Heart Check: Keeping your emotional heart healthy

Heart disease is a huge problem in America. According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 4 deaths are due to heart disease in the US. That is a lot of people dying from a relatively preventative disease. The majority of heart disease is caused by stress, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity. I also think people never have their heart health checked until they’re extremely ill and need to be put on medication or have extensive surgery. Now, I’m not a physical heart health specialist (I know a lot more about infectious diseases), but I do know a thing or two about the emotional heart. The Bible writes in Proverbs 4:23 (NLT): “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life”.

I quote Proverbs 4:23 all the time, and it’s a reminder for me to check my heart, and continuously making sure I’m guarding it from “disease” (aka negativity). The status of our hearts determines how we interact and treat people. For example, if we carry a lot of bitterness from our past, we can automatically look at the bad in people before we ever see the good. If we carry past hurts from abandonment in our hearts, we may assume everyone is going to leave us, so we either sabotage relationships or keep people at an arm’s length away. On the other side of the coin, a heart full of joy and love tends to poor out joy and love to others in most circumstances (joyous people do have bad days, but it never steals our inner joy). So as I’m preparing to leave for Mozambique, I’m going through an extensive heart check and cleaning out a lot of emotional cobwebs. I want to enter this new season of life a healthy, joyful, loving person.

I’m currently having some major heart surgery in the forgiveness department. I didn’t realize that I was holding unforgiveness over certain people in my past. Biblical forgiveness is technically canceling out someone’s emotional debt to me. In better terms, this means when someone hurts me, I’m holding on to this “hurt debt” that you owe me, and I’m not letting go of this debt until you pay for it (usually through an apology, or me returning the hurt). I realized that there were people in my life I thought I had fully forgiven, but it turned out I only forgave 20% of the hurt that they caused me instead of 100%. You can usually tell if you fully forgive someone by the way you emotionally react to when you see them (on Facebook or in person), when they come up in conversation, or even when you think about them. Does the mere mention of their name make you automatically think of the offense that they caused? Or do you think about them with a clear conscious? When I realized this, it blew my mind. I know I’m not giving the topic enough credit, so to know more I highly advise listening to my friend Brandon’s message on forgiveness (it’s long but good). I could write a whole post on forgiveness, but Brandon says it a lot better!

With this being said, how’s your heart doing? Do you have parts of anger, bitterness, sadness, disappointments, or forgiveness that you need to work on? Leave a comment below. The best part about dealing with it now, is the freedom that comes from a healthy heart. Now that I’m forgiving people 100%, I have more space to love people (this is all I want to do… I know, it sounds a little hippyish, but it’s me).

With love,

Tifa

Bearing fruit: Reaping what you sow in life

AH! Spring is here, and for us mid-atlanticers this means the start of our local fruit season (there is way more fruit in the summer, and we at least get tomatoes during this time). I love being able to eat local fruits and veggies that are picked when their ripe, that aren’t flown in from thousands of miles away. How much nutrients does a fruit have when it is picked off the vine prematurely? I have no idea, but it’s worth asking. I have one friend who enjoyed reminding me that avocados eaten in California (where they grow) taste way better and are a lot less stringy (I didn’t even know avocados were stringy) than those consumed in DC (we can’t grow avocados). This had me thinking, what does the fruit of our lives say about us?

Most people have heard the expression you reap what you sow, and I can attest that this is so true (for the most part). If you sow in the time and energy to cultivate an authentic and balanced friendship, you usually reap the benefits of a trustworthy lifetime friend. Another example would be if I sow in the time to study for a big test, I should reap the benefits of a good grade on that test. I will warn you, like the stringy avocados eaten in DC by a Californian, not all fruit are good. If you sow negativity and hate, you’ll reap negativity and hate. The “reap and sow” can be used in so much, and I’ll give you a personal example.

Last week I posted a blog about obedience and walking out your calling. This is still striking true today. I am currently walking through a season of trust and obedience with The Lord, and walking out what He’s calling me to do (big and small). This includes humbling myself and apologizing to people whom The Lord convicts me that I have done wrong to, forgiving people 100% for things I felt they have been done wrong to me, and spending time with/reaching out to people He’s laid on my heart, etc. This all may sound easy written down, but it’s not. Admitting you’re wrong and facing that person? Not always the easiest. And forgiving someone who truly hurt you? Some events and feelings we don’t want to relive. But I will say, I feel light, free, joyful, and chock-full of LOVE!!!!! Not only is this improving how I feel, but I have closer and genuine relationships with those around me. All in all, it feels good.

