Day 5: Our Journey to Greater Joy

I hope you enjoy Day 5 of our blog series on Joy. Through Jeff's (my husband) coaching of 100s of people he has discovered both practical and spiritual steps that you can take so that you can live with greater JOY.

So yesterday we talked about how to create margin in your calendar. And why it’s so important to the cultivation of joy.  My big question is:  Did you take the time out to do the exercise I outlined?  If not, I can guess two likely reasons why:

1.      You’re too busy to spend the 30 minutes necessary to do the exercise.

2.     The pain in your life is not great enough to do the hard work of adjusting your calendar and leaning into joy.

Trust me, I feel your pain.  I was there for too long wanting change, but not wanting it bad enough. Here’s my encouragement:  Don’t sweat it if for now you fall into either of those categories. It’s just not your time. When you’re broken enough, you’ll start taking action.  My purpose in writing the Joy Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Peace, Purpose and Balance was not to motivate people into pursuing joy, but to help people who are stuck and want help.

If are ready, and you have a plan for getting margin in your calendar, here’s what I suggest you do next: Abide. (You may recall from yesterday, that abide is the second piece of the M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan)

The word abide means to be with, to live with, or to spend time with.  In practice, it means spending time with God by reading the bible, praying throughout the day, learning with fellow believers, serving with fellow believers, meditating on scripture, to name a few. 

At this point in time you might be thinking “Really?  I work hard to create margin in my calendar and this is all you have for me?  Pray more? Read the bible more? I heard that last Sunday at church.  Is that the best you got?”

But hear me out.  I want to challenge you on a few things.  How much time are you really spending abiding?  How confident are you that you are actually reading, praying, studying etc. properly? (There are right ways and wrong ways to do these things, you know.) And, regardless of how often or how effective you are with your spiritual disciplines, are you merely gaining information but not experiencing transformation?

The only true measure of the quality of our abiding is the extent to which we are exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). If we are not living with greater love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control, it’s safe to say most of our well-intentioned, churchified activities are a waste of time.

But don’t fret – there are resources out there that can help you move your abiding from stale, go-through-the-motions actions to life-giving habits.  Personally, I think Chapter 6 of my book is a great “short course” to get rolling with this.  The best “deep dive” I know of on this topic is Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline.  It’s a classic that has transformed many lives --- mine included.

Here are a few questions that I hope will give you a pathway forward:

·       What do you need to do to reinvigorate your appetite for and time in the Bible?

·       In what ways do you need to rethink your approach to living with God each moment of every day?

·       What’s the number one thing that gets in the way of your attempts to abide more frequently with God? What are you going to do about it?

·       What can you do to get into a church or small group to help you grow in this area?

Let me wrap up this post with my favorite verse in all of the bible:  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Part of the reason I love this verse is not just because abiding is the pathway to positively impacting the world [our fruit], but because Jesus says, after reiterating verse five several times, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

What an awesome promise: Abiding powers us to make a difference and count it all joy. 

Day 4 : Our Journey Towards Greater Joy

Today’s the big day!! The Joy Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Peace, Purpose and Balance launches.

Michelle and I talked about what to write on this special day and we came up with the topic of Margin; i.e., creating extra space in our calendars so that we can finally slow down long enough to honestly reflect on our lives and think intentionally about where we are going.

We chose margin as the topic because creating margin in your calendar is the most important piece of the joy puzzle.  You might expect me to say “God is the most important component of joy,” but after a decade of coaching hundreds of people towards joy, God never ends up on most peoples’ radars because they are so busy.

I heard it said that “busy” stands for “Burdened Under Satan’s Yoke.” 

And it’s true. Nothing gets us off God’s pathway toward joy like being non-stop pre-occupied on our hamster wheels. 

I remember in 2005 when I was completely joyless and desperately searching for God’s peace, purpose and joy in my life. I craved answers that would lead me toward positive change, but I never really dedicated the time to lean into God so that He could do His part and I could do mine.  And then it hit me one day:  “Jeff -  If you want your life to change, you’re going to have to change some things about your life. Something has to go.”

