“Clothed in Grace” (12/40)

Life is made up of many beginnings and endings. For me it feels like there are more beginnings than endings, which may be a good thing in some cases. Each day I have to begin again to surrender the day to God and receive His grace. Grace is one of many things I know will never end until this life is over. I’m beyond grateful for His grace because I could not keep it all together without Him. Today I read this in a devotional and find it truer now in my own life and for those that are dear to me:

Jesus, the good news about you is a lighthouse for those who need direction. A safe place for those who are abused. A hospital for the hurting. A treasure chest for those in need. A key that unlocks prison doors. A story that changes lives. A fountain of life-giving water. A muzzle that silences demons. How can I be ashamed of a message that brings healing, forgiveness, salvation, joy, peace, hope, freedom and life? (“Raindrops from Heaven” by Twila Belk, January 16)

God’s grace brings each one of those things to life for me as I lean in and allow Him to clothe me in it. And the best part is, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). God already goes before each new day, long before I wake up in the morning, to prepare the day with all of those things by His great grace. And because He does that, I don’t have to try or even pretend to hold it all together. I give Him control of my day, and He holds it all together. Whew. That means even more on days like today, when my husband is leaving for nine days in Peru to visit the shelter for abused women we operate there called Pat’s Place. God is going to provide for my every need while He is away and the needs of my three children, two of whom have special needs.

Last year I began using essential oils on myself and my family. Right now I wear a diffuser necklace with an oil blend called “Serenity” (by doTerra). I also diffuse the same blend in my kitchen/living room so that the whole family can benefit from its calming qualities. Three of the five of us suffer from anxiety, including me. I also have dealt with depression throughout my entire life, but gratefully I’ve found a very stable place over the last year or so. From September 2014 to September 2016, I was not so stable, as a great many aspects of my life were thrown into upheaval to the point where I was as depressed as I’ve ever been. Psalm 34:18 found me there: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those who are crushed in spirit.”

God’s grace poured over those two years, and He rescued me out of darkest pit of my life. When He spoke to me of His grace over my life, He reminded me of His presence first and foremost and that by His grace I would be clothed with wisdom that is life and sleep that is sweet:

My daughter, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LORD will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared. (Proverbs 3:21-26)

Fear is easy to come by in times like these. Fear for my husband’s safety while he travels. Fear for our safety while he is away. Fear of sickness, injury or other “sudden disaster” or “ruin” that could overtake us. But the Lord commands me not to fear because He is at my side and maintaining each step along with me. His grace makes my footprints firm and moving forward, even when it feels like I’m falling behind. My feelings are fleeting, but His grace is steady and sure, enabling me to “go on my way in safety.” What a relief to know I am “clothed in grace.”


The Phoenix, Reborn, Again (11/40)

The theory behind the legendary Phoenix bird speaks of its death followed by its rising again from the ashes as a new, young bird ready to live a few more hundred years. But this Phoenix is a symbol of immortality, in that the process continues on…forever. Knowing this, I humbly speak out from the ashes of this blog and pray that the Lord will grant mercy on this human writer to begin yet again.

I pick up where I left off with the same but adjusted goal in mind. My fortieth birthday is September 27th this year, about 38 weeks from now. If I write about one blog post a week and lose about a pound a week, give or take, I’ll reach my original goal of 40 blog posts and lose the 40 pounds I need to lose to reach my wedding weight.

It’s been two years since I began the original Phoenix project. I let the ashes rest during that time but now find myself in desperate need of a rescue. Luckily, I know the One who does the rescuing and offers it to me freely despite my past failures.

Lord God, I accept Your rescue with the humblest of grateful hearts. For so long I have lived indifferently without purpose or plan. With my fortieth birthday close at hand, I deeply desire for my flailing about to come to an end and a new life to be reborn from the ashes in 2018. The glorious truth of Your love means I can come back to You time and again for forgiveness and grace to do just that.

