I suppose it would be appropriate to start at the beginning, since my picture here, just before I turned three, is not much different than that of the last picture I show you at age 35, besides a little-added makeup, a few layers of spray tan, hair extensions, and more muscle. You’ll see what I mean when you get to the end, and hopefully, it will make you chuckle. I’m not sure what kind of a pose I was trying to accomplish here, but I think I look pretty intimidating for such a tiny girl. I was obviously flexing my traps…I barely have a neck in that photo. Lol, I think I was channeling my inner warrior. As you can see with the trucks in the background, my fondness for trucks started early too. I’m very attached to my big white dodge truck, by the way. I’ve had it for 11 years and can’t bring myself to part with it. Ok, moving on.
My faith journey started at a very young age, thanks to my grandma in the picture, with whom I’m very close today and a little old lady who lived up the street who would always give me Bible studies to do. I still remember the gold and silver star stickers she used to put on my work. Belief in Jesus is the very core of who I am and has shaped the person I’ve become. Yes, I’ve had seasons when I didn’t feel as close to God, but that was because I wasn’t giving Him the time He needed to develop and deepen our relationship. Let me tell you, the ride of your life begins only when you decide to fully let God in. We just have to be courageous enough to make that choice. You will for sure be hearing more about that in my blog posts.
Most people are surprised when I tell them I’m a third generation Arizona native. I’ve decided that residing here after living in many different parts of the world, is still one of the best places to be, outside of a few brutally hot summer months. It sure does give us some beautiful scenery though.
My immediate family is all here and I’m so grateful for that. I love how I can take a five or 10-minute drive and see them if I want to. I have two wonderful younger brothers, who make my day every time they give me a big hug. They are my biggest supporters and have even helped me make decisions about this website. I’m blessed beyond belief with the family God has given me. They have been my rock and have loved me through all of my successes and my many failures. We’ve all learned a great deal from each other and have had to work through some very difficult and traumatic events, but we’ve all come out stronger on the other side. A true gift he is, I must mention my sweet nephew Conrad, who is one of the most amazing joys of my life. He is my best little buddy and such an angel to spend time with. He will be nine in September If you’ve kept reading this far, thank you! Hang in there and onward we go.
I’ve always been an active, go-getter type of person with larger than life goals and aspirations. My drive and fighting spirit never let me give up on life, even though I’ve had moments and seasons where I thought I couldn’t go on to fight another day. I’m sure you can relate. I’m writing this extended bio with great care and detail, so you can truly know the person behind the words and the images you see.
As a young girl, I loved anything physical. Some of my favorite activities were jumping rope, tetherball, horseback riding, gymnastics, volleyball, boxing, and eventually I fell in love with lifting weights. I used to watch that show “American Gladiator” and wanted to look strong and fit like those ladies or like the Baywatch girls, for you guys and gals who remember that show from way back in the day. I’ll be sharing with you my experiences with perfectionism and self-image and how it kept me from living a life that I love, which I hope will resonate with you tremendously.
When you compare yourself to others, you miss the miracle of who you are.
My life early on was really great. I grew up with my grandma and grandpa who helped raise me until I was about 10 or 11. My mom and dad divorced when I was two, so I don’t remember them ever being together. They both were almost always around and I actually did go from house to house all the time. My gram still teases me about me and my little blue bag, as it was continuously being packed and unpacked as I went from place to place. It was giving me practice for my future travels, haha! I felt safe and stable at my grandparent’s house, but it seemed my life came crashing down when it was decided that I couldn’t stay with them any longer. Looking back, it probably was the best thing, but at the time it was absolutely devastating for me. I was very attached to them, however, they were getting older, as was I and the transition needed to be made. Burrell was actually my step-grandpa, but he was a very special person in my life. We lost him when I was in 6th grade and I miss him greatly!
Blended Family/ Confronting Dysfunction
Blended families can be tricky and there tends to be a lot of emotional trauma remaining with all parties involved, especially with the kids. I grew up with a good bit of dysfunction in my family, and I believe even to this day, it was because nobody knew how to, or was brave enough to properly deal with and heal from their own emotional trauma, therefore it greatly affected me. I’ve been learning how and working toward overcoming that dysfunction all of my life. It took me a long while to recognize the problems that were rooted in me, but God has walked me through every step of the way, along with some help from wonderful people and books (see resources page). God was shaping my character to fit the mission he created me for through my struggles and has made me into the person I am today. I probably wouldn’t even be writing this “about me” page had I not experienced all that I have, no matter if I perceived it as good or as bad. I’m totally convinced that things happen for us, not just to us.
