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“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Ah...new year, new beginnings. It's a fresh start to jump into the game and get working on our goals.
“I want to lose weight. Get fit. Eat better. Workout more. Feel younger. Do better. Improve myself and my body. Let's do this thing!”
But we're always coming back to these same things every. single. year. It's so repetitive, and in fact, it's really not "new" at all! Instead of a new beginning, it's just the same stupid beginning all over again.
Do you get tired of it? Cause I do.
We’re on a yearly cycle that always brings us back to making these same body commitments every dang year.
What if the “new thing” is completely jumping off this track of personal, physical improvement and onto a brand new track? Maybe the “new thing” isn't a body improvement at all, but a heart improvement.
What would be better to achieve by the end of 2019? To say that you walked closer to Jesus, began to listen and actually hear Him more, overcame sin and shame, and fell so deeply in love with Him that it oozed out of you onto everyone around you...OR that you lost 20 pounds.
No seriously, if you could pick one or the other which would it be?
I get words.
Last year my word was “fear”.
This word kept creeping up everywhere I looked. I would read a novel and the big obstacle the main character was working through was fear. I would read my Bible in the morning and passages about fear would leap out at me. At church on Sunday the message would be all about overcoming fear.
I couldn’t escape it, even if I tried. It was quite obvious that fear was the issue in my life that God was chiseling out of me. He was putting it in my path everywhere I went. I had to come face to face with a deeply embedded fear around every bend and corner.
I was afraid of failing. Afraid of being a fraud. Afraid that I would offend someone. I was afraid that everything I had worked so hard on would suddenly come crashing down, and I would have the rug pulled out from under me. I was even afraid that someone would notice an extra ounce of fat in my midsection during an Instagram video.
I lived in fear and made so many decisions based on fear.
It became so obvious that this, this fear issue, was clouding my vision. So God gently started chipping away at it. From every direction.
I could hear Him say, "Oh daughter, 'there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.' " 1 John 4:18
And what, Who, is this perfect love? "God is love." 1 John 4:8
God’s love for me is so infinite, and dwelling, abiding in that realization dissolved my fear. In fact, since I know that perfect love drives out fear, and God is perfect love, then God Himself drives out my fear.
"The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?" Psalm 118:6
My new thing.
God did a new thing in me this last year. And it had nothing to do with my body.
BUT it affected my body, and it affected the way I viewed and treated my body. You better believe it.
As the fear chipped off of me and turned to dust, I no longer was driven by what others thought of me. I wasn’t afraid of messing up or being less than perfect. I let go of the fear of losing the body that I had worked so hard on, and I stopped holding it with such a tight grasp.
I still worked out and ate healthy because I knew this was still good and pure and important.
I still hit performance goals.
I still experienced new strengths.
But, I finally understood contentment, peace, and rest in my body.
All because I finally allowed God to chip off the heavy chunks of fear that clung to me and my body, weighing me down and confining me to the trappings of vanity in this world.
Before you set about trying to lose weight, get more fit, and eat better in 2019, just pause for a minute first.
What is the “new thing” that’s being stirred up in your soul? What's your word?
Let's dig deep. Deeper than weight loss. Deeper than eating better. Deeper than getting fit. Let’s get under the layers, the thick covers that are shielding us from experiencing God’s love and purpose fully, and from knowing our true identity more intimately.
And yes, those layers are ugly things like shame, vanity, lack of discipline, discontentment, pride, comparison, jealousy, and fear. Let’s dive under this stuff to the real and malleable places of our souls. Yield to the Potter, the Maker of new things, and let Him chip and mold and shape you.
If the "new thing" is from God, it will most definitely include your body and it will affect your body somehow. Our physical bodies are so closely intertwined with our spirit that one inevitably has an impact on the other...they cannot be separated.
It's impossible to come face to face with your lack of discipline and not feel immediately obligated to exert more discipline with your eating and exercise habits. It's impossible to wrestle with your tendency to compare, or with your jealousy, and not learn how to surrender your body's own design over to your Maker.
Yes, we are still compelled and inspired to strengthen, nourish, and increase the health of our physical bodies, but it's birthed out of a deep well of faith, trust and love for our Savior. It's due to a much grander perspective than simply "losing 20 pounds so I look better".
Face to face.
I believe that there will be a day when I'm standing right in front of Jesus. That day will be more important and more remarkable than any other day I will have experienced up until that moment. It will blow all other days completely out of the water.
In that moment, in that flash of a second, I will finally understand my true name, my true personality, my true uniqueness, and my true identity. The fog that is slowly lifting now, which separates our own reality and the "mysteries of God", will be completely removed. I will be in Him.
And I will understand the true scale of importance of everything.
Moments of hunger, skinfolds pinched, calories counted, and the tiny number written on the waistband of my pants simply will not matter one tiny bit. And I will grieve the amount of precious time I wasted worrying about such things.
And when I stand before Him in that moment at the end of my life I hope that I will not have any talent left, and will be able to confidently say that I used everything He gave me. And I pray that I will be so transformed into the likeness of Christ that I beautifully reflect His image, like a pure mirror in that moment.
"So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image." 1 Corinthians 3:18
And that starts now. With this mind, this heart, and even with this body.
In 2019, go beyond the depths of your skin and fat and muscles. They'll always be there in some particular ratio or another. You're going to have some years with improvements and some years with regressions. You'll have moments when you'll get distracted and think that it all matters more than it does, and you'll have moments when you foolishly won't care at all. Your body will ebb and flow. It just will.
But you're going to grow beyond all that this year. I pray this so strongly for you!
You’re going to experience breakthrough, like I did with fear. You’re going to wrestle, struggle, listen, and yield. You’re going to position yourself so you are facing the King of this universe with a humble and willing spirit in anticipation of the great things, new things, that He’s going to do in and through you. You're going to become more and more like Him this year as you're being changed into His glorious image. And you are going to finish 2019 stronger and more secure in your identity in Christ than you are right now.
So, here’s the big question: Are you going to still be embarking on a never-ending quest for the “better body” this year, or will you yield to something more, something bigger, something new?
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