God’s Peace for Our Mind, Body & Spirit: Christina Anstead & Melissa d’Arabian
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Christina Anstead: Mind, body, spirit: [there are] things I’ve had to do over the past ten years to really stay in tune with my body, because all of us go through things, and we try to push it away, like, put it in a box per say, and not deal with it. But ultimately, it catches up with us.
God’s Peace for Our Mind, Body & Spirit: Christina Anstead & Melissa d’Arabian – Episode #195
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Today’s guests are women with often stressful careers who also juggle being wives and mothers. They both sought to have peace in their lives and began to look at their approach to food and nutrition, and their connection to God and the people around them: star of HGTV’s Flip or Flop Christina Anstead and Food Network host and author Melissa d’Arabian.
First up: Christina Anstead grew up in the Anaheim Hills and before she was even a teenager, she loved exploring neighborhoods nearby where new houses were being built. Later in life, as she was pursuing a degree in public relations, she took a turn and decided to get her real estate license. She landed in a real estate office at twenty-one years of age—nabbing her first big home sale in 2008—and then the market crashed. This ultimately led she, and her husband at the time, to invest in homes that needed to be redone and re-selling them for a higher value. They got the attention of the HGTV and they sent a camera crew to follow them on their renovation journeys, and the show Flip or Flop was born. Christina never thought she’d be in front of a camera as part of her job, and the pressure to perform took its toll on her health, as well as problems in her marriage that ultimately led to a divorce. She shares how the moments from both her successes and her difficult times led her back to wellness and a new journey toward God.
Christina: I’m Christina Anstead. You may know me from HGTV. I host Flip or Flop as well as Christina on the Coast. And I’m writing a new book called The Wellness Remodel.
I live in a community that I love. I have an amazing, supportive husband who genuinely is supportive, and who lifts me up and motivates me and who has my back. And together we have five wonderful children. I never imagined having more than two kids, and now we have five. But it’s so fun. Like, I love having a big, blended family. It’s awesome.
Christina’s Journey to Wellness
The book I’m writing is called The Wellness Remodel, and I’m writing it with one of my best friends. Her name is Cara Clark, and she runs Cara Clark Nutrition. I actually met Cara in 2013. In the book, we talk about how we met, but long story short, I was looking for a nutritionist and my sister found her on Facebook. I reached out to her, and she ended up being like, “Oh, I’m a fan of your TV show. I would love to work with you.” So we end up meeting for coffee, and we were just fast friends.
She helped me a lot throughout the years. When she looked at what I’d been eating, I’d been super over caffeinated, and like, living on protein bars, because I was bouncing from house to house, just getting coffees, just thinking like, I need to stay so on. You know, I’m on camera, and then I have to go home [and be] with my kids, like, there’s no time to have downtime. So she was like, “You eat like a toddler, and you’re drinking way too much caffeine,” and she sent me a program that was a lot more calories than I’d been taking in. Her program really worked for me. Really, it boils down to nutrition.
After my divorce, I got so stressed, and I had horrible autoimmune flare ups, which I didn’t know they were autoimmune at the time. I felt so sick, and I was losing so much weight. And, you know, maybe I looked good on the outside, but I felt awful, awful, awful. No matter what, I would eat it, I would just get these weird pains, so I went to the E.R. because it was so excruciating. And the person at the E.R. said, “Are you stressed?”
And I was like, “This is not stress. I feel like I’m dying.”
And he’s like, “Well, you know, you probably need a prescription for anti-anxiety or anti-depression [medication].”
So I left, and I’m like, No way. What’s going on? There’s something wrong. So I ended up finding a naturopathic doctor. I’d never been to one before. I go in there, and she runs a ton of bloodwork, and was like, “Yeah, of course you’re not feeling right. You have Hashimoto’s thyroid,” which I had no idea what that was. Basically, my thyroid was attacking itself, and I also have a couple other things going on. So I got put on a bunch of supplements, and all this is discussed in the book as well, just how you have to be your own advocate for your health.
