics!)  God has shown me over the past year that this is not him.  He loves me for me.  He died for 350 pound Hannah.  He loves me and has a plan for my future that I can’t even comprehend.  He is breaking down my desire to cover up and keep stuff in the dark.  He is light and he is truth.  In Him and in his Truth, I am set free.
2.)    Romans 8:28 “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.”  I can’t see the future.  I don’t know what God has for me out there.  About a month ago I was living in a pit that I hadn’t been in in years.  Do you know what it is like to gain victory over something for several years and then for it to come back with an intensity that is like it never left?  It is scary.  I was terrified that I was where was back in college.  The place where I didn’t want to live and where I had no hope.  I was not losing weight, I had no teaching job, I had barely any hours at work, I still had no husband or children, I lived with my parents, and some other random stuff.  I saw no light.  I told no one this stuff and tried to act like everything was okay.  I went back to keeping things in the dark.  After crying and talking with my parents, I surrendered all of this junk to Christ and admitted that while I only see this, God sees where I am going.  He knows why I am working at Lifeway and not at a school.  He knows why I am still not married.  He knows why my weight loss is weird and inconsistent.  I trust Him.  Just like I did an exercise because Meredith believed I could do it, I decided to walk my life because God believed I could do it and had a plan for it.  He trusts me with the plan he has for me and I have to walk it.  He is working for my good, not to destroy my dreams.
3.)    2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and of timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”  Along with 1 John 4:8 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment” God is driving out my fear with love.  His love is giving me peace and peace is driving out the fear and anxiousness I feel.  Part of what is showing me this is the love of my trainers.  Katie, Amy, Meredith, and Christy want the best for me and my life.  They have a love for me and a hope for me and that helps drive out my fear.  So much more does God love me and his love is so consuming there is no room for fear.  It tries to creep up on me but I am getting better at recognizing it and bringing it to God.  He is freeing me from a prison I never knew existed.
4.)    Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.”  My journey is not over.  I have a long way to go.  120 more pounds in the physical fitness journey.  But in my spiritual journey I have a lot to work on.  God is working in me right now.  I feel a building in my spirit.  I feel like he is doing a mighty work.  I just have to continue to be yielded to him.  I have to keep standing in him.  As long as I stand in Him, he will continue to give me the strength to walk this road and when I can’t he will be there.  This isn’t over and I don’t want it to be over.  I want to be the woman God created me to be.  I am working on it .  After all, He isn’t finished with me yet.

Thanks for taking the time to read this ramble of a story.  I write what is in my heart and this is what I have been thinking about over the past few days.  The bottom lines are these:  God is not finished with my transformation yet, and I am not just talking about my physical transformation.  God uses the strangest things and the most eclectic use of people to get you where he wants you.  God gives you the support you need when you need it.  God died for me (and you) so that we could live in freedom, not bondage.  Trust Him!  Don’t know this God?  Ask.  He loves you and so do I!