Counting Blessings

Sunday marked the five year anniversary of Super Storm Sandy hitting the northeast coast of the United States.  I still remember that day.  The fear of losing our home (and my husband who decided to stay behind with our dog).  I remember the relief of coming home the next day to find that compared to most people in the area, we did fairly well.  We did lose some things. But nothing compared to the devastation everywhere else.  Surrounding neighborhoods looked like war zones.  The National Guard's presence with their H1 Hummers didn't help.

For the next few weeks, we would go without heat or electricity, and with that no hot water, no internet.  This was October.  And it was not a mild fall like we have had THIS year, in 2017.  In fact, it snowed on November 1.  My kids, friends, and I found refuge (and electricity and internet) in our local library.  What got me through these times were the book, A Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp, and, when we finally got electric, going around and helping where I was able to help.

It was during that time that I discovered how counting your blessings can really change your perspective.  By physically document what I was thankful for, it removed my focus on the negative things in my life.  The sense of gratitude that I was filled with motivated me to go out and help others who were worst off.  Because no matter what your situation is- there's always someone worst off than you.  Counting my blessings and helping others made me see God at work in my life and in the lives of others.  His promises of provision, and words about thanksgiving came alive. 

I was thankful for the roof over our heads (although some areas were leaking).  Thankful for friends and family north of us who weren't affected and offered their hot showers.  Thankful for friends who came down to help people in my neighborhood.  Thankful for the friend who wanted to remain anonymous and gave me money to give to whomever I felt needed it.  Thankful for our public library.  Thankful for my camping stove that enabled me to cook decent meals without my electric stove and oven.  Thankful for no electricity so I didn't have to fight the kids to read a book!  I can fill this entry with what I was thankful for during that time, but it's time to look at NOW.

Giving thanks in all things isn't always easy.  Finding those blessings and gifts are more difficult on some days than others. But what I have learned, not just five years ago, but throughout the years is that when I give thanks in ALL things, even the tough things, I am able to get up every morning and not dread the day.

Since Thanksgiving is less than a month away, I challenge you to count your blessings.  Do the joy dare with me. Start a gratitude journal and find at least 3 things you are thankful for everyday to put in that journal.  If you're like me and you began this joy dare and have fallen off track, I challenge you to pick up your pen, open your eyes, and go for a joy treasure hunt again! My prayer is that you will continue to do this long after Thanksgiving is over.

Let's start today! What are you thankful for today?


P.S.I am aware that some of us struggle with depression that will make this challenge extra difficult.  I urge you to check out a very useful resource that I wrote about last week.


I used to suffer from depression. I wrote about how motherhood and my faith in Christ saved me from depression here.  Unfortunately, not everyone gets delivered from depression just like that, though.  The sad thing is, there aren’t a lot of resources for those who suffer from depression.Or some people don't even realize that they are suffering from depression. You’d think that in this day and age we’d have more than enough resources, since some light has been shed on the prevalence of mental illness. Professional help for mental illness isn’t exactly cheap.  And finding a Christian therapist is even more difficult to find.  

This is why I love Dr. Michelle Bengtson. I came across Dr. Bengtson through my network of friends on Facebook.  Last year, I contacted Dr. Bengtson to see if I can feature her in a mental health challenge.  However, Dr. Bengtson was in the middle of promoting her new book, so we agreed to touch base at a later time.  I continued to follow Dr. Bengtson. Last August, 2016, she released her book Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression.  This book is the answer to the dilemma for the Christian who suffers from depression, as well as those who have a loved one who suffers from depression.

You see, Dr. Bengtson is not only a speaker and author, she is a board certified clinical neuropsychologist.  She has 25 years’ experience in diagnosing and treating medical and mental disorders. I’d like to say that her book is a triple threat.  She writes from the perspective of a medical professional, from someone who suffers depression, and from a Christian perspective.  She's been there as a doctor and a patient!

Today, less than a year after she released Hope Prevails, she is releasing the Hope Prevails Bible Study. I have had the privilege of being in her launch team which meant I was able to read the Bible Study before the release.  In Hope Prevails Bible Study, Dr. Bengtson gives us a condensed version of her journey, Scriptural references, and questions for reflection. It is a perfect stand alone or a companion to the original book. Another resource she gives is a playlist based on songs that has helped her in her own journey. 

