Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Giveaway :)

Every health guru needs a great blender. Everything from blending protein smoothies, crushing Kashi GoLean or FiberOne cereal to make your own bread crumbs substitute, chopping veggies, or creaming chickpeas to make your own hummus starts with this one kitchen appliance.

In fact, of all of the appliances in my kitchen, I probably use my blender the most. Recently, I've found one that I really enjoy because of the multiple speeds it includes. Not only does it work as a traditional blender, but it doubles as a food processor. I enjoy it so much that thanks to my friends at CSN Stores, I'm going to kick off 2010 by giving one away! So get ready for your chance to have one arrive in your mailbox!

You can view details of the Hamilton Beach 10-Speed blender by clicking here.

Everyone who makes a purchase from in the month of December will be automatically entered in the drawing for the free blender. So if you haven't already ordered something, you have a full week to do so!! I will announce the winner on my blog and on my twitter site ( on January 1, 2010.

It doesn't matter how much your order whether you purchase a $20 box of protein bars or a $250 home fitness system, you are in the drawing! Head to Michelle's Store to get started!

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and GOD BLESS YOU!

Also, take a moment to browse all of the CSN Store Websites with the links below. They have awesome stuff at fantastic prices!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oven-Baked Ranch Chicken

I am always looking for healthy recipes that are "man-approved." After some experimenting in the kitchen, I've developed a recipe that I think is going to become one of our family favorites. So far, the winning sides are homemade roasted potato wedges and a garden salad. Enjoy!


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup of Kashi GoLEAN cereal, crushed into bread crumbs
1 package Ranch dressing mix
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
4 oz. fat free cream cheese


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. Use non-fat cooking spray to coat a non-stick pan OR I highly recommend a Pampered Chef baking stone....really helps the flavor soak in!
3. Mix cream cheese, sour cream, and Ranch dressing mix packet together in a bowl.
4. Place aluminum foil on counter and spread out bread crumbs evenly.
4. Use a spoon to coat the chicken breasts with the Ranch/cheese mixture, then dip both sides of the chicken breast into the cereal mix.
7. Bake for 35-40 minutes, and let it cool for 2 minutes.

Monday, December 21, 2009

2010 Reading Resolution

According to research done by George Barna, most churchgoing adults:

- Reject the accuracy of the Bible....yet "knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God(B) as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:20-21).

- Reject the existence of Satan....but "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

- Claim that Jesus sinned...however, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin" (Hebrews 4:15).

- See no need to evangelize....but that doesn't make much sense because Jesus said, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).

- Believe that good works are one of the keys to God's forgiveness of their sins...yet "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away" (Isaiah 64:6).

- Describe their commitment to Christ as moderate....but we are warned "So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:16).

Other disturbing findings that document an overall lack of knowledge among churchgoing Christians include the following:

• The most widely known Bible verse among adult and teen believers is “God helps those who help themselves”—which is not actually in the Bible and actually conflicts with the basic message of Scripture.
• Less than one out of every ten believers possess a biblical worldview as the basis for his or her decision-making or behavior.
• When given thirteen basic teachings from the Bible, only 1% of adult believers firmly embraced all thirteen as being biblical perspectives.

The only way to fix the problem of a world that seems to be Biblically illiterate is by reading the Bible...which is why I've committed to reading the Bible all the way through during the year 2010. If you are a female follower of my blog, I'd love for you to join my Ladies iBRAG (Bible Reading Accountability Group on Facebook. Click here to request to join.

Use the discussion board to post questions. I will do my best not only to answer questions, but to post my thoughts as I am reading. I am encouraging each person who joins the group to do the same.

If you've ever tried to read the Bible straight from Genesis - Revelation, you know it can be exhausting....That's why I've selected a plan where each day includes a passage from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. It should take you about 15 minutes a day to complete.

I can't imagine a better goal for 2010 than to spend each day meditating in His Word, seeking to understand the fullness of God.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Homemade Protein Bars

If you're like me, you're pretty picky about protein bars. There are few things more frustrating then heading to the store to discover the only kind of bar you like is out of stock....or reaching into your pantry to discover your husband ate the last one, and the only place you can order your bars is online. With my strenuous training schedule, protein bars are critical to my diet plan because they not only help fuel my workouts, but they help me make sure I am consuming enough calories so my workouts only burn carbohydrates and fat -- not muscle (protein).

Yesterday, I played around in my kitchen with ingredients I had, attempting to make my own protein bars. I was extremely pleased with the result. Sure, it's convenient to purchase protein bars rather than make them myself, but these are worth the trouble! Enjoy!


1/2 cups oats
2 cups Kashi GoLean cereal
1/2 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
3 egg whites
2 mashed bananas
1 tablespoon honey
4 tablespoons nonfat milk


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat an 8x8 pan with non-stick spray.

2. Mix the oats, cereal, protein powder and cinnamon. Add peanut butter and stir until well combined. (Sometimes, heating the peanut butter briefly will help it mix better.) Add egg whites, bananas, honey and milk.

3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before cutting into 8 bars.

Nutritional Analysis: One bar equals: 180 calories, 3.5g fat, 27g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, and 17g protein.

I'm still in the experimental phase with these, but I'm thinking so far that it will work best to store them in the freezer and move one bar to the refrigerator to eat that day. I will keep you posted if my method changes!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A CHRISTmas Reminder: Love

A Christmas Adaptation of 1 Corinthians 13

by Sharon Jaynes

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny glass balls but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens. Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way. Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure.

*Thanks to Teri Rodgers for passing this along!*

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Choosing Rejection

I am rejected on almost a daily basis. I make it my personal mission to get at least one person off the treadmill and into my class when I teach at the gym. However, this doesn't come without some rolled eyes, rude comments and being obviously ignored.

But it really doesn't bother me. The people who reject me...I don't know what's going on in their life or what their day has been like. What I do know is that I am certified in great formats that promise a better workout than they could do themselves and that the people in my classes would make awesome workout buddies. When they don't come to my class, I don't really focus on their rejection of me. It's not personal. They don't know me. I just regret that they are cheating themselves.

I've developed a similar philosophy with sharing the Gospel. I memorized Luke 10:16 at a young age, so I've always known that when I share the opportunity of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and it is rejected, they are not rejecting me, but rejecting God. Yet, I really got a peace in my heart with this issue while reading Acts 18.

Paul was testifying that Jesus was the Son of God in the synagogue at Corinth when the Jews opposed Him and became abusive. Paul "shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, 'Your blood me on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on, I will go to the Gentiles.' Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshipper of God. Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized" (Acts 18:6-7).

Paul didn't waste time arguing with them. He didn't take a long walk to blow off steam and gather his composure. He simply shared what the Lord had laid on his heart in the synagogue. When the Jews rejected him, he simply walked next door and shared with someone else.

While I seem to have a grasp on this type of rejection, there is another rejection that I don't handle as well. It's the rejection of those that are closest to me - whether blood family or friends that are as close as family - that type of rejection crushes my soul. It tears me up so much that almost daily, I pray for peace in my close relationships.

God has blessed me with an incredible support system on this earth, so I haven't had to experience this type of rejection much, but each time it has happened, it rips me apart. The situations vary, but the issue remains the same. Their actions communicate that they value something else more than their relationship with me.

First of all, let me say that I don't expect to be the first priority in anyone's life. God should always come first, and immediate family comes next. I am second priority only to my husband. For everyone else in my life, I fall third or after in their list of priorities. That's not hard for me to deal with. That simply lets me know that their values are in order.

