Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit (3 John 1:2 NLT).

My son was born a little over two years ago. His first year of life was the longest year of mine. Everything I ate upset his stomach and he was constantly in the doctor’s office for ear infections, flu, asthma, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). You name it; he had it.

At about the same time, my husband, who has always ordered way too many grilled chicken sandwiches for my liking, was on even more of a health kick, as in he was eating handfuls of spinach out of the bag for a snack. Meanwhile, my nightly Magnum bar was not settling well with my third-born child. And thus began my health journey.

I started by cutting out dairy, caffeine, most processed foods, and decreasing the added sugar. Our dinners were mostly whole foods (seasoned chicken breast, a vegetable, fruit, and a sweet potato were typical). While it helped a lot, Baby Man was still pretty gassy, so at about nine months I switched to formula (and forfeited his college fund). Two months later he got tubes in his ears and has been an angel ever since. Well, let’s not get carried away, but he’s cried less.

So after eating whole foods for over six months, I felt different. Foods that had once tasted good no longer did. I began craving real foods instead of candy bars. I even started running again and felt like I had more endurance than I did before kids — three pregnancies later. I liked the way my body felt and decided to keep shopping and cooking the way I had been.

So when Stephanie Fletcher (“Coach Steph”) approached me about being my health coach for a few months, I was mostly just interested in getting a few recipes, some lunchbox ideas, and snack suggestions. I had no idea I would be getting a spiritual mentor, emotional counselor, and motivational speaker.

You see, what I thought was that she’d get my pantry in order. What I didn’t realize was that my wellness is not just about the food I put inside my body, or even about how much I work out, because I’m not going to do either of those things if I’m spiritually, mentally, and emotionally depleted.

So for six sessions, Stephanie walked me through this journey towards creating a “health haven.” She focused on every aspect of my life and asked me hard questions that challenged me, and eventually helped me fill in gaps and FEEL BETTER. Feel more whole, even.

Here are a few questions she asked to help me make practical changes:

EMOTIONAL: What brings you joy?

For me, writing, friendships, mentoring, and being active (specifically playing soccer). To some extent, I was doing the first three. But the last one was something I hadn’t done since I’d gotten pregnant with Charlee six years before.

I played soccer in college, but as a mom of three, I had just accepted that that season of my life was over. But why? It’s something I deeply missed and enjoyed doing, something that gives me energy and keeps me healthy, that helps me develop unique relationships and allows me time that is solely mine. So upon her bidding, I enrolled in an adult indoor league. And I loved it. It was a fun way to get back in shape. I got to know people I never would have met otherwise. And I had one night a week dedicated to ME. To doing something I loved. What would that be for you?

SPIRITUAL: How do you serve?

Short answer, I don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I help out at church every now and then and consider our home our current place of ministry by inviting people in. But, for the most part, motherhood feels like too much sometimes, and I tell myself, “I’ll do more when they’re older.” While I don’t necessarily think that’s a cop-out, there are simple ways we can love on others even in this stage. And that matters, because not focusing on ourselves for a hot second helps us see the world more clearly and find gratitude.

This concept is not about looking skinnier in a pair of jeans or feeling pretty, although those are nice side effects
Stephanie suggested finding missionaries overseas we could encourage through letters. “As a former missionary, I would have loved to receive a note from someone back home, just to know we weren’t forgotten and people were praying for us,” she said. YES. How easy and precious is that? I immediately contacted a friend who serves in Peru and got my kids involved by coloring pictures and writing prayers for them. And bonus! Her kids send us mail too. Pen pals, you guys! Just like the good old days.

PHYSICAL: What are simple substitutions you can make in your pantry?

She knows the process of a total dietary overhaul is daunting, especially with picky kids involved; so she advised me to start simple. Replace the “JIF” peanut butter with natural peanut butter or even almond butter. Make stovetop popcorn instead of microwaveable popcorn. Use coconut oil instead of butter, bone broth instead of chicken broth, dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, maple syrup instead of Mrs. Butterworth’s. There are so many easy substitutions you can make on items you go to the grocery store for regularly; so next time, just replace it with a healthier, more natural option.

This concept is not about looking skinnier in a pair of jeans or feeling pretty, although those are nice side effects. This lifestyle is about giving your loved ones your best self: your husband, your kids, your friends. When I feel better, I am a better wife, mom, and follower of Jesus.

My prayer for you and yours:

Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful (1 Thessalonians 5:23—24 NLT).

If you are searching for ways to make your home a health haven, I cannot recommend Coach Steph enough. Get in touch with her at Facebook, Instagram, or email her. Then come back here, and we can chat about how awesome she is!