Me Challenged?

Last evening I had dinner with a new friend, Alise.  She did something few people ever do.  She challenged me.  For those of you who are just getting caught up, I am a very strong Type A, so within the confines of my life, I usually set a mastery level goal for everything I do.  Therefore, I don’t get challenged much.  Last nights meal was so liberating and I am so grateful to Alise for calling me out on the carpet!

Alise is a relatively quiet individual that I met when volunteering for coffee at my church.  But, don’t let that fool you.  Take her to dinner and she’ll throw bullets your way faster than an AK-47.  Fortunately, her bullets encase a billion wonderful ideas, and for me some of them were outside my comfort zone.  There isn’t much outside my comfort zone, so here again, she tapped into something rare.  Pretty good for a first date.    😜

Scanning my Fb page she had discovered my FT gig as a Plexus Worldwide ambassador.  She checked out a few of my FB lives, of which I don’t do many, or at least haven’t up until this point and then popped over to this blog.  She was shocked that I didn’t have anything about my Plexus business on my blog.  Her line of questioning, and look on her face, was one of “what are you thinking?”  Some of this came about because so much of my personal story leads into why I do Plexus and how it came about in my life.  She had watched other network marketers take full advantage of a blog and FB lives and so forth to promote their business, so why wasn’t I doing it too?

She made a very good point.  But I have good reason, at least I think I do.  This blog is the first time I have ever really sat down to write, and it was God’s push that spawned the new hobby.  Honestly, I didn’t even know why he was pushing me in this direction, but as he did I realized just how much I loved it.  For some of you, a hobby or passion strictly under the umbrella of a hobby may be no big deal.  For those of you with a childhood like mine, every minute of effort is expended into survival and there is no time for hobbies.  If it isn’t making money, it isn’t worth doing.  But this blog is different.  It isn’t about making money or attracting a base of readers or creating influence to sell a product.  I wanted it to be about connection.  The human connection.  The stories of people from every walk of life sharing perspective and wisdom.  I’m just getting started so this is obviously a long term deal, but it’s always nice to keep a vision in mind.

The problem is, Alise pointed out that my Plexus is a big part of my story and will speak volumes to so many people.  It will create connection, inspiration, and who knows what else.  I couldn’t deny her truth.  I was looking at it the wrong way.  Not only my story, but my ability to speak over qualities of leadership, health and wellness.  So, today starts the incorporation of all aspects of my life, including my health and wellness business.  I am excited to share my story actually.  As we chatted for over two hours last night, I realized just how many little morsels of what I have been through that led me to this company, and all that I have experienced in these last four years, could speak life over so many people in so many different ways regardless of profession or position in life – single, married, family, no family, career person, or SAHM/D.  And, don’t even get me going on health and wellness.  I have so much to say I will be creating another tab solely for those blog entries.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I am seriously passionate about family, human connection, and food.  Food is our sustenance.  You are what you eat and you will create a fabulous, high energy life for yourself, or a lethargic, imbalanced, disease ridden life based on what you put in your mouth, supplements included!  If you are not healthy, all of what you create around you will bring a fraction of joy compared to you in a healthy state.  Health should be at the top of your priority list.  Food provides the nutritional sustenance and God, prayer, meditation and exercise fuel the cells and mind.  I hope you enjoy my new tab as I pour out my thoughts around these subjects.  And, stay tuned for a series of coursework that I will be making available as well.

Today, I have yet another blessing to be thankful for, and that is my new friend Alise.  She will probably be shocked when she reads this, but I am grateful to be pushed to give all of myself for the betterment of those in which I wish to connect!  Thank you Alise!  I am so excited to see this journey unfold.

God bless!

Tonya Stuart

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Stop Worrying About The Time!

2 Peter 3:8 New International Version (NIV)

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

Here lies the answer to all of our troubles!  (Insert laughing emoji)

But, in a way, it is true.  Time is irrelevant to the Lord yet of utmost importance to all of us.  At least that has been my experience.  Life is a competition, between oneself and everyone around us as much as it is between oneself and oneself.  We create certain expectations for our lives and a game plan to meet the goal.  If you are a strong Type A, like me, you want that goal completed yesterday.  But regardless of your personality type, most of us get caught up in the desire to meet our goals as quickly as possible, and often find ourselves on the speedway of life running 100 miles per hour or more!

