A Healthy New Year

By Jennifer Hallmark

As we move forward into our third year as a blog, I’d like to introduce the Writing Prompts Crew. Click the link to go to each Crew members bio: Jennifer Hallmark, Betty Thomason OwensTammy Trail, Allie Owens Crockett, Betty Boyd, Anne Garboczi Evans, Holly Michael, and Cari Schaeffer. Enjoy the month of January as we discuss a healthy New Year and as always, happy writing!

new-years-resolutionHealthy in 2015.

An obtainable goal?

I hope so.

The past few years, my main health focus has been on getting asthma and digestive issues under control. Now that these problems are better, January will be the beginning of a “getting healthier all around” emphasis in my life. But I realize I’ve often made half-hearted resolutions only to fail.


So I’d like this year to be different. First, I will look at every aspect of my health: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Second, my focus will be for one month at a time. At the end of January, I’ll look at what works and what doesn’t and make adjustments for February. Taking one month at a time, I won’t feel so overwhelmed and give up. Here are my thoughts on the different aspects of my health. Each person will need to adjust according to their specific needs.

Physical (Exercise and eating)

In the past, I’ve noticed if I don’t exercise early in the morning, I don’t exercise at all. I work at home, so this is doable. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I’ll exercise to my low-impact aerobic DVD, a thirty minute workout. On Tuesday and Thursday, I’ll ride twenty minutes on my exercise bike. My weekends tend to be busy, so I’ll take that time off as my reward. 🙂

good food

As far as eating goes, I’ll cut back on sugar. This is always a weakness of mine, especially since I’ve developed a dairy allergy and can’t tolerate fried foods. Sugar is my comfort food. I’ll follow a basic healthy eating plan of healthy meats, fruits, and vegetables.


As a recovering perfectionist, I tend to be too driven and don’t give myself enough leeway. This leads to stress and hurts my mental health. If I don’t watch myself, I’ll work every moment I’m not doing something else. I’ve just completed a forty-day sabbatical from writing that was necessary for me to deal with health issues. I don’t want to overwork again, so I’m going to try and create a schedule for a four-day work week. I’ll design my plan, working around my husband’s schedule and the days I babysit the grandchildren.


This is a tough one. Exercise and healthy eating are a must for good emotional health. So is a less stressful schedule. How else can I promote a more positive lifestyle?

(1) Read one “feel good” book or watch a movie of the same once a week.

(2) Set up the 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle my brother gave me and work on it during stressful times.

(3) Find an accountability friend to talk to once a week and bring to light any emotional struggles.

(4) Get out of the house more. As a “homebody” I tend to stay at home. I need to get outside, even if it’s just for a short walk or drive to the local dollar store.


bibleThis area of my life must be maintained or the others won’t work. Here are a few things I can do to stay spiritually healthy.

(1) Daily devotional time in the morning, right before exercises.

(2) Listen to music and reflect. Journal any thoughts and feelings while listening for that still, small voice.

(3) Fellowship with other Christians, online and in person. 🙂

(4) Be a blessing to others.

(5) Enjoy nature.

This is my plan for the month of January. After writing it down, it seems like a lot. We will see. At the end of the month, I’ll be back with a special post to let you know what I’ve learned, what worked, and what didn’t.

See you then!

Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments”

Writing Prompt: Maggie pushed open the door of the fitness center and stepped inside. Gee, it was an awful heavy door. Such a long walk from the parking lot also. She stared around the room at the…



Its a Wrap!


By Tammy Trail

We started off the month with a celebration of our own fellow contributor, Christina Rich’s release of The Guardian’s Promise. I enjoyed reading her book very much, and look forward to the sequel in July.

All my friends here on “Writing Prompts” had so many great ideas and choices for a healthier lifestyle. Proving that you can try many different avenues and find one that especially works for you. Not only is it important to take care of your physical well-being, but your spiritual health needs exercising as well. God just wants us to strive for our best. I know that I am personally determined to be more conscience of eating better and walking. I have already lost ten pounds and I am concentrating on the next ten pounds, and beyond to a lighter me. I tried a recipe this past month using Quinoa. I had heard many health benefits about this wonder grain, and of course I had to try it.

I love making up my own recipes and this was a hit, even husband and picky kids thought it was good. I made stuffed Green Peppers. I used four peppers, cutting off the tops and slicing them in two; so that you have eight half peppers in a glass baking dish. I prepared the Quinoa to the directions on the box, until I had two cups of cooked Quinoa.

