Three 31


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Mind + Body Transformation: Week 1

Weekly Update

The journey towards physical health and spiritual well-being is rolling full steam ahead and I intend to hold myself accountable by posting weekly updates. I am still undecided about the schedule of these posts – specifically which day of the week I should post, suggestions? – but they will be consistent.

Last week’s wins // I successfully completed an original blog series, 30 Days of Manna. I publicly acknowledged my struggles and weaknesses (i.e. food and fitness) and made the connection between physical health and spiritual well-being using 30 unique passages from Scripture.

Last week’s struggles // Eating and exercise. Man, these two BIG areas kicked my butt last week.

  • I broke my own rule, “never miss a Monday workout.”
  • I’m struggling to find harmony between routine and new schedules – specifically Kamden’s new class time at The Little Gym.
  • If I go to a group fitness class in the afternoon (4:30-5:30pm), I need to plan dinner accordingly.
  • Go to the gym, even when I don’t feel like it.

Weight on June 1, 2015 // 266.6

Weight on July 1, 2015 // 261.6

Pounds Lost // 5.0


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Resolution Update // June 2015

Half of 2015 is gone. Poof.

HEALTH + FITNESS

Lose 20% of my body weight
Take advantage of health coach provided by insurance
Eat breakfast every day
Take a daily multivitamin I’m getting better, but it’s not daily. I’m a terrible person, I know.
Exercise four days a week SUCCESS – Surprisingly, this happened because I did circuits and intervals at home when Kamden was sick.
Work out with a personal trainer
Drink 150 ounces of water every day
Complete a juice cleanse
Complete a 90-day challenge
Eliminate something from my diet each month (i.e. sweets, fried foods, sugar, fast food, etc.)
January – Rough start at the beginning of the month, but I’ve managed to stay away from excess sugar for two and a half weeks. Small steps.
February – I avoided tomatoes like the plague.
March – Still avoiding tomatoes.
April – No tomatoes.
May – No tomatoes.
June – I don’t remember the last time I ate an actual tomato but I have had tomato-based products a couple of times: pizza sauce, barbeque sauce, and ketchup.

Be showered and in bed by 10:30 every night
Learn more about and use essential oils
Find a skincare routine that works for me I know I live beneath a rock, but I finally bought a jar of coconut oil. I’m using it as a moisturizer for Kamden and I. The jury is still out whether or not it’s helping his eczema.
Participate in a “new-to-me” group exercise class January 9 – tried a 60-minute cycling class, January 24 – tried INSANITY, January 28 – Zumba with Miss Ivy
Schedule annual appointments with OB-Gyno, eye doctor, and dentist January 16 – comprehensive eye exam; January 19 – purchased eyeglasses at Warby Parker; January 20 – teeth cleaned; January 21 – cavity filled (booo!) 

BLOGGING

Create a blog post calendar … and use it!
Attend a blog conference
Attend a creative writing workshop
Publish a blog post every day for a month SUCCESS – I posted every day in the month of June. Check out 30 Days of Manna.
Publish a “how to” post
Publish an original recipe
Continue the weekly FINISH THIS link up FAILURE – I did not make it 100 weeks. I think I stopped at #73. Whatever the number, this link up was beginning to be a burden, lacked direction and creativity, and I made a commitment to myself at the beginning of the year to eliminate things in life that were not satisfying and/or joyful. I’m grateful to the participants, and I apologize for not noticing them sooner about it’s elimination, but my Wednesdays are improving already – despite it being one of my busiest days of the week!
Start a blog series January 5 – Monday Musings began; January 24 – weekly meal plan with menu/recipes
Meet five bloggers in person
Host a sponsored giveaway
Host a bloggers’ watch party for 50 Shades of Gray February 13
Continue writing for MOMquery 
Continue writing for Sweet Jesus Girls