What if I told you the answer to the stress you place yourself under lies in slowing down and letting God take the wheel?  What if I told you he would create a grander life than you could ever dream?  Wait.  Maybe you have already heard this a time or two.  I know I had over the course of my lifetime.  The problem is it goes against everything we have been taught about achieving our goals.  Work hard, strive, never stop!  How is it possible that slowing down would bring about more of the life I want, than working fast?

This has always been my conundrum.  Add into this equation the idea of letting an invisible man in the sky create my pathway of which I have no say, and my response has long been “peace out”.  No way, no how, not happening, insane, ridiculous, outrageous if you need to join me in chant.  Or this, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll put my life on hold while I wait and watch what the good Lord will do for me, once you put your life on hold.”  I’ll be damned if I am going to be the first idiot to throw all caution and control to the wind.  And, so I have long gone about my life marching steadfast toward my goals, through swamp water and ice covered mountainsides.  Well, not for real, but it felt like that!  Did I reach most of my goals?  Heck yes!  Did they last?  Heck no!

Marriage, kids, house, successful career.  All obtained.  The fine details?

  1. Marriage:  a rollercoaster ride filled with loads of stress that led to abusive circumstances and personal self doubt.
  2. Career:  I became so successful so fast, I angered my competition till they spread wicked lies about me throughout our Realtor community.  It didn’t effect my income, but it lambasted my self worth and eroded my trust in people.  My response to this mess was less than stellar.
  3. Kids:  Well, they were, and still are, amazing.  But, one time, I chose to pick up the phone for a business call while everyone else at the party sang happy birthday to my 2 year old.  Will I get that moment back, or many others I missed?  Nope!
  4. House:  Beautiful if I still owned it.  Lost in a foreclosure after four years of treatments from a medical diagnosis that wiped out our bank account, a multi-million dollar real estate portfolio, and pretty much everything else to our name.
  5. Second Career: An at home business.  Flew to the top 1% of all ambassadors in 9 months.  Awesome, EXCEPT the need to control EVERYTHING led my team to think I didn’t have faith that they were capable.  My fierce drive left them feeling they could never be good enough or smart enough to reach the same levels.  This drew out the insecurities of previous attacks from my real estate life and I slipped into a pool of self doubt larger than I have ever known.

Guess what I did throughout much of this timeframe in my life?  You are gonna laugh!  I screamed out to God during every downturn and said, “Why?  I am a good person, an overcomer with love in my heart for everyone.  I’m trying soooo hard.  Why do you keep letting these things happen to me?”  Catch that?  I took total control and charge of my life, and then when things went south, I said it was Gods fault.  Sound familiar?  I know someone out there resonates with my story.  It was easy to do because although I was a control freak, I went to bed praying each night.  Actually, that was part of my control.  The recipe for success includes prayer, so I checked that off my list each night the same as I checked off any other activity to success.  In my mind, I was still really following God and doing all the right things, or so I convinced myself of this falsehood.  And, if God loved me, and I worked hard, I should get everything I want and then some!  In case you are wondering….it doesn’t work this way!

Are you familiar with the deer in the headlights look?  That was me in my early 40’s when I finally sat back and said, “I’m done.”  I was fried.  More than fried.  I was like the over cooked turkey cut open on Christmas morning from the movie Chevy Chases Christmas, so overcooked there literally was nothing left to the insides but a few bones.  It was then I decided that his plan just might be better than my plan.  You want to know the hardest parts of giving over the reigns?  Knowing that his plan may be entirely different than my plan, and his timing most definitely would be unsatisfactory to my needs.  The latter was by far the most challenging.

I guess I’m like everyone else.  I want the results now.  It’s that nagging feeling that I have never really trusted the results to be what I wanted until they were in front of my face, tangible, and therefore I wanted to see them as fast as possible.  God’s plan?  Let’s see, how can I explain.  Oh, I know, how about watching paint dry.  That’s a good one.  Or, watching snails race a 100 meter dash.  Wait, that’s too fast!  Ha!  You get my point.  Here is the struggle between God’s plan and our plan and one reason why we refuse to relinquish control.  If what we want takes longer than a few hours, days or months, we say it’s not working and go a different route.  This especially applies to deeply desired wants and needs being requested by an invisible man in the sky.  Even with this factor on the table, I was too tired to care and handed over the reigns in 2016, two years ago.  Today, my career is in the same spot, which is not a bad place to be but not where I expected, I don’t currently own a home (which was a goal of mine but clearly not in God’s plan yet), I live in a county I didn’t even know existed let alone the town, and I’ve become a writer and teacher, neither of which were anywhere on my radar.

How do I feel?  Amazing!!!!

