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My definition of “Hard Things”:

  • It must cause you to make a decision you may never have made before.
  • It must move you outside a comfort zone, a rut or a routine.
  • It must cause your heart to flutter or better yet, race.
  • It must make you learn something new about yourself.

Some examples of “Hard Things”:

  • Getting a new job in a different field (or city or country) because it’s your passion and you’ve put it off long enough.
  • Taking a trip by yourself to a place you’ve never been but always wanted to go (may involve going through customs or a foreign language).
  • Adopting a healthier lifestyle and all the food choices, or workout commitments, which that entails.
  • Changing your “look” because, seriously, high school was like, 30 years ago.
  • Engaging someone new in a conversation about them (not you) and by conversation, I mean, they talk and you listen.
  • Volunteering somewhere you are not comfortable (cleaning pens at the animal shelter, building houses for Habitat for Humanity, serving meals to the homeless, teaching children Bible stories, changing dirty diapers in the church nursery, etc.).
  • Stretching your physical abilities until you have new physical abilities.

Please feel free to add more examples in the comments section.

One “hard thing” I try to do periodically (and sorry, it never gets easier) – I play detective on myself. I ask myself questions like: Why do I choose “easy” when accomplishing something “hard” gives me such a rush? Why haven’t I learned a new skill or taken up a new hobby lately? Why do I sit back and allow others to experience inspiring adventures? Why do I get defensive when someone suggests a new perspective?

Therefore, my summer will be filled with “hard things” – saying “no” to sweet treats and beautiful carbs…hiking up and down hills until I’m sweaty and out of breath (and then doing it again)…carving out time to sit and listen to others (without giving advice or inserting my own story)…writing this blog (even when I don’t feel like it).

For some of you, my “hard things” may seem smooth and simple. And your “hard things” may appear effortless for me. I don’t have any problem speaking in front of groups of people, but others find it heartstoppingly difficult. I love learning stuff about technology – others would just as soon throw their computer against the wall.

The important thing is to make the decision and then follow through. And let’s encourage each other. If you’re attempting to accomplish something difficult, let’s hear about it. Either put it in the comments section of this blog, or on my Facebook post. Use the hashtag #DoHardThings and together we can all cheer you on.

BTW – there is a pretty good book entitled “Do Hard Things” written by a couple of homeschool kids a few years ago about teenagers rebelling against low expectations. I liked it. You may also.

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I love food. I especially love fruit and vegetables. Since I changed my diet pretty dramatically about 3 years ago, I’ve eaten a quart-size ziploc bag of raw veggies at almost every weekday lunch. And I eat an apple every afternoon at 3. My favorites are crisp, sweet and juicy…mushy apples are horrible. When I get a mushy or dry apple, I feel as though my day is ending on a bad note.

I found an article on the internet giving the Top 10 Reasons to  Eat More Fruit & Vegetables:

10.  Fruit and vegetables add color, texture and appeal to your plate.

9.  Fruit & veggies are nutritious in any form – fresh, frozen, canned, dried & 100% juice.

8.  They provide fiber that helps fill you up and keeps your gut happy.

7.  Fruit & veggies are naturally low in calories.

6.  Eating plenty of this good stuff may help reduce the risk of some diseases (like heart disease, high blood pressure & some cancers).

5.  Fruit & vegetables are rich in vitamins & minerals (another plus on the staying healthy bandwagon).

4.  There are an infinite variety of both fruit & vegetables…always something new to try.

3.  They are nature’s treat – easy to grab for a snack any time of the day or night.

2.  In their raw form, those fruit & veggies are fun to eat! Some crunch and some squirt. Some you peel and some you don’t.

And the number one reason to eat more fruit and vegetables?

They are nutritious and delicious!

By the way, on Sunday I’m giving the kids’ sermon again and this time we’re going to talk about the fruit of the Spirit. According to Paul, who wrote a short letter to a church in Galatia, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Paul says this fruit is produced naturally because we are living according to the way the Holy Spirit wants us to live. Just as a fruit tree doesn’t have to struggle to produce its fruit, so we shouldn’t have to strain to produce the fruit of the Spirit…it’s just a natural by-product of godly, Spirit-led decisions. And when you produce good fruit like the list above, then people will notice. They will see the fruit in your life and want to be like you or at the very least, find out why you are the way you are! So, if you belong to the family of God, your fruit will be evident, and as appealing to others as a piece of delicious fruit is to me! Don’t be a mushy apple!

