Books I Read in 2015

I have a knack for starting books but not finishing them. Looking over my 2015 reads, I will proudly say I am a recovering book-start-aholic!

Nine books finished. That has to be a personal record! In the past I haven't kept track.

This year I felt really convicted. If I could replace the time spent on social media with book reading, think of how many books I could have gone through in my lifetime! There are so many fantastic books out there I want to read.

Here are the books I read this year, starting off with the amazing Corrie Ten Boom.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. This book was absolutely amazing, life-changing, and perspective shaking. Corrie Ten Boom shares her experience in the Dutch Underground and a Nazi concentration camp with her family. I hope to read this book with my children when they are mature enough to handle the content. It is a must read!

Tramp For The Lord by Corrie Ten Boom. This was actually the first Corrie Ten Boom book I read. It tells of Corrie's life after The Hiding Place and her release from the Nazi concentration camp. Reading the amazing stories of her ministry spurred me to read any of her books I cam get my hands on.

Amazing Love by Corrie Ten Boom. Stories of the power of forgiveness and God using Corrie to minister into the lives of many. "We meet on these pages not Corrie, but Corrie's Christ"

In My Father's House by Corrie Ten Boom. The prequel to the Hiding Place. Corrie shares many stories of God preparing her the work she would carry out later during the war.

Growing Up Social by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane. Great advice for parenting in this age where children are more time interacting with a screen and less time playing outside, reading a book or with their parents. This book had great tips and guidelines for bonding with our children and promoting their emotional and social development.

Balance That Works When Life Doesn't by Susie Larson. This was by far one of my favorite books of the year! Susie writes about adjusting to the ebb and flow of life and finding a sense of balance in each season of life. With our second baby arriving this year, Balance That Works When Life Doesn't was the perfect book for me to read.

Mom, You're Incredible by Linda Weber. An amazing, encouraging book for moms. In a world that de-values motherhood, this book was a great encouragement and reminder of how very important the call of motherhood really is to our children, our husbands and especially to God.

Treasure Principles by Randy Alcorn. A bold and convicting read that encourages radical generosity and godly stewardship of our assets.

Everybody Matters by Gary Thomas. This book explores the connection between physical and spiritual health and how we can be our best to serve and love others.

My Reads for 2016

Alone in Marriage by Susie Larson. Another great one by Susie Larson! I am currently half way through this and it has been a great guide for godly marriage and unpacking the "baggage" of the past.

You (Only Faster) by Greg McMillan. The only running book on my list?! Greg McMillan is one of my favorite running coaches and I look forward to studying his book. Hopefully this will help me out for the Fargo Marathon in May!

Educating the Wholehearted Child by Sally Clarkson and Clay Clarkson. Our oldest is getting closer and closer to school-age and I am doing my research. This book is a solid homeschool resource with a commonsense, disciple-based biblical approach. Another one I can't wait to read.

The Uncommon Woman by Susie Larson. More Susie Larson, of course :)

Shepherding A Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp. This is one of those books that I started... and still need to finish. It offers such valuable insight for godly parenting and I know I need all of the wisdom I can get.

That's it for me!

What are you reading currently?
What's on your "To-Read" list?

Linking up with the Special Edition Five-Minute Friday and Mommy Moments.

2015 Running Year Review

At the end of another year it's beneficial to look back and fun to reminisce of your favorite memories. To see what went well, what didn't, and what to look forward to. 

Runner and blogger, RunEatSnap, had a great idea to share a review of her 2015 running and I am going to follow in suit.

SO much has happened in our 2015, with the biggest event of all being the arrival of our second baby boy in May! I didn't run a ton of races - only 2 half marathons and 1 5k - or pack on a bunch of mileage this year but I do have some great running memories and "new mom of 2" experiences to share with you.

Best Race Experience

The Wild Hog Half Marathon in September was definitely my best race experience. That race was my main training focus for the last half of the year (after Baby W was born) and the run itself went really well. A PR wasn't realistic and I set my mind on running sub-1:40. I sprinted the homestretch of the race and made my goal time with only 2 seconds to spare!

But, what makes that the BEST race experience of the year was that my family was there to watch - including my husband! This was his first time watching me race and it meant a lot to me.

Best Run

My best run of the year was on the Wild Hog race day, for sure! I felt totally exhausted on the starting line after a night with two cranky kids and I wasn't sure if I could even cover 13.1 miles. Somehow my legs kept plugging away and I was able to maintain a sub-8:00/mile pace. At 4 months postpartum, that was a "best" for me.

Best New Piece of Running Gear

Part of my "early Christmas present" was my favorite running gear for the year. I found these Scott T2 Palani's on Amazon for $52.00. Can't beat that!

Most Inspirational Runner

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to interview some very inspirational runners in the Runner Spotlight and Professional Fit Mom Series! People who keep their priorities in line and don't make excuses inspire me.

Favorite Picture from a 2015 Run or Race

My favorite race picture was taken with my boys after running a last-minute local half marathon. E ran his own little race on the sidewalk afterwards.

Race Experience I Would Love to Repeat

I don't have a ton of races to choose from this year, so again I will go for the Wild Hog. The experience of having my husband, our kids and my mom all cheering me on was awesome.

If I were to do it all again, I would hang around the post-race environment for a while longer. Cheering on the other runners and watching them is something I really enjoy. As long as the kids are content, I want to stick around and cheer more at my next race.

This Year in Three Words

DOUBLE - STROLLER - STRENGTH. The running stroller is a mom's best friend. Getting both of the kids happily loaded into the stroller - books, goldfish, pacifier, blankies, sippy cup and all - takes a lot of strength! Running with a double isn't as physically hard as I thought it would be :) Getting the boys in there... that's another story. It's all in the timing.

Best 2015 Running Advice Received

"Take it one day at a time". That advice was given in regard to adjusting to life as a mom of two and it also applies to running. God has equipped me with exactly what I need for where I'm at right now. Planning ahead is wise but living too far in the future brings on a ton of stress.

My kids are almost 3 years old and 7 months old. I don't need to be stressing about their highschool graduation right now. Just as in the first few weeks of marathon training, I don't need to freak out about running a 20-miler! Plan for the future, fully enjoy where I'm at now, and trust that the Lord will strengthen me for whatever lies ahead. 

Looking Forward To Most in 2016

The last time I ran the Fargo (full) Marathon was in 2011. It was my second official marathon and ended up being my first Boston Qualifying time! Five years, a wedding day, and two kids later, I am really excited to return to the Fargo full marathon in 2016.