“Clothed in Encouragement” (10/40)

Day 15 – Friday, April 15th, 2016

For me it has been a rough fifteen days. I will confess that I have not strictly followed my own plans to abstain from a great deal of things as diligently as I had hoped. Last weekend was my girls’ trip to Nashville, where I found myself indulging for the sheer fun and relaxation of the moment. I’ll give myself some grace for that. But along the way I think I forgot my ultimate goal for the original abstention, the idea that something—many things—were more important than indulging in the moment.

You fuel your heart with six things: what you watch, what you read, what you listen to, who you surround yourself with, how you talk to yourself, and what you visualize. …We get frustrated and discouraged because we know deep down that we were created for so much more. You were created perfectly and meticulously for a purpose…but if you put the wrong fuel into your gas tank, it is very easy to get discouraged and break down as you go through the journey of life.
-Taken from Chop Water, Carry Wood by Joshua Medcalf

First, let me add that you also fuel yourself with what you eat, ha ha, to be quite literal. And quite seriously, the physical fuel you put in your body can very easily lead to breakdowns along the journey of life. I have had my share of physical breakdowns and am climbing my way out of the most recent one (pregnancy complications). It is very easy to become discouraged, which is why I keep challenging myself to do the next thing that will help me change my fuel and fill my gas tank up right. I must find the who or the what that brings the greatest encouragement.

It is all of those seven fuels together that make up the foundation of what makes you you. And I think overall, the purpose of the 90-Day Life-Change Challenge was to find out a little bit more of what makes me me, not to mention trying to make me a little bit better based on making better fuel choices. The Bible puts it this way:

Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].
Philippians 4:8 (AMP)

Basically, whom or what I watch, read, listen to, visualize, talk about and surround myself with should be based on these principles. They are what I should center my mind on and what I should implant in my heart. So I should be asking myself, is this TV show worthy of respect? Is this book I’m reading pure and wholesome? Is this song I’m listening to admirable? Is the company I keep of good repute? Is the way I talk to myself right and confirmed by God’s word?

And in all situations, as a good friend recently suggested, I should be asking myself, What’s the Truth in this? Because the Truth is all that matters here. What’s your Truth? …Selah…

“Clothed in Righteousness” (9/40)

Day 6 – Sunday, April 6th, 2016

When I hear the phrase “clothed in ___,” my mind automatically hears “righteousness.” I think that is because it is a phrase I have read in several places in the Word:

Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness (right living),
And let Your godly ones shout for joy.
-Psalm 132:9 (AMP)

I will rejoice greatly in the Lord,
My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has covered me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom puts on a turban,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
-Isaiah 61:10 (AMP)

For He [the Lord] put on righteousness like a coat of armor,
And salvation like a helmet on His head;
He put on garments of vengeance for clothing
And covered Himself with zeal [and great love for His people] as a cloak.
-Isaiah 59:17 (AMP)

There are several ways to consider righteousness. One way is civil righteousness, a way to “live rightly” that governs our family or social group or class. Another is from an ethical standpoint that often is gauged by the Ten Commandments or the law of God. But ultimately the only righteousness that brings life, joy and peace is the one which requires nothing of us. Well, almost nothing.

Above others, which the Apostle Paul calls “the righteousness of faith”—Christian righteousness…God imputes it to us apart from our works—in other words, it is passive righteousness, as the others are active. For we do nothing for it, and we give nothing for it—we only receive and allow another to work—that is God.
Martin Luther’s Preface to Galatians (Abridgment/Paraphrase by T. Keller)

The joy for me in this revelation is that I need do nothing here, except accept Christ’s righteousness as my own with a grateful heart. Having this righteousness means I don’t need to strive to perform as with the other kinds of righteousness. Instead, I can rest. Rest. What a great idea. The only thing which remains for me to do is discern how I can remain in that rest in every situation I encounter every day. How I apply that rest to my days is my own personal art form in many ways. It can be simple or creative but always unique to me.