To whom do I recommend the book?
  • To the one who suffers from depression.  Even if you are already getting professional help, this study is an excellent supplement because it offers Biblical insight that your therapist may not offer.
  • To the one who has a loved one who suffers from depression. This study can help you understand what your loved one is going through and gives your the resources to help your loved one.
You can grab a copy of the Hope Prevails Bible Study and the original Hope Prevails book from Amazon.  To celebrate the release of the Hope Prevails Bible Study, Dr. Bengtson is having a Facebook Launch Party!  This is a great place to get more information about the study, meet Dr. Bengtson, and get a chance to win wonderful prizes!! I'll be popping in to join Dr. Bengtson, and I hope you'll join us there .


5 Healthier Halloween Treats

The other night, we watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  It occurred to me that Halloween is fast approaching.  This means candy and sweets galore!

You and your family (and co-workers) can totally indulge without overdosing on junk food.  Last year, I LOVED that my son's 4th grade teacher stuck with healthier party food for all her class parties.  J and I made apple muffins together and they were delicious. Sorry, I can't find the photo.  I am challenging myself to stick with healthier options for Halloween school celebrations.

I searched for Healthy Halloween treats and was pretty surprised at some of the things that people labelled as healthy.  Fruit with marshmallows?? NOT HEALTHY! Hotdog wrapped with mozzarella cheese (mummy hotdogs)?!?! NOPE! Not even if it's "low fat turkey hot dog."  GOOD GRIEF!

So, since I've already done the research, I figured I'll pass along what I consider healthy- minimal sugar, no processed food!  If you are searching for healthier options, I've rounded up 5 fairly simple Healthier Halloween recipes just for you! ENJOY!

 Image Credit:


Image Credit:

Image Credit: Cook Eat Paleo

Image Credit: Cook Eat Paleo

Spider Eggs
 You can make these Spider Eggs using this deviled eggs recipe and using olives for make the spider.

Back to School Tool: PRAYERS

I was driving home from my 14 year-old's High School Freshman Orientation, and I noticed that some of the leaves were already changing colors.  SAY IT AIN'T SO!  Summer is over. Fall is here.  Many of my friends outside of New York have been sharing their back to school pictures.  My boys go back to school tomorrow.

Parents prepare for the school year by shopping for school supplies, buying a new backpack, maybe a matching lunchbox, and of course, back to school clothes.  Some of my fellow moms are even further along on their motherhood journey and went college shopping- small dorm-size fridge, bedding, space-efficient storage bins, and so on. All these are important, but let us not forget the most important thing we have to do as our children go back to school: PRAY.

Here are some prayers you can pray over your children, regardless of their age.  The prayers contain Scripture BUT please know that you do not have to be a Scripture expert to pray for your children!  Use these as your guide.  However, remember that the power of prayer isn't in the words we speak or how well we can incorporate Scripture into our prayers.  The power of prayer is in the ONE WHO HEARS THEM.

In addition to praying for our children, let us also pray for the teachers who will be spending several hours a day with our children.  I love these prayers I found in Crosswalk, there is a prayer for parents to pray and one for teachers to pray as well.  Here's to another successful school year for everyone!

Do you have a specific area in your child's live that you need to pray over?  I'd love to pray for you and your child! Please leave a comment below or email me:

In Christ,

How to Brew Your Own Kombucha

Kombu-wha?  That's usually the reaction I get from people when I'm drinking kombucha.  Either that or “ew, that smells wierd.”  Ok that last one was from my kids.  Most adults I know aren't rude like that.  So what is kombucha? Simply put, it is fermented sweet tea.  It consists of tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast.  Mmmmmm… sound delish and refreshing, don't it? LOL. 

No, really. It is delicious and refreshing. Not only that, it has SO MANY health benefits. It's a  probiotic drink.  Here are some of the benefits from drinking kombucha:
   - aids digestion
   - improves your immune system
   - helps keep you regular 
   - contains antioxidants that can help promote healthy liver and kidney function

So how do you get started?

     1- healthy SCOBY (see Step One)
     1 or 2 - one gallon GLASS jars 
     1 or 2 cheese cloths OR coffee filters (these will be the cover for your jars while brewing the kombucha).
     Rubber bands to hold the cloth or filter in place
     Several smaller glass jars or containers WITH PLASTIC covers to store your finished kombucha.  I saved up the bottles from the store-bought kombuchas for mine.  You can purchase them on Amazon.
You need a healthy SCOBY to make kombucha.  SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast.  In layman’s terms, it is a mini island for bacteria and yeast.

If you don't have a way to get a SCOBY, you can make your own following the steps mentioned here.

