Dig Deep in 2016

As we transition into a new year so many things come to mind: did I accomplish what I set out to do? Was I the best wife, mother, or person I could have been?  Could I have been more helpful to others? Every year I begin to think and pray about what I can do to better myself and those around me.  Then I sit down to write it out and it progresses into my hopes and dreams for the New Year. A resolution suggests you have an answer to something; I am searching for answers, I don’t have them. Years ago I decide a resolution was simply not the best word to describe what I intended to accomplish in the New Year. So I simply don’t use it.

2015 proved to be quite the year and if I didn’t take time to learn from it, I would simply make the same mistakes again and again, as we so often do.  I am the kind of person that truly believes that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. I don’t believe that I have very many limitations and therefore put undue pressure on myself to accomplish more than what is reasonable.  Remember I am an” A Type” personality. I am sure that you are not like me, so I will continue talking to myself in first person!

So what did I learn from 2015 that can help me in 2016? The biggest question I could and should ask myself.  Well, I learned that I am not invincible. And believe it or not, it did come as a surprise to me. I mean come on, I am 46 years old, had multiple back surgeries, never supposed to walk or have children and I’ve had so many x-rays, I should literally glow in the dark! So it’s pretty difficult to get me to believe that I simply “can’t”.  I am not sure if age has anything to do with it or simply that I have become more careful but I have finally decided I need to actually take some things a bit slower than normal. Dare I say, give up, because that will never happen to me, so we shall simply say slow down and take things at a slower pace.

I simply do not do things at a slow pace! I set a goal and jump in with both feet; start high and aim high. What’s the big deal, right? Well nothing if I value walking or simply moving! This year I tried crossfit! All the rage and why not me? Well I can now tell you that it is not for me and that I met my match. My body is simply not made for it and it literally put me out of commission for weeks, after only 2 days people! Not only that but I also learned that I don’t bounce back like I once did. As a matter of fact, I am still moving at a slower pace than normal and this incident was almost 6 months ago!

Fast forward to those dreams and goals left on the table…..now what? Do I give up? Do I simply say, I can’t do it? NEVER in a million years! I must however, learn to do something that I have never truly mastered, working slowly and meticulously towards those goals in order to accomplish them on my terms and not based on someone else’s opinions or ideals. BIG news for me! I have actually realized that I cannot do everything; and that carries over into every part of my life!  I have never been the person who says NO. I help when asked, whether I have the time or not. I do not like telling people NO when they need something. This is a good attribute but can be a demise if you don’t know when and where your limitations are.

So this year I have decided my goals are simply yet multi-layered, DIG DEEP! We all need to dig deep for what we wish to accomplish and let me say that goes into all areas of our life. My family and I decided to have a movie night and start the year off right with last year’s surprise box office hit, War Room! Let me just say that it put so much into perspective for me that I am literally looking at where my “room of war” can be.  I realized that we (that would be most of us) give up too easily on our dreams, our family, our relationships and the list goes on. So for me, this was a huge wake up call to add to my I can’t do it all realization, but God can!

So what now?  I’m so glad you asked! I have summed it up in what I feel are the keys to successfully being you, and fully living the life Christ has for you. These keys will level any playing ground and help you create success in every situation and area of your life: repetition, observation, and self-evaluation.

Studies show repetition will create habits. Habits can be positive and habits can be negative. The key is creating good habits that will offer ROI (return on investment)! Observation is what we do all day every day; we observe people, practices, and if we are smart, we learn from those observations. Lastly self-evaluation – what good is any of this if we are not willing to stop and give ourselves a little look over, to see if we have implemented any of the above. What good is it to go through life if you’re not going to try to correct, repair, or rebuild YOU and your relationships?