Now I won’t say that I’m walking in 100% obedience, I’m still a very stubborn girl at heart, but it’s something I’m working through (example: The Lord wanting me to chat it up with a complete stranger on the street, sometimes I’d rather keep it moving). As I’m seeing the fruit of all this obedience to His nudging, I’m trying to listen for His promptings more and truly practicing what I preach.

Is there an aspect of your life where you are seeing/reaping the fruit of what you’ve been sowing? Have you been sowing into something for a while and not seen the fruit yet? Let me know in the comments below.

With love,

Tifa

Obedience: Walking into your calling

I know it’s been a while, and I have big news (YAY!). This summer I’ll be heading out to Pemba, Mozambique from May to August with Iris Ministries’ Harvest School. This is huge because the one thing I thought was lacking in my work was being able to serve the poor. I went into international development wanting to make a difference in the lives of people who are affected by the HIV epidemic. Once I started working, I was so far removed from the “frontline” that I felt that I wasn’t making a big difference, and I wasn’t forming personal relationships with the people that God has called me to love.

With this being said, I’m excited to finally get back to basics, loving on people, and hopefully taking you all on this journey. I do what I do because I just can’t stop loving people; SO, as of May, I’ll be blogging about my experience in Mozambique (please pray for decent internet)!

Now to the main point of this post; walking out your calling through obedience. Getting to this place where I’m off to Mozambique took a lot of internal wrestling with God, a ton of faith and trust, and of course obedience. The Lord had dropped going to Pemba in my heart about a year ago, but I wanted to ignore it because I had a career, comfortable living, and I love the people I surround myself with here in the DC area. I believe the hardest part for me was walking away from my career. This includes all the time I spent in graduate school AND the amount of loans I have accrued (trust me… I owe enough to make 5 grown men cry).  I know I could have continued in my career, moving up the development ladder writing proposals and putting out “fire drills”, but my heart wasn’t in it and I didn’t have peace about it. I know to the outside world, it may look completely insane, and it won’t necessarily be easy, but everything is falling into place in the way that only God can do it!

Now here I am, finally being obedient to what God is calling me to do next, and I have amazing peace about it. Walking in obedience is not easy, and there are times I want to turn to God and say “I got this” or “I think my plans and what I want to do is better”.  I’ve tried doing “my own thing” in the past, and it’s never turned out the way I thought, but when I face my fears and do what He’s calling me to do, everything falls into place, and it’s always better than I could imagine (never the way I thought it would). As I prepare to go, He’s taking me a journey of trust and faith. Because I’m not working, I’m fundraising for my trip (I’ve never fundraised for a trip in my life). Instead of trusting in my own finances, I legit have to trust God in paying my way.

God has a calling and a purpose for everyone, but we have a choice if we want to walk in it, or try and figure out our own path. Has there ever been a time when God has called you into something, and when you finally took the first step, you realize it’s AMAZING!!!! Or has he put something on your heart, and the vision seems so overwhelming, you don’t know where to start. Comment below and let me hear your experiences, or if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me at admin@teawithtifa.com.

With love,

Tifa

Rest: Taking time to refuel

I think one of the hardest activities for us as humans is just to rest. Yoga instructors say the hardest pose for students is usually Savasana, you just lay on your back not moving, with minimal thinking. How hard can it be? It’s really hard! I challenge you just to lie on your back without moving/getting distracted for 10 minutes; if you succeed, let me know. Back to the point of this blog, why is it so hard for us to just rest?

I remember when I was still working full-time, some co-workers would talk about how they hadn’t gone on vacation in years. One co-worker would brag about how she hadn’t gone on vacation in five years… FIVE YEARS!!!!! Like why? You looked stressed all the time, this is why you get vacation, I hope she’s taken a vacation! And then there are those who go on vacation and are still checking/replying to emails… just enjoy your time of rest. Delete the email app off your phone and sleep, read, go hiking, dance, shower, I don’t know… anything but work. And to those who get sick leave, if you are sick, use it and get better. I don’t want to be on a conference call with your sick self… REST! I beg you, stop working and rest. There is a time to work, and there is a time to rest; even The Lord rested on the seventh day… shouldn’t you?