PHOTOGRAPHY

Organize and back up my photos
Sell my current camera and upgrade to this one I’ve changed my mind and WANT this one.
Acquire a 85mm prime lens
Acquire a telephoto lens
Expand Three 31 Photography by scheduling at least 10 sessions
Take a Lightroom class
Join a camera or photography club January 19 – first meeting with Cleburne Photography Club

HOME LIFE

Refinanced our home mortgage for a lower interest rate February 11
Execute our living wills
Create a gallery wall in the living room
Hang a family picture above mantel/fireplace
Rearrange the living room furniture
Buy new comforter + bedding for guest room
Buy new side tables + lamps for master bedroom
Repaint the side table in Kamden’s room
Install new kitchen sink + granite countertops
Make our home more energy efficient
Have a technology-free weekend
Find a cleaning schedule … and use it!
Eat at a celebrity chef’s restaurant
Try a new recipe every month
January – Loaded Baked Potato and Chicken Casserole Husband’s reaction was meh.
February – Blueberry Muffins
March – pork tenderloin in the Crock Pot
April – French Onion Chicken Noodle Bake Husband’s reaction was yum. He went back for seconds … and thirds. He has since renamed the dish “Chicken Scratch.”
May – ?
June – homemade granola bars

Make the perfect omelet
Host a dinner party with other couples/families
Host a “Friendsgiving”
Host a game night
Meal plan for a month … and stick to it!
Use the Crock Pot once a week for a month
January – used the CP three times (roast beef and pinto beans)
February – meatballs and homemade spaghetti sauce
March – roast beef and teriyaki pork tenderloin
April – pinto beans, roast (twice), and meatballs
May – roast beef
June – pinto beans

Save loose change and cash out at the end of the year
Purge the entire house and donate or toss things we don’t use
Have my car detailed inside and out
Sell my car and buy a used SUV or crew cab pickup truck

PERSONAL GROWTH

Find a Bible reading plan (such as this one) that works for me … and use it regularly! I got behind on this Bible reading plan because I focused so much time and energy on the 30-day blog series, but I’m getting back on track!
Read and study Scripture regularly and more thoroughly
Seek opportunities to improve (i.e. parenting, photography, blog writing, etc.)
Have regular conversations with Lisa January 14 – the shenanigans have begun!
Create a new resume
Get a job with new resume
Join a professional organization and get involved in the local chapter
Finish The Story Bible study May 27
Create and lead a small group for parents with young children
Read 12 books (one per month) 1. Being Christian – Rowan Williams; 2. Captivated By You (Book 4 of The Crossfire Series) – Sylvia Day; 3. Chic & Slim: How Those Chic French Women Eat All That Rich Food And Still Stay Slim – Anne Barone; 4. Fighting Back With Joy – Margaret Feinberg; Grey – E.L. James
Keep a prayer journal
Keep a blessings/gratitude jar
Participate in a swap
Get my hair cut at the start of each season January 16 – hair cut
Have my eyebrows “threaded” by a professional
Get a facial/mani/pedi every other month

FOR KAMDEN

Create a 529 Savings Plan – January 30
Potty train (no more diapers) by second birthday
Continue weekly classes at The Little Gym  January 8 – Kamden was promoted to the “Birds” class (for kids 10-18 months);  May 21 – Kamden graduated from the Birds class and got promoted to Beast status. He still wears the medal around his neck!

TLG Awards Day web use-17

Enroll in Kinder-music
Schedule one play date a month
Mommy + Me photo session for Mother’s Day SUCCESS – In between rain storms, and even a few sprinkles during the shoot itself, Kamden and I finally had our Mommy & Me pictures taken by Becky. It was long overdue, weather and schedules made it nearly impossible, but I’m so excited about the result and can’t wait to see more!!!!

nicoleandkamden2015

nicoleandkamden2015

Plant a tree
Make a special craft or memento
Install book shelves in his bedroom
Read a book before bedtime every night

