Part of the Plan?

Have you ever had one of those days, where you found yourself tense, in tears, wondering “why”, but not even really able to describe what was really wrong?

No? Me neither…ok, actually, today was one of those days.

So, let me take some initial responsibility for this day. If I could pick three of the things I failed to do, that make a huge impact on my day, these would be them.

  1. I didn’t start my day in my usual way; in God’s word
  2. I went to bed entirely too late last night and woke up entirely too early. (Hence why I didn’t begin with my quiet time, because I was tired-bad excuse)
  3. I didn’t take my Vitamin D early enough (seriously though, this is HUGE, especially this time of the year!)

With those out of the way, I now look back on the day and can see lots of areas where I “failed”. I mean, FAILED. I over-planned and under-prepared. I took a tired toddler to too many places for a mom who didn’t start the day right. I made a dentist appointment at noon with three kids. I allowed myself to stay in my rut of “annoyance of the day” by calling my mom to tell her all about it, texted my husband about how short naps were, and called one of my best friends knowing she’d give some wisdom.  I could go on and on. By the end of the day, I even was crying on the kitchen floor because I ran out of rosemary and thyme and wanted to make a nice meal for a friend. FAIL. FAIL. FAIL.

Child, Be Still. I use all things to shape you, to prepare you. Even moments like this.

Wake up! As I found myself asking why days had to be so challenging sometimes—Why I couldn’t figure out how to “handle” it—Why I get so frustrated when things aren’t perfect—I started to calm down. (I’ll admit, I prayed a ton, I also took a double dose of Stress Relief Complex and my Vitamin D, oh yeah!)

You see, I listened to a sermon this morning about the power of “pre” (If you download the Elevation Church podcast, you’ll see it. Highly recommend it.) While I can’t even try to share all I felt during this sermon, or all that the pastor shared, I will share one thing.

He uses everything right now, for preparation for what is to come.

That is EXACTLY the answer to my entire “why” list of questions. Why is this so hard? Because He is using this hard season for all the great that is to come! The training may not make sense, but I do believe with my heart of hearts that God has a purpose for each and every one of us. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. And while maybe I can’t wrap my head around His greatness; I can wrap my head around the fact that preparation is followed by provision. And I believe in a God who provides! I’m actually quite excited as I reflect on this day, because as I had some toddler tantrums and mommy tantrums, I was also able to apologize to my children for being short-tempered. I was able to stop and pray alongside a friend who was having a very overwhelming day (while you read this, will you say a prayer for her, too?) I was able to pray for each of my family members and friends. I was able to take a meal to a friend. I was able to warm a stranger’s heart at Chipotle and not even know it.

But the most exciting part to all of this…I was able because HE lives in me! Not because of MY strength, but because He uses me to do His work. And He is using each of these moments to grow me and refine me and prepare me for all he has in store. He doesn’t see my weakness as failures, at all! How do I ever forget that?

Hmm, now the day doesn’t seem so bad. (Remind me of that tomorrow.)

But also remind me to…

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Luke 10:27

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The Thrill of Hope

The anticipation of Christmas is flowing through our home. Well, this has been happening for the past month of course. Children wake every morning to see the countdown to Christmas. Eyes brighten, smiles widen, and giggles fill the room.
There is something about experiencing Christmas with and through our children. They have such Hope for what is to come.
One of my dearest friends sent me a surprise gift in the mail a couple of weeks ago. While I love ornaments, I especially love this one. The Thrill of Hope. Stop and just say that a few times to yourself and think about what it means. (Some may even be singing it to the tune, like me.) As I hung this ornament on our tree, I placed it front and center, because I wanted the constant reminder of how I felt when I read those words the day I opened it. The Thrill of Hope.