Personally I am in a season of rest, and I’m not going to lie… it’s hard. And I believe the reason it’s hard is because as adults, we feel guilty for resting. Granted, we are called to work, no matter what that looks like; from being a homemaker, a student, or even the CEO of a Fortune 500 business. I know I mention this in a few blogs, but I resigned from my job in November, and it is February (#Funemployed). Part of me wants to hit the pavement running, but I know during this time I just need to rest, because when the next season hits, I will look back and regret the day I didn’t take advantage of this time. So I’m working on resting in Him, without feeling guilty, as I prepare for the next super busy season!

Now rest looks different for everyone; some just need to sleep, while others shop, rearrange their homes, or need to be out in nature taking a walk, sitting on a beach, kayaking… you name it. So whatever your rest looks like, don’t forget to do it! Personally, I’m enjoying this time having moments with God, reading, running, blogging, and hanging with family and friends. My guilty pleasure during this season is being able to enjoy Gossip Girl (I’m on season 5, almost done)!

Please let me know if you’ve gone through a season of rest (be it a few days or maybe a few years), and let me know you did during that time. If you are in a busy season, let me know what you do to refuel (how do you find rest in the chaos).

With love,

Tifa

Starting over: The return to a healthier life

I had set some health goals up for this year which you can read about here. Thus far, it’s been pretty hard to keep up with them because I’ve learned old habits die hard when it’s winter. I am excited to say that I am FINALLY getting back on the wagon by running and eating healthy. If you want to know how, just keep reading J

Marathon training

As stated in my last Health and Wellness post, due to my wonky ankles and the lack of training during the winter months, I will not be running the Rock n’ Roll Marathon next week (sad face). I feel bad because a friend of mine signed up for the half for moral support. I may see how fit I can get and what I can actually run (this is for you Molly!).

Last week I finally found the inspiration to start running again, and have bought the right kind of brace for my ankle (yay no more pain). I did a 5 mile hike on Thursday, and did my first 4 mile run in over a month on Friday. It’s not easy, but I ran twice this week, and am slowly but surely getting back to it. The awesome thing is that DC weather has been cooperating and it’s been absolutely GORGEOUS. Since I’m not running the full marathon, I’m putting all my efforts on getting ready for the trail Ragnar in Richmond in April (I even bought new trail and road shoes)!

Healthy eating

I still don’t like to cook, and it’s been and up and down adventure. My mom and I have decided to try and do a No Processed Sugar March (this includes bread… ugh). Today is March 1st and all I want is a sandwich filled with a cupcake and three cookies and topped with salted caramel gelato (never had this combination before, but I just want sugar). I know I can do this… I know I can do this! We have prepared overnight oats for breakfast, eating a lot of fruits and putting greens in my smoothies, and I’m going to attempt to cook something (I need to meal prep… I really do). I’ll let you know how I feel, but for now it’s pretty optimistic!

Essential oils

Now this has been going GREAT. I’ve incorporated essential oils in most of my beauty routine. I use Vetiver in my black castor oil to help bring back my edges, and it’s working. I also use Frankincense and Lavender in a lot of my homemade face products, and my acne scars are fading. This is huge! My acne scars are my biggest insecurity and I’m finally seeing them fade.

One of my favorite aspects of the oils is diffusing them in my room. I have a bedtime mix of Vetiver, Marjoram, and Lavender that knocks me all the way out. It usually takes me a bit of time to get comfortable and fall asleep, but this mixture knocks me out within a half hour. Another mix I love to use when I need a bit of a kick in the pants to get stuff done is Vetiver, Peppermint, and Lemon. When this mix is diffusing in my room, I feel like I can get anything done!

A mini testimony about essential oils comes from my mom. She has restless leg syndrome and has the hardest time falling asleep due to it. For the past couple nights she has been drinking one drop of Marjoram in a bottle of water and rubbing it on her legs before going to sleep. She told me she has not had any issues with restless leg, and she falls asleep immediately (this is AMAZING). So in case you’re wondering, the oils are making me a believer! I’m currently not a distributor, but if you have any questions or suggestions about essential oils, please let me know.