Many of you are now going to expect me to lay out an exercise plan for the year and how to make it happen. (I will say that will be part of what I will implement this year, in a slower, smarter pace. No more cross-fit for me!) Truthfully, I have come to the realization that prayer is truly the answer for everything in life! The bible says “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Philippians 4:6-7

Now let’s put things into perspective. We need to pray with repetition (it will most certainly produce an ROI). We need to observe situations and people that we are praying for. We need to take time for self-evaluation: are we hitting the mark with our prayers. Of course these three things are meant to be implemented into every part of life. Just think how much more productive, successful and less stressed we will be! And yes, I purchased my Battle Plan for Prayer book and bible study to help me get started! Stay tuned!




Eat Clean and Live Lean in 2015

Everyone needs something that is simple, sustainable, satisfying, and inspiring!

The best way to make any change is to keep it simple.  Simplicity ensures that we can continue what we implement.  Sustainable means that we are creating a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods.  (ie….keeping it simple so we can keep it up!)  Satisfying, well let’s face it, we all want to eat things that are pleasing and live a life that makes us happy!  Basically if it’s not inspiring us to move forward, to improve, and to mature; well, it’s not worth our time!

So let’s get down to business!

Eating Clean

What does it mean to eat clean?  It’s not as difficult as everyone thinks!  Eating clean in a nutshell means, consuming food in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible.  So if it is in a box, it shouldn’t be in our cabinet.  It is important to remember that this is NOT a diet: no counting calories, carbs, or fats. This lifestyle is simple and sustainable.  And yes, once you get started, it is satisfying and definitely inspiring because you will look and feel better!

As we move throughout the year, I will be posting websites and articles that will help us better understand clean eating and how we can begin to incorporate it into our family meals.  To get us started here is a great article that breaks down what clean eating is and the many health benefits it brings to the body. http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/the-clean-eating-diet-whats-it-all-about.html

Living Lean

We need to rid our life of all unnecessary negatives: attitudes, stuff/clutter/possessions, time wasting activities, responsibilities that are not ours.  That is a year of work within itself! We have to start somewhere!

The first thing we must do is to change our attitude!  I have been preaching this for over a year….Choose2Change.   For those of you who know me, at least you are familiar with the concept.  For those who are new, here it is: Each day the average person will make 612 decisions; who knew?  That equates to 773,618 decisions over a lifetime – and unfortunately, most people will come to regret 143,262 of those.  Not every decision is life threatening but each one has the potential to create “change” in our life and the lives of those around us.  So it boils down to a choice we make to better ourselves!

We must also learn to separate the things that are important in our lives and things that are a distraction to our future.  This can prove to be a difficult thing for many but when you begin to prioritize “things” we really see what is significant and what we really need to let go of.  Time is something that we need not waste.  We must know and trust where we put our energy and our efforts.  YOU are simply too important not too!

God has a plan for our life and it doesn’t include unnecessary stops!  My husband always says, the best GPS in life is your destiny.  When we keep our eyes and our heart set on our God given destiny, we will avoid many pitfalls.  If we get our eyes off that destiny, it is much easier to fall into the time and energy wasting schemes that will deplete us.  A depleted YOU is an unproductive and unsuccessful YOU!

Now that the foundation of “Eat Clean and Live Lean in 2015” has been laid, we can focus on our health, and our dreams, and our future!

#Choose2Change #EatCleanLiveLeanin2015

Heart Health Month: Let’s Go RED

Many of you know that February is heart health month; what most people don’t know is that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the US. Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the NC Council for Women and American Heart Association Go RED for Women Day. I met some wonderful people, heard stories from survivors, listened to great tips on eating out, had some cooking lessons, and most importantly learned about prevention and signs of heart disease.

I will start by telling you upon parking my car at the NC Department of Education Building, I immediately realized that I had locked my keys, purse, phone, and everything else in my car! Not a great way to start the day but I was determined not to let that stop me. After being welcomed by the police at the front door, a one hour wait on AAA, and peaking my head in and out of the event, I finally made it to my seat!