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I made a personal decision to not allow stress to take over me this holiday season. While I never plan for that to happen anyway, I often start to fret over the gifts, the traveling, getting everything done, keeping the house clean, making it memorable for the kids, doing everything “just right”. WHY? This past year I chose the word Joy as our word of the year. I have kept it my mission and passion to keep Joy as a focus for our family. (Ok, I didn’t do perfectly, but there was some great growth in that area!) Stress is not Joy! So, I was not going to let stress during the most important time of the year, take me down or take away our Joy!
What a game changer. I can honestly say, I haven’t been stressed. Ok, well maybe when my middle son’s Christmas Eve ornament didn’t arrive when I expected, and the tracking said it wouldn’t come until the 26, and so I made a homemade replica hoping he didn’t mind, annnnnd then it came in the mail today! See, no need for stress. It all worked out. But really, I have really changed my perspective in certain situations, and I’m so thankful God has given me the focus and strength to do so! This has been a remarkably Joyful Christmas season! (And a pretty amazing year, too!)
So back to the anticipation of Christmas. Yesterday and today, my kids have been CR-AZY! Crazy excited, crazy sugared up from treats, crazy from being inside so much, crazy, crazy! As I lay them all down for naps today, I had a few moments to collect my thoughts. The smell of Christmas ham was filling our home, sounds of Christmas movies were playing in the background, lights twinkling on the tree, and there, in the center of the tree, was that ornament. The Thrill of Hope. God humbled me in that very moment and my eyes filled with tears. Oh my, there are so many thrills in the Hope of Jesus. JESUS is the real reason for this season, and what a thrill that is! I started having flashbacks of memories from this past year. Some were making me laugh to myself; others gave me such a peaceful feeling. Some even had me feeling a bit angry, and some had my heart hurting for some of my loved ones experiencing heartache. But right there in that instant, Hope filled my heart. To breathe Him in, and feel His presence, gives such Hope. There is a true spirit of Christmas, and that is what is really filling our home this season.
Sure we are so excited for gifts, I mean, I’m seriously stoked to see these boys open some exciting surprises (daddy too!) I am also pretty excited for our next few days with family, and all the excitement with gift giving, celebrating, and memories being made.
All the while, I can’t help but sit back and take moments to reflect on Christ. God loves us so much, that he gave us His son, as this precious baby, to experience life with us, and then eventually die for us, so that we can be forgiven of our own sins, and spend eternity in heaven. I can’t even contain the emotions that I experience when I take these moments to praise God for this gift. The Thrill of Hope. The Hope in Jesus. THE Gift of a Lifetime.
So today I encourage you, take some time to yourself to breathe Him in. Think about the true Hope that we have in Jesus. I tell you, no matter the storm, the Hope is always there.
Merry Christmas, and may you experience the greatest Hope this season!
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Beautiful in its Time

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Seasons. Spiritual seasons change just as our earthly seasons change and there is beauty and purpose in each. Some spiritual seasons are beautiful, bright and cheery, and others may appear cold, damp and dreary. There is a time for everything; a time for growth and reflection, time for trials and celebration. One thing remains. God is truth. God is there through each season, using each change for His purpose.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Romans 8:28

A few years ago, a friend and I were talking about God’s word, and God’s word being truth. We talked about God’s word being an instruction manual for our daily lives. I started reflecting on how I was/wasn’t utilizing this beautiful guide to live according to my purpose. My spiritual growth journey suddenly had a new meaning to it, and I felt a huge desire to grow my relationship with Christ. See, I have been a Christian since I was ten years old. But this new season of life I was in, prompted me to change the way I approached my purpose driven life, and my relationship with Christ. There was so much more to this relationship than I was experiencing! Seasons can awaken us.

At the time, I was constantly trying to wake up before my young children to have some devotional time and quiet time to read my bible. Anyone with young children knows that anytime you plan to do something before the children wake…that often sets their internal alarm clock to beat you to your buzzer. And that’s what kept happening. I felt so defeated. I felt like I would never grow closer to God! Seasons can stretch us.

So I changed my approach. I began having my devotional time with my children, and really looked at how to make our entire day devotional time. I started posting bible verses around our home for reminders of God’s truth in our purpose driven life. I would pray for areas in my heart that needed changed, and read verses to align with my convictions. The eyes of my heart were being opened to not only my sin, but also God’s beauty. There is always scripture to align with our daily lives, both in struggle and praise. Seasons can strengthen us.