There is a reason God takes what feels like FOREVER to provide us with a place of contentment.  The contentment, for me anyway, lies in matching my authentic self to the journey of life he would prefer for me, and this pathway is about being a vehicle to transform the hearts of others in order to help them discover God, and their most authentic self so they can in turn find their correct path and do the same for others in their sphere.  Duplication.  How ironic.  It’s the exact same way I build my at home business.  Oh the irony, and interesting humor God possesses.

You might be wondering why I feel amazing if my life looks so different than what my dream board may have looked like when I started this venture.  It turns out, God can provide something no human dream board can manifest with human hands alone.  It’s pure, unadulterated freedom.  Do I still want to be the tippy top of my company?  Sure.  Do I still want to own a home?  Sure.  Do I still want to look at my bank account and know I can write a check out for $3k, $30k, or $300k to my favorite charity without blinking an eye?  Sure I do.  But, none of that is ever, ever, ever going to be satisfactory if my heart is still wrapped up in human expectation.  When our hearts are attached to things, goals, and successes of any kind, once achieved, we tend to create more desire for other things, goals and successes.

When you hand your heart over to God, he shows you you are so much more than the things, goals and successes.  You are pure, utter love that is made to shine bright for all to see.  And when you do so, you attract others to desire what you have, which a deep love for God and that is exactly what he wants of each of us.  I guess I have come to see that that gift is greater than any thing, goal or success and that gift provides me freedom from the longing for these human stipulations.  The not wanting of them is more joyous than having them.  It is the freedom that opens my heart and my mind to a greater life that he has set for me over what I could have ever provided myself.  In other words, I couldn’t previously see the forest through the trees.

I know I am not alone in this story.  I watch, and have watched, many people strive to achieve their goals and feel devastated when they hit a valley.  It is so common.  The problem is when we go through the valley, even though we increase our prayer time, we also increase our grip.  We hold even tighter to our own need to control the outcome by doing more when we should be releasing our grip and extending our arms and hands more freely to the Lord to let him guide us.  That is true trust.  That is walking in our faith, not just praying and then walking through our day as if he is nonexistent in our every action and decision.  It’s not easy to let go, especially in a valley of fear, but that valley is the very place in which you need to work your hardest to replace fear with faith.  He will not forsake you.  Trust, pray and release your grip without expectation of outcome or the time it will take to see the light on the other side.

He will not forsake you.  Let go and become the light the world so desperately needs!

God Bless,

Tonya Stuart

 

Striving to be a Champ! Wait, what if you are already there?

Lately I’ve been having a lot of “Aha” moments, but they are always the same, as if on repeat.  I obviously don’t have this concept very well mastered or the universe wouldn’t be constantly reminding me.  I can easily imagine God and all his angels saying, “Seriously?  This chick is a slow learner!  No wonder she always prays for us to hit her over the head with a 2×4 if we want her to pay attention.”  But once deeply ingrained in a belief, it can be dang hard to break the thought process even if the alternative mindset is slapping you in the face.  Let’s see if you can relate to any of this.

Let me take you back to middle school, some 30+ years ago.  Part of my experience taught me that joy came through people and that people would only give you the time of day if you wore fancy clothes, pretty hair, and lived in nice houses.  There is some truth to the whole statement unfortunately.  The key is to find the people that give you joy, but recognize they’re rarely the ones who only speak with you depending upon your external appearance.   I didn’t understand that at the time and therefore I made a decision to figure out how to have the right life so I could have friends and be loved.

I am a solid Type A personality, so I rarely attempt anything without striving for the highest level of success.  This matter was no different.  Most reach for great success to lay claim to financial security, and so do I, but a huge second has been finding acceptance.  It never once dawned on me that I was lovable without the success, or that I was even still living under this umbrella of required achievement, until recently.  I have been doing it for so long it became second nature, like breathing.  Get up and do!

The only problem is I never did find joy or very many true friendships.  So, one day in 2015 I woke up and decided to take a different angle.  I started to attend a church that really resonated with me and they talked a lot about Jesus.  I grew up strict Catholic, so it wasn’t like it was the first I’d heard, but for all those years I never understood why they thought he was so special.  Let’s face it, God created the universe.  What’s up with Jesus being so important.  I had lunch with my pastor and proposed this question.  I now look back in awe and wonder of what must have been going through his mind.  Let me tell you, the man had some serious self control because I don’t remember him so much as wincing.  I’m sure it made for some great dinner time discussion!  At any rate, I left that lunch on a mission to figure out if there was something to this idea of placing your life in God’s hands, and giving praise and glory to all that I do and have.  It seemed like people who had this mastered were pretty happy!