But this is not a feat easily accomplished. I am by nature a striver, a perfectionist, a doer—all full well knowing that I’m supposed to be a human “being,” not a human “doing.” I have to laugh though because resting is by definition something you do. It’s not something that happens naturally, except in the Garden of Eden. Rest is about as physical as being clothed in righteousness. Your mind, will and emotions have to find rest in some manner, regardless of what your body is doing. In every scripture above referencing righteousness, there is also mention of joy, exultation and zeal. To be thus clothed begs for a suitable format for such results. That is why rest is so unique to every individual. My rest is in doing something creative that expresses my gratitude and love for the Lord, such as writing, singing, worshiping, scrapbooking or making a gift for someone in whatever form it takes.

What does true rest look like in your life? Where do you find your greatest joy? …Selah…

“Clothed in Life” (8/40)

Day 3 – Sunday, April 3, 2016

More than ten years ago, the Lord gave me a title of a book that I would one day write, and I have kept it tucked away in my heart ever since. When I first began my blog in 2013, I knew that eventually it would lead to the completion of that book. While it is not yet time to reveal the full title, I will share it partially, as it includes the phrase, “Well Dressed.” This phrase, however, has nothing to do with our outward appearance, but all to do with the way we clothe ourselves spiritually and mentally. As I have been preparing blog snippets for the 90-Day Life-Change Challenge, I have seen the correlation between subject matter and being “well dressed.” Therefore, my titles during this challenge will reflect a subject heading along these lines.

As I shared in my last blog post, we are faced daily with the decision to “choose life,” which looks different for every human being, and yet the same in some very essential behaviors. In Deuteronomy 30:15-18, just before Moses calls on heaven and earth to witness our choice of life, he declares:

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

Moses is very clear about what “life and prosperity, death and destruction” entail. “Life” includes loving God, walking in obedience to Him, and keeping His law. “Prosperity” includes living and increasing, a realization of His blessings on our endeavors, and expanded territory we shall possess amidst those endeavors. “Death” includes turning our hearts away from God, not being obedient, but being drawn to other gods to worship them instead. “Destruction” thus involves the forfeiture of our blessings and a short stay in what was once our promised home.

Last Sunday was Easter Sunday, the day we heard the angels ask, “Why do you look for the Living among the dead?” Why do we seek life where we can only find death? We are hard-wired to seek life—a true and lasting joy and happiness—but so often fall short of finding it because we look in the wrong place: turning our hearts away to other gods. But we must come to understand that our joy is not in a tomb. He walked out of that tomb and into our lives for eternity. Jesus is Life; only He can make that claim because He was raised from the dead and sent the Holy Spirit to live within each of His followers. He desires to be the Life in our time and reign over the time in our lives. Choosing life means we thus give up the pursuit of everything else but Christ. When we choose this Life, we are no longer slaves to that which will never love us back or bring lasting joy.

Tonight as I write in my journal, “choosing life” for me is found in the quiet, such a quiet space in my normally boisterous and hectic household comprised of three adults and four children under the age of ten. It’s that quiet, I can even hear the cheeping creatures outside and the wind and the distant cars passing by. I can hear the sound of my pen on this page and the Voice of the One who has been waiting for me to turn off the TV and listen. I hear, because I have chosen to put away the distractions and quiet myself at His feet. How are you choosing life tonight?

….Selah (pause and calmly consider this)….

My 90-Day Life-Change Challenge (7/40)

Day 1 – Friday, April 1st, 2016

I have seen throughout my life times of prosperity and times of distress. By far, the times of prosperity have been during the periods when my heart has been most wholly devoted to the Lord God. This should come as no surprise, as it is specifically stated in the Bible that when we love God about all else and worship Him alone, we shall prosper:

When you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you.
(Deuteronomy 30:2‑3)

I recently attended a retreat where I spent three full days in quiet prayer, Bible study and worship, only to realize that my heart had all but gone astray, worshiping many other gods except the One true God, who deserves my whole heart.

Thus, I have decided, as continuation of The Phoenix Project started in November 2015, to create “The 90-Day Life-Change Challenge,” whereby I consciously return my heart completely to the only One who can rescue me from destruction.

As you may know, I recently had a baby who turned 8 months old this past Sunday. I used my pregnancy as an excuse to turn my heart from God and to the idol of food, among many other idols. So I will start there. My biggest idols are sugar and wheat, although I will also include alcohol, soda, coffee, tea, and a few others. During these 90 days, I will fast from these items and offer them as my sacrifice of praise to Him, who above all created these things. I wish to worship the Creator, not His creation. I must also fast from laziness but use my time to exercise my body to attain the health that He created me for.