I see brighter days coming down the horizon (now that winter is coming to an end). Let me know how your health and wellness goals are going this year; it’s never too late to jump back on the wagon!

With love,

Tifa

Unconditional Love

I hope you all loved the post from last week from a good friend of mine. I personally want to thank my friend for being so open about her life and her struggles with walking through losing her dad and having an eating disorder. If you haven’t read it, you can find it here.

For those of you who don’t know me very well, I have a dog and her name is Bella. She is a tiny and tenacious 5lbs mutt who loves me to the moon and back. I moved to California for grad school and I was feeling pretty lonely because I was away from my family, friends and community (I’m East Coast all day err’ day). I adopted Bella from a kill shelter in San Bernadino, CA and it was love at first site, and I love this crazy ball of fluff unconditionally (and in my mind, you should too). Being a dog owner, I’ve noticed that dogs truly love their owners unconditionally, despite everything we do to them (I love annoying her and waking her up when she sleeps… SHE’S SOOO CUTE). And this had me thinking, if I can love my four legged friend unconditionally, why is it so hard to love people?

This is a question I ask myself pretty often and am still working through. I think as humans we are more apt to holding a grudge and making people pay for the hurt they cause, than just forgiving and moving on. Let me say, forgiveness doesn’t mean I’ll let you back in the inner quarters of my heart, it just means I’m letting go of the offense you have caused (this is a daily practice). I also think the majority of times that people who hurt do not do it out of a place of malice, it’s usually a miscommunication of some sorts.

I also think another reason it is hard to love people is because we confuse disagreement with unloving or hate. I’m a person who loves loving people. I usually (key word is usually) see the best in people and try and make a connection there. I don’t agree with everyone’s lifestyles or viewpoints, but that doesn’t mean I love you any less; it means I have to love you even harder. I’m not saying this is easy, but it’s a work in progress.

Story time! I was a party girl in college; I went out, I lived it up, I pumped my fists, and went to Mexico for one spring break (how I still have a liver, and that I haven’t been arrested, no one knows but Jesus… Thank you Jesus!!!!). Sometimes I sit and wonder how I’m still alive, but that’s a story for another time. I have friends who still party like they’re still in college. Personally, this isn’t my scene anymore, I like to be in my bed by 10pm and I want to live on a farm raising goats and make my own cheese. In other words, I am super simple (not to be confused with basic… I’m not basic). I personally don’t agree with the party lifestyle at this age (I’m in my 30’s), but I don’t love this group of friends any less. I just pick and choose what activities I do and do not partake in (that’s all). If you want to go out and party, knock yourself out, I probably won’t join; but if you want to go out, eat and have a glass of wine, I’m all about it. So this is a simple example of “I don’t agree with your lifestyle choices, but I still love you”.

The question here is: are there people in your life that you need to give a little more grace to? I know there are people in my life who don’t necessarily agree with my lifestyle choices, but they still love me (yes mother, I’m thinking about getting another tattoo… LOVE YOU)!

Let me know how you work through this, I can always take other tips and tricks. And if you want to talk more or want advise, please do not hesitate to contact me (admin@teawithtifa.com).

With love,

Tifa

He Makes All Things New – Gracie Faith

My eating disorder is a secret no one knows but my family. I have been too embarrassed and ashamed to share it with anyone. Now I know sharing with others is a part of the healing process and we cannot be afraid of other people’s reactions. God knows our hearts and that is the only thing that matters.  Losing my dad in the first week of high school and not coming to terms with it made gain 30 pounds in the course of 6 months. Instead of dealing with the pain of losing my dad-, I did what I know to do best. I pretending like it never happened.  I never spoke of him and I did mention him- I would make a joke. I internalized my pain with food- it was my comfort and my obsession. When I first started to notice that my clothes no longer fit- I wanted to change that. I read every diet book and magazine out there. I bought all the exercise DVDs out there. Tae bo was the exercise fad at the time and I thought it was the answer to obtaining a fit body.  I tried and failed at every crash diet and I carried the extra weight well into the sophomore year of undergrad.  I was miserable and extremely obsessed with food and weight- it is all I thought about. It was the beginning of a torturous relationship with food.

