In Every Season....


“He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding…” -Daniel 2:21

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” –Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” –Genesis 8:22


Recently, I had what felt like a big revelation.

I’m in what you might call a “winter” season right now. It’s full of constant health problems and financial struggles and questions about the future. It’s full of waiting and waiting and waiting for promises that feel long overdue. It’s full of questions, and, at times, fear. It’s cold, it’s gray, and it seems like it will go on forever.

We’ve all had these winter season in life—where the outlook is bleak, where the diagnosis is certain, where the money is short, or where there just isn’t enough time. Winter seasons which, in that moment, leave us certain we’ll never see spring again.

I was listening to a testimony from a worship leader the other day, and she talked about how God was speaking to her about her own winter season. She was sitting and looking out into the barren, winter woods in her backyard, feeling sorry for herself, when God whispered to her, “Don’t you love how far you can see, with the leaves fallen from the trees? Don’t you love the clarity that winter brings? Do the trees feel anxious that they’ll never have leaves again? That spring will never come?”

Just think about that for a second.

Do you have to run up to all the trees in your backyard or flowers in your garden and continuously reassure them that spring will come? That they’ll bloom again? Of course not! But then why do our winter seasons feel so different? Why are they accompanied by so much fear and anxiety, and why do all our prayers seem to focus on God getting us out of them as soon as possible?

Maybe you all won’t agree with me on this, but I think there’s just as much beauty to be found in winter as there is in the spring or summer or fall. Sure, in winter, things take more work. Things are harder. Putting on heavy layers and ensuring the kids are bundled up and waking up early to scrap the frost of our car in the morning… All of that takes more work and preparation and awareness. But is there anything quite as lovely and peaceful as waking up to a fresh snowfall? Or enjoying a hot cup of cocoa and a book in front of the fire?

When we refuse to embrace the season God has us in, we (unknowingly) reject any of the beauty or awe or personal growth that might come with it. Because the thing is, we will all have those winter seasons. God said it. Seasons where things are harder, and where everything seems to take more effort. But what I want you to know is this—spring always comes. Always. You will bloom once again.

But in the mean time? Take a look around you, and ask God to give you the eyes to appreciate all that winter brings.

Ditch the Valentines' Day Chocolate and try this instead!

First of all, Happy Valentine's Day! From where I stand, Valentines' Day is all about love, and if you really love someone, you don't want to pump them full of sugary chocolate and cookies, right? You don't want to make them feel sick, so don't! But how can I show this person I love them without chocolate, you ask? Well, let me tell you - you make them this instead. Delicious and nutritious. How's that for an I love you?

Today, we're bringing you some Strawberry Crisp!!


Ingredients:

3 cups sliced strawberries

1 banana Sliced

2 tblsp. Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

1 cup unsweetened apple sauce

3/4 cup almond, coconut or whole wheat flour 

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

½ tsp cinnamon

Directions:

Put diced strawberries and bananas in a 8 x 8 pan. Pour vinegar over them and stir. Combine coconut oil, apple sauce, flour, flaxseed and cinnamon together. Crumble this mixture over strawberries. Bake in preheated oven at 375 for approximately 40 minutes.

Serves 4

I'm not a runner

I'm not a runner, never have been and most likely never will be BUT I did work the finish line of a marathon.

Today, as I listened to a sermon I was reminded of that day. That day I greeted hundreds of runners who had given it their all. They persevered and finished the race. When they crossed the line they were greeted by cheers and I wrapped them in a little blanket and told them "YOU DID IT!!"

What keeps me moving, gives me tons of excitement, motivates me when I don't feel like going the course is this - When I cross the finish line of life I will be greeted by Jesus and my hope is He looks at me and says, "YOU DID IT. Let me show you how, because you kept your eyes on me, you changed the eternity of that person over there and see that lady over there - yep she heard you that one day, even though you didn't think she was listening" and then He will wrap his loving arms around me and say, "Well done my good and faithful servant"

If I'm just being honest I want you to know I have tears flowing down my face because I want this for YOU too. I want you to live this amazing life filled with joy, peace, and purpose and when you cross the finish line of life I want you to see Jesus smiling to greet you. 

Why not open your heart to Jesus and by that I mean just try talking to him. Open that old Bible and read what Jesus said in the books of Matthew, Mark. Luke and John. I'm praying for all who read this.