While waiting for the wonder grain to cool. I blanched the half peppers in boiling water for about 20 minutes, and then took them out of the water to cool on paper towels. Then I added diced celery, grated carrots, green onions, sautéed mushrooms, and finely shredded Monterey Jack cheese to the Quinoa. I never measure anything (this drives hubby nuts), so you will just have to do it to taste. I then added salt, pepper, soy sauce and sesame seed oil, and mixed it well. Then line the baking dish with the peppers and stuff with Quinoa mixture. I baked it for about 20 to 30 minutes, and it was very tasty if I do say so myself! If you should try this recipe, please let me know what you think about it. Or, if you tweaked it I would like to know how you made it better. There are so many great foods available that are beneficial to our health. And a simple change in diet can make a huge difference.

Thank you to Carole Brown, Christina Rich, Connie Almony, and Caryl McAdoo for contributing to our 3 Question Wednesday. It’s always nice to stay connected with our writer friends. And don’t miss April as we take a look at natural disasters.

Exercise – the Bane of my Existence

Ginger picby Ginger Solomon

Exercise is the bane of my existence. I hate it with a passion because I want to see results of the things I do and exercise seems to take forever to prove itself worthy.

Add to that the fact that I’ve never been athletic. I just didn’t do sports. Like the majority of kids of my generation, most of my time was spent outside, running and playing, but it was all for fun. I guess I was fit, for a child/preteen. Once I hit my teen years, more and more of my time was spent indoors — at school, doing homework, or reading.

Now, however, I am under doctor’s orders to get fit and trim. Sure. Right. Yeah, let’s do this thing. Can’t you just here my enthusiasm? (said so sarcastically even through the written word you can’t miss it)

With gyms popping up all over the map, I could hit one of those — for a price. Well, to be honest, I have access to a well-stocked gym for free, but it’s a twenty-minute drive one-way for a twenty-minute work-out. Two-thirds of my time would be spent on the road. Thanks, but no thanks. I really do have better ways to spend that extra forty minutes.

So what’s a girl(or guy) to do? High-impact exercises are out. Carrying seven babies (all over 9 lbs) took care of that for me. To be honest, I don’t know exactly what will work for me. I do know I have to do something.

Here are some things I plan to try at least one day a week (I need the variety or I get bored):

  • pilates
  • elliptical (vs the treadmill)
  • walking when it’s nice outside (2 miles for now, more as my endurance increases)
  • yoga (keep in mind Betty’s warning); I found some useful Christian yoga videos on Youtube.
  • muscle toning
  • bicycling

To be honest, it seems like a simple, short list, and it is. I need simple. My life is already complicated in many areas and I don’t need to think too much about exercising or it will never get done.

What do you do to stay fit and trim or what are you trying to do to make a better you?


Exercise? Christian Yoga – An Oxymoron?

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By Betty Thomason Owens

After a car accident several years ago, I had difficulty regaining my equilibrium and range of motion. Months passed and I wondered if I would ever recover. A chiropractor finally gave me a sheet of stretches and exercises and I began to follow his suggestions. The stretch and work out moves looked familiar. They were yoga routines.

I looked over the materials and found no reference to yoga or Eastern religious practices, so I felt safe doing them. I’d often find a scripture for the day and memorize it while I worked out. Sometimes, I even listened to praise music to help keep my mind properly focused.

Why was I concerned? Because of the history of yoga. If you’ve ever studied yoga and yoga practices, you know the danger. Knowledge sometimes tosses stumbling blocks not only in our way, but in the path of younger Christians as well. I don’t ever want to do anything to hurt someone coming after me.

royalty-free yogastretchBut the truth is, these exercises helped me find my way back from the injuries. Since then, I’ve used them on and off to recover from back sprains and other back injuries. What they do is: relax, stretch, and strengthen muscles, and also improve balance. In the last year or so, I’ve been able to restart my daily walking, because of stretching exercises. In good weather, I walk 4 – 5 miles a day. I couldn’t do that before without suffering intense pain during and after the walk. This results in a low-impact but comprehensive exercise program. Couple this with proper water intake and healthy eating and you have the perfect lifestyle change.

Specific exercises for my injury included:

  • shoulder roll
  • cat stretches
  • side reaches
  • full bends
  • the plank (I added this one)

These names are specific to exercises I was given, staying away from yoga terminology and copyrighted routines. Look for classes at area churches. If you prefer to workout at home, you can purchase DVDs or sign up online. You may also find them on your cable networks. Just do your research and start slowly. Please don’t hurt yourself!