When it gets tough is when the actions of someone I love deeply convey they value me somewhere after having highlighted hair or that can make time for me as long as it is convenient for them. I know for a fact they would never list their priorities this way, but actions prove stronger than words every time. Gandhi was right when he said, "Actions express priorities."

The last time I experienced this, I was praying for someone who had rejected me. Deeply wounded in my heart, I came before the Lord in tears, just praying for the words to say. Wanting the God of comfort, I cried out for His understanding.

I got what I prayed for, but it wasn't what I expected. I wanted His understanding in my personal situation. I wanted empathy for the person who had hurt me, but what I got went way beyond that.

God simply said, "Michelle, the piercing that you feel in your heart right now, that gut-wrenching pain of the rejection of someone that you love so much and feel like you would do anything for...that's just a piece of what you've done to Me."

The rejection I felt was numbed by the guilt of knowing that my Father's words were true. He created a beautiful world for me to live in. He knit me together in my mother's womb and gave me a purpose. And He sent His only Son to die for me.

Yet sometimes, I watch TV in place of having personal time with Him. I save my prayer time until the very end of the day when I am exhausted, and I fall asleep halfway through my first sentence. Or I take time to pray to Him, telling Him everthing I desire, but I immediately move on to the next activity, not leaving time to listen for His reponse.

Now, my personal rejection seemed insignificant in comparison to Jesus' sacrifice. He was cruicified by the very ones He came to save. His closest friends couldn't even stay awake to pray for Him on the hardest day of His life. One of his disciples who had been with him since the beginning of his ministry was willing to betray him for just 30 pieces of silver.

As I child, my pastor frequently reminded us, "If you want to know what your priorities are, check your calendar and check your checkbook." Of course, I would never say out loud that watching 24 or The Office is more important to me than reading God's Word, but sometimes, that's what my actions convey to my God. I would never list working out as more important to me than my relationship with Christ, but in a given month, I wonder what my bank statement shows.

This series of events sparked a conversation between my husband and me about our financial and scheduling decisions. James and I are not financially well off by any stretch of the means. With both of us juggling careers, ministry and the last year of our master's degrees, time is scarce too. And the decisions we make on how to spend our money and our time probably will never make sense to nonbelievers.

But it gets even tougher than that. There are only two categories of people when it comes to God - those who are His children and those who are not. God's Word tells us that the gate that leads to eternal life is narrow, and few will find it (Matthew 7:14). A few verses later, He gives an analogy that a good tree cannot produce bad fruit, meaning the way we live our lives is evidence of our relationship with Jesus (Matthew 7:16-20).

In the church, though, we don't talk about that much. We don't dwell on the truth of God's words in Revelation 3:15-16: "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

When someone makes a decision to be radically sold out for Jesus Christ, it comes with incredible blessings. Gifts from God trump anything that we could ever recieve from anyone else. But identifying yourself with Him also comes with division (Luke 12:51). Chooisng to follow Christ will not only draw lines between those who are hot and others who are cold, but it will stir up conflicted values and priorities among those who are hot and those who are lukewarm.

I am no longer praying for peace. I am praying that God will kindle a fire in my life and in the lives of my family and friends for Him. We are imperfect people, and it is only in drawing near to the Father and allowing Him to move through us that our hearts will be aligned with His.

I realize that the chance that everyone I am close to having similar convictions is slim to none. But I am praying that I will be strong enough to withstand the rejection when it comes and that I will become more in line with Christ with each day that passes.

Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 4 have challenged me while God has been teaching me about this lately, so I leave you with this passage, hoping His Word speaks to you as it has encouraged me.

So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written." Then you will not take pride in one man over against another. For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings—and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you! For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.

I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Vashti: Called to Step Down?

The book of Esther introduces us to one woman before we meet the star of the story. Meet Vashti, the queen of Persia. We meet her in the midst of celebration. While King Ahauserus was having a party for the men in the kingdom, Vashti was hosting her own banquet for the women.

Ahauserus called to Vashti to come and dance for his crowd because he wanted to show off her beauty (Esther 1:11). However, Vashti refused. With one act, Vashti had not only broken the law of the land by disobeying the king, but she had defied the rule of the home by being defiant to her husband.

The king and his men gathered to discuss what her punishment should be. Quickly, the fear among them became that all women would follow the example of Vashti and begin going against their husbands. It appears all of Persia was affected by the example of the queen. The men made a quick decision to banish Vashti from her throne and seek another queen. Because of one decision the king did not like, Vashti’s royal position was up for grabs.

I'll admit. Whenever I've read Esther before, I've rushed through this part of the story. After all, the good part starts when my girl Esther comes on the scene. But this time...I've really had a hard time getting past Vashti. I've been asking myself one question over and over again.

Was Vashti wrong?

Maybe. She might have been wrong. Selfishly, she may have been having fun with her friends and just wanted to stay at her own party. But what if that wasn't her motive? What if her response was out of respect for herself and the created purpose of a woman?

After all, the king had requested that she come dance in front of him and all of his guests. Hear me out first. While I agree that wives are called to submit to their husbands, I also know that Vashti was a human being, created in God’s image. I don’t think complying to her husband’s demands to dance in front of him and his drunk friends (who would have nothing in their hearts for her but lust) sounds like the submission described in Scripture. Her courage to protect her dignity and purity would be admirable in this case.

On this earth, we may never know the motive behind Vashti’s actions. Scripture doesn't reveal her motive. However, from knowing the whole story of Esther, we can be sure of one thing. God didn’t need Vashti in place to save His people. He needed a Jew so He made arrangements to bring Esther into power.

But what about Vashti? She was banished into exhile in a world whee news of the deliverance of the Jews may have taken years to reach her...or may have never reached her at all. She couldn't check Esther's Facebook status update: "Just saved the Jewish nation. Guess God needed me to be queen for a reason!"

I wonder how Vashti must have felt. IF (and I stress the word IF)she did refuse the king's wishes out of spiritual conviction, how do you think it felt to be removed from your position of influence for doing the right thing? Was she bitter? Did she resent God, think He was unfair and reufse to trust Him again? Or did she know in her heart that God's plan was best, thank Him for the king choosing to banish her instead of kill her and praise Him from exhile?

I guess it's always been easier for me to relate to Esther because I've always prayed for God to use me like he used Esther. Since I read this story in elementary school, I've prayed for courage to step up. I've prayed for a position of influence so I could make a difference for him. Sure, Esther had to take risks, and she took some pretty hard knocks in life (death of both of her parents, being raised by her older cousin, etc.), but wouldn't the satisfaction of your obedience to God's plan for your life and the perks of being queen compensate for that?

Vashti's life has helped me recognize that God might not always call us to step up. Sometimes, He may call us to step down. God choosing to use someone else doesn't neccessarily mean that we did anything wrong. It just means that He knows what we cannot know. And even though it's definitely harder to accept stepping down, shouldn't we praise Him just the same for revealing Himself to a lost world...even if He uses someone else to do it?

As I have been wrestling with this, Steve Furtick, a pastor in North Carolina, eluded to this same idea with a Twitter post just last week. It simply said, "Motive check: What if God does everything you ask Him to do in your city, but He does it through someone else's ministry?" (Follow him by clicking here.)

This doesn't mean we shouldn't desire to be used like Esther. But it does mean that if instead, God calls us to step down like Vashti, we should praise him and trust Him just the same.

My prayers are different now. Instead of requesting favor, I'm asking for wisdom to trust Him in decision making. I don't want to doubt his response to my prayers. Sometimes, I will like His answer, but at other times, I'm sure I will not understand His choice. I want to fully grasp with my words and my actions that His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts, just as Isaiah 55:8-9 teaches.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Work from Home? Check Out this Site!

