Miles Away

I sat at the kitchen table and laid both my palms flat on its surface. Fear pierced my heart.

What in the world was happening to me?

Everything tilted, though I hadn’t moved. Familiar sounds came at me as if through a long, steel tunnel. A dense fog invaded my mind. I couldn’t make sense of words or actions. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move.

Even worse, I was completely alone with our two-year-old strapped in her high chair. It would be hours before the older kids came home from school. And the dogs had no idea how to dial 9-1-1.

After several long moments, the episode passed. I was perfectly back to my kind of normal for a few days. The next episode hit on a Saturday with everyone in the house.

When I could speak again, I burst into tears. Within the hour, the emergency room doc had my head in a whirring, clicking machine, drew half my weight in blood, and connected me to so many wires and tubes I could have passed as steampunk.

While we waited for results, the doc grilled me on every aspect of my life.  I thought I had everything under control, but my body told a different story.

The results dripped in. Thyroid – normal. CT – normal. Blood sugar – normal. Vitamins and minerals and various counts – normal.

The doc sat and tapped her pen against her lips.

“I think you need to run,” she said.

Running shoe pic Inspired Prompt jan 2020

As I recall, I laughed so hard I snorted.

“I don’t have time to run!”

Hadn’t she heard a word I said about all the stuff on each of my To-Do lists?

“You don’t have time to NOT run,” she countered.

All the way home, I made my list of reasons why running was out. Too old. Too busy. Too slow. Too lazy. Too hot. Too cold. Too crowded at the Y.

No matter how much I tried to justify my Reasons Not to Run list, the three words on my Reason to Run list outweighed them all: Too Much Cortisol.

Cortisol, apparently, is a stress hormone. It’s normally released in our bodies to aid in those fight or flight situations we sometimes get ourselves into.

For me, though, I had made each day into a fight or flight situation. My stress levels were through the roof. While I hadn’t had a stroke as I had first supposed, the invisible beating my body was taking would eventually take its toll on my heart.

Running track pic Inspired Prompt Jan 2020

Way back in high school and college, I ran competitively. That was four children and almost as many decades ago. So this time, I started slowly. V-E-R-Y slowly. Eventually, I got faster. Each time I passed a milestone (get it? A MILEstone), I allowed myself a little treat.

When I could run a mile without stopping, I invested in an Iron Man watch to count the laps at the YMCA. Eighteen laps equals one mile at my YMCA track. That’s a lot of numbers for a writer to keep in her head, you know.

When I could run two miles without stopping, I invested in those fancy socks that I had my eye on. Fashionable and supportive.

When I could run three miles without stopping, I registered for a 5k run and paid the extra fee for a t-shirt to prove I had run.

It wasn’t easy, and it STILL isn’t easy, but it can be done. Here are some tips I used to help me stay on track and out of the hospital!

  • Find what works to get you moving and start. For me, I used the FREE part of the app C25K (Couch to 5K). For you, it might be weights, cycling, swimming, walking.
  • Find your first micro goal. Even marathoners have to run one step at a time. Set small goals and work toward them. Reward yourself when you get there.
  • Find the right, healthy priorities off the track. Pare down that schedule. Not everything is urgent.
  • Find something to listen to. When I first started working out, I had a tendency to listen to the liar inside my head telling me it was no use. Then, I wrote down scripture on 3×5 index cards and memorized them while I ran. Good, until my hands got so sweaty I could no longer read the words. Then, I discovered PODCASTS for WRITERS. Bingo!

Click-to-Tweet: Remember that we are all miles away from something. If we never start, we will never get any closer. #runners #workout

WRITING PROMPT: Jillian Willows woke up in a sweat. She’d had the same nightmare for the fourth night in a row. Not exactly what she needs the day she is scheduled to run in the biggest race of her life. Write a short scene of dialogue between Jillian and an undercover angel who is sent to encourage her to run the race with endurance.

Walking Into 2020

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photo by Alexas Fotos on Pixabay

This year, 2020, I am challenging myself to walk for at least 20 minutes five times a week.

I came across this idea through a podcast I listen to called Happier with Gretchen Rubin. This podcast contains life hacks, practical ways to manage time, and ideas for living a happier life.

Now, I am not new to walking. In fact, years ago, too many to claim, my doctor told me that I had high cholesterol and I needed to start exercising. He suggested walking. At the time, I had small children, so taking the kids for a walk a few times a week was easy to add to my routine, and they loved the adventure.