There have been many miracles and aha moments since that day but the one I love the most is his ability to awaken me to the realization that I didn’t love myself.  What?  Of course I love me.  What’s not to love?  I wake up everyday and push hard.  That’s the requirement right?  Be a useful member of society and earn respect.  People will love me and therefore I must love myself.  That was my thought process.  My theory was wrong.  The problem was my lifetime experience of religion never taught me that God was the true source of love and that his love was unconditional and everlasting.  End of story.  If he loves me, created me out of love, then I am love and I am loved.  I am sure I heard it a time or two, but I never grasped the concept.  This past December 26th, he lifted the final thorn from my heart and showed me.  I won’t get into detail, but I left the radical experience feeling as alive as ever, filled with his love and the word FREEDOM racing through my mind.  I could hardly believe how I felt.  The experience was so mind blowing, I have since completely laid to rest the idea that joy comes from seeking value in the doing.

Does this resonate?  I only ask because I just watched a sermon from a pastor who spoke along the same lines about himself.  I figure if a pastor and an executive both experience this, chances are many are running around in a myth that they already love themselves. It’s easy to make this assumption when you wake up every day and achieve the necessary to do list like a champ.  You must be awesome, love yourself and others’ must love you too!

Here’s the problem with this mentality.  Your happiness and contentment over your life in general, your work and your family can begin to feel as if you are under attack by tiny needles prickling at your heart every day, and before you know it they add up to a giant hole.  Why?  Because when we fall into a place where we just do, particularly to acquire approval and please people for love and affection, we tend to become disconnected to what our authentic selves actually thirsts for, and the longer we are in the desert the closer we are to dying inside.

Many walk around recognizing that something is amiss, but uncertain what, or where to look.  We seek out answers in the form of alcohol, eating, creating another success, buying things, and all of these have a temporary high.  Some of us get addicted to the high and never stop long enough to discover the real truth to our discontent.  Is what we are doing true to our nature and God’s plan over our life?  Are we ever brave enough to let go of everything we think we know, hand over a little (or a lot) of control to God and ask him what does he think about where we should be using our talents and abilities?    In my opinion, this requires letting go of what we thought we wanted for our life and our fear of judgment over what other’s expect of us.

Here’s the way I look at this now.  Where do I find the greatest love and peace of all?  In God.  If that is truth, then who should I be worried about approving of my ways?  God, of course.  The other people around me can’t give me resurrection, salvation, a new house, the life of my dreams, more kids, etc, etc.  They can’t give me anything.  But, God can give me everything.  So, why not stop the crash course of extreme doing and open our hands to Gods mission for our lives.  If he created the universe, shouldn’t he be smart enough to not only know where he wants me, but be able to connect me with everything I need to make it happen?  If I am doing what I was meant to do, and being who I was meant to be, won’t I find joy, peace and happiness?  YES!  Yes I will and so will you!

I have handed over the reigns in so many greater ways since December 26th.  He has in turn opened more doors than I know what to do with, and I will tell you none of them are particularly comfortable.  But, I know with all my heart, they will provide me with everything I need and more.  They will provide me with far more than all the doing I could have done by myself in a lifetime.  And, so far, I am loving every minute of it!  If you have found yourself on a hamster wheel of doing with little fulfillment, joy, peace and happiness, perhaps it’s your time to see if there is something to this “let go and let God” theory.  Don’t forget, LET GO means LET GO, completely.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.[a]

 

Pursue God and you can be sure you are pursuing the answers to your dreams!

God bless,

Tonya Stuart

 

The Grip

Every now and again I’ll find someone who is not gripped by an experience, but it is rare.  Like when we touch a hot stove as a small child and quickly understand that high levels of heat are a source of pain.  We become skiddish, cautious, and mindful of our surroundings around stoves and hot flames.  Should the initial incident involve a trip to the hospital, we may never touch a stove again.  It’s nonsensical, but it is understandable.  The experience has a grip on the soul of the victim.

For most of us the grip is much more than a hot stove.  It involves our heart, the highest energy source of our body, and the main instrument from which we can manifest our dreams.  The experiences all vary dramatically as do the impacts.  Even if comparing one victim of molestation to another, the stories always roll out with unique circumstances that, in some ways, make the burden of pain solely their own.  And, to me, even more fascinating, is the varied response to this experience.  Some will walk away with nearly no repercussions while others allow their minds to hold them in a state of fear or panic or pain.  Their minds hold them in a state of limitation.  A grip.