Here is a photo of my dad and me on our Colorado trip in 2016. Yes, I know we look like marshmallow men with our rain gear on ha! Just so you know, I have wonderfully close relationships with all of my family today, so everything is all good, just like in the Hallmark movies. Wink, wink! That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been some extremely difficult and uncomfortable moments and even years, or that there won’t be in the years to come. I will give you more details in some blog posts, that hopefully will give you some insight if you ever find yourselves in similar situations.
College/U.S. Air Force
College was my favorite time in school, grade school was my second favorite time, with middle school and high school rounding out the bottom two spots. Homeschooling I felt provided me with the greatest learning environment, but that was only for a year in 7th grade and I still participated in extracurricular activities at the school. I ended up at three different colleges, with the first one being the last one, eventually graduating from Grand Canyon University 14 years after starting in 2000. It’s so crazy how God gives us these little glimpses into the future. I was registered at Grand Canyon University (GCU) on scholarship after high school and at the last minute, decided to attend Northern Arizona University (NAU) on scholarship. I’m sad to say that I only lasted two semesters up there in the frigid snow. It literally felt like I froze every night in my dorm room and after having to put chains on my truck tires just to get around, my hands were not excited either. Needless to say, I moved back home to the heat in Phoenix! Haha!
I eventually completed my A.A. and decided to take a detour in the United States Air Force, which I must say was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I turned 21 the day I arrived at technical school (in photo), immediately after graduating basic training. I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for our veterans and armed forces of this great country. I worked in both the Psychology and Physical Therapy career fields during my enlistments and was deployed once to Kuwait to augment our security forces there. I have to admit, some of the best years of my life came from those experiences and the awesome, amazing people I met and served with. I was able to travel a lot of the world and it really helped me gain a broader understanding of people, cultures, and of myself.
As you might have guessed by now, I had no clue what I was doing in life, and if I’m honest, I feel a little lost from time to time and have to re-focus and reevaluate priorities. This encouraging lettering was done by my sweet friend Mel at Raw Sugar Writes who does some amazing work and is a wonderful godly lady. She inspires me daily. We must be courageous and steadfast my friends, especially in matters of the heart.
I was still heartbroken from a relationship that had ended, with whom I thought was the love of my life, but deep down knew it was never right from the beginning. Not because he was a bad person, he really had the best heart, but our values and beliefs didn’t line up, and on top of that, we were both still pretty young. We were only 19 when we met and neither of us had much of a clear direction or vision for our future. I had always wanted to be married and have a big family, but that dream was so far off, I just started to believe that no doubt there was something wrong with me and that I wasn’t pretty enough. I really believed that was the reason nothing ever seemed to work out. That belief is a total lie from the enemy, but it did have some truth to it. I had so many issues in my thinking and wounds in my emotions, that I thank Jesus now looking back, that he never let me get into a super serious relationship because I guarantee you, it would’ve been a disaster. No joke! However, I’m confident that if and when it’s right, God will bring the right man into my life.
Where is God/Divine Storm/Emotional Eating
Year after year, I watched all of my big dreams disappear, and eventually, it seemed as if God had not come through for me. I felt utterly useless to God, like my purpose was gone. All of the goals and hopes I had for my life appeared to be at my fingertips but were then quickly snatched out of my reach.
It seemed God just wouldn’t let me achieve what I so deeply desired. I had dreams of being on the cover of fitness magazines because I thought it would give me a platform to influence people, but I just couldn’t get there. (Not a cover photo, but I’m proud of this one, and that I had the courage to get out of my comfort zone for this photo shoot at the Fitposium conference -2017). I was working as a personal trainer after the Air Force and was fighting the roller coaster of emotional eating, which did not help me in achieving these goals.
Food was a way of coping with stress and loneliness. I know now, that back then I was experiencing hormonal and gut imbalances, which definitely didn’t help matters either. So, I started to just merely exist, even though deep down, I knew God was always whispering in my Spirit that he had a purpose for me, that I was meant to thrive and not just survive. I basically was in the survival mode from age 12 until about age 30. Sometimes I find myself wishing God would’ve got my attention earlier in life, but I guess I just wasn’t ready. I do know that God’s timing is always perfect, so in that, I find comfort.
On the homepage, I mentioned that 2014 was a life-changing year for me. The first thing to mention is that I finally graduated from GCU with Bachelor degrees in Entrepreneurial Studies and Exercise Science. Yay, 14 years later…Yikes! Me and our mascot Thunder saying our goodbyes. Little did I know, God was about to take me on a wild adventure.
