Evident to all.

I once lived with a girl who had a tattoo on her arm.

To be honest, that summer, I lived with a lot of people (51, if we’re counting), many of which had tattoos on their arms. Crosses, quotes, Hebrew, Timshel, flags, geographical coordinates, flowers, feathers. If you’re picturing a house full of peace loving, flannel wearing, nose-pierced millennials – bullseye.

But it was Andrea’s tattoo always struck me the most:

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

It took me that whole summer of front step chats and coffee dates with Andrea to figure out what those words really meant. She really lived those words out and she made them true. She was gentle, loving, patient, and unfailingly kind to all. Nothing could shake the peace and the love that she carried.

And just when I thought I had a grasp on the message, I moved out, and forgot about that forever stamp on that friend of mine, who I haven’t seen in the three years since.

Last week, after a particularly trying few days of job interviews, bittersweet goodbyes, late nights, planning a cross-country move (even more stressful than it sounds), and impending deadlines – I found myself a bit ruffled and frazzled. And there was no better display of my mess then when I got into a little spat with my husband over something so ridiculous and puny that I’m embarrassed to remember that I went there.  I was that caffeinated and wonky girl last week. Frazzled, ruffled, messy, harsh.

And for the first time in three years, that forever stamp came back to me. It interrupted me while I was sitting in traffic and feeling the weight and the fear of so many things that I shouldn’t have let settle so deeply into my heart:

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

Remembering those words kindled some ugly self-reflection.

When I’m under pressure, do I live and love with gentleness?

Or do I let myself be consumed by stress, fear, anxiety – and react harshly?

What does the way that I live and love say about God?

Does the way that I treat others show God’s love, or does it just show my fear?

(Based on the fact that I blew up at my sweet husband who had done nothing wrong last week – I’ll let you guess what my answers were. Insert ashamed emoji here.)

I’ve never been great at hiding my emotions. When I’m under stress, I wear them on my sleeve and my face and in my interactions with those I love most, and I hate it. Living in such a way that I can have evident gentleness will be a challenge, but it’s one worth striving for. It’s a daily intention. It will take years and years of refining, of holding my tongue, of choosing a better way, of speaking a kinder response. It will take loving when I want to fight, and patience when I want to know all of the answers.

But, it’s my prayer.To live gently. To trust boldly. To love better. To live in such a way that shows others that God is working in me, working in you, and so beautifully in control.

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Lately: February

This is our last month in Delaware, and I’m wanting to soak it up and savor it as much as possible. So far, February has been so good to us. We closed on our house and moved in with my in-laws (a huge blessing rather than having to post up in a hotel for a month!), bought an SUV for our cross-country adventure, and celebrated Chad’s birthday with a date in Philly, a fancy brunch at the Hotel du Pont,  and a Super Bowl party with friends. (Was anyone else’s favorite moment when Peyton hugged Papa John? I don’t care if it was a paid endorsement – HOW PRECIOUS.)

We’ve got lovely things in the coming weeks on our calendars, too. Date nights and farewell dinners, a trip to the mountain house with my side of the family, and a weekend at the beach with some of our best friends. Thank you, February, for sending us off in the sweetest ways. I want to remember these final days always.

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Lately, I’ve been…

Reading… You and Me Forever by Francis Chan, and loving it so much. Did you know you can read it for free if you download the app? Get on that! It’s such a gift.

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Playing… old school Taylor Swift records in the car like I’m lovesick and fifteen years old again. No shame here.
Watching… The Bachelor. Again, judge me all you want to but no shame about this one. 🙂 What’s even better is that Chad watches it with me. What a dreamboat.
Trying… To swear off of coffee for good! I feel so much better on the days that I opt for tea + water over coffee.
Cooking… This beautiful bake for Chad tomorrow. Fall flavors never go out of style, am I right?

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Eating… lots of tofu and not hating it. There’s so many creative things out there nowadays that don’t make me miss meat a bit!
Drinking… matcha, matcha, matcha. I know, I’m a broken record. JUST TRY IT.
Texting… terribly. I’ve been horrible about texting back loved ones in a timely manner lately – but it’s kind of been bringing out a stronger sense of freedom. It’s taught me that I never want to make others feel like they have to be tied to their phones 24/7. I might not ever get good at texting again. 😉
Pinning… coops on coops on coops. Can’t wait to have chickens someday!

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Going… nowhere tonight. Snow has been falling on us all day! Time to stay safe and cozy inside.
Thinking… about all of the different housing options for us in San Diego, and driving myself a little crazy trying to decide on a home. Thankful for friends like Jill and Lindsey who have been touring and fielding the neighborhoods for us!
Listening (to)… the Philadelphia evening news. Call me strange, but I’m going to miss Action News like crazy. If you know, you know.