A cooking demonstration by Antoniette Martin, Director of Health Ministries

The stats on heart disease are definitely staggering. Did you know that 2,200 people in the US will die per day this year because of this disease? 800,000 people in the US will die this year because of heart disease. 17 million will die this year.

The good news is that we can prevent it. If you follow my blog or FaceBook post, you will know I am all about making better choices and that is how we can kick this disease! Watching our diets by choosing heart healthy foods and getting moderate exercise for 20 minutes a day will drastically reduce our chances of contracting this deadly life stealer.

The problem is that most women don’t recognize the signs or warnings of a heart attack. This link will provide you with a list of warning signs you may not be aware of http://womenheart.site-ym.com/?page=Support_Symptoms. Take time to review the signs so that you are in a position to recognize symptoms and get immediate help.

I met Marietta Wagner. She has had 3 heart attacks, a stint, and triple bypass surgery; unbelievable to hear that her first heart attack was at the age of 30! This stuff is real. We need to educate ourselves and learn to make better choices for our health before it is too late!

Marietta Wagner of WomenHeart

I learned how to make heart healthy oatmeal cookies, and my new friend Wade Harris, owner of Raleigh Personal Fitness had us exercising while we ate! We enjoyed a fashion show by ladies who have all survived the disease or had family members touched by it.

Wade Harris of Raleigh Personal Training

My biggest take away from the event was simple, how can we bring awareness and educate others on prevention and save lives! Thank you Gale Wilkins, Executive Director NC Council for Women, for hosting this amazing event with American Heart Association; I am a better person because I came…….

Gale Wilkins Executive Director, NC Council for Women

Listening to the testimonies of survivors

Welcome Bags

The 2014 Revolution: Choose2Change!

It’s that time again!  Another year has come and gone and we are well on our way to 2014.  Many of us have undergone some serious changes this past year, some by choice and some not.  One thing remains the same; we now have the opportunity to make the most of every situation we are given in 2014.

As we start this New Year we will be faced with many choices.  Most people start the year with a New Year’s resolution and many of those will choose to break it within the first month, if they last that long!

This year, I want to challenge you NOT to make a New Year’s resolution but to make a New Years REVOLUTION!

Resolution comes from the root word resolute which means firmly resolved, set in purpose.  Revolution is most commonly known as it relates to politics and history.  But it literally means a sudden, complete or marked change in something; a complete turnaround.

As I look at the two, I am convinced that a resolution can be easily broken but a revolution must be followed through.  You cannot begin to make a complete turnaround without a complete follow through!  And that my friend requires CHANGE!

Last month, I was blessed to have been named, Mrs. District of Columbia International 2014.  My platform is, “Chose2Change”.  This is the message I am focused on and I am convinced will change your life!  Each day the average person will make 612 decisions per day; who knew?  That equates to 773,618 decisions over a lifetime – and unfortunately most people will come to regret 143,262 of those.  Not every decision is life threatening but each one has the potential to create “change” in your life and the lives of those around you.

It is important for us to note that when we make a choice, it not only affects us, but it affects those around us.  For this reason there is the potential, over time, to completely transform our surroundings!  I mean let’s look at something as simple as cutting out junk foods and eating fruit, veggies and lean meats (this is called clean eating by the way).  We could add years of healthy living to our lives, turn back the aging clock, decrease our cholesterol, reverse diabetes and heart disease and the list goes on.  This is really a simple choice that many people just don’t think twice about.

Let’s look at our actions!  I just lost half of you didn’t I……?  No worries, we all need to make room for improvement there!  Maybe we should think twice before we speak to our boss and get a pink slip because of it, or to our husband who just messed up plans we made three weeks ago, or our children who are simply learning how to navigate life in their teenage years; we might be able to make a better choice of our words and have a different outcome.  We have all heard, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it” and how true that is.

How about making a choice to get involved in our community instead of always complaining about it?  Maybe we should take a day to pick up the trash at the entrance of our subdivision instead of attending the homeowners meeting only to bring attention to the fact that there is trash at the entrance of the subdivision.