In the summer of 2005, I was determined to change that.  I wanted to go into my Junior year of college super thin and I would do anything and everything to obtain that.  I started with cutting out all soda and juices. Then breakfast and snacking between meals.  I would walk for exercise because I was never athletic.  The weight was coming off fast and people’s comments about my weight loss fueled my fire.  I started counting calories- I limited them to about 900 calories a day. I don’t know how I kept up that up for the last two years of college, but I did.  My social life became non-existent. I was afraid to go everywhere because I wasn’t sure of how many calories would be in the food that would be served at the social gatherings or restaurants and if those events fell out of my eating schedule- I panicked. By God’s grace, I still managed to graduate college with honors- I still don’t know how I made it. My mind was tortured itself 24/7.   I was down to about 110 pounds, lost my period and I was growing hair all over my body. I come to know now, that it was my body’s way of protecting itself when it’s malnourished.  I would walk for 2 hours a day and drink black coffee to curb my appetite.  My family and friends were very concerned, heck, I was concerned, but I didn’t know how to crawl out of it.  My relationship with God suffered the most- I was saved at the time, but the voice of my eating disorder was louder than God.  I still served in church, read the bible and prayed, but God was so far away from me.

In 2008, I started bingeing because my body could not take the starvation anymore. I put on a lot of weight fast.  Of course, people started commenting on my weight gain. It left me crushed and I was determined to learn how to have a relationship with food and be at a healthy weight.  Again, I did not know how and I was too proud to get help. I thought there was nobody who would be able to help me with what I was going through and I felt isolated and strange.  I remained at this new weight for the next years until 2014, but I was living in torture. I was always confused with what to eat, how much to eat, and I avoided a laundry list of foods pretending that I didn’t like them just so I didn’t have to eat them. That backfired even more because the more you restrict, the more you binge.  2011 was my worst year in my eating disorder. I avoided all foods and then I would crash and binge on them. I was scared and alone. Slowly in 2012 I started reintroducing foods into my diet, I was tired of being scared, but I still had some ways to go. I was still obsessing and confused, but I was willing to take more chances. I prayed more earnestly, I sought God every morning and night, praying for healing. I still felt like he wasn’t there.  The following year I got reconnected with friends and made new ones: I also became a vegetarian because I never really liked the taste of meat. Thank God going vegetarian was never a decision based on weight loss- it was something I was passionate about, but little did I know, you could still unhealthy as a vegetarian.

In 2014 I reached my breaking point. I broke down.  Thoughts of food kept me up at night. I was always confused with what to eat and it tortured me- I was switching foods around and trying new things, but it consumed my mind and left me in a state of panic.  At that time, I also doubted my salvation. I went for a week without sleeping and it sent me to the hospital. I knew I needed help there- I was crying to God on the floor of the hospital to rescue me from the pit I was in. My sleep needed mending, my relationship with food-needed mending. Most of all, my relationship with Christ needed the most mending.  I took some time off work and I spent my days sobbing for no reason. My friends came to see me, but I never fully let them into my world. I was too ashamed.  My mom pushed me to get professional help and I thank her so much for it. God put someone in my life who knew what I was going through and I finally felt understood. Now, I had sleep to add to my list of problems, but this time I was willing to open up and let people and God in.

I felt the weight of my eating disorder finally lifted in a small group at my church. I was sharing what was going on in my week and then I just started sharing my experience. I sobbed like a baby, but I felt free. I went home with a lot of clarity and soon I felt God more nearer to me than ever.  Out of nowhere, I was no longer confused as I was before about food. I exercised in a healthy way that I loved and a beautiful friend prophesied to me that I am did God’s daughter. Which surprised me because she knew nothing about my struggle.

Today, I am new. I feel God’s presence more than ever. I can hear Him clearly speak to me more than I ever could before. Sometimes it is not instant, but I know the answer will come.  His deepest desire is for us to be one with Him. I still have my moments with food and weight, but I am not the person I was twelve years ago. I eat to nourish my body and no food is off limits. I just balance healthy food with indulgences. It is so freeing to live that way.  My sleep is still a work in progress, but I know healing for that will come with time.  If not, I will be healed in Heaven.  God works everything for our good and He makes all things new.

Gracie-Faith