It was then that I realized I was so busy with work, the family, and hobbies that I hadn’t carved out the time to slow down and thoughtfully analyze my life. Socrates said

“The unexamined life is not a life worth living.” 

Boy, I really agree with that.

Here’s the thing about creating margin in our calendars: It has less to do with time management techniques and everything to do with values and priorities. In my experience, even the busiest people in world will find the time to take up new hobbies, go on vacations, and engage in new projects if it’s something they value.

So what really drives busyness is conflicting values like these:

·       “I want to spend more time with God, but I also want nice stuff so I’d rather work than spend an hour with God each day.”

·       “I want to serve and love others, but that will pull me away from other activities that get me more applause and attention.”

·       “I value my family, but I still work 60 hours a week.”

·       “I need to be involved many things to keep many people happy, even if it means disappointing me and God.”

·       “I value my health, but my social calendar prevents me from working out.” (On this point, I heard it said that “If you can’t find time to exercise now, you’ll have to find time to be sick later.”)

So we stay busy for fear that if we cut some things out of our lives, it could lead to regret later.  We opt to keep all the plates spinning.  Hedging all our bets.  We do this when we don’t know what we really want out of life. What we really stand for.

So what do you really value? Below is a process for figuring that out. Believe me this is hard work.  I’d love to give you “6 simple, little, happy steps” to make your calendar magically open up, but building margin takes introspection, courage, and making hard decisions.  The payoff is hugely worth it though.  It’s the gateway to the joy you read about in the bible all the time.

Here you go:

1.    Write down your top 5 values in life? (I am not going to give you a list to work from because I don’t want to skew or bias your thinking. You know what you value.  Just write them down.)

2.    Next, write one sentence that describes each of the following seven elements of your life if they were in full alignment with your values. What would things look like if everything were perfect in your marriage, your health, your faith, your parenting, your friendships, your career and finances, your service to others.

3.  As you look at the sentences you just wrote that describe those elements of your life in their ideal state, which of those seven elements has the biggest gap between “ideal and current reality?”  Rank all seven of them below starting with the parts of your life that are most out of whack with what you ideally want.

Biggest Gap between Ideal and Real: (write them down)

4.    With all of this in mind, analyze your calendar for the last three months. What are four things occupying your calendar that are not serving you and/or others well?


5.  What things can you stop doing immediately?

6. What can you responsibly back away from and stop doing within the next three, six, or nine months?

7.  What things should you continue doing, but scale back on?

8. With some space in your calendar identified, what things should you do more of? 

Every decision you just made in this exercise is a reflection of your values---and your theology, by the way. I encourage you to take the time to do this full exercise and experience how creating margin can be the first step toward more joy.

(This exercise is excerpted from The Joy Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Peace, Purpose and Balance that is available for purchase today here.) (link to your site to purchase

Day 3: Our Journey Towards Greater Joy

I'm so thankful that my husband has prepared this 5 day devotional for you. I hope you quiet your mind enough to take in what he shares on "Joy"

As you have been learning from Michelle over the years, our health is a key part of the joy we experience.  There are many factors, actually, that contribute to joy.  As I have outlined in my book, I developed an acrostic to help people grow in their joy.  It’s called the M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan.

MMargin: Create space in our calendars to slow down and think intentionally and strategically about where we are going with our lives… and then make the hard choices and proper adjustments

A = Abide: Use a portion of that extra space to spend more time with God and His Word so that our thinking becomes intuitively aligned with His thinking.

S = Self-Awareness: Be brutally honest with ourselves about our strengths, weaknesses, dreams, motivations, fears, and brokenness.

TTreasure: Manage our money with a biblical perspective of how money flows, how God provides it, and how it’s all His anyway; and Temple: Care for our bodies so that we can be healthy enough to distribute God’s love to the rest of the world.

EEngage: Engage in our Calling by applying our talents to the issues and causes we are passionate about.

RRelationships: Be wise about managing relationships with family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and our fellow man.