If you see someone in need, how about helping them to get re-acclimated into society instead of bashing them and the unfortunate situation they happen to be in.  Some people just need someone to believe in them to make a difference in how they see themselves.

Maybe you know a friend who has family member that just found out they have a life threatening disease.  What is your response?  Do you say, “oh my goodness”, or do you choose to get involved and help raise funds to find a cure?

My point is simple; you can “Chose2Change” just about anything in your life.  If you are faced with a situation you have no control over, you can certainly change the way you look at it.  That within itself, holds the potential to turn around your attitude and your attitude is the key to EVERY situation!

No more resolutions but a REVOLUTION; a marked change and a complete turnaround in YOUR life!   This is the year that can change the rest of your life!  You have the opportunity to walk through open doors, make possibilities reality and make a difference not only in your life but in the life of others!

We CAN do this!  Let’s make 2014 the absolute best and choose2change the way we live our life!  It really is that easy!

Yours by Choice and for Change,


A New YOU Resolution

How many times have you made a new year’s resolution only to have it last a month, if you’re lucky!  The problem is that we tend to choose a resolution that is only a symptom of a greater problem and that is why so often times it is not kept.  So what’s the answer?  Find the core of the problem, work to fix it and then everything else will fall into place.  I suggest the main problem with over 90% of the women is….. themselves!  YOU are not happy with YOU!  So this year, I challenge you to make a New YOU Resolution and watch things in your life fall into place.

Everyone wants to lose weight, read their Bible more, be a better wife and mother (these are obviously things I have listed as my resolutions in the past).  The fact of the matter is that until you make the ultimate decision to work on YOU, none of these things will truly be accomplished.  As women, we tend to put everyone’s needs in front of ours – as we should in many areas.  What we don’t do is take time to better ourselves.  I came to a decision last year that I need to grab hold of my life before it passed me by.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have a wonderful life; a loving husband, the best son, a ministry filled with excitement and blessings.  But what was I doing for me?  Sadly the answer was nothing. 

In December of 2010, I made a decision to enter the Mrs. North Carolina United States Pageant.  What was I doing?  I was 42 years old, had never in a pageant and here I was!  Crazy as it seems, it was definitely the Lord who placed it in my heart.  The pageant challenged me to push myself harder and faster than I have in years.  It opened doors in ministry that would never have been opened before.  It became a challenge to me, and you all know that I LOVE a challenge!  I began to watch what I was eating, exercise daily (and by exercise, I mean walk on the treadmill), look at my attire differently, read more about healthy eating and lifestyles, wonder if I was using the right face cream to keep those wrinkles at bay.  These things all helped me to realize that in many ways I had let myself down.  I had worked so hard on everything but me, and unfortunately, it was showing.

In February, I became Mrs. Ballentyne United States and competed in Mrs. North Carolina United States in June.  What a wonderful experience it was!  I was surrounded by gorgeous women and I must say it definitely took me out of my church comfort zone! Just put yourself next to Mrs. North Carolina 2010, Dawn Brinkley and Mrs. North Carolina 2011, Debbie Miller, and we can talk!  Much to my surprise, I was named in the top 12, the top 7, placed as a runner up and given the coveted title of Mrs. Congeniality!  Definitely a time in my life I will never forget (thank you Marietta Burke!). On a side note, I lost 23lbs and after the pageant have only gained 5lbs back and I won my first pageant, Queen of the Chesapeake, last month! – Not too bad!

So what now?  Do I just stop and say, “that was fun?”  No way! I realized that there is so much of me that I need to work on it could take years!  I find myself reading more and more on fitness and nutrition, and looking at my life and experiences and wondering how many women could benefit from what I have learned and currently learning.  I have always said that a pastor’s wife is nothing more than a glorified life coach and I believe that it’s time to reach out and make a difference in the lives of others.  This year, I will enter the Mrs. Virginia Pageant and look forward to the challenges that it brings.  I plan to continue my education on fitness and nutrition working towards my certification, work hard on my personal fitness plan and see what the Lord has in store for me as I go.  I will also be planning my first women’s conference in 2012, something that I have dreamed of for years!