Perhaps this is fascinating to me because I’ve spent so much of my own life overcoming these limitations and each time I approached another level of release, I recognized I had yet another limitation to hurdle.  It’s frustrating really, and even more so when I acknowledge that I created the hurdle.  I had a choice when I walked through my experiences, I just didn’t realize it.  By the time you see that you can just change your mind and see life differently, your subconscious has taken hold and you find yourself walking around in limiting patterns you don’t even see are present.  But, you know something is wrong because you can’t quite get a total grip on happiness and joy.

For me the grip started in 5th grade, as I mentioned in earlier blogs, patterned itself throughout the remainder of my childhood and virtually dictated all my decisions for the first couple of decades of adulthood.  Fear.  That’s the core issue for most people really.  Mine was a fear of never being loveable, being forever alone, and having no value worthy of anyone’s time.  I have spent the majority of my adult life trying to morph to what I perceived were the desires of those around me in order to gain approval.  Wow!  Just rereading that last sentence practically stops me dead in my tracks.  What a strange concept.  You want to know what I lost for that decision?  My spirit.

Along the way, as I healed myself through loads of book reading, coaching, and God, I met countless people in the same position.  Dreams left by the wayside years ago.  Present knowledge that they are living an unhappy or overly stressed life because they lost all courage to fight for what they want and who they are or who they were meant to be.  All living inside of limitations set by other people whose behavior caused pain.  Limiting actions to avoid future pain.

Here’s the deal.  It’s not always easy to see the limitations, as I mentioned above.  They can hide away sneakily inside the subconscious mind.  But, just like you had a choice to make a decision to limit yourself when you experienced something bad, you now have a choice to stop living your existing life based on an experience in your past that has nothing to do with your present.  Stop approaching every situation as if it is the same situation.  It’s not.  Life changes.  People change.  Now, the question is will you change?

There are thousands of books on this subject.  The road to healing can be long.  In the beginning, stepping into the life you were meant to live can actually be more uncomfortable than living in limitations.  Change is hard, even good change sometimes.  But, not pursuing who you were meant to be, which is virtually impossible when you are living your life based on past experiences, is no life at all.  It’s an imprisonment.  Aren’t you a little curious about who you would be if you broke down the walls?  I am.

Today I face a whole new path in life.  It feels super uncomfortable.  I have to fight the natural response to judge myself and worry what others will say.  I have no idea exactly what my future holds which is extraordinarily uncomfortable for my Type A control freak personality.  But, ya know what, I’m not sure I was ever meant to even be a Type A control freak.  That manifested as a result of analyzing my every move to be certain it aligned with the wants and needs of others.  For all I know, I am meant to be a total surfer chick who doesn’t care about anything but sun and sand!  But, whatever that person is meant to be, I am going after it like people go after their professions, degrees, fastest time in the marathon, or the crowning victory of Miss Universe.  I get one life to live and I want to live it authentically.  I want to feel pure joy, peace, and happiness.  I want a life filled with laughter and contentment, knowing I awaken each day stepping further into the destiny that God laid on my heart, not the journey others’ might expect me to live, and so should you!

Your past experiences – Bless and Release!

Your present experiences – open your mind, connect with your heart, and go after the dreams that set your soul on fire!

Tonya Stuart

Where I am Weak, You are Strong!

Do NOT let negative opinions hold you back. Remember, those opinions usually arise from the insecurity lying within that person, that they are not as brilliant, talented, driven, (fill in the blank). Do not allow a moment of your time to consider their disdain or criticism. Instead, turn toward your destiny. Rise above. Fulfill the journey God has set for you! Your talents, brilliance, drive (fill in the blank) are just what this world needs!

I wrote the above on a FB status earlier this week after yet another peer slammed me directly to my sister via a phone call.  She is a people pleaser.  I am a Type A go getter.  She is not a fan of my leadership.  While she can’t deny I am able to lead well, she feels I need to spend more time helping my team achieve their goals WHILE blowing loads of rainbows and unicorns all around the room.  Picture Bozo the Clown.  Look, there is nothing wrong with accolades, and I serve them up well too, but the business of success on the road to the top takes grit and sometimes there is little room for rainbows and unicorns.  I have been in similar circumstances more times than I can count.  Every single time it amuses me how seemingly “over the top” female people pleasers have no trouble whatsoever putting the nail in the coffin of a strong woman.  But, then….it also stings a little.