Secondly, I have turned to other idols, time-wasters, to occupy my mind rather than allowing the Lord to cultivate it with the things He would have me use it for. These idols are just as much life-suckers to my mind and spirit as food has been to my body. If seeking God requires all my heart and all my soul, I must sacrifice these things too. My time-wasters include television, movies, games on my phone, and a few other things.

However, the truth is that idols cannot merely be removed; they must be replaced. And to be perfectly honest, I am powerless to do it alone. Will power is not enough. I cannot depend on my emotions on any day to be so level and focused that I can make proper decisions. Neither can I simply focus on the 90-day term, put my head down and plow through. I must depend on God for strength to be successful in turning my heart back to Him.

I must daily come to the Lord in surrender, allow Him to go deeper in me than my purposes, plans and desires for these 90 days. I must allow Him to change me. He is my “reset button.”

I am being joined by other friends who are also committed to this journey to put time back into our lives and Life back into our time:

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

I must abide in the Lord, have a constant conscious connection to Him, “listen to His voice and hold fast to Him.” But the question is, How?

My pastor recently gave a message whereby he helped me pinpoint four methods through which I will do so, four things I will do in place of the sacrifices I have noted above:

1 – Through worship: Daily seeking the Lord in prayer, reading, Bible study and singing the choruses that express my deep longings and fervent love for Him.

2 – Through my own uniqueness: The gifts that God has given me, doing the things He has given me a love for, like writing or running. This also includes honoring God with my time with work and bettering myself for the benefit of my work, such as reading or training.

3 – Through community: We are biblically mandated to be connected to others, instead of isolating ourselves and cutting off relationships.

4 – Through the Lord Himself:

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. … You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:4-10)

While I know the process of “taking off the old self” and replacing it with “the new self” is lifelong, I want to be strict with my focus over the course of the next 90 days and see all that He has for me on the other side. Will you join me in this journey?

When we “set” the thermostat in our home, we expect the air temperature to rise or fall accordingly. Will you “set” your mind on God with me and watch as He rises to His promise of Life?

Go Time! (6/40)

On Thursday, over 128,000 people around the nation began the Max Phase on Day 11 of the All-In 24-Day Challenge. Some began excited after great success on the 10-Day Cleanse Phase. Some began hesitant having not seen a great change in the scale as yet. But all began with the hope that greater things were ahead and that the scale would – somehow – move.

Over my three years involved with AdvoCare, the one thing I have learned is that “You don’t have to go fast. You just have to go!

Regardless of what the scale says, regardless of what has happened in the past, regardless of your fear of the future, it’s Go Time. Whether you are doing this particular challenge with the nation or you are doing your own thing, you just have to take one step forward at a time and make some kind of progress. I think so often we compare ourselves to others and assume that our journey has to be just as “good” or that we have to lose weight just as fast as the next person. Personally, I have never been one to lose weight at the speed of light, but more like a wet mop that doesn’t want to give up its water. But I do tend to give up inches a lot more quickly. Last year I did one particular 24-Day Challenge where I lost 24 inches, 14 of which were in my waist alone. Naturally, my skinnier jeans told a story that my scale did not. And that’s okay by me.

Patience is the key, as with all worthwhile ventures. Patience with ourselves, patience with the process, patience with our purpose. And within that patience must be tethered the seed of discipline that compels us forward in the process. Our ultimate destiny will be determined by the daily decisions made and the direction in which we move, regardless of the speed. It’s Go Time. Are you moving forward?

Whatever It Takes (Week 5/40)

“There’s a huge difference between ‘trying’ and ‘whatever it takes.” – Danny McDaniel

Slide4Stop lying to yourself. Like Yoda always said, “There is no ‘try.’” If you want to start out 2016 thinking, “I’m going to try to do better at such-and-such,” you might as well forget it now. That’s why resolutions usually don’t stick. You go into it thinking you’re “trying” something new and hoping it will work out.

