New Beginnings: Expect the Unexpected

I love starting a fresh! There are times throughout the year I feel I can start something new, and they are usually on New Year, my birthday, the beginning of a month, beginning of the week, beginning of a new day… More or less you can start a new anytime of the year. BUT, there is something special about New Year’s Day that makes it feel like a new you’re starting a new book instead of a new chapter.

I haven’t done a New Year resolution in a long time. The past few years a best friend of mine and I write out our visions for the New Year and share them. We get together mid-year to check the temperature of where we are, and also at the end of the year to see if we’ve seen answered prayers to our visions for that year. This coming week I’m hoping to sit and reflect on my visions from last year, take some time to pray and meditate on my visions for the 2017. The best part of doing a vision list with a friend is looking back and being able to testify how The Lord has blessed you, and for the things on the list you haven’t seen much movement, there is someone else’s perspective to help you see how The Lord has moved in that space.

As I walk into 2017, I feel the word for the year is expect the unexpected. I am looking forward to how The Lord is going to blow away far above my expectations for the year with new adventures, new relationships, new visions, teaching me to live in the moments He has created (this will be hard because I’m a planner and love to constantly be planning next steps), and of course blogging as I go through this year.

If you read my health and wellness posts (there is only one at the moment), I’ll keep you tuned into my health goals for the year (This year I’m going to try and actually listen to my body, know what is good and what I need to eliminate).

Let me know if you are planning to write a vision list for 2017, and share one thing on it! Something that will be on mine is spending more alone time with God and getting to know more about His heart for His children.

Here’s to a New Year!!!!!

With love,

Tifa

End of year fitness blues!

If you’ve been reading my Weekly Revelations or follow me on Instagram, you know that I am training for a marathon. I’m using the Higdon Marathon training plan (Novice 1) to help keep me on track. I was super motivated until I hit December and it got super cold, windy, rainy, and gross. As of now I am two whole weeks behind on my training  (As in I haven’t moved). I blame it on cold weather, Christmas cookies, jalapeño chips, and Gossip Girl on Netflix. There is just something about the holiday season that tends to put my workouts in a slump (please let me know if you agree). One thing I have learned during this slump is browsing fitness pins and healthy recipes on Pinterest does not equate to healthy living.

Last Thursday, December 22nd I finally mustered up the courage and went out running. In my naïve mind I thought I could bust out a quick six miles after two weeks of inactivity; well I was wrong! I huffed and puffed my way through three miles (THREE MILES PEOPLE… two weeks prior I was running ten). I can’t believe I did this to myself, and I will try my best to remain active because this was no fun. My legs felt like lead (probably from the cookie pounds I have gained) and my butt found its jiggle back (I worked so hard to get some resemblance of firmness). It’s crazy how it takes so long to get to a certain level of fitness, but then take TWO WEEKS OFF and your body goes into negative fitness (rolling my eyes). But do not despair, January 1st is around the corner!

With this all being said, I would like you all to come with my on a lifestyle change adventure (I feel diets are temporary). For the Health and Wellness posts, I will be writing about:

  1. My marathon training (or the lack there of): I’ll let you know what’s working and what’s not working for me as I train throughout the winter with a wonky ankle (I hate winter).
  2. Attempts to healthy eating (good thing the white fudge Oreos are a seasonal treat, and even though I ate five boxes, I’m still craving them): For those who know me well, I don’t like cooking. This part will take every ounce of courage because I can’t stand being in the kitchen (unless I’m eating).
  3. Implementing essential oils into my routine (I used to work at LUSH, which introduced me to natual body products, and want to move towards more natural products and DIYs): I’ve heard of people who swear by essential oils as a remedies, and I’m not a huge fan of pharmaceuticals and chemical filled beauty products (except NyQuil, Zyrtec and Benedryl, these are also great for long international flights… goodnight), and I’m trying to be more cautious about what I put on and in my body. My goal is to be able to make what I use (I can’t wait to make my own deodorant). As a disclaimer, if you are sick, or need open heart surgery, please see a doctor; I wouldn’t advise rubbing lavender on your heart and feeling better.

So if you’re suffering from the end of year fitness blues as I am, don’t worry, I do not think you are alone (cause I’m suffering too). Any messages of encouragement, tips, and/or tricks are highly appreciated. Let the fund of a new year begin (le sigh).

With love,

Tifa

Frozen

I was going to post about persistence this week, but with the ice storm we just had in the DC area, the Lord put a new topic on my heart. I woke up this morning to a world covered in a thick layer of ice. My neighborhood was frozen in time with the appearance of lifelessness (I haven’t left the house today, I sent the dogs out to fend for themselves… they survived). If you take a closer look, you can see my neighbors are still doing life, just inside. Inside my home, my family FINALLY decided to decorate our Christmas tree while listening to old school Christmas songs. Today reminded me to not let the world harden your heart, because warmth will keep it beating.