Why?  Why do we do this to each other?  Men don’t sit around analyzing each other’s behavior, what they are wearing, whether or not they got the latest promotion or deserved the latest promotion, if they are good enough dad’s, put on a few extra pounds, have their nails done, and they sure as heck don’t thwart each other for being strong in character and leadership.  But woman?  I can barely remember a time I wasn’t ridiculed.  It’s part of where this blog began, elementary school.  The irony is that back then I was tormented for being weak, ugly, wearing the wrong clothes, being too stupid, and having an insufficient residence.  The crazy thing is I was TOO NICE to fight back.  Ha!  Talk about full circle!  Now, I am tormented for being too strong/successful, too pretty/confident, wearing stylish clothing, being too smart, and having too nice of a home.  And, when I have fought back, it only made it worse – the tormenting of course.  It has always just validated that I am the B#*!^ they had presumed me to be.

We can’t win, at least I can’t!  Just to be clear, in elementary school it was open bullying.  In adulthood, it is groups of woman meeting for wine or huddling in a coffee clutch, and secretly ganging up on me about how awful my actions have been, like the time when I worked like a dog to become the top ten best agent in my county after having only lived there for 18 months.  Do you know I actually had a veteran agent corner me in the copy room and tell me I had no right to do what I was doing?  Say what?  I have no right to work hard for my family?  She nicely clarified the matter by telling me that I needed to earn that slot and that that should take years not months and who was I to think that I could replace those veterans that had worked for decades to attain said position.  Wow!  Where’s a mic when you need it!?  I was floored.  But, then again, I was only 28, a mere adolescent of adulthood.  I had no idea at the time that my drive would be a constant threat to many, and that even though my heart is full of nothing but love for people, the strength I carry would isolate me, even without saying a word.  Oftentimes, it was my mere actions.  I guess this is why they say it’s lonely at the top!

But again, why?  Has it always been this way?  I thought we fought for woman’s rights so woman could have a voice.  Now we have a voice and we use it to slay one another.  And it is not just about my story.  I have friends polar opposite of me with similar experiences and we all live with the sadness of wanting to be who we are without fear of ridicule that shames us into believing that who we are is somehow amiss.  How did we convince ourselves that pitting against one another would work in our favor?  In reality, it works in the favor of those who have always tried to hold us down.  Now, instead of them doing the work to accomplish this goal, we are taking care of that matter ourselves!  Instead of us locking arms and celebrating our differences and strengths, we shun each other out of jealousy and fear that our strengths may not be as admired as much as those around us.

Rejoice in your success!!!!  Rejoice in your peers success!  It’s OK to admit you admire your female counterpart.  That doesn’t distinguish your flame!  In fact, it makes it burn brighter.  It’s your gift to lift others.  We all need each others’ strengths.  Where I am weak you are strong.  Where I focus on training the mind, you can nurture the heart!  Where you can combine any given event with your stunning beauty and energized personality, making it the night to remember, I can arrange the process of rolling out the party seamlessly from the theme to the time of arrival for all caterers.  Don’t you see?  Together we are better!  Together we rise up farther than we can alone!  Together we become a force of positive change for ourselves and the world!  Together we create beauty as far as the eye can see.  A sisterhood of strong woman empowering each other to be the best version of ourselves.

Ladies, we don’t need more insult.  We have plenty of it staring us in the face daily from magazine covers to cat fights on glorified TV shows.  We need more honor and grace toward ourselves and one another.  Let’s embrace and respect the differences and feed each others souls as a means to creating truly legendary change in this world!!

My deepest respect to all of you fighting the fight to be who you were truly meant to be,

Tonya Stuart

 

 

The Good Life!

Another tragedy of my younger years was the unexpected death of my father, who was killed in a boating accident when I was 21.  I last saw him the Saturday before his death as we said our good-byes and I departed for my honeymoon.  I was married the day before.  I’ll never forget the feeling inside when I saw his best friend and my mother, his ex-wife, coming toward me upon my return at the airport, 2.5 hours from where they lived.  I knew immediately that something was wrong.  As they approached me, I simply said, “How bad is it?”.  They pulled me aside, my back against a wall, and told me he was gone.  I fell to the ground instantly.  The ride home was like a daze.  Empty, scared, frazzled, and helpless.  The tears didn’t stop for months.

As for my marriage….it was over before it started.  I had known he wasn’t right for me and even tried to back out of the wedding.  It’s a long story, but I’ll save it for later.  Now that my dad was dead, the one who taught me very little, but constantly preached to live for the moment, my husband’s belongings might as well have been tossed out the door immediately.  I stuck it out for a year as I worked through the swirl of emotion and chaos that unraveled my life as I had known it.

