By Danielle Leonard

The winter season never, ever, fails me and is always trying to pull me away from the successful “rise and grind” I accomplish throughout the year. The drab skies roll in on a consistent basis and the day turns dark at 5:00pm luring me into a sedative state of over-indulgence in breads, sugar, butter (you get the point), and laziness. My enthusiastic attitude, ambitious goals, and successful exercising and challenges take a back seat to utter discontent.

I typically “go big” or “go home” in pretty much everything I do.

This year alone I challenged myself by taking on a mountain in Africa in September, training for it, and all the while balancing a job, family, and nutritious meals. Let’s talk about how challenging it is to balance meals when everyone around you practically bathes in sugar and spice (fatty foods) and all that isn’t nice for your body and gut. A few years ago I was working a night job from 3:30am-7:00am and decided it was the perfect time to train for a half marathon. I don’t think I slept for more than three hours a night for three months that Spring because I had to run five days a week to train. I’m a 0-100 type of girl as you can see.

This is exactly why I fully commit to a stagnant funk every single winter and I’m talking about serious commitment. I wrestle my mind every morning with banter in my head. Laying out every excuse in the book on why I don’t need to exercise for the day. Why I don’t need to control my food intake. Why I need that cookie with double frosting on it. So on and so on. I haven’t worked out on a consistent basis since my arrival back from Africa in September. My pants groan every time I pull them up over my legs and together we hold each other and cry.

The other day I was laying on the couch trying to convince myself 5 different ways on why I don’t need to go for a run even though I am running a half marathon in May. There you go – why not sign up for a half marathon in the midst of a major funk?

Vroom, vroom, zero to one hundred.

As my chubby finger was half-heartedly scrolling through my email I was snapped out of my catatonic state when I came across an email. I even believe I moved my body on the couch ever so slightly. See, body, we exercise!! There He was speaking to me loud and clear. God always delivers in the very moments I desperately need Him even when I don’t realize I desperately need Him because I am in a cloud of sugar that robs me of clarity.

Don’t let “not feeling like it” reign as lord (Romans 6:12). It’s not your master; you don’t have to obey it. And even though it’s counseling comfort for you, it’s not your friend either. It’s a whiny, lying joy- stealer. It’s pointing you to feeble joys and away from deep delights.

Instead, through this feeling see your Father pointing you to the reward he has planned for all who endure to the end (Matthew 24:13). Transpose it from reluctance to a reminder that God is calling you not to indulgence but endurance (Writer: Jon Bloom).

Thank you, Jesus, for snapping me out of my funk even when I am too exhausted to reach out.

How do I argue with this?

How do I rationalize with negative thoughts when they rob me of such joy? If I reflect in all my soon-to-be 39 years of life I see steady patterns throughout. They are patterns of great highs and great lows, and if I am really honest with myself, the times that I came out of great darkness and adversity were filled with joyous celebrations of deep appreciation. This is the type of appreciation that pierces the soul because I am reminded that God is so good and so consistent  - when I am an erratic, selfish, manipulative, sugar-eating machine. He is full of grace and forgives me for being a lemming that walks aimlessly through the valleys of darkness - continually providing snippets of light until I snap out of it.

I love that He speaks to me in ways that I will hear and pay attention. It is always at the right time with words that minister to my heart, and always in a loving way even though I would probably slap myself upside the head if it were I.

That is what separates a fool like me from God.

I am reminded of Ephesians 2:1-10 in this moment. To sum it up: A life mired in stagnant sin, letting the world dictate how to live, tempting you with all the things that bring temporary joy, we all do it, it is a wonder He didn’t lose his temper but instead He loves us, picking us up and sets us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus because we are His handiwork and he has prepared a plan for each and every one of us.

I am going to end this right there. I have a lot of running and catching up to do (great practice for my half marathon) and I need to reclaim my purpose-driven joy.



Danielle is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, worker bee, lover, warrior, and occasionally a smarty pants. During the day she works at Journey Community Church in Cleveland and loves being a part of helping people take their next step toward God. In the evenings she moonlights as “Super Mom” and enjoys helping three kids take their next step toward being decent life-giving world changers. She loves all things Cleveland after traveling the world and realizing the grass is green everywhere. Danielle loves challenging herself with crazy ideas like running half marathons, pretending to be a blogger and a writer, and climbing big mountains in Africa. Basically she is a just a girl, with some ridiculous dreams, stumbling through this thing we call life by the grace of God.

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