Celebrating… Chad’s lifelong friend’s engagement! We are so excited for Mike + Lara and were lucky to celebrate with them on Saturday night.
Ordering… A small part that our SUV needs. Grateful for my handy, brilliant husband who loves a challenge and is going to figure out how to fix it himself!
Thanking… God for providing a great job for me in San Diego. I’m so excited about it!

Hoping… for endless hours in the days ahead to get to spend time with everyone we love. Goodbyes are just the worst.

Considering… what to fast (or to resolve to start) for Lent.
Starting… to research about serious writing opportunities, and starting to invest in my professional development as a writer. A long road ahead, but great things to come.
Finishing… binge-watching About a Boy on Netflix. A little cheesy, but feel-good and funny. Try it! Especially if you, too, loved Dr. Sam on New Girl. 😉

Loving… this quote from one of my favorite authors. And also loving each of you. Have a great week, friends.

 

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We’re Moving!

Chad and I have a huge announcement that we’ve been dying to share with you (and no, there are no babies headed our way anytime soon – though somebody guessed that. Yikes)!

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We were both born and raised in the Philadelphia/Delaware areas. We’re Philly sports fans through and through and we will never, ever pledge our loyalty anywhere else. Our memories and histories are on the East Coast. Everyone we know, love, and treasure is here. Yes, there are brutal, cold winters and yes, the humidity level in summer isn’t anything to brag about either. There are three tiny counties, and more chickens in Delaware than there are people (#fact).

But, Delaware is and always will be our home. There’s a lot of love packed into this teeny tiny little wonder. We are deeply rooted in families and communities that it truly hurts to leave.

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So, why are we moving? If we’re being honest – we’re just sincerely craving adventure. Craving to live a little bigger and a little slower. To build these memories together.

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I’m grateful to be married to a man who believes in the importance of taking risks and pursuing dreams, even if a few eyebrows or “but, why?”s are raised along the way. We know that it’s not forever, but we know it’s what we need for now. There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness. I’m just so glad that I get to have all of those seasons with Chad by my side.

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I’m so looking forward to getting back to the city, mountains, beaches, and friends that I called home for a short while. The last time I moved away from San Diego, it was with a heavy heart. I was thrilled to be going back to my sweet roots, but torn because I knew a big part of me would stay in Southern California. It really does ruin you for life.

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What I didn’t know at the time was that I had to go back to Delaware to soon after meet and fall in love with a man (hallelujah for that) who would one day be the one to encourage me that moving back to California wasn’t selfish or a pipe dream. If that’s what my heart wanted, that’s what his wanted, too. And, also – his belly wants acai bowls from OB Smoothie on the daily. Can you blame him?

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And so, the first week of March, we’re packing up our SUV with our essentials and our pup and driving across the country, sleeping on floors and crashing with friends along the way. We have some answers as to what our home and life will look like in San Diego, but honestly – not many. We’ll hope and pray and plan; we’ll figure it out as we go. So much is riding on faith in God and trust with each other, but we know that everything will unfold exactly as it should.

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To our friends and family who it hurts to leave back home: we’ll dig those sunsets, but they got nothin’ on you. You all have made our lives, together and separate, so rich and beautiful and full of belonging. We are forever grateful. We’re dreading to say goodbye and already looking forward to when we can squeeze you tight and say hello again.

And, we eagerly welcome any and all visitors. Nuestra sofá es su sofá. There are these burritos with french fries in the middle that we’re dying for you to try. 🙂

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Heart-to-Heart Hump Day: Anna Pilling of Equipping Strength

This week I had the privilege of chatting with a strong and beautiful gal from Dallas, Texas. Friends – meet the lovely Anna Pilling, co-owner of Equipping Strength. I know you’ll love what she has to say about having a job that she loves, setting goals, and real beauty. Enjoy!

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Hi Anna, thank you for joining me today! I’d love to know how you got started on your fitness journey. Where does your passion for women’s health come from?

I fell in love with fitness my senior year in High School. I had always been an active child growing up and grew up playing volleyball and doing ballet. However, my senior year is when I got a gym membership and truly fell in love with working out. I changed the way I was eating and began to make health and fitness apart of my life. I knew I wanted to go to school to major in Kinesiology/Exercise science and that’s exactly what I did. Ever since then, I’ve always had a heart for women’s health/fitness because as a woman, I understand the pressure the world puts on us to look a certain way. I want women to find beauty in their strength and find confidence in making health and fitness their lifestyle.

What is Equipping Strength?

Equipping Strength is founded on Psalm 18:32. “It is God who equips me with strength, and keeps my way secure.”