All parts of the M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan are important but let’s talk about our Temples. First, some background: When Jesus ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit down to us, the Holy Spirit stopped existing just in the tabernacle and with God. He actually started to live inside the bodies of the followers of Jesus. How cool is that?! That in and of itself is cause for joy! 

The Spirit is readily available to us instantaneously.  God has given us a counselor, comforter, and healer as a blessing to us.  But it’s also a responsibility:  We are supposed to care for our bodies so that we can pass that blessing along to others.  We are the hands and feet of Jesus. If we’re not doing our part to stay healthy and strong, it’s the equivalent of saying to God: “I don’t care about your gift and I don’t intend to pass it on to others.” Talk about squandering an opportunity for joy.

Another way in which our temples relate to joy can be found in the Old Testament.   There are numerous references to joy in the OT that are related to feasting in celebration of some blessing from God. Great tasting food and drink are a joy.  Where we get in trouble is when we feast every day.  For many people who live in developed nations around the world, occasional feasting has turned into daily gluttony.  And that leads to a weakened temple that is prone to illness and injury. And it dulls us to the blessings of God.

Yesterday I shared that joy is different than happiness because it isn't effected by the circumstances around us and I know it must sound like I am contradicting myself when I talk about the things we do "do" to have greater joy, so let me explain.  When we are doing things like spending time with God, taking care of our body, managing our money from a Biblical perspective... they get us to a place where we are living with joy.  When we consistently live with the principles of the M.A.S.T.E.R Plan we are not effected by things outside our control. 

To dig deeper into this topic of joy, you can download the first 4 chapters of the book for free  here.  Today is the last day of the pre-order discount. Get it while you can.  The official launch is tomorrow!

Day 2: Our Journey Towards Greater Joy

My husband, Jeff shares his thoughts on how to live with greater joy. This is Day 2 in his 5 day devotional: 

"I’m excited to share with you a bit more from my book The Joy Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Peace, Purpose, and Balance. (If you missed day 1 click here)

Before we dig deeper into how you can experience greater joy, it’s important that we differentiate joy from happiness. Happiness is circumstantial:  When work, our kids, our health, our marriages and our finances are in a good place, we’re happy.  Who wouldn’t be?  But when those things take a turn for the worse our happiness can begin to evaporate.

Joy, on the other hand, is not connected to circumstances.  Joy is more a state of mind.  It’s a paradigm and perspective.

For instance: The apostle Paul’ talks about having joy even when he was imprisoned because:

·       He knew God loved him

·       He was still doing what God called him to do (share the gospel) even though he was in jail

·       He was trusting that somewhere in the midst of his messed up situation God had a better       plan (If Paul hadn’t been in jail, maybe he wouldn’t have written half the New Testament for our benefit)

·       He knew he was spending eternity with God.

 His faith was real.  For him, faith wasn’t a religion or his culture or some folk lore.  It was his spiritual reality. 

So what about you? When in the past have your circumstances and lack of faith sapped your joy?  When in the past have you experienced joy despite difficult circumstances? 

How can you live with the second paradigm more consistently?

My encouragement is for you to read the bible and find out what God wants for you, what He wants from you and what he cares about.  Then align your life with those things.  The natural outflow will be a life of loving Him and others. It’s a sure fire pattern for living withjoy, freedom, fearlessness, energy, enthusiasm, and clarity… regardless if your circumstances.

In tomorrow’s blog I will share with you my “Master Plan” which gives you some practical ways you can start moving towards the type of joy that Paul talked about. Joy, not based off what’s going on around you but based off what you know in your heart. 

Another reason to tune in tomorrow is because you will see how fitness and food are connected to joy. 

If you want to get some answers to that last question, you can download and read the first 4 chapters from my book The Joy Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Peace, Purpose, and Balance . The free download is only available through October 17th. 



Day 1: Our Journey to More Joy

Day 1

Hi Everyone. It’s Jeff – Michelle’s husband. She asked me to do a 5-day devotional on joy which is the topic of my new book that launches October 18: The Joy Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Peace, Purpose and Balance. I’m excited to provide some simple steps in the next few days that can get you on the pathway to more joy.

