I am single and I have one older sister, an older brother, 2 nephews, 2 nieces, and 2 loving parents. Other fun facts are that I love sports and being active, and it seems like I'm always playing a sport. I currently play soccer, volleyball, softball, and kickball in leagues. I also help with my church youth group and have done so since I graduated high school. Lastly, I have a love and passion for missions and have been on 10 overseas missions trips (6 to Honduras, 2 to Jamaica, 1 to Haiti, 1 to Guatemala), and numerous in the country mission trips, mostly serving in my local community and surrounding area. I'm a kid at heart and have lots of energy and try to make everything fun, but also know when and how to be serious.
C: I love that your desire is to take your skills and strengths and use them to bless and serve others around the world! When would you say your faith moved beyond just knowing God to experiencing God?
Natalie: My Christian walk in a nut shell- grew up in a Christian home and literally was at church at least 3 days a week, maybe more. Changed churches as I was entering High school, parents forced me to go to church for a year because I wanted nothing to do with the new church. Finally, I got connected with the youth group, but attended more for the friends I made instead of my relationship with God. I knew all the right answers and all the right things to say, so it looked like I had my life all together, but didn't. Made some mistakes with different relationships through high school, and beginning of college. But during the end of high school I started an accountability group with a lady from church and started focusing on my walk with Christ and his will for my life. Yes in College I slipped up a few times and made mistakes I regretted, but learned from them and have continued on. Then I went on my first missions trip the winter of my freshman year. During that time I experienced many eye opening things and numerous God encounters/moments that made me think long and hard afterwards and made me look at my own life and challenged me. But it wasn't until a year later when I went back to Honduras and realized that I was being called to doing missions in some capacity but God was 'slapping me in the face' and saying, "WAKE UP, put me FIRST in your life always and not just when you feel like it. Focus on growing deeper in relationship with me, and fixing up/working through the things that are blocking you from growing deeper in relationship with me. Straighten these things up, get your self to a point to be ready to go whenever I call, and be ready for the wild ride I have a head for you, and how I plan to use you for my kingdom work." Ever since that trip I have felt closer and more focused on my walk with Christ and trying to live for him and following his will each and every day. It hasn't always been easy, and I have messed up a few times, but the awesome thing is God is always forgiving and never gives up on us no matter how much we mess up.
C: I totally italicized your quote of what God said to you because it hit me hard. I am so thankful we have a loving Father who takes the time to wake us up! What is one thing God has been teaching you this season of your life?
Natalie:In this season he is teaching me to be ready to Go when he calls and to not let fears or excuses stand in the way or hold me back. As I am in a waiting period to what next, I have been challenged to work through the things that have been and could potentially be things holding me back from saying yes and dropping everything and going when he calls. If I was asked to leave tomorrow, I'm not quite certain I would say yes without hesitation, but I know I am in a way better place than just a year ago and have a lot less hesitation in that yes. So working through having to leave family, meaningful friendships/relationships and people that mean the world to me, but I have realized that God has provided these people in My life right now, some will always be a part of my life, some are just for this season of life, and he will bring along more when I am in the next place to fill the void from the old to the new transition. Like I said he is never going to leave us hanging. He is also teaching me to appreciate the small things and the things that get over looked in the present that I am doing to share his love and making a difference in his Kingdom. Not everything is big or some huge change, but the small things like a hello and short conversation with the Starbucks barista is as important and sometimes more important. So he is challenging me in this waiting period to really focus on the present, seeing my current state as my mission field, and focusing on the small things that may make a bigger impact in the long run for his kingdom.
C: Availability and obedience. Those are two things I believe God is always looking for in us! How do you keep your eyes fixed on God when storms come your way?