Recently, I found a great website that I wanted to pass on to you - a website dedicated to helping women and moms fulfill their dreams of working at home and/or becoming self employed, while providing inspiration, motivation and support. Here’s how it all got started… Meet the Work at Home Woman.

The moment Holly Hanna became a mom, she knew she wouldn't be able to return to her full-time job. Motivated to find a way to make some extra money from home, she started asking past employers and friends if there was any work that I could do for them while caring for my daughter at home. Her networking efforts paid off. In December 2007, she started working from home by completing marketing research, establishing joint ventures and working as a social network liaison for a small publishing company that a friend was working for.

During this time, Holly learned a lot of valuable marketing skills and became very familiar with the work at home market. Motivated to become self employed and to help other women and mothers do the same, she decided to create this website and share my research and knowledge with other women who had the desire to work from home. The Work at Home Woman strives to be YOUR number one business resource & blog for legitimate work at home jobs, opportunities, ideas and support.

You can check out my latest article I wrote for this website by clicking the title - "Tips on Working from Home without Tipping the Scales."


Saturday, October 31, 2009

ESTHER: The Power of God's Presence

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting thoughts from one of my favorite books of the Bible as I re-read Esther. Hope you'll keep checking back to see what God is teaching me.

I remember when I first began reading the Bible on my own in elementary school. The book of Esther stood out to me as one of the first books I wanted to read because it is one of the only books of the Bible that bears a woman’s name in the title. It quickly became one of my favorite books.

In high school, I got very excited when my youth pastor’s wife decided to do a Bible study for the girls in Esther. During the first week, she was setting up the story. Suddenly, out of her mouth, I heard, “God’s name is never mentioned in the book.”

Puzzled, I looked at her like she must have made a mistake. Thumbing through my Bible, I began skimming chapters. I didn’t want to prove her wrong, but I knew she had gotten that wrong. I had read the book at least ten times, and I knew I would find His name within seconds.

But she was right. His name is not mentioned, not even once.

Charles Swindoll may explain this best as he observed, “God’s presence is not as intriguing as His absence. His voice is not as eloquent as His silence…Yet later, we realize how very present He was all along.”

Sure, it’s awesome to read in Scripture about God speaking through a burning bush to Moses, in dreams to Joseph and writing on the wall to Daniel. However, there may not be a book of the Bible that’s easier for us to understand today than God in the book of Esther.

Think about the role of the director of a movie. He controls every scene. From the actors who play each character to the when, where and how each scene is filmed, the director calls the shots. His name is the first to appear before the film starts and mentioned first on the ending credits. While he never appears on the screen, his fingerprints are all over the film.

That’s very similar to how God works in our lives. When we express faith in His Son, we may not be able to physically see Him or audibly speak with Him, but He is always there to direct our steps.

As I was reminded of this truth today, I couldn't help but ask myself the question,
"Does my life reflect the God I serve so much that without mentioning His name, others can feel His presence?" Many times, I know my answer would disappoint me.

So today, I spent some quiet moments in prayer asking God to daily control my life and consume me with the desire to fully trust Him. As I have admitted before, I am a control freak...but the chance that others will see that God is in me and at work in my life is far more important than my initial comfort level.

Notice I say initial comfort level. Because everytime I let go of myself and cling to the Lord, that's when He chooses to use me. I love those moments when I get to praise my Savior for allowing me to be a small part of His story. Nothing makes me feel more alive than being used by Christ.

I am praying for the attitude of Paul: "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20).

Look at the picture posted with this blog. I was blown away by the beauty of this scene. God may not physically be here, but His fingerprints are all over this world. Starting today, I'm going to ask myself a new question each day:

What am I doing to make His presence known?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Beauty By Design - My Interview with Alyssa Avant

Yesterday, I had the honor of being interviewed on the Mom-Daughter Connection Radio Podcast. Alyssa Avant has a fantastic ministry, and yesterday, her topic was anorexia nervosa. Alyssa set up our conversation very well on her blog (, so I'm going to re-post her comments and attach a link to the podcast. I hope you will listen.

For today’s show I interviewed a young lady in ministry, Michelle Myers, who several years ago struggled with a big temptation and sin in her life. Her sin was unlike some that teens struggle with, but all the same it was the area where Satan attacked her life.
She shares her story of dealing with anorexia, bringing her close to death, but ultimately closer to Christ. She now shares her story as a way to share Christ with others. It is an awesome testimony all young girls need to hear.

I want to thank Michelle for being on the show and tell you that you must keep an eye out, as Michelle is writing a book that is a must have. She’ll be back on the show once it is available and we’ll be sure to help you know where to get your copy. Thanks Michelle!

Please listen to the podcast by clicking here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Why I Don't Read the Twilight Series

I love to read. I always have. Usually, when a popular series comes out, I'm curious enough to at least check it out at the library. After all, regardless of whether it's my favorite genre or not, if it's good enough to get national attention, I figure I can at least learn something as a writer.

However, I was extremely skeptical about Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series. Call me crazy, but there didn't really seem anything too appealing to me about reading a teen "romance" novel if you can even call it that, since the guy is a vampire. Working on a master's degree gave me plenty of reading material, so I put reading the teen saga on hold.

Then, it seemed like the Twilight phenomenon exploded in my life. Tons of the women in our church's young adults ministry were reading them. My hairdresser gushed about them. This was expanding way beyond the tween market!

My breaking point happened when one of the guys in the college ministry put up a Facebook status that said, "[His name] is better than Edward Cullen." Girls came out of the woodworks to comment. Most of the responses were outright violent! How dare him EVEN think that he could ever be better than their precious Edward!

"He's a fictional character!" I thought. "Don't these girls understand how ridiculous they sound?"

That was enough to convince me I needed to see what the big fuss was all about.

Just a few chapters in, I realized why every girl who read these books was head over heels in love with Edward Cullen.

He's perfect...if you can overlook that whole vampire thing.

He's tall, dark and handsome. (His skin even sparkles in the sunlight!) He's mysterious. He's always the at the right place at the right time. He's a good guy. He refuses to pressure Bella sexually. In fact, he turns down her advances. And the best part? His one-liners.

"I dream about being with you forever."

"Look after my heart. I've left it with you."

"Do you really have any idea how important you are to me? Any concept at all of how much I love you?"

If you prefer poetic imagery, how about this?

"Before you, Bella, my life was like a moonless night. Very dark, but there were stars - points of light and reason...And then you shot across my sky like a meteor. Suddenly everything was on fire; there was brilliancy, there was beauty. When you were gone, when the meteor had fallen over the horizon, everything went black. Nothing had changed, but my eyes were blinded by the light. I couldn't see the stars anymore. And there was no more reason for anything."

After reading that phrase, I thought, "Come on, James. Why can't you ever say something like that?!"

And that was when I realized I had to put the book down.

I'm not going to go so far to say that all men are wired one way and all woman are wired another way. There may be some women out there who could read this without becoming personally involved in the story. But I know myself, and I know that this book is dangerous territory for me.

Why? Because I am most attracted to sensuality and emotionally-filled words.

For women who think like me, allow me to flip flop the situation for you.

Let's say your husband is like mine, meaning he would choose sexuality over sensuality, and if he had to choose between seeing you and hearing you, he would always prefer to be able to look at you. Knowing this about him, would you say that it's perfectly safe for him to watch pornography? What about a simple sex scene in a movie with a female actress that you know he thinks is extremely attractive?

No way.

My husband and I both made "True Love Waits" commitments in middle school, meaning that we vowed we would not have sex until we were married. For 23 years, I heard women talk about how "sex isn't like they show it on TV." Now that I'm married, I know they're right...and to be honest, it really frustrates me.