Then while the kids were growing up and going through those wild but wonderful teenage years, my reasons for walking changed. My motto became “not for vanity, but for sanity.” My few minutes walking through the neighborhood or meeting up with a friend at the walking track gave me perspective and made me recognize that my need for exercise went beyond the physical to the mental.

Now as a writer, my need to move has increased tenfold. My sedentary job pushes me to keep up my walking in order to maintain good health, but I have also discovered when I exercise my creative juices flow more readily, giving me inspiration and new ideas. Once again, my reasons have gone beyond that of the physical and mental to include the creative.

So, when I heard this podcast, I decided to pick up the gauntlet and accept the Walk 20 in 2020 challenge. I would increase the number of days I walk from three to five and see how the Lord uses this investment of time in my life.

If you have been feeling the nudge to get more active, I would challenge you to join me in my quest for twenty minutes of walking five days a week, and to entice you, I want to leave you with five great reasons to be a walker:

  1. Walking clears your mind and ups your creativity by 60 percent according to a Stanford University study.
  2. It gives you time to pray and think.
  3. It reduces your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and stroke.
  4. It strengthens your bones and muscles.
  5. It improves your mood and leaves you feeling happier.

With all these benefits, you might want to give walking a try and walk into the New Year knowing you’re doing something worthwhile for your mind, body, and spirit.

“But they that wait for Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings of eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (ASV).

Prompt: The bells chimed midnight. Carol couldn’t wait to begin her new project. She loved the clean slate of a whole new year in front of her.

Click-to-Tweet: Five great reasons to be a walker – Bonita McCoy in Walking into 2020 via @InspiredPrompt

3 Questions Wednesday with Martin Wiles

Martin Wiles joins us this week. Before we get to know him, how’s it going with you and your goals for the new year? Stay after it, hard-work, focus and discipline will help you accomplish many things this year. Now, let’s get to know Martin and how he has worked to achieve in his writing.

Martin Wiles lives in South Carolina and is the founder of Love Lines from God. He is a freelance editor, English teacher, minister, and author who serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and as a proof-editor for Courier Publishing. He is the author of six books and has been published in numerous publications. His most recent book, A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapades in a Busy World, released in December 2019.

Let’s get to know a little more about Martin. For starters, what do you love most about the writing process? The least?

Martin: The least is easy: marketing. I would imagine this is every writer’s least favorite thing to do. We’d rather sit down and pen the words than have to promote what we have written or had published. Unfortunately, marketing is a vital part of the writing process, so I suck it up, make a regular schedule, decide where and how I will promote my writing, and get busy. Consistency is the key. After all, I’m the only person—unless I pay someone—that I can count on to do this with regularity. And like most writers, I have limited funds. So, I rarely pay anyone to promote my writing, and I take advantage of every free resource I know about.

My favorite thing is the freedom to put my thoughts on paper when and where I want, and to know they have the potential to be read the world over, hopefully changing lives in the process. Each day, I check my Blogger statistics to see how many people have visited my website and read my post and to see which countries they reside in. I am very humbled when I see how God uses me and how He uses other writers in ways we could never imagine. Technology has opened numerous doors for writers.

You are not alone with marketing challenges. The industry is changing and whether or not you self-publish, the author has a big role in marketing. Next question, describe your writing space.

Martin:  My writing space began as a secluded spot in my quiet office. Currently, it is nestled in a part of our small patio townhome between the den and the dining room. Since my children are grown and gone—and since the grandsons my wife keeps leave after supper—I have plenty of quiet time if I need it. My main time for writing, however, begins at 4:30 a.m. I’ve always been a morning person—my brain shuts down around 8:30 p.m.—so my inspiration comes before the sun rises. My desk is the bottom iron table on which once sat a sewing machine that belonged to my great-grandmother. The top is a thick piece of plywood that either my father or my grandfather mounted on it. It’s a small space, but with most everything I need stored on my laptop, I don’t require much space.


Click to Tweet: Marketing is a vital part of the writing process, so I suck it up, make a regular schedule, decide where and how I will promote my writing, and get busy. Consistency is the key.


It sounds like your desk alone carries a few stories. Were you a young-writer, late-bloomer, or somewhere in-between?