World's Best Sweet Potato Fries

Preheat over to 400°.  Peal 2 large sweet potatoes. You can see this sweet potato isn't orange like you'd expect. There are different varieties and I love the pale colored ones like this the best. 

Slice potatoes into the shape and size of fries.

Cut up fresh rosemary and squeeze 1/2 large lemon.  Place fries on clean cookie sheet and add 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, lemon juice, 1/4 cup avocado oil (great for high heat cookie but can use olive oil too) and salt and pepper to taste. Stir so all fries are covered with oil. 

Place in a single layer on a cookie sheet and put in hot oven. In 15 minutes use a spatula to flip the fries if they aren't browning evenly on both sides. 

IMG_4288.jpg

Cook for additional 15 minutes (about 30 minutes total cooking time). Pull out and enjoy! Makes about 4 servings. 

Need a healthy & delicious appetizer for your holiday party?

With New Year's quickly approaching, you might have a party you're excited to attend, but what to bring? Well, regardless if you're staying home or going out, these Asparagus Roll-Ups are always a huge hit! Healthy, tasty, and super easy - the perfect appetizer! 


Asparagus Roll-Ups

Servings: 12 Appetizers

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 Slices of Turkey
  • 1 Large Avocado
  • 12 Asparagus Spears
  • 1/3 Cup Hummus (if you can find Lemon Hummus, it's my favorite for this recipe)

DIRECTIONS

Bring a pot of water to a low boil. Cut off bottom 1/4 of asparagus spears. Put asparagus in simmering water. Cook for about 5 min. or until crisp tender. Immediately, rinse asparagus in cold water to stop cooking process. Spread a thin layer of hummus over turkey. Slice avocado into 12 pieces. Place asparagus spear and avocado slice on top of turkey and roll. Push toothpick through turkey to hold in place. 

Enjoy!

 

The Craziest Story About My Son's Expired Passport and The Sloan's House Fire

I know we've all been through situations where we ask "WHY?!" Just a few days I found myself asking God "WHY??? Why is this happening?"  You won't believe this story - it 's one I could never make up. Once again God showed me the truth of His Words in Romans 8:28 "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."

Thank you God for Neal's expired passport. 

Please pray for Eileen and her family. Imagine losing everything, and I mean everything, you own. Pray that they will find a home to rent. Pray that they will continue to feel peace from God's presence. 

Here's What I Want You To Know

"You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty” 1 Samuel 17:45

For me, whenever something is coming to an end I get a bit nostalgic. Each year around this time (the last days of Dec.) I like to look back and think about my year. I ask myself questions like, what were your highlights, what mistakes did you make that you can learn from... A question that stood out to me this particular year was this, “What do I want people to know who are involved in Faithful Workouts?” Here’s what I came up with. 

You CAN do this. 

Even though 95% of people fail when trying to stick with an exercise or diet plan -

You GOT this. 

God is on your side and “Nothings impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Satan will try and come at you with defeating words, but they don’t have to take you down and pull you off course. You CAN make lasting, healthy changes, not because you are something special, but because when you believe in Jesus, His Spirit and Power are in you. (Please stop and let this really soak into your heart) 

"You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty” 1 Samuel 17:45

God’s Word tells us that we have Self-Control (because of Him). God’s Word tells us that we are Overcomers (because of Him). God’s Word tells us we can do ALL things (because of Him). God’s Word tells us we are Strong, Courageous, and Victorious (because of Him).

I want you to take on 2017 with this in your heart because when you fully understand that God’s Spirit is in you it's...

a game changer!

If you are not part of our f4 Plan, please take a moment to check it out. I say this because I believe in the tools we've created because our workouts, articles, webinars, podcasts, even our menu plans continue to point you to Him.   

Thanks, and have a happy holiday season!

Could Stress Be Hurting Your Brain?

Stress and your brain!

We generally think of stress as an inherently “bad” thing, but the truth is, stress itself can be a good or bad thing! By definition, “stress is a physiological response that is necessary for the survival of the species.”

Eustress is the good kind of stress—it motivates us to make a positive change to better stabilize our environments. For example, when we’re hot, we start to sweat and maybe drink some cool water or move to stand in the shade. The stress put on our body from the temperature change motivates us to make changes that cool us down. 

