Pushing through the Breakpoint

footprintsMy journey to fitness hit a wall this week. It happened on Wednesday, January 29th. In the morning, while I was on the treadmill, it seemed like thirty minutes lasted for hours. Often I feel tired around the fifteen minute mark. On Wednesday it hit me seven minutes into the routine. I had to push myself, pray, remind myself why I was doing this, and ultimately just keep taking one step at a time. Most of the day I felt like I couldn’t go on. My cravings kicked in – I wanted sugar. More self-talk, more prayer, distracting myself with other things, continuing to take one step at a time. When I reached the end of the day and looked back, I celebrated. I made it!

Breakpoint: According to Wikipedia, there are many different types of breakpoints. In computer programing, it refers to “an execution stop point in the code of a computer program.” In commercial leases, a breakpoint is “the gross sales amount that triggers payment of percentage rent.” In meteorology, breakpoint refers to “a location referred to when issuing watches, warnings, or advisories for specific areas.”

I hit my first fitness breakpoint on Wednesday – the critical time when victory was possible, but defeat was nipping at my heels. The i-fitness instructor on my walking program says it this way, “Come on, push through. I know it’s hard, but you can do it.”

There are several things that helped me “push through”:

  • Remembering my goals
  • Reminding myself I was doing this for myself and for God
  • Taking one step at a time
  • Focusing on my successes, not on how much further I had to go
  • Praying and asking God for strength I didn’t have

Since Wednesday, the journey has been easier. The good, healthy choices seem more automatic. It’s like I’ve crested a hill and am on the downward slope. I know there are more hills, maybe even mountains, ahead. But now that I’ve pushed through this one, I know I can do it again.

What about you? What keeps you going? What helps you push through those times when your goal looks impossible?

3 Things I’m #Determined to Do

This week in our Proverbs 31 study of Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food, by Lysa Terkeurst, our key word was “Determined”. Our key verse was:

1 Peter 5:7-8a, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert.”   NIV1984

There are three things I’m determined to do this year:

  1. IMG_00000206I am determined to follow God with all my heart and strength. Determination requires a choice. In Joshua 24:14-16, Joshua challenged the people of Israel to choose who they were going to serve. This choice resulted in actions – they had to throw away the gods their ancestors worshiped and serve the Lord. In Ephesians 4:22-25 we are given more details about how this choice to follow God should affect us (emphasis mine):22 “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”   I will choose to follow God, to seek His will, and to do what He asks. I will choose not to pursue my own selfish interests, not to engage in activities which will draw me away from God, and not to do things I know are wrong.
  2. I am determined to make lifestyle changes which honor God. I was reminded lately that I was not taking care of my body the way God wanted me to take care of it. I was feeling sluggish and the number on my scale was the highest it has ever been. Although I ate mostly healthy food, I ate too much of it, and snacked instead of waiting. Exercise was also something missing from my schedule. One of my resolutions this year was to make lifestyle changes which will honor God. I Corinthians 6:19 reminds me that my body really doesn’t belong to me; it belongs to God. I am determined to make the following lifestyle changes: eating mindfully, no snacking after supper, taking smaller portions, and exercising regularly. Although I have set some weight loss goals for myself, they are secondary to honoring God with my choices. I started this journey on January 2nd and am blogging here on Fridays about my journey.
  3. presentI am determined to use my spiritual gifts to honor God. I believe God gives each of us spiritual gifts to serve Him and His people. (If you’re not sure what your spiritual gifts are, take this gifts test.) My spiritual gifts are administration and exhortation. Although I don’t always like to lead, people tell me I’m good at it. Last year I took on the challenge of leading InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. Writing is a gift I’ve enjoyed most of my life. However, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I started taking this gift seriously. I’m thankful for a group of Canadian Christian writers who are determined to encourage, mentor, challenge, and equip one another. I will choose to use my writing to exhort others as God leads.

What about you? What are you determined to do?