After you have made your starter, you can flavor it to your liking.  That takes us to:

There are A TON of different ways you can flavor your kombucha.  The internet is full of instructions on how to do this and it can get overwhelming. My suggestion is to start with one ingredient such as a fruit or ginger. Pineapple is my favorite so far (I've only tried mango and pineapple).  Make sure that the fruit is ripe so that it can give your kombucha flavor.  Some of my friends told me that ginger kombucha is delicious as well. I have yet to try it but I cannot wait to give it a try.  

-  To clean your kombucha container(s), use WARM WATER and white distilled vinegar. Soap will kill the bacteria in your kombucha.
- When you are handling your SCOBY make sure you wash your hands using warm water and white distilled vinegar.
- Try using  half gallon jars for your second ferment (aka flavoring your kombucha) so you can brew two different flavors at the same time.
- The downside of kombucha is that it attracts fruit flies. You can keep fruit flies away from your kombucha by sprinkling some ground cinnamon on a coffee filter and putting it on top of the  cheesecloth or coffee filter cover.  You also need to make sure that your rubberband is on tightly.  

Have you tried brewing your own kombucha? I'd love to hear about your favor combinations so please share them in the comment section!

Before I close, I have to give a shout out to my friend, Loretta, who was my go to for all my kombucha questions.  Brewing kombucha for the first time can be daunting, so if you have any questions, feel free to email me at or leave a comment below!

Be joyful and healthy,


My New Obsession: Aerial Silks

Oh my! Is April over already? Typical of me to drop the ball and reject this blog after I committed to writing regularly again. School, work, home, blah blah blah. I dropped the ball. End of story.  My apologies.  Let's  try this again...

A lot has happened in the last three months, but I won't bore you with that.  So I'll jump right into my new obsession.

Over a year  ago, I found out aerial yoga and aerial silk.  I saw a video of these women gracefully and flawlessly moving on the silks that were suspended from the ceiling. It looked heavenly!  I didn't make it to my first class until this past Saturday when I discovered that they taught Aerial Silks classes in Studio 9 which was 15 minutes away from me.

The first thing I learned was that  Aerial Silks and Aerial Yoga were two totally different things. Aerial Yoga was birthed when a yoga instructor and an acrobat looked for ways to challenge a yoga class using silks.  In Aerial Yoga, it's basically doing the same ground yoga positions on the silk, in the air.  It takes more effort to stabilize yourself on the silk.  Aerial Silks have been used in the circus (think Cirque du Soleil), theater, and dance.  In an Aerial Silks class, you work on progression and sequences, how to lock yourself in the silk, climb up, roll down, swing, and so on.  I'd say that it's a form of dance.  

The next thing I learned was, "You will get some bruising tomorrow. Don't worry, it's perfectly normal."  My instructor smiled as she told me this and summoned me to a beautiful long purple silk cloth dangling from the ceiling 16 feet above us. 
Oh... but how can these beautiful silks bruise me, I thought.  I would find out soon enough.

When you look at Aerial Silk videos, you will see that the silks are parallel to each other, not tied together.  For the beginner class I took, the instructor tied the ends of the silk together creating a swing to hold me.  First, she made me get acquainted with the silks.  She showed me how to position myself.  Where to position the silk on my back, where to put my hands, and how to lean back on the silk and fall backward so that I was upside down- feet apart, legs hip level, parallel to the ground.  She told me that unlike yoga, my feet had to be pointed (nailed it!!!).

Then she said, "Ok, the silk will hold you, so you can let your hands go."  Excuse me?  Just hang upside down without my hands?  "Are you sure?" I asked. 

"Yes, just make sure your legs stay straight and wide apart like this by your hips, and your toes are pointed.  Otherwise you will flop down."

Nervously laughing, I asked, "Can I just focus on getting this form down before I let go?"

"Of course, I want you to be comfortable," she said.

LESSON TO YOU: When trying a new class, NEVER EVER EVER be embarassed to ask if you can modify a move, or take it slow, or have the instructor show you the move again.

My instructor adjusted the knot on my silk because my head was too close to the ground.  I practiced getting on and off the silk on my own, making sure the knot was rested just where my coccyx bone was, and flipping upside down, feet wide, by my hips, parallel to the ground, feet pointed.  Hanging on to the silk with my dear hands as if my life depended on it.  Mind you, I was only a few feet away from the ground.

Once she saw I have gotten a hang of... well, hanging upside down, she said, "You got it!  Let's try letting go again.  Give me one hand at a time."

I gave her one hand.  Waited.  And then, took my hand back from her.  "I'm not ready yet!"