Here's the bottom line. It's the media's job is to attract viewers. What better way to ensure that you have a captivated audience than show men exactly what they want to see?

They show the woman engrossed in a one night stand, but they don't show her regret the next day...or the fact that she struggles with trusting people for the rest of her life. They show the female as the pursuer in the bedroom, but they don't show the insecurity she feels inside. I won't go into details here, but they show how sex is picture perfect and passion-filled from the beginning...when in reality, the only way to make sex enjoyable is to have it with one person and learn from one another over time. They show the couple having sex multiple times a day...when let's be honest - if you have jobs and responsibilities, most couples are doing pretty good if they average a couple of times a week.

Because of the way sex is often portrayed in the media, not even including pornography, it sets unclear expectations on women from their spouses. Even for couples who wait like my husband and I did, at the beginning, sex was nothing like he expected. The media had put unclear expectations in his head of what the "ideal sex life" was like.

It makes me angry that the media can fill our heads with these lies. Trust me. Marriage is a blessing, but it takes work. Additional complications are not neccessary! Putting wives on TV who wake up in the morning looking as perfect as they did before they washed their makeup off, who work full-time, start dinner and give their husband "dessert" on a nightly basis is just not realistic!

It's just as unrealistic as expecting my husband to know exactly what to say to take my breath away each time he opens his mouth.

As I've already pointed out, Edward Cullen isn't real. He's a fictional character...and a fictional character CREATED BY A WOMAN at that. Of course he knows to say exactly what every woman wants to hear. A woman wrote the book!

Again, I'm not saying that this should be the rule of thumb for every woman. I'm just suggesting...if you are inclined to think like I am, reverse the situation:

Would you want your husband to subject himself to any material that could possibly put unrealistic expectations in his head of how you were supposed to behave? My answer is no, so that is why I realize that I don't need to read things like this book.

Now, I didn't finish the book, so I can't give a full report of this, but I do want to make a few brief comments on the character of Bella. As soon as she discovers Edward is a vampire, she is so intrigued by his life that she becomes disgusted with her own humanity. Very quickly, Bella becomes willing to throw away her values, family and friends for a guy she barely knows...and what she does know of him is pretty dangerous.

My pointis not that idenitifying with character of Bella could cause a woman to desire to fall in with a vampire. However, especially by means of social media, it's easy for grown men to have access to young girls and lure them away from home...just by saying (or typing) the right words. Idolizing a character who desires to exchange her created purpose for another life, disobeys her parents and devalues herself is just not the role model I would want my daughter to have.

I don't think you are a bad person if you read this book or if you let your daughter read it. These are simply my own personal convictions and precautions. Sure, there's a chance that I could read this entire series, enjoy it and never put unrealistic expectations on my husband.

But my marriage is too valuable to me to take that chance.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pumpkin Pancakes

October seems to be the only month we see pumpkins in the grocery store. Coming from a nutrition perspective, that's really a shame! Pumpkins are a low-calorie vegetable that are rich in potassium and loaded with beta-carotene (a powerful antioxidant). Its natural sweetness brings flavor to baked goods without any added guilt.

Here's one of my favorite recipes that I use year-round for breakfast:

To make the batter, mix:

• 1/4 cup oats
• 1/4 cup egg whites
• 1/4 cup pumpkin
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp cinnamon

(These measurements make one serving at only 130 calories.)

Since it's so low-calorie, you can add a topping depending on your taste preferences...but keep it healthy! I suggest 1 TBSP of chopped walnuts. Yum!

Mix all ingredients together. Pour onto a hot skillet, and treat it like a normal pancake batter. Eat and enjoy!

Additional Tip:

Don't have time to prepare in the morning? No problem! Whip them up the night before and refrigerate. The next morning, pop them in the microwave for 10 seconds and toast in the toaster on a light setting to keep them crisp. (You can also make a week's batch and freeze to keep them fresh!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Thanksgiving Project

My husband and I always look forward to Thanksgiving. Since we're in Texas and our families are in Tennessee, we only see one another two or three times a year. Usually by Thanksgiving, it's been six months since we've seen them, so it's always a fun reunion. Since my dad's parents and sister live about 30 minutes away from James' immediate family, Thanksgiving is unique for us because we get to have both of our immediate families together for at least part of one day. Christmas leaves us driving back and forth between his hometown of Huntingdon in west TN and my hometown of Knoxville in east TN. Thanksgiving gives us as a chance to rest and really enjoy our families.

The only complaint I ever have is just how stuffed I feel as we drive home. In fact, last year as we drove back from Thanksgiving, James and I never really stopped to eat a meal. We were so full from a complete dinner at my aunt's house on Thursday, then another full holiday meal the next day at his grandmother's house. Just yesterday, I recounted this complaint. It's the only thing I dislike about the holiday: feeling uncomfortably stuffed!

God really convicted me of how blessed I am (and have no right to complain) when I discovered across a new organization this morning: Project Nicaragua. Project Nicaragua is the first social project of One Thread Outfitters.

This December, the brains behind the ministry, Mark and Patrick, are kicking things off with a drop to Managua, Nicaragua. They will be traveling with the non-profit organization, Chosen Children Ministries, to deliver food, clothing, and, more importantly, the gospel of Jesus Christ. They will be going to several villages and orphanages in the Managua area, delivering items to men, women, and children in severe need.

Nicaragua is the third poorest country in the Americas, with over 2.3 million of its citizens affected by poverty and a third of whom face extreme poverty. Eighty percent of Nicaragua's roughly 5 million citizens live on less than 2USD a day, meaning a meal a day is not an expectation. That's a staggering statistic.

I was especially convicted when my quiet time this morning included reading Luke 14:12-14:

12 Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

I really admire the heart of these two guys...that they would be willing to extend their resources to those in need. But here's the good news! They are only two guys. They need our help!

Click here to visit the ministry website.

By buying a $15 shirt, you will provide a family of four with 40 meals. You can also simply donate the money if you don't want the t-shirt. All money donated goes to straight to paying for food and clothing for the people of this land and to provide the cost of the trip for Mark and Patrick. (All donations are tax-deductible, and you can email them to request a tax donation reciept.)

Want to be more involved? If you have another fundraising idea, you can email them directly from the website. They are more than willing to help you get started in helping this important cause.

You can also just tell more people about them. You can follow them on Twitter at @projnicaragua and join their Facebook group by clicking here.

Hope you are as excited to get involved as I am. I'm vowing to replace complain about eating too much this year with making sure others have food for their families this Thanksgiving. With a ten hour drive back to Texas, I have a feeling my husband will be thankful for that!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Do You Love Me? Feed My Sheep.

There's nothing quite like the kindness of a stranger. I could share a million stories of incredible things my family and close friends did for me while I was growing up. But whenever I am asked about a special memory from my childhood, there's one story that always comes to mind...and I can't even tell you his name.

We were on a church youth choir trip. My dad was the trip coordinator, so my while family tagged along. I was only five years old. When it was time to eat a meal, my dad always tried to stop at a mall. The food court was not only time efficient, but it gave more options for a variety of diet needs and taste preferences and gave everyone a chance to walk and stretch their legs after several hours on the bus.

As you can imagine, being an active five-year-old, I was done with sitting down by this point. I ate my meal in record speed. Since our table was right outside Bath and Body Works, I asked my mom if I could go in the store and look around. My mom was hesitant, but since she could see inside the store, she agreed.

I walked in and immediately began picking up everything labeled "tester" I could get my hands on. I would simply open it, smell it, and set it back down where I found it. I could only reach the bottom row, so I quickly ran out of new options to smell. Not ready to head back to sit down, I simply wert back to the front of the store and started down the line again.