New Project: The San Francisco Wedding Planner with HHP

Cover for Wedding Planner Series
Welcome to Donovan’s Wedding Service!
Helping Hands Press asked me to join five other authors to do an e-book series. You’ll experience a little fun and light romance as Heather Donovan struggles to keep all her clients, and business associates, happy. She’s so busy helping others plan the most magical wedding, she doesn’t have time for a romance of her own. But is she truly happy being alone?
Other Main Characters:
Gloria Donovan – Heather’s mother who spends half her time chasing men of all ages and the other half trying to find a man to catch her busy daughter’s eye.
Raul Tate – The administrative assistant whose Metro ways sometimes cause trouble for those at the office – and for his brother.
Bryan Tate MD – Raul’s brother, a tall/dark/handsome orthopedic surgeon, who recently moved back to town to be closer to his family.
Indigo D. Crane – The eccentric photographer Heather prefers to deal with who is still waiting to be discovered as a true artist.
Mario –Playboy extraordinaire, Mario is a chef by day and often caters weddings for Heather’s clients.
Skye Jansen – Heather’s best friend since high school and biggest cheerleader- when she’s not busy with her children or trying to save the planet from PCBs, MSG, and all things chemical or artificial.

Wedding Planner cover on iPadThis project is a bit different than others I’ve  done. First, after we signed the contract, we were given an introduction to the plot and the characters involved in the story. Second, all six authors are sharing one interconnected plot. Each author plays off the action presented by the previous writer. Third, the series will be done in three parts.

Part one: We each write one volume, a short story of about 10,000 words.

Part two: We each pick a character to focus on and tell some of their backstory.

Part three: We write another volume to wind down the plot and end the series.

Volume 1: The Initial Consultation will be released February 2014!

10 Writing Tools I Use

NOTE: This is the second topic in a blog hop I’m hosting for writers. To check out what other writers have to say on this topic, click on the button below:

Blog Hop for Writers sm

Although there are many writers who insist that writing longhand helps them with the creative process, I’m not one of them. I prefer to “write” at a keyboard. Here are some of the tools I use in my writing:

1. My iPad – My iMac has too many bells and whistles that distract me while I write. Lately, I’ve enjoyed using the Pages app on my iPad. The only downfall I’ve found is that the document doesn’t always look the same when I share it as a Word document.

2. Dictionary.com – When I need to check the meaning of a word, look for a more interesting word to use, or find a synonym or antonym, I use Dictionary.com. If I’m interested in a detailed etymology of a word, I’ll use my husband’s Complete Oxford English Dictionary instead.

3. Biblegateway.com – This is a wonderful resource I stumbled upon about a year ago. This site allows you to search for any Scripture reference or phrase you want in 39 different English translations. It also features translations in over 50 other languages including Greek and Hebrew.

4. BrainyQuote.com – This site has quotes listed alphabetically by the last name of authors as well as by topic.

5. iStockPhoto.com – If I don’t have an image or photograph for the project I’m working on, iStockPhoto.com probably will. Although there is a charge to use most of the images on this site, I’m happy to pay, knowing that I won’t be breaking any copyright rules.

6. Youtube.com – This is a handy site to find videos on about any topic you can imagine. I find it especially useful when I want to know how to do something or see how other people explain things.

7. Twitter.com – I’ve found Twitter a handy resource for following trends, gathering people’s opinions, and finding information. Although I don’t use it as often as some of the other tools, I appreciate having access to it when I need it. Twitter is also a wonderful way to meet people from all over the world who have similar interests.

8. My writing notebook – In case you’re wondering, not all my tools are online. I keep a notebook with me almost all the time and I jot down interesting things I see or hear, composites of people I meet, quotes that catch my attention, etc. When I write, I often pull out my notebook and dig for some new treasures to add to my writing.

9. Strong’s Concordance – Although this is similar to the resources available on Biblegateway.com, Strong’s also gives the Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic root of the English word used in the King James Version of the Bible. Often the same English word is used for many different words with varying meanings. I find this especially helpful when I’m digging for the meaning of verses.