She didn't push me any more and moved on to get us warmed up and stretched.  Like any workout, warm ups and cool down is important.  We stretched our lower body using the silks while being on the ground.  Then she showed us how to stand on the swing, one foot on, the other foot on the ankle of the one on the swing, the knee for that foot in front of the silk and then letting our arms open up.  It was freeing!!   After a few more stretches, we stood on the silk with both feet and stretched our lower back (see picture).

Two more things I learned about silks: 1- your feet arches will hurt from standing on the knot; 2- your hands will hurt from gripping the silks.

We went back to hanging upside down.  I felt comfortable enough to wrap my legs around the silk while upside down.  On one of my tries, without any prompting, I let go of the silks and dropped my hands. 

She also showed us how to fold forward on the silk, with the silk resting just below our hip.  Once we got a hang of doing this, she showed us how to flip around so that we are on our back again and moving to the upside down position we've been working on.  That was my favorite part.  And I felt comfortable with the silks by that time that I stayed in the upside down position, hands off of the silk, and my legs wrapped around the silk.  I could have spent my whole day swinging and flipping on those silks.  BUT just like that, the hour was over. Where did the time go?!??!?

She walked us through leg and spine stretches on the ground.  We also worked on our wrists and flicked our fingers open and close.  

I'll be honest.  When she said it was time to stretch, I thought, "Bummer, that wasn't really a workout."  I thought we'd be doing more.  Aside from my hands hurting from gripping the silks, my sides and back from leaning on the silks, and my feet from stepping on the knot, I didn't feel like my muscles were worked out at all.

Fast forward to Saturday night- I started feeling it on my shoulders, arms, legs, sides.  The next day I noticed very slight bruising on my sides (by my hips), under my belly button, and on my thighs.  Nothing too bad.  I definitely did work my muscles, too, because my body ached when I woke up on Sunday.  I shouldn't have underestimated what I did and taken my muscle recovery drink after class.

MY VERDICT:  IT WAS FUN!  So much so that time flew so quickly and I didn't even think I was working out.  It felt like we were just hanging out and playing around with the silks!!!!  I will definitely go again. Unfortunately, one class is $20.  They have a package which is 4 classes for $70 or monthly unlimited classes (including their pole dancing classes) for $100. I don't plan on trying pole dancing any time soon and I can really only go to the Saturday morning class.  So I will probably just purchase the 4 class package.

My first Aerial Silks class was like an amazing first date and all I've been thinking about is the amazing feeling I felt flipping and hanging upside down.  I'm smiling thinking about it. I highly recommend that you give it a try!

Until next time...

Dare to be fit!

<3 Marie 

Healthy Taco Bar (with clean, homemade taco seasoning)

Yes, I am aware it isn't a Tuesday but Taco Day or Taco Monday doesn't sound as great as Taco Tuesday. I could have waited to publish this on Tuesday, BUT I only post on my blog on Mondays and I don't want to skip this Monday again (I skipped last Monday because I wasn't feel that great last weekend AND my 10 year old had four friends sleepover).

Besides, this Taco Bar Menu is perfect for any day!  We actually had tacos on Thursday this past week. Tuesday was a snow day and Mama Marie wanted venison stew.

I hope you enjoy this recipe!  You can even double the recipe if you're entertaining (great for Super Bowl Sunday!!!).

1 1/4 lbs of ground grass fed beef or ground turkey
Homemade taco seasoning (see below)
1 Tsp Olive oil or coconut oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 can tomato sauce
Shredded lettuce
Pico or fresh tomatoes, diced
Small/medium red onions, chopped
Organic cheese (omit if paleo)

Taco Shell Options:
Organic taco shells
Organic blue corn tortilla chips
Romaine lettuce

1. Heat oil in a non-stick pan or skillet.  Add onions, cilantro and garlic.
2. When onion is translucent, add meat and cook, making sure to break up the clumps of meat.
3. Stir in tomato sauce and taco seasoning.
4. Set the table with the meat, and various toppings and shells. ENJOY!

Homemade taco seasoning
1 1/2 - 2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 Tbs chili powder
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp Himalaya sea salt
Onion powder

In my home, with the exception of my 10 year old, we prefer making taco bowls so we skip the shell and just pile on the meat and veggies!!! YUMMMMY!!!!