Close your eyes for a minute and think about something you “hope” will happen in the new year. What does it look like? And how does that make you feel?

Now think about that same thing but with the knowledge that it will happen in 2016. How does that make you feel? A bit different, eh?

I’m not starting 2016 just hoping I’m going to reach my goal weight. That hope has been dashed enough times. This year I know it’s going to happen. And that gives me the “whatever it takes” mindset: I know exactly what my body needs to get where it needs to go, and I’m willing to take every step necessary to reach my destination. And the best part is, I’m not in it alone.

A support system is essential for anyone trying to accomplish a certain goal. First and foremost, I have a God that loves me so much, He has given me a vision and a hope, a faith in my goal and the destiny He has created me for. Therefore, I know without a shadow of a doubt that “Behind me is infinite power, before me is endless possibility, and around me is boundless opportunity” (author unknown). This goal is achievable in the timeframe He has given me. Now I just have to trust Him to guide me along the way and choose each day to accept and follow His guidance.

Secondly, I’ve recruited friends and family to be my cheerleaders, most importantly my amazing husband, Alex. He has given his unequivocal support for me to do whatever it takes to achieve my weight loss goal (one of two major goals I have for 2016). He continually steps up to the challenge of caring for our three children under age six while I workout, write, coach, etc. He is my personal champion and the champion of our family, and I am forever grateful for everything he is and does every day.

Finally, the entire nation is getting ready to join me in the “ALL IN” 24-Day Challenge beginning this January 11th. This past January, nearly 100,000 people did the same thing; with people still joining in, we’ve already surpassed that amount this year. That’s a pretty amazing support system! [If you are interested in joining, please comment below.]

With my commitment and all this support behind me, there is nothing I cannot accomplish. All I have to do is choose each day to push forward in my commitment and receive the support that has been offered. Why would I not do it? Why not give whatever it takes to live the life I’ve always dreamed of?

So what’s stopping you? The same God that loves me, loves you too. If you need a champion, I can be that for you. And you too can have the entire nation supporting you in this journey. So will you join me? Will you commit to whatever it takes to get healthy in 2016?

The only thing I ask of you is that you believe that it is possible.

“The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.” – Bobby Knight

Prepare your mind and heart to win. And then take a risk.

“Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.” – Frederick B. Wilcox

Risk everything. Why not?

When You Find Your “Why” (Week 4/40)

“If you’ve already found your why, you already have a great head start on your significance journey.” – John C. Maxwell

Your Why

Have you found your “why”? Your why you wake up every morning. Why you go to work every day. Why you work so hard. I don’t think I ever bothered to really ask myself that question most of my life. And then I packed away my dreams because I didn’t think achieving them would ever be possible. In essence, I put my why to bed and let it slip into a permanent coma. That is, until about three years ago when someone asked me what my why was.

“Why what?” I thought. Why does my why even matter? My life seemed pretty ordinary—no great hopes, no significant accomplishments, no enormous ambitions, really. I just was trying to get from one day to the next with two little girls, ages one and three at the time, and a husband who frequently traveled for work while I manned the homefront. Besides all that, my only major hurdle in life was my health. I had struggled my whole life with overeating, but in addition, my body fell apart after my second pregnancy, requiring seven surgeries to piece it back together. Unfortunately, all of that left me more than 100 pounds overweight and unable to exercise.

That’s when I first heard about AdvoCare and did my first 24-Day Challenge. I lost 12 pounds and 10 inches in those 24 days, but more importantly, I felt a-MA-zing! All my sugar and carb cravings were gone, my brain was awake and alert, and I had the energy I needed to chase my little girls around as if I were a teenager again. Over the next 10 months, I lost 65 pounds and more than 40 inches all over my body; my BMI dropped from 43 to 31, and I began to run 5K races all the way up to 10 milers! I had never felt or looked better since I actually was a teenager.

And suddenly, I actually wanted to answer that question—“Why?” Why was it important for me to be healthy? And why did I get up every morning and work so hard? Why did my life matter?