Why am I telling you this? Because I believe that inside each of YOU is something greater than you have realized, I’m here to tell you, it’s not too late!  You may be the perfect wife and mother, with the perfect body and job, but I guarantee that you still have something in you that needs to come out!  Maybe it’s your attitude, a new career, better relationships with your family and friends, or maybe you just simply need to sit and hear the voice of the Lord speak to you and direct you as you train your children, help your husband, reach your goals and set new ones! 

Each of YOU has a destiny!  Some of you are already seeing it come to being.  None of you have seen it in its totality.  So this year I challenge you to take a good look in the mirror.  Do you like what you see?  Are you happy with whom you have become?  Is there anything in your life that needs improvement?  If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then it’s time to make a new YOU resolution!  When you do, things in your life will fall into place.  You will see your health increase, your family flourish, your career move forward, and you will be on your way to “Your Best YOU!”

Blessings in the midst of transition

Sometimes we simply forget to count our blessings!  We should all be thankful for so many things that we take for granted on a daily basis; our family, our friends, our jobs, our church, our home, and the list goes on.  God has given us so many blessings that we simply overlook.  Why is that?

Our lives are full of things that constantly take up our time. Things that we should be able to put on hold, but for some reason these things seem to fill our days with empty, endless, time consuming nothings.  Yet we have little time for things that matter most in life; God, prayer, family, and taking care of ourselves.  These are the things that we seem to always put on hold for another day.  We will start the fast tomorrow, or the diet, or the prayer journal, or maybe it’s simply taking our children to the park for a walk.  Things that are of true importance, we never seem to have enough time to actually do.

God has designed something called day and night.  The World has a schedule that seems to fill those days and nights with everything that it deems important, but in the end, these are things that waste our time, preventing us from the things that mean the most.  We must realize that Gods plan for our lives doesn’t work on the “normal schedule”.

As you know, we recently left Charlotte where we had lived for the past 8 years.  I must say that those eight years were not the most memorable.  But they were eight years of being settled in one place, or at least as settled as a traveling ministry family can be. 

Moving to Virginia Beach has proved to be a wonderful thing!  A much needed time of rest for our family;  a place for Judah to belong, learn and strive in his studies; a church family that we love and need; friends that are close enough to visit and spend time with.  The list truly could go on for the duration of this letter!  So why am I having such a hard time with this transition? It’s the best thing that has happened to us in years!

Transition is a place that means we are changing or something around us is changing.  Webster’s states that transition is passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another; or a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another.  Let’s take some time here to let that sink in!  A PASSAGE from one STATE, stage, subject, or PLACE to ANOTHER; or a MOVEMENT, development, or EVOLUTION from one FORM, stage, or style to ANOTHER!  Once you pick yourself up off the floor, we can move forward!

My “PASSAGE” from one “STATE” to “ANOTHER”- or my “MOVEMENT” or “EVOLUTION” from one “FORM” to “ANOTHER”- means many different things in my life.  It means that I am no longer a homeschool mother.  I now have to live under someone else’s schedule for school, dinner, and bedtime.  That is a huge change in our life! 

My home is set up differently, and therefore my treadmill is upstairs which prevents me from walking every night while my family and I watch our nightly episode of “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.”  Two months of no walking equals 5lbs of weight on short Michele!  Although these things may seem small or indifferent on the larger scale in life, they have been absolutely insurmountable obstacles for me to overcome the past two months.

I find myself in the “evolution forming” definition of the word transition.  I am “evolving” if you will into the new mom, wife, and woman that God has intended for me to be in the midst of this transition.  That means that my life is changing for the good.  And yet, I am having a hard time with the blessings that He has given me in the meantime. 