Distress, on the other hand, is the type of stress that ‘overwhelms’ us and exceeds our resources (meaning we don’t know how or can’t deal with it). These types of stressors might be anything from the death of a family member, to a deadline at work, to bad diagnosis…I’m sure we can all think of a few more.

When we’re stressed, our sympathetic nervous system is activated, and, as I said before, this can be a good thing. It’s sometimes referred to our fight-or-flight reflex. If a bear starts to chase you, you want to be able to divert all your blood and energy into your muscles, and not waste time/energy on things like digesting that sandwich you ate for lunch that day. 

But our bodies were not designed to have our sympathetic, fight-or-flight nervous system activated for long periods of time. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released with heightened activation of our sympathetic nervous system, and it can really wreak havoc on our bodies if left unchecked. 

Increased levels of cortisol in your body can lead to atrophy (shrinking in the brain), premature brain aging, and it can also speed up dementia diseases like Alzheimer’s. 

The levels of stress hormone we have circulating around our bodies is also very dependent on diet. Our levels of cortisol can also be mediated by the foods and drinks that we consume! For example, high fat diets have been shown to increase our levels of cortisol—and, sometimes when we’re stressed, we reach for those higher fat, higher sugar foods to comfort us—but really, they’re just making it worse.

Stress can also lead to food cravings, and make us feel less full than we actually are. So when you’re stressed, you might eat more than your body actually needs, because you’re brains not wasting energy telling you that you’re full. 

Reading all of that can be intimidating! It’s obvious that stress isn’t great for our brain, or our bodies, but what can we do about it? Are we powerless to stop the cycle?

The answer is (and I hope you guessed it) NO! There are lots of things we can do to combat stress, and practicing what psychologists call “mindfulness” can be a big one. Mindfulness just means we’re focusing on the present moment, and not wasting all our time and efforts and energy on the past—which we can’t change—or on the future—which we can’t predict.

Decreasing our workload can also help greatly with stress. If we’re honest with ourselves, we have the power to say no 100% of the time, but we don’t often use it. You’re not a bad Christian or mother if you can’t help out and be a part of every little thing your church or child does, so give yourself some grace and practice the ancient art of saying no. Obviously, eating a balanced diet that avoids high fat, high sugar foods is going to do wonders for your body, brain and stress levels, as well as trying to get in some form of physical activity each day. 

And, of course, JESUS! Jesus is our greatest friend, comforter and caretaker, and so spending time with him and keeping our minds focused on his kingdom will do wonders for all types of stress. 

Dancing has actually been shown to be a great stress reliever, so our PAZAZ workouts could be a great option for you!

 

REFERNCES

Avison, William R., and R. Jay Turner. "Stressful Life Events and Depressive Symptoms: Disaggregating the Effects of Acute Stressors and Chronic Strains." Journal of Health and Social Behavior 29.3 (1988): 253. Web.

Baran, Sarah E., Adam M. Campbell, Jonathan K. Kleen, Cainan H. Foltz, Ryan L. Wright, David M. Diamond, and Cheryl D. Conrad. "Combination of High Fat Diet and Chronic Stress Retracts Hippocampal Dendrites."NeuroReport 16.1 (2005): 39-43. 

Chao, A., C. M. Grilo, M. A. White, and R. Sinha. "Food Cravings Mediate the Relationship between Chronic Stress and Body Mass Index." Journal of Health Psychology 20.6 (2015): 721-29. 

Fuller, James. "Influence Of Drying/conditioning Schedules On Stress Development, Relief And Prong Test." Drying Technology 17.10 (1999): 2237-249. Web.

 

Lupien, Sonia J., Bruce S. Mcewen, Megan R. Gunnar, and Christine Heim. "Effects of Stress throughout the Lifespan on the Brain, Behaviour and Cognition." Nature Reviews Neuroscience Nat Rev Neurosci 10.6 (2009): 434-45.

Michelle's Favorite Things Gift Guide!

Hello everyone! 

I get a lot of emails about the different products I love, and so I decided to compile a "Favorite Things" blog just for you all! If you're still looking for a gift for someone, maybe this list will help! I've included some amazon links below in case you want to purchase any of the products mentioned, and so let's get started.