10. Style Manuals – I have different style manuals I use depending on what I’m writing. Those I currently have in my library include:

  • The Canadian Style: A Guide to Writing and Editing
  • The Chicago Manual of Style
  • The Copyeditor’s Handbook by Amy Einsohn
  • Editing Canadian English
  • Oxford Guide to Canadian English Usage by Margery Fee & Janice McAlpine

What tools do you find useful in your writing?

Ups and Downs on the Road to Fitness

Caution SignIt has been 3 weeks since I started down the road of healthier choices with a view to becoming more fit. I’ve had some encouraging victories:

  • Cutting out snacks  – I no longer crave food in the evening. During the day I have felt hungry a few times between meals, but I’ve been able to satisfy that by drinking water and putting my attention elsewhere.
  • Eating more mindfully – Just the act of paying more attention to what I’m eating and when has made a difference. I consciously slow myself down and enjoy the flavor and texture of my food. I have been amazed at how I feel satiated even though I’m eating smaller portions.
  • Birthday HatAllowing myself some treats – Somehow this decision has freed me from craving “forbidden” food. If I want a treat, I allow myself to have one, but pay more attention to the serving size than I used to. I also try to eat my treat along with a meal so that my blood sugar level is not affected so drastically. Finally, I don’t sweat it if I’m invited out. This week I celebrated my birthday and thoroughly enjoyed my black forest cake with a generous helping of homemade ice cream.
  • Consistently using the treadmill – Up front I decided I would use the treadmill 6 days out of 7, giving myself Sundays off. In the past 3 weeks, I have only missed 1 day and that was because I left home at 6:15 in the morning and didn’t get home until 8:00 at night. The i-fit routines continue to challenge me – I’m now up to 30 minutes at a speed of 3.4 miles/hour and an incline between 5-10%.
  • Losing some weight and becoming more fit – I am down 7 pounds from where I started. I know the first pounds are the easiest to lose. This past week I only lost 1 pound, but at least I’m still heading in the right direction. And weight aside, I’m getting more fit. The other day I only had 20 minutes to spend on the treadmill. I challenged myself to walk at speeds between 3.5 – 3.8 miles/hour at an incline of 2%, and barely broke a sweat. This is a huge contrast to three weeks ago when I huffed and puffed my way through 20 minutes at speeds between 3.0 – 3.3 miles/hour.
  • BibleMemorizing scripture and learning – While I’m on the treadmill I alternate between Scripture memorization and watching videos on my iPad. (TedTalks is one of my favourite apps on my iPad.) In the past 3 weeks, I’ve memorized 5 verses; not a lot, but more than 0.

Last Saturday was one of the “downs” in my road to fitness. It’s the day I left early in the morning and arrived home in the evening. I wasn’t able to spend time walking. I did eat breakfast before I left home, which I was very thankful for later in the day. After breakfast, I spent 3 hours driving and arrived in Edmonton just in time for a meeting to start. The meeting lasted just over 3 hours and then a few of us chatted for another hour or so. During our visit I ate a gluten free cookie and some cheese. About 3:30 that afternoon I was feeling light-headed, so I stopped for a Wendy’s hamburger and some water. Then I went shopping. That’s when the craving kicked in. I was tired, I hadn’t eaten well, and I had another 3 hours of driving ahead of me. I gave in and bought chips, chocolate chip cookies, and some chocolate. Not healthy choices at all!

When I had time to reflect, I decided I should have planned ahead a little better and taken some healthy snacks with me, like carrot sticks, nuts, etc. If I had snacked during the meeting, my energy levels and blood sugar would have remained more stable. However, I was able to move past this “downer” and the next day I was back on track again.

What tips and tricks do you use to keep yourself going when you “fail”?

#Empowered by trusting God

Made to Crave CoverI’ve started another Proverbs 31 online Bible study. Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food by Lysa Terkeurst is the book we’re using. One of the questions Lysa asks early on in the book is:

“Is it possible we LOVE and RELY on food more than we love and rely on God?”

One of the things I appreciate about the Proverbs 31 studies is that these women are not afraid to ask tough questions and they expect honest answers – from themselves as well as study participants. It’s refreshing to be part of a community where we are able to be brutally honest and allow God to change us, while being supported and encouraged. I find this very empowering. Excuses don’t cut it. Only the truth.