What is one of your highlights of 2016? (Running-related or not)

Linking up with Jill Conyers' Fitness and Mommy Moments.

Professional Fit Mom Series: Elizabeth

Merry Christmas to you!

Christmas baking is in progress, handmade presents and art supplies are spread all over the kitchen table, cards are arriving in the mail, and our snow (and cold weather) has finally made it here. Basically, our house looks like Christmas-y chaos but it also means my favorite time of the year is here!

This week, I am introducing you to one awesome mama for the Professional Fit Mom series. She is such an encouragement to me and I know you will be encouraged by her, too!

Meet Elizabeth. 

She is a busy mom of two, personal trainer, TRX intructor and blogger at Fit Life with E. Let's jump into her interview...


Who or what inspired you to be a coach/trainer?

That's a good question! I've always been interested in fitness since I started playing competitive volleyball in high school. In college and I started my first professional work position, I started to get into running and other fitness classes like kickboxing, TRX, Zumba, spinning and yoga. After having my first daughter, I really wanted to be home more so I looked into transitioning into the health and wellness field. Personal training and instructing seemed like a natural fit because I really enjoyed working out, but also seeing people feel better about themselves. I also really love learning more about sustainable food and how to fuel your body so adding in discussions of nutrition seemed like a natural add-on for my clients.

How long have you been a coach/trainer?

18 months

What type of coaching/training do you do?

Personal training and TRX instructor

What certification did it require to coach/train?

Months and months of studying to take the ACSM Certified Personal Trainer exam to become a personal trainer. One day TRX certification to be a TRX instructor.

How many clients do you work with?

It varies. Sometimes I'm only working with a few, but other times I'm interfacing with 30 different people each month. It depends on which programs I'm immersed in during that time.

How do you balance motherhood and coaching/training?

Some days I don't! Ha. Lately, I've tried to remove the word balance from my every day usage (even though it's in my blog tagline). Now, I try to think of my balance in regard to this season in my life. With two little girls (2 years old and 4 months old) that I stay home with, I know that I had to scale back the amount of time that I was training. I could put them both in childcare, but I didn't want to so I scaled back how much I was committed to. In 3 months, I might find that I have more time to train clients online or in-person. For now, I strategically commit to new things or kindly say no. I don't feel bad about saying no anymore because I know that that means that I'm saying yes to my family.

What is your main goal when working with clients?

When working with clients, whether in-person or online, I truly want them to feel and look better. Everyone has different goals, but weight loss is typically a goal of most of my clients. When they think of looking better, they would like to see it happen as fast as possible. If you train the healthy way, you will typically see a slow and steady change if you're committed to sticking to strategic goals that we create together. I love seeing the lightbulb moment when one of my clients truly feels like they not only control their nutrition but their motivation is directly linked to internal happiness which in turn helps them stay on track with their external vision of themselves.

Where do you train clients?

1-on-1 personal trainer and TRX instructor (in-person at a studio), 1-on-1 personal training and 6 week bootcamps (online)

Where would you like to see your practice in the future?

I'm not sure! I love helping people find their sweet spot when it comes to their weight and well-being. At this time, I'm enjoying the younger years with my girls and I'll see where it takes me in a few years.

Balancing Family Life:

How many kids do you have?

2 girls :)

What is your favorite workout?

I have TOO many favorites! I really enjoy playing volleyball, doing TRX or a quick and sweaty HIIT session at-home.

When do you fit in your time to exercise?

Usually in the morning before my kids wake up is my best bet because it can't be pushed out by something else.

What advice do you have for other moms who are considering becoming a coach/trainer? (like me!)

Do what you love but be wary of doing what you love as a job. I love fitness, but sometimes I feel less focused on my own wellness journey because I'm focusing on all of my clients' goals and aspirations. Helping them achieve a better mind and body is such a joy for me, but I do have to remember that I need to take care of myself too. So my best suggestion is to try it out for yourself. Shadow someone, but also ask people in the profession you're choosing what their favorite and least favorite things of their occupation are.

Elizabeth Burns
ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
TRX Group Instructor

*New LIFESTYLE Bootcamp coming January 2016!*


Thank you, Elizabeth, for taking the time to interview and for sharing your passion for your family and fitness with us! 

Linking up with Jill Conyers and the #fitfam.

Having It All Together| Five-Minute Friday

This week we get to choose our own free-write word for Five-Minute Friday. I know. Mind. Blown.

My word of choice is: "Together"

What's a "free write"? No editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write!

00:00 START the timer!

"They sure have it all together."

Isn't that one of the biggest lies of our lives?

Pictures on social media, the people we see at the grocery store and even those lovely Christmas cards sometimes send me the message that everyone has "it" all together. Except me.

That is one thing I am concerned about when it comes to writing on the blog, posting on social media or even small-talk after church.

Am I portraying the lie that I have it all together? The pictures of our kids on Facebook are all smiles. Little did you know, a meltdown may have occurred 5 minutes before. Sometimes even this 5-minute post takes me... 10 minutes!

And our Christmas card? Of course, I only include the fun things that happened this year. Not the family squabbles or any of our worries.

The truth is, NO ONE has it all together! As long as we are here on earth, we will have troubles. Jesus said so (John 16:33)

It makes me feel less alone when I remember that I'm not the only one who feels like a failure somedays and then can go to the other extreme of being prideful the next.

Ah, what a battle this life is but we aren't fighting it alone.

Thanks be to God who delivers me from the mess I am. He is my hope and my help. With God and the body of believers, we are never struggling alone.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! ROMANS 7:24-25

05:00 STOP the timer!

***Bible verse added after the timer***

My Instagrammin' Favorites

Hey there! So I'm a bit late to join up with Jill and the #fitfam crew this week but, as the saying goes, better late than never.

The little ones and I went out this morning to enjoy the fresh snow brought in by today's winter storm warning. I guess 4-6" of snow is on the way.

As long as our power stays on, bring on the snow!

Today we're talking Instagram. Even earlier in 2015, I will admit I was skeptical of Instagram. Who needs a never-ending stream of pictures when you have Facebook?

I'm not a huge social media junkie because, well, I have a "dumb phone" (read: not a smartphone). GASP! People still have those weird flip phone things? Yes, I do. It has been a blessing but possibly a curse for my husband. I borrow his smartphone when I share photos on Instagram.

Anywhooo. Instagram has grown on me and I will say it is easily my favorite form of social media. Social media can be annoying and distracting but it has been a great tool for growing my blog and connecting with others in the blogosphere.