FOR OTHERS

Surprise Husband with a meaningful gift
Continue donating breast milk to the Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas January 5 – Donated 332 ounces. January 22 – My pumping days are officially over. You can read why here. As sad as I am, I was able to donated 3,442 ounces to the MMBNT.
Donate to a charity
Throw a surprise party for someone
Attend a wedding
Attend a baby shower May 2.
Leave a 100% tip for excellent service
Volunteer at least five hours each month
Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity
Send a “just because” gift to someone
Send 12 handwritten notes (one per month)
Send a care package to a soldier
Celebrate special milestones (i.e. birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) with greeting cards

ADVENTURE

Go to Bova for a custom ring design consultation
Go to Bova and have my ring and earrings cleaned
Have a ladies’ night once a quarter
February 13 – dinner and movie
March 13 – breakfast with the Zachry’s (and Kamden too)

Attend a college sporting event
Attend a professional sport event
Invest in quality luggage … and use it!
Visit three museums January 6 – Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas; February 20 – Clinton Presidential Center & Library
Visit Ruthie in Austin
Visit Lisa in Virginia
Visit Jenny in North Dakota
Visit Jacqueline in Houston
Visit Heather in Houston
Visit Jen in Arizona
Visit a Presidential Museum February 20 – Clinton Presidential Center & Library in Little Rock, Arkansas
Visit a popular landmark I’ve never seen before
Go to Lake Ouachita (Arkansas) with Husband’s family
Go to Fredericksburg, Texas
Go hunting
Play a round of golf April 10
Go to a drive-in movie
Shoot a bow-and-arrow
Compete in a shooting sport
Complete a fitness challenge
Go paddle boarding
Attend a cooking class
Attend a line dancing class at Billy Bob’s

And for good measure …

JANUARY
Read and study the Bible for 31 consecutive days following a specific reading plan. DONE!

FEBRUARY
Exercise 1,500 minutes in a month, or 75 minutes every week day, and avoid “bad for me” foods. FAIL!

MARCH
Walk a minimum of 8,000 steps every day for 31 days (must wear pedometer). PARTIAL SUCCESS – I wore my pedometer every day but I did not get a minimum of 8K daily steps. But some days were better than others and there were even a few days where I walked in excess of 10K steps, so maybe I averaged 8K instead. I’ll try harder next month.

APRIL
Walk 10,000 steps every day for 30 days. Begin the “Total Transformation” challenge at the gym. Exercise like it’s my job. Purchase a pair of cycling shoes with bike clips. The month of March was a resounding success at failing miserably. The only thing I accomplished from this list was purchasing a pair of cycle shoes with bike clips, which I thought I did this in March but it doesn’t really matter.

MAY
Submit five articles for SJM. Fail, I only submitted two. Exercise 2,000 minutes in 31 days. Fail.

JUNE
Write four articles for SJM. FAIL – All of my writing efforts this month were focused on “30 Days of Manna.” Exercise 2,000 minutes in 30 days. Semi-Failure. I logged 1.505 minutes in June.

JULY
Write four articles for SJM. Publish a weekly health update. Log 2,000 minutes of exercise. Make reservations for a mini family vacation.


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30 Days of Manna // Day 30

30 Days of Manna

Well, here we are, the 30th consecutive post on Three 31 (which has never happened) and the last installment of 30 Days Of Manna. Thank you for being here today!

I began this journey in Genesis and I’m ending it in the Book of Revelation – the beginning and the end. Appropriate, right?!

If you doubt or need a reminder of God’s sovereignty and power in the lives of His beloved children, consider the majesty, hope, reconciliation, and joy He delivered thousands of years ago and the prayers He still answers today. God meets us in the muck and messes of life; we don’t need to be anywhere but ‘here’ and accept His invitation for an intimate relationship with genuine fulfillment and abundant love. If you want biblical examples of people who are broken, desperate, hopeless, sad, angry, forgiven, and renewed, remember:

  • Eve let physical desires (hunger) and emotional triggers (significance and knowledge) disrupt her perfect life in the Garden of Eden.
  • Hannah refused to retaliate against her enemies and never stopped praying for a son. Her faithfulness renewed her spiritual strength and drew her closer to God, who eventually answered her prayer: Samuel, became a prophet, priest, and one of Israel’s leaders.
  • The thief on the cross reminds us that we are all in need of a Savior and the gift of salvation is always available, if we are willing to accept it.
  • King David came from humble beginnings and eventually committed murder and adultery, but he had a heart for God and was restored.
  • Peter denied Christ yet God built the Church upon his witness.
  • Martha got distracted by to-do lists and playing hostess-with-the-mostess, until Jesus rearranged her priorities to focus on Him.
  • Salome had ambitious plans for her sons’ futures, but Jesus called James and John to be fishers of men.
  • Nicodemus had wealth and power, but his true value was found in Jesus, his Savior.
  • Instead of seeking revenge or using swords against his enemies, King Hezekiah prayed for their deliverance.
  • The woman with an illness, ignored and labeled as society’s outcast, believed touching Jesus’ cloak would heal her … and it did.

If there is one person who most appeals to me after this 30-day series in the Bible, it is Daniel. Thanks to his story, struggles, and lessons, I resolve to be more like him – to not destroy myself by the diet of culture and selfish desires – and present myself as a wholesome devotee to God.

Scripture is full of people who, though they lived a long time ago, connect with us here and now. The lessons they learned then are just as poignant and applicable for us today.

In Revelation 2, Jesus is speaking through John about the seven churches of Asia Minor. He is mostly pleased with their growth and progress, but there is still work to be done physically and spiritually – the same is true for me!

I know how many good things you are doing. I have watched your hard work and your patience; I know you don’t tolerate sin among your members, and you have carefully examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but aren’t. You have found out how they lie.  You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. Yet there is one thing wrong; you don’t love me as at first! Think about those times of your first love (how different now!) and turn back to me again and work as you did before; or else I will come and remove your candlestick from its place among the churches. ~ Revelation 2:2-5 (The Living Bible)

Jesus sees what I have done and am doing to improve my health and He acknowledges my persistence and courage. He also knows I have work left to do: discipline, portion control, and self-esteem. Jesus calls me to be more by remaining faithful to Him and remembering my first love: a genuine excitement about my spirituality and passion for God.

Jesus is the epitome of motivational speakers and gives us three specific steps for success:

ONE // Identify strengths

TWO // Acknowledge weaknesses

THREE // Create an action plan

My three steps towards success have already begun. Food will always tempt me, but I am stronger than my weaknesses and God always wins. I have a loving and supportive ‘tribe’ who keep me accountable and encourage me when I need an extra push. In addition, my journey towards physical health and spiritual well-being includes regular activity: exercise at the fitness center, small group studies and worship at church, and distancing myself from tempting or trigger foods.

Heavenly Father, thank you for this 30-day challenge and blog series. You have been masterfully working in and through me to identify my strengths and weaknesses while drawing me nearer to your heart as I surrender my selfish ways and desires. You laid the foundation of the world, surely I can trust your ways! Though this series is ending, my renewal is just beginning. I pray for continued strength and guidance to stand strong in the face of temptation. Amen.

Thank you for joining me on this 30 Days of Manna journey, what shall I do next? If you enjoyed this series, I’d love to hear your thoughts and/or suggestions for future posts!


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30 Days of Manna // Day 29

30 Days of Manna

Satan loves when I take my eyes, heart, and attention away from God and onto worldly, selfish desires. The devil loves when I rely on unreliable things – when I make idols of the mundane and ungodly.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever. ~ 1 John 2:15-17 (New Revised Standard Version)

The world (Satan) thrives on three desires that are not from God: physical pleasure (the desire of the flesh), material possessions (the desire of the eyes), and emotional desires (the pride in riches). These are the same three temptations that haunted Eve in the Garden of Eve and Jesus in the desert … and Satan uses them to lure and distract me too.

PHYSICAL PLEASURE // I’m not hungry, but this food tastes delicious.

MATERIAL POSSESSIONS // This {whatever ‘it’ is} makes me significant.

EMOTIONAL DESIRE // I look outside for inner fulfillment.