1) Okay, number one has to be my Capresso espresso and cappuccino machine because caffeine. If you're like me and need your coffee to help get up and moving, then I can't recommend this little machine enough. I love that I can make single cups of coffee or a shot of espresso and don't have to pay the high cost of the coffee pods or the $5 at Starbucks. Plus, because I'm a slow coffee drinker, I can use the steamer to reheat my coffee!

 

2) My Aroma Rice Cooker! I love my rice cooker - it really does make perfect rice each time. It's also super easy to use and doesn't require space on my stove or in my oven. I love to entertain, so it's always nice to have an easy dish like rice. I usually jazz my rice up by adding fresh lime juice and cilantro, or even by adding coconut milk in place of some of the water to give it an Asian flavor. You can also cook other grains like oatmeal quinoa or Farro in it - it's the total package! (they don't have my exact rice cooker available anymore, but this one in amazon is the newer, "upgraded" version of mine).

 

3) My cast iron skillets have seriously become one of my favorite tools in the kitchen. I love cooking with iron pans. When my husband first brought them home, I wasn't a fan for whatever reason, but now they're all I use. I have a steel wool brush that I use for cleaning which makes clean-up easy, and I feel like the food just tastes better on cast iron. Also, those nonstick pans are never really nonstick (and can be a total pain to clean!) These pans are also pretty heavy, so you can get a great arm workout in while you're cooking/cleaning them!

 

4) I love giving Christian journals to people. Some of them come with verses on the pages, and it can be fun to add personalized notes to the person you're giving it to. That way, when they open it up, they can be reminded of you and your prayers for them. I got a bunch of them at a discount store called Marshall's and they were four dollars each - such a great gift to give to people that's not much more expensive than giving people a card but just as meaningful.

5) Another one of my faves would have to be my wireless headphones. I'm all about multitasking, and I often put my headset in while I cook so I can listen to a sermon. No cords to get in the way, and nothing to hold me back! These can be more expensive, but it's so nice to not have a cord to worry about when you're multi-tasking (which I always am :D)

 

6) I have to say, as far as decor goes, I love my cross collection. When we travel, I usually look for one to remind me of the good times we had while we were away. I also love getting them as gifts because it reminds me of the person who gave it to me. They make great presents for people, and I love that they are a constant reminder of what Jesus did for us.

 
 

7) I don't know where I would be without my NIV Life Application Study Bible (in large print). I know lots of people are reading the Bible online now or on their phones, but I still love to hold it in my hands. I love that this bible is 1) in large print so I can actually read it, and 2) really gives me an in depth look at the different passages and verses that I'm reading for that day. I love the fresh perspective that it gives me on God's word!

8) I'm not just saying this because I sell it, but I LOVE my fitness loop, ball and resistance bands. I use them all the time when I teach classes out of my own home, and I love that they're small enough for me to take while I travel. I'm big into resistance training - great for your brain and body - and while I can't exactly pack 10lb dumbbells into my suitcase, my resistance bands are always easy to throw in there! I don't go on trips without them.

9) If you've ever watched one of my workouts or heard me speak, you've likely heard me quoting something called The Blue Book. It's a devotional compiled by Jim Branch, and it really has (next to the bible) been the most influential book in my life. If you're looking for a gift for a loved one (or even just for yourself!) I really can't recommend this one enough. 

 

10) Experiencing God is another book I really love. This book really makes experiencing God simple, and it's great if you're looking for a deeper relationship with the creator of the world (which, who isn't?). Everyone I give this book to always gets back to me with rave reviews, and so I feel like this one has to be on the list of my faves. 

 

11) This might seem like a random one, but when you workout as much as do, these are a lifesaver. They're the workout shorts that have the built-in spandex shorts underneath. You can really get these at any sporting goods store, or even TJ Maxx or Target. The pics I've included below are Nike, but I have them in a variety of different brands and they're all great. They're super comfortable and convenient when you're working out because you don't have to worry if you're short are hiked up too far, or keep pulling them down. Like I said, a lifesaver!

12) And, of course, I have to end with our new f4 plan. I'm telling you guys, if you're looking to give someone the gift of better health this holiday season, this f4 plan could be the perfect thing! We have over 120 workouts, meal plans, grocery lists, webinars, and podcasts all designed to get you feeling as physically and spiritually healthy as you've ever been!

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