To be honest, after having a baby, I’m going through certain things. My nutrition is super on point, and that’s how I’m able to stay thriving and wake up and get things done. But after baby, my body—like, when you have autoimmune stuff, it goes out of whack. At the end of exhausted days, I can see it in my eyes. I can tell when I’m overworked. I look at myself in the mirror and I’m like, Wow, you may have all this makeup on and your hair looks nice. But in my eyes, I can tell, like, Wow, I look tired.
I just had a baby. Most people take more time off, but I took eight weeks off. And I understand, because the show must go on. But if I say that I could only work four days a week right now—because I have to be super on at work—then that’s all I can do. And I just keep pushing it, and I’ll eventually get my way. But I’m not doing that because I’m being selfish. I’m doing that because I genuinely need that, and I need time to spend with my kids, too. So I’m my biggest cheerleader, I guess, and I just make sure people are listening to me. But all the other noise with other things, I just block that out.
Finding Spiritual Wellness
There were times when I was really low, and I would just let myself sit in it. I would go to my backyard by myself and listen to all my thoughts, like, This is why you’re feeling like this. And I don’t want to go out and I don’t want to see anyone. I need to sit in this and I need to figure out how I can make this right. And I just need to figure this out by myself.
I had so much clarity. I actually felt like I was at peace. It was just really eye opening, and that just kind of took my life on a turn for the better. [I was] done with dwelling on the past, and it’s time to refocus. And it really did. It was the most spiritual [part] in my life. It was incredible. And ever since then, things have been better.
So after the divorce, there was a series of things that happened that were like straight from God. And they’re so personal that maybe when I’m ninety, I’ll talk about them. But it led me to start going to church, and the messages that I was being sent spiritually were the same messages I was getting at church. And it actually made me be able to relax a little bit when everything else was so crazy, and there was so much commotion in the physical world. I was able to mentally refocus and know there was a bigger purpose in all this, which was huge for me.
“I was able to mentally refocus and know there was a bigger purpose in all this, which was huge for me.” – Christina Anstead, on growing closer to God
Now, maybe I’m not going to find out for two years, but there will be a reason why certain things are happening. When a door closes, I trust it is going to close. Every night before bed, I just pray that doors that need to be shut, that don’t bring me something to my greater good, shut them and lock them. Doors that need to be open, that are better for my spirit, then open those up. That really is my prayer, and that and that works. Sometimes an opportunity that I think 100 percent is gonna come, and it doesn’t, I’m like, “Oh well, it wasn’t meant to be.”
“Every night before bed, I just pray that doors that need to be shut, that don’t bring me something to my greater good, shut them and lock them. Doors that need to be open, that are better for my spirit, then open those up.” – Christina Anstead
Narrator: While Christina was on her journey to better health and tuning into her spiritual life, she received a copy of Jesus Calling as a gift. As she began reading it daily, it helped her continue to focus on her relationship with God and moved her toward a more peaceful place.
Christina: Someone gifted me with it. I believe it was the kids’ nanny’s mom, who she lives in Yorba Linda and we all go to church together. I randomly opened it up to the day that it was at the time that I received it, and I was like, Whoa. It was very spot on.
Back when I first received the book, my brain was so cluttered with thoughts, I would literally just pray for peace. Oh my gosh. I just want peace. Like, anything for peace. And my brain for the first month would feel clouded, like, Oh my gosh, so many thoughts, like, crazy. And finally, after doing this ritual for thirty to sixty days—I was going through a lot—I finally was like, Oh my gosh. Peace. It was amazing. I was like, Oh, finally, that was all I wanted.
Every day for that whole year, for that first year, I would always read it, and I actually posted a couple of them on my Instagram, the ones that really hit home.