Quick background on the book:  I work with a ministry called the Halftime Institute.  We coach men and women in midlife transition to discover and engage in God’s calling for their second half.  In the last decade, I have coached hundreds of people through this process and I have discovered that the primary motivation for people who desperately want to know their life purpose is because they believe it will lead them to joy.  And they are right: knowing what to DO with your life to be a vessel for God’s love is a giant step toward joy. But there is another dimension to joy:  It’s about understanding who God designed you to BE, who He is shaping you to BE, and who you currently are because of what Christ has done for you.

So….What are you doing with your time, talent, treasure, temple, and tribe (aka relationships) that is bringing you joy ---- or sucking the joy out of your life?

Who did God create you to be? What about your being do you most identify with: Being a parent? A spouse? Your title at work? A child of God? Sinful and fearful? Free and blameless? How you perceive your being makes all the difference in your joy. 

If you want to go deeper on the topic right now, you can pre-order the book before 10/18 and get  a discount and download the first 4 chapters for free! 

Joy Always

Joy—isn’t that something we all want?

In the Bible we read about “Joy Always” but, if we’re honest with ourselves, I think very few of us actually believe that living with that kind of joy is attainable. But, I want you to know that it is possible to live with this kind of joy! My own family has just been through a very painful time, but through it, joy remained. My husband’s dad, Joe, went to heaven last week. A very aggressive cancer took him in just a few short weeks. It was sudden and seemingly out of nowhere, but thankfully we had time to fly to Florida to be with him his last few days. My husband, Jeff, should have been angry, stressed and all around miserable…but he wasn’t. Throughout his dad’s diagnosis, treatment and last days, there was always an undercurrent of joy. Joy, because he knew he would see his dad again. Joy, because he completely trusts God’s plan. Joy, because Jeff chooses to live in view of eternity.

Many of you already know this, but my wonderful husband just wrote a book called The Joy Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Peace, Purpose and Balance. Jeff didn’t write this book because he was hoping for fame or finances—he wrote it because his passion is to help frustrated, down-and-out believers move towards being joyful followers. Jeff’s heart is all about helping people experience the John 10:10 life (abundant life, life to the fullest, a rich and satisfying life).

I know, I’m his wife so it seems like I have to say this, but I really can’t recommend this book to you enough.

I’m so excited and proud of the joy that Jeff has always made a part of our family and our home, and I want that same joy for all of you.

Jeff’s teachings are based off his years of coaching and mentoring hundreds of people toward a life filled with greater joy and peace and fulfillment. In this book, he walks you through the step-by-step process of learning to trust God and live with joy in the seasons of abundant sunshine and favor, as well as the seasons that are filled with storms and waves. 

The truth is, we really can live above the waves when our soul in anchored in God's promises. I couldn’t be more proud of my husband for wanting to bring that truth to the multitudes. Jeff himself will be leading a 5-day ‘living with joy’ devotional for all of us here at Faithful Workouts, so be on the look our for that tomorrow. And from now until 10/17, you can download the first 4 chapters of his book for free, so don’t delay! Join us for this study on joy, check out Jeff’s book and stop letting your circumstances dictate your life. 

8 Ways YOU Can Combat Daytime Fatigue

Ready to Fight Fatigue? Read on!

If there’s one problem I’ve consistently heard over and over again from family, friends and coworkers, it’s that they feel tired and zapped of their energy throughout the day. It's like they can’t stop yawning, and accomplishing any kind of task can seem like it takes three times the effort it should. 

If you’re one of the many, millions of people out there who suffer from some serious daytime fatigue, this blog is for you! Of course, getting enough sleep the night before is a big part of not feeling tired the next day, but it’s not the only part. We’ve got 8, simple ways that you can start (and end) your days with energy!


Did you know one of the number one causes of daytime headaches is actually dehydration?! Being dehydrated can not only cause headaches, but can also leave you feeling lethargic and unmotivated. So, start your morning with a big class of water and keep it going throughout the day!