Here are a few of my favorite encouraging Instagrammers:





You can find me on Instagram as @creativeaim87! Feel free to "follow" me if you can handle numerous pictures of running, outdoorsy things and cute kiddos :)

A photo posted by Amy Will (@creativeaim87) on

Are you a fan of Instagram?
Who are your favorite Instagrammers?

Linking up with Jill Conyers and the #fitfam and Fitness Friday.

The Best is Yet to Come | Five-Minute Friday

We woke up to beautiful light blanket of snow this morning!

E prayed for snow last night (because we have had hardly any this year!) and here it is. He was so excited when he first looked out the window!

Today's Five-Minute Friday free-write word is "Reflect".

What's a "free write"? No editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write!

00:00 START the timer!

Writing out the address over and over again can be a monotonous job but it gives me time to reflect on the year.

I look at our family and all of the changes God has brought our way. As cards come in the mail, I see how our family and friends are all growing and changing so much. How do kids grow so fast?!

Here's a little secret: I'm one of "those" people who leave their Christmas cards up year 'round!

Taking time to reflect allows us to see all of God's blessing and provision. 

Hindsight really is 20/20. So much time is wasted on worrying and yet God always comes through - just not always in the way we think He will.

As we reflect on our past year and give praise to the God who keeps this earth spinning, let me leave you with 1 Corinthians 13:12.

There will come a day when we will see our Lord face to face.

As He knows and fully understands us, we will fully and understand the Lord our God.

The best is yet to come.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 CORINTHIANS 13:12

05:00 STOP the timer!

***Bible verse added after the timer***

Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals for 2016

2015, where have you gone?! This wild, exciting year is coming to an end.... and that means it's time to set some goals for the new year!

Our Christmas tree and the Christmas music on the radio are my reminders that, yes, it is in fact December. Yet the weather outside is far from frightful and our Christmas is definitely not white. Even in the northern parts of the States, we have hardly any snow.

Today it's a bright and sunny 40°F! It's crazy. We have had very few days in the single digit temps! I'm not complaining one bit.

My S.M.A.R.T. Goals for 2016

So, goals. I like goals! The key to setting yourself up for goal-reaching success is to make them "SMART":  Specific - Measurable - Achievable - Results-focused - Time-bound.

I don't think all of our goals need to be SMART goals necessarily, but following the SMART guideline is helpful in making my goals better defined and more focused.

Here are my focus points for this new year:

1. Ask God More Questions

And spend more time listening for His answers! I have gotten better about praying before acting but at times I still lack the patience to wait on God's answer.

I have been praying about pursuing the RRCA coaching certification program but God has closed the door on that twice now but has opened new, unexpected doors. Whether it's life commitments, schooling our kids or even making our weekend plans, He cares about every single detail of our lives! As God closes one door, I know that He will guide me down a path that is better fitted for me.

GOAL: Keep a "prayer log" of questions I am asking God and write down what He reveals to me in His time.

2. Successfully Train for the Marathon... And Like It

Training for the Fargo Marathon starts along with the start of the new year! I want to train well and push myself yet keep it fun. Most importantly, I want to stay healthy and injury free. Being sick or hobbling around would make wrangling my boys much more difficult!

GOAL: Run 4 to 5 days a week with 2 strength training sessions. Be flexible with the plan and take extra rest days as needed. 

3. Regular Date Nights

Seriously this time!. This was a resolution for 2015 and it just didn't happen... We did get away for one overnight together before Baby W was born but since then we have been terrible about date nights. Having a little-little one did complicate things but W is much easier to leave with a sitter now that he is 6 months old.

GOAL: Plan a date night at least twice a month. The date can be an at-home date when kids are sleeping, though actually getting out of the house is bonus points. 

4. Say "Yes" Only to God's Best

This is another goal returning from 2015! Our goal as a family is to set clear boundaries to protect our time together. Busyness is so easy to get sucked in to and it can steal valuable family time as well as distract from your main priorities. I want to say "Yes!" to what God is calling me to and "No." to even the "good things" that serve as a distraction to my purpose.

GOAL: Pray about decisions and talk with my husband before giving my "Yes" to anything. Allow for evening commitments (away from family) two nights a week at the max. 

5. Further Develop My Freelance Design Business

This was one of the doors God led me to this year. I ended up doing more freelance graphic design (Creative Aim Design) work than usual and it was great! I wasn't sure how balancing home duties and the boys would work with it all but the time worked out, I gave them my best work and deadlines were met.

GOAL: Start/finish my freelance design page on the blog! Take on new jobs as time allows.

6. Keep Up the Piano

Playing with the worship team over the past year has been good for me. Though my practice time seems to happen in 5-minute bouts here and there throughout the day, forcing myself to play in front of others regularly has helped me to get over some of my "performance anxiety".

GOAL: Learn 5 songs from my solo book over the course of 2016.

A video posted by Amy Will (@creativeaim87) on

Do goals motivate or frustrate you? 
What is one goal you have for 2016?

Linking up with Jessica and Jill at the Fit Dish. #thefitdish

What a Season | Five-Minute Friday

Thanksgiving flew by and now we're back to "normal" life. I hope you had a blessed time with family and/or friends. We had a great time with our families and, wow, does the time fly when you're having fun!

For today's Five-Minute Friday, our free-write word is "Season".

What's a "free write"? No editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write!

00:00 START the timer!

Last night toddler was in the bathtub, baby in his walker, and I was sitting on the toddler stool in our bathroom, just staring off into the sink faucet. My mind felt blurry and all I could think was...

What a season.

Today I found E coloring at the kitchen table. That was fine. Problem was he was pants-less. I made a new impromptu rule in the house: "To sit at the kitchen table you must at least have underwear on."

What a season.

On our morning walk, we had a major melt down. For the last stretch up to our house, I carried a diaper bag in one arm and a trike in the other while "wearing" the baby in the Moby wrap. Toddler trailed behind in tears having a meltdown because he wants his daddy... and chicken nuggets... and milk... and he definitely doesn't want his bike... but he doesn't want to walk either.

Ah yes, what a season!

This season of littles is beautiful. It's like a beautiful tornado. The house is usually a wreck. I look like a wreck. If our socks match, we're lucky. I'm exhausted by 8:00 pm yet I wonder what on earth I accomplished during the day.

This season.

It's a messy one but my heart is so full. These kids are already growing up too fast.

Some day in the far off future, my babies will leave the house and I'm going to miss this messy, exhausted season.
Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from Him. PSALM 127:3 NLT

05:00 STOP the timer!

***Bible verse added after the timer***

Studio Fun International's ASPCA Rescue Readers Review

I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product.