October was a really big month for me, so [this is from Jesus Calling] October 5th:
REMEMBER THAT JOY is not dependent on your circumstances. Some of the world’s most miserable people are those whose circumstances seem the most enviable. People who reach the top of the ladder career-wise are often surprised to find emptiness awaiting them. True Joy is a by-product of living in My Presence. Therefore you can experience it in palaces, in prisons… anywhere. Do not judge a day as devoid of Joy just because it contains difficulties. Instead, concentrate on staying in communication with Me. Many of the problems that clamor for your attention will resolve themselves.
Right now, I have a lot to be grateful for. I’m grateful for my family. I’m grateful for my health. And I’m grateful for all my amazing work opportunities. I just feel like especially for my kids, I’m just able to be so strong for them and show them what boundaries are. And even though it was such a hard time in my life, it led me to where I am now, and I’m at a really good spot. When you go back and focus on the Lord and focus on peace, joy will come.
“When you go back and focus on the Lord and focus on peace, joy will come.” – Christina Anstead
Narrator: You can find Christina’s new book, The Wellness Remodel, wherever books are sold.
Stay tuned to hear Melissa d’Arabian’s story after a brief message about a new edition of Jesus Calling for Kids that little girls will love.
Narrator: Help your kids find peace in Jesus. The Jesus Calling for Kids devotional is adapted from the bestselling Jesus Calling® book beloved by millions around the world. Each day’s devotion shares the same theme as the adult version, as well as written-out Scripture verses, making it easy for parents and kids to share daily devotional time. Plus, this new edition of Jesus Calling for Kids comes with a pale-rose pink cover and interior that girls will love. Learn more about this adorable new edition of Jesus Calling for Kids at jesuscalling.com/books.
Narrator: Melissa d’Arabian is on a mission to help others see that food is more than just a necessity: it can be a vehicle for connection and a conduit for compassion. Today the Food Network star and host of Ten Dollar Dinners traces her journey from her days as a finance executive at Disney, to having four kids in diapers a few years later, then finding herself competing to become the winner of The Next Food Network Star. And along the way, Melissa realized that God was sitting across from her at every single table, and that time spent in sharing food together could create peaceful spaces in our lives, together with those we love.
Melissa d’Arabian: My name is Melissa d’Arabian, and if people would know me, they’d know me mostly from my work on Food Network. I’ve been working in the food space for about ten years, and I love my job.
Seeing God’s Work in a School Cafeteria
The elementary school cafeteria is where I first discovered that I was poor. And it was through that school cafeteria experience that I met a cast of characters who reached out to me in a way that I believe really was the hands and feet of Jesus.
Katie Rutter would share her Fritos corn chips with me every day. I would not have a full lunch, and some days I wouldn’t have any lunch at all. She was unaware of the fact that I was counting on her Fritos to help fill me up, but she shared them with me everyday. And more than that, she shared a space at her table. We shared our lives together. So food saved me, which is not something I say lightly.
“Food saved me, which is not something I say lightly.” – Melissa d’Arabian
That was the beauty of what Jesus did, and His compassion with food. It wasn’t just the big miracles and the feeding of the masses. Jesus shared a table with the marginalized, and shared lives with them. So that school cafeteria was that first peek into the compassion and the unifying and the equalizing power of food.
“That school cafeteria was that first peek into the compassion and the unifying and the equalizing power of food.” – Melissa d’Arabian
Melissa Finds Her Way to Food Network
I met my husband when I was thirty-two, almost thirty-three, and we were married when I was thirty-five. And then we had the kids when I was thirty-six, thirty-seven, thirty-eight, and thirty-eight—and [we had] four daughters. I was a finance executive for Disney. To go from, you know, an eighty-hour-a-week finance job to then a few years later, having four kids and being a stay at home mom, was a pretty big leap.
When the twins were about ten months old, I started to think, Okay, I think I need another project. That’s when I started speaking in the local Dallas area about money saving strategies and techniques. And that’s what led me to making a video about how to make yogurt in your hot Texas garage, because that’s how I was saving. I was saving over a hundred dollars a month by making organic yogurt for my four babies in my hot Texas garage. So I made that video, and then that led to me being on Food Network Star.