Top 3 Reasons People Quit Their Fitness Goals (and How to Get Rid of those Excuses)

It is mid-January, and I have received messages from people saying that their resolve is starting to wane.  Sadly, these friends of mine are not alone.  Only 8% of people achieve success in their resolutions.  For this post, I will give you the top 3 reasons people quit on their fitness goal and my tips on how to counter those reasons (in no particular order): 
Life gets in the way. You work a full time job.  Your kids play sports and have after school activities.  You have a home to clean.  And on and on and on and on.  I hear you. I'm right there with you.  However, I am able to fit in my workout.  Why? Because I work out at home.  If I had to go to the gym or a class, I wouldn't workout.  From the comfort of my home, I can pick out whatever workout I want to do (depending on the amount of time I have) and when I workout.  Sometimes, I workout in the morning after I read my Bible.  Other times, I workout right before I go to work (I do a quick shower after without washing my hair- thank God for dry shampoo!!!).  Other times, I  work out at night.

There are so many options that will allow you to work out from home in as little as 30 minutes (sometimes even less!).  All you need to do is have the initiative to push play.
When I tell people to workout from home, they often respond, "BUT I WILL NEVER TAKE THE INITIATIVE, I NEED TO GO TO A GYM OR CLASS." My question is WHY?  If time is the reason you are not working out, try working out from home.  You just need to make it a habit.  Why not try working out from home for 3-4 weeks?  And if you are looking for accountability, let's talk.


You don't need a gym membership, a personal trainer, or a fitness class to get fit.  Again, if you work out at home, you will save a lot of money.
     > Use your stairs at home or work for some cardio.
     > Do body weight (no equipment workouts).  Check out my Facebook page for workouts you can 
     do anywhere.
     >Hike, walk, run, play ball outside with your family.
    >Try low cost home workout programs  (take advantage of the free 30 day offer).

     >Find an activity you enjoy.  I'm not a runner, so as much as I would love to work towards a half
     marathon, I haven't done it because I don't like running.  Dance. Do martial arts. Play volleyball. 
     > Find a workout buddy. 
     > Change things up. Try something new away from your regular routine. (see find an activity you

Don't let life get in the way of your health.   If you are serious about getting fit but just need a boost to get going, why not join me and my friends for our next faith based fitness in the Faith, Fitness, and Fellowship Community What are other reasons that you can think of?

5 Tips to Get Started in Fitness

1. Get Moving
Even if you’re not ready to start a program, incorporate more movement into your day. Take a walk, take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, park a little farther away from your destination, start your morning going up and down your stairs at home, clean out your closet, rearrange your furniture, stretch during television commercials, turn on some music and dance (or jump around if you’re not the dancing type).  Schedule a hike or walk with your family or some friends.

2. Drink Water
Get into the habit of drinking enough water every day, even if you are not working out yet.  Drinking water leading up to your program start date can help minimize initial muscle soreness.

3. Out with the JUNK, In with the FOOD
One of my go-to health and nutrition resources, Dr. Mark Hyman, always says, “There is no junk food.  There is junk. And there is food.” Empty pantry, refrigerator, freezer, car, and secret snack stash drawer of all the junk you should not be eating.  Then, stock up with healthy food and staples that will help you create healthy meals every day. Here is a list of pantry essentials for beginners.

4. Schedule in your Workout
Decide ahead of time, when you will fit your exercise in your day and schedule it in now!  Evaluate your CURRENT schedule and make whatever adjustments you need to make sure you fit in your workout.  Find out how much time you have to spare, and be realistic.  If done correctly, you don’t need an hour to get a good workout in.  There are MANY effective workouts that you can do in 30 minutes or less. 

There is currently a new MMA program that is out that I am dying to try, however, between school, my day job, coaching, blogging, and motherhood, I KNOW there is no way I can fit in the 40-50 minute workouts.  I am doing another round of 22 Minute Hard Corps instead mixing it in with some yoga during my less busy days.  See when you can carve out 30 minutes of your schedule and use that time for your workouts.  Put the workout in YOUR PLANNER (whether it is on your phone or your paper planner… I know many of you are planner people). 

Even better- set an alarm so you know when you’re supposed to workout.

5. Find Your Why
One of my favorite fitness trainers, Tony Horton, says, “If you’re really caught up in the numbers on the scale, or the dress size, and what’s happening with the tape measure, chances are that doesn’t really motivate or inspire you. Find a new purpose. Find a new reason why. The reason why has got to be so powerful, so strong that you’re not going to quit, you’re not going to fail, and you’re going to be consistent, and show up 5-7 days a week for the rest of your life.”

Now that you are ready to get fit and healthy, it’s time to pick a program.  There are many fitness programs to choose from.  I can help match you with an effective program, and add you to my free Mission Fitness group for motivation and accountability partners to help you stay motivated on your fitness journey.

Get on track with your fitness today!  Email me to schedule a FREE confidential 30 minute video chat or phone call.

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