The easy why was my children; that’s a no-brainer. My family has always been the center of my universe, along with the lifestyle I’d always prayed for as a stay-at-home mother with the God-given instruction to raise children up in the ways of the Lord. But suddenly I began asking, digging, prodding myself a little deeper to get at the root of these hopes and give those roots some elbow room to expand into a story of greater significance. What does having this lifestyle allow me? What does it allow my family, my children? And what more can I do with the gifts God has so graciously given to us?

My first blog project, “70 in 7,” focused on developing discipline, but to what end? Yes, to get healthy, proposing to lose 70 pounds, plus write 70 blog posts, all in 7 months’ time. The original why gave me my body back, gave me my energy and a developed mental prowess all for the benefit of my family. But a more profound why came later. The conclusion of that project brought about a sum of words that I felt might truly be of encouragement to others, a stack of pages that might promote the discipline of others to a similar end. In short, my why was no longer mine; my why was to help others find theirs.


And so, last month I initiated The Phoenix Project following the birth of my third and final child and another difficult pregnancy, during which my body resorted to a familiar weight. Now my writing will find rebirth, along with my body and my true why, as I seek to help you find yours. I have always been a teacher at heart, just like both my parents. It is my greatest joy to see others grow, excel and explore their significance. We all are on the same journey of discovering the reason God put us on this earth, beyond having children, growing old and dying. He put us here for so much more, and somewhere along the line we must each ask ourselves, “Why?”

Dec-15 Bfor-Aftr 24DC Pics

Once again, sticking with what I know works, I began with AdvoCare’s 24-Day Challenge. This time I knew exactly what my body needed to hit the mark, and I lost 19 pounds and 24 inches, 14 of which were just from my waist alone. And I will press on once more until I finally reach my goal weight. In the meantime, I am also coaching friends and family members along their own fitness journey, while at the center of physical health is the spiritual and mental health of each person I coach. Therein, the Phoenix will be reborn.

No Regret (Week 3/40)

F. M. Alexander said, “People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.”

In the beginning our parents determine our habits, our everyday comings and goings, our small efforts emphasized into the sum of who we become. But as John C. Maxwell puts it, “No one stumbles upon significance. We have to be intentional about making our lives matter.”

No matter what our parents train us to do, one day, we choose if we follow or lead. Whether intentional or unintentional, a choice is made. “Control your own destiny or someone else will,” as Jack Welch said.

I don’t know about you, but I’m weary of letting someone else’s influence well up from my past and govern my future. That is why The Phoenix Project was established. My new habits are already starting to add up to a brand new version of me. I can’t become what I need to become by remaining what I have been up til now. Each day’s renewed set of choices allures me with sweeter, more enticing prospects, unanswered questions and bigger dreams that need a great deal more than small efforts in order to grasp. I am no longer content with a mediocre life. I know that God intended me to do more than just survive each day, and I choose in this moment to honor His intentions.

My DMO continues to evolve from last week’s post, as I add more line items that reflect “bucket list” kind of to-do’s, ways I could more specifically intensify the significance of each minute. For example, a “Family Day” worth of activities as a unit marks a point value of 30, or blog writing, both cathartic and influential, ranks 10 points for each focused half hour. Today’s first full gym workout earned me 17 points based on the current DMO, while its effects transformed my day by elevating my mood and energy level—it’s worth every point it has been assigned!

A friend recently commented that my DMO is an adult’s version of my children’s “smiley face chart,” rewarding good behaviors that affect the outcome of each day. The only difference is that I don’t get a prize on Sunday mornings like they do if they accumulate 15 smiley faces during the previous week. My point values, however, reward me for doing those things which challenge me the most—the ones I never regret doing but only have regretted not doing in the past.

William Borden, heir to the Borden dairy corporation who died before he could join the mission field full time, wrote six final words before his death that complete my thoughts when it comes to this project: “No reserve. No regret. No retreat.” The DMO is not meant to criticize or devalue my daily actions or inactions. I don’t need to wallow in any regret over what is left undone. I simply choose to move on and give each day my all, leaving nothing left in reserve and never retreating from the challenge ahead.