And when I went on Food Network Star, it was never, “I want to have a TV show!” It was really about exploring what I thought I could share with people to make their Tuesday night just a little bit better.
Dreaming Bigger to Fulfill Our Real Purpose
My personal life mission statement came to me when I was pregnant with the twins. The day that I found out that it was two more girls, I [already] had a one-year-old girl and I had a ten-month-old girl. And then I found out that I was pregnant with two more girls. I shared this news with two friends of mine, and both of them called me back and left me a voicemail, and they both responded back with a variation on the exact same voicemail, which was, “God knows what He’s doing. He is giving you four young women to mentor and to be their guide.”
And in that moment, I suddenly felt the enormity of the honor that God was bestowing upon me. I stepped into that very humbly and very seriously, and that led me to my personal life mission statement, which is about connecting with women and partnering with them. What does that look like? The details are sort of none of my business. So if it’s, you know, going on Food Network and being able to connect with people and create a recipe that enables them to entertain affordably on a ten dollar dinner, then super. Like, that’s great. It could be that I’m with my daughters at home and I’m teaching them to cook.
I’d sometimes go back and judge The Next Food Network Star, so I’d get to see contestants and they will say things like, “Oh, I just know that I’m meant to be the next Food Network star. That’s my life mission and my life goal.” And I want to say, “I don’t think you’re thinking big enough. Like, I really don’t. Don’t get me wrong, it is super and great to go and be on Food Network. I love Food Network and I love Ten Dollar Dinners. But that’s just a detail, really. That’s a manifestation of a bigger thing. I think our life mission statement is a bigger thing, that we might be called to show up for and be open to the details of how that plays out.”
“I think our life mission statement is a bigger thing, that we might be called to show up for and be open to the details of how that plays out.”- Melissa d’Arabian
We Serve a Generous God
For years, I’ve been a reader of the Bible in the mornings, and then I’ll add in a daily devotional. Jesus Calling was where I added in that devotional piece to my morning time with God.
I received my first copy of Jesus Calling years ago from a woman named Darla, who was in my Bible study. And one thing I’ve loved about Darla—and she was sort of known for doing this—is she would buy multiple copies of Jesus Calling. It was sort of her go-to gift for people who were new in town, or people who hadn’t who hadn’t heard of Jesus Calling.
I love the idea of imagining Jesus talking in these words that I haven’t already read in the Bible. I think there’s something about that that’s sort of sweet and comforting. I find comfort and a welcoming in Jesus Calling.
This is the Jesus Calling passage from April 18th.
PEACE IS MY CONTINUAL GIFT TO YOU. It flows abundantly from My throne of grace. Just as the Israelites could not store up manna for the future but had to gather it daily, so it is with My Peace. The day-by-day collecting of manna kept My people aware of their dependence on Me. Similarly, I give you sufficient Peace for the present when you come to me by prayer and petition with thanksgiving. If I gave you permanent Peace, independent of My Presence, you might fall into the trap of self-sufficiency. May that never be! I have designed you to need Me moment by moment. As your awareness of your neediness increases, so does your realization of My abundant sufficiency. I can meet every one of your needs without draining My resources at all. Approach My throne of grace with bold confidence, receiving My Peace with a thankful heart.
I love that this passage refers to the Israelites and the manna, because it speaks to the generosity of God. The Israelites were complaining and grumbling about how, “Oh, we shouldn’t have left Egypt. We were slaves, but at least we had good meat and we had food to eat.” They were complaining, they were not coming with thanksgiving to God. And yet God turns around and gives them manna, and He tells them not to store it up. I love the beauty of us trusting God and getting our daily bread, our daily fill. I love how generous that God is. So this passage is a perfect one for me. Not just on April 18th, but I think every other day of the year.