A lot of you aren’t going to like this one, but caffeine, while providing an initial energy boost, can leave us feeling even more fatigued later in the day (especially if that caffeine is filled with fatty milk and lots of sugar!). Caffeine also dehydrates your body, but, if you can’t give up that cup of Joe, at least make sure it’s free of sugar and that you’re drinking even more water to compensate.  **Also, Forbes Magazine reported some research about the optimal times to drink your coffee: Therefore, timing your “coffee breaks” (an apt term) between 9:30-11:30 and 1:30 and 5:00 takes advantage of the dips in your cortisol levels when you need a boost the most. The best times to drink coffee are when your cortisol levels naturally dip.”


It’s no surprise that we’re a big proponent of exercise here at Faithful Workouts. Getting up and moving our body and starting your day with a workout really can make all the difference! 30 minutes a day is recommended to reap all the health benefits of exercise, but even fifteen minutes over your lunch break can do wonders for your energy levels!


If you’re starting your day off with a giant pastry and huge coffee…it’s not going to bode well for you later. We’ve all had the feeling of going out to a big lunch and then having to come back to the office when all you really want to do is nap! To avoid the mid-afternoon crash, avoid high fat, high carb/sugar breakfasts and lunches, and make sure you’re getting your protein in. Try snacking more often throughout the day with things like almonds, apples, turkey roll-ups, berries, organic beef jerky, etc.


Nothing gives me energy like saying a quick prayer, or listening to some uplifting music. God says we can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us, so pray for energy and strength throughout your day!


It sounds silly, but a good laugh really can change the whole direction of your day. Whether it’s taking five minutes to talk to a close (and funny) friend, or reading a few jokes over your morning coffee or lunch break - take a second to laugh!


This is especially important if you work at a desk and are sitting in one position all day. Take a second to jog up and down the stairs once, or even just making it a habit to stand and stretch every 30 minutes—whatever works for you!


This one might sound strange, but the fact of the matter is—routine, while helpful, can also make us entrap and enslave us. The same thing everyday? It’s enough to make anyone feel bored and tired. So change up your routine! Invite someone to lunch, ask someone if you can pray for them, whatever it it, challenge yourself to get out of your desk and out of your comfort zone!

The fastest soup you'll ever make!

Today, we're showing you how to make the FASTEST soup ever!

And the best part? It's healthy, of course (not to mention delicious)! Give this soup a try when you're in a pinch - you may already have most of these ingredients on hand :) Watch our video to see how we prepared this tasty tortellini soup!


  • chicken broth
  • spinach
  • tomatoes
  • tortellini
  • parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Healthy Breakfast: Veggies with a Poached Egg

This breakfast is a great way to start your day! The protein from the egg is sure to keep you full until lunch, and the vegetables add so much flavor! Enjoy this faithful workouts favorite today :)


2 Tablespoons broth (vegetable or chicken)

1 cup of packed spinach

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup diced tomatoes

1 egg


Pour broth in a small frying pan and add spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes. Cook over medium heat stirring often. Crack egg and gently pour on top of vegetables. Cover pan with a lid. Cook for approximately 4 min. or until egg is cooked. Garnish with whatever herbs or spices you like best, or serve with an optional side of avocado for even more flavor!

Servings: 1

Healthy and Hearty Tuscan Kale and Sausage Soup


We love this healthy and flavor-packed soup! With the cooler, fall weather fast approaching, is sure to be a hit with family and friends. Add it to your line up this week!


Ground Italian sausage - 1 pound (make sure your sausage does NOT have nitrates, if eating gluten-free ask your butcher if you sausage is gluten-free)

Garlic - 3 cloves

Potatoes - 3 medium sliced in bite size pieces (organic is best. if not organic you might want to peep potatoes)

Chicken or Vegetable broth - low sodium, low fat 32 ounces (again organic if possible)

Kale - 1 large bunch chopped

Cashew Milk - 1.5 cups


Put sausage and garlic in pot and completely cook sausage. Add sliced potatoes and chicken broth ito pot and cook over medium heat for 15  min. or until potatoes are slightly soft. Add chopped kale to pot and milk. Cover and cook until kale is wilted. I can make a meal out of this soup!!

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