When our physical, material, or emotional desires are fulfilled, we enjoy a temporary sense of pleasure, joy, and contentment. For a moment, we are satisfied. But then the moment is gone and we are back to our original dilemma – wanting pleasure, joy, and contentment – only we want it much more.

Satan’s main objective is to separate me from God, and he is very good at using physical, material, and emotional desires to achieve his goal. He puts deceptive thoughts in my mind – one bite of cheesecake won’t hurt or that new car will make me happy – and I begin seeking fulfillment outside God’s realm. Suddenly, God doesn’t seem big enough, strong enough, powerful enough, or smart enough to satisfy my needs. Thus, I turn away from God and seek Satan’s offerings instead.

Scripture tells us, over and over, to be prepared for Christ’s second coming and ignore Satan’s lies that can separate us from God the Father. Listen to John’s message and warning here:

I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and you know that no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; everyone who confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he has promised us, eternal life. ~ 1 John 2:21-25 (NRSV)

I don’t think it’s coincidental the lessons from Day 1 (Eve in the Garden) and Day 13 (Jesus tempted in the desert) are repeated now, Day 29.

Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you.

Food, material possessions, and affirmation from others do not provide the joy and fulfillment from The Sovereign One.

God is enough.

Always.

Amen.


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30 Days of Manna // Day 28

30 Days of Manna

I have a degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in marketing, but I hate marketing. I don’t know if there is anything worse than modern promotion tricks, techniques, and ploys used by companies to encourage consumers to buy their products. You’ve seen the commercials and print ads, you know what I’m talking about!

If I drive this new car, I’ll be happy.

If I live in a bigger house, I’ll be content.

If I wear these shoes, I’ll run faster.

If I get that job, I’ll be successful.

If I wear a size 2, I’ll be satisfied.

Marketing messages to consumers say, “You are physically, emotionally, or spiritually empty and this product will make you complete.”

The comparison trap is dangerous and leads to a miserable life. It is impossible to have fulfillment in monetary or earthly possessions. Thankfully, Peter encourages Christians to be faithful, courageous, and strong among the false prophets – or, in modern terms, the marketing executives tricking us with misguided advertisements. He also provides specific instructions to believers for what they need to live a happy, genuinely fulfilled life that honors God.

Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the Lord God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust. So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books. So, friends, confirm God’s invitation to you, his choice of you. Don’t put it off; do it now. Do this, and you’ll have your life on a firm footing, the streets paved and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ. ~ 2 Peter 1:3-11 (The Message)

There are two very important lessons to be learned from this passage:

one // A personal and intimate relationship with God leads to genuine fulfillment.

two // Faith develop, like regular exercise and wholesome food choices , is required for sustained health.

Peter says to build upon your faith with seven distinct qualities: good character, spiritual understanding, discipline, patience, wonder, friendliness, and generous love. You can’t have authentic faith without these virtues growing and glowing in your life.

If I am growing and glowing in God’s nature, I will thrive physically and spiritually.

Amen.


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30 Days of Manna // Day 27

30 Days of Manna

Why do people, specifically women, think they have to keep it together all the time? Why are we afraid to display our weaknesses or publicly admit our struggles?

In a recent conversation with a friend, she told me about another friend who had just given birth to a little girl. On Facebook, the woman’s transition to being a mom looked spectacular. She had that postpartum ‘glow’ about her and the baby was always snuggled and content in pictures – life couldn’t get any better. But then my friend asked, via private message, how she was really doing. Turns out, the new mom was living in hell. She hadn’t showered in days, her breast milk had not yet come in, the baby had trouble nursing, no one was sleeping well, and the baby cried continuously.

I think women with children can relate to this new mom … I certainly can. I remember one particular morning, Kamden was less than two weeks old, I had a complete melt-down from physical and mental exhaustion, frustration, worry, and stress. I can laugh about the situation now but at the time, I thought the world was closing in on me. I tried incredibly hard to keep my emotions in check but I was a mess. I reached my limit and finally acknowledged that “keeping it all together” was impossible and I needed help.