“I love the beauty of us trusting God and getting our daily bread, our daily fill. I love how generous that God is.” – Melissa d’Arabian
What Does God Say About Food and Connection?
So my latest book is Tasting Grace, and Tasting Grace is the book that nobody asked me to write. It’s the book that in my quiet time, in the mornings, in my devotional time with God, that’s where Tasting Grace was born.
You know, we’re in this space where as a society, we are both obsessed with food and very disconnected from our food. So we have celebrity chefs, and people read cookbooks for entertainment, and they post every single meal that they eat on Instagram with these crazy filters. But then a lot of us are not cooking our food, let alone are we part of the growing and the creation process of our food? And I’m not saying that we all need to be farmers, but there is a cost to us being as far separated from the source of our food as we have become.
So in this world, we’re in a society where we’re obsessed with food, and a society has a lot of messages about food, and it is all kind of confusing. And so I decided in this whirlwind of societal messages to say, “Okay, I see what society is saying about food. But what does God have to say about food? What does God have to say about how we think about food for ourselves and our bodies and each other and the earth and how we connect with one another and how we relate to God?” So that’s what Tasting Grace is. It’s the story of the invitations that God is issuing to us through food that I think we just might be missing. At least I know I was missing them.
I think that there are a lot of aspects of our food system that in society we’ve been viewing as flaws to the food system. For instance, our food requires patience, and food also requires a certain amount of work. We need to then buy it in advance and think about how we’re going to prepare it. And then we need to clean up afterwards. You know, we’re living in a society that tells us essentially that the time that we’re spending in the kitchen is wasted.
But what if all of these features of the food system aren’t flaws, but actually invitations into a greater joy and into a greater connection with our Maker and with each other? Doesn’t that change a little bit how we look at the worthy work of preparing our food, of the worthy work of doing the dishes after our guests have gone home? We can lean into the deliciousness, and we can step away from the societal language of guilt that we need to not enjoy a tomato because it has too much sugar. We can step away from the societal language of turning the worthy work of hospitality and welcoming people into our homes, into performance.
“What if all of these features of the food system aren’t flaws, but actually invitations into a greater joy and into a greater connection with our Maker and with each other?” – Melissa d’Arabian
That’s a societal construct, this idea that we should find the greatest Pinterest recipe and impress our friends with this recipe, bring them into our home and make them think you spent hours in the kitchen and you didn’t. You know, that kind of language is what society is saying about food. But what God is saying about food is filled with invitation. It’s filled with connection to Him and to each other.
Narrator: You can find Melissa’s book, Tasting Grace, wherever books are sold.
If you’d like to hear more stories about finding peace in uncertain times, visit our YouTube page at youtube.com/jesuscallingbook to watch videos from Dr. Henry Cloud, financial planner Emily Stroud, and more.
Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast, we talk with Christine Carter, the founder and CEO of Weight Loss Hero. After losing 175 pounds, Christine found that in order to achieve lasting change in your body, you first have to transform your mind—and learn to love yourself the way God already loves you, just as you are.
Christine Carter: We are God’s creation. He loves us. Why should we not love us? We give so much love and we pour so much love out into every other person, and every other thing in our lives, but we put ourselves last. And certainly there’s something to be said about having a servant’s heart, but you can never pour from an empty cup. So when I say self-love and you step on this journey, it’s truly saying, “Hey, I’m going to appreciate this body that God gave me. Yeah, maybe it’s got some marks and scars. But I’m going to love myself for who I am. I’m going to love myself, even though I’m flawed.”
Narrator: Do you love hearing these stories of faith weekly from people like you whose lives have been changed by a closer walk with God? Then be sure to subscribe to the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you like what you’re hearing, leave us a review so that we can reach others with these inspirational stories. And, you can also see these interviews on video as part of our original web series with a new interview premiering every other Sunday on Facebook Live. Find previously broadcasted interviews on our Youtube channel, on IGTV, or on jesuscalling.com/media/video.