There was a man working in the store. I noticed he was watching me, but I wasn't hurting anything, so I kept moving down the line: picking the tester up, smelling it and setting it back down. Then, I noticed he was walking towards me.

"Would you like to smell something from one of the other rows?" he asked.

Knowing I wasn't supposed to talk to strangers, I nodded. He began helping me with my pattern. He would pick up something from the rows I couldn't reach, let me smell it and put it back where it went. He continued this pattern until I had successfully smelled every scent the store had to offer.

My mom noticed that I had been gone for quite some time. When she saw the man helping me, she decided it was time to come get me. After all, I wasn't a buying customer. She didn't want him wasting his time.

She reached her hand out to me. "Come on, Michelle. Let's go take a walk down the mall now." She turned to the gentleman. "Thank you."

"Could you hang on just one second?" he asked my mom. "I'll be right back."

Confused, but willing to comply, my mom and I waited as he walked into the employee room in the back of the store. When he walked back toward us, I noticed he had two boxes in his hands. He opened them both to me to reveal two different scented soaps.

"Which one do you like best?" he asked. He held them up while I smelled them both several times. They both smelled good, so I wanted to make the right decision.

Finally, I pointed to the purple-colored soap (that I now know was Lavender Vanilla). "This one," I said, decisively.

"Okay, wait right there," he said. I watched in amazement as he went behind the counter, got one of the store's gift bags and wrapped the soap I picked in tissue paper and tied the package with a bow.

"Here you go," he said, handing me the bag.

I, of course, lit up like a Christmas tree. "Oh, we can't take that," my mom said. "I'm sorry I sent her in here alone. She just wanted to..."

He cut my mom off mid-sentence. "She was so good in here, careful not to spill anything or open a bottle that wasn't labeled as a 'tester.' I'd like for her to have the soap if it's alright with you."

My mom agreed. "What do you say, Michelle?"

"Thank you so much," I told him. "I'll take good care of it," I promised.

He laughed. "Just promise me you'll enjoy it," he said. He waved and moved on to help another customer.

Even then, as a five-year-old, I knew that I had experienced an abnormal act of kindness. When we got home after the trip, my mom started to open the box to put the soap in my bathroom.

"No," I insisted. "I want to keep it in the box."

"Why?" she asked, obviously puzzled.

"Because I want to save a reminder to be kind to others. That man didn't have to give me that soap, but he did."

I don't think my mom knew what to say, but she put the soap back in the box. It stayed on my dresser in my room for the next ten years. Finally, when I was 15 and we were moving across the state, I decided it was time to use the soap. After all, I wasn't sure what six hours in a moving van would do to it.

However, the memory of that day is etched in my mind as if that box were still sitting on my dresser as a daily reminder. I was especially reminded of it today as I read Matthew 25:34-46:

34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

How we treat others reveals our true devotion to Christ. Infact, before Jesus ascended to heaven after dying on the cross, he asked Peter the same question three times. Jesus said, "Peter, do you love me?" After Peter responded, "Yes, LORD, You know all things. You know that I love you," notice Jesus' response. He says phrases like, "Tend my sheep" or "Feed my lambs." (John 21:15-17) In other words, the best way we can show Jesus that we love Him is by caring for others.

Reflect on your own life. When is a time that you have seen Christ reflected in the way they treated you? Thank God for those momemts and pray God will give you opportunities to shine in someone else's life for His glory.

I'm not sure I'll ever see that man who worked in Bath and Body Works again, but the impact his small action had on my life is significant.

Do you love Him? Feed His sheep.

Do you love Him? Tend His lambs.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Volunteer Work that Matters the Most!

Volunteer Work that Matters the Most!

Shared via AddThis

Sometimes, being a writer involces knowing when you can't say it better than the original author. In a world that seems to value the family less with each day, I hope you will be challenged and encouraged by this post by Chalene Johnson (Pictured here with me this past summer at Camp Turbo). Just click on the title of the post, and you will be re-directed to her blog!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Give the gift of HEALTH this year!

Give a gift to a loved one (or to YOURSELF) this year that keeps on giving! Check out my special packages this year to help you and those that you love get physically fit. Prices available by emailing


- One 30-minute Phone Fitness Consultation with Michelle
- eBook of Michelle's Favorite Recipes
- Written plan of Michelle's Favorite Beginner Workout
- You may add a personal training session either at the beginning or end of your workout plan with Michelle for an additional $25 to your purchase package.


- Two 30-minute Phone Fitness Consultations with Michelle
- eBook of Michelle's Favorite Recipes
- 2 Samples of Shakeology (Chocolate or Greenberry Flavor)
- Customized Written Workout Plan by Michelle*
- You may add a personal training session either at the beginning or end of your workout plan with Michelle for an additional $20 to your purchase package.


- Two One-hour Phone Fitness Consultations with Michelle
- eBook of Michelle's Favorite Recipes
- 2 week supply of Shakeology (Either Chocolate or Greenberry Flavor)
- Workout plan (Including 5-8 DVDs, basic nutrition plan)*
- You may add a personal training session either at the beginning or end of your workout plan with Michelle for an additional $15 to your purchase package.


- Three One-hour Phone Fitness Consultations with Michelle
- eBook of Michelle's Favorite Recipes
- 1 month supply of Shakeology (Either Chocolate or Greenberry Flavor)
- 1 deluxe workout plan (Including 12 DVDs, detailed nutrition plan)*
- You may add a personal training session either at the beginning or end of your workout plan with Michelle for an additional $10 to your purchase package.

*Workout selected based on Initial Phone Fitness Consultation

**Packages may be adjusted based on client need. Simply email Michelle at to work out a custom package.**

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Blogs MERGED!

For those of you who have been following both of my blogs, I've decided to make it easier on you...all of my posts will now be in one place! AbSolution4Her has been incorporated into This will now be your one-stop place for encouragement from God's Word, random happenings in my life, as well as fitness and nutrition advice.

Hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Will's and Won't of "I Do"

I wrote this three months before I got married. I thought I would post it to give my engaged friends some tips as they plan their weddings. Not only did these commitments make my engagement period much more enjoyable, but I believe it's helped my first year and a half of married life to be pure bliss. Enjoy!

The flower girl refuses to walk down the aisle. One bridesmaid forgot to get her nails done. The florist is short one centerpiece. Whatever will the bride do? Her perfect day is ruined. At the end of the ceremony, the bride is absolutely ______________.

Hysterical? Devastated? Maybe. But what is she absolutely? Married. Period. No matter what goes wrong, two things are left: the marriage and the pictures. So why have we turned wedding planning into a stressful and lengthy process?

Reality TV glorifies “bridezillas” who throw tantrums, put their families’ lives on hold, and force their parents to spend more money on a 20 minute ceremony than they spent on her college education. This behavior is not only accepted, but it’s expected.

The average cost of an American wedding is $28,800 – not including the rings, honeymoon, or wedding planner. (Why would you spend money on another opinion? Trust me. You will have enough.) Is this an investment? Perhaps. But Dr. Scott Stanley, author of The Power of Commitment, says 40-50% of young couples who marry will divorce.

Many people are shocked by this statistic. As a bride 96 days shy of our (not my) big day, I can clear up the confusion: Too much focus on the wedding. Too little focus on the marriage.

We’re not the only ones to blame, brides. Daily, we’re asked, “How’s the wedding planning?” But when was the last time someone asked about your preparations for marriage? No wonder we spend more time talking about the font for the invitations than offered advice on how to handle finances.