Natalie:Well when trials come my way I first and foremost stop and pray and give it over to Christ, have him provide the answers through it and have him be my guide. When I try to do the work and forget about him, it just makes things worse and goes totally wrong. I also lean on the people who are close to me and my accountability partner to not only pray, but also give me advice and help me work through the situation and keep me accountable to the changes. I can't speak to how important it is to doing this Christian walk in community with others, and not alone by ourselves. I have a handful of people in my life who have helped me through a lot and stood by my side even when I made dumb choices, and without them I am not sure I would be The person and In the place I am today.
C: I agree! Because of my pride I struggled for years to have accountability partners but ever since I humbled myself, it's amazing how God uses people to bless people. What are some verses that you often cling to as a reminder of His goodness?
Natalie: My life verse and what I try to lead my life by is actually the Salt and light passage from Mathew 5: 13-16. I try to be the light in the darkness wherever I go, and day in and day out. I get to be the light to my patients and families in some of the darkest times in life. My goal is just to share love with them, bring a smile to their faces, and bring joy To them in the midst of their tragedy. In everything I am involved in and everything I do, I keep these verses in the back of my mind and try to live by them. Two other verses are Jeremiah 29:11 and Joshua 1:9. Both of these are important to me regarding the next step in life and knowing God knows the plans for me and has my back. And that he has equipped me with all I need, and I just need to be strong and have faith because God will always be with me and never forsake me wherever I go. Lastly, every morning I try to start my day by saying, "Lord, thank you for another day. This day is your day, use me in whatever way and capacity today to follow your will, proclaim your love, and do your kingdom work."
C: Amen...If you could encourage those out there who are fearful of letting go and trusting God, what would you say?
Natalie: Fear is on of the biggest things that builds a wall in between us and following God's will for our lives. But God wants us to life a fear free life because with him at the center and number one in our lives, there is nothing to fear. When Times get tough, remover God is all we need and is always there even when we think he isn't. When we are fearful, we need to turn even harder toward Christ and rely on him to lead us through those fears and destroy them one at a time. Also enlist those who are close to you and will hold you accountable, to come along side of you and help you through these fears and help you keep them destroyed and as rubble that stays in the last, and you continue to go forward and not turn back. God loves us no matter what, no matter how screwed up we were, currently are, or how much we screw up in the future. He loves us for who we are and just wants us to love him, focus on him, and share that love he has given us with others. He fills our cup and wants us to continue to fill it, and allow it to overflow and spill into the lives of those around us, and eventually flood the nation and the world with his love.
Those are the words on my hand today. We weren't created to just do our "own" thing but to live every day FOR Jesus. In our homes, work, church, community, and neighborhood. Let us live FOR Him today. Let us live to honor and please Him with the words that we say, with how we treat others, and yes...even how we care for ourselves and our bodies. There was a time where I only submitted myself partially to the Lord. I gave Him the pen to write my love chapter, career chapter, friendship chapter, and family chapter. BUT, when it came to my health chapter, I just didn't see what the big deal was if I took control of that myself. God wouldn't really care if I didn't eat all that well or didn't exercise all that much? Those are such temporary issues...why should they matter?
They matter because He entrusted me with this temple. They matter because my health can either support my mission to serve Him or it can be a barrier to what He calls me to do. It matters. All of me matters to God. My mind, my spirit, my body.
Friends, I challenge us to realize that we are not our own. Dying to ourselves and living for Christ knowing that true life is following HIM and death is gain because we get to BE with Him. May we honor Him with ALL we are. He does not want pieces...He wants everything. May we give our utmost for His highest.
If you follow me on my Facebook page (Facebook.com/carenscorner) you know I go on LIVE often throughout the week to share devotionals, workouts, nutrition tips, recipes, etc. Well this past week I went on LIVE to literally cry in front of you. It was not an easy day. A series of unexpected events occurred and my response was panic, anxiety, fear, doubt, and a complete break down. There was a time I hated showing weakness, I hated crying in front of people, I hated vulnerability, and I hated the reality that I wasn't superwoman. It took some of my closest friends to speak truth in love by grace to me. They called me out (again with love) and exposed this "fake perfection" I was portraying and I listened. Confrontation is hard to accept but it is necessary and valued when it comes from those who genuinely loves us and love God.