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Life seemed so full and so encouraging. I was really feeling God’s spirit in me and through me. This relationship was growing! Then, spiritual warfare was in full swing. I felt attacked in so many areas of my life. While not one “thing” was “wrong”, I felt the enemy attacking areas in my life that were important to me. Through the trials, I continued to go to Christ even when I felt total defeat. He continued to strengthen me through His truth. He was always there. He was always stronger than the enemy’s attack. But I didn’t always see it in the moment. Seasons can be discouraging and difficult.

As I fast-forward through time, I take moments to reflect. When I have quiet time, I’m always amazed at the trials that I’ve experienced, yet even more amazed at God’s faithfulness. Each and every season has been used to grow me, to strengthen me, to keep me on the path to live according to His purpose in me. But what is really amazing to me today is how God is showing me that it’s not about me at all. Seasons can humble us.

Just recently, I was walking through our home, reflecting on the scripture posted in various places. I noticed that the scripture had not only been embedded in my heart, but God has used His truth to bring me through the seasons in which I wrote these verses. I almost collapsed in awe at His beauty and His faithfulness. (How do I take these blessings of growth for granted so easily?) When I gave up these burdens to Him, He delivered His Grace and goodness. Seasons can open our eyes in gratitude.

Emotions fill me as I praise Him and His vision becomes clearer to me. You see, these seasons not only grew me, but they are now enabling me to help others grow in Him. Every verse He shows me (starting these few years ago) is applicable to the people He is bringing to my ministry. While in the moments of these seasons, I often asked, “why?” I now see, that again, it wasn’t about me at all. Instead, He wants to use me to encourage and empower others, by His Grace alone. And He continues to show me through my daily walk with Him and His word, that He is always there, and there is purpose in the seasons. Seasons have purpose.

As I continue through seasons of life, I declare that I will reflect and remember, that there is purpose, and His purpose prevails all. While I don’t have everything figured out, I do know there is hope in the trials when we trust Him. How is God growing you through your seasons?

“For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.”

Hebrews 6:10

Healing Bone Broth

I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions. I do however take the start of a new year as an opportunity to examine our family’s lifestyle and some things I’d like to incorporate throughout the upcoming year. While I partner with others in their journey to better health, I’m always encouraging them to choose 1-2 things they can commit to, to make small changes in their health. I do the same for my family and myself! At the start of 2016, I chose some nutrition changes I’d like to make in our family. One was being more intentional about the colors of foods we were eating at each meal (i.e. fruit and veggie varieties), to ensure a balanced nutritional content and benefit. Another was to start making bone broth and increasing our consumption of this super food.

While I haven’t done either as well as I had intended, I did make our first batch of bone broth in March…and I’m finally writing a blog to share our experience and recipe. (I never said I put a time line on these New Year nutritional changes or in sharing them with others!) I have to say, YUM! It was delicious! I noticed the flavor was richer than the chicken stock/broth I’ve purchased at the store. The kids loved it as well!

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So, why did I want to start making bone broth? I mean, since I’m such a queen in the kitchen, why not, right? Not really! I often feel a bit inadequate when attempting new things. I believe in healthy eating, and we do eat healthy…but we also eat a lot of the same things, hence these two New Year changes. Many will even say how easy bone broth is to make, and while it actually was, I was a bit intimated, for some reason! But, I know the benefits of bone broth, and we use broth frequently, so it makes sense to make it from scratch!

I’ve had several people ask some of the benefits of bone broth. While I’m no expert, there are a lot of studies and experts who provide so much knowledge on this topic! Some that I’m most intrigued with are the benefits of bone broth for infections like colds and flu, digestion, allergies, inflammation and pain, relaxation, bone repair and growth, healthy skin, healthy hair & nails…the list goes on and on.

For me, it was relaxing to spend some time in the kitchen, the aroma of the bone broth for 12 hours was enticing, and the benefits were rewarding. My middle son loved helping me as well, which is encouraging to both him and I!

I saved the frames of our whole chickens (free-range) when we fixed them. Once I had enough (2-3 pounds of bones) I was ready to make our first batch of broth! I purchased some organic carrots, organic celery, organic onion, organic parsley, and organic garlic. I also gathered apple cider vinegar, filtered water with my Shaklee Water Pitcher, and my stainless steel stockpot.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 lbs of bones (we chose free-range chicken bones)
  • 1 onion
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

Instructions (Details found here. I followed a version of what Wellness Mama shared. My version is simplified and basic, check her details out!)