Divorce is not an option for me. Neither is valuing the wedding over the marriage. So here’s my plan:

I won’t spend more time dreaming, obsessing, and planning for the wedding than preparing for the marriage. Do I want a wedding or a marriage? Being married is work, and if I’m not willing to put in the effort, I should throw a big party because that’s all I want anyway.

I won’t try to be the bride AND the groom. If I trust him to take care of me for the rest of my life, he needs practice. He can pick out the ring, plan a honeymoon, and choose his groomsmen. And if his parents are paying for the rehearsal dinner, it’s up to them.

I won’t be a control freak. I picked a venue, set the date, and put it on my calendar. I selected a florist, chose the flowers, and paid the bill. In other words, I will do my part, delegate, and check it off my list.

I won’t repeat other’s mistakes. I hate paying too much money for an ugly dress I will never wear again. I will choose a color from one store that offers and variety of styles and prices. This way, I can let my bridesmaids choose a dress they can afford and feel comfortable in. (Plus, matchy matchy is not even in style anymore!)

I will say thank you and send thank you notes. This is practice for putting someone else above me, which is what marriage is all about. Plus, the more grateful I am, the easier I am to work with, and the more others will be willing to help me. I recognize I can’t plan a wedding alone.

I will seek advice from others. I will schedule pre-marital counseling sessions, ask questions of those who have marriages I respect, and read every book on marriage I can find. (P.S. This won’t end once I get married. I want to keep learning and keep getting better.)

I will expect imperfection. The day of the wedding, something will undoubtedly go wrong. Guaranteed. The only thing I can control is how I will respond. I can cry and make my mascara run, or I can smile, knowing I will laugh about it eventually.

I will eat, rest, and enjoy. Crash diets, lack of sleep, and stress will leave me unhealthy and unhappy. This is supposed to be the happiest day of my life. I can’t be a good wife if I’m sick and worn out. I will eat healthy, exercise, get enough rest and enjoy our engagement.

I realize keeping these guidelines will ruin my chances of being a reality TV star. America won’t be captivated by my fits or my dad’s checkbook. No one will fidget impatiently through a commercial break to see if my fiancĂ© follows through with his threat to call off the wedding. But I imagine that I will still be smiling when I walk down the aisle in three months.

Peace out, Bridezilla. Hello, happy ever after.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Staying Health-Conscious in College

New city, new friends, new classes, new life. No parents, no busy work, no students there simply because they are required by law, no more 8am-3pm days of class without a break. Best of all? Total freedom.

There's no question about it; college is awesome. But as fun and rewarding as it can be, the college lifestyle can be devastating for your overall health. Everyone talks about the "freshman fifteen" but no one likes to talk about the 15 lb. weight gain that happens sophomore year...junior year...senior year...Over a 4 year degree, that means you could enter college weighing 125 lbs. and graduate weighing nearly 200!

Maintaining a balanced diet and exercise routine can help combat excessive weight gain in college. Here are some tools that will help you get your degree without packing on the pounds.

Nutrition Tips:

1. Always eat breakfast. Whether you scramble out of bed at 7:55 to get to your 8 am Chemistry Lab without time for food or just think your stomach doesn't wake up until noon, you need to eat something to get your metabolism going for the day. Aim for something with a balanced percentage of carbs, protein and fat. A great on-the-go breakfast is making your own trail mix. Mix 8 natural almonds, 1 cup of Kashi GoLean cereal, and 1/3 cup dried cranberries into a Ziploc bag. Even if you wake up late, you know you'll have something on hand to start your day off right.

2. Eat 5-6 small meals a day. Eating frequently will not only keep your metabolism at a steady rate, but it will prevent you from getting super hungry and eating everything in sight. It's easier to turn down that midnight pizza order when you feel full from throughout the day.

3. Pack snacks to take with you. Late night cram sessions in the library and dinner-time group project meetings may leave you craving fast food or stuck getting something out of a vending machine. Protein bars, nuts & dried fruit, and bags of whole grain cereal are just a few ideas of things that can easily fit into your purse or backpack.

4. Drink water. Don't let your body trick you into thinking you're hungry when you may actually just be thirsty. Drinking water helps keep you hydrated and full, especially when you are inbetween meals. Avoid empty calories from beverages that have no nutritional value such as sodas, alcohol and sugary juices.

5. Just because it contains the word "salad," that doesn't automatically mean its healthy. Dieters are naturally drawn to salad bars because it seems safe. However, dining hall salad bars are loaded with high-fat options including creamy dressings, bacon, cheese and butter-drenched croutons. Choose dark leafy green lettuce, load up on veggies, add 4 oz. of grilled lean meat, and serve oil-based viniagrette dressing on the side.

Fitness Tips:

1. Leave yourself enough time to walk or bike to class. You know you're going to have to sit through class, so be active while you can. Walking between classes will be a good stretch for your legs and give you enough of a mental break to help you go back into learning-mode for your next class.

2. Play intramural sports or get involved in group exercise classes at your campus gym. These are great ways to meet new friends and stay in shape at the same time.

3. Take your phone calls home outdoors...(or to a treadmill if it's too late at night.)strong> Between your parents, siblings, friends at other schools, etc., you're going to have several phone calls to make each week. Instead of sitting in your dorm room, head out for a walk while you catch up with friends and family. Every little bit helps!

4. Choose your electives wisely. Every degree program has a certain amount of free electives. Do you really need to sit through the History of Rock 'n' Roll? Try weight lifting, swimming or dance to get activity for class credit instead.

5. Watch out where you work. If you're biggest weakness is high-fat Mexican food, it's probably not a good idea to wait tables at On the Border. Or if you tend to snack when you're sitting around, a desk job may not be the best fit for you. Explore different opportunities, and try to find a job that won't leave you constantly inactive or tempted.

Remember, college is your first time out on your own. You are setting your personal habits for the rest of your life. Take this opportunity to get off to a fresh start that will benefit you for a lifetime!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

September *SHAKEOLOGY* Challenge

Got plans for September? I have an idea - TAKE MY SEPTEMBER SHAKEOLOGY CHALLENGE! :)

Beachbody has a special offer right now that you don't want to miss. (Keep reading below for more info about Shakeology, but check out these cool bonuses first!) First of all, if you order Shakeology on Home Direct (meaning it ships automatically to you once a month), Beachbody will give you FREE shipping! You have the freedom to cancel whenever you wish...but once you taste it, I don't think you will!

ALSO, you can also get 2 *BONUS* Shakeology DVD workouts - a $30 value that you get absolutely free with your order of Shakeology!

So...for just $120, you will have your workout and one meal for everyday of the month paid for!

Now, I said $120 and you may have just been intimidated by the price. I understand. I'm not gonna lie - That was my initial reaction too. However, once I actually thought about it I realized that I would actually save money with Shakeology.

Here’s how...

The retail price for Shakeology is roughly $120 for a one month supply (30 servings at one serving per day). Shakeology is a meal replacement shake based on whole foods that can help you lose weight, feel energized, improve digestion and regularity, lower your cholesterol and detoxify your body. I have personally experienced these effects and have many people tell me that they have too. (Not to mention - it actually tastes REALLY good!) I look forward to my Shakeology every day because I know that I feel better and that I am healthier for it. You can choose between Greenberry and Chocolate flavors. (I've attached the nutrition information below for Greenberry...but the Chocolate nutritional values are very close to the ones below!)

To hear more success stories, check out I don't doubt after reading this that you will want to try it...but you may still be asking, "Where does the 'save money' part come in?"

There are two BIG ways to save money with Shakeology so that YOU can finally get yours. One way to save is to do your purchasing using the huge coach discounts and the other way to save is the value of Shakeology as a meal replacement. I'm going to break both ways down for you so you can see how valuable these savings are in terms of saving you a good chunk of money.