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Staying healthy and fit is a lot easier than it used to be. When I was younger the options for where to run for exercise were running on the road and…ok, that was it…running on the road. Nowadays there are all types of trails – paved, crushed rock, wood chips – in varying widths and lengths – plus treadmills with all sorts of bells and whistles. You can basically hook yourself up and get a full medical breakdown while you listen to tunes or watch an episode of Dr. Phil. They even have treadmills at our local public library so I can read and walk without getting hit by a car or tripping off the curb. Yes – I’ve done that. No – not read and walk…just trip off the curb.

But now I’m the clueless owner of a smartphone and I have the power of genius literally at my fingertips. Want to train for a 5K? There’s an app for that! Want to find out how many steps you’ve taken in a day or get a reminder to drink more water? There’s an app for that too!  I even have an app for daily workout routines with videos and countdowns so I can follow along. I love this techie stuff!

There are few great apps for getting spiritually fit too. I just downloaded a prayer app to help me remember to pray for specific requests or post my own request for others to pray.  I know my busy life needs reminders now and again.

Now I can watch church services on my phone, Kindle or computer any time, day or night. There’s an app for that! It’s called Sermon.net and it allows a listener, free of charge, to access an archive of sermons, teachings and live broadcasts.

There are even apps for motivation and encouragement.

But, my very favorite app allows me to read the Word, in just about any version, right from my phone. YouVersion is a free Bible app that I have downloaded to my phone and my Kindle. There are no ads (which is unusual for free apps) and has tons of features like Bible reading plans, devotionals, and even suggestions for sermon topics. You can highlight verses and then virtually share with your friends, via Twitter, Facebook or email. You can create notes or bookmark a passage for later study. You can read it or have it read to you. KJV, NIV, NASB plus hundreds of other versions…in English, French, Spanish or Abau, Batak Karo, Chorti, or Gofa. (In case you’re wondering, those are 4 of the hundreds of languages available).

Commercial over. BTW – all the apps I’ve mentioned are free and available through the iTunes app store. Okay – commercial is really over now.

Closing thought: we have no more excuses. No more reasons to say we can’t pray, can’t read the Bible, can’t get healthy. The tools are available – we just have to pick one up and use it.

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Recently I’ve been focusing on getting physically fit and healthy. I’m not getting any younger and if it’s within my own choosing, I want to be healthy for my children’s adulthood and potential grandchildren.

My iPhone has opened doors to be fit with apps which allow me to measure my steps and my workouts. It even gives me cardio training suggestions. I have a goal to actually run a 5K this summer so I have an app that gives me a training plan. It even talks to me through the whole thing. Genius.

But with all my energy on getting my physical body in shape, I’ve let my spiritual man become a couch potato. Relaxing in the successes of the past doesn’t keep those spiritual muscles in shape so when a crisis hits, I’ll be huffing and puffing to keep up or worse yet, fail to even try and allow the enemy to steal my joy, my relationships and my strength.

So for the next few blogs I’m going to outline a few exercises you can do to get spiritually fit and healthy. And just like all fitness motivators will tell you – it won’t be easy but you’ve got to push through the pain to get the victory. Unlike your physical body, which will eventually give out no matter how healthy you are, your spirit stays with you forever.

My focus is not on gaining additional favor with God, to somehow look better in His eyes. He will not love me less because of my perceived failures. He adores me! And you too! You are choosing to get spiritually strong for your own self…because you’ll be able to step into the destiny God has for you with confidence.

Take a few minutes right now to open God’s Word and get a spiritual lift from reading a Psalm or two. The Holy Spirit is your personal trainer in this journey you’re on – use Him to teach, train and guide you to be a strong and healthy believer! Read Isaiah 41 and be encouraged.

Isaiah 41:9-10 – “I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’: I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Today’s motivation: Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.

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