Thinking back to the morning I broke down and the new mom’s story, I remember my struggles with weight, relationship with food, and strengthening my faith. One thing that all of these situations have in common is pride. For far too long, I’ve been too embarrassed to admit my physical weaknesses. I have been too ashamed to admit my spiritual life was lacking.

Humility is a rare virtue. We learn to publicize our strengths and talents while keeping our struggles and weaknesses private. However, Peter, one of Jesus’ apostles, teaches that we should be humble in every way and in every relationship.

And all of you serve each other with humble spirits, for God gives special blessings to those who are humble, but sets himself against those who are proud. If you will humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, in his good time he will lift you up. Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you. ~ 1 Peter 5:5-7 (The Living Bible)

Humility actually gives us great strength. Satan loves pride and he thrives when we struggle, but if we are humble, Satan cannot tempt us.

Be careful—watch out for attacks from Satan, your great enemy. He prowls around like a hungry, roaring lion, looking for some victim to tear apart. Stand firm when he attacks. Trust the Lord; and remember that other Christians all around the world are going through these sufferings too. ~ 1 Peter 5:8-9 (TLB)

Remember Daniel in the lions’ den? The same God who shut the mouths of hungry lions and protected Daniel will protect you too.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Satan is an evil, deceptive bastard. His schemes and tactics come in many shapes and forms, sometimes people. Our enemies prey on us and deliberately attack when we are most doubtful, stressed, overwhelmed, discouraged, and weak. But if we find strength and depend on God, if we humble ourselves to be great in God’s power instead of our own, we will conquer Satan and his allies.

Amen.


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30 Days of Manna // Day 26

30 Days of Manna

The Letter of James is a welcomed read at this point of the series. It was written to the “twelve tribes scattered abroad,” also known as the Jewish Christians outside of Palestine.

James has a strong message to believers in foreign lands: remain faithful, be patient, persevere through struggles, and avoid sinful temptations. Timeless wisdom, do you agree?

My brothers and sisters, you will have many kinds of trouble. But this gives you a reason to be very happy. You know that when your faith is tested, you learn to be patient in suffering. If you let that patience work in you, the end result will be good. You will be mature and complete. You will be all that God wants you to be. ~ James 1:2-4

I love the word play here. It’s not a question of IF your faith will be tested, it’s a matter of WHEN it will be tested.

My journey towards better physical health and spiritual well-being is just beginning. The last 26 days have not been smooth sailing and I don’t expect life to get easier when this series is complete either. In fact, it might get a little harder. It is my responsibility, however, to keep temptation triggers at bay, continue my fitness routines, and stay connected to accountability partners. If I stay patient and continue working for the good of my body and soul, the end result will be good – Scripture promises this!

Whenever you feel tempted to do something bad, you should not say, “God is tempting me.” Evil cannot tempt God, and God himself does not tempt anyone. You are tempted by the evil things you want. Your own desire leads you away and traps you. Your desire grows inside you until it results in sin. Then the sin grows bigger and bigger and finally ends in death. ~ James 1:13-15

A healthy lifestyle is not a single choice, but rather many decisions every day.

Every day is full of decisions, big and small, important and mundane, but every choice leads to another and every decision has a consequence.

Here are five I’m working on right now:

one // I will choose to eat foods rich in vitamins and nutrients that strengthen and energize my body instead of processed junk that make me feel drained or lethargic.

two // I will choose to exercise at least 60 minutes every week day.

three // I will choose to unplug from technology and read Scripture, pray, doodle in my Journaling Bible, lead a women’s small group, and serve others.

four // I will choose to sleep at least seven hours every night.

five // I will choose to connect with accountability partners in order to stay focused, vent frustrations, and celebrate successes.

These are just five decisions I am making to improve my attitude and commitment towards a lifestyle that is physically and spiritually healthy, but I assure you, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

I have a choice … I can throw in the towel or use it to wipe the sweat off my face.

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