The winter weather has been good to us (so far)!

My boys and I have been able to get outside for quite a few walks lately. Taking the dog for a walk - or run - around the neighborhood is one of our favorite activities any time of the year.

We love our pup. He is a part of our family!

When we are trying to keep busy indoors, E insists that we read the ASPCA kids: Rescue Readers book series over and over again. He's not just a dog lover; E loves animals in general.

As a Moms Meet blogger, I received this book series to review and share with you. Studio Fun International has partnered with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA®) to create the educational ASPCA kids: Rescue Readers book series. These stories are cute, easy to read and funny plus they teach your child the importance of caring for, protecting, and loving animals.

What's the best part about this book series? For every book sold, 4–5 percent of the purchase price goes directly to the ASPCA to help continue it’s mission!

The ASPCA kids: Rescue Reader series features the rescue stories of four different animals: McKinley and Picasso the dogs, Daisy the Cat and Nibbles the Guinea Pig.

Each story is inspired by a real-life animal rescue story from the pet’s point of view and includes facts and photographs of the actual pet that inspired the story.

The Rescue Readers series creates a fun and educational hands-on experience written at a Level 2 reading level for early readers.

The books were short enough to keep my 2.5-year-old's attention but long enough to carry a story line. They will be a perfect resource for us as he learns to read on his own in the future.

Reading together is our favorite indoor activity. It's even better when we can read about pets and know that we are helping the ASPCA's mission by reading this series.

As a bonus, the books in this series have been very durable. Baby W, who is 6 months old, has been attempting to eat the books as we read them and they have been able to withstand the baby slobber!

This series is available in paperback, library binding hardcovers, and e-books. The paperback books are priced at $3.99 (each) or $15.96 (for all four) everywhere books are sold.

Guess what?!

 Studio Fun International also sent me a two book set of ASPCA kids: Rescue Readers to raffle off to my readers. That's YOU!

Enter the giveaway below to win. These books would be the perfect stocking stuffer for the special little person in your life!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Linking up with Jessica and Jill at the Fit Dish and with Erica and Smitha at the Wednesday Giveaway link-up. #thefitdish ##WinAllThePrizes

Lovely is Your Dwelling Place | Five-Minute Friday

Halfway through November and we finally got our snow! Now it officially feels like the holiday season is near.

For today's Five-Minute Friday, our free-write word is "Dwell".

What's a "free write"? No editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write!

00:00 START the timer!
How lovely is Your dwelling place,
Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
PSALM 84:1-2
I love these verses.

How lovely is Your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!

For much of my life I wasn't "dwelling" with the Lord. Until I surrendered my life to the Lord almost 5 years ago, I was just a dweller in the tents of the wicked (v. 10).

I can confidently say that even a "bad day" walking with the Lord is better than the best day of living without Him. 

Without the Lord, the weight of the world is on our shoulders and we are left drowning in its weight. Where we will spend eternity is uncertain. In this crumbling world, there is no hope without Him.

When we dwell with the Lord, He gives us a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light (Matthew 11:28-30). He is rest for our souls! He gives us hope no matter what terrible things happen here on earth and He is our eternal security. He is our loving Father and our Guide through life.
Better is one day in Your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
PSALM 84:10
Living in faith isn't always easy for me. My faith sometimes feels as high as a mountain top and, other times, I'm discouraged and struggling in a valley.

The biggest difference in my life now, dwelling with the Lord, is that I have unshakable hope. Whether I am on the mountain top or down in the valley, the Lord is there. He will never leave me. He strengthens me to persevere through the valleys of life and rejoices with me on the mountain top highs. I'm not alone anymore.

There is no place I would rather be.

Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere...

05:00 STOP the timer!

***Bible verses added after the timer***

MealEnders #FitHolidays Review and GIVEAWAY!

Disclosure: I received this product for free through my affiliation with Fit Approach as a Sweat Pink Ambassador in exchange for a blog review. I received no other compensation and opinions are 100% my own.

Ah, the holidays are almost here! 

Thanksgiving and Christmas are my two favorite holidays. Time with family, extra time thanking the Lord for all of His goodness, beautiful snowy weather, and, oh, the food.

SO much delicious food!

About that delicious food... It is extra hard to keep from over-indulging when you are surrounded by tasty meals, desserts and snacks for days on end (#firstworldproblems). I'm all about sweets but it's the "in moderation" that can be a challenge during the family get-togethers.

As a Sweat Pink Ambassador, I was introduced to MealEnders last week and these tiny treats are the perfect tool to end excessive post-meal snacking.

MealEnders are a 15-calorie "signaling lozenge" made up of a sweet outer reward layer and a cool, tingling center. The outer layer provides a measured dose of "dessert" which is typically associated with the end of a meal. The cool center clears the palate, cuing the end of eating and training your mind to to recognize when it's time to stop.

The MealEnders lozenges are a healthy and safe tool to prevent overeating. Each lozenge contains NO drugs, NO added stimulants, NO herbs or NO artificial sweeteners.

Plus, they come in four different tasty flavors that are bound to fit the taste of each person in your family: chocolate mint, mocha, cinnamon and citrus.

Only 15 calories and 2 grams of sugar?! You can't beat that!

Cinnamon was my all-time favorite flavor, with chocolate mint being a close second. Even my husband liked them! He was skeptical at first, but the citrus flavor won him over.

MealEnders signaling lozenges were a "win" in my book. I did find that they were effective in stopping my snacking after meals!

Enter my giveaway to win 4 bags of MealEnders for yourself! That's one in each flavor, so you can try them all.

Also, use the discount code "FitHolidays20" for 20% off your order!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
U.S. only. One prize per person. If you win this giveaway, and have already won another prize from MealEnders through another blog, please disclose that you have already won so we can choose another winner.

Linking up with Jessica and Jill at the Fit Dish and with Erica and Smitha at the Wednesday Giveaway link-up. #thefitdish ##WinAllThePrizes

Runner Spotlight: Auralee

Hello, Monday! For this week's Runner Spotlight interview, we are hearing from a runner from my part of the country. You know, the cold part?!
The Runner Spotlight came to be because I love to meet new people and, of course, talk running. Twice a month, a new runner will be featured on the Runner Spotlight. Through these interviews, we will meet and learn from runners of all distances, paces and food preferences.
Meet Auralee. She is a wife, mom of two little boys and a passionate long distance runner. Her ability to balance family life and long distance training (plus running super fast) has been a great encouragement to me!