This study deals with an age-old problem — relying on food; putting our trust in money, or position, or people RATHER THAN GOD. In Jeremiah 2:13, God states it this way:

“My people have sinned twice.
They have deserted me,
even though I am the spring of water that gives life.
And they have dug their own wells.
But those wells are broken.
They can’t hold any water.

Isn’t it ironic that we turn away from the almighty, loving, perfect God who created us and try to fill our emptiness with created things that don’t last, hurt us, and leave us in worse shape than we were before? How can we be so foolish? Thankfully, God understands that we are prone to sin and He waits for us to repent and come back to Him. He is the only one who can truly empower us.

As I begin this study, I choose to turn away from relying on food and people to relying on God. In and of themselves, these things are not bad. It’s my reliance on them that is wrong. I confess my sin of relying on “broken wells” and choose to rely on God today.

I know I face an uphill battle, but that’s okay because I’m empowered by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He stands with me and I can call out to Him. Lysa shares:

“When I started, I knew this battle would be hard — harder than I ever imagined. But through it all I determined to make God, rather than food, my focus. Each time I craved something I knew wasn’t part of my plan, I used that craving as a prompt to pray. I craved a lot. So, I found myself praying a lot. . . It was my way of tearing down the tower of impossibility and building something new. My tower of impossibility was food. Brick by brick, I imagined myself dismantling the food tower and using those same bricks to build a walkway of prayer, paving the way to victory.”

What about you? Are you trusting food, people, money? Or are you choosing to be empowered by God?

10 Steps to successfully hosting a blog hop

If you’ve thought about hosting a blog hop, but don’t know how, this post is for you. Blog hops are a great way to network and increase the traffic to your blog.

1. Pick your audience – Think about the audience you want to invite to your own blog. What do you write about? Who do you want to reach? What type of content would they be interested in? I’ve participated in blog hops for stay-at-home moms, Bible study participants, and writers. Although there is some overlap, each of the audiences has different goals and interests.

2. Draft some topics – After you’ve selected your audience, think again about the type of content they would be interested in and brainstorm some topics. The topic could be very general – anything to do with raising children; or it could be specific – discipline techniques that work with preschoolers.

3. Pick dates for the blog hop – You could set your blog hop to happen every Wednesday for a month, or every other Monday for twelve weeks, or every Sunday indefinitely.

4. Set up the blog hop “infrastructure” – I’m using InLinkz for my blog hops. It’s easy to set up an account, and you can create as many link-ins as you want for less than $2/month.

Setting up a blog hop on InlinkzTo set up your blog hop, you’ll need to enter a name for your blog hop, a description (so people know what it’s about and how to participate), the dates, and how the links will be displayed (usually with thumbnails). There are many other options you can select, such as receiving an e-mail every time someone links in so that you can make sure the links are working.

5. Invite people to participate – I send invitations through Facebook, Twitter, and organizations of which I’m a member. Think about where your target audience hangs out and place your invitation there. I found it helpful to keep a list of participants so that I could follow up with them if there were issues.

6. Send detailed instructions to participants – Here’s a sample:

Thanks for indicating you’re interested in participating in (Name of blog hop). The blog hop will start on (Date), but I would encourage you to write your post ahead of time and schedule it to post then. In your post, please mention you are part of the blog hop and include a link back to my blog (include link), so that others who are interested may also participate. This also encourages your readers to check out other posts on the blog hop.

I have developed a blog hop button for you to share on your site. Here is the code: (provide code; here is the code for my Writers’ Blog Hop button <a href=”http://new.inlinkz.com/luwpview.php?id=358604″ target=”_blank”><img src=”http://ruthlsnyder.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/blog-hop-for-writers-sm1.jpg” border=”0″ /></a>) NOTE: I will post on Monday, February 3rd about the process I followed to create my own button.

On (start date), make sure your post is live and then copy the link. Go to (provide link for blog hop e.g. http://new.inlinkz.com/luwpview.php?id=358604) and enter your name, e-mail address, and link to the post. You will also be able to pick a thumbnail which will appear on the blog hop site.