Martin: As a serious writer, I was a late bloomer. I suppose I wrote in school as every other child is required to do—and I wrote many papers in college—but writing in the genre I do now came much later. My writing in earnest started shortly after my dad died in 2009. What the connection was between his death and my writing, I’ve never been able to determine. I just know it began then. Dad was not a writer, except for his sermons, so I wasn’t following his example. I had written many sermons myself, but in 2009, I began writing devotions. Since then, I’ve branched out to nonfiction articles and two nonfiction books, but devotions are my mainstay.

Get to know more about Martin Wiles. Here’s how to best connect:


Just Released: A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapades in a Noisy World

Martin’s latest book A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapades in a Noisy World, combines his love for the outdoors and his passion for devotions. Since the “silence” of nature seems to be the place where God speaks the loudest to many people, he decided to filter through the many devotions he’s written and selected those that dealt with his hiking, backpacking, and camping experiences—especially those that had spiritual implications.

Available on Amazon, for purchase and download.

A Fit Writer in 2020: Eat, Live, Thrive Healthy Lifestyle

By Jennifer Hallmark

I stared down at the scale in disgust. Once again, I’d slowly edged up in my weight until I’d almost reached that number. In my mind, a certain number was more than I could allow myself to weigh. This was the second time in ten years that I’d almost reached it. Something had to change.

Diet short term. Exercise off and on again. I’ve studied diet and exercise. I’ve struggled to do both at the same time because, well, it was too hard to be disciplined in both areas. I did pretty well when I went to Curves, an exercise place that provided a specific way to eat healthier. But then our local Curves closed and once again, I wasn’t sure what to do.

I’d always been active when the children were younger and we had a farm working with cattle and chickens. But I’d semi-retired in 2011 and become a full-time writer. My brain and fingers were the only part of me that seemed to be healthy. At 56 years old, I was dealing with asthma, digestive issues, back pain, fatigue, and low energy. A part could be blamed on menopause but I knew my poor exercise and diet were also to blame.

One day, I heard about the Eat, Live, Thrive diet for women, a lifestyle plan to rev up your midlife metabolism. That struck a chord in me. Finally, a plan formulated for where I was, that understood the hot flashes, mood swings, and weight gain.

Here’s the blurb:  Eat, Live, Thrive Diet shows women how they can not only lose excess body fat permanently but also improve their overall health in critical areas such as brain function, resistance to disease, slowing down external aging, and increasing energy. This highly effective eating plan is presented in a compassionate voice by two experienced health coaches who share personal experiences of battling weight and emotional eating issues.

Whereas most diets are short-lived or require substantial upkeep to maintain, Eat, Live, Thrive Diet is a viable eating plan that women can adhere to indefinitely. In addition to minimizing sugar intake, the plan emphasizes the importance of short-term intermittent fasting–a simple lifestyle change that makes it easier and more effective for many mature women to reach their health and weight loss goals. The book also highlights the health risks and drawbacks of many popular fad diets that can be harmful on a long-term basis.

Click to tweet: “I couldn’t just diet. I needed a total change in the way I ate and exercised. But how?” Eat Live Thrive Healthy Lifestyle Diet #HealthyEating #EatClean

I ordered the book and prayed. Could I finally get serious? I’d reached a point where I couldn’t just diet. I needed a total change in the way I ate and thought about food, one I could stay on until I died. 😊 I also joined a gym and saved money to hire a personal trainer for a short time to set me up a cardio and weight-training plan I can stick to.

On September 23rd, I started the first phase, which is food testing, to see how my body reacted to different foods. One note: I also ordered the healthy self-talk download and listened to it. A lot. I knew my mind needed to be retrained with positive talk that agreed with the Word of God and this was really helpful.

I went by the book as much as possible (it encourages you not to be obsessive) and finished that phase. One important part of the plan is short-term intermittent fasting. I would eat during a 12-hour period, then fast for 12-hours. I occasionally fasted longer. Next, I formulated how I would eat according to my body and started the lifestyle phase. By Thanksgiving, I’d lost 15 pounds.

Woo hoo! I’d like to say I lost more after Thanksgiving, but the temptation was strong throughout the holiday season. I had good days and bad ones, eating wise. But on January 1st, I weighed and I’d only gained back 2 lbs. So, I felt pretty good about it.

I start my new gym plan today and am back on the lifestyle phase with the fasting. And I’d like to lose 15 more pounds.

Positive results? I weigh less. I’ve lost a little over one clothing size. Food tastes so much better, mainly because I avoid processed food and sugar. I’m more mentally alert. My asthma has bothered me less than it ever has.