Marathon training isn't for the faint of heart and, well, neither is motherhood. Being a mom of little ones and training for a marathon at the same time may sound like madness to some - but it's doable. And there is a rare breed that actually ENJOYS it!

Let's hear from Auralee and how she gets it all done.

All About Running:

When did you start running? What spurred your interest?

I’ve been a runner for as long as I can remember, but my reason for running has changed as I’ve changed. I started running when I was six because I discovered that I could outrun every kid in my class (even the boys!). I started to take my running seriously when I was fourteen because I joined track and found out that I wasn’t the fastest anymore. Now as an adult and a mother of two, I’m still running–but not because of who I can outrun or who can outrun me, but because running offers me a form of strength and introspection that I can’t find anywhere else.

When did you run your first race? What were your thoughts before/after?

I ran my first race when I fourteen in the two mile for track. In the beginning of the race I took off with the much older and experienced runners without realizing that I wouldn't be able to maintain their pace. I faded in the second mile, but still continued to run as fast as I could. I learned an important lesson that I think we all sometimes forget - you don't win the race in the first few laps, it's at the finish. As I ran more races, I learned to stay relaxed and conserve as much energy until the closing mile or lap if I wanted to run strong.

What is your favorite distance to race?

I enjoy running the marathon when my training has gone well and I'm having one of those rare days when my legs feel fresh and ready for a hard run. The euphoria of crossing the finish and achieving a goal time is a moment I love experiencing.

Do you work with a coach or are you self-coached?

I'm not coached by anyone, but I follow training plans from other runners and coaches such as Jack Daniel's Training Formula.

What weekly mileage do you run during training on average?

Between 50 - 80 miles

What do you think is the most important aspect of training for a long-distance race?

I think every runner responds differently to training and what works best for them. I don't have lots of time to run several 20 + mile long runs. I will run one in the training, but that is all. Instead of focusing on the long run, I like to get two or one quality runs done a week at tempo or marathon pace. Usually these workouts don't exceed 16 miles. Along with quality runs, I think gradually increasing your mileage so you peak and taper at the correct time plays a key role in how you feel on race day.

What are your PRs?

Half marathon - 1:26, Marathon - 3:09

What has been your favorite race experience? Tell us a little about it!

My favorite race experience was when I ran faster than my goal time of 3:15 in the marathon this year. The previous year I spent months training for another marathon and ended up with a time I was very disappointed in considering all the time and effort I put into preparing for the event. I was looking for some redemption in running another marathon because I knew I hadn't ran to my full potential. I ran a much smarter race by running an even pace with the 3:15 pacer and then running a huge negative split for the second half. I felt amazing the last 10k when normally I'm hurting and slowing down. This race I ran in between 6:50 - 6:35 min miles and cruised to the finish strong.

What is your favorite post-race treat? Food, drink, or other!

I usually don't eat much junk food during my training and off season, but I do enjoy eating a serving of Moose Tracks ice cream.

Personal/Family Life Balance:

How many kids do you have? How old are they?

2 ages 6 years and 2 years

Is your family interested in running as well?

My parents never ran or had much interest in my sport, but they did provide for my endless supplies of running shoes and other clothing I would need to run. My siblings don't run much either, although they do share an interest in my running when I complete a race and how my experience went.

How do you balance family time, daily responsibilities and training?

Running helps me be a better parent, spouse, and friend. I am willing to take time out of my day for this important activity and make it a top priority. Sometimes I have to be creative and flexible when figuring out how to do my run, but it will almost always happen. I will run even if I'm running on empty after a sleepless night with a baby. I choose to run even though the dishes and laundry are overflowing. I run when it's below zero outside and my lungs feel like the inside of a freezer.

To anyone that doesn’t run I probably sound like a loony. Why put up with all that? My answer brings to mind what the ultramarathon runner Dean Karnazes wrote:
“People think I’m crazy to put myself through such torture, though I would argue otherwise. Somewhere along the line we seem to have confused comfort with happiness . . . There is a magic in misery. Just ask any runner.”
I’ve dealt with my share of injuries, doubts and defeats; I don’t consider myself a naturally gifted runner–I have to work hard at it–and I have those days when I’m tempted to leave my running shoes unlaced. But then I remind myself that there is magic in misery. I imagine myself running–my shoes crunching against the snow, my legs gaining strength with each step, my breaths measured and deep. I know that if I don’t run, I am, as Karnazes has also said, denying myself an extraordinary trip. That is all I need to know. My shoes are on and I’m out the door, another stride into my running journey, and it feels like magic.

When do you fit running/training into your day?

I typically run in the morning after my oldest child leaves for school. I usually push my 2 year old in a stroller for base pace miles near my home. On days when I want to do speed work I go to a gym where they have daycare for my child. Then I run laps on a 200 meter indoor track or hop on a treadmill.

What advice would you give to new runners and/or running parents trying to balance running and family life?

Runners invest their heart and soul into training. They sacrifice sleep, suffer painful workouts, and spend countless hours day in and day out in uncomfortable weather conditions. These challenges are worth it when they achieve a new PR. But when that doesn't happen it's easy to become bitter and not want to run again.

I think runners need to realize they can't run a PR every race even if they've prepared as best as they could. Unexpected illness, injury, side aches, muscle cramps, and other obstacles can occur outside of their control. It's normal to feel upset and disappointed, but don't let it defeat and derail you from getting back up trying again. Use failure to become a better athlete; implement different strategies to guide your training and never accept that you can't do it.

Recognize that there will come a time when your body won't physically be capable of running a new PR. When this happens still strive to be the best version of yourself on the race course and in life. Put forth the same work ethic into achieving goals even when it will not be reflected by finishing times. Be proud of yourself when you know you did your best and that you will always get back up again even if you fail.

Thank you for taking the time to share your running experience and life balance insight, Auralee! 

Linking up with Jessica and Jill at the Fit Dish. #thefitdish

Rest for the Weary | Five-Minute Friday

Good morning! It's Five-Minute Friday and our free-write topic is "Weary".

What's a "free write"? No editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write!

00:00 START the timer!

Every day the world is yelling, "DO more! BE more! You're NOT enough!". Satan has orchestrated this culture to find its value in busyness. The Enemy wants our schedules packed, our minds swimming and our household in a constant state of hurry.

There are (too many) times when I say "yes" to a few too many commitments or when I fall for the lie that I need to do more than "just" raise my boys and take care of my family.

My most common mistake is to jump in to a design project or other commitment before I ask the Lord about it. He has given me clear guidance that I am "mom" full-time and designer (or whatever else) after that. (My habit of jumping ahead of the Lord always gets me in a pickle!)