This story became an all too fresh reflection this weekend as I sat through Sunday service and we prayed over the father of four beautiful children, plus foster kids.  Two of his children were present in the service.  Our pastor and assistant pastor walked us through prayer and a beautiful sermon on strength of faith.  Even though the service was part of a series that has been planned for some time, it was incomprehensible to us just how much we would all need to hear their words at this very moment.  As usual, God’s timing is more significant than our own.  This family is likely a step in the process of solidifying all of our belief in the Lord, and his mighty power to transform ANY situation through the power of prayer.  For this family, it means bringing their father and husband and our friend out of a coma, to stop the bleeding on his brain, to heal his body and resurrect him to his original state or better!  It is a situation that needs God’s hands and one that requires more than just prayer.  It requires deep, unrelenting, steadfast faith behind the prayer.  It’s precisely the position God seeks to jolt us from any temptation that we can “make things happen” all on our own, that we have control.  Although they don’t seem it at the time, these big problems that require big answers are the breeding ground for deeper faith that leads to freedom of our souls.  And, best of all, it glorifies God because without him, we have nothing.  No hope.  Just the chance that if we cross our fingers we’ll get lucky.  With him, and faith filled prayer, we have everything!

I wish I had had that faith when my father passed.  Oh how very different things may have unfolded.  But, the reality is I was alone, within myself.  I didn’t rely on God, but of my own accord.  The results?  I got fired for stealing at a bank.  Ha!  Remember, my now husband told me that I was the most naive person he had ever met, and I was, so the idea of stealing from a bank would literally scare my pants off!  But, the money was gone and there was no trail so I got the boot.  I dropped out of UW-Madison where I likely would have graduated with honors.  I moved in with my brother who wasn’t too keen on me as a person at the time, and let me know it.  I divorced my then husband, started a new relationship on bad terms, and got into four car accidents in a 30 day timeframe.  To say the least, I needed God!  And how well did I deal with my Dad’s death?  I have never been back to his grave and I try not to think about it.  My true feelings are buried in a container in my heart somewhere I suspect.

This brings me back to Sunday’s service.  I cried like a baby several times.  I cried again this morning just chatting with a friend about it.  I wasn’t nearly as sad over my own dad and his memories, but for the family before me, knowing the tremendous pain that results from said circumstances.  But listen, that was only a small fraction of the emotions pushing so many tears from my eyes.  The other part was the beauty of God and his work on the people of our community.  I will never be able to fully convey the experience through words, but anyone present would tell you the power of the holy spirit was felt like a weighty fog penetrating every last centimeter of space.  As we worshiped, the two children approached our stage and just like that, God’s people responded.  One by one, they left their seats and wrapped these kids in love and prayer – deep, faith-filled prayer no doubt.  It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed.  There is no replacement for God and his believers.  They will wrap you tight in their arms, like the arms of God, and pray for you in time of need or in time of great joy!  Had I only understood that with my own fathers passing.

Where are you at today in your life?  Are you seeking the Lord’s wisdom in every corner of your life?  Do you pray?  Is your prayer filled with expectation because you are filled with faith that he will answer?  Have you found a church home full of people that lift your faith to new levels?  If not, do it!  Just do it!  This is the cornerstone of joy, peace, and unrelenting love!  This is the foundation to “the good life”!

Many, many prayers to the Yost family!  We are all praying hard!

Tonya Stuart

 

 

Th 10 Year Effect!

One truly good piece of my childhood was country living.  It seeped into my bones and has never left.  To this day the smell of nature instantly puts me in a state of calm and peace.  I love every single part of it, except the cold.  I will confess, I HATE cold, but even with that I can appreciate the beauty of snow covered trees and the complete silence that usually accompanies a heavy snowfall.  It’s especially beautiful at night.  Nature is my solitude.  I believe it is the closest to God anyone can ever be, and provides me with a very deep appreciation for all things made solely by him, which is a nice reprieve from the constant barrage of human-centered products and activities that consume most of our days!

Prior to my parents divorce, I spent countless hours wandering an old abandoned house, playing in sand piles carved out of the earth at the entry of my Grandma’s woods, and carefully meandered paths, attempting to avoid all things prickery as we used to say, in search of treasured fruits.  These were memories that served as an amazing foundation of appreciation for life.  It gave me a sense of connection and innocence that all life was beautiful.  That deep connection of faith in Gods works has steadfastly remained through mountains of pain.  Even when I didn’t believe in God himself, I stilled believed in his creations.  I never doubted humankind and somehow always knew that when people hurt others it was because they were hurting, rather than ever buying into the idea that people were just mean.