While I was taking a bus in Hawaii, on Oahu in Honolulu to be exact, I sat down next to a man who asked if I was married and I said no. He then asked if I had a significant other, and I answered no sir, hiding my pain with a smile and thinking to myself, “God, am I ever going to be able to answer that question with a YES?!” This man then spoke something to me that I don’t think I will ever forget. He said, “well, I know that you are a significant person.” I almost started crying right there on the bus, because at the time, I felt like the least significant person on the planet. I was away from all of my close family and friends, I had very little money, no job, and no direction. Oh, and to top it off, a bird pooped on me twice while I was waiting to get on the bus. Yeah, I was in a pretty sad and pitiful state. Now I can look back and laugh about the bird poop I had on my shoulder as I was riding the bus packed shoulder to shoulder with people. I was there because I thought I was getting a job, but I think God had another plan for that particular journey, which I will explain in a future blog post. (Photo – Oahu 2014)
I finally decided to come back home and was able to get somewhat out of the funk I was in, and ever since that time God has been working on me in unbelievable ways. He put the idea in my head, literally out of nowhere to start this website, because I had no thoughts previously at all to do anything online. Plus, I knew nothing about how to create a website. Starting this was a very scary thought for me. I also knew that I would be sharing personal details with the infinite online world, and I didn’t know if I had the courage to go there. I always wanted to be a writer but convinced myself that the dream was just too far out of reach, seeing that I had no connections and was a nobody from nowheresville. This has certainly been a way for me to express my creativity in writing and fulfill my “passion projects,” I like to call them.
Health Crisis/Functional Medicine
Since 2014 I’ve been dealing with one health issue after another, one of which lead me to a person who helped me accomplish a dream of competing in a fitness competition. I’ve had a nagging injury that nobody can seem to figure out, chiropractors and physical therapists included. This gentleman got me back to lifting, and I’m super convinced that he was a divine connection for me. I trained with him for a year and a half and made some tremendous progress. I took the stage on October 28th, 2017.
I’d attempted this feat several times before, but could not make it to the finish because I was so attached to food, but largely due to what I know now was undiagnosed hormonal and gut imbalances, and secondary thyroid conditions. I’ve been noticing symptoms since 2005, such as, my hair falling and not growing back, but it wasn’t until I found a functional medicine doctor, who I “happened” to meet at a fitness conference the week before my figure show, that I got legitimate answers. I believe that was also a divine connection.
We have done some incredible testing that I did not think was available and it has totally reframed my thinking in regards to all of my health issues. I was almost convinced they might have been just all in my head. I told my doctor after we got the results back, that “I was so anxious before coming here today. I thought you were going to tell me that there was no reason I should be feeling as poorly as I do.” He said, “no, there are definitely explanations of why you’re feeling the way you do.” He was able to determine that my body was not detoxing well, that I was in stage 3 adrenal fatigue with secondary thyroid dysfunction. On top of that, I had an overgrowth of bad bacteria in my gut and had multiple parasites (possibly from all the travel I’ve done). Yuck! Not fun!!
It has been a long road to recovery, but I believe we’re on the right track. I’ve lost some muscle since my show, but after completing another hormone test just this month, I can start lifting weights again. There is so much more I could write about concerning all of this, but I will do some blog posts to dig down into some of the things I think will help you if you are perhaps suffering from similar issues.
Here is a before and after picture from my show and hopefully one day I will have a first show and second show comparison photo to display after my hormones and gut are balanced. That for me will be the coolest part of all. Our bodies are amazing miracles that can undeniably transform when we give them what they need. I am in the process of healing from the inside out, and I mean that in all aspects, not just physically.
One of the most frustrating parts about all of this was that I’d been to many doctors, even a naturopath, who was awesome in finding my food allergy issues, but none have compared to what my functional medicine doctor has revealed. I strongly encourage you to go that route if you’re not getting answers with traditional allopathic medicine.
If you’ve stuck with me to the end of this, I can’t thank you enough! I pray this gives you an idea of what you can expect from me and I pray it gave you a tiny window into my heart and passions. I know many of you can relate to the struggles of this life, whether you had a good start or a not so good start. The content you will find in this website encompasses everything from self-image issues, food addictions, health and fitness insights, to personal growth and development topics, all from a Christian perspective. God always has a perfect purpose for our trials. We must not give up on ourselves, because God never gives up on us!
Sometimes I can’t believe this photo is of me and here I was channeling my inner warrior too! 😉 Although my perfectionistic tendencies say, “This is not good enough, I can do better,” I accomplished a dream that forever seemed impossible. Whatever you are believing God for, large or small, know that impossible is not in His vocabulary and shouldn’t be in ours either! I’ll leave you with this quote, as it is one of my favorites!
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
-EXODUS 14:14 NIV
There is nothing better than the peace God gives, therefore we can rest knowing that the battle is already won!
May we be soldiers in the army of God, warriors for our families, and the heroes of our own story! God Bless!