The busy, always-hurried, margin-less life leaves me a big ole pile of weary.

This quote from Susie Larson perfectly defines my experience as "just" a mom:

"Often, because of our society's mixed-up values, young moms are made to feel incidental. In other words, there are countless messages telling them that it is not enough to put their time into raising their children.

Because we live in a society that constantly measures value by what is achieved or produced, many young moms feel the pressure to be involved in far too many things. I was once one of those young, overcommitted moms; now I am older and deeply burdened for moms who are distracted, depleted and completely exhausted."
Susie Larson in "Balance That Works When Life Doesn't" (emphasis added)

Weariness steals our focus from the One who restores our peace.
Weariness distracts us from the little blessings sprinkled throughout every day life.
Weariness makes it so much easier to lose perspective and fall into sin.

Some seasons of life are more weary than others, but there is hope for rest, even in the weariest of life season!

JESUS is our hope. 

He promises rest for our souls when we go to Him. He will teach us and give us only what He knows we can carry. The world can't understand Jesus' ways or the ways of His children (John 14:16-17) but that's okay because HE understands us!

When we live a life surrendered to and focused on Jesus, He is our hope, our rest, our peace, and, best of all, our salvation.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” MATTHEW 11:28-30

05:00 STOP the timer!

***Bible verse and quote added after the timer***

My #HolidaySweat Goals

Happy Monday and Day 2 of the #HolidaySweat Challenge!

What's that sweaty challenge all about? The #HolidaySweat Challenge involves tracking your minutes of exercise and your fruit and veggie intake each day by logging them at

Set goals, stay motivated and encourage others throughout the holiday season!

TODAY'S PROMPT: What's your minutes goal this week? How will you get there?!

My #HolidaySweat GOAL(s)

Each week, I am shooting for at least 250 minutes of exercise plus 5-7 servings of fruits and veggies. Fitting in the fruits and veggie servings is more difficult for me than the exercise. Yes, I'm a "freggies" slacker. This challenge will be good for me AND my family!


Fitting in exercise with my two little ones at home sometimes feels like a juggling act but making the time to exercise is worth it! I do my best to stay flexible with my schedule, get creative with the strength training and manage my time wisely. So much of my days are weather- and child-dependent!

My usual week of exercise in non-marathon-training mode looks something like this:

Monday: 30-45 minute easy run with the stroller
Tuesday: 30-34 minute hill or speed intervals on treadmill
Wednesday: 20 minutes strength training
Thursday: 30-45 minute tempo run on treadmill or with stroller
Friday: 20 minutes strength training
Saturday: 60-minute "long run"
Sunday: Rest

My focus is to enjoy the workouts and rest/stretch MORE. Marathon training starts in January and I want to avoid burn out by pushing too hard now!

As for the fruit and veggie goal, I will be extra motivated to sneak fruit and/or veggies into EVERY meal and snack. I love spinach and it is easy to throw in almost any meal.

Join the #holidaysweat challenge by logging your minutes/freggies and sharing the daily prompts! Here are the prompts for this week:

Use these prompts to get you going each day! Share your response anywhere and everywhere: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, your blog... at home!

Monday, November 9: What's your minutes goal this week? How will you get there?! #pranastyle @prana #holidaysweat @runtothefinish @fitapproach #sweatpink

Tuesday, November 10: Show us your sweaty style! What's your favorite workout outfit or gear? #pranastyle @prana #holidaysweat @runtothefinish @fitapproach #sweatpink

Wednesday, November 11: Show us how you take your workout outside when it's cold (or even snowing!) #pranastyle @prana #holidaysweat @runtothefinish @fitapproach #sweatpink

Thursday, November 12: Squats? Pushups? Planks? What's your favorite strengthening move? #pranastyle @prana #holidaysweat @runtothefinish @fitapproach #sweatpink

Friday, November 13: FREE FRIDAY! Show us what you're up to today... sweating, eating, cooking, you name it! #pranastyle @prana #holidaysweat @runtothefinish @fitapproach #sweatpink
Are you participating in the #HolidaySweat Challenge?
What are your fitness goals for this winter?

Linking up with Jessica and Jill on the Fit Dish. #thefitdish

Our First Dance | Five-Minute Friday

Welcome to Five-Minute Friday's free-write! Today's topic is "Dance".

What's a "free write"? No editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write!

00:00 START the timer!

Flash back 3.5 years ago...

We spent the day surrounded by friends and family. Dressed in our finest clothes. Slightly damp and chilled from a cool and rainy day in May.

After the exchange of our wedding vows and a bunch of wedding pictures, we excitedly made our way to the reception.

We visited with family and friends who traveled from near and far to be with us on our special day.

We ate meatballs, drank coffee and inhaled that amazingly delicious raspberry-filled white cake.

It was time for our first dance.

The song was "Crazy Like You" by Josh Grider (not particularly romantic, but true for us!)
"I say everybody's crazy so what you gonna to do
You need to find somebody crazy like you
Someone you can fuss and fight with
And when you make up then you can love all night with
Someone who shares your particular point of view
Oh they bound to be crazy, just make sure they're crazy like you"
Fast forward 3.5 years...

The house is a mess but it is filled with love.

Toddler is awake and making his requests known to the world.

Baby brother is sleeping in with daddy.

I haven't slept a full night in 5 months and it shows.

Harvest is complete and the first snowflakes fell yesterday.

Our love has changed since our first dance, but for the better. We are two oh-so-imperfect people. We definitely have our marital squabbles. Yet our love is growing deeper through each year and each trial we face as a team.

Who knows what the next few years have in store for us? 

Well, God knows and I trust Him.

His plans for us are good. I thank God for my wonderful husband and the sweet boys He has blessed us with. Life has its trials but this life is better than I could ever have dreamed up.

I look to the future with a joyful anticipation of what the Lord has in store our family!
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. JEREMIAH 29:11

05:00 STOP the timer!

Disclaimer: This one took longer than 5 minutes. I had written an entirely different post and it just didn't feel right. So... I deleted everything and wrote this :) 

***Bible verse and lyrics added after the timer***

Runner Spotlight: Tina Muir

I hope your November is off to a marvelous start! For today's Runner Spotlight interview, we are talking with elite runner Tina Muir!
The Runner Spotlight came to be because I love to meet new people and, of course, talk running. Twice a month, a new runner will be featured on the Runner Spotlight. Through these interviews, we will meet and learn from runners of all distances, paces and food preferences.
Without further ado, meet Tina Muir.