Not-so-positive results? Especially at the beginning, I was hungry. A lot. And I wanted to turn to sweets and carbs for comfort when I was having a tough day. It was hard not to do so. I had to really shop to find what I needed and plan meals instead of just throwing something together at the last minute.

I blew it some days. But one part of the healthy self-talk audio says. “But when I mess up, I get over it and get back on my plan quickly without frustration or guilt.” And “I desire so much more than just good taste. My body deserves the best fuel I can give it.” I remind myself that I want to be healthy, as much as I can.

I’ve found enjoyment in taking care of myself because that truly is the bottom line. Am I worth taking care of? If I don’t do it, no one will do it for me. Only I determine how much I move each day and what I choose to eat.

Writing for years to come is my goal. If I’m going to be able to do that, my lifestyle had to change. For now, it’s working for me. Will it work for you? It might. Make up your mind that writing is important and to do your best work, you need to be healthy.

Start today. You’ll be glad you did. Share something you plan to do this year for your health in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you!

Fit for the Long Run

I laugh as I consider me attempting a long run. I have a dear friend who runs marathons. I watch her in awe, knowing she has spent countless hours preparing for a race. And then, you know what? It doesn’t really matter if she doesn’t win. What matters is, she finishes.

I’ve always taken pretty good care of myself. I tried to eat right. I’d take long walks, followed by some strengthening exercises. But a few months back, I became distracted by life and too busy to take a few minutes out of my day to go for a long, leisurely walk. The few minutes it took to go through the exercise routine seemed too much for me. I was in a hurry. I had to finish the next thing on my list.

Kicked to the sidelines, exercise languished. I sat too long. I’m a bookkeeper, so my job is mostly sedentary. I write in my spare time. We all know what that means—more sitting. Right now, writing this, I’m sitting. But you know how it is—I must finish it before I get up. If I leave it, I may not get back to it!

Outside, the sun is shining. It beckons to me, “I’m shining for you! Take a few moments away. Come play in the sunshine!”

I’m ignoring it, pressing on. When I finish all my chores, I’ll head out there. Only thing is when I finish it’s nearly dark. The sun has gone on its way. I missed another opportunity to enjoy its warmth and the boost of vitamin D I so desperately need.

Result: After months of abusing myself in this way, I began to suffer odd pains in my body. I didn’t feel right. The pain increased so I went to the doctor. They ran all sorts of tests, only to find…nothing.

My chiropractor kept telling me, “Get up. Don’t spend such long hours sitting in front of a computer screen.” He suggested I try using a dictation program to write my stories or redesign my desk so I can sit or stand. “The stress is literally making you sick.” He was right.

For many, January presents a fresh start. A reset. Time to toss out the bad habits I’ve picked up over the last few stressful months of the former year. I’m planning some positive changes that will help me destress and find my way back to health.

When I feel better, I write better. Or at least, I can write more. So, I’m getting up right now and walking away from the computer desk for a few minutes. Across the room, I spend time working through a routine given to me by a friend who happens to be a personal trainer. They are simple exercises that take only a few minutes and can be done several times during the day. You can easily find a routine like it online, or try Pinterest!

I break my computer work into sections, using an alarm on my phone to remind me to get up and walk. Drink water. Eat a healthy snack. Do I really need to remind myself to drink water? Yes!!

These are small steps, but really, that’s all it takes. When I begin to feel better, I will have the energy to do more. Stay a little longer at the gym, park farther from the door at the shopping center. Stop at the park on the way home from work and make an extra lap around the walking loop or path. Take the dog out for a walk (if I had a dog).

“Exercise brightens your eyes,” one of my teachers used to tell his students. All I know is, my blood flows faster, producing more energy to accomplish daily tasks. My brain works better. Words come easier. During those short exercise routines, ideas pop into my mind. I take time to jot them down without interrupting the activity.

I may not win the race, but I intend to finish.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. – 1 Corinthians 9:24 ESV

Writing Prompt: Janet closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath. Today was the day for new beginnings. All around her, well-trained athletes worked through their final routines, preparing their minds and bodies for the race. Was she really doing this?

Click-to-Tweet: Outside, the sun is shining. It beckons to me, “I’m shining for you! Take a few moments away. Come play in the sunshine!” – Fit for the Long Run via @InspiredPrompt and @batowens