We offer one on one personal training, buddy training, nutrition coaching, injury prevention and rehabilitation, and athletic performance training.

We are located in the heart of Dallas, TX and work with clients of all ages and fitness levels. We also have several online coaching programs for those who are not located in Dallas or just need some guidance with workouts and nutrition.

Photos by: www.CoburnPhoto.com
Photos by: http://www.CoburnPhoto.com

Did you ever imagine that you’d own a business with your husband? How did Equipping Strength come to life?

I always knew I would start my own business one day, however I never imagined I would marry someone who was in the same profession and shared the same goals.

Austin and I started Equipping Strength about a year ago. We were both working as personal trainers at a gym (that’s where we met 😉 ) and after getting married a few months prior, we decided to start our own business. We had already built up a good client base and we wanted to extend our services to those online, as well.

Is Equipping Strength your full-time job? What’s a typical day like for you?

Yes, with the combination of training clients and then creating programs for our online clientele. Both of our days start EARLY. We are up everyday between 5:45-6am. My first client starts at 6am every morning and they come to my house. Austin trains the majority of his clients at this awesome strength and conditioning style gym not too far from our house. Our mornings are pretty busy, then we usually train a couple people during the lunch hour. Our afternoons are usually open, so that’s when we workout, have lunch, and take a little rest. Then we often have a few more clients in the early evening. By the time we are both home for the night, we are usually exhausted. We meal prep and cook our own meals and really only eat out once or twice on the weekends.

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What do you like to do to relax and recharge on rest days?

It depends what the weather is like. If it’s nice outside we love to go take our dog to the dog park, go on a walk at the lake, or grab dinner on a patio and enjoy the evening. When it’s cold out, we love to order in pizza or make homemade, and watch netflix. Lazy sundays are our favorite!

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Do you ever have the rare occasion when you struggle with motivation? What’s your trick to get out the door and moving?

Of course! We all have those days! I honestly just tell myself that if I can just get to the gym, I will feel so much better afterwards. And I do!! Some mornings it’s hard to get up and train my 6am clients, but once I am in it, I love it! Whenever you work a job you are passionate about, it truly doesn’t feel like work!

Photos by: www.CoburnPhoto.com
Photos by: http://www.CoburnPhoto.com

Any advice for women who are struggling with body confidence?

YOU are beautiful! Most of all, focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Focus on getting stronger in the gym. Set goals for yourself and not just how much weight you want to lose. If you focus on getting stronger and reaching daily and weekly goals, the weight loss will come. Also, don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t compare your progress to their progress. Enjoy the journey YOU are on.

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What is the most important thing for women to remember as they set goals for healthier nutrition and exercise plans?

Take baby steps. Rather than going all in and changing everything at first, maybe just focus on nutrition first. Then go to the gym 3 times a week. Then maybe once you feel you can commit to more, add in another day. Don’t over commit at first or then you will get stressed out and want to quit. And don’t forget to ask for help! Talk with a trainer or coach who can guide you, hold you accountable, and help you reach your goals.

Do you have a favorite workout that readers can try at home?

Head to the blog http://equippingstrength.com/blog/ and you will be sure to find some great workouts 🙂

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I love the recipes that you share on your blog! Is there a favorite recipe you have for readers to try?

Oh it’s so hard to pick a favorite!! One I am loving right now during the winter is this White Bean Chicken Chili. You throw all the ingredients in the crockpot, set it on low for 7-8 hours and Voila! You have a balanced yet delicious comfort meal.

You can find the recipe here:

http://equippingstrength.com/white-bean-chicken-chili/

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Just for fun, what are three things in life that you’re loving right now?

 

  • G2G Bars: These Good 2 Go bars are my new absolute favorite protein bars! The peanut butter chocolate chip seriously tastes like a Reese’s cup. They are made up of whole food ingredients, no preservatives, and taste AMAZING. You can receive 20% by using our code STRENGTH at checkout! http://www.g2gbar.com
  • Athleta: This is one of my favorite stores!! They have the cutest clothes for working out but also just casual running around town clothes. I’m big on comfort, so give me some cute leggings, a soft oversized sweater and some sneakers and I’m good to go 🙂
  • Tazo Tea: I LOVE this tea! I have some every morning after breakfast and sometimes for a little afternoon pick me up. I love the Vanilla Caramel Chai if I need a little caffeine or the Sweet Cinnamon Spice (caffeine free) for later in the day/evening. So yummy!

Isn’t she the greatest? Thanks for sharing your life and encouragement with us, Anna!

To stay up to date with Anna and Equipping Strength, follow @equippingstrength and @annagrace_pill

For workouts, recipes, and exercise tips, visit Equipping Strength’s blog.