She is an elite runner sponsored by Saucony. Tina shares her insight into life as an elite runner on her blog, Fuel Your Future with Tina Muir, and is community manager at Runners Connect.

Interviewing Tina was so much fun because, despite being ridiculously fast, she is very down-to-earth. Being a middle-of-the-pack runner myself, the elite runners seem to be off in their own (much faster) world yet Tina is a great spokeswoman for elites being "real" people, too. They deal with the ups and downs of running and the battle of finding balance in daily life as well.

Let's jump into the interview!

All About Running:

When did you start running? What spurred your interest?

I started running at age 14. Before that I ran cross country practice, but wasn’t particularly good at it, and definitely did not enjoy it. I even hid in the bathrooms for the trials for the team. I honestly can’t remember a moment where I realized I liked it, all I remember is ending up on the team, and then being focused on beating the best girl on the cross country team as she really didn't try very hard and partied all the time, so that became my goal. I guess when she became a realistic target, it ignited my competitiveness, then I realized I kind of liked it!

When did you run your first race? What were your thoughts before/after?

I can’t remember a specific race, but I remember the first time I passed the best girl on the team, and it was the greatest feeling knowing that she was much more talented than I was, but I out worked her :) I remember being elated, and then deciding it was time to give it a real try by joining a club (in England almost all running is done through clubs).

What is your favorite distance to race?

Can you ask me again in 2 weeks? I am hoping I will say the half marathon, as that has been the race I have done the best at so far, but one day I hope to be able to say the marathon, as in my heart I know this is the race for me, but so far I have not run to my potential in it….mind you, not sure marathons are ever really meant to be enjoyable during :)

Do you work with a coach or are you self-coached?

I am coached by my husband Steve, somehow it works and it means he knows me better than I know myself, so he knows exactly what workout I need to get ready based on how I am feeling (or acting).

Tina and her hubby/coach, Steve

What weekly mileage do you run during training on average?

Around 80 miles per week

What do you think is the most important aspect of training for a long-distance race?

Getting enough rest/recovery :)

What are your PRs?

16:08 5k, 33:24 10k, 55:19 10 mile, 1:14 half, 2:41 marathon

What has been your favorite race experience? Tell us a little about it!

The London marathon this year was the greatest race experience I could have ever imagined….Okay, it wasn't quite….if Steve would have been there, that would have been the greatest I could have imagined :) But from start to finish it was amazing; I warmed up with my idol Paula Radcliffe, my friends and family lined the course and hearing them cheering my name after so many years out of the country was such a high, running through the famous landmarks I had grown to love, and running the race I had always dreamed of doing, oh, and I felt great! I kicked down 91 people in the last 5 miles and just loved every second of the race!

What is your favorite post-race treat?

I LOVE sweets. Anything sweet! I cannot possibly chose a favorite, but after every race I will indulge in whatever dessert is calling my name….in addition to usually a burger or pancakes…depending on the time of day :)

Breaking the tape at the 2015 Army Ten-Miler in 55:19

Personal/Family Life Balance:

Are your family/friends interested in running as well?

Somewhat. Most of my family and friends are not interested in it on its own, but they are interested in my running, if that makes sense? However, my parents love watching track, and get more excited than I do about the world championships!

How do you balance family/friend time, daily responsibilities and training?

I am very passionate and committed to staying in touch with those I love and care about the most, and at the end of the day, they will come before anything, even my running. I love making people feel good about themselves and letting them know how much they contribute to this world. I love hearing their accomplishments, and seeing them do well in whatever they commit themselves to, that inspires me. As for balance, I definitely burn the candle at both ends sometimes, especially when I go home, but part of me thinks I am addicted to the thrill of being busy all the time, so I have no one to blame but myself. Steve is very good at keeping my feet on the ground and reminding me to relax, something I struggle with!

When do you fit running/training into your day?

I get up at 5am to start working and eat breakfast, and then go for my run around 9am. I almost always do two sets of exercise, other than workout days, so after my run, I will come home, eat, and do work while I rest my body. I then go for my cross training bout later that day before dinner. If I have a strength training workout, that usually follows the run, but I make sure the rest of the day I am off my feet. On workout days, that takes 2-3 hours of the morning away, but then I know I have the rest of the day to work.

What advice would you give to new runners?

Firstly, you ARE a runner if you are out there doing it. You do not have to look a certain way, or run a certain speed. At the end of the day, we are all out there facing those same demons together, but you have to believe in who YOU are, your own strengths, and learn to love running for your own reasons.

Secondly, I would say that rest and recovery is the most important part of running, make sure you take some days to run so slowly you feel like you are barely moving, those are the days your body needs to recover from those tougher days.

Finally I would say there are going to be ups and downs, but trust that the more struggles you overcome, the better it is going to feel if you persevere. It is ALWAYS worth it :)

Thank you, Tina, for taking the time to talk! Congratulations on your Army Ten-Miler win and best of luck in your future races!

Check out Fuel Your Future with Tina Muir for more insight into Tina's life as an elite runner!

Linking up with Jessica and Jill at the Fit Dish link-up. #thefitdish

I Want Bacon | Five-Minute Friday

I vote today as the most unique Five-Minute Friday topic ever.

Our topic today: BACON. It's a bit odd, slightly quirky but who doesn't love bacon?! I enjoy bacon but it did feel strange making a header image of just... bacon.

What's a "free write"? No editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write!

00:00 START the timer!

The interrogation begins the second our sweet little toddler wakes up. "We have pancakes for breakfast?"  No, no pancakes today. Mommy is making bacon and eggs.

Then come the wants.

I want cheese.
I want the flashlight.
I want eggs.
I want milk.
I want bacon, mama.

Some days he gets the "May I please have _____?" down pretty well but not this morning. Maybe by the time he's 3 it will start to sink in...

I don't mind him asking for things. We love our kids and want to give them good things! But, whew, it gets draining when everything that comes out of the child's mouth is want, need, gimme. I feel like a human vending machine.

I wonder if I sound like that to God. He loves His children dearly and wants to give us good things. He is even pleased to give us the kingdom! That blows my mind.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom." LUKE 12:32
God is patient, loving, compassionate, gracious and so full of love for us.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all;
He has compassion on all He has made.
The Lord is near to all who call on Him,
to all who call on Him in truth. PSALM 145:8-9, 18
And His Word tells us to ask and we will receive and to approach His throne boldly. Our prayers are even powerful and effective.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. JAMES 5:16
I can't help but wonder if He gets just an itsy bitsy annoyed with my "I want" prayers. God, bless this. Heal that. Protect us. Give us this. Free me from that. 