Shakeology is a MEAL REPLACEMENT. You are going to spend money on your meals anyway. There is no way around that. Spend your money replacing just one meal per day with Shakeology, which typically is going to be more nutritious, have fewer calories, and honestly, more filling, than most "fast" foods. Shakeology is about $4 dollars per meal retail. When you consider that the typical fast food meal is around $6, the average Starbucks drink around $5, it seems that Shakeology is actually an inexpensive meal -- while you are getting far more nutrients that your body needs in far less calories. It is a WIN - WIN - WIN situation.

Not to shipping and 2 FREE DVD workouts!

Create a FREE account on my Beachbody Products page at so that you can purchase Shakeology for yourself at retail price today and save using Shakeology as a meal replacement. (Plus, I have been experimenting for about 4 months now...I have many ideas for recipes and savings so make sure you take advantage of my free service to help YOU get the most out of your health and your purchases.)

P.S. This deal won't last forever, so be sure to act now! Message me on Facebook or email me at if you want more information.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Michelle's 60 Day Health & Fitness Challenge

Okay, here's the deal. There's rarely a day that goes by that I don't get a Facebook message or an email from someone in my life who wants my advice on fitness or nutrition. It makes sense - I pretty much make it known that when it comes to anything to do with health, I'm borderline obsessed.

I ALWAYS reply. Why? Because YOUR health is important to me too.

Here's what I find though: People are curious about fitness. They want to know my opinion on what I think they should do...but at the end of the day, 90% of the time, they don't have enough incentive to follow through and make a change.

That changes August 17.

I've decided to launch a 60-Day Health and Fitness Challenge for everyone in my life who wants to participate...but that's not all....


Here's what ALL participants have to do:

***You must decide that you are willing to make a commitment for 60 days. Basically - August 17 through October 17, you WILL exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, etc.***

From there, you have *THREE* options for ways to participate in the challenge.

1. Beachbody has just launched a new workout called INSANITY....high-intensity bootcamp style training workouts. It comes with 10 workout DVDs that are incredible AND a 60-day nutrition plan - full of recipes that are both healthy for you and easy to make! So 60 days...2 months of personal training and your own dietitian for less than $2 a day! Plus, you'll have me to guide you and motivate you EVERY step of the way. You can check it out and buy it from (Maybe it's been a while since you've worked out and you think INSANITY may be a little too much for you right now. Email me to ask about some of the other workouts Beachbody offers, and we can work to find one that will work for you.)

2. As a newly-certified NASM Personal Trainer, I can write you a 60-day workout plan. You and I will dialogue back and forth to see what types of exercise you prefer, and I will have a workout plan in your hands before the challenge begins on August 17. In order for you to pick this option, having a gym membership is preferred, but at the bare minimum, you must have access to weights and be willing to run or do some form of outdoor cardio. This option will cost you $50 - less than $1 a day!

3. Maybe it's not the workout part that you struggle with. Maybe it's the nutrition part. You will be in charge of your own workout - what you do, etc., but you and I will discuss your eatings likes/dislikes, and I will come up with a nutrition plan for you composed of 15 breakfast recipes, 15 lunch recipes, 15 dinner recipes and 15 snack recipes. This option will cost you $40 - less than 75 cents a recipe!

Decide ASAP which option will work best for you, then email me or message me to let me know what your commitment is. I'm SO excited to help you reach your goals. Don't let it stop with a desire to change - DO something about it, and let me help you!

If you have ANY questions about anything, email me at or send me a message on Facebook.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Favorite Products: Granulated Stevia Powder

Sugar, Splenda, Sweet & Low, Equal....there are so many sweeteners out there - but which one really is best for you? Here is one of my PERSONAL favorite products - and a special savings for my blog readers thanks to my friends at Jay Robb Enterprises, Inc.

Here is the info straight from Jay Robb's website!


Our new granulated Stevia powder is spoonable like sugar and dissolves almost instantly, even in cold beverages like fresh made lemonade. 200-300 times sweeter than sugar, Stevia creates an intense effect upon the taste buds without raising blood sugar levels. Research indicates that both diabetics and persons suffering from hypoglycemia may use Stevia.

"I use 1/2 to 1 tsp of the powder in my yogurt mix each day and it turns sour tasting yogurt into a creamy dessert that tastes like pudding. It also sweetens lemonade, limeade, orange juice, grapefruit juice, herb teas, regular iced and hot teas, and is also tasty in baked goods and other recipes including JayCookies and Macaroons."
—Jay Robb

Our Stevia comes in 10 oz jars that should last an individual 30-60 days. Stevia has been used in Japan since 1970 with no reports of any side effects. Stevia has been used around the world with no reports of any problems for over 40 years now. Stevia is heat stable to 392 degrees Fahrenheit so is great for baking.

Nutritional Information:

Serving Size: 1 scoop (scooper inside container)
Servings per container 113
Amount per serving:
Calories 10
Total Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0g
Sodium 0g
Total Carbohydrate 2.5g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sugar Alcohol 2.5g
Protein 0g

Other Ingredients
Erythritol (a natural fiber from vegetables, fruits and grains)

Our ingredients contain No gluten, No msg, No casein, No artificial colors or flavors

Jay Robb's Stevia is a dietary supplement extracted from leaves of the Stevia plant.

Stevia Powder to Sugar Conversions

Use Stevia for baking and in drinks instead of sugar. Most people prefer the Stevia powder for drinks such as coffee, tea or blender drinks. It works great to even sweeten up a Jay Robb egg protein shake.

1 Jay Robb Stevia scooper = 1/2 tsp of Stevia powder
1/2 tsp of Stevia powder = 2 tsp sugar
3 tsp of Stevia powder = 1/4 cup of sugar
6 tsp of Stevia powder = 1/2 cup of sugar

Order as much as you want between now and July 2, and you can save 15% off - that's a serious deal! Either order online, or phone in your order using the information on the coupon above.

Enjoy, and thanks again!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Tangy BBQ Chicken

School's finally out, and summer is in full swing. With Independence Day right around the corner, invitations to backyard barbeques keep rolling in. Here is one of my favorite recipes for BBQ chicken that is a crowd pleaser...without being a diet buster! Enjoy!

Tangy BBQ Chicken(Serves 4)

You will need:

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 TBSP reduced sodium ketchup
3 TBSP cider vinegar
1 TBSP ready-made white horseradish
2 tsp Splenda brown sugar blend
1 garlic glove, finely chopped
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper


1. Preheat your grill to medium.

2. Cut chicken breasts into halves.

3. In a small saucepan, combine ketchip, vinegar, horseradish, brown sugar, garlic and thyme. Mix well and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened. (Should take about 5 minutes.) Remove from heat, then stir in the pepper.

4. Brush the tops of the chicken pieces lightly with sauce. Place the chicken, sauce-side down, on the grill rack, and brush the other sides of the chicken lightly with the sauce.

5. Place the chicken about 3 inches from the heat, basting with remaining sauce and turning until no longer pink in the center. (Should take 5-7 minutes per side.)

6. Let the chicken stand 5 minutes before serving.

**Option, you can double the sauce recipe to serve the sauce on the side with the meat for an extra burst of BBQ flavor!**

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Are You Truly Heart Smart?

If you've met me once, you probably know that I'm a health freak. Everything from fitness and nutrition to illness-prevention and medical research is a huge passion of mine. But even if you don't seek out health info like I do, there's no way you can miss the phrase "heart smart" in your normal life. Everything seems to have jumped on the heart smart bandwagon these days - Cheerios, almonds, aspirin, pedometers, treadmills, gym memberships...even WebMD (probably your family doctor's office) encourages your yearly check-ups as being heart smart.