Take a stroll with me for a moment.  The sun is shining, multiple bird songs are playing from every direction, wind is whipping through your hair periodically – just enough to offset the heat of the sun, you dig your feet several inches beneath the sand and then lift them up and wiggle the refreshing cold dirt between your toes creating a soft giggle.  Now, pop up and take a walk in the woods.  Leaves rustling, trees swaying, squirrels jumping from branch to branch, the crackle of broken tree limbs beneath your feet, and oh the smells.  Breathe in the fresh moss, a dose of wild flowers, and listen in the distance to the babbling creek, your mouth salivating with the idea of ice cold water!

We fill our lives with so much stuff but nature is the essence of peace and tranquility.  It’s this beautiful place that became the emergence to my belief that our food is also meant to be savored, not just from the moment it hits our plate, but from the moment it is created.  Our fast paced lifestyle and development of what I refer to as corporate food, has nearly deleted all true connection with food.  Such a sad chain of events.

When I was a kid, a garden was mandatory, followed by a season of canning.  At the time, eliminating the weeds from the garden was a burden I abhorred.  But, pulling up a fresh carrot or radish, wiping it clean under the well spigot, and tasting the crunch of the juices flowing through my teeth was pure delight!  And the colors!  When was the last time you took a walk through a vegetable garden?  Not the pages of a magazine displaying a vegetable garden, but a REAL garden!!!  It’s bursting with color, smells, and the buzzing of bees!  Tomatoes are by far my favorite.  They permeate a smell like none other and you can usually detect it from a good ten feet away.  There is simply nothing like fresh vegetables from a garden and how we became a society satisfied with anything less is beyond me.  Not only are we satisfied with less, we are now eating what I think is tasteless, chemically ridden, sugar coated, dangerous consumable products that corporate refers to as food.  This has occurred over a span of 30-40 years or more.  I mention this because when things of this nature happen slowly, the negative impact oftentimes are unrecognizable, like weight gain or loss.  A pound or two here or there doesn’t seem like much but continue the trend over the span of ten years and you are truly unhealthy and likely obese.

This is essentially what has happened with our food industry.  Disconnection, often exhausting lifestyles and the stamp of approval by our FDA and USDA has provided a perfect environment for us to rationalize fast food, whether that be from a drive through or pulling a boxed meal out of the freezer and whipping it into the microwave.  As you can probably guess, this is a topic I could write on for days.  And, slowly, over time, I will continue to pour out more and more on this matter.  There is an epidemic of illnesses throughout all age groups, including depression, and obesity.  Nobody will ever convince me that most of these problems couldn’t be fixed with proper nutrition and a backyard garden.  Yes, I advocate everyone have a garden created from fresh, organic soil, and hand worked by the owner!  Therapy and nutrition in one fell swoop!  And, you’ll save money!!!  YES you can fit it into your life, like anything else you decide has utmost importance.  If the food you eat isn’t at the top of that list, then what is?  What could be more important than keeping yourself and your child healthy?  How do you think your body is fueled for protection, immune function, brain power, etc?  Our body is fueled by food.  Feed yourself whole foods created by God, free of chemicals, and you are setting yourself up for the best health possible.  Feed yourself and your children loads of sugar, a known toxin, and chemically ridden foods, and hold your breath waiting on the damage you are creating leading to deterioration of your health.  Ever hear of Russian Roulette?  Ha!  And, don’t forget the powerful supplements needed to fill in the gap created by lack of nutrients in our soil from overuse.

Remember my comment about gaining weight over the span of 10 years?  This is the premise of why people so easily rationalize boxed “foods” in their freezer and on their pantry shelves.  Perhaps even you just finished such a meal.  Nothing bad happened right?  Or maybe last week you grabbed a cheeseburger from Wendy’s, and nothing bad happened right?  But the truth is we are turning a blind eye to the 10 year effect – the net effect.  We are refusing to acknowledge the connection between the long term effects of the food consumed today.  It’s simply easier to ignore it.  It’s easier on our time and it’s easier on our wallets.  But mark my words, there is a reason God created beautiful food that can give nourishment to our bodies and our souls.  And, regardless of what you WANT to ignore, the fact remains that every bite you take is positively or negatively impacting your health and the same goes for your child.

Now there’s some food for thought!!!!

Tonya Stuart