My toddler is 2.5 years old. That's his excuse. So what's mine? While I will continue to take all of my cares to the Lord, I want to spend more time praising Him for who He is and focusing on His promises. Sometimes my prayers are so "me-focused".

The more I praise our mighty God and give thanks to Him, the smaller my problems here on earth seem. He is the awesome Father that knows what we need, always provides for us and listens to even my me-focused prayers! Praise Him!
Praise the Lord.
Praise God in His sanctuary;
     praise Him in His mighty heavens.
Praise Him for His acts of power;
    praise Him for His surpassing greatness.
Praise Him with the sounding of the trumpet,
   praise Him with the harp and lyre,
praise Him with timbrel and dancing,
   praise Him with the strings and pipe,
praise Him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise Him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

05:00 STOP the timer!

***Bible verses added after the timer***

12 Ways to Loathe Marathon Training

"Why on earth would you want to run a marathon?!"

That's the big question and my answer is quite simple: "Because I like to run."

Training for and running a marathon is actually enjoyable. Why else would you run a marathon? I can't speak for other marathon runners but as for me, it's fun. There is something about the self-discipline and limit-pushing of the marathon that I love.

So, yes, I said training for a marathon is enjoyable... sometimes. Looking back over my previous marathons, I compiled a list of things that have caused me to loathe - or strongly dislike - long-distance running.

If you are looking to run a marathon or are currently training for one, this is a list of things you SHOULD NOT do. Many of these laughable "no-no's" are from my personal experience and some I have heard through the grapevine.

Enjoy :)

12 Ways to Loathe Marathon Training

  1. Let the training plan rule your life. Instead of choosing a plan that fits your schedule, force your life to fit the training plan. Exhausted after being up with a sick kid all night? You still need to get that 20-miler in bright and early... because the plan says so! No time for spontaneity either... you are the plan's slave.
  2. Skip the rest days. Resting is for mere mortals. Run more, more, more! Recovery... what's that? Just keep pushing your body until you hit the breaking point - which you will eventually.
  3. Run fast all the time. Don't let your neighbors catch you running at an easy-effort pace. Why not just make every day a speed day?! 
  4. Overthink every long run. Dread it all week and then barely sleep the night before because you're so stressed out over a simple run. Now that's fun!
  5. Make no time for stretching and strength training. As Americans, flaunting "busyness" is like a status symbol. Of course you don't have time to stretch or strength train! Don't worry - when you are injured and unable to run, you will have plenty of time to fit it in then.
  6. Forget the Vaseline or body glide for the long runs. That first shower after long, heavily-chafed run is enough to make a grown man cry. If you really want to dislike training, skip that Vaseline or body glide. Chafing? 'Tis a mere flesh wound!
  7. Be driven solely by your weekly mileage total. Ignore the workout goals, just strive to hit high mileage regardless of what your body says about it. The week's mileage goal was 50 miles and you ended up with 49.50 miles? FAIL. 
  8. Don't adapt training for your current life season. I mean, how much can two small children possibly change your life? (... that sentence is dripping in sarcasm)
  9. Let a bad run ruin your entire day. Because somehow the quality of your run defines your value as a person. 
  10. Run through any injury or illness. No time for rest and recovery! Keep pushing those miles. Why toe the starting line healthy yet slightly under-trained? Get those miles in and be a sick, limping zombie on race day. You're that hardcore. 
  11. Constantly compare to other runners. Instead of just being your unique self, push to run X miles per week at X pace because a fellow runner does. Be constantly discontent with your build because you don't look like a "real runner" (whatever that is!). 
  12. Make running the focus of your life. If you get injured or can't run for some other reason, your world will come crashing down. Only a life rooted in the Lord will keep you from being thrown around in life's waves. Running is a wonderful gift but that's all it is - a gift. Don't let it become your "god". 
What is one of your biggest training mistakes?

Linking up with Jessica and Jill at the Fit Dish. #thefitdish

Steadfast Joy | Five-Minute Friday

Whew. It's finally Friday. It really is! Let's jump into another Five-Minute Friday!

What's a "free write"? No editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write!

00:00 START the timer!

I believe in God's providence, there are no "coincidences" or "by chances" in my life.

When I ready today's Five-Minute Friday word, "Joy", I laughed out loud. This week I have been struggling in the joy department. I will call it my joy "desert" with joy being the palm-tree encircled oasis that I just can't find.

As God's children, knowing Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and having the hope of eternal life gives us joy and that joy is unshakeable!

What's wrong with me then?! Lately I have felt hopeless, absolutely exhausted and totally defeated. Far from joyful.

Joy is NOT the same as happiness. Joy is NOT dependent on our circumstances or our feelings. Kay Warren shares her definition of joy in her book, “Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’t Enough.”
"Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation."
When I finally laid down for the night, toddler in bed and baby boy laying on me, I wanted to cry. I wasn't even sure why. I just felt completely overwhelmed.

As I laid there, I made a list of "joy-suckers" that rob us of joy in this life:
  • Busyness
  • Fatigue
  • Comparing to others
  • Ungratefulness
  • Guilt
  • Lack of grace for yourself (or others)
  • People-pleasing
  • Worry
  • Stress
  • Physical, mental and emotional exhaustion
  • Negative thought life

I looked back through my journal and found the verse God had given me in my morning devotional time that day. Psalm 51:10-12... Specifically verse 12 spoke to me. Oh, how my joy needed to be restored.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. 

The Holy Spirit has brought up the word "steadfast" in many Scriptures through the past couple weeks; verse 10 being one of them. To be "steadfast" means firm in belief, determination, or adherence (thanks, merriam-webster).

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 

I want to live with steadfast joy; with my focus firmly fixed on the Lord and my joy unshakable regardless of my circumstances.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from Your presence
or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
PSALM 51:10-12

Praise the Lord for the grace He gives to His children.

Praise Him for the unfailing love He has for us.

In spite of my joylessness this past week and the many times I have failed Him in this life, I have hope that God will restore that joy to me. He is true to all of His promises and I know He will renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Time and time again, God forgives my mistakes, He picks me up, brushes me off and gives me the strength to press on.

Oh, the Lord is so good to us as we seek after Him!

Heavenly Father, thank You for the strength to have steadfast joy! You are my hope. I have joy in knowing that Your compassions are new every morning. Thank You, Lord, for Your faithfulness! Amen.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for Him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him,
to the one who seeks Him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

05:00 STOP the timer!

***Bible verses and quote added after the timer***