I admit it - heart smart is a catchy phrase. It's only two syllables, it rhymes, it just rolls right off the tongue...but I also can't help but wonder - what does it really mean to be heart smart? Are there things that are heart smarter than others? Are all heart smart items created equal? Can being heart smart be faked?

As far as things of this world go, I'm not about to attempt the answers to those questions. However, my yearly Bible reading plan has had me in Psalms and I Kings this week, and it's had me thinking about the heart...and how God would define being "heart smart."

I Kings begins with the last days of David's life - the one referred to as "a man after God's own heart" (1 Samuel 13:14), which triggered my thought process. In his final charge to his son, Solomon, before his death, he proves this statement true. He challenges his son to show himself a man by keeping God's charge - " walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His act according to your wisdom...and show kindness" (I Kings 2:3;6-7).

Wow. I know carrying on the family business can sometimes be difficult for a son, especially if his father was so gifted at his craft - but can you imagine trying to fill a legacy like that? Plus, this wasn't just any family business. After his father's death, Solomon was now the king...of Israel...God's chosen people. Yikes.
Solomon wasn't incompetant. In fact, when Solomon was proclaimed king, I Kings 1:40 says that "the people were playing their flutes and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth shook at their joy." And this was actually before David died. It would have been easy for Solomon to start his reign as king puffed up and full of himself.

But in humility mirroring his fathers, Solomon prayed this prayer:

Now, O Lord my God, You have made your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?

Can you believe that "Wise King Solomon" compares himself to a child who cannot find his way? How incredible is it that the person who has more power than anyone else in the land doesn't refer to the people in his country as his people but as God's people? And what does he ask for of the Lord - more riches? Increased favor? No. He wants an understanding heart, which the Lord grants (I Kings 3:12, 4:29).

Confession time. When I first came to seminary, I didn't know anything. Let me re-phrase that...I thought I knew the Bible. I'd grown up with these stories. I'd been reading it daily since the 7th grade. But in my first few classes, I was introduced to words like hermeneutics, propitiation and disponsational premillenialism. It became obvious quickly that I had a lot to learn.

Over the past three years, I've studied more than I ever have in my life. I've taken classes in church history, interpreting Scripture, preparing Bible studies - and I actually have an opinion now about disponsational premillenialism (which we won't get into).

Most of you are probably thinking, "That's great." On one hand - yes, it is. I am so thankful for the lessons I've learned and the professors who have invested in me. However, there is a danger in "knowing" how to do things now. There have been moments when I've sat down to read the Bible and immediately began reminding myself of what was going on in that time period and who the author of the text is. Almost subconciously, I search the footnotes for commentary and additional background information.

And while there's nothing wrong with any of those things I just mentioned, there's a critical component missing:

I forgot to ask God to speak to me through His Word - to teach me what He wants me to learn.

It seems simple...but how else would we be able to read one book for our entire lives and learn something new each time we open it? Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, trying to understand Scripture out of our human wisdom is pointless...but it's so easy to get caught up in our "knowledge" and forget the heart.

God is powerful enough to impart His wisdom, even if the world doesn't think that we are very smart. Look at the people he chose: Moses - a helpless Israelite baby in a basket; David - a shepherd; the disciples - an assortment of non-religious leaders who help occupations like fishermen and a tax collector; Paul - a persecutor of Christians...the list could go on. Bottom line - If God's in it, anything is possible. If we try to do anything on our own power, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

After Solomon built the temple, I Kings 8:10-11 says, "It happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the cloud [God's presence] filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord." God's presense was so strong that the ministers SAT DOWN. They didn't need to do their own ministry thing because God was doing His...and He will do that everytime if we just have tthe humility to get out of the way. Instead of trying to think about what we should do, we just need to follow after His closely and quickly as possible.

No, this doesn't mean that ministers should just sit down in church and wait for God to take and pulpit. But our gifts, abilities and aquired wisdom should be second to following God's heart. We don't read in Scripture about following God's brain. Infact, Scripture is pretty clear that's impossible since His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). But His heart? We can incline our hearts towards His and truly seek to follow Him in all we do (Psalm 119:36).

I love the way Psalm 78:72 summarizes David's life. It says, "So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them with his skillful hands." David's wisdom didn't begin with his skills - it began with a heart of integrity to do His Father's business. That phrase has echosed in my brain this week - heart of integrity. Your heart - the center of your body's circulation, where everything must be pumped in and out - should focus on integrity...doing the right thing, even if no one is watching.

Today, I challenge you with the same question I've issued to myself: Am I truly heart smart?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Exercise of the Week: Sumo Squat

Have you ever seen a sumo match? These wrestlers may look funny (and flabby - I will spare you an actual picture), but they're actually powerhouses of strength and balance.

In the beginning of a match, the two opponents face off while performing a special type of squat in slow motion. Lifting one leg while leaning to the side, the wrestler uses his full weight and power to strike the mat. After repeating this move with the other leg, the wrestler then sinks down into a deep, wide-legged squat.

You'll probably never have to intimidate a competitor in the ring, but doing this sumo-inspired exercise will strengthen your inner and outer thighs. Best of all, there's no loincloth required! :) Good news for you...and anyone who works out near you!

How it's Done:

1. Stand with your feet as wide apart as possible while pointing your toes outward.

2. Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor.

3. Hold for a beat, exhale, then press back up to starting position. Repeat.

4. Keep your shoulders directly over your hips at all times. For best results, don't lean forward or let your knees extend beyond your toes. Keep your abs drawn in and don't arch your back.

5. Extra challenge needed? Put a dumbbell in your hands and add some extra weight!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

EASY Mango Salsa

I love unique salsa...but who has time to make it from scratch? That's why this recipe is so easy. With very little effort, you can create a salsa that no one will know started with your favorite prepared tomato salsa. Enjoy this summer twist on the most popular topping or dip.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

You will need:

3/4 cup prepared tomato salsa
1 large ripe mango, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a small bowl, combine salsa, mango, lime juice and cilantro.

8 calories; 0 g fat
2 g carbohydrate
29 mg sodium
29 mg potassium.

Don't stop limit yourself to chips and dip with this recipe. Try it with veggies, mix it in scrambled eggs, or serve it on top of grilled chicken or white fish. Yum!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Exercise of the Week: Plank

"The Plank" — it sounds scary, and it's probably just as uncomfortable as "walking the plank" with a gang of sword-waving pirates behind you...but it's also one of the best core exercises you can do.

Notice I said core exercise - not just an exercise to work your abs. The plank will help you build your coveted six pack abs, but it also works your entire core: abs, obliques, hips, and the transverse abdominis (the deepest of the abdominal muscles that wraps around your spine for protection and stability).

There is good news! The plank can be done anywhere, requires no equipment and involves no movement or crunching motions at all. Bad news? It's still quite difficult and should only be attempted after you've mastered the traditional crunch and sit-up exercises.

How to Do the Plank

1. Get into a pushup position, but place your elbows on the ground instead of your hands.

2. Keep your body as straight as possible from your head to your toes (Imagine a table laying across your back).

3. Pull your abs in towards your spine as if you were bracing for a punch to the stomach.

4. Be sure to breathe normally and hold this position for as long as you can.

Additional tip... Don't let your back sink down, and if it does, stop immediately.

Depending on your current core strength, you may only be able to hold perfect form for about 10-15 seconds at a time. Try to increase the time by 5-10 seconds with each workout. As your core gets stronger, you will be able to last for longer and longer.