  1. I placed the chicken bones into my large stockpot, and added my filtered water. I then added the apple cider vinegar. I let these 3 ingredients sit in the cool water, while I prepared the veggies.
  2. I washed and chopped the veggies. (will add parsley and garlic later, so set aside)
  3. Add the veggies to the pot and begin to boil.
  4. After combination has begun to boil, reduce to a simmer for the remaining time. I let mine simmer for 10-12 hours. (Some time I will try a crock-pot version!)

We used our first batch up pretty quickly. The boys and I all sipped on a cup of warm broth and it was so soothing. We weren’t even sick! I kept some fresh in the refrigerator for the next couple of days, and froze the rest. I was so glad to have this homemade chicken bone broth for upcoming meals! It not only tastes amazing, but I know I’m providing whole body health for my family. Plus, I enjoy making it!

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Small steps lead to big results! What are you doing TODAY to change your TOMORROW?

An Awakening Harvest

When I started my day yesterday, I had planned to pick tomatoes with my children…I had no idea how big God would show up and fill my heart.

Isn’t it humbling when you are awakened to God’s beauty in your everyday life? Do you know what I mean? Like, a moment where you stop in your tracks, and say, “wow, God, I take this for granted.” This happens to me frequently. Often, it’s when I’m talking with my children, perhaps a close friend who is speaking truth into me or my family, but there are times where it’s just me, my task at hand, and the conviction from the Holy Spirit.

Just yesterday afternoon, my 3 boys and I were harvesting some tomatoes from our garden. We were talking about how each of them looked different; some were split open, some were perfectly round, some were all red, some were mostly green, some were rotten, some were ripe, some were big and some were small…we had a great impromptu home school lesson indeed! As we filled our baskets, I was so thankful for our bountiful harvest.

See, we planted our garden very late this year. We had a home project that prevented early planting of our seeds, and we even contemplated skipping our garden for this year. But, we looked ahead and realized how much we appreciate our vegetables, year round! So we gave it a shot. We had no idea if anything would grow, but why not try and plant the seeds!

My husband worked hard at tilling our garden, we planted the seeds, and we watered, and watered, and watered. Many weeds would grow, and we’d clean them up. Suddenly, we spotted some tomatoes blooming! My husband would say almost daily, “If I could get just one red tomato this year, I’d be happy.”

Fast-forward over many weeks, and we were blessed beyond expectations. We reaped a harvest much larger than we anticipated! And we are grateful!

This brings me back to yesterday afternoon. As I was bringing in baskets of tomatoes to prepare for preserving, I had such a wave of conviction come over me.

“Look at what God does for us. We planted few seeds, had little faith of a harvest, yet He proved to be faithful once again. Look at this harvest.”

I had to stop in my tracks and pause to really take this moment in. It wasn’t just about the bountiful crop of tomatoes, it was about the seed planted! About the harvest!

When I started to observe the tomatoes closer, I went back to the conversations my boys and I had while picking them. No two tomatoes were the same, yet they would both help provide nourishment over the months to come. Some were big, some were small, but all were a blessing! I couldn’t have predicted, to the very tiny detail, about how each and every tomato would look. I had an idea, but not the details. I didn’t predict the feeling of joy that God filled me with when my boys and I spent time picking these tomatoes. I didn’t predict the anticipation of getting that first, ripe tomato and the fun it brought to our family that evening at dinner. I didn’t predict this feeling of total gratefulness of God’s beauty each and every day, while preparing to wash these tomatoes.

Breathtaking. God is breathtaking.

 You see, what this reminded me of, is how God is faithful in His word. This reminded me of how I often take our harvest for granted.

Each and every seed that we plant, will reap a harvest. We can have an idea of the type of harvest (we want and expect), but we may not see the beauty in each and every detail of these blessings.

What kinds of seeds are we planting? Into our family, friends, community, strangers? Are we planting seeds of love, hope, righteousness?