Recently on social media, there have been a lot of posts on the heartbreaking events going on in Aleppo. This Syrian city has been destroyed by both militant rebel groups and government military fighting for the right to own plots of land. I’m no expert on foreign politics (I’m not even well versed in American politics), but I do know innocent civilians are being murdered, raped, and displaced for no reason while the international community has staying relatively quiet. The silver lining is through the silence, there are the unsung heroes who are in Syria helping no matter what the costs.

I will say besides praying on my own and reposting on FaceBook, I haven’t done anything practical to help. I think I was so overwhelmed with what is going on, it’s easier to turn a blind eye and concentrate on the holiday season than to acknowledge the inhumane events that are taking place in Aleppo. Today I realized I had hardened my heart to people who need help and a sense of hope. This is the season that the church preaches hope, but are we practically showing the love of Christ? I know not everyone is called to book a flight and head out to Syria (I know I’m not), but maybe instead of buying gifts for family and friends, donate that money to a cause that can help, or really pray on how you can help. I’m currently looking up which organization I want to donate to as a gift to my family.

Even if it’s not for the Syrian crisis, what cause is God really tugging on your heart about? It could be the local homeless community, buying gifts for children whose parents are in prison or are hospitalized, spending time with the elderly, or reaching out to that friend who feels alone during the holidays. All I ask is don’t harden your heart to the people who really need you; I know I’ve FINALLY had a change of heart!

With Love,

Tifa

Perseverance

As most of you know I am training for a marathon in March and a trail Ragnar in April. This means a lot of running! This week alone I had the pleasure (said with all sarcasm) of running five miles in the freezing cold rain on Tuesday (I was splashed head to toe by a bus and stepped in several puddles), and running 10 miles on Friday in the freezing cold, miserable and windy DC weather (I DO NOT LIKE WINTER). Every moment of both runs was miserable, but I had to do it. I’m currently on a marathon training plan, no matter what the weather, I have to persevere and run through it all. There are days I would rather sit on my butt, drink hot tea and eat cake while binge watching old episodes of Gossip Girl on Netflix; but I can’t because I made a commitment to this race and have to go out running. Besides the cold, the part that really sucks is that I haven’t even lost a pound (ugh, so frustrating)! SO, the one thing that helps me continue to train is the fact that I paid money to run this race and I’m instagraming every step of the way!

In Romans 8:25 is states “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” So for me, in the realm of running, I don’t see the “fruits of my labor” just yet, but I know I’m working hard, and not only will I see a new fit me, but I’ll also finish this dang marathon. And also in Romans 5:3-5 it states that “tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint…” To me anything can be considered tribulation, for training it’s the pain I feel right after I run (no one wants constant ankle pains). I’ve learned to persevere through it with the help of an awesome ankle brace. This is building my character to think more about my health and listening to my body, and my hope is that I’ll be a lot healthier come race day, and be able to finish my first marathon!

On a more serious note, I think there are difficulties that we face in our daily lives, and the question becomes are we going to press through the pain and opposition, or are we going to fold and give up. This can be in the realm of our work, relationships, health, finances, school, you name it. Are you doing what you are called to do, and are you persevering towards it no matter how much resistance there is. It won’t be easy, but nothing in life is!

To personally help me, I’ll start blogging about my health journey and be honest with you guys how it’s going (this will help keep me accountable). What have you been persevering through in this current season, and what has helped you to keep going? I look forward to hearing from you.

With love,

Tifa

Focus

It took me six years of squinting before I finally saw the optometrist (I know, embarrassing). Personally, I’d rather see the dentist every day than have some stranger poke my eye. I don’t think anyone will ever understand how much I CAN’T STAND the optometrist, and this is why it took me six years to see one. When I finally made an appointment at Costco, I realized my vision hadn’t changed that much in six years (thank you awesome eye genes) and I left that day with a new set of contacts, and an updated prescription to order new glasses online. I am still shocked and amazed at how clear everything is when I can finally focus on the world around me! I had been living in a world full of fuzzy images, and this had become my new normal. Now I can see details in objects that are far away, and read signs in the distance as I drive. Coming to think of it, I’m probably a safer driver now…

Besides being able to see, I have the hardest time focusing on tasks at hand. This is the main reason it took me this long to get this blog post done, because I just couldn’t focus on sitting down and writing it up (even while writing this post about focus I was distracted by FaceBook, YouTube, and Instagram… ugh). I’ve recently resigned from my job so I can focus on a few other projects in my life (some of them pertaining to this blog, stay tuned). Now that I have all the time in the world, it seems that I am busy engaging in several commitments, and then not having the time to focus on what really needs to be done. With this being said I need to write down a schedule to help me keep on track (I’m a creature of habit).

For cyber Monday, I bought a 2017 wall calendar and agenda from Target, and I’ve already started scheduling out my days in the new year. I’m devoting specific days to writing blogs, taking photos, training for my marathon, cooking for the week, cleaning, learning to play guitar, and planning for future endeavors (I have big dreams!). Once I have it all written down, I’m pretty good at sticking to a schedule, and it helps me prioritize other non-urgent commitments. Now with everything I have going on during this season, I know I can only focus on one thing at a time. So even though you see a lot of activities listed above, I only give myself a certain amount of time to focus on each activity, then I have to move on to the next (well, everything except running, because who knows how long it will take me to run 20 miles… that could take me all day).