For more information about yoga, Mike Shreve has written an excellent article at Charisma Health. He provides links to two excellent sites where you can read more about Christian stretch routines that include praise and worship.

Of course, as always, the choice is yours to make. As stated above, my research led me to question whether I, as a Christian believer should be involved in something that is rooted in Eastern religion. I made the decision to stay away from anything that could look questionable to younger believers, because that’s where I am. If you are a mom or a grandmother and have children who are watching you, your decisions should be based on scripture and your personal beliefs. (I Corinthians 3:9-13 for further study).

James 4:17, TMV: In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.

Whatever you decide to do, do it and don’t quit. If you do nothing, there will never be change in your life. If you do something, changes will come. Whenever I forget to do these exercise for a while, I almost always pay the price with an injury. The key is: Don’t give up, and don’t let your old sedentary habits sneak back in.

What can you do today to get back on track?

Don’t forget, your comments on our regular posts (Monday and Friday) can win you $$! Every other month, we give away a $25 gift certificate to one of you.

photo credit: stephcarter via photopin cc

There’s No Excuse

By Don White

“All they can take is six weeks,” Tom said.

Tom is a manager of the health club we belong to, and we were talking about the waning commitment to fitness goals people made for the new year.

We also joined the club as a New Year’s commitment. We saw Tom at a restaurant shortly after New Year’s Day, just as the annual holiday guilt came to our home, as it always does, like a caboose pulled by a long train of Halloween candy, christmas-cookies-232141_640Thanksgiving pies, Christmas cookies, and New Year snacks. It was just the perfect time to run into my friend, the health club manager.

“Do you give family discounts?” I asked, sitting there with my wife, two daughters, and son-in-law. “How about pastoral discounts?”

He chuckled. “Come on in and I’ll make you all a good deal.”

“How’s business these days?”

“Great!” He laughed again. “It’s the New Year.”

I understood. Along with diet plans and exercise equipment, the health club business grows healthier by the well-intentioned desire to turn over a new leaf at the new year. But how long until the new exercise machines become high-tech clothes hangers shoved away in the corner of the guest room? And how long does the commitment hold out to keep going back to the health club?

“They’ve already started fadin’ out,” Tom told me last night. “It started happening in mid-February.” He said, “All they can take is six weeks” before the flood of new members begin to disappear from sight.

Tom and I have a couple things in common. We’re both Beatles fans, and we’re both pastors. In fact, Tom leads church services each Sunday at the health club where he works. What a perfect place to get spiritually fit.

ImageOf course, the parallels between spiritual and physical fitness are obvious. And in view of all the unused treadmills, weight machines, and exercise bikes, standing like abstract steel statues all around us, we couldn’t help but make spiritual applications.

How many health club members bemoan the reading on their bathroom scale? How many are frustrated with the feeling in their lungs after walking up half a flight of stairs? How many are tired of being tired after the smallest of chores? There are abundant resources to remedy all that at the club, but only if they take advantage of it.

And the same is true with spiritual health. Like every other pastor, I’ve heard the same complaints from people about their spiritual lives. They feel disconnected with the church, disconnected with Christ, and they don’t know much about the Bible, and they don’t know how to pray.

The thing is, there are already abundant resources to remedy those problems and more – if they make use of them.

What groups and programs can you be involved in at church? Are you committed to any church at all? Does your Bible sit neglected in the corner, or do you regularly open it and feed your spirit? Do you take time to pray, whether it’s on your knees, at the kitchen table, or sitting on the back porch?

Need a walking partner? Take a walk with God. Tell him your struggles, and thank him for your blessings, getting both spiritually and physically fit at the same time.

Spiritual fitness, like physical fitness, is not just for New Year resolutions. It’s a necessity of life all year round. And they both can go hand in hand.

Pick a Bible verse. Write it down and take it with you on a walk, meditating on the words. Then on your way back home, talk to God about life. Do sit-ups or light weights as you listen to Christian teachings on the radio or your favorite Christian music.

For our part, it’s much easier now for my wife and me to get on our favorite exercise equipment at the club. But that’s only because so many have already given up on their fitness plans. Don’t be one of those people.

We really have no excuse for not being healthy in body or spirit. Get up. Pray. Read. Move. Meditate. Worship. Walk. Jog. And if you’ve missed a day, or even several days, just start again.

It’s that simple. And it’s worth it.

So, where are you on your goals? Whether physical, spiritual, or writing goals, don’t give up! Walking and praying should offer many ideas for writing material, or help solve a writing problem with a current project. Try it.

See what inspires you along the way.