What about planting seeds of peace?

“and those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18

How encouraging is this? Plant peace, reap righteousness. Are we peace-makers? Are we lifting one another up? Are we showing love, mercy, grace? How are we showing Christ to others?

What about planting seeds of tears?

“those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.” Psalm 126:5

When we are in sorrow, we can plant these seeds of tears, clinging to Christ, laying our burdens before Him, and he can turn our grieving into joy! These are moments of refining, of spiritual growth.

I know there have been times where I don’t even know what seeds I am planting, or where God is guiding me to plant seeds.

“I said, plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts for now is the time to seek the lord that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.” Hosea 10:12

By preparing our hearts (just like my husband prepared the land for the garden), asking God to forgive our sins, and asking God to guide us, he promises righteousness upon us. Being broken before our Lord…He provides vision and provision. I know I must continue to plant seeds, nurture them, and rely on God to make them grow.

While I washed and juiced these beautiful tomatoes last evening, I had such an overwhelming feeling of Joy. God was showing me so many blessings that I hadn’t glorified Him for. Tiny seeds that He has guided and strengthened me to plant, have begun to bloom and grow into a bountiful harvest. Some are now blessings I could have predicted, and others, no prediction at all. Some are still being nurtured by Christ, and I have not yet seen a harvest, and don’t know how the harvest will even look!

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.”

1 Corinthians 3:6

What I do know, is God is faithful. He is guiding me to plant seeds. While I seek Him and long to glorify Him, he provides a harvest that continues to nourish me. He nourishes me in my spiritual walk with Him, and my earthly walk with others. Even when I contemplate skipping out on Him (and sometimes do). Even when I limit His blessing (like saying we’d be happy with just…). Even when I fall short time and time again. He is faithful.

What beauty Gods shows us. What beautiful ways He shows up! When I started my day yesterday, I had planned to pick tomatoes with my children…I had no idea how big God would show up and fill my heart.

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With a High Five, a Hug, and a Smooch…I See You

For My Husband

When I have a moment to reflect on God’s blessings in my life, in our lives, I am able to slow down and really see these blessings in a different light. Many of these things are shared, but it’s in the everyday moments that I never really get to tell you how I see you, how I see God in you.

In this season of life, there are many days we pass with a high five, a hug, and a smooch. Between the roles God has entrusted us with, we make a team, a great team. But, it’s really you that I see so much love, patience, grace, and helpfulness.

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I see you.

I see you set your alarm and count the very few hours of sleep you will get between ending one shift and beginning another.

I see you putting on a bulletproof vest, each and every day, to go out into this world, that to be honest is a world that scares me.

I see you doing this humbled, confident, eager, and out of love to serve

I see you experience a wave of emotions throughout your workday, yet always trying to figure out the how you should feel.

I see you stop for a quick lunch, yet leaving in moments to help where needed.

I see you reflect on your own words, actions, and purpose.

I see you strive to be better. Every. Single. Day.

I see you genuinely care for your brothers and sisters in blue, for your community.

I see God working in and through you.

 I see you work long hours, yet always come home and ask how our day was.

I see you pick up overtime; yet always ask if it will be ok with us.

I see you work a long shift, yet come right home and jump in with the duties of the home.

I see you, sometimes looking exhausted, yet still helping with getting the boys to bed.

I see you, the way you support me, and what God is doing in and through me.

I see you come home, even after what could have been a heart-wrenching day, and try to tune out the noise of work, to be present with our boys. (I can’t imagine this, not for one moment)

I see you doing laundry and help with dishes, not because you want them done, because you know those things matter to me.

I see you eating new recipes I try (even when they are a fail!), because you know it matters to me.

I see you extending grace, patience, and love to me. Every. Single. Day. (And boy, am I thankful for you doing this!)

I see you supporting our homeschooling journey, even when I am in doubt or tears.

I see you supporting our Shaklee business, even when it means you are the solo parent while I’m away.

I see you reading my blog, and encouraging me to be obedient and continue hearing God’s voice.

I see God strengthening you, working in and through you.

I see you and the way you light up when the boys run out to welcome you.