If you have any issues, feel free to contact me at: (provide e-mail address).

7. Write and schedule your own post – In order for others to participate, you have to have your own post up. Make sure you include the button on your own site and give clear instruction on how both bloggers and readers can participate.

Blog Hop PostInlinkz allows you to add your post before the link goes live. That way participants won’t be waiting impatiently for you on the day the blog hop launches.

8. Check links as they are added – As I mentioned, Inlinkz will send you an e-mail notification every time someone adds a link (as long as this option is selected when you create the link). Set aside time to check out each link. Sometimes people will insert a link to their website or blog in general rather than a specific link to the post for the blog hop. Inlinkz allows you to change the link so that readers will not be frustrated by having to search for the post they’re interested in reading.

9. Advertize the blog hop – Inlinkz gives you a built-in Twitter option which will post a tweet with the click of a button. You can copy and paste to share the link on all your other social media sites. If you want, you could also send e-mail invitations which include the link. The more you and your participants advertize, the more likely it is that you will all get increased traffic on your site.

10. Follow up with participants – During the blog hop, leave encouraging comments on participants’ blogs and share their links on your social media sites. Encourage them to do the same. After the blog hop concludes, follow up with the participants and find out what they liked and whether they have suggestions for improvement.

I’m currently hosting a blog hop for writers. If you’d like to participate, check it out at http://new.inlinkz.com/luwpview.php?id=358604

Have you participated in a blog hop? What did you enjoy about it? If you’re hosting a blog hop, feel free to share the link in the comments below.

My Writing Goals for 2014

Blog Hop for WritersNOTE: Writers: please click on the button above to share your blog link and participate in the blog hop. Readers: please click on the button to go to other writers’ blogs. They will be sharing posts along the same theme as this one.

“Write. Start writing today. Start writing right now. Don’t write it right, just write it –and then make it right later. Give yourself the mental freedom to enjoy the process, because the process of writing is a long one. Be wary of “writing rules” and advice. Do it your way.” ― Tara Moss

Path SignEach year, around New Year’s Day, I sit down and set some goals for myself. I find goals inspiring and look at them as guides, not something written in stone. Here are my writing goals for 2014:

1. Finish writing my novel, Olga’s Discovery. I’m working with Kathi Macias, the acquisitions editor for A Taste of Chocolate (an imprint of Elk Lake Publishing) on this project. She liked my proposal and I’ve promised her the first 20,000 words by mid-February. Currently, I’m at the 18,000 mark of my first draft. After that, I’m aiming to write at least 10,000 words per month until the story is finished.

2. Write a Twitter Manual for Writers. This was on my list last year, but I didn’t do it. I’m giving myself a goal of having the rough draft done by the beginning of May. Ongoing discussions with a publisher have given a kick-start. I’m aiming to get it done.

3. Write a full-length novel about Cecile and Colin. In December 2013, Cecile’s Christmas Miracle, a novella, was released. I’ll admit that I packed a lot into the plot – too much to be resolved in the length of the novella. Several people have told me they are waiting to read the next part of the story. I’m in the early stages of working out plot details and doing research, with a view to continuing the story in a series-style manner – releasing several chapters at a time. My goal is to have the next part of the story released in October or November and then continue the story on until it’s a full-length novel.

Those are my main writing goals. I know that there is a lot of work to do behind the scenes as well. I want to move my website and blog from WordPress.com over to WordPress.org. I also want to continue to post regularly. The plan right now is to post 3 times a week:

  • Mondays – Writing related posts
  • Wednesdays – Posts about what I’m learning in my walk with God
  • Fridays – My fitness journey

Of course there’s social media to keep up with as well. I’m still figuring out how I’m going to fit this all into my schedule. (If you have any tips, I’d be happy to hear them.)

As I start this new year with enthusiasm and optimism, my prayer is that I will always be sensitive to God’s leading in my life and that if I have to choose between my writing goals and spending time with people, I’ll choose the people.

What are some of your goals for 2014? I’d love to hear about them so we can encourage and support each other throughout this coming year.