Please share ways that help you focus when you have a lot of tasks to complete and many distractions that can divert your attention (darn you social media), I can always use other tricks and tools to help organize my time (just got distracted by my dog, she’s so cute). One of my goals is to have a post released once a week (hopefully every Saturday), and as of right now I choose to focus on all of you who take the time to read my blog!

With love,

Tifa

Thankful!

Ah, Thanksgiving! If you’re American, this holiday has a somewhat interesting background story. There is the version that we learn from the history books which portrays a friendly dinner between settlers and Native Americans. Then there is the truth behind the holiday which is a lot more depressing (I won’t get into that here, but hey, maybe another year). I personally look at Thanksgiving as an opportunity to reflect on the past year and remember what I am thankful for.

I think for most people 2016 has been an interesting year. Most gifs, memes, and videos out there would portray 2016 as a pretty difficult year (Prince, we miss you!!!). I’ve had friends that were laid off, resigned from jobs, divorces, miscarriages, deaths, etc. And this does not include what we have sees in the news. Personally, there is enough turmoil in 2016 to last me a good decade, and I can choose to see my surroundings through my circumstances, or I can let the blessings outshine the negative and be thankful for another year. So during this Thanksgiving holiday, I am choosing to focus on the blessings in my life, and below are five things I am thankful for.

  1. I am extremely thankful for my friends and family (this includes you church family and work squad) who have always been there with me no matter what I’m walking through. Thank you for the prayers, encouraging words, support, and being a listening ear. I could not have made it through this year without all you wonderful people.
  2. I am thankful that God transitions me well from season to season. There are times I may get anxious, and He tends to remind me that He’s in control, He won’t give me more than I can handle, and there is always a sense of peace of walking into the unknown.
  3. I am thankful that I have the freedom to travel to many different countries. This year I was fortunate to travel to South Africa twice (Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town), and had the opportunity to visit my family in Belgium. I know that not everyone has the freedom to travel the way I do, and I am very thankful that I can.
  4. No matter how messed up my country may be sometimes, I am thankful to be American. My parents came here and worked hard to give my siblings and I the opportunity to fulfill our dreams no matter what they are. The US is a country where I have the freedom to say whatever I want to say (this does not mean there are not consequences for my actions, but I am still able to make it known), and I can attend the church of my choice without having to hide. To all who do church under prosecution, I have nothing but respect for you!
  5. Lastly, I am thankful for the support of everyone who reads this little blog. My hope is that this blog encourages you wherever you are, and whatever season you are in. Thank you for coming on this journey of me processing my thoughts and my revelations out loud!

I am excited to announce that I will be adding a few more blog topics in the near future including introducing guest bloggers in the New Year. If you would like to be a guest blogger please email admin@teawithtifa.com. In the meantime, please share a few things you are thankful for this Thanksgiving season (this includes finally being able to play Christmas music, and yes, I’ll be listening to ‘NSYNC Christmas from now until January).

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, and I look forward to continuing this journey with you!

With love,

Tifa

Savoring the Taste

This week is a continuation of last week’s post about seasons. One of my favorite things on the planet to eat are red velvet cupcakes. I could eat a red velvet cupcake every day if my waist would allow it! I even judge bakeries on their red velvet baking skills. Two of my favorite local bakeries, who in my case make the best red velvet, are Fancy Cakes by Leslie in Bethesda Row (featured in the blog photo above, her cupcakes are AMAZING), and Sprinkles in Georgetown for their vegan red velvet cupcakes. The one thing I need to remember whenever I’m ravenously devouring a cupcake is to stop and savor the taste. This is really hard for me because I’m so excited about the delicious $3 gift before me, that I forget to chew and enjoy (I know, the cupcake industry is a total rip off at minimum $3 a pop). My one regret is usually not enjoying what I have while I have it.

This week I want to talk about savoring the taste and enjoying the moment before it’s gone. A few weeks ago, one of our pastor’s spoke about the church’s summer youth camp at a young adult night. He said there were times when he had to step back and savor the taste of what God was doing among the youth at the camp. I feel that there are many times we get caught up in everything that is going on around us, we don’t stop and take it all in. This is a hard lesson to learn, and I’m still trying to figure it out because I’m always rushing from one place to another (constantly thinking about the destination and not the journey).

This week I will try to stop, be thankful for, and enjoy the moments that God has given me. Take time to breath in the fresh, crisp air of fall. Hang out with friends I haven’t seen in a while, or even just take my chubby dog for a nice long walk (she needs to walk more, she’s getting a little round).

What are some things you do to stop and savor the taste of the moments you’ve been given?

With love,

Tifa

p.s. Speaking of tastes, I’m an “okay” cook. I take a lot of recipes from Pinterest. Please let me know if you would like to see posts about some of my Pinterest recipes attempts. Some of them may turn out edible, while others are epic failures!