I see you put off your never-ending to-do list, to go for a bike ride or play a game of basketball or football.

I see you count down the days until you have a day off where you can spend time with and pour into our boys.

I see you pray with our boys (and I know this is God doing big things).

I see you encourage the boys to learn at church and at home.

I see you model how to respect a wife and a mom.

I see you always willing to help those in need, those we are close with and those we barely know.

I see you getting uncomfortable and growing in your Faith.

I see you trusting God more and more each day,

I see God leading, strengthening, and working in and through you.

So on those days, where we may only have a high five, a hug and a smooch, please always know, I don’t take any part of you for granted. I love you and I see God in you.

What’s your FUEL?

“Things could be worse…”

…how many of us have ever been told that, or perhaps said that to someone we love? Yes, yes, things could always be worse, but why do we tend to think about those things in that way? I like thinking, “Oh, but how things will get better!” Yes, isn’t that visual much better? Don’t you see how our minds have been “trained” to think. I, too, have thought that way for years. I have found myself experiencing a lot of negative self-chatter. I often listen(ed) to the “what-ifs” going on in my mind, and often let them take hold of me. I then starting having so many nudges (you know the kind I’m talking about) to change that thinking. To fuel myself, to focus on what really matters, and have more fun! And you know what? It really works!

Fuel

FUEL—what fuels you? Take a moment to really think about that. For me; Christ, my tribe, and growing in health. So, naturally, I fuel myself with these things.

Christ.

F ocus on Christ

-Throughout the day, I turn to Him, think of Him, and talk to Him.

U nderstand His promises (and undo the negative “chatter”)

-What does the Bible say about who God is? When we understand and focus on these things, we feel such an overwhelming sense of Peace.

E mbrace the freedom in Him

-What does the bible say about who we are because of Christ? Affirm these things. I write them out and speak them daily!

L ive fully with Him…have FUN!

-Is there anything greater than the acceptance of our Father? His forgiveness? His love? His guidance? Is there anything more important than living for His kingdom purpose?!

Are you feeling fueled? I know I am!

Ephesians 3:20
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.”

Tribe. What about our tribe? Who are you doing life with? I know I couldn’t thrive in young motherhood if it wasn’t for my tribe; my family, my dear sisters in Christ. Oh how I praise God for the people He’s placed in my path, to encourage, to be encouraged by, to be vulnerable with, to extend and receive grace from, to truly experience the love Jesus wants us to share and receive from others. I ask you now, who do you praise Jesus for? Tell them!

Health. What fuels me in health? Eating to live, supplementing to thrive., and helping others do the same. (I’m not 100% there in my eating, but I sure do try!) We try to eat a good, balanced diet. We look at new recipes, make food prepping fun, have dance parties while cooking, really enjoying the journey of healthy living. We also supplement to fill in the gaps from our diet. Some of my favorite supplements to help with my thinking, my attitude, decreasing anxiety (which leads to negative self-chatter), really, my overall health are the following; Protein (start each day with a tasty shake!) BComplex, Omega 3’s, Probiotic, a good Multivitamin, Vitamin D, and Calcium & Magnesium (I take Shaklee Vitalizer, which is a convenient strip of some these listed nutrients!) One of my FAVORITE products to calm myself down if stress is taking over my thinking, is Shaklee Stress Relief Complex. This product is a momma must-have!

I’m also getting back into my rhythm of exercising, which is important to our health as well. Has anyone else gotten out of a great habit like exercising before? Why do we do that? Oh, how I love clearing my mind of clutter and filling it with truth when I’m on a run. What a perfect time to praise Christ for His beauty and to praise Him for His work in us. It’s a great time to really seek His wisdom and discernment.

I’d like to ask you today, what FUELS you? What do you THINK about? When you let your mind wander, do you like what you envision? I love that we are in control of our thinking. We choose what fuels us. We choose what we allow to take hold of our thoughts and even more so, our actions.

So, the next time you are having a “less than perfect” day, instead of thinking, “well, things could always be worse,” why not try saying, “oh, but how things will get better!” This is the greatest promise we have in Christ, when we are saved by Him!

2 Corinthians 10:5
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”