What’s my problem?  Why can’t I just be thankful and move on?  Transition changes us, and we are creatures of habit.  Like it or not, most of us have a hard time with change simply because it is different.  That means that we can miss the blessings in the midst of the transitions due to our lack of or inability to handle change!  We MUST move on!  When God has blessings awaiting us, if we don’t move on, we will never recognize the totality of who He wants us to be or all that He has for us to accomplish!

God loves each of us so much that He will allow situations or circumstances in our lives to make us uncomfortable so we can TRANSITION to the new place and position that He has destined us for.  So come on people!  Let’s count our blessings in the midst of the transition that we find ourselves in.  I promise that they will far outweigh the discomfort that you think feel.  Think of it like this, there is a sometimes difficult transition from childhood to adulthood.  But if we never become an adult; we never grow up, have a family, take on responsibilities and set the course for our future.  After all, it’s the circle of life!

I am more convinced than ever that when we feel uncomfortable in life’s situation, it’s nothing more than the Lord “TRANSITIONING” us to our next step in life and ministry. 

Transition is simply promotion!
Bask in it, love it, live it!

My prayer for you is that you take time every day, in every situation to count the blessings that the Lord has given you.  Write them down and you will see His handy work all over the wall!

Let’s enjoy all our blessings while in the Midst of Transition!

True Beauty!

You are more beautiful than you realize! Sure we’d all look fabulous with a makeup artist on call! But true beauty doesnt require camera-ready perfection, and those “flaws” you focus on can’t take away the light in your eyes, the warmth of your smile and the radiance that is you. There are all kinds of beauty. Your beauty is true, too! Beauty is from the inside out!

Competition is within!

Today is a day to focus on myself and not on the competion.  If we choose to compete against others then we will surely loose.  If we choose to compete with ourselves and make it an opportunity to learn and grow internally; then we will win no matter what the outcome may be! Competition is within yourself!  Choose YOU!

When you make choices that bring about changes, you create destiny!

We are now in the fifth month of  2011.  As with any year, it is filled with choices for us to make, changes for us to see, and challenges yet to be reached.   Most people make a new years resolution.

How many of you made a new year resolution.  How many of you have already broken it?

The Lord began to deal with me the end of last year about a few things and I no longer make a new years resolution.  Mostly because they are never kept.

See I am a very analytical person, I figure things out, I fix them that is just how He created me so when He speaks to me, He gives me scenarios.

If there is one thing I am sure of, its that the choices we make today will bring about change and that change will bring about and restoration in your life, the life of your family and the life of your church revival, refreshing ultimately leading you to your destiny!

  • Resolution comes from the root word.  Resolute which means firmly resolved set in purpose
  • Goal – the result or achievement toward which effort is directed.
  • Challenge – something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, special effort

I felt something rise up inside of me and say, this year I challenge you.   I’m always up for a challenge and knew that change was on its way!

My challenge was to make choices that bring about changes that lead to destiny!

Then the Lord began to deal with me about some specifics regarding my personal life, my family, and our ministry.

I changed the way I eat, I walk 2-3 miles a day, I began to look at myself differently than in years past.  As a wife and mother, many of us put our needs, thoughts and wants to the side to make sure our family is taken care of first.  That is just the way we are and I do believe that it is good. 

However I have learned that just because we have a family, we do not have  to settle for less for ourselves.  We must maintain and strive for our goals and continue to challenge ourselves each day with Gods word and with His guidance we can achieve anything we set our minds to.

I have made personal choices that have brought about changes in the way I look, feel and act.  These changes are being felt throughout our family, our ministry and I can see them reflected in my future!

  • Revive – yourself, your dreams
  • Refresh – your body, your mind and your spirit
  • Restore – your family and relationships

It all starts with you, your choices and the changes they bring!