So, with all that said, in the last 2 years I have grown in vulnerability and have learned that it is in my most tender and vulnerable moments that God shines through. In our faith journey there will always be suffering, unexpected events, doubt, and trials. Hiding them does not portray an accurate picture of following Jesus but neither does going through them with misery, hatred, anger, and defeat. Paul reminds us that there is JOY in suffering. That's basically the whole book of Philippians! Take time to read it...I bet you could read the whole book in like...15 minutes.
Today I just want to encourage you. As we mature in our faith and fall more in love with Jesus our reflex to suffering will change. It won't be a complete mental breakdown but a response that is grounded in faith and trust. It was clear that my time with God last week was not solid. It was fluffy. I am confident of this because my response was so "out there." I am thankful for hard times to remind me who I am leaning on. What about you?
There is so much brokenness and darkness in our world today and it's hard to wrap my mind around it. As I have been watching the news, seeing statuses of my friends on FB, and listening to conversations in front of me the first word that came to my mind was anger.
It's an emotion. A valid one. It can be productive or destructive. It can be righteous and a catalyst for positive change. It can also be dangerous and a catalyst for hatred.
When I talk with my mental health clients and validate their anger they are often confused. "Shouldn't you encourage me not to be angry?" Well, no. Anger is valid. The action that follows the anger is what we must evaluate. Lots of men and women in our history allowed their anger to bring about good and necessary change. It was productive, healing, and inspiring. In the same breath many have also allowed their anger to control them and take them down a path that led to destruction.
Anger is not wrong. Anger should not be looked down upon. My prayer is that it can be coupled with righteousness and wisdom and be a catalyst for positive change. In scripture we see that we are not to sin while angry. We can be angry. But in our anger we must not sin-Ephesians 4:26
Though anger is not always evil, it can easily turn one to evil. Anger, like greed, is often the root of various evils. Anger can lead us to speak to a friend in a way that is destructive. Our words can either edify and build up or they can tear down and destroy. So which will we choose? How will we respond to our anger? Will we build up or tear down? Will we be wise or explosive?
The month of May and most of June were extremely difficult for me as you may have seen through the ugly cry posts and others I have shared here with you. After having a 60 hour a week job for so long and moving at an incredibly fast pace, the sudden rest caught me off guard and I did not receive it well (I know right, who doesn't want to receive rest?) It was as if to have worth and value I had to be burnt out and exhausted. I kept trying to find ways to add more things to my schedule or my career. I love being a fitness coach and running faith & fitness challenge groups every month but I kept feeling like I needed to do MORE. Why?
2 weeks ago I had an overdue "aha" moment. I was sitting outside and the birds were chirping, the wind was moving, and everything was calm. In the stillness I heard Him "Rather than focusing on what you don't have, focus one what I DID entrust you with." Ever since this moment my entire mindset shifted. When our mind shifts, our emotions and actions shift with it. Instead of trying to add more I decided to simply be faithful with what I DO have. This means I am:
To fully and completely POUR myself into the faith and fitness challenges I run.
To fully and completely POUR into the women I speak with on the phone to encourage, empower, teach, and guide them in their wellness journey.
To fully and completely POUR into the coaches on my team and ensure they are set up for success.
To fully be attentive as women share with me their greatest struggles in regard to their mental, physical, or spiritual health
Friends, it's true. Gratitude does turn what we have into enough. Rather than focusing on what we do not have, let us see what we DO have and be faithful in that.
A Bit About ME!
Hey friend! My name is Caren and I am so glad you stopped by! This blog is a bit of my corner on the internet where I share honest thoughts about my faith journey, fitness journey, doctor wife journey, and motherhood journey. ALL of it! The good bad and ugly! I pray that something I share encourages you today!